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Enter GLOSTER, with a Torch.
LEAR. What's he?
KENT. Who's there? What is't you seek? GLO. What are you there? Your names? EDG. Poor Tom; that eats the swimming frog, the toad, the tadpole, the wall-newt, and the water; that in the fury of his heart, when the foul
Burton upon olds: the provincial pronunciation is still the oles; and that probably was the vulgar orthography. Let us read then, St. Withold footed thrice the oles,
He met the night-mare, and her nine foles, &c.
I was surprised to see in the Appendix to the last edition of Shakspeare, [i. e. that of 1773] that my reading of this passage was "Swithin footed thrice the world." I have ever been averse to capricious variations of the old text; and, in the present instance, the rhyme, as well as the sense, would have induced me to abide by it. World was merely an error of the press. Wold is a word still in use in the North of England; signifying a kind of down near the sea. A large tract of country in the EastRiding of Yorkshire is called the Woulds. COLMAN.
Both the quartos and the folio have old, not olds. Old was merely the word wold misspelled, from following the sound. There are a hundred instances of the same kind in the old copies of these plays.
For what purpose the Incubus is enjoined to plight her troth, will appear from a passage in Scott's Discovery of Witchcraft, 1584, which Shakspeare appears to have had in view: "-howbeit, there are magical cures for it, [the night-mare or incubus,] as for example:
"S. George, S. George, our ladies knight,
"He hir beat and he hir bound,
"Until hir troth she to him plight
"She would not come to hír [r. him] that night."
Her nine fold are her nine familiars. Aroint thee! [Dii te averruncent!] has been already explained in Vol. X. p. 29, n. 1.
MALONE. -the wall-newt, and the water;] . e. the water-newt.
fiend rages, eats cow-dung for sallets; swallows the old rat, and the ditch-dog; drinks the green mantle of the standing pool; who is whipped from tything to tything, and stocked, punished, and imprisoned; who hath had three suits to his back, six shirts to his body, horse to ride, and
But mice, and rats, and such small deer,
Beware my follower :-Peace, Smolkin; peace, thou fiend!
GLO. What, hath your grace no better company?
This was the phraseology of Shakspeare's time. "He was a wise man and a merry, was the common language. So Falstaff says to Shallow, "he is your serving-man, and your husband," e. husband-man. MALONE.
—whipped from tything to tything,] A tything is a di-` vision of a place, a district; the same in the country, as a ward in the city. In the Saxon times every hundred was divided into tythings. Edgar alludes to the acts of Queen Elizabeth and James I. against rogues, vagabonds, &c. In the Stat. 39 Eliz. ch. 4, it is enacted, that every vagabond, &c. shall be publickly whipped and sent from parish to parish. STEEVENS.
"—and stocked, punished, and imprisoned;] So the folio. The quartos read, perhaps rightly—and stock-punished, and imprisoned. MALONE.
* But mice, and rats, and such small deer,
Have been Tom's food for seven long year.] This distich is part of a description given in the old metrical romance of Sir Bevis, of the hardships suffered by Bevis, when confined for seven years in a dungeon:
"Rattes and myce and such smal dere
"Was his meate that seven yere." Sig. F. iij. PERCY.
9Peace, Smolkin; peace,] "The names of other punie spirits cast out of Trayford were these: Hilco, Smolkin, Hillio," &c. Harsnet, p. 49. PERCY.
EDG. The prince of darkness is a gentleman;' Modo he's call'd, and Mahu.2
GLO. Our flesh and blood, my lord, is grown so vile,
That it doth hate what gets it.
EDG. Poor Tom's a-cold.
GLO. Go in with me; my duty cannot suffer' To obey in all your daughters' hard commands: Though their injunction be to bar my doors, And let this tyrannous night take hold upon you; Yet have I ventur'd to come seek you out, And bring you where both fire and food is ready.
LEAR. First let me talk with this philosopher:What is the cause of thunder?
The prince of darkness is a gentleman;] This is spoken in resentment of what Gloster had just said" Has your grace no better company?" STEEVENS.
The prince of darkness is a gentleman;
Modo he's call'd, and Mahu.] So, in Harsnet's Declaration, Maho was the chief devil that had possession of Sarah Williams; but another of the possessed, named Richard Mainy, was molested by a still more considerable fiend called Modu. See the book already mentioned, p. 268, where the said Richard Mainy deposes: "Furthermore it is pretended,... that there remaineth still in mee the prince of all other devils, whose name should be Modu." He is elsewhere called, "the prince Modu." So, p. 269: "When the said priests had dispatched theire business at Hackney (where they had been exorcising Sarah Williams) they then returned towards mee, uppon pretence to cast the great prince Modu... out mee.” STEEVENS.
In The Goblins, by Sir John Suckling, a catch is introduced which concludes with these two lines:
"The prince of darkness is a gentleman:
I am inclined to think this catch not to be the production of Suckling, but the original referred to by Edgar's speech. REED.
cannot suffer-] i. e. My duty will not suffer me, &c. M. MASON.
KENT. Good my lord, take his offer;
Go into the house.
LEAR. I'll talk a word with this same learned Theban:
What is your study?
EDG. How to prevent the fiend, and to kill vermin.
LEAR. Let me ask you one word in private. KENT. Impórtune him once more to go, my lord, His wits begin to unsettle.5
Can'st thou blame him? His daughters seek his death :-Ah, that good Kent!
He said it would be thus :-Poor banish'd man!Thou say'st, the king grows mad; I'll tell thee, friend,
I am almost mad myself: I had a son,
learned Theban:] Ben Jonson in his Masque of Pan's Anniversary, has introduced a Tinker whom he calls a learned Theban, perhaps in ridicule of this passage. STEEVENS.
His wits begin to unsettle.] On this occasion, I cannot prevail on myself to omit the following excellent remark of Mr. Horace Walpole, [now Lord Orford] inserted in the postscript to his Mysterious Mother. He observes, that when " Belvidera talks of
"Lutes, laurels, seas of milk, and ships of Amber,she is not mad, but light-headed. When madness has taken possession of a person, such character ceases to be fit for the stage, or at least should appear there but for a short time; it being the business of the theatre to exhibit passions, not distempers. The finest picture ever drawn, of a head discomposed by misfortune, is that of King Lear. His thoughts dwell on the ingratitude of his daughters, and every sentence that falls from his wildness excites reflection and pity. Had frenzy entirely seized him, our compassion would abate: we should conclude that he no longer felt unhappiness. Shakspeare wrote as a philosopher, Otway as a poet."
But lately, very late; I lov'd him, friend,-
[Storm continues. The grief hath craz'd my wits. What a night's this!
I do beseech your grace,—
LEAR. O, cry you mercy, Noble philosopher, your company.
EDG. Tom's a-cold.
LEAR. Come, let's in all.
GLO. In, fellow, there, to the hovel: keep thee
I will keep still with my philosopher.
KENT. Good my lord, sooth him; let him take the fellow.
This way, my lord.
GLO. Take him you on.
KENT. Sirrah, come on; go along with us.
No words, no words:
EDG. Child Rowland to the dark tower came,'
Child Rowland to the dark tower came,] The word child (however it came to have this sense) is often applied to Knights, &c. in old historical songs and romances; of this, innumerable instances occur in The Reliques of ancient English Poetry. See particularly in Vol. I. s. iv. v. 97, where, in a description of a battle between two knights, we find these lines: