Philip Weller caricature
Philip and Weller hugging

Welcome to my web site, now under development for more than twenty years.   
-- Philip Weller, November 13, 1941 - February 1, 2021
Dr. Weller, an Eastern Washington University professor of English and Shakespearean scholar for more than 50 years.

King Lear : Act 1, Scene 4

           Enter KENT [disguised as Caius].
David Burke as Kent, disguised

  1   If but as well I other accents borrow,
  2   That can my speech defuse, my good intent
1-2. If . . . defuse: i.e., if I can disguise my voice as well as I have disguised my appearance.

  3   May carry through itself to that full issue
3. issue: result.

  4   For which I raz'd my likeness. Now, banish'd Kent,
4. raz'd my likeness: erased my true appearance.

  5   If thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemn'd,
5. serve . . . condemn'd: i.e., serve King Lear, who condemned you to exile.

  6   So may it come, thy master, whom thou lovest,
  7   Shall find thee full of labours.
7. full of labours: excellent in performing services.

           Horns within. Enter LEAR, [Knights,] and
Horns within: —The king and his court have been out hunting, and we hear the hunting horns just before we see the king. The "within" means within the backstage area, out of sight.


  8   Let me not stay a jot for dinner; go get it ready.
8. stay: wait.  dinner: lunch.

           [One of Lear's attendants hurries away
            to see about the food. Kent approaches
           King Lear.]

  9   How now! what art thou?
9. what art thou?: who are you?

 10   A man, sir.

 11   What dost thou profess? what wouldst thou
11. What dost thou profess?: what is your trade?

 12   with us?
11-12. what wouldst thou with us?: what do you want from me?

 13   I do profess to be no less than I seem; to serve
13. profess: promise, vow.

 14   him truly that will put me in trust: to love him
14. put me in trust: believe me to be trustworthy.

 15   that is honest; to converse with him that is wise,
15. honest: honorable.  converse: associate.

 16   and says little; to fear judgment; to fight when I
16. judgment: i.e., God's judgment.

 17   cannot choose; and to eat no fish.
16-17. when I cannot choose: when I must.  eat no fish: always be a true beef-eating Englishman (?).

 18   What art thou?

 19   A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as
 20   the king.

 21   If thou be'st as poor for a subject as he's for a
 22   king, thou art poor enough. What wouldst thou?

 23   Service.

 24   Who wouldst thou serve?

 25   You.

 26   Dost thou know me, fellow?

 27   No, sir; but you have that in your countenance
 28   which I would fain call master.
28. fain: gladly.

 29   What's that?

 30   Authority.

 31   What services canst thou do?

 32   I can keep honest counsel, ride, run, mar a curious
32. keep honest counsel: keep confidences.

 33   tale in telling it, and deliver a plain message
32-33. mar a curious tale in telling it: spoil an elaborate story by attempting to tell it. — This little joke at his own expense underlines what Kent says next, which is that he can "deliver a plain message bluntly."

 34   bluntly: that which ordinary men are fit for, I am
 35   qualified in; and the best of me is diligence.

 36   How old art thou?

 37   Not so young, sir, to love a woman for singing, nor
 38   so old to dote on her for any thing: I have years
 39   on my back forty eight.

 40   Follow me. Thou shalt serve me: if I like thee no
 41   worse after dinner, I will not part from thee yet.
 42   Dinner, ho, dinner! Where's my knave? my fool?
 43   Go you, and call my fool hither.

           [Exit an Attendant to fetch the Fool.]

           Enter Steward [OSWALD].

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

 45   So please you,—            Exit.
45. So please you: if you don't mind. —This is a deliberately insulting brush-off.

 46   What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll
46. clotpoll: blockhead.

 47   back.
           [Exit a Knight.]
 48   Where's my fool, ho? I think the world's asleep.
           [Re-enter Knight.]
 49   How now! where's that mongrel?

 50   He says, my lord, your daughter is not well.

 51   Why came not the slave back to me when I called
 52   him?

 53   Sir, he answered me in the roundest manner, he
53. roundest: bluntest, impolite.

 54   would not.

 55   He would not!

 56   My lord, I know not what the matter is; but, to my
 57   judgment, your highness is not entertained with that
 58   ceremonious affection as you were wont; there's a
58. wont: accustomed to.

