« ZurückWeiter »
business. Then follows this passage (according to the modern
Let's then determine
With the ancient of war on our proceedings. Edm. I shall attend you presently at your tent. Reg. Sister, you'll go with us?
Reg. 'Tis most convenient: pray you, go with us.
As they are going out, enter EDGAR disguised.
I'll overtake you. Speak.
[Exeunt all but ALBANY and EDGAR. It would appear from this that all the leading persons are to go to a Council of War with the ancient (plural) in Albany's tent; and they are going out, followed by their armies, when Edgar comes in. Why in the world, then, should Goneril propose (as she apparently does) to absent herself from the Council; and why, still more, should Regan object to her doing so? This is a question which always perplexed me, and I could not believe in the only answers I ever found suggested, viz., that Regan wanted to keep Edmund and Goneril together in order that she might observe them (Moberly, quoted in Furness), or that she could not bear to lose sight of Goneril, for fear Goneril should effect a meeting with Edmund after the Council (Delius, if I understand him).
But I find in Koppel what seems to be the solution (Verbesserungsvorschläge, p. 127 f.). He points out that the modern stage-directions are wrong. For the modern direction 'As they are going out, enter Edgar disguised,' the Ff. read, 'Exeunt both the armies. Enter Edgar.' For 'Exeunt all but Albany and Edgar' the Ff. have nothing, but Q1 has 'exeunt' after 'word.' For the first direction Koppel would read, 'Exeunt Regan, Goneril, Gentlemen, and Soldiers': for the second he would read, after 'overtake you,' 'Exit Edmund.'
This makes all clear. Albany proposes a Council of War. Edmund assents, and says he will come at once to Albany's tent for that purpose. The Council will consist of Albany, Edmund, and the ancient of war. Regan, accordingly, is going away with her soldiers; but she observes that Goneril shows no sign of moving with her soldiers; and she at once suspects that Goneril
means to attend the Council in order to be with Edmund. Full of jealousy, she invites Goneril to go with her. Goneril refuses, but then, seeing Regan's motive, contemptuously and ironically consents (I doubt if 'O ho, I know the riddle' should be 'aside,' as in modern editions, following Capell). Accordingly the two sisters go out, followed by their soldiers; and Edmund and Albany are just going out, in a different direction, to Albany's tent when Edgar enters. His words cause Albany to stay; Albany says to Edmund, as Edmund leaves, 'I'll overtake you'; and then, turning to Edgar, bids him 'speak.'
6. v. iii. 151 ff.
When Edmund falls in combat with the disguised Edgar, Albany produces the letter from Goneril to Edmund, which Edgar had found in Oswald's pocket and had handed over to Albany. This letter suggested to Edmund the murder of Albany. The passage in the Globe edition is as follows:
This is practice, Gloucester:
Shut your mouth, dame,
[Gives the letter to Edmund.
Gon. Say, if I do, the laws are mine, not thine:
Know'st thou this paper?
Most monstrous! oh!
Ask me not what I know. [Exit.
Alb. Go after her: she's desperate: govern her.
Edm. What you have charged me with, that have I done;
That hast this fortune on me?
The first of the stage-directions is not in the Qq. or Ff.: it was inserted by Johnson. The second ('Exit") is both in the Qq. and in the Ff., but the latter place it after the words 'arraign me for't.' And they give the words 'Ask me not what I know' to Edmund, not to Goneril, as in the Qq. (followed by the Globe).
I will not go into the various views of these lines, but will simply say what seems to me most probable. It does not matter much where precisely Goneril's 'exit' comes; but I believe the Folios are right in giving the words 'Ask me not what I know' to Edmund. It has been pointed out by Knight that the question 'Know'st thou this paper?' cannot very well be addressed to Goneril, for Albany has already said to her, 'I perceive you know it.' It is possible to get over this difficulty by saying that Albany wants her confession: but there is another fact which seems to have passed unnoticed. When Albany is undoubtedly speaking to his wife, he uses the plural pronoun, 'Shut your mouth, dame,' 'No tearing, lady; I perceive you know it.' When then he asks 'Know'st thou this paper?' he is probably not speaking to her.
