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Fool. If a man's brains were in his heels, were't

not in danger of kibes?

Lear. Ay, boy.

Fool. Then, I pr'ythee, be merry; thy wit shall not go slip-shod.

Lear. Ha, ha, ha!


Fool. Shalt see, thy other daughter will use thee kindly; for though she's as like this as a crab is like an apple, yet I can tell what I can tell.

Lear. Why, what canst thou tell, my boy?

Fool. She will taste as like this, as a crab does to a crab. Thou canst tell, why one's nose stands i' the middle of his face?

Lear. No.

Fool. Why, to keep his eyes on either side his nose; that what a man cannot smell out, he may spy into. Lear. I did her wrong.


Fool. Canst tell how an oyster makes his shell?
Lear. No.

Fool. Nor I neither; but I can tell why a snail has a house.

Lear. Why?

Fool. Why, to put his head in; not to give it away to his daughters, and leave his horns without a case. Lear. I will forget my nature.-So kind a father! -Be my horses ready?

Fool. Thy asses are gone about 'em. The reason why the seven stars are no more than seven, is a pretty


Lear. Because they are not eight?

Fool. Yes, indeed; thou wouldest make a good fool.

Lear. To take it again perforce !3-Monster ingratitude!

1 The fool quibbles, using the word in two senses; as it means affectionately, and like the rest of her kind, or after their nature. 2 He is musing on Cordelia.

3 The subject of Lear's meditation is the resumption of that moiety of the kingdom he had bestowed on Goneril. This was what Albany apprehended, when he replied to the upbraidings of his wife:-"Well,

Fool. If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I'd have thee beaten for being old before thy time.

Lear. How's that?

Fool. Thou shouldst not have been old, before thou hadst been wise.

Lear. O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet Heaven! Keep me in temper; I would not be mad!

Enter Gentleman.

How now! are the horses ready?

Gent. Ready, my lord.

Lear. Come, boy.

Fool. She that is maid now, and laughs at my de


Shall not be a maid long, unless things be cut shorter.



SCENE 1. A Court within the Castle of the Earl of Gloster.

Enter EDMUND and CURAN, meeting.

Edm. Save thee, Curan.

Cur. And you, sir. I have been with your father, and given him notice, that the duke of Cornwall, and Regan his duchess, will be here with him to-night. Edm. How comes that?

well: the event." What Lear himself projected when he left Goneril to go to Regan:

[blocks in formation]

That I'll resume the shape, which thou dost think

I have cast off forever; thou shalt, I warrant thee."

And what Curan afterwards refers to, when he asks Edmund :-" Have you heard of no likely wars toward, 'twixt the dukes of Cornwall and Albany?"



Cur. Nay, I know not. You have heard of the news abroad; I mean the whispered ones, for they are yet but ear-kissing arguments?1

Edm. Not I; 'pray you, what are they?

Cur. Have you heard of no likely wars toward,2 'twixt the dukes of Cornwall and Albany?

Edm. Not a word.

Cur. You may then, in time. Fare you well, sir.

[Exit. Edm. The duke be here to-night? The better! Best!

This weaves itself perforce into my business!
My father hath set guard to take my brother;
And I have one thing, of a queasy question,
Which I must act.-Briefness, and fortune, work!—
Brother, a word; descend.-Brother, I say;

Enter EDGAR.

My father watches.-O sir, fly this place;
Intelligence is given where you are hid;
You have now the good advantage of the night.-
Have you not spoken 'gainst the duke of Cornwall?
He's coming hither; now, i' the night, i' the haste,
And Regan with him. Have you nothing said
Upon his party 'gainst the duke of Albany ?4
Advise yourself.


I am sure on't, not a word. Edm. I hear my father coming.—Pardon me ;In cunning, I must draw my sword upon you.Draw seem to defend yourself: now quit you well. Yield;-come before my father;-light, ho, here! Fly, brother:-Torches! torches !-So farewell.

[Exit EDGAR.

1 Ear-kissing arguments means that they are yet in reality only whispered ones.

2 This and the following speech are omitted in the quarto B.

3 Queasy appears to mean here delicate, unsettled.

4 Have you said nothing upon the party formed by him against the

duke of Albany?

5 i. e. consider, recollect yourself.

Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion

[Wounds his arm. Of my more fierce endeavor; I have seen drunkards Do more than this in sport.-Father! father! Stop, stop! No help?

Enter GLOSTER, and Servants, with torches.

Glo. Now, Edmund, where's the villain?

Edm. Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out, Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon To stand his auspicious mistress.


Edm. Look, sir, I bleed.

But where is he?

Where is the villain, Edmund ? Edm. Fled this way, sir. When by no means he


Glo. Pursue him, ho!-Go after.-[Exit Serv.] By no means,-what?

Edm. Persuade me to the murder of your lordship; But that I told him, the revenging gods

'Gainst parricides did all their thunders bend;
Spoke, with how manifold and strong a bond
The child was bound to the father;-sir, in fine,
Seeing how loathly opposite I stood

To his unnatural purpose, in fell motion,
With his prepared sword, he charges home
My unprovided body, lanced mine arm:
But when he saw my best alarumed spirits,
Bold in the quarrel's right, roused to the encounter,
Or whether gasted' by the noise I made,

Full suddenly he fled.


Let him fly far.

Not in this land shall he remain uncaught;

And found-Despatch.2-The noble duke, my master,

1 That is, aghasted, frighted.

2 "And found-Despatch.-The noble duke," &c.-The sense is interrupted. He shall be caught-and found, he shall be punished. Despatch.

My worthy arch1 and patron, comes to-night;
By his authority I will proclaim it,

That he which finds him shall deserve our thanks,
Bringing the murderous coward to the stake;
He that conceals him, death.

Edm. When I dissuaded him from his intent,
And found him pight to do it, with curst speech,
I threatened to discover him. He replied,
Thou unpossessing bastard! dost thou think,
If I would stand against thee, would the reposal
Of any trust, virtue, or worth, in thee



Make thy words faithed? No; what I should deny,
(As this I would; ay, though thou didst produce
My very character,) I'd turn it all

To thy suggestion, plot, and damned practice;
And thou must make a dullard of the world,
If they not thought the profits of my death
Were very pregnant and potential spurs 5

To make thee seek it.


Strong and fastened villain;

Would he deny his letter?-I never got him.

[Trumpets within. Hark, the duke's trumpets! I know not why he


All ports I'll bar; the villain shall not 'scape;

The duke must grant me that. Besides, his picture
I will send far and near, that all the kingdom
May have due note of him; and of my land,
Loyal and natural boy, I'll work the means
To make thee capable."

1 i. e. chief; now only used in composition.

2 "And found him pight to do it, with curst speech." Pight is pitched, fixed, settled; curst is vehemently angry, bitter.

3 i. e. would any opinion that men have reposed in thy trust, virtue, &c. The old quarto reads, " could the reposure."

4 i. e. my hand-writing, my signature.

5 The folio reads, "potential spirits." And in the next line but one, "O strange and fastened villain."-Strong is determined, resolute. Our ancestors often used it in an ill sense; as strong thief, strong whore, &c.

6 i. e. capable of succeeding to my land, notwithstanding the legal bar of thy illegitimacy.

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