Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Michael Best
Not Peer Reviewed

King Lear (Modern, Quarto)

1[Scene 1]
Enter Kent, Gloucester, and [the] Bastard.
Kent
I thought the King had more affected the 5Duke of Albany than Cornwall.
Gloucester
It did always seem so to us, but now in the division of the kingdoms it appears not which of the dukes he values most, for equalities are so weighed that curiosity in 10neither can make choice of either's moiety.
Kent
Is not this your son, my lord?
Gloucester
His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge. I have so often blushed to acknowledge him that now I am brazed to it.
15Kent
I cannot conceive you.
Gloucester
Sir, this young fellow's mother could, whereupon she grew round-wombed, and had indeed, sir, a son for her cradle ere she had a husband for her bed. Do you smell a fault?
20Kent
I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper.
Gloucester
But I have, sir, a son by order of law, some year elder than this, who yet is no dearer in my account. Though this knave came something saucily into the 25world before he was sent for, yet was his mother fair, there was good sport at his making, and the whoreson must be acknowledged.--Do you know this noble gentleman, Edmund?
Bastard
No, my lord.
30Gloucester
My lord of Kent. Remember him hereafter as my honorable friend.
Bastard
My services to your lordship.
I must love you, and sue to know you better.
Bastard
Sir, I shall study deserving.
35Gloucester
He hath been out nine years, and away he shall again. The King is coming.
Sound a sennet. Enter one bearing a coronet, then Lear, then the Dukes of Albany and Cornwall; next Goneril, Regan, [and] 38.1Cordelia, with followers.
Attend my lords of France and Burgundy, Gloucester.
40Gloucester
I shall, my liege.
[Exit Gloucester.]
Meantime we will express our darker purposes.
The map there. Know we have divided
In three our kingdom; and 'tis our first intent
To shake all cares and business of our state,
45Confirming them on younger years.
50The two great princes France and Burgundy,
Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,
Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,
And here are to be answered. Tell me, my daughters,
Which of you shall we say doth love us most,
That we our largest bounty may extend
Where merit doth most challenge it.
Goneril, our eldest born, speak first.
60Goneril
Sir, I do love you more than words can wield the matter;
Dearer than eyesight, space or liberty,
Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare,
No less than life; with grace, health, beauty, honor,
As much a child e'er loved or father found;
65A love that makes breath poor and speech unable.
Beyond all manner of so much I love you.
Cordelia
[Aside] What shall Cordelia do? Love and be silent.
Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,
With shady forests and wide-skirted meads,
We make thee lady. To thine and Albany's issue
Be this perpetual. What says our second daughter,
Our dearest Regan, wife to Cornwall? Speak.
Regan
Sir, I am made of the self same mettle
That my sister is,
75And prize me at her worth. In my true heart
I find she names my very deed of love,
Only she came short, that I profess
Myself an enemy to all other joys
Which the most precious square of sense possesses,
80And find I am alone felicitate
In your dear highness' love.
Cordelia
[Aside] Then poor Cordelia--
And yet not so, since I am sure my love's
More richer than my tongue.
To thee and thine hereditary ever
Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom,
No less in space, validity, and pleasure,
Than that confirmed on Goneril. But now our joy,
Although the last, not least in our dear love,
What can you say to win a third, more opulent
Than your sisters'?
Cordelia
Nothing my lord.
How? Nothing can come of nothing. Speak again.
Cordelia
Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
My heart into my mouth. I love your majesty
According to my bond, nor more nor less.
Go to, go to. Mend your speech a little
Lest it may mar your fortunes.
Cordelia
Good my lord,
You have begot me, bred me, loved me.
I return those duties back as are right fit;
105Obey you, love you, and most honor you.
Why have my sisters husbands if they say
They love you all?
Haply when I shall wed, that lord whose hand
Must take my plight shall carry half my love with him,
Half my care and duty. 110Sure I shall never
Marry like my sisters, to love my father all.
But goes this with thy heart?
Cordelia
Ay, good my lord.
So young and so untender.
Cordelia
So young, my lord, and true.
Well, let it be so. Thy truth then be thy dower;
For by the sacred radiance of the sun,
The mysteries of Hecate and the night,
By all the operation of the orbs
From whom we do exist and cease to be,
120Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
Propinquity and property of blood,
And as a stranger to my heart and me
Hold thee from this for ever. The barbarous Scythian,
Or he that makes his generation messes
125To gorge his appetite
Shall be as well neighbored, pitied, and relieved
As thou my sometime daughter.
Kent
Good my liege--
Peace, Kent! 130Come not between the dragon and his wrath.
I loved her most, and thought to set my rest
On her kind nursery. [To Cordelia] Hence and avoid my sight!--
So be my grave my peace, as here I give
Her father's heart from her. Call France. Who stirs?
135Call Burgundy.
[Exit an attendant.]
Cornwall and Albany,
With my two daughters' dowers digest this third.
Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.
I do invest you jointly in my power,
Preeminence, and all the large effects
140That troop with majesty. Ourself by monthly course,
With reservation of a hundred knights
By you to be sustained, shall our abode
Make with you by due turns; only we still retain
The name and all the additions to a king.
The sway, 145revenue, execution of the rest,
Beloved sons, be yours; which to confirm,
This coronet part betwixt you.
Kent
Royal Lear,
Whom I have ever honored as my king,
150Loved as my father, as my master followed,
As my great patron thought on in my prayers--
The bow is bent and drawn. Make from the shaft.
Let it fall rather, though the fork invade
The region of my heart. Be Kent unmannerly
155When Lear is mad. What wilt thou do old man?
Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak
When power to flattery bows? To plainness honor's bound
When majesty stoops to folly. Reverse thy doom,
160And in thy best consideration check
This hideous rashness. Answer my life my judgment;
Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least;
Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sound
Reverbs no hollowness.
165Lear
Kent, on thy life no more.
My life I never held but as a pawn
To wage against thy enemies, nor fear to lose it
Thy safety being the motive.
Lear
Out of my sight!
See better, Lear, and let me still remain
The true blank of thine eye.
Lear
Now by Apollo--
Now, by Apollo, King, thou swear'st thy gods in vain.
[Threatening Kent] Vassal, recreant!
Kent
Do. Kill thy physician,
And the fee bestow upon the foul disease.
Revoke thy doom, or whilst I can vent clamor
From my throat 180I'll tell thee thou dost evil.
Hear me. On thy allegiance hear me.
Since thou hast sought to make us break our vow,
Which we durst never yet, and with strayed pride
To come between our sentence and our power,
185Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,
Our potency made good, take thy reward.
Four days we do allot thee for provision
To shield thee from dis-eases of the world,
And on the fifth to turn thy hated back
190Upon our kingdom. If on the next day following
Thy banished trunk be found in our dominions,
The moment is thy death. Away! By Jupiter,
This shall not be revoked.
Why fare thee well, King, since thus thou wilt appear,
195Friendship lives hence, and banishment is here.
[To Cordelia] The gods to their protection take thee, maid,
That rightly thinks and hast most justly said.
[To Goneril and Regan] And your large speeches may your deeds approve,
That good effects may spring from words of love.
200Thus Kent, O princes, bids you all adieu;
He'll shape his old course in a country new.
[Exit.]
Enter France and Burgundy with Gloucester [and an attendant.]
Gloucester
Here's France and Burgundy, my noble lord.
My lord of Burgundy, we first address towards you,
Who with a king hath rivaled for our daughter.
What in the least will you require in present
Dower with her, or cease your quest of love?
210Burgundy
Royal majesty, I crave no more than what
Your highness offered; nor will you tender less.
Right noble Burgundy, when she was dear to us
We did hold her so,
215But now her price is fallen. Sir, there she stands.
If aught within that little-seeming substance,
Or all of it, with our displeasure pieced
And nothing else, may fitly like your grace,
She's there, and she is yours.
220Burgundy
I know no answer.
Sir, will you with those infirmities she owes,
Unfriended, new adopted to our hate,
Covered with our curse and strangered with our oath,
Take her or leave her?
225Burgundy
Pardon me, royal sir,
Election makes not up on such conditions.
Then leave her, sir, for by the power that made me
I tell you all her wealth. [To France] For you, great king,
I would not from your love make such a stray
230To match you where I hate. Therefore, beseech you
To avert your liking a more worthier way
Than on a wretch whom nature is ashamed
Almost to acknowledge hers.
France
This is most strange,
235That she, that even but now was your best object,
The argument of your praise, balm of your age,
Most best, most dearest, should in this trice of time
Commit a thing so monstrous to dismantle
So many folds of favor. Sure her offence
240Must be of such unnatural degree
That monsters it, or your fore-vouched affections
Fallen into taint; which to believe of her
Must be a faith that reason without miracle
Could never plant in me.
245Cordelia
I yet beseech your majesty,
If for I want that glib and oily art,
To speak and purpose not--since what I well intend
I'll do't before I speak--that you may know
It is no vicious blot, murder or foulness,
250No unclean action or dishonored step
That hath deprived me of your grace and favor,
But even for want of that for which I am rich--
A still-soliciting eye, and such a tongue,
As I am glad I have not--though not to have it,
255Hath lost me in your liking.
Lear
Go to, go to. Better thou hadst
Not been born, than not to have pleased me better.
Is it no more but this? A tardiness in nature
That often leaves the history unspoke
260That it intends to do? My lord of Burgundy,
What say you to the lady? Love is not love
When it is mingled with respects that stands
Aloof from the entire point. Will you have her?
She is herself a dowry.
265Burgundy
Royal Lear,
Give but that portion which yourself proposed,
And here I take Cordelia by the hand,
Duchess of Burgundy.
Lear
Nothing. I have sworn.
270Burgundy
[To Cordelia] I am sorry then you have so lost a father
That you must lose a husband.
Cordelia
Peace be with Burgundy; since that respects
Of fortune are his love, I shall not be his wife.
Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor,
Most choice, forsaken, and most loved, despised,
Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon.
Be it lawful I take up what's cast away.
Gods, gods! 'Tis strange, that from their coldest neglect
280My love should kindle to inflamed respect.
Thy dowerless daughter, King, thrown to thy chance,
Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France.
Not all the dukes in waterish Burgundy,
Shall buy this unprized precious maid of me.
285Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind.
Thou losest here, a better where to find.
Thou hast her, France. Let her be thine,
For we have no such daughter, nor shall ever see
That face of hers again. Therefore be gone,
290Without our grace, our love, our benison.
Come, noble Burgundy.
Exeunt Lear, Burgundy, [and others].
Bid farewell to your sisters.
Cordelia
The jewels of our father, with washed eyes
Cordelia leaves you. I know you what you are,
295And like a sister am most loath to call
Your faults as they are named. Use well our father.
To your professèd bosoms I commit him;
But yet, alas, stood I within his grace,
I would prefer him to a better place.
300So farewell to you both.
Goneril
Prescribe not us our duties.
Regan
Let your study
Be to content your lord, who hath received you
At fortune's alms. You have obedience scanted,
305And well are worth the want that you have wanted.
Cordelia
Time shall unfold what pleated cunning hides,
Who covers faults, at last shame them derides.
Well may you prosper.
France
Come, fair Cordelia.
Exeunt France and Cordelia.
310Goneril
Sister, it is not a little I have to say of what most nearly appertains to us both. I think our father will hence tonight.
That's most certain, and with you; next month with us.
Goneril
You see how full of changes his age is. The 315observation we have made of it hath not been little. He always loved our sister most, and with what poor judgment he hath now cast her off appears too gross.
'Tis the infirmity of his age. Yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself.
320Goneril
The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash. Then must we look to receive from his age not alone the imperfection of long-engrafted condition, but therewithal unruly waywardness that infirm and choleric years bring with them.
