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Enter GONEril.

LEAR. How now, daughter? what makes that frontlet on? Methinks, you are too much of late i' the frown.


FOOL. Thou wast a pretty fellow, when thou had'st no need to care for her frowning; now thou art an O without a figure ': I am better than thou


that frontlet-] Lear alludes to the frontlet, which was anciently part of a woman's dress. So, in a play called The Four P's, 1569:

"Forsooth, women have many lets,
"And they be masked in many nets:

"As frontlets, fillets, partlets, and bracelets:
"And then their bonets and their pionets."


Again, in Lyly's Midas, 1592: "Hoods, frontlets, wires, cauls, curling-irons, perriwigs, bodkins, fillets, hair-laces, ribbons, roles, knotstrings, glasses," &c.

Again, and more appositely, in Zepheria, a collection of sonnets, 4to. 1594:

"But now, my sunne, it fits the

thy set

"And vayle thy face with frownes as with a frontlet.” STEEVENS.

A frontlet was a forehead-cloth, used formerly by ladies at night to render that part smooth. Lear, I suppose, means to say, that Goneril's brow was as completely covered by a frown, as it would be by a frontlet.

So, in Lyly's Euphues and his England, 4to. 1580: "The next day I coming to the gallery where she was solitarily walking, with her frowning cloth, as sicke lately of the sullens," &c. MALONE.



Now thou art an O WITHOUT A FIGURE:] The Fool means to say, that Lear, 'having pared his wit on both sides, and left nothing in the middle," is become a mere cypher; which has no arithmetical value, unless preceded or followed by some figure. In The Winter's Tale we have the same allusion, reversed :


and therefore, like a cypher,

"Yet standing in rich place, I multiply,

"With one-we thank you,-many thousands more
"Standing before it." MALONE.

I am better than thou, &c.] This bears some resem

art now; I am a fool, thou art nothing.-Yes, forsooth, I will hold my tongue; so your face [To GoN.] bids me, though you say nothing. Mum, mum, He that keeps nor crust nor crum, Weary of all, shall want some.

That's a shealed peascod'.

[Pointing to Lear. GON. Not only, sir, this your all-licens d fool, But other of your insolent retinue

Do hourly carp and quarrel; breaking forth
In rank and not-to-be-endured riots. Sir,

I had thought, by making this well known unto



To have found a safe redress; but now grow fearful,
By what yourself too late have spoke and done,
That you protect this course, and put it on
By your allowance 9; which if you should, the fault
Would not 'scape censure, nor the redresses sleep;
Which, in the tender of a wholesome weal,
Might in their working do you that offence,
Which else were shame, that then necessity
Will call discreet proceeding.

FOOL. For you trow, nuncle,

blance to Falstaff's reply to the Prince, in King Henry IV. Part I.: "A better than thou; I am a gentleman, thou art a drawer.” STEEVENS.

7 That's a shealed peascod.] i. e. Now a mere husk, which contains nothing. The outside of a king remains, but all the intrinsick parts of royalty are gone: he has nothing to give.


"That's a shealed peascod." The robing of Richard II.'s effigy in Westminster Abbey is wrought with peascods open, and the peas out; perhaps an allusion to his being once in full possession of sovereignty, but soon reduced to an empty title. See Camden's Remains, 1674, p. 453, edit. 1657, p. 340. TOLLET. -] i. e. promote, push it forward. So, in

8 - put it on Macbeth:

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the powers above

"Put on their instruments."

9 By your ALLOWANCE ;] By your approbation. MALOne,


The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long, That it had its head bit off by its young. So, out went the candle, and we were left darkling 1. LEAR. Are you our daughter?

GON. Come, sir 2, I would, you would make use of that good wisdom whereof I know you are fraught; and put away these dispositions, which of late transform you " from what you rightly are.


FOOL. May not an ass know when the cart draws the horse ?-Whoop, Jug! I love thee.


-were left DARKLING.] This word is used by Milton, Paradise Lost, book i.:


-as the wakeful bird

Sings darkling ——."

and long before, as Mr. Malone observes, by Marston, &c.

Dr. Farmer concurs with me in supposing, that the words"So, out went the candle," &c. are a fragment of some old song. STEEVENS.


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Shakspeare's Fools are certainly copied from the life. The originals whom he copied were no doubt men of quick parts; lively and sarcastick. Though they were licensed to say any thing, it was still necessary to prevent giving offence, that every thing they said should have a playful air we may suppose therefore that they had a custom of taking off the edge of too sharp a speech by covering it hastily with the end of an old song, or any glib nonsense that came into the mind. I know no other way of accounting for the incoherent words with which Shakspeare often finishes this Fool's speeches. SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.

In a very old dramatick piece, entitled A very mery__and pythie Comedy, called The Longer Thou Livest the more Foole Thou Art, printed about the year 1580, we find the following stagedirection: Entreth Moros, counterfaiting a vaine gesture and a foolish countenance, synging the foote of many songs, as fools were wont." MALONE.

