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(1) L

ET it be fo, thy truth then be thy dower :

For by the sacred radiance of the sun, The mysteries of Hecate, and the night, By all the operations of the orbs, From whom we do exist, and cease to be; Here I disclaim all my paternal care, Propinquity and property of blood, And as a stranger to my heart and me, Hold thee, from this, for ever. The barb'rous Scya

thian, Or he that makes his generation meffes


(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 sufficiently to this, hath occasioned some critics greatly to err in their remarks on tbis play.

To gorge his appetite, shall to my bofom
Be as well neighbour'd, pitied, and reliev'd,
As thou my sometime daughter.

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Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law
My services are bound; (2) wherefore should I
Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
The courtesy of nations to deprive me,
For that I am some twelve or fourteen moon-shines
Lag of a brother? Why bastard? Wherefore base ?
When my dimensions are as well compact,
My mind as gen'rous, and my shape as true,
As honest madam's issue? Why brand they us
With base ? with baseness ? bastardy? base, base ?
(3) Who, in the lusty itealth of nature, take


(2) Wherefore, &c.] The baslard is here complaining of the tyranny of custom, and produces two instances, to thew the plague and oppression of it; the first, in the case of elder brothers; the second, of bastards. With regard to the first, we are to suppose him speaking of himself only as an objector, making the case his own, according to a common manner of arguing : “ Wherefore, says he, Thould I (or any man) Itand in [within] the plague (the punishment or scourge] of custom, why fhould I continue in its oppressive 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 passage here, well worth remarking" How much the lines following this are in character, says he, may be seen by that monstrous wish of Vanini, the I:alan atheist, in his tract; De admirandis naturae rcginge dia que mortalium arcanis, printed at Paris 1616, the very year our poet died. O utinam extra legitimum & connubialem thorum effem procreatus! Ita enim progenitores mei in venerem incalu sent ardent's, ai cumulatim afscutimg; generosa semina contulissent, é quibus ego firma bianduiam, ac elegantiam, robuftas corporis vires, mentemque mubilam consequutus fuissem. At quia roruga run inn icb.l. bis o: batus sum tonis. Had the book been publined but ten or twenty years sooner, who would not have believ'd that Shakespear. alluded to this passage? But


More composition and fierce quality ;
Than doth within a dull, stale, tired bed
Go to creating a whole tribe of fops,
(4) Got 'tween asleep and wake?

Scene VIII. Astrology ridiculd.

(5) This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are fick in fortune, (often the surfeits of our


the divinity of his genius foretold, as it were, what such an atheist as Vanini would say, when he wrote upon such a subject."

I have forbore giving a translation of the Latin, because Shakespear's words are a fine paraphrase of it, and because it perhaps is not proper for all ears: but if, supposing Vanini had wrote first, we should have imagined, Shakespxar alluded to him; why may we not, as it is, believe Vanini alluded to Shakespear,

(4) Got 'tween sleep and wake.] This reading runs thro' all the editions, and is indeed very plausible: tho’ it seems to me, the passage originally stood, Got atween Neep and wake. The a might very easily have been fo transposed, and atween is very common with all the old writers down to, and below our author.


(5) This, &c.] Astrology was in much higher credit in our author's time than in Milton's, who, nevertheless, hath satirised it in the severest manner poflible, by making it patronised eveu by the devil himself: for in the 4th book of luis Paradise Rre gain'd, the devil thus addresses our Saviour.

-If I read aught in heaven,
Or heav'n write aught of fate, by what the stars
Voluminous or single characters
In their conjunction met, give me to spell,
Sorrows and labours, oppofitions, hate,
Attend thee, scorns, reproaches, injuries,
Violence and stripes, and lastly cruel death:
A kingdom they portend thee, but what kingdom,
Real or allegoric, I discern not,
Nor when : eternal sure, as without end,


own behaviour) we make guilty of our disasters, the fun, the moon, and stars; as if we were villains on necessity, fools, by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treacherous, by spherical predominance : drunkards, liars, and adulterers, by an inforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whore. master man, to lay his goatish disposition on the charge of a star! my father compounded with my mother under the dragon's tail, and my nativity was under Urla major; so that it follows, I am rough and letcherous. I should have been what I am, had the maidenliest star in the firinament twinkled on my bastardizing

SCENE XV. A Father cursing his Child.

Hear nature !
Dear goddess, hear; and if thou dost intend
To make that creature fruitful, change thy purpose ;
Pronounce upon her womb the barren curse,
That from her blasted body never spring
A babe to honour her; but if fhe must bring forth,
Defeat her joy with some distorted birth,
Or monstrous form, the prodigy o’th' time;
And so perverse of spirit, that it may live
Her torment as 'twas born, to fret her cheeks
With conftant tears, and wrinkle her young brow.
Turn all her mother's pains to shame and scorn,
That she may curse her crime too late, and feel



Without beginning; for no date prefixt
Directs me in the starry rubric set.

“Where it is to be observ'd, (fays Mr.Warburton,) that the poet
thought it not enough to discredit judicial astrology, by making
it patronised by the devil, without thewing at the same time,
the absurdity of it. He has therefore very judiciousy made him
blunder, in the expression of portendirig a kingdom, which was witha
Ditt beginning. This destroys all he would infinuate.”

How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
To have a thankless child.-

Ingratitude in a Child.

(6) Ingratitude! thou marble-hearted fiend, More hideous, when thou shew'st thee in a child, Than the sea-monster.

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Flattering Sycophants. That such a slave as this should wear a sword, Who wears no honesty : (7) such smiling rogues (as these,]


(6) Ingratitude, &c.] Ingratitude, a marble-hearted fiend, is more hideous and dreadful when shewing itself in a child, than even that fea-monster, which is the emblem itfelf of impiety and ingratitude : by which monster he means the Hippotamus, or river-horse, “ which, says Sandys, in his travels, p. 105. fig. nify'd murder, impudence, violence, and injustice : for they say, that he killeth his fire, and ravishes his own dam.” Mr. Upton's alteration of, Than i'th' sea-monster, seems unnecessary : for the poet makes ingratitude, a fiend, a monster itself, and one more odious than even this hieroglyphical symbol of impiety. See Observations on Shakespear, p. 203,

(7) Sych, &c.] The words, as these, may be safely omitted without injuring the sense ; they are fiat and spoil the metre. The next lines are read thus in the old editions ;

Like rats, oft bite the holy cords atwaine,

Which are t'intrince t’unloose. Atwaive is doubtiess the genuine word, which was commonly used, fignifying, in tro, asunder, in train. And Mr. Upton.observing that Shakespear sometimes Itrikes off a syllable or more from the latter part of a word, would preserve intrince in the text, which he explains by intrinsicale. 'Tis certain the author ufes intrinsicaie, but I don't remember ever to have met with intrince : This shortening of words, is indeed too much the genius of our language;" and as the Reader knows the sense of


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