Such unconstant starts are we like to have from him as this of Kent's banishment.
Goneril
There is further compliment of leave taking between France and him. Pray let's hit together. If our father carry authority with such dispositions as he bears, 330this last surrender of his will but offend us.
We shall further think on't.
Goneril
We must do something, and i'th'heat.
[Scene 2]
Enter [the] Bastard alone, [with a letter].
335Bastard
Thou, Nature, art my goddess. To thy law
My services are bound. Wherefore should I
Stand in the plague of custom and permit
The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines
340Lag of a brother? Why "bastard"? Wherefore "base,"
When my dimensions are as well compact,
My mind as generous, and my shape as true
As honest madam's issue?
Why brand they us with "base," "base bastardy,"
345Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, take
More composition and fierce quality
Than doth within a stale, dull-eyed bed
Go to the creating of a whole tribe of fops
Got 'tween asleep and wake. Well, then,
350Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land.
Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund
As to the legitimate.
Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed
And my invention thrive, Edmund the base
355Shall to th'legitimate. I grow, I prosper.
Now, gods, stand up for bastards!
Enter Gloucester.
Gloucester
Kent banished thus, and France in choler parted?
And the king gone tonight, subscribed his power,
360Confined to exhibition? All this done
Upon the gad?--Edmund, how now? What news?
Bastard
[Pockets the letter.] So please your lordship, none.
Gloucester
Why so earnestly seek you to put up that letter?
Bastard
I know no news, my lord.
365Gloucester
What paper were you reading?
Bastard
Nothing, my lord.
Gloucester
No? What needs then that terrible dispatch of it into your pocket? The quality of nothing hath not such need to hide itself. Let's see. Come, if it be 370nothing I shall not need spectacles.
Bastard
I beseech you, sir, pardon me. It is a letter from my brother that I have not all o'er-read. For so much as I have perused, I find it not fit for your liking.
375Gloucester
Give me the letter, sir.
Bastard
I shall offend either to detain or give it. The contents, as in part I understand them, are to blame.
Gloucester
Let's see, let's see!
380Bastard
I hope, for my brother's justification, he wrote this but as an assay or taste of my virtue.
[He gives Gloucester the] letter.
Gloucester
[Reads.]
This policy of age makes the world bitter to the best of our times, keeps our fortunes from us till our oldness cannot relish them. I begin to find an idle 385and fond bondage in the oppression of aged tyranny, who sways not as it hath power, but as it is suffered. Come to me that of this I may speak more. If our father would sleep till I waked him, you should enjoy half his revenue for ever, and live the beloved of your brother,
Edgar.
390Hum, conspiracy! "Slept till I waked him," "You should enjoy half his revenue"? My son Edgar? Had he a hand to write this? A heart and brain to breed it in? When came this to you? Who brought it?
Bastard
It was not brought me, my lord, there's the 395cunning of it. I found it thrown in at the casement of my closet.
Gloucester
You know the character to be your brother's?
Bastard
If the matter were good, my lord, I durst swear it were his; but in respect of that I would fain think it 400were not.
Gloucester
It is his?
Bastard
It is his hand, my lord, but I hope his heart is not in the contents.
Gloucester
Hath he never heretofore sounded you in this business?
405Bastard
Never, my lord, but I have often heard him maintain it to be fit that sons at perfect age, and fathers declining, his father should be as ward to the son, and the son manage the revenue.
Gloucester
O villain, villain! His very opinion in the 410letter. Abhorred villain. Unnatural, detested, brutish villain, worse than brutish. Go sir, seek him. Ay, apprehend him, abominable villain. Where is he?
Bastard
I do not well know, my lord. If it shall please you to suspend your indignation against my brother till you can 415derive from him better testimony of this intent, you should run a certain course; where, if you violently proceed against him mistaking his purpose, it would make a great gap in your own honor and shake in pieces the heart of his obedience. I dare pawn down my life for him, 420he hath wrote this to feel my affection to your honor, and to no further pretense of danger.
Gloucester
Think you so?
Bastard
If your honor judge it meet, I will place you where you shall hear us confer of this, and by an 425auricular assurance have your satisfaction--and that without any further delay than this very evening.
Gloucester
He cannot be such a monster.
427.1Bastard
Nor is not, sure.
Gloucester
To his father, that so tenderly and entirely loves him. Heaven and earth! Edmund, seek him out. Wind me into him. I pray you, frame your business after your own wisdom. I would unstate 430myself to be in a due resolution.
Bastard
I shall seek him sir, presently, convey the business as I shall see means, and acquaint you withal.
Gloucester
These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us. Though the wisdom of nature can 435reason thus and thus, yet nature finds itself scourged by the sequent effects. Love cools, friendship falls off, brothers divide. In cities mutinies, in countries discords, palaces treason; the bond cracked between son and father. Find out this villain, Edmund. It shall lose 445thee nothing. Do it carefully. And the noble and true-hearted Kent banished, his offence honesty. Strange, strange!
[Exit.]
Bastard
This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune--often the surfeit of our own behavior--we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the 450moon, and the stars, as if we were villains by necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves, thieves, and treacherers by spiritual predominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in by a divine 455thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of stars. "My father compounded with my mother under the dragon's tail, and my nativity was under Ursa Major, so that it follows I am rough and lecherous." Fut! I should 460have been that I am had the maidenliest star of the firmament twinkled on my bastardy. Edgar--
Enter Edgar.
--and out he comes like the catastrophe of the old comedy. Mine is villainous melancholy, with a sigh like them of 465Bedlam. --Oh, these eclipses do portend these divisions.
Edgar
How now, brother Edmund. What serious contemplation are you in?
Bastard
I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read this 470other day, what should follow these eclipses.
Do you busy yourself about that?
Bastard
I promise you the effects he writ of succeed unhappily, 473.1as of unnaturalness between the child and the parent, death, dearth, dissolutions of ancient amities, divisions in state, menaces and maledictions against king and nobles, needless diffidences, banishment of friends, dissipation of cohorts, nuptial breaches, and I know not what.
How long have you been a sectary astronomical?
Bastard
Come, come, when saw you my father last?
Edgar
Why, 475the night gone by.
Bastard
Spake you with him?
Two hours together.
Bastard
Parted you in good terms? Found you no displeasure in him by word or countenance?
None at all.
Bastard
Bethink yourself wherein you may have offended him, and at my entreaty forbear his presence till some little time hath qualified the heat of his displeasure, which at this instant so rageth in him that with the 485mischief of your person it would scarce allay.
Some villain hath done me wrong.
Bastard
That's my fear, brother. I advise you to the best. Go armed. I am no honest man if there be any good meaning towards you. I have told 495you what I have seen and heard but faintly, nothing like the image and horror of it. Pray you, away!
Shall I hear from you anon?
Bastard
I do serve you in this business.
Exit Edgar
A credulous father and a brother noble,
500Whose nature is so far from doing harms
That he suspects none; on whose foolish honesty
My practices ride easy. I see the business.
Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit.
All with me's meet that I can fashion fit.
505[Scene 3]
Enter Goneril and [Oswald, her] gentleman.
Goneril
Did my father strike my gentleman for chiding of his fool?
Oswald
Yes, madam.
510Goneril
By day and night he wrongs me. Every hour
He flashes into one gross crime or other
That sets us all at odds. I'll not endure it.
His knights grow riotous, and himself upbraids us
On every trifle. When he returns from hunting
515I will not speak with him. Say I am sick.
If you come slack of former services
You shall do well; the fault of it I'll answer.
[Hunting horns within]
Oswald
He's coming madam. I hear him.
Goneril
Put on what weary negligence you please,
520You and your fellow servants. I'd have it come in question.
If he dislike it, let him to our sister,
Whose mind and mine I know in that are one,
522.1Not to be overruled. Idle old man
That still would manage those authorities
That he hath given away. Now, by my life,
Old fools are babes again, and must be used
With checks as flatteries when they are seen abused.
Remember what I tell you.
Oswald
Very well, madam.
525Goneril
And let his knights have colder looks among you. What grows of it, no matter. Advise your fellows so. I would breed 526.1from hence occasions, and I shall, that I may speak. I'll write straight to my sister to hold my very course. Go prepare for dinner.
Exeunt [separately].
[Scene 4]
530Enter Kent [disguised as Caius].
If but as well I other accents borrow
That can my speech diffuse, my good intent
May carry through itself to that full issue
For which I razed my likeness. Now, banished Kent,
535If thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemned,
Thy master whom thou lovest shall find thee
Full of labor.
Enter Lear [and servants from hunting].
Let me not stay a jot for dinner. Go get it ready.
[Exit a servant.]
[To Kent] 540How now, what art thou?
A man, sir.
What dost thou profess? What wouldst thou with us?
I do profess to be no less than I seem, to serve 545him truly that will put me in trust, to love him that is honest, to converse with him that is wise and says little, to fear judgment, to fight when I cannot choose, and to eat no fish.
What art thou?
A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the King.
If thou be as poor for a subject as he is for a king, th'art poor enough. What wouldst thou?
Service.
555Lear
Who wouldst thou serve?
You.
Lear
Dost thou know me, fellow?
No sir, but you have that in your countenance which I would fain call master.
What's that?
Kent
Authority.
What services canst do?
I can keep honest counsel, ride, run, mar a curious tale in telling it, and deliver a plain message 565bluntly. That which ordinary men are fit for I am qualified in, and the best of me is diligence.
How old art thou?
Not so young to love a woman for singing, nor so old to dote on her for anything. I have years on 570my back forty-eight.
Follow me. Thou shalt serve me. If I like thee no worse after dinner I will not part from thee yet. Dinner, ho! Dinner! Where's my knave, my fool? Go you and call my fool hither.
[Exit a servant.]
575Enter [Oswald, the] steward.
You, sirrah, where's my daughter?
Oswald
So please you--
[Exit Oswald.]
What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll back.
[Exit Kent and a Servant.]
Where's my fool? Ho! I think the world's asleep.
[Enter Kent and servant.]
How now? Where's that mongrel?
He says, my lord, your daughter is not well.
Why came not the slave back to me when I called him?
Servant
Sir, he answered me in the roundest manner he would not.
585Lear
'A would not?
Servant
My lord, I know not what the matter is, but to my judgment your highness is not entertained with that ceremonious affection as you were wont. There's a great abatement appears as well in 590the general dependents as in the duke himself also, and your daughter.
Lear
Ha? Sayest thou so?
Servant
I beseech you pardon me, my lord, if I be mistaken, for my duty cannot be silent when I think 595your highness wronged.
Thou but rememberest me of mine own conception. I have perceived a most faint neglect of late, which I have rather blamed as mine own jealous curiosity than as a very pretense and purport of unkindness. 600I will look further into't. But where's this fool? I have not seen him this two days.
Servant
Since my young lady's going into France, sir, the fool hath much pined away.
No more of that, I have noted it. Go you 605and tell my daughter I would speak with her.
[Exit a servant.]
Go you, call hither my fool.
[Exit another servant.]
[Enter Oswald.]
O you, sir, you, sir, come you hither. Who am I, sir?
Oswald
My lady's father.
"My lady's father"? My lord's knave, you whoreson dog, you slave, you cur.
Oswald
I am none of this, my lord, I beseech you, pardon me.
[Striking him] Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?
615Oswald
I'll not be struck, my lord.
[Tripping him] Nor tripped neither, you base football player.
I thank thee, fellow. Thou servest me, and I'll love thee.
[To Oswald] Come sir, I'll teach you differences. 620Away, away! If you will measure your lubber's length again, tarry; but away, you have wisdom.
[Exit Oswald.]
Now friendly knave, I thank thee. [Giving money] There's earnest of thy service.
Enter Fool.
