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Bid her alight,
And her troth plight,
Enter GLOSTER, with a Torch.
Edg. Poor Tom; that eats the swimming frog, the toad, the tadpole, the wall-newt, and the water; that in the fury of his heart", when the foul fiend rages, eats cow-dung for sallets; swallows the old rat, and the ditch-dog; drinks the green mantle of the standing pool: who is whipped from tything to tything, and stocked, punished, and imprisoned *; who hath had three suits to his back, six shirts to his body, horse to ride, and weapon to wear,—
But mice, and rats, and such small deer,
Have been Tom's food for seven long years. Beware my follower.—Peace, Smulkin! peace, thou
2 And, arvint thee, witch, aroint thee !] i.e. begone, witch. See “ Macbeth” in this Vol. p. 103. It appears that Withold was the saint commonly invoked against the night-mare. The quarto without address thus reads part of this quotation by Edgar, “anelthu night Moore, and her nine fold.” The quarto with the address gives it rightly. No original, from which this scrap was probably taken, has been discovered.
3 – in the fury of his heart,] One of the quartos reads fruit for “ fury."
4 — and stocked, punished, and imprisoned ;] So the folio. The quartos read, perhaps rightly, “and stock-punished, and imprisoned.” The folio here commits a decided error in omitting “had,” in the words “ who hath had three suits to his back.” The quartos give the passage correctly. 5 But mice, and rats, and such small deer,
Have been Tom's food for seven long year.) This distich (observes Percy) is part of a description given, in the old metrical romance of Sir Bevis, of the hardships suffered by Bevis, when confined for seven years in a dungeon :
“ Rattes and myce and such smal dere
Was his meate that seven yere.” Sig. F. iij. 6 Peace, Smulkin !) So spelt in the folio, and Snulbug in the quartos.
Glo. What! hath your grace no better company?
Edg. The prince of darkness is a gentleman; Modo he's call’d, and Mahu?.
Glo. Our flesh and blood, my lord, is grown so vile, That it doth hate what gets it.
Edg. Poor Tom's a-cold.
Lear. First let me talk with this philosopher.-
house. Lear. I'll talk a word with this same learned
Edg. How to prevent the fiend, and to kill vermin.
Kent. Importune him once more to go, my lord,
Canst thou blame him?
7 Modo he's called and Mahu.] These names of fiends, (as Steevens remarks) Shakespeare derived (with some slight variations) from Bishop Harsnet's “ Declaration of egregious Popish Impostures," 1603. There we meet with Fliberdigibet, Smolkin, Modu, Maho, &c. It seems probable that
“ The prince of darkness is a gentleman ;
Modo he's call’d, and Mahu," was a quotation from some popular poem or ballad ; and, as Reed pointed out, a drinking catch is sung in Sir J. Suckling's “Goblins," A. iii. sc. 1, (Dodsley's Old Plays, vol. x. p. 122, last edit.) ending thus :
“ The prince of darkness is a gentleman :
Mahu, Mahu, is his name.” 8 — with this same learned Theban.] The quartos “ with this most learned Theban."
[Storm continues. I do beseech your grace, Lear.
O! cry you mercy, sir.-
Edg. Tom's a-cold.
This way, my lord.
With him :
No words, no words :
I smell the blood of a British man. [Exeunt.
A Room in GLOSTER's Castle.
Enter Cornwall and EDMUND. Corn. I will have my revenge, ere I depart his house.
Edm. How, my lord, I may be censured, that nature thus gives way to loyalty, something fears me to think of.
Corn. I now perceive, it was not altogether your brother's evil disposition made him seek his death; but a provoking merit', set a-work by a reproveable badness in himself.
Edm. How malicious is my fortune, that I must repent to be just! This is the letter which he spoke of, which approves him an intelligent party to the advantages of France. O heavens! that this treason were not, or not I the detector !
Corn. Go with me to the duchess.
Edm. If the matter of this paper be certain, you have mighty business in hand.
Corn. True, or false, it hath made thee earl of Gloster. Seek out where thy father is, that he may be ready for our apprehension.
Edm. [Aside.] If I find him comforting the king, it will stuff his suspicion more fully.-[To him.] I will persevere in my course of loyalty, though the conflict be sore between that and my blood.
Corn. I will lay trust upon thee; and thou shalt find a dearer father' in my love.
A Chamber in a Farm-House, adjoining the Castle.
Enter GLOSTER, LEAR, KENT, Fool, and EDGAR. Glo. Here is better than the open air; take it thankfully. I will piece out the comfort with what addition I can: I will not be long from you.
9 – but a PROVOKING merit,] “ Cornwall, (says Malone,) means the merit of Edmund, which, being noticed by Gloster, provoked or instigated Edgar to seek his father's death ;" but he may refer to Edgar's “merit,” as compared with his father's “ badness.”
I-- a Dearer father] The folio alone reads “ a dear father :" our text is that of the quartos, which all modern editors have adopted.
Kent. All the power of his wits has given way to his impatience.—The gods reward your kindness!
[Exit GLOSTER. Edg. Frateretto calls me, and tells me, Nero is an angler in the lake of darkness. Pray, innocent}, and beware the foul fiend.
Fool. Pr’ythee, nuncle, tell me, whether a madman be a gentleman, or a yeoman?
Lear. A king, a king!
Fool. No: he's a yeoman, that has a gentleman to his son; for he's a mad yeoman, that sees his son a gentleman before him".
Lear. To have a thousand with red burning spits Come whizzing in upon them :
Edg. The foul fiend bites my backé.
Fool. He's mad, that trusts in the tameness of a wolf, a horse's health, a boy's love, or a whore's oath.
Lear. It shall be done; I will arraign them straight.Come, sit thou here, most learned justicer®; —
[To EDGAR. Thou, sapient sir, sit here. Now, you she foxes !
Edg. Look, where he stands and glares ! Wantest thou eyes at trial, madam?
Come oʻer the bourn, Bessy, to me?:
– The gods REWARD your kindness !] The quartos have deserre for “reward.”
3 – Pray, innocent,] Fools were of old usually called innocents, when they were not professed jesters, but mere idiots ; and hence the not unfrequent misapplication of the word, when professed jesters were spoken to or of. Edgar was here addressing himself to Lear's fool, not, strictly speaking, an innocent, but dressed like one.
- his son a gentleman before him.] This speech, which seems to have been proverbial, is only in the folio.
5 The foul fiend bites my back.] From hence to Lear's speech, p. 435, ending, “False justicer, why hast thou let her 'scape ?” is in all the quarto impressions, but was excluded from the folio.
6 — most learned JUSTICER;] The old copies read-justice. The correction was made by Theobald, and it is warranted by “ false justicer," which occurs afterwards.
? Come o'er the bourn, Bessy, to me :) This, and what follows from the Fool, are no doubt parts of an old song, which was imitated by W. Birch, in his Dia