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Lear. No more of that; I have noted it well.Go
you, and tell my daughter I would speak with her Go you, and call hither
Re-enter Steward. O you sir, you sir, come you hither. Who am I, sir ?
Stew. My lady's father.
Lear. My lady's father! my lord's knave; you whoreson dog! you slave! you cur !
Stew. I am none of this, my lord; I beseech you, pardon me. Lear. Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal ?
[Striking him. Stew. I'll not be struck, my lord. Kent. Nor tripped neither; you base foot-ball player.
[Tripping up his heels. Lear. I thank thee, fellow; thou servest me, and I'll love thee.
Kent. Come, sir, arise, away; I'll teach you differences; away, away.
lubber's length again, tarry; but away: go to. Have you wisdom? so.
[Pushes the Steward out. Lear. Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee; there's earnest of thy service. [Giving Kent money.
Fool. Let me hire him too ;-here's my coxcomb.
[Giving Kent his cup: Lear. How now, my pretty knave? how dost thou ? Fool. Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb. Kent. Why, fool ?
Fool. Why? For taking one's part that is out of favor; nay, an thou canst not smile as the wind sits,
1 A metaphor from tennis. “Come in and take this bandy with the racket of patience.”—Decker's Satiromastir. “ To bandy a ball,” Cole defines clava pilam torquere ; “To bandy at tennis,” reticulo pellere. “To bandy blows," is still a common idiom.
thou'lt catch cold shortly. There, take my coxcomb. Why, this fellow has banished two of his daughters, and did the third a blessing against his will; if thou follow him, thou must needs wear my coxcomb.2How now, nuncle ? 3 'Would I had two coxcombs and two daughters!
Lear. Why, my boy? Fool. If I gave them all my living, I'd keep my coxcombs myself. There's mine ; beg another of thy daughters.
Lear. Take heed, sirrah ; the whip.
Fool. Truth's a dog that must to kennel. He must be whipped out, when lady, the brach, may stand by the fire, and stink.
Lear. A pestilent gall to me!
Have more than thou showest,
1 1. e. be turned out of doors and exposed to the inclemency of the weather.
2 The reader may see a representation of this ornament of the fools cap, in Mr. Douce's Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. i.“ Natural ideots and fools have, and still do accustome themselves to weare in their cappes cockes feathers, or a hat with a necke and heade of a cocke on the top, and a bell thereon.”—Minsheu's Dictionary, 1617.
3 A familiar contraction of mine uncle, as ningle, &c. It seems that the customary appellation of the old licensed fool to his superiors was uncle.
4 All my estate or property.
5 It has already been shown that brach was a mannerly name for a bitch.
6 To ove is to possess.
7 To trow is to believe. The precept is admirable. Set, in the next line, means stake.
Lear. This is nothing, fool.
Fool. Then 'tis like the breath of an unfee'd lawyer ; you gave me nothing for't. Can
Can you make no use of nothing, nuncle ?
Lear. Why, no, boy; nothing can be made out of nothing
Fool. 'Pr’ythee, tell him, so much the rent of his land comes to; he will not believe a fool. [To Kent.
Lear. A bitter fool!
Fool. Dost thou know the difference, my boy, between a bitter fool and a sweet fool ?
Lear. [No, lad; teach me.
To give away thy land,
Or do thou for him stand.
Will presently appear;
The other found out there.
Fool. All thy other titles thou hast given away; that thou wast born with.
Kent. This is not altogether fool, my lord.
Fool. No, 'faith, lords and great men will not let me; if I had a monopoly out, they would have part on't: and ladies, too, they will not let me have all fool to myself; they'll be snatching.')-Give me an egg, nuncle, and I'll give thee two crowns. Lear. What two crowns shall they be?
Fool. Why, after I have cut the egg i’ the middle, and eat up the meat, the two crowns of the egg. When thou clovest thy crown i'the middle, and gavest away boih parts, thou borest thine ass on thy back over the dirt. Thou had'st little wit in thy bald crown, , when thou gavest thy golden one away. If I speak like myself in this, let him be whipped that first finds it so.
1 The passage in brackets is omitted in the folio, perhaps for political reasons, as it seems to censure the monopolies, the gross abuses of which were more legitimate than safe objects of satire.
Fools had ne'er less grace in a year,
For wise men are grown foppish;
Their manners are so apish.
Lear. When were you wont to be so full of songs, sirrah?
Fool. I have used it, nuncle, ever since thou madest thy daughters thy mother; for when thou gavest them the rod, and put'st down thine own breeches,
Then they for sudden joy did weep, [Singing.
And I for sorrow sung,
And go the fools among.
Fool. I marvel, what kin thou and thy daughters are. They'll have me whipped for speaking true, thou'lt have me whipped for lying; and, sometimes, I am whipped for holding my peace.
I had rather be any kind of thing than a fool; and yet I would not be thee, nuncle; thou hast pared thy wit o' both sides, and left nothing in the middle. Here comes one o’the parings.
Enter GONERIL. Lear. How now, daughter! what makes that frontlet? on? Methinks you are too much of late i’ the frown.
Fool. Thou wast a pretty fellow, when thou had'st
1 “There never was a time when fools were less in favor.” In Mother Bombie, a Comedy, by Lyly, 1594, we find, “I think gentlemen had never less wit in a year.” It is remarkable that the quartos read “ less wit," instead of " less grace,” which is the reading of the folio.
2 A frontlet, or forehead-cloth, was worn by ladies of old, to prevent wrinkles. Thus in Zepheria, a collection of Sonnets, 4to. 1594:
“ But now, my sunne, it fits thou take thy set
And vayle thy face with frownes as with a frontlet.”
no need to care for her frowning; now thou art an O 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.?
[Pointing to LEAR. Gon. Not only, sir, this your all-licensed fool, But other of your insolent retinue Do hourly carp and quarrel; breaking forth In rank and not-to-be-endured riots. Sir, 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.
Fool. For you trow, nuncle, The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long, That it had its head bit off by its young. So, out went the candle, and we were left darkling. *
Lear. Are you our daughter ?
Gon. Come, sir, I would you would make use of that good wisdom whereof I know you are fraught;
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.