Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Michael Best
Not Peer Reviewed

King Lear (Modern, Quarto)

[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--
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.
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?
Is it a beggar man?
Old Man
Madman, and beggar too.
'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.
Is that the naked fellow?
Old Man
Ay, my lord.
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.
'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.
Sirrah, naked fellow.
Poor Tom's a cold. [Aside] I cannot dance it farther.
Come hither, fellow.
Bless thy sweet eyes, they bleed.
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.
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.
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.
Give me thy arm.
2265Poor Tom shall lead thee.