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When I have showed the unfitness, How now, Oswald P
What, have you writ that letter to my sister P
SCENE W. Court before the same.
Enter LEAR, KENT, and Fool.
Lear. Go you before to Gloster with these letters; acquaint my daughter no further with any thing you know, than comes from her demand out of the letter. If your diligence be not speedy, I shall be there before
you.” Kent. I will not sleep, my lord, till I have delivered your letter. [Exit. Fool. If a man’s brains were in his heels, were’t not in danger of kibes f Lear. Ay, boy. Fool. Then, I pr’ythee, be merry; thy wit shall not go slip-shod. Lear. Ha, ha, ha! Fool. Shalt see, thy other daughter will use thee kindly;" for though she's as like this as a crab is like an apple, yet I can tell what I can tell. Lear. Why, what canst thou tell, my boy? Fool. She will taste as like this, as a crab does to a crab. Thou canst tell, why one's nose stands i' the middle of his face? Lear. No. Fool. Why, to keep his eyes on either side his nose; that what a man cannot smell out, he may spy into. Lear. I did her wrong.” Fool. Canst tell how an oyster makes his shell? Lear. No. Fool. Nor I neither; but I can tell why a snail has a house. Lear. Why? Fool. Why, to put his head in ; not to give it away to his daughters, and leave his horns without a case. Lear. I will forget my nature.—So kind a father' —Be my horses ready? Fool. Thy asses are gone about 'em. The reason why the seven stars are no more than seven, is a pretty TeaSOI), Lear. Because they are not eight? Fool. Yes, indeed; thou wouldest make a good fool. Lear. To take it again perforce : *—Monster ingratitude'
1 The word task is frequently used by Shakspeare and his contemporaries in the sense of taar.
2 The word there, in this speech, shows that when the king says, “Go you before to Gloster,” he means the town of Gloster, which Shakspeare chose to make the residence of the duke of Cornwall, to increase the probability of their setting out late from thence on a visit to the earl of Gloster. Our old English earls usually resided in the counties whence they took their titles. Lear, not finding his son-in-law and his wife at home, follows them to the earl of Gloster's castle.
1 The fool quibbles, using the word in two senses; as it means affectionately, and like the rest of her kind, or after their nature.
2 He is musing on Cordelia.
3 The subject of Lear's meditation is the resumption of that moiety of the kingdom he had bestowed on Goneril. This was what Alban apprehended, when he replied to the upbraidings of his wife:–“Well,
Fool. If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I’d have thee beaten for being old before thy time. . Lear. How’s that P Fool. Thou shouldst not have been old, before thou hadst been wise. Lear. O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet Heaven! Keep me in temper; I would not be mad!—
How now ! are the horses ready?
SCENE I. A Court within the Castle of the Earl of Gloster.
Enter EDMUND and CURAN, meeting.
Edm. Save thee, Curan. Cur. And you, sir. I have been with your father, and given him notice, that the duke of Cornwall, and Regan his duchess, will be here with him to-night. Edm. How comes that?
well: the event.” What Lear himself projected when he left Goneril to go to Regan:£6 - Thou shalt find That I’ll resume the shape, which thou dost think I have cast off forever; thou shalt, I warrant thee.” And what Curan afterwards refers to, when he asks Edmund:—“Have you heard of no likely wars toward, 'twixt the dukes of Cornwall and Albany ?”
VOL. VIIo 6
Cur. Nay, I know not. You have heard of the news abroad; I mean the whispered ones, for they are yet but ear-kissing arguments ** Edm. Not I; 'pray you, what are they f Cur. Have you heard of no likely wars toward,” 'twixt the dukes of Cornwall and Albany P Edm. Not a word. Cur. You may then, in time. Fare you well, sir. | Evit. Edm. The duke be here to-night? The botto Best This weaves itself perforce into my business! My father hath set guard to take my brother; And I have one thing, of a queasy” question, Which I must act.—Briefness, and fortune, work? Brother, a word; descend.—Brother, I so
My father watches.—O sir, fly this place;
Edg. I am sure on’t, not a word.
Edm. I hear my father coming.—Pardon me;— in cunning, I must draw my sword upon you.Draw : seem to defend yourself: now quit you well Yield;—come before my father;-light, ho, here ! Fly, brother:-Torches' torches'—So farewell.
[Exit EDGAR. Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion
l Ear-kissing arguments means that they are yet in reality only whispered ones.
2 This and the following speech are omitted in the quarto B.
3 Queasy appears to mean here delicate, unsettled.
4 Have you said nothing upon the party formed by him against the duke of Albany?
5 i.e. consider, recollect yourself.
[Wounds his arm. Of my more fierce endeavor; I have seen drunkards Do more than this in sport.—Father' father Stop, stop ! No help ?
Enter GLosTER, and Servants, with torches.
Glo. Now, Edmund, where's the villain P
Edm. Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out, Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon To stand his auspicious mistress.
Glo. - But where is he f
Edm. Look, sir, I bleed.
Glo. Where is the villain, Edmund P
Edm. Fled this way, sir. When by no means he could
Glo. Pursue him, ho!—Go after.—[Exit Serv.] By no means,—what?
Edm. Persuade me to the murder of your lordship; But that I told him, the revenging gods 'Gainst parricides did all their thunders bend; Spoke, with how manifold and strong a bond The child was bound to the father –sir, in fine, Seeing how loathly opposite I stood To his unnatural purpose, in fell motion, With his prepared sword, he charges home My unprovided body, lanced mine arm : But when he saw my best alarumed spirits, Bold in the quarrel’s right, roused to the encounter, Or whether gasted' by the noise I made, Full suddenly he fled.
Glo. Let him fly far. Not in this land shall he remain uncaught; And found—Despatch.”—The noble duke, my master,
1 That is, aghasted, frighted.
2 “And found–Despatch.-The noble duke,” &c.—The sense is interrupted. He shall be caught—and found, he shall be punished. Despatch.