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Lear. Does any here know me?-Why this is not Lear: does Lear walk thus? speak thus? Where are his eyes ? Either his notion weakens, or his discernings are lethargied.-Sleeping or waking ?-Ha! sure 'tis not so. -Who is it that can tell me who I am ?-Lear's shadow ?1 I would learn that; for by the marks of sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, I should be false persuaded I had daughters.2
sleeping or waking ?-Ha! sure'tis not so.] Thus the quas. ros. The folio: Ha! waking ? 'Tis not so. Malone. Lear's shadow.?] The folio gives these words to the Fool.
Steevens. And, I believe, rightly. M. Mason.
- for by the marks of sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, &c.] His daughters prove so unnatural, that, if he were only to judge by the reason of things, he must conclude, they cannot be his daughters. This is the thought. But how does his kingship or sovereignty enable him to judge of this matter? The line, by being false pointed, has lost its sense. We should read :
Of sovereignty, of knowledge. i.e. the understanding. He calls it, by an equally fine phrase, in Hamtet,-Sovereignty of reason. And it is remarkable that the editors had depraved it there too. See note, Act I, sc. vii, of that play. Warburton.
The contested passage is wanting in the folio. Steevens.
The difficulty, which must cccur to every reader, is to conceive how the marks of scvereignty, of knowledge, and of reason, should be of any use to persuade Leir that he haul, or had not, daughters. No lo. gick, I apprehend, could draw such a conclusion from such premises. This difficulty, however, may be entirely removed. by only pointing the passage thus:---for by the marks of sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, I should be false persuaded I had daughters.—Your name. fair gentlewoman?
The chain of Lear's speech being thus untangled, we can clearly trace the succession and connection of his ideas. The undu iful behaviour of his daughter so disconcerts him, that he doubts, by turns, whether she is Goneril, and whether he himself is Lear. Upon her first speech he only exclaims,
Are you our daughter? Upon her going on in the same style, he begins to question his own, sanity of mind, and even his personal identity. He appeals to the bystanders,
Who is it that can tell me who I am.? I should be glad to be told For (if I was to judge myself) by the marks of sovereignty, knowle Ige, and reason, which once distinguished Lear, (but which I have now lost) I should be false (against my own consciousness) persuadel (that I am not Lear). He then slides to the examination of ano her distinguishing mark of Lear:
I had daughters.
Fool. Which they will make an obedient father.3
But not able, as it should seem, to dwell upon so tender a subject, he hastily recurs to his first doubt concerning Goneril,
Your naine, fair gentlewoman? Tyrwhitt. This note is written with confidence disproportionate to the conviction which it can bring Lear might as well know by the marks and tokens arising from sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, that he had or had not daughters, as he could know by any thing else. But, says he, if I judge by these tokens, I find the persuasion false by which I long thought myself the father of daughters. Johnson.
I cannot approve of Dr. Warburton's manner of pointing this passage, as I do not think that sovereignty of knowledge can mean understanding ; and if it did, what is the difference between understanding and reason? In the passage he quotes from Hamlet, sovereignty of reason appears to me to mean, the ruling power, the governance of reason; a sense that would not answer in this place.
Mr. 'Tyrwhitt's observations are ingenious, but not satisfactory; and as for Dr. Johnson's explanation, though it would be certainly just had Lear expressed himself in the past, and said, “I have been false persuaded I had daughters," it cannot be the just explanation of the passage as it stands. The meaning appears to me to be this:
“ Were I to judge from the marks of sovereignty, of knowledge, or of reason, I should be induced to think I had daughters, yet that miist be a false persuasion ;-It cannot be.''
I could not at first comprehend why the tokens of sovereignty should have any weight in determining his persuasion that he had daughters; but by the marks of sovereignty he means, those tokens of royalty which his daughters then enjoyed as derived from him.
M. Mason. 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 ad litions 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 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-1 would learn that, &c. to an obedient father, are omitted in the folio. Malone.
3 Which they will make an obedient father.] Which, is on this occa. sion 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.
Lear. Your name, fair gentlewoman?
Gon. Come, sir;
4 oʻthe favour -] i. e. of the complexion. So, in Julius Cæsar :
“ In favour 's like the work we have in hand.” Steevens. 5 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 words--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. Steevens.
6 —a grac'd palace.] A palace graced by the presence of a sovereign. Warburton.
7 A little to disquantity your train ;] A little is the common read. ing; 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 inarked 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.
And the remainder, that shall still depend,
Darkness and devils -
Gon. You strike my people; and your disorder'd rabble Make servants of their betters.
Enter ALBANY. Lear. Woe, that too late repents,9—0, sir, are you
come ?1 Is it your will ? [to Alb.] Speak, sir.---Prepare my
Pray, sir, be patient.3
[To Gon. My train are men of choice and rarest parts, That all particulars of duty know; And in the most exact regard support The worships of their name.-O most small fault,
still depend,] Depend for continue in service. Warburton. So, in Measure for Measure:
“ Canst thou believe thy living is a life,
“ So stinkingly depending ?' Steevens. 9 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 -; i. e. repent us: which I suspect is the true reading. Shakspeare might have had The Mirrour for Magistrates in his thoughts:
66 They call'd him doting foole, all his requests debarr’d,
drepent “ 'Gainst me, --." Story of Queen Cordila. Malone. My copy of the quarto, of which the first signature is A, readsWe that too late repent's us. Steevens. -0, sir, are you come?] These words are not in the folio.
Malone. 2 Than the sea-monster!] Mr. Upton observes, that the sea-monster is the Hippotamus, the hieroglyphical symbol of impiety and ingratitude. Sandy's, in his Travels, says that he killeth his sire, and ravisheth his own danı.” Steevens.
3 Pray, sir, be patient.] The quartos omit this speech. Steevens.
How ugly didst thou in Cordelia show!
Alb. My lord, I am guiltless, as I am ignorant
Lear. It may be so, my lord. Hear, nature, hear;
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 regu. lated 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
“ Make servants of their betters." 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.
Steevens, 6 Of what hath mood you.] Omitted in the quartos. Steevens. from her derogate body --] Derogate for unnatural.
Warburton. Rather, I think, degraded; blasted. Johnson, VOL. XIV.