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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?

LEAR. No. 1

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°:

FOOL. Can'st tell how an oyster makes his shell? Lear. No.

FOOL. Nor I neither; but I can tell why a snail has a house.

LEAR. Why?

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 reason.

LEAR. Because they are not eight?

FOOL. Yes, indeed: Thou wouldest make a good fool.

LEAR. To take it again perforce' !-Monster ingratitude!

5 WHY, what canst THOU tell, мY boy?] So the quartos. The folio reads-What canst tell, boy? MALone.

"I did her wrong:] He is musing on Cordelia. JOHNSON. 7 To take it again perforce!] He is meditating on the resumption of his royalty. JOHNSON.

He is rather meditating on his daughter's having in so violent a manner deprived him of those privileges which before she had agreed to grant him. STEEVENS.

The subject of Lear's meditation is the resumption of that moiety of the kingdom which he had given to Goneril. This was what Albany apprehended, when he replied to the upbraid

FOOL. If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I'd have thee beaten for being old before thy time.

LEAR. How's that?

FOOL. Thou should'st not have been old, before thou hadst been wise.

LEAR. O let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven!

Keep me in temper; I would not be mad!

Enter Gentleman.

How now! Are the horses ready?

GENT. Ready, my lord.

LEAR. Come, boy.

FOOL. She that is maid now, and laughs at my departure,

Shall not be a maid long, unless things be cut.

shorter 8.

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ings of his wife :— Well, well; the event: "-what Lear himself projected when he left Goneril to go to Regan :—


Yet I have left a daughter,

"Who, I am sure, is kind and comfortable;

"When she shall hear this of thee, with her nails "She'll flay thy wolfish visage. Thou shalt find, "That I'll resume the shape, which thou dost think "I have cast off for ever; thou shalt, I warrant thee." And what Curan afterwards refers to, when he asks Edmund : "Have you heard of no likely wars toward, 'twixt the Dukes of Cornwall and Albany?" HENLEY.

- unless things be cut shorter.] This idle couplet is apparently addressed to the females present at the performance of the play; and, not improbably, crept into the playhouse copy from the mouth of some buffoon actor, who "spoke more than was set down for him."

It should seem, from Shakspeare's speaking in this strong manner, that he had suffered the injury he describes. Indecent jokes, which the applause of the groundlings might occasion to be repeated, would, at last, find their way into the prompter's books, &c.

I am aware, that such liberties were exercised by the authors of Locrine, &c.; but can such another offensive and extraneous


A Court within the Castle of the Earl of Gloster.

Enter EDMUND and CURAN, meeting.

EDM. Save thee, Curan.

CUR. And you, sir. I have been with your father; and given him notice, that the duke of Cornwall, and Regan his duchess, will be here with him to-night.

EDM. How comes that?

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??

EDM. Not I; 'Pray you, what are they?


CUR.1 Have you heard of no likely wars toward, 'twixt the dukes of Cornwall and Albany?

EDM. Not a word.

CUR. You may then, in time. Fare you well, sir.

[Exit. EDM. The duke be here to-night? The better!


This weaves itself perforce into my business!
My father hath set guard to take my brother;
And I have one thing, of a queazy question 2,

* Quarto, ear bussing,

address to the audience be pointed out among all the dramas of Shakspeare? STEEVENS.

9 EAR-KISSING arguments?] Ear-kissing arguments means that they are yet in reality only whisper'd ones. STEEVENS.

Cur.] This, and the following speech, are omitted in one of the quartos. STEEVENS.


That which I have distinguished as quarto B. BOSWELL. -QUEAZY question,] Something of a suspicious, questionable, and uncertain nature. This is, I think, the meaning.


Queazy, I believe, rather means delicate, unsettled, what requires to be handled nicely. So, Ben Jonson, in Sejanus :

Which I must act:-Briefness, and fortune,


Brother, a word;-descend :-Brother, I say;

Enter EDGAR.

My father watches :-O sir, fly this place;
Intelligence is given where you are hid;

You have now the good advantage of the night:—
Have you not spoken 'gainst the duke of Cornwall?
He's coming hither; now, i' the night, i' the haste3,
And Regan with him; Have you nothing said
Upon his party 'gainst the duke of Albany *?
Advise yourself3.




I am sure on't, not a word.

* Quartos, Which must aske breefnesse, and fortune help.

"Those times are somewhat queasy to be touch'd.-
"Have you not seen or read part of his book?"

Again, in Letters from the Paston family, vol. ii. p. 127: the world seemeth queasy here."

Again, in Ben Jonson's New Inn:

"Notes of a que as and sick stomach, labouring
"With want of a true injury."

Again, in Much Ado About Nothing:


"Despight of his quick wit, and queazy stomach."


Queazy is still used in Devonshire, to express that sickishness of stomach which the slightest disgust is apt to provoke. HENLEY. -i' THE haste,] I should have supposed we ought to read only-in haste, had I not met with our author's present phrase in XII Merry Jests of the Wyddow Edyth, 1573:



To London they tooke in all the haste,

They wolde not once tarry to breake their faste."

4 - Have you nothing said


Upon his party 'gainst the duke of Albany?] The meaning is, "Have you said nothing upon the party formed by him against the duke of Albany?" HANMER.

I cannot but think the line corrupted, and would read:


Against his party, for the duke of Albany?" JOHNSON. 5 ADVISE yourself.] i. e. consider, recollect yourself. So, in Twelfth Night: "Advise you what you say." STEEVENS.

EDM. I hear my father coming,-Pardon me :In cunning, I must draw my sword upon you:Draw: Seem to defend yourself: Now quit you well.

Yield: come before my father;-Light, ho, here!

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Fly, brother;-Torches ! torches !-So, farewell.[Exit EDGAR. Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion

[Wounds his Arm.

Of my more fierce endeavour: I have seen drunk


Do more than this in sport.-Father! father!
Stop, stop! No help?

Enter GLOSTER, and Servants with Torches.
GLO. Now, Edmund, where's the villain?

EDM. Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword



Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon
To stand his auspicious mistress

EDM. Look, sir, I bleed.



But where is he?

Where is the villain, Edmund ?

I have seen drunkards

"Have I

Do more than this in sport.] So, in a passage already quoted in a note on The Winter's Tale, Act II. Sc. II. not been drunk for your health, eat glasses, drunk urine, stabbed arms, and done all offices of protested gallantry for your sake?” Marston's Dutch Courtezan. STEEVENS.


7 Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon was a proper circumstance to urge to Gloster; who appears, by what passed between him and his bastard son in a foregoing scene, to be very superstitious with regard to this matter. WARBURTON. The quartos read warbling, instead of mumbling. STEEVENS. 8 conjuring the moon

To stand HIS AUSPICIOUS MISTRESS:] So, in All's Well That Ends Well:

"And fortune play upon thy prosperous helm,
"As thy auspicious mistress.” MALONE.

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