Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

8

him out; wind me into him?, I pray you : frame the business after your own wisdom: I would unstate myself, to be in a due resolution®.

7 — wind me into him,] I once thought it should be read, you into him; but, perhaps, it is a familiar phrase, like “do me this.”

Johnson. So, in Twelfth-Night: “-challenge me the duke's youth to fight with him.” Instances of this phraseology occur in The Merchant of Venice, King Henry IV. Part I. and in Othello.

Steevens. I would unstatư myself, to be in a due resolution.] i. e. I will throw aside all consideration of my relation to him, that I may act as justice requires. WARBURTON.

Such is this learned man's explanation. I take the meaning to be rather this, Do you frame the business, who can act with less emotion; I would unstate myself ; it would in me be a departure from the paternal character, to be in a due resolution, to be settled and composed on such an occasion. The words would and should are in old language often confounded. Johnson. The same word occurs in Antony and Cleopatra :

“Yes, like enough, high-battled Cæsar will
Unstate his happiness, and be stag‘d to show

Against a sworderTo unstate, in both these instances, seems to have the same meaning. Edgar has been represented as wishing to possess his father's fortune, i. e. to unstate him; and therefore his father says he would unstate himself to be sufficiently resolved to punish him. To enstate is to confer a fortune. So, in Measure for Measure :

his possessions “ We do enstate and widow you withal.” Steevens. It seems to me, that I would unstate myself, in this passage, means simply I would give my estate (including rank as well as fortune). TYRWHITT.

Both Warburton and Johnson have mistaken the sense of this passage, and their explanations are such as the words cannot possibly imply. Gloster cannot bring himself thoroughly to believe what Edmund told him of Edgar.

“ Can he be such a monster ?” He afterwards desires Edmund to sound his intentions, and then says, he would give all he possessed to be certain of the truth; for that is the meaning of the words to be in a due resolution.

Othello uses the word resolved in the same sense more than

He says,

once :

- to be once in doubt,
“ Is-once to be resolved,"

Edm. I will seek him, sir, presently; convey the business' as I shall find means, and acquaint you withal.

Glo. These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us : Though the wisdom of nature can reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself scourged by the sequent effects : love

In both which places, to be resolved means, to be certain of the fact.

In Beaumont and Fletcher's Maid's Tragedy, Amintor says to Evadne :

66 'Tis not his crown
“ Shall buy me to thy bed, now I resolve

« He hath dishonour'd thee.”
And afterwards, in the same play, the King says:

“ Well I am resolu'd

“ You lay not with her.” But in the fifth scene of the third Act of Massinger's Picture, So. phia says

I have practis'd
“For my certain resolution, with these courtiers.”
And, in the last Act, she says to Baptista-

what should work on my lord
“ To doubt my loyalty? Nay, more, to take
“For the resolution of his fears, a course

That is, by holy writ, denied a Christian.” M. Mason. Mr. Ritson's explanation of the word-resolution, concurs with that of Mr. M. Mason. STEEVENS.

convey the business —] To convey is to carry through; in this place it is to manage artfully: we say of a juggler, that he has a clean conveyance.

JOHNSON. So, in Mother Bombie, by Lyly, 1599: “Two, they say, may keep counsel if one be away ; but to convey knavery two are too few, and four are too many.' Again, in A Mad World, My Masters, by Middleton, 1608 :

thus l've convey'd it; “ I'll counterfeit a fit of violent sickness.” Steevens. So, in Lord Sterline's Julius Cæsar, 1607 :

A circumstance, or an indifferent thing,
Doth oft mar all, when not with care convey'd."

MALONE. the wisdom of nature - ] That is, though natural philosophy can give account of eclipses, yet we feel their consequences.

Johnson.

9

[ocr errors]

cools, friendship falls off, brothers divide : in cities, mutinies; in countries, discord ; in palaces, treason; and the bond cracked between son and father. [This villain2 of mine comes under the prediction; there's son against father: the king falls from bias of nature; there's father against child. We have seen the best of our time: Machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all ruinous disorders, follow us disquietly to our graves !]—Find out this villain, , Edmund; it shall lose thee nothing ; do it carefully :-And the noble and true-hearted Kent banished ! his offence, honesty !—Strange! strange!

[Exit. EDM. This is the excellent foppery of the world ?!

