The Tragedy of King Lear
William Shakespeare [Collins edition]

Part 2 out of 4

Thou whoreson zed! thou unnecessary letter!--My lord, if you'll
give me leave, I will tread this unbolted villain into mortar and
daub the walls of a jakes with him.--Spare my grey beard, you

Peace, sirrah!
You beastly knave, know you no reverence?

Yes, sir; but anger hath a privilege.

Why art thou angry?

That such a slave as this should wear a sword,
Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as these,
Like rats, oft bite the holy cords a-twain
Which are too intrinse t' unloose; smooth every passion
That in the natures of their lords rebel;
Bring oil to fire, snow to their colder moods;
Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks
With every gale and vary of their masters,
Knowing naught, like dogs, but following.--
A plague upon your epileptic visage!
Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool?
Goose, an I had you upon Sarum plain,
I'd drive ye cackling home to Camelot.

What, art thou mad, old fellow?

How fell you out?
Say that.

No contraries hold more antipathy
Than I and such a knave.

Why dost thou call him knave? What is his fault?

His countenance likes me not.

No more perchance does mine, or his, or hers.

Sir, 'tis my occupation to be plain:
I have seen better faces in my time
Than stands on any shoulder that I see
Before me at this instant.

This is some fellow
Who, having been prais'd for bluntness, doth affect
A saucy roughness, and constrains the garb
Quite from his nature: he cannot flatter, he,--
An honest mind and plain,--he must speak truth!
An they will take it, so; if not, he's plain.
These kind of knaves I know which in this plainness
Harbour more craft and more corrupter ends
Than twenty silly-ducking observants
That stretch their duties nicely.

Sir, in good faith, in sincere verity,
Under the allowance of your great aspect,
Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire
On flickering Phoebus' front,--

What mean'st by this?

To go out of my dialect, which you discommend so much. I know,
sir, I am no flatterer: he that beguiled you in a plain accent
was a plain knave; which, for my part, I will not be, though I
should win your displeasure to entreat me to't.

What was the offence you gave him?

I never gave him any:
It pleas'd the king his master very late
To strike at me, upon his misconstruction;
When he, compact, and flattering his displeasure,
Tripp'd me behind; being down, insulted, rail'd
And put upon him such a deal of man,
That worthied him, got praises of the king
For him attempting who was self-subdu'd;
And, in the fleshment of this dread exploit,
Drew on me here again.

None of these rogues and cowards
But Ajax is their fool.

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

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

Fetch forth the stocks!--As I have life and honour,
there shall he sit till noon.

Till noon! Till night, my lord; and all night too!

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

Sir, being his knave, I will.

This is a fellow of the self-same colour
Our sister speaks of.--Come, bring away the stocks!

[Stocks brought out.]

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

I'll answer that.

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

[Kent is put in the stocks.]

Come, my good lord, away.

[Exeunt all but Gloster and Kent.]

I am sorry for thee, friend; 'tis the duke's pleasure,
Whose disposition, all the world well knows,
Will not be rubb'd nor stopp'd; I'll entreat for thee.

Pray do not, sir: I have watch'd, and travell'd hard;
Some time I shall sleep out, the rest I'll whistle.
A good man's fortune may grow out at heels:
Give you good morrow!

The duke's to blame in this: 'twill be ill taken.


Good king, that must approve the common saw,--
Thou out of heaven's benediction com'st
To the warm sun!
Approach, thou beacon to this under globe,
That by thy comfortable beams I may
Peruse this letter.--Nothing almost sees miracles
But misery:--I know 'tis from Cordelia,
Who hath most fortunately been inform'd
Of my obscured course; and shall find time
From this enormous state,--seeking to give
Losses their remedies,--All weary and o'erwatch'd,
Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold
This shameful lodging.
Fortune, good night: smile once more, turn thy wheel!

[He sleeps.]

Scene III. The open Country.

[Enter Edgar.]

I heard myself proclaim'd;
And by the happy hollow of a tree
Escap'd the hunt. No port is free; no place
That guard and most unusual vigilance
Does not attend my taking. While I may scape,
I will preserve myself: and am bethought
To take the basest and most poorest shape
That ever penury, in contempt of man,
Brought near to beast: my face I'll grime with filth;
Blanket my loins; elf all my hair in knots;
And with presented nakedness outface
The winds and persecutions of the sky.
The country gives me proof and precedent
Of Bedlam beggars, who, with roaring voices,
Strike in their numb'd and mortified bare arms
Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary;
And with this horrible object, from low farms,
Poor pelting villages, sheep-cotes, and mills,
Sometime with lunatic bans, sometime with prayers,
Enforce their charity.--Poor Turlygod! poor Tom!
That's something yet:--Edgar I nothing am.


