« PreviousContinue »
When I have showed the unfitness,-How now, Os
Gon. Nay, then,
Alb. Well, well; the event.
What, have you writ that letter to my sister?
Stew. Ay, madam.
Gon. Take you some company, and away to horse; Inform her full of my particular fear;
And thereto add such reasons of your own,
As may compact it more. Get you gone;
This milky gentleness, and course of
Alb. How far your eyes may pierce, I cannot tell ; Striving to better, oft we mar what's well.
SCENE V. Court before the same.
Enter LEAR, KENT, and Fool.
Lear. Go you before to Gloster with these letters; acquaint my daughter no further with any thing you know, than comes from her demand out of the letter. If your diligence be not speedy, I shall be there before you.?
Kent. I will not sleep, my lord, till I have delivered your letter.
1 The word task is frequently used by Shakspeare and his contemporaries in the sense of tax.
2 The word there, in this speech, shows that when the king says, “Go you before to Gloster," he means the town of Gloster, which Shakspeare chose to make the residence of the duke of Cornwall, to increase the probability of their setting out late from thence on a visit to the earl of Gloster. Our old English earls usually resided in the counties whence they took their titles. Lear, not finding his son-in-law and his wife at home, follows them to the earl of Gloster's castle.
Fool. If a man's brains were in his heels, were't
not in danger of kibes?
Lear. Ay, boy.
Fool. Then, I pr'ythee, be merry; thy wit shall not go slip-shod.
Lear. Ha, ha, ha!
Fool. Shalt see, thy other daughter will use thee kindly; for though she's as like this as a crab is like an apple, yet I can tell what I can tell.
Lear. Why, what canst thou tell, my boy?
Fool. She will taste as like this, as a crab does to a crab. Thou canst tell, why one's nose stands i' the middle of his face?
Fool. Why, to keep his eyes on either side his nose; that what a man cannot smell out, he may spy into. Lear. I did her wrong.2
Fool. Canst tell how an oyster makes his shell ?
Fool. Nor I neither; but I can tell why a snail has a house.
Fool. Why, to put his head in; not to give it away to his daughters, and leave his horns without a case. Lear. I will forget my nature.-So kind a father! -Be my horses ready?
Fool. Thy asses are gone about 'em. The reason why the seven stars are no more than seven, is a pretty
Lear. Because they are not eight?
Fool. Yes, indeed; thou wouldest make a good fool.
Lear. To take it again perforce ! 3-Monster ingratitude!
1 The fool quibbles, using the word in two senses; as it means affectionately, and like the rest of her kind, or after their nature.
2 He is musing on Cordelia.
3 The subject of Lear's meditation is the resumption of that moiety of the kingdom he had bestowed on Goneril. This was what Albany apprehended, when he replied to the upbraidings of his wife:-6
Fool. If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I'd have thee
beaten for being old before thy time.
Lear. How's that?
Fool. Thou shouldst not have been old, before thou
Lear. O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet Heaven!
How now! are the horses ready?
Gent. Ready, my lord.
Lear. Come, boy.
Fool. She that is maid now, and laughs at my de
Shall not be a maid long, unless things be cut shorter.
Enter EDMUND and CURAN, meeting.
SCENE I. A Court within the Castle of the Earl
Edm. Save thee, Curan.
Cur. And you, sir. I have been with your father,
well: the event." What Lear himself projected when he left Goneril to
Thou shalt find
That I'll resume the shape, which thou dost think
I have cast off forever; thou shalt, I warrant thee."
And what Curan afterwards refers to, when he asks Edmund :-" Have
Cur. Nay, I know not. You have heard of the news abroad; I mean the whispered ones, for they are yet but ear-kissing arguments?1
Edm. Not I; 'pray you, what are they?
Cur. Have you heard of no likely wars toward,2 'twixt the dukes of Cornwall and Albany?
Edm. Not a word.
Cur. You may then, in time. Fare you well, sir.
Edm. The duke be here to-night? The bette
This weaves itself perforce into my business!
My father watches.-O sir, fly this place;
I am sure on't, not a word.
1 Ear-kissing arguments means that they are yet in reality only whispered ones.
2 This and the following speech are omitted in the quarto B.
3 Queasy appears to mean here delicate, unsettled.
4 Have you said nothing upon the party formed by him against the duke of Albany?
5 i. e. consider, recollect yourself.
Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion
[Wounds his arm.
Enter GLOSTER, and Servants, with torches.
Glo. Now, Edmund, where's the villain?
But where is he?
Edm. Look, sir, I bleed.
Glo. Pursue him, ho!--Go after.-[Exit Serv.] By
Edm. Persuade me to the murder of your lordship;
Where is the villain, Edmund ?
1 That is, aghasted, frighted.
2 "And found-Despatch.-The noble duke," &c.-The sense is interrupted. He shall be caught--and found, he shall be punished. Despatch.