2 This villain -] All between brackets is omitted in the quartos. STEEVENS.

3 This is the excellent foppery of the world ! &c.] In Shakspeare's best plays, besides the vices that arise from the subject, there is generally some peculiar prevailing folly, principally ridiculed, that runs through the whole piece. Thus, in The Tempest, the lying disposition of travellers, and, in As You Like It, the fantastick humour of courtiers, is exposed and satirized with infinite pleasantry. In like manner, in this play of Lear, the dotages of judicial astrology are severely ridiculed. I fancy, was the date of its first performance well considered, it would be found that something or other happened at that time which gave a more than ordinary run to this deceit, as these words seem to intimate: “I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read this other day, what should follow these eclipses.” However this be, an impious cheat, which had so little foundation in nature or reason, so detestable an original, and such fatal consequences on the manners of the people, who were at that time strangely besotted with it, certainly deserved the severest lash of satire. It was a fundamental in this noble science, that whatever seeds of good dispositions the infant unborn might be endowed with either from nature, or traductively from its parents, yet if, at the time of its birth, the delivery was by any casualty so accelerated or retarded, as to fall in with the predominancy of a malignant constellation, that momentary influence would entirely change its nature, and bias it to all the contrary ill qualities : so wretched and monstrous an opinion did it set out with. But the Italians, to whom we owe this, as well as most other unnatural crimes and follies of these latter ages, fomented that, when we are sick in fortune, (often the surfeit of our own behaviour,) we make guilty of our

its original impiety to the most detestable height of extravagance. Petrus Aponensis, an Italian physician of the 13th century, assures us that those prayers which are made to God when the moon is in conjunction with Jupiter in the Dragon's tail, are infallibly heard. The great Milton, with a just indignation of this impiety, hath, in his Paradise Regained, satirized it in a very beautiful manner, by putting these reveries into the mouth of the devil.* Nor could the licentious Rabelais himself forbear to ridicule this impious dotage, which he does with exquisite address and humour, where, in the fable which he so agreeably tells from Æsop, of the man who applied to Jupiter for the loss of his hatchet, he makes those who, on the poor man's good success, had projected to trick Jupiter by the same petition, a kind of astrologick atheists, who ascribed this good fortune, that they imagined they were now all going to partake of, to the influence of some rare conjunction and configuration of the stars. “ Hen, hen, disent ils—Et doncques, telle est au temps present la revolution des Cieulx, la constellation des Astres, et aspect des Planetes, que quiconque coignée perdra, soubdain deviendra ainsi riche ?"-Nou. Prol, du IV. Livre.But to return to Shakspeare. So blasphemous a delusion, therefore, it became the honesty of our poet to expose.

But it was a tender point, and required managing. For this impious juggle had in his time a kind of religious reverence paid to it. It was therefore to be done obliquely; and the circumstances of the scene furnished him with as good an opportunity as he could wish. The persons in the drama are all Pagans, so that as, in compliance to custom, his good characters were not to speak ill of judicial astrology, they could on account of their religion give no reputation to it. But in order to expose it the more, he with great judgment, makes these Pagans fatalists; as appears by these words of Lear :

“ By all the operations of the orbs,

“ From whom we do exist and cease to be." For the doctrine of fate is the true foundation of judicial astrology. Having thus diseredited it by the very commendations given to it, he was in no.danger of having his direct satire against it mistaken, by its being put (as he was obliged, both in paying regard to custom, and in following nature) into the mouth of the villain and atheist, especially when he has added such force of reason to his ridicule, in the words referred to in the beginning of the note. WARBURTON.

* Book IV. v. 383.

disasters, the sun, the moon, and the stars: as if we were villains by necessity ; fools, by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treachers“, by spherical predominance; drunkards, liars, and adul. terers, by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on: An admirable evasion of whore-master man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a stars! My father compounded with my mother under the dragon's tail; and my nativity was under ursa major; so that it follows, I am rough and lecherous.—Tut, I should have been that I am, had the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing. Edgar

Enter EDGAR. and pat he comes“, like the catastrophe of the old

Oh, you

and treachers,] The modern editors read-treacherous; but the reading of the first copies, which I have restored to the text, may be supported from most of the old contemporary writers. So, in Doctor Dodypoll, a comedy, 1600 : “ How smooth the cunning treacher look'd upon

it!” Again, in Every Man in his Humour :

treachour !Again, in Robert Earl of Huntingdon, 1601 :

Hence, trecher as thou art.” Again, in The Bloody Banquet, 1639:

To poison the right use of service-a trecher.Chaucer, in his Romaunt of the Rose, mentions “the false treacher,” and Spenser often uses the same word. STIEVENS.

Treacher, the reading of the first folio, I believe to be right; but Mr. Steevens ought to have mentioned that all the quartos read treacherers. Boswell.

of a star!) Both the quartos read-to the charge of stars. So Chaucer's Wif of Bathe, 6196 :

“ I folwed ay min inclination

By vertue of my constellation." Bernardus Sylvestris, an eminent philosopher and poet of the twelfth century, very gravely tells us in his Megacosmus, that,

“ In stellis Codri paupertas, copia Croesi,
“ Incestus Paridis, Hippolytique pudor." STEEVENS.

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »