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As pearls from diamonds dropp'd.'—In brief, sor
Would be a rarity most belov'd, if all
As pearls from diamonds dropp'd. &c.] In The Two Gentlemen of Verona we have the same image:
A sea of melting pearl, which some call tears."
The harshness of the foregoing line, in the speech of the Gentleman, induces me to believe that our author might have written:
Like pearls from diamonds dropping.
This idea might have been taken from the ornaments of the ancient carcanet or necklace, which frequently consisted of table diamonds with pearls appended to them, or, in the jewellers' phrase, dropping from them. Pendants for the ear are still called-drops.
A similar thought to this of Shakspeare, occurs in Middleton's Game at Chess, no date:
the holy dew lies like a pearl
"Dropt from the opening eye-lids of the morn
Milton has transplanted this image into his Lycidas: "Under the opening eye-lids of the morn."
Made she no verbal question?] Means only, Did she enter into no conversation with you? In this sense our poet frequently uses the word question, and not simply as the act of interrogation. Did she give you to understand her meaning by words as well as by the foregoing external testimonies of sorrow? So, in All's well that ends well:
she told me
"In a sweet verbal brief," &c.
2 'Faith, once, or twice,] Thus the quartos. Mr. Pope and the subsequent editors read-Yes, once, &c. Regan, in a subsequent scene, in like manner, uses the rejected word, however inelegant it may now appear:
"Faith, he is posted hence on serious matter."
Pantingly forth, as if it press'd her heart;
Let pity not be believed!3-There she shook
And clamour moisten'd: then away she started
It is the stars, The stars above us, govern our conditions ;5 Else one self mate and mate could not beget Such different issues. You spoke not with her since?
Let pity not be believed!] i. e. Let not such a thing as pity be supposed to exist! Thus the old copies; but the modern editors have hitherto read
Let pity not believe it ;
And clamour moisten'd:] It is not impossible but Shak speare might have formed this fine picture of Cordelia's agony from holy writ, in the conduct of Joseph; who, being no longer able to restrain the vehemence of his affection, commanded all his retinue from his presence; and then wept aloud, and discovered himself to his brethren. THEOBALD.
That is, her out-cries were accom
clamour moisten'd:] panied with tears. JOHNSON.
The old copies read-And clamour moisten'd her. I have no doubt that the word her was inserted by the compositor's eye glancing on the middle of the preceding line, where that word occurs; and therefore have omitted it. It may be observed that the metre is complete without this word. A similar error has happened in The Winter's Tale. See Vol. IX. p. 392, n. 2. She moisten'd clamour, or the exclamations she had uttered, with tears. This is perfectly intelligible; but clamour moisten'd her, is certainly nonsense. MALONE.
govern our conditions;] i. e. regulate our dispositions. See Vol. XII. p. 521, n. 7. MALOne.
one self mate and mate-] The same husband and the same wife. JOHNSON.
Self is used here, as in many other places in these plays, for self-same. MALONE.
KENT. Was this before the king return'd?
No, since. KENT. Well, sir; The poor distress'd Lear is i'the town:
Who sometime, in his better tune, remembers
Why, good sir? KENT. A Sovereign shame so elbows him his own unkindness,
That stripp'd her from his benediction, turn'd her
Alack, poor gentleman! KENT. Of Albany's and Cornwall's powers you heard not?
GENT. 'Tis so; they are afoot."
KENT. Well, sir, I'll bring you to our master Lear, And leave you to attend him: some dear cause9
these things sting
His mind so venomously, that burning shame-] The metaphor is here preserved with great knowledge of nature. The venom of poisonous animals being a high caustick salt, that has all the effect of fire upon the part. WARBURton.
'Tis so; they are afoot.] Dr. Warburton thinks it necessary to read, 'tis said; but the sense is plain, So it is that they are on foot. JOHNSON.
'Tis so, means, I think, I have heard of them; they do not exist in report only; they are actually on foot. MALONE.
some dear cause-] Timon of Athens, Act V. sc. ii.
Some important business. See
Will in concealment wrap me up awhile;
The same. A Tent.
Enter CORDELIA, Physician, and Soldiers.
COR. Alack, 'tis he; why, he was met even now As mad as the vex'd sea: singing aloud; Crown'd with rank fumiter,' and furrow weeds, With harlocks, hemlock,2 nettles, cuckoo-flowers, Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow
So, in Romeo and Juliet:
a ring, that I must use
"In dear employment." STEEVens.
fumiter,] i. e. fumitory: by the old herbalists written fumittery. HARRIS.
With harlocks, hemlock, &c.] The quartos read-With hordocks; the folio-With hardokes. MALONE.
I do not remember any such plant as a hardock, but one of the most common weeds is a burdock, which I believe should be read here; and so Hanmer reads. JOHNSON.
Hardocks should be harlocks. Thus Drayton, in one of his Eclogues:
"The honey-suckle, the harlocke,
"The lilly, and the lady-smocke," &c. FARMER. One of the readings offered by the quartos (though misspelt) is perhaps the true one. The hoar-dock, is the dock with whitish woolly leaves. STEEVENS.
Darnel,] According to Gerard, is the most hurtful of weeds among corn. It is mentioned in The Witches of Lancashire, 1634:
In our sustaining corn.-A century send forth;
In the restoring his bereaved sense?
He, that helps him, take all my outward worth.
PHY. There is means, madam:
Our foster-nurse of nature is repose,
All bless'd secrets, All you unpublish'd virtues of the earth, Spring with my tears! be aidant, and remediate, In the good man's distress!-Seek, seek for him; Lest his ungovern'd rage dissolve the life That wants the means to lead it."
Enter a Messenger.
MESS. The British powers are marching hitherward. COR. 'Tis known before; our preparation stands In expectation of them.-O dear father, It is thy business that I Therefore great France
"That cockle, darnel, poppy wild,
See Vol. XIII. p. 99, n. 4. STEEvens.
What can man's wisdom do,] Do should be omitted as needless to the sense of the passage, and injurious to its metre. Thus, in Hamlet:
"Try what repentance can: What can it not?" Do, in either place, is understood, though suppressed.
the means to lead it.] The reason which should guide it. JOHNSON.