Kent. Sir, 't is my occupation to be plain:
I have seen better faces in my time,
Than stands on any shoulder that I see
Before me at this instant.

Cornwall. This is some fellow,

Who, having been prais'd for bluntness, doth affect
A saucy roughness, and constrains the garb,
Quite from his1 nature: he cannot flatter, he;
An honest mind and plain, — he must speak truth:
An they will take it, so;2 if not, he 's plain.'
These kind of knaves T know, which in this plainness
ITarbour more craft, and more corrupter ends,
Than twenty silly ducking observants^3
That stretch their duties nicely. 4

Kent. Sir,- in good sooth,5 in sincere verity,
Under th' allowance of your grand aspect,
Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire
On flickering Phoebus' front, —

Corn. What mean'st by this?

Kent. To go out of my dialect, which you discommend so much. I know, Sir, I am no flatterer: he that beguiled you in a plain accent was a plain knave; which, for my part, I will not be, though I should win your displeasure to entreat me to 't.6

Corn. What Was the offence you gave him?

Oswald. I never gave him any:
It pleas'd the king, his master, very late,
To strike at me, upon his misconstruction;
When he, compact,1 and flattering his displeasure,
Tripp'd me behind;8 being down, insulted, rail'd,
And put upon him such a deal of man,

1. His is here used for the impersonal its; i. e. forces his outside to assume an appearance not its by nature.

2. So, it is good.

3. Observant, an attendant. Not in use. This word has the accent on the first syllable in Shakspeare. — To* duck, to bow low, or obsequiously. *

4. i. e. that exceed their duties in their anxiety to observe them too strictly.

5. Sooth, truth.

6. Though l should win you, displeased as you now are, to like me so well as to entreat me to be a knave.

7. Many modern editors read fo r compact, (which stands for compacted, i. e. leagued with) conjunct, i. e. con joined, or acting together.

8. i. e. tripped me up from behind; or, came behind me and threw me down.

That worthied him,1 got praises of the king
For him attempting2 who was self-subdu'd;
And, in the fleshment3 of this dread exploit,
Drew on me here again.

Kent. None of theffe rogues, and cowards,

But Ajax is their fool.4

Cornwall. Fetch forth the stocks!

You stubborn ancient knave, you reverend braggart,
We 'll teach you —

Kent. Sir, I am too old to learn.

Call not your stocks for me; I serve the king,
On whose employment I was sent to you:
You shall do small respect, show too bold malice
Against the grace and person of my master,
Stocking his messenger.

Corn. Fetch forth the stocks!

As I have life and honour, there shall he sit till noon.

Regan. Till noon! till night, my lord; and all night too.

Kent. Why, Madam, if 1 were your father's dog, You should not use me so.

Reg. Sir, being his knave, I will.

Corn. This is a fellow of the self-same colour
Our sister speaks of. — Come, bring away the stocks!

[Stocks brought out.

Gloster. Let me beseech your grace not to do so.
His fault is much, and the good king his master
Will check him for 't: your purpos'd low correction
Is such as basest and contemned'st wretches,
For pilferings and most common trespasses,
Are punish'd with. The king must take it ill,
That he, so slightly valued in his messenger,
Should have him thus restrain'd.

Corn. .' I 'll answer that.

Reg. My sister may receive it much more worse,

1. And made pretence of. such bravery, that he was exalted in the estimation of the king, who praised him &c. Such a deal could not now be said with propriety, it being necessary to place good or great between the article and the substantive: a great deal.

2. To attempt, to attack.

3. A young soldier is said to flesh his sword the first time he draws blood Avith it. Fleshment means, therefore, the zeal inspired by the success of bis first attack. See note 5, page 35.

4. i. e. is a fool to thein.

To have her gentleman abus'd, assaulted,

For following her affairs. — Put in his legs. —

[kent is put in the stocks. Come, my lord, away. [Exeunt Regan and Cornwall.

Oloster. I am sorry for thee, friend; 't is the duke's


Whose disposition, all the world well knows,

Will not be rubb'd,1 nor stopp'd: I 'll entreat for thee.

Kent. Pray, do not, Sir. I have watch'd, and travell'd hard; Some time I shall sleep out, the rest I 'll whistle. A good man's fortune, may grow out at heels:2 Give you good morrow!

Glos. The duke 's to blame in this: 't will be ill taken.


Kent. Good king, that must approve the common saw: 3 — Thou out of heaven's benediction com'st To the warm sun.

