King Lear : Act 4, Scene 6

            Enter GLOUCESTER and
dressed like a peasant —Edgar is now wearing the "best 'parel" provided by Gloucester's old tenant.
            EDGAR [dressed like a peasant].

  1   When shall we come to th' top of that same hill?
that same hill i.e., that hill you promised to take me to —See Act 4, Scene 6, line 73 ff.

labour sweat and pant
  2   You do climb up it now: look, how we labour.

  3   Methinks the ground is even.

  3                                                      Horrible steep.
  4   Hark, do you hear the sea?

  4                                                   No, truly.

  5   Why, then, your other senses grow imperfect
  6   By your eyes' anguish.

  6                                             So may it be, indeed:
  7   Methinks thy voice is alter'd; and thou speak'st
better phrase and matter —Apparently Edgar is forgetting to talk like "Poor Tom."
  8   In better phrase and matter than thou didst.

  9   Y' are much deceived: in nothing am I changed
 10   But in my garments.

 10                                       Methinks y' are better spoken.

 11   Come on, sir; here's the place: stand still. How fearful
 12   And dizzy 'tis, to cast one's eyes so low!
chough jackdaw
 13   The crows and choughs that wing the midway air
gross big
samphire an edible plant that grows on seaside cliffs
 14   Show scarce so gross as beetles: half way down
 15   Hangs one that gathers samphire, dreadful trade!
 16   Methinks he seems no bigger than his head:
 17   The fishermen, that walk upon the beach,
tall anchoring bark, / Diminish'd to her cock; her cock, a buoy tall anchored ship, diminished to (the size of) her dinghy; her dinghy diminished to (the size of) a buoy
 18   Appear like mice; and yond tall anchoring bark,
 19   Diminish'd to her cock; her cock, a buoy
 20   Almost too small for sight: the murmuring surge,
 21   That on the unnumber'd idle pebbles chafes,
 22   Cannot be heard so high. I'll look no more;
the deficient sight my deficient sight
Topple down headlong. Topple me down headlong.
 23   Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight
 24   Topple down headlong.

 24                                         Set me where you stand.

 25   Give me your hand: you are now within a foot
 26   Of the extreme verge: for all beneath the moon
Would I not leap upright. I would not leap up and down, much less forward (for fear of losing my balance).
 27   Would I not leap upright.

 27                                              Let go my hand.
 28   Here, friend, 's another purse; in it a jewel

Prosper it make it increase —Fairies were thought to guard and multiply hidden treasures.
 29   Well worth a poor man's taking: fairies and gods
 30   Prosper it with thee! Go thou farther off;
 31   Bid me farewell, and let me hear thee going.

 32   Now fare you well, good sir.

 32                                                   With all my heart.

      EDGAR [Aside.]
 33   Why I do trifle thus with his despair
 34   Is done to cure it.

      GLOUCESTER [Kneeling.]
 34                                 O you mighty gods!
 35   This world I do renounce, and, in your sights,
 36   Shake patiently my great affliction off:
If I could ... Burn itself out i.e., If I could bear my life any longer without rebelling against your irresistible wills, the useless residue of my life—like the smoking wick of a snuffed candle—would burn itself out.
 37   If I could bear it longer, and not fall
 38   To quarrel with your great opposeless wills,
 39   My snuff and loathed part of nature should
 40   Burn itself out. If Edgar live, O, bless him!
 41   Now, fellow, fare thee well.

           [He falls forward.]

 41                                                 Gone, sir; farewell!
I know not how conceit I don't know whether or not imagination
 42   And yet I know not how conceit may rob
 43   The treasury of life, when life itself
Yields Consents | where he thought i.e., where he thought he would be: at the bottom of a high cliff
 44   Yields to the theft: had he been where he thought,
 45   By this, had thought been past. Alive or dead?

a new accent —Edgar changes accents, so that he no longer sounds like "Poor Tom" the mad beggar.
           [In a new accent.]

 46   Ho, you sir! friend! Hear you, sir! speak!
pass die
 47   Thus might he pass indeed: yet he revives.
 48   What are you, sir?

