Re: THE TRAGEDY OF KING LEAR by William Shakespeare
(Storm still continues.)
Why, thou wert better in thy grave than to answer with thy
uncovered body this extremity of the skies.--Is man no more than
this? Consider him well. Thou owest the worm no silk, the beast
no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfume.--Ha! 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!--Come, unbutton
(Tears off his clothes.)
Pr'ythee, nuncle, be contented; 'tis a naughty night to swim
in.--Now a little fire in a wild field were like an old lecher's
heart,--a small spark, all the rest on's body cold.--Look, here
comes a walking fire.
This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet: he begins at curfew,
and walks till the first cock; he gives the web and the pin,
squints the eye, and makes the harelip; mildews the white wheat,
and hurts the poor creature of earth.
Swithold footed thrice the old;
He met the nightmare, and her nine-fold;
Bid her alight
And her troth plight,
And aroint thee, witch, aroint thee!
How fares your grace?
(Enter Gloster with a torch.)
Who's there? What is't you seek?
What are you there? Your names?
Poor Tom; that eats the swimming frog, the toad, the todpole, the
wall-newt and the water; that in the fury of his heart, when the
foul fiend rages, eats cow-dung for sallets; swallows the old rat
and the ditch-dog; drinks the green mantle of the standing pool;
who is whipped from tithing to tithing, and stocked, punished,
and imprisoned; who hath had three suits to his back, six shirts
to his body, horse to ride, and weapons to wear;--
But mice and rats, and such small deer,
Have been Tom's food for seven long year.
Beware my follower.--Peace, Smulkin; peace, thou fiend!
What, hath your grace no better company?
The prince of darkness is a gentleman:
Modo he's call'd, and Mahu.
Our flesh and blood, my lord, is grown so vile
That it doth hate what gets it.
Poor Tom's a-cold.
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,
Yet have I ventur'd to come seek you out
And bring you where both fire and food is ready.
First let me talk with this philosopher.--
What is the cause of thunder?
Good my lord, take his offer; go into the house.
I'll talk a word with this same learned Theban.--
What is your study?
How to prevent the fiend and to kill vermin.
Let me ask you one word in private.
Importune him once more to go, my lord;
His wits begin to unsettle.
Canst thou blame him?
His daughters seek his death:--ah, that good Kent!--
He said it would be thus,--poor banish'd man!--
Thou say'st the king grows mad; I'll tell thee, friend,
I am almost mad myself: I had a son,
Now outlaw'd from my blood; he sought my life
But lately, very late: I lov'd him, friend,--
No father his son dearer: true to tell thee,
The grief hath craz'd my wits.--What a night's this!--
I do beseech your grace,--
O, cry you mercy, sir.--
Noble philosopher, your company.
In, fellow, there, into the hovel; keep thee warm.
Come, let's in all.
This way, my lord.
I will keep still with my philosopher.
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.
Child Rowland to the dark tower came,
His word was still--Fie, foh, and fum,
I smell the blood of a British man.
Scene V. A Room in Gloster's Castle.
(Enter Cornwall and Edmund.)
I will have my revenge ere I depart his house.
How, my lord, I may be censured, that nature thus gives way to
loyalty, something fears me to think of.
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 reproveable badness in himself.
How malicious is my fortune, that I must repent to be just! This
is the letter he spoke of, which approves him an intelligent
party to the advantages of France. O heavens! that this treason
were not--or not I the detector!
Go with me to the duchess.
If the matter of this paper be certain, you have mighty business
True or false, it hath made thee earl of Gloster. Seek out
where thy father is, that he may be ready for our apprehension.
(Aside.) If I find him comforting the king, it will stuff his
suspicion more fully.--I will persever in my course of loyalty,
though the conflict be sore between that and my blood.
I will lay trust upon thee; and thou shalt find a dearer father
in my love.
Scene VI. A Chamber in a Farmhouse adjoining the Castle.
(Enter Gloster, Lear, Kent, Fool, and Edgar.)
Here is better than the open air; take it thankfully. I will
piece out the comfort with what addition I can: I will not be
long from you.
All the power of his wits have given way to his impatience:--
the gods reward your kindness!
