Page images





Let copulation thrive, for Gloster's bastard son
Was kinder to his father, than my daughters
Got 'tween the lawful sheets.
To't, luxury, pell-mell, for I lack soldiers.-
Behold yon simpering dame,
Whose face between her forks presageth snow ;
That minces 3 virtue, and does shake the head
To hear of pleasure's name;
The fitchew, nor the soiled horse,' goes to’t
With a more riotous appetite.
Down from the waist they are centaurs,
Though women all above;
But 5 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, good apothecary, to sweeten my imagi-
nation. There's money for thee.

Glo. 0, let me kiss that hand !
Lear. Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality.

Glo. O ruined piece of nature! This great world Shail so wear out to nought.—Dost thou know me?

Lear. I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost thou squiny at me? No, do thy worst, blind Cupid ! I'll not love.—Read thou this challenge; mark but the penning of it.

Glo. Were all the letters suns, I could not see one.

Edg. I would not take this from report ;-it is, And my heart breaks at it.

Lear. Read.

1 i. e, incontinence.

2 The construction is, “Whose face presageth snow between her forks.See Cotgrave's Dict. in v. Fourcheure.

3 i. e. puts on an outward, affected seeming of virtue. See Cotgrave in v. Mineux-se.

4 The fitchew is the polecat. A soiled horse is a horse that has been fed with hay and corn during the winter, and is turned out in the spring to take the first flush of grass, or has it cut and carried to him. This at once cleanses the animal and fills him with blood. In the old copies the preceding as well as the latter part of Lear's speech is printed as prose. It is doubtful whether any part of it was intended for metre.

5 But in its exceptive sense. 6 Possess.

Glo. What, with the case of eyes ?

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, your purse in a light; yet you see how this world goes.

Glo. 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 yon' justice rails upon yon simple thief. Hark, in thine ear. Change places; and, handy-dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief?- Thou hast seen a farmer's dog bark at a beggar?

Glo. Ay, sir.

Lear. And the creature run from the cur? There
thou might'st behold the great image of authority ; a
dog's obeyed in office.
Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand;
Why dost thou lash that whore ? Strip thine own back;
Thou hotly lust'st to use her in that kind
For which thou whipp'st her. The usurer hangs the
Through tattered clothes small vices do appear;
Robes, and furred gowns, hide all. Plate sin with gold,
And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks ;
Arm it in rags, a pygmy's straw doth pierce it.
None does offend, none, I say none ; I'll able 'em.
Take that of me, my friend, who have the power
To seal the accuser's lips. Get thee glass eyes;
And, like a scurvy politician, seem
To see the things thou dost not.-Now, now, now,


[ocr errors]


Pull off my boots ;-harder, harder; so.

Edg. O, matter and impertinency 3 mixed ! Reason in madness!

Lear. If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes. I know thee well enough ; thy name is Gloster.

From “hide all” to “accuser's lips” is wanting in the quartos. 2 i. e. support or uphold them.

3 Impertinency here is used in its old legitimate sense of something not belonging to the subject.

Enter Steward.


A proclaimed prize! Most happy! That eyeless head of thine was first framed flesh To raise my fortunes.- Thou old unhappy traitor, Briefly thyself remember. — The sword is out That must destroy thee. Glo.

Now let thy friendly hand Put strength enough to it.

[EDGAR opposes. Stew.

Wherefore, bold peasant,
Dar’st thou support a published traitor ? Hence;
Lest that the infection of his fortune take
Like hold on thee. Let go his arm.

Edg. Ch’ill not let go, zir, without vurther 'casion.
Stew. Let go, slave, or thou diest.

Edg. Good gentleman, go your gait, and let poor volk pass. And ch'ud ha' been zwaggered out of my life, 'twould not ha' been zo long as 'tis by a vortnight. Nay, come not near the old man; keep out, che vor’ye, or ise try whether your costard 4 or iny bat be the harder. Ch’ill be plain with you.

Stew. Out, dungbill!

Edg. Ch’ill pick your teeth, zir; come; no matter vor your foins.

[They fight; and Edgar knocks him down. Stew. Slave, thou hast slain me.-Villain, take my

purse ;
If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body;
And give the letters, which thou find'st about me,
To Edmund earl of Gloster; seek him out
Upon the British party.–0, untimely death. [Dies.

Edg. I know thee well; a serviceable villain;
As duteous to the vices of thy mistress,
As badness would desire.

1 i. e.“ quickly recollect the past offences of thy life, and recommend thyself to Heaven.”

2 Gang your gait is a common expression in the north. 3 i. e. I warn you.

4 i. e. head. A bat is a staff. It is the proper name of a walking-stick, in Sussex, even at this day.

5 i. e. thrusts.



What, is he dead?
Edg. Sit you down, father ; rest you. -
Let's see his pockets; these letters, that he speaks of,
May be my friends.—He's dead; I am only sorry
He had no other deathsman. Let us see:
Leave, gentle wax; and, manners, blame us not ;
To know our enemies' minds, we'd rip their hearts;

papers, is more lawful.
[Reads.] Let our reciprocal vows be remembered.
You have many opportunities to cut him off ; if your
will want not, time and place will be fruitfully offered.
There is nothing done, if he return the conqueror.
Then am I the prisoner, and his bed my jail ; from
the loathed warmth whereof, deliver me, and supply the
place for your labor.
Your wife, (so I would say,) and

1 your
affectionate servant,

O undistinguished space of woman's will!2_-
A plot upon her virtuous husband's life;
And the exchange, my brother !-Here, in the sands,
Thee I'll rake up, the post unsanctified ?

Of murderous lechers; and, in the mature time,
With this ungracious paper strike the sight
Of the death-practised duke: for him 'tis well,
That of thy death and business I can tell.

[Excit EDGAR, dragging out the body.
.Glo. The king is mad. How stiff is my vile sense,
That I stand up, and have ingenious feelings
Of my huge sorrows! Better I were distract;

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

1 i. e. to rip their papers is more lawful.

2 This seems to mean, “O, how inordinate, how unbounded, is the licentious inclination of women !”

3 “ Thee I'll rake up, the post unsanctified,&c. i. e. I'll cover thee. Unsanctified refers to his want of burial in consecrated ground.

4 That is, the duke of Albany, whose death is machinated by practice or treason.

5" Ingenious feeling." Bullokar, in his Expositor, interprets ingenious by quick-conceited, i. e. acute.

So should my thoughts be severed from my griefs;
And woes, by wrong imaginations, lose
The knowledge of themselves.

Re-enter EDGAR. Edg.

Give me your hand; Far off, methinks, I hear the beaten drum. Come, father, I'll bestow you with a friend. [Exeunt.

SCENE VII. A Tent in the French Camp. LEAR

on a bed asleep: Physician, Gentleman,' and others attending


Cor. O thou good Kent, how shall I live, and work, To match thy goodness? My life will be too short, And every measure fail me.

Kent. To be acknowledged, madam, is o’erpaid. All my reports go with the modest truth; Nor more, nor clipped, but so. Cor.

Be better suited." These weeds are memories of those worser hours; I pr’ythee, put them off. Kent.

Pardon me, dear madam; Yet to be known, shortens my made intent.“ My boon I make it, that you know me not, Till time and I think meet. Cor. Then be it so, my good lord.—How does the king ?

[To the Physician. Phys. Madam, sleeps still. Cor.

O you kind gods, Cure this great breach in his abused nature !

1 In the folio, the genlleman and the physician are one and the same person.

2 i. e. be better dressed, put on a better suit of clothes.
3 Memories are memorials.
4 A Made intent is an intent formed.

« PreviousContinue »