For him attempting who was self-subdu'd;
And, in the fleshmentof of this dread exploit,
Drew on me here.7

None of these rogues, and cowards,
Byt Ajax is their fool.8

Fetch forth the stocks, ho!
You stubborn ancient knave, you reverend braggart,
We'll teach you

Sir, I am too old to learn :
Call not your stocks for me: I serve the king;
On whose employment I was sent to you:
You shall do small respect, show too bold malice
Against the grace and person of my master,
Stocking his messenger.

Fetch forth the stocks :


- fleshment -- ] A young soldier is said to flesh his sword, the first time he draws blood with it. Fleshment, therefore, is here metaphorically applied to the first act of service, which Kent, in his new capacity, had performed for his master; and, at the same time, in a sarcastick sense, as though he had esteemed it an heroick exploit to trip a man behind, that was actually falling. Henley. + So, in The First Part of King Henry IV, Vol. VIII, p. 332: P. Hen. “ Come, brother Fohn. full brarely hast thou flesh'd

Thy maiden sword." Am. Ed. 7 Drew on me here.] Old copy:

Drew on me here again. But as Kent had not drawn on him before, and as the adverbagain, corrupts the metre, I have ventured to leave it out. Steevens.

8 But Ajax is their fool.] Meaning, as we should now express it. Ajax is a fool to them, there are none of these knaves and cowards, that if you believe themselves, are not so brave, that Ajax is a fool compared to them; alluding to the Steward's account of their quarrel, where he says of Kent, “ This ancient ruffian, whose life I have spared in pity to his gray beard.” When a man is compared to one who excels him very much in any art or quality-it is a vulgar expression to say, “ He is but a frol to him.M. Mason.

The foregoing explanation of this passage was suggested also by Mr. Malone, in his Second Appendix to the Supplement to Shakspeare, 8vo. 1783, in opposition to an idea of mine, which I readily allow to have been erroneous. Steevens.

Our poet has elsewhere employed the same phraseology. So, ime The Taming of the Shrew:

“ Tut, she's a lamb, a dove, a fool to him.The phrase in this sense is yet used in low language. Malone.

- ancient knave,] Two of the quartos read-miscreant knave, and one of them—unreverent, instead of reverend. Steevens, VOL. XIV.


As I've life and honour, there shall he sit till noon.

Reg. Till noon! till night, my lord ; and all night too.

Kent. Why, madam, if I were your father's dog,
You should not use me so.

Sir, being his knave, I will.

[Stocks brought out. Corn. This is a fellow of the self-same colour2 Our sister speaks of :-Come, bring away the stocks.

Glo. Let me beseech your grace not to do so :
*His faults is much, and the good king his master
Will check him for 't: your purpos'd low correction
Is such, as basest and contemned'st wretches,
For pilferings and mosi common trespasses,
Are punish’d with :* the king must take it ill,
That he's so slightly valued in his messenger,
Should have him thus restrain'd.

I'll answer that.
Reg. My sister may receive it much more worse,
To have her gentleman abus'd, assaulted,
For following her affairs.5-Put in his legs.-

[KENT is put in the Stocks. Come, my good lord; away. [Exeunt Reg. and Corn. Glo. I am sorry for thee, friend; 'tis the duke's plea

sure, Whose disposition, all the world well knows,


1 Stocks &c.] This is not the first time that stocks had been intro. duced on the stage. In Hick Scorner, which was printed early in the reign of King Henry VIII, Pity is put into them, and left there till he is freed by Perseverance and Contemplacyon. Steevens.

colour -] The quartos read, nature. Steevens. 3 His fault —] All between the asterisks is omitted in the folio.

Steevens. and contemned'st wretches,] The quartos read--and temnest wretches. This conjectural emendation was suggested by Mr. Stee

Malone. I found this correction already made in an ancient hand in the margin of one of the quarto copies. Steevens. 5 For following her affairs. &c.] This line is not in the folio.

Malone. 6 I know not whetlier this circumstance of putting Kent in the stocks be not ridiculed in the punishment of Nuinps, in Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair.

It should be remembered, that formerly in great houses, as still in some colleges, there were moveable stocks for the correction of the servants. Farmer.


Will not be rubb’d, nor stopp'd:7 I'll entreat for thee. Kent. Pray, do not, sir: I have watch'd, and travellid

hard ; Some time I shall sleep out, the rest I 'll whistle. A good man's fortune may grow out at heels: Give you good morrow ! Glo. The duke 's to blame in this; 'twill be ill taken.

{Exit. Kent. Good king, that must approve the common saw!8 Thou out of heaven's benediction com'st To the warm sun! Approach, thou beacon to this under globe, That by thy comfortable beams I may Peruse this letter!-Nothing almost sees miracles, But misery ;-I know, 'tis from Cordelia ;?

7 Will not be rubb’d, nor stopp’d:] Metaphor from bowling.

Warburton. 8 Good king, that must approve the common saw! &c.] That art now to exemplify the common proverb, That out of, &c. That changest better for worse. Hanmer observes, that it is a proverbial saying, app ied to those who are turned out of house and home to the open weather. It was perhaps used of men dismissed from an hospital, or house of charity, such as was erected formerly in many places for travellers. Those houses had names properly enough alJuded to by heaven's benediction. Johnson.

The saw ailuded to, is in Heywood's Dialogues on Proverbs, Book 11, chap. v:

In your running from him to me, ye runne,

Out of God s blessing into the warme sunne., Tyrwhitt. Kent was not thinking of the king's being turned out of house and home to the open weather, a misery which he has not yet experienced, but of his being likely to receive a worse reception from Regan than that which he had already experienced from his elder daughter Goneril. Hanmer therefore certainly misunderstood the passage.