Scene IV. Before Gloster's Castle; Kent in the stocks.

[Enter Lear, Fool, and Gentleman.]

'Tis strange that they should so depart from home,
And not send back my messenger.

As I learn'd,
The night before there was no purpose in them
Of this remove.

Hail to thee, noble master!

Mak'st thou this shame thy pastime?

No, my lord.

Ha, ha! he wears cruel garters. Horses are tied by the
head; dogs and bears by the neck, monkeys by the loins, and
men by the legs: when a man is over-lusty at legs, then he
wears wooden nether-stocks.

What's he that hath so much thy place mistook
To set thee here?

It is both he and she,
Your son and daughter.



No, I say.

I say, yea.

No, no; they would not.

Yes, they have.

By Jupiter, I swear no.

By Juno, I swear ay.

They durst not do't.
They would not, could not do't; 'tis worse than murder,
To do upon respect such violent outrage:
Resolve me, with all modest haste, which way
Thou mightst deserve or they impose this usage,
Coming from us.

My lord, when at their home
I did commend your highness' letters to them,
Ere I was risen from the place that show'd
My duty kneeling, came there a reeking post,
Stew'd in his haste, half breathless, panting forth
From Goneril his mistress salutations;
Deliver'd letters, spite of intermission,
Which presently they read: on whose contents,
They summon'd up their meiny, straight took horse;
Commanded me to follow and attend
The leisure of their answer; gave me cold looks:
And meeting here the other messenger,
Whose welcome I perceiv'd had poison'd mine,--
Being the very fellow which of late
Display'd so saucily against your highness,--
Having more man than wit about me, drew:
He rais'd the house with loud and coward cries.
Your son and daughter found this trespass worth
The shame which here it suffers.

Winter's not gone yet, if the wild geese fly that way.
Fathers that wear rags
Do make their children blind;
But fathers that bear bags
Shall see their children kind.
Fortune, that arrant whore,
Ne'er turns the key to th' poor.
But for all this, thou shalt have as many dolours for thy
daughters as thou canst tell in a year.

O, how this mother swells up toward my heart!
Hysterica passio,--down, thou climbing sorrow,
Thy element's below!--Where is this daughter?

With the earl, sir, here within.

Follow me not;
Stay here.


Made you no more offence but what you speak of?

How chance the king comes with so small a number?

An thou hadst been set i' the stocks for that question,
thou hadst well deserved it.

Why, fool?

We'll set thee to school to an ant, to teach thee there's no
labouring in the winter. All that follow their noses are led by
their eyes but blind men; and there's not a nose among twenty
but can smell him that's stinking. Let go thy hold when a great
wheel runs down a hill, lest it break thy neck with following
it; but the great one that goes up the hill, let him draw thee
When a wise man gives thee better counsel, give me mine again: I
would have none but knaves follow it, since a fool gives it.
That sir which serves and seeks for gain,
And follows but for form,
Will pack when it begins to rain,
And leave thee in the storm.
But I will tarry; the fool will stay,
And let the wise man fly:
The knave turns fool that runs away;
The fool no knave, perdy.

Where learn'd you this, fool?

Not i' the stocks, fool.

[Re-enter Lear, with Gloster.]

Deny to speak with me? They are sick? they are weary?
They have travell'd all the night? Mere fetches;
The images of revolt and flying off.
Fetch me a better answer.

My dear lord,
You know the fiery quality of the duke;
How unremovable and fix'd he is
In his own course.

Vengeance! plague! death! confusion!--
Fiery? What quality? why, Gloster, Gloster,
I'd speak with the Duke of Cornwall and his wife.

Well, my good lord, I have inform'd them so.

Inform'd them! Dost thou understand me, man?

Ay, my good lord.

