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thieves, and treachers, by spherical predominance ; drunkards, liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on: An admirable evasion of whore-master man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star! My father compounded with my mother under the dragon's tail: and my nativity was under ursa major; so that it follows, I am rough and lecherous. Tut, I should have been that I am, had the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing. Edgar

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Enter EDGAR.

and pat he comes, like the catastrophe of the old comedy; My cue is villainous melancholy, with a sigh like Tom o'Bedlam. O, these eclipses do portend these divisions! fa, sol, la, mi, 5

Edg. How now, brother Edmund? What serious contemplation are you in?

Edm. I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read this other day, what should follow these eclipses. Edg. Do you busy yourself with that?

4 and treachers,] for treacherous.

5

O, these eclipses do portend these divisions! fa, sol, la, mi.] The commentators, not being musicians, have regarded this passage perhaps as unintelligible nonsense, and therefore left it as they found it, without bestowing a single conjecture on its meaning and import. Shakspeare however shows by the context that he was well acquainted with the property of these syllables in solmization, which imply a series of sounds so unnatural, that ancient musicians prohibited their use. The monkish writers on musick say, mi contra fa est diabolus: the interval fa mi, including a tritonus, or sharp 4th, consisting of three tones, without the intervention of a semi-tone, expressed in the modern scale by the letters F GA B, would form a musical phrase extremely disagreeable to the ear. Edmund, speaking of eclipses as portents and prodigies, compares the dislocation of events, the times being out of joint, to the unnatural and offensive sounds, fa, sol, la, mi. DR. BURNEY.

Edm. I promise you, the effects he writes of, succeed unhappily; as of unnaturalness between the child and the parent; death, dearth, dissolutions of ancient amities; divisions in state, menaces and maledictions against king and nobles; needless diffidences, banishment of friends, dissipation of cohorts, nuptial breaches, and I know not what.

Edg. How long have you been a sectary astronomical?

Edm. Come, come; when saw you my father last? Edg. Why, the night gone by.

Edm. Spake you with him?

Edg. Ay, two hours together.

Edm. Parted you in good terms? Found you no displeasure in him, by word, or countenance?

Edg. None at all.

Edm. Bethink yourself, wherein you may have offended him and at my entreaty, forbear his presence, till some little time hath qualified the heat of his displeasure; which at this instant so rageth in him, that with the mischief of your person it would scarcely allay. Edg. Some villain hath done me wrong.

Edm. That's my fear. I pray you, have a continent forbearance, till the speed of his rage goes slower; and, as I say, retire with me to my lodging, from whence I will fitly bring you to hear my lord speak: Pray you, go; there's my key: If you do stir abroad, go

armed.

Edg. Armed, brother?

Edm. Brother, I advise you to the best; go armed; I am no honest man, if there be any good meaning towards you: I have told you what I have seen and heard, but faintly; nothing like the image and horror of it: Pray you, away.

Edg. Shall I hear from you anon?

Edm. I do serve you in this business.

A credulous father, and a brother noble,

[Exit EDGAR.

Whose nature is so far from doing harms,
That he suspects none; on whose foolish honesty
My practices ride easy! I see the business.—
Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit:
All with me's meet, that I can fashion fit.

[Exit.

SCENE III.

A Room in the Duke of Albany's Palace.

Enter GONERIL and Steward.

Gon. Did my father strike my gentleman for chiding of his fool?

Stew. Ay, madam.

Gon. By day and night! he wrongs me; every hour He flashes into one gross crime or other,

That set us all at odds: I'll not endure it:

His knights grow riotous, and himself upbraids us
On every trifle:- When he returns from hunting,
I will not speak with him; say, I am sick :-

If you come slack of former services,

You shall do well; the fault of it I'll answer.
Stew. He's coming, madam; I hear him.

[Horns within.

Gon. Put on what weary negligence you please, You and your fellows; I'd have it come to question: If he dislike it, let him to my sister,

Whose mind and mine, I know, in that are one,

Not to be over-rul'd. Idle old man,

That still would manage those authorities,

That he hath given away! Now, by my life,

Old fools are babes again; and must be us'd

With checks, as flatteries,-when they are seen abus'd. 5 Remember what I have said.

5 Old fools are babes again; and must be us'd

With checks, as flatteries,- when they are seen abus'd.] i. e. When old fools will not yield to the appliances of persuasion,

Stew.

Very well, madam.

Gon. And let his knights have colder looks among

you;

What grows of it, no matter; advise your fellows so:
I would breed from hence occasions, and I shall,
That I may speak :- I'll write straight to my sister,
To hold my very course: Prepare for dinner.

SCENE IV.

[Exeunt.

A Hall in the same.

Enter KENT, disguised.

Kent. If but as well I other accents borrow,
That can my speech diffuse, my good intent
May carry through itself to that full issue

For which I raz❜d my likeness. Now, banish'd Kent,
If thou can'st serve where thou dost stand condemn'd,
(So may it come !) thy master, whom thou lov'st,
Shall find thee full of labours.

Horns within. Enter LEAR, Knights, and Attendants.

Lear. Let me not stay a jot for dinner; go, get it ready. [Exit an Attendant.] How now, what art thou? Kent. A man, sir.

Lear. What dost thou profess? What would'st thou with us?

Kent. I do profess to be no less than I seem; to serve him truly, that will put me in trust; to love him that is honest; to converse with him that is wise, and

harsh treatment must be employed to compel their submission. When flatteries are seen to be abus'd by them, checks must be used, as the only means left to subdue them.

6 That can my speech diffuse,] To diffuse speech, signifies to disorder it, and so to disguise it.

says little'; to fear judgment; to fight, when I cannot choose; and to eat no fish.

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 would'st thou ? Kent. Service.

Lear. Who would'st thou serve?

Kent. You.

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?

Kent. Authority.

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 qualify'd 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 thee yet. Dinner, ho, dinner! - Where's my knave? my fool? Go you, and call my fool hither:

Enter Steward.

You, you, sirrah, where's my daughter?

7 --

to converse with him that is wise, and says little;] To converse signifies immediately and properly to keep company, not to discourse or talk.

8

and to eat no fish.] In queen Elizabeth's time the Papists were esteemed, and with good reason, enemies to the government. Hence the proverbial phrase of, He's an honest man, and eats no fish; to signify he's a friend to the government and a Protestant.

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