A quotation from Holinshed's Chronicle, may prove the best comment on it. “ This Augustine after his arrival converted the Saxons indeed from Paganisme, bui, as the proverb sayth, bringing them out of Godies blessing into the warme sunne, he also imbued them with no lesse hurtful superstition than they did know before."

See also Howell's Collection of English proverbs, in his Dictionary, 1660: “ He goes out of God's blessing to the warm sun, viz. from good to worse." Malone.

· Nothing almost sees miracles,] Thus the folio. The quartos read-Nothing almost sees my wrack. Steevens.

· I know, 'tis from Cordelia ; &c.] This passage, which some of the editors have degraded as spurious to the margin, and others have silently altered, I have faithfully printed according to the quarto,

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Who hath most fortunately been inform'd
Of my obscured course ; and shall find time
l'rom this enormous state,-seeking to give
Losses their remedies:--All weary and o'er-watch'd,

from which the folio differs only in punctuation. The passage is very obscure, if not corrupt. Perhaps it may be read thus:

Cordelia has been informed
Of my obscured course, and shall find time
From this enormous state-seeking, to give

Losses their remedies. Cordelia is informed of our affairs, and when the enormous care of seeking her fortune will allow her time, she will employ it in remedy. ing losses. This is harsh ; perhaps something better may be found. I have at least supplied the genuine reading of the old copies. Enormous is unwonted, out of rule, out of the ordinary course of things.

Fohnson. So, Holinshed, p. 647: “ The maior perceiving this enormous doing,” &c. Steevens.

and shall find time
From this enermous state,-seeking to give

Losses their remedies:) I confess I do not understand this passage, unless it may be considered as divided parts of Cordelia's letter, which he is reading to himself by moonlight: it certainly conveys the sense of what she would have said. In reading a letter, it is natural enough to dwell on those circumstances in it that promise the change in our affairs which we most wish for; and Kent having read Cordelia's assurances that she will find a time to free the injured from the enormous misrule of Regan, is willing to go to sleep with that pleasing reflection uppermost in his mind. But this is mere conjecture.

Steevens. Dr. Johnson's explanation of this passage cannot be right; for although in the old ballad from whence this play is supposed to be taken, Cordelia is forced to seek her fortune, in the play itself she is Queen of France, and has no fortune to seek; but it is more difficult to discover the real meaning of this speech, than to refute his conjecture. It seems to me, that the verb, shall find, is not governed by the word Cordelia, but by the pronoun 1, in the beginning of the sentence; and that the words from this enormous state, do not refer to Cordelia, but to Kent himself, dressed like a clown, and condemned to the stocks, -an enormous state indeed for a man of his high rank.

The difficulty of this passage has arisen from a mistake in all the former editors, who have printed these three lines, as if they were a quotation from Cordelia's letter, whereas they are in fact the words of Kent himself; let the reader consider them in that light, as part of Kent's own speech, the obscurity is at an end, and the meaning is clearly this: " I know that the letter is from Cordelia, (who hath been informed of my obscured course) and shall gain time, by this strange disguise and situation, which I shall employ in seeking to remedy our present losses.M. Mason.

Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold

Notwithstanding the ingenuity and confidence of Mr. M. Mason, (who has not however done justice to his own idea) I cannot but concur with Mr. Steevens, in ascribing these broken expressions to the letter of Cordelia. For, if the words were Kent's, there will be no intimation from the letter that can give the least insight to Cordelia's design; and the only apparent purport of it will be, to tell Kent that she knew his situation. But exclusive of this consideration, what hopes could Kent entertain, in a condition so deplorable as his, unless Cordelia should take an opportunity from the anarchy of the kingdom, and the broils subsisting between Albany and Cornwall, of finding a time, to give losses their remedies? Curan had before mentioned to Edmund, the rumour of wars toward, between these dukes. This report had reached Cordelia, who, having also discovered the situation and fidelity of Kent, writes to inform him, that she should. avail herself of the first opportunity which the enormities of the times might offer, of restoring him to her father's favour, and her father to his kingdom. [See Act III, sc. i; Act IV, sc. iii.] Henley.

In the old copies these words are printed in the same character as the rest of the speech. I have adhered to them, not conceiving that they form any part of Cordelia's letter, or that any part of it is or can be read by Kent. He wishes for the rising of the sun, that he may read it. I suspect that two half lines have been lost between the words state and seeking. This enormous state means, I think, the confusion subsisting in the state, in consequence of the discord which had arisen between the Dukes of Albany and Cornwall; of which Kent hopes Cordelia will avail herself. He says, in a subsequent scene

There is division,
“ Although as yet the face of it be cover'd

“ With mutual cunning, 'twixt Albany and Cornwall." In the modern editions, after the words under globe, the following direction has been inserted : Looking up to the moon." Kent is surely here addressing, not the moon, but the sun, which he has mentioned in the preceding line, and for whose rising he is impatient, that he may read Cordelia's letter. He has just before said to Gloster, “Give you goo:l morrow.!” The comfortable beams of the moon, no poet, I believe, has mentioned. Those of the sun are again mentioned by Shakspeare in Timon of Athens :

“Thou sun, that comfort'st, burn!” Malone. My reason for concurring with former editors in a supposition that the moon, not the sun, was meant by the beacon, arose from a considera:ion that the term, beacon, was inore applicable to the moon,

being, like that planet, only designed for nighit-service.

As to the epithet-comfortable, it suits with either luminary; for he who is compelled to travel, or sit abroad, in the night, must surely have derived cornfort from the lustre of the moon.

The mention of the sun in the preceding proverbial sentence is quite accidental, and therefore ought not, in my opinion, to have weight on the present occasion. -- By what is here urged, however, I do not mean to insinuate that Mr. Malone's opinion is indefensible. Steevens.

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