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To Dover? Wast thou not charg’d at peril
CORN. Wherefore to Dover ? Let him first an-

swer that.
Glo. I am tied to the stake?, and I must stand

the courses.
REG. Wherefore to Dover ?

Glo. Because I would not see thy cruel nails
Pluck out his poor old eyes; nor thy fierce sister
In his anointed flesh stick boarish fangs *.
The sea, with such a storm as his bare head
In hell-black night endur'd, would have buoy'd up,
And quench'd the stelled * fires : yet, poor old heart,
He holp the heavens to rain
If wolves had at thy gate howld that stern time ,
Thou should'st have said, Good porter, turn the key;

* First folio, steeled.

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The peril -] I have inserted the pronoun-thy, for the sake of metre. STEEVENS. 2 I am tied to the stake,] So, in Macbeth :

They have chain'd me to a stake ; I cannot fly,
But, bear-like, I must fight the course.

STEEVENS. the course.] The running of the dogs upon me.

Johnson. Stick boarish fangs.] The quartos read-" rash boarish fangs.” This verb occurs in Spenser's Fairy Queen, b. iv. c. ii. : “And shields did share, and mailes did rash, and helmes did hew." Again, b. v. c. iii.

Rashing off helmes, and ryving plates asunder.” To rash is the old hunting term for the stroke made by a wild boar with his fangs. So, in Chapman's version of the eleventh Iliad :

- As when two chased boars “ Turn head gainst kennels of bold hounds, and race way

through their gores.” Steevens. to RAIN.] Thus the folio. The quartos read-to rage.

STEEVENS. that stern time,] Thus the 'folio. Both the quartos read—“ that dearn time.” Dearn is a north-country word, signifying lonely, solitary, secret, obscure, melancholy, uncomfortable, far from neighbours." So, in The Valiant Scot :

“Of all thy joys the dearne and dismal end."


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All cruels else subscrib'd':- But I shall see
The winged vengeance overtake such children.
Corn. See it shalt thou never :-Fellows, hold

the chair :
Upon these eyes of thine I'll set my foot.

[Gloster is held down in his Chair, while

CORNW ALL plucks out one of his Eyes, and

sets his Foot on it.
Glo. He, that will think to live till he be old,
Give me some help :-0 cruel! O ye gods !

REG. One side will mock another; the other too.
Corn. If you see vengeance,-

Hold your hand, my lord:
I have serv'd you ever since I was a child ;
But better service have I never done you,
Than now to bid


hold. REG.

How now, you dog ? Serv. If you did wear a beard upon your chin, I'd shake it on this quarrel : What do you mean?

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Again, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, b. ii. c. i. :

They heard a rueful voice that dearnly cride." Again, in Pericles, Prince of Tyre, 1609 :

“By many a dearne and painful pearch." The reading in the text, however, is countenanced by the following passage in Chapman's version of the 24th Iliad:

in this so sterne a time

“Of night and danger~." STEEVENS. 7- subscrib'd ;] Yielded, submitted to the necessity of the occasion. Johnson.

8 Upon these eyes, &c.] In Selimus, Emperor of the Turks, one of the sons of Bajazet pulls out the eyes of an Aga on the stage, and says

Yes, thou shalt live, but never see that day,
“Wanting the tapers that should give thee light.

[Pulls out his ey's." Immediately after, his hands are cut off. I have introduced this passage to show that Shakspeare's drama was not more sanguinary than that of his contemporaries. Steevens.

In Marston's Antonio's Revenge, 1602, Piero's tongue is torn out on the stage. MALONE.

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CORN.'My villain'! [Draws and runs at him.
Serv. Nay, then come on, and take the chance

of anger
[Draws. They fight. CORNWALL is wounded. .
Reg. Give me thy sword.—[To another Serv.]

A peasant stand up thus !
Snatches a Sword, comes behind, and stabs him.
SERV. O, I am slain !—My lord, you have one

eye left

To see some mischief on him:-0! [Dies. CORN, Lest it see more, prevent it :-Out, vile

jelly! Where is thy lustre now?

