Act 4 Scene 6

Scene 6

[Enter Gloucester and Edgar dressed as a peasant.]


GLOUCESTER 
 When shall I come to th’ top of that same hill?

EDGAR 
 You do climb up it now. Look how we labor.

GLOUCESTER 
 Methinks the ground is even.

EDGAR   Horrible steep.
[5]  Hark, do you hear the sea?

GLOUCESTER   No, truly.

EDGAR 
 Why then, your other senses grow imperfect
 By your eyes’ anguish.

GLOUCESTER   So may it be indeed.
[10]  Methinks thy voice is altered and thou speak’st
 In better phrase and matter than thou didst.


EDGAR 
 You’re much deceived; in nothing am I changed
 But in my garments.

GLOUCESTER   Methinks you’re better spoken.

[15]EDGAR 
 Come on, sir. Here’s the place. Stand still. How
 fearful
 And dizzy ’tis to cast one’s eyes so low!
 The crows and choughs that wing the midway air
 Show scarce so gross as beetles. Halfway down
[20]  Hangs one that gathers samphire—dreadful trade;
 Methinks he seems no bigger than his head.
 The fishermen that walk upon the beach
 Appear like mice, and yond tall anchoring bark
 Diminished to her cock, her cock a buoy
[25]  Almost too small for sight. The murmuring surge
 That on th’ unnumbered idle pebble chafes
 Cannot be heard so high. I’ll look no more
 Lest my brain turn and the deficient sight
 Topple down headlong.

[30]GLOUCESTER   Set me where you stand.

EDGAR 
 Give me your hand. You are now within a foot
 Of th’ extreme verge. For all beneath the moon
 Would I not leap upright.

GLOUCESTER   Let go my hand.
[35]  Here, friend, ’s another purse; in it a jewel
 Well worth a poor man’s taking. Fairies and gods
 Prosper it with thee. [He gives Edgar a purse.]
 Go thou further off.
 Bid me farewell, and let me hear thee going.

[40]EDGAR , [walking away] 
 Now fare you well, good sir.

GLOUCESTER   With all my heart.

EDGAR , [aside] 
 Why I do trifle thus with his despair
 Is done to cure it.


GLOUCESTER   O you mighty gods! [He kneels.]
[45]  This world I do renounce, and in your sights
 Shake patiently my great affliction off.
 If I could bear it longer, and not fall
 To quarrel with your great opposeless wills,
 My snuff and loathèd part of nature should
[50]  Burn itself out. If Edgar live, O, bless him!—
 Now, fellow, fare thee well. [He falls.]

EDGAR   Gone, sir. Farewell.—
 And yet I know not how conceit may rob
 The treasury of life, when life itself
[55]  Yields to the theft. Had he been where he thought,
 By this had thought been past. Alive or dead?—
 Ho you, sir! Friend, hear you. Sir, speak.—
 Thus might he pass indeed. Yet he revives.—
 What are you, sir?

[60]GLOUCESTER   Away, and let me die.

EDGAR 
 Hadst thou been aught but gossamer, feathers, air,
 So many fathom down precipitating,
 Thou ’dst shivered like an egg; but thou dost
 breathe,
[65]  Hast heavy substance, bleed’st not, speak’st, art
 sound.
 Ten masts at each make not the altitude
 Which thou hast perpendicularly fell.
 Thy life’s a miracle. Speak yet again.

[70]GLOUCESTER  But have I fall’n or no?

EDGAR 
 From the dread summit of this chalky bourn.
 Look up a-height. The shrill-gorged lark so far
 Cannot be seen or heard. Do but look up.

GLOUCESTER  Alack, I have no eyes.
[75]  Is wretchedness deprived that benefit
 To end itself by death? ’Twas yet some comfort
 When misery could beguile the tyrant’s rage
 And frustrate his proud will.


EDGAR   Give me your arm.
[He raises Gloucester.]
[80]  Up. So, how is ’t? Feel you your legs? You stand.

GLOUCESTER 
 Too well, too well.

EDGAR   This is above all strangeness.
 Upon the crown o’ th’ cliff, what thing was that
 Which parted from you?

[85]GLOUCESTER   A poor unfortunate beggar.

EDGAR 
 As I stood here below, methought his eyes
 Were two full moons; he had a thousand noses,
 Horns whelked and waved like the enragèd sea.
 It was some fiend. Therefore, thou happy father,
[90]  Think that the clearest gods, who make them
 honors
 Of men’s impossibilities, have preserved thee.

GLOUCESTER 
 I do remember now. Henceforth I’ll bear
 Affliction till it do cry out itself
[95]  “Enough, enough!” and die. That thing you speak of,
 I took it for a man. Often ’twould say
 “The fiend, the fiend!” He led me to that place.

EDGAR 
 Bear free and patient thoughts.


[Enter Lear.]


 But who comes here?
[100]  The safer sense will ne’er accommodate
 His master thus.

LEAR  No, they cannot touch me for coining. I am the
 King himself.

EDGAR  O, thou side-piercing sight!

[105]LEAR  Nature’s above art in that respect. There’s your
 press-money. That fellow handles his bow like a
 crowkeeper. Draw me a clothier’s yard. Look, look,


 a mouse! Peace, peace! This piece of toasted cheese
 will do ’t. There’s my gauntlet; I’ll prove it on a
[110]  giant. Bring up the brown bills. O, well flown, bird!
 I’ th’ clout, i’ th’ clout! Hewgh! Give the word.

EDGAR  Sweet marjoram.

LEAR  Pass.

GLOUCESTER  I know that voice.

[115]LEAR  Ha! Goneril with a white beard? They flattered
 me like a dog and told me I had the white hairs in
 my beard ere the black ones were there. To say “ay”
 and “no” to everything that I said “ay” and “no” to
 was no good divinity. When the rain came to wet me
[120]  once and the wind to make me chatter, when the
 thunder would not peace at my bidding, there I
 found ’em, there I smelt ’em out. Go to. They are
 not men o’ their words; they told me I was everything.
 ’Tis a lie. I am not ague-proof.

[125]GLOUCESTER 
 The trick of that voice I do well remember.
 Is ’t not the King?

LEAR   Ay, every inch a king.
 When I do stare, see how the subject quakes.
 I pardon that man’s life. What was thy cause?
[130]  Adultery? Thou shalt not die. Die for adultery? No.
 The wren goes to ’t, and the small gilded fly does
 lecher in my sight. Let copulation thrive, for
 Gloucester’s bastard son was kinder to his father
 than my daughters got ’tween the lawful sheets. To
[135]  ’t, luxury, pell-mell, for I lack soldiers. Behold yond
 simp’ring dame, whose face between her forks
 presages snow, that minces virtue and does shake
 the head to hear of pleasure’s name. The fitchew
 nor the soiled horse goes to ’t with a more riotous
[140]  appetite. Down from the waist they are centaurs,
 though women all above. But to the girdle do the
 gods inherit; beneath is all the fiend’s. There’s hell,


 there’s darkness, there is the sulphurous pit; burning,
 scalding, stench, consumption! Fie, fie, fie, pah,
[145]  pah! Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary;
 sweeten my imagination. There’s money for thee.

GLOUCESTER  O, let me kiss that hand!

LEAR  Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality.

GLOUCESTER 
 O ruined piece of nature! This great world
[150]  Shall so wear out to naught. Dost thou know me?

LEAR  I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost thou
 squinny at me? No, do thy worst, blind Cupid, I’ll
 not love. Read thou this challenge. Mark but the
 penning of it.

[155]GLOUCESTER 
 Were all thy letters suns, I could not see.

EDGAR , [aside] 
 I would not take this from report. It is,
 And my heart breaks at it.

LEAR  Read.