 48                                 Away, and let me die.

aught anything | gossamer spider thread
fathom about six feet | precipitating plunging shiver'd shattered
heavy substance heavy substance (of flesh) art sound are unbroken
at each end to end
 49   Hadst thou been aught but gossamer, feathers, air,
 50   (So many fathom down precipitating),
 51   Thou'dst shiver'd like an egg: but thou dost breathe;
 52   Hast heavy substance; bleed'st not; speak'st; art sound.
 53   Ten masts at each make not the altitude
 54   Which thou hast perpendicularly fell:
 55   Thy life's a miracle. Speak yet again.

 56   But have I fall'n, or no?

chalky bourn i.e., chalky cliffs bounding a sea
a-height on high | shrill-gorged lark shrill-throated lark
 57   From the dread summit of this chalky bourn.
 58   Look up a-height; the shrill-gorged lark so far
 59   Cannot be seen or heard: do but look up.

 60   Alack, I have no eyes.
 61   Is wretchedness deprived that benefit,
 62   To end itself by death? 'Twas yet some comfort,
beguile cheat; outwit
 63   When misery could beguile the tyrant's rage,
 64   And frustrate his proud will.

 64                                                   Give me your arm:
 65   Up: so. How is 't? Feel you your legs? You stand.

 66   Too well, too well.

This is above all strangeness. This is stranger than strange
 66                                   This is above all strangeness.
 67   Upon the crown o' the cliff, what thing was that
 68   Which parted from you?

 68                                           A poor unfortunate beggar.

 69   As I stood here below, methought his eyes
 70   Were two full moons; he had a thousand noses,
whelk'd twisted | enridged furrowed
happy father fortunate old man
 71   Horns whelk'd and waved like the enridged sea:
 72   It was some fiend; therefore, thou happy father,
clearest purest | who make them honours / Of men's impossibilities who win our reverence by doing deeds impossible to men
 73   Think that the clearest gods, who make them honours
 74   Of men's impossibilities, have preserved thee.

 75   I do remember now: henceforth I'll bear
 76   Affliction till it do cry out itself
 77   "Enough, enough," and die. That thing you speak of,
 78   I took it for a man; often 'twould say
 79   "The fiend, the fiend": he led me to that place.

free serene
 80   Bear free and patient thoughts. But who comes here?

           Enter LEAR [fantastically dressed with
           weeds and wild flowers].

The safer sense will ne'er accommodate / His master thus. i.e., A sane mind would never allow its possessor to dress up this way.
 81   The safer sense will ne'er accommodate
 82   His master thus.

they cannot touch me for coining they cannot prosecute me for minting coins
 83   No, they cannot touch me for coining; I am the
 84   king himself.

 85   O thou side-piercing sight!

 86   Nature's above art in that respect. There's your
press-money money paid to a man impressed (drafted) into the army crow-keeper: draw me a clothier's yard
do 't lure the mouse | I'll prove it on a giant i.e., I'll prove my case in trial by combat with a giant brown bills i.e., soldiers carrying brown pikes | bird arrow | clout bull's eye word password

marjoram used medicinally against madness
 87   press-money. That fellow handles his bow like a
 88   crow-keeper: draw me a clothier's yard. Look,
 89   look, a mouse! Peace, peace; this piece of toasted
 90   cheese will do 't. There's my gauntlet; I'll prove it
 91   on a giant. Bring up the brown bills. O, well flown,
 92   bird! i' the clout, i' the clout—hewgh! Give the word.

 93   Sweet marjoram.

 94   Pass.

 95   I know that voice.

 96   Ha! Goneril, with a white beard! They flattered
like a dog i.e., like a dog would, fawningly | told me I had white hairs in my beard ere the black ones were there. i.e., told me I had wisdom before age no good divinity poor theology, (because insincere); from James 5:12 "Let your yea be your yea; your nay nay."
found 'em i.e, found out that they were flattering me
 97   me like a dog; and told me I had white hairs in my
 98   beard ere the black ones were there. To say 'ay'
 99   and 'no' to every thing that I said!—'Ay' and 'no'
100   too was no good divinity. When the rain came to
101   wet me once, and the wind to make me chatter; when
102   the thunder would not peace at my bidding; there I
103   found 'em, there I smelt 'em out. Go to, they are
104   not men o' their words: they told me I was every
ague-proof immune to illness
105   thing; 'tis a lie, I am not ague-proof.

trick peculiarity
106   The trick of that voice I do well remember:
107   Is 't not the king?

