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Lear. Why, thou were better in thy grave, than to answer with thy uncovered body this extremity of the skies. Is man no more than this? Consider him well : Thou owest the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfume :-Ha! here's three of us are sophisticated !- Thou art the thing itself: unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked ani. mal as thou art.-Off, off, you lendings :-Come; unbutton here.?
[Tearing off his Clothes:
“ Dolphin, my boy, my boy,
• Cease, let him trot by;
“ From me or you would fly.” This is a stanza from a very old ballad written on some battle fought in France, during which the King, unwilling to put the sus. pected valour of his son the Dauphin, i. e. Dolphin, (so called and spelt at those times) to the trial, is represented as desirous to restrain him from any attempt to establish an opinion of his courage on an adversary who wears the least appearance of strength; and at last assists in propping up a dead body against a tree for him to try his manhood upon. Therefore, as different champions are supposed to cross the field, the King always discovers some objection to his attacking each of them, and repeats these two lines as every fresh personage is introduced :
Dolphin, my boy, my boy, &c. The song I have never seen, but had this account from an old gentleman, who was only able to repeat part of it, and died before I could have supposed the discovery would have been of the least importance to me. As for the words, says suum, mun, they are only to be found in the first folio, and were probably added by the players, who, together with the compositors, were likely enough to corrupt what they did not understand, or to add more of their own to what they already concluded to be nonsense. Stecvens. Cokes cries out, in Bartholomew Fair:
“ God's my life!-He shall be Dauphin my boy!" Farmer. It is observable that the two songs to which Mr. Steevens refers for the burden of Hey no nonny, are both sung by girls distracted from disappointed love. The meaning of the burden may be inferred from what follows_Drayton's Shepherd's Garland, 1593. 4to:
“ Who ever heard thy pipe and pleasing vaine,
66 That doth not muse." Again, in White's Wit of a Woman: “ — - these dauncers sometimes do teach them trickes above trenchmore, yea and sometimes such lavoltas, that they mount so high, that you may see their hey nony, nony, nony, no." Henley.
7 Come; unbutton here.] Thus the folio. One of the quartos reads Come on, be true. Steevens.
Fool. Pr’ythce, nuncle, be contented; this is a naughty night to swim in.8-Now a little fire in a wild field were like an old lecher's heart; a small spark, all the rest of his body cold.—Look, here comes a walking fire.
Edg. This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet :' he begins at curfew, and walks till the first cock;' he gives the web and the pin, squints the eye, and makes the hare-lip; mildews the white wheat, and hurts the poor creature of earth.
a naughty night to swim in.] So, Tusser, chap. xlii, fol. 93: “ Ground granellie, sandie, and mixed with claie,
“ Is naughtie for hops anie manner of waie.”' Naughty signifies bad, unfit
, improper. This epithet which, as it stands here, excites a smile, in the age of Shakspeare was employed on serious occasions. The merriment of the Fool, therefore, depended on his general image, and not on the quaintness of its auxiliary.
Steevens. Flibbertigibbet :) We are not much acquainted with this fiend. Latimer, in his Sermons, mentions him; and Heywood, among his sixte hundred of Epigrams, edit. 1576, has the following, Of caliing one Flebergibet :
“ Thou Flebergibet, Flebergibet, thou wretch !
“Of all woords I hate woords that end with gibet.” Steevens. “ Frateretto, Flibertligibet, Hoberdidance, Tocobatto, were four devils of the round or morrice ..... These four had forty assistants under them, as themselves doe confesse.” Harsenet, p. 49. Percj.
he begins at curfew, and walks till the first cock ;] It is an old tradition that spirits were relieved from the confinement in which they were held during the day, at the time of curfew, that is, at the close of day, and were permitted to wander at large till the first cockcrowing. Hence, in The Tempest, they are said to " rejoice to hear the solemn curfew.” See Hamlet, Act I, c.i:
and at his [the cock's] warning, “ Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air, “ The extravagant and erring spirit hies
"To his confine." Again, sc. v:
“ I am thy father's spirit,
web and the pin,] Diseases of the eye. Johnson. So, in Every Woman in her Humour, 1609. One of the characters is giving a ludicrous description of a lady's face, and when he comes to her eyes he says, “a pin and web argent, in hair du roy.” Steevens. VOL. XIV.
Saint Withold footed thrice the wold;
Bid her alight,
And her troth plight,
3 Saint Withold footed thrice the wold;
He met the night-mare, and her nine-fold;
Saint Withold footed thrice the wold,
And aroynt thee, witch, aroynt thee right. i.e. Saint Withold traversing the wold or downs, met the night-mare ; who having told her name, he obliged her to alight from those persons whom she rides, and plight her troth to do no more mischief. This is taken from a story of him in his legend. Hence he was invoked as the patron saint against that distemper. And these verses were no other than a popular charm, or night-spell against the Epialtes. The last line is the formal execration or apostrophe of the speaker of the charm to the witch, aroynt thee right, i.e. depart forth with. Bedlams, gipsies, and such like vagabonds, used to sell these kinds of spells or charms to the people. They were of various kinds for various disorders, and addressed to various saints. Warburton.
