Internet Shakespeare Editions

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

Field. [Enter] Gloster and Edgar.
When shall we come to the top of that same hill?
We climb it now, mark how we labor.
Methinks the ground is even.
Horrible steep. Hark, do you hear the sea?
No, truly.
Why then your other senses grow imperfect
By your eyes' anguish.
So may it be indeed.
Methinks thy voice is altered, and thou speak'st
In better phrase and matter than thou didst.
You are much deceived. In nothing am I altered
But in my garments.
Methinks you are better spoken.
Come on, sir, here's the place. How fearful
And dizzy 'tis to cast one's eyes so low.
The crows and choughs that wing the midway air
Show scarce so big as beetles. Halfway down
1735Hangs one that gathers samphire, dreadful trade!
The fishermen that walk upon the beach
Appear like mice, and yon tall anchoring bark
Almost too small for sight. The murmuring surge
1740Cannot be heard so high. I'll look no more
Lest my brain turn, and the disorder make me
Tumble down headlong.
Set me where you stand.
You are now within a foot of the extreme verge.
1745For all beneath the moon I would not now
Leap forward.
Let go my hand.
Here, friend, is another purse, in it a jewel
Well worth a poor man's taking; get thee further,
1750Bid me farewell, and let me hear thee going.
Fare you well, sir. -- That I do trifle thus
With this his despair is with design to cure it.
Thus, mighty gods, this world I do renounce,
And in your sight shake my afflictions off.
1755If I could bear them longer and not fall
To quarrel with your great opposeless wills,
My snuff and feebler part of nature should
Burn itself out. If Edgar live, oh bless him.
Now, fellow, fare thee well.
Gone, sir! Farewell.
And yet I know not how conceit may rob
The treasury of life. Had he been where he thought,
By this had thought been past -- Alive, or dead?
Hoa sir, friend; hear you, sir, speak --
1765Thus might he pass indeed -- yet he revives.
What are you, sir?
Away, and let me die.
Hadst thou been ought but gossamer, feathers, air,
Falling so many fathom down
1770Thou hadst shivered like an egg. But thou dost breathe,
Hast heavy substance, bleed'st not, speak'st, art sound.
Thy life's a miracle.
But have I fallen or no?
From the dread summit of this chalky bourn.
1775Look up a-height, the shrill-tuned lark so high
Cannot be seen or heard; do but look up.
Alack, I have no eyes.
Is wretchedness deprived that benefit
To end itself by death?
Give me your arm.
Up, so, how is it? Feel you your legs? You stand.
Too well, too well.
Upon the crown of the cliff, what thing was that
Which parted from you?
A poor, unfortunate beggar.
As I stood here below, methought his eyes
Were two full moons, wide nostrils breathing fire.
It was some fiend. Therefore, thou happy father,
Think that the all-powerful gods, who make them honors
1790Of men's impossibilities, have preserved thee.
'Tis wonderful. Henceforth I'll bear affliction
Till it expire. The goblin which you speak of,
I took it for a man. Oft-times it would say,
"The fiend, the fiend." He led me to that place.
Bear free and patient thoughts -- but who comes here?
Enter Lear, a coronet of flowers on his head. Wreaths and garlands about him.
No, no, they cannot touch me for coining. I am the king himself.
Oh, piercing sight.
Nature's above art in that respect. There's your press-money.
1800That fellow handles his bow like a cow-keeper -- draw me a
clothier's yard. A mouse, a mouse! Peace hoa. There's my
gauntlet, I'll prove it on a giant. Bring up the brown bills. O
well flown, bird. In the white, in the white -- Hewgh! Give
the word.
Sweet marjoram.
I know that voice.
Ha! Gonerill with a white beard! They flattered me like a
dog, and told me I had white hairs on my chin before the black
1810ones were there. To say "Aye" and "No" to everything that I said "Aye"
and "No" to was no good divinity. When the rain came once to wet
me, and the winds to make me chatter; when the thunder would not
peace at my bidding, there I found them, there I smelt them out. Go
too, they are not men of their words. They told me I was a king;
1815'tis a lie, I am not ague-proof.
That voice I well remember, is it not the king's?
Aye, every inch a king. When I do stare,
See how the subject quakes.
I pardon that man's life. What was the cause?
1820Adultery? Thou shalt not die. Die for adultery!
