Sidor som bilder


A Room in Gloster's Castle.

Enter CORNWALL and EDMUND. Corn. I will have my revenge, ere I depart this

house. Edm. How, my lord, I may be censured, that nature thus gives way to loyalty, something fears me to think of.

Corn. I now perceive, it was not altogether your brother's evil disposition made him seek his death; but a provoking merit?, set a-work by a reproveable badness in himself,

Edm. How malicious is my fortune, that I must repent to be just! This is the letter he spoke of, which approves him an intelligent party to the advantages of France. O heavens! that this treason were not, or not I the detector!

Corn. Go with me to the duchess.

Edm. If the matter of this paper be certain, you have mighty business in hand.

Corn. True, or false, it hath made thee earl of Gloster. Seek out where thy father is, that he may be ready for our apprehension.

Edm. [ Aside. ] If I find him comforting the king, it will stuff his suspicion more fully.--I will persevere in my course of loyalty, though the conflict be sore between that and my blood.

Corn. I will lay trust upon thee; and thou shalt find a dearer father in my love.


1 Cornwall seems to mean the merit of Edmund; which, being noticed by Gloster, provoked or instigated Edgar to seek his father's death.


A Chamber in a Farm-House, adjoining the Castle.

Enter GLOSTER, LEAR, Kent, Fool, and


Glo. Here is better than the open air; take it thankfully: I will piece out the comfort with what addition I can: I will not be long from you.

Kent. All the power of his wits has given way to his impatience -The gods reward your kindness!

[Exit GLOSTER. Edg. Fraterettol calls me; and tells me Nero is an angler in the lake of darkness. Pray, innocent, and beware the foul fiend.

Fool. 'Pr'ythee, nuncle, tell me, whether a madman be a gentleman, or a yeoman ?

Lear. A king, a king ! ( Fool. No; he's a yeoman, that has a gentleman to his son; for he's a mad yeoman, that sees his son a gentleman before him.)

Lear. To have a thousand with red burning spits Come hissing3 in upon them :

Edg. The foul fiend bites my back4.
Fool. He's mad, that trusts in the tameness of


i See the quotation from Harsenet, in note 23 on the preceding

Rabelais says that Nero was a fiddler in hell, and Trajan an angler. The history of Garagantua had appeared in English before 1575, being mentioned in Laneham's Letter from Killingworih, printed in that year.

2 Perhaps he is here addressing the Fool. Fools were anciently termed innocents. So in All's Well that Ends Well, Act iv. Sc. 3:_ The sheriff's fool-a dumb innocent, that could not sag. bim nay:

3 The old copies have hizzing, which Malone changed to whizzing. One of the quartos spells the word hiszing, which indicates that the reading of the present text is right.

4 This and the next thirteen speeches are only in the quartos,

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a wolf, a horse's heelss, a boy's love, or a whore's
Lear. It shall be done, I will arraign them

Come, sit thou here, most learned justicer:--

[To EDGAR. Thou, sapient sir, sit here. [To the Fool]—Now,

you she foxes! -
Edg. Look, where he stands and glares !-
Wantest thou eyes at trial, madam??

Come o’er the bourne, Bessy, to me:-
Fool. Her boat hath a leak.

And she must not speak
Why she dares not come over to thee.

5 The old copies read, a horse's health ;' but heels was certainly meant. Trust not a horse's heels, nor a dog's tooth,' is a proverb in Ray's Collection; which may be traced at least as far back as the time of our Edward II. "Et ideo Babio in comediis insinuat dicens ;-In fide, dente, pede, mulieris, equi canis est fraus.Hoc sic vulgariter est dici :

• Till horsis fote thou never traist,
Till hondis toth, ne woman's faith?

Forduni Scotichronicon, l. xiv. c. 32. The proverb in the text is probably from the Italian.

6 Justicer, from Justiciarius, was the old term, as we learn from Lambard's Eirenarcha :- And of this it commeth that M. Fitzherbert (in his Treatise of the Justices of Peace ), calleth them justicers (contractly for justiciars), and not justices, as we commonly and not altogether improperly doe name them.'

? When Edgar says, “Look, where he stands and glares !' he seems to be speaking in the character of a madman, who thinks he sees the fiend. Wantest thou eyes at trial, madam?' is a question addressed to some visionary spectator, and may mean po more than • Do you want eyes when you should use them most ? that you cannot gee this spectre.'