Let me hire him too. [To Kent, holding out his cap] Here's my coxcomb.
How now, my pretty knave, how dost thou?
[To Kent] Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb.
Why, Fool?
Why, for taking one's part, that's out of favor. 630Nay, an thou canst not smile as the wind sits thou'lt catch cold shortly. There, take my coxcomb. Why, this fellow hath banished two on's daughters, and done the third a blessing against his will. If thou follow him, thou must needs wear my coxcomb. [To Lear] How now, nuncle? Would 635I had two coxcombs and two daughters.
Why, my boy?
If I gave them any living, I'd keep my coxcombs myself. There's mine; beg another of thy daughters.
Take heed, sirrah--the whip.
Truth is a dog that must to kennel. He must be whipped out, when Lady the brach may stand by the fire and stink.
A pestilent gall to me.
Sirrah, I'll teach thee a speech.
Lear
Do.
Mark it, nuncle.
Have more than thou showest,
Speak less than thou knowest,
650Lend less than thou owest,
Ride more than thou goest,
Learn more than thou trowest,
Set less than thou throwest,
Leave thy drink and thy whore,
655And keep in-a-door,
And thou shalt have more
Than two tens to a score.
This is nothing, fool.
Then, like the breath of an unfee'd lawyer, 660you gave me nothing for't. Can you make no use of nothing, nuncle?
Why, no, boy. Nothing can be made out of nothing.
[To Kent] Prithee tell him, so much the rent of his land 665comes to. He will not believe a fool.
A bitter fool.
[To Lear] Dost know the difference, my boy, between a bitter fool and a sweet fool?
No, lad, teach me.
[Sings.]
That lord that counseled thee to give away thy land,
Come place him here by me; do thou for him stand.
The sweet and bitter fool will presently appear--
The one in motley here, the other found out there.
Dost thou call me fool, boy?
All thy other titles thou hast given away. That thou wast born with.
This is not altogether fool, my Lord.
No, faith, lords and great men will not let me. If I had 669.10a monopoly on't, they would have part on't. And ladies too; they will not let me have all the fool to myself, they'll be snatching. 670Give me an egg, nuncle, and I'll give thee two crowns.
What two crowns shall they be?
Why, after I have cut the egg in the middle and eat up the meat, the two crowns of the egg. When 675thou clovest thy crown i'th'middle and gavest away both parts, thou borest thy ass o'th'back o'er the dirt. Thou hadst little wit in thy bald crown when thou gav'st thy golden one away. If I speak like myself in this, let him be whipped that first finds it so.
[Sings.]
680Fools had ne'er less wit in a year,
For wise men are grown foppish,
They know not how their wits do wear,
Their manners are so apish.
When were you wont to be so full of songs, sirrah?
I have used it, nuncle, ever since thou mad'st thy daughters thy mother; for when thou gav'st them the rod, and puttest down thine own breeches,
[Sings.]
687.1Then they for sudden joy did weep,
And I for sorrow sung,
690That such a king should play bo-peep,
And go the fools among.
Prithee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach thy fool to lie. I would fain learn to lie.
An you lie, we'll have you whipped.
I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are. They'll have me whipped for speaking true, thou wilt have me whipped for lying, and sometime I am whipped for holding my peace. I had rather be any kind of thing than a fool; and yet I would not be thee, nuncle. Thou hast pared thy 700wit o'both sides, and left nothing in the middle. Here comes one of the parings.
Enter Goneril.
How now, daughter? What makes that frontlet on? Methinks you are too much o'late i'th'frown.
Thou wast a pretty fellow when thou hadst no need to care for her frown. Now thou art an "O" without a figure. I am better than thou art now--I am a fool, thou art nothing. [To Goneril] Yes, forsooth, I will hold my tongue; so your face bids me though you say nothing.
[Sings.]
710Mum, mum,
He that keeps neither crust nor crumb,
Weary of all, shall want some.
[Pointing to Lear.] That's a shelled peascod.
Goneril
Not only, sir, this, your all-licensed fool,
But other of your insolent retinue
Do hourly carp and quarrel, breaking forth
715In rank and not-to-be-endurèd riots. Sir,
I had thought by making this well known unto you
To have found a safe redress, but now grow fearful,
By what yourself too late have spoke and done,
That you protect this course, and put it on
720By your allowance; which, if you should, the fault
Would not scape censure, nor the redress sleep;
Which in the tender of a wholesome weal,
Might in their working do you that offence,
That else were shame, that then necessity
725Must call discreet proceedings.
For you trow, nuncle,
The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long
That it had its head bit off by its young.
So out went the candle, and we were left darkling.
Are you our daughter?
Goneril
Come, sir.
I would you would make use of that good wisdom
Whereof I know you are fraught, and put away
These dispositions that of late transform you
From what you rightly are.
May not an ass know when the cart draws the horse?--
Whoop, Jug, I love thee!
Doth any here know me? Why, this is not Lear.
740Doth Lear walk thus? Speak thus? Where are his eyes?
Either his notion, weakness, or his discernings
Are lethargied. Sleeping or waking? Ha!
Sure 'tis not so.
Who is it that can tell me who I am?
Lear's shadow? I would learn that, for by the marks
Of sovereignty, 744.1knowledge, and reason,
I should be false persuaded I had daughters.
Which they will make an obedient father.
Your name, fair gentlewoman?
Goneril
Come, sir,
This admiration is much of the savor
Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you
Understand my purposes aright.
As you are old and reverend, should be wise.
750Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires,
Men so disordered, so debauched and bold,
That this our court, infected with their manners,
Shows like a riotous inn. Epicurism
And lust make more like a tavern or brothel
755Than a great palace. The shame itself doth speak
For instant remedy. Be thou desired,
By her that else will take the thing she begs,
A little to disquantity your train;
And the remainder that shall still depend
760To be such men as may besort your age,
That know themselves and you.
Darkness and devils!
Saddle my horses. Call my train together.
[Exit one or more.]
Degenerate bastard, I'll not trouble thee.
765Yet have I left a daughter.
You strike my people, and your disordered rabble
Make servants of their betters.
Enter Duke [Albany].
We that too late repent us-- [To Albany] Oh, sir, are you come?
770Is it your will that we-- [To a servant] Prepare my horses!
[Exit servant.]
Ingratitude! Thou marble-hearted fiend,
More hideous when thou show'st thee in a child
Than the sea-monster. 775[To Goneril] Detested kite, thou liest.
My train are men of choice and rarest parts
That all particulars of duty know,
And in the most exact regard support
The worships of their name. Oh, most small fault,
780How ugly didst thou in Cordelia show,
That, like an engine, wrenched my frame of nature
From the fixèd place, drew from my heart all love
And added to the gall.
[Striking his head]
O Lear, Lear!
Beat at this gate that let thy folly in
785And thy dear judgment out. Go, go, my people.
[Exeunt some.]
My lord, I am guiltless as I am ignorant.
It may be so, my lord. Hark, Nature, hear.
Dear goddess,
790Suspend thy purpose if thou didst intend
To make this creature fruitful.
Into her womb convey sterility,
Dry up in her the organs of increase,
And from her derogate body never spring
795A babe to honor her. If she must teem,
Create her child of spleen, that it may live
And be a thwart, disnatured torment to her.
Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth,
With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks,
800Turn all her mother's pains and benefits
To laughter and contempt, that she may feel--
That she may feel
How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
To have a thankless child. Go, go, my people!
[Exeunt Lear, Kent, Fool, and servants.]
Now, gods that we adore, 805whereof comes this?
Never afflict yourself to know the cause,
But let his disposition have that scope
That dotage gives it.
[Enter Lear and Fool.]
What? Fifty of my followers at a clap
Within a fortnight?
Albany
What is the matter, sir?
I'll tell thee--life and death! I am ashamed
815That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus,
That these hot tears that break from me perforce
Should make--the worst blasts and fogs upon thee;
Untented woundings of a father's curse
820Pierce every sense about thee. Old fond eyes,
Beweep this cause again, I'll pluck you out,
And cast you with the waters that you make
To temper clay. Yea, is't come to this?
Yet have I left a daughter,
825Who I am sure is kind and comfortable.
When she shall hear this of thee, with her nails
She'll flay thy wolvish visage. Thou shalt find
That I'll resume the shape which thou dost think
I have cast off for ever--thou shalt, I warrant thee.
[Exit Lear.]
Do you mark that, my lord?
I cannot be so partial, Goneril,
To the great love I bear you--
Goneril
Come, sir, no more.
[To the Fool] You, more knave than fool, after your master!
Nuncle Lear, nuncle Lear, tarry and take the fool with thee.
A fox, when one has caught her,
And such a daughter,
Should sure to the slaughter,
840If my cap would buy a halter.
So the fool follows after.
[Exit Fool.]
What, Oswald, ho!
[Enter Oswald.]
Oswald
Here Madam.
Goneril
What, have you writ this letter to my sister?
Yes, madam.
Take you some company and away to horse.
Inform her full of my particular fears,
And thereto add such reasons of your own
As may compact it more. Get you gone,
And hasten your return.
[Exit Oswald.]
Now, my lord,
865This milky gentleness and course of yours,
Though I dislike not, yet, under pardon,
Y'are much more attasked for want of wisdom
Than praised for harmful mildness.
How far your eyes may pierce I cannot tell.
870Striving to better aught, we mar what's well.
Goneril
Nay then--
Albany
Well, well, the event.
Exeunt.
[Scene 5]
Enter Lear [with Kent, disguised as Caius, and the Fool].
[To Kent] Go you before to Gloucester with these letters. Acquaint my daughter no further with anything you know than comes from her demand out of the letter. If your diligence be not speedy I shall be there before you.
I will not sleep, my lord, till I have delivered your letter.
Exit.
If a man's brains were in his heels, were't not in danger of kibes?
Lear
Ay, boy.
Then I prithee be merry. Thy wit shall ne'er go slipshod.
Ha ha ha.
Shalt see thy other daughter will use thee kindly, for though she's as like this as a crab is like an 890apple, yet I con what I can tell.
Why, what canst thou tell, my boy?
She'll taste as like this as a crab doth to a crab. Thou canst not tell why one's nose stands in the middle of his face?
No.
Why, to keep his eyes on either side 's nose, that what a man cannot smell out 'a may spy into.
I did her wrong.
Canst tell how an oyster makes his shell?
900Lear
No.
Nor I neither; but I can tell why a snail has a house.
Why?
Why, to put his head in, not to give it away to his 905daughter, and leave his horns without a case.
I will forget my nature. So kind a father. Be my horses ready?
Thy asses are gone about them. The reason why the seven stars are no more than seven is a pretty reason.
Because they are not eight?
Yes. Thou wouldst make a good fool.
To tak't again perforce. Monster ingratitude!
If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I'd have thee beaten for being old before thy time.
How's that?
Thou shouldst not have been old before thou hadst been wise.
O let me not be mad, sweet heaven! I would not be mad. Keep me in temper. I would not be mad.
[Enter a servant.]
Are 920the horses ready?
Servant
Ready, my lord.
Lear
Come, boy.
Exeunt [all but the Fool].
She that is maid now, and laughs at my departure,
Shall not be a maid long, except things be cut shorter.
[Scene 6]
Enter [Edmund the] Bastard and Curan, meeting.
Bastard
Save thee, Curan.
Curan
And you, sir. I have been 930with your father, and given him notice that the Duke of Cornwall and his Duchess will be here with him tonight.
Bastard
How comes that?
Curan
Nay, I know not. You have heard of the news 935abroad, I mean the whispered ones, for there are yet but ear-bussing arguments.
Bastard
Not I. Pray you what are they?
Curan
Have you heard of no likely wars towards, twixt the two Dukes of Cornwall and Albany?