The wren goes to it, and the small gilded fly
Engenders in my sight. Let copulation thrive,
For Gloster's bastard son was kinder to his father
Than were my daughters got in the lawful bed.
1825To it, luxury, pell-mell, for I lack soldiers.
Not all my sorrows past so deep have touched me,
As these sad accents. Sight were now a torment --
Behold that simpering lady, she that starts
At pleasure's name, and thinks her ear profaned
1830With the least wanton word. Would you believe it?
The fitcher nor the pampered steed goes to it
With such a riotous appetite. Down from the waist they are
centaurs, though women all above. But to the girdle do the gods
inherit, beneath is all the fiends: there's hell, there's
1835darkness, the sulphurous unfathomed -- fie! Fie! Pah!
-- an ounce of civet, good apothecary, to sweeten my
imagination -- there's money for thee.
Let me kiss that hand.
Let me wipe it first, it smells of mortality.
Speak, sir. Do you know me?
I remember thy eyes well enough. Nay, do thy worst, blind
Cupid, I'll not love. Read me this challenge, mark
but the penning of it.
Were all the letters suns, I could not see.
I would not take this from report. Wretched Cordelia,
What will thy virtue do when thou shalt find
This fresh affliction added to the tale
Of thy unparalleled griefs?
What, with this case of eyes?
Oh ho! Are you there with me? No eyes in your head, and no money
in your purse? Yet you see how this world goes.
I see it feelingly.
What? Art mad? A man may see how this world goes with no eyes.
1855Look with thy ears, see how yon justice rails on that simple
thief. Shake them together, and the first that drops, be it thief
or justice, is a villain. Thou hast seen a farmer's dog
bark at a beggar?
Aye, sir.
And the man ran from the cur. There thou might'st behold the
great image of authority: a dog's obeyed in office. Thou, rascal
beadle, hold thy bloody hand; why dost thou lash that strumpet?
Thou hotly lust'st to enjoy her in that kind for which thou
whip'st her. Do, do, the judge that sentenced her has been
1865beforehand with thee.
How stiff is my vile sense that yields not yet?
I tell thee the usurer hangs the cozener. Through tattered robes
small vices do appear, robes and fur gowns hide all. Place sins
with gold -- why there it is for thee, my friend, make much of it.
1870It has the power to seal the accuser's lips. Get thee glass eyes,
and like a scurvy politician, seem to see the things thou dost
not. Pull, pull off my boots, hard, harder, so, so.
O matter and impertinency mixed,
Reason in madness.
If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes.
I know thee well enough, thy name is Gloster.
Thou must be patient, we came crying hither --
Thou know'st, the first time that we taste the air
We wail and cry -- I'll preach to thee, mark.
Break, laboring heart.
When we are born, we cry that we are come
To this great stage of fools.
Enter two or three Gentlemen.
Oh, here he is, lay hand upon him. Sir,
1885Your dearest daughter sends --
No rescue? What, a prisoner? I am even the natural fool of
Fortune. Use me well, you shall have ransom. Let me have
surgeons, oh I am cut to the brains.
You shall have anything.
No seconds? All myself? I will die bravely like a smug
bridegroom, flushed and pampered as a priest's whore. I am a king,
my masters, know ye that?
You are a royal one, and we obey you.
It were an excellent stratagem to shoe a troop of horse with
1895felt. I'll put in proof -- no noise, no noise -- now
will we steal upon these sons-in-law, and then -- kill,
kill, kill, kill!
Exit running.
A sight most moving in the meanest wretch,
1900Past speaking in a king. Now, good sir, what are you?
A most poor man made tame to fortune's strokes,
And prone to pity by experienced sorrows. Give me your hand.
You ever-gentle gods, take my breath from me,
And let not my ill genius tempt me more
1905To die before you please.
Enter Gonerill's Gentleman.
A proclaimed prize! Oh, most happily met.
That eyeless head of thine was first framed flesh
To raise my fortunes. Thou old, unhappy traitor,
1910The sword is out that must destroy thee.
Now let thy friendly hand put strength enough to it.
Wherefore, bold peasant,
Dar'st thou support a published traitor? Hence,
Lest I destroy thee too. Let go his arm.
'Chill not let go, zir, without 'vurther 'casion.
Let go, slave, or thou diest.
Good gentleman, go your gait, and let poor volk pass. And 'chu'd
ha' bin zwaggered out of my life, it would not a bin zo long as
'tis by a vortnight. Nay, an' thou com'st near th' old
1920man, I'ce try whether your costard or my ballow be th' harder.
