« PreviousContinue »
Than doth, within a dull, stale, tired bed,
* Quartos omit these three words. 5 Shall top the legitimate.] Here the Oxford editor would show us that he is as good at coining phrases as his author, and so alters the text thus :
“ Shall toe th' legitimate.--i. e, says he, stand on even ground with him, as he would do with his author. WARBURTON..
Sir T. Hanmer's emendation will appear very plausible to him that shall consult the original reading. The quartos read :
“ Edmund the base
“ Shall tooth' legitimate ." The folio:
" Edmund the base
“ Shall to th' legitimate ". Hanmer, therefore, could hardly be charged with coining a word, though his explanation may be doubted. To toe him, is perhaps to kick him out, a phrase yet in vulgar use; or, to toe, may be literally to supplant. The word be (which stands in some editions] has no authority. Johnson. Mr. Edwards would read-Shall top the legitimate.
I have received this emendation, because the succeeding expression, I grow, seems to favour it, and because our poet uses the same expression in Hamlet :
"— so far he topp d my thought," &c. Steevens. So, in Macbeth:
" Not in the legions
“ In evils to top Macbeth." A passage in Hamlet adds some support to toe, Sir Thomas Hanmer's reading : “ — for the toe of the peasant comes so near to the heel of the courtier, that he galls his kybe.”
In Devonshire, as Sir Joshua Reynolds observes to me,“ to toe a thing up, is, to tear it up by the roots : in which sense the word is perhaps used here ; for Edmund immediately adds-1 grow, I prosper." Malone. VOL, X.
Enter Gloster. Glo. Kent banish'd thus ! And France in choler
parted ! And the king gone to-night! subscrib'd his power ! Confin'd to exhibition ?! All this done Upon the gad!— Edmund! How now? what
news ? Edm. So please your lordship, none.
[Putting up the Letter. Glo. Why so earnestly seek you to put up that
letter ? Edm. I know no news, my lord. Glo. What paper were you reading ? Edm. Nothing, my lord. Gio. No? What needed then that terrible despatch of it into your pocket ? the quality of nothing hath not such need to hide itself. Let's
6- SUBSCRIB'd his power !) To subscribe, is, to transfer by signing or subscribing a writing of testimony. We now use the term, He subscribed forty pounds to the new building.
Johnson. To subscribe in Shakspeare is to yield, or surrender. So, afterwards : “ You owe me no subscription.” Again, in Troilus and Cressida :
“For Hector in his blaze of wrath subscribes
“ To tender objects." Malone. The folio reads-prescribed.
7 — exhibition !] Is allowance. The term is yet used in the universities. Johnson. So, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona:
“ What maintenance he from his friends receives,
“ Like exhibition thou shalt hare from me.” Steevens. 8 All this done
Upon the gad !) To do upon the gad, is, to act by the sudden stimulation of caprice, as cattle run madding when they are stung by the gad fly.. Johnson.
Done upon the gad is done suddenly, or, as before, while the iron is hot. A gad is an iron bar. So, in I'll never Leave Thee, a Scottish song, by Allan Ramsay :
“ Bid iceshogles hammer red gads on the studdy." The statute of 2 and 3 Eliz. 6, c. 27, is a “ Bill against false forging of iron gadds, instead of gadds of steel.” Ritson.
SC. II. see: Come, if it be nothing, I shall not need spectacles.
Edm. I beseech you, sir, pardon me: it is a letter from my brother, that I have not all o'er-read; for so much as I have perused, I find it not fit for your over-looking.
Glo. Give me the letter, sir.
Edm. I shall offend, either to detain or give it. The contents, as in part I understand them, are to blame. Glo. Let's see, let's see.
Edm. I hope, for my brother's justification, he wrote this but as an essay or taste of my virtue '.