940Bastard
Not a word.
Curan
You may, then, in time. Fare you well, sir.
[Exit Curan.]
Bastard
The Duke be here tonight! The better--best.
This weaves itself perforce into my business.
Enter Edgar [above].
945My father hath set guard to take my brother,
And I have one thing of a queasy question
Which must ask briefness and fortune's help.
Brother, a word. Descend. Brother, I say.
[Edgar descends.]
950My father watches. Oh, fly this place!
Intelligence is given where you are hid.
You have now the good advantage of the night.
Have you not spoken 'gainst the Duke of Cornwall aught?
He's coming hither now in the night, i'th'haste,
955And Regan with him. Have you nothing said
Upon his party against the Duke of Albany?
Advise your--
Edgar
I am sure on't. Not a word.
Bastard
I hear my father coming. Pardon me.
960In cunning I must draw my sword upon you.
Seem to defend yourself. Now quit you well.--[Shouting]
Yield! Come before my father. Light here, here.--[To Edgar]
Fly, brother, fly.--[Shouting] Torches, torches! [To Edgar] So farewell.
965[Exit Edgar.]
[Wounding his arm] Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion
Of my more fierce endeavor. I have seen drunkards
Do more than this in sport. [Shouting] Father, father!
Stop, stop! No help?
970Enter Gloucester [and attendants].
Gloucester
Now Edmund, where is the villain?
Bastard
Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out,
Warbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon
To stand's auspicious mistress.
975Gloucester
But where is he?
Bastard
Look sir, I bleed.
Gloucester
Where is the villain, Edmund?
Bastard
Fled this way, sir, when by no means he could--
Gloucester
Pursue him, go after.
[Exit attendant(s).]
[To the Bastard] By no means what?
980Bastard
Persuade me to the murder of your lordship;
But that I told him the revengive gods
'Gainst parricides did all their thunders bend;
Spoke with how manifold and strong a bond
The child was bound to the father. Sir, in fine,
985Seeing how loathly opposite I stood
To his unnatural purpose, with fell motion
With his preparèd sword he charges home
My unprovided body, lanced mine arm.
But when he saw my best alarumed spirits,
990Bold in the quarrel's right, roused to the encounter--
Or whether gasted by the noise I made--
But suddenly he fled.
Gloucester
Let him fly far.
Not in this land shall he remain uncaught--
995And found, dispatch! The noble Duke my master,
My worthy arch and patron, comes tonight.
By his authority I will proclaim it.
That he which finds him shall deserve our thanks,
Bringing the murderous caitiff to the stake.
1000He that conceals him, death.
When I dissuaded him from his intent
And found him pitched to do it, with curst speech
I threatened to discover him. He replied,
"Thou unpossessing bastard, dost thou think,
1005If I would stand against thee, could the reposure
Of any trust, virtue, or worth in thee
Make thy words faithed? No. What I should deny,
As this I would, ay, though thou didst produce
My very character, I'd turn it all
1010To thy suggestion, plot, and damned pretense.
And thou must make a dullard of the world
If they not thought the profits of my death
Were very pregnant and potential spurs
To make thee seek it."
1015Gloucester
Strong and fastened villain.
Would he deny his letter? I never got him.
[Trumpets sound.]
Hark, the Duke's trumpets. I know not why he comes.
All ports I'll bar. The villain shall not scape;
The Duke must grant me that. Besides, his picture
1020I will send far and near that all the kingdom
May have note of him. And of my land,
Loyal and natural boy, I'll work the means
To make thee capable.
Enter the Duke of Cornwall, [Regan, and attendants].
1025Cornwall
How now, my noble friend. Since I came hither,
Which I can call but now, I have heard strange news.
If it be true, all vengeance comes too short
Which can pursue the offender. How dost, my lord?
Gloucester
Madam, my old heart is cracked, is cracked.
What, did my father's godson seek your life?
He whom my father named, your Edgar?
Gloucester
Ay, lady, lady, shame would have it hid.
Was he not companion with the riotous knights
That tend upon my father?
1035Gloucester
I know not, madam. 'Tis too bad, too bad.
Bastard
Yes, madam, he was.
No marvel, then, though he were ill affected.
'Tis they have put him on the old man's death,
To have the spoil and waste of his revenues.
1040I have this present evening from my sister
Been well informed of them, and with such cautions
That if they come to sojourn at my house
I'll not be there.
Cornwall
Nor I, assure thee Regan.
Edmund, 1045I heard that you have shown your father
A child-like office.
Bastard
'Twas my duty, sir.
Gloucester
He did betray his practice, and received
This hurt you see, striving to apprehend him.
Is he pursued?
Gloucester
Ay, my good lord.
If he be taken, he shall never more
Be feared of doing harm. Make your own purpose
How, in my strength, you please. For you, Edmund,
1055Whose virtue and obedience doth this instant
So much commend itself, you shall be ours.
Natures of such deep trust we shall much need.
You we first seize on.
Bastard
I shall serve you truly,
However else.
1060Gloucester
For him I thank your grace.
Cornwall
You know not why we came to visit you?
This out-of-season, threatening, dark-eyed night?
Occasions, noble Gloucester, of some poise,
Wherein we must have use of your advice.
1065Our father, he hath writ--so hath our sister--
Of differences which I least thought it fit
To answer from our home. The several messengers
From hence attend dispatch. Our good old friend,
Lay comforts to your bosom, and bestow
1070Your needful counsel to our business,
Which craves the instant use.
Gloucester
I serve you, madam.
Your graces are right welcome.
[Scene 7]
1075Enter Kent, [disguised, and Oswald the] steward, [meeting].
Oswald
Good even to thee friend. Art of the house?
Ay.
Oswald
Where may we set our horses?
I'th'mire.
1080Oswald
Prithee, if thou love me, tell me.
I love thee not.
Oswald
Why then, I care not for thee.
If I had thee in Lipsbury Pinfold I would make thee care for me.
1085Oswald
Why dost thou use me thus? I know thee not.
Fellow, I know thee.
What dost thou know me for?
A knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-1090pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking knave; a whoreson glass-gazing super-finical rogue, one-trunk-inheriting slave. One that wouldst be a bawd in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, 1095pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch--whom I will beat into clamorous whining if thou deny the least syllable of the addition.
What a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to rail on one that's neither known of thee, nor 1100knows thee.
What a brazen-faced varlet art thou, to deny thou knowest me! Is it two days ago since I beat thee, and tripped up thy heels before the king? [Drawing his sword.] Draw, you rogue, for though it be night the moon shines. I'll make a 1105sop of the moonshine o'you. Draw, you whoreson cullionly barber-monger, draw!
Away, I have nothing to do with thee.
Draw, you rascal. You bring letters against the king, and take Vanity the puppet's part 1110against the royalty of her father. Draw, you rogue, or I'll so carbonado your shanks! Draw, you rascal. Come your ways.
Help, ho! Murder! Help!
Strike you slave. Stand, rogue. Stand, you neat 1115slave--strike!
Oswald
Help, ho, murder, help!
Enter Edmund [the Bastard] with his rapier drawn, Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess [of Cornwall, and attendants].
Bastard
How now, what's the matter?
[To the Bastard] With you, goodman boy, an you please. Come, 1120I'll flesh you. Come on, young master.
[They exchange blows.]
Gloucester
Weapons? Arms? What's the matter here?
Cornwall
[Drawing his sword] Keep peace upon your lives. He dies that strikes again. What's the matter?
The messengers from our sister, and the king.
1125Cornwall
What's your difference? Speak.
I am scarce in breath, my lord.
No marvel. You have so bestirred your valor, you cowardly rascal, nature disclaims in thee. A tailor made thee.
1130Cornwall
Thou art a strange fellow. A tailor make a man?
Ay, a tailor, sir. A stone-cutter, or a painter could not have made him so ill, though he had been but two hours at the trade.
Gloucester
Speak yet. How grew your quarrel?
This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spared at suit of his gray beard--
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 1140jakes with him. [To Oswald] Spare my gray beard, you wagtail?
Cornwall
Peace sir.
You beastly knave, have you no reverence?
Yes, sir, but anger has a privilege.
Cornwall
Why art thou angry?
That such a slave as this should wear a sword,
That wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as these,
Like rats, oft bite those cords in twain,
Which are too entrenched to unloose; smooth every passion
That in the natures of their lords rebel,
1150Bring 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.
[To Oswald] A plague upon your epileptic visage!
1155Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool?
Goose, an I had you upon Sarum Plain,
I'd send you cackling home to Camelot.
Cornwall
What, art thou mad, old fellow?
Gloucester
How fell you out? Say that.
No contraries hold more antipathy,
Than I and such a knave.
Cornwall
Why dost thou call him knave?
What's his offence?
Kent
His countenance likes me not.
1165Cornwall
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.
1170Cornwall
This is a fellow who, having been praised
For bluntness, doth affect a saucy roughness,
And constrains the garb quite from his nature.
He cannot flatter, he--he must be plain,
He must speak truth. 1175An they will tak't, so;
If not, he's plain. These kind of knaves I know
Which in this "plainness" harbor more craft
And more corrupter ends than twenty silly-ducking
Observants that stretch their duties nicely.
Sir, in good sooth, or in sincere verity,
Under the allowance of your grand aspect,
Whose influence like the wreath of radiant fire
In flickering Phoebus' front--
Cornwall
What mean'st thou by this?
To go out of my dialogue, 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.
1190Cornwall
[To Oswald] What's the offence you gave him?
I never gave him any.
It pleased the king his master very late
To strike at me, upon his misconstruction,
When he, conjunct, and flattering his displeasure,
1195Tripped me behind; being down, insulted, railed,
And put upon him such a deal of man that
That worthied him, got praises of the king,
For him attempting who was self-subdued;
And in the fleshment of this dread exploit
1200Drew on me here again.
None of these rogues and cowards
But Ajax is their fool.
Cornwall
Bring forth the stocks, ho!
You stubborn, ancient knave, you reverend braggart,
1205We'll teach you.
I am too old to learn.
Call not your stocks for me. I serve the king,
On whose employments I was sent to you.
You should do small respect, show too bold malice
1210Against the grace and person of my master,
Stocking his messenger.
Cornwall
Fetch forth the stocks! As I have life and honor,
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 could not use me so.
Regan
Sir, being his knave, I will.
[Stocks brought out.]
Cornwall
This is a fellow of the self same nature
Our sister speaks of. Come, bring away the stocks.
1220Gloucester
Let me beseech your grace not to do so.
1220.1His fault is much, and the good king his master
Will check him for't. Your purposed, low correction
Is such as basest and 'temnedst wretches
For pilferings and most common trespasses
Are punished with. The king must take it ill
That he's so slightly valued in his messenger,
Should have him thus restrained.
Cornwall
I'll answer that.
My sister may receive it much more worse
To have her gentlemen abused, assaulted
1226.1For following her affairs. Put in his legs.
[Attendants put Kent in the stocks.]
Come, my good lord, away.
[Exeunt all but Gloucester and Kent.]
Gloucester
I am sorry for thee, friend. 'Tis the Duke's pleasure,
Whose disposition all the world well knows
1230Will not be rubbed nor stopped. I'll entreat for thee.
Pray you, do not, sir. I have watched and traveled hard.
Some time I shall sleep on't, the rest I'll whistle.
A good man's fortune may grow out at heels.
Give you good morrow.
1235Gloucester
The Duke's to blame in this. 'Twill be ill took.
[Exit.]
Good king, that must approve the common saw,
Thou out of heaven's benediction comest
To the warm sun.
1240Approach, 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 informed
1245Of my obscurèd course, and shall find time
From this enormous state, seeking to give
Losses their remedies. All weary and overwatched,
Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold
This shameful lodging. Fortune, goodnight.