Approach, thou beacon to this under globe,

That by thy comfortable beams I may

Peruse this letter. — Nothing almost sees miracles,

But misery:4 I know, 't is from Cordelia;

Who hath most fortunately been inform'd

Of my obscured course; and shall find time

From this enormous state, — seeking to give

Losses their remedies.5 — All weary and o'er-watch'd,

Take vantage,6 heavy eyes, not to behold

This shameful lodging. Fortune, good night;

Smile once more; turn thy wheel! [He sleeps.

1. To rub, to obstruct.

2. To grow out at heels, alluding to the bad state of the shoes or boots, is a metaphorical expression signifying, to be in bad luck: The best of men may meet with misfortunes.

3. Common saw, common saying, or proverb. The saw alluded to is in Heywood's "Dialogues on Proverbs"—

"In your running from him to me, ye runne

Out of God's blessing into the warme sunne."

Meaning, — from good to worse, or, as the proverb now runs: Out of

the frying-pan into the fire. The application is to Lear's quitting one daughter only to meet more inhospitable treatment from another.

4. Now-a-days, misery alone is capable of perceiving miracles.

5. There is evidently some mistake here, but the commentators have not been successful in rectifying it satisfactorily. Mr. Staunton suggests to read for, "and shall find time," "and she HI find time," which removes part of the difficulty.

6. i. e. Seize the opportunity.

SCENE HI. — A Part of the Heath.
Enter EDGAR.


Edgar. I_heard myself 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 bethought1 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,2 And with presented nakedness out-face The winds, and persecutions of the sky. The country gives me proof and precedent Of Bedlam beggars,3 who, with roaring voices, Strike in their numb'd and mortified bare arms Pins, wooden pricks,4 nails, sprigs of rosemary; And with this horrible object, from low farms Poor pelting villages,6 sheep-cotes and mills, Sometime with lunatic bans,6 sometime with prayers, Enforce their charity. — Poor Turlygood 1 poor Tom! That 's something yet: — Edgar I nothing am. [Exit.

1. And am bethought, and after mature reflection am decided.

2. Hair thus knotted was vulgarly supposed to be the work of elves and fairies in the night.

3. Bedlam, corrupted from Bethlehem, the name of a religious house in London, converted afterwards into a hospital for the mad and lunatic. The Bedlam beggars were such lunatics as had been confined in Bethlehem Hospital, but, owing to the want of funds to support them there longer, or from their being partially restored to their senses, were dismissed into the world with a licence to beg. The sympathy excited by these unfortunates, occasioned many sturdy vagabonds to counterfeit- and exaggerate their dress and

peculiarities. Edgar borrows his dress of them, and the phrases of Poor Tom, Poor 2'om is a-cold, — these lunatics being also called Tom o'Bedlams.

4. Wooden pricks, skewers. The imitators of these unfortunates were in the habit of sticking wooden skewers through. various parts of their flesh, especially of the arms, to make believe that they were really out of their wits.

5. Pelting villages, paltry, or pedling villages.

6. Bans, curses.

7. Turlygood, a corruption of Turlupin. The Turlupins were a fanatical sect of naked beggars, that overran Europe in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

Before Gloster's Castle.
Enter LEAR, Fool, and a Gentleman.

Lear. T is strange that they should so depart from home, And not send back my messenger.

Gentleman. As I learn'd,

The night before there was no purpose in them
Of this remove.

Kent. - Hail to thee, noble master!

Lear. Ha!
Mak'st thou this shame thy pastime?

Kent. No, my lord.

Fool. Ha, ha! look; he wears cruel garters.1 Horses are tied by the head; dogs, and bears, by the neck; monkeys by the loins, and men by the legs: when a man is over-lusty at legs, then he wears wooden nether-stocks.2

Lear. What 's he, that hath so much thy place mistook, To set thee here?

Kent. It is both he and she;

Your son and daughter.

Lear. No.

Kent. Yes.

Lear. No, I say.

Kent. I say, yea.

Lear. No, no; they would not.

Kent. Yes, they have.

Lear. By Jupiter, I swear no.

Kent. By Juno, I swear, ay.

Lear. They durst not do 't;

They could not, would not do 't: 't is worse than murder,
To do upon respect such violent outrage.3
Resolve * me with all modest haste which way
Thou might'st deserve, or they impose, this usage;
Coming from us.

Kent. My lord, when at their home

I did commend your highness' letters to them,

1. A quibble is probably intended here, crewel signifying worsted of which stockings, garters,. &c. are made.

2. Nether-stocks is tbe old word for

stockings; breeches being called overstocks, or upper-stocks.

3. To be so grossly deficient in respect.

4. To resolve, to inform.

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