King Lear

by William Shakespeare

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ACT III - Scene IV.

The heath. Before a hovel.

Storm still. Enter Lear, Kent, and Fool.

Here is the place, my lord. Good my lord, enter.
The tyranny of the open night 's too rough
For nature to endure.

Let me alone.

Good my lord, enter here.

Wilt break my heart?

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

Thou think'st 'tis much that this contentious storm
Invades us to the skin. So 'tis to thee;
But where the greater malady is fix'd,
The lesser is scarce felt. Thou'dst shun a bear;
But if thy flight lay toward the raging sea,
Thou'dst meet the bear i' th' mouth. When the mind's free,
The body's delicate. The 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!
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!
No more of that.

Good my lord, enter here.

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.
[To the Fool] In, boy; go first.- You houseless poverty-
Nay, get thee in. I'll pray, and then I'll sleep.

Exit [Fool].

Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your loop'd and window'd 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,
That thou mayst shake the superflux to them
And show the heavens more just.

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

Enter Fool [from the hovel].

Come not in here, nuncle, here's a spirit. Help me, help me!

Give me thy hand. Who's there?

A spirit, a spirit! He says his name's poor Tom.

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

Enter Edgar [disguised as a madman].

Away! the foul fiend follows me! Through the sharp hawthorn
blows the cold wind. Humh! go to thy cold bed, and warm thee.

Hast thou given all to thy two daughters, and art thou come
to this?

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, made him proud
of heart, to ride on a bay trotting horse over four-inch'd
bridges, to course his own shadow for a traitor. Bless thy five
wits! Tom 's acold. O, do de, do de, do de. Bless thee from
whirlwinds, star-blasting, and taking! Do poor Tom some charity,
whom the foul fiend vexes. There could I have him now- and there-
and there again- and there!

Storm still.

What, have his daughters brought him to this pass?
Couldst thou save nothing? Didst thou give 'em all?

Nay, he reserv'd a blanket, else we had been all sham'd.

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

He hath no daughters, sir.

Death, traitor! nothing could have subdu'd nature
To such a lowness but his unkind daughters.
Is it the fashion that discarded fathers
Should have thus little mercy on their flesh?
Judicious punishment! 'Twas this flesh begot
Those pelican daughters.

Pillicock sat on Pillicock's Hill. 'Allow, 'allow, loo, loo!

This cold night will turn us all to fools and madmen.

Take heed o' th' foul fiend; obey thy parents: keep thy word
justly; swear not; commit not with man's sworn spouse; set not
thy sweet heart on proud array. Tom 's acold.

What hast thou been?

A servingman, proud in heart and mind; that curl'd my hair,
wore gloves in my cap; serv'd the lust of my mistress' heart and
did the act of darkness with her; swore as many oaths as I spake
words, and broke them in the sweet face of heaven; one that
slept in the contriving of lust, and wak'd to do it. Wine lov'd
I deeply, dice dearly; and in woman out-paramour'd the Turk.
False of heart, light of ear, bloody of hand; hog in sloth, fox
in 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 brothel, thy hand
out of placket, thy pen from lender's book, and defy the foul
fiend. Still through the hawthorn blows the cold wind; says
suum, mun, hey, no, nonny. Dolphin my boy, my boy, sessa! let
him trot by.

Storm still.

Why, thou wert better in thy grave than to answer with thy
uncover'd body this extremity of the skies. Is 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, forked
animal as thou art. Off, off, you lendings! Come, unbutton

[Tears at his clothes.]

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.

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 harelip; mildews the white wheat,
and hurts the poor creature of earth.

Saint Withold footed thrice the 'old;
He met the nightmare, and her nine fold;
Bid her alight
And her troth plight,
And aroint thee, witch, aroint thee!

How fares your Grace?

What's he?

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

What are you there? Your names?

Poor Tom, that eats the swimming frog, the toad, the todpole,
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 whipp'd from tithing to tithing, and
stock-punish'd and imprison'd; who hath had three suits to his
back, six shirts to his body, horse to ride, and weapons to

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!

What, hath your Grace no better company?

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

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

Poor Tom 's acold.

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,
Yet have I ventur'd to come seek you out
And bring you where both fire and food is ready.

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

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

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

How to prevent the fiend and to kill vermin.

Let me ask you one word in private.

Importune him once more to go, my lord.
His wits begin t' unsettle.

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 lov'd him, friend-
No father his son dearer. True to tell thee,
The grief hath craz'd my wits. What a night 's this!
I do beseech your Grace-

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

Tom's acold.

In, fellow, there, into th' hovel; keep thee warm.

Come, let's in all.

This way, my lord.

With him!
I will keep still with my philosopher.

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

Take him you on.

Sirrah, come on; go along with us.

Come, good Athenian.

No words, no words! hush.

Child Rowland to the dark tower came;
His word was still

Fie, foh, and fum!
I smell the blood of a British man.


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