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Enter Duke, Claudio, and Provost.
DUKE. you hope of pardon from lord Angelo ? Claud. The miserable have no other medicine, But only hope: I have hope to live, and am prepar’d to die.
Duke. Be absolute for death; * either death, or life, Shal! thereby be the sweeter. Reason thus with
life; If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing, That none but fools would keep:' a breath thou art,
8 Be absolute for diath; -) Be determined to die, without any hope of life. Horace, -Tbe bour, which exce:ds expectation will be welcome.
JOHNSON 9 That none but fools ruiuld keep : -] But this reading is not only contrary to all sense and reason ; but to the drift of this moral discourse. The duke, in his assumed character of a friar, is endeavouring to infil into the condemned prisoner a relignation of mind to his sentence; but the sense of the lines in this reading, is a direct perfuafive to fu.cide: I make no doubt, but the poet wrote,
That none tut fools would reck : i. e. care for, be anxious about, regret the loss of. So in the tragedy of Tarcrid and G:jmunda, act iv. sc. 3.
Not that she recks this life
Recking as I't le ubar berida: h me WAR BURTON. The meaning seems plainly this, that none but fools would wish to krep life ; or, non, but fools would keep it, if choice were allowed. A sense, which whether true or not, is certainly innocent.
Servile to all the skiey influences
noble; For all the accommodations, that thou bear'st, Are nurs’d by baseness 3: Thou art by no means va.
liant; For thou dost fear the soft and tender fork
* That do this habitation,–] This reading is substituted by fir Thomas Hanmer,
for That doft
JOHNSON. -merely thou art death's fool ; For him thou labour's by thy flight to foun,
And yet runn' A toward bim fill.] In those old farces called Moralities, the foel of the piece, in order to shew the inevitable approaches of death, is made to employ all his stratagems to avoid him ; which, as the matter is ordered, bring the fool at every turn, into his very jaws. So that the repre. sentations of these scenes would afford a great deal of good mirib and morals mixed together. And from such circumstances, in the genius of our ancestors publick diversions, I suppose it was, that the old proverb arose, of being merry and wise. WARBURTON,
Such another expression, as death's fool, occurs in Tbe honest Lawyer, a comedy, by S. S. 1616.
“ Wilt thou be a fool of fare? who can
“ Prevent the destiny decreed for man?" Steevens. 3 As nurs'd by baseness :-), Dr. Warburton is undoubtedly mistaken in supposing that by baleness is meant felf-love here assigned as the motive of all human actions. Shakespeare only meant to observe, that a minute analysis of life at once destroys that splendour which dazzles the imagination. Whatever grandeur can display, or luxury enjoy, is procured by baleness, by offices of which the mind shrinks from the contemplation. All the delicacies of the table may be traced back to the ihambles and the dunghill, all magnificence of building was hewn from the quarry, and all the pomp of ornaments dug from among the damps and darkness of the mine. JOHNSON.
Of a poor worm. Thy best of rest is neep,
4- the soft and tender fork
Of a poor worm. -] Worm is put for any creeping thing or ferpent. Shakespeare supposes falsely, but according to the vulgar notion, that a serpent wounds with his tongue, and that his congue is forked. He confounds reality and fillion, a serpent's tongue is lift but not forked nor hurtful. If it could hurt, it could not be soft. In Midsummer Night's Dream he has the same notion.
With doubler tongue
Thy death which is no more. -]
Here Dr. Warburton might have found a sentiment worthy of his animadversion. I cannot without indignation find Shakespeare saying, that death is only sleep, lengthening out his exhortation by a sentence which in the triar is impious, in the reasoner is foolishi, and in the poet trite and vulgar. JOHNSON.
6-Thou art not abyself;} Thou art perpetually repaired and renovated by external allistance, thou fubfiftett upon foreign matter, aod halt no power of producing or continuing thy own being.
JOHNSON. 1-Arange effets,] For effects read affeis ; that is, effections, pasions of mind, or disorders of body variously affected. So in Oibello, The young affects. JOHNSON.
Thou bear'st thy heavy riches but a journey,
nor age ; ?
Dreaming on bob :-) This is exquisitely imagined. When we are young, we busy ourselves in forming schemes for succeeding time, and miss the gratis fications that are before us ; when we are old, we amuse the languor of age with the recollection of youthful pleasures or performances; fo that our life, of which no part is filled with the business of the present time, resembles our dreams after dinner, when the events of the morning are mingled with the designs of the evening. JOHNSON.
- for all thy blessed youth
Tbou baft neither beat, &c.] The drift of this period is to prove, that neither youth nor age can be said to be really enjoyed, which, in poetical language, is, -W bave neither youth nor age. But how is this made out That age is not enjoyed he proves, by recapitulating the infirmities of it, which deprive that period of life of all sense of pleasure. To prove that youth is not enjoyed, he uses these words, for all thy bl.fid
Of palfied eld; Out of which, he that can deduce the conclusion, has a better knack at logic than 1 have. I suppose the poet wrote,
- For pall'd, thy blazed youth
Of palfied eld; i. e. when thy youthful appetite becomes palled, as it will be in the very enjoyment, the blaze of youth is at once assuaged, and thou immediately contracteft the infirmities of old age ; as partie VOL. II.
Becomes as aged, and doth beg the alms
That cularly the palsy and other nervous disorders, confequent on the inordinate ule of sensual pleasures. This is to the purpose ; and proves youth is not enjoyed, by thewing the short duration of it.
WARBURTON. Here again I think Dr. Warburton totally mistaken. Shake. speare declares that man has neither youth nor age ; for in youth, which is the happiest time, or which might be the happiest, he commonly wants means to obtain what he could enjoy; he is de. pendent on palfied eld; must beg alms from the coffers of hoary avarice: and being very niggardly supplied, becomes as aged, looks, like an old man, on happiness which is beyond his reach. And, when he is old and rich, when he has wealth enough for the purchase of all that formerly excited his defires, he has no longer the powers of enjoyment,
-has neither heat, affi Etion, limb, nor beauty,
To make his riches pleasant. I have explained this paffage according to the present reading, which may stand without much inconvenience ; yet I am willing to perfuade my reader, because I have almost persuaded myself, that our author wrote,
---for all thy blased youth
Becomes as aged JOHNSON. ?-brat, affetlica, limb, nar beauty) But how does beauty make riches plecsant? We should read bounty, which compleats the sense, and is this; thou haft neither the pleasure of enjoying riches thyself, for thou wanteft vigour: nor of seeing it enjoyed by others, for thou wantest bưunty. Where the making the want of bruniy as inseparable from old age as the want of bealib, is extremely fatyrical, tho' not altogether juft. WARBURTON.
I am inclined to believe, that neither man nor woman will have much difficulty to tell how beauty makes riches pleasant. Surely this emendation, though it is elegant and ingenious, is not such as that an opportunity of inferting it Mould be purchased by declaring ignorance of what every one knows, by confessing infenfibility of what every one feels. JOHNSON,
more thousand deaths :-) For this fir T. Hanmer reads,