The Complete Works of William Shakespeare The Tragedy of King Lear
Part 2 out of 3
In some of our best ports and are at point
To show their open banner. Now to you:
If on my credit you dare build so far
To make your speed to Dover, you shall find
Some that will thank you, making just report
Of how unnatural and bemadding sorrow
The King hath cause to plain.
I am a gentleman of blood and breeding,
And from some knowledge and assurance offer
This office to you.
Gent. I will talk further with you.
Kent. No, do not.
For confirmation that I am much more
Than my out-wall, open this purse and take
What it contains. If you shall see Cordelia
(As fear not but you shall), show her this ring,
And she will tell you who your fellow is
That yet you do not know. Fie on this storm!
I will go seek the King.
Gent. Give me your hand. Have you no more to say?
Kent. Few words, but, to effect, more than all yet:
That, when we have found the King (in which your pain
That way, I'll this), he that first lights on him
Holla the other.
Another part of the heath.
Storm still. Enter Lear and Fool.
Lear. Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks!
You sulph'rous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Strike flat the thick rotundity o' th' world,
Crack Nature's moulds, all germains spill at once,
That makes ingrateful man!
Fool. O nuncle, court holy water in a dry house is better than
rain water out o' door. Good nuncle, in, and ask thy
blessing! Here's a night pities nether wise men nor fools.
Lear. Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! spout, rain!
Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire are my daughters.
I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness.
I never gave you kingdom, call'd you children,
You owe me no subscription. Then let fall
Your horrible pleasure. Here I stand your slave,
A poor, infirm, weak, and despis'd old man.
But yet I call you servile ministers,
That will with two pernicious daughters join
Your high-engender'd battles 'gainst a head
So old and white as this! O! O! 'tis foul!
Fool. He that has a house to put 's head in has a good
The codpiece that will house
Before the head has any,
The head and he shall louse:
So beggars marry many.
The man that makes his toe
What he his heart should make
Shall of a corn cry woe,
And turn his sleep to wake.
For there was never yet fair woman but she made mouths in a
Lear. No, I will be the pattern of all patience;
I will say nothing.
Kent. Who's there?
Fool. Marry, here's grace and a codpiece; that's a wise man and
Kent. Alas, sir, are you here? Things that love night
Love not such nights as these. The wrathful skies
Gallow the very wanderers of the dark
And make them keep their caves. Since I was man,
Such sheets of fire, such bursts of horrid thunder,
Such groans of roaring wind and rain, I never
Remember to have heard. Man's nature cannot carry
Th' affliction nor the fear.
Lear. Let the great gods,
That keep this dreadful pudder o'er our heads,
Find out their enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch,
That hast within thee undivulged crimes
Unwhipp'd of justice. Hide thee, thou bloody hand;
Thou perjur'd, and thou simular man of virtue
That art incestuous. Caitiff, in pieces shake
That under covert and convenient seeming
Hast practis'd on man's life. Close pent-up guilts,
Rive your concealing continents, and cry
These dreadful summoners grace. I am a man
More sinn'd against than sinning.
Kent. Alack, bareheaded?
Gracious my lord, hard by here is a hovel;
Some friendship will it lend you 'gainst the tempest.
Repose you there, whilst I to this hard house
(More harder than the stones whereof 'tis rais'd,
Which even but now, demanding after you,
Denied me to come in) return, and force
Their scanted courtesy.
Lear. My wits begin to turn.
Come on, my boy. How dost, my boy? Art cold?
I am cold myself. Where is this straw, my fellow?
The art of our necessities is strange,
That can make vile things precious. Come, your hovel.
Poor fool and knave, I have one part in my heart
That's sorry yet for thee.
He that has and a little tiny wit-
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain-
Must make content with his fortunes fit,
For the rain it raineth every day.
Lear. True, my good boy. Come, bring us to this hovel.
Exeunt [Lear and Kent].
Fool. This is a brave night to cool a courtesan. I'll speak a
prophecy ere I go:
When priests are more in word than matter;
When brewers mar their malt with water;
When nobles are their tailors' tutors,
No heretics burn'd, but wenches' suitors;
When every case in law is right,
No squire in debt nor no poor knight;
When slanders do not live in tongues,
Nor cutpurses come not to throngs;
When usurers tell their gold i' th' field,
And bawds and whores do churches build:
Then shall the realm of Albion
Come to great confusion.
Then comes the time, who lives to see't,
That going shall be us'd with feet.
This prophecy Merlin shall make, for I live before his time.
Enter Gloucester and Edmund.
Glou. Alack, alack, Edmund, I like not this unnatural dealing!
I desir'd their leave that I might pity him, they took from
the use of mine own house, charg'd me on pain of perpetual
displeasure neither to speak of him, entreat for him, nor
way sustain him.
Edm. Most savage and unnatural!
Glou. Go to; say you nothing. There is division betwixt the
and a worse matter than that. I have received a letter this
night- 'tis dangerous to be spoken- I have lock'd the letter
my closet. These injuries the King now bears will be
home; there's part of a power already footed; we must
the King. I will seek him and privily relieve him. Go you
maintain talk with the Duke, that my charity be not of him
perceived. If he ask for me, I am ill and gone to bed.
die for't, as no less is threat'ned me, the King my old
must be relieved. There is some strange thing toward,
Pray you be careful. Exit.
Edm. This courtesy, forbid thee, shall the Duke
Instantly know, and of that letter too.
This seems a fair deserving, and must draw me
That which my father loses- no less than all.
The younger rises when the old doth fall. Exit.
The heath. Before a hovel.
Storm still. Enter Lear, Kent, and Fool.
Kent. Here is the place, my lord. Good my lord, enter.
The tyranny of the open night 's too rough
For nature to endure.
Lear. Let me alone.
Kent. Good my lord, enter here.
Lear. Wilt break my heart?
Kent. I had rather break mine own. Good my lord, enter.
Lear. Thou think'st 'tis much that this contentious storm
Invades us to the skin. So 'tis to thee;
But where the greater malady is fix'd,
The lesser is scarce felt. Thou'dst shun a bear;
But if thy flight lay toward the raging sea,
Thou'dst meet the bear i' th' mouth. When the mind's free,
The body's delicate. The tempest in my mind
Doth from my senses take all feeling else
Save what beats there. Filial ingratitude!
Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand
For lifting food to't? But I will punish home!
No, I will weep no more. In such a night
To shut me out! Pour on; I will endure.
In such a night as this! O Regan, Goneril!
Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all!
O, that way madness lies; let me shun that!
No more of that.
Kent. Good my lord, enter here.
Lear. Prithee go in thyself; seek thine own ease.
This tempest will not give me leave to ponder
On things would hurt me more. But I'll go in.
[To the Fool] In, boy; go first.- You houseless poverty-
Nay, get thee in. I'll pray, and then I'll sleep.
Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? O, I have ta'en
Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp;
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
That thou mayst shake the superflux to them
And show the heavens more just.
Edg. [within] Fathom and half, fathom and half! Poor Tom!
Enter Fool [from the hovel].
Fool. Come not in here, nuncle, here's a spirit. Help me, help
Kent. Give me thy hand. Who's there?
Fool. A spirit, a spirit! He says his name's poor Tom.
Kent. What art thou that dost grumble there i' th' straw?
Enter Edgar [disguised as a madman].
Edg. Away! the foul fiend follows me! Through the sharp
blows the cold wind. Humh! go to thy cold bed, and warm
Lear. Hast thou given all to thy two daughters, and art thou
Edg. Who gives anything to poor Tom? whom the foul fiend hath
through fire and through flame, through ford and whirlpool,
bog and quagmire; that hath laid knives under his pillow and
halters in his pew, set ratsbane by his porridge, made him
of heart, to ride on a bay trotting horse over four-inch'd
bridges, to course his own shadow for a traitor. Bless thy
wits! Tom 's acold. O, do de, do de, do de. Bless thee from
whirlwinds, star-blasting, and taking! Do poor Tom some
whom the foul fiend vexes. There could I have him now- and
and there again- and there!
Lear. What, have his daughters brought him to this pass?
Couldst thou save nothing? Didst thou give 'em all?
Fool. Nay, he reserv'd a blanket, else we had been all sham'd.
