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Edgar. Sweet marjoram.
Gloster. I know that voice.
Lear. Ha! Goneril! — with a white beard! — They flatter'd me like a dog; and told me, I had white hairs in my beard, ere the black ones were there. To say "ay", and "no," to every thing I said! — "Ay" and "no" too was no good divinity.1 When the rain came to wet me once, and the wind to make me chatter, when the thunder would not peace at my bidding, there I found 'em, there I smelt 'em out. Go to,<Qiiey are not men o' their words: they told me I was every thing; 't is a lie, I am not ague-proof.
Glos. The trick2 of that voice I do well remember: Is 't not the king?
Lear. Ay, every inch a king:
When I do stare, see, how the subject quakes.
Thou shalt not die: die for adultery? No:
Let copulation thrive; for Gloster's bastard son
Was kinder to his father,, than my daughters
Grot 'tween the lawful sheets.
To 't, luxury, pell-mell, for I lack soldiers. —
Behold yond' simpering dame,
Whose face between her forks presageth snow;3
That minces virtue,4 and does shake the head
To hear of pleasure's name;
The fitchew,5 nor the soiled horse,6 goes to 't
With a more riotous appetite. ,
Down from the waist they are centaurs,
1. To say "ay" and "no" together was not according to Scripture: referring to Matthew v. ver. 37: — "But let your communication.be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil."
2. Trick signifies any peculiarity in voice, gesture, or feature, which distinguishes one person from another.
3. Whose face presageth snow between her forks; meaning, that by her
looks she must be of a cold nature; forks, legs: See page 61, — "such a poor, bare, fork'd animal as thou art."
4. t. e. That affects the coy timidity of virtue. To mince, is usually applied to the speech or the gait, signifying affected modesty.
5. Fitchew, an animal of the weasel kind.
6. To soil a horse is to put him to grass in the spring.
Though women all above:
But1 to the girdle do the gods inherit,
Beneath is all the fiends': there 's hell, there 's darkness, there is the sulphurous pit, burning, scalding, stench, consumption; — fie, fie, fie! pah; pah! Give me an ounce of civet,2 good apothecary, *to sweeten my imagination: there's money for thee.
Gloster. O, let me kiss that hand!
Lear. Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality.
Glos. O ruin'd piece of nature! This gr«at world Shall se wear out to nought. — Dost thou kifcw me?
Lear. I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost thou squiny3 at me? No, do thy worst, blind Cupid; I 'll not love. — Read thou this challenge: mark but the penning of it.
Glos. Were all the letters suns, I could not see one. Edgar. I would not take this from report; it is, And my heart breaks at it. Lear. Read.
Glos. What! with the case of eyes?4
Lear. O, ho! are you there with me? No eyes in your head, nor no money in your purse? Your eyes are in a heavy case,5 your purse in a light: yet you see how this world goes.
Glos. I see it feelingly.
Lear. What, art mad? A man may see how this world goes, with no eyes. Look with thine ears: see how yond' justice rails upon yond' simple thief. Hark, in thine ear: change places; and, handy-dandy,6 which is the justice, which is the thief? — Thou hast seen a farmer's dog bark at a beggar?
Glos. Ay, Sir.
Lear. And the creature1 run from the cur? There thou might'st behold the great image of authority: a dog 's obey'd in office.
Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand!
1. But here signifies only.
2. Civet- See note 10, page 60.
3. To squiny, to squint.
4. t. e. with only the case for eyes, without the eyes themselves.
5. Cafe here stands for condition, plight.
6. Handy-dandy is a play to amuse little children, whereby the child has to guess in which hand anything may be: Handy - dandy, which hand is it in?
7. i. e. the human creature.
Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thine own back;
Thou holly lust'st to use her in that kind
For which thou whipp'st her. The usurer hangs the cozener.
Through tatter'd clothes small vices do appear;
Robes, and furr'd gowns, hide all. Plate sin-with gold,
And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks:
Arm it in rags, a pigmy's straw doth pierce it.
None does offend, none, I say, none; I 'll able 'em:1
Take that of me,2 my friend, who have the power
To seal th' accuser's lips. Get thee glass eyes;
And, like a scurvy3 politician, seem
To see the things thou dost not. — Now, now, now, now: Pull off my boots: harder, harder; so.
Edgar. O, matter4 and impertinency mix'd! Reason in madness!
Lear. If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes. I know thee well enough} thy name is Gloster: Thou must be patient. We came crying hither: Thou know'st, the first time that we smell the air We wawl,5 and cry. I will preach to thee: mark me.
