Imatges de pÓgina

FOOL. I have used it, nuncle, ever since thou madest thy daughters thy mother': for when thou gavest them the rod, and put'st down thine own breeches,

Then they for sudden joy did weep2, [Singing.
And I for sorrow sung,

That such a king should play bo-peep3,
And go the fools among.

Pr'ythee, nuncle, keep a school-master that can teach thy fool to lie; I would fain learn to lie. LEAR. If you lie, sirrah, we'll have you whipped. FOOL, I marvel, what kin thou and thy daughters are: they'll have me whipped for speaking true, thou❜lt have me whipped for lying; and, sometimes, I am whipped for holding my peace. I had rather be any kind of thing, than a fool: and yet I would not be thee, nuncle; thou hast pared thy wit o'both sides, and left nothing in the middle: Here comes one o'the parings.

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since thou madest thy daughters thy MOTHER :] i. e. when you invested them with the authority of a mother. Thus the quartos. The folio reads with less propriety,―thy mothers. MALONE.

2 Then they for sudden joy did weep, &c.] So, in The Rape of Lucrece, by Heywood, 1630:

"When Tarquin first in court began,

"And was approved King,

"Some men for sodden joy gan weep,


And I for sorrow sing.'

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I cannot ascertain in what year T. Heywood first published this play, as the copy in 1630, which I have used, was the fourth impression. STEEVENS.

The first edition was in 1608. I have corrected Mr. Steevens's quotation from that copy. BoSWELL.

3 That such a king should play BO-PEEP,] Little more of this game, than its mere denomination, remains. It is mentioned, however, in Churchyard's Charitie, 1593, in company with two other childish plays, which it is not my office to explain :

"Cold parts men plaie, much like old plaine bo-peepe,
"Or counterfait, in-dock-out-nettle, still." STEEVENS.

Enter GONEril.

Lear. How now, daughter? what makes that frontlet on? Methinks, you are too much of late i' the frown.

FOOL. Thou wast a pretty fellow, when thou had'st no need to care for her frowning; now thou art an O without a figure': I am better than thou❝


that frontlet-] Lear alludes to the frontlet, which was anciently part of a woman's dress. So, in a play called The Four P's, 1569:


Forsooth, women have many lets, "And they be masked in many nets:

"As frontlets, fillets, partlets, and bracelets:

"And then their bonets and their pionets."

Again, in Lyly's Midas, 1592: "Hoods, frontlets, wires, cauls, curling-irons, perriwigs, bodkins, fillets, hair-laces, ribbons, roles, knotstrings, glasses," &c.

Again, and more appositely, in Zepheria, a collection of sonnets, 4to. 1594:

"But now, my sunne, it fits thou take thy set

"And vayle thy face with frownes as with a frontlet.”


A frontlet was a forehead-cloth, used formerly by ladies at night to render that part smooth. Lear, I suppose, means to say, that Goneril's brow was as completely covered by a frown, as it would be by a frontlet.

So, in Lyly's Euphues and his England, 4to. 1580: "The next day I coming to the gallery where she was solitarily walking, with her frowning cloth, as sicke lately of the sullens," &c. MALONE.

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5 - Now thou art an O WITHOUT A FIGURE:] The Fool means to say, that Lear, having pared his wit on both sides, and left nothing in the middle," is become a mere cypher; which has no arithmetical value, unless preceded or followed by some figure. In The Winter's Tale we have the same allusion, reversed:


and therefore, like a cypher,

"Yet standing in rich place, I multiply,

"With one-we thank you,-many thousands more
"Standing before it." MALONE.

I am better than thou, &c.] This bears some resem

art now; I am a fool, thou art nothing.-Yes, forsooth, I will hold my tongue; so your face [To GoN.] bids me, though you say nothing. Mum, mum, He that keeps nor crust nor crum, Weary of all, shall want some.

That's a shealed peascod'. [Pointing to Lear. GON. Not only, sir, this your all-licens d fool, But other of your insòlent retinue

Do hourly carp and quarrel; breaking forth

In rank and not-to-be-endured riots. Sir,

I had thought, by making this well known unto


To have found a safe redress; but now grow fearful,
By what yourself too late have spoke and done,
That you protect this course, and put it on

By your allowance 9; which if you should, the fault
Would not 'scape censure, nor the redresses sleep;
Which, in the tender of a wholesome weal,
Might in their working do you that offence,
Which else were shame, that then necessity
Will call discreet proceeding.

FOOL. For you trow, nuncle,

blance to Falstaff's reply to the Prince, in King Henry IV. Part I.: "A better than thou; I am a gentleman, thou art a drawer."


7 That's a shealed peascod.] i. e. Now a mere husk, which contains nothing. The outside of a king remains, but all the intrinsick parts of royalty are gone: he has nothing to give.


"That's a shealed peascod." The robing of Richard II.'s effigy in Westminster Abbey is wrought with peascods open, and the peas out; perhaps an allusion to his being once in full possession of sovereignty, but soon reduced to an empty title. See Camden's Remains, 1674, p. 453, edit. 1657, p. 340. TOLLET. 8 put it on-] i. e. promote, push it forward. So, in Macbeth:

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the powers above

"Put on their instruments -" STEEVENS.

By your ALLOWANCE ;] By your approbation. MALONE,

The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long,
That it had its head bit off by its young.

So, out went the candle, and we were left darkling 1. LEAR. Are you our daughter?

GON. Come, sir 2, I would, you would make use of that good wisdom whereof I know you are fraught; and put away these dispositions, which of late transform you from what you rightly are.


FOOL. May not an ass know when the cart draws the horse ?-Whoop, Jug! I love thee.


were left DARKLING.] This word is used by Milton, Paradise Lost, book i.:


-as the wakeful bird "Sings darkling ——."

and long before, as Mr. Malone observes, by Marston, &c.

Dr. Farmer concurs with me in supposing, that the words"So, out went the candle," &c. are a fragment of some old song. STEEVENS.

Shakspeare's Fools are certainly copied from the life. The originals whom he copied were no doubt men of quick parts; lively and sarcastick. Though they were licensed to say any thing, it was still necessary to prevent giving offence, that every thing they said should have a playful air we may suppose therefore that they had a custom of taking off the edge of too sharp a speech by covering it hastily with the end of an old song, or any glib nonsense that came into the mind. I know no other way of accounting for the incoherent words with which Shakspeare often finishes this Fool's speeches. SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.

In a very old dramatick piece, entitled A very mery and pythie Comedy, called The Longer Thou Livest the more Foole Thou Art, printed about the year 1580, we find the following stagedirection: Entreth Moros, counterfaiting a vaine gesture and a foolish countenance, synging the foote of many songs, as fools were wont." MALONE.

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See my note on Act III. Sc. VI. in which this passage was brought forward, long ago, [1773] for a similar purpose of illustration. STEEVENS.

2 Come, sir,] The folio omits these words, and reads the rest of the speech, I think rightly, as verse. BOSWELL. 3 TRANSFORM you-] Thus the quartos. The folio reads -transport you. STEEVENS.


- Whoop, Jug! &c.] There are in the Fool's speeches several passages which seem to be proverbial allusions, perhaps not now to be understood. JOHNSON.


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Whoop, Jug! I love thee." This, as I am informed, is a quotation from the burthen of an old song. STEEVENS.

LEAR. Does any here know me ?-Why this is not Lear: does Lear walk thus? speak thus ? Where are his eyes? Either his notion weakens, or his discernings are lethargied.-Sleeping or waking?-Ha! sure 'tis not so.-Who is it that can tell me who I am?-Lear's shadow? I would learn that; for by the marks of sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, I should be false persuaded I had daughters "


In Heywood's Rape of Lucrece, we meet with a song in which the burthen is

"My juggie, my puggie, my honie, my conie,


My love, my dove, my deere;

"Oh the weather is cold, it blowes, it snowes,

"Oh! oh! let me be lodged heere." BOSWELL. this is not Lear:] This passage appears to have been imitated by Ben Jonson in his Sad Shepherd:

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this is not Marian!

"Nor am I Robin Hood! I pray you ask her!
"Ask her, good shepherds! ask her all for me :
"Or rather ask yourselves, if she be she;

"Or I be I." STEEVENS.

Lear's shadow?] The folio gives these words to the Fool.

And, I believe, rightly. M. MASON.

6 for by the marks of sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, &c.] His daughters prove so unnatural, that, if he were only to judge by the reason of things, he must conclude, they cannot be his daughters. This is the thought. But how does his kingship or sovereignty enable him to judge of this matter? The line, by being false pointed, has lost its sense, We should read:

"Of sovereignty of knowledge.'

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i. e. the understanding. He calls it, by an equally fine phrase, in Hamlet,-Sovereignty of reason. And it is remarkable that the editors had depraved it there too. See note, Act I. Sc. VII. of

that play. [vol. vii. p. 236.] WARBURTON.

The contested passage is wanting in the folio. STEEVENS. The difficulty, which must occur to every reader, is, to conceive how the marks of sovereignty, of knowledge, and of reason, should be of any use to persuade Lear that he had, or had not, daughters. No logick, I apprehend, could draw such a conclusion from such premises. This difficulty, however, may be entirely removed, by only pointing the passage thus :-" for by the marks of sovereignty, knowledge, and of reason, I should be false persuadedI had daughters.-Your name, fair gentlewoman?"

The chain of Lear's speech being thus untangled, we can

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