The King would speak with Cornwall; the dear father
Would with his daughter speak, commands her service:
Are they inform'd of this?--My breath and blood!--
Fiery? the fiery duke?--Tell the hot duke that--
No, but not yet: may be he is not well:
Infirmity doth still neglect all office
Whereto our health is bound: we are not ourselves
When nature, being oppress'd, commands the mind
To suffer with the body: I'll forbear;
And am fallen out with my more headier will,
To take the indispos'd and sickly fit
For the sound man.--Death on my state! Wherefore
[Looking on Kent.]
Should he sit here? This act persuades me
That this remotion of the duke and her
Is practice only. Give me my servant forth.
Go tell the duke and's wife I'd speak with them,
Now, presently: bid them come forth and hear me,
Or at their chamber door I'll beat the drum
Till it cry 'Sleep to death.'

I would have all well betwixt you.


O me, my heart, my rising heart!--but down!

Cry to it, nuncle, as the cockney did to the eels when she
put 'em i' the paste alive; she knapped 'em o' the coxcombs with
a stick and cried 'Down, wantons, down!' 'Twas her brother that,
in pure kindness to his horse, buttered his hay.

[Enter Cornwall, Regan, Gloster, and Servants.]

Good-morrow to you both.

Hail to your grace!

[Kent is set at liberty.]

I am glad to see your highness.

Regan, I think you are; I know what reason
I have to think so: if thou shouldst not be glad,
I would divorce me from thy mother's tomb,
Sepulchring an adultress.--[To Kent] O, are you free?
Some other time for that.--Beloved Regan,
Thy sister's naught: O Regan, she hath tied
Sharp-tooth'd unkindness, like a vulture, here,--
[Points to his heart.]
I can scarce speak to thee; thou'lt not believe
With how deprav'd a quality--O Regan!

I pray you, sir, take patience: I have hope
You less know how to value her desert
Than she to scant her duty.

Say, how is that?

I cannot think my sister in the least
Would fail her obligation: if, sir, perchance
She have restrain'd the riots of your followers,
'Tis on such ground, and to such wholesome end,
As clears her from all blame.

My curses on her!

O, sir, you are old;
Nature in you stands on the very verge
Of her confine: you should be rul'd and led
By some discretion, that discerns your state
Better than you yourself. Therefore, I pray you,
That to our sister you do make return;
Say you have wrong'd her, sir.

Ask her forgiveness?
Do you but mark how this becomes the house:
'Dear daughter, I confess that I am old;
Age is unnecessary: on my knees I beg
That you'll vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food.'

Good sir, no more! These are unsightly tricks:
Return you to my sister.

[Rising.] Never, Regan:
She hath abated me of half my train;
Look'd black upon me; struck me with her tongue,
Most serpent-like, upon the very heart:--
All the stor'd vengeances of heaven fall
On her ingrateful top! Strike her young bones,
You taking airs, with lameness!

Fie, sir, fie!

You nimble lightnings, dart your blinding flames
Into her scornful eyes! Infect her beauty,
You fen-suck'd fogs, drawn by the powerful sun,
To fall and blast her pride!

O the blest gods!
So will you wish on me when the rash mood is on.

No, Regan, thou shalt never have my curse:
Thy tender-hefted nature shall not give
Thee o'er to harshness: her eyes are fierce; but thine
Do comfort, and not burn. 'Tis not in thee
To grudge my pleasures, to cut off my train,
To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes,
And, in conclusion, to oppose the bolt
Against my coming in: thou better know'st
The offices of nature, bond of childhood,
Effects of courtesy, dues of gratitude;
Thy half o' the kingdom hast thou not forgot,
Wherein I thee endow'd.

Good sir, to the purpose.

Who put my man i' the stocks?

[Tucket within.]

What trumpet's that?

I know't--my sister's: this approves her letter,
That she would soon be here.

[Enter Oswald.]

Is your lady come?

This is a slave, whose easy-borrowed pride
Dwells in the fickle grace of her he follows.--
Out, varlet, from my sight!

What means your grace?

Who stock'd my servant? Regan, I have good hope
Thou didst not know on't.--Who comes here? O heavens!

[Enter Goneril.]

If you do love old men, if your sweet sway
Allow obedience, if yourselves are old,
Make it your cause; send down, and take my part!--
[To Goneril.] Art not asham'd to look upon this beard?--
O Regan, wilt thou take her by the hand?

Why not by the hand, sir? How have I offended?
All's not offence that indiscretion finds
And dotage terms so.

O sides, you are too tough!
Will you yet hold?--How came my man i' the stocks?

I set him there, sir: but his own disorders
Deserv'd much less advancement.

You? did you?