Frateretto calls me; and tells me Nero is an angler in the lake
of darkness.--Pray, innocent, and beware the foul fiend.
Pr'ythee, nuncle, tell me whether a madman be a gentleman or a
A king, a king!
No, he's a yeoman that has a gentleman to his son; for he's a mad
yeoman that sees his son a gentleman before him.
To have a thousand with red burning spits
Come hissing in upon 'em,--
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.--
(To Edgar.) Come, sit thou here, most learned justicer--
(To the Fool.) Thou, sapient sir, sit here. Now, you she-foxes!--
Look, where he stands and glares!--Want'st thou eyes at trial,
Come o'er the bourn, Bessy, to me,--
Her boat hath a leak,
And she must not speak
Why 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 amaz'd;
Will you lie 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' the commission,
Sit you too.
Let us deal justly.
Sleepest or wakest thou, jolly shepherd?
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 honourable 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 joint-stool.
And here's another, whose warp'd looks proclaim
What store her heart is made on.--Stop her there!
Arms, arms! sword! fire!--Corruption in the place!--
False justicer, why hast thou let her 'scape?
Bless thy five wits!
O 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,
Tray, 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;
Mastiff, greyhound, mongrel grim,
Hound or spaniel, brach or lym,
Or bobtail tike or trundle-tail,--
Tom will make them weep and wail;
For, with throwing thus my head,
Dogs leap the hatch, and all are fled.
Do de, de, de. Sessa! 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 makes these hard
hearts?--(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; but let them be changed.
Now, good my lord, lie here and rest awhile.
Make no noise, make no noise; draw the curtains:
So, so. We'll go to supper i' the morning.
And I'll go to bed at noon.
Come hither, friend: where is the king my master?
Here, sir; but trouble him not,--his wits are gone.
Good friend, I pr'ythee, take him in thy arms;
I have o'erheard a plot of death upon him;
There is a litter ready; lay him in't
And 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 assured loss: take up, take up;
And follow me, that will to some provision
Give thee quick conduct.
Oppressed nature sleeps:--
This rest might yet have balm'd thy broken sinews,
Which, if convenience will not allow,
Stand in hard cure.--Come, help to bear thy master;
(To the Fool.) Thou must not stay behind.
Come, come, away!
(Exeunt Kent, Gloster, and the Fool, bearing off Lear.)
When we our betters see bearing our woes,
We scarcely think our miseries our foes.
Who alone suffers suffers most i' the mind,
Leaving free things and happy shows behind:
But 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!
Mark the high noises; and thyself bewray,
When false opinion, whose wrong thought defiles thee,
In thy just proof repeals and reconciles thee.
What will hap more to-night, safe 'scape the king!
Scene VII. A Room in Gloster's Castle.
(Enter Cornwall, Regan, Goneril, Edmund, and Servants.)
Post speedily to my lord your husband, show him this letter:--
the army of France is landed.--Seek out the traitor Gloster.
(Exeunt some of the Servants.)
Hang him instantly.
Pluck out his eyes.
Leave him to my displeasure.--Edmund, keep you our sister
company: the revenges 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 posts shall be swift and intelligent betwixt us.
Farewell, dear sister:--farewell, my lord of Gloster.
How now! Where's the king?
My lord of Gloster hath convey'd him hence:
Some 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.
Get horses for your mistress.
Farewell, sweet lord, and sister.
(Exeunt Goneril, Edmund, and Oswald.)
Go seek the traitor Gloster,
Pinion him like a thief, bring him before us.
(Exeunt other Servants.)
Though well we may not pass upon his life
Without the form of justice, yet our power
Shall do a courtesy to our wrath, which men
May blame, but not control.--Who's there? the traitor?
(Re-enter servants, with Gloster.)
Ingrateful fox! 'tis he.
Bind fast his corky arms.
What mean your graces?--Good my friends, consider
You are my guests: do me no foul play, friends.
Bind him, I say.
(Servants bind him.)
Hard, hard.--O filthy traitor!
Unmerciful lady as you are, I'm none.
To this chair bind him.--Villain, thou shalt find,--
(Regan plucks his beard.)
By the kind gods, 'tis most ignobly done
To pluck me by the beard.
