« ForrigeFortsett »
Edg. 4 The foul fiend bites my back.
Fool. He's mad, that trusts in the tameness of a wolf, a horse's health', a boy's love, or a whore's
LEAR. It shall be done, I will arraign them
straight :Come, sit thou here, most learned justicer ;-
TTo EDGAR. Thou, sapient sir, sit here. [To the Fool.]—Now,
you she foxes ! EDG. Look, where he stands and glares ! Wantest thou eyes’ at trial, madam 8 ?
To whizz, Coles renders by—strideo. Dict. 1676. MALONE. May it not rather mean hissing ? Quarto A spells the word hiszing. Boswell.
4 Edg.] This and the next thirteen speeches (which Dr. Johnson had enclosed in crotchets) are only in the quartos. Steevens.
5- 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. Johnson.
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. :
Et ideo Babio in comediis insinuat, dicens; .
• In fide, dente, pede, mulieris, equi, canis, est fraus.' Hoc sic vulgariter est dici :
“ Till horsis fote thou never traist,
Forduni Scotichronicon, 1. xiv. c. xxxii.
Justicer, from Justitiarius, was the old term, as we learn from Lambard's Eirenarcha : “ And of this it commeth that M. Fitzherbert (in his treatise of the Justices of Peace,) calleth them justicers (contractly for justiciars) and not justices, as we commonly, and not altogether unproperly, doe name them.”
Boswell. 7 Wantest, &c.] I am not confident that I understand the meaning of this desultory speech. When Edgar says, “ Look
Come o'er the bourn, Bessy, to me':-
And she must not speak
where he stands and glares,” he seems to be speaking in the character of a madman, who thinks he sees the fiend.“ Wantest thou eyes át trial, madam ? " is a question which appears to be addressed to the visionary Goneril, or some other abandon'd 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.
8 — at trial, madamn ?] 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.
9 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. Steevens. 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 vain gesture and foolish countenance, synging the foote of many songs, as fooles were wont;” and among them is this passage, which Dr. Johnson has very justly suspected of corruption :
“ Com over the bvorne 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.”
Edg. The foul fiend haunts poor Tom in the voice of a nightingale". Hopdance cries in Tom's belly 2 for two white herring: Croak not, black angel ; I have no food for thee.
· Shakspeare himself, in The Tempest, appears to have discriminated bourn from bound of land in general :
i “ 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 born, 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 other Tom." The old song of which Mr. Steevens has given a part, consisted of nine lines, but they are not worth insertion. MALONE.
“ Come o'er the bourn,'Bessy, to me." Mad women who travel about the country, still go in Shropshire, and, perhaps, elsewhere, under the name of “cousin Betties.” BLAKEWAY.
in the voice of a nightingale.] Another deponent in Harsnet'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.
2 - Hopdance cries in Tom's belly-] In Harsnet's book, p. 194, 195, Sarah Williams (one of the pretended demoniacks) deposeth,“ – that if at any time she did belch, as often times she did by reason 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 wonderful matter of that.” Hoberdidance is mentioned before in Dr. Percy's note. STEEVENS.
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 EDGAR. And thou, his yoke-fellow of equity, [To the Fool. Bench by his side :-You are of the commission, Sit you too.
[To Kent. Edg. Let us deal justly. Sleepest, or wakest thou, jolly shephérd4 ?
Thy sheep be in the corn;
Thy sheep shall take no harm.
“ 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.
3. - white herring.] White herrings are pickled herrings. See The Northumberland Household Book, p. 8. STEEVENS.
4 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 them from the pound. JOHNSON.
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 Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionary, 1580, interprets feat by “proper, well-fashioned, minikin, handsome.” · In The Interlude 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 thou, wakyst thou, Geffery Coke." STEEVENS. s Pur!) This may be only an imitation of the noise made by a cat. Purre is, however, one of the devils mentioned in Harsnet's book, p. 50. MALONE.
LEAR. Arraign her first ; 'tis Goneril. I here take my oath before this honourable assembly, she kicked the poor king her father.
Fool. Come hither, mistress; Is your name Goneril?
LEAR. She cannot deny it.
Fool. Cry you mercy, I took you for a jointstool 6. LEAR. And here's another, whose warp'd looks
proclaim 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 Sweet-heart, see, they bark at
me?. ÉDr. Tom will throw his head at them :Avaunt, you curs !
Be thy mouth or black or white 8,
6 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.
7 - see, they bark at me.] The hint for this circumstance might have been taken from the pretended madness of one of the brothers in the translation of the Menachmi of Plautus, 1595 : “Here's an old mastiff bitch stands barking at me," &c.
STEVENS. 8 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.