Stew. Madam, within; but never man so chang’d: I told him of the


that was landed; He smild at it: I told him, you were coming; His answer was, The worse: of Gloster's treachery, And of the loyal service of his son, When I inform’d him, then he call’d me sot; And told me, I had turn’d the wrong side out :What most he should dislike, seems pleasant to him; What like, offensive. Gon.

Then shall you go no further.

[T. EDMUND. It is the cowish terror of his spirit, That dares not undertake: he'll not feel wrongs, Which tie him to an answer: Our wishes, on the way, May prove effects. Back, Edmund, to my brother; Hasten his musters, and conduct his

powers : I must change arms at home, and give the distaff Into my

husband's hands. This trusty servant Shall pass between us: ere long you are like to hear, If you dare venture in your own behalf, A mistress's command. Wear this ; spare speech;

[Giving a Favour. Decline your head: this kiss, if it durst speak, Would stretch thy spirits up into the air3 ;Conceive, and fare thee well.

Edm. Yours in the ranks of death.

My most dear Gloster!

[Exit EDMUND. 0, the difference of man,



ril, disliked the scheme of oppression and ingratitude at the end of the first act.

2 • The wishes which we expressed to each other on the way hither, may be completed, may take effect,' perhaps alluding to the destruction of her husband.

3 She bids bim decline his head, that she might give him a kiss (the steward being present) and that might appear only to him as a whisper.

To thee a woman's services are due ;
My fool usurps my bed 4.

Madam, here comes my lord.

[Exit Steward.
Gon. I have been worth the whistle 5.

O Goneril!
You art not worth the dust which the rude wind
Blows in your face-I fear your disposition 6:
That nature, which contemns its origin,
Cannot be border'd certain in itself;
She that herself will sliver and disbranch
From her material sap, perforce must wither,
And come to deadly use 9.

4 Quarto A reads ' my foot usurp my body.' Quarto B, ‘my foot usurps my head.' Quarto C, a fool usurps my bed! The folio reads, “iny fool usurps my body.'

5 Alluding to the proverb, ` It is a poor dog that is not worth the whistling.' Goneril's meaning seems to be, . There was a time when you would have thought me worth the calling to you,' reproaching him for not having summoned her to consult with on the present occasion.

6 These words, and the lines following, to monsters of the deep, are not in the folio. They are necessary to explain the reasons of the detestation which Albany here expresses to his wife. 7 So in Macbeth :

slips of yew

Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse.'
See vol. iv. p. 283, note 8.

8.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 trunk or body which supplied it with sap.' There is a peculiar propriety in the use of the word material : materia, Lat. signifying the trank or body of the tree.

9 Alluding to the use that witches and enchanters are said to make of withered branches in their charms. A fine insinuation in the speaker, that she was ready for the most unnatural mischief, and a preparative of the poet to her plotting with the bastard against her husband's life.- Warburton. Dr. Warburton might have adduced the passage from Macbeth above quoted in support of his ingenious interpretation. VOL. IX.


[merged small][ocr errors]

Gon. No more; the text is foolish.

Alb. Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile: Filths savour but themselves. What have you

done? Tigers, not daughters, what have you perform’d? A father, and a gracious aged man, Whose reverence the head-lugg'd bear would lick10, Most barbarous, most degenerate! have you madded. Could my good brother suffer you to do it? A man, a prince, by him so benefited ? If that the heavens do not their visible spirits Send quickly down to tame these vile offences, 'Twill come, Humanity must perforce prey on itself, Like monsters of the deep. Gon.

Milk-liver'd man! That bear'st a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs; Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning Thine honour from thy suffering; that not know'st 11, Fools do those villains pity, who are punish'd Ere they have done their mischief 12.

Where's thy
France spreads his banners in our noiseless land;
With plumed helm thy slayer begins threats;
Whilst thou, a moral fool, sit’st still, and cry’st,
Alack! why does he so?

See thyself, devil!
Proper deformity seems not in the fiend
So horrid, as in woman

10 This line is not in the folio.
11 The rest of this speech is also omitted in the folio.

12 • Goneril means to say that none but fools would be excited to commiserate those who are prevented from executing their malicious designs, and punished for their evil intention.' Malone doubts whether Goneril alludes to her father, but surely there cannot be a doubt that she does, and to the pity for his sufferings expressed by Albany, whom she means indirectly to call a fool for expressing it.

13 That is, • Diabolic qualities appear not so horrid in the



O vain fool ! Alb. Thou changed and self-cover'd 14 thing, for

shame, Be-monster not thy feature 15.

Were it


fitness To let these hands obey my blood 16, 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. Marry, your manhood now!

Enter a Messenger.
Alb. What news?
Mess. O, my good lord, the Duke of Cornwall's

Slain by his servant, going to put out
The other eye of Gloster.

Gloster's eyes!
Mess. A servant that he bred, thrill'd with remorse,
Oppos'd against the act, bending his sword
To his great master; who, thereat enrag'd,
Flew on him, and amongst them felld him dead:
But not without that harmful stroke, which since
Hath pluck'd him after.

This shows you are above, You justicers, that these our nether crimes So speedily can venge !-But, O poor Gloster! Lost he his other eye? devil, to whom they belong, as in woman, who unnaturally assumes them.'

14 The meaning appears to be “thou that bast hid the woman under the fiend; thou that hast disguised nature by wickedness.' Steevens thinks that there may be an allusion to the coverings which insects furnish to themselves, like the silkworm, that

labours till it clouds itself all o'er.' 15 It has been already observed that feature was often used for form or person in general, the figure of the whole body. See vol. i. p. 124, note 4.

My blood is my passion, my inclination. This verse wants a foot, which Theobald purposed to supply by reading boiling blood.'

[ocr errors]



Both, both, my lord. This letter, madam, craves a speedy answer; Tis from


sister. Gon. [Aside.] One way I like this well 17; But being widow, and my Gloster with her, May all the building in my fancy pluck Upon my hateful life : Another way, The news is not so tart.—I'll read and answer. [Exit. Alb. Where was his son, when they did take bis

eyes? Mess. Come with my lady hither. 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; 'twas he inform'd against


And quit the house on purpose, that their punishment
Might have the freer course.

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. [Exeunt.

[SCENE III. The French Camp near Dover.

Enter Kent, and a Gentleman”. Kent. Why the King of France is so suddenly . gone back know


the reason 3?

17 Goneril's plan was to poison her sister, to marry Edmund, to murder Albany, and to get possession of the whole kingdom. As the death of Cornwall facilitated the last part of her scheme, she was pleased at it; but disliked it, as it put it in the power of her sister to marry Edmund.

| This scene is left out in the folio copy, but is necessary to continue the story of Cordelia, whose behaviour is most beautifully painted.

? The gentleman whom he sent in the foregoing act with letters to Cordelia.

3 The king of France being no longer a necessary personage,

« ElőzőTovább »