fully: I will piece out the comfort with what addition I can: I will not be long from you.

Kent. All the power of his wits has given way to his impatience:-The gods reward your kindness !

[Exit Glo. Edg. Frateretto calls me; and tells me, Nero is an angler8 in the lake of darkness. Pray, innocent, and beware the foul fiend.

Fool. Pr’ythee, nuncle, tell me, whether a madman be a gentleman, or a yeoman? Lear. A king, a king!

Fool.2 No; he's a yeoman, that has a gentleman to his son: for he's a mad yeoman, that sees his son a gentleman before him.

Lear. To have a thousand with red burning spits Come hizzing in upon them:

Edg:3 The foul fiend bites iny back.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

8 Frateretto calls me; and tells me, Nero is an angler &c.] See po 253, n. 9.

Mr. Upton observes that Rabelais, B. II, c. xxx, says that Nero was a fidler in hell, and Trajan an angler.

Nero is introduced in the present play above 800 years before he was born. Malone.

The History of Gargantua had appeared in English before 1575, being mentioned in Langham's Letter, printed in that year. Ritsou.

Pray, innocent,] Perhaps he is here addressing the Fool. Fools were anciently called Innocents. So, in All's Well that Ends Well : 56 the Sheriff's Fool,

,-a dumb innocent, that could not say him nay." See Vol. V, p. 271, n.7.

Again, in The Whipper of the Satyre his Pennance in a white Sheete, &c. 1601:

A gentleman that had a wayward foole,
“ To passe the time, would needes at push-pin play ;
“ And playing false, doth stirre the wav'ring stoole:

- The innocent had spi'd him, and cri'd stay,” &c. Steevens. 1 Fool. Pr’ythee, nuncle, tell me,] And before, in the same Act, se ji:-" Cry to it, nuncle" Why does the Fool call the old King nuncle ? But we have the same appellation in The Pilgrim, by Fletcher:

6. Farewel, nuncle, » Act IV, sc. i. And in the next scene, alluding to Shakspeare:

“ What mops and mowes it makes.” Whalley. See Mr. Vaillant's very decisive remark on this appellation, p. 170,

Steevens. 2 Fool.] This speech is omitted in the quartos. Steevens.

3 Edg.] This and the next thirteen speeches (which Dr. Johnson had enclosed in crotchets) are only in the quartos.


n. 2.

Fool. He's mad, that trusts in the tameness of a wolf, a horse's health, a boy's love, or a whore's oath.

Lear. It shall be done, I will arraign them straight :Come, sit thou here, most learned justicer;5—[To EDG. Thou, sapient sir, sit here. [To the Fool.]-Now, you she

foxes ! Edy. Look, where he stands and glares ! Wantest thou eyes at trial, madam ?7

Come o'er the bourn, Bessy, to me:
Fool. Her boat hath a leak,

And she must not speak
Why she dares not come over to thee.



a horse's health,] Without doubt we should read heels, i.e. to stand behind him. Warburton.

Shakspeare is here speaking not of things maliciously treacherous, but of things uncertain and not durable. A horse is above all other animals subject to diseases. Fohnson.

Heels is certainly right. “ Trust not a horse's heel, nor a dog's tooth,” is a proverb in Ray's Collection; as ancient at least as the time of our Edward II. Ritson.

most learned justicer;] The old copies read—justice. The correction was made by Mr. Theobald. Malone,

6 Wantest &c.] I am not confident that I understand the meaning of this desultory speech. When Edgar says, Look where he stands and glares ! he seems to be speaking in the character of a mad man, who thinks he sees the fiend. Wantest thou eyes at trial, Madam? is a question which appears to be addressed to the visionary Goneril, or some other abandoned female, and may signify, Do you want to attract admiration, even while you stand at the bar of justice? Mr. Seward proposes to read, wanton’st instead of wantest.

