Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long, That it had its head bit off by its young. So, out went the candle, and we were left darkling'. LEAR. Are you our daughter?

GON. Come, sir 2, I would, you would make use of that good wisdom whereof I know you are fraught; and put away these dispositions, which of late transform you from what you rightly are.

3

FOOL. May not an ass know when the cart draws the horse?-Whoop, Jug! I love thee.

I

were left DARKLING.] This word is used by Milton, Paradise Lost, book i.:

66

as the wakeful bird

"Sings darkling ——."

and long before, as Mr. Malone observes, by Marston, &c.

Dr. Farmer concurs with me in supposing, that the words"So, out went the candle," &c. are a fragment of some old song. STEEVENS.

Shakspeare's Fools are certainly copied from the life. The originals whom he copied were no doubt men of quick parts; lively and sarcastick. Though they were licensed to say any thing, it was still necessary to prevent giving offence, that every thing they said should have a playful air we may suppose therefore that they had a custom of taking off the edge of too sharp a speech by covering it hastily with the end of an old song, or any glib nonsense that came into the mind. I know no other way of accounting for the incoherent words with which Shakspeare often finishes this Fool's speeches. SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.

In a very old dramatick piece, entitled A very mery_and pythie Comedy, called The Longer Thou Livest the more Foole Thou Art, printed about the year 1580, we find the following stagedirection: Entreth Moros, counterfaiting a vaine gesture and a foolish countenance, synging the foote of many songs, as fools were wont." MALONE.

See my note on Act III. Sc. VI. in which this passage was brought forward, long ago, [1773] for a similar purpose of illustration. STEEVENS.

2 Come, sir,] The folio omits these words, and reads the rest of the speech, I think rightly, as verse. BOSWELL.

3

TRANSFORM you -] Thus the quartos. The folio reads -transport you. STEEVENS.

4

Whoop, Jug! &c.] There are in the Fool's speeches several passages which seem to be proverbial allusions, perhaps not now to be understood. JOHNSON.

66

Whoop, Jug! I love thee." This, as I am informed, is a quotation from the burthen of an old song. STEEVENS.

LEAR. Does any here know me ?-Why this is not Lear*: does Lear walk thus ? speak thus ? Where are his eyes? Either his notion weakens, or his discernings are lethargied.-Sleeping or waking?-Ha! sure 'tis not so.-Who is it that can tell me who I am ?-Lear's shadow"? I would learn that; for by the marks of sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, I should be false persuaded I had daughters".

In Heywood's Rape of Lucrece, we meet with a song in which the burthen is

5

Oh! oh! let me be lodged heere." BOSWELL.

this is not Lear:] This passage appears to have been imitated by Ben Jonson in his Sad Shepherd:

66

this is not Marian!

"My juggie, my puggie, my honie, my conie,

66

My love, my dove, my deere;

"Oh the weather is cold, it blowes, it snowes,

66

[ocr errors]

"Nor am I Robin Hood! I pray you ask her!

"Ask her, good shepherds! ask her all for me:
"Or rather ask yourselves, if she be she;
"Or I be I."

STEEVENS.

Lear's shadow?] The folio gives these words to the Fool.
STEEVENS.

And, I believe, rightly. M. MASON.

6-for by the marks of sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, &c.] His daughters prove so unnatural, that, if he were only to judge by the reason of things, he must conclude, they cannot be his daughters. This is the thought. But how does his kingship or sovereignty enable him to judge of this matter? The line, by being false pointed, has lost its sense, We should read: "Of sovereignty of knowledge.”

i. e. the understanding. He calls it, by an equally fine phrase, in Hamlet,-Sovereignty of reason. And it is remarkable that the editors had depraved it there too. See note, Act I. Sc. VII. of that play. [vol. vii. p. 236.] WARBURTON.

The contested passage is wanting in the folio. STEEVENS.

The difficulty, which must occur to every reader, is, to conceive how the marks of sovereignty, of knowledge, and of reason, should be of any use to persuade Lear that he had, or had not, daughters. No logick, I apprehend, could draw such a conclusion from such premises. This difficulty, however, may be entirely removed, by only pointing the passage thus:-" for by the marks of sovereignty, knowledge, and of reason, I should be false persuadedI had daughters.-Your name, fair gentlewoman ?"

The chain of Lear's speech being thus untangled, we can

FOOL. Which they will make an obedient father'.
LEAR. Your name, fair gentlewoman?

The un

clearly trace the succession and connection of his ideas. dutiful behaviour of his daughter so disconcerts him, that he doubts, by turns, whether she is Goneril, and whether he himself is Lear. Upon her first speech, he only exclaims,

66

-Are you our daughter?"

Upon her going on in the same style, he begins to question his own sanity of mind, and even his personal identity. He appeals to the by-standers,

"Who is it that can tell me who I am?"

I should be glad to be told. For (if I was to judge myself) by the marks of sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, which once distinguished Lear, (but which I have now lost) I should be false (against my own consciousness) persuaded (that I am not Lear). He then slides to the examination of another distinguishing mark of Lear:

[ocr errors]

I had daughters."

But not able, as it should seem, to dwell upon so tender a subject, he hastily recurs to his first doubt concerning Goneril,"Your name, fair gentlewoman?" TYRWHITT.