Glo. [Reads.] This policy, and reverence of age!, makes the world bitter to the best of our times; keeps our fortunes from us, till our oldness cannot relish
9 - TASTE Op my virtue.] Though taste may stand in this place, yet I believe we should read-assay or test of my virtue : they are both metallurgical terms, and properly joined. So, in Hamlet:
“ Bring me to the test." Johnson. Both the quartos and folio have essay, which may have been merely a mis-spelling of the word assay, which in Cawdrey's Alphabetical Table, 1604, is defined—"a proof or trial.” But as essay is likewise defined by Bullokar in his English Expositor, 1616, “ a trial,” I have made no change.
To assay not only signified to make trial of coin, but to taste before another; prælibo. In either sense the word might be used here. Malone.
Essay and Taste, are both terms from royal tables. See note on Act V. Sc. III. Mr. Henley observes, that in the eastern parts of this kingdom the word say is still retained in the same sense. So, in Chapman's version of the nineteenth Iliad : “ Atrides with his knife took say, upon the part before,."
Steevens. This policy, and reverence of age,] Butter's quarto has, this policy of age; the folio, this policy and reverence of age.
Johnson. The two (three] quartos published by Butter, concur with the folio in reading age. Mr. Pope's duodecimo is the only copy that has ages. STEEVENS.
them. I begin to find an idle and fond’ bondage in the oppression of aged tyranny; who sways, not as it hath power, but as it is suffered. Come to me, that of this I may speak more. If our father would sleep till I waked him, you should enjoy half his revenue for ever, and live the beloved of your brother, EDGAR.-Humph-Conspiracy !-Sleep till I waked him,--you should enjoy half his revenue,-My son Edgar! Had he a hand to write this ? a heart and brain to breed it in ?—When came this to you? Who brought it ?
Edm. It was not brought me, my lord, there's the cunning of it; I found it thrown in at the casement of my closet.
Glo. You know the character to be your brother's ?
Edm. If the matter were good, my lord, I durst swear it were his; but, in respect of that, I would fain think it were not.
Glo. It is his.
Edm. It is his hand, my lord ; but, I hope, his heart is not in the contents.
Glo. Hath he never heretofore sounded you in this business?
Edm. Never, my lord: But I have often heard him maintain it to be fit, that, sons at perfect age, and fathers declining, the father should be as ward to the son, and the son manage his revenue.
Glo. O villain, villain !-His very opinion in the letter!- Abhorred villain ! Unnatural, detested, brutish villain! worse than brutish !-Go, sirrah, seek him ; I'll apprehend him :-Abominable villain !- Where is he?
Edm. I do not well know, my lord. If it shall please you to suspend your indignation against my
2 — idle and fond -] Weak and foolish.
brother, till you can derive from him better testimony of his intent, you shall run a certain course ; where, if you'violently proceed against him, mistaking his purpose, it would make a great gap in your own honour, and shake in pieces the heart of his obedience. I dare pawn down my life for him, that he hath writ this to feel my affection to your honour, and to no other pretence 5 of danger. Glo. Think you so ?
Edm. If your honour judge it meet, I will place you where you shall hear us confer of this, and by an auricular assurance have your satisfaction; and that without any further delay than this very evening. Glo. He cannot be such a monster. [Edv. Nor is not sure.
Glo. To his father, that so tenderly and entirely loves him.-Heaven and earth!]_Edmund, seek
3 — WHERE, if you —] Where was formerly often used in the sense of whereas. MALONE. So, in Pericles, Prince of Tyre, Act I. Sc. I.:
“ Where now you're both a father and a son." See also Act II. Sc. III. STEEVENS.
4 - to your honOUR.] It has been already observed that this was the usual mode of address to a Lord in Shakspeare's time.
MALONE. See Richard III. Act III. Sc. II. where the Pursuivant uses this address to Lord Hastings. STEEVENS.
$ – pretence-] Pretence is design, purpose. So, afterwards in this play :
“ Pretence and purpose of unkindness." JOHNSON. So, in Macbeth :
“ Against the undivulg'd pretence I fight
“ Of treasonous malice." But of this, numberless examples can be shown; and I can venture to assert, with some degree of confidence, that Shak. speare never uses the word pretence, or pretend, in any other sense. STEEVENS. Edm.] The words between brackets are omitted in the folio.