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Reg.

O 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-hefted 22 nature shall not give Thee o'er to harshness; her eyes are fierce, but thine Do comfort, and not burn: 'Tis not in thee To grudge my pleasures, to cut off To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes 23, 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.

[Trumpets within. Lear. Who put my man i' the stocks ? Corn.

What trumpet's that?

Enter Steward.
Reg. I know't, my sister's 24; this approves her

letter, That she would soon be here.—Is your lady come? humble or pull down. Ye fen-suck'd fogs, drawn from the earth by the powerful action of the sun, infect her beauty, so as to fall and blast, i.e. humble and destroy her pride.'

22 Tender-hefted may mean moved, or heaving with tenderness. The quartos read tender-hested, which may be right, and signify giving tender hests or commands. Miranda says, in The Tempest:

“O my father, I have broke your hest to say so.' 23 A size is a portion or allotment of food. The word and its origin are explained in Minsheu's Guide to Tongues, 1617. The term sizer is still used at Cambridge for one of the lowest rank of students, living on a stated allowance. 24. Thus in Othello :

• The Moor --I know his trumpet.' It should seem therefore that the approach of great personages was announced by some distinguishing note or tune appropriately used by their own trumpeters. Cornwall knows not the present sound; but to Regan, who had often heard her sister's trumpet,

Lear. This is a slave, whose easy-borrow'd pride Dwells in the fickle grace of her he follows:Out, varlet, from my sight! Corn.

What means your grace? Lear. Who stock’d my servant? Regan, I have

good hope Thou didst not know of't. - Who comes here? O

heavens,

Enter GONERIL. If you

do love old men, if your sweet sway Allow 25 obedience, if yourselves are old 20, Make it your cause; send down, and take my part! Art not asham’d to look upon this beard ?-

[To GONERIL. 0, Regan, wilt thou take her by the hand ? Gon. Why not by the hand, sir? How have I

offended ?
All's not offence, that indiscretion finds,
And dotage terms so.
Lear.

0, sides, you are too tough! Will you yet hold? How came my mani'the stocks?

Corn. I set him there, sir: but his own disorders Desery'd much less advancement 27. Lear.

You! did you? Reg. I pray you, father, being weak, seem so the first flourish of it was as familiar as was that of the moor to the ears of Iago.

25 To allow is to approve, in old phraseology. See vol. i. p. 223, note 20. Thus in Psalm xi. ver, 6:- The Lord alloveth the righteous.'

hoc oro, munus concede parenti, Si tua maturis signentur tempora canis, Et sis ipse parens.'

Statius Theb. x. 705. 27 By less advancement Cornwall means that Kent's disorders had entitled him to a post of even less honour than the stocks, a still worse or more disgraceful situation.

28 The meaning is, since you are weak, be content to think yourself weak.

28

.

26

6

If, till the expiration of your month,
You will return and sojourn with my sister,
Dismissing half

your train, come then to me;
I am now from home, and out of that provision
Which shall be needful for

your entertainment. Lear. Return to her, and fifty men dismiss'd ? No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose To wage 29 against the enmity o'the air; To be a comrade with the wolf and owl, Necessity's sharp pinch 30 !-- Return with her? Why, the hot-blooded France, that dowerless took Our youngest born, I could as well be brought To knee his throne, and, squirelike, pension beg To keep base life afoot;Return with her? Persuade me rather to be slave and sumpter 31 To this detested groom. [Looking on the Steward. Gon.

At your choice, sir. Lear. I prythee, daughter, do not make me mad; I will not trouble thee, my child; farewell: We'll no more meet, no more see one another:But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter; Or rather a disease that's in

my

flesh, 29 See Act i. Sc. 1, note 24.

30 The words, 'necessity's sharp pinch! appear to be the reflection of Lear on the wretched sort of existence he had described in the preceding lines.

31 Sumpter is generally united with horse or mule, to signify one that carried provisions or other necessaries; from sumptus, Lat. In the present instance horse seems to be understood, as it appears to be in the following passage from Beaumont and Fletcher's Two Noble Gentlemen :

• I would have had you furnish'd in such pomp
As never duke of Burgundy was furnish’d;
You should have had a sumpter though 't had cost me

The laying out myself.' Perhaps sumpter originally meant the pamier or basket which the sumpter-horse carried. Thus in Cupid's Revenge :

. And thy base issue shall carry sumpters.' We hear also of sumpter-cloths, sumpter-saddles, &c.

Which I must needs call mine: thou art a boil,
A plague-sore, an embossed 32 carbuncle,
In my corrupted blood. But I'll not chide thee;
Let shame come when it will, I do not call it :
I do not bid the thunder-bearer shoot,
Nor tell tales of thee to high-judging Jove:
Mend, when thou canst; be better at thy leisure:
I can be patient; I can stay with Regan,
I, and my hundred knights.
Reg.

Not altogether so, sir;
I look'd not for you yet, nor am provided
For
your

fit welcome: Give ear, sir, to my sister; For those that mingle reason with your passion, Must be content to think you old, and som But she knows what she does. Lear.

Is this well spoken now? Reg. I dare avouch it, sir: What, fifty followers ? Is it not well? What should you need of more? Yea, or so many ? sith that both charge and danger Speak ’gainst so great a number? How, in one house, Should many people, under two commands, Hold amity ? 'Tis hard; almost impossible. Gon. Why might not you, my lord receive at

tendance From those that she calls servants, or from mine?

Reg. Why not, my lord ? If then they chanc'd to

slack you,

We could control them: If you will come to me
(For now I spy a danger), I entreat you
To bring but five and twenty; to no more
Will I give place or notice.
Lear. I

gave you all Reg.

And in good time you gave it. Lear. Made you my guardians, my depositaries; But kept a reservation to be follow'd

32 Embossed here means swelling, protuberant.

With such a number: What, must I come to you With five and twenty, Regan? said you so?

Reg. And speak it again, my lord; no more

with me.

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Lear. Those wicked creatures yet do look well

favour'd, When others are more wicked; not being the worst, Stands in some rank of praise 33 :— I'll go with thee;

[TO GONERIL. Thy fifty yet doth double five and twenty, And thou art twice her love. Gon.

Hear me, my lord; What need

you

five and twenty, ten, or five,
To follow in a house, where twice so many
Have a command to tend you?
Reg.

What need one?
Lear. O, reason not the need : our basest beggars
Are in the poorest thing superfluous :
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
Man’s life is cheap 34 as beast's: thou art a lady;
If only to go warm were gorgeous,
Why, nature needs not what thou

gorgeous

wear'st, Which scarcely keeps thee warm.-But, for true

need, You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need ! You see me here, you gods, a poor

old

man, As full of grief as age; wretched in both! If it be you that stir these daughters' hearts Against their father, fool me not so much To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger! 0, let not women's weapons, water-drops, Stain my man's cheeks !-No, you unnatural hags, I will have such revenges on you both,

33 i.e. to be not the worst deserves some praise.

34 As cheap here means as little worth. See Baret's Alvearie, 1573. C. 388.

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