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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 iny 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,
11. 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 fool's cap, in Mr. Douce's Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. ii.“ 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
4 All my estate or property.
5 It has already been shown that brach was a mannerly name for a bitch.
6 To owe is to possess,
? To trow is to believe. The precent 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 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.'1–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 both 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,
And I for sorrow sung,
And go the fools among.
Prythee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach thy fool to lie; I would fain learn to lie.
Lear. If you lie, sirrah, we'll have you whipped.
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 no need to care for her frowning ; now thou art an 01 without a figure. I am better than thou art now: I am a fool, thon art nothing -Yes, forsooth, I will hold my tongue! so your face [To Gon.] bids me, though you say nothing. Mum, mum,
1 “There never was a time when fools were less in favor.” In Mother Bombie, a Comedy, by Lyly, 1594, wc 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.”
He that keeps nor crust nor crum,
Weary of all, shall want some. That's a shealed peascod.2
Pointing to LEAR. Gon. Vot only, sir, this your all-licensed fool, But other of your insolent retinue Do hourly carp and quarrel ; breaking forth La 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 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; and put away these dispositions, which of late transform you from what you rightly are.
1 i. e, a cipher.. 9 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.
9 The folio omits these words, and reads the rest of the speech, perhaps rightly, as verse.
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 ??
Fool. Lear's shadow,
Lear. [I would learn that; for by the niarks of sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, I should be false persuaded I had daughters.
Fool. Which they will make an obedient father.] Lear. Your name, fair gentlewoman ? Gon. Come, sir; This admiration is much o’the favor ? 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, To be such men as may besort your age, And know themselves and you. Lear.
Darkness and devils ! Saddle my horses; call my train together.
derstand and revereired knigh and bold,
1 This passage has been erroneously printed in all the late editions 6 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.
2 i. e, of the complerion.