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LEAR. A pestilent gall to me!
Fool. Sirrah, I'll teach thee a speech.
Than two tens to a score.
LEAR.* This is nothing, fool 3.
FOOL. Then 'tis like the breath of an unfee'd
*First folio, Kent.
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 Friend, &c. : "Do all the tricks of a salt lady bitch."
In the old black letter Booke of Huntyng, &c. no date, the list of dogs concludes thus: " and small ladi popies that bere awai the fleas and divers small fautes." We might read-" 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 copies, and on the passage quoted by Mr. Steevens from King Henry IV. Part I. The folio, and the late editions, read -when the lady brach, &c. MALONE.
3 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.
4 Learn more than thou TROWEST,] To trow, is an old word which signifies to believe. The precept is admirable.
5 This is nothing, fool.] The quartos give this speech to Lear. STEEVENS.
In the folio these words are given to Kent. MALONE.
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.
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.
FOOL. That lord, that counsel'd thee
Will presently appear;
The other found out there.
LEAR. Dost thou call me fool, boy?
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
6 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.
7 OR do thou-] The word or, which is not in the quartos, was supplied by Mr. Steevens [Mr. Jennens]. MALONE.
8 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 ——,"
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 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.
Fools had ne'er less grace in a year; [Singing.
And know not how their wits to wear,
Their manners are so apish.
LEAR. When were you wont to be so full of songs, sirrah ?
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."
In the books of the Stationers' Company, I meet with the following entry. "John Charlewoode, Oct. 1587 lycensed unto him by the whole consent of the assistants, the onlye 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.
9 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 STEEVENS.
In Mother Bombie, a comedy by Lyly, 1594, we find, [as Mr. Capell has remarked,] "I think gentlemen had never less wit in a year." I suspect therefore the original to be the true reading.
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.
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.
since thou madest thy daughters thy MOTHER :] i. e. when you invested them with the authority of a mother. Thus the quartos. The folio reads with less propriety,―thy mothers. MALONE.
2 Then they for sudden joy did weep, &c.] So, in The Rape of Lucrece, by Heywood, 1630:
"When Tarquin first in court began,
"Some men for sodden joy gan weep,
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.
The first edition was in 1608. I have corrected Mr. Steevens's quotation from that copy. Boswell.
3 That such a king should play BO-PEEP,] Little more of this game, than its mere denomination, remains. 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,
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 O without a figure': I am better than thou
that frontlet-] Lear alludes to the frontlet, which was anciently part of a woman's dress. So, in a play called The Four P's, 1569:
Forsooth, women have many lets,
"And they be masked in many nets:
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:
"As frontlets, fillets, partlets, and bracelets:
"And then their bonets and their pionets."
"But now, my sunne, it fits thou take thy set
"And vayle thy face with frownes 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 frowning cloth, as sicke lately of the sullens," &c. MALONE.
5 - Now thou art an O WITHOUT A FIGURE:] The Fool means to say, that Lear, "having pared his wit on both sides, and left nothing in the middle," is become a mere cypher; which has no arithmetical value, unless preceded or followed by some figure. In The Winter's Tale we have the same allusion, reversed:
and therefore, like a cypher,
"Yet standing in rich place, I multiply,
"With one-we thank you,-many
Standing before it." MALONE.
-I am better than thou, &c.] This bears some resem