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About this text

  • Title: King Lear (Folio 1, 1623)
  • Editor: Michael Best
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-463-9

    Copyright Michael Best. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    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    Not Peer Reviewed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 wor st :
    The lowe st, and mo st deiected thing of Fortune,
    Stands still in esperance, liues not in feare:
    The lamentable change is from the be st,
    The wor st returnes to laughter. Welcome then,
    2185Thou vnsub stantiall ayre that I embrace:
    The Wretch that thou ha st blowne vnto the wor st,
    Owes nothing to thy bla sts.
    Enter Glou ster, and an Old man.
    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.
    2195 Glou. 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 wor st ?
    I am worse then ere I was.
    Old. 'Tis poore mad Tom.
    2210 Edg. And worse I may be yet: the wor st is not,
    So long as we can say this is the wor st.
    Oldm. Fellow, where goe st ?
    Glou. Is it a Beggar-man?
    Oldm. Madman, and beggar too.
    2215 Glou. He has some reason, else he could not beg.
    I'th'la st 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 mu st play Foole to sorrow,
    2225Ang'ring it selfe, and others. Ble s s e thee Ma ster.
    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 re st, be gone.
    Oldm. Ile bring him the be st Parrell that I haue
    Come on't, what will. Exit
    2240 Glou. Sirrah, naked fellow.
    Edg. Poore Tom's a cold. I cannot daub it further.
    Glou. Come hither fellow.
    Edg. And yet I mu st :
    Ble s s e thy sweete eyes, they bleede.
    2245 Glou. 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. Ble s s e
    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 Lu st-dieted man,
    That slaues your ordinance, that will not see
    Because he do's not feele, feele your powre quickly:
    2255So di stribution should vndoo exce s s e,
    And each man haue enough. Do st thou know Douer?
    Edg. I Ma ster.
    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.