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Life would not yield to age.
Old Man. O my good lord, I have been your tenäht, and your father's tenant, these fourscore years.
Glo. Away, get thee away ; good friend, be gone :
Old Man. Alack, sir, you cannot see your way.
Glo. I have no way, and therefore want no eyes;
How now? Who's there?
And how much the pleasures of the body pervert the mind's judg ment, and the perturbations of the mind disorder the body's frame, is known to all. Warburton.
O world! if reverses of fortune and changes such as I now see and feel, from ease and affluence to poverty and misery, did not show us the little value of life, we should never submit with any kind of resignation to the weight of years, and its necessary consequence, infirmity and death. Malone.
6 Our mean secures us ;] Mean is here a substantive, and signifies a middle state, as Dr. Warburton rightly interprets it. So again, in The Merchant of Venice: “ It is no mean happiness therefore to be seated in the mean.” See more instances in Dr. Johnson's Dictionary.
Steevens. Both the quartos and the folio read-our means secure us. The emendation was made by Mr. Pope. I am not sure that it is necessary. In Shakspeare's age writers often thought it necessary to use a plural, when the subject spoken of related to more persons than one. So, in the last Act of this play—“0, our live's sweetness!" not, “ O, our life's sweetness.” Again :
O, you mighty gods,
your sights,” &c. Again, in King Richard III:
“ To worry lambs, and lap their gentle bloods.” Means, therefore, might have been here used as the plural of mean, or moderate condition. Gloster's meaning is, that in a moderate condition or middle state of life, we are secure from those temptations to which the more prosperous and affluent are exposed ; and our very wants prove in this respect an advantage.
to see thee in my touch,] So, in another scene, I see it feel ingly. Steevens. VOL. XIV.
Edg. [aside] O gods! Who is 't can say, I am at the
worst? I am worse than e'er I was. Old Man.
'Tis poor mad Tom. Edg. [aside] And worse I may be yet: The worst is
Old Man. Fellow, where goest?
Is it a beggar-man? Old Man. Madman and beggar too.
Glo. He has some reason, else he could not beg.
How should this be?-
Ğlo. Is that the naked fellow?
Ay, my lord.
Alack, sir he's mad. Glo. 'Tis the times' plague, when madmen lead the
blind. Do as I bid thee, or rather do thy pleasure; Above the rest, be gone.
Old Man. I'll bring him the best 'parrel that I have,
Who is 't can say, I am at the worst?
The worst is not, So long as we can say, this is the worst.] i. e. While we live; for while we yet continue to have a sense of feeling, something worse than the present may still happen. What occasioned this reflection was his rashly saying, in the beginning of this scene
To be worst, “ The lowest, and most dejected thing of fortune, &c. " The wretch, that thou hast blown unto the worst,” &c.
Come on 't what will.
[Exit. Glo. Sirrah, naked fellow. Edg. Poor Tom 's a-cold.I cannot daub ito further.
[Aside. Glo. Come hither, fellow. Edg. [aside] And yet I must. Bless thy sweet eyes,
they bleei. Glo. Know'st thou the way to Dover?
Edg. Both stile and gate, horse-way, and foot-path. Poor Tom hath been scared out of his good wits : Bless the good man from the foul fiend !1 [Five fiends have been in poor Tom at once; of lust, as Obidicut; Hobbididance, prince of dumbness; Mahu, of stealing; Modo, of murder; and Flibbertigibbet, of mopping and mowing;3 who since possesses chamber-maids and waitingwomen.4 So, bless thee, master!]
I cannot daub it -] i.e. Disguise. Warburton. So, in King Richard III:
“ So smooth he daub'd his vice with show of virtue." Again, in one of the Paston Letters, Vol. III, p. 173: "- - and saith to her, there is good craft in dawbing."
The quartos read, I cannot dance it further. Steevens.
1 Bless the good man from the foul fiend!] Thus the quartos. The folio reads:
Bless thee, good man's son, from the foul fiend! Malone. Bless the good man from the foul fiend!] This is sense, but I think we should read-bless thee, good man &c. M. Mason.
2 Five fiends &c.] The rest of this speech is omitted in the folio. In Harsenets Book, already quoted, p. 278, we have an extract from the account published by the exorcists themselves, viz. “ By
com. maundement of the exorcist ... the devil in Ma. Mainy confessed his name to be Modu, and that he had besides himself seaven other spirits, and all of them captains, and of great fame.” “ Then Edmundes (the exorcist) began againe with great earnestness, and all the company cried out, &c. ... so as both that wicked prince Modu and his company, might be cast out.” This passage will account for five fiends having been in poor Tom at once. Percy.
