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Never, Regan : She hath abated me of half my train; Look'd black upon me;' struck me with her tongue, Most serpent-like, upon
Fy, fy, sy!
3 Look'd black upon me;] To look black, may easily be explained to look cloudy or gloomy. See Milton:
“ So frown'd the mighty combatants, that hell
“ Grew darker at their frown." Johnson. So, Holinshed, Vol. III, p.1157:" — the bishops thereat repined, and looked black.” Tollet.
4 To fall and blast her pride!] Thus the quarto: The folio reads not so well, to fall and blister. Johnson.
Fall is, I think, used here as an active verb, signifying to humble or pull down. Ye fen-suck'ci fogs drawn from the earth by the powerful action of the sun, infect her beauty, so as to fall and blast, i.e. humble and destroy, her pride. Shakspeare in other places uses fall in an active sense. So, in Othello:
“ Each drop she falls will prove a crocodile." Again, in Troilus and Cressida,
- make him fall “ His crest, that prouder than blue Iris bends." In the old play of King Leir our poet found
I ever thought that pride would have a fall.” Malone. I see no occasion for supposing with Malone, that the word fall is to be considered in an active sense, as signifying to humbie or pull down; it appears to me to be used in this passage in its common acceptation; and that the plain meaning is this, “ You fen-suck'd fogs, drawn up by the sun in order to fall down again and blast her pride.”
M. Mason. I once proposed the same explanation to Dr. Johnson, but he would not receive it. Steevens.
† A similar passage in The Tempest, (see Vol. II, p. 65,) while it confirms the opinion of Mr. Mason, is, à direct proof of the facility with which our author borrows from himself: Cal. “ All the infections that the sun sucks up
“ From bog's, fens, flats, on Prosper fall, and make him
“ By inch-meal a disease!" Again, p. 34:
• As wicked dew, as ere my mother brush’d,
O the blest gods!
Lear. No, Regan, thou shalt never have my curse;
“ Drop on you both! a south-west blow on ye,
when the rash mood 's on.] Thus the folio. The quartos read only,—when the rash mood -perhaps leaving the sentence purposely unfinished, as indeed I should wish it to be left, rather than coun. tenance the admission of a line so inharmonious as that in the text.
Steevens. 6 Thy tender hefted nature - ] Hefted seems to mean the same as heaved. Tender-hefted, i. e. whose bosom is agitated by tender passions. The formation of such a participle, I believe, cannot be grammatically accounted for. Shakspeare uses hefts for heavings in The Winter's Tale, Act II. Both the quartos however read, “tenderhested nature ;" which may mean a nature which is governed by gentle dispositions. Hest is an old word signifying command. So, in The Wars of Cyrus, &c. 1594:
“ Must yield to hest of others that be free." Hefted is the reading of the folio. Steevens. 7 Do comfort and not burn :) The same thought, but more expanded, had already occurred in Sir Philip Sidney's Astrophel and Stella :
• She comes with light and warmth, which like Aurora prove
Steevens. to scant my sizes,] To contract my allowances or proportions settled. Johnson.
A sizer is one of the lowest rank of students at Cambridge, and lives on a stated allowance.
Sizes are certain portions of bread, beer, or other victuals, which in publick societies are set down to the account of particular persons: a word still used in colleges. So, in The Return from Parnassus :
6. You are one of the devil's fellow-commoners ; one that sizeth the devil's butteries.” Steevens.
See a size in Minsheu's Diction ary. Tollet.
Wherein I thee endow'd.
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-borrow'd pride
What means your grace? Lear. Who stock'd my sérvant? Regan, I have good
hope Thou didst not know of't.-Who comes here? O hea.
