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The tyranny of the open night's too rough
Let me alone.
Kent. Good my lord, enter here.
Lear. Thou think'st 'tis much, that this contentious storm
Invades us to the skin: so 'tis to thee;
The lesser is scarce felt2. Thoud'st shun a bear:
Thou'dst meet the bear i' the mouth. When the mind's free,
The body's delicate: the tempest in my mind
Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand,
O, that way madness lies; let me shun that;
1 Steevens thought that Lear does not address this question to Kent, but to his own bosom; and would point the passage thus :— Wilt break, my heart?'
Taking the words of Lear by themselves (says Mr. Pye), the sense and punctuation proposed by Steevens is very judicious; but is confuted by what Kent answers, who must know how Lear spoke it; and there seems no sort of reason why, as is suggested, he should affect to misunderstand him. Nothing is more natural than for a person absorbed in the contemplation of his own misery, to answer offers of assistance that interrupt him with petulance.'
2 That of two concomitant pains, the greater obscures or relieves the less, is an aphorism of Hippocrates. See Disquisitions Metaphysical and Literary, by F. Sayers, M. D. 1793, p. 68.
'He lesser pangs can bear who hath endur'd the chief.' Faerie Queene, b. i. c. 6. 3 This line is omitted in the quartos.
Good my lord, enter here.
Lear. 'Pr'ythee, go in thyself; seek thine own ease; This tempest will not give me leave to ponder On things would hurt me more. But I'll go in: (In, boy; go first.-[To the Fool.] You houseless1 poverty,
Nay, get thee in. I'll pray, and then I'll sleep.—>
Edg. [Within.] Fathom and half, fathom and half!
[The Fool runs out from the Hovel. Fool. Come not in here, nuncle, here's a spirit. Help me, help me!
Kent. Give me thy hand.-Who's there?
Fool. A spirit, a spirit; he says his name's poor
Kent. What art thou that dost grumble there
4 This and the next line are only in the folio. They are very judiciously intended to represent that humility, or tenderness, or neglect of forms which affliction forces on the mind.
5 Loop'd and window'd is full of holes and apertures: the allusion is to loop-holes, such as are found in ancient castles, and designed for the admission of light, where windows would have been incommodious.
6 A kindred thought occurs in Pericles:
O let those cities that of Plenty's cup
And her prosperities so largely taste,
With their superfluous riots,-hear these tears;
This speech of Edgar's is omitted in the quartos. He gives the sign used by those who are sounding the depth at sea.
Enter EDGAR, disguised as a Madman. Edg. Away! the foul fiend follows me:Through the sharp hawthorn blows the cold wind.Humph! go to thy cold bed, and warm thee8.
Lear. Hast thou given all to thy two daughters? And art thou come to this?
Edg. Who gives any thing to poor Tom? whom the foul fiend hath led through fire (and through flame, through ford and whirlpool, over bog and quagmire, that hath laid knives under his pillow, and halters in his pew; set ratsbane by his porridge; made him proud of heart, to ride on a bay trotting-horse over four-inched bridges, to course his own shadow for a traitor :-Bless thy five wits10! Tom's a-cold.-O, do de, do de, do de.-Bless thee from whirlwinds, star-blasting, and taking11! Do poor Tom some charity, whom the foul fiend vexes: There could I have him now, and there, and there, and there again, and there. [Storm continues.
8 So in the Induction to The Taming of the Shrew, Sly says, Go to thy cold bed and warm thee; which is supposed to be in ridicule of The Spanish Tragedy, or some play equally absurd. The word cold is omitted in the folio.
9 Alluding to the ignis fatuus, supposed to be lights kindled by mischievous beings to lead travellers into destruction. He afterwards recounts the temptations by which he was prompted to suicide; the opportunities of destroying himself, which often occurred to him in his melancholy moods. Infernal spirits are always represented as arging the wretched to self-destruction. So in Dr. Faustus, 1604:
"Swords, poisons, halters, and envenom'd steel,
Shakspeare found this charge against the fiend in Harsnet's Declaration, 1603, before cited.
10 It has been before observed that the wits seem to have been reckoned five by analogy to the five senses. They were sometimes confounded by old writers, as in the instances cited by Percy and Steevens; Shakspeare, however, in his 141st Sonnet, considers them as distinct.
But my five wits nor my five senses can
See vol. ii. p. 113, note 10.
