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To speak and purpose not; since what I well intend,
That I am glad I have not, though not to have it,
Hadst not been born, than not to have pleas'd me better.
Give but that portion which yourself propos'd,
Duchess of Burgundy.
Lear. Nothing: I have sworn; I am firm.
Peace be with Burgundy!
Since that respects of fortune are his love,
For has the power of-because. Thus, in p. 154:
"For that I am some twelve or fourteen moon-shines
8 Is it but this? &c.] Thus the folio. The quartos, disregarding
with respects,] i. e. with cautious and prudential considerations. See Vol. XII, p. 66, n. 3.
Thus the quartos. The folio has-regards. Malone.
- from the entire point.] Single, unmixed with other considerations. Johnson.
Dr. Johnson is right. The meaning of the passage is, that his love wants something to mark its sincerity:
"Who seeks for aught in love but love alone." Steevens.
2 She is herself a dowry.] The quartos read :
She is herself and dower. Steevens.
3 Royal Lear,] So the quarto; the folio has-Royal king. Steevens,
I shall not be his wife.
France. Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor; Most choice, forsaken; and most lov'd, despis'd! Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon:
Be it lawful, I take up what's cast away.
Gods, gods! 'tis strange, that from their cold'st neglect
Thy dowerless daughter, king, thrown to my chance,
Not all the dukes of wat'rish Burgundy
Shall buy this unpriz'd precious maid of me.-
Thou losest here, a better where to find.
Lear. Thou hast her, France: let her be thine; for we Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see
That face of hers again :-Therefore be gone,
[Flourish. Exeunt LEAR, BUR. CORN. ALB
France. Bid farewel to your sisters.
Cor. The jewels of our father, with wash'd eyes
Your faults, as they are nam'd. Use well our father:
But yet, alas! stood I within his grace,
4 Thou losest here,] Here and where have the power of nouns. Thou losest this residence to find a better residence in another place. Johnson.
So, in Churchyard's Farewel to the World, 1592:
"That growes not here, takes roote in other where."
See Vol. VI, p. 341, n. 9. Steevens.
5 The jewels-] As this reading affords sense, though an aukward ene, it may stand: and yet re instead of The, a change adopted by former editors, may be justified; it being frequently impossible, in ancient MSS. to distinguish the one word from the customary abbreviation of the other. Steevens.
61 Use well our father:] So the quartos. The folio readsLove well. Malone.
professed bosoms-] All the ancient editions read-professed. Mr. Pope-professing; but, perhaps, unnecessarily, as Shakspeare often uses one participle for the other;-longing for longed in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and all obeying for all-obeyed in Antony and Cleopatra. Steevens.
I would prefer him to a better place.
Let your study
Gon. Prescribe not us our duties.$ Reg. Be, to content your lord; who hath receiv'd you At fortune's alms.9 You have obedience scanted, And well are worth the want that you have wanted.1 Cor. Time shall unfold what plaited cunning2 hides; Who cover faults,3 at last shame them derides.
• Prescribe not us our duties.] Prescribe was used formerly without to subjoined. So, in Massinger's Picture:
Shall I prescribe you,
"Or blame your fondness."
9 At fortune's alms.] The same expression occurs again in Othello : "And shoot myself up in some other course,
"To fortune's alms." Steevens.
1 And well are worth the want that you have wanted] You are well deserving of the want of dower that you are without. So, in The Third Part of King Henry VI, Act. IV, sc. i: "Though I want a kingdom," ie. though I am without a kingdom. Again, in Stowe's Chronicle, p. 137: "Anselm was expelled the realm, and wanted the whole profits of his bishoprick," i. e. he did not receive the profits, &c. Tollet.
Thus the folio. In the quartos the transcriber or compositor inadvertently repeated the word worth. They read:
"And well are worth the worth that you have wanted." This, however, may be explained by understanding the second worth in the sense of wealth. Malone.
plaited cunning] i. e. complicated, involved cunning.
I once thought that the author wrote plated:-cunning superinduced, thinly spread over. So, in this play:
Plate sin with gold,
"And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks."
But the word unfold, and the following lines in our author's Rape of Lucrece, show, that plaited, or (as the quartos have it) pleated, is the true reading:
"For that he colour'd with his high estate,
Hiding base sin in pleats of majesty." Malone.