1250Smile; once more turn thy wheel.
[He] sleeps.
Enter Edgar.
I hear myself proclaimed,
And by the happy hollow of a tree
Escaped the hunt. No port is free, no place
1255That 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
1260Brought near to beast. My face I'll grime with filth,
Blanket my loins, elf all my hair with knots,
And with presented nakedness outface
The wind and persecution of the sky.
The country gives me proof and precedent
1265Of Bedlam beggars, who, with roaring voices,
Strike in their numbed and mortified bare arms
Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary,
And with this horrible object, from low service,
Poor pelting villages, sheepcotes, and mills,
1270Sometime with lunatic bans, sometime with prayers,
Enforce their charity. "Poor Turlygod, poor Tom."
That's something yet. Edgar I nothing am.
Exit.
Enter King [Lear, the Fool, and a knight].
'Tis strange that they should so depart from home,
1275And not send back my messenger.
As I learned, the night before there was
No purpose of his remove.
[From the stocks] Hail to thee, noble master.
How? Mak'st thou this shame thy pastime?
Ha ha! Look, he wears cruel garters. Horses are tied by the heels, dogs and bears by the neck, monkeys by the loins, and men by the legs. When a man's 1285over-lusty at legs, then he wears wooden netherstocks.
[To Kent] What's he that hath so much thy place mistook
To set thee here?
It is both he and she, 1290your son and daughter.
No.
Yes.
No, I say
I say yea.
No, no, they would not.
Kent
Yes they have.
By Jupiter I swear no, they durst not do't,
They would not, could not do't. 'Tis worse than murder
To do upon respect such violent outrage.
1300Resolve me with all modest haste which way
Thou may'st deserve, or they purpose this usage,
Coming from us.
My lord, when at their home
I did commend your highness' letters to them,
1305Ere I was risen from the place that showed
My duty kneeling, came there a reeking post,
Stewed in his haste, half breathless, panting forth
From Goneril his mistress, salutations;
Delivered letters, spite of intermission,
1310Which presently they read; on whose contents
They summoned up their men, straight took horse,
Commanded me to follow and attend
the leisure Of their answer; gave me cold looks.
And, meeting here the other messenger,
1315Whose welcome I perceived had poisoned mine,
Being the very fellow that of late
Displayed so saucily against your highness,
Having more man than wit about me, drew.
He raised the house with loud and coward cries.
1320Your son and daughter found this trespass worth
This shame which here it suffers.
Oh, how this mother swells up toward my heart.
Hysterica passio, down thou climbing sorrow,
1330Thy element's below. Where is this daughter?
With the earl, sir, within.
[To the Fool and Knight] Follow me not, stay there.
[Exit Lear.]
Made you no more offence than what you speak of?
No. How chance the king comes with so small a train?
An thou hadst been set in 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 laboring in the winter. All that follow their noses are led by their eyes but blind men, and there's not a nose among a hundred but can smell him that's stinking. Let go thy hold when a great wheel runs down a 1345hill, lest it break thy neck with following it. But the great one that goes up the hill, let him draw thee after. 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.
[Sings.]
1350That sir that serves for gain
And follows but for form,
Will pack when it begin to rain,
And leave thee in the storm.
But I will tarry, the fool will stay,
1355 And let the wise man fly.
The knave turns fool that runs away,
The fool no knave perdy.
Where learned you this, Fool?
Not in the stocks.
Enter Lear and Gloucester.
Deny to speak with me? Th'are sick, th'are weary,
They traveled hard tonight? Mere insolence.
Ay, the images of revolt and flying off.
1365Fetch me a better answer.
Gloucester
My dear lord,
You know the fiery quality of the Duke,
How unremoveable and fixed he is
In his own course.
Vengeance, death, plague, confusion!
What fiery quality? Why, Gloucester, Gloucester,
I'd speak with the Duke of Cornwall, and his wife.
1375Gloucester
Ay, my good lord.
The king would speak with Cornwall. The dear father
Would with his daughter speak, commands her service--
1380Fiery Duke? Tell the hot Duke that Lear--
No, but not yet. Maybe he is not well.
Infirmity doth still neglect all office
Whereto our health is bound. We are not ourselves
When nature, being oppressed, commands the mind
1385To suffer with the body. I'll forbear,
And am fallen out with my more headier will
To take the indisposed and sickly fit
For the sound man.
[Notices Kent.]
Death on my state! Wherefore
Should he sit here? This act persuades me
1390That this remotion of the Duke and her
Is practice only. Give me my servant forth.
Tell the Duke and 's wife I'll speak with them
Now, presently. Bid them come forth and hear me,
Or at their chamber door I'll beat the drum
1395Till it cry sleep to death.
Gloucester
I would have all well betwixt you.
[Exit Gloucester.]
Oh, my heart, my heart.
Cry to it nuncle, as the cockney did to the eels when she put 'em i'th'paste alive. She rapped 'em 1400o'th'coxcombs with a stick and cried, "Down, wantons, down!" 'Twas her brother that in pure kindness to his horse buttered his hay.
Enter [the] Duke [of Cornwall] and Regan [with Gloucester and servants].
Good morrow to you both.
1405Cornwall
Hail to your grace.
[Kent here 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,
1410Sepulchring an adultress. [To Kent] Yea, are you free?
Some other time for that.--Belovèd Regan,
Thy sister is naught. O Regan, she hath tied
Sharp-toothed unkindness, like a vulture, here.
I can scarce speak to thee. Thou'lt not believe
1415Of how depraved a quality, O Regan--
I pray, sir, take patience. I have hope
You less know how to value her desert
Than she to slack her duty.
My curses on her.
Regan
O sir, you are old,
Nature on you stands on the very verge
Of her confine. You should be ruled and led
By some discretion that discerns your state
1430Better than you yourself. Therefore, I pray
That to our sister you do make return.
Say you have wronged her, sir.
Ask her forgiveness?
Do you mark how this becomes the house?
1435[Kneeling] "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] No, Regan.
She hath abated me of half my train,
Looked black upon me, struck me with her tongue
Most serpent-like upon the very heart.
All the stored vengeances of heaven fall
1445On her ungrateful top! Strike her young bones,
You taking airs, with lameness--
Cornwall
Fie, fie, sir.
You nimble lightnings dart your blinding flames
Into her scornful eyes. Infect her beauty,
1450You fen-sucked 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--
No Regan, thou shalt never have my curse.
1455Thy tender-hested 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,
1460And, in conclusion, to oppose the bolt
Against my coming in. Thou better knowest
The offices of nature, bond of childhood,
Effects of courtesy, dues of gratitude.
Thy half of the kingdom hast thou not forgot
1465Wherein I thee endowed.
Regan
Good sir, to th'purpose.
Who put my man i'th'stocks?
[Trumpet sounds.]
Cornwall
What trumpet's that?
Enter [Oswald the] steward.
I know't my sister's. This approves her letters
That she would soon be here. [To Oswald] Is your lady come?
This is a slave, whose easy-borrowed pride
Dwells in the fickle grace of her 'a follows.
[Striking him] Out, varlet, from my sight.
1475Cornwall
What means your grace?
Enter Goneril.
Who struck my servant? Regan I have good hope
Thou didst not know on't.
Who comes here? O heavens!
1480If you do love old men, if your sweet sway allow
Obedience, if your selves are old, make it your cause.
Send down and take my part.
[To Goneril] Art not ashamed 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? 1490How came my man i'th'stocks?
Cornwall
I set him there, sir, but his own disorders
Deserved much less advancement.
You? Did you?
I pray you, father, being weak, seem so.
1495If 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 dismissed?
No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose
To wage against the enmity of the air,
To be a comrade with the wolf and owl,
Necessity's sharp pinch. Return with her?
1505Why, the hot blood in 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
[Indicating Oswald]
1510To this detested groom.
Goneril
At your choice, sir.
Now, I prithee daughter, do not make me mad.
I will not trouble thee, my child. Farewell.
We'll no more meet, no more see one another.
1515But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter--
Or rather a disease that lies within my flesh,
Which I must needs call mine. Thou art a boil,
A plague sore, an embossèd carbuncle
In my corrupted blood--but I'll not chide thee.
1520Let 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,
1525I and my hundred knights.
Not altogether so, sir. I look 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
1530Must be content to think you are old, and so--
But she knows what she does.
Is this well spoken, now?
I dare avouch it, sir. What, fifty followers?
Is it not well? What should you need of more?
1535Yea, or so many, sith that both charge and danger
Speaks 'gainst so great a number. How, in a house,
Should many people under two commands
Hold amity? 'Tis hard; almost impossible.
Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance
1540From those that she calls servants; or from mine?
Why not, my lord? If then they chanced to slack you,
We could control them. If you will come to me,
For now I spy a danger, I entreat you
1545To 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 depositories,
1550But kept a reservation to be followed
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 seem well favored
1555When 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.
Goneril
Hear me, my lord.
1560What need you five and twenty? Ten? Or five,
To follow in a house where twice so many
Have a command to tend you.
Regan
What needs one?
Oh, reason not the need! Our basest beggars
1565Are 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 wearest,
1570Which 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 fellow,
As full of grief as age, wretched in both.
If it be you that stirs these daughters' hearts
1575Against their father, fool me not too much
To bear it lamely. Touch me with noble anger.
Oh, let not women's weapons, water drops,
Stain my man's cheeks. No, you unnatural hags,
I will have such revenges on you both
1580That 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,
[Storm and tempest]
1585But this heart shall break in a hundred thousand flaws
Or ere I'll weep. O Fool, I shall go mad.
Exeunt Lear, Gloucester, Kent, and Fool.
Cornwall
Let us withdraw. 'Twill be a storm.
This house is little. The old man and his people
Cannot be well bestowed.
'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.
Cornwall
So am I purposed. 1595Where is my Lord of Gloucester?
Enter Gloucester.
Followed the old man forth--he is returned.
Gloucester
The king is in high rage 1600and will I know not whither.
'Tis good to give him way; he leads himself.
My lord, entreat him by no means to stay.
Gloucester
Alack, the night comes on, and the bleak winds
Do sorely rustle. For many miles about
1605There's not a bush.
Regan
O sir, to willful men
The injuries that they themselves procure
Must be their schoolmasters. Shut up your doors.
He is attended with a desperate train,
1610And what they may incense him to, being apt
To have his ear abused, wisdom bids fear.
Cornwall
Shut up your doors, my lord, 'tis a wild night.
My Regan counsels well. Come out o'th'storm.
[Scene 8]
1615[Storm still] Enter Kent [disguised] and a Gentleman at separate doors.
What's here beside foul weather?
Gentleman
One minded like the weather, most unquietly.
I know you. Where's the King?
Gentleman
Contending with the fretful element;
1620Bids the wind blow the earth into the sea,
Or swell the curlèd waters 'bove the main
That things might change or cease. Tears his white hair,
1622.1Which 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.
1622.5This 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?
Gentleman
None but the Fool, who labors to out-jest
1625His heart-struck injuries.
Sir, I do know you,
And dare upon the warrant of my art
Commend a dear thing to you. There is division,
Although as yet the face of it be covered
1630With mutual cunning, twixt Albany and Cornwall.
1638.1But true it is. From France there comes a power
Into this scattered 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.
1638.5Now 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,
1638.10I am a gentleman of blood and breeding,
And from some knowledge and assurance,
Offer this office to you.
Gentleman
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,
1645And she will tell you who your fellow is
That yet you do not know. Fie on this storm.
I will go seek the King.
Gentleman
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--I'll this way, you that--
He that first lights on him holla the other.
Exeunt [separately].
[Scene 9]
1655[Storm still.] Enter Lear and Fool.
Blow wind and crack your cheeks. Rage, blow.
You cataracts, and hurricanoes spout
'Til you have drenched the steeples, drowned the cocks.
You sulfurous and thought-executing fires,
1660Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head, and thou, all-shaking thunder,
Smite flat the thick rotundity of the world,
Crack nature's mold; all germens spill at once
That make ingrateful man.
O nuncle, court holy-water in a dry house is better than this rainwater out o'door. Good nuncle in, and ask thy daughters' blessing. Here's a night pities neither wise man nor fool.
Rumble thy bellyful. Spit fire, spout rain.
1670Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters.
I task not you, you elements, with unkindness.
I never gave you kingdom, called you children.
You owe me no subscription. Why, then, let fall
Your horrible pleasure. Here I stand your slave,
1675A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man.
But yet I call you servile ministers,
That have with two pernicious daughters joined
Your high-engendered battle 'gainst a head
So old and white as this. Oh, 'tis foul.
He that has a house to put his head in, has a good headpiece.
[Sings]
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,
1685Shall have a corn cry woe,
And turn his sleep to wake.
For there was never yet fair woman but she made mouths in a glass.
No, I will be the pattern of all patience.
[He sits.]
Enter Kent [disguised].
1690I will say nothing.
Who's there?
Marry here's grace, and a codpiece, that's a wise man and a fool.
Alas, sir, sit you here? Things that love night
1695Love not such nights as these. The wrathful skies
Gallow the very wanderers of the dark,
And makes 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 ne'er
1700Remember to have heard. Man's nature cannot carry
The affliction, nor the force.
Let the great gods
That keep this dreadful pother o'er our heads
Find out their enemies now. Tremble thou wretch,
1705That hast within thee undivulgèd crimes,
Unwhipped of justice. Hide thee, thou bloody hand,
Thou perjured, and thou simular man of virtue
That art incestuous; caitiff, in pieces
Shake, that under covert and convenient
Seeming 1710hast practised on man's life;
Close pent-up guilts, rive your concealèd centers,
And cry these dreadful summoners grace.
I am a man more sinned against than sinning.
Alack, bare-headed?
1715Gracious 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 hard than is the stone whereof 'tis raised--
Which even but now, demanding after you,
1720Denied me to come in, return and force
Their scanted courtesy.
My wit begins to turn.
[To the Fool] Come on, my boy. How dost, my boy? Art cold?
I am cold myself. [To Kent] Where is this straw, my fellow?
1725The art of our necessities is strange that can
Make vile things precious. Come, your hovel.Poor
Fool and knave, I have one part of my heart
That sorrows yet for thee.
[Sings.]
He that has a little tiny wit,
1730 With hey, ho. the wind and the rain,
Must make content with his fortunes fit,
For the rain, it raineth every day.
True, my good boy. [To Kent] Come bring us to this hovel.
[Exeunt.]
[Scene 10]
Enter Gloucester and the Bastard, with lights.
Gloucester
Alack, alack, Edmund, I like not this unnatural dealing. When I desired their leave that I might pity him, 1755they took from me the use of mine own house, charg'd me, on pain of their displeasure, neither to speak of him, entreat for him, nor any way sustain him.
Bastard
Most savage and unnatural.
Gloucester
Go to, say you nothing. There's a division 1760betwixt 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 landed. We must incline to the King. I 1765will 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. Though I die for't, as no less is threatened me, the King my old master must be relieved. There is some strange thing 1770toward. Edmund, pray you be careful.
Exit.
Bastard
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.
1775The younger rises when the old do fall.
[Scene 11]
Enter Lear, Kent [disguised], and Fool.
Here is the place, my lord. Good my lord, enter.
The tyranny of the open night's too rough
1780For nature to endure.
[Storm still]
Let me alone.
Good my lord, enter.
Wilt break my heart?
I had rather break mine own. 1785Good 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 fixed
The lesser is scarce felt. Thou'dst shun a bear,
1790But if thy flight lay toward the roaring sea
Thou'dst meet the bear i'th'mouth. When the mind's free,
The body's delicate. This tempest in my mind
Doth from my senses take all feeling else
Save what beats there. Filial ingratitude!
1795Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand
For lifting food to't? But I will punish sure.
No, I will weep no more. In such a night as this?
O Regan, Goneril, 1800your old kind father
Whose frank heart gave you all!--Oh, that way madness lies;
Let me shun that; no more of that.
Good my lord, enter.
Prithee go in thyself, seek thy own ease.
1805This tempest will not give me leave to ponder
On things would hurt me more. But I'll go in.
[Exit Fool.]
Poor naked wretches wheresoe'er you are
1810That bide the pelting of this pitiless night,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? Oh, I have ta'en
Too little care of this. Take physic, pomp.
1815Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
That thou mayst shake the superflux to them
And show the heavens more just.
[Enter Fool.]
Come not in here, nuncle, here's a spirit. Help me, help me!
Give me thy hand. Who's there?
A spirit. He says his name's Poor Tom.
What art thou that dost grumble there in the straw? Come forth.
[Enter Edgar.]
Away, the foul fiend follows me. Through the sharp hawthorn blows the cold wind. Go to thy cold bed and warm thee.
Hast thou given 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 ford and whirlpool, o'er bog and 1835quagmire; that has laid knives under his pillow and halters in his pew, set ratsbane by his pottage; 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. 1840Bless 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.
[Storm still]
What? His daughters brought him to this pass?
1845Couldst thou save nothing? Didst thou give them all?
Nay, he reserved a blanket, else we had been all shamed.
Now all the plagues that in the pendulous air
Hang fated o'er men's faults fall on thy daughters.
He hath no daughters, sir.
Death, traitor! Nothing could have subdued nature
To such a lowness but his unkind daughters.
Is it the fashion that discarded fathers
Should have thus little mercy on their flesh?
1855Judicious punishment: 'twas this flesh
Begot those pelican daughters.
Pillicock sat on Pillicock's hill, a lo, lo, lo.
This cold night will turn us all to fools and madmen.
Take heed o'th'foul fiend, obey thy parents, keep thy words 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 servingman, proud in heart and mind, that curled my hair, wore gloves in my cap, served the lust of my mistress's 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 1870contriving of lust and waked to do it. Wine loved I deeply, dice dearly, and in woman out-paramoured 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 1875nor the rustlings of silks betray thy poor heart to women. 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, heigh no nonny. Dolphin, my boy, 1880my boy. Cease! Let him trot by.
[Storm still]
Why, thou wert better in thy grave than to answer with thy uncovered body this extremity of the skies. Is man no more but this? Consider him well. Thou owest the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep no 1885wool, the cat no perfume. 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. [Attempts to take off his clothes] Come, unbutton--
Prithee, nuncle, be content. This is a naughty night to swim in. Now a little fire in a wild field were like an old letcher's heart, a small spark, all the rest in's body cold. Look, here comes a walking fire.
1890Enter Gloucester [with a torch].
This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibet. He begins at curfew and walks till the first cock. He gives the web and the pin, squinies the eye, and makes the harelip; mildews the white wheat and hurts the poor creature of earth.
[Sings.]
1900Swithold footed thrice the wold,
He met the nightmare and her ninefold,
Bid her alight
And her troth plight,
And aroint thee, witch, aroint thee.
How fares your grace?
What's he?
Who's there? What is't you seek?
Gloucester
What are you there? Your names?
Poor Tom, that eats the swimming frog, the toad, the tadpole, the wall-newt, and the water; that 1910in the fury of his heart, when the foul fiend rages, eats cow dung for salads, swallows the old rat and the ditch dog; drinks the green mantle of the standing pool; who is whipped from tithing to tithing, and stock-punished and imprisoned; who hath had three suits 1915to his back, six shirts to his body.
Horse to ride, and weapon to wear.
But mice and rats and such small deer
Hath been Tom's food for seven long year.
Beware my follower. Peace, Smolking, peace thou fiend!
1920Gloucester
What, hath your grace no better company?
The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman. Modo, he's called, and Mahu--
Gloucester
Our flesh and blood is grown so vile, my lord,
That it doth hate what gets it.
Poor Tom's a-cold.
Gloucester
[To Lear] 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,
1930Yet have I ventured to come seek you out
And bring you where both food and fire is ready.
First let me talk with this philosopher.
What is the cause of thunder?
My good lord, take his offer. 1935Go into the house.
I'll talk a word with this most learnèd Theban.
What is your study?
How to prevent the fiend, and to kill vermin.
Let me ask you one word in private.
[To Gloucester] Importune him [once more] to go, my lord. His wits
Begin to unsettle.
Gloucester
Canst thou blame him?
[Storm still]
His daughters seek his death. Oh, that good Kent,
He said it would be thus, poor banished man.
1945Thou say'st the King grows mad. I'll tell thee, friend,
I am almost mad myself. I had a son
Now outlawed from my blood. 'A sought my life
But lately, very late. I loved him, friend,
No father his son dearer. True to tell thee,
1950The grief hath crazed my wits.
What a night's this? [To Lear] I do beseech your grace--
Oh, cry you mercy. Noble philosopher, your company.
Tom's a-cold.
1955Gloucester
In fellow. There, in th'hovel, keep thee warm.
Come, let's in all.
This way, my lord.
With him.
I will keep still with my philosopher.
[To Gloucester] Good my lord, soothe him. Let him take the fellow.
Gloucester
Take him you on.
Sirrah, come on. Go along with us.
Come, good Athenian.
1965Gloucester
No words, no words, hush.
Childe Rowland to the dark town come,
His word was still "Fie, fo, and fum,
I smell the blood of a British man."
[Exeunt.]
[Scene 12]
1970Enter Cornwall and [the] Bastard.
Cornwall
I will have my revenge ere I depart the house.
Bastard
How, my lord, I may be censured, that nature thus gives way to loyalty, something fears me to think of.
1975Cornwall
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 reprovable badness in himself.
Bastard
How malicious is my fortune that I must 1980repent to be just! This is the letter he spoke of, which approves him an intelligent party to the advantages of France. O heavens, that his treason were not, or not I the detector!
Cornwall
Go with me to the duchess.
1985Bastard
If the matter of this paper be certain, you have mighty business in hand.
Cornwall
True or false, it hath made thee Earl of Gloucester. Seek out where thy father is, that he may be ready for our apprehension.
1990Bastard
[Aside] If I find him comforting the King, it will stuff his suspicion more fully. [Aloud] I will persevere in my course of loyalty, though the conflict be sore between that and my blood.
Cornwall
I will lay trust upon thee, and thou shalt find 1995a dearer father in my love.
[Scene 13]
Enter Gloucester and Lear, [with] Kent, [disguised, the] Fool, and [Edgar disguised as Poor] Tom.
Gloucester
Here is better than the open air. Take it thankfully. I will piece out the comfort with what addition I 2000can. I will not be long from you.
All the power of his wits have given way to impatience. The gods discern your kindness.
[Exit Gloucester.]
Frateretto calls me, and tells me Nero is an 2005angler in the lake of darkness. Pray, innocent. Beware the foul fiend.
Prithee nuncle, tell me whether a madman be a gentleman or a yeoman.
A king, a king. To have a thousand with red burning spits come hissing in upon them.
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.
2014.5[To Edgar] Come sit thou here most learned justice.
[To the Fool] Thou, sapient sir, sit here. No, you she foxes--
Look where he stands and glares. Want'st thou eyes at troll-madam?
[Sings.]
Come o'er the burn Bessy, to me.
[Sings.]
Her boat hath a leak,
And she must not speak,
2014.10Why 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 amazed. Will you 2014.15lie 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'th'commission, sit you too.
Let us deal justly.
[Sings]
Sleepest or wakest, thou jolly shepherd,
2014.20 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 honorable 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 join-stool.
And here's another whose warped looks proclaim,
What store her heart is made on. Stop her there!
Arms, arms, sword, fire, corruption in the place!
2014.30False justicer, why hast thou let her 'scape?
Bless thy five wits.
Oh, 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,
Trey, 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,
2025Mastiff, greyhound, mongrel grim,
Hound or spaniel, brach, or him,
Bobtail tyke or trundle-tail,
Tom will make them weep and wail,
For, with throwing thus my head
2030Dogs leap the hatch and all are fled.
Loudla doodla, 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 2035makes this hardness? [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 attire, but let them be changed.
Now, good my lord, lie here awhile.
Make no noise, make no noise, draw the curtains, so, so, so. We'll go to supper i'th'morning, so, so, so.
[He sleeps.]
Enter Gloucester.
Gloucester
Come hither, friend. 2045Where is the King, my master?
Here, sir, but trouble him not. His wits are gone.
Gloucester
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,
2050And 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 assurèd loss. Take up the King
2055And follow me, that will to some provision
Give thee quick conduct.
Oppressèd nature sleeps.
This rest might yet have balmed thy broken sinews,
Which, if convenience will not allow,
Stand in hard cure. [To the Fool] Come, help to bear thy master.
Thou must not stay behind.
2056.5Gloucester
Come, come away.
Exeunt [all but Edgar].
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,
2056.10But 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.
2056.15Mark the high noises, and thyself bewray,
When false opinion, whose wrong thoughts defile thee,
In thy just proof repeals and reconciles thee.
What will hap more tonight, safe 'scape the king.
Lurk, lurk.
[Exit.]
[Scene 14]
Enter Cornwall, Regan, Goneril, [the] Bastard [and servants].
2060Cornwall
[To Goneril] Post speedily to my lord your husband. Show him this letter. The army of France is landed. [To a servant] Seek out the villain Gloucester.
[Exit servant.]
Hang him instantly.
Goneril
Pluck out his eyes.
2065Cornwall
Leave him to my displeasure. Edmund, keep you our sister company. The revenge 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 2070post shall be swift and intelligent betwixt us. Farewell dear sister. Farewell my lord of Gloucester.
[The Bastard and Goneril start to leave.]
Enter [Oswald the] steward.
How now, where's the King?
My lord of Gloucester hath conveyed him hence.
2075Some 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.
2080Cornwall
[To Oswald] Get horses for your mistress.
[Exit Oswald]
Farewell, sweet lord, and sister.
Cornwall
Edmund farewell.
Exeunt Goneril and [the] Bastard..
[To servants] Go seek the traitor Gloucester.
Pinion him like a thief. Bring him before us.
[Exeunt servants.]
Though we may not pass upon his life
2085Without the form of justice, yet our power
Shall do a court'sy to our wrath, which men may blame
But not control. Who's there? The traitor?
Enter Gloucester brought in by two or three.
Ingrateful fox, 'tis he.
Cornwall
[To servants] Bind fast his corky arms.
Gloucester
What means your graces? Good my friends, consider,
You are my guests. Do me no foul play, friends.
2095Cornwall
Bind him, I say.
[They bind him.]
Regan
Hard, hard. O filthy traitor!
Gloucester
Unmerciful lady as you are, I am true.
Cornwall
To this chair bind him. Villain, thou shalt find--
[Regan plucks hairs from Gloucester's beard.]
By the kind gods, 'tis most ignobly done,
To pluck me by the beard.
Regan
So white and such a traitor?
Gloucester
Naughty lady.
These hairs which thou dost ravish from my chin
2105Will quicken and accuse thee. I am your host.
With robbers' hands my hospitable favors
You should not ruffle thus. What will you do?
Cornwall
Come, sir. What letters had you late from France?
Be simple, answerer, for we know the truth.
And what confederacy have you with
The traitors late footed in the kingdom?
To whose hands you have sent the lunatic King.
Speak.
2115Gloucester
I have a letter guessingly set down
Which came from one that's of a neutral heart,
And not from one opposed.
Cornwall
Cunning.
Regan
And false.
2120Cornwall
Where hast thou sent the King?
Gloucester
To Dover.
Wherefore to Dover? Wast thou not charged at peril--
Cornwall
Wherefore to Dover? Let him first answer that.
2125Gloucester
I am tied to th'stake, and I must stand the course.
Wherefore to Dover, sir?
Gloucester
Because I would not see thy cruel nails
Pluck out his poor old eyes, nor thy fierce sister
2130In his anointed flesh rash boarish fangs.
The sea, with such a storm on his bowed head
In hell-black night endured, would have buoyed up
And quenched the stellèd fires, yet, poor old heart,
He helped the heavens to rage.
2135If wolves had at thy gate howled that dern time
Thou shouldst have said, "Good porter, turn the key."
All cruels else subscribe. But I shall see
The wingèd vengeance overtake such children.
Cornwall
See't shalt thou never. Fellows, hold the chair.
2140Upon those eyes of thine I'll set my foot.
Gloucester
He that will think to live till he be old
Give me some help.
[Cornwall puts out one of Gloucester's eyes.]
Oh, cruel! O ye gods!
One side will mock another. T'other too.
Cornwall
If you see vengeance--
21451 Servant
Hold your hand, my lord.
I have served you ever since I was a child,
But better service have I never done you
Than now to bid you hold.
Regan
How now, you dog!
21501 Servant
If you did wear a beard upon your chin
I'd shake it on this quarrel. [To Cornwall] What do you mean?
Cornwall
My villein!
1 Servant
Why then, come on, and take the chance of anger.
Draw and fight. [Cornwall is wounded.]
[To another servant] Give me thy sword. A peasant stand up thus?
2155She takes a sword and runs at him behind.
1 Servant
Oh, I am slain, my lord. Yet have you one eye left
To see some mischief on him--oh!
[He dies.]
Cornwall
Lest it see more, prevent it. Out vile jelly.
[Puts out Gloucester's other eye.]
Where is thy luster now?
2160Gloucester
All dark and comfortless. Where's my son, Edmund?
Edmund, unbridle all the sparks of nature
To quite this horrid act.
Regan
Out, villain,
2165Thou 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.
Gloucester
Oh my follies! Then Edgar was abused.
Kind gods, forgive me that, and prosper him.
Go thrust him out at gates, and let him smell
His way to Dover.
[Exeunt servant with Gloucester.]
How is't my lord? How look you?
Cornwall
I have received a hurt. Follow me, lady.
[To a servant] Turn out that eyeless villain. Throw this slave
2175Upon the dunghill. Regan, I bleed apace.
Untimely comes this hurt. Give me your arm.
Exeunt [Cornwall and Regan].
2176.12 Servant
I'll never care what wickedness I do
If this man come to good.
3 Servant
If she live long,
And in the end meet the old course of death,
Women will all turn monsters.
2176.52 Servant
Let's follow the old earl and get the bedlam
To lead him where he would. His roguish madness
Allows itself to anything.
3 Servant
Go thou. I'll fetch some flax and whites of eggs
To apply to his bleeding face. Now heaven help him.
Exeunt [with the body].
[Scene 15]
Enter Edgar [disguised as Poor Tom].
Yet better thus, and known to be contemned,
2180Than still contemned and flattered. 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.
Enter Gloucester, led by an Old Man.
Who's here? My father, parti-eyed? 2190World, world, O world!
But that thy strange mutations make us hate thee,
Life would not yield to age.
[Edgar stands aside.]
O my good lord, I have been your tenant,
And your father's tenant, this fourscore--
2195Gloucester
Away, get thee away. Good friend, be gone.
Thy comforts can do me no good at all,
Thee they may hurt.
Alack, sir, you cannot see your way.
Gloucester
I have no way and therefore want no eyes;
2200I 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 abusèd father's wrath,
Might I but live to see thee in my touch
2205I'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 then ere I was.
Old Man
'Tis poor mad Tom.
[Aside] And worse I may be yet. The worst is not
As long as we can say, "This is the worst."
[To Edgar] Fellow, where goest?
Gloucester
Is it a beggar man?
Old Man
Madman, and beggar too.
2215Gloucester
'A has some reason, else he could not beg.
In 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. 2220I have heard more since.
As flies to wanton boys are we to th'gods;
They kill us for their sport.
[Aside] How should this be?
Bad is the trade that must play the fool to sorrow,
2225Angering itself and others. [Aloud] Bless thee master.
Gloucester
Is that the naked fellow?
Old Man
Ay, my lord.
Gloucester
Then prithee get thee gone. If for my sake
Thou wilt o'ertake us hence a mile or twain
2230I'th'way toward Dover, do it for ancient love,
And bring some covering for this naked soul,
Who I'll entreat to lead me.
Alack sir, he is mad.
Gloucester
'Tis the time's plague 2235when madmen lead the blind.
Do as I bid thee--or rather, do thy pleasure.
Above the rest, be gone.
I'll bring him the best 'parel that I have,
Come on't what will.
[Exit.]
2240Gloucester
Sirrah, naked fellow.
Poor Tom's a cold. [Aside] I cannot dance it farther.
Gloucester
Come hither, fellow.
Bless thy sweet eyes, they bleed.
2245Gloucester
Know'st thou the way to Dover?
Both stile and gate, horse-way, and footpath, poor Tom hath been scared out of his good wits. Bless the good man from the foul fiend. 2248.1Five fiends have been in poor Tom at once: of lust, as Obidicut; Hobbididence, Prince of darkness; Mahu of stealing, Modo of murder, Flibbertigibbet, of mocking and mowing, who since possesses chambermaids 2248.5and waiting women. So bless thee master.
Gloucester
Here, take this purse, thou whom the heavens' plagues
2250Have humbled to all strokes. That I am wretched
Makes thee the happier. Heavens deal so still.
Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man
That stands your ordinance, that will not see
Because he does not feel, feel your power quickly;
2255So distribution should undo excess,
And each man have enough. Dost thou know Dover?
Ay, master.
Gloucester
There is a cliff, whose high and bending head
Looks firmly in the confinèd deep.
2260Bring 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.
Edgar
Give me thy arm.
2265Poor Tom shall lead thee.
[Exeunt.]
[Scene 16]
Enter Goneril and [the] Bastard.
Goneril
Welcome, my lord. I marvel our mild husband
Not met us on the way.
2269.1Enter [Oswald the] steward.
Now, where's your master?
Madam, within, but never man so changed.
I told him of the army that was landed;
He smiled 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,
2275When I informed him, then he called me sot
And told me I had turned the wrong side out.
What he should most defy seems pleasant to him,
What like, offensive.
Goneril
[To the Bastard] Then shall you go no further.
2280It 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 powers.
2285I 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--spare speech.
[Gives him a favor of some kind.]
2290Decline your head.
[She kisses him.]
This kiss, if it durst speak,
Would stretch thy spirits up into the air.
Conceive--and fare you well.
Yours in the ranks of death.
[Exit.]
Goneril
My most dear Gloucester.
To thee a woman's services are due--
A fool usurps my bed.
Madam, here comes my lord.
Exit [Oswald the] steward.
[Enter Albany.]
I have been worth the whistling.
Albany
O Goneril,
You are not worth the dust which the rude wind
Blows in your face. I fear your disposition.
2303.1That nature which contemns its origin
Cannot be bordered certain in itself.
She that herself will sliver and disbranch
From her material sap, perforce must wither
2303.5And come to deadly use.
No more, the text is foolish.
Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile.
Filths savor but themselves. What have you done?
Tigers, not daughters, what have you performed?
2303.10A father, and a gracious agèd man,
Whose reverence even the head-lugged 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?
2303.15If 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.
Goneril
Milk-livered man,
2305That bearest a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs;
Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning
Thine honor from thy suffering; that not know'st
Fools do those villains pity 2307.1who are punished
Ere they have done their mischief. Where's thy drum?
