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By the law of arms, thou wast not bound to answer2
Shut your mouth, dame,
[Gives the Letter to EDM.
Most monstrous !3
Ask me not what I know. [Exit Gon. .116. Go after her: she's desperate; govern her.
[To an Officer, who goes out. Edm. What you have charg'd me with, that have I
Let's exchange charity.
only to obtain his confession, and to convict him openly by his own letter. Johnson.
The words-- Hold, sir, in Albany's next speech, show that the old copies are right. Malone. 1 By the law of arms,] So the quartos. Folio--of war. Malone.
-thou wast not bound to answer --] One of the quartos reads
thou art not bound to offer 5c. Steevens. 3 Most monstrous !] So the quarto, of which the first signature is B, and the folio. The other quarto reads-Monster, know'st thou this paper? The folio-Most monstrous, O know'st, &c. Malone.
“ Knowest thou these letters ?” says Leir to Ragan, in the old anonymous play, when he shows her both her own and her sister's lerters, which were written to procure his death. Upon which she snatches the letters and tears them. Steevens.
4 Let 's exchange charity.] Our author, by negligence, gives his Heathens the sentiments and practices of Christianity. In Hamlet there is the same solemn act of final reconciliation, but with exact propriety, for the personages are Christians: “ Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet,” &c.
My name is Edgar, and thy father's son.
Thou hast spoken right, 'tis true; The wheel is come full circle ;6 I am here.
Alb. Methought, thy very gait did prophecy
Where have you hid yourself?
father? Edg. By nursing th n, my lord.—List a brief tale ;-And, when 'tis told, O, chat my heart would burst! The bloody proclamation to escape, That follow'd me so near, (O our lives' sweetness! That with the pain of death we 'd hourly die, Rather than die at once!) taught me to shift9 Into a mad-man's rags; to assume a semblance That very dogs disdain'd: and in this habit Met I my father with his bleeding rings, Their precious stones new lost;t became his guide,
5 to scourge us : ] Thus the quartos. The folio reads:
to plague us. Steevens.
full circle :) Quarto, full-circled. Johnson. 7 I know it well.] The adverb—well, was supplied by Sir Thomas Hanmer for the sake of metre. Steevens.
8 That with the pain of death &c.] Thus both the quartos. The folio reads unintelligibly, That we the pain, &c. The original copies have would; but this was, I apprehend, a misprint in those copies for would, i.e. tue would, or, as we should now write, we'd. In The Tempest we have sh’ould for she would. See Vol. II, p. 52, n. 1.
Maione. 9 The bloody proclamation to escape,
taught me to shift -] A wish to escape the bloody proclamation, taught me, &c. Malone.
his bleeding rings, Their precious stones new lost;] So, in Pericles, Prince of Tyre,
“ Her eye-lids, cases to those heavenly jewels
Led him, begg'd for him, sav'd him from despair ;
Edm. This speech of yours hath mov'd me,
Alb. If there be more, more woful, hold it in;
(Ed.2 This would have seem'd a period
2 [Edg.] The lines between crotchets are not in the folio. Johnson.
This would have seem'da period
And top extremity.] The reader easily sees that this reflection refers to the Bastard's desiring to hear more ; and to Albany's thinking he had said enough. But it is corrupted into miserable nonserise. We should read it thus:
" This would have seen’d a period. But such
To much, would inake much more, and top extremity. i. e. This to a common humanity would have been thought the it. inost of my sufferings; but such as love cruelty are always for adding move to much, till they reach the extremity of misery.
Warburton. The sense may probably be this: This would have seemed a period to such as love not sorrow; but--another, i. e. but I must add another, i.e. another period, another kind of conclusion to my story, such as will increase the horrors of what has been already told. So, in King Richard II:
I play the torturer, by small and small,
“ To lengthen out the worst.”'. Steevens.
“ Devise extremes beyond extremity.”
Whilst I was big in clamour, came there a man,
Too-much is here used as a substantive, A period is an end or con. clusion. So, in King Richard III:
"O, let me make the period to my curse. This reflection perhaps refers, as Dr. Warburton has observed, to the Bastard's desiring to hear more, and to Albany's thinking that enough had been said. This, says Edgar, would have seemed the utmost completion of woe, to such as do not delight in sorrow; but another, of a different disposition, to amplify inisery, would "give more strength to that which hath too much."
Edgar's words, however, may have no reference to what Edmund has said; and he may only allude to the relation he is about to give of Kent's adding a new sorrow to what Edgar already suffered, by recounting the miseries which the old king and his faithful follower had endured. Mr. Steevens points thus :
And top extremity: But if such a punctuation be adopted, what shall we do with the word would, which is thus-eft without a nominative case ? A preceding editor, who introduced the above punctuation, to obtain some sense, reads and points :
Whilst I was big &c. and indeed without that alteration, the words thus pointed afford, in my apprehension, no sense. Malone.
Mr. Malone’s explanation may be just ; and yet it is probable that we are struggling with a passage, the obscurity of which is derived from its corruption. Steevens.
threw him on my father;] The quartos read:
threw me on my father. The modern editors have corrected the passage, as it is now printed, and as I suppose it to have been originally written. There is tragick propriety in Kent's throwing himself on the body of a deceased friend; but this propriety is lost in the act of clumsily tumbling a son over the lifeless remains of his father. Steevens.
threw me on my father;] Thus both the quartos, where alone this speech is found. Mr. Theobald, and the subsequent editors, read -threw him on my father. This is a new and distinct idea ; but I do not think myself warranted to adoptit; the text being intelligible, and it being very improbable that the word me should have been printed
Told the most piteous tale of Lear and him,
But who was this?
Enter a Gentleman hastily, with a bloody Knife.
What kind of help?
Speak, man. Edg. What means that bloody knife? Gent.
'Tis hot, it smokes; It came even from the heart of 6 Alb.
Who, man? speak.? Gent. Your lady, sir, your lady: and her sister By her is poison’d; she confesses it.8
Edm. I was contracted to them both; all three Now marry in an instant.9
Alb. Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead ! This judgment of the heavens, that makes us tremble,
instead of him.-Kent in his transport of joy, at meeting Edgar, em. braced him with such violence, as to throw him on the dead body of Gloster. Malone.
the trumpet sounded,] The quartos, where alone this speech is found, read trumpets; but it was certainly a misprint, for one trumpet only had sounded. Dr. Johnson made the correction. Malone.
6 - from the heart of -] Here the folio, in defiance of metre and propriety, adds
O she's dead. Steevens. 1 Who, man? speak.] The folio reads, Who dead? Speak man.
Steevens. she confesses it.] Thus the first and second folio. The quartos--she has [and hath] confess'd it. As these readings are equally proper, I have chosen the more metrical of the two. Steevens.
9 Now marry in an instant.] In the folio, after these words, we haveEdg. Here comes Kent.
Enter Kent. and the words-0, is this he, are spoken by Albany, immediately after touches us not with pity: I have followed the quartos. Malone.
1 This judgment &c. ] If Shakspeare had studied Aristotle all his