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But I will tarry; the fool will stay,
And let the wise man fly:
The fool no knave, perdy. The knove no fool
Re-enter LEAR, with GLOSTER.
My dear lord,
Lear. Vengeance! plague! death! confusion -
Glo. Well, my good lord,+ I have inform’d them so.
2 But I will tarry; the fool will stay,
And let &c.] I think this passage erroneous, though both the copies concur. The sense will be mended if we read:
But I will tarry; the fool will stay,
The knave no fool, That I stay with the king is a proof that I am a fool; the wise men are deserting him. There is knavery in this desertion, but there is no folly. Johnson.
3 Mere fetches;] Though this line is now defective, perhaps it originally stood thus :
Mere fetches all ; Steevens. 4 Glo. Well, &c.] This, with the following speech, is omitted in the quartos, 5 Are they inform’d of this?] This line is not in the quartos.
No, but not yet:-may be, he is not well:
[Looking on KEŅT.
[Erit. Lear. O me, my heart, my rising heart!—but, down. l'ool. Cry to it, nuncle, as the cockney2 did to the eels,
Tell the hot duke, that -] The quartos read-Tell the hot duke, that Lear - Steedens.
This act persuades me,] As the measure is here defective, perhaps our author wrote:
This act almost persuades me, Steevens.
this remotion -] From their own house to that of the Earl of Gloster. Malone.
9 Is practice only.] Practice is, in Shakspeare, and other old wri. ters, used commonly in an ill sense for unlawful artifice. Johnson.
1 Till it cry-Sleep to death.] This, as it stands, appears to be a mere nonsensical rhapsody. Perhaps we should read-Death to sleep, instead of Sleep to death. M. Mason.
The meaning of this passage seems to be-I'll beat the drum til) it cries out--Let them awake no more ;-Let their present sleep be their last. Somewhat similar occurs in Troilus and Cressida :
the death tokens of it “ Cry-No recovery." The sentiment of Lear does not therefore, in my opinion, deserve the censure bestowed on it by Mr. M. Mason, but is, to the full, as defensible as many other bursts of dramatick passion. Steevens.
the cockney -] It is not easy to determine the exact power of this term of contempt, which, as the editor of The Canterbury Tales of Chaucer observes, might have been originally borrowed from the kitchen. From the ancient ballad of The Turnament of Tottenham, published by Dr. Percy in his second volume of Ancient Poetry, p. 24, it should seem to signify a cook:
when she put them i' the paste3 alive; she rapp'd 'em o'the coxcombs with a stick, and cry’d, Down, wantons, down: 'Twas her brother, that, in pure kindness to his horse, buttered his hay.
Enter CORNWALL, REGAN, GLOSTER, and Servants. Lear. Good morrow to you both.
- At that feast were they served in rich array;
“ Every five and five had a cokeney." i.e. a cook, or scullion, to attend them.
Shakspeare, however, in Twelfth Night, makes his Clown say" I am afraid this great lubber the world, will prove a cockney." In this place it seems to have a signification not unlike that which it bears at present; and, indeed, Chancer, in his Reve's Tale, ver. 4205, appears to employ it with such a meaning :
• And when this jape is tald another day,
“ I shall be halden a daffe or a cokenay.”. Meres, likewise, the Second Part of his Wit's Commonwealth, 1598, observes, that “ many cockney and wanton women are often sick, but in faith they cannot tell wliere.” Deckar, also, in his Newes from Hell, &c. 1606, has the following passage : “ 'Tis not their fault, but our mother's, our cockering mothers, who for their labour made us to be called cockneys." See the notes on The Canterbury Tales of Chaucer, Vol. IV, p. 253, where the reader will meet with inore information on this subject. Sieevens.
Cockenay, as Dr. Percy imagines, cannot be a cook or scullion, but is some dish which I am unable to ascertain. My authority is the folJowing epigram from Davies:
“ He that comes every day, shall have a cock-nay,
Epigram on English Proverbs, 179. Whalley. Mr. Malone expresses his doubt whether cockney means a scullion, &c. in The Turnament of Tottenham; and to the lines already quoted from J. Davies's Scourge of Folly, adds the two next:
66 But cocks that to hens come but now and then,
“ Shall have a cock-nay, not the fat hen.” I have been lately informed, by an old lady, that, during her child. hood, she remembers having eaten a kind of sugar pellets called at that time cockneys. Steevens.
the eels, when she put them i' the paste -] Hinting that the eel and Lear are in the same danger. Johnson.