Steevens. at trial, madam?] It may be observed that Edgar, being supposed to be found by chance, and therefore to have no knowledge of the rest, connects not his ideas with those of Lear, but pursues his own train of delirious or fantastick thought. To these words, At trial, madam? I think therefore that the name of Lear should be put. The process of the dialogue will support this conjecture. Johnson.

8 Come o’er the bourn, Bessy, to me:] Both the quartos and the folio have-o'er the broome. The correction was made by Mr. Stee

Malone. As there is no relation between broom and a boat, we may better read:

Come o'er the brook, Bessy, to me. Johnson. At the beginning of A very mery and pythie Commedie, called, The longer thou livest, the more Foole thou art, &c. Imprinted at London by Wyllyam How, &c. black letter, no date, “ Entreth Moros, counterfaiting a vaine gesture and foolish countenance, synging the foote of



Edg. The foul fiend haunts poor Tom in the voice of a nightingale. Hopdance cries in Tom's belly for two white herring: Croak not, black angel; I have no food for thee.


many songs, as fooles were wont;" and among them is this passage, which Dr. Johnson has very justly suspected of corruption :

" Com over the boorne, Bessé,
“ My little pretie Bessé,

“ Com over the boorne, Bessé, to me." This song was entered on the books of the Stationers' Company in the year 1564.

A bourn in the north signifies a rivulet or brook. Hence the names of many of our villages terminate in burn, as Milburn, Sherburn, &c. The former quotation, together with the following instances, at once confirm the justness of Dr. Johnson's remark, and support the reading.

So, in Drayton's Polyolbion, Song 1:

“ The bourns, the brooks, the becks, the rills, the rivulets." Again, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. II, c. vi:

• My little boat can safely passe this perilous bourne.Shakspeare himself, in The Tempest, appears to have discrimina. red bourn from bound of land in general :

Bourn, bound of land, tilth vineyard, none." Again, in The Vision of Pierce Plowman, line 8:

Under a brode banke by bourne syde.”. To this I may add, that bourn, a boundary, is from the French borne. Bourne, or (as it ought to be spelt) burn, a rivulet, is from the German burn, or burn, a well. Steevens.

There is a peculiar propriety in this address, that has not, I believe, been hitherto observed Bessy and Poor Tom, it seems, usually travelled together. The author of The Court of Conscience, or Dick Whippers Sessions, 1607, describing beggars, idle rogues, and counterfeit madmen, thus speaks of these associates:

“ Another sort there is among you; they

- Do rage with furie as if they were so frantique “ 'They knew not what they did, but every day

“ Make sport with stick and flowers like an antique ; " Stowt roge and harlot counterfeited gomme ;

• One calls herself poor Besse, the o: her Tom.” The old song of which Mr. Steevens has given a part, consisted of nine lines, but they are not worth insertion. Malone.

in the voice of a nightingale.] Another deponent in Harsenet's book, (p. 225) says that the mistress of the house kept a nightingale in a cage, which being one night called and conveyed away into the garden, it was pretended the devil had killed it in spite. Perhaps this passage suggested to Shakspeare the circumstance of Tom's being haunted in the voice of a nightingale. Percy.

Hopdance cries in Torn's belly-] In Harsenet's book, p 194, 195, Sarah Williams (one of the pretended demoniacks) deposeth,

that if at any time she did beich, as often times she did by rea


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

you too.

Kent. How do you, sir? Stand you not so amaz’d: Will you lie down and rest upon the cushions ? Lear. I'll see their trial first :-Bring in the evi

dence. Thou robed man of justice, take thy place;- [To Edg. And thou, his yoke-fellow of equity, [To the Fool. Bench by his side :- -You are of the commission, Sit

[To Kent. Edg. Let us deal justly, Sleepest, or wakest thou, jolly shepherd ?3

Thy sheep be in the corn;
And for one blast of thy minikin mouth,

Thy sheep shall take no harm.
Pur !4 the cat is grey.

