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Edg. Some villain hath done me wrong.
Edm. That's my fear. 1* I pray you, have a continent forbearance, 'till the speed of his rage goes nower; and, as I say, retire with me to my lodging, from whence I will fitly bring you to hear my lord speak : Pray you, go; there's my key :-If you do ftir abroad, go arm’d.
Edg. Arm’d, brother?
Edm. Brother, I advise you to the best; go arm’d; I am no honest man, if there be any good meaning towards
I have told you what I have seen and heard, but faintly; nothing like the image and horror of it: Pray you, away.
Edg. Shall I hear from you anon?
Edm. I do serve you in this business.—[Exit Edgar.
Gon. Did my father strike my gentleman for chiding of his fool ?
Stew. Ay, madam. Gon. “By day and night he wrongs me: every hour " That's my fear.] All between this and the next asterik, is omitted in the quartos.
By day and night! &c.
He flashes into one gross. crime or other,
[Horns within Gon. Put on what weary negligence you please, You and your fellows; I'd have it come to question: If he dinike it, let him to my fifter, Whose mind and iine, I know, in that are one, * Not to be over-rul'd. 3 Idle old man, That still would manage those authorities, That he hath given away !-Now, by my life, + Old fools are babes again; and must be us’d.
-Idle old man,] The lines from one asterisk to the other, as they are fine in themselves, and very much in character for Goneril, I have restored from the old quarto. The latt verse, which I have ventur'a to amend, is there printed thus: With checks, like flatt'ries when they are seen abus’d.,
THEOBALD. 4 Old fools are babes again; and must be us’d
With checks like fiar'ries when they are seen abus'd.] Thus the old quarto reads these lines. It is plain they are corrupt. But they have been made worse by a fruitless attempt to correct them. And first, for
Old fools are babes again; A proverbial expression is here plainly alluded to; but it is a strange proverb which only informs us that fools are innocents, We should read,
Old folks are babes again; Thus speaks the proverb, and with the usual good sense of one. The next line is jumbled out of all meaning:
With checks like flatt’ries when they're feen abus'd. Mr. Theobald restores it thus,
With checks like fatt'rers when they're seen to abuse us. Let us contider the sense a little. Old folks, fays the speaker, are þabes again ; well, and what then? Why then they must be used like flatterers. But when Shakspeare quoted the proverb,
With checks, as Aatteries when they are seen
Stew. Very well, madam.
you; What grows of it, no matter; advise your fellows so: I would breed from hence occasions, and I shall,
we may be assured his purpose was to draw some inference from it, and not run rambling after a fimilitude. And that inference was not difficult to find, had common sense been attended to, which tells us Shakspeare must have wrote,
Old folks are babes again ; and must be us’d
With checks, not flatt'ries when they're feen abus'd. 1. e. Old folks being grown children again, they should be used as we use children, with checks, when we find that the little flatt'ries we employed to quiet them are abufed, by their becoming more peevish and perverse by indulgence.
-when they're seen abus'd. i. e. When we find that those flatt'ries are abus'd.
WARBURTON. These lines hardly deserve a note, though Mr. Theobald thinks them very fine. Whether fools or fulks should be read is not worth enquiry. The controverted line is yet in the old quarto, not as the editors represent it, but thus :
With checks as Aatteries when they are seen abus'd. I am in doubt whether there is any error of transcription. The sense seems to be this: Old men must be treated with checks, when as they are seen to be deceived with flatteries: or, when they are weak enough to be seen abused by flatteries, they are then weak enough to be used with checks. There is a play of the words ujed and abused. To abuse is, in our author, very frequently the fame as to deceive. This construction is harsh and ungrammatical; Shakspeare perhaps thought it vicious, and chose to throw away the lines rather than correct them, nor would now thank the officiousness of his editors, who restore what they do not understand. JOHNSON.
The plain meaning, I believe, is-old fools muft be used with checks, as flatteries must be check'd when they are made a bad use of. TOLLET.
I understand this passage thus. Old fools-must be used with checks, as well as flatteries, when they [i. e. flatteries] are seen to be abused. TYRWHITT.
That I may speak :-I'll write straight to my sister, To hold my very course :-Prepare for dinner.
Enter Kent, disguised. Kent. s If but as well I other accents borrow, That can my speech diffuse, my good intent May carry through itself to that full issue For which I raz'd my likeness.-Now, banish'd Kent, If thou can'st serve where thou dost stand con
s If but as well I other accents borrow,
And can my speech disuse. Thus Rowe, Pope, and
If but as will I other accents borrow,
May carry through, &c. We must suppose that Kent advances looking on his disguise. This circumstance very naturally leads to his speech, which otherwise would have no very apparent introduction. If I can change my speech as well as I have changed my dress. To diffuf speech, signifies to disorder it, and so to disguise' it; as in the Merry Wives of Windsor, Aa IV. sc. vii:
-rush at once • With some diffufed song." Again, in the Nice Valour, &c. by Beaumont and Fletcher, Cuptd says to the Passionate Man, who appears disordered in his dress :
-Go not so diffusedly." Again, in our author's King Henry V:
swearing, and stern looks, diffus'd attire." Again, in a book entitled, A Green Forest, or A Natural History, &c. by John Maplet, 1567:-" In this stone is apparently seene verie often the verie forme of a tode, with bespotted and coloured feete, but those uglye and defusedly.”—To diffufe speech may, however, mean to speak broad, with a clownish accent. The two eldest quartos concur with the folio, except that they read well instead of will. STEVENS,
(So may it come !) thy master, whom thou lov'st, Shall find thee full of labours.
Horns within. Enter Lear, Knights, and Attendants.
Lear. Let me not stay a jot for dinner; go, get
it ready. How now, what art thou?
Kent. A man, sir.
Lear. What dost thou profess? What would'st thou with us?
Kent. I do profess to be no less than I feem; to serve him truly, that will put me in trust; to love him that is honest; to converse with himn that is wise, and say little; to fear judgment; to fig when I cannot choose ; 7 and to eat no fish.
.him that is wife, and says little --] Though saying little may be the character of wisdom, it was not a quality to chuse a companion by for his conversation. We should read, to say little; which was prudent when he chose a wise companion to profit by. So that it was as much as to say, I profess to talk little myself, that I may profit the more by the conversation of the wise. WARBURTON.
To converse signifies immediately and properly to keep company, not to discourse or talk. His meaning is, that he chuses for his companions men of reserve and caution ; men who are no tattlers nor tale-bearers. The old reading is the true. Johnson.
We still say in the fame sense—he had criminal conversation with her--meaning commerce, So in King Richard III :
“ His apparent open guilt omitted,
MALONE. and to eat no fish.] In queen Elizabeth's time the Papills were citeemed, and with good reason, enemies to the go
Hence the proverbial phrase of, He's an honesl man, and eats no fif; to signify he's a friend to the government and a Procellant. The eating fin, on a religious account, being then esteemed such a badge of popery, that when it was enjoin'd for a season by act of parliament, for the encouragement of the fithtowns, it was thought necellary to declare the reason; hence is