« PreviousContinue »
Kent. What art thou that dost grumble there i'the
straw ? Come forth.
Enter EDGAR, disguised as a Madman. Edg. Away! the foul fiend follows me !-Through the sharp hawthorn blows the cold wind. Humph! go to thy cold bed, and warm thee.
Lear. Hast thou given all to thy two daughters ? And art thou come to this ?
Edg. Who gives any thing to poor Tom? whom the foul fiend hath led through fire and through flame, through ford and whirlpool, over 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-inched bridges, to course his own shadow for a traitor :-Bless thy five wits! Tom's a-cold.-0, do de, do de, do de.—Bless thee from whirlwinds, starblasting, and taking !? Do poor Tom some charity, whom the foul fiend vexes: There could I have him now,—and there, and there,-and there again, and there.
[Storm continues. Lear. What, have his daughters brought him to
Could'st thou save nothing? Did'st thou give them
all ? Fool. Nay, he reserved a blanket, else we had been all shamed.
2 Tu take is to blast, or strike with malignant influence.
Lear. Now, all the plagues that in the pendulous air Hang fated o'er men's faults, light on thy daughters !
Kent. He hath no daughters, sir.
Edg. Pillicock sat on pillicock's-hill ;-
Fool. This cold night will turn us all to fools and madmen.
Edg. Take heed o`the 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 a-cold.
Leur. What hast thou been ?
Edg. A serving-man, proud in heart and mind; that curled my hair; wore gloves in my cap,3 served the lust of my mistress's 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 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 stealth, wolf in greediness, dog in madness, lion in prey. Let not the creaking of shoes, nor the rustling of silks,
3 It was the custom to wear gloves in the hat, as the favour of a mistress.
betray thy poor heart to women : Keep thy foot out of brothels, thy hand out of plackets, thy pen from lenders' books, and defy the foul fiend.-Still through the hawthorn blows the cold wind: Says suum, mun, ha no nonny, dolphin my boy, my boy, sessa;
let him trot by. [Storm still continues. Lear. Why, thou were 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 of us 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. 4
[Tearing of his Clothes, Fool. Pr'ythee, nuncle, be contented; this is 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 of his body cold.-Look, here comes a walking fire.
Edg. 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,
Saint Withold" footed thrice the wold;7
He met the night-mare, and her nine-fold; 4 The words unbutton bere, are probably only a marginal direction crept into the matter.
5 Diseases of the eye. 6 A Saint said to protect his devotees from the disease called the night mare.
7 Wiid downs, so called in various parts of England.
Bid her alight,
And her troth plight,
Enter GLOSTER, with a Torch.
you seek? Glo. What are you there? Your names ?
Edg. 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 tything to tything,' and stocked, 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,
Hare been Tom's food for seven long year. Beware my follower :—Peace, Smolkin;a peace,
thou fiend! Glo. What, hath your grace no better company?
Edg. The prince of darkness is a gentleman ; Modo he's call’d, and Mahu.3 Glo. Our flesh and blood, my lord, is grown so
vile, That it doth hate what gets it.
Edg. Poor Tom's a-cold.
8 Avaunt. 97.e. The water-newt.
1 A tything is a division of a county.
Glo. Go in with me; my duty cannot suffer
Lear. First let me talk with this philosopher :-
Kent. Good my lord, take his offer ; Go into the house.
Lear. I'll talk a word with this same learned The
What is your study?
Edg. How to prevent the fiend, and to kill vermin. Lear. Let me ask you one word in private.
Kent. Impórtune him once more to go, my lord, His wits begin to unsettle. Glo.
Can'st thou blame him? 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,
[Storm continues. The grief hath craz’d my wits. What a night's this ! I do beseech your grace, Lear.
O, cry you mercy, Noble philosopher, your company.