3 Who cover faults, &c.] The quartos read:
Who covers faults, at last shame them derides.
The former editors read with the folio:
Who covers faults at last with shame derides. Steevens. Mr. M. Mason believes the folio, with the alteration of a letter, to be the right reading:
Time shall unfold what plaited cunning hides, Who covert faults at last with shame derides. The word who referring to time.
Well may you prosper!
Come, my fair Cordelia.
[Exeunt FRANCE and COR.
Gon. Sister, it is not a little I have to say, of what most nearly appertains to us both. I think, our father will hence to-night.
Reg. That's most certain, and with you; next month with us.
Gon. You see how full of changes his age is; the observation we have made of it hath not been little: he always loved our sister most; and with what poor judgment he hath now cast her off, appears too grossly.
Reg. 'Tis the infirmity of his age: yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself.
Gon. The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash; then must we look to receive from his age, not alone the imperfections of long-engrafted condition, but, therewithal, the unruly waywardness that infirm and cholerick years bring with them.
Reg. Such unconstant starts are we like to have from him, as this of Kent's banishment.
Gon. There is further compliment of leave-taking between France and him. Pray you, let us hits together: If our father carry authority with such dispositions as he bears, this last surrender of his will but offend us.
Reg. We shall further think of it.
Gon. We must do something, and i' the heat. [Exeunt.
In the third Act, Lear says:
Caitiff, shake to pieces,
"That under covert, and convenient seeming,
In this passage Cordelia is made to allude to a passage in Scripture -Prov. xxviii, 13: "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them, shall have mercy? Henley. of long-engrafted condition,] i. e. of qualities of mind, confirmed by long habit. So, in Othello: "— a woman of so gentle a condition! See also Vol. IX, p. 312, n. 6; p. 361, n. 2; and p. 374,
5 - let us hit -] So the old quarto. The folio, let us sit.
the heat.] i. e. We must strike while the iron's hot.
So, in Chapman's version of the 12th Book of Homer's Odyssey:
and their iron strook
"At highest heat." Steevens.
A Hall in the Earl of Gloster's Castle.
Enter EDMUND with a Letter.
Edm. Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law
7 Thou, nature, art my goddess;] Edmund speaks of nature in opposition to custom, and not (as Dr. Warburton supposes) to the existence of a God. Edmund means only, as he came not into the world as custom or law had prescribed, so he had nothing to do but to follow nature and her laws, which make no difference between legitimacy and illegitimacy, between the eldest and the youngest.
To contradict Dr. Warburton's assertion yet more strongly, Edmund concludes this very speech by an invocation to heaven:
"Now gods stand up for bastards!"
Edmund calls nature his goddess, for the same reason that we call a bastard a natural son: one, who according to the law of nature, is the child of his father, but according to those of civil society is nullius filius. M. Mason.
8 Stand in the plague of custom;] The word plague is in all the old copies: I can scarcely think it right, nor can I yet reconcile myself to plage, the emendation proposed by Dr. Warburton, though I have nothing better to offer. Johnson.
The meaning is plain, though oddly expressed. Wherefore should I acquiesce, submit tamely to the plagues and injustice of custom? Shakspeare seems to mean by the plague of custom,--Wherefore should I remain in a situation where I shall be plagued and tormented only in consequence, of the contempt with which custom regards those who are not the issue of a lawful bed? Dr. Warburton defines plage to be the place, the country, the boundary of custom; a word, I believe, to be found only in Chaucer. Steevens.
9 The curiosity of nations-] Curiosity, in the time of Shakspeare, was a word that signified an over-nice scrupulousness in manners, dress, &c. In this sense it is used in Timon: "When thou wast (says Apemantus) in thy gilt and thy perfume, they mocked thee for too much curiosity" Barrett, in his Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionary, 1580, interprets it, piked diligence: something too curious, or too much affected; and again in this play of King Lear, Shakspeare seems to use it in the same sense, "which I have rather blamed as my own jealous curiosity." Curiosity is the old reading, which Mr. Theobald changed into courtesy, though the former is used by Beaumont and Fletcher, with the meaning for which I contend.
It is true, that Orlando, in As you Like it, says: "The courtesy of nations allows you my better;" but Orlando is not there inveighing against the law of primogeniture, but only against the unkind advantage his brother takes of it, and courtesy is a word that fully suits the