Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

Edg. Who gives any thing to poor Tom? whom the foul fiend hath led through fire and through flame, through ford and whirlpool, o'er bog and quagmire; that hath laid -knives under his pillow, and halters in his pew; set ratsbane by his porridge, made him proud of heart, to ride on a bay trotting horse, over four inch'd bridges, to course his own hadow for a traitor,

- bless thy five wits; Tom's a-cold. O do, de, do, de, do, de;-bless thee from whirl-winds, ftar-blasting, and taking; do poor Tom some charity, whom the foul fiend vexes.

There could I have him now, and there, and lere again, and there.

[Storm ftill. Lear. What, have his daughters brought him to this

pass ? Could'At thou fave nothing? did'ft thou give 'em all?

Fool. Nay, he reserv'd a blanket, else we had been all shamed.

Lear. Now all the plagues, that in the pendulous air Hang fated o'er men's faults, light on thy daughters !

Kent. He hath no daughters, Sir.
Lear. Death! traitor, nothing could have fubdu'd nature

criminals brought to the fake, and the trick of devil-hunting brought into ridicule; Dr. Harsenet (who was chaplain to archbishop Bancroft, and himself afterwards archbishop of York) wrote a smart narrative of this whole proceeding under the following title : “ A declaration of egregious popish impostures, to withdraw the hearis of her majes. " ty's subjects from their allegiance, &c. under the pretence of caft“ing out devils, practis'd by Edmurds, alias Weston, a jesuit; and “ divers Romiso priests, his wicked associates. Whereunto are an" nex'd the copies of the confessions and examinations of the parties " themselves, which wire pretended to be possess'd and dispose(s’d, " &c. Printed by James Roberts, in 1603."

- This transaction was so rise in every body's mouth, upon the accession of King James the ist to the crown; that our poet thought proper to make his court, by helping forward the ridicule of it. I need only observe now, that Edgar thrz'all his frenzy supposes himself poffess’d by fiends; and that the greatest part of his dissembled lunacy, the names of his devils, and the descriptive circumstances he alludes to in his own case, are all drawn from this pamphlet, and the confeffions of the poor deluded wretches. The address of our author in this popular piece of satire, and that excentrick madness he has built upon it, made me imagine, the stating a fact, so little known, might apologize for the length of this'pote on the occasion,

To

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

To fuch a lowners, but his unkind daughters.
Is it the fashion, that discarded fathers
Should have thus little mercy on their fleth ?
Judicious punishment ! 'twas this flesh begot
Those pelican daughters.

Edg. Pillicock fat on pillicock-hill, alow, alow, loo, loo!

Fool. This cold night will turn us all to fools, and madmen.

Edg. Take heed o'th' foul fiend; obey thy parents ; keep thy word juftly; swear not; commit not with man's sworn spouse; set not thy sweet-heart on proud array. Tom's a-cold.

Lear. What hast thou been?

Edg. A serving-man, proud in heart and mind; that (30) curl'd my hair, wore gloves in my cap, serv'd the luft of my mistress's heart, and did the act of darkness with her: swore as many oaths as I spake words, and broke them in the sweet face of heav'n. One that slept

(30) that curl'd my hair, wore gloves in my cap;] A learned gentleman, whom I have no privilege to name, intimated to me, that Shakespeare's reading must have been-.--wore cloves in my cap,---alluding to the prevailing mode, in those days, among the spruce gallants, of quilting Spices and other perfumes within the linings of their hats. I thought it but justice to mention a hint fo serviceably delign’d; tho', with deference, I must be oblig'd to diffent in opinion, and think that the text calls for no alteration. It was a frequet cura tom to wear gloves in the hat, upon three different motives; either as the favour of a mistress; in honour of some other respected friend; or as a mark to be challeng’d by an adversary where a duel was depending. And to this custom in all these three cases, has our author at different times alluded. King Ricbard II.

His answer was, he would unto' the stews,
And from the common'st creature pluck a glove,

And wear it as a favour.
King Henry V.

Here, uncle Exeter, fill this glove with crowns,
And give it to this fellow, Keep it, fellow,

And wear it for an honour in thy cap.
And, again, in the same play.

K. Henry. Give me any gage of thine, and I will wear it in my
bonnet; then if ever thou durft acknowledge it, I will make it my
quarrel.
Will. Here's my glove,

in

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

in the contriving luft, and awak'd to do it. Wine lov'd I deeply; dice dearly; and in woman, out-paramour'd the Turk. False of heart, light of ear, bloody of hand; hog in Roth, fox in stealth, wolf in greediness, dog in madness, lion in prey. Let not the creaking of thoes, nor the ruftling of filks, betray thy poor heart to woman. Keep thy foot out of brothels, thy hand out of plackets, thy pen from lender's books, and defy the foul fiend. Still through the hawthorn blows the cold wind: says fuum, mun, nonny, dolphin, my boy, boy, Seley: let him trot by. [Storm fill.

