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and pat1 he comes, like the catastrophe2 of the old comedy: my cue is villainous melancholy, with a sigh like Tom o' Bedlam. — O! these eclipses do portend these divisions. Fa, sol, la, mi.3
Edgar. How now, brother Edmund! What serious contemplation are you in?
Edmund. I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read this other day, what should follow these eclipses.
Edg. Do you busy yourself with that?
Edm. I promise you,4 the effects he writes of, succeed unhappily; as of unnaturalness between the child and the parent; death, dearth, dissolution of ancient amities; divisions in state; menaces and maledictions against king and nobles; needless diffidences, banishment of friends, dissipation of cohorts, 5 nupital breaches, and I know not what.
Edg. How long have you been a sectary astronomical?
Edm. Come, come; when saw you my father last?
Edg. The night gone by.
Edm. Spake you with him?
Edg. Ay, two hours together. • Edm. Parted you in good terms? Found you no displeasure in him, by word, or countenance? Edg. None at all.
Edm. Bethink yourself, wherein you may have offended him: and at my entreaty forbear his presence, till some little time hath qualified the heat of his displeasure, which at this instant so rageth in him, that with the mischief of your person it would scarcely allay.
Edg. Some villain hath done me wrong.
Edm. That '$ my fear. I pray you, have a continent forbearance, till the speed of his rage goes slower; and, as I say, retire with me to my lodging, from whence I will fitly bring you to hear my lord speak. Pray you, go: there 's my key. — If you do stir abroad, go armed.
1. Pal signifies exactly right; similar to the phrase, just at the nick of time.
2. Catastrophe, in its dramatic sense, i. c. the last part of a drama.
3. Dr. Burney explains these four syllables as implying "a series of sounds so unnatural, that ancient musicians
prohibited their use;" and adds, — "Edmund, speaking of eclipses as portents and prodigies, compares the dislocation of events, the times being out of joint, to the unnatural aod offensive sounds, fa, sol, la, mi."
4. / promise you, I assure you.
5. Perhaps, demoralization of the troops. Edgar. Armed, brother?
Edmund. Brother, I advise you to the best; I am no honest man,, if there be any good meaning towards you: I have told you what I have seen and heard, but faintly; nothing like the image and horror of it. Pray you, away.
Edg. Shall I hear from you anon?
Edm. I do serve you in this business. —
A credulous father, and a brother noble,
Whose nature is so far from doing harms,
That he suspects none, on whose foolish honesty
My practices ride easy! — I see the business. —
Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit:
All with me 's meet, that I can fashion fit. [Exit.
Enter GONERIL, and OSWALD her Steward.
Goneril. Did my father strike my gentleman for chiding of his fool?
Oswald. Ay, Madam. , /
Gon. By day and night he wrongs me: every hour He flashes into one gross crime or other, That sets us all at odds: I 'll not endure it. His knights grow riotous, and himself upbraids us On every trifle. — When he returns from hunting, I will not speak with him; say, I am sick: If you come slak of former services,1 You shall do well; the fault of it I 'll answer.
Osw. He 's coming, Madam; I hear him.
Gon. Put on what weary negligence you please,
1. If you are more remiss in your services than formerly.
With checks; as flatteries, — when they are seen, abus'd.1 Remember what I have said.
Oswald. Well, Madam.
Goneril. And let his knights have colder looks among you. What grows of it, no matter; advise2 your fellows so: I would breed from hence occasions, and I shall, That I may speak: — I 'll write straight to my sister, To hold my course.3 — Prepare for dinner. [Exeunt.
A Hall in the same.
Enter KENT, disguised.
Kent. If but as well I other accents borrow,
Horns within. Enter LEAR, Knights, and Attendants.
Lear. Let me not stay a jot for dinner: go, get it ready. [Exit an Attendant.] How now! what art thou? Kent. A man, Sir.
Lear. What dost thou profess? What wouldest thou with us?
Kent. I do profess to be no less than I seem; to serve him truly that will put me in trust; to love him that is honest; to converse6 with him that is wise, and says little; to fear judgment; to fight when I cannot choose, and to eat no fish.1
1. When flatteries are seen to be abused (by old tools) checks, i. e. harsh measures, must be used, as the only means left to subdue them.
2. To advise, to inform. In this sense now chiefly confined to commercial language.
3. To act in the same manner as I do.
4. Diffuse here signifies disguise.
5. To raze, to efface. Which induced me to disguise myself.
6. To converse is here used in its immediate signification of, to keep company.
7. In Queen Elizabeth's time the papists were esteemed, and with good reason, enemies to the Government. Hence the proverbial phrase of, "He's an honest man, and eats no fish;" to signify that he is a friend to the Government and a Protestant.
Lear. What art thou?
Kent. A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the king.
Lear. If thou be as poor for a subject, as he is , for a king, thou art poor enough. What wouldest thou? Kent. Service.
Lear. Whom wouldest thou serve?
Lear. Dost thou know me, fellow?
Lear. What services canst thou do?
Kent. I can keep honest counsel, ride, run, mar a curious tale in telling it, and deliver a plain message bluntly; that which ordinary men are fit for, I am qualified in; and the best of me is diligence.
Lear. How old art thou?
Kent. Not so young, Sir, to love a woman for singing; nor so old, to dote on her for any thing: I have years on my back forty-eight.
Lear. Follow me; thou shalt serve me: if 1 like thee no worse after dinner, I will not part from thee yet. — Dinner, ho! dinner! — Where 's my knave? my fool? Go you,, and call my fool hither. [Exit an Attendant.
You, you, sirrah, where 's my daughter?
Osw. So please you, — [Exit.
Lear. What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll1
back. — [Exit a Knight]. Where 's my fool, ho? — I think the world 's asleep. —
How now! where 's that mongrel?
Knight. He says, my lord, your daughter is not well.
Lear. Why came not the slave back to me, when I called him?
Knight. Sir, he answered me in the roundest manner, he would not. ,
1. Clot poll, thick-skull, blockhead.
Lear. He would not!
Knight. My lord, I know not what the matter is; but, to my judgment, your highness is not entertained with that ceremonious affection as you were wont: there 's a great abatement of kindness appears, as well in the general dependants, as in the duke himself also, and your daughter.
Lear. Ha! sayest thou so?
Knight. I beseech you, pardon me, my lord, if I be mistaken; for my duty cannot be silent, when I think your highness wronged.
Lear. Thou but rememberest me of mine own conception. I have perceived a most faint neglect of late; which I have rather blamed as mine own jealous curiosity,1 than as a very pretence2 and purpose of unkindness: I will look farther into 't. — But where 's my fool? I have not seen him this two days.
Knight. Since my young lady's going into France, Sir, the fool hath much pined away.
Lear. No more of that; I have noted it well. — Go you, and tell my daughter I would speak with her. — Go you, call hither my fool. —
0! you Sir, you Sir, come you hither. Who am I, Sir? Osw. My lady's father.
Lear. My lady's father! my lord's knave: you whoreson dog! you slave! you cur!
Osw. I am none of these, my lord; I beseech your pardon.
Lear. Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?
Osw. 1 'll not be struck, my lord.
[Tripping up his heels. Lear. I thank thee, fellow; thou servest me, and I-'ll love thee. >
Kent. Come, Sir, arise, away! I 'll teach you differences: away, away! If you will measure your lubber's length again, tarry; but away! Go to:3 have you wisdom? so.
[Pitshes Oswald out.
1. i. e. punctilious jealousy. I 3. Go to, a scornful exhortation.
2. Pretence, in Shakespeare, generally signifies design. — Very, real, true.