Out, dunghill.
'Chill pick your teeth, zir. Come, no matter vor your voines.
Slave, thou hast slain me. Oh, untimely death.
I know thee well; a serviceable villain,
1925As duteous to the vices of thy mistress
As lust could wish.
What, is he dead?
Sit you, sir, and rest you.
This is a letter carrier, and may have
1930Some papers of intelligence that may stand
Our party in good stead to know. What's here?
Takes a letter out of his pocket, opens and
"To Edmund, Earl of Gloster.
1935Let our mutual loves be remembered. You have many opportunities
to cut him off. If he return the conqueror then I am still a
prisoner, and his bed my jail, from the loathed warmth of which
deliver me, and supply the place for your labor.
1940A plot upon her husband's life,
And the exchange my brother. Here in the sands
I'll rake thee up, thou messenger of lust,
Grieved only that thou hadst no other deathsman.
In time and place convenient, I'll produce
1945These letters to the sight of the injured duke
As best shall serve our purpose. Come, your hand.
Far off methinks I hear the beaten drum.
Come, sir, I will bestow you with a friend.
1950A chamber. Lear asleep on a couch. Cordelia, [Physician] and attendants standing by him.
His sleep is sound, and may have good effect
To cure his jarring senses, and repair
This breach of nature.
We have employed the utmost power of art,
1955And this deep rest will perfect our design.
O Regan, Gonerill, inhuman sisters,
Had he not been your father, these white hairs
Had challenged sure some pity. Was this a face
To be exposed against the jarring winds?
1960My enemy's dog, though he had bit me, should
Have stood that night against my fire. He wakes, speak to
Madam, do you, 'tis fittest.
How does my royal lord? How fares Your Majesty?
You do me wrong to take me out of the grave.
Ha! Is this too a world of cruelty?
I know my privilege; think not that I will
Be used still like a wretched mortal. No, no,
No more of that.
Speak to me, sir, who am I?
You are a soul in bliss, but I am bound
Upon a wheel of fire, which my own tears
Do scald like molten lead.
Sir, do you know me?
You are a spirit, I know. Where did you die?
Still, still, far wide.
Madam, he's scarce awake. He'll soon grow more composed.
Where have I been? Where am I? Fair daylight!
I am mightily abused. I should even die with pity
1980To see another thus. I will not swear
These are my hands.
Oh, look upon me, sir,
And hold your hands in blessing over me. Nay,
You must not kneel.
Pray do not mock me.
I am a very foolish, fond old man,
Fourscore and upward, and to deal plainly with you,
I fear I am not in my perfect mind.
Nay, then farewell to patience. Witness for me
1990Ye mighty powers, I never complained till now!
Methinks I should know you, and know this man,
Yet I am doubtful, for I am mainly ignorant
What place this is, and all the skill I have
Remembers not these garments, nor do I know
1995Where I did sleep last night. Pray do not mock me
For, as I am a man, I think that lady
To be my child Cordelia.
Oh, my dear, dear father!
Be your tears wet? Yes faith. Pray do not weep.
I know I have given thee cause, and am so humbled
With crosses since, that I could ask
Forgiveness of thee were it possible
That thou couldst grant it; but I'm well assured
2005Thou canst not. Therefore I do stand thy justice.
If thou hast poison for me, I will drink it,
Bless thee and die.
Oh pity, sir, a bleeding heart, and cease
This killing language.
Tell me, friends, where am I?
In your own kingdom, sir.
Do not abuse me.
Be comforted, good madam, for the violence
Of his distemper's past. We'll lead him in
2015Nor trouble him, till he is better settled.
Wilt please you, sir, walk into freer air?
You must bear with me, I am old and foolish.
They lead him off.
The gods restore you. Hark, I hear afar
2020The beaten drum; old Kent's a man of his word.
Oh for an arm
Like the fierce thunderer's, when the earth-born sons
Stormed heaven, to fight this injured father's battle.
That I could shift my sex, and dye me deep
2025In his opposer's blood. But as I may
With women's weapons, piety and prayers,
I'll aid his cause. You never-erring gods
Fight on his side, and thunder on his foes
Such tempest as his poor aged head sustained.
2030Your image suffers when a monarch bleeds.
'Tis your own cause; for that your succors bring.
Revenge yourselves, and right an injured king.