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They have travell’d hard to-night ? Mere fetches;
My dear lord,
LEAR. Vengeance! plague! death! confusion!
so. LEAR. Inform'd them! Dost thou understand
me, man ? Gło. Ay, my good lord. LEAR. The king would speak with Cornwall;
the dear father Would with his daughter speak, commands her ser
vice : Are they inform’d of this??--My breath and
blood !Fiery? the fiery duke ?—Tell the hot duke, that? No, but not yet :-may be, he is not well : Infirmity doth still neglect all office, Whereto our health is bound; we are not ourselves, When nature, being oppress’d, commands the mind To suffer with the body : I'll forbear; And am fallen out with my more headier will,
. * Quartos, What fiery quality ? 8 Mere fetches ;] Though this line is now defective, perhaps it originally stood thus :
“Mere fetches all - " Steevens. 9 Glo. Well, &c.] This, with the following speech, is omitted in the quartos. Steevens. ? Are they inform'd of this ?] This line is not in the quartos.
MALONE. 2 — Tell the hot duke, that --] The quartos read-Tell the hot duke, that Lear- Steevens.
To take the indispos'd and sickly fit For the sound man.-Death on my state! wherefore
. [Looking on KENT. Should he sit here? This act persuades me, That this remotion of the duke and her Is practice only . Give me my servant forth : Go, tell the duke and his wife, I'd speak with them, Now, presently: bid them come forth and hear me, Or at their chamber door I'll beat the drum, Till it cry-Sleep to death 6. Glo. I'd have all well betwixt you. [Exit. LEAR. O me, my heart, my rising heart !-but,
down. Fool. Cry to it, nuncle, as the cockney' did to
3 — This act persuades me,] As the measure is here defective, perhaps our author wrote:
" This act almost persuades me-" STEEVENS. 4 — this REMOTION-] From their own house to that of the Earl of Gloster. MALONE.
s' Is PRACTICE only.) Practice is, in Shakspeare, and other old writers, used commonly in an ill sense for unlawful artifice.
JOHNSON. -6 Till it cry-SLEEP TO DEATH.] This, as it stands, appears to be a mere nonsensical rhapsody. Perhaps we should read-Death to sleep, instead of Sleep to death. M. Mason.
The meaning of this passage seems to be--I'll beat the drum till it cries out—Let them awake no more;-Let their present sleep be their last. Somewhat similar occurs in Troilus and Cressida :
“— the death tokens of it
“ Cry-No recovery." The sentiment of Lear does not, therefore, in my opinion, deserve the censure bestowed on it by Mr. M. Mason, but is, to the full, as defensible as many other bursts of dramatick passion.
STEEVENS. 9 the COCKNEY —] It is not easy to determine the exact power of this term of contempt, which, as the editor of The Canterbury Tales of Chaucer observes, might have been originally borrowed from the kitchen. From the ancient ballad of The Turnament of Tottenham, published by Dr. Percy, in his second volume of Ancient Poetry, p. 24, it should seem to signify a cook :
the eels, when she put them i' the paste & alive; she rapp'd 'em' o' the coxcombs with a stick, and
“ At that feast were they served in rich array;
“ Every five and five had a cokeney." i. e, a cook, or scullion, to attend them.
Shakspeare, however, in Twelfth-Night, makes his Clown say“I am afraid this great lubber the world, will prove a cockney." In this place it seems to have a signification not unlike that which it bears at present; and, indeed, Chaucer, in his Reve's Tale, ver. 4205, appears to employ it with such a meaning :
“ And when this jape is tald another day,
“ I shall be balden a daffe or a cokenay." Meres, likewise, in the Second part of his Wit's Commonwealth, 1568, observes, that “many cockney and wanton women are often sick, but in faith they cannot tell where.” Decker, also, in his Newes from Hell, &c. 1606, has the following passage': “ 'Tis not their fault, but our mother's, our cockering mothers, who for their labour made us to be called cockneys." See the notes on the Canterbury Tales of Chaucer, vol. iv. p. 253, where the reader will meet with more information on this subject.
Steevens. Cockenay, as Dr. Percy imagines, cannot be a cook or scullion, but is some dish which I am unable to ascertain. My authority is the following epigram from Davies :
“ He that comes every day, shall have a cock-nay,
Epigram on English Proverbs, 179.