I pray you, father, being weak, seem so.
If, till the expiration of your month,
You will return and sojourn with my sister,
Dismissing half your train, come then to me:
I am now from home, and out of that provision
Which shall be needful for your entertainment.

Return to her, and fifty men dismiss'd?
No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose
To wage against the enmity o' the air;
To be a comrade with the wolf and owl,--
Necessity's sharp pinch!--Return with her?
Why, the hot-blooded France, that dowerless took
Our youngest born, I could as well be brought
To knee his throne, and, squire-like, pension beg
To keep base life afoot.--Return with her?
Persuade me rather to be slave and sumpter
To this detested groom.
[Pointing to Oswald.]

At your choice, sir.

I pr'ythee, daughter, do not make me mad:
I will not trouble thee, my child; farewell:
We'll no more meet, no more see one another:--
But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter;
Or rather a disease that's in my flesh,
Which I must needs call mine: thou art a boil,
A plague sore, an embossed carbuncle
In my corrupted blood. But I'll not chide thee;
Let shame come when it will, I do not call it:
I do not bid the thunder-bearer shoot
Nor tell tales of thee to high-judging Jove:
Mend when thou canst; be better at thy leisure:
I can be patient; I can stay with Regan,
I and my hundred knights.

Not altogether so:
I look'd not for you yet, nor am provided
For your fit welcome. Give ear, sir, to my sister;
For those that mingle reason with your passion
Must be content to think you old, and so--
But she knows what she does.

Is this well spoken?

I dare avouch it, sir: what, fifty followers?
Is it not well? What should you need of more?
Yea, or so many, sith that both charge and danger
Speak 'gainst so great a number? How in one house
Should many people, under two commands,
Hold amity? 'Tis hard; almost impossible.

Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance
From those that she calls servants, or from mine?

Why not, my lord? If then they chanc'd to slack you,
We could control them. If you will come to me,--
For now I spy a danger,--I entreat you
To bring but five-and-twenty: to no more
Will I give place or notice.

I gave you all,--

And in good time you gave it.

Made you my guardians, my depositaries;
But kept a reservation to be follow'd
With such a number. What, must I come to you
With five-and-twenty, Regan? said you so?

And speak't again my lord; no more with me.

Those wicked creatures yet do look well-favour'd
When others are more wicked; not being the worst
Stands in some rank of praise.--
[To Goneril.] I'll go with thee:
Thy fifty yet doth double five-and-twenty,
And thou art twice her love.

Hear, me, my lord:
What need you five-and-twenty, ten, or five,
To follow in a house where twice so many
Have a command to tend you?

What need one?

O, reason not the need: our basest beggars
Are in the poorest thing superfluous:
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
Man's life is cheap as beast's: thou art a lady;
If only to go warm were gorgeous,
Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear'st
Which scarcely keeps thee warm.--But, for true need,--
You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need!
You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,
As full of grief as age; wretched in both!
If it be you that stirs these daughters' hearts
Against their father, fool me not so much
To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger,
And let not women's weapons, water-drops,
Stain my man's cheeks!--No, you unnatural hags,
I will have such revenges on you both
That all the world shall,--I will do such things,--
What they are yet, I know not; but they shall be
The terrors of the earth. You think I'll weep;
No, I'll not weep:--
I have full cause of weeping; but this heart
Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws
Or ere I'll weep.--O fool, I shall go mad!

[Exeunt Lear, Gloster, Kent, and Fool. Storm heard at a

Let us withdraw; 'twill be a storm.

This house is little: the old man and his people
Cannot be well bestow'd.

'Tis his own blame; hath put himself from rest
And must needs taste his folly.

For his particular, I'll receive him gladly,
But not one follower.

So am I purpos'd.
Where is my lord of Gloster?

Followed the old man forth:--he is return'd.

[Re-enter Gloster.]

The king is in high rage.

Whither is he going?

He calls to horse; but will I know not whither.

'Tis best to give him way; he leads himself.

My lord, entreat him by no means to stay.

Alack, the night comes on, and the high winds
Do sorely ruffle; for many miles about
There's scarce a bush.

O, sir, to wilful men
The injuries that they themselves procure
Must be their schoolmasters. Shut up your doors:
He is attended with a desperate train;
And what they may incense him to, being apt
To have his ear abus'd, wisdom bids fear.

Shut up your doors, my lord; 'tis a wild night:
My Regan counsels well: come out o' the storm.



Scene I. A Heath.

