Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

FOOL. Which they will make an obedient father'. LEAR. Your name, fair gentlewoman?

clearly trace the succession and connection of his ideas. The undutiful behaviour of his daughter so disconcerts him, that he doubts, by turns, whether she is Goneril, and whether he himself is Lear. Upon her first speech, he only exclaims,

[ocr errors][merged small]

Upon her going on in the same style, he begins to question his own sanity of mind, and even his personal identity. He appeals to the by-standers,

"Who is it that can tell me who I am?"

I should be glad to be told. For (if I was to judge myself) by the marks of sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, which once distinguished Lear, (but which I have now lost) I should be false (against my own consciousness) persuaded (that I am not Lear). He then slides to the examination of another distinguishing mark of Lear :

[ocr errors][merged small]

But not able, as it should seem, to dwell upon so tender a subject, he hastily recurs to his first doubt concerning Goneril,— "Your name, fair gentlewoman?" TYRWHITT.

This notice is written with confidence disproportionate to the conviction which it can bring. Lear might as well know by the marks and tokens arising from sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, that he had or had not daughters, as he could know by any thing else. But, says he, if I judge by these tokens, I find the persuasion false by which I long thought myself the father of daughters. JOHNSON.

I cannot approve of Dr. Warburton's manner of pointing this passage, as I do not think that sovereignty of knowledge can mean understanding; and if it did, what is the difference between understanding and reason? In the passage he quotes from Hamlet, sovereignty of reason appears to me to mean, the ruling power, the governance of reason; a sense that would not answer in this place.

Mr. Tyrwhitt's observations are ingenious, but not satisfactory; and as for Dr. Johnson's explanation, though it would be certainly just had Lear expressed himself in the past, and said, "I have been false persuaded I had daughters," it cannot be the just explanation of the passage as it stands. The meaning appears to me to be this:

"Were I to judge from the marks of sovereignty, of knowledge, or of reason, I should be induced to think I had daughters, yet that must be a false persuasion ;-It cannot be."

I could not at first comprehend why the tokens of sovereignty should have any weight in determining his persuasion that he had daughters; but by the marks of sovereignty he means, those

GON. Come, sir;

This admiration is much o' the favour

Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you
To understand my purposes aright :

As you are old and reverend, you should be wise1:

tokens of royalty which his daughters then enjoyed as derived from him. M. MASON.

Lear, it should be remembered, had not parted with all the marks of sovereignty. In the midst of his prodigality to his children, he reserved to himself the name and all the additions to a king.-Shakspeare often means more than he expresses. Lear has just asked whether he is a shadow. I wish, he adds, to be resolved on this point; for if I were to judge by the marks of sovereignty, and the consciousness of reason, I should be persuaded that I am not a shadow, but a man, a king, and a father. But this latter persuasion is false; for those whom I thought my daughters, are unnatural hags, and never proceeded from these loins.

As therefore I am not a father, so neither may I be an embodied being; I may yet be a shadow. However, let me be certain. Your name, fair gentlewoman?

All the late editions, without authority, read—by the marks of sovereignty, of knowledge, and of reason.-The words- I would learn that, &c. to an obedient father, are omitted in the folio. MALONE.

7 WHICH they will make an obedient father.] Which, is on this occasion used with two deviations from present language. It is referred, contrary to the rules of grammarians, to the pronoun I, and is employed, according to a mode now obsolete, for whom, the accusative case of who. STEEVENS.

8 Does any, &c.] In the first folio this whole passage is thus given: "Do's any heere know me?

"This is not Lear:

"Do's Lear walke thus? Speake thus? Where are his eyes,
"Either his notion weakens, his discernings

"Are lethargied. Ha! Waking? 'Tis not so?
"Who is it that can tell me who I am?

"Foole. Lear's shadow.

"Lear. Your name, faire gentlewoman?" Boswell. 9 — o' the FAVOUR-] i. e. of the complexion. So, in Julius Cæsar:

"In favour's like the work we have in hand." STEEVENS. As you are old and reverend, YOU SHOULD be wise:] The redundancy of this line convinces me of its interpolation. What will the reader lose by the omission of the words-you should? I would print:

"As you are old and reverend, be wise :"

In the fourth line from this, the epithet-riotous, might for the

Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires ;
Men so disorder'd, so debauch'd, and bold,
That this our court, infected with their manners,
Shows like a riotous inn: epicurism and lust
Make it more like a tavern, or a brothel,
Than a grac'd palace 2. The shame itself doth speak
For instant remedy: Be then desir'd

By her, that else will take the thing she begs,
A little to disquantity your train";

3

And the remainder, that shall still depend',

same reason be omitted. To make an inn of a private house, by taking unwarrantable liberties in it, is still a common phrase.

STEEVENS.

Enough has been said already in answer to Mr. Steevens's antipathy to an Alexandrine; but, in this instance he might have avoided it, by adopting the text of the first folio:

"As you are old and reverend, should be wise:" That is, as you are old and reverend, [and] should be wise, I do beseech you to understand my purposes aright. BOSWELL.

2-a grac'd palace.] A palace graced by the presence of a sovereign. WARBURTON.

3 A LITTLE to disquantity your train ;] A little is the common reading; but it appears, from what Lear says in the next scene, that this number fifty was required to be cut off, which (as the editions stood) is no where specified by Goneril. POPE. Mr. Pope for A little, substituted of fifty.

If Mr. Pope had examined the old copies as accurately as he pretended to have done, he would have found, in the first folio, that Lear had an exit marked for him after these words-[p. 69.] "To have a thankless child.-Away, away!

[ocr errors]

and goes out, while Albany and Goneril have a short conference of two speeches; and then returns in a still greater passion, having been informed (as it should seem) of the express number without :

"What? fifty of my followers at a clap!"

This renders all change needless; and away, away, being restored, prevents the repetition of go, go, my people; which, as the text stood before this regulation, concluded both that and the foregoing speech. Goneril, with great art, is made to avoid mentioning the limited number; and leaves her father to be informed of it by accident, which she knew would be the case as soon as he left her presence. STEEVENS.

4-still DEPEND,] Depend, for continue in service.

[blocks in formation]

WARBURTON.

To be such men as may besort your age,
And know themselves and you.

LEAR.

Darkness and devils !— Saddle my horses; call my train together.Degenerate bastard! I'll not trouble thee; Yet have I left a daughter.

GON. You strike my people; and your disorder'd rabble

Make servants of their betters.

Enter ALBANY.

LEAR. Woe, that too late repents 5,-O, sir, are you come ?

Is it your will? [TO ALB.] Speak, sir.-Prepare my

horses.

Ingratitude? thou marble-hearted fiend,

More hideous, when thou show'st thee in a child, Than the sea-monster?!

ALB.

So, in Measure for Measure:

Pray, sir, be patient o.

"Canst thou believe thy living is a life,

"

"So stinkingly depending: STEEVENS.

5 WOE, that too late repents,] This is the reading of the olio. All the three quartos, for Woe, have We; and quartos A and C read-We that too late repent's-; i. e. repent us: which I suspect is the true reading. Shakspeare might have had The Mirrour for Magistrates in his thoughts:

[ocr errors]

"They call'd him doting foole, all his requests debarr'd,
Demanding if with life he were not well content :
"Then he too late his rigour did repent

"'Gainst me." Story of Queen Cordila. MALOne. My copy of the quarto, of which the first signature is A, [quarto B,] reads-We that too late repent's us. STEEVENS.

6 - O, sir, are you come ?] These words are not in the folio. MALone.

7 Than the sea-monster!] Mr. Upton observes, that the seamonster 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." STEEVENS.

8 Pray, sir, be patient.] The quartos omit this speech.

STEEVENS.

LEAR. Detested kite! thou liest: [To GONERIL. My train are men of choice and rarest parts, That all particulars of duty know;

And in the most exact regard support

The worships of their name.-O most small fault, How ugly didst thou in Cordelia show!

Which, like an engine, wrench'd my frame of na

ture

From the fix'd place; drew from my heart all love,
And added to the gall. O Lear, Lear, Lear!
Beat at this gate, that let thy folly in,

[Striking his head. And thy dear judgment out!-Go, go, my people 1.

9- like an ENGINE,] Mr. Edwards conjectures that by an engine is meant the rack. He is right. To engine is, in Chaucer, to strain upon the rack; and in the following passage from The Three Lords of London, 1590, engine seems to be used for the same instrument of torture:

"From Spain they come with engine and intent
"To slay, subdue, to triumph, and torment."

Again, in The Night-Walker, by Beaumont and Fletcher:

66

Their souls shot through with adders, torn on engines." STEEVENS. 1- Go, go, my people.] Perhaps these words ought to be regulated differently:

"Go, go:-my people!"

By Albany's answer it should seem that he had endeavoured to appease Lear's anger; and perhaps it was intended by the author that he should here be put back by the king with these words," Go, go;" and that Lear should then turn hastily from his son-in-law, and call his train: "My people!" Mes Gens, Fr. So, in a former part of this scene:

"You strike my people; and your disorder'd rabble,
"Make servants of their betters."

Again, in Othello, Act I. Sc. I. :

66

Call up my people."

However the passage be understood, these latter words must bear this sense. The meaning of the whole, indeed, may be only" Away, away, my followers!"

MALONE.

With Mr. Malone's last explanation I am perfectly satisfied.

STEEVENS.

The quartos put a mark of interrogation after people. BosWELL.

« AnteriorContinua »