In the old quarto the corruption is such as may deserve to be noted. “ Swithalde footed thrice. the olde anelthu night moore and her nine fold bid her, O light and her troth plight and arint thee, with arint thee.” Johnson.
Her nine fold seems to be put (for the sake of the rhyme) instead of her nine foals. I cannot find this adventure in the common legend of St. Vitalis, who, I suppose, is here called St. Withold. Tyrwhitt.
Shakspeare might have met with St. Withold in the old spurious play of King John, where this saint is invoked by a Franciscan friar. The wold I suppose to be the true reading. So, in The Coventry Collection of Mysteries, Mus. Brit. Vesp. D. vii, p. 23, Herod says to one of his officers :
Seyward bolde, walke thou on wolde,
“ And wysely behold all abowte,” &c. Dr. Hill's reading, the cold, (mentioned in the next note) is the reading of Mr. Tate in his alteration of this play in 1681.
Lest the reader should suppose the compound-night-mare, has any reference to horse-flesh, it may be observed that mapa, Saxon, signifies an incubus. See Keysler, Antiquitat. sel. Septentrion. p. 497, edit. 1720. Steevens.
It is pleasant to see the various readings of this passage. In a book called the Actor, which has been ascribed to Dr. Hill, it is quoted • Swithin footed thrice the cold.” Mr. Colman has it in his alteration of Lear
Kent. How fares your grace?
Enter GLOSTER, with a Torch.
Edg. Poor Tom; that eats the swimming frog, the toad, the tadpole, the wall-newt, and the water;4 that in the fury of his heart, when the foul fiend rages, eats cow-dung for sallets; swallows the old rat and the ditchdog; drinks the green mantle of the standing pool; who is whipped from tything to tything, and stocked, punished, and imprisoned ;6 who hath had three suits to his back, six shirts to his body, horse to ride, and weapon to wear,
But mice, and rats, and such small deer,
“ Swithin footed thrice the world.” The ancient reading is the olds: which is pompously corrected by Mr. Theobald, with the help of his friend Mr. Bishop, to the wolds : in fact it is the same word. Spelman writes, Burton upon olds: the provincial pronunciation is still the oles: and that probably was the vulgar orthography. Let us read then,
St. Withold footed thrice the oles,
the wall-newt, and the water;] i. e. the water-newt. This was the phraseology of Shakspeare's time. “ He was a wise man and a merry,” was the common language. So Falstaff says to Shallow," he is your serving-man, and
your husband,” i.e. husband-man.
Malone. whipped from tything to tything,] A tything is a division of a place, a district; the same in the country, as a ward in the city. In, the Saxon times every hundred was divided into tythings. Edgar alludes to the acts of Queen Elizabeth and James I, against rogues, vagabonds, &c. In the stat. 39 Eliz.ch. 4, it is enacted, that every vagabond, &c. shall be publickly whipped and sent from parish to parish. Steevens.
and stocked, punished, and imprisoned ;] So the folio. The quartos read, perhaps rightly--and stock-punished, and imprisoned.
Malone. 7 But mice, and rats, and such small deer,
Have been Tom's food for seven long year.] This distich is part of a description given in the old Mietrical romance of Sir Bevis, of the hardships suffered by Bevis, when confined for seven years in a dungeon:
“ Rattes and myce and such smal dere
Beware my follower :-Peace, Smolkin ; peace,8 thou
Edg. The prince of darkness is a gentleman;"
Glo. Our flesh and blood, my lord, is grown so vjle, That it doth hate what gets it.
Edg. Poor Tom's a cold.
Glo. Go in with me; my duty cannot suffer?
Lear. First let me talk with this philosopher:-
Kent. Good my lord, take his offer ; Go into the house. Lear. I'll talk a word with this same learned The
Peace, Smolkin ; peace,] “The names of other punie spirits cast out of Trayford were these : Hilco, Smolkin, Hillio,” &c. Harsenet, p. 49. Percy.
9 The prince of darkness is a gentleman ;] This is spoken in resent. ment of what Gloster had just said-' Has your grace no better com. pany?" Steevens. 1 The prince of darkness is a gentleman;
Modo he is calld, and Mahu.] So, in Harsenet's Declaration, Maho was the chief devil that had possession of Sarah Williams; but another of the possessed, named Richard Mainy, was molested by a still more considerable fiend called Moslu. See the book already mentioned, p. 268, where the said Richard Mainy deposes : “ Further more it is pretended, ... that there remaineth still in mee the prince of all other devils, whose name should be Modu.” He is elsewhere called, "the prince Modu.” So, p. 269: “ When the said priests had dispatched theire business at Hackney (where they had been exor. cising Sarah Williams) they then returned towards mee, uppon pretence to cast the great prince Modu ... out me.” Steevens.
In The Goblins, by Sir John Suckling, a catch is introduced which concludes with these two lines:
“ The prince of darkness is a gentleman :
“ Mahu, Mahu is his name.” I am inclined to think this catch not to be the production of Sucksing, but the original referred to by Edgar's speech. Reed. cannot suffer — ) i.e. My duty will not suffer me, &c.