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Her husband being alive. Now then, we 'll use
His countenance for the battle; which being done,
Let her, who would be rid of him, devise
His speedy taking off. As for the mercy
Which he intends to Lear, and to Cordelia,-
The battle done, and they within our power,
Shall never see his pardon: for my state
Stands on me to defend, not to debate.4


A Field between the two Camps.


Alarum within. Enter, with Drum and Colours, LEAR, CORDELIA, and their Forces; and exeunt.


Edg. Here, father, take the shadow of this tree For your good host; pray that the right my thrive: If ever I return to you again,

I'll bring you comfort.

Glo. Grace go with you sir! [Exit EDG. Alarums; afterwards a Retreat. Re-enter EDGAR. Edg. Away, old man, give me thy hand, away; King Lear hath lost, he and his daughter ta'en: Give me thy hand, come on.

Glo. No further, sir; a man may rot even here. Edg. What, in ill thoughts again? Men must endure Their going hence, even as their coming hither: Ripeness is all: Come on.


And that's true too." [Exeunt.

Michaelmas Day, 1625,-Sydney Papers, Vol. II, p. 361: "The queenes side, and so herself, labour much to ly at Salisbury." Malone. 4 for my state

Stands on me &c.] I do not think that for stands, in this place, as a word of inference or casuality. The meaning is, rather-Such is my determination concerning Lear; as for my state it requires now, not deliberation, but defence and support. Johnson.

5 Enter Edgar &c.] Those who are curious to know how far Shakspeare was here indebted to the Arcadia, will find a chapter from it entitled,- -"The pitifull State and Storie of the Paphlagonian unkinde King, and his kinde Sonne; first related by the Sonne, then by the blind Father." P. 141, edit. 1590, quarto, annexed to the conclusion of this play. Steevens.

6 Ripeness is all:] i. e. To be ready, prepared, is all.


The British Camp near Dover.

Enter, in Conquest, with Drum and Colours, Edmund; LEAR and CORDELIA, as Prisoners; Officers, Soldiers, &c.

Edm. Some officers take them away: good guard; Until their greater pleasures first be known That are to censure them.s

We are not the first,
Who, with best meaning, have incurr'd the worst.
For thee, oppressed king, am I cast down;
Myself could else out-frown false fortune's frown.-
Shall we not see these daughters, and these sisters?
Lear. No, no, no, no! Come, let's away to prison:
We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage:
When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down,
And ask of thee forgiveness: So we 'll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news; and we 'll talk with them too,-
Who loses, and who wins; who's in, who 's out;-
And take upon us the mystery of things,

As if we were God's spies:1 And we 'll wear out,
In a wall'd prison, packs and sects,2 of great ones,

The same sentiment occurs in Hamlet, scene the last: "if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all." Steevens.

7 And that's true too.] Omitted in the quarto. Steevens.

8 ➖➖ to censure them.] i. e. to pass sentence or judgment on them. So, in Othello:

"To you, lord governor,

"Remains the censure of this hellish villain." Steevens.

9 Who, with best meaning, have incurr'd the worst.] i. e. the worst that fortune can inflict. Malone.

1 And take upon us the mystery of things,

As if we were God's spies:] As if we were angels commissioned to survey and report the lives of men, and were consequently endowed with the power of prying into the original motives of action and the mysteries of conduct. Johnson.


- packs and sects -] Packs is used for combinations or collections, as is a pack of cards. For sects, I think sets might be more commodiously read. So we say, affairs are now managed by a new set. Sects, however, may well stand. Johnson.

Take them away.

That ebb and flow by the moon.


Lear. Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,

The gods themselves throw incense. Have I caught thee?4

He, that parts us, shall bring a brand from heaven,
And fire us hence, like foxes.5 Wipe thine eyes;
The goujcers shall devour them, flesh and fell,7

3 Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,

The gods themselves throw incense.] The thought is extremely noble, and expressed in a sublime of imagery that Seneca fell short of on the like occasion. "Ecce spectaculum dignum ad quod respiciat intentus operi suo deus: ecce par deo dignum, vir fortis cum malâ fortuna compositus." Warburton.

Have I caught thee?] Have I caught my heavenly jewel, is a line of one of Sir Philip Sidney's songs, which Shakspeare has put into Falstaff's mouth in The Merry Wives of Windsor.

See Vol. III, p. 94, n. 3. Steevens.


5 And fire us hence, like foxes.] I have been informed that it is usual to smoke foxes out of their holes.

So, in Harrington's translation of Ariosto, B. XXVII, stan. 17:
"Ev'n as a foxe whom smoke and fire doth fright,
"So as he dare not in the ground remaine,

"Bolts out, and through the smoke and fire he flieth
"Into the tarrier's mouth, and there he dieth."

Again, Every Man out of his Humour :

my walk and all,

"You smoke me from, as if I were a fox."

