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ACT III.

SCENE I.

THE

PRISON.

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
And Shakespeare, in The Two Gin!limen of Verona,

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.

JOHNSON.

Ser

Servile to all the skiey influences
That do this habitation,' where thou keep'st,
Hourly amict : merely thou art death's fool ;
For him thou labour'st by thy flight to fhun,
And yet runn'st toward him ftill. Thou art noc

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

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* 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

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Of a poor worm. Thy best of rest is neep,
And that thou oft provok'st; yet grosy fear’st
Thy death which is no more. Thou art not thyself,
For thou exist'st on many thousand grains,
That issue out of duft. Happy thou art not ;
For what thou hast not, still thou striv'st to get;
And what thou haft forget'st. Thou art not certain;
For thy complexion shifts to strange effects,
After the moon. If thou art rich, thou art poor ;
For, like an ass, whose back with ingots bows,

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
Than thine, O ferpent, never adder stung. Johnson.
Shakespeare might have caught this idea from old tapestries or
paintings, in which the tongues of ferpents and dragons always
appear
barbed like the point of an arrow.

Steevens.
Tby bell of reftir fleip,
And that thou ofí provok't ; yet grofly fear's

Thy death which is no more. -]
Evidently from the following passage of Cicero : Habes fomnum
imaginem morris, eamque quotidie induis, & dubitas quin fenfus in
morie nullus fit cum in ejus fimilacre videas effe nullum fenfum. But
the Epicurean infinuation is, with great judgment, omitted in the
imitation. WARBURTON.

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

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Thou bear'st thy heavy riches but a journey,
And death unloadeth thee. Friend hast thou none;
For thy own bowels, which do call thee Sire,
The mere effusion of thy proper loins,
Do curse the gout, serpigo, and the rheum,
For ending thee no sooner. Thou hast nor youth,

nor age ; ?
But, as it were, an after-dinner's Neep,
Dreaming on both : for all thy blessed youth'

Becomes
-Thou hast nor youth, nor age 3
But, as it were, an after-dinner's sleep,

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
Becomes as aged, and doth beg the alms
Of paified eld; and when thou'rt old and rich;

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

youth
Becomes as aged, and doub beg the alms

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
Becomes assuaged; and dorb beg the alms

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.

F

cularly

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Becomes as aged, and doth beg the alms
Of palsied eld; and when thou art old, and rich,
Thou hast neither heat, affection, limb, nor beauty
To make thy riches pleasant. What's yet in this,
That bears the name of life? Yet in this life
Lye hid more thousand deaths : 3 yet death we fear,

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,

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