11 To take is to blast, or strike with malignant influence. vol. i. p. 250, note 2. See also a former passage
-strike her young bones,
Ye taking airs, with lameness,'
Lear. What, have his daughters brought him to
Could'st thou save nothing? Did'st thou give them all? Fool. Nay, he reserved a blanket, else we had been all ashamed.
Lear. Now, all the plagues that in the pendu-
Hang fated o'er men's faults12, light on thy daughters!
Lear. Death, traitor! nothing could have subdu'd
To such a lowness, but his unkind daughters.-
Edg. Pillicock14 sat on pillicock's-hill ;—
Fool. This cold night will turn us all to fools and madmen.
Edg. Take heed o'the foul fiend: Obey thy parents; keep thy word justly; swear not; commit we jud not with man's sworn spouse; set not thy sweetheart on proud array: Tom's a-cold.
Lear. What hast thou been?
Edg. A serving-man, proud in heart and mind; that curled my hair15; wore gloves in my cap16;
12 So in Timon of Athens :
Be as a planetary plague when Jove
Will o'er some high-view'd city hang his poison
In the sick air.
13 The young pelican is fabled to suck the mother's blood. The allusions to this fable are very numerous in old writers.
14 See Act ii. Sc. 3, note 6, p. 409, ante. It should be observed that Killico is one of the devils mentioned in Harsnet's book. The inquisitive reader may find a further explanation of this word in a note to the translation of Rabelais, edit. 1750, vol. i. p. 184. In Minsheu's Dictionary, art 9299; and Chalmers's Works of Sir David Lindsay, Glossary, v. pillok.
15 Then Ma. Mainy, by the instigation of the first of the seven [spirits], began to set his hands unto his side, curled his hair, and used such gestures as Ma. Edmunds [the exorcist] presently affirmed that that spirit was Pride. Herewith he began to curse and banne, saying, What a poxe do I here? I will stay no longer
served the lust of my mistress's heart, and did the act of darkness with her; swore as many oaths as I spake words, and broke them in the sweet face of heaven: one, that slept in the contriving of lust, and waked to do it: Wine loved I deeply; dice dearly; and in woman, out-paramoured the Turk: False of heart, light of ear17, bloody of hand; Hog in sloth, fox in stealth, wolf in greediness, dog in madness, lion in prey. Let not the creaking of shoes, nor the rustling of silks, betray thy poor heart to women: Keep thy foot out of brothels, thy hand out of plackets18, thy pen from lenders' books19, and defy the foul fiend.—Still through the
among a company of rascal priests, but go to the court, and brave it amongst my fellows, the noblemen there assembled.'-- Shortly after they [the seven spirits] were all cast forth, and in such manner as Ma. Edmunds directed them, which was, that every devil should depart in some certaine forme, representing either a beast or some other creature that had the resemblance of that sinne whereof he was the chief author: whereupon the spirit of Pride departed in the forme of a peacock; the spirit of Sloth in the likeness of an asse; the spirit of Envie in the similitude of a dog; the spirit of Gluttony in the form of a wolfe; and the other devils had also in their departure their particular likenesses agreeable to their natures.'-Harsnet's Declaration, &c 1603. Before each sin was cast out Mainy, by gestures, acted that particular sin-curling his hair, to show pride, &c. &c.
16 It was anciently the custom to wear gloves in the hat on three distinct occasions, viz. as the favour of a mistress, the memorial of a friend, and as a mark to be challenged by an enemy. Prince Henry boasts that he will pluck a glove from the commonest creature and wear it in his helmet. And Tucca says to Sir Quintilian, in Decker's Satiromastix:- Thou shalt wear her glove in thy worshipful hat, like to a leather brooch.' And Pandora, in Lyly's Woman in the Moon, 1597:
he that first presents me with his head Shall wear my glove in favour of the dead.'
Portia, in her assumed character, asks Bassanio for his gloves, which she says she will wear for his sake and King Henry V. gives the pretended glove of Alençon to Fluellen, which afterwards Occasions his quarrel with the English soldier.
17 Credulous of evil, ready to receive malicious reports. 18 See vol. iv. p. 91, note 67.
19 When spendthrifts, &c. resorted to usurers or tradesmen for the purpose of raising money by means of shop goods, or brown paper commodities, they usually entered their promissory notes, or other similar obligations, in books kept for that purpose. In Lodge's Looking Glasse for England, 1598, 4to. a usurer says to a gentleI have thy hand set to my book, that thou received'st forty pounds of me in monie. "To which the other answers, 'It was your