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are forced upon conjecture. They have published this line thus;
Thou chang'd, and self-converted thing; but I cannot but think that by self-cover'd the author meant, thou that hast disguised nature by wickedness; thou that hast hid the woman under the fiend. JOHNS.
77 One way I like this well;] Gonerill is well pleased that Cornwall is destroyed, who was preparing war against her and her husband, but is afraid of losing Edmund to the widow.
JOHNSON -one self mate and mate-] The same husband and the same wife.
79 - I do advise you, take this note:] Note means in this place not a letter, but a remark. Therefore observe what I am saying.
JOHNSON. -How fearful And dizzy 'tis, to cast one's eyes so low!] This description has been much admired since the time of Addison, who has remarked, with a poor attempt at pleasantry, that “ he who can read it without being giddy has a very good head, or a very bad one.” The description is certainly not mean, but I am far from thinking it wrought to the utmost excellence of poetry. He that looks from a precipice finds himself assailed by one great and dreadful image of irresistible destruction. But this overwhelming idea is dissipated and enfeebled from the instant that the mind can restore itself to the observation of particulars, and diffuse its attention to distinct objects. The enumera
tion of the choughs and crows, the samphire-man, and the fishers, counteracts the great effect of the prospect, as it peoples the desert of intermediate vacuity, and stops the mind in the rapidity of its descent through emptiness and horror. JOHNS.
81 Would I not leap upright.] But what danger is in leaping upwards or downwards ? He who leaps thus must needs fall again on his feet upon the place from whence he rose. We should read:
Would I not leap outright; i. e. forward: and then being on the verge of a precipice he must needs fall headlong.
I doubt whether the word-outright, was even in use at the time when this play was written.
Upright, with the strict definition—" perpendicularly erect," is absurd; for such a leap is physically impossible. Upright is barely expletive: “ upwards," “ from the ground.”
82 Had'st thou been aught but gossomer, feathers, air,] Gossomore, the white and cobweb-like exhalations that fly about in hot sunny weather. Skinner says, in a book called The French Gardiner, it signifies the down of the sow-thistle, which is driven to and fro by the wind: “ As sure some wonder on the cause of thunder, « On ebb and flood, on gossomer and mist, “ And on all things, till that the cause is wist.”
DR. GRAY. $9 Whose face between her forks presageth snow ;] j.e. Her hand held before her face in sign of modesty, with the fingers spread out, forky.
I believe that the forks were two prominences of the ruff rising on each side of the face.
The construction is not " whose face between her forks," &c. but “ whose face presageth snow between her forks." So, in Timon, act iv. sc. iii:
" Whose blush doth thaw the consecrated snow “ That lies on Dian's lap." €4 The fitchew, nor the soiled horse,] The fitchew is the polecat ; and Steevens says, that a
« soiled horse is a term used for a horse that has been fed with hay and corn in the stable during the winter, and is turned out in the spring to take the first flush of grass, or has it cut and carried in to him. This at once cleanses the animal, and fills him with blood."
-This a good block?] I do not see how this block corresponds either with his foregoing or following train of thoughts. Madmen think not wholly at random. I would read thus, a good flock. Flocks are wool moulded together. The sentence then follows properly :
It were a delicate stratagem to shoe
A troop of horse with felt: i. e. with flocks kneaded to a mass, a practice I believe sometimes used in former ages, for it is mentioned in Ariosto:
“Fece nel cader strepito quanto
“ Avesse avuto sotto i piedi il feltro." It is very common for madmen to catch an accidenta hint, and strain it to the purpose predominant in their minds. Lear picks up a flock, and immediately thinks
to surprize his enemies by a troop of horse shod with flocks or felt. Yet block may stand, if we suppose that the sight of a block put him in mind of mounting his horse.
JOHNSON. This a good block?) Dr. Johnson's explanation of this passage is very ingenious; but, I believe, there is no occasion to adopt it, as the speech itself, or at least the action which should accompany it, will furnish all the connection which he has sought from an extraneous circumstance. Upon the king's saying, I will preach to thee, the poet seems to have meant him to pull off his hat, and keep turning it and feeling it, in the attitude of one of the preachers of those times (whom I have seen so represented in old prints), till the idea of felt, which the good hat or block was made of, raises the stratagem in his brain of shoeing a troop of horse with a substance soft as that which he held and moulded between his hands. This makes him start from his preachment.— Block anciently signified the head part of the hat, or the thing on which a hat is formed, and sometimes the hat itself. STEEV.
- go your gait,] Gang your gait, is the northcountry phrase, for go your ways.
keep out, che vor'ye,] I warn you, Edgar counterfeits the western dialect.
bat be the harder:] Costard, the head.
-no matter vor your foins.] To foin, is to make what we call a feint in fencing. Shakspeare often uses the word.
90 To watch (poor perdu !)] The allusion is to the forlorn-hope in an army, which are put upon desperate adventures, and called in French enfans perdus; she therefore calls her father poor perdu. 91 the forefended place?] Prohibited, forbidden.
-hardly shall I carry out my side,] Bring my purpose to a successful issue, to completion. Side seems here to have the sense of the French word partie, in prendre partie, to take his resolution.
JOHNSON. 93 The goujeers shall devour them, flesh and fell,] The youjeres, i. e. Morbus Gallicus. Gouge, Fr. signifies cne of the common women attending a camp; and as that disease was first dispersed over Europe by the French army, and the women who followed it, the first name it obtained among us was the gougeries, i, e. the disease of the gouges.
HANMER. Flesh and fell, signify flesh and skin. JOHNSON.
94 the walls are thine:] A metaphorical phrase taken from the camp, and signifying, to surrender at discretion. But the Oxford editor, for a plain reason, alters it to,
they all are thine. 95 An interlude !] This short exclamation of Gonerill is added in the folio edition, I suppose, only to break the speech of Albany, that the exhibition on the stage might be more distinct and intelligible.
JOHNSON 96 —This would have seem'd u period, &c.] i. e. This to a common humanity would have been thought the