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Come o'er the bourn, Bessy, to me :o—
Fool. Her boat hath a leak,
And she must not speak

Why she dares not come over to thee.

knowledge of the rest, connects not his ideas with those of Lear, but pursues his Own train of delirious or fantastick thought. To these words, At trial, madam? I think therefore that the name of Lear should be put. The process of the dialogue will support this conjecture. JOHNSON.

9 Come o'er the bourn, Bessy, to me :] Both the quartos and the folio have-o'er the broome. The correction was made by Mr. Steevens. MALONE.

As there is no relation between broom and a boat, we may better read:

Come o'er the brook Bessy, to me. JOHNSON.

At the beginning of A very mery and pythie Commedie, called, The longer thou livest, the more Foole thou art, &c. Imprinted at London by Wyllyam How, &c. black letter, no date, "Entreth Moros, counterfaiting a vain gesture and foolish countenance, synging the foote of many songs, as fooles were wont;" and among them is this passage, which Dr. Johnson has very justly suspected of corruption:

"Com over the boorne Bessé,
"My little pretie Bessé,

"Com over the boorne, Bessé, to me."

This song was entered on the books of the Stationers' Company in the year 1564.

A bourn in the north signifies a rivulet or brook. Hence the names of many of our villages terminate in burn, as Milburn, Sherburn, &c. The former quotation, together with the following instances, at once confirm the justness of Dr. Johnson's remark, and support the reading.

So, in Drayton's Polyolbion, Song 1:

"The bourns, the brooks, the becks, the rills, the rivulets." Again, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. II. c. vi:

"My little boat can safely passe this perilous bourne." Shakspeare himself, in The Tempest, appears to have discriminated bourn from bound of land in general:

"Bourn, bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none." Again, in The Vision of Pierce Plowman, line 8: "Under a brode banke by bourne syde."

EDG. The foul fiend haunts poor Tom in the voice of a nightingale. Hopdance cries in Tom's belly for two white herring.3 Croak not, black angel; I have no food for thee.

To this I may add, that bourn, a boundary, is from the French borne. Bourne, or (as it ought to be spelt) burn, a rivulet, is from the German burn, or born, a well. STEEVENS.

There is a peculiar propriety in this address, that has not, I believe, been hitherto observed. Bessy and poor Tom, it seems, usually travelled together. The author of The Court of Conscience, or Dick Whippers Sessions, 1607, describing beggars, idle rogues, and counterfeit madmen, thus speaks of these associates: "Another sort there is among you; they

"Do rage with furie as if they were so frantique "They knew not what they did, but every day

"Make sport with stick and flowers like an antique; "Stowt roge and harlot counterfeited gomme; "One calls herself poor Besse, the other Tom." The old song of which Mr. Steevens has given a part, consisted of nine lines, but they are not worth insertion. MALONE.

1in the voice of a nightingale.] Another deponent in Harsnet's book, (p. 225,) says, that the mistress of the house kept a nightingale in a cage, which being one night called, and conveyed away into the garden, it was pretended the devil had killed it in spite. Perhaps this passage suggested to Shakspeare the circumstance of Tom's being haunted in the voice of a nightingale. PERCY.

-Hopdance cries in Tom's belly-] In Harsnet's book, p. 194, 195, Sarah Williams (one of the pretended demoniacks) deposeth," -that if at any time she did belch, as often times she did by reason that shee was troubled with a wind in her stomacke, the priests would say at such times, that then the spirit began to rise in her . . . . and that the wind was the devil." And, " as she saith, if they heard any croaking in her belly then they would make a wonderful matter of that." Hoberdidance is mentioned before in Dr. Percy's note. STEEVENS.

"One time shee remembereth, that shee having the said croaking in her belly, they said it was the devil that was about the bed, that spake with the voice of a toad." Ibidem.



white herring.] White herrings are pickled herrings. See The Northumberland Household Book, p. 8. STEEVENS.

KENT. How do you, sir? Stand you not so amaz'd:

Will you lie down and rest upon the cushions? LEAR. I'll see their trial first :-Bring in the evidence.

Thou robed man of justice, take thy place;—
And thou, his yoke-fellow of equity, [To the Fool.
Bench by his side:-You are of the commission,
Sit you too.


EDG. Let us deal justly.

Sleepest, or wakest thou, jolly shepherd?*
Thy sheep be in the corn;
And for one blast of thy minikin mouth,
Thy sheep shall take no harm.

