Page images
[ocr errors]



no need to care for her frowning; now thou art an O1 without a figure. I am better than thou art now; I am a fool, thou art nothing.-Yes, forsooth, I will hold my tongue! so your face [To GoN.] bids me, though you say nothing. Mum, mum,

He that keeps nor crust nor crum, Weary of all, shall want some. That's a shealed peascod.2


Do hourly carp and quarrel; breaking forth
In rank and not-to-be-endured riots. Sir,


[Pointing to LEAR. Gon. Not only, sir, this your all-licensed fool, But other of your insolent retinue

Fool. For you trow, nuncle,

The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long,
That it had its head bit off by its young.

I had thought, by making this well known unto you,
To have found a safe redress; but now grow fearful,
By what yourself too late have spoke and done,
That you protect this course, and put it on 3
By your allowance; which if you should, the fault
Would not 'scape censure, nor the redresses sleep;
Which in the tender of a wholesome weal,
Might in their working do you that offence,
Which else were shame, that then necessity
Will call discreet proceeding.

[ocr errors]

So, out went the candle, and we were left darkling.4
Lear. Are you our daughter?

[ocr errors]

Gon. Come, sir," I would you would make use of that good wisdom whereof I know you are fraught ;

[ocr errors]

1 i. e. a cipher.

2 Now a mere husk that contains nothing.

3 Put it on, that is, promote it, push it forward. Allowance is approbation. 4 “Shakspeare's fools are certainly copied from the life. The originals whom he copied were no doubt men of quick parts; lively and sarcastic. Though they were licensed to say any thing, it was still necessary, to prevent giving offence, that every thing they said should have a playful air; we may suppose, therefore, that they had a custom of taking off the edge of too sharp a speech by covering it hastily with the end of an old song, or any glib nonsense that came into their mind. I know no other way of accounting for the incoherent words with which Shakspeare often finishes this fool's speeches."-Sir Joshua Reynolds.

5 The folio omits these words, and reads the rest of the speech, perhaps rightly, as verse.

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

SC. IV.]

and put away these dispositions, which of late transform you from what you rightly are.

Fool. May not an ass know when the cart draws the horse? Whoop, Jug! I love thee.

Lear. Does any here know me ?---Why, this is not Lear; does Lear walk thus? speak thus? Where are his eyes? Either his notion weakens, or his discernings are lethargied.-Sleeping or waking?-Ha! sure 'tis not so.-Who is it that can tell me who I am?1

[ocr errors]


Fool. Which they will make an obedient father.]
Lear. Your name, fair gentlewoman?
Gon. Come, sir;

This admiration is much o'the favor 2

Fool. Lear's shadow,

Lear. [I would learn that; for by the marks of sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, I should be false persuaded I had daughters.

Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you
To understand my purposes aright;

As you are old and reverend, you should be wise.
Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires,
Men so disordered, so debauched, and bold,
That this our court, infected with their manners,
Shows like a riotous inn; epicurism and lust
Make it more like a tavern or a brothel,

Than a graced palace. The shame itself doth speak
For instant remedy. Be then desired

By her that else will take the thing she begs,

A little to disquantity your train;

And the remainder, that shall still depend,3
To be such men as may besort your age,
And know themselves and you.

2 i. e. of the complexion.

3 i. e. continue in service.

[ocr errors]


Darkness and devils !-
Saddle my horses; call my train together.-

[ocr errors]


1 This passage has been erroneously printed in all the late editions "Who is it can tell me who I am?" says Lear. In the folio, the reply, "Lear's shadow," is rightly given to the fool. It is remarkable that the continuation of Lear's speech, and the continuation of the fool's comment, is omitted in the folio copy.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

Degenerate bastard! I'll not trouble thee;

Yet have I left a daughter.

Gon. You strike my people; and your disordered


Make servants of their betters.

[ocr errors]


Lear. Woe, that too late repents,1-O sir, are you

Is it your will? [To ALB.] Speak, sir.-Prepare my

Ingratitude! thou marble-hearted fiend,

More hideous, when thou show'st thee in a child,
Than the sea-monster! 2


'Pray, sir, be patient. Lear. Detested kite! thou liest.