 59   great abatement of kindness appears as well in the
59. kindness: natural respect.

 60   general dependants as in the duke himself also and
58-59. the general dependants: the staff and hangers-on of the house.

 61   your daughter.

 62   Ha! sayest thou so?

 63   I beseech you, pardon me, my lord, if I be mistaken;
 64   for my duty cannot be silent when I think your
 65   highness wronged.

 66   Thou but rememberest me of mine own conception:
66. Thou . . . conception: you are only reminding me of what I have already thought of.

 67   I have perceived a most faint neglect of late; which
67. faint: indolent, careless.

 68   I have rather blamed as mine own jealous curiosity
68. jealous curiosity: suspicious inquisitiveness.

 69   than as a very pretense and purpose of unkindness:
69. very pretense and purpose: deliberate intention.  unkindness: unnatural treatment. — Because he is king, Lear expects to be treated as a king is naturally treated, with the greatest attentiveness and respect.

 70   I will look further into't. But where's my fool? I
 71   have not seen him this two days.

 72   Since my young lady's going into France, sir, the
72. young lady's: Cordelia's.

 73   fool hath much pined away.

 74   No more of that; I have noted it well. Go you, and
 75   tell my daughter I would speak with her.
           [Exit an Attendant.]
 76   Go you, call hither my fool.
           [Exit another Attendant.]

           Enter Steward [OSWALD].

 77   O, you sir, you, come you hither, sir: who
 78   am I, sir?

Oswald tripped up and cursed
Illustrator: Sir John Gilbert
 79   My lady's father.

 80   'My lady's father'! my lord's knave: you
 81   whoreson dog! you slave! you cur!

 82   I am none of these, my lord; I beseech your
 83   pardon.

 84   Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?
           [Striking him.]

 85   I'll not be struck, my lord.

 86   Nor tripped neither, you base football player.
86. base football player: low-class ruffian. >>>

           [Tripping up his heels.]

 87   I thank thee, fellow; thou servest me, and I'll
 88   love thee.

 89   Come sir, arise, away! I'll teach you differences.
89. differences: distinctions of rank.

 90   Away, away! if you will measure your lubber's
 91   length again, tarry; but away! Go to; have you
90-91. measure your lubber's length again: i.e., have your loutish body again lying on the ground.

 92   wisdom? so.
           [Pushes OSWALD out.]

 93   Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee; there's
 94   earnest of thy service.
94. earnest of: a down payment on.

           [Giving KENT money.]

           Enter Fool.

 95   Let me hire him too: here's my coxcomb.
Coxcomb cap

           [Offering KENT his fool's cap.]

 96   How now, my pretty knave! how dost thou?

 97   Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb.

 98   Why, fool?

 99   Why, for taking one's part that's out of favour.
100   Nay, an thou canst not smile as the wind sits,
100. an thou: if thou. smile as the wind sits: i.e., suck up to whoever has power.

101   thou'lt catch cold shortly: there, take my coxcomb.
101. catch cold: find yourself out in the cold.

102   Why, this fellow has banished two on's daughters,
103   and did the third a blessing against his will; if thou
102. banished two on's daughters: banished two of his daughters. >>>

104   follow him, thou must needs wear my coxcomb.
105   How now, nuncle! Would I had two coxcombs and
105. nuncle: mine uncle —This was a common form of address from a Fool to his lord. Of course, no other person could address a king as "nuncle," or refer to him as a "fellow," as the Fool just did.

106   two daughters!

      KING LEAR:
107   Why, my boy?

108   If I gave them all my living, I'ld keep my coxcombs
108. all my living: i.e., all the property which produces the income that I live on. I'ld keep my coxcombs: I would keep my coxcombs [in order to show what a fool I was].

109   myself. There's mine; beg another of thy daughters.

      KING LEAR:
110   Take heed, sirrah; the whip.

111   Truth's a dog must to kennel; he must be whipped
112   out, when Lady the brach may stand by the fire
112. brach: hound bitch

113   and stink.

114   A pestilent gall to me!
114. gall: source of irritation, like an open sore.

115   Sirrah, I'll teach thee a speech.

116   Do.

117    Mark it, nuncle:
117. Mark it: i.e., pay close attention.

118      Have more than thou showest,
119      Speak less than thou knowest,
120      Lend less than thou owest,
120. owest: own.

