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LEAR. Your name, fair gentlewoman?
This admiration is much o'the favour9
you are old and reverend, you should be wise:1
Lear, it should be remembered, has not parted with all the marks of sovereignty. In the midst of his prodigality to his children, he reserved to himself the name and all the additions to a king. Shakspeare often means more than he expresses. Lear has just asked whether he is a shadow. I wish, he adds, to be resolved on this point; for if I were to judge by the marks of sovereignty, and the consciousness of reason, I should be persuaded that I am not a shadow, but a man, a king, and a father. But this latter persuasion is false; for those whom I thought my daughters, are unnatural hags, and never proceeded from these loins.
As therefore I am not a father, so neither may I be an embodied being; I may yet be a shadow. However, let me be certain. Your name, fair gentlewoman?
All the late editions, without authority, read-by the marks of sovereignty, of knowledge, and of reason.-The words-I would learn that, &c. to—an obedient father, are omitted in the folio. MALONE.
Which they will make an obedient father.] Which, is on this occasion used with two deviations from present language. It is referred, contrary to the rules of grammarians, to the pronoun I, and is employed, according to a mode now obsolete, for whom, the accusative case of who. STEEVENS.
o'the favour-] i. e. of the complexion. So, in Julius Cæsar:
"In favour's like the work we have in hand."
As you are old and reverend, you should be wise:] The redundancy of this line convinces me of its interpolation. What will the reader lose by the omission of the wordss—you should? I would print:
As you are old and reverend, be wise:
In the fourth line from this, the epithet-riotous, might for the same reason be omitted. To make an inn of a private house, by taking unwarrantable liberties in it, is still a common phrase.
Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires;
By her, that else will take the thing she begs,
a grac'd palace.] A palace graced by the presence of a sovereign. WARBURTON.
A little to disquantity your train;] A little is the common reading; but it appears, from what Lear says in the next scene, that this number fifty was required to be cut off, which (as the editions stood) is no where specified by Goneril. POPE.
Mr. Pope for-A little substituted-Of fifty. MAlone.
If Mr. Pope had examined the old copies as accurately as he pretended to have done, he would have found, in the first folio, that Lear had an exit marked for him after these words
To have a thankless child.-Away, away,
and goes out, while Albany and Goneril have a short conference of two speeches; and then returns in a still greater passion, having been informed (as it should seem) of the express number, without:
"What? fifty of my followers at a clap!"
This renders all change needless; and away, away, being restored, prevents the repetition of go, go, my people; which, as the text stood before this regulation, concluded both that and the foregoing speech. Goneril, with great art, is made to avoid mentioning the limited number; and leaves her father to be informed of it by accident, which she knew would be the case as soon as he left her presence. STEEVENS.
✦ ——still depend,] Depend, for continue in service.
So, in Measure for Measure:
"Canst thou believe thy living is a life,
Darkness and devils !—
GON. You strike my people; and your disorder'd rabble
Make servants of their betters.
LEAR. Woe, that too late repents,"-O, sir, are you come ?6
Is it your will? [To ALB.] Speak, sir.-Prepare my horses.
Ingratitude! thou marble-hearted fiend,
More hideous, when thou show'st thee in a child, Than the sea-monster!"
Pray, sir, be patient.
Woe, that too late repents,] This is the reading of the folio. Both the quartos, for Woe, have We, and that of which the first signature is B, reads-We that too late repent's—; repent us: which I suspect is the true reading. Shakspeare might have had The Mirrour for Magistrates in his thoughts: "They call'd him doting foole, all his requests debarr'd, "Demanding if with life he were not well content : "Then he too late his rigour did repent
"'Gainst me," Story of Queen Cordila. MAlone. My copy of the quarto, of which the first signature is A, reads-We that too late repent's us. STEEVENS.
O, sir, are you come ?] These words are not in the MALONE.
7 Than the sea-monster!] Mr. Upton observes, that the seamonster is the Hippopotamus, the hieroglyphical symbol of impiety and ingratitude. Sandys, in his Travels, says" that he killeth his sire, and ravisheth his own dam." STEEVENS.
• Pray, sir, be patient.] The quartos omit this speech.
LEAR. Detested kite! thou liest: [To GONERIL.
My train are men of choice and rarest parts,
From the fix'd place; drew from my heart all love, And added to the gall. O Lear, Lear, Lear! Beat at this gate, that let thy folly in,
[Striking his Head. And thy dear judgment out!-Go, go, my people.'
like an engine,] Mr. Edwards conjectures that by an engine, is meant the rack. He is right. To engine is, in Chaucer, to strain upon the rack; and in the following passage from The Three Lords of London, 1590, engine seems to be used for the same instrument of torture:
"From Spain they come with engine and intent "To slay, subdue, to triumph, and torment." Again, in The Night-Walker, by Beaumont and Fletcher: "Their souls shot through with adders, torn on engines." STEEVENS
-Go, go, my people.] Perhaps these words ought to be regulated differently:
Go, go:-my people!
By Albany's answer it should seem that he had endeavoured to appease Lear's anger; and perhaps it was intended by the author that he should here be put back by the king with these words," Go, go;" and that Lear should then turn hastily from his son-in-law, and call his train: "My people!" Mes Gens, Fr. So, in a former part of this scene:
"You strike my people; and your disorder'd rabble
Again, in Othello, Act I. sc. i:
Call up my people."
However the passage be understood, these latter words must bear this sense. The meaning of the whole, indeed, may be only" Away, away, my followers!" MALONE.
With Mr. Malone's last explanation I am perfectly satisfied.
ALB. My lord, I am guiltless, as I am ignorant Of what hath mov'd you."
LEAR. It may be so, my lord.-Hear, nature, hear;
Dear goddess, hear! Suspend thy purpose, if
Dry up in her the organs of increase;
* Of what hath mov'd you.] Omitted in the quartos.
-from her derogate body-] Derogate for unnatural. WARBURTON.
Rather, I think, degraded; blasted. Her shrunk and wasted body. See Bullokar's English Expositor, 1616: "Derogate. To impaire, diminish, or take away."
Degraded (Dr. Johnson's first explanation) is surely the true one. So, in Cymbeline: "Is there no derogation in't?-You cannot derogate, my lord," i. e. degrade yourself. STEEVENS. thwart-] Thwart, as a noun adjective, is not frequent in our language. It is, however, to be found in Promos and Cassandra, 1578: "Sith fortune thwart doth crosse my joys with care." HENDERSON.
disnatur'd-] Disnatur'd is wanting natural affection. So Daniel, in Hymen's Triumph, 1623: "I am not so disnatured a man."
cadent tears-] i. e. Falling tears. Dr. Warburton would read candent. STEEVens.
The words these hot tears, in Lear's next speech, may seem to authorize the amendment; but the present reading is right. It is a more severe imprecation to wish, that tears by constant flowing may fret channels in the cheeks, which implies a long