Lear. Arraign her first; 'tis Goneril. I here take my oath before this honourable assembly, she kicked the poor king her father.


son that shee was troubled with a wind in her stomacke, the priests would say at such times, that then the spirit began to rise in her . and that the wind was the devil.” And, as she saith, if they heard any croaking in her belly. .... then they would make a wonderfui mat. ter of that. Hoberdidance is mentioned before in Dr. Percy's note.

Steevens. “One time shee remembereth, that shee having the said croaking in her belly, they said it was the devil that was about the bed, that spake with the voice of a toad.Ibidem. Malone.

- white herring ] White herrings are pickled herrings. See The Northumberland Household Book, p. 8. Steevens.

3 Sleepest, or wakest &c.] This seems to be a stanza of some pastoral song. A shepherd is desired to pipe, and the request is enforced by a promise that though his sheep be in the corn, i. e, committing a trespass by his negligence, implied in the question, Sleepest thou or wakest? yet a single tune upon his pipe shall secure thein from the pound Fohnson

Minikin was anciently a term of endearment. So, in the enterlude of The Repentance of Marie Magdalaine, 1567, the Vice says, “ What mynikin carnal concupiscence !" Barrett, in his Alveurie, or Quadruple Dictionary, 1580, interprets feut, by “proper, well-fashioned, minikin, handsome.'

In The Interlu:le of the Four Elements, &c. printed by Rastell, 1519. Ignorance sings a song composed of the scraps of several others. Among them is the following line, on which Shakspeare may have designed a parody:

“ Sleepyst tho!, wakyst thou, Geffery Coke." Steevens. 4 Pur!] This may be only an imitation of the noise made by a cat. Purre is, however, one of the devil's mentioned in Harsenet's book, p. 50. Malone.

[ocr errors]

Fool. Come hither, mistress; Is your name Goneril?
Lear. She cannot deny it.
Fooks Cry you mercy, I took you for a joint-stool.5
Lear. And here's another, whose warp'd looks pro-

What store her heart is made of.-Stop her there!
Arms, arms, sword, fire-Corruption in the place!
False justicer, why hast thou let her 'scape?

Edg. Bless thy five wits!

Kent. O pity ! -Sir, where is the patience now, That you so oft have boasted to retain?

Edg. My tears begin to take his part so much, They 'll mar my counterfeiting.

[Aside. Lear. The little dogs and all, Tray, Blanch, and Sweetheart, see, they bark at me.

Edg. Tom will throw his head at them :
Avaunt, you curs !

Be thy mouth or black or white,
Tooth that poisons if it bite;
Mastiff, grey-hound, mongrel grim,
Hound, or spaniel, brach, or lym;?


$ Cry you mercy, I took you for a joint stool.] This is a proverbial expression which occurs likewise in Mother Bombie, 1594, by Lyly.

Steevens. 6 Be thy mouth or black or white,] To have the roof of the mouth black is in some dogs a proof that their breed is genuine. Steevens. 7-brach or lym; &c.] Names of particular sorts of dogs.

Pope. In Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair, Quarlous says, "all the lime-hounds of the city should have drawn after you by the scent." -A limmer or leamer, a dog of the chace, was so called from the leam or leash in which he was held till he was let slip. I have this information from Caius de Canibus Britannicis.-So, in the book of Antient Tenures, by T.B. 1679, the words, “ canes domini regis lesos," are translated « Leash hounds, such as draw after a hurt deer in a leash, or liam.Again, in The Muses Elysium, by Drayton:

My dog-hook at my belt, to which my lyam's ty’d.” Again :

" My hound then in my lyam,” &c. Among the presents sent from James I, to the king and queen of Spain were, “A cupple of lyme houndes of singular qualities." Again, in Massinger's Bashful Lover:

smell out “Her footing like a lime-hound.The late Mr. Hawkins, in his notes to The Return from Parnassus,

« ForrigeFortsett »