Act 4 Scene 1


Scene 1

[Enter Edgar in disguise.]

 Yet better thus, and known to be contemned,
 Than still contemned and flattered. To be worst,
 The lowest and most dejected thing of Fortune,
 Stands still in esperance, lives not in fear.
[5]  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 and an old man.]

[10]  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, begone.
 Thy comforts can do me no good at all;
 Thee they may hurt.

OLD MAN   You cannot see your way.

 I have no way and therefore want no eyes.
[20]  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 abusèd father’s wrath,
 Might I but live to see thee in my touch,
[25]  I’d say I had eyes again.

OLD MAN   How now? Who’s there?

EDGAR , [aside] 
 O gods, who is ’t can say “I am at the worst”?
 I am worse than e’er I was.

OLD MAN   ’Tis poor mad Tom.

[30]EDGAR , [aside] 
 And worse I may be yet. The worst is not
 So long as we can say “This is the worst.”

 Fellow, where goest?

GLOUCESTER   Is it a beggar-man?

OLD MAN  Madman and beggar too.

 He has some reason, else he could not beg.
 I’ th’ 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
[40]  more since.
 As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods;
 They kill us for their sport.

EDGAR , [aside]   How should this be?
 Bad is the trade that must play fool to sorrow,
[45]  Ang’ring itself and others.—Bless thee, master.

 Is that the naked fellow?

OLD MAN   Ay, my lord.

 Then, prithee, get thee away. If for my sake

 Thou wilt o’ertake us hence a mile or twain
[50]  I’ th’ way toward Dover, do it for ancient love,
 And bring some covering for this naked soul,
 Which I’ll entreat to lead me.

OLD MAN  Alack, sir, he is mad.

 ’Tis the time’s plague when madmen lead the blind.
[55]  Do as I bid thee, or rather do thy pleasure.
 Above the rest, begone.

 I’ll bring him the best ’parel that I have,
 Come on ’t what will. [He exits.]

GLOUCESTER   Sirrah, naked fellow—

 Poor Tom’s a-cold.  [Aside.] I cannot daub it further.

GLOUCESTER  Come hither, fellow.

EDGAR , [aside] 
 And yet I must.—Bless thy sweet eyes, they bleed.

GLOUCESTER  Know’st thou the way to Dover?

EDGAR  Both stile and gate, horseway and footpath.
[65]  Poor Tom hath been scared out of his good wits.
 Bless thee, 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,
[70]  of mopping and mowing, who since possesses
 chambermaids and waiting women. So, bless
 thee, master.

GLOUCESTER , [giving him money] 
 Here, take this purse, thou whom the heavens’
[75]  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 does not feel, feel your power quickly.

[80]  So distribution should undo excess
 And each man have enough. Dost thou know Dover?

EDGAR  Ay, master.

 There is a cliff, whose high and bending head
 Looks fearfully in the confinèd deep.
[85]  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.

EDGAR   Give me thy arm.
[90]  Poor Tom shall lead thee.
[They exit.]

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