Lear. Now all the plagues that in the pendulous air
Hang fated o'er men's faults light on thy daughters!
Kent. He hath no daughters, sir.
Lear. Death, traitor! nothing could have subdu'd nature
To such a lowness but his unkind daughters.
Is it the fashion that discarded fathers
Should have thus little mercy on their flesh?
Judicious punishment! 'Twas this flesh begot
Those pelican daughters.
Edg. Pillicock sat on Pillicock's Hill. 'Allow, 'allow, loo,
Fool. This cold night will turn us all to fools and madmen.
Edg. Take heed o' th' foul fiend; obey thy parents: keep thy
justly; swear not; commit not with man's sworn spouse; set
thy sweet heart on proud array. Tom 's acold.
Lear. What hast thou been?
Edg. A servingman, proud in heart and mind; that curl'd my
wore gloves in my cap; serv'd the lust of my mistress' heart
did the act of darkness with her; swore as many oaths as I
words, and broke them in the sweet face of heaven; one that
slept in the contriving of lust, and wak'd to do it. Wine
I deeply, dice dearly; and in woman out-paramour'd the Turk.
False of heart, light of ear, bloody of hand; hog in sloth,
in stealth, wolf in greediness, dog in madness, lion in
Let not the creaking of shoes nor the rustling of silks
thy poor heart to woman. Keep thy foot out of brothel, thy
out of placket, thy pen from lender's book, and defy the
fiend. Still through the hawthorn blows the cold wind; says
suum, mun, hey, no, nonny. Dolphin my boy, my boy, sessa!
him trot by.
Lear. Why, thou wert better in thy grave than to answer with
uncover'd body this extremity of the skies. Is man no more
this? Consider him well. Thou ow'st the worm no silk, the
no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfume. Ha! Here's
on's are sophisticated! Thou art the thing itself;
unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked
animal as thou art. Off, off, you lendings! Come, unbutton
[Tears at his clothes.]
Fool. Prithee, nuncle, be contented! 'Tis a naughty night to
in. Now a little fire in a wild field were like an old
heart- a small spark, all the rest on's body cold. Look,
comes a walking fire.
Enter Gloucester with a torch.
Edg. This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet. He begins at
and walks till the first cock. He gives the web and the pin,
squints the eye, and makes the harelip; mildews the white
and hurts the poor creature of earth.
Saint Withold footed thrice the 'old;
He met the nightmare, and her nine fold;
Bid her alight
And her troth plight,
And aroint thee, witch, aroint thee!
Kent. How fares your Grace?
Lear. What's he?
Kent. Who's there? What is't you seek?
Glou. What are you there? Your names?
Edg. Poor Tom, that eats the swimming frog, the toad, the
the wall-newt and the water; that in the fury of his heart,
the foul fiend rages, eats cow-dung for sallets, swallows
old rat and the ditch-dog, drinks the green mantle of the
standing pool; who is whipp'd from tithing to tithing, and
stock-punish'd and imprison'd; who hath had three suits to
back, six shirts to his body, horse to ride, and weapons to
But mice and rats, and such small deer,
Have been Tom's food for seven long year.
Beware my follower. Peace, Smulkin! peace, thou fiend!
Glou. What, hath your Grace no better company?
Edg. The prince of darkness is a gentleman!
Modo he's call'd, and Mahu.
Glou. Our flesh and blood is grown so vile, my lord,
That it doth hate what gets it.
Edg. Poor Tom 's acold.
Glou. Go in with me. My duty cannot suffer
T' 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?
Kent. Good my lord, take his offer; go into th' 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. Importune him once more to go, my lord.
His wits begin t' unsettle.
Glou. Canst 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,
Now outlaw'd from my blood. He sought my life
But lately, very late. I lov'd him, friend-
No father his son dearer. True to tell thee,
The grief hath craz'd my wits. What a night 's this!
I do beseech your Grace-
Lear. O, cry you mercy, sir.
Noble philosopher, your company.
Edg. Tom's acold.
Glou. In, fellow, there, into th' hovel; keep thee warm.
Lear. Come, let's in all.
Kent. This way, my lord.
Lear. With him!
I will keep still with my philosopher.
Kent. Good my lord, soothe him; let him take the fellow.
Glou. Take him you on.
Kent. Sirrah, come on; go along with us.
Lear. Come, good Athenian.
Glou. No words, no words! hush.
Edg. Child Rowland to the dark tower came;
His word was still
Fie, foh, and fum!
I smell the blood of a British man.
Enter Cornwall and Edmund.
Corn. I will have my revenge ere I depart his house.
Edm. How, my lord, I may be censured, that nature thus gives
loyalty, something fears me to think of.
Corn. I now perceive it was not altogether your brother's evil
disposition made him seek his death; but a provoking merit,
awork by a reproveable badness in himself.
Edm. How malicious is my fortune that I must repent to be just!
This is the letter he spoke of, which approves him an
intelligent party to the advantages of France. O heavens!
this treason were not- or not I the detector!
Corn. Go with me to the Duchess.
Edm. If the matter of this paper be certain, you have mighty
business in hand.
Corn. True or false, it hath made thee Earl of Gloucester.
Seek out where thy father is, that he may be ready for our
Edm. [aside] If I find him comforting the King, it will stuff
suspicion more fully.- I will persever in my course of
though the conflict be sore between that and my blood.
Corn. I will lay trust upon thee, and thou shalt find a dearer
father in my love.
A farmhouse near Gloucester's Castle.
Enter Gloucester, Lear, Kent, Fool, and Edgar.
Glou. Here is better than the open air; take it thankfully. I
piece out the comfort with what addition I can. I will not
long from you.
Kent. All the power of his wits have given way to his
The gods reward your kindness!
Edg. Frateretto calls me, and tells me Nero is an angler in the
lake of darkness. Pray, innocent, and beware the foul fiend.
Fool. Prithee, nuncle, tell me whether a madman be a gentleman
Lear. A king, a king!
Fool. No, he's a yeoman that has a gentleman to his son; for
mad yeoman that sees his son a gentleman before him.
Lear. To have a thousand with red burning spits
Come hizzing in upon 'em-
Edg. The foul fiend bites my back.
Fool. He's mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf, a horse's
health, a boy's love, or a whore's oath.
Lear. It shall be done; I will arraign them straight.
[To Edgar] Come, sit thou here, most learned justicer.
[To the Fool] Thou, sapient sir, sit here. Now, you
Edg. Look, where he stands and glares! Want'st thou eyes at
Come o'er the bourn, Bessy, to me.
Fool. Her boat hath a leak,
And she must not speak
Why she dares not come over to thee.
Edg. The foul fiend haunts poor Tom in the voice of a
Hoppedance cries in Tom's belly for two white herring. Croak
not, black angel; I have no food for thee.
Kent. How do you, sir? Stand you not so amaz'd.
Will you lie down and rest upon the cushions?
Lear. I'll see their trial first. Bring in their evidence.
[To Edgar] Thou, robed man of justice, take thy place.
[To the Fool] And thou, his yokefellow of equity,
Bench by his side. [To Kent] You are o' th' commission,
Sit you too.
Edg. Let us deal justly.
Sleepest or wakest thou, jolly shepherd?
Thy sheep be in the corn;
And for one blast of thy minikin mouth
Thy sheep shall take no harm.
Purr! the cat is gray.
Lear. Arraign her first. 'Tis Goneril. I here take my oath
this honourable assembly, she kicked the poor King her
Fool. Come hither, mistress. Is your name Goneril?
Lear. She cannot deny it.
Fool. Cry you mercy, I took you for a joint-stool.
Lear. And here's another, whose warp'd looks proclaim
What store her heart is made on. Stop her there!
Arms, arms! sword! fire! Corruption in the place!
False justicer, why hast thou let her scape?
Edg. Bless thy five wits!
Kent. O pity! Sir, where is the patience now
That you so oft have boasted to retain?
Edg. [aside] My tears begin to take his part so much
They'll mar my counterfeiting.
Lear. The little dogs and all,
Tray, Blanch, and Sweetheart, see, they bark at me.
Edg. Tom will throw his head at them. Avaunt, you curs!
