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Ay, good my lord. Lear. So young, and so untender?! Cor. So young, my lord, and true.
Lear. Let it be s0,—Thy truth then be thy dower:
Good my liege, -
substituted the more common form-But goes thy heart with this? as in the next line he reads, Ay, my good lord, ins:ead of --Ay, good my lord, the reading of the quartos, and the constant language of Shakspeare. Malone. 9 So yourg, and so untender?] So, in Shakspeare's Venus and Adonis:
“ Ai me, quoth Venus, young, and so unkind.?” Maione. 1 The mysteries of Hecute,] 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. 2 Hold thee. from this,] i. e. from this time. Steevens.
generation -] i. e. his children. Malone. 4 I lov’il her most,] So, in Holmshed : “ — which daughters he greatly loved, but especially Cordeilla, the youngest, farre above the two uider." Malone.
5 [To Gorleliu.] As Mr. Heath supposes. to Kent. For in the next words Lear sends for France and Burgundy to offer Cordelia without a dowry. Steevens.
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, which ever they are called, are perfectly suited to Lear's character. I have no doubt that
So be my grave my peace, as here I give
Revenue, execution of the rest,8
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 speak,
the direction now given right. Kent has hitherto said nothing that could extort even from the choleric 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.
Only we still retain —] Thus the quarto. Folio: we shall retain. Malone.
all the additions to a king ;] All the titles belonging to a king. See Vol. XII, p. 85, n. 5. Malone.
execution of the rest,] The execution of the rest is, I suppose, all the other business. Johnson.
9 As my great patron thought on in my prayers,] An allusion 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, Vol. IX, p. 193, n. 1. Reed.
1 Thinks't thou, that duty shall have dread to speak, &c.] I have given this passage according to the old folio, from which the modern edi. tions have silently departed, for the sake of better numbers, with a
When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour's
Kent, on thy life, no more.
degree of insincerity, which, if not sometimes detected and censured, must impair the credit of ancient books. One of : he 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 pluinness honour
Thy youngest laughter, &c. I am inclined to think that reverse thy doom was Shakspeare's first reading, as more apposite to the present occasion, and that he changed it afterwards to reserve thy state, which conduces more to the progress of the action. Fohnson.
I have followed the quartos. Reserve was formerly used for preserve. So, in our poet s 52d Sonnet:
- Reserve ihem for my love, not for their rhymes.” 2 Reverbs -] This is perhaps, a word of the poet's own making; meaning the same as reverberutes. Steevens.
- a pawn
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 enemies.
To wage against is au expression used in a Letter from Guil. Webbe to Robt. Wilmot, prefixed to Tancred and Gismund, 1592:
you shall not be able to wage against me in the charges growing apon 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:
Thy safety being the motive.
Out of my sight!
Lear. Now, by Apollo,
Now, by Apollo, king,
O, vassal! miscreant!
[Laying his Hand on his Sword. Alb. Corn. Dear sir, forbear.6
Hear me, recreant !
“ 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.” Henley. • 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. Johnson See Vol VI, p. 150, n. 9. Malone.
5 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 swears by Apollo, because the father broke his neck on the temple of that deity ? Steevens 6 Dear sir, forbear.] This speech is omitted in the quartos.
Steevens. - thy gift ;] The quartos read—thy doorn. Steevens.
- strain'd pride,] The oldest copy reads-strayed pride; that is, pride exorbitant; pride passing due bounds. Johnson.
9 To come betwixt our sentence and our power ;] Power, for execu. tion of the sentence. Warburton.
Rather, as Mr. Edwards observes, our power to execute that sentence. Steevens.
Our potency made good,i take thy reward.
1 (Which nor our nature nor our place can bear)
Our potency made good,] As thou hast come with unreasonable pride between the sentence which I had passed, and the power by which I shall execute it, take thy reward in another sentence which shall make good, shall establish, shall maintain, that power.
Mr. Davies thinks, that our potency made good, relates only to our place. Which our nature cannot bear, for our place, without departure from the potency of that place. This is easy and clear.–Lear, who is characterized as hot, heady, and violent, is, with very just observation of life, made to entangle himself with vows, upon any sudden provocation to vow revenge, and then to plead the obligation of a vow in defence of implacability. Johnson.
In my opinion, made, the reading of all the editions, but one of the quartos, (which reads make good) is right. Lear had just dele-" gated his power to Albany and Cornwall, contenting himself with only the name and all the additions of a king. He could therefore have no power to inflict on Kent the punishment which he thought he deserved. Our potency made good seems to me only this: They to whom I have yielded my power and authority, yielaing me the ability to dispense it in this instance take thy reward. Steevens.
The meaning, I think, is, -As a proof that I am not a mere threatner, that I have power as well as will to punish, take the due reward of ihy demerits; hear thy sentence. The words our potency male good are in the absolute case. In Othello we have again nearly the same language:
My spirit and my place have in them power
“ To make this bitter to thee.” Malone. 2 To shield thee from diseases of the world;] Thus the quartos. The folio Iras discisters. The alteration, I believe, was made by the editor, in consequence of his not knowing the meaning of the original word. Diseases in old language, meant the slighter inconvenien. cies, troubles, or distresses of the world. So, in King Henry VI, P. I, Vol. X, p. 55, n. 2:
" And in that ease I 'll tell thee my disease." Again, in A Woman kill'd with Kindness, by T. Heywood, 1617:
Fie, fie, that for my private businesse
" To the whole house." The provision that Kent could make in five days, inight in some measure guard him against the diseases of the world, but could not shield hivı from its disasters. Malone.
Which word be retained is, in my opinion, quite immaterial. Such recollection as an interval of five days will afford to a considerate person, may surely enable him in some degree to provide against the disasters, fi. e. the calamities) of the world. Stecvens.