WHALLEY. Mr. Malone expresses his doubt whether cockney means a scullion, &c. in The Turnament of Tottenham; and to the lines already quoted from J. Davies's Scourge of Folly, adds the two next :
“ But cocks that to hens come but now and then,
“ Shall have a cock-nay, not the fat hen." I have been lately informed, by an old lady, that during her childhood, she remembers having eaten a kind of sugar pellets called at that time cockneys. Steevens.
8 - the eels, when she put them THE PASTE — Hinting that the eel and Lear are in the same danger. Johnson.
The Fool does not compare Lear himself to the eels, but his rising choler. M. Mason.
This reference is not sufficiently explained. The paste, or crust of a pie, in Shakspeare's time, was called a coffin. HENLEY.
-she RAPP'D 'em -) So the quartos. The folio reads she knapt 'em, MALONE,
ΓΚΕΝΤ is set
cry'd, Down, wantons, down: 'Twas her brother,
LEAR. Good morrow to you both.
Hail to your grace!
[Kent is set at Liberty. Reg. I am glad to see your highness. LEAR. Regan, I think you are; I know what
reason I have to think so: if thou should'st not be glad, I would divorce me from thy mother's tomb, Sepúlch’ring an adultress.—0, are you free ?
[To Kent. Some other time for that.-Beloved Regan, Thy sister's naught: 0 Regan, she hath tied Sharp-tooth'd unkindness, like a vulture, here?,
[Foints to his Heart. I can scarce speak to thee; thou'lt not believe, Of how deprav'd a quality 8-0 Regan !
REG. I pray you, sir, take patience; I have hope, You less know how to value her desert, Than she to scant her duty 4.
Rapp'd must be the true reading, as the only sense of the verb to knap, is to snap, or break asunder. STEEVENS..
Sepúlch’ring -] This word is accented in the same manner by Fairfax and Milton :
“ As if his work should his sepúlcher be.” C. i. st. 25. “ And so sepulcher'd in such pomp dost lie.”
Milton on Shakspeare, line 15.
STEEVENS. - she hath tied Sharp-tooth'd unkindness, like a vulture, here,] Alluding to the fable of Prometheus. WARBURTON.
3 Or how deprav'd a quality –] Thus the quarto. The folio reads :
“ With how deprav'd a quality ,” Johnson. 4 Than she to scant her duty.] . The word scant is directly contrary to the sense intended. The quarto reads :
Say 5, how is that ? Reg. I cannot think, my sister in the least
“ - slack her duty.” which is no better. May we not change it thus :
“ You less know how to value her desert,
“ Than she to scan her duty.” To scan may be to measure or proportion. Yet our author uses his negatives with such licentiousness, that it is hardly safe to make any alteration Scant may mean to adapt, to fit, to proportion; which sense seems still to be retained in the mechanical term scantling. Johnson.
Sir Thomas Hanmer had proposed this change of scant into scan; but surely no alteration is necessary. The other readingslack, would answer as well. “ You less know how to value her desert, than she (knows) to scant her duty,” i. e, than she can be capable of being wanting in her duty. I have at least given the intended meaning of the passage. Steevens.
Shakspeare, without doubt, intended to make Regan say "I have hope that the fact will rather turn out, that you know not. how to appreciate her merit, than that she knows how to scant, or be deficient in, her duty.” But that he has expressed this sentiment inaccurately, will, I think, clearly appear from inverting the sentence, without changing a word. “I have hope (says Regan) that she knows more [or better] how to scant her duty, than you know how to value her desert : " i.e. I have hope, that she is more perfect, more an adept, (if the expression may be allowed,) in the non-performance of her duty, than you are perfect, or accurate, in the estimation of her merit.
In The Winter's Tale we meet with an inaccuracy of the same kind :
" - I ne'er heard yet,
“ Than to perform it first.” where, as Dr. Johnson has justly observed, " wanted should be had, or less should be more." Again, in Cymbeline : “ be it but to fortify her judgment, which else an easy battery might lay flat, for taking a beggar without less quality." Here also less should certainly be more. Again, in Macbeth :
“ Who cannot want the thought how monstrous
“ To kill the gracious Duncan ?” - Here unquestionably for cannot the poet should have written can. See Antony and Cleopatra, Act IV. Sc. XII.
If Lear is less knowing in the valuation of Goneril's desert, than