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* Reverbs—] This I presume to be a word of the poet's own making, meaning the same as reverberates.
o The true blank of thine eye.] The blank is the white or exact mark at which the arrow is shot. See better, says Kent, and keep me always in your view.
-seeming substance,] Seeming is beautiful, of good external appearance. -infirmities she owes,] Owes, for, is possessed of.
entire point.] Entire, for right, true.
Rather, single, unmixed with other considerations.
JOHNSON. Dr. Johnson is right. The meaning of the passage is, that his love wants something to mark its sincerity: “ Who seeks for aught in love but love alone ?"
STEEVENS, 10 Thou losest here, a better where to find.] Here and where have the power of nouns. Thou losest this residence to find a better residence in another place.
JOHNSON. -well are worth the want that you have wanted.] This is a very obscure expression, and must be pieced out with an implied sense to be understood. This I take to be the poet's meaning, stript of the jingle which makes it dark: " You well deserve to meet with that want of love from your husband, which you have professed to want for our father.”
And well are worth the want that you have wanted.] This nonsense must be corrected thus,
And well are worth the want that you have vaunted. i. e. that disherison, which you so much glory in, you deserve.
WARBURTON. I think the common reading very suitable to the manner of our author, and well enough explained by Theobald.
JOHNSON. The meaning may be this: You are well worthy to deserve the want (i. e. poverty) which, in my opinion, you have wanted (i e. solicited or desired to have) from our father. The difficulty is only in the ambiguity of the words want and wanted, which are used in the different senses of egere and carere. Both the quartos read, And well are worth the worth that
-hit together :] Let us agree. 13 The curiosity of nations-] Mr. Pope reads nicety, but our author's word was, courtesy. In our laws some lands are held by the courtesy of Englund. THEOB.
Curiosity, in the time of Shakspeare, was a word that signified an over-nice scrupulousness in manners, dress, &c. In this sense it is used in Timon. “ When thou wast (says Apemantus) in thy gilt and thy perfume, they mock'd thee for too much curiosity." Curiosity is the old reading, which Mr. Theobald changed into courtesy, though the word occurs a second time in this act, and is used by Beaumont and Fletcher in the same sense.
1* exhibition!] Is allowance.
-all this done Upon the gad!] So the old copies: the later editions read,
-All is gone
Upon the gad! which, besides that it is unauthorized, is less proper. 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.
16 This is the excellent foppery of the world ! &c.] In Shakspeare's best plays, besides the vices that arise from the subject, there is generally some peculias prevailing folly, principally ridiculed, that runs through the whole piece. Thus, in The Tempest, the lying disposition of travellers, and, in As you like it, the fantastic humour of courtiers, is exposed and satirized with infinite pleasantry. In like manner, in this play of Lear, the dotages of judicial astrology are severely ridiculed. I fancy, was the date of its first performance well considered, it would be found that something or other happened at that time which gave a more than ordinary run to this deceit, as these words seem to intimate; I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read this other day, what should follow these éclipses. However this be, an impious cheat, which had so little foundation in nature or reason, so detestable an original, and such fatal consequences on the manners of the people, who were at that time strangely besotted with it, certainly deserved the severest lash of satire. It was a fundamental in this noble science, that whatever seeds of good dispositions the infant unborn might be endowed with, either from nature, or traductively from its parents; yet if, at the time of its birth, the delivery was by any casualty so accelerated or retarded, as to fall in with the predominancy of a malignant constellation, that momentary influence would entirely change its nature, and bias it to all the contrary ill qualities: so wretched and monstrous an. opinion did it set out with. But the Italians, to whom we owe this, as well as most other unnatural crimes and follies of these latter ages, fomented its original impiety to the most detestable height of extravagance. Petrus Aponensis, an Italian physician of the 13th century, assures us that those prayers which are made to God when the moon is in conjunction with Jupiter in the dragon's tail, are infallibly heard. The great Milton, with a just indignation of this impiety, hath, in his Paradise Regained, satirized it in a very beautiful manner, by putting these reveries into the mouth of the devil. Nor could the licentious Rabelais himself forbear to ridicule this impious dotage, which he does with exquisite address and humour, where, in the fable which he so agreeably tells from Æsop, of the man who applied to Jupiter for the loss of his hatchet, he makes those who, on the poor man's good success, had projected to trick Jupiter by the same petition, a kind of astrologic atheists, who ascribed this good fortune, that they imagined they were now all going to partake of, to the influence of some rare conjunc
tion and configuration of the stars. Hen, hen, disent ils-Et doncques, telle est au temps present la revolution des Cieulx, la Constellation des Astres, & aspect des planetes, que quiconque coignée perdra, soubdain deviendra ainsi riche?”—Nou. Prol. du IV. Livre.—But to return to Shakspeare. So blasphemous a delusion, therefore, it became the honesty of our poet to expose. But it was a tender point, and required managing For this impious juggle had in his time a kind of religious reverence paid to it. therefore, to be done obliquely; and the circumstances of the scene furnished him with as good an opportunity as he could wish, The persons in the drama are all Pagans, so that as, in compliance to custom, his good characters were not to speak ill of judicial astrology, they could on account of their religion give no reputation to it. But in order to expose it the more, he, with great judgment, makes these Pagans fatalists; as appears by these words of Lear:
By all the operations of the orbs,
From whom we do exist and cease to be. For the doctrine of fate is the true foundation of judicial astrology. Having thus discredited it by the very commendations given to it, he was in no danger of having his direct satire against it mistaken, by its being put (as he was obliged, both in paying regard to custom, and in following nature) into the mouth of the villain and atheist, especially when he has added such force of reason to his ridicule, in the words referred to in the beginning of the nate.