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LEAR. Then leave her, sir ; for, by the power
that made me, I tell you all her wealth.–For you, great king,
[To France. I would not from your love make such a stray, To match you where I hate; therefore beseech you To avert your liking a more worthier way, Than on a wretch whom nature is asham'd Almost to acknowledge hers. FRANCE.
This is most strange! That she, that even but now was your best object, The argument of your praise, balm of your age, Most best, most dearest", should in this trice of time Commit a thing so monstrous, to dismantle So many folds of favour ! Sure, her offence Must be of such unnatural degree, That monsters it o, or your fore-vouch'd affection Fall'n into taint’: which to believe of her,
The passages just cited show that the text is right, and that our poet did not write, as some have proposed to read :
“ Election makes not, upon such conditions." Malone. s Most best, most dearest;] Thus the quartos. The folios read
“ The best, the dearest ;” STEEVENS. We have just had more worthier, and in a preceding passage more richer. The same phraseology is found often in these plays and in the contemporary writings. MALONE.
such unnatural degree, That monsters it,] This was the phraseology of Shakspeare's age. So, in Coriolanus :
“ But with such words that are but rooted in
“ Your tongue.” Again, ibidem :
No, not with such friends,
“ That thought them sure of you." Three of the modern editors, however, in the passage before us, have substituted as for that. MALONE.
" That monsters it.” This uncommon verb occurs again in Coriolanus, Act II. Sc. II. :
“ To hear my nothings monster'd." STEEVENS. 7 or your fore-vouch'd AFFECTION
Fall INTO TAINT:] The common books read :
Must be a faith, that reason without miracle
or your fore-vouch'd affection
“ Fall'n into taint: This line has no clear or strong sense, nor is this reading authorized by any copy, though it has crept into all the late editions. The early quario reads :
or you, for vouch'd affections
“ Fall'n into taint." The folio :
or your fore-vouch'd affection
“ Fall into taint.” Taint is used for corruption and for disgrace. If therefore we take the oldest reading it may be reformed thus :
sure her offence
“ Fall into taint." Her offence must be prodigious, or you must fall into reproach for having vouched affection which you did not feel. If the reading of the folio be preferred, we may, with a very slight change, produce the same sense :
sure her offence
“ Falls into taint." That is, falls into reproach or censure. But there is another possible sense. Or signifies before, and or ever is before ever; the meaning in the folio may therefore be, . Sure her crime must be monstrous before your affection can be affected with hatred.' Let the reader determine.-As I am not much a friend ti conjectural emendation, I should prefer the latter sense, which requires no change of reading. Johnson.
The meaning of the passage as I have printed it (fall'n into taint] is, I think, Either her offence must be monstrous, or, if she has not committed any such offence, the affection which you always professed to have for her must be tainted and decayed, and is now without reason alienated from her.
I once thought the reading of the quartos right-or you, for vouch'd affections, &c. i. e. on account of the extravagant professions made by her sisters : but I did not recollect that France had -not heard these. However, Shakspeare might himself have forgot this circumstance. The plural affections favours this interpretation.
The interpretation already given, appears to me to be supported by our author's words in another place :
I yet beseech your majesty, (If for I want that glib and oily art, To speak and purpose not; since what I well * in.
tend, I'll do't before I speak,) that you make known p It is no vicious blot, murder, or foulness, No unchaste o action, or dishonour d step, That hath depriv d me of your grace and favour : But even for want of that, for which I am richer; A still-soliciting eye, and such a tongue That I am glad I have not, though not to have it, Hath lost me in your liking. LEAR.
Better thou Hadst not been born, than not to have pleas'd me
better. FRANCE. Is it no more but this '? a tardiness in
nature, Which often leaves the history unspoke, That it intends to do ?-My lord of Burgundy,
* First folio, will. + Quartos, that you may know.
“ When love begins to sicken and decay," &c. Malone. The present reading, which is that of the folio, is right; and the sense will be clear, without even the slight amendment proposed by Johnson, to every reader who shall consider the word 'must, as referring to fall as well as to be. Her offence must be monstrous, or the former affection which you professed for her, must fall into taint; that is, become the subject of reproach. M. Mason.
Taint is a term belonging to falconry. So, in The Booke of Haukyng, &c. bl. I. no date: “A taint is a thing that goeth overthwart the fethers, &c. like as it were eaten with wormes.”
STEEVENS. 8 If for I want, &c.] If this be my offence, that I want the glib and oily art, &c. Malone. Fur has the power of—because. Thus, in p. 32:
“ For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines
Lag of a brother.” Steevens. 9 No Unchaste action,] The quartos read-no unclean action. Unclean, in the sense of unchaste, is the constant language of Scripture. Boswell.
Is it but this ? &c.] Thus the folio. 'The quartos, disregarding metre
• Is it no more but this?” &c. STEEVENS.
What say you to the lady ? Love is not love,
LEAR. Nothing: I have sworn; I am firm.
Bur. I am sorry then, you have so lost a father, That you must lose a husband. CoR.
Peace be with Burgundy! Since that respects of fortune are his love, I shall not be his wife. FRANCE. Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich,
being poor ; Most choice, forsaken; and most lov'd, despis'd ! Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon : Be it lawful, I take up what's cast away. Gods, gods ! 'tis strange, that from their cold'st
neglect My love should kindle to inflam'd respect.Thy dowerless daughter, king, thrown to my chance, Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France : Not all the dukes of * wat'rish Burgundy
* Quartos, in.
'- with respects,] i. e. with cautious and prudential considerations. See vol. viii. p. 291, n. 4.
Thus the quartos. The folio has-regards. MALONE.
? - from the entire point.] Single, unmixed with other considerations. Johnson.
Dr. Johnson is right. The meaning of the passage is, that his love wants something to mark its sincerity : “Who seeks for aught in love but love alone.”
Steevens. 3 She is herself A DOWRY.] The quartos read :
“ She is herself and dower.” Steevens. - Royal LEAR,] So the quarto ; the folio has-Royal king.
Shall buy this unpriz'd precious maid of me.-
LEAR. Thou hast her, France : let her be thine;
Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see
[Flourish. Exeunt LEAR, BURGUNDY, CORN
WALL, ALBANY, GLOSTER, and Attendants.
Cor. The jewels of our father, with wash'd eyes
5 Thou losest here,] Here and where have the power of nouns. Thou losest this residence to find a better residence in another place. JOHNSON . So, in Churchyard's Farewell to the World, 1592:
“ That growes not here, takes roote in other where." See note on The Comedy of Errors, Act II. Sc. I. vol. iv. p. 169.
stand: and yet Ye instead of The, a change adopted by former editors, may be justified; it being frequently impossible, in ancient MSS. to distinguish the one word from the customary abbreviation of the other.
STEEVENS. Use well our father :) So the quartos. The folio reads - Love well. Malone.
PROFESSED bosoms -] All the ancient editions readprofessed. Mr. Pope-professing ; but, perhaps, unnecessarily, as Shakspeare often uses one participle for the other ;-longing for longed in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and all-obeying for allobeyed in Antony and Cleopatra. STEEVENS.