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Whilst I was big in clamour, came there a man, Who having seen me in my worst estate, Shunn'd my abhorr'd society; but then, finding
"I play the torturer, by small and small,
To such as love not sorrow; but another,
Too-much is here used as a substantive. A period is an end or conclusion. So, in King Richard III:
"O, let me make the period to my curse."
This reflection perhaps refers, as Dr. Warburton has observed, to the Bastard's desiring to hear more, and to Albany's thinking that enough had been said. This, says Edgar, would have seemed the utmost completion of woe, to such as do not delight in sorrow; but another, of a different disposition, to amplify misery, would "give more strength to that which hath too much."
Edgar's words, however, may have no reference to what Edmund has said; and he may only allude to the relation he is about to give of Kent's adding a new sorrow to what Edgar already suffered, by recounting the miseries which the old king and his faithful follower had endured.
Mr. Steevens points thus:
To amplify too much, would make much more,
But if such a punctuation be adopted, what shall we do with the word would, which is thus left without a nominative case? A preceding editor, who introduced the above punctuation, to obtain some sense, reads and points:
(To amplify too-much, to make much more,
Whilst I was big &c.
and indeed without that alteration, the words thus pointed afford, in my apprehension, no sense. MALONE.
Mr. Malone's explanation may be just; and yet it is probable that we are struggling with a passage, the obscurity of which is derived from its corruption. STEEVENS.
Who 'twas that so endur'd, with his strong arms
But who was this? EDG. Kent, sir, the banish'd Kent; who in disguise
Follow'd his enemy king, and did him service
Enter a Gentleman hastily, with a bloody Knife.
GENT. Help! help! O help!
-threw him on my father:] The quartos read:
The modern editors have corrected the passage, as it is now printed, and as I suppose it to have been originally written. There is tragick propriety in Kent's throwing himself on the body of a deceased friend; but this propriety is lost in the act of clumsily tumbling a son over the lifeless remains of his father.
-threw me on my father;] Thus both the quartos, where alone this speech is found. Mr. Theobald, and the subsequent editors, read-threw him on my father. This is a new and distinct idea; but I do not think myself warranted to adopt it; the text being intelligible, and it being very improbable that the word me should have been printed instead of him.-Kent in his transport of joy, at meeting Edgar, embraced him with such violence, as to throw him on the dead body of Gloster.
MALONE. The quartos, where alone this but it was certainly a misprint, Dr. Johnson made the cor
-the trumpet sounded,] speech is found, read trumpets; for one trumpet only had sounded. rection. MALONE.
EDG. What means that bloody knife?
It came even from the heart of1
What kind of help?
Who, man? speak.
GENT. Your lady, sir, your lady: and her sister By her is poison'd; she confesses it.3
EDM. I was contracted to them both; all three Now marry in an instant.*
ALB. Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead!
This judgment of the heavens, that makes us tremble, Touches us not with pity.
'Tis hot, it smokes ;
'from the heart of-] Here the folio, in defiance of metre and propriety, adds
•O`she's dead! STEEVENS.
Who, man? speak.]
The folio reads, Who dead? Speak
- she confesses it.] Thus the first and second folio. The quartos she has [and hath] confess'd it. As these readings are equally proper, I have chosen the more metrical of the two.
Now marry in an instant.] In the folio, after these words, we haveEdg. Here comes Kent.
and the words-0, is this he, are spoken by Albany, immediately after touches us not with pity. I have followed the quartos. MALONE.
This judgment &c.] If Shakspeare had studied Aristotle all his life, he would not perhaps have been able to mark with more precision the distinct operations of terror and pity. TYRWHITT. This is the reading of the folio. The quartos have-This jus MALONE.
ALB. O! it is he."
Here comes Kent, sir."
Great thing of us forgot!Speak, Edmund, where's the king? and where's Cordelia ?
See'st thou this object, Kent?
[The Bodies of GONERIL and REGAN are brought in.
KENT. Alack, why thus?
EDM. Yet Edmund was belov'd: The one the other poison'd for my sake, And after slew herself.
ALB. Even so.-Cover their faces.
• Here comes Kent, sir.] The manner in which Edgar here mentions Kent, seems to require the lines which are inserted from the first edition in the foregoing scene. JOHNSON.
7 O! it is he.] Thus the quartos. Folio: O, is this he?
Yet Edmund was belov'd:] Rowe's dying Rake suggests to himself a similar consolation, arising from the remembrance of successful gallantry:
"Yet, let not this advantage swell thy pride; "I conquer'd in my turn, in love I triumph'd." Dryden's Don Sebastian felicitates himself on the same cir
Thus also in The Double Marriage by Fletcher: -this happiness yet stays with me:
"You have been mine." STEEVENS.
EDM. I pant for life :-Some good I mean to do, Despite of mine own nature. Quickly send,Be brief in it,-to the castle; for my writ Is on the life of Lear, and on Cordelia :Nay, send in time.
Thy token of reprieve.
EDM. Well thought on; take my sword, Give it the captain."
Run, run, O, run
EDG. To who, my lord?-Who has the office? send
Haste thee, for thy life.' [Exit Edgar. EDM. He hath commission from thy wife and me To hang Cordelia in the prison, and To lay the blame upon her own despair, That she fordid herself.2
Give it the captain.] The quartos read:
"Give it the captain.
ALB. The gods defend her! Bear him hence awhile. [EDMUND is borne off.
Alb. Haste thee, for thy life.] Thus the quartos. In the folio this speech is improperly assigned to Edgar, who had the moment before received the token of reprieve, which Edmund enjoined him to give the officer, in whose custody Lear was.
"did, with desperate hand,
That she fordid herself.] To fordo, signifies to destroy. It is used again in Hamlet, Act V:
Here the folio and quarto B unnecessarily add― That she fordid herself, i. e. destroyed herself. I have followed the quarto A.