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And if thou tell'ft the heavy ftory right,
The Duke of York in Battle.
Methought, he bore him in the thickeft troop, *As doth a lion in a herd of neat ;
Or as a bear, encompafs'd round with dogs,
See how the morning opes her golden gates,
*As, &c.] The poets abound with numberlefs fimilies of this kind; particularly Homer and Virgil: but none perhaps is finer than the following from that book, where every page abounds with beauties, and true fublimity. Isaiah xxxi. "Like as the lion, and the young lion roaring on his prey; when a multitude of fhepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abafe himself for the noife of them."
(3) How, &c.] There is fomething very peculiar in this paffage, "The prime of youth and like a yonker, seeming nearly the fame thing; but it is extremely beautiful, the author perfonifies the prime of youth, and defcribes him as an allegorical perfon, trimm'd like a yonker, which with us fignifies a brifk, lively young man; but more properly perhaps from its original, a nobleman, or young lord. See Skinner. The plain manner of understanding it is difficult, and the conftruction very involved; however, it feems no more than this, "how. well refembles it, a yonker trimm'd out, in the prime of youth, prancing to his love."
SCENE. VI. The Morning's Dawn.
(4) This battle fares like to the morning's war, When dying clouds contend with growing light; What time the fhepherd, blowing of his nails, Can neither call it perfect day or night.
The Bleffings of a Shepherd's Life.
* O God! methinks, it were a happy life To be no better than a homely fwain;
(4) This, &c.] See p. 8, n. 9. foregoing. The expreffion of blowing his nails, is peculiarly natural and beautiful; the reader may remember that Shakespear ufes it in the pretty song at the end of Love's Labour Loft.
And Dick the fhepherd blows his nail.
*O God, &c.] There is fomething very pleafing and natural in this paffage; it is a good deal in the manner of Virgil, who fpeaks highly of a rural Life in his fecond Georgic, which the reader will be much delighted with, if he compares it with our author, and no lefs with Horace's fecond Epode exprefsly on this fubject; these are in almost every bodies hands; lefs known are the following lines from Seneca's Hercules Oeteus on the fubject, and perhaps they may therefore be more agreeable :
Stretch'd on the turf in Sylvan fhades,
No fear the peasant's reft invades,
Secure he rears the beachen bowl,
His modeft wife of virtue try'd
To fit upon a hill, as I do now,
To carve out dials queintly, point by point,
Thereby to fee the minutes how they run:
my reft So many hours, muft I contemplate; So many hours, muft I fport myself;
So many days, my ewes have been with young;
Would bring white hairs unto a quiet grave.
Oh ! what a life were this! how fweet! how lovely!
(5) Than, &c.] The miseries of royalty (as have been before obferved, 2 Henry IV. A. 4. S. 1o. n. 8.) is a very general topic with the poets; on which, as indeed on most others, they muft yield the fuperiority to Shakespear; Monfieur Racine in his cele brated tragedy of Esther, fpeaks thus on the fubject,
A prince encompafs'd with a bufy crowd
But all with one confent promote our vengeance,
O, yes, it doth a thousand-fold it doth.
His body couched in a curious bed,
When care, miftruft, and treasons wait on him...
In another part of this performance, the author fets in contraft the pleasures and pains of vicious greatness; thus the wicked man's alluring pomp is defcribed,
His days appear a conftant scene of joy ;
To crown his tow'ring and ambitious hopes,
With plenty crown'd, his confcious heart repines,
He ftill unnumber'd pleasures tries:
But finds his expectations croft,
And happinefs his fond embraces flies.
Of happiness and lafting peace.
The reader, with me, is indebted to my worthy friend Mr. Duncombe for the tranflation of thefe paffages from the French, who hath finish'd the whole of this tragedy, and fome years fince published a tranflation of our author's other most famous performance, Athaliah.
(6) Look, as I blow this feather from my face, And as the air blows it to me again,
Obeying with my wind, when I do blow,
SCENE III. A Simile on ambitious Thoughts.
Why, then I do but dream on fov'reignty,
(7) Why, love forswore me in my mother's womb ;
(6) Look, &c.] See Vol. 1. p. 171.
(7) Why, &c.] See the beginning of Richard the third.