Act 3 Scene 4

Scene 4

[Enter Lear, Kent in disguise, and Fool.]


KENT 
 Here is the place, my lord. Good my lord, enter.
 The tyranny of the open night ’s too rough
 For nature to endure. [Storm still.]

LEAR   Let me alone.

[5]KENT 
 Good my lord, enter here.

LEAR   Wilt break my heart?

KENT 
 I had rather break mine own. Good my lord, enter.

LEAR 
 Thou think’st ’tis much that this contentious storm
 Invades us to the skin. So ’tis to thee.
[10]  But where the greater malady is fixed,
 The lesser is scarce felt. Thou ’dst shun a bear,
 But if thy flight lay toward the roaring sea,


 Thou ’dst meet the bear i’ th’ mouth. When the
 mind’s free,
[15]  The body’s delicate. This tempest in my mind
 Doth from my senses take all feeling else
 Save what beats there. Filial ingratitude!
 Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand
 For lifting food to ’t? But I will punish home.
[20]  No, I will weep no more. In such a night
 To shut me out? Pour on. I will endure.
 In such a night as this? O Regan, Goneril,
 Your old kind father whose frank heart gave all!
 O, that way madness lies. Let me shun that;
[25]  No more of that.

KENT   Good my lord, enter here.

LEAR 
 Prithee, go in thyself. Seek thine own ease.
 This tempest will not give me leave to ponder
 On things would hurt me more. But I’ll go in.—
[30]  In, boy; go first.—You houseless poverty—
 Nay, get thee in. I’ll pray, and then I’ll sleep.
[Fool exits.]
 Poor naked wretches, wheresoe’er you are,
 That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
 How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
[35]  Your looped and windowed raggedness defend
 you
 From seasons such as these? O, I have ta’en
 Too little care of this. Take physic, pomp.
 Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
[40]  That thou may’st shake the superflux to them
 And show the heavens more just.

EDGAR  [within]  Fathom and half, fathom and half!
 Poor Tom!


[Enter Fool.]


FOOL  Come not in here, nuncle; here’s a spirit. Help
[45]  me, help me!


KENT  Give me thy hand. Who’s there?

FOOL  A spirit, a spirit! He says his name’s Poor Tom.

KENT  What art thou that dost grumble there i’ th’
 straw? Come forth.


[Enter Edgar in disguise.]


[50]EDGAR  Away. The foul fiend follows me. Through the
 sharp hawthorn blows the cold wind. Hum! Go to
 thy cold bed and warm thee.

LEAR  Didst thou give all to thy daughters? And art thou
 come to this?

[55]EDGAR  Who gives anything to Poor Tom, whom the
 foul fiend hath led through fire and through flame,
 through ford and whirlpool, o’er bog and quagmire;
 that hath laid knives under his pillow and
 halters in his pew, set ratsbane by his porridge,
[60]  made him proud of heart to ride on a bay trotting
 horse over four-inched bridges to course his own
 shadow for a traitor? Bless thy five wits! Tom’s
 a-cold. O, do de, do de, do de. Bless thee from
 whirlwinds, star-blasting, and taking! Do Poor Tom
[65]  some charity, whom the foul fiend vexes. There
 could I have him now, and there—and there again
 —and there. [Storm still.]

LEAR 
 Has his daughters brought him to this pass?—
 Couldst thou save nothing? Wouldst thou give ’em
[70]  all?

FOOL  Nay, he reserved a blanket, else we had been all
 shamed.

LEAR 
 Now all the plagues that in the pendulous air
 Hang fated o’er men’s faults light on thy daughters!

[75]KENT  He hath no daughters, sir.

LEAR 
 Death, traitor! Nothing could have subdued nature
 To such a lowness but his unkind daughters.


 Is it the fashion that discarded fathers
 Should have thus little mercy on their flesh?
[80]  Judicious punishment! ’Twas this flesh begot
 Those pelican daughters.

EDGAR  Pillicock sat on Pillicock Hill. Alow, alow, loo,
 loo.

FOOL  This cold night will turn us all to fools and
[85]  madmen.

EDGAR  Take heed o’ th’ foul fiend. Obey thy parents,
 keep thy word’s justice, swear not, commit not with
 man’s sworn spouse, set not thy sweet heart on
 proud array. Tom’s a-cold.

[90]LEAR  What hast thou been?

