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But as for the mundos, elegantes, optumis cocis, pistoribus, piscatu, aucupio, venatione, his omnibus exquisitis, vitantes cruditatem,' these they complimented with the name of beatos sapientes. [Cic. de Fin. lib. ii. 8.]
"And then, though their philosophy promised an exemption from the terrors of death, yet the boasted exemption consisted only in a trick of keeping it out of the memory by continual dissipation; so that when accident forced it upon them, they could not help, on all occasions, expressing the most dreadful apprehensions of it.
"However, this transient gloom is soon succeeded by gayer prospects. My lord bethinks himself to raise a little diversion out of this adventure :
Sirs, I will practise on this drunken man :' And so proposes to have him conveyed to bed, and blessed with all those regalements of costly luxury, in which a selfish opulence is wont to find its supreme happiness.
"The project is carried into execution. And now the jest begins. Śly, 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 satyr, replies:
O! that a mighty man of such descent, Of such possessions, and so high esteem, Should be infused with so foul a spirit!' And again, afterwards:
'Oh! noble Lord, bethink thee of thy birth,
For, what is the recollection of this high descent and large possessions to do for him? And, for the introduction of what better thoughts and nobler purposes, are these lowly abject 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 distilled waters: floors bestrewed with carpets the diversions of hawks, hounds, and horses in short, all the objects of exquisite indulgence are presented to him.
*To apprehend it thoroughly, it may not be amiss to recollect what the sensible Bruyere observes on a like occasion: "Un Grand aime le Champagne, abhorre la Brie; il s'enyvre de meillieure vin, que l'homme de peuple: seule difference, que la crapule laisse entre les conditions les plus disproportionées, entre le Seigneur, et l'Estassier." [Tom. ii. p. 12.]
"But among these, one species of refined enjoyment, which requires a taste, above the coarse breeding of abject commonalty, is chiefly insisted upon. We had a hint of what we were to expect, before:
'Carry him gently to my fairest chamber,
And hang it round with all my wanton pictures.' (Sc. II.) And what lord, in the luxury of all his wishes, could feign to himself a more delicious collection, than is here delineated?
2 Man. Dost thou love pictures? We will fetch thee straight 'Adonis painted by a running brook;
'And Cytherea all in sedges hid;
'Which seem to move and wantor. with her breath,
"Even as the waving sedges play with wind.
3 Man. Or Daphne, roaming through a thorny wood; '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 master. 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 waning age.'
Here, indeed, the poet plainly forgets himself. The state, if not the enjoyment, of nobility, surely demanded a mistress, instead of a wife. All that can be said in excuse of this indecorum, is, that he perhaps conceived, a simple beggar, all unused to the refine
* Sir Epicure Mammon, indeed, would have thought this an insipid collection; for he would have his rooms,
"Fill'd with such pictures, as Tiberius took
"But coldly imitated." Alchemist, Act II. Sc. II. But then Sir Epicure was one of the Asoti, before mentioned. In general, the satiric intention of the poet in this collection of pictures may be further gathered from a similar stroke in Randolph's Muse's Looking-Glass, where, to characterise the voluptuous, he makes him say:
I would delight my sight
ments of high life, would be too much shocked, at setting out with a proposal so remote from all 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 inchanting deception:
'I see, I hear, I speak ;
'I smell sweet savours, and I feel soft things:
Upon my life, I am a Lord indeed.'
The satyr 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 hæc vita delectat, ipse eandem degustare et fortunam experiri meam? Cum se ille cupere dixisset, conlocari jussit hominem in aureo lecto, strato pulcherrimo, textili stragulo magnificis operibus picto: abacosque complures ornavit argento auroque caelato: hinc ad mensam eximia forma pueros delectos jussit consistere, eosque nutum illius intuentes diligenter ministrare: aderant unguenta, coronæ: incendebantur odores: mensæ conquisitissimis epulis extruebantur." [Tusc. Disp. lib. v. 21.]
"It follows, that Damocles fell into the sweet delusion of Christophero 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 former would show 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 Induction make it appear, how impossible it was for Shakspeare, 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 showing 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.
Ipse pater veri Doctus Epicurus in arte
In justice to Bishop Hurd it ought to be mentioned that this elaborate trifling is only to be found in his work, as it first appeared, and was withdrawn by himself from the subsequent editions. BOSWELL.
The circnmstance on which the Induction to the anonymous play, as well as that to the present comedy, is founded, is related (as Langbaine has observed,) by Heuterus, Rerum, Burgund. lib. iv. The earliest English original of this story in prose that I have met with, is the following, which is found in Goulart's Admirable and Memorable Histories, translated by E. Grimestone, quarto, 1607; but this tale (which Goulart translated from Heuterus,) had undoubtedly appeared in English, in some other shape, before 1594:
Philip called the good Duke of Bourgundy, in the memory of our ancestors, being at Bruxelles with his Court, and walking one night after supper through the streets, accompanied with some of his favorits, he found lying upon the stones a certaine artisan that was very dronke, and that slept soundly. It pleased the prince in this artisan to make trial of the vanity of our life, whereof he had before discoursed with his familiar friends. He therefore caused this sleeper to be taken up, and carried into his palace he commands him to be layed in one of the richest beds; a riche night-cap to be given him: his foule shirt to be taken off, and to have another put on him of fine Holland. When as this dronkard had digested his wine, and began to awake, behold there comes about his bed Pages and Groomes of the Duke's chamber, who drawe the curteines, and make many courtesies, and, being bare-headed, aske him if it please him to rise, and what apparell it would please him to put on that day.―They bring him rich apparell. This new Monsieur amazed at such courtesie, and doubting whether he dreampt or waked, suffered himselfe to be drest, and led out of the chamber. There came noblemen which saluted him with all honour, and conduct him to the Masse, where with great ceremonie they gave him the booke of the Gospell, and the Pixe to kisse, as they did usually to the Duke. From the Masse, they bring him backe unto the pallace; he washes his hands, and sittes downe at the table well furnished. After dinner, the great Chamberlaine commandes cardes to be brought, with a greate summe of money. This Duke in imagination playes with the chiefe of the court. Then they carry him to walke in the gardein, and to hunt the hare, and to hawke. They bring him back unto the pallace, where he sups.
He had the master of life