The same allusion occurs in our author's 44th Sonnet: "Till my bad angel fire my good one out."

So, in Marlowe's King Edward II, 1598:


"Advance your standard, Edward, in the field,

“And march to fire them from their starting holes."

Mr. Upton, however, is of opinion that "the allusion is to the scriptural account of Sampson's tying foxes, two and two together by the tail, and fastening a fire-brand to the cord; then letting them loose among the standing corn of the Philistines." Judges xv,


The words-shall bring a brand from heaven, seem to favour Mr. Upton's conjecture. If it be right, the construction must be, they shall bring a brand from heaven, and, like foxes, fire us hence: referring foxes, not to Lear and Cordelia, but to those who should separate them. Malone.

The brands employed by Sampson were not brought from heaven. I therefore prefer the common and more obvious explanation of the passage before us.


6 The goujeers shall devour them,] The goujeres, i. e. Morbus Gallicus. Gouge, Fr. signifies one of the common women attending a camp; and as that disease was first dispersed over Europe by the

Ere they shall make us weep: we 'll see them starve first. Come. [Exeunt LEAR and COR. guarded.

Edm. Come hither, captain; hark."

Take thou this note ; [Giving a Paper.] go, follow them to prison:

One step I have advanc'd thee; if thou dost

As this instructs thee, thou dost make thy way

To noble fortunes: Know thou this,

that men

Are as the time is: to be tender-minded

Does not become a sword:-Thy great employment
Will not bear question; either say, thou 'lt do 't,

French army, and the women who followed it, the first name it obtained among us was the gougeries, i. e. the disease of the gouges.


The resolute John Florio has sadly mistaken these goujeers. He writes "With a good yeare to thee!" and gives it in Italian, “Il maľ anno che dio ti dia." Farmer.

Golding, in his version of the 3d book of Ovid's Metamorphoses, has fallen into the same error, or rather, the same mis-spelling.Juno is the speaker:

"Perfeci quid enim toties per jurgia ? dixit."

which is thus anglicized, p. 35:

"And what a good yeare have I wonne by scolding erst? she sed." Steevens.

The old copies have good yeares, the common corruption in Shakspeare's time of the other word. Sir T. Hanmer made the correction.


-flesh and fell,] Flesh and skin. Johnson. -flesh and fell,] So Skelton's works, p. 257: "Nakyd asyde,

"Neither flesh nor fell."

Chaucer uses fell and bones for skin and bones:

"And said that he and all his kinne at ones,

"Were worthy to be brent with fell and bones.”


Troilus and Cresseide. Grey.

Take thou this note ;] This was a warrant, signed by the Bastard and Goneril, for the execution of Lear and Cordelia. In a subsequent scene Edmund says

66- quickly send,

"Be brief in 't,-to the castle: for my writ

"Is on the life of Lear, and of Cordelia :

"He hath commission from thy wife and me
"To hang Cordelia in the prison."

Thy great employment


Will not bear question;] By great employment was meant the commission given him for the murder; and this the Bastard tells us afterwards, was signed by Goneril and himself. Which was sufficient to make this captain unaccountable for the execution. Warburton.

I'll do 't, my lord.

Or thrive by other means.


Edm. About it; and write happy, when thou hast done. Mark, I say, instantly; and carry it so,

As I have set it down.

Off. I cannot draw a cart,1 nor eat dried oats; If it be man's work, I will do it.

[Exit Off. Flourish. Enter ALBANY, GONERIL, REGAN, Officers, and Attendants.

Alb. Sir, you have shown to-day your valiant strain, And fortune led you well: You have the captives Who were the opposites of this day's strife: We do require them of you;2 so to use them, As we shall find their merits and our safety May equally determine.


Sir, I thought it fit

To send the old and miserable king

To some retention, and appointed guard ;3
Whose age has charms in it, whose title more,
To pluck the common bosom on his side,
And turn our impress'd lances in our eyes

Which do command them. With him I sent the queen;
My reason all the same; and they are ready
To-morrow, or at further space, to appear

The important business which is now entrusted to your manage. ment, does not admit of debate; you must instantly resolve to do it, or not. Question, here, as in many other places, signifies discourse, conversation. Malone.

So, in The Merchant of Venice:

"You may as well use question with the wolf." Steevens. 1 I cannot draw &c.] These two lines I have restored from the old quarto. Steevens.

2 We do require them of you;] So the folio. The quartos read: "We do require then of you so to use them." Malone.


and appointed guard;] These words are omitted in the quarto of which the first signature is B, and in the folio. Malone.

4 And turn our impress'd lances in our eyes] i. e. Turn the launcemen whom we have hired by giving them press-money (See p. 308, n. 9,) against us.

So, in Antony and Cleopatra, Act III, sc. vii:

66 - people

"Ingross'd by swift impress."

Impress, however, in this place, may possibly have its common signification. Steevens.

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