« PreviousContinue »
Gent. None but the fool, who labours to out-jest His heart-struck injuries.
Kent. Sir, I do know you; And dare, upon the warrant of 3 my note, Commend a dear thing to you. There is division, Although as yet the face of it is cover'd With mutual cunning, 'twixt Albany and Cornwall; 4 Who have (as who have not, whom their great stars Throne and set high?) servants, who seem no less; Which are to France the spies and speculations Intelligent of our state. What hath been seen, 5 Either in snuffs and packings of the dukes; Or the hard rein, which both of them have borne Against the old kind king; or something deeper, Whereof, perchance, these 6 are but furnishings. [? But, true it is, 8 from France there comes a power
Into my note,] My observation of your character. Johns, The quartos read,
my art, į. e. perhaps, on the strength of my skill in phifiognomy. Steev,
4 Who have (as who have not, - ] The eight subsequent verses were degraded by Mr. Pope, as unintelligible, and to no purpose. For my part, I see nothing in them but what is very easy to be understood; and the lives fcem abfolutely necessary to clear up the motives upon which France prepared his invasion: nor without them is the sense of the context complete. THEOBALD.
5 Either in jnuffs or packings-- ] Snuffs are dislikes, and packings underhand contrivances. Steevens.
are but furnishings.) Furnishings are what we now call colours, external pretences. JOHNSO
But, true it is, &c.] In the old editions are the five following lines which I have inserted in the texi, which seem necessary to the plot, as a preparatory to the arrival of the French army with Cordelia in act iv. How both these, and a whole scene between Kent and this gentleman in the fourth act, came to be left out in all the later editions, I cannot tell; they depend upon each other, and very much contribute to clear that incident. Pope.
from France there comes a power
In jome of our best ports - Scatter'd kingdom, if it have Any sense, gives us the idea of a kingdom fallen into an .
Into this scatter'd kingdom; who already,
anarchy: but that was not the case. It submitted quietly to the government of Lear's two sons-in-law. It was divided, indeed, by this means, and so hurt, and weaken’d. And this was what Shakespeare meant to say, who, without doubt, wrote,
fcathed kingdom; i. e. hurt, wounded, impaired. And so he frequently uses fcath for hurt or damage. Again, what a strange phrase is, having sea in a port, to signify a feet's lying at anchor? which is all it can fignify. And what is stranger ftill, a secret sea, that is, lying incognito, like the army at Knight's-Bridge in The Ribearjal. Without doubt the poet wrote,
have secret feize In some of our best ports ; i. e. they are secretly secure of some of the best ports, by having a party in the garrison ready to second any attempt of their friends, &c. The exactness of the exprellion is remarkable; he says, secret seize in fome, not of jome. For the first implies a conspiracy ready to seize a place on warning, the other, a place already seized. WARBURTON.
The true state of this speech cannot from all these notes be discovered. As it now stands it is collected from two editions ; the lines which I have diftinguished by Italics are found in the folio, not in the quarto; the following lines inclosed in crotchets are in the quarto, not in the folio. So that if the speech be read with omiffions of the Italics, it will stand according to the first edition ; and if the Italics are read, and the lines that follow them omitted, it will then stand according to the second. The speech is now tedious, because it is formed by a coalition of both. The second edition is generally beft, and was probably nearest to Shakespeare's last copy, but in this passage the first is preferable; for in the folio, the messenger is fent, he knows not why, he knows not whither. I suppose Shakespeare thought his plot opened rather too early, and made the alteration to veil the event from the audience; but trusting too much to himself, and full of a single purpose, he did not accommodate his new lines to the rest of the scene.-The learned critic's emendations are now to be examined. Scattered he has changed to scathed; for scattered, he says, gives the idea of an anarchy, which was not the case. It may be replied that feathed gives the idea of ruin, waite, and defolation, which was not the case. It is unworthy a lover of truth, in questions of great or little moment, to exaggerate or extenuate for mere convenience, or for vanity yet less than convenience. Scattered naturally means divided,
In some of our best ports, and are at point
Gent. I will talk further with you.