[A storm with thunder and lightning. Enter Kent and a Gentleman,

Who's there, besides foul weather?

One minded like the weather, most unquietly.

I know you. Where's the king?

Contending with the fretful elements;
Bids the wind blow the earth into the sea,
Or swell the curled waters 'bove the main,
That things might change or cease; tears his white hair,
Which the impetuous blasts, with eyeless rage,
Catch in their fury and make nothing of;
Strives in his little world of man to outscorn
The to-and-fro-conflicting wind and rain.
This night, wherein the cub-drawn bear would couch,
The lion and the belly-pinched wolf
Keep their fur dry, unbonneted he runs,
And bids what will take all.

But who is with him?

None but the fool, who labours to out-jest
His heart-struck injuries.

Sir, I do know you;
And dare, upon the warrant of my note,
Commend a dear thing to you. There is division,
Although as yet the face of it be cover'd
With mutual cunning, 'twixt Albany and Cornwall;
Who have,--as who have not, that their great stars
Throne and set high?--servants, who seem no less,
Which are to France the spies and speculations
Intelligent of our state; what hath been seen,
Either in snuffs and packings of the dukes;
Or the hard rein which both of them have borne
Against the old kind king; or something deeper,
Whereof, perchance, these are but furnishings;--
But, true it is, from France there comes a power
Into this scatter'd kingdom; who already,
Wise in our negligence, have secret feet
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.

I will talk further with you.

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.

Give me your hand: have you no more to say?

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.

[Exeunt severally.]

Scene II. Another part of the heath. Storm continues.

[Enter Lear and Fool.]

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 sulphurous 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' the world!
Crack nature's moulds, all germens spill at once,
That make ingrateful man!

O nuncle, court holy water in a dry house is better than this
rain water out o' door. Good nuncle, in; and ask thy daughters
blessing: here's a night pities nether wise men nor fools.

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!

He that has a house to put 's head in has a good head-piece.
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

No, I will be the pattern of all patience;
I will say nothing.

[Enter Kent.]

Who's there?

Marry, here's grace and a codpiece; that's a wise man and a fool.

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.

Let the great gods,
That keep this dreadful pother 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, to 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.

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.

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.

True, boy.--Come, bring us to this hovel.

[Exeunt Lear and Kent.]

This is a brave night to cool a courtezan.--
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' the 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.


Scene III. A Room in Gloster's Castle.

[Enter Gloster and Edmund.]

Alack, alack, Edmund, I like not this unnatural dealing. When I
desired their leave that I might pity him, they took from me the
use of mine own house; charged me on pain of perpetual displeasure,
neither to speak of him, entreat for him, nor any way sustain him.

Most savage and unnatural!

Go to; say you nothing. There is division betwixt the dukes,
and a worse matter than that: I have received a letter this
night;--'tis dangerous to be spoken;--I have locked the letter in
my closet: these injuries the king now bears will be revenged
home; there's part of a power already footed: we must incline to
the king. I will seek him, and privily relieve him: go you and
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. If I
die for it, as no less is threatened me, the king my old master
must be relieved. There is some strange thing toward, Edmund;
pray you be careful.


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.


Scene IV. A part of the Heath with a Hovel. Storm continues.

[Enter Lear, Kent, and Fool.]

Here is the place, my lord; good my lord, enter:
The tyranny of the open night's too rough
For nature to endure.

Let me alone.

Good my lord, enter here.

Wilt break my heart?

I had rather break mine own. Good my lord, enter.

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' the 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.

Good my lord, enter here.

Pr'ythee 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.--

[Fool goes in.]

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.

[Within.] Fathom and half, fathom and half! Poor Tom!

[The Fool runs out from the hovel.]

Come not in here, nuncle, here's a spirit.
Help me, help me!

Give me thy hand.--Who's there?

A spirit, a spirit: he says his name's poor Tom.

What art thou that dost grumble there i' the straw?
Come forth.

[Enter Edgar, disguised as a madman.]

Away! the foul fiend follows me!--
Through the sharp hawthorn blows the cold wind.--
Hum! go to thy cold bed, and warm thee.

Didst thou give all to thy two daughters?
And art thou come to this?