121      Ride more than thou goest,
121. goest: walk.

122      Learn more than thou trowest,
122. Learn: listen to, study. trowest: believe.

123      Set less than thou throwest;
123. Set less than thou throwest: bet less than your all on one throw of the dice.

124      Leave thy drink and thy whore,
125      And keep in-a-door,
125. in-a-door: indoors.

126      And thou shalt have more
127      Than two tens to a score.
126-127. thou shalt have more / Than two tens to a score : i.e., you will prosper.

128   This is nothing, fool.

129   Then 'tis like the breath of an unfee'd lawyer;
129. breath: speech. unfee'd: unpaid.

130   you gave me nothing for't. Can you make no
131   use of nothing, nuncle?

132   Why, no, boy; nothing can be made out of
133   nothing.

      Fool:  [To KENT.]
134   Prithee, tell him, so much the rent of his
135   land comes to: he will not believe a fool.

136   A bitter fool!
136. bitter: vexatious.

Antony Hopkins as Lear; Karl Johnson as the fool
137   Dost thou know the difference, my boy,
138   between a bitter fool and a sweet one?

139   No, lad; teach me.

140   That lord that counsell'd thee
141      To give away thy land,
140-141. That lord that counsell'd thee / To give away thy land:—The only "lord" who advised Lear to give away his land was Lear himself; it was all his own idea. The point of the Fool's little ditty is underline the fact that it is Lear who is the "bitter fool."

142   Come place him here by me,
143      Do thou for him stand:
144   The sweet and bitter fool
145      Will presently appear;
146   The one in motley here,
146. motley: the traditional fool's costume. >>>

147      The other found out there.
146-147. The one . . . there: i.e., me [the sweet fool] and you [the bitter fool].

148   Dost thou call me fool, boy?

149   All thy other titles thou hast given away; that
149. that: that title [of "Fool"].

150   thou wast born with.
150. thou wast born with: —In Shakespeare's time "fool" could be used as a term of endearment for a baby or toddler.

151   This is not altogether fool, my lord.
151. This is not altogether fool: this that the Fool is saying is not totally foolish.

152   No, faith, lords and great men will not let me; if
152. lords . . . me: i.e., lords and great men will not allow me to have a monopoly on foolishness.

153   I had a monopoly out, they would have part on't:
152-153. if I had a monopoly out: an officially granted monopoly.

154   and ladies too, they will not let me have all fool
155   to myself; they'll be snatching. Give me an egg,
155. they'll be snatching: —The Fool is also satirizing the intense competition among the great lords of England for lucrative royal monopolies, such as the exclusive right to import a certain kind of wine.

156   nuncle, and I'll give thee two crowns.

157   What two crowns shall they be?

158   Why, after I have cut the egg i' the middle, and eat
159   up the meat, the two crowns of the egg. When thou
160   clovest thy crown i' the middle, and gavest away
161   both parts, thou bor'st thy ass on thy back o'er
161. thou bor'st thy ass on thy back: i.e., you reversed the order of nature.soldier with a donkey on his back

162   the dirt. Thou hadst little wit in thy bald crown,
163   when thou gav'st thy golden one away. If I speak
164   like myself in this, let him be whipt that first
165   finds it so.
163-165. If I speak . . . finds it so: I think this means "If anyone thinks I am speaking like what I appear to be, a fool, let him be whipped."


166     "Fools had ne'er less grace in a year;
167         For wise men are grown foppish,
166-167. Fools . . . foppish: i.e., fools are no longer in demand since wise men now consider it fashionable to act and look like fools. >>>

168      And know not how their wits to wear,
169         Their manners are so apish."
169. apish : stupid, imitative.

170   When were you wont to be so full of songs,
170. wont : accustomed.

171   sirrah?

172   I have used it, nuncle, e'er since thou madest thy
172. used it: made it my practice.

173   daughters thy mothers: for when thou gavest them
174   the rod, and put'st down thine own breeches,

175     "Then they for sudden joy did weep,
176         And I for sorrow sung,
175-176. Then . . . sung: This is an ironic allusion to a pious song. >>>

177      That such a king should play bo-peep,
177. bo-peep: a game played with very young children, also known as "peek-a-boo."

