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Look up a-height;-the shrill-gorg'd lark so far
Is wretchedness depriv'd that benefit,
To end itself by death? 'Twas yet some comfort, When misery could beguile the tyrant's rage, And frustrate his proud will.
Give me your arm:
Up: -So;-How is't? Feel you your legs? You
GLO. Too well, too well.
This is above all strangeness.
Upon the crown o'the cliff, what thing was that Which parted from you?
GLO. unfortunate beggar. EDG. As I stood here below, methought, his eyes Were two full moons: he had a thousand noses, Horns whelk'd, and wav'd like the enridged sea;
Here it certainly means "this chalky boundary of England, towards France." STEEVENS.
Horns whelk'd,] Whelk'd, I believe, signifies varied with protuberances. So, in King Henry V. Fluellen speaking of Bardolph: "—his face is all bubukles, and whelks," &c.
Twisted, convolved. A welk or whilk is a small shell-fish. Drayton in his Mortimeriados, 4to. 1596, seems to use this participle in the sense of rolling or curled :
"The sunny palfreys have their traces broke,
"Now through the heaven flie gadding from the yoke."
enridged sea;] Thus the 4to. The folio enraged. STEEVENS.
Enridged was certainly our author's word; for he has the same expression in his Venus and Adonis :
Till the wild waves will have him seen no more, "Whose ridges with the meeting clouds contend."
It was some fiend: Therefore, thou happy father, Think that the clearest gods,' who make them ho
Of men's impossibilities, have preserv'd thee.
GLO. I do remember now: henceforth I'll bear Affliction, till it do cry out itself,
Enough, enough, and, die. That thing you speak of,
Enter LEAR, fantastically dressed up with Flowers. The safer sense will ne'er accommodate
His master thus.1
the clearest gods,] The purest; the most free from evil. JOHNSON.
So, in Timon of Athens:
"Roots! you clear gods!"
See Vol. XIX. p. 134, n. 3.. MALONE.
who make them honours
Of men's impossibilities,] Who are graciously pleased to preserve men in situations in which they think it impossible to escape: Or, perhaps, who derive honour from being able to do what man can not do. MALONE.
By men's impossibilities perhaps is meant, what men call impossibilities, what appear as such to mere mortal beings.
9 Bear free and patient thoughts.] To be melancholy is to have the mind chained down to one painful idea; there is therefore great propriety in exhorting Gloster to free thoughts, to an emancipation of his soul from grief and despair. JOHNSON. 'The safer sense will ne'er accommodate
His master thus.] I read:
The saner sense will ne'er accommodate
His master thus.
"Here is Lear, but he must be mad: his sound or sane senses would never suffer him to be thus disguised." JOHNSON.
LEAR. No, they cannot touch me for coining;2 I am the king himself.
EDG. O thou side-piercing sight!
LEAR. Nature's above art in that respect.There's your press-money. That fellow handles his bow like a crow-keeper: draw me a clothier's
I have no doubt but that safer was the poet's word. So, in Measure for Measure:
"Nor do I think the man of safe discretion
"That does affect it." STEEVENS.
-for coining;] So the quartos. Folio-for crying.
• There's your press-money.] It is evident from the whole of this speech, that Lear fancies himself in a battle: but, There's your press-money has not been properly explained. It means the money which was paid to soldiers when they were retained in the King's service; and it appears from some antient statutes, and particularly 7 Henry VII. c. 1. and 3 Henry VIII. c. 5. that it was felony in any soldier to withdraw himself from the King's service after receipt of this money, without special leave. On the contrary, he was obliged at all times to hold himself in readiness. The term is from the French "prest," ready. It is written prest in several places in King Henry VIIth's Book of houshold expences still preserved in the Exchequer. This may serve also to explain the following passage in Act V. sc. ii: "And turn our imprest lances in our eyes ;" and to correct Mr. Whalley's note in Hamlet, Act I. sc. i: "Why such impress of shipwrights?" DOUCE.
That fellow handles his bow like a crow-keeper:] Mr. Pope, in his last edition, reads cow-keeper. It is certain we must read crow-keeper. In several counties, to this day, they call a stuffed figure, representing a man, and armed with a bow and arrow, set up to fright the crows from the fruit and corn, a crow-keeper, as well as a scare-crow. THEOBALD.
