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Gent. 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 required,
And necessary

Kent. Who hath he left behind him general ?
Gent. The Mareschal of France, Monsieur le Fer.

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 trillid 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.

0, 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 way. Those happy smiles", it was fit that some pretext for getting rid of him should be formed before the play was too near advanced towards a conclusion. Decency required that a monarch should not be silently shuffled into the pack of insignificant characters; and therefore his dismission (which could be effected only by a sudden recall to his own dominions) was to be accounted for before the audi

For this purpose, among others, the present scene was introduced. It is difficult to say what use could have been made of the king, had he appeared at the head of his own armament, and survived the murder of bis queen. His conjugal concern on the occasion might have weakened the effect of Lear's paternal sorrow; and being an object of respect as well as pity, he would naturally have divided the spectator's attention, and thereby diminished the consequence of Albany, Edgar, and Kent, whose exemplary virtues deserved to be ultimately placed in the most conspicuous point of view.—Steevens.

4 Both the quartos read, 'were like a better way. Steevens

ence.

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5 The quartos read smilets, which may be a diminutive of the poet's coining.

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That play'd on her ripe lip, seem'd not to know
What guests were in her eyes; which parted thence,
As pearls from diamonds dropp’d.— In brief, sorrow
Would be a rarity most belov’d, if all
Could so become it.
reads, upon the suggestion of Theobald, ' a better day, with a
long and somewhat ingenious, though unsatisfactory argument in
defence of it. Warburton reads, a wetter May,' which is
plausible enough. Malone adopts part of his emendation, and
reads ' a better May. I have been favoured by Mr. Boaden
with the following solution of this passage, which, as it preserves
the reading of the old copy, merits attention :- The difficulty
has arisen from a general mistake as to the simile itself; and
Shakspeare's own words here actually convey his perfect mean-
ing, as indeed they commonly do. I understand the passage
thus :-

You have seen
Sunshine and rain at once; her smiles and tears

Were like ; a better way.” • That is, Cordelia's smiles and tears were like the conjunction of sunshine and rain, in a better way or manner. Now in what did this better way consist? Why simply in the smiles seeming unconscious of the tears; whereas the sunshine has a watery look through the falling drops of rain

Those happy smiles,
That play'd on her ripe lip, seem'd not to know

What guests were in her eyes.” * That the point of comparison was neither a “better day,” nor

“ wetter May,” is proved by the following passages, cited by Steevens and Malone:

::-"Her tears came dropping down like rain in sanshine."-Sidney's Arcadia, p. 244. Again, p. 163, edit. 1593:-“ And with that she prettily smiled, which mingled with her tears, one could not tell whether it were a mourning pleasure, or a delightful sorrow; but like when a few April drops are scattered by a gentle zephyrus among fine-coloured flowers.” Again, in A Courtlie Controversie of Cupid's Cautels, &c. translated from the French by H, W.[Henry Wotton], 1578, p. 289 :—“ Who hath viewed in the spring time raine and sunneshine in one moment, might beholde the troubled countenance of the gentlewoman-with an eye now smyling, then bathed in

"I may just observe, as perhaps an illustration, that the better way of CHARITY is that the right hand should not know what the left hand giveth.'

6 Steevens would read dropping, but as must be understood to signify as if. I do not think that jeweled pendants were in the

a

teares.”

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Kent.

Made she no verbal question ? ?
Gent. 'Faith, once, or twice, she heav'd the name

of father
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!!There she shook
The holy water from her heavenly eyes,
And clamour moisten’d9: then away she started
To deal with grief alone.
Kent.

It is the stars,
The stars above us, govern our conditions 10 ;
Else one self mate and mate 11 could not beget
Such different issues, You spoke not with her since ?

Gent. No.
Kent. Was this before the king return’d ?
Gent.

No, since.
Kent. Well, sir; The poor distress’d Lear is 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.
Gent.

Why, good sir? poet's mind. A similar beautiful thought in Middleton's Game of Chess has caught the eye

of Milton:-
the holy dew lies like a pearl
Dropt from the opening eyelids of the morn

Upon the bashful rose.'
7 i. e. discourse, conversation.

i. e. let not pity be supposed to exist. It is not impossible but Shakspeare might have formed this fine picture of Cordelia's agony from holy writ, in the conduct of Joseph, who, being no longer able to restrain the vehemence of his affection, commanded all his retinue from his presence; and then wept aloud, and discovered himself to his brethren.—Theobald.

9 That is, ' her outcries were accompanied with tears.
10 Conditions are dispositions.
11 i. e. the selfsame husband and wife,

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Kent. A sovereign shame so elbows him: his own

unkindness, That stripp'd her from his benediction, turn'd her To foreign casualties, gave her dear rights To his dog-hearted daughters,-these things sting His mind so venomously, that burning shame Detains him from Cordelia. Gent.

Alack, poor gentleman! Kent. Of Albany's and Cornwall's powers you

heard not! Gent. 'Tis so, they are afoot.

Kent. Well, sir, I'll bring you to our master Lear, And leave you to attend him: some dear cause Will in concealment

wrap me up awhile;
When I am known aright, you shall not grieve
Lending me this acquaintance. I pray you, go
Along with me.

[Ereunt.

12

SCENE IV. The same.

A Tent.

Enter CORDELIA, Physician, and Soldiers.

Cor. Alack, 'tis he; why, he was met even now As mad as the vex'd sea: singing aloud; Crown'd with rank fumiter ?, and furrow weeds, With harlocks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo-flowers, Darnel?, and all the idle weeds that

grow

12 Important business.

1 i. e. fumitory, written by the old herbalists fumittery. Mr. Boucher suggests that furrow should be furrow, fær, empty.

2 The quartos read hardocks, the folio hardokes. Drayton mentions harlocks in one of his Eclogues :

• The honey-suckle, the harlocke,

The lily, and the lady-smocke,' &c. Perhaps the charlock, sinapis arvensis, or wild mustard, may be meant.

3 Darnel, according to Gerard, is the most hurtful of weeds among corn.

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In our sustaining corn. -A century send forth ;
Search every acre in the high grown field,
And bring him to our eye. [Exit an Officer.]-

What can man's wisdom do 4,
In the restoring his bereaved sense ?
He, that helps him, take all my outward worth.

Phy. There is means, madam :
Our foster-nurse of nature is repose,
The which he lacks; that to provoke in him,
Are many simples operative, whose power
Will close the eye of anguish.
Cor.

All bless'd secrets,
All you unpublish'd virtues of the earth,
Spring with my tears! be aidant, and remediate,
In the good man's distress !-Seek, seek for him;
Lest his ungovern'd rage dissolve the life
That wants the means to lead it).

Enter a Messenger.
Mess.

Madam, news;
The British powers are marching hitherward.

Cor. 'Tis known before; our preparation stands
In expectation of them. --O dear father,
It is thy business that I

go

about;
Therefore great France
My mourning, and important tears, hath pitied.

4 Steevens says that do should be omitted as needless to the sense of the passage, and injurious to the metre. Thus in Hamlet:

* Try what repentance can ; What can it not.' Do, in either place, is understood, though suppressed." Do is found in none of the old copies but quarto B.

5 i. e. the reason which should guide it.

6 Important for importunate, as in other places of these plays. See Comedy of Errors, Act v. Sc. 1. The folio reads importuned.

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