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Nature in you stands on the very verge
Of her confine: you should be rul'd, and led
By some discretion, that discerns your state
Better than you yourself: Therefore, I pray you,
That to our sister you do make return;
Say, you have wrong'd her, sir.

Ask her forgiveness?
Do you but mark how this becomes the house :1" month
Dear daughter, I confess that I am old ;
Age is unnecessary :2 on my 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.

1 Do you but mark how this becomes the house ?] The order of families duties of relation. Warburton. In The Tempest we have again nearly the same sentiment:

“ But O how oddly will it sound that I

“ Must ask my child forgiveness?" Malone. Dr. Warburton's explanation may be supported by the following passage in Milton on Divorce, B. II, ch xii. " the restraint whereof, who is not too thick-sighted, may see how hurtful, how destructive, it is to the house, the church, and commonwealth !!! Tollet.

The old reading may likewise receive additional support from the following passage in The Blind Beggar of Alexandria, 1598: “Come up to supper; it will become the house wonderfull well.”

Mr. Tollet has since furnished me with the following extract from Sir Thomas Smith's Commonwealth of England, 4to. 1601, chap. II, which has much the same expression, and explains it. “They two together [man and wife) ruleth the house. The house I call here, the man, the woman, their children, their servants, bond and free,” &c.

Steevens. Again, in Painter's Palace of Pleasure : :-" The gentleman's wife one day could not refraine (beholding a stagges head set up in the gentleman's house) from breaking into a laughter before his face, saying how that head became the house very well.” Henderson.

2 Age is unnecessary :] i. e. Old age ha few wants. Fohnson. This

usage of the word unnecessary is quite without example; and I believe my learned coadjutór has rather improved than explained the meaning of his author, who seems to have designed to say no more than that it seems unnecessary to children that the lives of their parents should be prolonged Age is unnecessary, may mean, old people are useless. So, in The Old Law, by Massinger:

your laws extend not to desert,
“But to unnecessary years; and, my lord,

“ His are not suci." Steevens. Unnecessary in Lear's speech, I believe, means in want of necessarirs, unable to procure them. Tyrwhitt.


Never, Regan: [Rises She hath abated me of half my train ; Look'd black upon me;' struck me with her tongue, Most serpent-like, upon the very heart :All the stor’d vengeances of heaven fall On her ingrateful top! Strike her young bones, You taking airs, with lameness! Corn.

Fy, fy, fy! Lear. You nimble lightnings, dart your blinding flames Into her scornful eyes! Infect her beauty, You fen-suck'd fogs, drawn by the powerful sun, To fall and blast her pridett

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'd 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 humble 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, a 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,
" With raven's feather, from unwholesome fen,


O the blest gods!
So will you wish on me, when the rash mood 's on.

Lear. No, Regan, thou shalt never have my curse;
Thy tender-hefted nature shall not give
Thee o'er to harshness; her eyes are fierce, but thine
Do comfort, and not burn:? 'Tis not in thee
To grudge my pleasures, to cut off my train,
To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes,8
And, in conclusion, to oppose the bolt
Against my coming in : thou better know'st
The offices of nature, bond of childhood,
Effects of courtesy, dues of gratitude ;
Thy half o’the kingdom hast thou not forgot,


" Drop on you both! a south-west blow on ye,
And blister you all o’er!Am. Ed.

· when the rash mood's on.] Thus the folio. The quartos read only, when the rash mood perhaps leaving the sentence purpose. ly unfinished, as indeed I should wish it to be left, rather than coun. tenance the admission of a line so in harmonious 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. ? 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
6. Of gentle force, so that mine eyes dare gladly play
“ With such a rosie morne, whose beames, most freshly gay,
Scorch not, but onely doe darke chilling sprites remove.'

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 ser down to the account of particular persons: a word still used in colleges So, in The Return from Parnassus :

“ You are one of the devil's fellow-commoners; one that sizetla the devil's butteries Steevens.

See a size in Minsheu's Dictionary. 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?

Enter Steward.
Reg. I know ’t, my sister's:9 this approves her letter,
That she would soon be here. Is your lady come?

Lear. This is a slave, whose easy-borrow'd pride
Dwells in the fickle grace of her he follows:-
Out, varlet, from my sight!

What means your grace? Lear. Who stock'd my servant? Regan, I have good

hope Thou didst not know of 't.-Who comes here? O hea


If you do love old men, if your sweet sway
Allow obedience, if yourselves are old,

9 Corn. What trumpet's that?
Reg. I know ’t, my sister's :) Thus, in Othello:

"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 lago. Steevens. 1 If you do love old men if your sweet sway

Allow obešlience, 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 grea-ly reproved, nor allowed the fact.” Dr. Warburton might have found the emendation which he proposed, in Tate's alteration of King Lear, which wạs first published in 1687. Steevens.

- if yourselves are old,] Thus Statius, Theb. X, 705.

- hoc, oro, munus concede parenti,
« Si tua maturis signentur tempora canis,
« Et sis ipse parens.” Steevens.


Make it your cause; send down, and take my part-
Art not asham'd to look upon this beard? [T. GON.
O, 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.

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
Desery'd much less advancement.4

You! did you?
Reg. I pray you, father, being weak, seem so.5
If, till the expiration of your month,
You will return and sojourn with my sister,
Dismissing half your train, come then to me;
I am now from home, and out of that provision
Which shall be needful for your entertainment.

Lear. Return to her, and fifty men dismiss'd?
No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose
To wage against the enmity o' the air;
To be a comrade with the wolf andowl,' honl
Necessity's sharp pinch -Return with her?


- 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 allusion. Our author again uses the same word in the same sense in Hamlet, Act V, sc. i:

“ Why, 'tis found so." Edwards. To find is little inore 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 ironically used for conspicuousness of punishment; as we now say, a man is advanced to the pillory. We should read :

but his own disorilers Desero'd much more advancement. Johnson. By less advancement is ineant, 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. Johnson. © No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose

To wage against the enmity o'the air ;
To be a comrcle with the wolf and owl,—
Necessity's sharp pinch!] To waige is often used absolutely with.

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