Be thy mouth or black or white,
Tooth that poisons if it bite;
Mastiff, greyhound, mongrel grim,
Hound or spaniel, brach or lym,
Bobtail tyke or trundle-tail-
Tom will make them weep and wail;
For, with throwing thus my head,
Dogs leap the hatch, and all are fled.
Do de, de, de. Sessa! Come, march to wakes and fairs and
towns. Poor Tom, thy horn is dry.
Lear. Then let them anatomize Regan. See what breeds about her
heart. Is there any cause in nature that makes these hard
hearts? [To Edgar] You, sir- I entertain you for one of my
hundred; only I do not like the fashion of your garments.
say they are Persian attire; but let them be chang'd.
Kent. Now, good my lord, lie here and rest awhile.
Lear. Make no noise, make no noise; draw the curtains.
So, so, so. We'll go to supper i' th' morning. So, so, so.
Fool. And I'll go to bed at noon.
Glou. Come hither, friend. Where is the King my master?
Kent. Here, sir; but trouble him not; his wits are gone.
Glou. Good friend, I prithee take him in thy arms.
I have o'erheard a plot of death upon him.
There is a litter ready; lay him in't
And drive towards Dover, friend, where thou shalt meet
Both welcome and protection. Take up thy master.
If thou shouldst dally half an hour, his life,
With thine, and all that offer to defend him,
Stand in assured loss. Take up, take up!
And follow me, that will to some provision
Give thee quick conduct.
Kent. Oppressed nature sleeps.
This rest might yet have balm'd thy broken senses,
Which, if convenience will not allow,
Stand in hard cure. [To the Fool] Come, help to bear thy
Thou must not stay behind.
Glou. Come, come, away!
Exeunt [all but Edgar].
Edg. When we our betters see bearing our woes,
We scarcely think our miseries our foes.
Who alone suffers suffers most i' th' mind,
Leaving free things and happy shows behind;
But then the mind much sufferance doth o'erskip
When grief hath mates, and bearing fellowship.
How light and portable my pain seems now,
When that which makes me bend makes the King bow,
He childed as I fathered! Tom, away!
Mark the high noises, and thyself bewray
When false opinion, whose wrong thought defiles thee,
In thy just proof repeals and reconciles thee.
What will hap more to-night, safe scape the King!
Lurk, lurk. [Exit.]
Enter Cornwall, Regan, Goneril, [Edmund the] Bastard, and
Corn. [to Goneril] Post speedily to my lord your husband, show
this letter. The army of France is landed.- Seek out the
[Exeunt some of the Servants.]
Reg. Hang him instantly.
Gon. Pluck out his eyes.
Corn. Leave him to my displeasure. Edmund, keep you our sister
company. The revenges we are bound to take upon your
father are not fit for your beholding. Advise the Duke where
are going, to a most festinate preparation. We are bound to
like. Our posts shall be swift and intelligent betwixt us.
Farewell, dear sister; farewell, my Lord of Gloucester.
Enter [Oswald the] Steward.
How now? Where's the King?
Osw. My Lord of Gloucester hath convey'd him hence.
Some five or six and thirty of his knights,
Hot questrists after him, met him at gate;
Who, with some other of the lord's dependants,
Are gone with him towards Dover, where they boast
To have well-armed friends.
Corn. Get horses for your mistress.
Gon. Farewell, sweet lord, and sister.
Corn. Edmund, farewell.
Exeunt Goneril, [Edmund, and Oswald].
Go seek the traitor Gloucester,
Pinion him like a thief, bring him before us.
[Exeunt other Servants.]
Though well we may not pass upon his life
Without the form of justice, yet our power
Shall do a court'sy to our wrath, which men
May blame, but not control.
Enter Gloucester, brought in by two or three.
Who's there? the traitor?
Reg. Ingrateful fox! 'tis he.
Corn. Bind fast his corky arms.
Glou. What mean, your Graces? Good my friends, consider
You are my guests. Do me no foul play, friends.
Corn. Bind him, I say.
[Servants bind him.]
Reg. Hard, hard. O filthy traitor!
Glou. Unmerciful lady as you are, I am none.
Corn. To this chair bind him. Villain, thou shalt find-
[Regan plucks his beard.]
Glou. By the kind gods, 'tis most ignobly done
To pluck me by the beard.
Reg. So white, and such a traitor!
Glou. Naughty lady,
These hairs which thou dost ravish from my chin
Will quicken, and accuse thee. I am your host.
With robber's hands my hospitable favours
You should not ruffle thus. What will you do?
Corn. Come, sir, what letters had you late from France?
Reg. Be simple-answer'd, for we know the truth.
Corn. And what confederacy have you with the traitors
Late footed in the kingdom?
Reg. To whose hands have you sent the lunatic King?
Glou. I have a letter guessingly set down,
Which came from one that's of a neutral heart,
And not from one oppos'd.
Reg. And false.
Corn. Where hast thou sent the King?
Glou. To Dover.
Reg. Wherefore to Dover? Wast thou not charg'd at peril-
Corn. Wherefore to Dover? Let him first answer that.
Glou. I am tied to th' stake, and I must stand the course.
Reg. Wherefore to Dover, sir?
Glou. Because I would not see thy cruel nails
Pluck out his poor old eyes; nor thy fierce sister
In his anointed flesh stick boarish fangs.
The sea, with such a storm as his bare head
In hell-black night endur'd, would have buoy'd up
And quench'd the steeled fires.
Yet, poor old heart, he holp the heavens to rain.
If wolves had at thy gate howl'd that stern time,
Thou shouldst have said, 'Good porter, turn the key.'
All cruels else subscrib'd. But I shall see
The winged vengeance overtake such children.
Corn. See't shalt thou never. Fellows, hold the chair.
Upon these eyes of thine I'll set my foot.
Glou. He that will think to live till he be old,
Give me some help!- O cruel! O ye gods!
Reg. One side will mock another. Th' other too!
Corn. If you see vengeance-
1. Serv. Hold your hand, my lord!
I have serv'd you ever since I was a child;
But better service have I never done you
Than now to bid you hold.
Reg. How now, you dog?
1. Serv. If you did wear a beard upon your chin,
I'ld shake it on this quarrel.
Reg. What do you mean?
Corn. My villain! Draw and fight.
1. Serv. Nay, then, come on, and take the chance of anger.
Reg. Give me thy sword. A peasant stand up thus?
She takes a sword and runs at him behind.
1. Serv. O, I am slain! My lord, you have one eye left
To see some mischief on him. O! He dies.
Corn. Lest it see more, prevent it. Out, vile jelly!
Where is thy lustre now?
Glou. All dark and comfortless! Where's my son Edmund?
Edmund, enkindle all the sparks of nature
To quit this horrid act.
Reg. Out, treacherous villain!
Thou call'st on him that hates thee. It was he
That made the overture of thy treasons to us;
Who is too good to pity thee.
Glou. O my follies! Then Edgar was abus'd.
Kind gods, forgive me that, and prosper him!
Reg. Go thrust him out at gates, and let him smell
His way to Dover.
Exit [one] with Gloucester.
How is't, my lord? How look you?
Corn. I have receiv'd a hurt. Follow me, lady.
Turn out that eyeless villain. Throw this slave
Upon the dunghill. Regan, I bleed apace.
Untimely comes this hurt. Give me your arm.
Exit [Cornwall, led by Regan].
2. Serv. I'll never care what wickedness I do,
If this man come to good.
3. Serv. If she live long,
And in the end meet the old course of death,
Women will all turn monsters.
2. Serv. Let's follow the old Earl, and get the bedlam
To lead him where he would. His roguish madness
Allows itself to anything.
3. Serv. Go thou. I'll fetch some flax and whites of eggs
To apply to his bleeding face. Now heaven help him!
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ACT IV. Scene I.
Edg. Yet better thus, and known to be contemn'd,
Than still contemn'd and flatter'd. To be worst,
The lowest and most dejected thing of fortune,
Stands still in esperance, lives not in fear.
The lamentable change is from the best;
The worst returns to laughter. Welcome then,
Thou unsubstantial air that I embrace!
The wretch that thou hast blown unto the worst
Owes nothing to thy blasts.
Enter Gloucester, led by an Old Man.
But who comes here?
My father, poorly led? World, world, O world!
But that thy strange mutations make us hate thee,
Life would not yield to age.
