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sallets;1 swallows the old rat, and the ditch-dog;2 drinks the green mantle of the standing pool: who is whipped from tything to tything,3 and stocked, punished, and imprisoned;4 who hath had three suits to his back, six shirts to his body, horse to ride, and weapon to wear, —
But mice, and rats, and such small deer, Have been Tom's food for seven long year. Beware my follower.8 — Peace, Smulkin! peace, thou fiend!
Qloster. What! hath your grace no better company?
Edgar. The prince of darkness is a gentleman; Modo he 's calj'd, and Mahu.6
Glos. Our flesh and blood, my lord, is grown so vile, That it doth hate what gets it.1
Edg. Poor Tom 's a-cold.
,Glos. Go in with me. My duty cannot suffer
Lear. First let me talk with this philosopher. —
Kent. Good my lord, take his offer: go into the house.
Lear. I 'll talk a word with this same learned Theban. — What is your study?
Edg. How to prevent8 the fiend, ar.d to kill vermin.
Lear. Let me ask you one word in private.
Kent. Importune him once more to go, my lord, His wits begin t' unsettle.
Glos. Canst thou blame him?
His daughters seek his death. — Ah, that good Kent! — He said it would be thus, poor banish'd man! —
1. Sallets, corrupted from sallads. Not in use.
2. Ditch-dog, a dead dog thrown into a ditch.
3. A tything was an ancient territorial division, instituted by King Alfred: it consisted of a company of ten free-born men, who, dwelling near each other, were held free pledges to the king for mutual good behaviour.
4. The common punishment of vagabonds in ancient times.
5. He means the evil spirit by whom he is haunted, and whom be calls Smulkin.
6. The names of pretended spirits.
7. t. e. what begets it; alluding to the conduct of their children.
8. An obsolete meaning of to prevent is to anticipate, to get before; the meaning here is to avoid, to flee
Thou say'st, the king grows mad: I 'll tell thee, friend,
I am almost mad myself. I had a son,
Now outlaw'd from my blood; he sought my life,
But lately, very late: I lov'd him, friend,
No father, his son dearer: true to tell thee,
The grief hath craz'd my wits. What a night 's this!
I do beseech your grace, —
Lear. 'O! cry you mercy, Sir. —
Noble philosopher, your company.
Edgar. Tom 's a-cold.'
Gloster. In fellow, there, into the hovel: keep thee warm.
Lear. Come, let 's in all.
Kent. This way, my lord.
Lear. With him:
I will keep still with my philosopher.
Kent. Good my lord, soothe him; let himtnk the fellow.
Glos. Take him you on.
Kent. Sirrah, come on; go along with us.
Lear. Come, good Athenian. *
Glos. No words, no words:
Edg. Child Rowland to the dark tower came,
I smell the blood of a British man.1 [Exeunt.
Cornwall. I will have my revenge, ere I depart this house.
Edmund How, my lord, I may be censured, that nature thus gives way to loyalty, something fears me to think of.2
Corn. I now perceive, it was not altogether your brother's evil disposition made him seek his death; but a pro
1. A' quotation from an old romance. The word child is often applied to knights in old historical songs and romances.
2. ». e. I am afraid to think of how
my conduct may be judged, in thus preferring my loyalty to my king to ray natural affection for my father. — To censure, which now signifies to blame, formerly meant to judge.
yoking merit, set a-work by a reproveable badness in himself.1
Edmund. How malicious is my fortune, that I must repent to be just! This is the letter which he spoke of, which approves him an intelligent party to the advantages of France.2 O heavens! that this treason were not, or not I the detector!
Cornwall. Go with me to the duchess.
Edm. If the matter of this paper be certain, you have mighty business in hand.
Corn. True, or false, it hath made thee earl of Gloster. Seek out where thy father is, that he may be ready for our apprehension.
Edm. [Aside.] If I find him comforting the king, it will stuff his suspicion more fully.3 — [To him.] I will persevere in my course of loyalty, though the conflict be sore between that and my blood.
Corn. I will lay trust upon thee; and thou shalt find a dearer father in my love.
A Chamber in a Farm-House, adjoining the Castle.
