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Lear. Follow me; thou shalt serve me; if I like thee no worse after dinner, I will not part from thee yet.---Dinner, ho, dinner !--Where's my knave? my fool ? Go
Go you, and call my fool hither.
You, you, sirrah, where's my daughter?
[Exit. Lear. What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll back.-Where's my fool, ho?-I think the world's asleep.--How now ? where's that mongrel ?
Knight. He says, my lord, your daughter is not well.
Lear. Why came not the slave back to me, when I called him?
Knight. Sir, he answered me in the roundest manner, he would not.
Lear. He would not!
Knight. My lord, I know not what the matter is ; but, to my judgment, your highness is not entertained with that ceremonious affection as you were wont; there's a great abatement of kindness appears, as well in the general dependants, as in the duke himself also, and your daughter.
Lear. Ha! say’st thou so?
Knight. I beseech you, pardon me, my lord, if I be mistaken; for my duty cannot be silent, when I think your highness is wronged.
Lear. Thou but remember'st me of mine own conception. I have perceived a most faint neglect of late; which I have rather blamed as mine own jealous curiosity,' than as a very pretence? and purpose of unkindness: I will look further into't.-But where's my fool? I have not seen him this two days.
Knight. Since my young lady's going into France, sir, the fool hath much pined away.
1 By jealous curiosity, Lear appears to mean a punctilious jealousy, resulting from a scrupulous watchfulness of his own dignity. See the second note on the first scene of this play.
2 A very pretence is an absolute design.
Lear. No more of that; I have noted it well..
you, and tell my daughter I would speak with her
and call hither my fool.-
O you sir, you sir, come you hither. Who am I, sir ?
Stew. My lady's father.
Lear. My lady's father! my lord's knave; you whoreson dog! you slave! you cur !
Stew. I am none of this, my lord; I beseech you, pardon me. Lear. Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal ?
[Striking him. Stew. I'll not be struck, my lord. Kent. Nor tripped neither; you base foot-ball player.
[Tripping up his heels. Lear. I thank thee, fellow; thou servest me, and l'll love thee.
Kent. Come, sir, arise, away; I'll teach you differences; away, away. If you will measure your lubber's length again, tarry; but away: go to. wisdom? so.
[Pushes the Steward out. Lear. Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee; there's earnest of thy service. [Giving KENT money.
Fool. Let me hire him too ;-here's my coxcomb.
[Giving KENT his cap.
Fool. Why? For taking one's part that is out of favor; nay, an thou canst not smile as the wind sits,
I A metaphor from tennis. “Come in and take this bandy with the racket of patience.”--Decker's Satiromastix. 6 To bandy a ball,” Cole defines clava pilam torquere ; “ To bandy at tennis," reticulo pellere. « To handy blows,” is still a common idiom.
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thou'lt catch cold shortly. There, take my coxcomb. Why, this fellow has banished two of his daughters, and did the third a blessing against his will; if thou follow him, thou must needs wear my coxcomb.2How now, nuncle ? 3 'Would I had two coxcombs and two daughters!
Lear. Why, my boy?
Fool. If I gave them all my living, 4 I'd keep my coxcombs myself. There's mine ; beg another of thy daughters.
Lear. Take heed, sirrah ; the whip.
Fool. Truth's a dog that must to kennel. He must be whipped out, when lady, the brach, may stand by the fire, and stink.
Lear. A pestilent gall to me!
Have more than thou showest,
1 1. e. be turned out of doors and exposed to the inclemency of the weather.
2 The reader may see a representation of this ornament of the fool's cap, in Mr. Douce's Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. ii. “ Natural ideots and fools have, and still do accustome themselves to weare in their cappes cockes feathers, or a hat with a necke and heade of a cocke on the top, and a bell thereon."--Minsheu's Dictionary, 1617.
3 A familiar contraction of mine uncle, as ningle, &c. It seems that the customary appellation of the old licensed fool to his superiors was uncle.
4 All my estate or property.
5 It has already been shown that brach was a mannerly name for a bitch.
6 To owe is to possess.
9 To trow is to believe. The precept is admirable. Set, in the next line, means stake.
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Lear. This is nothing, fool.
Fool. Then 'tis like the breath of an unfee'd lawyer; you gave me nothing for't. Can you make no use of nothing, nuncle ?
Lear. Why, no, boy; nothing can be made out of nothing.
Fool. 'Pr’ythee, tell him, so much the rent of his land comes to; he will not believe a fool. [TO KENT.
Lear. A bitter fool!
Fool. Dost thou know the difference, my boy, between a bitter fool and a sweet fool ?
Lear. [No, lad; teach me.
To give away thy land,
Or do thou for him stand.
Will presently appear ;
The other found out there.
Fool. All thy other titles thou hast given away; that thou wast born with.
Kent. This is not altogether fool, my lord.
Fool. No, 'faith, lords and great men will not let me; if I had a monopoly out, they would have part on't: and ladies, too, they will not let me have all fool to myself; they'll be snatching:')--Give me an egg, nuncle, and I'll give thee two crowns.
Lear. What two crowns shall they be?
Fool. Why, after I have cut the egg i’ the middle, and eat up the meat, the two crowns of the egg. When thou clovest thy crown i'the middle, and gavest away both parts, thou borest thine ass on thy back over the dirt. Thou had'st little wit in thy bald crown, when thou gavest thy golden one away. If I speak like myself in this, let him be whipped that first finds it so.
1 The passage in brackets is omitted in the folio, perhaps for political reasons, as it seems to censure the monopolies, the gross abuses of which were more legitimate than safe objects of satire.
Lear. When were you wont to be so full of songs, sirrah?
Fool. I have used it, nuncle, ever since thou madest thy daughters thy mother; for when thou gavest them the rod, and put'st down thine own breeches,
Then they for sudden joy did weep,
And I for sorrow sung,
And go the fools among.
Prythee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach thy fool to lie; I would fain learn to lie.
Lear. If you lie, sirrah, we'll have you whipped.
Fool. I marvel, what kin thou and thy daughters are. They'll have me whipped for speaking true, thou’lt have me whipped for lying; and, sometimes, I am whipped for holding my peace. I had rather be any kind of thing than a fool; and yet I would not be thee, nuncle; thou hast pared thy wit o’ both sides, and left nothing in the middle. Here comes one o’the parings.
Enter GONERIL. Lear. How now, daughter! what makes that frontlet? on? Methinks you are too much of late i’ the frown.
Fool. Thou wast a pretty fellow, when thou had'st
I « There never was a time when fools were less in favor.9 In Mother Bombie, a Comedy, by Lyly, 1594, we find," I think gentlemen had never less wit in a year." It is remarkable that the quartos read « less wit," instead of " less grace,” which is the reading of the folio.
2 A frontlet, or forehead-cloth, was worn by ladies of old, to prevent wrinkles. Thus in Zepheria, a collection of Sonnets, 4to. 1594:
* But now, my sunne, it fits thou take thy set