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ACT III
Sc. IV

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 on's
are sophisticated! Thou art the thing itself: unaccom-
modated man is no more but such a poor, bare, fork'd
animal as thou art. Off, off, you Lendings! come un-
button here.
[tearing off his clothes.
FOOL. 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.
EDG. This is the foul Fiend Flibbertigibbet: he begins
at curfew, and walks till the first cock; he gives the
web and the pin,1 squints the eye, and makes the hare-
lip; mildews the white wheat, and hurts the poor
creature of Earth.

Saint Withold footed thrice the wold;

He met the night-mare and her nine-fold;
Bid her alight, and her troth plight,

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And, aroint thee, Witch, aroint thee!

KENT. How fares your Grace?

Enter GLOUCESTER with a torch.

LEAR. What's he?

KENT. Who's there? What is 't you seek?
GLOU. What are you there? Your names?
EDG. Poor Tom; that eats the swimming frog, the
toad, the tadpole, 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 whipp'd from tithing to
tithing, and stock - punish'd, and imprison'd; who
hath had three suits to his back, six shirts to his
body;

1 i.e. the cataract.

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Horse to ride, and weapon to wear ;
But mice and rats, and such small deer,

Have been Tom's food for seven long year.

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Beware my follower. Peace, Smulkin; peace, thou Fiend!
GLOU. What, hath your Grace no better company?
EDG. The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman; Modo
he's call'd, and Mahu.

GLOU. Our flesh and blood, my Lord, is grown so vile,
That it doth hate what gets it.

EDG. Poor Tom's a-cold.

GLOU. 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.
LEAR. First let mè talk with this philosopher.

What is the cause of thunder?

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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.
GLOU.

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Canst thou blame him? [Storm still. 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

LEAR.

O, cry you mercy, Sir.

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Noble Philosopher, your company.

EDG. Tom's a-cold.

GLOU. In, Fellow, there, into the hovel; keep thee warm.

ACT III
Sc. IV

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KENT. Good my Lord, soothe him; let him take the fellow.

[blocks in formation]

Enter CORNWALL and EDMUND.

CORN. I will have my revenge ere I depart his house. EDM. How, my Lord, I may be censur'd, that nature thus gives way to loyalty, something fears me to think of. CORN. 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 reprovable badness in himself. EDM. 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!

II

CORN. Go with me to the Duchess.
EDM. If the matter of this paper be certain, you have

mighty business in hand.

CORN. True or false, it hath made thee Earl of Gloucester. Seek out where thy father is, that he may be ready for our apprehension.

EDM. [aside.] If I find him comforting the King, it will stuff his suspicion more fully. [to CORNWALL.] I will persever in my course of loyalty, though the conflict be sore between that and my blood.

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CORN. I will lay trust upon thee; and thou shalt find a dearer father in my love.

[exeunt.

SCENE VI. A Chamber in a Farmhouse adjoining

the Castle.

Enter GLOUCESTER, LEAR, KENT, the Fool,
and EDGAR.

GLOU. Here is better than the open air; take it thank-
fully. I will piece out the comfort with what addition
I can: I will not be long from you.

KENT. All the power of his wits have given way to his
impatience. The Gods reward your
kindness!
[Exit GLOUCESTER.

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 gentleman or a yeoman?

LEAR. A King, a King!

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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 'em

EDG. The foul Fiend bites my back.

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FOOL. He's mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf, a
horse's health, a boy's love, or a whore's oath.
LEAR. 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!

EDG. Look, where he stands and glares! Wantest thou
eyes at trial, Madam?

Come o'er the bourn, Bessy, to me.

Her boat hath a leak,

And she must not speak

FOOL

Why she dares not come over to thee.

ACT III
Sc. VI

EDG. The foul Fiend haunts poor Tom in the voice of

a nightingale.

VIII: TT

Hopdance cries in Tom's belly for

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ACT III
Sc. VI

two white herring. Croak not, black Angel; I have no food for thee.

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KENT. How do you, Sir? Stand you not so amaz'd:
Will you lie down and rest upon the cushions?
LEAR. I'll see their trial first. Bring in the evidence.
[to EDGAR.] Thou robed Man of Justice, take thy place;
[to the Fool.] And thou, his yoke-fellow of Equity,
Bench by his side. [to KENT.] You are o' the com-
mission,

Sit you too.

EDG. 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.

Pur! the cat is gray.

LEAR. Arraign her first; 'tis Goneril.

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I here take my

oath before this honourable assembly, she kick'd the
poor King her father.

FOOL. Come hither, Mistress. Is your name Goneril?
LEAR. She cannot deny it.

FOOL. Cry you mercy, I took you

for a joint-stool.

LEAR. 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?

EDG. Bless thy five wits!

KENT. O pity! Sir, where is the patience now

That you so oft have boasted to retain ?

EDG. [aside.] My tears begin to take his part so much,
They'll mar my counterfeiting.

LEAR. The little dogs and all,

Tray, Blanch, and Sweet-heart, see, they bark at me. EDG. Tom will throw his head at them.

Curs!

Be thy mouth or black or white,
Tooth that poisons if it bite;

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60

Avaunt, you

Mastiff, greyhound, mongrel grim,
Hound or spaniel, brach or lym,

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