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Edm. I will seek him, sir, presently; convey the busi. ness 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 cools, friendship falls off, brothers divide : in cities, mutinies; in countries, discord; in palaces, treason; and the bond cracked between son and father. *This villains 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
mund told him of Edgar. He says, “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 once:
to be once in doubt, • Is once to be resolved. -" In both which places, to be resolved means, to be certain of the fact. ,
M. Mason. Though to resolve, in Shakspeare's time, certainly sometimes meant to satisfy, declare, or inform, I have never found the substantive resolution used in that sense; and even had the word ever borne that sense, the author could not have written to be in a due resolution, but must have written, “ - to attain a due resolution.” Who. ever wished to be in due information” on any point? Malone.
Mr. Malone says, that he has never found the substantive resolu. tion used in the sense which I have attributed to it in my explanation of this passage: but in the fifth scene of the third act of Massinger's Picture, Sophia says
I have practis'd
what should work on my lord
“ That is, by holy writ, denied a Christian.” M. Mason. 6 -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.
- the wisdom of nature --] That is, though natural philosophy can give account of eclipses, yet we feel their consequences. Johnson.
8 This villain -] All from asterisk to asterisk is omitted in the quartos. Steevens.
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 !o that,
9 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 shoulil 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 inanilers 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 froin nature, or traductively from its parents, yet if, at the time of its birth, the delivery was by any casualty so accelerated or re arded, as to fall in with the predoininancy of a malignant constellation, that momentary influence would entirely change its nature, and bias it to all the contrary ill qualities: so wretclied 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 its original im. piety 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, Book IV, v. 383, 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 asciibed this good for. iune, 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, & 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
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, 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 whore-master man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star! 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 comedy:3 My cue is villainous melancholy, with a sigh like
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 reputa. tion 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 discredited 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 mouih 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.
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!" Chaucer, in his Romaunt of the Rose, mentions “the false treacher," and Spenser often uses the same word. Steevens.
pat he comes,] The quartos read
and out he comes. Steevens.
he comes, like the catastrophe of the old comedy:] I think this passage was intended to ridicule the very aukward conclusions of
Tom o' Bedlam.-0, these eclipses do portend these divisions ! fa, sol, la, mi.4
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, the effects he writes of, succeedi unhappily; *as ofo 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, nuptial breaches, and I know not what.
our old comedies, where the persons of the scene make their entry inartificially, and just when the poet wants themon the stage. Warner.
-0, these eclipses do portend these divisions! fa, sol, la, mi.] The commentators, not being musicians, have regarded this passage perhaps as unintelligible nonsense, and therefore left it as they found it, without bestowing a single conjecture on its meaning and import. Shakspeare however shews by the context that he was well acquaint. ed with the property of these syllables in solmisation, which 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 4th, 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 dislo. cation of events, the times being out of joint, to the unnatural and offensive sounds, fa 'sol la mi. Dr. Burney.
The words fa, sol, &c. are not in the quarto. The folio, and all the modern editions, read corruptly me instead of mi. Shakspeare has aga n introduced the gamut in The Taming of the Shrew, Vol. VI, p. 80. Malone.
5 I promise you,] The folio edition commonly differs from the first quarto, by augmentations, or insertions, but in this place it varies by omission, and by the omission of something which naturally introduces the following dialogue. It is easy to remark, that in this speech, which ought, I think, to be inserted as it now is in the text, Edinund, with the common craft of fortune-tellers, mingles the past and future, and tells of the future only what he already foreknows by con. federacy, or can attain by probable conjecture. Fohnson.
- as of —] All from this asterisk to the next, is omitted in the folio. Steevens.
Edg. How long have you been a sectary astronomical ?.
Edm. Parted you on 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.1 *I pray you, have a continent 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 armeu.
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 you: I have told you 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. [Erit Edg. A credulous father, and a brother noble, Whose nature is so far from doing harms, That he suspects none; on whose foolish honesty
dissipation of cohorts,] Thus the old copy. Dr. Johnson reads-of courts. Steevens.
8 How long have you —] This line I have restored from the two eldest quartos, and have regulated the following speech according to the same copies. Steevens.
9 that with the mischief of your person--] This reading is in both copies; yet I believe the author gave it, that but with the mischief of your person it would scarce allay. Fohnson.
I do not see any need of alteration. He could not express the violence of his father's displeasure in stronger terms than by saying it was so great that it would scarcely be appeased by the destruction of his son.
Malone. 1 That's my fear.] All between this and the next asterisk, is omitted in the quartos. Sleevena.