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(12) Mens evil manners live in brass; their virtues
Though from an humble stock, undoubtedly
was fray'd; but I pretend not to say any thing certain; the judicious reader will foon fee whether the explication given satisfies him.
(12) Mens, &c.] Beaumont and Fletcher borrow'd this fentiment from Shakespear in their Philafter. A& 5.
ACT V. SCENE V.
(13) Men that make
Envy and crooked malice nourishment,
Love and meekness, Lord,
Become a church-man better than ambition:
(14) 'Tis a cruelty
To load a falling man.
SCENE VIII. Archbishop Cranmer's Prophecy.
(For heav'n now bids me) and the words I utter,
(13) Men, &c.] In Paftor Fido, there is a fine fentiment not unlike this. At 5. S. 1.
Who now can boast of earth's felicity,
S. R. Fanshaw.
(14) Tis, &c.] The poet, in the former part of the play, gives us the fame humane and tender fentiment
O my lord,
Prefs not a falling man too far; 'tis virtue. A 3. S. 6. Nothing can afford us a better idea of the author's excellent mind; and we are affured, from the account we have of his character, He was remarkable for his humanity, benevolence, and many virtues.
Look how the father's face, (fays Ben Johnson)
Of Shakespear's mind and manners brightly fhines,
Let none think flatt'ry, for they'll find 'em truth.
Shall ftill be doubled on her. Truth fhall nurfe her
Her foes fhake, like a field of beaten corn,
(15) In her days, ev'ry man fhall eat in fafety,
(15) In, &c.] The poet's excellence in fo beautifully keeping up the propriety of his characters, can never be fufficiently admired; no expreffions could have fo well become the mouth of an archbishop as fcripture ones; and we may obferve, what graces this elegant compliment to his princefs gains from thence; the bleffings of Solomon's reign are fet forth in the first of Kings, Ch. iv. where particularly 'tis faid, "Every man dwelt fafely under his vine;" and fo in the prophet Micah, "They fhall fit every man under his vine, and under his fig-tree; and none shall make them afraid; for all people will walk every one in the name of his God, &c. See Ch. iv. Ver. 4.
The bird of wonder dies, the maiden phoenix,
As great in admiration as herself ;
So fhall the leave her bleffedness to one,
(16) When heav'n fhall call her from this cloud of darkness)
Who from the facred afhes of her honour
Shall ftar-like rise, as great in fame as fhe was,
(16) This cloud of darkness.] Milton in his Comus, at the beginning, thus fpeaks in contempt of the earth:
Above the fmoak and stir of this dim spot,
Which men call earth, and with low-thoughted care
ACTI. SCENE III.
OO D-den, Sir Richard, God-a-mercy,
And if his name be George, I'll call him
For new made honour doth forget mens names:
* King John] The ftyle all thro' this excellent play is grand and equal, and it abounds with a great variety of fine topic's, and affecting paffages: Shakespear feems to have had a particular refpect for Faulconbridge, whofe character is well maintain'd, as is that of the king, than whom none could have been a more proper perfon for tragedy; I know not by what fingular good fortune too it has happened, that the text is remarkably correct, and free from that multitude of mistakes, wherewith most of our author's works fo unhappily abound.
(1) My piked.] Mr. Pope explains this by " a Man formally bearded." "The old copies, (fays Theobald) give it us picked, by a flight corruption in the fpelling; but the author certainly defign d picqued (from the French verb, je piquer) i. e touchy, tart, apprehenfive, upon his guard.' A fenfe, (that perhaps may feem ridiculous to fome readers, and which I by no means advance as