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Now, by Apollo, king,
Thou swear'st thy gods in vain.
O, vassal! miscreant * ! [Laying his hand on his Sword.
ALB. CORN. Dear sir, forbear 7.
Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow
Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy gift;
Hear me, recreant! On thine allegiance hear me!—
Since thou hast sought to make us break our vow, (Which we durst never yet,) and, with strain'd pride9,
To come betwixt our sentence and our power1; (Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,) Our potency make good, take thy reward.
* Quartos, recreant.
swears by Apollo, because the father broke his neck on the temple of that deity? STEEVENS.
We are to understand that Shakspeare learnt from hence that Apollo was worshipped by our British ancestors, which will obviate Dr. Johnson's objection in a subsequent note to Shakspeare's making Lear too much a mythologist? MALONE.
7 Dear sir, forbear.] This speech is omitted in the quartos. STEEVENS. 8thy gift ;] The quartos read-thy doom. STEEVENS. STRAIN'D pride,] The oldest copy reads-strayed pride: that is, pride exorbitant; pride passing due bounds. JOHNSON. To come betwixt our sentence and our POWER;] Power, for execution of the sentence. WARBURTON.
Rather, as Mr. Edwards observes, our power to execute that sentence. STEEVENS.
2 (Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,)
Our potency MADE good,] "As thou hast come with unreasonable pride between the sentence which I had passed, and the power by which I shall execute it, take thy reward in another sentence which shall make good, shall establish, shall maintain, that power."
Five days we do allot thee, for provision
* Quartos, four.
Mr. Davies thinks, that our potency made good, relates only to our place. Which our nature cannot bear, nor our place, without departure from the potency of that place. This is easy and clear. -Lear, who is characterized as hot, heady, and violent, is, with very just observation of life, made to entangle himself with vows, upon any sudden provocation to vow revenge, and then to plead the obligation of a vow in defence of implacability. JOHNSON.
In my opinion, made, the reading of all the editions, but one of the quartos, [Quarto B.] (which reads make good,) is right. Lear had just delegated his power to Albany and Cornwall, contenting himself with only the name and all the additions of a king. He could therefore have no power to inflict on Kent the punishment which he thought he deserved. "Our potency made good" seems to me only this: They to whom I have yielded my power and authority, yielding me the ability to dispense it in this instance, take thy reward.' STEEVENS.
The meaning, I think, is,-As a proof that I am not a mere threatner, that I have power as well as will to punish, take the due reward of thy demerits; hear thy sentence. The words our potency made good are in the absolute case.
In Othello we have again nearly the same language:
"My spirit and my place have in them power
"To make this bitter to thee."
3 To shield thee from DISEASES of the world;] Thus the quartos. The folio has disasters. The alteration, I believe, was made by the editor, in consequence of his not knowing the meaning of the original word. Diseases, in old language, meant the slighter inconveniencies, troubles, or distresses of the world. So, in King Henry VI. Part I. Act II. Sc. V.:
"And in that ease I'll tell thee my disease." Again, in A Woman Kill'd With Kindness, by T. Heywood, 1617:
"Fie, fie, that for my private businesse
"I should disease a friend, and be a trouble
Again, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, book vi. c. ix.:
'Leading a life so free and fortunate,
"From all the tempests of these worldly seas,
"Which toss the rest in dangerous disease!"
The provision that Kent could make in five days, might in some measure guard him against the diseases of the world, but could not shield him from its disasters. MALONE.
And, on the sixth, to turn thy hated back
KENT. Fare thee well, king: since thus thou wilt
Freedom lives hence ", and banishment is here.The gods to their dear shelter take thee, maid,
[TO CORDELIA. That justly think'st, and hast more rightly said '!—
* Quartos, fifth.
Which word be retained is, in my opinion, quite immaterial. Such recollection as an interval of five days will afford to a considerate person, may surely enable him in some degree to provide against the disasters, (i. e. the calamities,) of the world.
This is a note written, like many others, merely for the sake of adding somewhat, without any meaning or pretence of meaning.
The disasters or calamities of the world are, in the common acceptation, loss of health or substance, or children or friends.-No provision of five days could guard against these. But an enraged king banishing a subject knew, or Shakspeare acting for him, knew, that the person so banished, if ordered instantly to quit the kingdom, might be subject to great inconveniences, merely from want of time to settle his affairs, and to make provision for his exiled state, and therefore, however provoked, thinks himself bound to allow him five days to make such provision. This surely is perfectly natural: and many settlements might be made in that period, for the convenience both of the banished man and his family: to suppose that in five days, provision could be made against such calamities as I have mentioned, is so wild an hypothesis that to attempt to refute it would be an idle waste of time. MALONE.
4-By Jupiter,] Shakspeare makes his Lear too much a mythologist: he had Hecate and Apollo before. JOHNSON.
5 FREEDOM lives hence,] So the folio: the quartos concur in reading-Friendship lives hence. STEEVENS.
6dear shelter-] The quartos read-protection.
7 That justly think'st, and hast most rightly said!] Thus the folio. The quartos read:
"That rightly thinks, and hast most justly said. MALONE
And your large speeches may your deeds approve,
Re-enter GLOSTER; with FRANCE, BURGUNDY, and
GLO. Here's France and Burgundy, my noble lord 9.
LEAR. My lord of Burgundy,
We first address towards you, who with this king Hath rivall'd for our daughter; What, in the least, Will you require in present dower with her,
Or cease your quest of love1?
Most royal majesty, I crave no more than hath your highness offer'd, Nor will you tender less.
LEAR. Right noble Burgundy, When she was dear to us, we did hold her so2; But now her price is fall'n: Sir, there she stands ;
He'll shape his old course-] He will follow his old maxims; he will continue to act upon the same principles. JOHNSON.
He'll shape his old course in a country new." There is an odd coincidence between this passage, and another in The Battell of Alcazar, &c. 1594:
"For here Tom Stukley shapes his course anue."
9 — noble lord.] Thus the quartos. The folios, as Mr. Jennens has observed, gave by mistake this speech to Cordelia, and were followed by Rowe and Pope. Theobald first discovered the error. BOSWELL.
I- QUEST of love?] Quest of love is amorous expedition. The term originated from Romance. A quest was the expedition in which a knight was engaged. This phrase is often to be met with in The Faëry Queen. STEEVENS.
2- we did hold her so ;] We esteemed her worthy of that dowry, which, as you say, we promised to give her. MALONE.
If aught within that little, seeming substance,
I know no answer.
Will you, with those infirmities she owes 3,
Dower'd with our curse, and stranger'd with our
seeming Is beautiful. JOHNSON.
Sceming rather means specious. So, in The Merry Wives of Windsor: -pluck the borrowed veil of modesty from the so seeming mistress Page."
Again, in Measure for Measure:
hence shall we see,
"If power change purpose, what our seemers be."
STEEVENS. 3owes,] i. e. is possessed of. So, in A Midsummer-Night's Dream :
"All the power this charm doth owe." STEEVENS.
4 Election makes NOT UP on such conditions.] To make up signifies to complete, to conclude; as, they made up the bargain; but in this sense it has, I think, always the subject noun after it. To make up, in familiar language, is neutrally, to come forward, to make advances, which, I think, is meant here. JOHNSON. I should read the line thus:
"Election makes not, upon such conditions." M. MASON. Election makes not up, I conceive, means, Election comes not to a decision; in the same sense as when we say, "I have made up my mind on that subject."
In Cymbeline this phrase is used, as here, for finished, completed:
Being scarce made up,
"I mean, to man," &c.
Again, in Timon of Athens :
"That he's a made up villain."