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A Room in the Duke of Albany's Palace.
Enter GONERIL and Steward.
GON. Did my father strike my gentleman for chiding of his fool?
STEW. Ay, madam.
GON. By day and night! he wrongs me ; every
He flashes into one gross crime or other,
By day and night! he wrongs me;] It has been suggested by Mr. Whalley that we ought to point differently:
By day and night he wrongs me;
not considering these words as an adjuration. But that an adjuration was intended, appears, I think, from a passage in King Henry VIII. The king, speaking of Buckingham, (Act I. sc. says:
By day and night
"He's traitor to the height."
It cannot be supposed that Henry means to say that Buckingham is a traitor in the night as well as by day.
The regulation which has been followed in the text, is likewise supported by Hamlet, where we have again the same adjuration:
"O day and night! but this is wondrous strange."
By night and day, is, perhaps, only a phrase signifying— always, every way. So, in Troilus and Cressida:
"Prince Troilus, I have lov'd you night and day,
See Vol. V. p. 59, n. 8. I have not, however, displaced Mr. Malone's punctuation. STEEVENS.
every trifle:-When he returns from hunting, I will not speak with him; say, I am sick :If you come slack of former services, You shall do well; the fault of it I'll answer.
STEW. He's coming, madam; I hear him. [Horns within.
GON. Put on what weary negligence you please, You and your fellows; I'd have it come to ques
If he dislike it, let him to my sister,
Whose mind and mine, I know, in that are one, *Not to be over-rul'd." Idle old man," That still would manage those authorities, That he hath given away!-Now, by my life, Old fools are babes again; and must be us'd With checks, as flatteries,-when they are seen abus'd.*9
Remember what I have said.
7 Not to be over-rul'd. &c.] lines, are omitted in the folio.
This line, and the four following
8-Idle old man, &c.] The lines from one asterisk to the other, as they are fine in themselves, and very much in character for Goneril, I have restored from the old quarto. The last verse, which I have ventured to amend, is there printed thus: "With checks, like flatt'ries when they are seen abus'd." THEOBALD.
Old fools are babes again; and must be us’d
With checks, as flatteries,-when they are seen abus'd.] The sense seems to be this: Old men must be treated with checks, when as they are seen to be deceived with flatteries: or, when they are weak enough to be seen abused by flatteries, they are then weak enough to be used with checks. There is a play of the words used and abused. To abuse is, in our author, very frequently the same as to deceive. This construction is harsh and ungrammatical; Shakspeare perhaps thought it vicious, and chose to throw away the lines rather than correct them, nor would now thank the officiousness of his editors, who restore what they do not understand. JOHNSON.
Very well, madam.
GON. And let his knights have colder looks among you;
What grows of it, no matter; advise your fellows
I would breed' from hence occasions, and I shall, That I may speak :—I'll write straight to my sister, To hold my very course:-Prepare for dinner.
The plain meaning, I believe is-old fools must be used with checks, as flatteries must be check'd when they are made a bad use of. TOLlet.
I understand this passage thus. Old fools-must be used with checks, as well as flatteries, when they [i. e. flatteries] are seen to be abused. TYRWHITT.
The objection to Dr. Johnson's interpretation is, that he supplies the word with or by, which are not found in the text: "—when as they are seen to be deceived with flatteries," or, "when they are weak enough to be seen abused by flatteries," &c. and in his mode of construction the word with preceding checks, cannot be understood before flatteries.
I think Mr. Tyrwhitt's interpretation the true one. MALONE.
The sentiment of Goneril is obviously this: "When old fools will not yield to the appliances of persuasion, harsh treatment must be employed to compel their submission." When flatteries are seen to be abused by them, checks must be used, as the only means left to subdue them. HENLEY.
1 I would breed &c.] This line and the first four words of the next are found in the quartos, but omitted in the folio.
A Hall in the same.
Enter KENT, disguised.
KENT. If but as well I other accents borrow, That can my speech diffuse, my good intent May carry through itself to that full issue For which I raz'd my likeness.-Now, banish'd Kent,
If but as well I other accents borrow, That can my speech diffuse,] We must suppose that Kent advances looking on his disguise. This circumstance very naturally leads to his speech, which otherwise would have no very apparent introduction. If I can change my speech as well as I have changed my dress. To diffuse speech, signifies to disorder it, and so to disguise it; as in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act IV. sc. vii:
rush at once
"With some diffused song.".
Again, in The Nice Valour, &c. by Beaumont and Fletcher, Cupid says to the Passionate Man, who appears disordered in his dress:
Go not so diffusedly."
Again, in our author's King Henry V:
-swearing, and stern looks, diffus'd attire."
Again, in a book entitled, A Green Forest, or A Natural History, &c. by John Maplet, 1567 :-" In this stone is apparently seene verie often the verie forme of a tode, with bespotted and coloured feete, but those uglye and defusedly."-To diffuse speech may, however, mean to speak broad with a clownish accent. STEEVENS.
Diffused certainly meant, in our author's time, wild, irregular, heterogeneous. So, in Greene's Farewell to Follie, 1617: "I have seen an English gentleman so defused in his suits, his doublet being for the weare of Castile, his hose for Venice, his hat for France, his cloak for Germany, that he seemed no way to be an Englishman but by the face." MALONE.
If thou can'st serve where thou dost stand condemn'd,
(So may it come!) thy master, whom thou lov'st, Shall find thee full of labours.
Horns within. Enter LEAR, Knights, and
LEAR. Let me not stay a jot for dinner; go, get it ready. [Exit an Attendant.] How now, what art thou?
KENT. A man, sir.
LEAR. What dost thou profess? What wouldest thou with us?
KENT. I do profess to be no less than I seem; to serve him truly, that will put me in trust; to love him that is honest; to converse with him that is wise, and says little; to fear judgment; to fight, when I cannot choose; and to eat no fish.*
to converse with him that is wise, and says little ;] To converse signifies immediately and properly to keep company, not to discourse or talk. His meaning is, that he chooses for his companions men of reserve and caution; men who are not tatlers nor tale-bearers. JOHNSON.
We still say in the same sense-he had criminal conversation with her-meaning commerce.
So, in King Richard III:
"His apparent open guilt omitted,
"I mean his conversation with Shore's wife." MALONE.
and to eat no fish.] In Queen Elizabeth's time the Papists were esteemed, and with good reason, enemies to the government. Hence the proverbial phrase of, He's an honest man, and eats no fish; to signify he's a friend to the government and a Protestant. The eating fish, on a religious account, being then esteemed such a badge of popery, that when it was enjoined for a season by act of parliament, for the encouragement of the fish-towns, it was thought necessary to declare the reason; hence it was called Cecil's fast. To this disgraceful badge of popery