I do renouncet'affliction

Prosper it with thee! Go thou further off ;
Bid me farewell, and let me hear thee going.

Edg. Now fare you well, good sir. (Seems to go.

With all my heart.
EDG. Why I do trifle thus with his despair,
Is done to cure it..

O you mighty gods !
This world I do renounce; and, in your sights,
Shake patiently my great affliction off:
If I could bear it longer, and not fall
To quarrel with your great opposeless wills,
My snuff, and loathed part of nature, should
Burn itself out. If Edgar live, 0, bless him!
Now, fellow, fare thee well.

[He leaps, and falls along. Edg.

Gone, sir ? farewell ® ,And yet I know not how conceit may rob The treasury of life, when life itself Yields to the theft': Had he been where he

thought, By this, had thought been past.--Alive, or dead ? Ho, you sir! friend !-Hear you, sir ?-speak!

Why I do trifle thus with his despair,

Is done to cure it.] Mr. Theobald and Dr. Warburton, who read, with one of the quartos-"'Tis done,” place an interrogation point at the end of the first of these lines ; but, in my opinion, improperly. Steevens.

5. Is done -" Thus the quartos B and C, and the folio. Quarto A, reads—'Tis done. Malone.

8 Gone, sir ? farewell.] Thus the quartos and folio. The modern editors have been content to read-Good sir, &c.

STEEVENS. They followed the arbitrary alteration of the editor of the second folie. MALONE.

Perhaps, a mere typographical error. Steevens.
9 when life itself
Yields to the theft :) When life is willing to be destroyed.


Thus might he pass indeed':-Yet he revives :
What are you, sir ?

Away, and let me die.
Edg. Had'st thou been aught but gossomer, fea-

thers, air, So many fathom down precipitating, Thou had'st shiver'd like an egg : but thou dost

breathe ; Hast heavy substance; bleed'st not ; speak'st; art

sound. Ten mașts at each make not the altitude,

Thus might he pass indeed :) Thus might he die in reality. We still use the word passing bell. Johnson. So, in King Henry VI. Part II. :

.“ Disturb him not, let him pass peaceably." STEEVENS. 2 Had'st thou been aught but Gossomer, feathers, air,] Gossomore, the white and cob-web like exhalations that fly about in hot sunny weather. Skinner says, in a book called The French Gardiner, it signifies the down of the sow-thistle, which is driven to and fro by the wind :

“ Aš sure some wonder on the cause of thunder,
« On ebb and flood, on gossomer and mist,

And on all things, till that the cause is wist." Grey. The substance called Gossamer is formed of the collected webs of flying spiders, and during calm weather in Autumn sometimes falls in amazing quantities. Holt White.

See Romeo and Juliet, Act II. Sc. Vl. Malone.

3 Ten masts At Each make not the altitude,] So Mr. Pope found it in the old editions ; and seeing it corrupt, judiciously corrected it to attacht. But Mr. Theobald resi ores again the old nonsense, at each. WARBURTON.

Mr. Pope's conjecture may stand if the word which he uses were known in our author's time, but I think it is of later introduction. We may say:

“Ten masts on end ." Johnson. Perhaps we should read-at reach, i. e. extent. In Mr. Rowe's edition it is, “ Ten masts at least." STEEVENS.

“ Ten masts at each make not the altitude." i. e. each at, or near, the other. Such I suppose the meaning, if the text be right; but it is probably corrupt. The word attach'd certainly existed in Shakspeare's time, but was not used in the sense required here. In Bullokar's English Expositor, 8vo. 1616, to attach is interpreted, “ To take, lay hold on.". It was verbum juris. Malone.

Which thou hast perpendicularly fell;
Thy life's a miracle : Speak yet again.

Glo. But have I fallen, or no ?
EDG. From the dread summit of this chalky

bourn 4 :
Look up a-height ;-the shrill-gorg’d lark so far
Cannot be seen or heard : do but look up.

Glo. Alack, I have no eyes.Is wretchedness depriv'd that benefit, To end itself by death? 'Twas yet some comfort, When misery could beguile the tyrant's rage, And frustrate his proud will. EDG.

Give me your arm: Up:-So;—How is't? Feel you your legs? You

- stand. Glo. Too well, too well. EDG.

This is above all strangeness. Upon the crown o' the cliff, what thing was that Which parted from you ?

A poor unfortunate beggar. EDG. As I stood here below, methought, his eyes Were two full moons; he had a thousand noses, Horns whelk'd', and wav'd like the enridged sea;


4 - chalky BOURN:] Bourn seems here to signify a hill. Its common signification is a brook. Milton in Comus uses bosky bourn, in the same sense perhaps with Shakspeare. But in both authors it may mean only a boundary. Johnson.

