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Strike in their numb'd and mortified bare arms Pins, wooden pricks', nails, sprigs of rosemary; And with this horrible object, from low farms, Poor pelting villages, sheep-cotes and mills,
Abram ninnies doe the silly villagers of the country, so that when they come to any doore a begging, nothing is denied them.”
To sham Abraham, a cant term, still in use among sailors and the vulgar, may have this origin. STEEVENS.
Aubrey, in his MS. Remaines of Gentilisme and Judaisme. part iii. p. 234, b. (MS. Lansdowne, 226,) says : “ Before the civil warrs, I remember Tom-a-Bedlams went about begging. They had been such as had been in Bedlam, and come to some degree of sobernesse, and when they were licensed to goe out they had on their left arme an armilla of tinne printed, of about three inches breadth, which was sodered-on.” H. Ellis.
1 – wooden pricks,] i. e. skewers. So, in The Wyll of the Deuill, bl. I. no date : “ I give to the butchers, &c. pricks inough to set up their thin meate, that it may appeare thicke and well fedde.” Steevens.
Steevens is right : the euonymus, of which the best skewers are made, is called prick-wood. M. Mason.
2 - low FARMS,] The quartos read, low service. Steevens.
3 Poor pelting villages,] Pelting is used by Shakspeare in the sense of beggarly; I suppose from pelt, a skin. The poor being generally clothed in leather. WARBURTON.
Pelting is, I believe, only an accidental depravation of petty. Shakspeare uses it in A Midsummer-Night's Dream, of small brooks. Johnson.
Beaumont and Fletcher often use the word in the same sense as Shakspeare. So, in King and no King, Act IV.:
.." This pelting, prating peace is good for nothing." Spanish Curate, Act II. Sc. ult. : “ To learn the pelting law.” Shakspeare's Midsummer-Night's Dream : " - every pelting river." Measure for Measure, Act II. Sc. VII. :
“ And every pelting petty officer.” Again, in Troilus and Cressida, Hector says to Achilles :
“We have had pelting wars since you refus'd
“6 The Grecian cause." From the first of the two last instances it appears not to be a corruption of petty, which is used the next word to it, but seems to be the same as paltry : and if it comes from pelt, a skin, as Dr. Warburton says, the poets have furnished villages, peace, law, rivers, officers of justice, and wars, all out of one wardrobe.
Sometime with lunatick bans“, sometime with
prayers, Enforce their charity. - Poor Turlygood! poor
Tom 5 !
[Exit. SCENE IV.
Before GLOSTER's Castle ?.
Enter LEAR, Fool, and Gentleman. · LEAR. 'Tis strange, that they should so depart
from home, And not send back my messenger.
4 lunatick Bans,7 To ban, is to curse.
“Well, be as be may, is no banning.”
STEEVENS. s – poor TURLYGOOD! poor Tom !] We should read Turlupin. In the fourteenth century there was a new species of gipsies, called Turlupins, a fraternity of naked beggars, which ran up and down Europe. However, the church of Rome hath dignified them with the name of hereticks, and actually burned some of them at Paris. But what sort of religionists they were, appears from Genebrard's account of them. • Turlupin Cynicorum sectam suscitantes, de nuditate pudendorum, et publico coitu.” Plainly, nothing but a band of Tom-o'-Bedlams. WARBURTON.
Hanmer reads—poor Turluru. It is probable the word Turlygood was the common corrupt pronunciation. Johnson.
6 — Edgar I nothing am.] As Edgar I am outlawed, dead in law; I have no longer any political existence. Johnson.
The critick's idea is both too complex and too puerile for one in Edgar's situation. He is pursued, it seems, and proclaimed, i. e. a reward has been offered for taking or killing him. In assuming this character, says he, I may preserve myself; as Edgar I am inevitably gone. Ritson. · Perhaps the meaning is, “ As poor Tom, I may exist : appearing as Edgar, I am lost. Malone.
7 Before Gloster's Castle.] It is not very clearly discovered
As I learn'd,
Hail to thee, noble master!
No, my lord '.
why Lear comes hither. In the foregoing part he sent a letter to Gloster; but no hint is given of its contents. He seems to have gone to visit Gloster while Cornwall and Regan might prepare to entertain him. Johnson.
