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From her material sap, perforce must wither,
vile : Filths savour but themselves. What have you
done ? Tigers, not daughters, what have you perform'd ? A father, and a gracious aged man,
* 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 Ex-" aminacyon 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 ye was created as God: yet will I not seeke to have y' worshipped. Then 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.
5 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 in the preceding page, n. 3.
Whose reverence the head-lugg'd bear would lick,
drum ? France spreads his banners in our noiseless land;
6 - would lick,1 This line, which had been omitted by allmy predecessors, I have restored from the quartos. STEEVENS.
7- These vile offences,] In quar:os A and B, we find-the vile offences ; in quarto C,this vile. This was certainly a misprint for these. MALONE.
8 — like monsters of the deep.] Fishes are the only animals that are known to prey upon their own species. Johnson.
This, as Mr. Douce observes, is an error. Boswell.
9 — that not know'st, &c.] The rest of this speech is omitted in the folio. STEEVENS.
· Fools do those villains pity, &c.] She means, that none but fools would pity those villains, who are prevented from executing their malicious designs, and punished for their evil intention. It is not clear whether this fiend means her father, or the King of France. If these words were intended to have a retrospect to Albany's speech, which the word pity might lead us to suppose, Lear must be in her contemplation ; if they are considered as connected with what follows“ Where's thy drum ? " &c. the other interpretation must be adopted. The latter appears to me the true one; and perhaps the punctuation of the quarto, in which there is only a comma after the word mischief, ought to have been preferred. Malone.
With plumed helm thy slayer begins threats ;
See thyself, devil !
O vain fool !
.* Quarto C, shewes not.
I do not perceive to what the word fiend, in the fourth line of the foregoing note, refers. Steevens.
It refers, as I am confident every reader will at once understand, to the detestable fiend-like Goneril. Malone.
? Proper deformity -] i. e. Diabolick qualities appear not so horrid in the devil, to whom they belong, as in woman, who unnaturally assumes them. WARBURTON. ..
3 Thou changed and self-cover'd thing,] This, and the next speech, are wanting in the folio. Steevens.
Of these lines there is but one copy, and the editors are forced upon conjecture. They have published this line thus :
“ Thou chang’d, and self-converted thing," But I cannot but think that by self-cover'd the author meant, thou that hast disguised nature by wickedness; thou that hast hid the woman under the fiend. Johnson.
The following words, “be-monster not thy nature," seem rather to support the reading of the former editors, which was self-converted ; and a thought somewhat similar occurs in Fletcher's play of The Captain, where the father says to Lelia
Oh, good God!
06 Hast thou begot thyself again!"- M. Mason. By thou “self-cover'd thing," the poet, I think, means, thou who hast put a covering on thyself, which nature did not give thee. The covering which Albany means, is, the semblance and appearance of a fiend. Malone.
Self-cover'd, perhaps, was said in allusion to the envelope which the maggots of some insects furnish to themselves. Or the poet might have referred to the operation of the silk-worm, that
“ labours till it clouds itself all o'er." STEEVENS.
Be-monster not thy feature 4 Were it my fitness
Gon. Marry, your manhood now !
Enter a Messenger.
Gloster's eyes !
morse, Oppos'd against the act, bending his sword To his great master; who, thereat enrag'd, Flew on him, and amongst them felld him dead : But not without that harmful stroke, which since Hath pluck'd him after. ALB.
This shows you are above, You justicers”, that these our nether crimes
4 Be-monster not thy FEATURE.] Feature, in Shakspeare's age, meant the general cast of countenance, and often beauty. Bullokar, in his Expositor, 1616, explains it by the words,“ handsomeness, comeliness, beautie.” “Malone.
s To let these hands obey my blood,] As this line wants a foot, perhaps our author wrote
“ To let these hands of mine obey my blood." So, in King John: “
This hand of mine “Is yet a maiden and an innocent hand.” Steevens.' Theobald proposes to read, boiling blood. Boswell.
6 — and amongst them Fell's him dead :) i. e. they (Cornwall and his other servants) aniongst them felld him dead. .
MALONE. 9 You JUSTICERS,] Most of the old copies have justices ; but it was certainly a misprint. The word justicer is used in two other places in this play; and though printed rightly in the folio,
So speedily can venge !-But, O poor Gloster!
Both, both, my lord. -
Gon. [Aside.] One way I like this well 8 ; But being widow, and my Gloster with her, May all the building in my fancy 9 pluck Upon my hateful life : Another way, The news is not so tart *.-I'll read, and answer.
[Exit. Alb. Where was his son, when they did take his
eyes ? Mess. Come with my lady hither. Alb.
He is not here. Mess. No, my good lord; I met him back again. Alb. Knows he the wickedness ? Mess. Ay, my good lord; 'twas he inform'd
against him ; And quit the house of purpose, that their punish
ment Might have the freer course. ALB.
Gloster, I live To thank thee for the love thou show'dst the king, And to revenge thine eyes.-Come hither, friend; Tell me what more thou knowest. [Exeunt.
* Quartos, tooke.
is corrupted in the quarto in the same manner as here. Quarto C reads rightly-justicers, in the line before us. MALONE.
8 One way I like this well ;] Goneril's plan was to poison her sister—to marry Edmund-to murder Albany-and to get possession.of the whole kingdom. As the death of Cornwall facilitated the last part of her scheme, she was pleased at it ; but disliked it, as it put it in the power of her sister to marry Edmund.
M. Mason. 9 — all the building in my fancy -] So, in Coriolanus, Act II. Sc. I.: “ - the buildings in my fancy.” Steevens,