Act 3 Scene 6

Scene 6

[Enter Kent in disguise, and Gloucester.]


GLOUCESTER  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.

KENT  All the power of his wits have given way to his
[5]  impatience. The gods reward your kindness!
[Gloucester exits.]


Enter Lear, Edgar in disguise, and Fool.]


EDGAR  Frateretto calls me and tells me Nero is an


 angler in the lake of darkness. Pray, innocent, and
 beware the foul fiend.

FOOL  Prithee, nuncle, tell me whether a madman be a
[10]  gentleman 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.

[15]LEAR 
 To have a thousand with red burning spits
 Come hissing in upon ’em!

EDGAR  The foul fiend bites my back.

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.

[20]LEAR 
 It shall be done. I will arraign them straight.
  [To Edgar.] Come, sit thou here, most learnèd
 justice.
  [To Fool.] Thou sapient sir, sit here. Now, you
 she-foxes—

[25]EDGAR  Look where he stands and glares!—Want’st
 thou eyes at trial, madam?
[Sings.]  Come o’er the burn, Bessy, to me—

FOOL  [sings] 

 Her boat hath a leak,
 And she must not speak
[30]  Why she dares not come over to thee.

EDGAR  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.

KENT , [to Lear] 
[35]  How do you, sir? Stand you not so amazed.
 Will you lie down and rest upon the cushions?

LEAR 
 I’ll see their trial first. Bring in their evidence.


  [To Edgar.] Thou robèd man of justice, take thy
 place,
[40]   [To Fool.] And thou, his yokefellow of equity,
 Bench by his side.  [To Kent.] You are o’ th’
 commission;
 Sit you, too.

EDGAR  Let us deal justly.
[45] [Sings.]  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.

[50]LEAR  Arraign her first; ’tis Goneril. I here take my oath
 before this honorable assembly, kicked the poor
 king her father.

FOOL  Come hither, mistress. Is your name Goneril?

LEAR  She cannot deny it.

[55]FOOL  Cry you mercy, I took you for a joint stool.

LEAR 
 And here’s another whose warped 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?

[60]EDGAR  Bless thy five wits!

KENT , [to Lear] 
 O pity! Sir, where is the patience now
 That you so oft have boasted to retain?

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

[65]LEAR  The little dogs and all,
 Tray, Blanch, and Sweetheart, see, they bark at me.

EDGAR  Tom will throw his head at them.—Avaunt, you
 curs!

 Be thy mouth or black or white,
[70]  Tooth that poisons if it bite,


 Mastiff, greyhound, mongrel grim,
 Hound or spaniel, brach, or lym,
 Bobtail tike, or trundle-tail,
 Tom will make him weep and wail;
[75]  For, with throwing thus my head,
 Dogs leapt 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.

[80]LEAR  Then let them anatomize Regan; see what breeds
 about her heart. Is there any cause in nature that
 make these hard hearts?  [To Edgar.] You, sir, I
 entertain for one of my hundred; only I do not like
 the fashion of your garments. You will say they are
[85]  Persian, but let them be changed.

KENT 
 Now, good my lord, lie here and rest awhile.

LEAR , [lying down]  Make no noise, make no noise.
 Draw the curtains. So, so, we’ll go to supper i’ th’
 morning.

FOOL  And I’ll go to bed at noon.


[Enter Gloucester.]


GLOUCESTER , [to Kent] 
 Come hither, friend. Where is the King my master?

KENT 
 Here, sir, but trouble him not; his wits are gone.

GLOUCESTER 
 Good friend, I prithee, take him in thy arms.
 I have o’erheard a plot of death upon him.
[95]  There is a litter ready; lay him in ’t,
 And drive toward Dover, friend, where thou shalt
 meet
 Both welcome and protection. Take up thy master.
 If thou shouldst dally half an hour, his life,
[100]  With thine and all that offer to defend him,
 Stand in assurèd loss. Take up, take up,


 And follow me, that will to some provision
 Give thee quick conduct.

   Oppressèd nature sleeps.
[105]  This rest might yet have balmed thy broken sinews,
 Which, if convenience will not allow,
 Stand in hard cure.  [To the Fool.] Come, help to
 bear thy master.
 Thou must not stay behind.

[110]GLOUCESTER   Come, come away.
[All but Edgar exit, carrying Lear.]

EDGAR 
 When we our betters see bearing our woes,
 We scarcely think our miseries our foes.
 Who alone suffers suffers most i’ th’ mind,
 Leaving free things and happy shows behind.
[115]  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!
[120]  He childed as I fathered. Tom, away.
 Mark the high noises, and thyself bewray
 When false opinion, whose wrong thoughts defile
 thee,
 In thy just proof repeals and reconciles thee.
[125]  What will hap more tonight, safe ’scape the King!
 Lurk, lurk.
[He exits.]



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