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Turn all her mother's pains, and benefits,
GON. Never afflict yourself to know the cause; But let his disposition have that scope That dotage gives it.
LEAR. What, fifty of my followers, at a clap! Within a fortnight?
What's the matter, sir?
LEAR. I'll tell thee;-Life and death! I am asham'd
life of wretchedness, than to wish that those channels should be made by scalding tears, which does not mark the same continuation of misery.
The same thought occurs in Troilus and Cressida s "Not Priamus and Hecuba on knees,
"Their eyes o'er-galled with recourse of tears." should prevent his going to the field. M. MASON.
1 Turn all her mother's pains, and benefits,
To laughter and contempt;] "Her mother's pains" here signifies, not bodily sufferings, or the throes of child-birth, (with which this "disnatured babe" being unacquainted, it could not deride or despise them,) but maternal cares; the solicitude of a mother for the welfare of her child. So, in King Richard III: ""Tis time to speak; my pains are quite forgot." Benefits mean good offices; her kind and beneficent attention to the education of her offspring, &c. Mr. Roderick has, in my opinion, explained both these words wrong. He is equally mistaken in supposing that the sex of this child is ascertained by the word her; which clearly relates, not to Goneril's issue, but to herself. "Her mother's pains" means the pains which she (Goneril) takes as a mother. MALONE.
That thou hast
power to shake
to shake my manhood thus : [To GONERIL. That these hot tears, which break from me perforce,
Should make thee worth them.-Blasts and fogs upon thee!
The untented woundings' of a father's curse
That these hot tears, &c.] I will transcribe this passage from the first edition, that it may appear to those who are unacquainted with old books, what is the difficulty of revision, and what indulgence is due to those that endeavour to restore corrupted passages.—That these hot tears, that breake from me perforce, should make the worst blasts and fogs upon the untender woundings of a father's curse, peruse every sense about the old fond eyes, beweep this cause again, &c. JOHNSON.
• The untented woundings-] Untented wounds, means wounds in their worst state, not having a tent in them to digest them; and may possibly signify here such as will not admit of having a tent put into them for that purpose. Our author quibbles on this practice in surgery, in Troilus and Cressida: "Patr. Who keeps the tent now?
"Ther. The surgeon's box, or the patient's wound." One of the quartos reads, untender. STEEVENS.
that you lose,] The quartos read-that you make. STEEVENS.
Let it be so: &c.] The reading is here gleaned up, part from the first, and part from the second edition. JOHNSON.
Let it be so, is omitted in the quartos. STEEVENS.
And is it come to this is omitted in the folio. Yet have I left a daughter is the reading of the quartos; the folio has, I have another daughter. MALONE.
That I'll resume the shape which thou dost think I have cast off for ever; thou shalt, I warrant thee.3 [Exeunt LEAR, KENT, and Attendants.
GON. Do you mark that, my lord?
ALB. I cannot be so partial, Goneril, To the great love I bear you,
GON. Pray you, content.-What, Oswald, ho! You, sir, more knave than fool, after your master. [To the Fool. FOOL. Nuncle Lear, nuncle Lear, tarry, and take the fool with thee.
A fox, when one has caught her,
If my cap would buy a halter ;
[Exit. *GON.* This man hath had good counsel :- A hundred knights!
'Tis politick, and safe, to let him keep
At point, a hundred knights. Yes, that on every dream,
Each buz, each fancy, each complaint, dislike, He may enguard his dotage with their powers, And hold our lives in mercy.-Oswald, I say!-
thou shalt, I warrant thee.] These words are omitted in the folio. MALONE.
**Gon.] All from this asterisk to the next, is omitted in the quartos. STEEvens.
At point,] I believe, means completely armed, and consequently ready at appointment or command on the slightest notice.
" And hold our lives in mercy.] Thus the old copies. Mr. Pope, who could not endure that the language of Shakspeare's age should not correspond in every instance with that of modern times, reads at mercy; and the subsequent editors have adopted his innovation. MALONE.
ALB. Well, you may fear too far.
GON. Safer than trust:" Let me still take away the harms I fear, Not fear still to be taken. I know his heart: What he hath utter'd, I have writ my sister; If she sustain him and his hundred knights, When I have show'd the unfitness,*-How now, Oswald ?8
you writ that letter to my sister? STEW. Ay, madam.
GON. Take you some company, and away to horse:
Inform her full of my particular fear;
This milky gentleness, and course of yours,
Safer than trust:] Here the old copies add-too far; as if these words were not implied in the answer of Goneril. The redundancy of the metre authorizes the present omission.
STEEVENS. ·How now, Oswald? &c.] The quartos read-what
Osw. Here, madam.
writ this letter &c. STEEvens.
-compact it more. e.] Unite one circumstance with another, so as to make a consistent account. JOHNSON.
More is here used as a dissyllable. MALONE.
I must still withhold my assent from such new dissyllables. Some monosyllable has in this place been omitted. Perhaps the author wrote
Go, get you gone. STEEVENS.
You are much more attask'd' for want of wisdom, Than prais'd for harmful mildness.
—more attask'd-] It is a common phrase now with parents and governesses: I'll take you to task, i. e. I will reprehend and correct you. To be at task, therefore, is to be liable to reprehension and correction. JOHNSON.
Both the quartos instead of at task-read, alapt. A late editor of King Lear, [Mr. Jennens] says, that the first quarto reads— attask'd; but unless there be a third quarto which I have never seen or heard of, his assertion is erroneous. STEEVENS.
The quarto printed by N. Butter, 1608, of which the first signature is B, reads-attask'd for want of wisdom, &c. The other quarto printed by the same printer in the same year, of which the first signature is A, reads-alapt for want of wisdom, &c. Three copies of the quarto first described, (which concur in reading attask'd,) and one copy of the other quarto, are now before me. The folio reads-at task. The quartos have praise instead of prais'd. Attask'd, I suppose, means, charged, censured. So, in King Henry IV:
"How show'd his tasking? seem'd it in contempt ?" See Vol. XI. p. 409, n. 9.
In the notes on this play I shall hereafter call the quarto first mentioned, quarto B: the other, quarto A. MALONE.
Both the quartos described by Mr. Malone are at this instant before me, and they concur in reading-alapt. I have left my two copics of Butter's publication (which I had formerly the honour of lending to Mr. Malone) at the shop of Messieurs White, Booksellers, in Fleet Street.
I have no doubt, however, but that Mr. Malone and myself are equally justifiable in our assertions, though they contradict each other; for it appears to me that some of the quartos (like the folio 1623) must have been partially corrected while at press. Consequently the copies first worked off, escaped without correction. Such is the case respecting two of the three quartos (for three there are) of King Henry IV. P. II. 1600. STEEVENS.
The word task is frequently used by Shakspeare, and indeed by other writers of his time, in the sense of tax. Goneril means to say, that he was more taxed for want of wisdom, than praised for mildness.
So, in The Island Princess, of Beaumont and Fletcher, Quisana says to Ruy Dias:
"You are too saucy, too impudent,
th those errors." M. MASON.