[Tears out Gloster's other Eye, and throws

it on the Ground.
Glo. All dark and comfortless._Where's my

son Edmund ?
Edmund, enkindle * all the sparks of nature,
To quit this horrid act.

Out, treacherous villain !
Thou call'st on him that hates thee: it was he
That made the overture of thy treasons' to us;
Who is too good to pity thee.


follies !
Then Edgar was abus'd.-
Kind gods, forgive me that, and prosper him!
REG. Go, thrust him out at gates, and let him

smell His way to Dover.—How is't, my lord ? How look



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* Quartos, unbridle. 9 My villain!] Villain is here perhaps used in its original sense of one in servitude. Steevens.

- the OVERTURE of thy treasons -] Overture is here used for an opening or discovery. It was he who first laid thy treasons open to us. Coles, in his Dict. 1679, renders Overture, by apertior apertura. An overt act of treason, is the technical phrase. MALONE.

- Follow me,

· CORN. I have receiv'd a hurt :

Turn out that eyeless villain ;-throw this slave
Upon the dunghill.--Regan, I bleed apace:
Untimely comes this hurt: Give me your arm.

[Exit CornwALL, led by Regan ;-Servants

unbind GLOSTER, and lead him out. 1 Serv. I'll never care what wickedness I do?, If this man comes to good. 2 SERV.

If she live long, And, in the end, meet the old course of death }, Women will all turn monsters. 1 Serv. Let's follow the old earl, and get the

Bedlam To lead him where he would ; his roguish * mad

ness Allows itself to any thing. 2 Serv. Go thou; I'll fetch some flax", and

whites of eggs,

* Quarto A omits roguish.


2 I'll never care what wickedness I do,]

This short dialogue I have inserted from the old quarto, because I think it full of nature. Servants could hardly see such a barbarity committed on their master, without pity; and the vengeance that they presume must overtake the actors of it, is a sentiment and doctrine well worthy of the stage. THEOBALD.

It is not necessary to suppose them the servants of Gloster; for Cornwall was opposed to extremity by his own servant.

Johnson, - meet the old course of death,] That is, die a natural death. Malone.

4 - some flax, &c.] This passage is ridiculed by Ben Jonson, in The Case is Alter'd, 1609: go, get a white of an egg, and a little flax, and close the breaches of the head, it is the most conducible thing that can be.” Steevens. The Case is Alter'd was written before the end of the

year 1599; but Ben Jonson might have inserted this sneer at our author, between the time of King Lear's appearance, and the publication of his own play in 1609. Malone.

I was not at liberty to omit this note, but Mr. Gifford has

To apply to his bleeding face. Now, heaven help him !

[E.reunt severally.


The Heath.

Enter EDGAR. Edg. Yet better thus, and known to be con


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shown this charge against Jonson to be entirely groundless. I wish he had not expressed his dissent in such strong language.

BosWELL. s Yet better thus, and known to be contemn'd] The meaning is, 'Tis better to be thus contemned, and known to yourself to be contemned. Or perhaps there is an error, which may be rectified thus :

" Yet better thus unknown to be contemn'd.” When a man divests himself of his real character he feels no pain from contempt, because he supposes it incurred only by a voluntary disguise which he can throw off at pleasure. I do not think any correction necessary. Johnson.

The sentiment is this :- It is better to be thus contemn'd and know it, than to be flattered by those who secretly contemn us.

HENLEY. cannot help thinking that this passage should be written thus:

6. Yet better thus unknown to be contemn'd,
" Than still contemn'd and flatter'd to be worse.

6. The lowest,” &c. The quarto edition has no stop after flatter'd. The first folio, which has a comma there, has a colon at the end of the line.

The expression in this speech—“ owes nothing to thy blasts-" (in a more learned writer) might seem to be copied from Virgil, Æn. xi. 51:

Nos juvenem exanimum, et nil jam cælestibus ullis

Debentem, vano mosti coinitamur honore. Tyrwhitt. I think with Mr. Tyrwhitt that Dr. Johnson's conjecture is well founded, and that the poet wrote-unknown. MALONE.

The meaning of Edgar's speech seems to be this. Yet it is

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