Edm. Never, my lord: But I have often heard him maintain it to be fit, that, sons at perfect age, and fathers declining, the father should be as ward to the son, and the son manage his revenue.

Glo. O villain, villain !-His very opinion in the letter !— Abhorred villain ! Unnatural, detested, brutish villain! worse than brutish !-Go, sirrah, seek him; I'll apprehend him :- Abominable villain !- Where is he?

Edm. I do not well know, my lord. If it shall please you to suspend your indignation against my brother, till you can derive from him better testimony of his intent, you shall run a certain course; whereo, if you violently proceed against him, mistaking his purpose,

it would make a great gap in your own honour, and shake in pieces the heart of his obediI dare pawn

life for him, that he hath writ this to feel my affection to your honour 11 , and to no other pretence 12 of danger. Glo. Think


so? Edm. If your honour judge it meet, I will place you where

you shall hear us confer of this, and by an auricular assurance have your satisfaction ; and that without any further delay than this very evening.

Glo. He cannot be such a monster.
[Edm. Nor is not, sure.

Glo. To his father, that so tenderly and entirely loves him.-Heaven and earth 13!)–Edmund, seek him out; wind me into him 14, I pray you: frame


down my

10 Where for whereas. 11 The usual address to a lord. 12 i. e. design or purpose. 13 The words between brackets are omitted in the folio.

14 • Wind me into him.' Another example of familiar expressive phraseology not unfrequent in Shakspeare. See vol. iii. p. 363, note 1. VOL, IX.



the business after your own wisdom: I would unstate myself, to be in a due resolution 15.

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 17: love cools, friendship falls off, brothers divide: in cities, mutinies; in countries, discord; in palaces, treason; and the bond cracked between son and father. [This villain 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, bollowness, treachery, and all ruinous disorders, follow us disquietly to our graves 18!]-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.

[ocr errors]

15 " I would unstate myself to be in a due resolution,' means 'I would give all that I am possessed of to be satisfied of the truth.' So in The Four Prentices, Reed's Old Plays, vol. viii. p. 92:

• Ah, but the resolution of thy death

Made me to lose such thought.' Shakspeare frequently uses resolved for satisfied. And in the third act of Massinger's Picture, Sophia says :

- I have practis'd
For my certain resolution, with these courtiers.'
And in the last act she says :-

Nay, more, to take
For the resolution of his fears, a course

That is, by holy writ, denied a Christian.' 16 To convey is to conduct, or carry through.

17 That is, though natural philosophy can give account of eclipses, yet we feel their consequences.

18 All between brackets is omitted in the quartos.

Edm. This is the excellent foppery of the world 19! that, when we are sick in fortune (often the surfeit of our own behaviour), we make guilty of our disasters, the sun, the moon, and the stars : as if we were villains by necessity : fools, by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treachers 20 by spherical predominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedience of planetary influence: and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on: An admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star 21 ! My father compounded with my mother under the dragon's tail; and my nativity was under urså 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 comedy22: My cue is villainous melancholy, with

19 Warburton, in a long and ingenious note on this passage, observes that in this play the dotages of a judicial astrology are intended to be satirized. It was a very prevailing folly in the poet's time.

20 Treachers is the reading of the folio, which is countenanced by the use of the word in many of our old dramas. Chaucer, in his Romaunt of the Rose, mentions' the false treacher;' and Spenser many times uses the same epithet. The quartos all read treacherers. 21 So Chaucer's Wife of Bath (v. 6196):

• I followed 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 Cresi

Incestus Paridis, Hippolytique pudor.' 22 Perhaps this was intended to ridicule the very awkward conclusions of our old comedies, where the persons of the scene make their entry inartificially, and just when the poet wants them on the stage.

[ocr errors]

a sigh like Tom o’Bedlam.-0, these eclipses do portend these divisions ! fa, sol, la, mi 23.

Edg. How now, brother Edmund? What serious contemplation are you in ?

Edm. I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read this other day, what should follow these eclipses.

Edg. Do you busy yourself with that?

Edm. I promise you 24, the effects he writes of, succeed unhappily: [as of unnaturalness between the child and the parent; death, dearth, dissolutions of ancient amities; divisions in state, menaces and maledictions against king and nobles; needless diffidences, banishment of friends, dissipation of cohorts 25, nuptial breaches, and I know not what.

Edg. How long have you been a sectary astronomical ?

Edm. Come, come;] when saw you my father last?

Edg. Why, the night gone by.


23 Sbakspeare shows by the context that he was well acquainted with the property of these syllables in solmisation, wbich imply a series of sounds so unnatural that ancient musicians prohibited their use. The monkish writers on musick say mi contra fa, est diabolus : the interval fa mi, including a tritonus or sharp fourth, consisting of three tones without the intervention of a semi-tone, expressed in the modern scale by the letters F G A B, would form a musical phrase extremely disagreeable to the ear. Edmund, speaking of eclipses as portents and prodigies, compares the dislocation of events, the times being out of joint, to the unnatural and offensive sounds fa sol la mi.

Dr. Burney. 24 The folio edition commonly differs from the first quarto, by augmentations or insertions, but in this place it varies by the omission of all between brackets. It is easy to remark that in this speech, which ought, I think, to be inserted as it now is in the text, Edmund, with the common craft of fortunetellers, mingles the past and the future, and tells of the future only what he already foreknows by confederacy, or can åttain by probable conjecture.—Johnson.

25 For cohorts some editors read courts.

Edm. Spake you with him?
Edg. Ay, two hours together.
Edm. Parted


in good terms ? Found you no displeasure in him, by word or countenance ?

Edg. None at all.

Edm. Bethink yourself, wherein you may have offended him: and at my entreaty, forbear his presence, till some little time hath qualified the heat of his displeasure; which at this instant so rageth in him, that with the mischief of your person it would scarcely allay.

Edg. Some villain hath done me wrong.

Edm. That's my fear. [I pray you, have a continent 26 forbearance, till the speed of his rage goes slower; and, as I say, retire with me to my lodging, from whence I will fitly bring you to hear my lord speak: Pray you, go; there's my key ;-If you do stir abroad, go armed.

Edg. Armed, brother?]

Edm. Brother, I advise you to the best: go armed; I am no honest man, if there be any good meaning towards I have told


what I have seen and heard, but faintly; nothing like the image and horror of it: 'Pray you, away.

Edg. Shall I hear from you anon?
Edm. I do serve you in this business.

[Exit EDGAR.
A credulous father, and a brother noble,
Whose nature is so far from doing harms,
That he suspects none; on whose foolish honesty
My practices ride easy!—I see the business.-
Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit:
All with me's meet, that I can fashion fit. [Exit.

26 i. e, temperate. All between brackets is omitted in the quartos.


« ElőzőTovább »