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Is wretchedness depriv'd that benefit,
Give me your arm:
Glo. Too well, too well.
This is above all strangeness.
A poor unfortunate beggar.
Glo. I do remember now; henceforth I'll bear
Enter Lear, fantastically dressed up with Flowers.
12 IVelk'd is marked with protuberances. This and whelk are probably only different forms of the same word. The welk is a small shellfish, so called, perhaps, because its shell is marked with convolved protuberant ridges. See vol v, p. 436, note 11.
13 That is, the purest ; the inost free from evil. So in Timon of Athens :-- Roots! you clear gods!
14 By men's impossibilities perhaps is meant what men call impossibilities, what appear as such to mere mortal beings.
15 - Bear free anil patient thoughts.' Free here means pure, as in other places of these plays. See vol. i. p. 311, note 5 ; vol. iv. p. 120. alditional note.
16 • The safer sense ( says Mr. Blakcway ) seems to me to mean the eyesight, which, says Edgar, will never more serve the unfor.
Lear. No, they cannot touch me for coining;
crying that I am the king himself.
Edg. 0 thou side-piercing sight!
Lear. Nature's above art in that respect.-There's your press-money17. That fellow handles his bow like a crow-keeper18: draw me a clothier's yard.Look, look, a mouse! Peace, peace;—this piece of toasted cheese will do't. There's my gauntlet; I'll prove it on a giant.—Bring up the brown bills19. o, well flown, bird !i'the clout, i'the clout; hewgh! -Give the word20. Edg. Sweet marjoram. Lear. Pass. Glo. I know that voice.
Lear. Ha! Goneril !-with a white beard!- They flatter'd me like a dog; and told me, I had white hairs in my beard, ere the black ones were there. To say ay, and no, to every thing I said ! -Ay and
tunate Lear 80 well as those which Gloster has remaining will serve bim, who is now returned to a right mind. Horace terms
oculi fidelis,' and the eyesight may be called the safer sense in allusion to the proverb Seeing is believing.' Gloster afterwards laments the stiffness of his vile sense.'
17 It is evident from the whole of this speech that Lear fancies himself in a battle. For the meaning of press money see the first scene of Hamlet, note, 10, which will also serve to explain the passage in Act v. Sc. 2:
“And turn our imprest lances in our eyes.'
To some base rustick do thyself prefer;
Drayton, Idea the Forty-eighth. Ascham, in speaking of awkward shooters, says :- Another cowreth down, and layeth ont įhis buttockes as thoughe he would shoote at crowes.'
The subsequent expression of Lear, draw me a clothier's yard,' Steevens thinks, alludes to the old ballad of Chevy Chase :
"An'arrow of a cloth yard long,
Up to the head he drew,' &c. 19 Battleaxes.
20 Lear is here raving of archery, falconry, and a battle, jumbled together in quick transition. • Well flown bird' was the falconer's expression when the hawk was successful in her flight; it is so used in A Woman Killid with Kindness. The clout is the white mark at which archers aiın. By 'give the word, the watchword in a camp
is meant. The quartos read, 0 well flown bird in the ayre, hugh, give the word.'
no too was no good divinity 21. When the rain came to wet me once, and the wind to make me chatter; when the thunder would not peace at my bidding; there I found them, there I smelt them out. Go to, they are not men o'their words: they told me I was every thing: 'tis a lie; I am not ague-proof.
Glo. The trick 22 of that voice I do well remember: Is't not the king? Lear.
Ay, every inch a king: When I do stare, see, how the subject quakes. I pardon that man's life: what was thy cause ? Adultery.-Thou shalt not die; Die for adultery! No: The wren goes to't, and the small gilded fly Does lecher in my sight. Let copulation thrive, for Gloster's bastard son Was kinder to his father, than my daughters Got 'tween the lawful sheets. To't luxury23, pell-mell, for I lack soldiers.Behold yon simpering dame, Whose face between her forks presageth snow24; That minces25 virtue, and does shake the head To hear of pleasure's name; The fitchew, nor the soiled horse26, goes to't
21 It has been proposed to read • To say ay and no to every thing I said ay add no to, was no good divinity. Besides the inaccuracy of construction in the passage as it stands in the text; it does not appear how it could be flatlery to dissent from as well as assent to every thing Lear said.