EDGAR  A servingman, proud in heart and mind, that
 curled my hair, wore gloves in my cap, served the
 lust of my mistress’ heart and did the act of
 darkness with her, swore as many oaths as I spake
[95]  words and broke them in the sweet face of heaven;
 one that slept in the contriving of lust and waked to
 do it. Wine loved I deeply, dice dearly, and in
 woman out-paramoured the Turk. False of heart,
 light of ear, bloody of hand; hog in sloth, fox in
[100]  stealth, wolf in greediness, dog in madness, lion in
 prey. Let not the creaking of shoes nor the rustling
 of silks betray thy poor heart to woman. Keep thy
 foot out of brothels, thy hand out of plackets, thy
 pen from lenders’ books, and defy the foul fiend.
[105]  Still through the hawthorn blows the cold wind;
 says suum, mun, nonny. Dolphin my boy, boy, sessa!
 Let him trot by. [Storm still.]

LEAR  Thou wert better in a grave than to answer with
 thy uncovered body this extremity of the skies.—Is
[110]  man no more than this? Consider him well.—Thou
 ow’st 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; unaccommodated
 man is no more but such a poor, bare,


[115]  forked animal as thou art. Off, off, you lendings!
 Come, unbutton here. [Tearing off his clothes.]

FOOL  Prithee, 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
[120]  the rest on ’s body cold.


[Enter Gloucester, with a torch.]


 Look, here comes a walking fire.

EDGAR  This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet. He begins
 at curfew and walks till the first cock. He
 gives the web and the pin, squints the eye, and
[125]  makes the harelip, mildews the white wheat, and
 hurts the poor creature of earth.
 Swithold footed thrice the ’old,
 He met the nightmare and her ninefold,
  Bid her alight,
[130]   And her troth plight,
 And aroint thee, witch, aroint thee.

KENT  How fares your Grace?

LEAR  What’s he?

KENT  Who’s there? What is ’t you seek?

[135]GLOUCESTER  What are you there? Your names?

EDGAR  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
[140]  rat and the ditch-dog, drinks the green mantle of
 the standing pool; who is whipped from tithing to
 tithing, and stocked, punished, and imprisoned;
 who hath had three suits to his back, six shirts to
 his body,
[145]  Horse to ride, and weapon to wear;
 But mice and rats and such small deer
 Have been Tom’s food for seven long year.


 Beware my follower. Peace, Smulkin! Peace, thou
 fiend!

GLOUCESTER , [to Lear] 
[150]  What, hath your Grace no better company?

EDGAR  The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman. Modo
 he’s called, and Mahu.

GLOUCESTER , [to Lear] 
 Our flesh and blood, my lord, is grown so vile
 That it doth hate what gets it.

[155]EDGAR  Poor Tom’s a-cold.

GLOUCESTER , [to Lear] 
 Go in with me. My duty cannot suffer
 T’ obey in all your daughters’ hard commands.
 Though their injunction be to bar my doors
 And let this tyrannous night take hold upon you,
[160]  Yet have I ventured to come seek you out
 And bring you where both fire and food is ready.

LEAR 
 First let me talk with this philosopher.
  [To Edgar.] What is the cause of thunder?

KENT 
 Good my lord, take his offer; go into th’ house.

[165]LEAR 
 I’ll talk a word with this same learnèd Theban.—
 What is your study?

EDGAR  How to prevent the fiend and to kill vermin.

LEAR  Let me ask you one word in private.
[They talk aside.]

KENT , [to Gloucester] 
 Importune him once more to go, my lord.
[170]  His wits begin t’ unsettle.

GLOUCESTER   Canst thou blame him?
[Storm still.]
 His daughters seek his death. Ah, that good Kent!
 He said it would be thus, poor banished man.
 Thou sayest the King grows mad; I’ll tell thee,
[175]  friend,


 I am almost mad myself. I had a son,
 Now outlawed from my blood. He sought my life
 But lately, very late. I loved him, friend,
 No father his son dearer. True to tell thee,
[180]  The grief hath crazed my wits. What a night’s this!
 —I do beseech your Grace—

LEAR  O, cry you mercy, sir.
  [To Edgar.] Noble philosopher, your company.

EDGAR  Tom’s a-cold.

GLOUCESTER , [to Edgar] 
[185]  In fellow, there, into th’ hovel. Keep thee warm.

LEAR  Come, let’s in all.

KENT   This way, my lord.

LEAR , [indicating Edgar]   With him.
 I will keep still with my philosopher.

[190]KENT , [to Gloucester] 
 Good my lord, soothe him. Let him take the fellow.

GLOUCESTER , [to Kent]  Take him you on.

KENT , [to Edgar] 
 Sirrah, come on: go along with us.

LEAR  Come, good Athenian.

GLOUCESTER  No words, no words. Hush.

EDGAR 

[195]  Child Rowland to the dark tower came.
 His word was still “Fie, foh, and fum,
 I smell the blood of a British man.”
[They exit.]



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