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Whose reverence the head-lugg'd bear would lick,
Most barbarous, most degenerate ! have you mad-

Could my good brother suffer you to do it ?
A man, a prince, by him so benefited ?
If that the heavens do not their visible spirits
Send quickly down to tame these vile offences",
"Twill come,
Humanity must perforce prey on itself,
Like monsters of the deep S.

Milk-liver'd man !
That bear'st a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs ;
Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning
Thine honour from thy suffering; that not know'st',
Fools do those villains pity', who are punish'd
Ere they have done their mischief. Where's thy

drum ? France spreads his banners in our noiseless land;




6 – would lick,] This line, which had been omitted by all my predecessors, I have restored from the quartos. Steevens.

THESE vile offences,] In quartos A and B, we find--the vile offences; in quarto C,-this vile. This was certainly a misprint for these. MALONE.

like monsters of the deep.] Fishes are the only animals that are known to prey upon their own species. Johnson. This, as Mr. Douce observes, is an error. Boswell.

- that not know'st, &c.] The rest of this speech is omitted in the folio. STEEVENS.

Fools do those villains pity, &c.] She means, that none but fools would pity those villains, who are prevented from executing their malicious designs, and punished for their evil intention. It is not clear whether this fiend means her father, or the King of France. If these words were intended to have a retrospect to Albany's speech, which the word pity might lead us to suppose, Lear must be in her contemplation ; if they are considered as connected with what follows—“ Where's thy drum? &c. the other interpretation must be adopted. The latter appears to me the true one; and perhaps the punctuation of the quarto, in which there is only a comma after the word mischief, ought to have been preferred. Malone.

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With plumed helm thy slayer begins threats ;
Whilst thou, a moral fool, sit'st still, and cry'st,
Alack! why does hc so?

See thyself, devil !
Proper deformity ? seems not * in the fiend
So horrid, as in woman.

O vain fool !
Alb. Thou changed and self-cover'd thing, for


* Quarto C, shewes not.


I do not perceive to what the word---fiend, in the fourth line of the foregoing note, refers. Steevens.

It refers, as I am confident every reader will at once understand, to the detestable fiend-like Goneril. MALONE.

2 Proper deformity -] i. e. Diabolick qualities appear not so horrid in the devil, to whom they belong, as in woman, who unnaturally assumes them. WARBURTON.

3 Thou changed and self-COVER'd thing,] This, and the next speech, are wanting in the folio. Steevens.

Of these lines there is but one copy, and the editors are forced upon conjecture. They have published this line thus :

“Thou chang'd, and self-converted thing," But I cannot but think that by self-cover'd the author meant, thon that hast disguised nature by wickedness; thou that hast hid the woman under the fiend. Johnson.

The following words, “ be-monster not thy nature," seem rather to support the reading of the former editors, which was self-converted; and a thought somewhat similar occurs in Fletcher's play of The Captain, where the father says to Lelia

Oh, good God!
To what an impudence, thou wretched woman,
“ Hast thou begot thyself again!

M. Mason.
By thou “self-cover'd thing," the poet, I think, means, thou
who hast put a covering on thyself, which nature did not give thee.
The covering which Albany means, is, the semblance and ap-
pearance of a fiend. Malone.

Self-cover'd, perhaps, was said in allusion to the envelope which the maggots of some insects furnish to themselves. Or the poet might have referred to the operation of the silk-worm, that

labours till it clouds itself all o'er." Steevens.


Be-monster not thy feature 4. Were it my fitness
To let these hands obey my blood",
They are apt enough to dislocate and tear
Thy flesh and bones :-Howe'er thou art a fiend,
A woman's shape doth shield thee.
Gon. Marry, your manhood now ! -

Enter a Messenger.
Alb. What news ?
Mess. O, my good lord, the duke of Cornwall's

Slain by his servant, going to put out
The other eye of Gloster.

Gloster's eyes !
Mess. A servant that he bred, thrillid with re-

morse, Oppos'd against the act, bending his sword To his great master; who, thereat enrag'd, Flew on him, and amongst them felld him dead 6 : But not without that harmful stroke, which since Hath pluck'd him after. ALB.