Old Man. O my good lord,
I have been your tenant, and your father's tenant,
These fourscore years.
Glou. Away, get thee away! Good friend, be gone.
Thy comforts can do me no good at all;
Thee they may hurt.
Old Man. You cannot see your way.
Glou. I have no way, and therefore want no eyes;
I stumbled when I saw. Full oft 'tis seen
Our means secure us, and our mere defects
Prove our commodities. Ah dear son Edgar,
The food of thy abused father's wrath!
Might I but live to see thee in my touch,
I'ld say I had eyes again!
Old Man. How now? Who's there?
Edg. [aside] O gods! Who is't can say 'I am at the worst'?
I am worse than e'er I was.
Old Man. 'Tis poor mad Tom.
Edg. [aside] And worse I may be yet. The worst is not
So long as we can say 'This is the worst.'
Old Man. Fellow, where goest?
Glou. Is it a beggarman?
Old Man. Madman and beggar too.
Glou. He has some reason, else he could not beg.
I' th' last night's storm I such a fellow saw,
Which made me think a man a worm. My son
Came then into my mind, and yet my mind
Was then scarce friends with him. I have heard more since.
As flies to wanton boys are we to th' gods.
They kill us for their sport.
Edg. [aside] How should this be?
Bad is the trade that must play fool to sorrow,
Ang'ring itself and others.- Bless thee, master!
Glou. Is that the naked fellow?
Old Man. Ay, my lord.
Glou. Then prithee get thee gone. If for my sake
Thou wilt o'ertake us hence a mile or twain
I' th' way toward Dover, do it for ancient love;
And bring some covering for this naked soul,
Who I'll entreat to lead me.
Old Man. Alack, sir, he is mad!
Glou. 'Tis the time's plague when madmen lead the blind.
Do as I bid thee, or rather do thy pleasure.
Above the rest, be gone.
Old Man. I'll bring him the best 'parel that I have,
Come on't what will. Exit.
Glou. Sirrah naked fellow-
Edg. Poor Tom's acold. [Aside] I cannot daub it further.
Glou. Come hither, fellow.
Edg. [aside] And yet I must.- Bless thy sweet eyes, they bleed.
Glou. Know'st thou the way to Dover?
Edg. Both stile and gate, horseway and footpath. Poor Tom hath
scar'd out of his good wits. Bless thee, good man's son,
the foul fiend! Five fiends have been in poor Tom at once:
lust, as Obidicut; Hobbididence, prince of dumbness; Mahu,
stealing; Modo, of murder; Flibbertigibbet, of mopping and
mowing, who since possesses chambermaids and waiting women.
bless thee, master!
Glou. Here, take this purse, thou whom the heavens' plagues
Have humbled to all strokes. That I am wretched
Makes thee the happier. Heavens, deal so still!
Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man,
That slaves your ordinance, that will not see
Because he does not feel, feel your pow'r quickly;
So distribution should undo excess,
And each man have enough. Dost thou know Dover?
Edg. Ay, master.
Glou. There is a cliff, whose high and bending head
Looks fearfully in the confined deep.
Bring me but to the very brim of it,
And I'll repair the misery thou dost bear
With something rich about me. From that place
I shall no leading need.
Edg. Give me thy arm.
Poor Tom shall lead thee.
Before the Duke of Albany's Palace.
Enter Goneril and [Edmund the] Bastard.
Gon. Welcome, my lord. I marvel our mild husband
Not met us on the way.
Enter [Oswald the] Steward.
Now, where's your master?
Osw. Madam, within, but never man so chang'd.
I told him of the army that was landed:
He smil'd at it. I told him you were coming:
His answer was, 'The worse.' Of Gloucester's treachery
And of the loyal service of his son
When I inform'd him, then he call'd me sot
And told me I had turn'd the wrong side out.
What most he should dislike seems pleasant to him;
What like, offensive.
Gon. [to Edmund] Then shall you go no further.
It is the cowish terror of his spirit,
That dares not undertake. He'll not feel wrongs
Which tie him to an answer. Our wishes on the way
May prove effects. Back, Edmund, to my brother.
Hasten his musters and conduct his pow'rs.
I must change arms at home and give the distaff
Into my husband's hands. This trusty servant
Shall pass between us. Ere long you are like to hear
(If you dare venture in your own behalf)
A mistress's command. Wear this. [Gives a favour.]
Decline your head. This kiss, if it durst speak,
Would stretch thy spirits up into the air.
Conceive, and fare thee well.
Edm. Yours in the ranks of death! Exit.
Gon. My most dear Gloucester!
O, the difference of man and man!
To thee a woman's services are due;
My fool usurps my body.
Osw. Madam, here comes my lord. Exit.
Gon. I have been worth the whistle.
Alb. O Goneril,
You are not worth the dust which the rude wind
Blows in your face! I fear your disposition.
That nature which contemns it origin
Cannot be bordered certain in itself.
She that herself will sliver and disbranch
From her material sap, perforce must wither
And come to deadly use.
Gon. No more! The text is foolish.
Alb. Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile;
Filths savour but themselves. What have you done?
Tigers, not daughters, what have you perform'd?
A father, and a gracious aged man,
Whose reverence even the head-lugg'd bear would lick,
Most barbarous, most degenerate, have you madded.
Could my good brother suffer you to do it?
A man, a prince, by him so benefited!
If that the heavens do not their visible spirits
Send quickly down to tame these vile offences,
It will come,
Humanity must perforce prey on itself,
Like monsters of the deep.
Gon. Milk-liver'd man!
That bear'st a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs;
Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning
Thine honour from thy suffering; that not know'st
Fools do those villains pity who are punish'd
Ere they have done their mischief. Where's thy drum?
France spreads his banners in our noiseless land,
With plumed helm thy state begins to threat,
Whiles thou, a moral fool, sit'st still, and criest
'Alack, why does he so?'
Alb. See thyself, devil!
Proper deformity seems not in the fiend
So horrid as in woman.
Gon. O vain fool!
Alb. Thou changed and self-cover'd thing, for shame!
Bemonster not thy feature! Were't my fitness
To let these hands obey my blood,
They are apt enough to dislocate and tear
Thy flesh and bones. Howe'er thou art a fiend,
A woman's shape doth shield thee.
Gon. Marry, your manhood mew!
Enter a Gentleman.
Alb. What news?
Gent. O, my good lord, the Duke of Cornwall 's dead,
Slain by his servant, going to put out
The other eye of Gloucester.
Alb. Gloucester's eyes?
Gent. A servant that he bred, thrill'd with remorse,
Oppos'd against the act, bending his sword
To his great master; who, thereat enrag'd,
Flew on him, and amongst them fell'd him dead;
But not without that harmful stroke which since
Hath pluck'd him after.
Alb. This shows you are above,
You justicers, that these our nether crimes
So speedily can venge! But O poor Gloucester!
Lose he his other eye?
Gent. Both, both, my lord.
This letter, madam, craves a speedy answer.
'Tis from your sister.
Gon. [aside] One way I like this well;
But being widow, and my Gloucester with her,
May all the building in my fancy pluck
Upon my hateful life. Another way
The news is not so tart.- I'll read, and answer.
Alb. Where was his son when they did take his eyes?
Gent. Come with my lady hither.
Alb. He is not here.
Gent. No, my good lord; I met him back again.
Alb. Knows he the wickedness?
Gent. Ay, my good lord. 'Twas he inform'd against him,
And quit the house on purpose, that their punishment
Might have the freer course.
Alb. Gloucester, I live
To thank thee for the love thou show'dst the King,
And to revenge thine eyes. Come hither, friend.
Tell me what more thou know'st.
The French camp near Dover.
Enter Kent and a Gentleman.
Kent. Why the King of France is so suddenly gone back know you
Gent. Something he left imperfect in the state, which since his
coming forth is thought of, which imports to the kingdom so
fear and danger that his personal return was most required
Kent. Who hath he left behind him general?
Gent. The Marshal of France, Monsieur La Far.
Kent. Did your letters pierce the Queen to any demonstration of
Gent. Ay, sir. She took them, read them in my presence,
And now and then an ample tear trill'd down
Her delicate cheek. It seem'd she was a queen
Over her passion, who, most rebel-like,
Sought to be king o'er her.