Gloster. Alack! alack the day!
Lear. When we are born, we cry that we are come To this great stage of fools. — This' a good block: — It were a delicate stratagem, to shoe A troop of horse with felt:6 I 'll put it in proof; And when I have stolen upon these sons-in-law, Then, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill.7
Enter a Gentleman with Attendants.
Gentleman. O! here he is: lay hand upon him. — Sir, Your most dear daughter —
Lear. No rescue? What! a prisoner? I am even
1. t. e. qualify them, uphold them.
2. i. e. Accept that of me for truth, believe that of me.
3. Scurvy, worthless, contemptible.
4. Matter, sense. See note 1, page 84.
5. To wawl, to cry, to howl.
6. Lear's train of thought is thus explained by Steevens: — "Upon the king's saying, / will preach to thee, the poet seems to have meant him to pull off his hat, and keep turning it and feeling it, in the attitude of one
of the preachers of those times (whom I have seen so represented in ancient prints), till the idea of felt, which the good hat or block was made of, raises the stratagem in his brain of shoeing a troop of horse with a substance soft as that which he held and moulded between bis hands. This makes him start from bis preachment."
7. Kill, Kill! was the ancient cry of assult in the English army.
The natural fool of fortune. — Use me well;
Gentleman. You shall have any thing.
Lear. No seconds? All myself?
Gent. Good Sir, —
Lear. I will die bravely,
Gent. You are a royal one, and we obey you.
Lear. Then there 's life in it. Nay, an you get it, you shall get it by running. Sa, sa, sa, sa.
[Exit: Attendants follow.
Gent. A sight most pitiful in the meanest wretch, Past speaking of2 in a king! — Thou hast one daughter, Who redeems nature from the general curse Which twain have brought her to.3
Edgar. Hail, gentle Sir!
Gent. Sir, speed you:4 what 's your will?
Edg. Do you hear aught, Sir, of a battle toward?5
Gent. Most sure, and vulgar:6 every one hears that, Which1 can distinguish sound.
Edg. But, by your favour,8
How near 's the other army?
Gent. Near, and on speedy foot; the main descry Stands on the hourly thougnt.9
Edg. I thank you, Sir: that 's all.
Gent. Though that the queen on special cause is here, Her army is mov'd on.
Edg. I thank you, Sir. [Exit Gent.
Gloster. You ever-gentle gods, take my breath from me:
1. i. e. would make a man a man of salt tears.
2. i. e. pitiful past speaking of, too pitiful to be expressed in words.
3. Twain, two: see note 1, page 74; her refers to Nature.
4. i. e. God speed you: an ancient form of greeting.
5. Toward, near at hand, imminent. See notes 1, page 30, and 4, page 57.
6. Vulgar, commonly spoken of.
7. i. e. every one who, &c.
8. »'. e. with your permission (I ask).
9. The main body is expected to be descried ev«ry hour.
Let not my worser spirit tempt me again
Edgar. Well pray you, father.
Gloster. Now, good Sir, what are you?
Edg. A most poor man, made tame to fortune's blows; Who, by the art of known and feeling sorrows, Am pregnant to good pity.1 Give me your hand, I 'll lead you to some Diding.2
Glos. Hearty thanks;
The bounty and the benison of heaven
Oswald. A proclaim'd prize! Most happy!
That eyeless head of thine was first fram'd flesh
Glos. Now let thy friendly hand
Put strength enough to it. [edgar interposes.
Osw. Wherefore, bold peasant,
Dar'st thou support a publish'd traitor? Hence;
Edg. Chill not let go, zir, without varther 'casion.6
Osw. Let go, slave, or thou diest.
Edg. Good gentleman, go your gait,7 and let poor volk pass. An ch'ud ha' been zwagger'd out of my life, 't would not ha' been zo long as 't is by a vortnight.8 Nay, come not near the old man; keep out, che vor'ye, or ise try
1. Who, schooled by the sorrows' which I have myself known and felt, am full of pity for those of others.
2. Biding, habitation.
3. To boot, over and above, besides; i. e. may the bounty and blessing of heaven repay you with reward upon reward.
i. Unhappy here signifies mischievous, in which sense it is now obsolete...
5. i. e. remember and repent of thy sins quickly.
6. I 'll not let go, sir, without farther occasion. Edgar adopts the dialect of a Somersetshire peasant, the chief characteristics of which are that f sounds like v, s like z, and the pronoun I is che or cK.
7. i. e. go your way. Gait is still so used in the north.
8. If I had allowed myself to be bullied out of my life, it would have been shorter than it is by a fortnight.