9 Corn. What trumpet's that?
- The Moor, -I know his trumpet." It should seem from both these passages, and others that might be quoted, that the approach of great personages was announced by some distinguishing note or tune appropriately used by their own trumpeters. Cornwall knows not the present sound; but to Regan, who had often heard her sister's trumpet, the first flourish of it was as familiar as was that of the Moor to the ears of Iago. Steevens. 1 If you do love old men, if your sweet sway
Allow obedience, if yourselves are old,) Mr. Upton has proved by irresistible authority, that to allow signifies not only to permit, but to approve, and has deservedly replaced the old reading which Dr. Warburton had changed into hallow obedience, not recollecting the scripture expression, The Lord alloweth the righteous. Psalm xi, ver. 6. So, in Greene's Never too late, 1616 : " she allows of thee for love, not for lust.” Again, in his Farewell to Follie, 1617 : “ I allow those pleasing poems of Guazzo, which begin,” &c. Again, Sir Thomas North’s translation of Plutarch, concerning the reception with which the death of Cæsar met: “they neither greatly reproved, nor allowed the fact.” Dr. Warburton might have found the emendation which he proposed, in Tate's alteration of King Lear, which was first published in 1687. Steevens.
if yourselves are old,] Thus Statius, Theb. X, 705.
hoc, oro, munus concede parenti,
Make it your cause; send down, and take my part ! Art not asham’d to look upon this beard? [To Gon. 0, Regan, wilt thou take her by the hand?
Gon. Why not by the hand, sir? How have I offended? All's not offence, that indiscretion finds,3 And dotage terms so. Lrar.
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
You! did you?
Lear. Return to her, and fifty men dismiss'd?
that indiscretion finds,] Finds is here used in the same sense as when a jury is said to find a bill, to which it is an allision. Our author again uses the same word in the same sense in Hamlet, Act V, sc. i:
“ Wlay, 'tis found so.” Edwards. To find is little more than to think. The French use their word trouver in the same sense; and we still say I find time tedious, or I find company troublesome, without thinking on a jury. Steevens.
much less advancement.] The word advancement is ironi. cally used for conspicuousness of punishment; as we now say, a man is advanced to the pillory. We should read :
but his own disorder's Desero'd much more advancement. Fornson. By less advancement is meant, a still worse or more disgraceful situation ; a situation not so reputable. Percy,
Cornwall certainly means, that Kent's disorders had entitled him even to a post of less honour than the stocks. Steevens.
5 I pray you father, being weak, seem so.] The meaning is, since you are weak, be content to think yourself weak. Fohnson. 6 No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose
To wage against the enmity o the air ;
Why, the hot-blooded France, that dowerless took
[Looking on the Steward. Gon.
At your choice, sir.
out the word war after it, and yet signifies to make war, as before in this play:
My life I never held but as a pawn
" To wage against thine enemies." The words--necessity's sharp pinch! appear to be the reflection of Lear on the wretched sort of existence he had described in the preceding lines. Steevens.
base life —] i.e. In a servile state. Johnson.
and sumpter -] Sumpter is a horse that carries necessaries on a journey, though sometimes used for the case to carry them in. -See Beaumont and Fletcher's Noble Gentleman, Seward's edit. Vol. VIII, note 35; and Cupid's Revenge:
I'll have a horse to leap thee,
“ His is indeed a guarded sumpter-cloth,
Steerens. · But yet thou art my flesh, &c.] So, in King Henry VI, Part I:
“ God knows, thou art a collop of my flesh.” Steevens.
- thou art a boil, &c.] The word in the old copies is written byle, and all the modern editors have too strictly followed them. The mistake atose from the worl boil being often pronounced as if written bile. In the folio, we find in Coriolanus the same false spelling as here :
Byles (boils) and plagues " Plaster you o'er!" Malone. 2. A plague-sore,] So, in Thomas Lupton's Fourth Booke of Notable Thinges, bl. I. 4to : “ If you wyll knowe whether one shall escape or not, that is infected with the plague, (having the plague-sore) gave the partie, &c. And also anoint the plague-sure” &c. The plague-sore, we inay suppose, was the decisive mark of infection. Steevens.