Kent. No, do not.
Gent. Give me your hand; have you no more to say?
yet ; That when we have found 9 the king. I'll this way, You that : he that first lights on him, Halloo the other.
I'll this way,
unsettled, disunited.-Next is offered with great pomp a change of sea to seize ; but in the first edition the word is fee, for hire, in the sense of having any one in fee, that is, at devotion for money. Fee is in the fecond quarto changed to fee, from which one made sea and another seize. JOHNSON,
One of the quarto's (for there are two different ones, though printed in the same year, and for the same printer) reads secret feet. Perhaps the author wrote secret foot, i. e. footing. Steev.
the king. You that,
-] The folio reads,
the king, in which your pain, That way, I'll this: he that first, &c. So that the late reading,
take That way, I this,was not genuine. The meaning of the passage seems to be this: “ Have you any thing more to say?" "Yes," replies 2
Lear. Blow winds, and crack your cheeks! rage,
blow! You cataracts, and hurricanoes, spout Till you have drench'dour steeples, drown'd the cocks! You sulphurous and 'thought-executing fires, Vaunt-couriers of oak-cleaving thunder-bolts, Singe my white head! And thou all-Shaking thunder, 2 Strike flat the thick rotundity o' the world! 3 Crack nature's mould, all germins spill at once That make ingrateful man!
Fool. O nuncle, court-holy-water in a dry house is better than the rain water out o' door. Good nuncle, in, and ask thy daughters blessing; here's a night pities neither wise men nor fools.
Lear. Rumble thy belly full! spit fire! spout rain! Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters. I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness, I never gave you kingdom, call'd you children,
Kent, “a few words, which are of greater consequence than
any thing I have hitherto said. That secret, however, you "* shall not hear till we have found the king." STEVENS.
thought-executing —] Doing execution with rapidity equal to thought. JOHNSON. 2 Strike fiat, &c.] The quarto reads,-Smite flat. Steev.
3 Crack nature's mould, all GERMAINS Spill at once] Thus all the editions have given us this passage; and Mr. Pope has explained germains to mean relations, or kindred elements. But the poet means here, “ Crack nature's mould, and spill all the “ seeds of matter, that are hoarded within it.” To retrieve which fenfe we must write germins, from germen. Our author not only uses the same thought again, but the word that ascer. tains my explication. In The Winter's Tale;
6. Let nature cruth the fides o' the earth together,
“ And mar the seeds within." THEOBALD. Theobald is right. So in Macbeth,
and the sum “ Of nature's germins tumble altogether." STEEVENS.
3 You owe me no subscription; then let fall
I call you servile ministers,
Fool. He that has a house to put's head in, has a good head-piece. The cod-piece that will house, Before the head has any, The head and he shall lowse: 6 So beggars marry many. The man that makes his toe, What he his heart should make, Shall of a corn cry, woe, And turn his sleep to wake. -For there was never yet fair woman, but she made mouths in a glass. 3 rou owe me no subscription ;-] Subscription, for obedience,
WARBURTON. Here I stand your slave,] But why so? It is true, he says, that they owed him no subscription ; yet sure he owed them none. We should read,
Here I stand your BRAVE; i. e. I defy your worst rage, as he had said just before. What led the editors into this blunder was what should have kept them out of it, namely, the following line,
A poor, infirm, weak, and despis'd old man. And this was the wonder, that such a one should brave them all. WARBURTON.
The meaning is plain enough, he was not their fave by right or compact, but by neceflity and compulsion. Why nould a pasiage be darkened for the sake of changing it? Besides, of brave in that fenfe I remember no example. JOHNSON. s-'tis foul.] Shameful ; dishonourable. Jounson.
So beggars marry many.) i. c. A beggar marries a wife and lice. JOHNSON.