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Ere I was risen from the place that show'd
My duty kneeling, came there a reeking post,1
Stew'd in his haste, half breathless, panting forth
From Goneril, his mistress, salutations;
Deliver'd letters, spite of intermission,2
Which presently3 they read: on whose contents,
They summon'd up their meiny,4 straight took horse;
Commanded me to follow, and attend
The leisure of their answer; gave me cold looks:
And meeting here the other messenger,
Whose welcome, I perceiv'd, had poison'd mine,
(Being the very fellow which of late
Display'd so saucily against your highness)
Having more man than wit about me, drew:
He rais'd the house with loud and coward cries.
Your son and daughter found this trespass worth
The shame which here it suffers.
Fool. Winter 's not gone yet, if the wild geese fly that way.
Fathers, that wear rags,
Do make their children blind;
Shall see their children kind.
Lear. 0, how this mother swells up toward,my heart!1 Hysterica passio! down, thou climbing sorrow! Thy element 's below. — Where is this daughter? Kent. With the earl, Sir; here, within. Lear. Follow me not;
Stay here. [Exit.
1. There came a messenger, smoking and sweating with the haste he had made.
2. i. e. without pause, without suffering time to intervene.
3. Presently, instantly.
4. Meiny, retinue; from the old French word mesnie, a family, a household of servants.
5. Dolours, a quibble between dolours and dollars.
6. To tell, to count.
7. Lear here affects to pass off the swelling of his heart, ready to burst with grief and indignation, for the disease called the Mother, or Hysterica passio, which was anciently not thought peculiar to women only.
Gent. Made you no more offence than what you speak of?
Kent. None. How chance the king comes with so small a train?
Fool. An thou hadst been set i' the stocks for that question, thou hadst well deserved it.
Kent. Why, fool?
Fool. We 'll set thee to school to an ant, to teach thee there 's no labouring i' the winter. All that follow their noses are led by their eyes, but blind men; and there 's not a nose among twenty but can smell him that 's stinkingLet go thy hold, when a great wheel runs down a hill, lest it break thy neck with following it; but the great one that goes up the hill, let him draw thee after. When a wise man gives thee better counsel, give me mine again: I would have none but knaves follow it, since a fool gives it.
That Sir, which serves and seeks for gain, * ,
Will pack when it begins to rain, * - C
The fool no knave, perdy.”
~ Kent. Where learn'd you this, fool?
Re-enter LEAR, with GLOSTER. - -
They have travell'd hard to-night? Mere fetches,”
Glos. My dear lord,
1. i. e. How does it chance? how “The fool turns knave that runs away; does it happen? The knave no fool, perdy.” 2. Perdy, verily, in truth. Dr. John- : Al- Son thought the sense would be mended 3. Fetch, a trick, an artifice. if we read, –
Lear. . Venge'ance! plague! death! confusion!
Gloster. Well, my good lord, I have inform'd them so.
Lear. Inform'd them! Dost thou understand me, man?
Glos. Ay, my good lord.
Lear. The king would speak with Cornwall; the dear
Would with his daughter speak, commands her service:
Are they inform'd of this? My hreath and blood! —
Fiery? the fiery duke? — Tell the hot duke, that —
No, but not yet; —- may be, he is not well:
Infirmity doth still neglect all office,
Whereto our health is bound;1 we are not ourselves,
When nature, being oppress'd, commands the mind
To suffer with the body. I 'll forbear;
And am fallen out with my more headier will,
To take the indispos'd and sickly fit
For the sound man.2 — Death on my state! wherefore
[Looking on Kent. Should he sit here? This act persuades me, That this remotion3 of the duke and her Is practice4 only. Give me my servant forth. Go, tell the duke and 's wife, I 'd speak with them, Now, presently: bid them come forth and hear me, Or at their chamber door I 'll beat the drum, Till it cry — "Sleep to death."5
Glos. I would have all well betwixt you. [Exit.
Lear. '0 me! my heart, my rising heart! — but, down.
Fool. Cry to it, nuncle, as the cockney6 did to the eels, when she put them i' the paste1 alive; she rapp'd 'em o' the coxcombs 8 with a stick, and cried, "Down, wantons,
1. In sickness, we always treat with neglect services, which, when in good health , we accept with thankful acknowledgement.
2. And am vexed at my own headstrong will , which treats the man when suffering from illness as if he were in possession of good health.
3. Remotion, removal. Not in use.
4. Practice, artifice, conspiracy. See note 1, page 33. „
5. Till the clamour of the drum de
stroys, or is the death of, sleep; or, Till it cry out — "Awake no more."
6. Cockney formerly bore several significations: it meant an effeminate, ignorant fellow, a cook or scullion, in which sense it is here used; and is now applied by way of contempt to a native of London.
7. The paste, or crust of a pie, in Shakspeare's time, was called a coffin.
8. Coxcomb, corrupted from cock'scomb, the top of the bead.
down:" 't was her brother, that in pure kindness to his horse buttered his hay.
Enter CORNWALL, REGAN, GLOSTER, and Servants.
Lear. Good morrow to you both.
Cornwall. Hail to -your grace!
[kent is set at liberty.
Began. I am glad to see your highness.
Lear. Regan, I think you are; I know what reason I have to think so: if thou shouldst not be glad, I would divorce me from thy mother's tomb, Sepulchring an adult'ress. — O! 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. —
(Points to Ms heart. >elieve,
With how deprav'd a quality — O Regan!
Reg. I pray you, Sir, take patience. I have hope,
Lear. Say, how is that?
Reg. I cannot think, my sister in the least
Lear. My curses on her!
Reg. O, Sir! you are old;
Nature in you stands on the very verge
Lear. Ask her forgiveness?
Do you but mark how this becomes the house:3
1. i. e. to be deficient in her duty.
2. The chief persons of your state are Letter able to judge of this than you are yourself.
3. 77ie house is probably here used in its genealogical sense, for tlie paternal line, or, as the heraldic expression was, the first house.
Age is unnecessary:' on my knees I beg, [Kneeling. That you 'll vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food."
Regan. Good Sir, no more: these are unsightly tricks. Return you to my sister. »
Lear. Never, Regan.
She hath abated me of half my train;
Corn. Fie, Sir, fie!
Lear. You nimble lightnings, dart your blinding flames Into her scornful eyes! Infect her beauty, You fen-suck'd fogs, drawn by the powerful sun, To fall3 and blast her pride!
Reg. 0 the blest gods!
So will you wish on me, when the rash mood is on.
Lear. No, Regan; thou shalt never have my curse: Thy tender-hefted4 nature shall not give Thee o'er to harshness: her eyes are fierce; but thine Do comfort, and not burn. 'T is not in thee To grudge my pleasures, to cut off my train, » To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes,8 And, in conclusion, to oppose the bolt Against my coming in: thou better know'st The offices of nature, bond of childhood, Effects.of courtesy, dues of gratitude; Thy half o' the kingdom hast thou not forgot, Wherein I thee endow'd.
Reg. Good Sir, to the purpose.
Lear. Who put my man i' the stocks? [Tucket within.
Corn. What trumpet 's that?
1. This may mean, old age has few wants, or, old people are useless.
2. To take, in old language, signified to blast, or infect with baneful influence.
3. To fall, as a verb active, to make fall, to diminish.
4. Hefted is the same as heaved;
therefore, tender-hefted may mean, — whose bosom is agitated by tender passions. Some editors substitute, "tenAer-hearted."
5. i. e. to contract my allowances. Sizes are allowances of provision: the word is still used in colleges.