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begins. Sly, awakening from his drunken nap, calls out as usual for a cup of ale. On which the Lord, very characteristically, and (taking the poet's design, as here explained) with infinite satire, replies :
" 0! that a mighty man of such descent,
“ Should be infused with so foul a spirit ! " And again, afterwards :
“ Ob! noble Lord, bethink thee of thy birth,
For, what is the recollection of this bigh descent and large possessions to do for him? And, for the introduction of what better thoughts and nobler purposes, are these lowly abjeet themes to be discarded? Why, the whole inventory of Patrician pleasures is called over; and he hath his choice of whichsoever of them suits best with his lordship's improved palate. A long train of servants, ready at his beck : musick, such as twenty caged nightingales do sing : couches, softer and sweeter than the lustful bed of Semiramis : burning odours, and disa tilled waters : floors bestrewed with curpets : the diversions of hawks, hounds; and horses : in short, all the objects of exquisite indulgence are presented to him.
" But among these, one species of refined enjoyment, which requires a taste, above the coarse breeding of abject commonalty, is chiefly insisted on. We had a hint, of what we were to expect, before :
“ Carry him gently to my fairest chamber,
And what lord, in the luxury of his wishes, could feign to
2 Man. Dost thou love pictures? We will fetch thee straight
“ Adonis painted by a running brook ;
". Eu'n as the waving sedges play with wind.
« And how she was beguiled and surprised,
“ As lively painted, as the deed was done.
« Scratching her legs, that one shall swear, she bleeds,
" So workmanly the blood and tears are drawn. These pictures, it will be owned, are, all of them, well chosen. But the servants were not so deep in the secret, as their mas, ter. They dwell entirely on circumstantials. While his lordship, who had, probably, been trained in the chaste school of Titian, is for coming to the point more directly. There is a fine ridicule implied in this.
“ After these incentives of picture, the charms of beauty itself are presented, as the crowning privilege of his high station :
“ Thou hast a lady far more beautiful
“ Than any woman in this waining age.
his former practices. Be it as it will, beauty, even in a wife, had such an effect on this mock Lord, that, quite melted and overcome by it, he yields himself at last to the enchanting deception.
66 I see, I hear, I speak,
“ Upon my life I am a Lord indeed. The satire is so strongly marked in this last line, that one can no longer doubt of the writer's intention. If any should, let me further remind him, that the poet, in this fiction, but makes his Lord play the same game, in jest, as the Sicilian tyrant acted, long ago, very seriously. The two cases are so similar, that some readers may, perhaps, suspect the poet of having taken the whole conceit from Tully. His description of this instructive scenery is given in the following words:
“. Visne (inquit Dionysius) ô Damocle, quoniam te haec. « vita delectat, ipse eandem degustare & fortunam experiri * meam ? Cum se ille cupere dixisset, conlocari jussit homi
nem in aureo lecto, strato pulcherrimo, textili stragulo magnificis operibus pikto : abaeosque complures ornavit argente
auroque coelato : hinc ad mensam eximia forma pueros de. “ lectos jussit consistere, eosque nutum illius intuentes dili. " genter ministrare : aderant unguenta, coronae : incendea “ bantur odores : mensae conquisitissimis epulis extruebantur." [Tusc. Disp. lib. v. 21.]
It follows, that Damocles fell into the sweet delusion of Christopbero Sly.
€ Fortunatus sibi Damocles videbatur.
« The event in these two dramas, was, indeed, different. For the philosopher took care to make the flatterer sensible of
his mistake; while the poet did not think fit to disabuse the beggar. But this was according to the design of each. For; the farmer would shew the misery of regal luxury; the latter its vanity. The tyrant, therefore, is painted wretched. And his Lordship only a beggar in disguise.
“ To conclude with our poet. The strong ridicule and decorum of this Indu£tion make it appear, how impossible it was for Shakspere, in his idlest hours, perhaps, when he was only revising the trash of others, not to leave some strokes of the master behind him. But the morality of its purpose should chiefly recommend it to us. For the whole was written with the best design of exposing that monstrous Epicurean position, that the true enjoyment of life consists in a delirium of sensual pleasure. And this, in a way the most likely to work upon the great, by shewing their pride, that it was fit only to constitute the summum bonum of one
“ No better than a poor and loathsome beggar. Sc. iii. “ Nor let the poet be thought to have dealt too freely with his betters, in giving this representation of nobility. He had the highest authority for what he did. For the great master of life himself gave no other of Divinity.
Ipse pater veri Doctus Epicurus in arte
Petron. c. 132
Of this play the two plots are so well united, that they can hardly be called two, without injury to the art with which they are interwoven. The attention is entertained with all the variety of a double plot, yet is not distracted by unconnected incidents.