22 Trick is a word used for the air, or peculiarity in a face. voice, or gesture, which distinguishes it from others.
We still say he has a trick of winking with his eyes, &c. See vol. iv. p. 311, note 7.
23 i. e. incontinence. See vol. vii. p. 402, note 4.
24 The construction is, Whose face presageth snow between her forks.' So in Timon of Athens, Act iv. Sc. 3:
Whose blush doth thaw the consecrated snow
That lies on Dian's lap.'
25 i. e, puts on an outward affected seeming of virtue. See Cot. grave in v. Mineur-se. He also explains it under · Faire la sadinette, to mince it, nicesie it, be very squeamish, backward, or coy.'
26 The fitchew is the polecat. A soiled horse is a horse that has been fed with hay and corn during the winter, and is turned out in the spring to take the fiust fineh of grass, or has it cut and car.
With a more riotous appetite.
darkness, There is the sulphurous pit, burning, scalding, stench, consumption ;- Fye, fye, fye! pah; pah! Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, to sweeten my imagination: there's money for thee.
Glo. 0, let me kiss that hand!
Glo. O ruin'd piece of nature! This great world Shall so wear out to nought.—Dost thou know me?
Lear. I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost thou squiny at me? No, do thy worst, blind Cupid I'll not love.-Read thou this challenge; mark but the penning of it:
Glo. Were all the letters suns, I could not see one.
Edg. I would not take this from report;-it is, And my heart breaks at it.
Lear. O, ho, are you there with me? No eyes in your head, nor no money in your purse ? Your eyes are in a heavy case, your purse in a light: Yet you see how this world goes.
Glo. I see it feelingly.
Lear. What, art mad? A man may see how this world goes, with no eyes. Look with thine ears: . see how yon' justice rails upon yon' simple thief.
Hark, in thine ear: Change places; and, handydandy, which is the justice, which is the thief ?Thou hast seen a farmer's dog bark at a beggar?
ried to him. This at once cleanses the animal and fills him with blood. In the old copies the preceding as well as the latter part of Lear's speech is printed as prose. It is doubtful whether any part of it was intended for meire.
27 But in its exceptive sense. See vol. i. p. 18. 28 Possess.
Glo. Ay, sir.
Lear. And the creature run from the cor? There thou might'st behold the great image of authority: a dog's obey'd in office. Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand : Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thine own
back; Thou hotly lust'st to use her in that kind For which thou whipp’st her. The usurer hangs
the cozener. Through tatter'd clothes small vices do appear; Robes, and furr'd gowns, hide all29. Plate sin with
gold, And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks: Arm it in rags, a pigmy's straw doth pierce it. None does offend, none, I say, none; I'll able 'em30 : Take that of me, my friend, who have the power To seal the accuser's lips. Get thee glass eyes; And, like a scurvy politician, seem To see the things thou dost not.-Now, now, now,
Pull off my boots :- harder, harder; so.
Edg. O, matter and impertinency31 mix'd! Reason in madness!
Lear. If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes. I know thee well enough; thy name is Gloster: Thou must be patient; we came crying hither. Thou know'st, the first time that we smell the air, We wawl, and cry32 : – I will preach to thee;
29 From "hide all' to accuser's lips' is wanting in the quartos. 30 i. e. support or uphold them. So Chapman in the Widow's Tears, 1612:
• Admitted! ay, into her heart, and I'll able it.' Again, in his version of the twenty-third Niad :
I'll able this For five revolved years.' 31 Impertinency here is used in its old legitimate sense of some. thing not belonging to the subject.
The cbilde feeles that, the man that feeling knoweg,
Sidney's Arcadia, lib. ii.