Kent. O, then it mov'd her?
Gent. Not to a rage. Patience and sorrow strove
Who should express her goodliest. You have seen
Sunshine and rain at once: her smiles and tears
Were like, a better way. Those happy smilets
That play'd on her ripe lip seem'd not to know
What guests were in her eyes, which parted thence
As pearls from diamonds dropp'd. In brief,
Sorrow would be a rarity most belov'd,
If all could so become it.
Kent. Made she no verbal question?
Gent. Faith, once or twice she heav'd the name of father
Pantingly forth, as if it press'd her heart;
Cried 'Sisters, sisters! Shame of ladies! Sisters!
Kent! father! sisters! What, i' th' storm? i' th' night?
Let pity not be believ'd!' There she shook
The holy water from her heavenly eyes,
And clamour moisten'd. Then away she started
To deal with grief alone.
Kent. It is the stars,
The stars above us, govern our conditions;
Else one self mate and mate could not beget
Such different issues. You spoke not with her since?
Kent. Was this before the King return'd?
Gent. No, since.
Kent. Well, sir, the poor distressed Lear's i' th' town;
Who sometime, in his better tune, remembers
What we are come about, and by no means
Will yield to see his daughter.
Gent. Why, good sir?
Kent. A sovereign shame so elbows him; his own unkindness,
That stripp'd her from his benediction, turn'd her
To foreign casualties, gave her dear rights
To his dog-hearted daughters- these things sting
His mind so venomously that burning shame
Detains him from Cordelia.
Gent. Alack, poor gentleman!
Kent. Of Albany's and Cornwall's powers you heard not?
Gent. 'Tis so; they are afoot.
Kent. Well, sir, I'll bring you to our master Lear
And leave you to attend him. Some dear cause
Will in concealment wrap me up awhile.
When I am known aright, you shall not grieve
Lending me this acquaintance. I pray you go
Along with me. Exeunt.
The French camp.
Enter, with Drum and Colours, Cordelia, Doctor, and Soldiers.
Cor. Alack, 'tis he! Why, he was met even now
As mad as the vex'd sea, singing aloud,
Crown'd with rank fumiter and furrow weeds,
With harlocks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo flow'rs,
Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow
In our sustaining corn. A century send forth.
Search every acre in the high-grown field
And bring him to our eye. [Exit an Officer.] What can man's
In the restoring his bereaved sense?
He that helps him take all my outward worth.
Doct. There is means, madam.
Our foster nurse of nature is repose,
The which he lacks. That to provoke in him
Are many simples operative, whose power
Will close the eye of anguish.
Cor. All blest secrets,
All you unpublish'd virtues of the earth,
Spring with my tears! be aidant and remediate
In the good man's distress! Seek, seek for him!
Lest his ungovern'd rage dissolve the life
That wants the means to lead it.
Mess. News, madam.
The British pow'rs are marching hitherward.
Cor. 'Tis known before. Our preparation stands
In expectation of them. O dear father,
It is thy business that I go about.
Therefore great France
My mourning and important tears hath pitied.
No blown ambition doth our arms incite,
But love, dear love, and our ag'd father's right.
Soon may I hear and see him!
Enter Regan and [Oswald the] Steward.
Reg. But are my brother's pow'rs set forth?
Osw. Ay, madam.
Reg. Himself in person there?
Osw. Madam, with much ado.
Your sister is the better soldier.
Reg. Lord Edmund spake not with your lord at home?
Osw. No, madam.
Reg. What might import my sister's letter to him?
Osw. I know not, lady.
Reg. Faith, he is posted hence on serious matter.
It was great ignorance, Gloucester's eyes being out,
To let him live. Where he arrives he moves
All hearts against us. Edmund, I think, is gone,
In pity of his misery, to dispatch
His nighted life; moreover, to descry
The strength o' th' enemy.
Osw. I must needs after him, madam, with my letter.
Reg. Our troops set forth to-morrow. Stay with us.
The ways are dangerous.
Osw. I may not, madam.
My lady charg'd my duty in this business.
Reg. Why should she write to Edmund? Might not you
Transport her purposes by word? Belike,
Something- I know not what- I'll love thee much-
Let me unseal the letter.
Osw. Madam, I had rather-
Reg. I know your lady does not love her husband;
I am sure of that; and at her late being here
She gave strange eyeliads and most speaking looks
To noble Edmund. I know you are of her bosom.
Osw. I, madam?
Reg. I speak in understanding. Y'are! I know't.
Therefore I do advise you take this note.
My lord is dead; Edmund and I have talk'd,
And more convenient is he for my hand
Than for your lady's. You may gather more.
If you do find him, pray you give him this;
And when your mistress hears thus much from you,
I pray desire her call her wisdom to her.
If you do chance to hear of that blind traitor,
Preferment falls on him that cuts him off.
Osw. Would I could meet him, madam! I should show
What party I do follow.
Reg. Fare thee well. Exeunt.
The country near Dover.
Enter Gloucester, and Edgar [like a Peasant].
Glou. When shall I come to th' top of that same hill?
Edg. You do climb up it now. Look how we labour.
Glou. Methinks the ground is even.
Edg. Horrible steep.
Hark, do you hear the sea?
Glou. No, truly.
Edg. Why, then, your other senses grow imperfect
By your eyes' anguish.
Glou. So may it be indeed.
Methinks thy voice is alter'd, and thou speak'st
In better phrase and matter than thou didst.
Edg. Y'are much deceiv'd. In nothing am I chang'd
But in my garments.
Glou. Methinks y'are better spoken.
Edg. Come on, sir; here's the place. Stand still. How fearful
And dizzy 'tis to cast one's eyes so low!
The crows and choughs that wing the midway air
Show scarce so gross as beetles. Halfway down
Hangs one that gathers sampire- dreadful trade!
Methinks he seems no bigger than his head.
The fishermen that walk upon the beach
Appear like mice; and yond tall anchoring bark,
Diminish'd to her cock; her cock, a buoy
Almost too small for sight. The murmuring surge
That on th' unnumb'red idle pebble chafes
Cannot be heard so high. I'll look no more,
Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight
Topple down headlong.
Glou. Set me where you stand.
Edg. Give me your hand. You are now within a foot
Of th' extreme verge. For all beneath the moon
Would I not leap upright.
Glou. Let go my hand.
Here, friend, is another purse; in it a jewel
Well worth a poor man's taking. Fairies and gods
Prosper it with thee! Go thou further off;
Bid me farewell, and let me hear thee going.
Edg. Now fare ye well, good sir.
Glou. With all my heart.
Edg. [aside]. Why I do trifle thus with his despair
Is done to cure it.
Glou. O you mighty gods! He kneels.
This world I do renounce, and, in your sights,
Shake patiently my great affliction off.
If I could bear it longer and not fall
To quarrel with your great opposeless wills,
My snuff and loathed part of nature should
Burn itself out. If Edgar live, O, bless him!
Now, fellow, fare thee well.
He falls [forward and swoons].
Edg. Gone, sir, farewell.-
And yet I know not how conceit may rob
The treasury of life when life itself
Yields to the theft. Had he been where he thought,
By this had thought been past.- Alive or dead?
Ho you, sir! friend! Hear you, sir? Speak!-
Thus might he pass indeed. Yet he revives.
What are you, sir?
Glou. Away, and let me die.
Edg. Hadst thou been aught but gossamer, feathers, air,
So many fadom down precipitating,
Thou'dst shiver'd like an egg; but thou dost breathe;
Hast heavy substance; bleed'st not; speak'st; art sound.
Ten masts at each make not the altitude
Which thou hast perpendicularly fell.
Thy life is a miracle. Speak yet again.
Glou. But have I fall'n, or no?
Edg. From the dread summit of this chalky bourn.
Look up a-height. The shrill-gorg'd lark so far
Cannot be seen or heard. Do but look up.
Glou. Alack, I have no eyes!
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.
Edg. Give me your arm.
Up- so. How is't? Feel you your legs? You stand.
Glou. Too well, too well.
Edg. This is above all strangeness.
Upon the crown o' th' cliff what thing was that
Which parted from you?
Glou. A poor 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.