178         And go the fools among."

179   Prithee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach
180   thy fool to lie—I would fain learn to lie.

181   An you lie, sirrah, we'll have you whipped.
181. An: if.

182   I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are. They'll
182. what kin: how alike.

183   have me whipped for speaking true, thou'lt have
184   me whipped for lying; and sometimes I am whipped
185   for holding my peace. I had rather be any kind o'
186   thing than a fool: and yet I would not be thee, nuncle;
187   thou hast pared thy wit o' both sides, and left nothing
187. pared: sliced off.

188   i' the middle: here comes one o' the parings.

           Enter GONERIL.

189   How now, daughter! what makes that frontlet on?
189. frontlet: band worn on the forehead. —This is King Lear's jesting metaphor for Goneril's frown.

190   Methinks you are too much of late i' the frown.

191   Thou wast a pretty fellow when thou hadst no need to
192   care for her frowning; now thou art an O without a
193   figure: I am better than thou art now; I am a fool,
193. an O without a figure: a zero without another digit in front of it; i.e., nothing.

194   thou art nothing.
           [To GONERIL.]
195   Yes, forsooth, I will hold my tongue; so your face
196   bids me, though you say nothing.
197         Mum, mum,
198         He that keeps nor crust nor crum,
199         Weary of all, shall want some.
198-199. He . . . some: i.e., he who gives everything away because he's tired of it all, will later find himself in need of some of what he gave away.

           [Pointing to KING LEAR.]
200   That's a sheal'd peascod.
200. sheal'd peascod: shelled [empty] pea pod; nothing.

201   Not only, sir, this your all-licens'd fool,
201.all-licens'd fool: fool who is allowed to say anything and everything.  >>>

202   But other of your insolent retinue
203   Do hourly carp and quarrel; breaking forth
204   In rank and not-to-be endur'd riots. Sir,
204. rank: foul, stinking, blatant.

205   I had thought, by making this well known unto you,
206   To have found a safe redress; but now grow fearful,
206. found a safe redress: seen you solve the problem.

207   By what yourself too late have spoke and done,
207. too late: all too recently.

208   That you protect this course, and put it on
208. this course: this kind of behavior.

209   By your allowance; which if you should, the fault
208-209. put it on . . . allowance: encourage it by allowing it to happen.  if you should: if that is what you are doing.

210   Would not 'scape censure, nor the redresses sleep,
211   Which, in the tender of a wholesome weal,
211. tender of: care for.  weal: commonwealth.

212   Might in their working do you that offence,
213   Which else were shame, that then necessity
214   Will call discreet proceeding.
213-214. Which . . . proceeding. : which under other circumstances would be shameful [to you], [but] that in this instance would by necessity be called a prudent proceeding.

                                          For, you know, nuncle,
215     "The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long,
215. The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo: >>>

216      That it had it head bit off by it young."
217   So, out went the candle, and we were left darkling.
217. darkling: in the dark.

218   Are you our daughter?

219   Come sir,
220   I would you would make use of that good wisdom,
221. fraught: freighted with; i.e., amply provided with.
221   Whereof I know you are fraught; and put away
222   These dispositions, that of late transport you
222. these dispositions: i.e., the capricious moods you have lately shown.

223   From what you rightly are.

224   May not an ass know when the cart draws the horse?
225      "Whoop, Jug! I love thee."
225. "Whoop, Jug! I love thee.": "Jug" is a nickname for "Joan," which is a typical name for a female servant. The Fool is aiming another barb at Goneril, who is probably still frowning and expecting to be taken very seriously.

226   Doth any here know me? This is not Lear:
227   Doth Lear walk thus? speak thus? Where are his eyes?
228   Either his notion weakens, his discernings
228-229. Either . . . lethargied: Either his intellect weakens or his senses are falling into a lethargy.  waking?: am I awake?

229   Are lethargied—Ha! waking? 'tis not so.
230   Who is it that can tell me who I am?

231   Lear's shadow.

232   I would learn that; for, by the marks of
232. that: i.e., who I am. —Lear doesn't hear or ignores the Fool's "Lear's shadow."

233   sovereignty, knowledge, and reason,
233. by the marks of . . . and reason: by the evidence supplied by my kingly nature, my memory, and my common sense.

