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'King Lear' Act 3, Scene 4 (Part 2)

The Complete Text to 'King Lear' Act 3, Scene 4 (Part 2)

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[Storm still]


KING LEAR

Why, thou wert better in thy grave than to answer
with thy uncovered body this extremity of the skies.
Is man no more than this? Consider him well. Thou
owest 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,
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 the
rest on's body cold. Look, here comes a walking fire.

[Enter GLOUCESTER, with a torch]


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 makes the
hare-lip; mildews the white wheat, and hurts the
poor creature of earth.
S. Withold footed thrice the old;
He met the night-mare, and her nine-fold;
Bid her alight,
And her troth plight,
And, aroint thee, witch, aroint thee!


KENT

How fares your grace?


KING LEAR

What's he?


KENT

Who's there? What is't you seek?


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 rat and
the ditch-dog; drinks the green mantle of the
standing pool; who is whipped from tithing to
tithing, and stock-punished, and imprisoned; who
hath had three suits to his back, six shirts to his
body, 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

What, hath your grace no better company?


EDGAR

The prince of darkness is a gentleman:
Modo he's call'd, and Mahu.


GLOUCESTER

Our flesh and blood is grown so vile, my lord,
That it doth hate what gets it.


EDGAR

Poor Tom's a-cold.


GLOUCESTER

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


KING LEAR

First let me talk with this philosopher.
What is the cause of thunder?


KENT

Good my lord, take his offer; go into the house.


KING LEAR

I'll talk a word with this same learned Theban.
What is your study?


EDGAR

How to prevent the fiend, and to kill vermin.


KING LEAR

Let me ask you one word in private.


KENT

Importune him once more to go, my lord;
His wits begin to unsettle.


GLOUCESTER

Canst thou blame him?

[Storm still]

His daughters seek his death: ah, that good Kent!
He said it would be thus, poor banish'd man!
Thou say'st the king grows mad; I'll tell thee, friend,
I am almost mad myself: I had a son,
Now outlaw'd from my blood; he sought my life,
But lately, very late: I loved him, friend;
No father his son dearer: truth to tell thee,
The grief hath crazed my wits. What a night's this!
I do beseech your grace, --


KING LEAR

O, cry your mercy, sir.
Noble philosopher, your company.


EDGAR

Tom's a-cold.


GLOUCESTER

In, fellow, there, into the hovel: keep thee warm.


KING LEAR

Come let's in all.


KENT

This way, my lord.


KING LEAR

With him;
I will keep still with my philosopher.


KENT

Good my lord, soothe him; let him take the fellow.


GLOUCESTER

Take him you on.


KENT

Sirrah, come on; go along with us.


KING LEAR

Come, good Athenian.


GLOUCESTER

No words, no words: hush.


EDGAR

Child Rowland to the dark tower came,
His word was still, -- Fie, foh, and fum,
I smell the blood of a British man.

[Exeunt]

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