This shows you are above, You justicers ?, that these our nether crimes

6 hand

4 Be-monster not thy FEATURE.] Feature, in Shakspeare's age, meant the general cast of countenance, and often beauty. Bullokar, in his Expositor, 1616, explains it by the words, someness, comeliness, beautie.” MALONE.

s To let these hands obey my blood,] As this line wants a foot, perhaps our author wrote“ To let these hands of mine obey my

blood" So, in King John :

This hand of mine
“ Is yet a maiden and an innocent hand.” Steevens.
Theobald proposes to read, boiling blood. Boswell.

- and amongst them feli'd him dead :) i. e. they (Cornwall and his other servants) aniongst them fell’d him dead.

MALONE. 7 You JUSTICERS,] Most of the old copies have justices; but it was certainly a misprint. The word justicer is used in two other places in this play; and though printed rightly in the folio,


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So speedily can venge !-But, O poor Gloster !
Lost he his other eye!

Both, both, my lord.
This letter, madam, craves a speedy answer;
"Tis from your sister.

Gon. [Aside.] One way I like this well ® ;
But being widow, and my Gloster with her,
May all the building in my fancy opluck
Upon my hateful life : Another way,
The news is not so tart *.-I'll read, and answer.

[Exit. Alb. Where was his son, when they did take his

eyes ?
Mess. Come with my lady hither.

He is not here.
Mess. No, my good lord ; I met him back again.
Alb. Knows he the wickedness ?
Mess. Ay, my good lord ; 'twas he inform'd

against him;
And quit the house of purpose, that their punish-

Might have the freer course.

Gloster, I live
To thank thee for the love thou show'dst the king,
And to revenge thine eyes.-Come hither, friend;
Tell me what more thou knowest. [Exeunt.

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* Quartos, tooke.

8 One

is corrupted in the quarto in the same manner as here. Quarto C reads rightly-justicers, in the line before us. Malone.


I like this well ;] Goneril's plan was to poison her sister--to marry Edmund—to murder Albany—and to get possession of the whole kingdom. As the death of Cornwall facilitated the last part of her scheme, she was pleased at it; but disliked it, as it put it in the power of her sister to marry Edmund.

M. Mason. 9- all the building in my fancy -] So, in Coriolanus, Act II. Sc. I.: “ — the buildings in my fancy.”. Steevens.

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The French Camp near Dover.

Enter Kent, and a Gentleman. Kent. Why the king of France is so suddenly gone back® know you the reason ?

Gent. Something he left imperfect in the state, Which since his coming forth is thought of; which Imports to the kingdom so much fear and danger, That his personal return was most requir’d, And necessary.



[Scene III.) This scene, left out in all the common books, is restored from the old edition ; it being manifestly of Shakspeare's writing, and necessary to continue the story of Cordelia, whose behaviour is here most beautifully painted. "Pope.

The scene seems to have been left out only to shorten the play, and is necessary to continue the action. It is extant only in the quarto, being omitted in the first folio. I have therefore put it between crotchets. Johnson.

a Gentleman.] The gentleman whom he sent in the foregoing act with letters to Cordelia. Johnson.

3 Why the king of France is so suddenly gone back, &c.] The king of France being no longer a necessary personage, it was fit that some pretext for getting rid of him should be formed before the play was too near advanced towards a conclusion. Decency required that a Monarch should not be silently shuffled into the pack of insignificant characters ; and therefore his dismission (which could be effected only by a sudden recall to his own dominions) was to be accounted for before the audience. For this purpose, among others, the present scene was introduced. It is difficult indeed to say what use could have been made of the King, had he appeared at the head of his own armament, and survived the murder of his queen. His conjugal concern on the occasion might have weakened the effect of Lear's parental sorrow; and, being an object of respect as well as pity, he would naturally have divided the spectator's attention, and thereby diminished the consequence of Albany, Edgar, and Kent, whose exemplary virtues deserved to be ultimately placed in the most conspicuous point of view. STEEVENS.

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