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Glo. Too well, too well.
This is above all strangeness.
A poor, unfortunate beggar.
Glo. I do remember now; henceforth I'll bear
The fiend, the fiend: he led me to that place.
Edg. Bear free and patient thoughts.-But who
Enter LEAR, fantastically dressed up with flowers.
Lear. No, they cannot touch me for coining;
Edg. O thou side-piercing sight!
Lear. Nature's above art in that respect. There's your press-money. That fellow handles his bow like
1 Welked is marked with protuberances. This and whelk are probably only different forms of the same word. The welk is a small shell-fish, so called, perhaps, because its shell is marked with convolved protuberant ridges.
2 That is, the purest.
3 By men's impossibilities perhaps is meant what men call impossibilities.
4 "Bear free and patient thoughts." Free here means pure, as in other places of these plays.
5 “The safer sense (says Mr. Blakeway) seems to me to mean the eyesight, which, says Edgar, will never more serve the unfortunate Lear so well as those which Gloster has remaining will serve him, who is now returned to a right mind.
6 It is evident, from the whole of this speech, that Lear fancied himself in a battle. For the meaning of press-money, see the first scene of Hamlet.
a crow-keeper;1 draw me a clothier's yard.-Look, look, a mouse! Peace, peace;--this piece of toasted cheese will do't.-There's my gauntlet; I'll prove it on a giant.-Bring up the brown bills.2-O, well flown, bird!-i' the clout, i' the clout! hewgh!-Give the word.3
Edg. Sweet marjoram.
Glo. I know that voice.
Lear. Ha! Goneril!—with a white beard!-They flattered 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. 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 them, there I smelt them out. Go to, they are not men o' their words. They told me I was every thing: 'tis a lie; I am not ague proof.
Glo. The trick 5 of that voice I do well remember. Is't not the king?
Ay, every inch, a king;
Thou shalt not die. Die for adultery! No;
1 Ascham, in speaking of awkward shooters, says: Another cowreth down, and layeth out his buttockes as thoughe he would shoote at crowes.” 2 Battle-axes.
3 Lear is here raving of archery, falconry, and a battle, jumbled together in quick transition. "Well flown bird" was the falconer's expression when the hawk was successful in her flight. The clout is the white mark at which archers aim. By "give the word," the watchword in a camp is meant. "The quartos read, "O well flown bird in the ayre, hugh, give the word."
4 It has been proposed to read, "To say ay and no to every thing I said ay and no to, was no good divinity." Besides the inaccuracy of construction in the passage as it stands in the text, it does not appear how it could be flattery to dissent from, as well as assent to. every thing Lear
5 Trick is a word used for the peculiarity in a face, voice, or gesture, which distinguishes it from others.
Let copulation thrive, for Gloster's bastard son
To't, luxury,' pell-mell, for I lack soldiers.--
Whose face between her forks presageth snow;
The fitchew, nor the soiled horse, goes to't
Down from the waist they are centaurs,
But 5 to the girdle do the gods inherit,"
Beneath is all the fiends'; there's hell, there's darkness,
Glo. O, let me kiss that hand!
Lear. Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality.
Lear. I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost
Glo. Were all the letters suns, I could not see one.
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.
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;
For which thou whipp'st her. The usurer hangs the
Through tattered clothes small vices do appear;
To see the things thou dost not.-Now, now, now,
Pull off my boots ;-harder, harder; so.
Edg. Ó, matter and impertinency mixed!
Reason in madness!
Lear. If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes. I know thee well enough; thy name is Gloster.
1 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.
Thou must be patient; we came crying hither.
Lear. When we are born, we cry, that we are come
A troop of horse with felt. I'll put it in proof;
Enter a Gentleman, with Attendants.
Gent. O, here he is; lay hand upon him.-Sir,
Lear. No rescue? What, a prisoner? I am even
Let me have a surgeon;
You shall have ransom.
You shall have any thing.
Lear. I will die bravely, like a bridegroom. What?
Gent. You are a royal one, and we obey you.
[Exit, running; Attendants follow.
1 Upon the king's saying "I will preach to thee," the Poet seems to have meant him to pull off his hat, and keep turning it, and feeling it, 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 the [same substance] which he held and moulded between his hands.
2 This was the cry formerly in the English army when an onset was made on the enemy.
3 6 A man of salt" is a man of tears.
4 The case is not yet desperate.
5 Mr. Boswell thinks that this passage seems to prove that sessa means the very reverse of cessez.