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Fool. Then 'tis like the breath of an unfee'd lawyev; 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 ;2 teach me.
Fool. That lord, that counsel'd thee

To give away thy land,
Come place him here by me,

Or do thou3 for him stand:
The sweet and bitter fool

Will presently appear;
The one in motley here,

The other found out there.
Lear. Dost thou call me fool, boy?

Fool. All thy other titles thou hast given away; that. thou wast born with.

Kent. This is not altogether fool, my lord.

tool. No, 'faith, lords and great men will not let me; if I had a monopoly out, they would have part on 't:4 and


2 No, lad;] This dialogue, from No, lad; teach me, down to Give me an egg, was restored from the first edition by Mr. Theobald. It is omitted in the folio, perhaps for political reasons, as it seemed to censure the monopolies. Johnson.

3 Or do thou -] The word or, which is not in the quartos, was supplied by Mr. Steevens. Malone.

if I had a monopoly out, they would have part on't:) A satire on the gross abuses of monopolies at that time; and the corruption and avarice of the courtiers, who commonly went shares with the patentee. Warburton. The modern editors, without authority, read

a monopoly on't, Monopolies were in Shakspeare's time the common objects of sa, tire. So, in Decker's Match me in London, 1631: “—

Give him a court loaf, stop his mouth with a monopoly."

Again, in Ram-Alley, or Merry Tricks, 1611 : “ A knight that never heard of Smock fees! I would I had a monopoly of them, so there was no impost set on them."

Again, in The Birth of Merlin, 1662: “ So foul a monster would be a fair monopoly worth the begging."

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 hadst 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 firsts find it so.

Fools had ne'er less grace in a year ;5 [Singing

For wise men are grown foppish;
And knowo not how their wits to wear,

Their manners are so afish.
Lear. When were you wont to be so full of songs,

sirrah? Fool. I have used it, nuncie, ever since thou madest thy daughters thy mother ;6 for when thou gavest them the rod, and put'st down thine own breeches,

Then they for sudden joy did weep, [Singing

And I for sorrow sung,
That such a king should play bo-freen,

And go the fools among.

In the books of the Stationers' Company, I meet with the following entry. “ John Charlewoode, Oct. 1 587: lycensed unto him by the whole consent of the assistants, the onlye ymprynting of all manner of billes for plaiers.” Again, Nov. 6, 1615, The liberty of printing all billes for fencing was granted to Mr. Purfoot. Steevens.

5 Fools had ne'er less grace in a year ;] There never was a time when fools were less in favour; and the reason is, that they were never so little wanted, for wise men now supply their place. Such I think is the meaning. Johnson. less grace -) So the folio. Both the quartos readless wit.

Steevens. In Mother Bombie, a comedy by Lyly, 1594, we find, " I think gentlemen had never less wit in a year.” I suspect therefore the original to be the true reading. Malone.

since thou madest thy daughters thy mother:) i.e. when you invested them with the authority of a mother. Thus the quartos. The folio rends, with less propriety,—thy mothers. Malone.

7 Then they for sudlen joy did weep, &c.] So, in The Rape of Lua crece, by Heywovd, 1630


Priythee, nuncle, keep a school-master 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,

“ When Tarquin first in court began.

“ And was approved King,
“ So men for sudden joy did weep,

But I for sorrow sing." I cannot ascertain in what year T. Heywood first published this play, as the copy in 1630, which I have used, was the fourth im. pression. Steevene.

8 That such a king should play bo-peep,] Little more of this game, than its mere denomination, remains. It is mentioned, however, in Churchyard's Charitie, 1593, in company with two other childish plays, which it is not my office to explain :

“ Cold parts men plaie, much like old plaine bo-peepe,
“ Or counterfait, in-dock-out-nettle, still." Steevens.

that frontlet -] Lear alludes to the frontlet, which was anciently part of a woman's dress. So, in a play called The Four Ps; , 1569:

“ Forsooth, women have many lets,
" And they be masked in many nets :
“ As frontlets, fillets, partlets, and bracelets:

" And then their bonets and their pioners.” Again, in Lyly's Midas, 1592: " — Hoods, frontlets, wires, cauls, curling-irons, perriwigs, bodkins, fillets, hair-laces, ribbons, roles, knotstrings, glasses,” &c.

Again, and more appositely, in Zepheria, a collection of sonnets, 410. 1594:

“ But now, my sunne, it fits thou take thy set,

And vaylethy face with frownes as with a frontlet.Steevens. A frontlet was a forehead.cloth, used formerly by ladies at night to render that part smooth. Lear, I suppose, means to say, that Gone. ril's brow was as completely covered by a frown, as it would be by a frontlet.

