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Lear. True, my good boy.-Come, bring us to this hovel.
[Exeunt LEAR and KENT. Fool. This is a brave night to cool a courtesan." I'll speak a prophecy ere I go : When priests are more in word than matter ; When brewers mar their malt with water; When nobles are their tailors' tutors; No heretics burned, but wenches' suitors; When every case in law is right; No squire in debt, nor no poor knight; When slanders do not live in tongues ; Nor cutpurses come not to throngs; When usurers tell their gold i' the field; And bawds and whores do churches build ; Then shall the realm of Albion Come to great confusion.” Then comes the time, who lives to see't, That going shall be used with feet. This prophecy Merlin shall make; for I live before his time.
SCENE III. A Room in Gloster's Castle.
Enter GLOSTER and EDMUND. Glo. Alack, alack, Edmund, I like not this unnatural dealing. When I desired their leave that I might pity him, they took from me the use of mine own house; charged me, on pain of their perpetual displeasure, neither to speak of him, entreat for him, nor any way sustain him.
Edm. Most savage, and unnatural !
Glo. Go to; say you nothing. There is division between the dukes; and a worse matter than that. I have received a letter this night;—'tis dangerous to be spoken.--I have locked the letter in
1 This speech is not in the quartos.
2 These lines are taken from what is commonly called Chaucer's Prophecy; but which is much older than his time in its original form. See the Works of Chaucer, in Whittingham's edit. vol. v. p. 179.
injuries the king now bears will be revenged at home; there is part of a power already footed:1 we must incline to the king. I will seek him, and privily relieve him ; go you, and maintain talk with the duke, that my charity be not of him perceived. If he ask for me, I am ill and gone to bed. If I die for it, as no less is threatened me, the king my old master must be relieved. There is some strange thing toward, Edmund; pray you, be careful.
[Exit. Edm. This courtesy, forbid thee, shall the duke Instantly know; and of that letter too.This seems a fair deserving, and must draw me That which my father loses; no less than all : The younger rises, when the old doth fall.
SCENE IV. A Part of the Heath, with a Hovel.
Enter LEAR, KENT, 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. Kent. Good my lord, enter here. Lear.
Wilt break my heart? Kent. I'd 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; But where the greater malady is fixed, 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' the mouth. When the
mind's free, The body's delicate ; the tempest in my mind
1 The quartos read landed.
Doth from my senses take all feeling else,
Good my lord, enter here.
poverty, Nay, get thee in. I'll pray, and then I?ll sleep.
[Fool goes in. Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are, That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm, How shall your houseless heads, and unfed sides, 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; That thou mayst shake the superflux to them, And show the Heavens more just. Edg. [Within.] Fathom and half, fathom and half! Poor Tom ! 4
[The Fool runs out from the hovel. Fool. Come not in here, nuncle, here's a spirit. Help me, help me!
Kent. Give me thy hand.-Who's there?
1 This line is omitted in the quartos.
4 This speech of Edgar's is omitted in the quartos.-He gives the sign used by those who are sounding the depth at sea.
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 !1 Tom's a-cold.-0, 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, and there again, and there.
[Storm continues. Lear. What, have his daughters brought him to this
Couldst thou save nothing ? Did'st thou give them all ?
Fool. Nay, he reserved a blanket, else we had been all ashamed.
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.
1 It has been before observed, that the wits seem to have been reckoned fire by analogy to the five senses. 2 To take is to blast, or strike with malignant influence. VOL. VII.
Should have thus little mercy on their flesh ?
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.
Lear. What hast thou been ?
Edg. A serving-man, proud in heart and mind that curled my hair ;3 wore gloves in my cap;4 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, 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,
1 The young pelican is fabled to suck the mother's blood. The allusions to this fable are very numerous in old writers.
2 It should be observed, that Killico is one of the devils mentioned in Harsnet's Declaration of Popish Impostures. The inquisitive reader may find a further explanation of this word in Minsheu's Dictionary, art. 9299; and Chalmers's Works of Sir David Lindsay, Glossary, v. pillok.
3 “Then Ma. Mainy, by the instigation of the first of the seven, (spirits,] began to set his hands unto his side, curled his hair, and used such gestures as Ma. Edmunds [the exorcist) presently affirmed that that spirit was Pride.” Harsnet's Declaration, &c. 1603. Before each sin was cast out, Mainy, by gestures, acted that particular sin-curling his hair, to show pride, &c. &c.
4 It was anciently the custom to wear gloves in the hat on three distinct occasions, viz. as the favor of a mistress, the memorial of a friend, and as a mark to be challenged by an enemy.
5 Credulous of evil, ready to receive malicious reports.