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Edg. The night gone by.
Edm. Spake you with him?
Edm. Parted you in good terms, found you no difpleasure in him, by word or countenance ?
Edg. None at all.
Edm. Bethink yourself, wherein you have offended him and, at my intreary, forbear his prefence, until fome little time hath qualified the heat of his difpleafure; which at this inftant fo rageth in him, that with the mifchief of your perfon it would fcarcely allay.
Edg. Some villain hath done me wrong.
Edm. That's my fear. I pray you, have a continent forbearance 'till the fpeed of his rage goes flower; and, as I fay, retire with me to my lodging, from whence I will fitly bring you to hear my Lord fpeak. Pray you, go, there's my key. If you do ftir abroad, go arm'd.
Edg. Arm'd, brother!
Edin. Brother, I advise you to the beft; I am no honest man, if there be any good meaning toward you: I have told you what I have seen and heard, but faintly; nothing like the image and horror of it. Pray
Edg. Shall I hear from you anon?
needles difidences, banifment of frien's, diffipation of courts, nuptial breaches, and I know not what.
It is eafy to remark, that in this fpeech, which ought, I think, to be inferted in the text, Edmund, with the common craft of fortune-tellers, mingles the paft and future, and tells of the fu
ture only what he already foreknows by confederacy, or can attain by probable conjecture.
7 that with the mischief of your perfon] This reading is in both copies, yet I believe the authour gave it, that but with the mifchief of your person it would fcarce allay.
Edm. I do ferve you in this bufinefs. [Exit Edgar. A credulous father, and a brother noble, Whose nature is fo far from doing harms, That he fufpects none; on whofe foolish honefty My practices ride eafy; I fee the business. Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit; All with me's meet, that I can fashion fit.
D'ing of his fool?
ID my father ftrike my gentleman for chid
Stew. Ay, madam.
Gon. By day and night, he wrongs me. Every hour He flashes into one grofs crime or other,
That fets us all at odds; I'll not endure it.
His Knights grow riotous, and himself upbraids us
You fhall do well; the fault of it I'll answer.
Whofe mind and mine, I know, in that are one,
That ftill would manage thofe Authorities,
8 Idle old Man,] The follow lowing Lines, as they are fine in
themfelves, and very much in Character for Gonerill, I have re
That he hath giv'n away!-Now, by my Life, 9 Old Fools are Babes again; and must be us'd With Checks, as flatteries when they're seen abus'd.
9 Old Fools are babes again; and must be used With Checks LIKE Flatt'ries when they're feen abus'd] Thus the old Quarto reads thefe lines. It is plain they are corrupt. But they have been made worfe by a fruitlefs attempt to correct them. And first, for
Old FooLs are babes again; A proverbial expreflion is here plainly alluded to; but it is a frange proverb which only informs us that fools are innocents. We fhould read,
Old FOLKS are Babes again;Thus fpeaks the proverb, and with the ufual good fenfe of one, The next line is jumbled out of all meaning.
With Checks LIKE Flatt'ries
when they're feen abus'd. Mr. Theobald reftores it thus, With Checks like Flatt'rers when
they're fien to abuse us. Let us confider the fenfe a little. Old Folks, fays the fpeaker, are Bibes again; well, and what then? Why then they must be ufed like Flitteres. But when Shakespear quoted the Proverb, we may be affured his purpofe was to draw fome inference from it, and not run rambling after a fimilitude. And that inference
Old Folks are Babes again; and must be used
With Checks, NOT FLATTERIES
when they're feen abus'd. i. e. Old folks being grown children again, they fhould be used as we ufe children, with Checks, when we find that the little Flatt'ries we employed to quiet them are abufed, by their becoming more peevish and perverfe by indulgence.
-When they're feen abus’d. i. e. when we find that thofe Flatt'ries are abused.
Thefe lines hardly deferve a note, though Mr. Theobald thinks them very fine. Whether fools or folks fhould be read is not worth enquiry. The controverted line is yet in the old quarto, not as the editors reprefent it, but thus:
With checks as flatteries when they are feen abus'd.
I am in doubt whether there is any errour of tranfcription. The fenfe feems to be this: Old men must be treated with checks, when as they are feen to be deceived with flatteries: or, when they are once weak enough to be seen abused by flateries, they are then weak enough to be fed with checks. There is a play of the words ujed and abused. To abuse is, in our authour, very frequently the
Remember what I have faid.
Gon. And let his Knights have colder looks among you; what grows of it, no matter; advife your fellows fo. I'll write ftrait to my fifter to hold my course. Prepare for dinner. [Exeunt.
Changes to an open Place before the Palace.
Kent. F but as well I other accents borrow,
And can my fpeech difufe, my good intent
May carry thro' itself to that full iffue,
For which I raz'd my likenefs. Now, banifh'd Kent, If thou can't ferve where thou doft ftand condemn'd, So may it come. Thy mafter, whom thou lov'ft, Shall find thee full of labours,
Ilerns within. Enter Lear, Knights and Attendants.
Lear. Let me not stay a jot for dinner. Go, get it ready.
How now, what art thou?
Kent. A man, Sir.
Lear. What doft thou profefs? what wouldst thou with us?
Kent. I do profefs to be no lefs than I feem; to ferve him truly, that will put me in truft; to love him that is honeft; to converfe with him that is wife and
fame as to deceive. This conßruc. tion is harsh and upgrammatical; Shakefieare perhaps thought it vitious, and chofe to throw away the lines rather than correct them, nor would now thank the offici
oufnefs of his editors, who reftore what they do not underland.
him that is wife AND SAYS little; ] Tho' faying little, may be the character of wisdom, it was not a quality to chufe a com
and fays little; to fear judgment; to fight when I cannot chufe, and to eat no fish.
Lear. What art thou?
Kent. A very honeft-hearted fellow, and as poor as the King.
Lear. If thou be'ft as poor for a fubject, as he is for a King, thou art poor enough. What wouldeft thou? Kent. Service.
Lear. Whom wouldst thou ferve?
Lear. Doft thou know me, fellow?
Kent. No, Sir, but you have that in your countenance, which I would fain call Master.
Lear. What's that?
Lear. What fervices canft thou do?
Kent. I can keep honeft counfels, ride, run, marr a
panion by for his converfation. We should read, TO SAY little; which was prudent when he chofe a wife companion to profit by. So that it was as much as to fay, I profefs to talk little myfelf, that I may profit the more by the converfation of the wife. WARBURTON.
To converfe nifies immediately and proper to keep company, not to difcoure or talk. His meaning is, that he choofes for his companions, hen of referve and caution; men who are no tattlers nor tale,pearers. The old reading is the true.
2 and to eat no fifb.] In Queen Elizabeth's time the Papifts were esteemed, and with good reason, enemies to the government. Hence the proverbial phrafe of, He's an honeft man and eat no fif; to fignify he's a friend to the Government and a Proteftant. The
eating fifh, on a religious account, being then efteem'd fuch a badge of popery, that when it was enjoin'd for a season by act of parliament, for the encouragement of the fish-towns, it was thought neceffary to declare the reafon; hence it was called Cecil's Faft. To this disgraceful badge of popery, Fletcher alludes in his Woman-hater, who makes the courtezan fay, when Lazarillo, in search of the Umbrano's head, was feized at her house by the Intelligencers, for a traytor. Gentlemen, I am glad you have difcovered him. He should not have eaten under my roof for twenty pounds. And fure I did not like him when he called for fih.
And Marfion's Dutch Courtezan. I trust I am none of the wicked that eat fish a fryday.