See my note on Act III. Sc. VI. in which this passage was brought forward, long ago, [1773] for a similar purpose of illustration. STEEVENS.

2 Come, sir,] The folio omits these words, and reads the rest of the speech, I think rightly, as verse. BOSWELL.

3 -TRANSFORM you] Thus the quartos. The folio reads -transport you. STEEVENS.


-Whoop, Jug! &c.] There are in the Fool's speeches several passages which seem to be proverbial allusions, perhaps not now to be understood. JOHNSON.


a quotation from the burthen of an old song. STEEVENS.

Whoop, Jug! I love thee." This, as I am informed, is

LEAR. Does any here know me ?-Why this is not Lear*: does Lear walk thus? speak thus ? Where are his eyes? Either his notion weakens, or his discernings are lethargied.-Sleeping or waking?-Ha! sure 'tis not so.-Who is it that can tell me who I am ?-Lear's shadow"? I would learn that; for by the marks of sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, I should be false persuaded I had daughters o.


In Heywood's Rape of Lucrece, we meet with a song in which the burthen is


My juggie, my puggie, my honie, my conie,
"My love, my dove, my deere;

"Oh the weather is cold, it blowes, it snowes,


imitated by Ben Jonson in his Sad Shepherd:


this is not Marian!

"Oh! oh! let me be lodged heere." BOSWELL.

this is not Lear:] This passage appears to have been

"Nor am I Robin Hood! I pray you ask her!
"Ask her, good shepherds! ask her all for me :
"Or rather ask yourselves, if she be she;
"Or I be 1." STEEVENS.

Lear's shadow?] The folio gives these words to the Fool.


And, I believe, rightly. M. MASON. 6for by the marks of sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, &c.] His daughters prove so unnatural, that, if he were only to judge by the reason of things, he must conclude, they cannot be his daughters. This is the thought. But how does his kingship or sovereignty enable him to judge of this matter? The line, by being false pointed, has lost its sense, We should read: "Of sovereignty of knowledge-."

i. e. the understanding. He calls it, by an equally fine phrase, in Hamlet,-Sovereignty of reason. And it is remarkable that the editors had depraved it there too. See note, Act I. Sc. VII. of that play. [vol. vii. p. 236.] WARBURTON.

The contested passage is wanting in the folio. STEEVENS.

The difficulty, which must occur to every reader, is, to conceive how the marks of sovereignty, of knowledge, and of reason, should be of any use to persuade Lear that he had, or had not, daughters. No logick, I apprehend, could draw such a conclusion from such premises. This difficulty, however, may be entirely removed, by only pointing the passage thus :-" for by the marks of sovereignty, knowledge, and of reason, I should be false persuadedI had daughters.-Your name, fair gentlewoman?"

The chain of Lear's speech being thus untangled, we can

FOOL. Which they will make an obedient father". LEAR. Your name, fair gentlewoman?

clearly trace the succession and connection of his ideas. The undutiful behaviour of his daughter so disconcerts him, that he doubts, by turns, whether she is Goneril, and whether he himself is Lear. Upon her first speech, he only exclaims, "Are you our daughter?"

Upon her going on in the same style, he begins to question his own sanity of mind, and even his personal identity. He appeals to the by-standers,

"Who is it that can tell me who I am?"

Ishould be glad to be told. For (if I was to judge myself) by the marks of sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, which once distinguished Lear, (but which I have now lost) I should be false (against my own consciousness) persuaded (that I am not Lear). He then slides to the examination of another distinguishing mark of Lear:

I had daughters."

But not able, as it should seem, to dwell upon so tender a subject, he hastily recurs to his first doubt concerning Goneril,"Your name, fair gentlewoman?" TYRWHITT.

This notice is written with confidence disproportionate to the conviction which it can bring. Lear might as well know by the marks and tokens arising from sovereignty, knowledge, and reason, that he had or had not daughters, as he could know by any thing else. But, says he, if I judge by these tokens, I find the persuasion false by which I long thought myself the father of daughters. JOHNSON.

I cannot approve of Dr. Warburton's manner of pointing this passage, as I do not think that sovereignty of knowledge can mean understanding; and if it did, what is the difference between understanding and reason? In the passage he quotes from Hamlet, sovereignty of reason appears to me to mean, the ruling power, the governance of reason; a sense that would not answer in this place.

Mr. Tyrwhitt's observations are ingenious, but not satisfactory; and as for Dr. Johnson's explanation, though it would be certainly just had Lear expressed himself in the past, and said, "I have been false persuaded I had daughters," it cannot be the just explanation of the passage as it stands. The meaning appears to me to be this:

"Were I to judge from the marks of sovereignty, of knowledge, or of reason, I should be induced to think I had daughters, yet that must be a false persuasion ;-It cannot be."

I could not at first comprehend why the tokens of sovereignty should have any weight in determining his persuasion that he had daughters; but by the marks of sovereignty he means, those

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