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He smild at it: I told him, you were coming;
Gon. Then shall you go no further. [To EDM,
[Giving a Favour. Decline your head: this kiss, if it durst speak, Would stretch thy spirits up into the air ;2
Our wishes, on the way, May prove effects.] I believe the meaning of the passage to be this: “What we wish, before our march is at an end, may be brought to happen," i.e. the murder or despatch of her husband. On the way, however, may be equivalent to the expression we now use, viz. By the way, or By the by, i. e. en passant. Steevens.
The wishes we have formed and communicated to each other on our journey, may be carried into effect. M. Mason.
She means, I think, The wishes, which we expressed to each other on our way hither, may be completed, and prove effectual to the de: struction of my husband. On her entrance she said
I marvel our mild husband “ Not met us on the way.” Again, more appositely, in King Richard III:
“ Thou know'st our reasons, urg'd upon the way." See also Florio’s Italian Dictionary, 1598: “ Umbella. A kind of round thing like a round skreene, that gentlemen use in Italie in time of summer,—to keep the sunne from them, when they are riding by the way. Malone.
1 1 must change arms - ] Thus the quartos. The folio reads change names Steevens. 2 Decline your head: this kiss, if it durst speak,
Would stretch thy spirits up into the air ;] She bids him decline hís head, that she might give him a kiss (the Steward being present) and that it might appear only to him as a whisper. Steedens.
Conceive, and fare thee well.
Edm. Yours in the ranks of death.
My most dear Gloster! (Exit Edm. O, the difference of man,
!3 To thee
3 O, the difference of man, and man!] Omitted in the quartos.
Steevens. Some epithet to difference was probably omitted in the folio.
Malone. According to the present regulation of this passage, the measure is complete. Steevens. 4 Usurps my bed.] One of the quartos read:
My foot usurps my head; the other,
My foot usurps my body. Steevens. The quarto of which the first signature is A, reads--My foot usürps my
head. Some of the copies of quarto B, have-My foot usurps my body; others—A fool usurps my bed. The folio reads-My fool usurps my body. Malone.
5 I have been worth the whistle.] This expression is a reproach to Albany for having neglected her; though you disregard me thus, I have been worth the whistle, I have found one that thinks me worth calling. Johnson.
This expression is a proverbial one. Heywood in one of his dia. logues, consisting entirely of proverbs, says:
“ It is a poor dog that is not worth the whistling.” Goneril's meaning seems to bem-There was a time when you would have thought me worth the calling to you ; reproaching him for not having summoned her to consult with on the present critical occasion. Steevens. I think Mr. Steevens's interpretation the true one.
Malone. · I fear your disposition:] These words, and the lines that fol. low to monsters of the deep, are found in the quartos, buc are improperly omitted in the folio. They are necessary, as Mr. Pope has observed, “to explain the reasons of the detestation which Albany here expresses to his wife.” Malone 1 That nature, which contemns its origin,
Cannot be border'd certain in itself;] The sense is, That nature
She that herself will sliver and disbranche
Gon. No more; the text is foolish.
Alb. Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile : Filths savour but themselves. What have you done? Tigers, not daughters, what have you perform’d? A father, and a gracious aged man, Whose reverence the head-lugg'd bear would lick, which is arrived to such a pitch of unnatural degeneracy, as to contemn its origin, cannot from thenceforth be restrained within any cer. tain bounds, but is prepared to break out into the most monstrous ex. cesses every way, as occasion or temptation may offer. Heath.
8 She that herself will sliver and disbranch -] To sliver signifies to tear off or disbranch. So, in Macbeth:
slips of yew “ Sliver d in the moon's eclipse." Warburton. 9 She that herself will sliver and disbranch
From her material sap ] She who breaks the bonds of filial duty, and becomes wholly alienated from her father, must wither and perish, like a branch separated from that sap which supplies it with nourishment, and gives life to the matter of which it is composed. So, in A Brief Chronycle concernynge the Examinacyion and Death of Syr Johan Öldcastle, 1544: “ Then sayd the lorde Cobham, and spredde his armes abrode: This is a very crosse, yea and so moche better than your crosse of wode, in that yt was created as God: yet will I not seeke to have yt worshipped. Than sayd the of London, Syr, ye wote wele that he dyed on a materyall crosse.”