It was some fiend. Therefore, thou happy father,
Think that the clearest gods, who make them honours
Of men's impossibility, have preserv'd thee.
Glou. I do remember now. Henceforth I'll bear
Affliction till it do cry out itself
'Enough, enough,' and die. That thing you speak of,
I took it for a man. Often 'twould say
'The fiend, the fiend'- he led me to that place.
Edg. Bear free and patient thoughts.
Enter Lear, mad, [fantastically dressed with weeds].
But who comes here?
The safer sense will ne'er accommodate
His master thus.
Lear. No, they cannot touch me for coming;
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
a clothier's yard. Look, look, a mouse! Peace, peace; this
of toasted cheese will do't. There's my gauntlet; I'll prove
on a giant. Bring up the brown bills. O, well flown, bird!
th' clout, i' th' clout! Hewgh! Give the word.
Edg. Sweet marjoram.
Glou. I know that voice.
Lear. Ha! Goneril with a white beard? They flatter'd me like a
and told me I had white hairs in my beard ere the black ones
were there. To say 'ay' and 'no' to everything I said! 'Ay'
'no' too was no good divinity. When the rain came to wet me
once, and the wind to make me chatter; when the thunder
not peace at my bidding; there I found 'em, there I smelt
out. Go to, they are not men o' their words! They told me I
everything. 'Tis a lie- I am not ague-proof.
Glou. The trick of that voice I do well remember.
Is't not the King?
Lear. Ay, every inch a king!
When I do stare, see how the subject quakes.
I pardon that man's life. What was thy cause?
Thou shalt not die. Die for adultery? No.
The wren goes to't, and the small gilded fly
Does lecher in my sight.
Let copulation thrive; for Gloucester's bastard son
Was kinder to his father than my daughters
Got 'tween the lawful sheets.
To't, luxury, pell-mell! for I lack soldiers.
Behold yond simp'ring dame,
Whose face between her forks presageth snow,
That minces virtue, and does shake the head
To hear of pleasure's name.
The fitchew nor the soiled horse goes to't
With a more riotous appetite.
Down from the waist they are Centaurs,
Though women all above.
But to the girdle do the gods inherit,
Beneath is all the fiend's.
There's hell, there's darkness, there's the sulphurous pit;
burning, scalding, stench, consumption. Fie, fie, fie! pah,
Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, to sweeten my
imagination. There's money for thee.
Glou. O, let me kiss that hand!
Lear. Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality.
Glou. O ruin'd piece of nature! This great world
Shall so wear out to naught. Dost thou know me?
Lear. I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost thou squiny at
No, do thy worst, blind Cupid! I'll not love. Read thou this
challenge; mark but the penning of it.
Glou. Were all the letters suns, I could not see one.
Edg. [aside] I would not take this from report. It is,
And my heart breaks at it.
Glou. What, with the case of eyes?
Lear. O, ho, are you there with me? No eyes in your head, nor
money in your purse? Your eyes are in a heavy case, your
in a light. Yet you see how this world goes.
Glou. I see it feelingly.
Lear. What, art mad? A man may see how the world goes with no
Look with thine ears. See how yond justice rails upon yond
simple thief. Hark in thine ear. Change places and,
which is the justice, which is the thief? Thou hast seen a
farmer's dog bark at a beggar?
Glou. Ay, sir.
Lear. And the creature run from the cur? There thou mightst
the great image of authority: a dog's obeyed in office.
Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand!
Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thine own back.
Thou hotly lusts to use her in that kind
For which thou whip'st her. The usurer hangs the cozener.
Through tatter'd clothes small vices do appear;
Robes and furr'd gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold,
And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks;
Arm it in rags, a pygmy's straw does pierce it.
None does offend, none- I say none! I'll able 'em.
Take that of me, my friend, who have the power
To seal th' accuser's lips. Get thee glass eyes
And, like a scurvy politician, seem
To see the things thou dost not. Now, now, now, now!
Pull off my boots. Harder, harder! So.
Edg. O, matter and impertinency mix'd!
Reason, in madness!
Lear. If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes.
I know thee well enough; thy name is Gloucester.
Thou must be patient. We came crying hither;
Thou know'st, the first time that we smell the air
We wawl and cry. I will preach to thee. Mark.
Glou. Alack, alack the day!
Lear. When we are born, we cry that we are come
To this great stage of fools. This' a good block.
It were a delicate stratagem to shoe
A troop of horse with felt. I'll put't in proof,
And when I have stol'n upon these sons-in-law,
Then kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!
Enter a Gentleman [with Attendants].
Gent. O, here he is! Lay hand upon him.- Sir,
Your most dear daughter-
Lear. No rescue? What, a prisoner? I am even
The natural fool of fortune. Use me well;
You shall have ransom. Let me have a surgeon;
I am cut to th' brains.
Gent. You shall have anything.
Lear. No seconds? All myself?
Why, this would make a man a man of salt,
To use his eyes for garden waterpots,
Ay, and laying autumn's dust.
Gent. Good sir-
Lear. I will die bravely, like a smug bridegroom. What!
I will be jovial. Come, come, I am a king;
My masters, know you that?
Gent. You are a royal one, and we obey you.
Lear. Then there's life in't. Nay, an you get it, you shall get
by running. Sa, sa, sa, sa!
Exit running. [Attendants follow.]
Gent. A sight most pitiful in the meanest wretch,
Past speaking of in a king! Thou hast one daughter
Who redeems nature from the general curse
Which twain have brought her to.
Edg. Hail, gentle sir.
Gent. Sir, speed you. What's your will?
Edg. Do you hear aught, sir, of a battle toward?
Gent. Most sure and vulgar. Every one hears that
Which can distinguish sound.
Edg. But, by your favour,
How near's the other army?
Gent. Near and on speedy foot. The main descry
Stands on the hourly thought.
Edg. I thank you sir. That's all.
Gent. Though that the Queen on special cause is here,
Her army is mov'd on.
Edg. I thank you, sir
Glou. You ever-gentle gods, take my breath from me;
Let not my worser spirit tempt me again
To die before you please!
Edg. Well pray you, father.
Glou. Now, good sir, what are you?
Edg. A most poor man, made tame to fortune's blows,
Who, by the art of known and feeling sorrows,
Am pregnant to good pity. Give me your hand;
I'll lead you to some biding.
Glou. Hearty thanks.
The bounty and the benison of heaven
To boot, and boot!
Enter [Oswald the] Steward.
Osw. A proclaim'd prize! Most happy!
That eyeless head of thine was first fram'd flesh
To raise my fortunes. Thou old unhappy traitor,
Briefly thyself remember. The sword is out
That must destroy thee.
Glou. Now let thy friendly hand
Put strength enough to't.
Osw. Wherefore, bold peasant,
Dar'st thou support a publish'd traitor? Hence!
Lest that th' infection of his fortune take
Like hold on thee. Let go his arm.
Edg. Chill not let go, zir, without vurther 'cagion.
Osw. Let go, slave, or thou diest!
Edg. Good gentleman, go your gait, and let poor voke pass. An
ha' bin zwagger'd out of my life, 'twould not ha' bin zo
'tis by a vortnight. Nay, come not near th' old man. Keep
che vore ye, or Ise try whether your costard or my ballow be
harder. Chill be plain with you.
Osw. Out, dunghill!
Edg. Chill pick your teeth, zir. Come! No matter vor your
Osw. Slave, thou hast slain me. Villain, take my purse.
If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body,
And give the letters which thou find'st about me
To Edmund Earl of Gloucester. Seek him out
Upon the British party. O, untimely death! Death!
Edg. I know thee well. A serviceable villain,
As duteous to the vices of thy mistress
As badness would desire.
Glou. What, is he dead?
Edg. Sit you down, father; rest you.
Let's see his pockets; these letters that he speaks of
May be my friends. He's dead. I am only sorry
He had no other deathsman. Let us see.
Leave, gentle wax; and, manners, blame us not.
To know our enemies' minds, we'ld rip their hearts;
Their papers, is more lawful. Reads the letter.
'Let our reciprocal vows be rememb'red. You have many
opportunities to cut him off. If your will want not, time
place will be fruitfully offer'd. There is nothing done, if
return the conqueror. Then am I the prisoner, and his bed my
jail; from the loathed warmth whereof deliver me, and supply
place for your labour.