My train are men of choice and rarest parts,
That all particulars of duty know ;

And in the most exact regard support



The worships of their name.-O most small fault,
How ugly didst thou in Cordelia show!
Which, like an engine, wrenched my frame of nature
From the fixed place; drew from my heart all love,
And added to the gall. O Lear, Lear, Lear!
Beat at this gate that let thy folly in,

[ocr errors]

[Striking his head.
And thy dear judgment out.-Go, go, my people.
Alb. My lord, I am guiltless, as I am ignorant
Of what hath moved you.

[ocr errors]


Lear. It may be so, my lord.--Hear, nature, hear;
Dear goddess, hear! Suspend thy purpose, if
Thou didst intend to make this creature fruitful!
Into her womb convey sterility!

Dry up in her the organs of increase;

[ocr errors]

1 One of the quarto copies reads, "We that too late repents us." The others, "We that too late repents."

2 The sea-monster is the hippopotamus, the hieroglyphical symbol of impiety and ingratitude.

3 By an engine the rack is here intended.

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

SC. IV.]


And from her derogate 1 body never spring
A babe to honor her! If she must teem,
Create her child of spleen; that it may live,
And be a thwart 2 disnatured torment to her!
Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth;
With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks;
Turn all her mother's pains, and benefits,3
To laughter and contempt; that she may feel
How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
To have a thankless child!-Away! away!


[ocr errors]


Alb. Now, gods, that we adore, whereof comes this? Gon. Never afflict yourself to know the cause; But let his disposition have that scope That dotage gives it.

Re-enter LEAR.

Lear. What, fifty of my followers at a ciap! Within a fortnight?


What's the matter, sir?


Lear. I'll tell thee -Life and death! I am ashamed That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus;

[To GONERIL. That these hot tears, which break from me perforce, Should make thee worth them.-Blasts and fogs upon thee!


The untented woundings of a father's curse
Pierce every sense about thee!--Old fond eyes,
Beweep this cause again, I'll pluck you out;
And cast you, with the waters that you lose,

1 Derogate here means degenerate, degraded.

2 Thwart as a noun adjective is not frequent in our language. It is to be found, however, in Promos and Cassandra, 1578:

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

"Sith fortune thwart doth crosse my joys with care.” Disnatured is wanting natural affection.

3 "Pains and benefits," in this place, signify maternal cares and good offices.

[ocr errors]

4 The untented woundings are the rankling or never-healing wounds inflicted by a parental malediction. Tents are well-known dressings inserted into wounds as a preparative to healing them.

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


To temper clay.---Ha! is it come to this?
Let it be so.-Yet have I left a daughter,
Who, I am sure, is kind and comfortable;
When she shall hear this of thee, with her nails
She'll flay thy wolfish visage. Thou shalt find
That I'll resume the shape which thou dost think
I have cast off forever; thou shalt, I warrant thee.1
[Exeunt LEAR, KENT, and Attendants
Gon. Do you mark that, my lord?
Alb. I cannot be so partial, Goneril,
To the great love I bear you,--

Gon. 'Pray you, content.-What, Oswald, ho!
You sir, more knave than fool, after your master.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

[To the Fool. Fool. Nuncle Lear, nuncle Lear, tarry, and take the fool with thee.

A fox, when one has caught her,
And such a daughter,
Should sure to the slaughter,

If my cap would buy a halter;
So the fool follows after.



Gon. [This man hath had good counsel;-a hun-
dred knights!

'Tis politic, and safe, to let him keep


At point, a hundred knights! Yes, that on every dream,
Each buzz, each fancy, each complaint, dislike,
He may enguard his dotage with their powers,
And hold our lives in mercy.] Oswald, I say!
Alb. Well, you may fear too far.
Safer than trust too far;
Let me still take away the harms I fear,
Not fear still to be taken. I know his heart;
What he hath uttered, I have writ my sister;
If she sustain him and his hundred knights,

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

[ACT 1

1 This speech is gleaned partly from the folios, and partly from the quartos. The omissions in the one and the other are not of sufficient importance to trouble the reader with a separate notice of each.

2 All within brackets is omitted in the quartos.

3 At point probably means completely armed.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »