Page images
PDF
EPUB

Either his notion weakens, or his discernings
Are lethargy'd-Ha! waking ?-'Tis not 10.-
Who is it that can tell me who I am ? Lear's

shadow 7?
I would learn that ; & for by the marks

Of

8

6-Ha! waking ?-?Tis not fo.] Thus the folio. The quartos read :

-sleeping or waking ; ha! sure 'tis not so. STEEVENS, ? - Lear's shadow ? ] Tne folio gives these words to the Fool.

STEEVENS. -for by the marks Of fou'reignty, of knowledge, and of reason] His daughters prove so unnatural, that, it he were only to judge by the reason of things, he mult conclude, they cannot be his daughters. This is the thought. But how does his kingship or fovereignty enable him to judge of this matter? The line, by being false pointed, has loit its sense. We Mould read :

Of sovereignty of knowledge. i. e. the understanding. He calls it, by an equally fine phrase, in Hamlet, -Sov’reignty of reason. And it is remarkable that the editors had depraved it there too. See note, Act I, scene

7.

of that play. WARBURTON.

The contested passage is wanting in the folio. Steevens.

The difficulty, which must occur to every reader, is, to conceive how the marks of sovereignty, of knowledgʻ, and of reason, should be of any use to persuade Lear that he had, or had not, daughters. No logic, I apprehend, could draw such a conclusion from such premises. This difficulty, however, may be entirely removed, by only pointing the passage thus :

-for by the marks
Of sov’reignty, of knowledge, and of reason,
I should be false persuaded I had daughters.--

Your name, fair gentlewoman? The chain of Lear's speech being thus untangled, we can 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 fpeech, he only exclaims,

-Are you our daughter? Upon her going on in the same style, he begins to question his own fanity 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

Of sov'reignty, of knowledge, and of reason,
I fhould be false persuaded I had daughters ,
Your name, fair gentlewoman?

Gon.

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

I had daughters. 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 note 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 reafon, 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 knJwledge can mean understanding; and if it did, what is the d terence between understanding and reason? In the patrage 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 fatisfactory; 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 falle 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 know" ledge, or of reason, I hould 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 tokens of royalty which his daughters then enjoyed as derived from him. Monck Mason.

9- I had daughters.-) Here the quarto interposes the following short and useless speech of the fool : " Which they will make an obedient father.”

Gon. Come, fir; 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 wife: 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, Shews like a riotous inn: epicurism and lust Make it more like a tavern, or a brothel, Than'a grac'd palace. 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;

Wbich, 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. -a grac'd palace.-) A palace grac'd by the presence of a sovereign. WARBURTON.

? 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. Pore.

Of fifty to difquantity your train ;] If Mr. Pope had examined the old copies as accurately as he pretended to have done, he. would have found, in the firit folio, that Lear had an exit marked for him after these words

To have a thankless child.--Away, away. and

goes out while Albany and Goneril have a short conference of two speeches; and then returns in a ftill 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 in. formed of it by accident, which she knew would be the case as Soon as he left her presence. STEEVENS.

And

And the remainder, ? that shall still depend,
To be such men as may befort 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.

you come?

Enter Albany. Lear. Woe, that too late repents,-0, sir, are Is it your will? speak, sir.--Prepare my

. horses.

[To Albany. Ingratitude! thou marble-hearted fiend, More hideous, when thou fhew'st thee in a child, 4 Than the sea-inonster!

Alb. Pray, fir, be patients.

Lear. Detested kite! thou lieft: [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-Omost small fault, How ugly didst thou in Cordelia shew! Which, like an engine, wrench'd my frame of nature

From that fall fill depend, ] Depend, for continue in service. WARBURTON.

+ Than the sea-monfter ! ] Mr. Upton obferves, that the sea. monster is the Hippopotamus, the hieroglyphical symbol of impiety and ingratitude. Sandys, in his travels, says—" that he « killeth his fire, and ravisheth his own dam." Steevens. s Pray, fir, be patient.] The quartos omit this speech.

Steevens. 6-like an engine,–] Mr. Edvards conjectures that by an eno gine is meant the rack. He is right. To engine is, in Chaucer,

to

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

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

Alb. My lord, I am guiltless, as I am ignorant Of what hath mov'd you $.

Lear. It may be so, my lord. Hear, nature ! hear; dear goddess, hear! Suspend thy purpose, if thou didst intend To make this creature fruitful ! Into her womb convey fterility; Dry up in her the organs of increase; And' from her derogate body never spring to frain 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 say, subdue, to triumph, and torment." Again, in the Night-Walker, by Beaumont and Fletcher : “ Ther souls shot through with adders torn, on engines."

STEEVENS. -Go, 50, 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 hasily from his son-in-law, and call his train : “My people!” Mes Gens. Fr. So, in a former part of this scene :

You ftrike my people ; and your disorder'd rabble

“ Make servants of their betters." Again, in Othello :

• 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. Of what hath mov'd you.] Omitted in the quartos.

STEEVENS. 9 --- from her derogate body] Derogate for annatural.

WARBURTON. Rather, I think, degraded; blafted. JOHNSON.

A babe

7

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »