Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Michael Best
Not Peer Reviewed

King Lear (Modern, Quarto)

[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.
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?
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!
What, hath your grace no better company?
The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman. Modo, he's called, and Mahu--
Our flesh and blood is grown so vile, my lord,
That it doth hate what gets it.
Poor Tom's a-cold.
[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.
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.
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.
Take him you on.
Sirrah, come on. Go along with us.
Come, good Athenian.
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."