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For, by the sacred radiance of the sun;
Hold thee, from this, for ever. The barbarous
Or he that makes his generation + messes
Good my liege,—
LEAR. Peace, Kent!
Come not between the dragon and his wrath : I lov'd her most, and thought to set my rest On her kind nursery.--Hence, and avoid my sight![TO CORDELIA.
So young, and so untender?] So, in Shakspeare's Venus and Adonis :
"Ah me, quoth Venus, young, and so unkind?" MALONE. 2 The MYSTERIES of Hecate,] 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.
3 Hold thee, from this,] i. e. from this time. STEEVENS. 4 -generation] i. e. his children. MALONE.
5 I lov'd her most,] So, Holinshed: "which daughters he greatly loved, but especially Cordeilla, the youngest, farre above the two elder." MALONE.
6 [To Cordelia.] As Mr. Heath supposes, to Kent. For in the next words Lear sends for France and Burgundy to offer Cordelia without a dowry. STEEVENS.
So be my grave my peace, as here I give
Her father's heart from her!-Call France ;-Who stirs?
Call Burgundy.-Cornwall, and Albany,
With my two daughters' dowers digest the third:
That troop with majesty.-Ourself, by monthly
With reservation of an hundred knights,
Revenue, execution of the rest,
Beloved sons, be yours: which to confirm,
Whom I have ever honour'd as my king,
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, whichever they are called, are perfectly suited to Lear's character. I have no doubt that the direction now given is right. Kent has hitherto said nothing that could extort even from the cholerick 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. Folio: we
7-only we STILL retain] Thus the quarto. shall retain. MALONE.
8 — all the ADDITIONS to a king.]
to a king. See vol. viii. p. 313. MALONE.
All the titles belonging
execution of the rest.] The execution of the rest is, I suppose, all the other business As my great patron thought on in my prayers,] An allusion.
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 speak2, When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour's bound,
When majesty stoops to folly. Reverse thy doom;
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.
2 Think'st thou, that duty shall have dread to speak, &c.] I have given this passage according to the old folio, from which the modern editions have silently departed, for the sake of better numbers, with a degree of insincerity, which, if not sometimes detected and censured, must impair the credit of ancient books. One of the 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 plainness honour
"Is bound, when majesty to folly falls.
"Reserve thy state; with better judgment check
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, JOHNSON.
Reserve was formerly used for preserve. So, in our poet's 52d Sonnet :
"Reserve them for my love, not for their rhymes." But I have followed the quartos. MALONE.
Nor are those empty-hearted, whose low sound
Reverbs no hollowness.
Kent, on thy life, no more. KENT. My life I never held but as a pawn To wage against thine enemies; nor fear to lose it, Thy safety being the motive.
Out of my sight! KENT. See better, Lear; and let me still remain The true blank of thine eye". LEAR. Now, by Apollo",
3 Reverbs] This is, perhaps, a word of the poet's own making, meaning the same as reverberates. STEEVENS.
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 an expression used in a Letter from Guil. Webbe to Rob'. Wilmot, prefixed to Tancred and Gismund, 1592: " -you shall not be able to wage against me in the charges growing upon 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:
"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."
5 The true BLANK of thine eye.] The blank is the white or exact mark at which the arrow is shot. 'See better,' says Kent, JOHNSON.
' and keep me always in your view.' See vol. v. p. 522, n. 8. MALONE.
6 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 VOL. X. с
Now, by Apollo, king,
O, vassal! miscreant * ! [Laying his hand on his Sword.
ALB. CORN. Dear sir, forbear 7.
Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow
To come betwixt our sentence and our power1; (Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,) Our potency make good 2, take thy reward.
* Quartos, recreant.
swears by Apollo, because the father broke his neck on the temple of that deity? STEEVENS.
We are to understand that Shakspeare learnt from hence that Apollo was worshipped by our British ancestors, which will obviate Dr. Johnson's objection in a subsequent note to Shakspeare's making Lear too much a mythologist? MALONE.
7 Dear sir, forbear.] This speech is omitted in the quartos. STEEVENS.
8 thy gift ;] The quartos read-thy doom. STEEVENS. 9-STRAIN'D pride,] The oldest copy reads-strayed pride: that is, pride exorbitant; pride passing due bounds. JOHNSON. To come betwixt our sentence and our POWER;] Power, for execution of the sentence. WARBURTON. Rather, as Mr. Edwards observes, our power to execute that sentence. STEEVENS.
2 (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."