« ZurückWeiter »
If you do find him, pray you, give him this ;
would show What party' I do follow. Reg.
Fare thee well. [Exeunt.
The Country near Dover.
Enter GLOSTER, and EDGAR, dressed like a
Peasant. Glo. When shall we come to the top of that
same hill ? Edg. You do climb up it now : look, how we
labour. Glo. Methinks, the ground is even. EDG.
Horrible steep: Hark, do you hear the sea ? Glo.
give him this ;] I suppose Regan here delivers a ring or er favour to the Ste rd, to be conveyed to Edmund.
MALONE. ? What party -] Quarto, What lady. Johnson.
& Scene VI.] This scene, and the stratagem by which Gloster is cured of his desperation, are wholly borrowed from Sidney's Arcadia, book ii. JOHNSON.
9 No, truly.] Somewhat, necessary to complete the measure, is omitted in this or the foregoing hemistich. Sir Thomas Hanmer supplies the defect, though perhaps but aukwardly, by reading
No truly, not." STEEVENS. The quartos read as one line: " Horrible sleep: hark, do you hear the sea ? " BosWELL,
Edg. Why, then your other senses grow imper
fect By your eyes' anguish. Glo.
So may it be, indeed : Methinks, thy voice is alter'd’; and thou speak'st In better phrase, and matter, than thou didst. Edg. You are much deceiv'd ; in nothing am I
chang’d, But in my garments. Glo.
Methinks, you are better spoken. EDG. Come on, sir ; here's the place :- -stand
still. How fearful And dizzy 'tis, to cast one's eyes so low ? ! The crows, and choughs, that wing the midway
Show scarce so gross as beetles : Half way down Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade'!
thy voice is alter'd; &c.] Edgar alters his voice in order to pass afterwards for a malignant spirit. Johnson.
How fearful And dizzy 'tis, to cast one's eyes so low!) This description has been much admired since the time of Addison, who has remarked, with a poor attempt at pleasantry, that "he who can read it without being giddy, has a very good head, or a very bad one." The description is certainly not mean, but I am far from thinking it wrought to the utmost excellence of poetry. He that looks from a precipice finds himself assailed by one great and dreadful image of irresistible destruction. But this overwhelming idea is dissipated and enfeebled from the instant that the mind can restore itself to the observation of particulars, and diffuse its attention to distinct objects. The enumeration of the choughs and crows, the samphire-man, and the fishers, counteracts the great effect of the prospect, as it peoples the desert of intermediate vacuity, and stops the mind in the rapidity of its descent through emptiness and horror. Johnson.
It is to be considered that Edgar is describing an imaginary precipice, and is not therefore supposed to be so strongly impressed with the dreadful prospect of inevitable destruction, as a person would be who really found himself on the brink of one.
Methinks, he seems no bigger than his head:
It is a
phire grows in great plenty on most of the sea-cliffs in this country: it is terrible to see how people gather it, hanging by a rope several fathom from the top of the impending rocks as it were in the air.” Smith's History of Waterford, p. 315, edit. 1774.
TOLLET. This personage is not a mere creature of Shakspeare's imagination, for the gathering of samphire was literally a trade or common occupation in his time, it being carried and cried about the streets, and much used as a pickle. So, in a song in Heywood's Rape of Lucrece, in which the cries of London are enumerated under the title of the cries of Rome :
“I ha' rock-samphier, rock-samphier ;
the cries in Rome's faire towne ;
Buy a map, a mill-mat,” &c. Again, in Venner's Via recta, &c. 4to. 1622 : Samphire is in like manner preserved in pickle, and eaten with meates. very pleasant and familiar sauce, and agreeing with man's body."
Dover Cliff was particularly resorted to for this plant. See Drayton's Polyolbion, book xviii. :
“ Rob Dover's neighbouring cleeves of samphire, to excite
· her cock ;] Her cock-boat. Johnson. So, in The Tragedy of Hoffman, 1637: “ I caused my lord to leap into the cock, &c.—at last our cock and we were cast ashore."
Again, in the ancient bl. 1. comedy called Common Conditions : “ B. Lanche out the cocke, boies, and set the maister ashoare. “ M. The cocke is lanshed, eche man to his oare.
“ M. Boie, come up, and grounde the cocke on the sande.” Again, in Barclay's Ship of Fools :
our ship can hold no more,
“ Hause in the cockeHence the term cockswain, a petty officer in a ship. Steevens. Topple down headlong.] To topple is to tumble. The word
Set me where you stand. Edg. Give me your hand : You are now within
Of the extreme verge: for all beneath the moon
Let go my hand.
is also used in Macbeth. So, in Nash's Lenten Stuff, &c. 1599 :
fifty people toppled up their heels there."-Again, - he had thought to have toppled his burning ear, &c. into the sea."
STEEVENS. for all beneath the moon Would I not leap UPRIGHT.] But what danger is in leaping upwards or downwards ? He who leaps thus must needs fall again on his feet upon the place from whence he rose. We should
“ Would I not leap outright,” i. e. forward : and then being on the verge of a precipice, he must needs fall headlong.
WARBURTON. I doubt whether the word-outright, was even in use at the time when this play was written.
Upright, with the strict definition—" perpendicularly erect,” is absurd; for such a leap is physically impossible. Upright is barely expletive : upwards, from the ground. Farmer.
One of the senses of the word upright, in Shakspeare's time, was that in which it is now used. So, in The Tempest :
“ time goes upright with his carriage.” Again, in Florio’s translation of Montaigne's Essays, 1603 : “I have seene a man take his full carier : standing boult upright on both his feete in the saddle."
And with this signification, I have no doubt, it was used here. Every man who leaps, in his first effort to raise himself from the ground, springs upright. Far from thinking of leaping forward for which, being certain destruction, nothing could compensate, Edgar says, he would not for all beneath the moon run the risk of even leaping upwards.
Dr. Warburton idly objects, that he who leaps upwards, must needs fall again on his feet upon the same place from whence he
If the commentator had tried such a leap within a foot of the edge of a precipice, before he undertook the revision of these plays, the world would, I fear, have been deprived of his labours.
Prosper it with thee! Go thou further off ;
Edg. Now fare you well, good sir. [Seems to go.
With all my heart.
O you mighty gods !
[He leaps, and falls along. Edg.
Gone, sir ? farewell
- Why I do trifle thus with his despair,
Is done to cure it.] Mr. Theobald and Dr. Warburton, who read, with one of the quartos--"'Tis done," place an interrogation point at the end of the first of these lines ; but, in my opinion, improperly. Steevens.
* Is done --" Thus the quartos B and C, and the folio. Quarto A, reads-Tis done, MALONE.
8 Gone, sir ? farewell.] Thus the quartos and folio. The modern editors have been content to read-Good sir, &c.
when lifc itself