Pur!5 the cat is grey.

Sleepest, or wakest &c.] This seems to be a stanza of some pastoral song. A shepherd is desired to pipe, and the request is enforced by a promise, that though his sheep be in the corn, i. e. committing a trespass by his negligence, implied in the question, Sleepest thou or wakest? yet a single tune upon his pipe shall secure them from the pound. JOHNSON.

Minikin was anciently a term of endearment. So, in the enterlude of The Repentance of Marie Magdalaine, 1567, the Vice says, "What mynikin carnal concupiscence!" Barrett, in his Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionary," 1580, interprets feat, by "proper, well-fashioned, minikin, handsome."

In The Interlude of the Four Elements, &c. printed by Rastell, 1519, Ignorance sings a song composed of the scraps of several others. Among them is the following line, on which Shakspeare may have designed a parody:

"Sleepyst thou, wakyst thou, Geffery Coke."


Pur!] This may be only an imitation of the noise made by a cat. Purre is, however, one of the devils mentioned in Harsnet's book, p. 50. MALONE.

LEAR. Arraign her first; 'tis Goneril. I here take my oath before this honourable assembly, she kicked the poor king her father.

FOOL. Come hither, mistress; Is your name Goneril?

LEAR. She cannot deny it,

FOOL. Cry you mercy, I took you for a jointstool.6

LEAR. And here's another, whose warp'd looks proclaim

What store her heart is made of.-Stop her there! Arms, arms, sword, fire!-Corruption in the place! False justicer, why hast thou let her 'scape?

EDG. Bless thy five wits!

KENT. O pity!-Sir, where is the patience now, That you so oft have boasted to retain?

EDG. My tears begin to take his part so much, They'll mar my counterfeiting. [Aside.

LEAR. The little dogs and all, Tray, Blanch, and Sweet-heart, see, they bark at me.7

EDG. Tom will throw his head at them:Avaunt, you curs!

Be thy mouth or black or white,
Tooth that poisons if it bite;


Cry you mercy, I took you for a joint-stool.] This is a proverbial expression which occurs likewise in Mother Bombie, 1594, by Lyly. STEEVENS.


see, they bark at me.] The hint for this circumstance might have been taken from the pretended madness of one of the brothers in the translation of the Menæchmi of Plautus, 1595: "Here's an old mastiff bitch stands barking at me." &c.


Mastiff, grey-hound, mongrel grim,
Hound, or spaniel, brach, or lym;9


Be thy mouth or black or white,] To have the roof of the mouth black is in some dogs a proof that their breed is genuine.


brach, or lym; &c.] Names of particular sorts of dogs. POPE.

In Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair, Quarlous says,-" all the lime-hounds of the city should have drawn after you by the scent."-A limmer or leamer, a dog of the chace, was so called from the leam or leash in which he was held till he was let slip. I have this information from Caius de Canibus Britannicis.So, in the book of Antient Tenures, by T. B. 1679, the words, "canes domini regis lesos," are translated " Leash hounds, such as draw after a hurt deer in a leash, or liam."

Again, in The Muses Elysium, by Drayton:



"My hound then in my lyam," &c.

Among the presents sent from James I. to the king and queen of Spain were, "A cupple of lyme-houndes of singular qualities." Again, in Massinger's Bashful Lover:


smell out

My dog-hook at my belt, to which my lyam's ty'd."

"Her footing like a lime-hound."

The late Mr. Hawkins, in his notes to The Return from Parnassus, p. 237, says, that a rache is a dog that hunts by scent wild beasts, birds, and even fishes, and that the female of it is called a brache: and in Magnificence, an ancient interlude or morality, by Skelton, printed by Rastell, no date, is the following line:

"Here is a leyshe of ratches to renne an hare."


What is here said of a rache might perhaps be taken by Mr. Hawkins, from Holinshed's Description of Scotland, p. 14, where the sleuthound means a bloodhound. The females of all dogs were once called braches; and Ulitius upon Gratius observes, "Racha Saxonibus canem significabat unde Scoti hodie Rache pro cane fœmina habent, quod Anglis est Brache."


brach, or lym; &c.] The old copies have-brache or hym. The emendation was made by Sir T. Hanmer. A brache signified a particular kind of hound, and also a bitch. A lym or lyme, was a blood-hound. See Minsheu's Dict. in v. MALONE.

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