It is plain, I think, that Lear comes to the Earl of Gloster's in consequence of his having been at the Duke of Cornwall's, and having heard there, that his son and daughter were gone to the Earl of Gloster's. His first words show this : « 'Tis strange that they (Cornwall and Regan) should so depart from home, and not send back my messenger (Kent).” It is clear also, from Kent's speech in this scene, that he went directly from Lear to the Duke of Cornwall's, and delivered his letters; but, instead of being sent back with any answer, was ordered to follow the Duke and Duchess to the Earl of Glosters. But what then is the meaning of Lear's order to Kent, in the preceding Act, Scene V.: “ Go you before to Gloster with these letters." The obvious meaning, ånd what will agree best with the course of the subsequent events, is, that the Duke of Cornwall and his wife were then residing at Gloster. Why Shakspeare should choose to suppose them at Gloster, rather than at any other city, is a different question. Perhaps he might think, that Gloster implied such a neighbourhood to the Earl of Gloster's castle as his story required.
TYRWHITT. See p. 74, n. 3. Malone. 38 No, my lord.] Omitted in the quartos. Steevens.
9 – he wears CRUEL garters !] I believe a quibble was here intended. Crewel signifies worsted, of which stockings, garters, night-caps, &c. are made; and it is used in that sense in Beaumont and Flecher's Scornful Ladv, Act II. :
“ For who that had but half his wits about him
“ To such a crewel night-cap.” So, again, in the comedy of The Two Angry Women of Abington, printed 1599:
“ I'll warrant you, he'll have
Horses are tied by the head ; dogs, and bears, by the neck; monkies by the loins, and men by the legs : when a man is over-lusty' at legs, then he wears wooden nether-stocks 2. LEAR. What's he, that hath so much thy place
mistook To set thee here? Kent.
It is both he and she, Your son and daughter.
So, in The Bird in a Cage, 1633 :
“I speak the prologue to our silk and cruel
“ Gentlemen in the hangings.” Again, in Woman's a Weathercock, 1612:
“Wearing of silk, why art thou still so cruel.” Steevens. 1 - over-lusty -] Over-lusty, in this place, has a double signification. Lustiness anciently meant sauciness.
So, in Decker's If this be not a Good Play the Devil is in it, 1612:
" upon pain of being plagued for their lustyness.” Again, in Claudius Tiberius Nero, 1607:
" she'll snarl and bite,
“ And take up Nero for his lustiness." Again, in Sir Thomas North’s translation of Plutarch : “ Cassius' soldiers did shewe themselves verie stubborne and lustie in the campe,” &c. Steevens.
2- then he wears wooden NETHER-STOCKS.) Nether-stocks is the old word for stockings. Breeches were at that time called “men's overstockes," as I learn from Barrett's Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionary, 1580.
It appears from the following passage in the second part of The Map of Mock Beggar Hall, &c. an ancient ballad, that the stockings were formerly sewed to the breeches :
“ Their fathers went in homely frees,
“ And good plain broad-cloth breeches; “ Their stockings with the same agrees,
“ Sew'd on with good strong stitches.” Stubbs, in his Anatomie of Abuses, has a whole chapter on The Diversitie of Nether-Stockes worne in England, 1595. Heywood, among his Epigrams, 1562, has the following:
“ Thy upper-stocks, be they stuft with silke or flocks, , “ Never become thee like a nether paire of stocks."
LEAR. They durst not do't ;
murder, To do upon respect such violent outrage 5: Resolve me, with all modest haste, which way Thou might'st deserve, or they impose, this usage, Coming from us. KENT.
My lord, when at their home I did commend your highness' letters to them, Ere I was risen from the place that show'd My duty kneeling, came there a reeking post, Stew'd in his haste, half breathless, panting forth From Goneril his mistress, salutations ; Deliver'd letters, spite of intermission,
3 Lear.] This and the next speech are omitted in the folio. I have left the rest as I found them, without any attempt at metrical division ; being well convinced that, as they are collected from discordant copies, they were not all designed to be preserved, and therefore cannot, in our usual method, be arranged.
Steevens. 4 By Juno, I swear, ay.] Omitted in the quartos. Steevens.
5 To do upon respect such violent outrage:) To violate the publick and venerable character of a messenger from the king.
Johnson. To do an outrage upon respect, does not, I believe, primarily mean, to behave outrageously to persons of a respectable character, (though that in substance is the sense of the words,) but rather, to be grossly deficient in respect to those who are entitled to it, considering respect as personified. So before in this scene:
“You shall do small respect, show too bold malice
“ Stocking his messengers.” Malone. 6 Deliver'd letters, spite of INTERMISSION,] Intermission, for another message, which they had then before them, to consider