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SCENE W. 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 reprovable 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. [Eveunt,
which, if not as old as the time of Shakspeare, may have been compiled from something that was so : they are uttered by a giant:-“Fee, faw, fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman; Be he alive, or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bread.”
I Cornwall seems to mean the merit of Edmund; which, being noticed by Gloster, provoked or instigated Edgar to seek his father's death.
SCENE VI. A Chamber in a Farm-House, adjoining the Castle.
Enter GLosTER, LEAR, KENT, Fool, and EDGAR.
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. Rent. All the power of his wits has given way to his impatience.—The gods reward your kindness [Evit GLosTER. Edg. Frateretto" 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 f 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 hissing” in upon them:— Edg. The foul fiend bites my back." Fool. He’s mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf, a horse's heels,” a boy's love, or a whore’s oath. Lear. It shall be done; I will arraign them straight. Come, sit thou here, most learned justicer;"
1 Rabelais says that Nero was a fiddler in hell, and Trajan an angler.
2 Perhaps he is here addressing the fool. Fools were anciently termed innocents.
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.
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.
6 Justicer, from justiciarius, was the old term, as we learn from Lambard's Eirenarcha.
Thou, sapient sir, sit here. [To the Fool.]—Now, you
Come o'er the bourn,” Bessy to me.—
Fool. Her boat hath a leak,
Edg. The foul fiend haunts poor Tom in the voice of a nightingale. Hopdance cries in Tom's belly” for two white herrings. Croak not, black angel ; I have
no food for thee. Kent. How do you, sir? Stand you not so amazed. Will you lie down and rest upon the cushions? Lear. I’ll see their trial first.—Bring in the evidence.— Thou 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.
1 “Wantest thou eyes at trial, madam P” is a question addressed to some visionary spectator, and may mean no more than “Do you want eyes when you should use them most? that you cannot see this spectre.”
2 A bourn is a brook or rivulet. 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,
The old copies read, “ o'er the broome; ” and Johnson suggested, as there was no connection between a boat and a broom, that it was an error. 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.
3 Much of this may have been suggested by Harsnet's book. 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 load,” p. 194, 195, &c.
WOL. VII. 11
Sleepest, or wakest thou, jolly shepherd 2
And for one blast of thy minikin' mouth,
Pur ! the cat is gray.
2 This proverbial expression occurs likewise in Lyly's Mother Bombie, 1594. to , o,
3 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.
4 Tijk is the Runic word for a little worthless dog. Trindletails are mentioned in The Booke of Huntyng, &c., blk. let, no date ; and in the old comedy of A Woman Killed with Kindness. 1 Sessa ; this word occurs before in the fourth scene of this act. 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. 2 A horn was usually carried about by every Tom of Bedlam, to receive such drink as the charitable might afford him, with whatever scraps of food they might give him. 3 i.e. on the cushions to which he points. 4 One of the quartos reads, “Take up the king ;” the other, “Take up to keep,” &c.
For, with throwing thus my head, Dogs leap the hatch, and all are fled. Do de, de de. Sessa." Come, march to wakes and fairs, and market towns.—Poor Tom, thy horn is dry.” Lear. Then let them anatomize Regan, see what breeds about her heart. Is there any cause in nature, that makes these hard hearts P-You, sir, I entertain you for one of my hundred; only I do not like the fashion of your garments. You will say they are Persian attire ; but let them be changed. [To EDGAR. Kent. Now, good my lord, lie here, and rest awhile.” Lear. Make no noise, make no noise ; draw the curtains. So, so, so. We’ll go to supper i' the morning. So, so, so.
Fool. And I’ll go to bed at noon.
Glo. Come hither, friend; where is the king my master P Kent. Here, sir; but trouble him not, his wits are gone. Glo. Good friend, I pr’ythee take him in thy arms; I have o'erheard a plot of death upon him. There is a litter ready ; lay him in't, And drive towards Dover, friend, where thou shalt meet Both welcome and protection. Take up thy master. If thou shouldst dally half an hour, his life, With thine, and all that offer to defend him, Stand in assured loss. Take up, take up ; *