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From her material sap, perforce must wither,
Goneril. No more: the text is foolish.
Albany. Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile,^-
Humanity must perforce prey- on itself,
Gon. Milk-liver'd man!6
That bear'st a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs;
Alb. See thyself, devil!
Proper deformity9 seems not in the fiend
1. 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. — To sliver, to tear off longwise: it is still in use in the north, meaning, to cut a slice. — Come to deadly use is explained in the incantation in "Macbeth": —
"Liver of blaspheming Jew;
2. i. e. Filthy things are agreeable only to their like.
3. i. e. the rugged bear.
4. i. e. you have sent mad.
5. i. e. It will happen that, &c.
6. Milk-liver'd, white-liver'd, and lily-liver'd signify cowardly. Compare note 3, page 34.
7. i. e. Whose eye does not discern between thy honour and thy wrongs.
8. i. e. in our land, in which no noise of armaments is heard, no preparations are made to repel the invasion.
9. f. c. deformity of mind, with a fair exterior.
Goneril. O vain fool!
Albany. Thou changed and self-cover'd thing,1 for shame, Be-monster not thy feature. 2 Were it my fitness To let these hands obey my blood; 3 They are apt enough to dislocate and tear Thy flesh and bones: howe'er thou art a fiend, A woman's shape doth shield thee.
Gon. i Marry, your manhood now! —
Enter a Messenger.
Messenger. 0, my good lord! the duke of Cornwall's dead;
Albany. Gloster's eyes!
Mess. A servant that he bred, thrill'd with remorse,4 Oppos'd against the act, bending his sword To his great master; who thereat enrag'd, Flew on him, and amongst them fell'd him dead, 5 But not without that harmful stroke, which since Hath pluck'd him after.
Alb. This shows you are above,
You justicers, that these our nether6 crimes
Mess. Both, both, my lord. —
This letter, Madam, craves a speedy answer; .'
'T is from your sister.
Gon. [Aside.'] One way I like this well;
The news is not so tart. [_To Mm.] I 'll read, and answer.
1. Self cover'd thing expresses the same idea as proper deformity, i. e. a thing, or being, whose wicked spirit is covered by a fair body.
2. t. e. Do not convert thy fair features to those of a monster.
3. i. e. Were it fitting for me to let these hands obey my inclination, they are ready enough, &c.
4. Remorse, tenderness, pity. This
word commonly means, pain of mind
from a consciousness of guilt.
. 5. i. e. amongst them they felled him
6. Nether, lower, i. e. our crimes here below.
7. May overturn all my castles in the air, and crush my life, so hateful to them, beneath the ruins.
Albany. Where was his son, when they did take his eves? Mess. Come with my lady hither. y Alb. - He is not here. Mess. No, my good lord; I met him back again. Alb. Knows he the wickedness? Mess. Ay, my good lord; ’t was he inform'd against him, And quit the house, on purpose that their punishment Might have the freer course. Alb. - Gloster, I live --> To thank thee for the love thou show'dst the king, And to revenge thine eyes. – Come hither, friend: Tell me what more thou knowest. [Eaceunt.
Kent. Why the king of France is so suddenly gone back, know you the reason? Gentleman. Something he left imperfect in the state, which since his coming forth is thought of; which imports to the kingdom so much fear and danger, that his personal return was most requir’d, and necessary. Kent. Who? hath he left behind him general? Gent. The Marshal of France, Monsieur la Far. Kent. Did your letters pierce the queen to any demonstration of grief? Gent. Ay, Sir; she took them, read them in my presence; And now and then an ample tear trill'd down Her delicate cheek: it seem’d, she was a queen Over her passion, who, most rebel-like, Sought to be king o'er her. Kent. O ! then it mov’d her. Gent. Not to a rage: patience and sorrow strove Who should express her goodliest. You have seen Sunshine and rain at once: her smiles and tears Were like a better day: those happy smilets,”
1. i. e. the kingdom of France. deed, often be heard in the present 2. Who, for whom, which is not un- day. frequent in Shakespeare, and may, in- 3. Smilets, diminutive of smiles.
That play'd on her ripe lip, seem'd not to know
Kent. Made she no verbal question? 1
^ , Gent. 'Faith, once, or twice, she heav'd the name of
Pantingly forth, as if it press'd her heart;
Cried, "Sisters! sisters! — Shame of ladies! sisters!
Kent! father! sisters! What? i' the storm? i' the night?
Let pity not be believed!"2 — There she shook
The holy water from her heavenly eyes,
And clamour moisten'd:3 then, away she 'started
To deal with grief alone.
Kerj,t. It is the stars,
The stars above us, govern our conditions; 4
Kent. Was this before the king return'd?
Gent. No, since.
Kent. Well, Sir, the poor distress'd Lear 's i' the town, Who sometime, in his better tune, remembers What we are come about, and by no means Will yield to see his daughter. t
Gent. . Why, good Sir?
Kent. A sovereign shame so elbows him; his own
That stripp'd her from his benediction, turn'd her
Gent. Alack, poor gentleman!
Kent, Of Albany's and Cornwall's powers you heard not?
Gent. 'T is so, they are afoot.
1. Did she, enter into no conversation with you? Shakspeare frequently uses question for conversation, and not only for interrogation.
2. Let not such a thing as pity be supposed to exist.
3. And her outcries were accompanied with tears. •
4. i. e. regulate our dispositions.
Kent. Well, Sir, I 'll bring you to our master Lear, And leave you to attend him. Some dear cause 1 Will in concealment wrap me up awhile: When I am known aright, you shall not grieve2 Lending me this acquaintance. I pray you, go Along with me. [Exeunt.
Cordelia. Alack! 't is he: why, he was met even now
In the restoring his bereaved sense?
He that helps him take all my outward worth".
Physician. There is means, Madam:
Cordelia. All bless'd secrets,
All you unpublish'd virtues of the earth,
1. Some business of great importaboe to me.
2. t. e. you shall not regret having lent me, &c.
3. Fumiter, or fumitory, or fumatory, from the French fumilerre, is the Fumaria officinalis, a species growing in hedges and waste places.
4. Furrow-wetds, a weed growing in furrowed land.
5. Hoar-docks supposed to be intended for charlock, the Sinapis arvensis, a
very troublesome weed in corn-fields, sometimes called wild-mustard.
6. Cuckoo-flowers, the plant Cordamine pratensis, also called meadow lady's smock.
7. Darnel, or Lolium perenne, is the species of grass called rye-grass.
8. Sustaining, nourishing.
9. A century, a company of a hundred men.
10. Simples, drugs.