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Kent. Where learned you this, fool ?
Re-enter LEAR, with GLOSTER. Lear. Deny to speak with me? They are sick ? they are weary
My dear lord,
Lear. Vengeance! plague! death! confusion !-
Glo. Well, my good lord, I have informed them so.
man? Glo. Ay, my good lord. Lear. The king would speak with Cornwall; the
dear father Would with his daughter speak, commands her service. Are they informed of this ? -My breath and blood ! Fiery ? the fiery duke?—Tell the hot duke, thatNo, but not yet ;—may be, he is not well. Infirmity doth still neglect all office, Whereto our health is bound; we are not ourselves, When nature, being oppressed, commands the mind To suffer with the body. I'll forbear; And am fallen out with my more headier will, To take the indisposed and sickly fit For the sound man. Death on my state! wherefore
(Looking on Kent. Should he sit here? This act persuades me, That this remotion of the duke and her Is practice only. Give me my servant forth. Go, tell the duke and his wife, I'd speak with them, Now, presently ; bid them come forth and hear me,
Or at their chamber door I'll beat the drum,
[Exit. Lear. O me, my heart, my rising heart !—but, down.
Fool. Cry to it, nuncle, as the cockney ? did to the eels, when she put them i’the paste alive ; she rapped 'em o'the coxcombs with a stick, and cried, Down, wantons, down. 'Twas her brother, that, in pure kindness to his horse, buttered his hay.
Enter CORNWALL, Regan, GLOSTER, and Servants.
Hail to your grace!
[Kent is set at liberty. Reg. I am glad to see your highness.
Lear. Regan, I think you are; I know what reason I have to think so. If thou shouldst not be glad, I would divorce me from thy mother's tomb, Sepulchring an adultress.—0, are you free?
[To Kent. Some other time for that.—Beloved Regan, Thy sister's naught. O Regan, she hath tied Sharp-toothed unkindness, like a vulture, here.
[Points to his heart. I can scarce speak to thee; thou'lt not believe, Of how depraved a quality, -O Regan !
Reg. I pray you, sir, take patience ; I have hope,
Say, how is that?
1 The meaning of this passage seems to be, “ I'll beat the drum till it cries out-Let them awake no more ; let their present sleep. be their last.” Mason would read,“ death to sleep," instead of “ sleep to death."
2 A cockney and a ninny-hammer, or simpleton, were convertible terms.
3 This is somewhat inaccurately expressed. Shakspeare having, as on some other occasions, perplexed himself by the word less.
'Tis on such ground, and to such wholesome end,
Lear. My curses on her!
O sir, you are old ;
Ask her forgiveness ?
knees I beg,
[Kneeling. That you'll vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food.
Reg. Good sir, no more; these are unsightly tricks. Return you to my sister. Lear.
Never, Regan. She hath abated me of half my train; Looked black upon me; struck me with her tongue, Most serpent-like, upon the very heart.All the stored vengeances of Heaven fall On her ingrateful top! Strike her young bones, You taking airs, with lameness ! Corn.
Fie, fie, fie!
O the blest gods!
Lear. No, Regan, thou shalt never have my curse ; Thy tender-hefted nature shall not give
1 " Say,” &c. This line and the following speech is omitted in the quartos.
2 i. e. the order of families, duties of relation.
4 Fall seems here to be used as an active verb, signifying to humble or pull down.
5 Tender-hefted may mean moved, or heaving with tenderness. The
Thee o'er to harshness; her eyes are fierce, but thine
Good sir, to the purpose.
[Trumpets within. Lear. Who put my man i’the stocks? Corn.
What trumpet's that?
Lear. This is a slave, whose easy-borrowed pride
What means your grace?
your sweet sway
[To GONERIL. O Regan, wilt thou take her by the hand ?
quartos read tender-hested, which may be right, and signify giving tender hests or commands.
1 A size is a portion or allotment of food. The word and its origin are explained in Minsheu's Guide to Tongues, 1617. The term sizer is still used at Cambridge for one of the lowest rank of students, living on a stated allowance.
2 To allow is to approve, in old phraseology.
Gon. Why not by the hand, sir ? How have I of
O sides, you are too tough! Will you yet hold ?-How came my man i'the stocks ?
Corn. I set him there, sir; but his own disorders Deserved much less advancement. Lear.
You ! did you ? Reg. I pray you, father, being weak, seem so.? If, till the expiration of
your month, You will return and sojourn with
Lear. Return to her, and fifty men dismissed ?
[Looking on the Steward. Gon.
At your choice, sir. Lear. I prythee, daughter, do not make me mad; I will not trouble thee, my child; farewell. We'll no more meet, no more see one another.But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter; Or rather a disease that's in my flesh, Which I must needs call mine; thou art a boil,
1 By less advancement, Cornwall means that Kent's disorders had entitled him to a post of even less honor than the stocks.
2 Since you are weak, be content to think yourself weak. 3 See p. 14, note 6, ante.
4 Sumpter is generally united with horse or mule, to signify one that carried provisions or other necessaries ; from sumptus (Lat.). In the present instance horse seems to be understood.