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Edg. Sweet marjoram.
LEAR. Ha! Goneril !-with a white beard ! They flatter'd me like a dog'; and told me, I had white hairs in my beard, ere the black ones were there? To say ay, and no, to every thing I said ! Ay and no too was no good divinity. When the rain came to wet me once, and the wind to make
“ Lo, with a band of bowmen and of pikes,
“ Brown bills, and targetiers,” &c. STEEVENS. See vol. vii. p. 87. MALONE.
7 0, well flown, BIRD!--THE CLOUT, &c.] Lear is here raving of archery, and shooting at buts, as is plain by the words “i' the clout,” that is, the white mark they set up and aim at: hence the phrase, to hit the white.
WARBURTON So, in The Two Maids of Moreclacke, 1609: “ Change your mark, shoot at a white; come stick me in the clout, sir.” Again, in Tamburlaine, &c. 1590:
“ For kings are clouts that every man shoots at.” Again, in How to Choose A Good Wife from A Bad One, 1602:
who could miss the clout, “ Having such steady aim" Mr. Heath thinks there can be no impropriety in calling an arrow a bird, from the swiftness of its flight, especially when immediately preceded by the words well-flown : but it appears that well-flown bird, was the falconer's expression when the hawk was successful in her flight; and is so used in A Woman Killed With Kindness. STEEVENS.
The quartos read—" 0, well flown bird in the ayre, hugh, give the word.” MALONE.
8 - Give the word.] Lear supposes himself in a garrison, and before he lets Edgar pass, requires the watch-word.
Johnson. 9 Ha! Goneril !-with a white beard !] So reads the folio, properly: the quarto, whom the latter editors have followed, has, “ Ha! Goneril, ha! Regan! they flattered me,” &c. which is not so forcible. Johnson.
They flatter'd me like a dog ;] They played the spaniel to
Johnson. 2 - and told me, I had white hairs in my beard, ere the black ones were there.] They told me that I had the wisdom of age, before I had attained to manhood. Malone.
3 When the rain came to wet me, &c.] This seems to be an
me chatter; when the thunder would not peace at my bidding; there I found them, there I smelt them out. Go to, they are not men o' their words : they told me I was every thing ; 'tis a lie ; I am not ague-proof. Glo. The trick of that voice 4 I do well remem
ber: Is't not the king ? LEAR.
Ay, every inch a king : When I do stare, see, how the subject quakes". I pardon that man's life: What was thy cause ?Adultery.-Thou shalt not die: Die for adultery! No: The wren goes to't, and the small gilded fly Does lecher in my sight. Let copulation thrive, for Gloster's bastard son Was kinder to his father, than my daughters Got 'tween the lawful sheets. To't, luxuryo, pell-mell, for I lack soldiers. Behold yon' simpering dame, Whose face between her forks' presageth snow;
allusion to King Canute's behaviour when his courtiers flattered him as lord of the sea. STEEVENS.
4 The TRICK of that voice - ] “ Trick (says Sir Thomas Hanmer) is a word frequently used for the air, or that peculiarity in a face, voice, or gesture, which distinguishes it from others." We
“ He has a trick of winking with his eyes, of speaking loud," &c. Steevens. So, in K. John, Act I. Sc. I. :
“ He hath a trick of Caur-de-lion's face." See note on that
MALONE. 5 Ay, every inch a KING :
When I do stare, see, how the subjecT QUAKE..] So, in Venus and Adonis :
“Who, like a king perplexed in his throne,
By their suggestion gives a deadly groan,
“Whereat each tributary subject quakes." Malone. 6 To't, LUXURY, &c.] Luxury was the ancient appropriate term for incontinence. See Mr. Collins's note on Troilus and Cressida, Act V. Sc. II. STEEVENS.
7 Whose face between her FORKS - ] The construction is not
That minces virtue, and does shake the head
“ whose face between her forks,” &c. but “whose face presageth snow between her forks.” So, in Timon, Act IV. Sc. III. :
" Whose blush doth thaw the consecrated snow
“ That lies on Dian's lap.” EDWARDS. To preserve the modesty of Mr. Edwards's happy explanation, I can only hint a reference to the word fourcheure in Cotgrave's Dictionary. STEVENS.