234   I should be false persuaded I had daughters.

235   Which they will make an obedient father.
235. Which: Whom.

236   Your name, fair gentlewoman?

237   This admiration, sir, is much o' the savour
237. admiration: [pretended] wonderment.

238   Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you
239   To understand my purposes aright:
240   As you are old and reverend, should be wise.
240. should: you should.

241   Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires;
242   Men so disorder'd, so debosh'd and bold,
242. disorder'd: disorderly. debosh'd: debauched.

243   That this our court, infected with their manners,
244   Shows like a riotous inn. Epicurism and lust
244. Shows: appears. Epicurism: devotion to the party-hearty life.

245   Make it more like a tavern or a brothel
246   Than a grac'd palace. The shame itself doth speak
246. a grac'd: an honored.

247   For instant remedy: be then desired
246-247. doth . . . remedy: shows the need for an immediate remedy.

248   By her, that else will take the thing she begs,
248. her: me.

249   A little to disquantity your train;
249. disquantity your train: reduce the size of your retinue.

250   And the remainders, that shall still depend,
250. still depend: continue to be retained.

251   To be such men as may besort your age,
251. besort: befit.

252   Which know themselves and you.
252. Which know themselves and you: i.e., who know their place and yours. — Goneril is forcibly reminding King Lear that he is no longer a king, but only an old man who should be grateful for anything he gets.

                                                   Darkness and devils!
253   Saddle my horses; call my train together:
254   Degenerate bastard! I'll not trouble thee.
255   Yet have I left a daughter.
255. Yet have I left a daughter.: I still have a [true] daughter [Regan].

                                                   You strike my people
256   And your disorder'd rabble make servants of their betters.

           Enter ALBANY.
ALBANY: i.e., the Duke of Albany, Goneril's husband.

257   Woe, that too late repents,—
257. Woe, that too late repents: Woe to him who repents [of his decisions] too late. —King Lear is justifying his sudden decision to go to Regan's palace.

           [To ALBANY.]
                                                  O, sir, are you come?
258   Is it your will? Speak, sir. Prepare my horses.
258. Is it your will?: i.e., Do you approve of your wife's treatment of me?

259   Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend,
260   More hideous when thou show'st thee in a child
261   Than the sea-monster!

                                              Pray, sir, be patient.
261. patient: calm. Kite

262   Detested kite! thou liest.
262. kite: a kind of hawk that feeds on carrion, including the bodies of dead soldiers.

263   My train are men of choice and rarest parts,
263. parts: qualities, accomplishments.

264   That all particulars of duty know,
265   And in the most exact regard support
266   The worships of their name. O most small fault,
266. The worships of their name: Their honorable reputations.

267   How ugly didst thou in Cordelia show!
268   Which, like an engine, wrench'd my frame of nature
268. engine: i.e., the rack The rack

269   From the fix'd place; drew from heart all love,
270   And added to the gall. O Lear, Lear, Lear!
271   Beat at this gate, that let thy folly in,
271. this gate: i.e., Lear's head

           [Striking his head.]
272   And thy dear judgment out! Go, go, my people.
272. dear: precious.

273   My lord, I am guiltless, as I am ignorant
274   Of what hath moved you.
274. moved: angered.
Lear denouncing Goneril by H.C. Selous
Illustrator: H.C. Selous

274                                               It may be so, my lord.
275   Hear, nature, hear; dear goddess, hear!
276   Suspend thy purpose, if thou didst intend
277   To make this creature fruitful!
278   Into her womb convey sterility!
279   Dry up in her the organs of increase;
280   And from her derogate body never spring
280. derogate: debased.

281   A babe to honour her! If she must teem,
281. teem: breed.

282   Create her child of spleen; that it may live,
282. spleen: malice, spitefulness.

283   And be a thwart disnatur'd torment to her!
283. a thwart disnatur'd torment: a frustrating, unnatural torment.

284   Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth;
285   With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks,
285. cadent: falling.  fret: gnaw.

286   Turn all her mother's pains and benefits
286. mother's pains and benefits: maternal care and nurturing.

287   To laughter and contempt; that she may feel
287. laughter: mockery.

288   How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
Serpent's tooth288. sharper than a serpent's tooth: i.e., more painful than the bite of a serpent.

