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Glo. Here, take this purse, thou whom the heaven's
Have humbled to all strokes: that I am wretched,
conversation; the history of it having been just then composed with great art and vigour of style and composition by Dr. S. Harsenet, afterwards archbishop of York. by order of the privy-council, in a work intitled, A Declaration of egregious Popish Impostures to withdraw her Majesty's Subjects from their Allegiance, &c. practised by Edmunds, alias Weston, a Jesuit, and divers Romish Priests his wicked Associates printed 1603. The imposture was in substance this. While the Spaniards were preparing their armada against England, the jesuits were here busy at work to promote it, by making converts: one method they employed was to dispossess pretended demoniacks, by which artifice they made several hundred converts amongst the common people. The principal scene of this farce was laid in the family of one Mr. Edmund Peckham, a Roman-catholick, where Marwood, a servant of Antony Babington's (who was afterwards executed for treason) Trayford, an attendant upon Mr. Peckham, and Sarah and Friswood Williams, and Anne Smith, three chambermaids in that family, came into the priest's hands for cure. But the discipline of the patients was so long and severe, and the priests so elate and careless with their success, that the plot was discovered on the confession of the parties concerned, and the contrivers of it deservedly punished. The five devils here mentioned, are the names of five of those who were made to act in this farce upon the chamber-maids and waiting-women; and they were generally so ridiculously nick-named, that Harsenet has one chapter on the strange names of their devils; lest, says he, meeting them otherwise by chance, you mistake them for the names of tapsters or jugglers. Warburton.
The passage in crotchets is omitted in the folio, because I suppose as the story was forgotten, the jest was lost. Johnson.
5 Let the superfluous,] Lear has before uttered the same sentiment, which indeed cannot be too strongly impressed, though it may be too often repeated. Johnson.
Superfluous is here used for one living in abundance.. Warburton.
6 That slaves your ordinance, &c.] The language of Shakspeare is very licentious, and his words have often meanings remote from the proper and original use. To slave or beslave another is to treat him with terms of indignity: in a kindred sense, to slave the ordinance, may be, to slight or ridicule it. Johnson.
To slave an ordinance, is to treat it as a slave, to make it subject to us, instead of acting in obedience to it.
So, in Heywood's Brazen Age, 1613:
“Could slave him like the Lydian Omphale.”
Because he doth not feel, feel your power quickly;
And each man have enough.-Dost thou know Dover? Edg. Ay, master.
Glo. There is a cliff, whose high and bending head Looks fearfully in the confined deep:
Bring me but to the very brim of it,
And I'll repair the misery thou dost bear,
With something rich about me: from that place
I shall no leading need.
Poor Tom shall lead thee.
Give me thy arm;
Before the Duke of Albany's Palace.
Enter GONERIL and EDMUND; Steward meeting them. Gon. Welcome, my lord: I marvel, our mild husband8
Not met us on the way:-Now, where's your master?
Again, in A New Way to pay old Debts, by Massinger :
that slaves me to his will."
Heywood, in his Pleasant Dialogues and Dramas, 1637, uses this verb in the same sense:
"What shall I do? my love I will not slave
"To an old king, though he my love should crave."
Again, in Marston's Malcontent, 1604:
"O powerful blood, how dost thou slave their soul !"
That slaves your ordinance, is the reading of the folio. Both the quartos have-That stands your ordinance; perhaps for withstands. Stands, however, may be right:-that abides your ordinance. The poet might have intended to mark the criminality of the lust-dieted man only in the subsequent words, that will not see, because he doth not feel. Malone.
7 Looks fearfully in the confined deep:] So, the folio. The quartos read-Looks firmly. Mr. Rowe and all the subsequent editors for in read on. I see no need of change. Shakspeare considered the sea as a mirrour. To look in a glass, is yet our colloquial phraseology.
In for into. We still say that a window looks into the garden or the stable-yard. Steevens.
our mild husband -] It must be remembered that Albany, the husband of Goneril, disliked, in the end of the first Act, the scheme of oppression and ingratitude. Johnson.
He smil'd at it: I told him, you were coming;
When I inform'd him, then he call'd me sot;
And told me, I had turn'd the wrong side out:What most he should dislike, seems pleasant to him; What like, offensive.
Then shall you go no further. [To EDM.
It is the cowish terror of his spirit,
That dares not undertake: he'll not feel wrongs,
I must change arms1 at home, and give the distaff
Shall pass between us: ere long your are like to hear,
A mistresses command. Wear this; spare speech;
[Giving a Favour Decline your head: this kiss, if it durst speak, Would stretch thy spirits up into the air;2
Our wishes, on the way,
May prove effects.] I believe the meaning of the passage to be this: "What we wish, before our march is at an end, may be brought to happen," i. e. the murder or despatch of her husband. On the way, however, may be equivalent to the expression we now use, viz. By the way, or By the by, i. e. en passant. Steevens.
