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.: Lear. Who would'st thou serve? - Kent. You.
Lear. Dost thou know me, fellow
Kent. No, sir; but you have that in your countenance, which I would fain call master.
Lear. What's that?
Kent. I can keep honest counsel, ride, run, mar a curious tale in telling it, and deliver a plain message bluntly; that which ordinary men are fit. for, I am qualify'd in; and the best of me is diligence.
Lear. How old art thou?
Kent. Not so young, sir, to love a woman for singing; nor so old, to dote on her for any thing: I have years on my back forty-eight.
Lear. Follow me; thou shalt serve me; if I like thee no worse after dinner, I will not part from thee yet.—Dinner, ho, dinner!_Where's my knave? my fool? Go you, and call my fool hither:
[Exit. • Lear. What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll back.—Where's my fool, ho?-I think the world's asleep.—How. now? Where's that mongrel?
Knight. He says, my lord, your daughter is not well. • Lear. Why came not the slave back to me, when I callid him?
Knight. Sir, he answer'd me in the roundest manner, he would not.
Lear. He would not!
Knight. My lord, I know not what the matter is; but, to my judgment, your highness is not en
tertain'd with that ceremonious affection as you were wont; there's a great abatement of kindness appears, as well in the general dependants, as in the duke himself also, and your daughter.
Lear. Ha! say'st thou so?
Knight. I beseech you, pardon me, my lord, if I be mistaken; for my duty cannot be silent, when I think your highness is wrong'd.
Lear. Thou but remember'st me of mine own conception; I have perceived a most faint neglect of late; which I have rather blamed as mine own jealous curiosity,' than as a very pretence and purpose of unkindness: I will look further into't.—But where's my fool? I have not seen him this two days.
Knight. Since my young lady's going into France, sir, the fool hath much pined away.
Lear. No more of that; I have noted it well.Go you, and tell my daughter I would speak with her.—Go you, call híther my fool.
Re-enter Steward. O, you sir, you sir, come you hither: Who am I, sir?
Stew. My lady's father.
Lear. My lady's father! my lord's knave: you whoreson dog! you slave! you cur!
Stew. I am none of this, my lord; I beseech you, pardon me. Lear. Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal ?
- jealous curiosity,] Punctilious jealousy.
- a very pretence-] Pretence in Shakspeare generally signifies design. .
? Since my young lady's going into France, sir, the fool hath much pined away.) This is an endearing circumstance in the Fool's character, and creates such an interest in his favour, as his wit alone might have failed to procure for him. STEEVENS.
Stew. I'll not be struck, my lord.
Kent. Nor tripped neither ; you base foot-ball player.
[Tripping up his Heels. Lear. I thank thee, fellow; thou servest me, and I'll love thee.
Kent. Come, sir, arise, away; I'll teach you dif. ferences; away, away: If you will measure your lubber's length again, tarry: but away: go to; Have you wisdom? so. [Pushes the Steward out.
Lear. Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee: there's earnest of thy service. .
[Giving Kent Money.
Enter Fool. Fool. Let me hire him too;-Here's my coxcomb.
[Giving Kent his Cap. Lear. How now, my pretty knave? how dost thou?
Fool. Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb.. Kent. Why, fool?
Fool. Why? For taking one's part that is out of favour: Nay, an thou canst not smile as the wind sits, thou'lt catch cold shortly: There, take my coxcomb: Why, this fellow has banish'd two of his daughters, and did the third a blessing against his will; if thou follow him, thou must needs wear my coxcomb.—How now, nuncle? 'Would I had two coxcombs, and two daughters!
Lear. Why, my boy?
Fool. If I gave them all my living, I'd keep my coxcombs myself: There's mine; beg another of thy daughters.
Lear. Take heed, sirrah; the whip.
3 — all my living,] Living in Shakspeare's time signified estate, or property.
must be whipp'd out, when Lady, the brach, may stand by the fire and stink.
Lear. A pestilent gall to me!
Have more than thou showest,
Than two tens to a score.
Fool. Then 'tis like the breath of an unfee'd lawyer; you gave me nothing for't: Can you make no use of nothing, nuncle?
Lear. Why, no, boy; nothing can be made out of nothing.
Fool. Pr'ythee, tell him, so much the rent of his land comes to; he will not believe a fool.
[To KENT. Lear. A bitter fool! · Fool. Dost thou know the difference, my boy, between a bitter fool and a sweet fool?
Lear. No, lad; teach me.
To give away thy land,
Or do thou for him stand: 4_ Lady, the brach,) Brach is a bitch of the hunting kind.
5 Lend less than thou owest,] That is, do not lend all that thou hast. To owe, in old English, is to possess. .6 Learn more than thou trowest,] To trow, is an old word which signifies to believe.
The sweet and bitter fool
Will presently appear;
The other found out there.
Fool. All thy other titles thou hast given away; that thou wast born with.
Kent. This is not altogether fool, my lord.
Fool. No, 'faith, lords and great men will not let me; if I had a monopoly out, they would have part on't:' and ladies too, they will not let me have all fool to myself; they'll be snatching.–Give me an egg, nuncle, and I'll give thee two crowns.
Lear. What two crowns shall they be?
Fool. Why, after I have cut the egg i' the middle, and eat up the meat, the two crowns of the egg. When thou clovest thy crown i' the middle, and gavest away both parts, thou borest thine ass on thy back over the dirt: Thou had'st little wit in thy bald crown, when thou gavest thy golden one away. If I speak like myself in this, let him be whipp'd that first finds it so.
Fools had ne'er less grace in a year;& [Singing.
For wise men are grown foppish;
Their manners are so apish. ..
Lear. When were you wont to be so full of songs,
1- if I had a monopoly out, they would have part on't:) A satire on the gross abuses of monopolies at that time; and the corruption and avarice of the courtiers, who commonly went shares with the patentee.
& Fools had ne'er less grace in a year;] There never was a time when fools were less in favour; and the reason is, that they were never so little wanted, for wise men now supply their place. Such I think is the meaning. Johnson.