Who gives anything to poor Tom? whom the foul fiend hath led
through fire and through flame, through ford and whirlpool, o'er
bog and quagmire; that hath laid knives under his pillow and
halters in his pew, set ratsbane by his porridge; made him proud
of heart, to ride on a bay trotting horse over four-inched
bridges, to course his own shadow for a traitor.--Bless thy five
wits!--Tom's a-cold.--O, do de, do de, do de.--Bless thee from
whirlwinds, star-blasting, and taking! Do poor Tom some charity,
whom the foul fiend vexes:--there could I have him now,--and
there,--and there again, and there.
[Storm continues.]

What, have his daughters brought him to this pass?--
Couldst thou save nothing? Didst thou give 'em all?

Nay, he reserv'd a blanket, else we had been all shamed.

Now all the plagues that in the pendulous air
Hang fated o'er men's faults light on thy daughters!

He hath no daughters, sir.

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.

Pillicock sat on Pillicock-hill:--
Halloo, halloo, loo loo!

This cold night will turn us all to fools and madmen.

Take heed o' th' foul fiend: obey thy parents; keep thy word
justly; swear not; commit not with man's sworn spouse; set not
thy sweet heart on proud array. Tom's a-cold.

What hast thou been?

A serving-man, proud in heart and mind; that curled my hair;
wore gloves in my cap; served the lust of my mistress' heart, and
did the act of darkness with her; swore as many oaths as I spake
words, and broke them in the sweet face of heaven: one that
slept in the contriving of lust, and waked to do it: wine loved
I deeply, dice dearly; and in woman out-paramour'd the Turk;
false of heart, light of ear, bloody of hand; hog in sloth, fox
in stealth, wolf in greediness, dog in madness, lion in prey.
Let not the creaking of shoes nor the rustling of silks betray
thy poor heart to woman: keep thy foot out of brothel, thy hand
out of placket, thy pen from lender's book, and defy the foul
fiend.--Still through the hawthorn blows the cold wind: says
suum, mun, nonny. Dolphin my boy, boy, sessa! let him trot by.

[Storm still continues.]

Why, thou wert better in thy grave than to answer with thy
uncovered body this extremity of the skies.--Is man no more than
this? Consider him well. Thou owest the worm no silk, the beast
no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfume.--Ha! here's three
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 off his clothes.]

Pr'ythee, nuncle, be contented; 'tis a naughty night to swim
in.--Now a little fire in a wild field were like an old lecher's
heart,--a small spark, all the rest on's body cold.--Look, here
comes a walking fire.

This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet: he begins at curfew,
and walks till the first cock; he gives the web and the pin,
squints the eye, and makes the harelip; mildews the white wheat,
and hurts the poor creature of earth.
Swithold 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!

How fares your grace?

[Enter Gloster with a torch.]

What's he?

Who's there? What is't you seek?

What are you there? Your names?

Poor Tom; that eats the swimming frog, the toad, the todpole, the
wall-newt and the water; that in the fury of his heart, when the
foul fiend rages, eats cow-dung for sallets; swallows the old rat
and the ditch-dog; drinks the green mantle of the standing pool;
who is whipped from tithing to tithing, and stocked, punished,
and imprisoned; who hath had three suits to his back, six shirts
to his body, horse to ride, and weapons to wear;--
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!

What, hath your grace no better company?

The prince of darkness is a gentleman:
Modo he's call'd, and Mahu.

Our flesh and blood, my lord, is grown so vile
That it doth hate what gets it.

Poor Tom's a-cold.

Go in with me: my duty cannot suffer
To obey in all your daughters' hard commands;
Though their injunction be to bar my doors,
And let this tyrannous night take hold upon you,
Yet have I ventur'd to come seek you out
And bring you where both fire and food is ready.

First let me talk with this philosopher.--
What is the cause of thunder?

Good my lord, take his offer; go into the house.

I'll talk a word with this same learned Theban.--
What is your study?

How to prevent the fiend and to kill vermin.

Let me ask you one word in private.

Importune him once more to go, my lord;
His wits begin to unsettle.

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,
[Storm continues.]
The grief hath craz'd my wits.--What a night's this!--
I do beseech your grace,--

O, cry you mercy, sir.--
Noble philosopher, your company.

Tom's a-cold.

In, fellow, there, into the hovel; keep thee warm.

Come, let's in all.

This way, my lord.

With him;
I will keep still with my philosopher.

Good my lord, soothe him; let him take the fellow.

Take him you on.

Sirrah, come on; go along with us.

Come, good Athenian.

No words, no words: hush.

Child Rowland to the dark tower came,
His word was still--Fie, foh, and fum,
I smell the blood of a British man.


