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LEAR. What art thou?
KENT. A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the king.
LEAR. If thou be as poor for a subject, as he is for a king, thou art poor enough. What wouldest thou?
LEAR. Who wouldest thou serve?
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?
LEAR. What services canst thou do?
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 qualified 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
Fletcher alludes in his Woman-hater, who makes the courtezan say, when Lazarillo, in search of the umbrano's head, was seized at her house by the intelligencers for a traytor: "Gentlemen, I am glad you have discovered him. He should not have eaten under my roof for twenty pounds. And sure I did not like him, when he called for fish." And Marston's Dutch Courtezan: "I trust I am none of the wicked that eat fish a Fridays." WARBURTON.
thee yet.-Dinner, ho, dinner! knave? my fool? Go you, and call my fool hither:
You, you, sirrah, where's my daughter?
STEW. So please you,—
[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 called him?
KNIGHT. Sir, he answered 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 entertained 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! sayest 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 wronged.
LEAR. Thou but rememberest me of mine own conception; I have perceived a most faint neglect
of kindness-] These words are not in the quartos. MALONE.
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 hither my fool.
O, you sir, you sir, come you hither: Who am I, you 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? [Striking him.
jealous curiosity,] By this phrase King Lear means, I believe, a punctilious jealousy, resulting from a scrupulous watchfulness of his own dignity. STEEVENS.
a very pretence-] Pretence in Shakspeare generally signifies design. So, in a foregoing scene in this play: "- to no other pretence of danger." Again, in Holinshed, p. 648: the pretensed evill purpose of the queene." STEEvens.
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.
I am none of this, my lord; &c.] Thus the quartos. The folio reads-I am none of these, my lord; I beseech your pardon.
bandy looks-] A metaphor from Tennis:
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 differences; away, away: If you will measure your lubber's length again, tarry: but away: go to; Have you wisdom?2 so. [Pushes the Steward out. LEAR. Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee: there's earnest of thy service.
[Giving KENT Money.
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?3
FOOL. Why? For taking one's part that is out of favour: Nay, an thou canst not smile as the
"Come in, take this bandy with the racket of patience." Decker's Satiromastix, 1602.
buckle with them hand to hand,
"And bandy blows as thick as hailstones fall." Wily Beguiled, 1606. STEEVENS. "To bandy a ball," Cole defines, clava pilam torquere; “to bandy at tennis," reticulo pellere. Dict. 1679. MALONE.
? Have you wisdom?] Thus the folio. The quarto readsyou have wisdom. MALONE.
3 Why, fool?] The folio reads-why, my boy? and gives this question to Lear. STEEVENS.
wind sits, thou❜lt catch cold shortly: There, take my coxcomb:5 Why, this fellow has banished 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.'
thou'lt catch cold shortly:] i. e. be turned out of doors, and exposed to the inclemency of the weather. FARMER. take my coxcomb:] Meaning his cap, called so, because on the top of the fool or jester's cap was sewed a piece of red cloth, resembling the comb of a cock. The word, afterwards, was used to denote a vain, conceited, meddling fellow. WARBURTON.
See Fig. XII. in the plate at the end of the first part of King Henry IV. with Mr. Tollet's explanation, who has since added, that Minsheu, in his Dictionary, 1627, says, "Natural ideots and fools, have, and still do accustome themselves to weare in their cappes cockes feathers, or a hat with a neck and heade of a cocke on the top, and a bell thereon," &c. STEEVENS.
How now, nuncle?] Aunt is a term of respect in France. So, in Lettres D'Eliz. de Baviere Duchesse D'Orleans, Tom. II. p. 65, 66: "C'etoit par un espece de plaisanterie de badinage sans consequence, que la Dauphine appelloit Madame de Maintenon ma tante. Les filles d'honneur appelloient toujours leur gouvernante ma tante." And it is remarkable at this day that the lower people in Shropshire call the Judge of assize my nuncle the Judge." VAILLANT.
-two coxcombs,] Two fools caps, intended, as it seems, to mark double folly in the man that gives all to his daughters.
and two daughters.] Perhaps we should read-an' two daughters; i. e. if. FARMER.
9 — all my living,] Living in Shakspeare's time signified estate, or property. So, in Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, by R. Greene, 1594:
"In Laxfield here my land and living lies." MALONE.
beg another of thy daughters.] The Fool means to say,