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FELL. Act V., Sc. 3.
“Flesh and fell." Fell is the skin, usually applied to that of the sheep, whence
fellmonger. FLAW. Act II., Sc. 4.
“Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws." It is suggested by Douce that in Shakspere's time a flaw might
signify a fragment as well as a crack; but it may also mean the flaw which is commonly called a star on glass, by which,
though it is shivered, it does not immediately fall to pieces. FORE-DONE. Act V., Sc.
“ Your eldest daughters have fore-done themselves.” Fore-done, from the Anglo-Saxon fordon, is destroyed. For
did has been used previously by Edmund in this scene in
the same sense. GALLOW. Act III., Sc. 2.
“Gallow the very wanderers." To gallow is to scare, to annoy. GERMENS. Act III., Sc. 1.
“All germens spill at once."
Gone, sir. Farewell.”
and after bidding him farewell, Edgar says, “Gone, sir."
editions the reading is—“Gone, sir?" GOOD YEARS. Act V., Sc. 3.
“ The good years shall devour them."
“ Turn their halcyon beaks."
the bird, if suspended, would turn its beak towards the point from which the wind blew. Marlowe, in his ‘Jew of Malta' (Act I., Sc. 1), has
“ But how stands the wind ?
Into what quarter peers my halcyon's bill ?”. HEFTED. Act II., Sc. 4.
'Thy tender-hefted nature shall not give." Hefted, from the Anglo-Saxon to have or to hold, of which the
past participle is haefd. The haft of a knife is that part
which is held. “Thy tender-hafted nature" may thus be the nature which may be held by tenderness. Steevens says hefted here seems to mean the same as heaved, to which we
cannot assent. INTERESS'D. Act I., Sc. 1.
"Strive to be interess'd.” Interess'd, from the French intéresser, is also used by Ben
Jonson and Massinger. INTRINSE. Act II., Sc. 2.
“Which are too intrinse t' unloose.” Intrinse is closely tied. LAUNCH'D. Act II., Sc. 1.
“ Launch'd mine arm." Launch’d, in the sense of lanced, is used also by Spenser and Dryden. In the 'Faerie Queene,' Book i., c. 4, we have
“Since my breast was launch'd with lovely dart,” and in Dryden's translation of Virgil's 'Georgics,' iii., “to
launch the sore.” LIVING. Act I., Sc. 4.
“If I gave them all my living." My living is all my estate, my means of living: an ecclesias.
tical benefice is called a living. MAKES. Act I., Sc. 1.
“ Election makes not up in such conditions." Makes up is here to decide, make up one's mind, as we say
now. Burgundy will not decide in such circumstances, on
such condition. MEINY. Act II., Sc. 4.
" They summon'd up their meiny." Meiny is retinue, attendants, and hence we derive menial. MOIETY. Act I., Sc. 1.
“ Can make choice of either's moiety.” Moiely used for portion. See 'Henry IV., Part I.' NETHER-STOCKS. Act II., Sc. 4.
“He wears wooden nether-stocks." Nether-stocks were stockings. NOTE. Act III., Sc. 1.
“And dare upon the warrant of my note.” Note is knowledge, what has been noted.
OLD. Act III., Sc. 4.
“Swithin footed thrice the old.” Old is here used, as has been done by Spelman and others, for
wold. OWEST. Act I., Sc. 4.
“Lend less than thou owest.”
Either in snuffs or packings."
Part I., “ took it in snuff."
“Poor pelting villages.” Pelting is petty, of little worth. Pelt in Falconry was the dis
membered carcase of a fowl. Pight. Act II., Sc. 1.
“And found him pight to do it.”
“He pight him on the pommel of his head.”
given is settled, which is the sense here. PLIGHTED. Act I., Sc. 1.
“Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides.” Plighted is plaisted or folded in this sentence. Milton, in his
History of England,' says, Boadicea wore a plighted garment of many colours ;” and in 'Comus,
“And play i'the plighted clouds," it has the same meaning. PRETENCE. Act I., Sc. 2.
“No other pretence of danger." Pretence is purpose, intention. PROMIS'D END. Act V., Sc. 3.
"Is this the promis'd end ?” The promis'd end is the end of the world foretold in Scripture.
The “image of that horror” is the same as “the great doom's
image" of Macbeth' (Act II., Sc. 3). QUEASY. Act II., Sc. 1.
“I have one thing, of a queasy question.” Queasy means generally sickishness, nausea; but ticklish seems
here to give the clearer meaning. It has been explained as doubtful, uncertain.
RENEGE. Act II., Sc. 2.
Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks.”
"Dolphin my boy, boy, Sesey."
topher Sly in the Taming of the Shrew. The sentence was most likely meant to be unintelligible, though attempts
have been made to explain it. SERVING-MAN. Act III., Sc. 4.
“A serving-man, proud in heart and mind.” A serving-man is not here meant as a menial, but is used in
the same sense as a servant in The Two Gentlemen Verona':
“ Too low a mistress for so high a servant." SIMULAR. Act III., Sc. 2.
“ Thou simular of virtue." Simular, a counterfeit, is here used as a noun, as it was by
other writers before Shakspere. SIZES. Act II., Sc. 4.
“ To scant my sizes." Sizes are allowances. In a college at the present day a Sicar
is one to whom certain portions or sizes are allowed. SMUG. Act IV., Sc. 6.
“Like a smug bridegroom.” Smug, says Phillips, is spruce or neat. SUITED. Act IV., Sc. 7.
“ Be better suited.” Suited is clothed. TAKING. Act III., Sc. 4.
“Bless thee from whirlwinds, star-blasting, and taking." Taking is malignant influence. It is used in a like sense in Act II., Sc. 4:
“Strike her young bones,
You taking airs, with lameness !”
Knaves, thieves, and treachers."
. Chaucer, Spenser, and other of our old writers, have used the word.
VALIDITY. Act I., Sc. 1.
“No less in space, validity, and pleasure." Validity is here used for value, worth. WEB AND PIN. Act IJI., Sc. 4.
“He gives the web and the pin.” Florio, in his 'New World of Words’ (1611), explains the
Italian catarátta, as “a dimness of sight occasioned by humours hardened in the eyes, called a cataract, or a pin and a web," and Phillips says a web is “a pearl or spot in
the eye.” WHER'. Act II., Sc. 1.
“I know not wher' he comes." Wher' used for wherefore. WHERE. Act I., Sc. ).
“ Thou losest here, a better where to find.” Where and here are used as nouns. In the Comedy of
Errors' is a similar instance of the use of where. See Glossary. In Scene 2 it is used as whereas, a common practice, as the words were convertible.
PLOT AND CHARACTERS.
The story of 'Lear' belongs to the popular literature of Europe. It is a pretty episode in the fabulous chronicles of Britain ; and whether invented by the monkish historians, or transplanted into our annals from some foreign source, is not very material. We subjoin the legend, as Shakspere found it in Holinshed's Chronicle :
“Leir, the son of Baldud, was admitted ruler over the Britains in the year of the world 3105. At what time Joas reigned as yet in Juda. This Leir was a Prince of noble demeanour, governing his land and subjects in great wealth. He made the town of Cairleir, now called Leicester, which standeth upon the river of Dore. It is writ that he had by his wife three daughters, without other issue, whose names were Gonorilla, Regan, and Cordilla, which daughters he