Gloster. Here is better than the open air; take it thankfully. I will piece out the comfort with what addition I can:4 I will not be long from you. ,
Kent. All the power of his wits has given way to his impatience. — The gods reward your kindness!
Edgar. Frateretto 5 calls me, and tells me, Nero is an angler in the lake of darkness. Pray, innocent,6 and beware the foul fiend.
1. i. e. but rather an impulsive (good) feeling, excited by a blainable badness which he perceived in his father. — The a in a-work is a contraction of at, as in the expressions a-vtalking, afishing, &c.
2. i. e. which proves that he is a partizau of France, seeking intelligence which may be of advantage to that country.
3. f. e. it will strengthen the suspicion against him.
4. I will endeavour to improve the accommodation as far as possible.
5. Frateretto is a companion spirit to Flibertigibbet already mentioned by Edgar.
6. Fools were called innocents.
Fool. Pr'ythee, nuncle, tell me, whether a madman be* a gentleman, or a yeoman? Lear. A king, a king!
Fool. No: he's a yeoman, that has a gentleman to his son; for he 's a mad yeoman, that sees his son a gentleman before him.
Lear. To have a thousand with red burning spits Come hissing in upon 'em:* —
Edgar. The foul fiend bites my back.
Fool. He's mad, that trusts in the tameness of a wolf, a horse's health, a boy's love, or a whore's oath.
Lear. It shall be done; I will arraign them straight. — Come, sit thou here, most learned justicer; — [To Edgar. Thou, sapient Sir, sit here. Now, you she foxes! —
Edg. Look, where he stands and glares! — Wantest thou eyes at trial, Madam?1
Gome o'er the bourn, Bessy, to me:3 —
Fool. Her boat hath a leak,
And she must not speak
Edg. The foul fiend haunts poor Tom in the voice of a nightingale. Hopdance4 cries in Tom's belly for two white herring. Croak not, black angel; I have no food for thee.
Kent. How do you, Sir? Stand you not so amaz'd: Will you lie down and rest upon the cushions?
Lear. I 'll see their trial first. — Bring in the evidence. — Thou robed man of justice, take thy place; — [To Edgar. And thou, his yoke-fellow 5 of equity; [To the Fool.
Bench by his side.6 — You are o' the commission,1 [To Kent. Sit you too.
Edg. Let us deal justly.
1. Lear in this and the following speeches is thinking of the revenge to be executed on his daughters.
2. Edgar is humouring Lear's train of thought.
3. Bourn, brook. Still used in the Scottish dialect. — Bessy, a corruption and diminutive of Elizabeth. — This is a fragment of an old ballad, commenced by Edgar and continued by the fool.
4. Hoberdidance was another spirit, King Lear.
companion to the two already mentioned.
5. Yoke-fellow, companion. Compare note 9, page 55.
6. The court of judges is called the bench; the verb here used is derived from the substantive, signifying: to take seat amopg the judges.
7. To be of the commission signifies in law, to be authorised to exercise jurisdiction, to be a justice or judge.
Sleepest, or wahest thou, jolly shepherd'f
Thy sheep he in the corn;
Thy sheep shall take no harm.
Pur! the cat is grey.
Lear. Arraign her first; 't is Goneril. I here take my oath before this honourable assembly, she kicked the poor king her father. *
Fool. Come hither, mistress. Is your name Goneril?
Lear. She cannot deny it.
Fool. Cry you mercy, I took you for a joint-stool.
What store her heart is made on.2 — Stop her there!
Kent. 0 pity! — Sir, where is the patience now,
Edg. [Aside.] My tears begin to take his part so much, They 'll mar my counterfeiting.
Lear. The little dogs and all,
Edg. Tom will throw his head at them. — Avaunt, you curs!
Be thy mouth or black or white,
1. Minikin, diminutive.
2. Whose shriveled looks proclaim what is contained in Jier heart. — On, for of: see note 3, page 20.
3. Corruption, bribery.
4. Brach, a bitch-hound; lym, limehound, or bloodhound.
5. Tike, dog: still in use in Scotland; bobtail, a tail cut short; trundletail, a round tail, i. e. a dog with a curly tail.
6. A /latch is a hall door, f. e. the lower half.