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Can'st thou blame him ? His daughters seek his death :-Ah, that good
Kent!He said it would be thus:-Poor banish'd man ! Thou say’st, the king grows mad; I'll tell thee,
friend, I am almost mad myself: I had a son, Now outlaw'd from my blood; he sought my life, But lately, very late; I lov'd him, friend, — No father his son dearer : true to tell thee,
[Storm continues. The grief hath craz’d my wits. What a night's
this! I do beseech your grace,LEAR.
O, cry you mercy,
Edg. Tom's a-cold.
This way, my lord. LEAR.
With him ;
No words, no words: Hush.
business of the theatre to exhibit passions, not distempers. The finest picture ever drawn, of a head discomposed by misfortune, is that of King Lear. His thoughts dwell on the ingratitude of his daughters, and every sentence that falls from his wildness excites reflection and pity. Had frenzy entirely seized him, our compassion would abate: we should conclude that he no longer felt unhappiness. Shakspeare wrote as a philosopher, Otway as a poet." STEVENS.
EDG. Child Rowland to the dark tower came,
I smell the blood of a British man. Exeunt.
o Child Rowland to the dark tower came,] The word child (however it came to have this sense) is often [as Mr. Jennens has remarked,] applied to Knights, &c. in old historical songs and romances ; of this, innumerable instances occur in The Reliques of ancient English Poetry. See particularly in vol. i. s. iv, v. 97, where, in a description of a battle between two knights, we find these lines :
“ The Eldridge knighte, he prick'd his steed;
“ Syr Cawline bold abode :
“ So soon in sunder slode.” See in the same volumes the ballads concerning the child of Elle, child waters, child Maurice, (vol. iii. s. xx.) &c. The same idiom occurs in Spenser's Fairy Queen, where the famous knight sir Tristram is frequently called Child Tristram. See b. v. c. ii. st. 8. 13; b. vi.c. ii. st. 36 ; ibid. c. viii. st. 15. Percy.
Beaumont and Fletcher, in The Woman's Prize, refer also to this :
" a mere hobby-horse
“ She made the Child Rowland.” In Have With You to Saffron Walden, or Gabriel Harvey's Hunt is Up, 1598, part of these lines repeated by Edgar is quoted: “— a pedant, who will find matter inough to dilate a whole daye of the First invention of
“ Fy, fa, fum,
" to the dark town come." STEEVENS. Child is a common term in our old metrical romances and ballads ; and is generally, if not always, applied to the hero or principal personage, who is sometimes a knight, and sometimes a thief. Syr Tryamoure is repeatedly so called both before and after his knighthood. I think, however, that this line is part of a translation of some Spanish, or perhaps, French ballad. But the two following lines evidently belong to a different subject : I find them in the second part of Jack and the Giants, which, if not as old as Shakspeare's time, may have been compiled fron: , something that was so : They are uttered by a giant :
“ Fee, faw, fum,
A Room in GLOSTER's Castle.
Enter CORNWALL and EDMUND.
house. Edm. How, my lord, I may be censured, that nature thus gives way to loyalty, something fears me to think of.
Corn. I now perceive, it was not altogether your brother's evil disposition made him seek his death; but a provoking merit?, set a-work by a reproveable badness in himself.
Edm. How malicious is my fortune, that I must repent to be just! This is the letter he spoke of, which approves him an intelligent party to the ad
English is here judiciously changed to British, because the characters are Britons, and the scene is laid long before the English had any thing to do with this country. Our author is not so attentive to propriety on every occasion. Ritson.
Mr. Capell observes in a note, which, from its great length, I have been compelled to abridge, that Child Rowland means the knight Orlando. He would read come, with the quartos, absolutely (Orlando being come tto the dark tower); and supposes a line to be lost " which spoke of some giant, the inhabitant of that tower, and the smeller-out of Child Rowland, who comes to encounter him.” He proposes to fill up the passage thus :
“ Child Rowland to the dark tower come,
“ The giant roar'd, and out he ran ;
“ His word was still,” &c. BOSWELL. 1- but a PROVOKING merit,] Provoking, here means stimulating ; a merit he felt in himself, which irritated him against a father that had none. M. Mason.
Cornwall, I suppose, means the merit of Edmund, which, being noticed by Gloster, provoked or instigated Edgar to seek his father's death. Dr. Warburton conceived that the merit spoken of was that of Edgar. But how is this consistent with the rest of the sentence ? MALONE.
vantages of France. O heavens! that this treason were not, or not I the detector!
CORN. Go with me to the duchess.
Edm. If the matter of this paper be certain, you have mighty business in hand.
Corn. True, or false, it hath made thee earl of Gloster. Seek out where thy father is, that he may be ready for our apprehension.
EDM. [Aside.7 If I find him comforting & the king, it will stuff his suspicion more fully.- I will persevere in my course of loyalty, though the conflict be sore between that and my blood.
Corn. I will lay trust upon thee; and thou shalt find a dearer * father in my love. [Exeunt.
A Chamber in a Farm-House, adjoining the Castle.
Enter GLOSTER, LEAR, KENT, Fool, and EDGAR.
Glo. Here is better than the open air; take it thankfully : 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 kind
[Erit GLOSTER. Edg. Frateretto calls me; and tells me, Nero is an anglero in the lake of darkness. Pray, innocent', and beware the foul fiend.
* First folio, dear.
8 — comforting -] He uses the word in the juridical sense for supporting, helping, according to its derivation; “salvia confortat nervos."-Schol. Sal. Johnson.
Johnson refines too much on this passage; comforting mcans merely giving comfort or assistance. So Gloster says, in the beginning of the next scene: “ — I will piece out the comfort with what addition I can.” M. Mason.
Fool. Prythee, nuncle, tell me, whether a madman be a gentleman, or a yeoman ?
LEAR. A king, a king !
Fool'. 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 whizzing in upon them * :
9 FRATERETTO calls me; and tells me, Nero is an angler, &c.] See the quotation from Harsnet, p. 159, n. 1..
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.
Ritson. 1- Pray, INNOCENT,] Perhaps he is here addressing the Fool Fools were anciently called Innocents. So, in All's Well That Ends Well, Act IV. Sc. III.: “ — the Sheriff's Fool-a dumb innocent, that could not say him nay."
Again, in The Whipper of the Satyre his Pennance in a White Sheet, &c. 1601 :
“A gentleman that had a wayward foole,
STEEVENS. 2 Fool. Pr'ythee, NUNCLE, tell me,] And before, in the same Act, Sc. III. :-“ Cry to it, nuncle." Why does the Fool call the old King, nuncle? But we have the same appellation in The Pilgrim, by Fletcher:
"Farewell, 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. 54, n. 6. Steevens.
3 Fool.] This speech is omitted in the quartos. STEEVENS.
4 Come Whizzing in upon them :] The old copies have-hizzing, a mere corruption, from imperfect enunciation, which has been followed in all the modern editions. The verb is to whizz, not to hizz. The word is again used by our author in Julius Cæsar :
“ The exhalations whizzing in the air