This notice is written with confidence disproportionate to the conviction which it can bring. Lear might as well know by the marks and tokens arising from sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, that he had or had not daughters, as he could know by any thing else. But, says he, if I judge by these tokens, I find the persuasion false by which I long thought myself the father of daughters. JOHNSON.

I cannot approve of Dr. Warburton's manner of pointing this passage, as I do not think that sovereignty of knowledge can mean understanding; and if it did, what is the difference between understanding and reason? In the passage he quotes from Hamlet, sovereignty of reason appears to me to mean, the ruling power, the governance of reason; a sense that would not answer in this place.

Mr. Tyrwhitt's observations are ingenious, but not satisfactory; and as for Dr. Johnson's explanation, though it would be certainly just had Lear expressed himself in the past, and said, "I have been false persuaded I had daughters," it cannot be the just explanation of the passage as it stands. The meaning appears to me to be this:

"Were I to judge from the marks of sovereignty, of knowledge, or of reason, I should be induced to think I had daughters, yet that must be a false persuasion ;-It cannot be."

I could not at first comprehend why the tokens of sovereignty should have any weight in determining his persuasion that he had daughters; but by the marks of sovereignty he means, those

GON. Come, sir;

This admiration is much o' the favour 9

Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you
To understand my purposes aright :
As you are old and reverend, you should be wise 1:

tokens of royalty which his daughters then enjoyed as derived from him. M. MASON.

Lear, it should be remembered, had not parted with all the marks of sovereignty. In the midst of his prodigality to his children, he reserved to himself the name and all the additions to a king.-Shakspeare often means more than he expresses. Lear has just asked whether he is a shadow. I wish, he adds, to be resolved on this point; for if I were to judge by the marks of sovereignty, and the consciousness of reason, I should be persuaded that I am not a shadow, but a man, a king, and a father. But this latter persuasion is false; for those whom I thought my daughters, are unnatural hags, and never proceeded from these loins.

As therefore I am not a father, so neither may I be an embodied being; I may yet be a shadow. However, let me be certain. Your name, fair gentlewoman?

All the late editions, without authority, read by the marks of sovereignty, of knowledge, and of reason.-The words- I would learn that, &c. to an obedient father, are omitted in the folio. MALONE.

7 WHICH they will make an obedient father.] Which, is on this occasion used with two deviations from present language. It is referred, contrary to the rules of grammarians, to the pronoun I, and is employed, according to a mode now obsolete, for whom, the accusative case of who. STEEVENS.

8 Does any, &c.] In the first folio this whole passage is thus given: 'Do's any heere know me?

66

"This is not Lear:

"Do's Lear walke thus? Speake thus? Where are his eyes, "Either his notion weakens, his discernings.

"Are lethargied. Ha! Waking? 'Tis not so?
"Who is it that can tell me who I am?

"Foole. Lear's shadow.

“Lear. Your name, faire gentlewoman?" BOSWELL. o' the FAVOUR -] i. e. of the complexion. So, in Julius Cæsar :

9

"In favour's like the work we have in hand." STEEVENS. As you are old and reverend, YOU SHOULD be wise:] The redundancy of this line convinces me of its interpolation. What will the reader lose by the omission of the words-you should? I would print:

"As you are old and reverend, be wise:"

In the fourth line from this, the epithet-riotous, might for the

Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires;
Men so disorder'd, so debauch'd, and bold,
That this our court, infected with their manners,
Shows like a riotous inn: epicurism and lust
Make it more like a tavern, or a brothel,
Than a grac'd palace 2. The shame itself doth speak
For instant remedy: Be then desir'd

3

By her, that else will take the thing she begs,
A little to disquantity your train
And the remainder, that shall still depend*,

same reason be omitted. To make an inn of a private house, by taking unwarrantable liberties in it, is still a common phrase. STEEVENS.

Enough has been said already in answer to Mr. Steevens's antipathy to an Alexandrine; but, in this instance he might have avoided it, by adopting the text of the first folio:

[ocr errors]

"As you are old and reverend, should be wise: " That is, as you are old and reverend, [and] should be wise, I do beseech you to understand my purposes aright. BOSWELL.

2

-a grac'd palace.] A palace graced by the presence of a sovereign. WARBURTON.

3 A LITTLE to disquantity your train ;] A little is the common reading; but it appears, from what Lear says in the next scene, that this number fifty was required to be cut off, which (as the editions stood) is no where specified by Goneril. POPE.

Mr. Pope for A little, substituted of fifty.

66

99

If Mr. Pope had examined the old copies as accurately as he pretended to have done, he would have found, in the first folio, that Lear had an exit marked for him after these words-[p. 69.] "To have a thankless child.-Away, away! and goes out, while Albany and Goneril have a short conference of two speeches; and then returns in a still greater passion, having been informed (as it should seem) of the express number without :

VOL. X.

"What? fifty of my followers at a clap!

This renders all change needless; and away, away, being restored, prevents the repetition of go, go, my people; which, as the text stood before this regulation, concluded both that and the foregoing speech. Goneril, with great art, is made to avoid mentioning the limited number; and leaves her father to be informed of it by accident, which she knew would be the case as soon as he left her presence. STEEVENS.

4- still DEPEND,] Depend, for continue in service.

F

[ocr errors]

WARBURTON.

« AnteriorContinuar »