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Enter Fool. Fool. Let me hire him too ;-Here's my coxcomb.
[Giving Kent his Cap. Lear. How now, my pretty knave? how dost thou? Fool. Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb. Kent. Why, fool ?8
Fool. Why? For taking one's part that is out of favour: Nay, an thou canst not smile as the wind sits, thou ’lt catch cold shortly:9 There, take my coxcomb:1 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.—How now, nuncle ?2 'Would I had two coxcombs,3 and two daughters !4
Lear. Why, my boy?
Fool. If I gave them all my living,5 I'd keep my coxcombs myself: There's mine; beg another of thy daughters. 6
Lear. Take heed, sirrah; the whip.
8 Why, fool ?] The folio reads-why, my boy.? and gives this ques. tion to Lear. Steevens.
thou’lt catch cold shortly:] i. e. be turned out of doors, and exposed to the inclemency of the weather. Farmer.
take my coxcomb:] Meaning his cap, called so, because on the top of the fool or jester's cap was sewed a piece of red cloth, resembling the comb of a cock. The word afterwards, was used to denote a vain, conceited, meddling fellow. Warburton.
How now, nuncle?] Aunt is a term of respect in France. So, in Lettres D Eliz. De Baviere Duchesse D'Orleans, Tom. II p. 65 66: "Ce:oit par un espece de plaisanterie de badinage sans consequence, que la Dauphine appelloit Madame de Maintenon ma tante. Les filles d'honneur appeilcient toujours leur gouvernante ma tante." And it is remarkable at this day that the lower people in Shropshire call the Juige of assize--- my nuncle the Judge.?! Vaillant.
two coxcombs,] Two fools caps, intended, as it seems, to mark double folly in the man that gives al to his daughters Johnson.
-and twodaughters.] Perhaps we should read—an’ two daughters; i. e. if. Furmer.
- all my living,] Living in Shakspeare's time signified estate, or property. So, in Friar Bueon and Friar Bungay, by R. Greene, 1594:
“ In Laxfield here my land and living lies.” Malone.
beg another of thy daughters.] The Fool means to say, that it is by begging only that the old king can obiain any thing from his daughters, even a badge of folly in having reduced himself to such a situation. Malone.
Fool. Truth 's a dog that must to kennel; he must be whipped out, when Lady, the brachy? may stand by the fire and stink.
Lear. A pestilent gall to me!
Have more than thou showest,
Than two tens to a score.
Lady. the brach,] Brach is a bitch of the hunting kind. " N is quidem hodie brach dicimus de cane fæminea, quæ leporem ex od re persequitur. Spelm. Gloss. in voce Bracco."
Dr Le herland, on the margin of Dr. Warbirton's edition, proposed luly's brach, i.e. favour’d animal. The third quarto has a much more uninannerly reading, which I would not wish to establish: but the other quarto editions concur in reading lady o' the brach. Lady is still a common name for a hound. So Hotspur :
“ I had rather hear Lady, my brach, howl in Irish." Again, in Ben Jonson’s Poem to a Frieni, &c.:
6 D all the tricks of a salt lad, bitch." In the ld black let er Booke of Hunting, &c. no date, the list of dogs c 'ncludes thus: 6 and small lali popies that bere awaithe feas and divers small fautes.” We might read-s' when lady, the brach," &c Steevens.
Both the quartos of 1608 read—when Lady oth’e brach. I have therefore printed-lady, the brach, grounding myself on the reading of those c pies, and on the passage quoted by Mr Steevens from King Henry IV, P, I. The folio and the late editions, read-when the laty brach, &c Malone.
8 Lend less than thou owest ] That is, do not lend all that thou hast. To owe in old English, is to possess. If owe be taken for to be in debt, the more prudent precept would be :
Lend more than thou owest. Johnson. 9 Learn more than thou trowest,] To trow, is an old word which signifies to believe. The precept is admirable. Warburton. 1 This is nothing fool.] The quartos give this speech to Lear.
Steevens. In the folio these words are given to Kent, Malone.
Fool. Then 'tis like the breath of an unfee'd lawyey; 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 ;2 teach me.