3 Flibbertigibbet, of mopping and mowing ;] “ If she have a little helpe of the mother, epilepsie, or cramp, to teach her role her eyes, wrie her mouth, gnash her teeth, starte with her body, hold her armes and handes stiffe, make antike faces, grinne, mow and mop like an ape,-then no doubt-the young girle is owle-blasted and possessed." Harsenet's Declaration, p. 136. Malone.
- possesses chamber-maids and waiting-women. ] Shakspeare has made Edgar, in his feigned distraction, frequently allude to a vile imposture of some English Jesuits, at that time much the subject of Glo. Here, take this purse, thou whom the heaven's
conversation ; the history of it having been just then composed with great art and vigour of style and composition by Dr. S. Harsenet, afterwards archbishop of York, by order of the privy-council, in a work intitled, A Declaration of egregious Popish Impostures to withdraw her Majesty's Subjects from their Allegiance, &c. practised by Edmunds, alias Weston, a Jesuit, and divers Romish Priests his wicked Associates: printed 1603. The imposture was in substance this. While the Spaniards were preparing their armada against England, the jesuits were here busy at work to promote it, by making converts : one method they employed was to dispossess pretended demoniacks, by which artifice they made several hundred converts amongst the common people. The principal scene of this farce was laid in the family of one Mr. Edmund Peckham, a Roman-catholick, where - Marwood, a servant of Antony Babington's (who was afterwards executed for treason) Trayford, an attendant upon Mr. Peckham, and Sarah and Friswood Williams, and Anne Smith, three chama bermaids in that family, came into the priest's hands for cure. But the discipline of the patients was so long and severe, and the priests so elate and careless with their success, that the plot was discovered on the confession of the parties concerned, and the contrivers of it deservedly punished. The five devils here mentioned, are the names of five of those who were made to in this farce upon the chamber-maids and waiting-women; and they were generally so ridiculously nick-nained, that Harsenet has one chapter on the strange names of their devils ; lest, says he, meeting them otherwise by chance, you mis. take them for the names of tapsters or jugglers. Warburton.
The passage in crotchets is omitted in the folio, because I suppose as the story was forgotten, the jest was lost. Johnson.
5 Let the superfluous,] Lear has before uttered the same sentiment, which indeed cannot be too strongly impressed, though it may be too often repeated. Johnson.
Superfluous is here used for one living in abundance. Warburton.
6 That slaves your ordinance, &c.] The language of Shakspeare is very licentious, and his words have
often meanings remote from the proper and original use. To slave or beslave another is to treat him with terms of indignity: in a kindred sense, to slave the ordinance, may be, to slight or ridicule it. Johnson.
To slave an ordinance, is to treat it as a slave, to make it subject to us, instead of acting in obedience to it.
So, in Heywood's Brazen Age, 1613:
« Could slave him like the Lydian Omphale."
Because he doth not feel, feel your power quickly;
Edg. Ay, master.
Glo. There is a cliff, whose high and bending head Looks fearfully in the confined deep: Bring me but to the very brim of it, And I'll repair the misery thou dost bear, With something rich about me: from that place I shall no leading need. Edg.
Give me thy arm; Poor Tom shall lead thee.
[Exeunt. SCENE II. Before the Duke of Albany's Palace. Enter GONERIL and EDMUND; Steward meeting them. Gon. Welcome, my lord : I marvel, our mild hus.
bands Not met us on the way :-Now, where's your master?
Stew. Madam, within ; but never man so chang'd: I told him of the army that was landed:
Again, in A New Way to pay old Debts, by Massinger :
that slaves me to his will.” Steevens. Heywood, in his Pleasant Dialogues and Dramas, 1637, uses this verb in the same sense:
“ What shall I do? my love I will not slave
“ To an old king, though he my love should crave." Again, in Marston's Malcontent, 1604:
“ O powerful blood, how dost thou slave their soul!" That slaves your ordinance, is the reading of the folio. Both the quartos have-That stands your ordinance ; perhaps for withstands. Stands, however, may be right:-that abides your ordinance. The poet might have intended to mark the criminality of the lust-dieted man only in the subsequent words, that will not see, because he doth not feel. Malone.
7 Looks fearfully in the confined deep:) So, the folio. The quartos read-Looks firmly. Mr. Rowe and all the subsequent editors for in read on. I see no need of change. Shakspeare considered the sea as a mirrour. To look in a glass, is yet our colloquial phraseology.
Malone. In for into. We still say that a window looks into the garden or the stable-yard. Steevens.
our mild husband -] It must be remembered that Albany, the husband of Goneril, disliked, in the end of the first Act, the scheme of oppression and ingratitude. Johnson.