So, in Lyly's Euphues and his England, 4to. 1580: “ The next day I coming to the gallery where she was solitarily walking, with her frowning cloth, as sicke lately of the sullens," &c. Malone.

Fool. Thou wast a pretty fellow, when thou hadst no need to care for her frowning; now thou art an O without a figure:1 I am better than thou2 art now; I am a fool, thou art nothing:-Yes, forsooth, I will hold my tongue; so your face [to Gon.] bids me, though you say nothing. Mum, mum,

He that keeps nor crust nor crum,

Weary of all, shall want some.That's a shealed peascod.3

[Pointing to LEARY Gon. Not only, sir, this your all-licens'd fool, But other of your insolent retinue Do hourly carp and quarrel; breaking forth In rank and not-to-be-endured riots. Sir, I had thought, by making this well known unto you, To have found a safe redress; but now grow fearful, By what yourself too late have spoke and done, That you protect this course, and put it on By your allowance ;5 which if you should, the fault Would not ’scape censure, nor the redresses sleep; Which, in the tender of a wholesome weal,


now thou art an O without a figure :) The Fool means to say, that Lear, “having pared his wit on both sides, and left nothing in the middle,” is become a mere cypher; which has no arithmetical value, unless preceded or followed by some figure. In The Winter's Tale we have the same allusion, reversed :

and therefore, like a cypher,
6. Yet stand ng in rich place, 1 multiply,
“ With one-we thank you,-many thousands more
Standing before it.” Malone.

- I am better than thou &c.] This bears some resemblance to Falstaff's reply to the Prince, in King Henry IV, P.I: “ A better than thou; I am a gentleman, thou art a drawer." Steevens.

3 That's a shealed peascod.] i. e. Now a mere husk, which contains nothing. The outside of a king remains, but all the intrinsick parts of royalty are gone: he has nothing to give. Johnson.

That 's a shealed peascod.] The robing of Richard Ild's effigy in Westininster Abbey is wrought with peascods open, and the peas out ; perhaps an allusion to his being once in full possession of sovereignty, but soon reduced to an empty title. See Camden's Remains, 1674, p. 453, edit. 1657, p. 340. Tollet.

- put it on – ] i. e. promote, push it forward. So, in Macbeth :

" the powers above

" Put on their instruments.” Steevens. 5 By your allowance ;] By your approbation. Malone.

Might in their working do you that offence,
Which else were shame, that then necessity
Will call discreet proceeding.
Fool. For you trow, nuncle,

The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long,
That it had its head bit off by its

So, out went the candle, and we were left darkling.“

Lear. Are you our daughter?

Gon. Come, sir, I would, you would make use of that good wisdom whereof I know you are fraught; and put away these dispositions, which of late transform you? from what you rightly are.

Fool. May not an ass know when the cart draws the horse ? - Whoop, Jug! I love thee.


were left darkling.] This word is used by Milton, Paradise Lost, Book I:

as the wakeful bird “ Sings darkling: and long before, as Mr. Malone observes, by Marston, &c.

Dr. Farmer concurs with me in supposing, that the words—So out went the candle, &c. are a fragment of some old song. Steevens.

Shakspeare's Fools are certainly copied from the life. The criginals whom he copied were no doubt men of quick parts; lively and sarcastick. Though they were licensed to say any thing, it was still necessary to prevent giving offence, that every thing they said should have a playful air: we may suppose therefore that they had a custom of taking off the edge of too sharp a speech by covering it hastily with the end of an old song, or any glib nonsense that came into the mind. I know no other way of accounting for the incoherent words with which Shakspeare often finishes this Fool's speeches.

Sir J. Reynolds. In a very old dramatick piece, entitled A very mery and pythie Gomedy, called The longer thou livest the more Foole thou art, printed about the year 1580, we find the fullowing stage direction: “ Entreth Moros, counterfaiting a vaine gesture and a foolish countenaunce, synging the foote of many songs, as fools were wont.Malone.

See my note on Act III, sc. vi, in which this passage was brought forward long ago, [1778] for a similar purpose of illustration.

Steevens. - transform you —] Thus the quartos. The folio readstransport you. Steevens.

Whoop, Jug! &c.] There are in the Fool's speeches several passages which seem to be proverbial allusions, perhaps not now to be understood. Johnson.

Whoop, Yug! I love thee.) This, as I am informed, is a quotation from the bur hen of an old song

Steevens. Whoop, Fug, I'll do thee no harm, occurs in The Winter's Tale.




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