Page images
PDF

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 2] 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. STE EV. 86 go your gait, J Gang your gait, is the north

country phrase, for go your ways.

* keep out, che vor'ye, I warn you. Edgar counterfeits the western dialect. JOHNSON.

88 whether your costard or my bat be the harder:] Costard, the head.

89 no matter vor your foins.] Tofoin, is to make what we call a feint in fencing. Shakspeare often uses the word. STEEVENS,

* 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. w A RB.

*—the forefended place?] Prohibited, forbidden.

92 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.

* The goujeers shall devour them, flesh and fell,] The goujeres, i. e. Morbus Gallicus. Gouge, Fr. signifies one 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. H ANM ER.

Flesh and fell, signify flesh and skin. Jo HNso N.

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. W. A. R. B. * An interlude s] 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 a period, &c.] i.e. This to a common humanity would have been thought the

utmost of my sufferings; but such as love cruelty are always for adding much to more, till they reach the extremity of misery. W.A. R.BU RTON. 97 Is this the promis'd end? &c.] These two exclamations are given to Edgar and Albany in the folio, to animate the dialogue, and employ all the persons on the stage; but they are very obscure. JOHNSON. Or image of that horror?] In the first folio this short speech of Edgar (which seems to be only an addition to the preceding one of Kent) has a full stop at the end. Is this conclusion, says Kent, such as the present turn of affairs seemed to promise 2 Or is it only, replies Edgar, a representation of that horror which we suppose to be real? A similar expression occurs at the beginning of the play.—I have told you what I have seen and heard but faintly; nothing like the image and horror of it. STEEW E N S. It appears to me that by the promised end Kent does not mean that conclusion which the state of their affairs seemed to promise, but the end of the world. In St. Mark's Gospel, when Christ foretels to his disciples the end of the world, and is describing to them the signs that were to precede, and mark the approach of, our final dissolution, he says, “For in those days shall be affliction such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created, unto this time, neither shall be:” and afterwards he says, “Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their WOL. XIII. Q

parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.” Kent in contemplating the unexampled scene of exquisite affliction which was then before him, and the unnatural attempt of Goneril and Regan against their father's life, recollects these passages, and asks, whether that was the end of the world that had been foretold to us. To which Edgar adds, or only a representation or resemblance of that horror?

So Macbeth, when he calls upon Banquo, Malcolm, &c. to view Duncan murdered, says,

go up, up, and see “The great doom's image!" There is evidently an allusion to the same passages in scripture, in a speech of Gloster's, which he makes in the second scene of the first act: “These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us;—love cools; friendship falls off; brothers divide; in cities, mutinies; in countries, discord; in palaces, treason; and the bond crack'd 'twixt son and father. This villain of mine comes under the prediction; there's son against father; the king falls from the bias of nature; there's father against child: We have seen the best of our time.” If any criticks should urge it as an objection to this explanation, that the persons of the drama are pagans, and of consequence unacquainted with the scriptures, they give Shakspeare credit for more accuracy than I fear he possessed. M. M. A SO N. * And my poor fool is hang'd / This is an expression of tenderness for his dead Cordelia (not his fool, as some have thought) on whose lips he is still intent, and dies away while he is searching for life there. STEEW ENS.

* Pray you, undo this button:] Dr. Warton judiciously observes, that the swelling and heaving of the heart is described by this most expressive circumstance,

« PreviousContinue »