The wishes we have formed and communicated to each other on our journey, may be carried into effect. M. Mason.
She means, I think, The wishes, which we expressed to each other on our way hither, may be completed, and prove effectual to the de: struction of my husband. On her entrance she said
I marvel our mild husband
"Not met us on the way."
Again, more appositely, in King Richard III:
"Thou know'st our reasons, urg'd upon the way?
See also Florio's Italian Dictionary, 1598: “ Umbella. A kind of round thing like a round skreene, that gentlemen use in Italie in time of summer, to keep the sunne from them, when they are riding by the way.'
1 I must change arms-] Thus the quartos. The folio reads change names. Steevens.
2 Decline your head: this kiss, if it durst speak,
Would stretch thy spirits up into the air;Ĵ She bids him decline his head, that she might give him a kiss (the Steward being present) and that it might appear only to him as a whisper. Steevens.
Conceive, and fare thee well.
Edm. Yours in the ranks of death.
My most dear Gloster! [Exit EDM.
O, the difference of man, and man!3 To thee
Usurps my bed.4
Madam, here comes my lord. [Exit Stew.
Gon. I have been worth the whistle.5
You are not worth the dust which the rude wind.
3 O, the difference of man, and man!] Omitted in the quartos.
Some epithet to difference was probably omitted in the folio.
According to the present regulation of this passage, the measure is complete. Steevens.
Usurps my bed.] One of the quartos read:
My foot usurps my head; the other,
My foot usurps my body. Steevens.
The quarto of which the first signature is A, reads-My foot usurps my head. Some of the copies of quarto B, have-My foot usurps my body; others-A fool usurps my bed. The folio reads-My fool usurps my body. Malone.
5 I have been worth the whistle.] This expression is a reproach to Albany for having neglected her; though you disregard me thus, I have been worth the whistle, I have found one that thinks me worth calling. Johnson.
This expression is a proverbial one. Heywood in one of his dialogues, consisting entirely of proverbs, says:
"It is a poor dog that is not worth the whistling."
Goneril's meaning seems to be―There was a time when you would have thought me worth the calling to you; reproaching him for not having summoned her to consult with on the present critical occasion. Steevens.
I think Mr. Steevens's interpretation the true one.
6 I fear your disposition:] These words, and the lines that fol. low to monsters of the deep, are found in the quartos, but are improperly omitted in the folio. They are necessary, as Mr. Pope has observed, "to explain the reasons of the detestation which Albany here expresses to his wife." Malone.
7 That nature, which contemns its origin,
Cannot be border'd certain in itself;] The sense is, That natire
She that herself will sliver and disbranch
Gon. No more; the text is foolish.
Alb. Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile:
Whose reverence the head-lugg'd bear would lick,
which is arrived to such a pitch of unnatural degeneracy, as to con. temn its origin, cannot from thenceforth be restrained within any certain bounds, but is prepared to break out into the most monstrous excesses every way, as occasion or temptation may offer. Heath.
She that herself will sliver and disbranch —] To sliver signifies to tear off or disbranch. So, in Macbeth:
slips of yew
"Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse."
• She that herself will sliver and disbranch
From her material sap,] She who breaks the bonds of filial duty, and becomes wholly alienated from her father, must wither and perish, like a branch separated from that sap which supplies it with nourishment, and gives life to the matter of which it is composed. So, in A Brief Chronycle concernynge the Examinacion and Death of Syr Johan Oldcastle, 1544: "Then sayd the lorde Cobham, and spredde his armes abrode: This is a very crosse, yea and so moche better than your crosse of wode, in that yt was created as God: yet will I not seeke to have yt worshipped. Than sayd the byshop of London, Syr, ye wote wele that he dyed on a materyall crosse.”
Mr. Theobald reads maternal, and Dr. Johnson thinks that the true reading Syr John Froissart's Chronicle (as Dr. Warburton has observed) in the title-page of the English translation printed in 1525, is said to be translated out of French to our material English Tongue by John Bourchier. And I have found material (from mater) used in some other old books for maternal, but neglected to note the instances I think, however, that the word is here used in its ordinary sense. Maternal sap (or any synonymous words) would introduce a mixed and confused metaphor Material sap is strictly correct. From the word herself to the end, the branch was the figurative object of the poet's thought. Malone.
Throughout the plays of our author I do not recollect a single instance of the adjective-maternal. Steevens.
1 And come to deadly use.] Alluding to the use that witches and inchanters are said to make of wither'd branches in their charms. A fine insinuation in the speaker, that she was ready for the most unnatural mischief, and a preparative of the poet to her plotting with the bastard against her husband's life. Warburton.
Dr. Warburton might have supported his interpretation by the passage in Macbeth, quoted above, n. 8. Malone.