8 That Minces virtue,] Whose virtue consists in appearance only; in an affected delicacy and prudery : who is as nice and squeamish in talking of virtue and of the frailer part of her sex, as a lady who walks mincingly along :
- and turn two mincing steps “ Into a manly stride." Merchant of Venice. MALONE. This is a passage which I shall not venture to explain further than by recommending a reconsideration of the passage, quoted by Mr. Malone, from the Merchant of Venice. Steevens. 9 The fitchew,] A polecat. Pope.
nor the soiled HORSE,] Soiled horse is a term used for a horse that has been fed with hay and corn in the stable during the winter, and is turned out in the spring to take the first flush of grass, or has it cut and carried in to him. This at once cleanses the animal, and fills him with blood. Steevens.
2 Down from the waist they are centaurs,] In The Malcontent is a thought as singular as this :
“ 'Tis now about the immodest waist of night." Steevens. 3 But to the girdle, &c.] To inherit in Shakspeare is, to posSo, in The Tempest :
the great globe itself, “ Yea all which it inherit, shall dissolve.” But is here used for only. Malone.
Beneath is all the fiends”;] According to Grecian superstition, every limb of us was consigned to the charge of some particular deity. Gower, De Confessione Amantis, enlarges much on it, and concludes by saying :
there is the sulphurous * pit", burning, scalding, stench, consumption ;-Fye, fye, fye ! pah; pah! Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, to sweeten my imagination: there's money for thee.
Glo. O, let me kiss that hand!
LEAR. Let me wipe it first f; it smells of mortality.
Glo. O ruin'd piece of nature ! This great world Shall so wear out to nought.–Dost thou know me ?
LEAR. I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost thou squiny at me ? No, do thy worst, blind Cupid; I'll not love.-Read thou this challenge; mark but the penning of it. Glo. Were all the letters suns, I could not see
one. Edg. I would not take this from report ;
“ And Venus through the letcherie
“ To thilke office appertainant.” Collins. In the old copies the preceding as well as the latter part of Lear's speech is printed as prose. I doubt much whether any part of it was intended for metre. MALONE.
- there is the sulphurous pit, &c.] Perhaps these lines should be regulated as follows :
“ There is the sulphurous pit, stench, burning, scalding, “ Consumption : fye, fye, fye! pah! pah! pah!
“ An ounce of civet,” &c. Steevens. 6 Dost thou sQyiNY at me?] To squiny is to look asquint. The word is used by our poet's fellow-comedian, Robert Armin, in A Nest of Ninnies, &c. 4to. 1609 : “ The world—squinies at this, and looks as one scorning.” Malone.
7 What, with the case of eyes ?] Mr. Rowe changed the into this, but without necessity. I have restored the old reading. The case of eyes is the socket of either eye. Statius in his first Thebaid, has a similar expression. Speaking of Edipus he says ::
LEAR. O, ho, are you there with me? No eyes in
your head, nor no money in your purse ? Your eyes are in a heavy case, your purse in a light: Yet you see how this world goes.
Gło. I see it feelingly.
LEAR. What, art mad ? A man may see how this world goes, with no eyes. Look with thine ears : see how yon' justice rails upon yon' simple thief. Hark, in thine ear : Change places; and, handydandy , which is the justice, which is the thief ?. Thou hast seen a farmer's dog bark at a beggar ?
Glo. Ay, sir.
Tunc vacuos orbes crudum ac miserabile vitæ
Pulsat inane solum.
they seemed almost, with staring on one another, to tear the cases of their eyes.” Steevens. In Pericles, Prince of Tyre, 1609, we have the same expression :
her eyes as jewel-like,
“ And cas'd as richly.” Again, ibidem :
“Her eye-lids, cases to those heavenly jewels
“Begin to part their fringes of bright gold." This could not have been the author's word; for “this case of eyes” in the language of his time signified-this pair of eyes, a sense directly opposite to that intended to be conveyed. MALONE.
Change places; and, HANDY-DANDY,] The words change places, and, are not in the quartos. Handy-dandy is, I believe, a play among children, in which something is shaken between two hands, and then a guess is made in which hand it is retained. See Florio's Italian Dictionary, 1598 : “ Bazzicchiare. To shake between two hands; to play handy-dandy.” Coles, in his Latin Dictionary, 1679, renders “to play handy-dandy,” by digitis micare ; and he is followed by Ainsworth ; but they appear to have been mistaken; as is Dr. Johnson in his definition in his Dictionary, which seems to have been formed on the passage before us, misunderstood. He says, Handy-dandy is “a play in which children change hands and places.” MALONE.