'Your (wife, so I would say) affectionate servant,
O indistinguish'd space of woman's will!
A plot upon her virtuous husband's life,
And the exchange my brother! Here in the sands
Thee I'll rake up, the post unsanctified
Of murtherous lechers; and in the mature time
With this ungracious paper strike the sight
Of the death-practis'd Duke, For him 'tis well
That of thy death and business I can tell.
Glou. The King is mad. How stiff is my vile sense,
That I stand up, and have ingenious feeling
Of my huge sorrows! Better I were distract.
So should my thoughts be sever'd from my griefs,
And woes by wrong imaginations lose
The knowledge of themselves.
A drum afar off.
Edg. Give me your hand.
Far off methinks I hear the beaten drum.
Come, father, I'll bestow you with a friend. Exeunt.
A tent in the French camp.
Enter Cordelia, Kent, Doctor, and Gentleman.
Cor. O thou good Kent, how shall I live and work
To match thy goodness? My life will be too short
And every measure fail me.
Kent. To be acknowledg'd, madam, is o'erpaid.
All my reports go with the modest truth;
Nor more nor clipp'd, but so.
Cor. Be better suited.
These weeds are memories of those worser hours.
I prithee put them off.
Kent. Pardon, dear madam.
Yet to be known shortens my made intent.
My boon I make it that you know me not
Till time and I think meet.
Cor. Then be't so, my good lord. [To the Doctor] How, does the
Doct. Madam, sleeps still.
Cor. O you kind gods,
Cure this great breach in his abused nature!
Th' untun'd and jarring senses, O, wind up
Of this child-changed father!
Doct. So please your Majesty
That we may wake the King? He hath slept long.
Cor. Be govern'd by your knowledge, and proceed
I' th' sway of your own will. Is he array'd?
Enter Lear in a chair carried by Servants.
Gent. Ay, madam. In the heaviness of sleep
We put fresh garments on him.
Doct. Be by, good madam, when we do awake him.
I doubt not of his temperance.
Cor. Very well.
Doct. Please you draw near. Louder the music there!
Cor. O my dear father, restoration hang
Thy medicine on my lips, and let this kiss
Repair those violent harms that my two sisters
Have in thy reverence made!
Kent. Kind and dear princess!
Cor. Had you not been their father, these white flakes
Had challeng'd pity of them. Was this a face
To be oppos'd against the warring winds?
To stand against the deep dread-bolted thunder?
In the most terrible and nimble stroke
Of quick cross lightning? to watch- poor perdu!-
With this thin helm? Mine enemy's dog,
Though he had bit me, should have stood that night
Against my fire; and wast thou fain, poor father,
To hovel thee with swine and rogues forlorn,
In short and musty straw? Alack, alack!
'Tis wonder that thy life and wits at once
Had not concluded all.- He wakes. Speak to him.
Doct. Madam, do you; 'tis fittest.
Cor. How does my royal lord? How fares your Majesty?
Lear. You do me wrong to take me out o' th' grave.
Thou art a soul in bliss; but I am bound
Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears
Do scald like molten lead.
Cor. Sir, do you know me?
Lear. You are a spirit, I know. When did you die?
Cor. Still, still, far wide!
Doct. He's scarce awake. Let him alone awhile.
Lear. Where have I been? Where am I? Fair daylight,
I am mightily abus'd. I should e'en die with pity,
To see another thus. I know not what to say.
I will not swear these are my hands. Let's see.
I feel this pin prick. Would I were assur'd
Of my condition!
Cor. O, look upon me, sir,
And hold your hands in benediction o'er me.
No, sir, you must not kneel.
Lear. Pray, do not mock me.
I am a very foolish fond old man,
Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less;
And, to deal plainly,
I fear I am not in my perfect mind.
Methinks I should know you, and know this man;
Yet I am doubtful; for I am mainly ignorant
What place this is; and all the skill I have
Remembers not these garments; nor I know not
Where I did lodge last night. Do not laugh at me;
For (as I am a man) I think this lady
To be my child Cordelia.
Cor. And so I am! I am!
Lear. Be your tears wet? Yes, faith. I pray weep not.
If you have poison for me, I will drink it.
I know you do not love me; for your sisters
Have, as I do remember, done me wrong.
You have some cause, they have not.
Cor. No cause, no cause.
Lear. Am I in France?
Kent. In your own kingdom, sir.
Lear. Do not abuse me.
Doct. Be comforted, good madam. The great rage
You see is kill'd in him; and yet it is danger
To make him even o'er the time he has lost.
Desire him to go in. Trouble him no more
Till further settling.
Cor. Will't please your Highness walk?
Lear. You must bear with me.
Pray you now, forget and forgive. I am old and foolish.
Exeunt. Manent Kent and Gentleman.
Gent. Holds it true, sir, that the Duke of Cornwall was so
Kent. Most certain, sir.
Gent. Who is conductor of his people?
Kent. As 'tis said, the bastard son of Gloucester.
Gent. They say Edgar, his banish'd son, is with the Earl of
Kent. Report is changeable. 'Tis time to look about; the powers
the kingdom approach apace.
Gent. The arbitrement is like to be bloody.
Fare you well, sir. [Exit.]
Kent. My point and period will be throughly wrought,
Or well or ill, as this day's battle's fought. Exit.
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ACT V. Scene I.
The British camp near Dover.
Enter, with Drum and Colours, Edmund, Regan, Gentleman, and
Edm. Know of the Duke if his last purpose hold,
Or whether since he is advis'd by aught
To change the course. He's full of alteration
And self-reproving. Bring his constant pleasure.
[Exit an Officer.]
Reg. Our sister's man is certainly miscarried.
Edm. Tis to be doubted, madam.
Reg. Now, sweet lord,
You know the goodness I intend upon you.
Tell me- but truly- but then speak the truth-
Do you not love my sister?
Edm. In honour'd love.
Reg. But have you never found my brother's way
To the forfended place?
Edm. That thought abuses you.
Reg. I am doubtful that you have been conjunct
And bosom'd with her, as far as we call hers.
Edm. No, by mine honour, madam.
Reg. I never shall endure her. Dear my lord,
Be not familiar with her.
Edm. Fear me not.
She and the Duke her husband!
Enter, with Drum and Colours, Albany, Goneril, Soldiers.
Gon. [aside] I had rather lose the battle than that sister
Should loosen him and me.
Alb. Our very loving sister, well bemet.
Sir, this I hear: the King is come to his daughter,
With others whom the rigour of our state
Forc'd to cry out. Where I could not be honest,
I never yet was valiant. For this business,
It toucheth us as France invades our land,
Not bolds the King, with others whom, I fear,
Most just and heavy causes make oppose.
Edm. Sir, you speak nobly.
Reg. Why is this reason'd?
Gon. Combine together 'gainst the enemy;
For these domestic and particular broils
Are not the question here.
Alb. Let's then determine
With th' ancient of war on our proceeding.
Edm. I shall attend you presently at your tent.
Reg. Sister, you'll go with us?
Reg. 'Tis most convenient. Pray you go with us.
Gon. [aside] O, ho, I know the riddle.- I will go.
[As they are going out,] enter Edgar [disguised].
Edg. If e'er your Grace had speech with man so poor,
Hear me one word.
Alb. I'll overtake you.- Speak.
Exeunt [all but Albany and Edgar].
Edg. Before you fight the battle, ope this letter.
If you have victory, let the trumpet sound
For him that brought it. Wretched though I seem,
I can produce a champion that will prove
What is avouched there. If you miscarry,
Your business of the world hath so an end,
And machination ceases. Fortune love you!
Alb. Stay till I have read the letter.
Edg. I was forbid it.
When time shall serve, let but the herald cry,
And I'll appear again.
Alb. Why, fare thee well. I will o'erlook thy paper.
Edm. The enemy 's in view; draw up your powers.
Here is the guess of their true strength and forces
By diligent discovery; but your haste
Is now urg'd on you.
Alb. We will greet the time. Exit.
Edm. To both these sisters have I sworn my love;
Each jealous of the other, as the stung
Are of the adder. Which of them shall I take?
