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But yet I call you servile ministers,
That have with two pernicious daughters join'd
No, I will be the pattern of all patience, I will say nothing
Kent. Alas, sir, are you here? things that love night,
And make them keep their caves: Since I was man,
Unwhipp'd of justice: Hide thee, thou bloody hand;
That under covert and convenient seeming
My wits begin to turn.Come on, my boy: How dost, my boy? Art cold? • I am cold myself.-Where is this straw, my fellow?
The art of our necessities is strange,
That can make vile things precious. Come, your hovel,
Fool. He that has a little tiny wit,
With heigh, ho, the wind and the rain,—
Lear. True, my good boy.-Come, bring us to this hovel.
[Exeunt LEAR, KENT, and Fool.
Edgar escapes from the pursuit of his Father, and assumes the disguise of a Tom of Bedlam," or madman. He finds shelter on the deserted Heath, to which Lear has wandered. He encounters the King. The assumption of madness by Edgar contrasts very strikingly with the real insanity of Lear, in the two following scenes.
SCENE.—A Part of the Heath, with a Hovel.
Enter LEAR, KENT, and Fool.
Kent. Here is the place, my lord; good my lord, enter:
Lear. Wilt break my heart?
Kent. I'd rather break mine own: Good my lord, enter. Lear. Thou think'st 'tis much, that this contentious storm Invades us to the skin: so 'tis to thee;
But where the greater malady is fix'd,
The lesser is scarce felt. Thou'dst shun a bear:
But if thy flight lay toward the raging sea,
Thou'dst meet the bear i' the mouth. When the mind's free,
Good my lord, enter here.
Lear. Pr'ythee, go in thyself; seek thine own ease;
In, boy; go first.-[ To the Fool.]-You houseless poverty,-
[Fool goes in
Edgar.-[Within.]—Fathom and half, fathom and half! Poor
[The Fool runs out of the hovel.
Fool. Come not in here, uncle, here's a spirit. Help me, help
Kent. Give me thy hand.-Who's there?
Fool. A spirit, a spirit; he says his name's poor Tom. Kent. What art thou that dost grumble there i' the straw? Come forth.
Enter EDGAR, disguised as a madman. Edg. Away! the foul fiend follows me !Through the sharp hawthorn blows the cold wind.Humph! go to thy cold bed and warm thee.
Lear. Hast thou given all to thy two daughters? And art thou come to this?
Edg. Who gives any thing to poor Tom? whom the foul fiend hath led through fire and through flame, through ford and whirlpool, over bog and quagmire; that hath laid knives under his pillow, and halters in his pew; set ratsbane by his porridge; made him proud of heart, to ride on a bay trotting horse over four-inch bridges, to course his own shadow for a traitor :-Bless thy five wits! Tom's a-cold.—Bless thee from whirlwinds, star-blasting, and taking! Do poor Tom some charity, whom the foul fiend vexes: There could 1 have him now, and there,—and there, and there again, and there. [Storm continues.
Lear. What, have his daughters brought him to this pass?Could'st thou save nothing? Didst thou give them all?
Fool. Nay, he reserved a blanket, else we had all been ashamed. Lear. Now, all the plagues that in the pendulous air Hang fated o'er men's faults, light on thy daughters!
Kent. He hath no daughters, sir.
Lear. Death, traitor! nothing could have subdu'd nature
Should have this little mercy on their flesh!
Fool. This cold night will turn us all to fools and madmen.
Edg. Take heed o' the foul fiend: Obey thy parents; keep thy word justly; swear not; set not thy sweet heart on proud array: Tom's a-cold.
Lear. What hast thou been?
Edg. A serving-man, proud in heart and mind; that curled my hair; wore gloves in my cap; swore as many oaths as I spake words, and broke them in the sweet face of heaven.
[Storm still continues.
Lear. Why, thou wert better in thy grave, than to answer with thy uncover'd 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 of us are sophisticated!-Thou art the thing itself unaccom
modated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art.-Off, off, you lendings:-Come; unbutton here.—
[Tearing off his clothes. Fool. Pr'ythee, nuncle, be contented; this is a naughty night to swim in.-Look, here comes a walking fire.
Gloster is moved to pity the wrongs inflicted on his royal master. He incurs the displeasure of Cornwall and Regan, is dispossessed of his Castle, and follows in pursuit of Lear.
Enter GLOSTER, with a torch.
Lear. What's he?
Kent. Who's there? What is't you seek?
Glo. What are you there? Your names?
Eg. Poor Tom; that eats the swimming frog, the toad, the tadpole, the wall-newt, and the water; who is whipped from tything to tything, and stocked, punished, and imprisoned; who hath had three suits to his back, six shirts to his body, horse to ride, and
But mice, and rats, and such small deer,
Beware my follower :-Peace, Smolkin; peace, thou fiend!
Edg. The prince of darkness is a gentleman;
Glo. Our flesh and blood, my lord, is grown so vile, That it doth hate what gets it.
Edg. Poor Tom's a-cold.
Glo. Go in with me; my duty cannot suffer
Lear. First let me talk with this philosopher :-
Kent. Good my lord, take his offer;
Go into the house.
Lear. I'll talk a word with this same learned Theban :What is your study?
Edg. How to prevent the fiend, and to kill vermin.
Lear. Let me ask you one word in private. Kent. 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 !—
Now outlaw'd from my blood: he sought my life,
O, cry you mercy,
Glo. In, fellow, there to the hovel: keep thee warm.
This way, my lord.
I will keep still with my philosopher.
Kent. Good my lord, soothe him; let him take the fellow.
Kent. Sirrah, come on; go along with us.
Lear. Come, good Athenian.
No words, no words:
Edg. Child Rowland to the dark tower came,
A Chamber in a Farm-House, adjoining the Castle.
Enter GLOSTER, Lear, Kent, Fool, and EDGAR.
Glo. Here is better than the open air; take it thankfully: I will piece out the comfort with what addition can: I will not be long from you.
Kent. All the power of his wits has given way to his impatience: -The gods reward your kindness! [Exit GLOSTER.
Edg. Frateretto calls me; and tells me, Nero is an angler in the lake of darkness. Pray, innocent, and beware the foul fiend.
Fool. Pr'ythee, nuncle, tell me, whether a madman be a gentleinan, or a yeoman?
Lear. A king, a king!
Fool. 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. Lear. To have a thousand with red burning spits
Come hizzing in upon them :
Edg. The foul fiend bites my back.
Lear. It shall be done, I will arraign them straight :-
Edg. Look, where he stands and glares !— Wantest thou eyes at trial, madam?