France spreads his banners in our noiseless land,
With plumèd helm, thy flaxen biggin threats,
Whilst thou, a moral fool, sits still and cries
2307.5"Alack, why does he so?"
Albany
See thyself, devil.
Proper deformity shows not in the fiend
2310So horrid as in woman.
Goneril
O vain fool!
Thou changèd, and self-covered thing, for shame,
Bemonster not thy feature. Wer't my fitness
To let these hands obey my blood,
They are apt enough to dislocate and tear
2311.5Thy flesh and bones. Howe'er thou art a fiend,
A woman's shape doth shield thee.
Marry, your manhood?--mew!
Enter a Gentleman.
What news?
1 Gentleman
O my good lord, the Duke of Cornwall's dead,
Slain by his servant, going to put out
2315The other eye of Gloucester.
Albany
Gloucester's eyes?
1 Gentleman
A servant that he bred, thralled with remorse,
Opposed against the act, bending his sword
To his great master; who thereat enraged,
2320Flew on him, and amongst them felled him dead;
But not without that harmful stroke which since
Hath plucked him after.
This shows you are above, you justicers,
That these our nether crimes 2325so speedily can venge.
But oh, poor Gloucester, lost he his other eye?
1 Gentleman
Both, both, my lord. [To Goneril] This letter, madam, craves
A speedy answer. 'Tis from your sister.
2330Goneril
[Aside] One way I like this well;
But being widow, and my Gloucester with her,
May all the building on my fancy pluck
Upon my hateful life. Another way
The news is not so took. [Aloud] I'll read and answer.
Exit [Goneril].
Where was his son when they did take his eyes?
1 Gentleman
Come with my lady hither.
Albany
He is not here?
1 Gentleman
No, my good lord, I met him back again.
Knows he the wickedness?
1 Gentleman
Ay, my good lord, 'twas he informed against him,
And quit the house on purpose that their punishment
Might have the freer course.
Albany
Gloucester, I live
2345To thank thee for the love thou showed'st the king,
And to revenge thy eyes.--Come hither, friend,
Tell me what more thou knowest.
Exeunt.
2347.1[Scene 17]
Enter Kent [disguised] and a Gentleman.
Why the king of France is so suddenly gone back, know you no reason?
2 Gentleman
Something he left imperfect in the state, which since his 2347.5coming forth is thought of; which imports to the kingdom so much fear and danger that his personal return was most required and necessary.
Who hath he left behind him general?
2 Gentleman
The Marshal of France, Monsieur la Far.
Did your letters pierce the queen to any demonstration of grief?
2 Gentleman
I say she took them, read them in my presence,
And now and then an ample tear trilled down
Her delicate cheek. It seemed she was a queen
Over her passion, who, most rebel-like,
Sought to be king o'er her.
Oh, then it moved her.
2 Gentleman
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
2347.20That played on her ripe lip seemed not to know
What guests were in her eyes, which parted thence
As pearls from diamonds dropped. In brief,
Sorrow would be a rarity most beloved
If all could so become it.
Made she no verbal question?
2 Gentleman
Faith, once or twice she heaved the name of "father"
Pantingly forth, as if it pressed her heart;
Cried "Sisters, sisters, shame of ladies! Sisters?
Kent, father, sisters? What, i'th'storm, i'th'night?
2347.30Let pity not be believed." There she shook
The holy water from her heavenly eyes,
And clamor-moistened her. Then away she started,
To deal with grief alone.
It is the stars,
The stars above us govern our conditions,
2347.35Else one self mate and make could not beget
Such different issues. You spoke not with her since?
2 Gentleman
No.
Kent
Was this before the King returned?
2 Gentleman
No, since.
Well, sir, the poor distressèd Lear's i'th'town,
2347.40Who sometime in his better tune remembers
What we are come about, and by no means
Will yield to see his daughter.
2 Gentleman
Why, good sir?
A sovereign shame so elbows him. His own unkindness
That stripped her from his benediction, turned her
2347.45To 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.
2 Gentleman
Alack, poor gentleman.
Of Albany's and Cornwall's powers you heard not?
2347.502 Gentleman
'Tis so. They are afoot.
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,
2347.55Lending me this acquaintance. I pray you, go
Along with me.
[Scene 18]
Enter Cordelia, Doctor, and others.
Cordelia
Alack, 'tis he. Why, he was met even now,
As mad as the vexed sea, singing aloud;
Crowned with rank fumitor and furrow-weeds,
With burdocks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo flowers,
2355Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow
In our sustaining corn. [To an attendant] A century send forth.
Search every acre in the high-grown field
And bring him to our eye.
[Exit attendant.]
What can man's wisdom
In the restoring his bereavèd sense?
He that can help him 2360take all my outward worth.
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
2365Will close the eye of anguish.
Cordelia
All blest secrets,
All you unpublished virtues of the earth,
Spring with my tears; be aidant and remediate
In the good man's distress. Seek, seek for him,
2370Lest his ungoverned rage dissolve the life
That wants the means to lead it.
Enter [a] messenger.
Messenger
News, madam.
The British powers are marching hitherward.
2375Cordelia
'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,
2380But love, dear love, and our agèd father's right.
Soon may I hear and see him.
[Scene 19]
Enter Regan and [Oswald, the] steward.
But are my brother's powers set forth?
Ay, madam.
Regan
Himself in person?
Oswald
Madam, with much ado.
Your sister is the better soldier.
Lord Edmund spake not with your lady at home?
No, madam.
What might import my sister's letters to him?
I know not, lady.
Faith, he is posted hence on serious matter.
It was great ignorance, Gloucester's eyes being out,
2395To 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'army.
I must needs after him with my letters.
Our troop sets forth tomorrow; stay with us.
The ways are dangerous.
Oswald
I may not, madam.
My lady charged my duty in this business.
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.
Oswald
Madam I'd rather--
I know your lady does not love her husband--
I am sure of that--and at her late being here
She gave strange oeillades and most speaking looks
To noble Edmund. I know you are of her bosom.
I, madam?
I speak in understanding, for I know't.
Therefore I do advise you take this note.
My lord is dead; Edmund and I have talked,
And more convenient is he for my hand
Than for your lady's. You may gather more.
2420If 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. So farewell.
If you do chance to hear of that blind traitor,
2425Preferment falls on him that cuts him off.
Would I could meet him, madam, I would show
What lady I do follow.
Regan
Fare thee well.
Exeunt [separately].
[Scene 20]
2430Enter Gloucester and Edgar [dressed like a peasant].
Gloucester
When shall we come to th'top of that same hill?
You do climb it up now. Look how we labor.
Gloucester
Methinks the ground is even.
Horrible steep. 2435Hark, do you hear the sea?
Gloucester
No, truly.
Why, then your other senses grow imperfect
By your eyes' anguish.
Gloucester
So may it be, indeed.
2440Methinks thy voice is altered, and thou speakest
With better phrase and matter than thou didst.
Y'are much deceived. In nothing am I changed
But in my garments.
Gloucester
Methinks y'are better spoken.
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. Half way down
2450Hangs one that gathers samphire--dreadful trade.
Methinks he seems no bigger than his head.
The fishermen that walk upon the beach
Appear like mice, and yon tall anchoring bark
Diminished to her cock, her cock a buoy
2455Almost too small for sight. The murmuring surge,
That on the unnumbered idle pebble chafes
Cannot be heard. It's so high I'll look no more
Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight
Topple down headlong.
2460Gloucester
Set me where you stand.
Give me your hand. You are now within a foot
Of th'extreme verge. For all beneath the moon
Would I not leap upright.
Gloucester
Let go my hand.
2465Here, friend, 's another purse; in it a jewel
Well worth a poor man's taking. Fairies and gods
Prosper it with thee. Go thou farther off.
Bid me farewell, and let me hear thee going.
[Pretending to leave] Now fare you well, good sir.
2470Gloucester
With all my heart.
[Aside] Why I do trifle thus with his despair
Is done to cure it.
Gloucester
O you mighty gods--
He kneels.
This world I do renounce, and in your sights
2475Shake patiently my great affliction off.
If I could bear it longer, and not fall
To quarrel with your great opposeless wills,
My snuff and loathèd part of nature should
Burn itself out. If Edgar live, O bless him.
2480Now, fellow, fare thee well.
He falls [forward].
Gone, sir; farewell.
[Aside] 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,
2485By this had thought been past. Alive or dead?
[Aloud] Ho, you sir. Hear you sir? Speak.
[Aside] Thus might he pass indeed. Yet he revives.
[Aloud] What are you, sir?
Gloucester
Away, and let me die.
Hadst thou been aught but gossamer, feathers, air,
So many fathom down precipitating,
Thou hadst shivered like an egg. But thou dost breathe,
Hast heavy substance, bleed'st not, speakest, art sound.
2495Ten masts at each make not the altitude
Which thou hast perpendicularly fell.
Thy life's a miracle. Speak yet again.
Gloucester
But have I fallen or no?
From the dread summit of this chalky bourn,
2500Look up a height. The shrill-gorged lark so far
Cannot be seen or heard. Do but look up.
Gloucester
Alack, I have no eyes.
Is wretchedness deprived that benefit
To end itself by death? 'Twas yet some comfort
2505When misery could beguile the tyrant's rage
And frustrate his proud will.
Edgar
Give me your arm.
Up, so. How is't? Feel you your legs? You stand.
Gloucester
Too well, too well.
2510Edgar
This is above all strangeness.
Upon the crown of the cliff, what thing was that
Which parted from you?
Gloucester
A poor unfortunate beggar.
As I stood here below, methought his eyes
2515Were two full moons. 'A had a thousand noses,
Horns, whelked and waved like the enridgèd sea.
It was some fiend. Therefore, thou happy father,
Think that the clearest gods, who made their honors
Of men's impossibilities, have preserved thee.
2520Gloucester
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 would it say
"The fiend, the fiend." He led me to that place.
Bear free and patient thoughts. But who comes here?
Enter Lear mad, [crowned with weeds and flowers].
The safer sense will ne'er accommodate
His master thus.
No, they cannot touch me for coining. I am the King himself.
Oh, thou side-piercing sight!
Nature is above art in that respect. There's your press-money. That fellow handles his bow like a 2535crow-keeper. Draw me a clothier's yard. Look, look, a mouse! Peace, peace. This toasted cheese will do it. There's my gauntlet; I'll prove it on a giant. Bring up the brown bills. Oh, well flown, bird, in the air, ha! Give the word.
2540Edgar
Sweet marjoram.
Pass.
Gloucester
I know that voice.
Ha, Goneril! Ha, Regan! They flattered me like a dog and told me I had white hairs in 2545my beard ere the black ones were there. To say "ay" and "no" to everything I said "ay" and "no" to was no good divinity. When the rain came to wet me once, and the wind to make me chatter; when the thunder would not peace at my bidding--there I found them, there I smelt them 2550out. Go to, they are not men of their words; they told me I was everything. 'Tis a lie. I am not ague-proof.
Gloucester
The trick of that voice I do well remember.
Is't not the King?
Ay, every inch a king.
2555When I do stare, see how the subject quakes.
I pardon that man's life. What was thy cause?
Adultery? Thou shalt not die for adultery.
No, the wren goes to't, and the small gilded fly
Does lecher in my sight. Let copulation thrive,
2560For 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 yon simp'ring dame,
Whose face between her forks presageth snow,
That minces virtue, and does shake 2565the head
To hear of pleasure's name. The fitchew, nor
The soilèd horse goes to't with a more riotous
Appetite. Down from the waist th'are centaurs,
Though women all above. But to the girdle
Do the gods inherit; beneath is all the fiend's.