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Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold
Notwithstanding the ingenuity and confidence of Mr. M. Mason, (who has not however done justice to his own idea) I cannot but concur with Mr. Steevens, in ascribing these broken expressions to the letter of Cordelia. For, if the words were Kent's, there will be no intimation from the letter that can give the least insight to Cordelia's design; and the only apparent purport of it will be, to tell Kent that she knew his situation. But exclusive of this consideration, what hopes could Kent entertain, in a condition so deplorable as his, unless Cordelia should take an opportunity from the anarchy of the kingdom, and the broils subsisting between Albany and Cornwall, of finding a time, to give losses their remedies? Curan had before mentioned to Edmund, the rumour of wars toward, between these dukes. This report had reached Cordelia, who, having also discovered the situation and fidelity of Kent, writes to inform him, that she should avail herself of the first opportunity which the enormities of the times might offer, of restoring him to her father's favour, and her father to his kingdom. [See Act III, sc. i; Act IV, sc. iii.] Henley.
In the old copies these words are printed in the same character as the rest of the speech. I have adhered to them, not conceiving that they form any part of Cordelia’s letter, or that any part of it is or can be read by Kent. He wishes for the rising of the sun, that he may read it. I suspect that two half lines have been lost between the words state and seeking. This enormous state means, I think, the confusion subsisting in the state, in consequence of the discord which had arisen between the Dukes of Albany and Cornwall; of which Kent hopes Cordelia will avail herself. He says, in a subsequent scene
There is division,
o With mutual cunning, 'twixt Albany and Cornwall.” In the modern editions, after the words under globe, the following direction has been inserted : 66 Looking up to the moon.” Kent is surely here addressing, not the moon, but the sun, which he has mentioned in the preceding line, and for whose rising he is impatient, that he may read Cordelia's letter. He has just before said to Gloster, “Give you good morrow .!” The comfortable beams of the moon, no poet, I believe, has mentioned. Those of the sun are again mentioned by Shakspeare in Timon of Athens :
“Thou sun, that comfort'st, burn!” Malone. My reason for concurring with former editors in a supposition that the moon, not the sun, was meant by the beacon, arose from a consi. deration that the term, beacon, was more applicable to the moon, being, like that planet, only designed for night-service.
As to the epithet-comfortable, it suits with either luminary; for he who is compelled to travel, or sit abroad, in the night, must surely have derived comfort from the lustre of the moon.
The mention of the sun in the preceding proverbial sentence is quite accidental, and therefore ought not, in my opinion, to have weight on the present occasion. By wliat is here urged, however, I do not mean to insinuate that Mr. Malone's opinion is indefensi. ble. Steedens.
This shameful lodging.
Enter EDGAR. Edg. I heard myseif proclaim'd; And, by the happy hollow of a tree, Escap'd the hunt. No port is free; no place, That guard, and most unusual vigilance, Does not attend my taking. While I may scape, I will preserve myself: and am bethought To take the basest and most poorest shape, That ever penury, in contempt of man, Brought near to beast : my face I'll grime with filth ; Blanket my loins; elf all my hair in knots ;3 And with presented nakedness out-face The winds, and persecutions of the sky. The country gives me proof and precedent Of Bedlam beggars,4 who, with roaring voices,
elf all my hair in knots ;] Hair thus knotted, was vulgarly supposed to be the work of elves and fairies in the night. So, in Ro. meo and Juliet:
plats the manes of horses in the night, " And bakes the elf-locks in foul shuttish hairs,
“ Which, once untangled, much misfortune bodes.” Steevens. 4 Of Bedlam beggars,] Randle Holme, in his Academy of Arms and Blazon, B. III, c. 3, has the following passage descriptive of this class of vagabonds: “ The Bedlam is in the same garb, with a long staff, and a cow or ox-horn by his side ; but his cloathing is more fantastick and ridiculous ; for, being a madman, heis madly decked and dressed all over with rubins, feathers, cuttings of cloth, and what not ? to make him seen a mad.man, or one distracted, when he is no other than a dissembling knave.”
In The Bell-man of London, by Decker, 5th edit. 1640, is another account of one of these characters, under the title of an AbrahamMan: " he sweares he hath been in Bedlam, and will talke frantickely of purpose: you see pinnes stuck in sundry places of his naked fiesh, especially in his armes, which paine he gladly puts himgelfe to, only to make you believe he is out of his wits. He calls himselfe by the name of Poore Tom and comming near any body cries out, Poor Tom is a-cold. Of these Abraham-men, some be exceeding merry, and doe nothing but sing songs fashioned out of their own braines: some will dance, others will doe nothing but either laugh or
Strike in their numb'd and mortified bare arms
weepe: others are dogged, and so sullen both in loke and speech, that spying but a small company in a house, they boldly and bluntly enter, compelling the servants through feare to give them what they demand."
Again, in o per se 0, &c. Being an Addition &c. to the Bell-man's Second Night-walke &c. 1612: “ Crackers tyed to a dogges tayle make not the poore curre runne faster, than these Abram ninnies doe the silly villagers of the country, so that when they come to any doore a begging, nothing is denied them.”
To sham Abraham, a cant term, still in use among sailors and the vulgar, may have this origin. Steevens.
wooden pricks,] i.e. skewers. So, in The Wyll of the Deuill, bl. I. no date: “ I give to the butchers, &c. pricks inough to set up their thin meate, that it inay appeare thicke and well fedde ” Steevens.