GLOUCESTER  What, with the case of eyes?

[160]LEAR  O ho, are you there with me? No eyes in your
 head, nor no money in your purse? Your eyes are in
 a heavy case, your purse in a light, yet you see how
 this world goes.

GLOUCESTER  I see it feelingly.

[165]LEAR  What, art mad? A man may see how this world
 goes with no eyes. Look with thine ears. See how
 yond justice rails upon yond simple thief. Hark in
 thine ear. Change places and, handy-dandy, which
 is the justice, which is the thief? Thou hast seen a
[170]  farmer’s dog bark at a beggar?

GLOUCESTER  Ay, sir.

LEAR  And the creature run from the cur? There thou
 might’st behold the great image of authority: a
 dog’s obeyed in office.


[175]  Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand!
 Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thy own back.
 Thou hotly lusts to use her in that kind
 For which thou whipp’st her. The usurer hangs the
 cozener.
[180]  Through tattered clothes small vices do appear.
 Robes and furred gowns hide all. Plate sin with
 gold,
 And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks.
 Arm it in rags, a pygmy’s straw does pierce it.
[185]  None does offend, none, I say, none; I’ll able ’em.
 Take that of me, my friend, who have the power
 To seal th’ accuser’s lips. Get thee glass eyes,
 And like a scurvy politician
 Seem to see the things thou dost not. Now, now,
[190]  now, now.
 Pull off my boots. Harder, harder. So.

EDGAR , [aside] 
 O, matter and impertinency mixed,
 Reason in madness!

LEAR 
 If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes.
[195]  I know thee well enough; thy name is Gloucester.
 Thou must be patient. We came crying hither;
 Thou know’st the first time that we smell the air
 We wawl and cry. I will preach to thee. Mark.

GLOUCESTER  Alack, alack the day!

[200]LEAR 
 When we are born, we cry that we are come
 To this great stage of fools.—This’ a good block.
 It were a delicate stratagem to shoe
 A troop of horse with felt. I’ll put ’t in proof,
 And when I have stol’n upon these son-in-laws,
[205]  Then kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!


[Enter a Gentleman and Attendants.]




GENTLEMAN , [noticing Lear] 
 O, here he is. [To an Attendant.] Lay hand upon
 him.—Sir,
 Your most dear daughter—

LEAR 
 No rescue? What, a prisoner? I am even
[210]  The natural fool of Fortune. Use me well.
 You shall have ransom. Let me have surgeons;
 I am cut to th’ brains.

GENTLEMAN   You shall have anything.

LEAR  No seconds? All myself?
[215]  Why, this would make a man a man of salt,
 To use his eyes for garden waterpots,
 Ay, and laying autumn’s dust.
 I will die bravely like a smug bridegroom. What?
 I will be jovial. Come, come, I am a king,
[220]  Masters, know you that?

GENTLEMAN 
 You are a royal one, and we obey you.

LEAR  Then there’s life in ’t. Come, an you get it, you
 shall get it by running. Sa, sa, sa, sa.

[The King exits running pursued by Attendants.]

GENTLEMAN 
 A sight most pitiful in the meanest wretch,
[225]  Past speaking of in a king. Thou hast a daughter
 Who redeems nature from the general curse
 Which twain have brought her to.

EDGAR  Hail, gentle sir.

GENTLEMAN  Sir, speed you. What’s your will?

[230]EDGAR 
 Do you hear aught, sir, of a battle toward?

GENTLEMAN 
 Most sure and vulgar. Everyone hears that,
 Which can distinguish sound.

EDGAR   But, by your favor,
 How near’s the other army?


[235]GENTLEMAN 
 Near and on speedy foot. The main descry
 Stands on the hourly thought.

EDGAR  I thank you, sir. That’s all.

GENTLEMAN 
 Though that the Queen on special cause is here,
 Her army is moved on.

[240]EDGAR   I thank you, sir.
[Gentleman exits.]