Scene V. A Room in Gloster's Castle.

[Enter Cornwall and Edmund.]

I will have my revenge ere I depart his house.

How, my lord, I may be censured, that nature thus gives way to
loyalty, something fears me to think of.

I now perceive it was not altogether your brother's evil
disposition made him seek his death; but a provoking merit, set
a-work by a reproveable badness in himself.

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! that this treason
were not--or not I the detector!

Go with me to the duchess.

If the matter of this paper be certain, you have mighty business
in hand.

True or false, it hath made thee earl of Gloster. Seek out
where thy father is, that he may be ready for our apprehension.

[Aside.] If I find him comforting the king, it will stuff his
suspicion more fully.--I will persever in my course of loyalty,
though the conflict be sore between that and my blood.

I will lay trust upon thee; and thou shalt find a dearer father
in my love.


Scene VI. A Chamber in a Farmhouse adjoining the Castle.

[Enter Gloster, Lear, Kent, Fool, and Edgar.]

Here is better than the open air; take it thankfully. I will
piece out the comfort with what addition I can: I will not be
long from you.

All the power of his wits have given way to his impatience:--
the gods reward your kindness!

[Exit Gloster.]

Frateretto calls me; and tells me Nero is an angler in the lake
of darkness.--Pray, innocent, and beware the foul fiend.

Pr'ythee, nuncle, tell me whether a madman be a gentleman or a

A king, a king!

No, he's a yeoman that has a gentleman to his son; for he's a mad
yeoman that sees his son a gentleman before him.

To have a thousand with red burning spits
Come hissing in upon 'em,--

The foul fiend bites my back.

He's mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf, a horse's health,
a boy's love, or a whore's oath.

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 she-foxes!--

Look, where he stands and glares!--Want'st thou eyes at trial,
Come o'er the bourn, Bessy, to me,--

Her boat hath a leak,
And she must not speak
Why she dares not come over to thee.

The foul fiend haunts poor Tom in the voice of a nightingale.
Hoppedance cries in Tom's belly for two white herring. Croak not,
black angel; I have no food for thee.

How do you, sir? Stand you not so amaz'd;
Will you lie down and rest upon the cushions?

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' the commission,
Sit you too.

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.

Arraign her first; 'tis Goneril. I here take my oath before
this honourable assembly, she kicked the poor king her father.

Come hither, mistress. Is your name Goneril?

She cannot deny it.

Cry you mercy, I took you for a joint-stool.

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?

Bless thy five wits!

O pity!--Sir, where is the patience now
That you so oft have boasted to retain?

[Aside.] My tears begin to take his part so much
They'll mar my counterfeiting.

The little dogs and all,
Tray, Blanch, and Sweetheart, see, they bark at me.

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,
Or bobtail tike 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 market-
towns. Poor Tom, thy horn is dry.

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: you'll
say they are Persian; but let them be changed.

Now, good my lord, lie here and rest awhile.

Make no noise, make no noise; draw the curtains:
So, so. We'll go to supper i' the morning.

And I'll go to bed at noon.

[Re-enter Gloster.]

Come hither, friend: where is the king my master?

Here, sir; but trouble him not,--his wits are gone.

Good friend, I pr'ythee, 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.

Oppressed nature sleeps:--
This rest might yet have balm'd thy broken sinews,
Which, if convenience will not allow,
Stand in hard cure.--Come, help to bear thy master;
[To the Fool.] Thou must not stay behind.

Come, come, away!

[Exeunt Kent, Gloster, and the Fool, bearing off Lear.]

When we our betters see bearing our woes,
We scarcely think our miseries our foes.
Who alone suffers suffers most i' the 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.


Scene VII. A Room in Gloster's Castle.

[Enter Cornwall, Regan, Goneril, Edmund, and Servants.]

Post speedily to my lord your husband, show him this letter:--
the army of France is landed.--Seek out the traitor Gloster.

[Exeunt some of the Servants.]

Hang him instantly.

Pluck out his eyes.

Leave him to my displeasure.--Edmund, keep you our sister
company: the revenges we are bound to take upon your traitorous
father are not fit for your beholding. Advise the duke where you
are going, to a most festinate preparation: we are bound to the
like. Our posts shall be swift and intelligent betwixt us.
Farewell, dear sister:--farewell, my lord of Gloster.

[Enter Oswald.]

How now! Where's the king?

My lord of Gloster 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.

Get horses for your mistress.

