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Tom o’ Bedlam.--O, these eclipses do portend these divisions ! fa, sol, la, mi.4
Edg. How now, brother Edmund ? 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 of6 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.
our old comedies, where the persons of the scene inake their entry inartificially, and just when the poet wants them on the stage. Warner.
-0, these eclipses do portend these divisions! fa, sol, la, mi.] The commentators, not being musicians, have regarded this passage perhaps as unintelligible nonsense, and therefore left it as they found it, without bestowing a single conjecture on its meaning and import. Shakspeare however shews by the context that he was well acquainted with the property of these syllables in solmisation, which imply a series of sounds so unnatural, that ancient musicians prohibited their use. The monkish writers on musick sày, mi contra fa est diabolus: the interval fa mi, including a tritonus, or sharp 4th, consisting of three tones without the intervention of a semi-tone, expressed in the modern scale by the letters F G A B, would forin 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, fa sol la mi. Dr. Burney.
The words fa, sol, &c. are not in the quarto. The folio, and all the modern editions, read corruptly me instead of mi. Shakspeare has again introduced the gainut in The Taming of the Shrew, Vol. VI, p 80. Malone.
5 I promise you,] The folio edition commonly differs from the first quarto, by augmentations, or insertions, but in this place it varies by omission, and by the omission of something which naturally introduces the following dialogue. It is easy to remark, that in this speech, which ought, I think, to be inserted as it now is in the text, Edmund, with the common craft of fortune-tellers, mingles che past and future, and tells of the future only what he already foreknows by confederacy, or can attain by probable conjecture. Fohnson.
- as of -] All from this asterisk to the next, is omitted in the folio. Steevens.
Edg. How long have you been a sectary astronomical?
Edm. Parted you on good terms? Found you no displeasure in him, by word, or countenance ?
Edg. None at all.
Edm. Bethink yourself, wherein you may have offended him: and at my entreaty, forbear his presence, till some little time hath qualified the heat of his displeasure; 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 continent 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 arned.
Edg. Armed, brother?*
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
anon? Edm. I do serve you in this business.- [Exit Edg. A credulous father, and a brother noble, Whose nature is so far from doing harms, That he suspects none; on whose foolish honesty
- dissipation of cohorts,] Thus the old copy. Dr. Johnson reads-of courts. Steevens.
8 How long have you -] This line I have restored from the two eldest quartos, and have regulated the following speech according to the same copies. Steevens.
that with the mischief of your person -] This reading is in both copies; yet I believe the author gave it, that but with the mis. chief of your person it would scarce allay Fohnson.
I do not see any need of alteration. He could not express the violence of his father's displeasure in stronger terms than by saying it was so great that it would scarcely be appeased by the destruction of his son. Malone.
1 That's my fear.] All between this and the next asterisk, is omitted in the quartos. Steevens.
My practices ride easy! I see the business.---
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?
Stew. Ay, madam.
Gon. By day and night! he wrongs me;l every hour
trifle :- When he returns from hunting,
Stew. He's coming, madam; I hear him. [Horns within.
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, *Not to be over-rul’d.3 Idle old man,
2 By day and night! he wrongs me;] It has been suggested by Mr. Whalley that we cught to point differently:
By day and night, he wrongs me; not considering these words as an adjuration. But that an adjuration was intended, appears, I think. from a passage in King Henry VIII. The king, speaking of Buckingham, (Act 1, sc. ii,) says:
By day and night " He's traitor to the height.” It cannot be supposed that Henry means to say that Buckingham is a traitor in the night as well as by day.
The regulation which has been followed in the text. is likewise supported by Hamlet, where we have again the same adjuration: “O day and night! but this is wondrous strange.'
Malone. By night and day, is, perhaps, only a phrase signifying-always, every way. So, in Troilus and Cressida:
<< Prince Troilus, I have lov'd you night and day,
" For many weary months.” See Vol. III, p. 47, n. 4. I have not, however, displaced Mr. Makone's punctuation. Steevens.
That still would manage those authorities,
Very well, madam.
3 Not to be over-ruld. &c.] This line, and the four following lines, are omitted in the folio. Malone.
4 — Idle old man, &c.] The lines from one asterisk to the other as they are fine in themselves, and very much in character for Goneril, I have restored from the old quarto. The last verse, which I have ventured to amend, is there printed thus : “ With checks, like flatt'ries when they are seen abus'd."
Theobald. 3 Old fools are babes again; and must be us’d
With checks, as flatteries,—when they are seen abus'd.] The sense seems to be this: Old men must be treated with checks, when as they are seen to be deceived with flatteries: or, when they are weak enough to be seen abused by flatteries, they are then weak enough to be used with checks. There is a play of the words used and abused. To abuse is, in cur author, very frequently the same as to deceive. This construction is harsh and ungrammatical ; Shakspeare perhaps thought it vicious, and chose to throw away the lines rather than correct them, nor would now thank the officiousness of his editors, who restore what they do not understand. Johnson.
The plain meaning, I believe is—old fools must be used with checks, as flatteries must be checked when they are made a bad use of. Tollet.
I understand this passage thus. Old fools—must be used with checks, as well as flatteries, when they [i. e. flatteries) are seen to be abused.
Tyrwhitt. The objection to Dr. Johnson's interpretation is, that he supplies the word with or by, which are not found in the text: " -- when as they are seen to be deceived with flatteries," or, when they are weak enough to be seen abused by flatteries,"&c. and in his mode of construction the word with preceding checks, cannot be understood before flatteries. I think Mr. Tyrwhitt's interpretation the true one.
Malone. The sentiment of Goneril is obviously this: “ When old fools will not yield to the appliances of persuasion, harsh treatment must be employed to compel their submission.” When flatteries are seen to be abused by them, checks must be used, as the only means left to subdue them. Henley.
6 I would breed &c.] This line and the first four words of the next are found in the quartos, but omitted in the folio. Malone.
That I may speak :-I'll write straight to my sister,
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 raz'd my likeness.--Now, banish'd Kent; If thou can'st serve where thou dost stand condemn'd, (So may it come!) thy master, whom thou lov'st, Shall find thee full of labours. 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 wouldest thou with us?
Kent. I do profess to be no less than I seem; to serve
7 If but as well I other accents borrow,
That can my speech diffuse,] We must suppose that Kent ad. vances looking on his disguise This circumstance very naturally leads to his speech, which otherwise would have no very apparent introduction. If I can change my speech as well as I have changed my dress. To diffuse speech signifies to disorder it, and so to disguise it; as in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act IV, sc. vii:
rush at once “ With some diffused song.". Again, in the Nice Valour, &c. by Beaumont and Fletcher, Cupid says to the Passionate Man, who appears disordered in his dress:
Go not so diffusedly. Again, in our author's King Henry V:
swearing and stern looks, diffus'd attire." Again, in a book entitled, A Green Forest, or a Natural History, &c. by John Maplet, 1567 :-—" In this stone is apparently seene verie often the verie forme of a tode, with bespotted and coloured feete, but those uglye and defusedly' -To diffuse speech may, however, mean to speak broad with a clownish accent. Steevens
Diffused certainly meant, in our author's time, wild, irregular, he. terogeneous. So, in Greene's Farewell to Follie, 1617: “ I have seen an English gentleman so defused in his suits, his doublet being for the weare of Castile, his hose for Venice, his hat for France, his cloak for Germany, that he seemed no way to be an Englishman but by the face.” Malone,