Here it certainly means “this chalky boundary of England, towards France." STEEVENS.

5 Horns whelK'D,] Whelk'd, I believe, signifies varied with protuberances. So, in King Henry V. Fluellen speaking of Bardulph: “ — his face is all bubukles, and whelks,' &c. Steevens.

Twisted, convolved. A welk or whilk is a small shell-fish. Drayton in his Mortimeriados, 4to. 1596, seems to use this participle in the sense of rolling or curled :

“ The sunny palfreys have their traces broke,
“ And setting fire upon the welked shrouds
“Now through the heaven flie gadding from the yoke."


It was some fiend : Therefore, thou happy father, Think that the clearest gods?, who make them

honours Of men's impossibilities °, have preserv'd thee.

Glo. I do remember now: henceforth I'll bear Affliction, till it do cry out itself, Enough, enough, and, die. That thing you speak of, I took it for a man ; often 'twould say, The fiend, the fiend: he led me to that place. Edg. Bear free and patient thoughts 9.-But who

comes here ?

Enter LEAR, fantastically dressed up with Flowers.
The safer sense will ne'er accommodate
His master thus '.


6 - ENRIDGED sea ;] Thus the quarto. The folio enraged.

STEEVENS. Enridged was certainly our author's word ; for he has the same expression in his Venus and Adonis :

“ Till the wild waves will have him seen no more,
“ Whose ridges with the meeting clouds contend.”

MALONE. " — the clearest gods,] The purest ; the most free from evil.

Johnson. So, in Timon of Athens :

“ Roots ! you clear gods!” Malone. 8 - who make them honours

Of men's IMPOSSIBILITIES,] Who are graciously pleased to preserve men in situations in which they think it impossible to escape: Or, perhaps, who derive honour from being able to do what man can not do. Malone.

By men's impossibilities perhaps is meant, what men call impossibilities, what appear as such to mere mortal beings. Steevens.

9 Bear Free and patient Thoughts.] To be melancholy is to have the mind chained down to one painful idea ; there is therefore great propriety in exhorting Gloster to free thoughts, to an emancipation of his soul from grief and despair. Johnson. 1 The SAFER sense will ne'er accommodate His master thus. I read :

“ The saner sense will ne'er accommodate
“ His master thus."

LEAR. No, they cannot touch me for coining ? ; I am the king himself.

Edo. O thou side-piercing sight!

LEAR. Nature's above art in that respect. -There's your press-money'. That fellow handles his bow like a crow-keeper*: draw me a clothier's

“ Here is Lear, but he must be mad : his sound or sane senses would never suffer him to be thus disguised.' Johnson.

I have no doubt but that safer was the poet's word. So, [as Mr. Jennens has reinarked] in Measure for Measure :

“ Nor do I think the man of safe discretion

" That does affect it." STEEVENS. The safer sense seems to me to mean the eye-sight, which, says Edgar, will never more serve the unfortunate Lear so well, as those senses which Gloster has remaining will serve him, who is now returned to a right mind. The cye-sight is probably called the safer sense in allusion to our vulgar proverb, “ seeing is believing." Horace terms the eyes“ oculi fideles.” Gloster afterwards laments the stiffness of his vile BLAKEWAY.

2—for coining;] So the quartos. Folio-for crying. MALONE.

3 There's your PRESS-money.] It is evident from the whole of this speech, that Lear fancies himself in a battle : but, “ There's your press-money” has not been properly explained. It means the money which was paid to soldiers when they were retained in the King's service: and it appears from some antient statutes, and particularly 7 Henry VII. c. l; and 3 Henry VIII. c. 5. that it was felony in any soldier to withdraw himself from the King's service after receipt of this money, without special leave. On the contrary, he was obliged at all times to hold himself in readiness, The term is from the French « prest,” ready. It is written prest in several places in King Henry VIIth's Book of household expences still preserved in the Exchequer. This may serve also to explain the following passage in Act V. Sc. II. : “And turn our imprest lances in our eyes ;” and to correct Mr. Whalley's note in Hamlet, Act I. Sc. I. : “ Why such impress of shipwrights ? "

DOUCE. 4 That fellow handles his bow like a CROW-KEEPER :] Mr. Pope, in his last edition, reads cow-keeper. It is certain we must read crow-keeper. In several counties, to this day, they call a stuffed figure, representing a man, and armed with a bow and arrow, set up to fright the crows from the fruit and corn, a crowkeeper, as well as a scare-crow. THEOBALD.

This crow-keeper was so common in the author's time, that it is one of the few peculiarities mentioned by Ortelius, in his account of our island. Johnson.

« ForrigeFortsett »