Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Michael Best
Not Peer Reviewed

King Lear (Folio 1, 1623)


Actus Quartus. Scena Prima.
Enter Edgar.
Edg. Yet better thus,and knowne to be contemn'd,
2180Then still contemn'd and flatter'd, to be worst:
The lowest, and most deiected thing of Fortune,
Stands still in esperance, liues not in feare:
The lamentable change is from the best,
The worst returnes to laughter. Welcome then,
2185Thou vnsubstantiall ayre that I embrace:
The Wretch that thou hast blowne vnto the worst,
Owes nothing to thy blasts.
Enter Glouster,and an Oldman.
But who comes heere? My Father poorely led?
2190World, World, O world!
But that thy strange mutations make vs hate thee,
Life would not yeelde to age.
Oldm. O my good Lord, I haue bene your Tenant,
And your Fathers Tenant, these fourescore yeares.
2195Glou. Away,get thee away: good Friend be gone,
Thy comforts can do me no good at all,
Thee, they may hurt.
Oldm. You cannot see your way.
Glou. I haue no way, and therefore want no eyes:
2200I stumbled when I saw. Full oft 'tis seene,
Our meanes secure vs, and our meere defects
Proue our Commodities. Oh deere Sonne Edgar,
The food of thy abused Fathers wrath:
Might I but liue to see thee in my touch,
2205I'ld say I had eyes againe.
Oldm. How now? who's there?
Edg. O Gods! Who is't can say I am at the worst?
I am worse then ere I was.
Old. 'Tis poore mad Tom.
2210Edg. And worse I may be yet: the worst is not,
So long as we can say this is the worst.
Oldm. Fellow, where goest?
Glou. Is it a Beggar-man?
Oldm. Madman,and beggar too.
2215Glou. He has some reason, else he could not beg.
I'th'last nights storme, I such a fellow saw;
Which made me thinke a Man,a Worme. My Sonne
Came then into my minde, and yet my minde
Was then scarse Friends with him.
2220I haue heard more since:
As Flies to wanton Boyes, are we to th'Gods,
They kill vs for their sport.
Edg. How should this be?
Bad is the Trade that must play Foole to sorrow,
2225Ang'ring it selfe,and others. Blesse thee Master.
Glou. Is that the naked Fellow?
Oldm. I,my Lord.
Glou. Get thee away: If for my sake
Thou wilt ore-take vs hence a mile or twaine
2230I'th'way toward Douer, do it for ancient loue,
And bring some couering for this naked Soule,
Which Ile intreate to leade me.
Old. Alacke sir, he is mad.
Glou. 'Tis the times plague,
2235When Madmen leade the blinde:
Do as I bid thee, or rather do thy pleasure:
Aboue the rest, be gone.
Oldm. Ile bring him the best Parrell that I haue
Come on't,what will.
Exit
2240Glou. Sirrah, naked fellow.
Edg. Poore Tom's a cold. I cannot daub it further.
Glou. Come hither fellow.
Edg. And yet I must:
Blesse thy sweete eyes, they bleede.
2245Glou. Know'st thou the way to Douer?
Edg. Both style,and gate; Horseway,and foot-path:
poore Tom hath bin scarr'd out of his good wits. Blesse
thee good mans sonne, from the foule Fiend.
Glou.Here take this purse, yu whom the heau'ns plagues
2250Haue humbled to all strokes: that I am wretched
Makes thee the happier: Heauens deale so still:
Let the superfluous, and Lust-dieted man,
That slaues your ordinance, that will not see
Because he do's not feele, feele your powre quickly:
2255So distribution should vndoo excesse,
And each man haue enough. Dost thou know Douer?
Edg. I Master.
Glou. There is a Cliffe, whose high and bending head
Lookes fearfully in the confined Deepe:
2260Bring me but to the very brimme of it,
And Ile repayre the misery thou do'st beare
With something rich about me: from that place,
I shall no leading neede.
Edg. Giue me thy arme;
2265Poore Tom shall leade thee.
Exeunt.