Page images
PDF
EPUB

SCENE III.

Why the king of France,” &c. I must repeat, it is impossible that Shakspeare, writing in verse, would ever have thrust into the context such awkward prose as this scene begins with. We might read :

But wherefore, prythee, is the king of France “So suddenly gone back? Know you the rea

son ?'

521. That his personal return was most rem

quired, and necessary." “ Personal” should be omitted.

Did your letters,&ç. Again is Kent condemned to halt in prose : "But tell me, did your letters pierce the queen “To any demonstration of grief?”. " You have seen Sunshine and rain at once: her smiles and

tears "Were like a better day.

This passage has not been satisfactorily explained ; it is probably corrupt: the quarto reads * better way." Dr.' Warburton's emendation appears the most plausible, "a wetter May." I wish there were any authority for “ an April day,” which would be exactly congruous, and is a simile so applied by Otway: " Beauteous Belvidera“ Came weeping forth,

Tou if it even

o Shining thro' tears like April suns in showers, " That labour to o'ercome the cloud that loads

them.” 524.“ As pearls from diamonds droppid-In

brief, sorrow.It should, undoubtedly, as Mr. Steevens has suggested, be “ dropping.” 526. Gent. No." Kent.“ Was’t before the king res

turn'd ?"
Gent."- No; since.

A sovereign shame so elbows him.I am persuaded that “ elbows” was never the poets word: if it even possessed a better sense than can here be annexed to it; its not conforming to the metre is an evidence of its corruption. I suppose the word was “awes :" “ A sovereign shame so awes him, hřs own un

kindness.” 'Tis so; they are afoot.What has “'tis so” to do with Kent's question? Some words are wanting :

“ 'Tis so delivered me; they are a-foot.” 527. “ Along with me."

This hemistic could easily be removed : " Lending me this acquaintance : pray go with

me.”

to it; its norruption.

SCENE IV.

528. “ In our sustaining corn.- century ends

. forth.“Sustaining,” here, perhaps, is enduring, subject to assault or injury, as in the Tempest: “ On their sustaining garments, not a blemish, " But fresher than before.” : A slight transposition is necessary to the measure: " In our sustaining corn.-Send forth a century.”

Our sustaining corn,” &c. “ Our sustaining corn” is the corn which sustains us; the corn which (according to the vulgar expression) is the staff of life.

LORD CHEDWORTH. And bring him to our eye.

- IVhat can man's wisdom do ?More corruption and disorder: “And bring him to us.- What can wisdom do?" There is a means, madam, that we will try.” "

All bless'd secrets, All you unpublish'd virtues of the earth,

Spring with my tears !" i. e. Spring up in consequence of my tears.

Therefore great France.Further deficiency: "To heal thy bleeding wrongs; therefore, great

France."

CO

Reg.

529. “ And our ag'd father's right.

[Ereunt. “Soon may I hear and see him”. Is a weak and silly addition of the player's.

SCENE V. « Himself." The metre has fallen into disorderI would regulate it thus : Reg. Himself in person there?Stezo. " With much ado :

" Your sister, madam, is the better soldier." Reg. " Lord Edmund spake not with your lord

at home ?" Stew. “ No, madam."

What, I marvel, might import."

My sister's letter to him ?Stew.

I know not, lady.Reg. The strength and order of the enemy." 531. To noble Edmund; come, I know that

you " Are of her bosom.Stew." Madam! I!Reg. I speak In understanding; and you are-I know

it.532. So, fare you well.This fragment should be dismissed.

SCENE VI. 533. Hark! do you hear the sea roar?” Glo. "

Truly, no." - How fearful The And dizzy tis, to cast one's eyes so low,' &c.

Most readers, I believe, will concur with Addison in the general encomium he has pronounced on this speech, and the “ poverty of that writer's wit,” in the instance quoted by Dr. Johnson, would be almost overlooked, if it had not instigated the learned and acute editor to a false and disingenuous remark-had the Doctor (to use his own words on another occasion been in quest of truth, he would plainly have perceived the difference between a real object of terror, and a fictitious one. The objection, perhaps, might stand if we could suppose the speaker really impressed with the terrors of the precipice which he is only artfully describing; but, as Edgar has made a plausible representation to deceive his father, the Doctor seems disposed to play a similar trick on his confiding readers. 535. " The deficient sight

Topple down headlong." This is hardly a warrantable expression : “ the deficient sight,” for “the person defective of sight.” 536. " Fairies, and gods,

" Prosper it with thee !" Fairies are sometimes invoked as auspicious, and sometimes deprecated as malignant.-In Cymbeline, Imogen prays thus:

- Gods, “ From fairies and the tempters of the night, “Guard me, beseech you.”

Why I do trifle thus with his despair,

Is done to cure it." This would be very unskilful writing: the sense and spirit of the drama requires what one

« PreviousContinue »