Both? one? or neither? Neither can be enjoy'd,
If both remain alive. To take the widow
Exasperates, makes mad her sister Goneril;
And hardly shall I carry out my side,
Her husband being alive. Now then, we'll use
His countenance for the battle, which being done,
Let her who would be rid of him devise
His speedy taking off. As for the mercy
Which he intends to Lear and to Cordelia-
The battle done, and they within our power,
Shall never see his pardon; for my state
Stands on me to defend, not to debate. Exit.
A field between the two camps.
Alarum within. Enter, with Drum and Colours, the Powers of France
over the stage, Cordelia with her Father in her hand, and exeunt.
Enter Edgar and Gloucester.
Edg. Here, father, take the shadow of this tree
For your good host. Pray that the right may thrive.
If ever I return to you again,
I'll bring you comfort.
Glou. Grace go with you, sir!
Alarum and retreat within. Enter Edgar,
Edg. Away, old man! give me thy hand! away!
King Lear hath lost, he and his daughter ta'en.
Give me thy hand! come on!
Glou. No further, sir. A man may rot even here.
Edg. What, in ill thoughts again? Men must endure
Their going hence, even as their coming hither;
Ripeness is all. Come on.
Glou. And that's true too. Exeunt.
The British camp, near Dover.
Enter, in conquest, with Drum and Colours, Edmund; Lear and
as prisoners; Soldiers, Captain.
Edm. Some officers take them away. Good guard
Until their greater pleasures first be known
That are to censure them.
Cor. We are not the first
Who with best meaning have incurr'd the worst.
For thee, oppressed king, am I cast down;
Myself could else outfrown false Fortune's frown.
Shall we not see these daughters and these sisters?
Lear. No, no, no, no! Come, let's away to prison.
We two alone will sing like birds i' th' cage.
When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down
And ask of thee forgiveness. So we'll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news; and we'll talk with them too-
Who loses and who wins; who's in, who's out-
And take upon 's the mystery of things,
As if we were God's spies; and we'll wear out,
In a wall'd prison, packs and sects of great ones
That ebb and flow by th' moon.
Edm. Take them away.
Lear. Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,
The gods themselves throw incense. Have I caught thee?
He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven
And fire us hence like foxes. Wipe thine eyes.
The goodyears shall devour 'em, flesh and fell,
Ere they shall make us weep! We'll see 'em starv'd first.
Come. Exeunt [Lear and Cordelia, guarded].
Edm. Come hither, Captain; hark.
Take thou this note [gives a paper]. Go follow them to
One step I have advanc'd thee. If thou dost
As this instructs thee, thou dost make thy way
To noble fortunes. Know thou this, that men
Are as the time is. To be tender-minded
Does not become a sword. Thy great employment
Will not bear question. Either say thou'lt do't,
Or thrive by other means.
Capt. I'll do't, my lord.
Edm. About it! and write happy when th' hast done.
Mark- I say, instantly; and carry it so
As I have set it down.
Capt. I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried oats;
If it be man's work, I'll do't. Exit.
Flourish. Enter Albany, Goneril, Regan, Soldiers.
Alb. Sir, you have show'd to-day your valiant strain,
And fortune led you well. You have the captives
Who were the opposites of this day's strife.
We do require them of you, so to use them
As we shall find their merits and our safety
May equally determine.
Edm. Sir, I thought it fit
To send the old and miserable King
To some retention and appointed guard;
Whose age has charms in it, whose title more,
To pluck the common bosom on his side
And turn our impress'd lances in our eyes
Which do command them. With him I sent the Queen,
My reason all the same; and they are ready
To-morrow, or at further space, t' appear
Where you shall hold your session. At this time
We sweat and bleed: the friend hath lost his friend;
And the best quarrels, in the heat, are curs'd
By those that feel their sharpness.
The question of Cordelia and her father
Requires a fitter place.
Alb. Sir, by your patience,
I hold you but a subject of this war,
Not as a brother.
Reg. That's as we list to grace him.
Methinks our pleasure might have been demanded
Ere you had spoke so far. He led our powers,
Bore the commission of my place and person,
The which immediacy may well stand up
And call itself your brother.
Gon. Not so hot!
In his own grace he doth exalt himself
More than in your addition.
Reg. In my rights
By me invested, he compeers the best.
Gon. That were the most if he should husband you.
Reg. Jesters do oft prove prophets.
Gon. Holla, holla!
That eye that told you so look'd but asquint.
Reg. Lady, I am not well; else I should answer
From a full-flowing stomach. General,
Take thou my soldiers, prisoners, patrimony;
Dispose of them, of me; the walls are thine.
Witness the world that I create thee here
My lord and master.
Gon. Mean you to enjoy him?
Alb. The let-alone lies not in your good will.
Edm. Nor in thine, lord.
Alb. Half-blooded fellow, yes.
Reg. [to Edmund] Let the drum strike, and prove my title thine.
Alb. Stay yet; hear reason. Edmund, I arrest thee
On capital treason; and, in thine attaint,
This gilded serpent [points to Goneril]. For your claim,
I bar it in the interest of my wife.
'Tis she is subcontracted to this lord,
And I, her husband, contradict your banes.
If you will marry, make your loves to me;
My lady is bespoke.
Gon. An interlude!
Alb. Thou art arm'd, Gloucester. Let the trumpet sound.
If none appear to prove upon thy person
Thy heinous, manifest, and many treasons,
There is my pledge [throws down a glove]! I'll prove it on
Ere I taste bread, thou art in nothing less
Than I have here proclaim'd thee.
Reg. Sick, O, sick!
Gon. [aside] If not, I'll ne'er trust medicine.
Edm. There's my exchange [throws down a glove]. What in the
That names me traitor, villain-like he lies.
Call by thy trumpet. He that dares approach,
On him, on you, who not? I will maintain
My truth and honour firmly.
Alb. A herald, ho!
Edm. A herald, ho, a herald!
Alb. Trust to thy single virtue; for thy soldiers,
All levied in my name, have in my name
Took their discharge.
Reg. My sickness grows upon me.
Alb. She is not well. Convey her to my tent.
[Exit Regan, led.]
Enter a Herald.
Come hither, herald. Let the trumpet sound,
And read out this.
Capt. Sound, trumpet! A trumpet sounds.
Her. (reads) 'If any man of quality or degree within the lists
the army will maintain upon Edmund, supposed Earl of
that he is a manifold traitor, let him appear by the third
of the trumpet. He is bold in his defence.'
Edm. Sound! First trumpet.
Her. Again! Second trumpet.
Her. Again! Third trumpet.
Trumpet answers within.
Enter Edgar, armed, at the third sound, a Trumpet before him.
Alb. Ask him his purposes, why he appears
Upon this call o' th' trumpet.
Her. What are you?
Your name, your quality? and why you answer
This present summons?
Edg. Know my name is lost;
By treason's tooth bare-gnawn and canker-bit.
Yet am I noble as the adversary
I come to cope.
Alb. Which is that adversary?
Edg. What's he that speaks for Edmund Earl of Gloucester?
Edm. Himself. What say'st thou to him?
Edg. Draw thy sword,
That, if my speech offend a noble heart,
Thy arm may do thee justice. Here is mine.
Behold, it is the privilege of mine honours,
My oath, and my profession. I protest-
Maugre thy strength, youth, place, and eminence,
Despite thy victor sword and fire-new fortune,
Thy valour and thy heart- thou art a traitor;
False to thy gods, thy brother, and thy father;
Conspirant 'gainst this high illustrious prince;
And from th' extremest upward of thy head
To the descent and dust beneath thy foot,
A most toad-spotted traitor. Say thou 'no,'
This sword, this arm, and my best spirits are bent
To prove upon thy heart, whereto I speak,
Edm. In wisdom I should ask thy name;
But since thy outside looks so fair and warlike,
And that thy tongue some say of breeding breathes,
What safe and nicely I might well delay
By rule of knighthood, I disdain and spurn.
Back do I toss those treasons to thy head;
With the hell-hated lie o'erwhelm thy heart;
Which- for they yet glance by and scarcely bruise-
This sword of mine shall give them instant way
Where they shall rest for ever. Trumpets, speak!
Alarums. Fight. [Edmund falls.]
Alb. Save him, save him!
Gon. This is mere practice, Gloucester.
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