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But even for want of that, for which I am richer,
Lear. Better thou
better. France. Is it but this ? a tardiness in nature, Which often leaves the history unspoke That it intends to do?-My lord of Burgundy, What say you to the lady?' Love's not love, When it is mingled with regards that stand Aloof 3 from the intire point. Will you have her ? She is herself a dowry.
Bur. 4 Royal Lear, Give me but that portion which yourself propos’d, And here I take Cordelia by the hand, Dutchess of Burgundy.
Lear. Nothing :- I have sworn; I am firm.
Bur. I am sorry then, you have so loft a father, That you must lose a husband.
Cor: Peace be with Burgundy! Since that respects of fortune are his love, I shall not be his wife. France. Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being
poor; Most choice, forsaken ; and most lov’d, despis'd! Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon: Be it lawful, I take up what's cast away. Gods, gods! 'tis strange, that from their cold'st neglest My love should kindle to inflam'd respect.
3 from the intire point.-- } Intire, for right, true. WARB. Rather, tingle, unmixed with other considerations. JOHNS.
Dr. Johnson is right. The meaning of the passage is, that his love wants something to mark its fincerity :
“Who seeks for aught in love but love alone?” STEEV. - Royal Lear,] So the quarto : the folio has-Royal king.
Thy dow'rless daughter, king, thrown to my chance,
Lear. Thou hast her, France: let her be thine; for we
[Flourish. Exeunt Lear and Burgundy. France. Bid farewell to your
fifters. Cor. Ye jewels of our father, with wash'd eyes Cordelia leaves you ; I know you what you are ; And, like a fifter, am most loth to call Your faults, as they are nam’d. Love well our father: To your professing bosoms I commit him: But yet, alas! stood I within his
grace, I would prefer him to a better place. So farewell to you both.
Reg. Prescribe not us our duties.
Gon. Let your study
5 Thou losest here, --] Here and where have the power of
Thou losest this residence to find a better residence in another place. JOHNSON.
And well are worth the want that you have wanted.] This is a very obscure expression, and must be pieced out with an implied sense to be understood. This I take to be the poet's meaning, stript of the jingle which makes it dark : " You “ weli deserve to meet with that want of love from your hus“ band, which you have professed to want for our father.”
THEOBALD, And swell are worth the want that you have wanted.] This nonsense must be corrected thus,
And well are worth the want that you have vaunted. i. e. that disherison, which you so much glory in, you deserve.
Cor. Time shall unfold what 7 plaited cunning hides, ? Who cover faults, shame them at last derides. Well may you prosper ! France. Come, my fair Cordelia.
[Exeunt France and Cordelia. Gon. Sifter, it is not a little I have to say, of what most nearly appertains to us both. I think our father will hence to-night.
Reg. That's most certain, and with you; next month with us.
Gon. You see how full of changes his age is; the observation we have made of it hath not been little : he always lov’d our sister most; and with what poor judgment he hath now cast her off, appears too grossly.
Reg. 'Tis the infirmity of his age: yet he hath ever but Nenderly known himself.
Gon. The best and foundest of his time hath been but rash; then must we look to receive from his age, not alone the imperfections of long-engrafted condition, but, therewithal
, the unruly waywardness that infirm and choleric years bring with them.
Reg. Such unconstant starts are we like to have from him, as this of Kent's banishment.
Gon. There is further compliment of leave-taking
I think the common reading very suitable to the manner of our author, and well enough explained by Theobald. Johns.
The meaning may be this. You are well worthy to deserve the want (i. e. poverty) which, in my opinion, you have wanted (i. e. solicited or desired to have) from our father. The citficulty is only in the ambiguity of the words want and wanted, which are used in the different senses of
Both the quarto's read, And well are worth the worth that you have wanted.
STEEVENS. plaited cunning-— ] i.e. complicated, involved cunning.
JOHNSON. • Who cover faults, &c.] The quarto's read,
Who cover faults, jame them at last de es. This I have replaced. The former editors read with the folio, Who covers faults at last with shame derides. STEEV.
between France and him. Pray you, 9 let us hit together. If our father carry authority with such difposition as he bears, this last surrender of his, will but offend us.
Reg. We shall further think of it.
[Exeunt. S N
C Ε Ν Ε
Enter Edmund, with a letter. Edm. ' Thou, Nature, art my goddess; to thy law My services are bound: wherefore should I 2 Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
let us hit -) So the old quarto. The folio, let us fit. JOHNSON
let us hit -] i. e. agree. Steevens.
STEEVENS, Tkou, Nature, art my goddess ;-] He makes his bastard an atheist. Italian atheism had much infected the English court, as we learn from the beit writers of that time. But this was the general title those atheists in their works gave to Nature : thus Vanini calls one of his books, De admirandis NATURA Regina DE ÆQUE MORTALIUM Arcanis. So that the title here is emphatical. WARBURTON.
Dr. Warburton says that Shakespeare has made his baftard an atheist; when it is very plain that Edmund only speaks of nature in opposition to cusion, and not (as he supposes) to the existence of a God. Edmund means only as he came not into the world as custom or law had prescribed, so he had nothing to do but to follow Nature and her laws, which make no difference between legitimacy and illegitinacy, between the eldest and the youngeit. STEEVENS.
2 Stand in the PLAGUE of custom, -] The word plague is in all the old copies : I can scarcely think it right, nor can I yet reconcile myself to the emendation proposed, though I have nothing better to offer. JOHNSON.
Shakespeare feems to mean by the plague of custom, Wherefore phould I remain in a situation where I shall be plagued ar.d
3 The curiosity of nations 4 to deprive me,
tormented only in consequence of the contempt with which custom regards those who are not the issue of a lawful bed ? Dr. Warburton prop ses plage, which he defines to be the place, the country, the boundary of custom; which definition he might have spared, as there is no such word as that which he would introduce. STEEVENS.
3 The ccurtejp of netions- ] Mr. Pope reads nicety. The copies give,
,--de curiosity of nations ;-but our author's word was, cartesy. In our laws some lands are held by the curtesy of England. THEODALD.
Curifiy, in the time of Shakespeare, was a word that fignified in our nice jcrupuloujnefs in manners, dress, &c. In this sense it is uted in Timon. “When thou waft (fays A pemantus) “ in thy gilt and thy perfume, they mock'd thee for too much
curiosity.” Curiosity is the old reading, which Mr. Theobald changed into courtely, though the word occurs a second time in this act, and is used by Beaumont and Fletcher in the same sense. STEEVENS.
- to deprive me,] To deprive was, in our author's time, synonymous to disinberit. The old dictionary renders exhæredo by this word: and Holinfhed speaks of the line of Henry before deprived. STEEVENS.
's Edmund inveighs against the tyranny of custom, in two instances, with respect to younger brothers, and to baftards. In the former he must not be understood to mean himself, but the argument becomes general by implying more than is said, Wherefore should I or any man.
HAN ER. Who, in the lufty fteclth of nature, &c.] These fine lines are an inlance of our author's admirable art in giving proper sentiments to his characters. The bastard's is that of a confirmed atheist; and his being made to ridicule judicial astrology was designed as one mark of such a character. For this inpious juggle had a religious reverence paid to it at that time. And therefore the best characters in this play acknowledge the force of the stars' influence. But how much the lines following this, are in character, may be seen by that monstrous with of