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Sc. I


SCENE I. The Heath.

Enter EDGAR.

EDG. 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 GLOUCESTER, 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.

GLOU. 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.

GLOU. I have no way, and therefore want no eyes:

Full oft 'tis seen,

I stumbled when I saw.
Our means secure us,1 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'ld say I had eyes again!




How now! Who's there?

EDG. [aside.] O Gods! Who is 't can say I am at the


I am worse than e'er I was.

1 i.e. make us careless.


"Tis poor mad Tom.

EDG. [aside.] And worse I may be yet: the worst is not
So long as we can say This is the worst.
OLD MAN. Fellow, where goest?


Is it a beggar-man?

OLD MAN. Madman and beggar too.
GLOU. He has some reason, else he could not beg.
I' the last night's storm I such a fellow saw;
Which made me think a man a worm: my son
Came then into my mind; and yet my mind


Was then scarce friends with him; I have heard more since.

As flies to wanton boys, are we to the Gods;

They kill us for their sport.

EDG. [aside.]

How should this be?

Bad is the trade that must play Fool to sorrow, Angering itself and others.-Bless thee, Master! GLOU. Is that the naked fellow?


Ay, my Lord.
GLOU. Then, pr'ythee, get thee gone: if, for my sake,
Thou wilt o'ertake us, hence a mile or twain,
I' the way toward Dover, do it for ancient love;
And bring some covering for this naked soul,

Which I'll entreat to lead me.


Alack, Sir, he is mad.


GLOU. 'Tis the times' plague, when madmen lead the


Do as I bid thee, or rather do thy pleasure;

Above the rest, be gone.

OLD MAN. I'll bring him the best 'parel that I have,

Come on 't what will.

GLOU. Sirrah, naked Fellow



EDG. Poor Tom's a-cold. [aside.] I cannot daub it


GLOU. Come hither, Fellow.

EDG. [aside.] And yet I must.-Bless thy sweet eyes, they bleed.

GLOU. Know'st thou the way to Dover?

EDG. Both stile and gate, horse-way and foot-path. Poor
Tom hath been scar'd out of his good wits. Bless thee,




Sc. I

Sc. I

good man's Son, from the foul Fiend! Five Fiends have been in poor Tom at once; of lust, as Obidicut; Hobbididance, Prince of dumbness; Mahu, of stealing; Modo, of murder; Flibbertigibbet, of mopping and mowing, who since possesses chambermaids and waiting-women. So, bless thee, Master!


GLOU. Here, take this purse, thou whom the Heavens' plagues

Have humbled to all strokes: that I am wretched

Makes thee the happier. Heavens, deal so still!

Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man,

That slaves your ordinance,' that will not see
Because he doth not feel, feel your power quickly;

So distribution should undo excess,


And each man have enough. Dost thou know Dover? EDG. Ay, Master.

GLOU. There is a cliff, whose high and bending head

Looks fearfully in the confined Deep:

Bring me but to the very brim of it,

And I'll repair the misery thou dost bear

With something rich about me: from that place

I shall no leading need.


Poor Tom shall lead thee.

Give me thy arm:


SCENE II. Before the DUKE OF ALBANY'S Palace.


GON. Welcome, my Lord: I marvel our mild husband
Not met us on the way.


Now, where's your master?

Osw. Madam, within; but never man so chang'd.

I told him of the army that was landed;
He smil'd at it: I told him you were coming;
His answer was The worse: of Gloucester's treachery,
And of the loyal service of his son,

When I inform'd him, then he call'd me sot,

1 i.e. casts contempt on your law.

And told me I had turn'd the wrong side out.

What most he should dislike seems pleasant to him; 10

What like, offensive.


Then shall you go no further.

It is the cowish terror of his spirit,

That dares not undertake: he'll not feel wrongs
Which tie him to an answer. Our wishes on the way
May prove effects. Back, Edmund, to my brother;
Hasten his musters and conduct his powers:

I must change arms at home, and give the distaff
Into my husband's hands. This trusty servant
Shall pass between us: ere long you are like to hear,
you dare venture in your own behalf,

A mistress's command. Wear this; spare speech;


[giving a favour.

Decline your head this kiss, if it durst speak,

Would stretch thy spirits up into the air.
Conceive, and fare thee well.

EDM. Your's in the ranks of death.


Sc. II

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You are not worth the dust which the rude wind

Blows in your face. I fear your disposition:
That nature which contemns it origin

Cannot be border'd certain in itself;


She that herself will sliver and disbranch

From her material sap, perforce must wither,

And come to deadly use.

GON. No more; the text is foolish.

ALB. Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile:

Filths savour but themselves. What have you done?
Tigers, not Daughters, what have you perform'd?


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A father, and a gracious aged man,

Whose reverence even the head-lugg'd bear would lick,
Most barbarous, most degenerate! have you madded.
Could my good brother suffer you to do it?

A man, a Prince, by him so benefited!

If that the Heavens do not their visible Spirits
Send quickly down to tame these vile offences,
It will come,

Humanity must perforce prey on itself,

Like monsters of the Deep.


Milk-liver'd Man!

That bear'st a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs;
Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning
Thine honour from thy suffering; that not know'st
Fools do those villains pity who are punish'd


Ere they have done their mischief. Where's thy drum?
France spreads his banners in our noiseless land,
With plumed helm thy State begins to threat;
Whiles thou, a moral fool, sitt'st still, and criest
Alack, why does he so?

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Were't my fitness

ALB. Thou changed and self-cover'd2 Thing, for shame,
Be-monster not thy feature! Were't

To let these hands obey my blood,

They are apt enough to dislocate and tear

Thy flesh and bones: howe'er thou art a Fiend,
A woman's shape doth shield thee.

GON. Marry, your manhood now


Enter a Messenger.

ALB. What news?

MESS. O, my good Lord, the Duke of Cornwall's dead;

Slain by his servant, going to put out

The other eye of Gloucester.


Gloucester's eyes!

MESS. A servant that he bred, thrill'd with remorse,

Oppos'd against the act, bending his sword

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