Steevens is right: the euonymous, of which the best skewers are made, is called prick-wood. M. Mason.
low farms,] The quartos read, low service. Steevens. 7 Poor pelting villages,] Pelting is used by Shakspeare in the sense of beggarly: I suppose from pelt a skin. The poor being generally clothed in leather. Warburton.
Pelting is, I believe, only an accidental depravation of petty. Shakspeare uses it in A Midsummer Night's Dream, of small brooks.
Johnson Beaumont and Fletcher often use the word in the same sense as Shakspeare. So, in King and no King, Act IV:
“ This pelting, prating peace is good for nothing.”. Spanish Curate, Act II, sc. ult. -- To learn the pelting law." Shakspeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, -"every pelting river.” Measure for Measure, Act II, sc. vii:
“And every pelting petty officer.” Again, in Troilus and Cressida, Hector says to Achilles :
“We have had pelting wars sitice you refus'd
- The Grecian cause." From the first of the two last instances it appears not to be a corruption of petty, which is used the next word to it, but seems to be the same as paltry: and if it comes from pelt a skin, as Dr. Warburton says, the poets have furnished villages, peace, law, rivers, officers of justice, and wars, all out of one wardrobe. Steevens.
lunatick bans,] To ban, is to curse. So, in Mother Bombie, 1594, a comedy by Lyly:
« Well, be as be may, is no banning.” Again, in Arden of Feversham, 1592:
“ Nay, if those ban, let me breathe curses forth.” Steevens.
Enforce their charity.- Poor Turlygood! poor Tom !!
Enter LEAR, Fool, and Gentleman.
home, And not send back my messenger. Gent.
As I learn'd, The night before there was no purpose in them
- poor Turlygood! poor Tom!] We should read Turlupin. In the fourteenth century there was a new species of gipsies, called Turlupins, a fraternity of nakeıl beggars, which ran up and down Europe. However, the church of Rome hath dignified them with the name of hereticks, and actually burned some of them at Paris. But what sort of religionists they were, appears from Genebrard's account of them. “Turlupin Cynicorum sectam suscitantes, de nudi. tate pudendorum, & publico coitu.” Plainly, nothing but a band of Tom-o'-Bedlams. Warburton.
Hanmer reads--poor Turluru. It is probable the word Turlygood was the common corrupt pronunciation. Johnson.
Edgar 1 nothing am.] As Edgar I am outlawed, dead in law ; I have no longer any political existence. Johnson.
The critick's idea is both too complex and too puerile for one in Edgar's situation. He is pursued, it seems, and proclaimed ; i. e. a reward has been offered for taking or killing him. In assuming this character, says he, I may preserve myself; as Edgar I am inevitably gone.
Ritson. Perhaps the meaning is, As poor Tom, I may exist; appearing as Edgar I am lost. Malone.
2 Before Gloster's Castle. ] It is not very clearly discovered why Lear comes hither. In the foregoing part he sent a letter to Gloster ; but no hint is given of its contents. He seems to have gone to visit Gloster while Cornwall and Regan might prepare to entertain him.
Johnson. It is plain, I think, that Lear comes to the Earl of Gloster's in consequence of his having been at the Duke of Cornwalls, and having heard there, that his son and daughter were gone to the Earl of Gloster's. His first words show this: “'Tis strange that they (Cornwall and Regan) should so depart from home, and not send back my messen. ger (Kent).” It is clear also, from Kent's speech in this scene, that he went directly from Lear to the Duke of Cornwall's, and delivered his letters, but, instead of being sent back with any answer, was ordered to follow the Duke and Duchess to the Earl of Gloster's. But what then is the meaning of Lear's order to Kent, in the pre
Of this remove.
Hail to thee, noble master!
No, my lord.3 Fool. Ha, ha; look! he wears cruel garters !4 Horses are tied by the heads; dogs, and bears, by the neck; monkies by the loins, and men by the legs: when a man is over-lustys at legs, then he wears wooden netherstocks.6
ceding Act, scene v: Go you before to Gloster with these letters. The obvious meaning, and what will agree best with the course of the slibsequent events, is, that the Duke of Cornwall and his wife were then residing at Gloster. Why Shakspeare should choose to suppose them at Gloster, rather than at any other city, is a different question. Perhaps he might think, that Gloster implied such a neighbourhood to the Earl of Gloster's castle, as his story required. Tyrwhitt.
See p. 186, n. 7. Malone.
he wears cruel garters!!] I believe a quibble was here in. tended. Crewel signifies worsted, of which stockings, garters, night. caps, &c. are made; and it is used in that sense in Beaumont and Fletcher's Scornful Lady, Act II:
"For who that had but half his wits about him
" To such a crewel night cap." So, again, in the comedy of The Two Angry Women of Abington, printed 1599:
- I'll warrant you, he 'll have “ His cruell garters cross about the knee." So, in The Bird in a Cage, 1633:
" I speak the prologue to our silk and cruel
6 Gentlemen in the hangings.” Again, in Woman's a Weathercock, 1612:
Wearing of silk, why art thou still so cruel." Steevens.
over-lusty -- ] Over-lusty, in this place, has a double signifi caiion. Lustiness anciently meant sauciness. So, in Decker's If this be not a good Play, the Devil is in it, 1612:
upon pain of being plagued for their lustyness." Again, in Claudius Tiberius Nero, 1607 :
" She 'll snarl and bite,
then he wears wooden nether-stocks.) Nether-stocks is the old word for stockings. Breeches were at that time called “men's overstockes," as I learn from Barrett's Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionary, 1580.
It appears from the following passage in the second part of The