So white, and such a traitor!
These hairs which thou dost ravish from my chin
Will quicken, and accuse thee: I am your host:
With robber's hands my hospitable favours
You should not ruffle thus. What will you do?
Come, sir, what letters had you late from France?
Be simple-answer'd, for we know the truth.
And what confederacy have you with the traitors
Late footed in the kingdom?
To whose hands have you sent the lunatic king?
I have a letter guessingly set down,
Which came from one that's of a neutral heart,
And not from one oppos'd.
Where hast thou sent the king?
Wherefore to Dover? Wast thou not charg'd at peril,--
Wherefore to Dover? Let him first answer that.
I am tied to the stake, and I must stand the course.
Wherefore to Dover, sir?
Because I would not see thy cruel nails
Pluck out his poor old eyes; nor thy fierce sister
In his anointed flesh stick boarish fangs.
The sea, with such a storm as his bare head
In hell-black night endur'd, would have buoy'd up,
And quench'd the stelled fires; yet, poor old heart,
He holp the heavens to rain.
If wolves had at thy gate howl'd that stern time,
Thou shouldst have said, 'Good porter, turn the key.'
All cruels else subscrib'd:--but I shall see
The winged vengeance overtake such children.
See't shalt thou never.--Fellows, hold the chair.
Upon these eyes of thine I'll set my foot.
(Gloster is held down in his chair, while Cornwall plucks out one
of his eyes and sets his foot on it.)
He that will think to live till he be old,
Give me some help!--O cruel!--O ye gods!
One side will mock another; the other too!
If you see vengeance,--
Hold your hand, my lord:
I have serv'd you ever since I was a child;
But better service have I never done you
Than now to bid you hold.
How now, you dog!
If you did wear a beard upon your chin,
I'd shake it on this quarrel. What do you mean?
(Draws, and runs at him.)
Nay, then, come on, and take the chance of anger.
(Draws. They fight. Cornwall is wounded.)
Give me thy sword (to another servant.)--A peasant stand up thus?
(Snatches a sword, comes behind, and stabs him.)
O, I am slain!--My lord, you have one eye left
To see some mischief on thim. O!
Lest it see more, prevent it.--Out, vile jelly!
Where is thy lustre now?
(Tears out Gloster's other eye and throws it on the ground.)
All dark and comfortless.--Where's my son Edmund?
Edmund, enkindle all the sparks of nature
To quit this horrid act.
Out, treacherous villain!
Thou 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.
O my follies! Then Edgar was abus'd.--
Kind gods, forgive me that, and prosper him!
Go thrust him out at gates, and let him smell
His way to Dover.--How is't, my lord? How look you?
I have receiv'd a hurt:--follow me, lady.--
Turn out that eyeless villain;--throw this slave
Upon the dunghill.--Regan, I bleed apace:
Untimely comes this hurt: give me your arm.
(Exit Cornwall, led by Regan; Servants unbind Gloster and lead
I'll never care what wickedness I do,
If this man come to good.
If she live long,
And in the end meet the old course of death,
Women will all turn monsters.
Let's follow the old earl, and get the Bedlam
To lead him where he would: his roguish madness
Allows itself to anything.
Go thou: I'll fetch some flax and whites of eggs
To apply to his bleeding face. Now heaven help him!
Scene I. The heath.
Yet better thus, and known to be contemn'd,
Than still contemn'd and flatter'd. 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. Welcome, then,
Thou unsubstantial air that I embrace!
The wretch that thou hast blown unto the worst
Owes nothing to thy blasts.--But who comes here?
(Enter Gloster, led by an Old Man.)
My father, poorly led?--World, world, O world!
But that thy strange mutations make us hate thee,
Life would not yield to age.
O my good lord,
I have been your tenant, and your father's tenant,
These fourscore years.
Away, get thee away; good friend, be gone:
Thy comforts can do me no good at all;
Thee they may hurt.
You cannot see your way.
I have no way, and therefore want no eyes;
I stumbled when I saw: full oft 'tis seen
Our means secure us, and our mere defects
Prove our commodities.--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!
How now! Who's there?
(Aside.) O gods! Who is't can say 'I am at the worst'?
I am worse than e'er I was.