Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Fool. Thou wast a pretty fellow, when thou hadst no need to care for her frowning; now thou art an O without a figure:1 I am better than thou? art now; I am a fool, thou art nothing:-Yes, forsooth, I will hold my tongue; so your face (to Gox.] bids me, though you say nothing. Mum, mum,

He that keeps nor crust nor crum,

Weary of all, shall want some.That's a shealed peascod.3

[Pointing to LEAR. Gon. Not only, sir, this your all-licens'd fool, But other of your insolent retinue Do hourly carp and quarrel; breaking forth In rank and not-to-be-endured riots. Sir, I had thought, by making this well known unto you, To have found a safe redress; but now grow fearful, By what yourself too late have spoke and done, That you protect this course, and put it on By your allowance ;5 which if you should, the fault Would not ’scape censure, nor the redresses sleep; Which, in the tender of a wholesome weal,

[ocr errors]

2

now thou art an O without a figure:] The Fool means to say, that Lear, “ having pared his wit on both sides, and left nothing in the middle,” is become a mere cypher; which has no arithmetical value, unless preceded or followed by some figure. In The Winter's Tale we have the same allusion, reversed :

and therefore, like a cypher,
“ Yet stand ng in rich place, I multiply,
“ With one-we thank you,-many thousands more
“ Standing before it." Malone.

I am better than thou &c.] This bears some resemblance to Falstaff's reply to the Prince, in King Henry IV, P.I: “ A better than thou; I am a gentleman, thou art a drawer.” Steevens.

3 That's a shealed peascod.] i.e. Now a mere husk, which contains nothing. The outside of a king remains, but all the intrinsick parts of royalty are gone : he has nothing to give. Johnson.

That's a shealed peascod.] The robing of Richard Ild's effigy in Westminster Abbey is wrought with peascols open, and the peas out ; perhaps an allusion to his being once in full possession of sovereignty, but soon reduced to an empty title. See Camden’s Remains, 1674, p.453, edit. 1657, p. 340. Tollet,

- put it on —] i. e. promote, push it forward. So, in Macbeth :

the powers above " Put on their instruments." Steevens. 5 By your allowance ;] By your approbation. Malone.

4

Might in their working do you that offence,
Which else were shame, that then necessity
Will call discreet proceeding.
Fool. For you trow, nuncle,

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, 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.

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

6

were left darkling ] This word is used by Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 1:

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 canille, &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 cvering it hastily with the end of an old song, or any glib nonsense that came into the mind I know no oher way of accounting for the incoherent words with which Shakspeare often finishes this Fool s speeches.

Sir 7. feynolds. 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 stage direction : “ Entreth Moros, counterfaiting a vaire gesture and a foolish countenaunce, 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, [1778] for a similar purpose of illustration.

Steevens. -transform you - ] Thus the quartos. The folio readstransport you. Steevens.

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

Whoop, Íug! I love thee.] This, as I am informed, is a quotation from the bur hen cfa old song Steevers. Whoop, Jug, I'll do thee no harm, occurs in The Winter's Tale.

Malone

8

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 ?1 I would learn that; for by the marks of sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, I should be false persuaded I had daughters.

9

1

sleeping or waking ?--Ha! sure’tis not so.) Thus the quartos. The folio : Ha! waking ? 'Tis not so. Malone. Lear's shadov?] The folio gives these words to the Fool.

Steevens. And, I believe, rightly. M. Mason.

- 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. 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 Leur that he had, or had not, daughters. No lo. gick, I apprehend, could draw such a conclusion from such premises. This dificulty, however, may be entirely removed, by only pointing "the passage thus:--for by the marks of sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, I should be false persuaded- I had daughters.Your name, fair genilewoman?

The chain of Lear's speech being thus untangled, we can clearly trace the succession and connection of his ideas. The undutiful 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,

- 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 bystanders,

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, knowle:Ige, and reason, which once distinguished Lear, (but which I have now lost) I should be false (against my own consciousness) persuaded (that I ain not Lear). He then slides to the examination of another distinguishing mark of Lear;

I had daughters.

Fool. Which they will make an obedient father.3

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? Tirwhitt. This te 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 liad or had not daughter, as he could know by any thing else. But, says he, if I judge by these tohens, I find the persuasion false by which I long thought myself the father of daughters. Fohnson.

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

Mr. Tyrwhit'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 pas , and said “I have been false persuaded I had daugh'ers," it cannot be the just explanation of ihe passage as it stands. The meaning aj pears to me to be this:

“ Were I to judge from the marks of sovereignty, of knowledge, or of reason, I should be induced to thini I had daughters, yet hat mos: be a false per uasion ;--I cannot be.'

I could not a first comprehend why the tokens of sovereignty should have any weight in de ermining his persuasion that he had daugh ers; bu' by the marks of sovereignty he means those tokens of royalty which his daugh ers then enjoyed as derived from him.

M. Muson. Lear, it should be remembered, has not pareil with all the murks of sovereignty. In he midst of his prodigali'y te his chiidren lie rese ved to himself the nume and all the oil. irions to a king.-- Shahspeare of er means more tha: he expresses Lear has just asked whether he is a shad w. I wish, he adds, to be resolved in this point; for if I were . judge by the marks of s vereigoty, and he consciousness of reason, I sh uld be persuaded tha I am not a shadow but a man, a king, and a fa. her. Bu this la terper uasio' is faise; for those whom I hought my daughters, are unnatural hings, and never proceeded from these loins.

As therefore I am not a father, so neither may I be an embodied being; I may ye: be a shaduw. 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.

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

Lear. Your name, fair gentlewoman?

Gon. Come, sir;
This admiration is much o' the favour4
Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you
To understand my purposes aright:
As you are old and reverend, you should be wise :5
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. The shame itself doth speak
For instant remedy: Be then desired
By her, that else will take the thing she begs,
A little to disquantity your train;?

6

o'the favour -] i. e. of the complexion. So, in Julius Cesar:

• In favour 's like the work we have in hand.” Steevens. 5 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 same reason be omitted. To make an inn of a private house, by taking unwarrantable liberties in it, is still a common phrase. Steevens.

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

7 A lirtle 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 substiruted - Of fifty. Malone.

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 inarked for him after these words

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 nuinber, without:

• What? fifty of my followers at a clap!' This renders all change needless; and away, arvay, 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.

« AnteriorContinuar »