Lear. Thou wert better in thy grave, than to answer with thy uncover'd body this extremity of the skies. Is man no more than this ? Confider him well. Thou ow'st the worm no filk, the beast no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfume. Ha! here's three of us are sophisticated. Thou art the thing itself; unaccom. modated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art. Off, off, you lendings: come, unbutton here.

[Tearing off his clothes. Fool. Prythee, nuncle, be contented; 'tis a naughty night to swim in. Now a little fire in a wild held, were like an old letcher's heart, a small spark, and all the rest on's body cold; look, here comes a walking fire.

Edg. This is the foul Flibbertigibbet; he begins at curfew, and walks till the first cock; he gives the web and the pin, squints the eye, and makes the hair-lip; mildews the white wheat, and hurts the poor creature of the earth.

St. Withold footed thrice the Wold; (31)

He met the night-mare, and her nine-fold, (31) Swithold footed thrice the old,) What idea the editors had, or whether any, of footing the old, I cannot pretend to determine. My ingenious friend Mr. Bishop saw it must be Wold, which fignifies a down, or champion ground, hilly and void of wood. And as to St. Witbold, we find him again mention’d in our author's troublesom reign of King Jubn, in two parts:

Sweet St. Withold, of thy lenity,
Defend us from extremity.

Bid her alight, and her troth plight,

And aroynt thee, witch, aroynt thee.
Kent. How fares your Grace ?

Enter Glo'ster, with a torch.
Lear. What's he?
Kent. Who's there? what is't you

feek? Glo. What are you there? your names ?

Edg. Poor Tom, that eats the swimming frog, the toad, the tod-pole; the wall-newt, and the waternewt; that in the fury of his heart, when the foul fiend rages, eats cow-dung for fallets; swallows the old rat, and the ditch-dog; drinks the green mantle of the standing pool; who is whipe from tything to tything, and stock-punish'd, and imprison'd: who hath had three fuits to his back, fix fhirts to his body;

Horfe to ride, and weapon to wear ;
But mice, and rats, and such small deer

Have been Tom's food for seven long year.
Beware my follower. Peace, Smolkin, peace, thou fiend!

Glo. What, hath your Grace no better company?

Edg. The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman, Mode he's call'd, and Mabu.

Glo. Our Aesh and blood, my Lord, is grown fo vile, That it doth hate what gets it.

Edg. Tom's a-cold.

Glo. Go in with me; my duty cannot suffer
Tobey in all your Daughters hard commands :
Though their injunction be to bar my doors,
And let this tyrannous night take hold upon you ;
Yet have I ventur'd to come seek you out,
And bring you, where both fire and food is ready.

Lear. First, let me talk with this Philosopher;
What is the cause of thunder?

Kent. My good Lord, take his offer, Go into th' house.

Lear. I'll talk a word with this same learned Theban; What is your study? Edg. How to prevent the fiend, and to kill vermin.

Lear.

Lear. Let us ask you one word in private.

Kent, Importune him once more to go, my Lord, His Wits begin tunsettle. Glo. Can'it thou blame him ?

(Storm ftill. His Daughters seek his death : ah, that good Kent ! He said, it would be thus ; poor banish'd man ! Thou say'ft, the King grows mad; l'll tell thee, friend, I'm almoft mad myself; I had a fon, "Now out-law'd from my blood; he fought my life, But lately, very late; I lov'd him, friend, No father his son dearer: true to tell thee, T'he grief hath craz'd my wits. What a night's this? I do befeech your Grace.

Lear. O cry you mercy, Sir:
Noble Philosopher, your company.

Edg. Tom's a-cold.
Go. In, fellow, into th' hovel; keep thee warm.
Lear. Come, let's in all.
Kent. This way, my Lord.

Lear. With him ;
I will keep still with my Philosopher.

Kent. Good my Lord, footh him; let him take the fellow.

Glo. Take him you on.
Kent. Sirrah, come on; along with us.
Lear. Come, good Athenian.
Glo. No words, no words, hush.

Edg: Child Rowland to the dark tower came,
His word was still, fy, foh, and fum,
I smell the blood of a British man.

[Exeunt.

SCENE changes to Glo'ster's Castle.

:1

Enter Cornwall, and Edmund.
Corn. Will have revenge, ere I depart his house.

Edm. How, my Lord, I may be cenfur'd, that
Nature thus gives way to loyalty, something fears me
to think of.
Corn. I now perceive, it was not altogether your

brother's

« AnteriorContinua »