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The vines of France, and milk of Burgundy,
Strive to be interess'd;3 what can you say, to draw4
Lear. Nothing can come of nothing: speak again.
My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty
Lear. How, how, Cordelia? mend your speech a little, Lest it may mar your fortunes.
Cor. Good my lord, You have begot me, bred me, lov'd me: Return those duties back as are right fit, Obey you, love you, and most honour you. Why have my sisters husbands, if they say, They love you all? Haply, when I shall wed, That lord, whose hand must take my plight, shall carry Half my love with him, half my care, and duty: Sure, I shall never marry like my sisters,
To love my father all
Lear. But goes this with thy heart?s
3 Strive to be interess'd;] To interest and to interesse, are not, perhaps, different spellings of the same verb, but are two distinct words though of the same import; the one being derived from the Latin, the other from the French interesser. Steevens.
4 — to draw —] The quarto reads-what can you say, to win. Steevens.
5 Lear. Nothing? Cor. Nothing.] These two speeches are wanting in the quartos.
6 How, how, Cordelia?] Thus the folio. The quartos read-Go to, go to. Steevens.
To love my father all.] These words are restored from the first edition, without which the sense was not complete. Pope.
8 But goes this with thy heart?] Thus the quartos, and thus I have no doubt Shakspeare wrote, this kind of inversion occurring often in his plays, and in the contemporary writers. So, in King Henry VIII: "" and make your house our Tower."
Again, in The Merchant of Venice:
66 That many may be meant
"By the fool multitude."
See Vol. IV, p. 358, n. 7.
The editor of the folio, not understanding this kind of phraseology,
Ay, good my lord.
Lear. So young, and so untender?"
Cor. So young, my lord, and true.
Lear. Let it be so,-Thy truth then be thy dower:
From whom we do exist, and cease to be;
And as a stranger to my heart and me
Hold thee, from this, for ever. The barbarous Scythian,Or he that makes his generation3 messes
To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom
Be as well neighbour'd, pitied, and reliev'd,"
Lear. Peace, Kent!
Good my liege, —
Come not between the dragon and his wrath :
substituted the more common form-But goes thy heart with this? as in the next line he reads, Ay, my good lord, instead of-Ay, good my lord, the reading of the quartos, and the constant language of Shakspeare. Malone.
9 So young, and so untender ?] So, in Shakspeare's Venus and Adonis : "Ah me, quoth Venus, young, and so unkind ?". Malone.
1 The mysteries of Hecate,] The quartos have mistress, the foliomiseries. 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.
2 Hold thee from this,] i. e. from this time. Steevens.
generation —] i. e. his children. Malone.
4 I lov'd her most,] So, in Holinshed: " which daughters he greatly loved, but especially Cordeilla, the youngest, farre above the two elder." Malone.
5 [To Cordelia.] As Mr. Heath supposes, Kent. For in the next words Lear sends for France and Burgundy to offer Cordelia without 2 dowry. Steevens.
Mr. M. Mason observes, that Kent did not yet deserve such treat. ment from the King, as the only words he had uttered were "Good my liege." Reed.
Surely such quick transitions or inconsistencies, which ever they are called, are perfectly suited to Lear's character. I have no doubt that
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 this third :
That troop with majesty. Ourself, by monthly course,
By you to be sustain'd, shall our abode
Make with you by due turns. Only we still retaine
Revenue, execution of the rest,8
Beloved sons, be yours: which to confirm,
[Giving the Crown.
Royal Lear Whom I have ever honour'd as my king,
Lov'd as my father, as my master follow'd,
As my great patron thought on in my prayers,9
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 speak,1
the direction now given is right. Kent has hitherto said nothing that could extort even from the choleric 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.
Only we still retain -] Thus the quarto. Folio: we shall retain. Malone.
all the additions to a king;] All the titles belonging to a king. See Vol. XII, p. 85, n. 5. Malone.
8 execution of the rest,] The execution of the rest is, I suppose, all the other business. Johnson.
9 As my great patron thought on in my prayers,] An allusion 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, Vol. IX, p. 193, n. 1. Reed.
1 Thinks't 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
When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour's
When majesty stoops to folly. Reverse thy doom;
This hideous rashness: answer my life my judgment,
Kent, on thy life, no more.
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.
I have followed the quartos. Reserve was formerly used for preserve. So, in our poet's 52d Sonnet:
"Reserve them for my love, not for their rhymes."
2 Reverbs] This is, perhaps, a word of the poet's own making, meaning the same as reverberates. Steevens.
3 - a pawn
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 Robt. 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:
Out of my sight!
Thy safety being the motive.
Kent. See better, Lear; and let me still remain
Now, by Apollo, king,
[Laying his Hand on his Sword.
Thou swear'st thy gods in vain.
Alb. Corn. Dear sir, forbear.6
O, vassal! miscreant!
Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow
Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy gift;?
Or, whilst I can vent clamour from my throat,
Hear me, recreant !
On thine allegiance hear me !
Since thou hast sought to make us break our vow,
"Who painfully with much expedient march,
"Have brought a counter-check before your gates." Again, in King Henry V:
"Therefore take heed how you im pawn our person." Henley.
4 The true blank of thine eye.] The blank is the white or exact mark at which the arrow is shot. See better, says Kent, and keep me always in your view. Johnson.
See Vol. VI, p. 150, n. 9. Malone.
5 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 swears by Apollo, because the father broke his neck on the temple of that deity? Steevens.
6 Dear sir, forbear.] This speech is omitted in the quartos.
thy gift;] The quartos read-thy doom. Steevens.
strain'd pride,] The oldest copy reads-strayed pride; that is, pride exorbitant; pride passing due bounds. Johnson.
9 To come betwixt our sentence and our power;] Power, for execu tion of the sentence. Warburton
Rather, as Mr. Edwards observes, our power to execute that sentence. Steevens.