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  • Title: King Lear (Adapted by Nahum Tate) (Modern)
  • Author: Nahum Tate
  • Editor: Lynne Bradley

  • Copyright Internet Shakespeare Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-proift purposes; for all other uses contact the Coordinating Editor.
    Author: Nahum Tate
    Editor: Lynne Bradley
    Not Peer Reviewed

    King Lear (Adapted by Nahum Tate) (Modern)

    The field.
    Enter Edgar.
    The lowest and most abject thing of fortune
    Stands still in hope, and is secure from fear.
    The lamentable change is from the best;
    The worst returns to better. Who comes here?
    Enter Gloster, led by an Old Man.
    1565My father poorly led? Deprived of sight?
    The precious stones torn from their bleeding rings!
    Something I heard of this inhuman deed
    But disbelieved it, as an act too horrid
    For the hot hell of a cursed woman's fury.
    1570When will the measure of my woes be full?
    Revenge, thou art afoot, success attend thee.
    Well have I sold my eyes, if the event
    Prove happy for the injured king.
    Old Man
    O, my good lord, I have been your tenant and your father's
    1575Tenant these fourscore years.
    Away, get thee away, good friend, be gone.
    Thy comforts can do me no good at all,
    Thee they may hurt.
    Old Man
    You cannot see your way.
    I have no way, and therefore want no eyes.
    I stumbled when I saw. O dear son Edgar,
    The food of thy abused father's wrath,
    Might I but live to see thee in my touch
    I'd say I had eyes again.
    Alas, he's sensible that I was wronged,
    And should I own myself, his tender heart
    Would break betwixt the extremes of grief and joy.
    Old Man
    How now, who's there?
    A charity for poor Tom. Play fair, and defy the foul
    O gods! And must I still pursue this trade,
    Trifling beneath such loads of misery?
    Old Man
    'Tis poor mad Tom.
    In the late storm I such a fellow saw,
    Which made me think a man a worm.
    Where is the lunatic?
    Old Man
    Here, my lord.
    Get thee now away. If for my sake
    1600Thou wilt overtake us hence a mile or two
    In the way toward Dover, do it for ancient love,
    And bring some covering for this naked wretch
    Whom I'll entreat to lead me.
    Old Man
    Alack, my lord, he's mad.
    'Tis the time's plague when madmen lead the blind.
    Do as I bid thee.
    Old Man
    I'll bring him the best apparel that I have
    Come on it what will.
    Sirrah, naked fellow.
    Poor Tom's a cold -- I cannot fool it longer,
    And yet I must -- bless thy sweet eyes, they bleed.
    Believe it Poor Tom even weeps his blind to see them.
    Know'st thou the way to Dover?
    Both stile and gate, horseway and footpath. Poor Tom has
    been scared out of his good wits. Bless every true man's son from
    the foul fiend.
    Here, take this purse; that I am wretched
    Makes thee the happier, heaven deal so still.
    1620Thus let the griping usurer's hoard be scattered,
    So distribution shall undo excess,
    And each man have enough. Dost thou know Dover?
    Ay, master.
    There is a cliff, whose high and bending head
    1625Looks dreadfully down on the roaring deep.
    Bring me but to the very brink of it,
    And I'll repair the poverty thou bear'st
    With something rich about me. From that place
    I shall no leading need.
    Give me thy arm. Poor Tom shall guide thee.
    Soft, for I hear the tread of passengers.
    Enter Kent and Cordelia.
    Ah me! Your fear's too true, it was the king.
    I spoke but now with some that met him
    1635As mad as the vexed sea, singing aloud,
    Crowned with rank fumiter and furrow weeds,
    With berries, burdocks, violets, daisies, poppies,
    And all the idle flowers that grow
    In our sustaining corn. Conduct me to him
    1640To prove my last endeavors to restore him,
    And heaven so prosper thee.
    I will, good lady.
    Ha, Gloster here! -- Turn, poor dark man, and
    1645A friend's condolement, who at sight of thine
    Forgets his own distress, thy old true Kent.
    How, Kent? From whence returned?
    I have not since my banishment been absent,
    But in disguise followed the abandoned king.
    1650'Twas me thou saw'st with him in the late storm.
    Let me embrace thee. Had I eyes I now
    Should weep for joy, but let this trickling blood
    Suffice instead of tears.
    O misery!
    1655To whom shall I complain, or in what language?
    Forgive, O wretched man, the piety
    That brought thee to this pass, 'twas I that caused it.
    I cast me at thy feet, and beg of thee
    To crush these weeping eyes to equal darkness,
    1660If that will give thee any recompense.
    Was ever season so distressed as this?
    I think Cordelia's voice! Easy, pious princess,
    And take a dark man's blessing.
    Oh, my Edgar,
    My virtue's now grown guilty, works the bane
    Of those that do befriend me. Heaven forsakes me,
    And when you look that way, it is but just
    That you should hate me too.
    O waive this cutting speech, and spare to wound
    A heart that's on the rack.
    No longer cloud thee, Kent, in that disguise.
    There's business for thee and of noblest weight.
    Our injured country is at length in arms,
    1675Urged by the king's inhuman wrongs and mine,
    And only want a chief to lead them on.
    That task be thine.
    Brave Britons, then there's life in it yet.
    Then have we one cast for our fortune yet.
    Come, princess, I'll bestow you with the king,
    Then on the spur to head these forces.
    Farewell, good Gloster, to our conduct trust.
    And be your cause as prosperous as 'tis just.