Farewell, sweet lord, and sister.

Edmund, farewell.

[Exeunt Goneril, Edmund, and Oswald.]

Go seek the traitor Gloster,
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 courtesy to our wrath, which men
May blame, but not control.--Who's there? the traitor?

[Re-enter servants, with Gloster.]

Ingrateful fox! 'tis he.

Bind fast his corky arms.

What mean your graces?--Good my friends, consider
You are my guests: do me no foul play, friends.

Bind him, I say.

[Servants bind him.]

Hard, hard.--O filthy traitor!

Unmerciful lady as you are, I'm none.

To this chair bind him.--Villain, thou shalt find,--

[Regan plucks his beard.]

By the kind gods, 'tis most ignobly done
To pluck me by the beard.

So white, and such a traitor!

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?

Come, sir, what letters had you late from France?

Be simple-answer'd, for we know the truth.

And what confederacy have you with the traitors
Late footed in the kingdom?

To whose hands have you sent the lunatic king?

I have a letter guessingly set down,
Which came from one that's of a neutral heart,
And not from one oppos'd.


And false.

Where hast thou sent the king?

To Dover.

Wherefore to Dover? Wast thou not charg'd at peril,--

Wherefore to Dover? Let him first answer that.

I am tied to the stake, and I must stand the course.

Wherefore to Dover, sir?

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 stelled 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.

See't shalt thou never.--Fellows, hold the chair.
Upon these eyes of thine I'll set my foot.

[Gloster is held down in his chair, while Cornwall plucks out one
of his eyes and sets his foot on it.]

He that will think to live till he be old,
Give me some help!--O cruel!--O ye gods!

One side will mock another; the other too!

If you see vengeance,--

First 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.

How now, you dog!

First Serv.
If you did wear a beard upon your chin,
I'd shake it on this quarrel. What do you mean?

My villain!

[Draws, and runs at him.]

First Serv.
Nay, then, come on, and take the chance of anger.

[Draws. They fight. Cornwall is wounded.]

Give me thy sword [to another servant.]--A peasant stand up thus?

[Snatches a sword, comes behind, and stabs him.]

First Serv.
O, I am slain!--My lord, you have one eye left
To see some mischief on thim. O!


Lest it see more, prevent it.--Out, vile jelly!
Where is thy lustre now?

[Tears out Gloster's other eye and throws it on the ground.]

All dark and comfortless.--Where's my son Edmund?
Edmund, enkindle all the sparks of nature
To quit this horrid act.

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.

O my follies! Then Edgar was abus'd.--
Kind gods, forgive me that, and prosper him!

Go thrust him out at gates, and let him smell
His way to Dover.--How is't, my lord? How look you?

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; Servants unbind Gloster and lead
him out.]

Second Serv.
I'll never care what wickedness I do,
If this man come to good.

Third Serv.
If she live long,
And in the end meet the old course of death,
Women will all turn monsters.

Second Serv.
Let's follow the old earl, and get the Bedlam
To lead him where he would: his roguish madness
Allows itself to anything.

Third Serv.
Go thou: I'll fetch some flax and whites of eggs
To apply to his bleeding face. Now heaven help him!

[Exeunt severally.]


Scene I. The heath.

[Enter Edgar.]

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.--But who comes here?

[Enter Gloster, led by an Old Man.]

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.

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.

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.--O dear son Edgar,
The food of thy abused father's wrath!
Might I but live to see thee in my touch,
I'd say I had eyes again!

Old Man.
How now! Who's there?

[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.

[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?

Is it a beggar-man?

Old Man.
Madman and beggar too.

He has some reason, else he could not beg.
I' the 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 the gods,--
They kill us for their sport.

[Aside.] How should this be?--
Bad is the trade that must play fool to sorrow,
Angering itself and others.--Bless thee, master!

Is that the naked fellow?

Old Man.
Ay, my lord.

Then pr'ythee get thee gone: if for my sake
Thou wilt o'ertake us, hence a mile or twain,
I' the way toward Dover, do it for ancient love;
And bring some covering for this naked soul,
Which I'll entreat to lead me.

Old Man.
Alack, sir, he is mad.

'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.


Sirrah naked fellow,--

Poor Tom's a-cold.
[Aside.] I cannot daub it further.

Come hither, fellow.

[Aside.] And yet I must.--Bless thy sweet eyes, they bleed.

Know'st thou the way to Dover?



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