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Caf. My heart is thirsty for that noble pledge.
SCENE V. Opportunity to be feiz'd on in all Affairs.
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
ACT V. SCENE III.
The Parting of Brutus and Caffius.
Bru. No, Caffius, no; think not, thou noble Res
That ever Brutus will go bound to Rome;
Muft end that work, the ides of March began;
Caf. For ever, and for ever, farewel, Brutus!
If not, 'tis true, this parting was well made.
Bru. Why then, lead on. O, that a man might
The end of this day's business ere it come!
And then the end is known.
Melancholy, the Parent of Error.
Oh hateful error, melancholy's child!
Antony's Character of Brutus.
This was the nobleft Roman of them all :
So mixt in him, that nature might stand up,
*It may perhaps be needless to inform the reader, that the duke of Buckingham, difpleas'd with what the critics efteem so great a fault in this play, the death of Julius Cæfar, in the third Act, hath made two plays of it; but I am afraid the lovers of ShakeSpear will be apt to place that nobleman's performance on a level with the reft of those who have attempted to alter, or a mend Shakespear.
ACTI. SCENE III.
An alienated Child
ET it be fo, thy truth then be thy dower: For by the facred radiance of the fun, The mysteries of Hecate, and the night, By all the operations of the orbs,
From whom we do exist, and cease to be
Or he that makes his generation meffes
Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law My fervices are bound; (2) wherefore should I
(1) Let, &c.] The reader will do well to observe, Shakespear makes his characters in king Lear strictly conformable to the religion of their times: the not attending fufficiently to this, hath accafioned fome Critics greatly to err in their remarks on this play.
(2) Wherefore, &c.] The bastard is here complaining of the tyranny of cuftom, and produces two inftances, to fhew the plague and oppreffion of it; the firft, in the cafe of elder brothers; the
Stand in the plague of cuftom, and permit
My mind as gen'rous, and my shape as true,
fecond, of baftards. With regard to the first, we are to fuppofe him fpeaking of himself only as an objector, making the cafe his own, according to a common manner of arguing: "Wherefore, fays he, fhould I (or any man) ftand in [within] the plague [the punishment or fcourge] of cuftom, why fhould I continue in its oppreffive power, and permit the courtesy of nations to deprive me, to take away from, rob, and injure me, because, &c.
(3) Who, &c.] Mr. Warburton quotes a paffage here, well worth remarking---- How much the lines following this are in character, fays he, may be feen by that monftrous wish of Vanini, the Italian atheist, in his tract, De admirandis naturæ reginæ deaque mortalium arcanis, printed at Paris 1616, the very year our poet died. O utinam extra legitimum & connubialem thorum efTem procreatus! Ita enim progenitores mei in venerem incaluiffent ardentius, accumulatim affatimq; gene ofa femina contuliffent, è quibus ego formæ blanditiam, ac elegantiam robuftas corporis vires, mentemque innubilam confequutus fuiffem. At quia conjugatorum fum foboles his orbatus fum bonis. Had the book been publish'd but ten or twenty years fooner, who would not have believ'd that Shakespear alluded to this paffage ? But the divinity of his genius foretold, as it were, what fuch an atheist, as Vanini, would fay, when he wrote upon such a subject."
I have forbore giving a translation of the Latin, becaufe ShakeJpear's words are a fine paraphrafe of it, and becaufe it perhaps, is not proper for all ears but if, fuppofing Vanini had wrote firft, we fhould have imagined, Shakespear alluded to him may we not, as it is, believe Vanini alluded to Shakespear? (4) Got 'taveen asleep and wake] This reading runs thro' all the editions, and is indeed very plaufible: tho' it feems to me, the
SCENE VIII. Aftrology ridicul'd
(5) This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are fick in fortune, (often the furfeits of our own behaviour) we make guilty of our difafters, the fun the moon and ftars; as if we were villains on neceffity, fools, by heavenly compulfion; knaves, thieves, and treacherous, by spherical predominance; diunkards, lyars and adulterers, by an inforc'd obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on. An admirable evafion of whore-mafter man, to lay his goatish difpofition on the charge of a ftar! my father compounded with my mother under the dragon's tail, and my nativity was under Urfa major; fo that it follows, I am rough and lecherous. I fhould
paffage originally flood, Got atween fleep and wake. The a might very eafily have been fo tranfpofed, and atween is very common with all the old writers down to, and below our author.
(5) This, &c] Aftrology was in much higher credit in our author's time than in Milton's, who, nevertheless, hath satirised it in the fevereft manner poffible, by making it patronifed even by the devil himself: for in the 4th book of his Paradife Regain'd, the devil thus addreffes our faviour.
If I read aught in heaven,
Or heav'n write aught of fate, by what the ftars
Nor when eternal fure, as without end.
Where it is to be obferv'd, fays Mr. Warburton, that the poet thought it not enough to difcredit judicial aftrology, by making it patronifed by the devil, without fhewing at the fame time, the abfurdity of it. He has therefore very judiciously made him blunder, in the expreffion of portending a kingdom, which was without beginning. This deftroys all he wou'd infinuate,"