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LEAR. How, how, Cordelia ? mend your speech
Lest it may mar your fortunes.
Good my lord, You have begot me, bred me, lov'd me: I Return those duties back as are right fit, Obey you, love you, and most honour you. Why have my sisters husbands, if they say, They love you, all? Haply, when I shall wed", That lord, whose hand must take my plight, shall
Half my love with him, half my care, and duty:
LEAR. But goes this with thy heart 9 ?
6 How, How, Cordelia ?]
Thus the folio. The quartos read
-Go to, go to. STEEVENS.
- Haply, when I shall wed, &c.] So, in The Mirrour for Magistrates, 1587, Cordila says:
Nature so doth bind and me compell
"To love you as I ought, my father, well;
"To find in heart to bear another more good will:
"Thus much I said of nuptial loves that meant." STEEVENS. See also the quotation from Camden's Remaines, in the Preliminary Remarks to this play. MALONE.
8 To love my father all.] These words are restored from the first edition, without which the sense was not complete. POPE.
9 But goes this with thy heart?] Thus the quartos, and thus I have no doubt Shakspeare wrote, this kind of inversion occurring often in his plays, and in the contemporary writers. So, in King Henry VIII.:
and make your house our tower." Again, in The Merchant of Venice, vol. v. p. 68 : 66 That many may be meant
By the fool multitude."
The editor of the folio, not understanding this kind of phraseology, substituted the more common form-But goes thy heart with this? as in the next line he reads, Ay, my good lord, instead of-Ay, good my lord, the reading of the quartos, and the constant language of Shakspeare. MALONE.
LEAR. Let it be so,-Thy truth then be thy dower:
For, by the sacred radiance of the sun;
Hold thee, from this, for ever. The barbarous
Or he that makes his generation * messes
LEAR. Peace, Kent!
Good my liege,
Come not between the dragon and his wrath : I lov'd her most 5, and thought to set my rest On her kind nursery.--Hence, and avoid my sight![To CORDELIA.
So young, and so untender?] So, in Shakspeare's Venus and Adonis :
"Ah me, quoth Venus, young, and so unkind?" MALONE. 2 The MYSTERIES of Hecate,] The quartos have mistress, the folio-miseries. The emendation was made by the editor of the second folio, who likewise substituted operations in the next line for operation, the reading of the original copies. MALONE.
3 Hold thee, from this,] i. e. from this time. 4 generation] i. e. his children. MALONE. 5 I lov'd her most,] So, Holinshed: which daughters he greatly loved, but especially Cordeilla, the youngest, farre above the two elder." MALONE.
6 [To Cordelia.] As Mr. Heath supposes, to Kent. For in the next words Lear sends for France and Burgundy to offer Cordelia without a dowry. STEEVENS.
So be my grave my peace, as here I give
Her father's heart from her!-Call France ;-Who stirs ?
Call Burgundy.-Cornwall, and Albany,
With my two daughters' dowers digest the third:
That troop with majesty.-Ourself, by monthly
With reservation of an hundred knights,
Make with you by due turns. Only we stili retain'
Revenue, execution of the rest 9,
Beloved sons, be yours: which to confirm,
Whom I have ever honour'd as my king,
Mr. M. Mason observes, that Kent did not yet deserve such treatment from the King, as the only words he had uttered were "Good my liege." REED.
Surely such quick transitions or inconsistencies, whichever they are called, are perfectly suited to Lear's character. I have no doubt that the direction now given is right. Kent has hitherto said nothing that could extort even from the cholerick king so harsh a sentence, having only interposed in the mildest manner. Afterwards indeed, when he remonstrates with more freedom, and calls Lear a madman, the King exclaims-" Out of my sight!" MALONE. Folio: we
7-only we STILL retain -] Thus the quarto. shall retain. MALONE.
- all the ADDITIONS to a king.] All the titles belonging
to a king. See vol. viii. p. 313. MALONE.
execution of the rest,] The execution of the rest is, I suppose, all the other business. JOHNSON.
As my great patron thought on in my prayers,] An allusion
LEAR. The bow is bent and drawn, make from the shaft.
KENT. Let it fall rather, though the fork invade The region of my heart: be Kent unmannerly, When Lear is mad. What would'st thou do, old man ?
Think'st thou, that duty shall have dread to speak2, When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour's bound,
When majesty stoops to folly. Reverse thy doom;
to the custom of clergymen praying for their patrons, in what is commonly called the bidding prayer. HENLEY.
See also note to the epilogue to King Henry IV. Part II.
2 Think'st thou, that duty shall have dread to speak, &c.] I have given this passage according to the old folio, from which the modern editions have silently departed, for the sake of better numbers, with a degree of insincerity, which, if not sometimes detected and censured, must impair the credit of ancient books. One of the editors, and perhaps only one, knew how much mischief may be done by such clandestine alterations. The quarto agrees with the folio, except that for reserve thy state, it gives, reverse thy doom, and has stoops, instead of falls to folly. The meaning of answer my life my judgment, is, Let my life be answerable for my judgment, or, I will stake my life on my opinion. The reading which, without any right, has possessed all the modern copies, is this:
to plainness honour
"Is bound, when majesty to folly falls.
"Reserve thy state; with better judgment check
I am inclined to think that reverse thy doom was Shakspeare's first reading, as more apposite to the present occasion, and that Ihe changed it afterwards to reserve thy state, which conduces more to the progress of the action, JOHNSON.
Reserve was formerly used for preserve. So, in our poet's 52d Sonnet :
"Reserve them for my love, not for their rhymes." But I have followed the quartos.
Nor are those empty-hearted, whose low sound
Kent, on thy life, no more. KENT. My life I never held but as a pawn To wage against thine enemies; nor fear to lose it, Thy safety being the motive.
Out of my sight! KENT. See better, Lear; and let me still remain The true blank of thine eye3. LEAR. Now, by Apollo
3 Reverbs] This is, perhaps, a word of the poet's own making, meaning the same as reverberates. STEEVENS.
TO WAGE AGAINST thine enemies ;] i. e. I never regarded my life, as my own, but merely as a thing of which I had the possession, not the property; and which was entrusted to me as a pawn or pledge, to be employed in waging war against your ene
To wage against is an expression used in a Letter from Guil. Webbe to Rob'. Wilmot, prefixed to Tancred and Gismund, 1592: -you shall not be able to wage against me in the charges growing upon this action." STEEVENS.
"My life, &c." That is, I never considered my life as of more value than that of the commonest of your subjects. A pawn, in chess, is a common man, in contradistinction to the knight; and Shakspeare has several allusions to this game, particularly in King John:
"Who painfully with much expedient march, "Have brought a counter-check before your gates." Again, in King Henry V.:
"Therefore take heed how you impawn our person."
3 The true BLANK of thine eye.] The blank is the white or exact mark at which the arrow is shot. 'See better,' says Kent, JOHNSON.
'and keep me always in your view.'
See vol. v. p. 522, n. 8. MALone.
6- by APOLLO,-] Bladud, Lear's father, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth, attempting to fly, fell on the temple of Apollo, and was killed. This circumstance our author must have noticed, both in Holinshed's Chronicle and The Mirrour for Magistrates. MALONE.
Are we to understand, from this circumstance, that the son VOL. X. с