Mr. Theobald reads maternal, and Dr Johnson thinks that the true reading. Syr John Froissart's Chronicle (as Dr. Warburton has observed) in the title-page of the English translation printed in 1525, is said to be translated out of French to our material English Tongue by John Bourchier. And I have found material (from mater) used in some other old books for maternal, but neglected to note the in. stances. I think, however, that the word is here used in its ordinary sense. Maternal sap (or any synonymous words) would introduce a mixed and confused metaphor. Material sap is strictly correct. From the word herself to the end, the branch was the figurative object of the poet's thought. Malone.
Throughout the plays of our author I do not recollect a single instance of the adjective-maternal. Steevens.
1 And come to deadly use.] Alluding to the use that witches and inchanters are said to make of wither'd branches in their charms. A fine insinuation in the speaker, that she was ready for the most unnatural mischief, and a preparative of the poet to her plotting with the bastard against her husband s life Warburton.
Dr. Warburton might have supported his interpretation by the passage in Macbeth, quoted above, n. 8. Malone,
Most barbarous, most degenerate! have you madded.
See thyself, devil ! Proper deformity? seems not in the fiend
would lick,] This line, which had been omitted by all my predecessors, I have restored from the quartos. Steevens.
these vile offences,] In some of the impressions of quarto B, we find this vile offences; in others, and in quarto A,-the vile. This was certainly a misprint for these. Malene.
like monsters of the deep.] Fishes are the only animals that are known to prey upon their own species. Johnson.
that not know’st, &c.] The rest of this speech is omitted in the folio. Steevens.
6 Fools do those villains pity, &c.] She means, that none but fools would pity those villains, who are prevented from executing their malicious designs, and punished for their evil intention. It is not clear whether this fiend means her father, or the King of France. If these words were intended to have a retrospect to Albany's speech, which the word pity might lead us to suppose, Lear must be in her contemplation; if they are considered as connected with what follows Where's thy drum ? &c. the other interpretation must be adopted. The latter appears to me the true one; and perhaps the punctuation of the quarto, in which there is only a comma after the word mischief, ought to have been preferred. Malone.
I do not perceive to what the word-fiend, in the fourth line of the foregoing note, refers. Steevens.
? Proper deformity - ) i.e. Diabolick qualities appear not so horrid in the devil, to whom they belong, as in woman, who unnaturally as sumes them. Warburton.
So horrid, as in woman.
O vain fool!
Enter a Messenger. Alb. What news? Mess. O, my good lord, the duke of Cornwall's dead; Slain by his servant, going to put out The other eye of Gloster.
8 Thou changed and self-cover'd thing,] Of these lines there is but one copy, and the editors are forced upon conjecture. They have published this line thus :
Thou chang'd, and self-converted thing, But I cannot but think that by self-cover'd the author meant, thou that hast disguised nature by wickedness; thou that hast hid the woman under the fiend. Johnson.
This, and the next speech are wanting in the folio. Steevens.
The following words, be-monster not thy nature, seems rather to support the reading of the former editors, which was self-converted; and a thought somewhat similar occurs in Fletcher's play of The Captain, where the father says to Lelia
Oh, Good God!
“ Hast thou begot thyself again! M. Mason. By thou self-cover'd thing, the poet, I think, means, thou who hast put a covering on thyself, which nature did not give thee. The cover. ing which Albany means, is, the semblance and appearance of a fiend. Malone.
Self-cover'd, perhaps, was said in allusion to the envelope which the maggots of some insects furnish to themselves. Or the poet might have referred to the operation of the silk worm, that
labours till it clouds itself all o'er.” Steevens. 9 Be-monster not thy feature.] Feature, in Shakspeare's age, meant the general cast of countenance, and often beauty. Bullokar, in his Expositor, 1616, explains it by the words, “ handsomeness, comeli. ness, beautie.” Malone.
1 To let these hands obey my blood,] As this line wants a foot, per: haps our author wrote
To let these hands of mine obey my blood.
This hand of mine