This crow-keeper was so common in the author's time, that it is one of the few peculiarities mentioned by Ortelius, in his account of our island. JOHNSON.
So, in the 48th Idea of Drayton :
"Or if thou'lt not thy archery forbear,
"To some base rustick do thyself prefer;
"And when corn's sown, or grown into the ear,
"Practise thy quiver and turn crow-keeper."
yard.-Look, look, a mouse! Peace, peace;this piece of toasted cheese will do't.-There's my gauntlet; I'll prove it on a giant.-Bring up the brown bills.-O, well flown, bird!-i' the clout," i' the clout: hewgh!-Give the word.
Mr. Tollet informs me, that Markham, in his Farewell to Husbandry, says, that such servants are called field-keepers, or crow-keepers. STEEVENS.
So, in Bonduca, by Fletcher:
Can these fight? They look
"Like empty scabbards all; no mettle in them;
"Like men of clouts, set to keep crows from orchards." See also Romeo and Juliet, Act I. sc. iv. MALONE.
The following curious passage in Latimer's Fruitful Sermons, 1584, fol. 69, will show how indispensable was practice to enable an archer to handle his bow skilfully: "In my time (says the good bishop) my poor father was diligent to teach me to shoote, as to learne me any other thing, and so I thinke other men did their children. He taught me how to draw, howe to lay my body in my bow, and not to drawe with strength of armes as other nations doe, but with strength of the bodye. I had my bowes bought me according to my age and strength: as I encreased in them, so my bowes were made bigger and bigger: for men shall neuer shoote well, except they be brought up in it." HOLT WHITE.
draw me a clothier's yard.] Perhaps the poet had in his mind a stanza of the old ballad of Chevy-Chace :
"An arrow of a cloth-yard long,
"Up to the head drew he," &c. STEEVENS.
the brown bills.] A bill was a kind of battle-axe, affixed to a long staff:
"Which is the constable's house?
"At the sign of the brown bill."
Blurt Mr. Constable, 1602.
Again, in Marlowe's King Edward II. 1622:
"Lo, with a band of bowmen and of pikes,
"Brown bills, and targetiers," &c. STEEVENS.
See Vol. VI. p. 96, n. 1. MALOne.
70, well flown, bird!-i' the clout, &c.] Lear is here raving of archery, and shooting at buts, as is plain by the words i' the clout, that is, the white mark they set up and aim at: hence the phrase, to hit the white. WARBurton.
EDG. Sweet marjoram.
GLO. I know that voice.
LEAR. Ha! Goneril!-with a white beard!9They flatter'd me like a dog;' and told me, I had white hairs in my beard, ere the black ones were there. To say ay, and no, to every thing I said!Ay and no too was no good divinity. When the rain came to wet me3 once, and the wind to make
So, in The Two Maids of Moreclacke, 1609: "Change your mark, shoot at a white; come stick me in the clout, sir." Again, in Tamburlaine, &c. 1590:
"For kings are clouts that every man shoots at.' Again, in How to choose a good Wife from a bad one, 1602: 66 who could miss the clout,
"Having such steady aim?".
Mr. Heath thinks there can be no impropriety in calling an arrow a bird, from the swiftness of its flight, especially when immediately preceded by the words well-flown: but it appears that well-flown bird, was the falconer's expression when the hawk was successful in her flight; and is so used in A Woman killed with Kindness. STEEVENS.
The quartos read-O, well flown bird in the ayre, hugh, give the word. MALONE.
Give the word.] Lear supposes himself in a garrison, and before he lets Edgar pass, requires the watch-word.
9 Ha! Goneril!—with a white beard!] So reads the folio, properly; the quarto, whom the latter editors have followed, has, Ha! Goneril, ha' Regan! they flattered me, &c. which is not so forcible. JOHNSON.
They flatter'd me like a dog;] They played the spaniel to
- and told me, I had white hairs in my beard, ere the black ones were there.] They told me that I had the wisdom of age, before I had attained to manhood. MALONE.
3 When the rain came to wet me &c.] This seems to be an allusion to King Canute's behaviour when his courtiers flattered him as lord of the sea. STEEVENS.