289   To have a thankless child!— Away, away!


290   Now, gods that we adore, whereof comes this?

291   Never afflict yourself to know more of it;
292   But let his disposition have that scope
293   That dotage gives it.
293. let his disposition have that scope / That dotage gives it: i.e., let him be the foolish old man that he is.

           Enter [KING] LEAR.

294   What, fifty of my followers at a clap!
295   Within a fortnight!

                                        What's the matter, sir?

296   I'll tell thee:
           [To GONERIL.]
                                Life and death! I am asham'd
297   That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus;
298   That these hot tears, which break from me perforce,
298. perforce: against my will.

299   Should make thee worth them. Blasts and fogs
299. Should . . . them: i.e., should reveal that I care enough about you to shed tears. Blasts . . . thee: plagues upon you. >>>

                      upon thee!
300   The untented woundings of a father's curse
300. untented: incurable.

301   Pierce every sense about thee! Old fond eyes,
301. fond: foolish.

302   Beweep this cause again, I'll pluck ye out,
302. Beweep this cause again: if you weep again for the same reason.

303   And cast you, with the waters that you loose,
304   To temper clay. Yea, is't come to this?
304. temper clay: i.e., mix with dirt.

305   Ha? Let it be so: I have another daughter,
306   Who, I am sure, is kind and comfortable.
306. comfortable: ready to offer comfort.

307   When she shall hear this of thee, with her nails
308   She'll flay thy wolvish visage. Thou shalt find
309   That I'll resume the shape which thou dost think
308. I'll resume the shape: i.e., I will once again be an honored king.

310   I have cast off for ever.

           Exit [King Lear and all of his followers
           except the Fool].

310                                         Do you mark that, my lord?

311   I cannot be so partial, Goneril,
311. partial: biased.

312   To the great love I bear you,—
312. To: Because of.

313   Pray you, content. What, Oswald, ho!
313. Pray you, content: i.e., please don't worry about a thing and please shut up.

           [To the Fool.]
314   You, sir, more knave than fool, after your master.
314. after your master: i.e., go follow Lear.

315   Nuncle Lear, nuncle Lear, tarry and take the fool
316   with thee.
317      A fox, when one has caught her,
318      And such a daughter,
319      Should sure to the slaughter,
319. sure: surely be sent.

320      If my cap would buy a halter:
320. halter: hangman's noose.

321      So the fool follows after.


322   This man hath had good counsel—a hundred knights!
323   'Tis politic and safe to let him keep
323. politic: prudent. — Goneril is being sarcastic.

324   At point a hundred knights: yes, that, on every
324. At point: armed.

325   Each buzz, each fancy, each complaint, dislike,
325. buzz: rumor.

326   He may enguard his dotage with their pow'rs,
326. enguard his dotage: protect himself in his old age.

327   And hold our lives in mercy. Oswald, I say!
327. in mercy: at his mercy.

328   Well, you may fear too far.
328. you may fear too far: your fears may be overblown.

                                         Safer than trust too far:
329   Let me still take away the harms I fear,
329. still: always.

330   Not fear still to be taken. I know his heart.
330. Not fear still to be taken: and not always fear to be captured in a surprise attack.

331   What he hath utter'd I have writ my sister
332   If she sustain him and his hundred knights
333   When I have show'd the unfitness,—
           Enter Steward [Oswald].
333                                                       How now, Oswald?
334   What, have you writ that letter to my sister?

335   Ay, madam.

336   Take you some company, and away to horse:
337   Inform her full of my particular fear;
337. particular: specific.

338   And thereto add such reasons of your own
339   As may compact it more. Get you gone;
339. compact: compound.

340   And hasten your return.
           [Exit Oswald.]
340                                                 No, no, my lord,
341   This milky gentleness and course of yours
341. milky . . . course: mildly gentle course of action.

342   Though I condemn not, yet, under pardon,
342. under pardon: if you will allow me to say so.

343   You are much more attask'd for want of wisdom
343. attask'd: criticized.

344   Than praised for harmful mildness.

345   How far your eyes may pierce I can not tell:
346   Striving to better, oft we mar what's well.

347   Nay, then—

348   Well, well; th' event.
348. th' event: i.e., we'll see what the outcome is.