The Fool does not compare Lear himself to the eels, but his rising choler. M. Mason.
This reference is not sufficiently explained. The paste, or crust of a pie, in Shakspeare's time, was called a coffin. Henley.
she rapp'd 'em -) So the quartos. The folio reads-she knapt 'em. Milone.
Rappd must be the true reading, as the only sense of the verb-to Inap, is to enap, or break acunder. Steevens.
Hail to your grace!
[KENT is set at Liberty. Reg. I am glad to see your highness. Lear. Regan, I think you are; I know what reason I have to think so: if thou should'st not be glad, I would divorce me from thy mother's tomb, Sepúlch’rings an adultress.-0, are you free? [TO KENT. Some other time for that.-Beloved Regan, Thy sister's naught: 0 Regan, she hath tied Sharp-tooth'd unkindness, like a vulture, here,6
[Points to his Heart. I can scarce speak to thee; thou ’lt not believe, Of how deprav'd a quality?-0 Regan!
Reg. I pray you, sir, take patience; I have hope,
5 Sepúlch’ring -] This word is accented in the same manner by Fairfax and Milton:
" As if his work should his sepúlcher be.” C. i, st. 25.
Milton on Shakspeare, line 15. Steevens. she hath tied Sharp-tooth'd unkindness, like a vulture, here,] Alluding to the fable of Prometheus. Warburton. 7 Of how depravd a quality – ] Thus the quarto. The folio reads:
With how deprav'd a quality Johnson. & Than she to scant her duty.] The word scant is directly contrary to the sense intended. The quarto reads:
slack her duty, which is no better. May we not change it thus:
I'cu less know how to value her desert,
Than she to scan her duty. To scan may be to measure or proportion. Yet our author uses his riegatives with such licentiousness, that it is hardly safe to make any alteration. Scant may mean to adapt, to fit, to proportion; which sense seems still to be retained in the mechanical term scantling.
Johnson. Sir Thomas Hanmer had proposed this change of scant into scan; but surely no alteration is necessary. The other reading--slack, would answer as well. You less know how to value her desert, than she (knows) to scant her duty, i.e. than she can be capable of being wanting in her duty. I have at least given the intended meaning of the passage. Steevens.
Shakspeare, without doubt, intended to make Regan say—I have hope that the fact will rather turn out, that you know not how to appre. ciate her merit, than that she knows how to scant, or be deficient in; her duty. But that he has expressed this sentiment inaccurately, will,
Say, how is that?
Lear. My curses on her!
O, sir, you are old;
I think, clearly appear from inverting the sentence, without changing a word. “ I have hope (says Regan) that she knows more for better] how to scant her duty, than you know how to value her desert.” i.e. I have hope, that she is more perfect, more an adept, (if the expression may be allowed) in the non-performance of her duty, than you are perfect, or accurate, in the estimation of her merit.
In The Winter's Tale we meet with an inaccuracy of the same kind:
I ne'er heard yet,
“ Than to perform it first."
“ Who cannot want the thought how monstrous
“ To kill the gracious Duncan?"
If Lear is less knowing in the valuation of Goneril's desert, than she is in her scanting of her duty, then she knows better how to scantor be deficient in her duty, than he knows how to appreciate her desert. Will any one maintain, that Regan meant to express a hope that this would prove the case ?
Shakspeare perplexed himself by placing the word less before know; for if he had written, “ I have hope that you rather know how to make her desert less than it is, (to under-rate it in your estimation) than that she at all knows how to scant her duty,' all would have been clear; but, by placing less before know, this meaning is destroyed.
Those who imagine that this passage is accurately expressed as it now stands, deceive themselves by this fallacy: in paraphrasing it, they always take the word less out of its place, and connect it, or some other synonymous word, with the word desert. Malone.
9 Say, &c.] This, as well as the following speech, is omitted in the quartos. Steevens.