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of satire. It was a fundamental in this noble science, that whatever seeds of good dispositions the infant unborn might be endowed with, either from nature, or traductively from its parents, yet if, at the time of its birth, the delivery was by any casualty so accelerated or retarded, as to fall in with the predominancy of a malignant constellation, that momentary influence would entirely change its nature, and bias it to all the contrary ill qualities: so wretched and monstrous an opinion did it set out with. But the Italians, to whom we owe this, as well as most other unnatural crimes and follies of these latter ages, fomented its original impiety to the most detestable height of extravagance.
Petrus Aponensis, an Italian physician of the 13th century, assures us that those prayers which are made
to God when the moon is in conjunction with Jupiter
in the dragon's tail, are infallibly heard. The great
Milton, with a just indignation of this impiety, hath, in his Paradise Regained, satirized it in a very beautiful
manner, by putting these reveries into the mouth of the devil. Nor could the licentious Rabelais himself forbear to ridicule this impious dotage, which he does with exquisite address and humour, where, in the
fable which he so agreeably tells from AEsop, of the man who applied to Jupiter for the loss of his hatchet, he makes those who, on the poor man's good success,
had projected to trick Jupiter by the same petition, a kind of astrologic atheists, who ascribed this good fortune, that they imagined they were now all going to partake of, to the influence of some rare conjunc
tion and configuration of the stars. “ Hen, hen, disent ils–Et doncques, telle est au temps present la revolution des Cieulx, la Constellation des Astres, & aspect des planetes, que quiconque coignée perdra, soubdain deviendra ainsi riche 2"–Nou. Prol. du IV. Livre—But to return to Shakspeare. So blasphemous a delusion, therefore, it became the honesty of our poet to expose. But it was a tender point, and required managing. For this impious juggle had in his time a kind of religious reverence paid to it. It was, therefore, to be done obliquely; and the circumstances of the scene furnished him with as good an opportunity as he could wish. The persons in the drama are all Pagans, so that as, in compliance to custom, his good characters were not to speak ill of judicial astrology, they could on account of their religion give no reputation to it. But in order to expose it the more, he, with great judgment, makes these Pagans fatalists; as appears by these words of Lear: By all the operations of the orbs, From whom we do exist and cease to be.
For the doctrine of fate is the true foundation of judicial astrology. Having thus discredited it by the very commendations given to it, he was in no danger of having his direct satire against it mistaken, by its being put (as he was obliged, both in paying regard to custom, and in following nature) into the mouth of the villain and atheist, especially when he has added such force of reason to his ridicule, in the words referred to in the beginning of the note. W.A. R. B.
” —and to eat no fish.1 In queen Elizabeth's time the Papists were esteemed, and with good reason, enemies to the government. Hence the proverbial phrase of, He's an honest man, and eats no fish; to signify he's a friend to the government and a Protestant. The eating fish, on a religious account, being then esteemed such a badge of popery, that when it was enjoined for a season by act of parliament, for the encouragement of the fish-towns, it was thought necessary to declare the reason; hence it was called Cecil's fast. To this disgraceful badge of popery Fletcher alludes in his Woman-hater, who makes the courtezan say, when Lazarillo, in search of the Umbrano's head, was seized at her house by the intelligencers for a traytor: “Gentlemen, I am glad you have discovered him. He should not have eaten under my roof for twenty pounds. And sure I did not like him, when he called for fish.” And Marston's Dutch Courtezan: “I trust I am none of the wicked that eat fish a frydays.” WARBURTON. * take my coxcomb:J Meaning his cap, called so, because on the top of the fool or jester's cap was sewed a piece of red cloth, resembling the comb of a cock. The word, afterwards, used to denote a vain, conceited, meddling fellow. WAR BU RTON. Another part of the furniture of a fool was a bauble, which, though it is generally taken to signify any thing of small value, has a precise and determinable meaning. It is, in short, a kind of truncheon with a head carved on it, which the fool anciently carried in his hand. There is a representation of it in a picture of Watteau, formerly in the collection of Dr. Mead, which is engraven by Baron, and called Comediens Italiens. A faint resemblance of it may be found in a frontispiece of L. de Guernier to this play in Mr. Pope's edition. In AW KIN S. 19 Lady, the brach,) Brach is a bitch of the hunting kind. Dr. Letherland, on the margin of Dr. Warburton's edition, proposed lady's brach, i. e. favoured animal. The old quarto has a much more unmannerly reading, which I would not wish to establish: but the other editions concur in reading lady o'the brach. Lady is still a common name for a hound. So Hotspur: “I had rather hear Lady, my brach, howl in Irish.” STE E W E NS. * Lend less than thou owest, i. e. do not lend all you possess. * Learn more than thou trowest, J To trow, is an old word signifying to believe. It is still in use in German —Trauen. * Whoop, Jug / I love thee..] This, as I am informed, is a quotation from the burthen of an old song. St E E V E N S. 23. the sea-monster!] Mr. Upton observes, that the sea-monster is the Hippopotamus, the hieroglyphical symbol of impiety and ingratitude. Sandys, in his travels, says—“ that he killeth his sire, and ravisheth his own dam.” * That these hot tears, &c.] I will transcribe this
passage from the first edition, that it may appear to those who are unacquainted with old books, what is the difficulty of revision, and what indulgence is due to those that endeavour to restore corrupted passages. That these hot tears, that breake from me perforce, should make the worst blasts and fogs upon the untender woundings of a father's curse, peruse every sense about the old fond eyes, beweep this cause again, &c. J O H. N. So N. * I did her wrong :] He is thinking on Cordelia. *To take it again perforce!] He is meditating on the resumption of his royalty. JOHN SON. He is rather meditating on his daughter's having in so violent a manner deprived him of those privileges which before she had agreed to grant him. STEEv. 27 a queazy question,] A delicate subject, that requires great care in the execution of it. * — gasted—l Frighted. * And found—Dispatch..] The sense is interrupted. He shall be caught—and found, he shall be punished— Dispatch. JOHNSON. 30 pight to do it, with curst speech—l Pight is pitched, fired, settled. Curst is severe, harsh, vehemently angry. JQH NSON. 31 threading dark-eyed night.] I have not ventured to displace this reading, though I have great suspicion that the poet wrote, treading dark-ey'd night, i. e. tracelling in it. The other carries too obscure and mean an allusion, It must either be borrowed