« PreviousContinue »
cracked between son and father. [This villain of mine comes under the prediction; there’s son against father. The king falls from bias of nature; there’s father against child. We have seen the best of our time; machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all ruinous disorders, follow us disquietly to our graves | "J–Find out this villain, Edmund, it shall lose thee nothing; do it carefully.—And the noble and true-hearted Kent banished ' his offence, honesty —Strange strange [Exit. Edm. This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune, (often the surfeit of our own behavior,) we make guilty of our disasters, the sun, the moon, and the stars; as if we were villains by necessity; fools, by heavenly compulsion ; knaves, thieves, and treachers” by spherical predominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star! My father compounded with my mother under the dragon’s tail; and my nativity was under ursa major; so that it follows I am rough and lecherous.--Tut, I should have been that I am, had the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on
my bastardizing. Edgar
and pat he comes, like the catastrophe of the old comedy. My cue is villanous melancholy, with a sigh like Tom O'Bedlam.—O, these eclipses do portend these divisions ! Fa, Sol, la, mi.”
1 All between brackets is omitted in the quartos.
2 Treachers is the reading of the folio. Chaucer, in his Romaunt of the Rose, mentions “the false treacher; ” and Spenser many times uses the same epithet. The quartos all read treacherers.
3 Shakspeare shows, by the context, that he was well acquainted with the property of these syllables in solmization, which imply a series of sounds so unnatural that ancient musicians prohibited their use. The monkish writers on music say mi contra fa, est diabolus ; the interval fami including a tritonus or sharp fourth, consisting of three tones without the intervention of a semi-tone, expressed in the modern scale by the letters F. G A B, would form a musical phrase extremely disagreeable to the ear. Edmund, speaking of eclipses as portents and prodigies, compares the dislocation of events, the times being out of joint, to the unnatural and offensive sounds fasol la mi.--Dr. Burney. 1 The folio edition commonly differs from the first quarto, by augmentations or insertions; but in this place, it varies by the omission of all between brackets. 2 For cohorts some editors read courts. 8 i. e. temperate. All between brackets is omitted in the quartos.
Edg. How now, brother Edmund 2 What serious contemplation are you in * Edm. I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read this other day, what should follow these eclipses. Edg. Do you busy yourself with that? Edm. I promise you,' the effects he writes of, succeed unhappily : [as of unnaturalness between the child and the parent; death, dearth, dissolutions of ancient amities; divisions in state, menaces and maledictions against king and nobles; needless diffidences, banishment of friends, dissipation of cohorts,” nuptial breaches, and I know not what. Edg. How long have you been a sectary astronomical ? Edm. Come, come ;] when saw you my father last? Edg. Why, the night gone by. Edm. Spake you with him f Edg, Ay, two hours together. Edm. Parted you in good terms ? Found you no displeasure in him, by word or countenance P Edg. None at all. Edm. Bethink yourself, wherein you may have of. fended him ; and at my entreaty, forbear his presence, till some little time hath qualified the heat of his dis
pleasure ; which at this instant so rageth in him, that with the mischief of your person it would scarcely allay.
Edg. Some villain hath done me wrong.
Edm. That's my fear. [I pray you, have a contiment” forbearance, till the speed of his rage goes slower; and, as I say, retire with me to my lodging, from whence I will fitly bring you to hear my lord speak. Pray you, go; there's my key.—If you do stir abroad, go armed.
Edg. Armed, brother P]
Edm. Brother, I advise you to the best; go armed. I am no honest man, if there be any good meaning towards you. I have told you what I have seen and heard, but faintly; nothing like the image and horror of it. 'Pray you, away.
Edg. Shall I hear from you amon f
Edm. I do serve you in this business.
- [Exit EDGAR.
A credulous father, and a brother noble,
SCENE III. 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 f
Stew. Ay, madam.
Gon. By day and night he wrongs me; every hour He flashes into one gross crime or other, That sets us all at odds. I’ll not endure it; His knights grow riotous, and himself upbraids us On 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.
Gon. Put on what weary negligence you please, You and your fellows; I’d have it come to question. If he dislike it, let him to my sister,
Whose mind and mine, I know, in that are one,
abused.*] Remember what I have said. Stew. - Very well, madam. Gon. And let his knights have colder looks among you ;
What grows of it, no matter; advise your fellows so.
SCENE IV. 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 razed" my likeness.-Now, banished Kent, If thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemned, (So may it come !) thy master, whom thou lov'st,
Shall find thee full of labors.
1 This line and the four following are not in the folio. Theobald observes, that they are fine in themselves, and much in character for Goneril. 2 The meaning of this passage may be, “Old men are babes again, and must be accustomed to checks as well as flatteries, especially when the latter are seen to be abused by them.”
3 The words in brackets are found in the quartos, but omitted in the folio.
4 To diffuse here means to disguise, to render it strange, to obscure it. See Merry Wives of Windsor. We must suppose that Kent advances looking on his disguise.
5 i. e. effaced.
Horns within. Enter LEAR, Knights, and Attendants.
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 wouldst thou with us P
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.”
Lear. What art thou ?
Kent. A very homest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the king. .
Lear. If thou be as poor for a subject, as he is for a king, thou art poor enough. What wouldst thou?
Lear. Who wouldst thou serve f
Lear. Dost thou know me, fellow *
Kent. No, sir; but you have that in your countenance, which I would fain call master.
Lear. What’s that?
Lear. What services canst thou do?
Kent. I can keep honest counsel, ride, run, mar a curious tale in telling it, and deliver a plain message bluntly. That which ordinary men are fit for, I am qualified in ; and the best of me is diligence.
Lear. How old art thou ?
Kent. Not so young, sir, to love a woman for singing; nor so old, to dote on her for any thing. I have years on my back forty-eight.
1 To converse signifies immediately and properly to keep company, to have commerce with.
2 It is not clear how Kent means to make the eating no fish a recommendatory quality, unless we suppose that it arose from the odium then cast upon the papists, who were the most strict observers of periodical fasts.