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By some discretion, that discerns your state
Say, you have wrong'd her, sir18.
Look'd black upon me: struck me with her tongue, Most serpentlike, upon the very heart:
All the stor❜d vengeances of heaven fall
On her ingrateful top! Strike her young bones,
Fye, fye, fye! Lear. You nimble lightnings, dart your blinding
Into her scornful eyes! Infect her beauty,
You fen-suck'd fogs, drawn by the powerful sun,
18 Say,' &c. This line and the following speech is omitted in the quartos.
19 i. e. the order of families, duties of relation. So Sir Thomas Smith, in his Commonwealth of England, 1601 - The house I call here, the man, the woman, their children, their servants, bond and free.'
20 Unnecessary is here used in the sense of necessitous; in want of necessaries and unable to procure them. Perhaps this is also the meaning of the word in The Old Law, by Massinger :
111 Your laws extend not to desert,
But to unnecessary years, and, my lord,
His are not such."
21 Fall seems here to be used as an active verb, signifying to humble or pull down. 'Ye fen-suck'd fogs, drawn from the earth by the powerful action of the sun, infect her beauty, so and blast, i e. humble and destroy her pride.'
as to fall
Thy tender-hefted22 nature shall not give
Thee o'er to harshness; her eyes are fierce, but thine
Good sir, to the purpose.
What trumpet's that?
Lear. Who put my man i' the stocks?
Reg. I know't, my sister's24; this approves her letter,
That she would soon be here.-Is your lady come? Lear. This is a slave, whose easy-borrow'd pride Dwells in the fickle grace of her he follows:
Out, varlet, from my sight!
What means your grace? Lear. Who stock'd my servant? Regan, I have good hope
22 Tender-hefted may mean moved, or heaving with tenderness. The quartos read tender-hested, which may be right, and signify giving tender hests or commands. Miranda says, in The Tempest :O my father, I have broke your hest to say so."
23 A size is a portion or allotment of food. The word and its origin are explained in Minshea's Guide to Tongues, 1617. The term sizer is still used at Cambridge for one of the lowest rank of students, living on a stated allowance.
24 Thus in Othello:
The Moor,-I know his trumpet.
It should seem therefore that the approach of great personages was announced by some distinguishing note or tune appropriately used by their own trumpeters. Cornwall knows not the present Sound; but to Regan, who had often heard her sister's trumpet, the first flourish of it was as familiar as was that of the moor to the ears of lago.
25 To allow is to approve, in old phraseology. See vol. i. p. 209, note 20. Thus in Psalm xi. ver. 6 The Lord alloweth the righteous.'
Thou didst not know oft.-Who comes here? O
If you do love old men, if your sweet sway
Make it your cause;
Art not asham'd to
send down, and take my part!— look upon this beard?—
O, Regan, wilt thou take her by the hand?
All's not offence, that indiscretion finds,
And dotage terms so.
Will you yet hold?
O, sides, you are too tough! How came my man i'the stocks?
Corn. I set him there, sir: but his own disorders Deserv'd much less advancement27.
Lear. You! did you Reg. I pray you, father, being weak, seem so28. If, till the expiration of your month, You will return and sojourn with my sister, Dismissing half your train, come then to me; I am now from home, and out of that provision Which shall be needful for your entertainment. Lear. Return to her, and fifty men dismiss'd? No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose To wage29 against the enmity o'the air; To be a comrade with the wolf and owl, Necessity's sharp pinch30!-Return with her?
hoc oro, munus concede parenti,
Si tua maturis signentur tempora canis,
Et sis ipse parens.'
Stutius Theb. x. 705.
27 By less advancement Cornwall means that Kent's disordres had entitled him to a post of even less honour than the stocks, a still worse or more disgraceful situation.
28 The meaning is, since you are weak, be content to think yourself weak.
29 See Act i. Sc. 1, note 24.
30 The words, necessity's sharp pinch!' appear to be the reflection of Lear on the wretched sort of existence he had described in the preceding lines.
Why, the hot-blooded France, that dowerless took
Lear. I pr'ythee, daughter, do not make me mad;
Which I must needs call mine: thou art a boil,
In my corrupted blood. But I'll not chide thee;
I and my hundred knights.
Not altogether so, sir;
I look'd not for you yet nor am provided
For your fit welcome: Give ear, sir, to my sister; For those that mingle reason with your passion, Must be content to think you old, and so—
But she knows what she does.
31 Sumpter is generally united with horse or mule, to signify one that carried provisions or other necessaries; from sumptus, Lat. In the present instance horse seems to be understood, as it appears to be in the following passage from Beaumont and Fletcher's Two Noble Gentlemen:
I would have had you furnish'd in such pomp
As never duke of Burgundy was furnish'd;
You should have had a sumpter though't had cost me
Perhaps sumpter originally meant the pannier or basket which the
We hear also of sumpter-cloths, sumpter-saddies, &c. 32 Embossed here means swelling, protuberant.
Is it not well? What should you need of more? Yea, or so many? sith that both charge and danger Speak 'gainst so great a number? How, in one house, Should many people, under two commands,
Hold amity? "Tis hard; almost impossible.
Gon. Why might not you, my lord receive attendance
From those that she calls servants, or from mine? Reg. Why not, my lord? If then they chanc'd to
We could control them: If you will come to me
Lear. I gave you all
Reg. And in good time you gave it. Lear. Made you my guardians, my depositaries; But kept a reservation to be follow'd
With such a number: What, must I come to you With five and twenty, Regan? said you so?
Reg. And speak it again, my lord; no more with me.
Lear. Those wicked creatures yet do look well favour'd,
When others are more wicked; not being the worst,
What need one?
Lear. O, reason not the need: our basest beggars Are in the poorest thing superfluous:
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
33 i. e. to be not the worst deserves some praise.