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To lead him where he would; his roguish madness
Allows itself to any thing.

2 Serv. Go thou; I'll fetch some flax, and whites of


To apply to his bleeding face. Now, heaven help him! [Exeunt severally.

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Edg. Yet better thus, and known to be contemn'd, Than still contemn'd and flatter'd. To be worst, The lowest, and most dejected thing of fortune, Stands still in esperance, lives not in fear: The lamentable change is from the best; The worst returns to laughter. Welcome then, Thou unsubstantial air, that I embrace !

The wretch, that thou hast blown unto the worst, Owes nothing to thy blasts. But who comes here?

Enter GLOSTER, led by an old Man.

My father, poorly led? - World, world, O world!
But that thy strange mutations make us hate thee, 5
Life would not yield to age.

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But that thy strange mutations make us hate thee,] O world! if reverses of fortune and changes such as I now see and feel, from ease and affluence to poverty and misery, did not show us the little value of life, we should never submit with any kind of resignation to the weight of years, and its necessary consequence, infirmity and death. MALONE.

Old Man. O my good lord, I have been your tenant, and your father's tenant, these fourscore years.

Glo. Away, get thee away; good friend, be gone: Thy comforts can do me no good at all,

Thee they may hurt.

Old Man. Alack, sir, you cannot see your way. Glo. I have no way, and therefore want no eyes; I stumbled when I saw: Full oft 'tis seen,

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Our mean secures us 6: and our mere defects
Prove our commodities. Ah, dear son Edgar,
The food of thy abused father's wrath!
Might I but live to see thee in my touch,
I'd say, I had eyes again!

Old Man.

How now? Who's there?

Edg. [aside.] O gods! Who is't can say, I am at the


I am worse than e'er I was.

Old Man.

'Tis poor mad Tom.

Edg. [aside.] And worse I may be yet: The worst is


So long as we can say, This is the worst.

Old Man. Fellow, where goest?

Is it a beggar-man?

Old Man. Madman and beggar too.

Glo. He has some reason, else he could not beg.

I'the last night's storm I such a fellow saw;

Which made me think a man a worm: My son

Came then into my mind; and yet my mind

Was then scarce friends with him: I have heard more

since :

As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods;

They kill us for their sport.


How should this be?—

Bad is the trade must play the fool to sorrow,

• Our mean secures us ;] Mean is here a substantive, and signifies

a middle state. Mr. Malone reads " Our means secure us."

Ang'ring itself and others.



Bless thee,

Ay, my lord.

Glo. Is that the naked fellow?

Old Man.

Glo. Then, pr'ythee, get thee gone: If, for my sake, Thou wilt o'ertake us, hence a mile or twain, I'the way to Dover, do it for ancient love; And bring some covering for this naked soul, Whom I'll entreat to lead me.

Old Man.

Alack, sir, he's mad.

Glo. 'Tis the times' plague, when madmen lead the blind.

Do as I bid thee, or rather do thy pleasure;

Above the rest, be gone.

Old Man. I'll bring him the best 'parrel that I have, Come on't what will.

Glo. Sirrah, naked fellow.


Edg. Poor Tom's a-cold. I cannot daub it further.

Glo. Come hither, fellow.


Edg. [aside.] And yet I must. - Bless thy sweet eyes, they bleed.

Glo. Know'st thou the way to Dover?

Edg. Both stile and gate, horse-way, and foot-path. Poor Tom hath been scared out of his good wits: Bless the good man from the foul fiend! Five fiends have been in poor Tom at once; of lust, as Obidicut; Hobbididance, prince of dumbness; Mahu, of stealing; Modo, of murder; and Flibbertigibbet, of mopping and mowing; who since possesses chamber-maids and waiting-women. So, bless thee, master!

Glo. Here, take this purse, thou whom the heaven's


Have humbled to all strokes: that I am wretched,
Makes thee the happier :- Heavens, deal so still!
Let the superfluous, and lust-dieted man,

7 I cannot daub it-] i.e disguise.

That slaves your ordinance, that will not see
Because he doth not feel, feel your power quickly;
So distribution should undo excess,

And each man have enough. - Dost thou know Dover?
Edg. Ay, master.

Glo. There is a cliff, whose high and bending head

Looks fearfully in the confined deep:

Bring me but to the very brim of it,

And I'll repair the misery thou dost bear,

With something rich about me: from that place

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Gon. Welcome, my lord: I marvel, our mild husband
Not met us on the way: Now, where's your master?
Stew. Madam, within; but never man so chang'd:
I told him of the army that was landed;

He smil❜d at it: I told him, you were coming;
His answer was, The worse: of Gloster's treachery,
And of the loyal service of his son,

When I inform'd him, then he call'd me sot;
And told me, I had turn'd the wrong side out:
What most he should dislike, seems pleasant to him;
What like, offensive.

8 That slaves your ordinance, &c.] The language of Shakspeare is very licentious, and his words have often meanings remote from the proper and original use. To slave or beslave another is to treat him with terms of indignity: in a kindred sense, to slave the ordinance, may be, to slight or ridicule it. JOHNSON.

To slave an ordinance, is to treat it as a slave, to make it subject to us, instead of acting in obedience to it.


Then shall you go no further.

It is the cowish terror of his spirit,


That dares not undertake: he'll not feel wrongs,
Which tie him to an answer: Our wishes, on the way,
May prove effects 9. Back, Edmund, to my brother;
Hasten his musters, and conduct his powers:
I must change arms at home, and give the distaff
Into my husband's hands. This trusty servant
Shall pass between us: ere long you are like to hear,
If you dare venture in your own behalf,

A mistress's command. Wear this; spare speech;

[Giving a Favour. Decline your head': this kiss, if it durst speak, Would stretch thy spirits up into the air; Conceive, and fare thee well.

Edm. Yours in the ranks of death.


My most dear Gloster!

[Exit EDMUNd.

O, the difference of man, and man! To thee
A woman's services are due; my fool

Usurps my bed.


Madam, here comes my lord.

[Exit Steward.


Gon. I have been worth the whistle.

9 Our wishes, on the way,


May prove effects.] What we wish, before our march is at an end, may be brought to happen, i. e. the murder or despatch of her husband.

1 Decline your head: &c.] She bids him decline his head, that she might give him a kiss (the steward being present), and that it might appear only to him as a whisper.

2 I have been worth the whistle.] Goneril's meaning seems to be There was a time when you would have thought me worth the calling to you; reproaching him for not having summoned her to consult with on the present critical occasion.

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