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The wretch, that thou hast blown unto the worst,
Enter Gloʻster, led by an old man.
Old Man. O my good lord,
Good friend, be gone:
World, world, O world! But that thy strange mutations makes us hate thee,] The reading of this paflage has been explained, but not fatisfactorily. My explanation of the poet's sentiment was, “ If the number “ of changes and vicissitudes, which happen in life, did not “ make us wait, and hope for some turn of fortune for the “ better, we could never support the thought of living to be
old, on any other terms: And our duty, as human creatures, is pioully inculcated in this reflection of the author. I read therefore, make us wait thee. THEOBALD.
Life would not yield to age.] The sense of this obscure passage is, o world! so much are human minds captivated with thy pleasures, that were it not for those succeslive miseries, each worse than the other, which overload the scenes of life, we should never be willing to submit to death, tho’ the infirmities of old age would teach us to chuse it as a proper afylun. Befides, by uninterrupted prosperity, which leaves the mind at ease, the body would generally preserve such a fate of vigour as to bear up long against the decays of time. These are the two reasons, I suppose, why he faid,
Life would not yield to age. And how much the pleasures of the body pervert the mind's judgment, and the perturbations of the mind disorder the body's fraine, is known to all.
WARBURTON. Yield to fignifies no more than give way to, sink under, in opposition to the Aruggling with, bearing up against the infirmities of age, HANMER.
Old Man. You cannot see your way.
Glo. I have no way, and therefore want no eyes :
Old Man. How now? Who's there?
Old Man. 'Tis poor mad Tom.
3 Our mean secures us ;-) i. e. Moderate, mediocre condition. WARBURTON.
Hanmer writes, by an easy change, meanness secures us. The two original editions have,
Our meanes fecures us.
Our means feduce us :
Our maims secure us.
the tvorst is not,
To be worst,
Old Man. Fellow, where goest?
Glo. He has some reason, elfe he could not beg.
more since. 5 As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods ; They kill us for their sport.
Edg. How should this be? Bad is the trade, that must play the fool to forrow, 6 Ang’ring itself and others. (Afide.]-Bless thee, ,
master! Glo. Is that the naked fellow ? Old Man. Ay, my lord.
Glo. Then pr’ythee, get thee gone. If, for my fake,
Old Man. Alack, Sir, he is mad.
Old Man. I'll bring him the best 'parrel that I have, Come on't what will.
[Exit. Glo. Sirrah, naked fellow. Edg. Poor Tom's a-cold. I cannot daub it further.
$ As flies 10 wanton boys, are we to the gods ; They kill us for their sport.)
« Dii nos quafi pilas homines habent."-Plaut. Caprio. Prol. 1. 22. STEVENS.
• Ang'shing--] Oxford Editor and Dr. Warburton.-Vulg. Ang’ring, rightly. Johnson. cannot daub it) i. e. Disguise. WARB.
Glo. Come hither, fellow.
Bless thy sweet eyes, they bleed.
Edg. Both stile and gate, horse-way and foot-path. Poor Tom hath been scar'd out of his good wits. Bless thee, good man's son, from the foul fiend. [Five fiends have been in poor Tom at once; of lust, as Obidicut; Hobbididance, prince of dumbness; Mahu, of stealing; Modo, of murder; and Flibbertigibbet, of mopping and mowing; who since 8 poffesfes chamber-maids and waiting-women. So bless thee, master!]
Glo. 8 — pofleffes chamber-maids and waiting-women.-- ] Shakespeare has made Edgar, in his feigned diftraction, frequently allude to a vile impofture of some English jesuits, at that time much the subject of conversation; the history of it having been just then composed with great art and vigour of file and composition by Dr. S. Harsenet, afterwards archbishop of York, by order of the privy-council, in a work intitled, Å Declaration of egregious Popish Impostures to withdraw her Majesty's Subjects from their Allegiance, &c. praetised by Edmunds, alias Wefton, a Jefuit, and divers Romis Priests his wicked Associates : printed 1603. The impofture was in substance this. While the Spaniards were preparing their armado againft England, the jesuits were here busy at work to promote it, by making converts': one method they employed was to dispoffefs pretended demoniacs, by which artifice they made several hundred converts amongst the common people. The principal scene of this farce was laid in the family of one Mr. Edmund Peckham, a Roman-catholic, where Marwood, a servant of Anthony Babington's (who was afterwards executed for treason) Trayford, an attendant upon Mr. Peckham, and Sarah and Fritwood Williams, and Anne Smith, three chamber-maids in that family, came into the priest's hands for cure. But the discipline of the patients was so long and severe, and the prielts so elate and careless with their succeis, that the plot was discovered on the confeflion of the parties concerned, and the contrivers of it deservedly punished. The five devils here mentioned, are the names of five of those who were made to act in this farce upon the chamber-maids and waiting-women; and they were generally so ridiculously nicknamed, that Harfenet has one chapter on the ftrange names of their devils; left, says he, meeting ihem otherwise by charse, you mistake them for the name of tapsters or jugglers WARBURTON.
Glo. Here, take this purse, thou whom the heavens
plagues Have humbled to all strokes. That I am wretched, Makes thee the happier :-heavens deal fo still ! * Let the superfluous and luft-dieted man, · That saves your ordinance, that will not see Because he does not feel, feel your power quickly: So distribution should undo excess, And each man have enough. Dost thou know Dover?
Edg. Ay, master.
Glo. There is a cliff, whose high and bending head Looks fearfully on the confined deep: Bring me but to the very brim of it, And I'll repair the misery thou doit bear, With something rich about me.
From that place I shall no leading need.
Edg. Give me thy arm; Poor Tom shall lead thee.
The passage in crotchets is omitted in the folio, because I suppose as the story was forgotten, the jest was lost. JOHNSON,
Let the superfluous, - Lear has before uttered the fame fentiment, which indeed cannot be too strongly impressed, tho' it may be too often repeated. JOHNSON.
2 That SLAVES your ordinance, ---- ] Superfluous is here used for one living in abundance. But the next line is corrupt. The only sense I know of, in which saves your ordinance can be understood, is when men employ the form or semblance of religion to compass their ill designs. But this will not do here. Glo'ster is speaking of such who by an uninterrupted course of prosperity are grown wanton, and callous to the misfortunes of others; such as those who fearing no reverse, light and neglect, and therefore may be said to brave the ordinance of heaven: which is certainly the right reading. And this is the second time in which sayes has, in this play, been read for braves. WARB.
The emndation is plausible, yet I doubt whether it be right. The language of Shakespeare is very licentious, and his words have often meanings remote from the proper and original use. To save or befave another is to treat him with terms of indignity: in a kindred fenfe, to save the ordinance, may be, to Sight or ridicule it. JOHNSON.
To slave an ordinance, is to treat it as a slave, to make it subject to us, instead of acting in obedience it. STEEVENS.