GLOUCESTER 
 You ever-gentle gods, take my breath from me;
 Let not my worser spirit tempt me again
 To die before you please.

EDGAR  Well pray you, father.

[245]GLOUCESTER  Now, good sir, what are you?

EDGAR 
 A most poor man, made tame to Fortune’s blows,
 Who, by the art of known and feeling sorrows,
 Am pregnant to good pity. Give me your hand;
 I’ll lead you to some biding.
[He takes Gloucester’s hand.]

[250]GLOUCESTER   Hearty thanks.
 The bounty and the benison of heaven
 To boot, and boot.


[Enter Oswald, the Steward.]


OSWALD , [drawing his sword] 
 A proclaimed prize! Most happy!
 That eyeless head of thine was first framed flesh
[255]  To raise my fortunes. Thou old unhappy traitor,
 Briefly thyself remember; the sword is out
 That must destroy thee.

GLOUCESTER   Now let thy friendly hand
 Put strength enough to ’t.
[Edgar steps between Gloucester and Oswald.]

[260]OSWALD   Wherefore, bold peasant,


 Dar’st thou support a published traitor? Hence,
 Lest that th’ infection of his fortune take
 Like hold on thee. Let go his arm.

EDGAR  Chill not let go, zir, without vurther ’casion.

[265]OSWALD  Let go, slave, or thou diest!

EDGAR  Good gentleman, go your gait, and let poor
 volk pass. An ’chud ha’ bin zwaggered out of my
 life, ’twould not ha’ bin zo long as ’tis by a vortnight.
 Nay, come not near th’ old man. Keep out,
[270]  che vor’ ye, or Ise try whether your costard or my
 ballow be the harder. Chill be plain with you.

OSWALD  Out, dunghill.

EDGAR  Chill pick your teeth, zir. Come, no matter vor
 your foins. [They fight.]

[275]OSWALD , [falling] 
 Slave, thou hast slain me. Villain, take my purse.
 If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body,
 And give the letters which thou find’st about me
 To Edmund, Earl of Gloucester. Seek him out
 Upon the English party. O, untimely death! Death!
[He dies.]

[280]EDGAR 
 I know thee well, a serviceable villain,
 As duteous to the vices of thy mistress
 As badness would desire.

GLOUCESTER  What, is he dead?

EDGAR  Sit you down, father; rest you.
[285]  Let’s see these pockets. The letters that he speaks of
 May be my friends. He’s dead; I am only sorry
 He had no other deathsman. Let us see.
[He opens a letter.]
 Leave, gentle wax, and, manners, blame us not.
 To know our enemies’ minds, we rip their hearts.
[290]  Their papers is more lawful. [Reads the letter.]

 Let our reciprocal vows be remembered. You have
 many opportunities to cut him off. If your will want
 not, time and place will be fruitfully offered. There is


 nothing done if he return the conqueror. Then am I
[295]  the prisoner, and his bed my jail, from the loathed
 warmth whereof deliver me and supply the place for
 your labor.
 Your (wife, so I would say) affectionate servant,
 and, for you, her own for venture,Goneril.

[300]  O indistinguished space of woman’s will!
 A plot upon her virtuous husband’s life,
 And the exchange my brother.—Here, in the sands
 Thee I’ll rake up, the post unsanctified
 Of murderous lechers; and in the mature time
[305]  With this ungracious paper strike the sight
 Of the death-practiced duke. For him ’tis well
 That of thy death and business I can tell.

GLOUCESTER 
 The King is mad. How stiff is my vile sense
 That I stand up and have ingenious feeling
[310]  Of my huge sorrows! Better I were distract.
 So should my thoughts be severed from my griefs,
 And woes, by wrong imaginations, lose
 The knowledge of themselves. [Drum afar off.]

EDGAR   Give me your hand.
[315]  Far off methinks I hear the beaten drum.
 Come, father, I’ll bestow you with a friend.
[They exit.]



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