The Tragedy of King Lear

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Act III, Scene 6

A farmhouse near Gloucester’s Castle.

       
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Enter Gloucester, Lear, Kent, Fool, and Edgar.

  • Earl of Gloucester. Here is better than the open air; take it thankfully. I will
    piece out the comfort with what addition I can. I will not be
    long from you.
  • Earl of Kent. All the power of his wits have given way to his impatience. 2010
    The gods reward your kindness!

Exit [Gloucester].

  • Edgar. Frateretto calls me, and tells me Nero is an angler in the
    lake of darkness. Pray, innocent, and beware the foul fiend.
  • Fool. Prithee, nuncle, tell me whether a madman be a gentleman or a 2015
    yeoman.
  • Lear. A king, a king!
  • Fool. No, he's a yeoman that has a gentleman to his son; for he's a
    mad yeoman that sees his son a gentleman before him.
  • Lear. To have a thousand with red burning spits 2020
    Come hizzing in upon 'em-
  • Edgar. The foul fiend bites my back.
  • Fool. He's mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf, a horse's
    health, a boy's love, or a whore's oath.
  • Lear. It shall be done; I will arraign them straight. 2025
    [To Edgar] Come, sit thou here, most learned justicer.
    [To the Fool] Thou, sapient sir, sit here. Now, you she-foxes!
  • Edgar. Look, where he stands and glares! Want'st thou eyes at trial,
    madam?
    Come o'er the bourn, Bessy, to me. 2030
  • Fool. Her boat hath a leak,
    And she must not speak
    Why she dares not come over to thee.
  • Edgar. The foul fiend haunts poor Tom in the voice of a nightingale.
    Hoppedance cries in Tom's belly for two white herring. Croak 2035
    not, black angel; I have no food for thee.
  • Earl of Kent. How do you, sir? Stand you not so amaz'd.
    Will you lie down and rest upon the cushions?
  • Lear. I'll see their trial first. Bring in their evidence.
    [To Edgar] Thou, robed man of justice, take thy place. 2040
    [To the Fool] And thou, his yokefellow of equity,
    Bench by his side. [To Kent] You are o' th' commission,
    Sit you too.
  • Edgar. Let us deal justly.
    Sleepest or wakest thou, jolly shepherd? 2045
    Thy sheep be in the corn;
    And for one blast of thy minikin mouth
    Thy sheep shall take no harm.
    Purr! the cat is gray.
  • Lear. Arraign her first. 'Tis Goneril. I here take my oath before 2050
    this honourable assembly, she kicked the poor King her father.
  • Fool. Come hither, mistress. Is your name Goneril?
  • Lear. She cannot deny it.
  • Fool. Cry you mercy, I took you for a joint-stool.
  • Lear. And here's another, whose warp'd looks proclaim 2055
    What store her heart is made on. Stop her there!
    Arms, arms! sword! fire! Corruption in the place!
    False justicer, why hast thou let her scape?
  • Edgar. Bless thy five wits!
  • Earl of Kent. O pity! Sir, where is the patience now 2060
    That you so oft have boasted to retain?
  • Edgar. [aside] My tears begin to take his part so much
    They'll mar my counterfeiting.
  • Lear. The little dogs and all,
    Tray, Blanch, and Sweetheart, see, they bark at me. 2065
  • Edgar. Tom will throw his head at them. Avaunt, you curs!
    Be thy mouth or black or white,
    Tooth that poisons if it bite;
    Mastiff, greyhound, mongrel grim,
    Hound or spaniel, brach or lym, 2070
    Bobtail tyke or trundle-tail-
    Tom will make them weep and wail;
    For, with throwing thus my head,
    Dogs leap the hatch, and all are fled.
    Do de, de, de. Sessa! Come, march to wakes and fairs and market 2075
    towns. Poor Tom, thy horn is dry.
  • Lear. Then let them anatomize Regan. See what breeds about her
    heart. Is there any cause in nature that makes these hard
    hearts? [To Edgar] You, sir- I entertain you for one of my
    hundred; only I do not like the fashion of your garments. You'll 2080
    say they are Persian attire; but let them be chang'd.
  • Lear. Make no noise, make no noise; draw the curtains.
    So, so, so. We'll go to supper i' th' morning. So, so, so.
  • Fool. And I'll go to bed at noon. 2085

Enter Gloucester.

  • Earl of Kent. Here, sir; but trouble him not; his wits are gone.
  • Earl of Gloucester. Good friend, I prithee take him in thy arms.
    I have o'erheard a plot of death upon him. 2090
    There is a litter ready; lay him in't
    And drive towards Dover, friend, where thou shalt meet
    Both welcome and protection. Take up thy master.
    If thou shouldst dally half an hour, his life,
    With thine, and all that offer to defend him, 2095
    Stand in assured loss. Take up, take up!
    And follow me, that will to some provision
    Give thee quick conduct.
  • Earl of Kent. Oppressed nature sleeps.
    This rest might yet have balm'd thy broken senses, 2100
    Which, if convenience will not allow,
    Stand in hard cure. [To the Fool] Come, help to bear thy master.
    Thou must not stay behind.

Exeunt [all but Edgar].

  • Edgar. When we our betters see bearing our woes,
    We scarcely think our miseries our foes.
    Who alone suffers suffers most i' th' mind,
    Leaving free things and happy shows behind;
    But then the mind much sufferance doth o'erskip 2110
    When grief hath mates, and bearing fellowship.
    How light and portable my pain seems now,
    When that which makes me bend makes the King bow,
    He childed as I fathered! Tom, away!
    Mark the high noises, and thyself bewray 2115
    When false opinion, whose wrong thought defiles thee,
    In thy just proof repeals and reconciles thee.
    What will hap more to-night, safe scape the King!
    Lurk, lurk. [Exit.]

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