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Kent. I will not sleep, my lord, till I have delivered
[Erit. Fool. If a man's brains were in his heels, were't not in danger of kibes? – Outs.gada
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:8 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 ?9
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?
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:1
Fool. Nor I neither; but I can tell why a snail has a house.
Fool. Why, to put his head in; not to give it away to his daughters, and leave his horns without a case.
Leur. 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 reason.
Lear. Because they are not eight?
Lear. To take it again perforce !2—Monster ingratitude !
thy other daughter will use thee kindly:) The Fool uses the word kindly here in iwo senses; it means affectionately, and like the rest of her kind. M. Mason.
9 Why, what canst thou tell, my boy?] So, the quartos. The folio reads-What canst tell, boy? Malone.
1 I did her wrong :] He is musing on Cordelia Johnson. 2 To take it again perforce!] He is meditating on the resumption of his royalty. Fohnson.
He is rather meditating on his daughter's having in so violent a Fool. If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I'd have thee beaten for being old before thy time.
Lear. How's that?
Fool. Thou should'st 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!-
Gent. Ready, my lord.
Fool. She that is maid now, and laughs at my departure, Shall not be a maid long, unless things be cut shorter.3
manner deprived him of those privileges which before she had agreed to grant him. Steevens.
The subject of Lear's meditation is the resumption of that moiety of the kingdom whicks he had given to Goneril. This was what Albany apprehended, when he replied to the upbraidings of his wife:
Well, well; the event."-what Lear himself projected when ke left Goneril to go to Regan :
Yet I have left a daughter,
“ I have cast off for ever; 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?" Henley.
- unless things be cut shorter.] This idle couplet is apparently addressed to the females present at the performance of the play ; and, not improbably, crept into the playhouse copy from the mouth of some buffoon acior, who "spoke more than was set down for him.”
It should seem, from Shakspeare's speaking in this strong manner, that he had suffered the injury he describes. Indecent jokes, which the applause of he groundiings might occasion to be repeated, would, at last, find : heir way into the prompter's books, &c.
I am aware, thai such liberties were exercised by the authors of Locrine, &c ; but can such another offensive and extraneous address 'fo the audience be pointed out among all the dramas of Shakspeare?
ACT II.....SCENE I.
Enter EDMUND and CURAN, meeting.
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?
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?
Cur.5 Have you heard of no likely wars toward, 'twixt the dukes of Cornwall and Albany? Edm. Not a word. Cur. You may then, in time. Fare you well, sir. [Exit.
Edm. The duke be here to-night? The better! Best!
ear-kissing arguments ?] Ear-kissing arguments means that they are yet in reality only whisper'd ones. Steevens
5 Cur.] This, and the following speech, are omitted in one of the quartos. Steevens.
queazy question ] Something of a suspicious, questionable, and uncertain nature. This is, I think, the meaning. Johnson.
Queazy, I believe, rather means delicate, unsettled, what requires to be handled nicely. So, Ben Jonson, in Sejanus :
“ Those times are somewhat queazy to be touch’d.
“ Have you not seen or read part of his book ?" Again, in Much Ado about Nothing :
“ Despight of his quick wit, and queazy stomach.” Steevens. Queazy is still used in Devonshire, to express that sickishness of stomach which the slightest disgust is apt to provoke. Henley.
He's coming hither; now i' the night, i' the haste?
I am sure on 't, not a word.
[Exit EDG. Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion
[Wounds his Arm. Of my more fierce endeavour: 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?
Edm. Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out, Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon?
i' the haste,] I should have supposed we ought to read only -in haste, had I not met with our author's present phrase in XII merry Fests of the Wyduow Edyth, 1573:
**" To London they tooke in all the haste
Have you nothing said Upon his party 'gainst the duke of Albany?] The meaning is, have you sail nothing upon the party formed by him against the duke of Albany?
Hanmer. I cannot but think the line corrupted, and would read :
Against his party, for the duke of Albany? Fohnson. Upon his party --].i. e. on his behalf. Henley. 9 Advise yourself. ] i. e. consider, recollect yourself. So, in Twelfth Night: “ Advise you what you say." Steevens.
I have seen drunkards Do more than this in sport.] So, in a passage already quoted in a note on The Winter's Tale, Act II, sc. ij. “Have I not been drunke for your health, eat glasses, drunk urine, stabbed arms, and done all offices of protested gallantry for your sake ?”—Marston's Dutch Cour. tezan. Steevens
2 Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon - ] This was a proper circumstance to urge to Gloster ; who appears, by what passed between him and his bastard son in a foregoing scene, to be very superstitious with regard to this matter. Warburton.
The quartos read, warbling instead of mumbling. Steevens:
To stand his auspicious mistress :3
But where is he?
Where is the villain, Edmund ? 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 thunders4 bend; Spoke, with how manifold and strong a bond The child was bound to the father;-Sir, in fine, Seeing how lothly opposite I stood To his unnatural purpose, in fell motion, With his prepared sword, he charges home My unprovided body, lanc'd mine arm: But when he saw my best alarum'd spirits, Bold in the quarrel's right, rous'd to the encounter, Or whether gasteds 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 duke6 my master, My worthy arch and patron, comes to-night: By his authority I will proclaim it, That he, which finds him, shall deserve our thanks,
- conjuring the moon To stand his auspicious mistress :] So, in All's Well that Enis Well:
“ And fortune play upon thy prosperous helm,
Fohnson. gasted -] Frighted. Johnson. So, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Wit at several Weapons : “ – either the sight of the lady has gasted him, or else he's drunk.” Steevens. 6 Not in this land shall he remain uncaught;
And found-Despatch.--The noble duke &c.] The sense is interrupted. He shall be caught-and found, he shall be punish'a. De. spatch. Johnson.
- arch -] 1. e. Chief; a word now used only in composition, as arch-angel, arch-duke. So, in Heywood's If you know not me, you know Nobody, 1613:
"Poole, that arch for truth and honesty." Steevens.