to him.1 The
Edmund, whose letter. Goneril
I should take the passage thus. At 'Hold, sir,' [omitted in Qq.] Albany holds the letter out towards Edmund for him to see, or possibly gives it next line, with its 'thou,' is addressed to 'reciprocal vows' are mentioned in the snatches at it to tear it up: and Albany, who does not know whether Edmund ever saw the letter or not, says to her '1 perceive you know it,' the 'you' being emphatic (her very wish to tear it showed she knew what was in it). She practically admits her knowledge, defies him, and goes out to kill herself. He exclaims in horror at her, and, turning again to Edmund, asks if he knows it. Edmund, who of course does not know it, refuses to answer (like Iago), not (like Iago) out of defiance, but from chivalry towards Goneril; and, having refused to answer this charge, he goes on to admit the charges brought against himself previously by Albany (82 f.) and Edgar (130 f.). I should explain the change from 'you' to 'thou' in his speech by supposing that at first he is speaking to Albany and Edgar together.
7. v. iii. 278.
Lear, looking at Kent, asks,
Who are you?
Mine eyes are not o' the best: I'll tell you straight.
One of them we behold.
'Hold' can mean 'take'; but the word 'this' in line 160 ('Know'st thou this paper?') favours the idea that the paper is still in Albany's hand.
Kent is not answering Lear, nor is he speaking of himself. speaking of Lear. The best interpretation is probably that of Malone, according to which Kent means, 'We see the man most hated by Fortune, whoever may be the man she has loved best'; and perhaps it is supported by the variation of the text in the Qq., though their texts are so bad in this scene that their support is worth little. But it occurs to me as possible that the meaning is rather: 'Did Fortune ever show the extremes both of her love and of her hatred to any other man as she has shown them to this man?'
8. The last lines.
Alb. Bear them from hence. Our present business
Is general woe. [To Kent and Edgar] Friends of my soul, you twain
Rule in this realm, and the gored state sustain.
Kent. I have a journey, sir, shortly to go;
My master calls me, I must not say no.
Alb. The weight of this sad time we must obey;
So the Globe. The stage-direction (right, of course) is Johnson's. The last four lines are given by the Ff. to Edgar, by the Qq. to Albany. The Qq. read have borne most.'
To whom ought the last four lines to be given, and what do they mean? It is proper that the principal person should speak last, and this is in favour of Albany. But in this scene at any rate the Ff., which give the speech to Edgar, have the better text (though Ff. 2, 3, 4, make Kent die after his two lines!); Kent has answered Albany, but Edgar has not; and the lines seem to be rather more appropriate to Edgar. For the 'gentle reproof' of Kent's despondency (if this phrase of Halliwell's is right) is like Edgar; and, although we have no reason to suppose that Albany was not young, there is nothing to prove his youth.
As to the meaning of the last two lines (a poor conclusion to such a play) I should suppose that 'the oldest' is not Lear, but 'the oldest of us,' viz., Kent, the one survivor of the old generation: and this is the more probable if there is a reference to him in the preceding lines. The last words seem to mean, 'We that are young shall never see so much and yet live so long':
i.e. if we suffer so much, we shall not bear it as he has. If the Qq. 'have' is right, the reference is to Lear, Gloster and Kent.
SUSPECTED INTERPOLATIONS IN MACBETH.
I have assumed in the text that almost the whole of Macbeth is genuine; and, to avoid the repetition of arguments to be found in other books, I shall leave this opinion unsupported. 1 But among the passages that have been questioned or rejected there are two which seem to me open to serious doubt. They are those in which Hecate appears: viz. the whole of 111. v.; and IV. i. 39-43.
These passages have been suspected (1) because they contain stage-directions for two songs which have been found in Middleton's Witch; (2) because they can be excised without leaving the least trace of their excision; and (3) because they contain lines incongruous with the spirit and atmosphere of the rest of the Witch-scenes: e.g. III. v. Io f.:
all you have done
Hath been but for a wayward son,
Spiteful and wrathful, who, as others do,
and iv. i.
And now about the cauldron sing,
Like elves and fairies in a ring.
The idea of sexual relation in the first passage, and the trivial daintiness of the second (with which cf. III. v. 34,
Hark! I am call'd; my little spirit, see,
Sits in a foggy cloud, and stays for me)
suit Middleton's Witches quite well, but Shakespeare's not at all; and it is difficult to believe that, if Shakespeare had meant to introduce a personage supreme over the Witches, he would have made her so unimpressive as this Hecate. (It may be added that the original stage-direction at IV. i. 39, Enter Hecat and the other three Witches,' is suspicious.)
E.g. Mr. Chambers's excellent little edition in the Warwick series.