8 A bourn is a brook or rivulet. See vol. vii. p. 345. At the beginning of A Very Mery and Pythie Comedie, called The Longer 'Thou Livest The More Fool Thou Art, &c.' blk let. no date :• Entreth Moros, counterfaiting a vain gesture and foolish countenance, synging the foote of many songs, as fooles were wont ;' and among them is this passage:

· Com over the boorne Bessé,
My litle pretie Bessé,

Come over the boorne, Bessé to me.' The old copies read, 'o'er the broame;' and Johnson suggested, as there was no connexion between a boat and a broom, that it was

Steevens made the correction, and adduced this illustration. There is peculiar propriety in this address : Bessy and poor Tom usually travelled together, as appears by a passage cited from Dick Whipper's Sessions, 1607, by Malone.- Mad women, who travel about the country, are called in Shropshire Cousin Betties, and elsewhere Mad Bessies.

an error

Edg. The foul fiend haunts poor Tom in the voice of a nightingale.

nightingale. Hopdance cries in Tom's belly9 for two white herrings. Croak not, black angel; I have no food for thee.

Kent. How do you, sir? Stand you not so amaz’d: Will you

lie down and rest upon the cushions ? Lear. I'll see their trial first:-Bring in the evi

denceThou robed man of justice, take thy place;

[To EDGAR. And thou, his yoke-fellow of equity, [To the Fool. Bench by his side:-You are of the commission, Sit you too.

[To Kent. Edg. Let us deal justly. Šleepest, or wakest thou, jolly shepherd?

Thy sheep be in the corn;
And for one blast of thy minikin10 mouth,

Thy sheep shall take no harm.
Pur! the cat is gray.

Lear. Arraign her first; 'tis Goneril. I here take my oath before this honourable assembly, she kicked the poor king her father. Fool. Come hither, mistress; Is your

Lear. She cannot deny it.

Fool. Cry you mercy, I took you for a jointstool11.


9 Much of this may have been suggested by Harsenet's book. Sarah Williams deposeth, That if at any time she did belch, as often times she did by reason that shee was troubled with a wind in her stomacke, the priests would say at such times, that then the spirit began to rise in her... and that the wind was the devil.' • And (as she saith), if they heard any croaking in her belly ..., then they would make a wonderful matter of that.'— Hoberdidance is mentioned in a former note. One time shee remembereth that, shee having the said croaking in her belly, they said it was the devil that was about the bed, that spake with the voice of a toad, p. 194, 195, &c.

10 Minikin was anciently a term of endearment. Baret, in his Alvearie, interprets feat' by 'proper, well fashioned, minikin, handsome.

il This proverbial expression occurs likewise in Lyly's Mother Bombie, 1594

Lear. And here's another, whose warp'd looks

proclaim What store her heart is made of.--Stop her there! Arms, arms, sword, fire!-Corruption in the place! False justicer, why hast thou let her 'scape ?

Edg. Bless thy five wits!

Kent. O pity! - Sir, where is the patience now, That you so oft have boasted to retain ?

Edg. My tears begin to take his part so much, They'll mar my counterfeiting,

[Aside. Lear. The little dogs and all, Tray, Blanch, and Sweet-heart, see, they bark at me.

Edg. Tom will throw his head at them:-Avaunt,

you curs !

Be thy mouth or black or white,
Tooth that poisons if it bite;
Mastiff, greyhound, mongrel grim,
Hound, or spaniel, brach, or lym 12 ;
Or bobtail tike13, or trundle-tail;
Tom will make them weep and wail:
For, with throwing thus my head,

Dogs leap the hatch, and all are fled. Do de, de de. Sessa 14. Come, march to wakes and fairs, and market towns :-Poor Tom, thy horn is dry15.

12 I suspect that brach signifies a greyhound. See 'vol. iii. p. 322, note 8. A lym or lyme was a blood-hound (see Minsheu's Dict. in voce ); sometimes also called a limmer or leamer; from the leam or leash, in which he was held till he was let slip. In the book of Ancient Tenures, by T. B. 1679, the words 'canes domini regis le808,' are translated leash hounds, such as draw after hurt deer in a leash or lyam, So Drayton, in The Muses Elysium :

My doghook at my belt, to which my lyam's tyd. 13 Tijk is the Runick word for a little worthless dog. Trindletails are mentioned in The Booke of Huntyng, &c. blk let. 1o date ; and in the old comedy of A Woman kill'd with Kindness.

14 Sessa; this word occurs before in the fourth Scene of this Act, p. 437. It is spelled Sessey in both places in the old copy. The same word occurs in the Induction to The Taming of the Shrew, where it is spelled sessa : it appears to have been a corruption of cessez, stop or hold, be quiet, have done.

15 A horn was nsually carried about by every Tom of Bedlam, to receive soch drink as the charitable might afford him, with whatever scraps of food they might give him. When, therefore, Edgar says his horn is dry, or empty, he merely means, in the language

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