To give away thy land,
Or do thou3 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.
l'ool. No, 'faith, lords and great men will not let me; if I had a monopoly out, they would have part on ’t :4 and
2 No, lad;] This dialogue, from No, lad; teach me, down to Give me an egg, was restored from the first edition by Mr. Theobald. It is omitted in the folio, perhaps for political reasons, as it seemed to censure the monopolies. Johnson.
3 Or do thou - ] The word or, which is not in the quartos, was supplied by Mr. Steevens. Malone.
if I had a monopoly out, they would have part on’t:] A satire on the gross abuses of monopolies at that time; and the corruption and avarice of the courtiers, who commonly went shares with The patentee. Warburton. The modern editors, without authority, read,
a monopoly on't, Monopolies were in Shakspeare's time the common objects of satire. So, in Decker's Match me in London, 1631: “ Give him a court loaf, stop his mouth with a monopoly.”
Again, in Ram-Alley, or Merry Tricks, 1611 : “ A knight that never heard of Smock fees! I would I had a monopoly of them, so there was no impost set on them.”
Again, in The Birth of Merlin, 1662: “ So foul a monster. would be a fair monopoly worth the begging."
ladies too, they will not let me have all fool to myself; they 'll be snatching.--Give me an egg, muncle, 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 hadst 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 firsts find it so.
Fools had ne'er less grace in a year ;5 [Singing.
For wise men are grown fopish;
Their manners are so apish.
rah ? Fool. I have used it, nuncle, ever since thou madest thy daughters thy mother ;ô 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 sori ow suig,
And go the fools among.
In the books of the Stationers' Company, I meet with the following entry: “ John Charlewoode, Oct.1 207: lycensed unto him by the whole consent of the assistants, the onl;e ymprynting of all manner of billes for plaiers.” Again, Nov. 6, 1615, The liberty of printing all billes for fencing was granted to Mr. Purfoot. Steevens.
5 Fools had ne'er less grace in a year;] There never was a time when fools were less in favour; and the reason is, that they were never so little wanted, for wise men now supply their place. Such I think is the meaning. Johnson. less grace — ] So the folio. Both the quartos read—less wit.
Steevens. In Mother Bombie, a comedy by Lyly, 1594, we find, “ I think gentlemen had never less wit in a ear. I
suspect therefore the original to be the true reading. Malone.
since thou madest thy daughters thy mother:] i e. when you invested them wi h the au hority of a mother. Thus the quartos. The folio reads, with less propriety,—thy mothers. Malone.
7 Then they for sud !eir joy did weep, &c.] So, in The Rape of Lucrece, by Heywood, 1630
Pr’ythee, nuncle, keep a school-master 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.
“ When Tarquin first in court began,
" And was approved King,
“ But I for sorrow sing.” I cannot ascertain in what year T. Heywood first published this play, as the copy in 1630, which I have used, was the fourth impression. Steevens.
8 That such a king should play bo-peep.] Little more of this game, than its mere denomination, re nains. It is mentioned, however, in Churchyard's Charitie, 1593, in company with two other childish plays, which it is not my office to explain:
“ Cold parts men plaie, much like old plaine bo-peepe,
that frontlet -] Lear alludes to the frontlet, which was anciently part of a woman's dress. So, in a play called The Four Pos; 1569:
“ Forsooth, women have many lets,
" And then their bonets and their pionets." Again, in Lyly's Midas, 1592: " - Hoods, frontlets, wires, cauls, curling-irons, perriwigs, bodkins, fillets, hair-laces, ribbons, roles, knotstrings, glasses,” &c.
Again, and more appositely, in Zepheria, a collection of sonnets, 4to. 1594:
" But now, my sunne, it fits thou take thy set,
“ And vayle thy face with frotvnes as with a frontlet.” Steevens. A frontlet was a forehead.cloth, used formerly by ladies at night to render that part smooth. Lear, I suppose, means to say, that Goneril's brow was as completely covered by a frown, as it would be by a frontlet.
So, in Lyly's Euphues and his England, 4to. 1580: “ The next day I coming to the gallery where she was solitarily walking, with her frorning cloth, as sieke lately of the sullens,” &c. Malane.