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Shall thereby be the sweeter. 'Reason thus with life; - If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing,
That none but fools would reck; a breath thou art, « Servile to all the skiey influences,
That do this habitation, where thou keep'ft,
Hourly afflict; ?meerly thou art Death's Fool; · For him thou labour'st by thy flight to shun, And yet runn'st tow’rd him ftill. 3 Thou art not noble;
Reafon thus with life;
That none but fools would 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 assum'd character of a Friar, is endeavouring to instil into the condemn'd prisoner a refignation of mind to his sentence; but the sense of the lines, in this reading, is a direct persuasive to Suicide! I make no doubt, but the Poet wrote,
That none but Fools would reck. i.e. care for, be anxious about, regret the loss of. So in the Tragedy of Tancred and Gismunda, Act 4. Scene 3.
Not that the RECKS this life And Shakespear in The Two Gentlemen of Verona,
Recking as little what betideth me
meerly thou art Death's Fool;
And yet runn's tow'rd him fill.] In those old Farces called MORALITIES, the Fool 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 representations of these scenes would afford a great deal of good mirth 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. 3
Thou art not noble;
A, Are nursid by baseness: ] This enigmatical sentence, so much in the manner of our' Author, is a fine proof of his knowledge of human nature. The meaning of it being this, Thy moft vir. tuous actions have a selfish motive, and even those of them which appear most generous, are but the more artful disguises of self. love.
For all th' accommodations, that thou bear'ft, « Are nurs’d by baseness: thou’rt by no means va
liant ; . For thou dost fear the soft and tender fork « Of a poor worm. 4 Thy best of Rest is seep, < And that thou oft provok'st ; yet grosly fear'st
Thy death, which is no more. Thou’rt not thy self; < For thou exist'st on many a thousand grains, “That issue out of dust. Happy thou art not; · For what thou hast not, still thou striv'st to get ; < And what thou hast forget'st. Thou art not certain ;
For thy complexion shifts to strange effects, « After the moon.
If thou art rich, thou’rt poor ; < For, like an ass, whose back with ingots bows, « Thou bear'st thy heavy riches but a journey, 6 And death unloadeth thee. Friend thou hast none; . For thy own bowels, which do call thee Sire,
The meer effusion of thy proper loins, « Do curse the Gout, Serpigo, and the Rheum, • For ending thee no sooner. Thou hast nor youth, nor age ;
4 --Thy beft of Reft is sleep,
And that thou oft provok'j; yet grolly fear'/
Thy death, which is no more.] Evidently from the following passage of Cicero : Habes fomnum imaginem Mortis, eamque quotidie induis, & dubitas quin sensus in morte nullus fit, cum in ejus fimulacro videas ese nullum sensum. But the Epicurean insinuation is, with great judgment, omitted in the imitation, 5
Thou hast nor youth, nor age;
of palfied Eld.] 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, - We have 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 blefed youth becomes as aged, and doth pany!
. But as it were an after-dinner's sleep,
Dreaming on both; for palld, thy blazed youth • Becomes assuaged, and doth beg the alms • Of palfied Eld; and when thou’rt old and rich, « Thou hast neither heat, affection, limb, nor bounty « 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 ; yet death we fear, 6 That makes these odds all even.
Claud. I humbly thank you.
Enter Isabella. isab. What, ho? peace here, grace and good com
Prov. Who's there? come in: the wish deserves a
beg the alms of palfied Eld. Out of which, he that can deduce the conclufion, has a better knack at logic than I have. I suppose the Poet wrote,
for palld, thy blazed youth Becomes asuaged; and doth beg the alms
Of palsied 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, particularly, the pallie and other nervous disorders, consequent on the inordinate use of sensual pleasures. This is to the purpose ; and proves Youth is not enjoyed by Thewing the short duration of it. The words of Cicero, of which this is an imitation, confirm this emendation, Quæ verò ætas longa eft? Aut quid omnino homini longum ? Nonne medò pueros, modò adolescentes, in cursu à tergo infequens, nec opinantes affecuta eft senectus?
6 heat, affection, limb, nor beauty. ] Lut how does beauty make riches pleasant? We should read BOUNTY, which compleats the sense, and is this ; Thou haft neither the pleasure of enjoving riches thy self, for thou wanteft vigour: nor of seeing it enjoyed by others, for thou wanteft bounty. Where the making the want of bounty as inseparable from old age as the want of health, is extremely fatyrical tho' not altogether juit.
Duke. Dear Sir, ere long I'll visit you again.
Duke. Provost, a word with you.
[Exeunt Duke and Provost,
Claud. Now, fifter, what's the comfort ?
Claud. Is there no remedy?
Isab. None, but such remedy, as, 'to save a head,
Claud. But is there any 7?
Isab. Ay, just; perpetual durance; a restraint,
Claud. But in what nature ?
Isab. In such a one, as you, consenting to't,
Claud. Let me know the point.
Ifab.“ Oh, I do fear thee, Claudio; and I quake, " Left thou a fev'rous life should'st entertain, 6. And six or seven Winters more respect “ Than a perpetual Honour. Dar’st thou die ? « The sense of death is most in apprehension ; “ And the poor Beetle, that we tread upon, “ In corp’ral fufferance finds a pang as great, « As when a Giant dies. Claud. Why give you me this shame?
I can a resolution fetch
Claud. 7 The Priestly Angelo?
Isab. Oh, 'tis the cunning livery of hell,
If 7 The PRINCELY Angelo? PRINCELY guards.] The ftupid Editors mistaking guards for satellites, (whereas it here fignifies lace) altered PRIESTLY, in both places, to PRINCELY. Where. as Shakespear wrote it PRIESTLY, as appears from the words themselves,
'tis the cunning livery of hell, The damned"A body to invest and cover
With PRIESTLY guards. In the first place we see that guards here signifies lace, as referring to livery, and as having no sense in the fignification of fatellites.