107                                   Ay, every inch a king:
the subject i.e., any one of my subjects
thy cause? your crime?
108   When I do stare, see how the subject quakes.
109   I pardon that man's life. What was thy cause?
110   Adultery?
111   Thou shalt not die: die for adultery! No:
goes to 't i.e., copulates
112   The wren goes to 't, and the small gilded fly
113   Does lecher in my sight.
114   Let copulation thrive; for Gloucester's bastard son
115   Was kinder to his father than my daughters
Got begot |sheets bed sheets
To 't, luxury, pell-mell! i.e., go ahead lechery, rage on!
116   Got 'tween the lawful sheets.
117   To 't, luxury, pell-mell! for I lack soldiers.
118   Behold yond simpering dame,
face between her forks: | presages snow i.e., implies icy cold chastity minces coyly affects pleasure's name the very name of sexual pleasure The fitchew, nor the soiled horse (Neither) the polecat nor a high-spirited horse full of fresh grass Centaurs lecherous mythological creatures which have a human body to the waist and the legs and torso of a horse below But to the girdle Only to the belt
hell traditional slang for the female genitals

civet exotic perfume (derived from the sex glands of a civet cat)
119   Whose face between her forks presages snow;
120   That minces virtue, and does shake the head
121   To hear of pleasure's name;
122   The fitchew, nor the soiled horse, goes to 't
123   With a more riotous appetite.
124   Down from the waist they are Centaurs,
125   Though women all above:
126   But to the girdle do the gods inherit,
127   Beneath is all the fiends': there's hell, there's darkness,
128   There is the sulphurous pit, burning, scalding,
129   Stench, consumption. Fie, fie, fie! pah, pah!
130   Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary,
131   Sweeten my imagination. There's money for thee.

132   O, let me kiss that hand!

133   Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality.

piece masterpiece
134   O ruin'd piece of nature! This great world
135   Shall so wear out to nought. Dost thou know me?

136   I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost thou
137   squint at me? No, do thy worst, blind Cupid!
138   I'll not love. Read thou this challenge; mark but
139   the penning of it.

140   Were all the letters suns, I could not see one.

I would not take this from report i.e., I wouldn't believe this if I didn't see it myself
141   I would not take this from report; it is,
142   And my heart breaks at it.

143   Read.

case sockets
144   What, with the case of eyes?

are you there with me? is that the way things are?
145   O, ho, are you there with me? No eyes in your
146   head, nor no money in your purse? Your eyes are in
heavy case sad condition
147   a heavy case, your purse in a light; yet you see how
148   this world goes.

feelingly by touch; with emotion
149   I see it feelingly.

150   What, art mad? A man may see how this world goes
151   with no eyes. Look with thine ears: see how yond
152   justice rails upon yond simple thief. Hark, in
handy-dandy pick a hand (as in a child's game)
153   thine ear: change places; and, handy-dandy, which
154   is the justice, which is the thief? Thou hast seen
155   a farmer's dog bark at a beggar?

156   Ay, sir.

creature human being
157   And the creature run from the cur? There thou
158   mightst behold the great image of authority: a
159   dog's obeyed in office.
beadle the parish officer responsible for whippings Strip Lash
that kind that way
160   Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand!
161   Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thine own back;
162   Thou hotly lust'st to use her in that kind
The usurer hangs the cozener. i.e., The corrupt judge sentences the petty cheat to be hanged Plate sin ... breaks i.e., the lance of justice will harmlessly break against golden armor
163   For which thou whipp'st her. The usurer hangs the cozener.
164   Through tatter'd clothes small vices do appear;
165   Robes and furr'd gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold,
166   And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks:
167   Arm it in rags, a pigmy's straw does pierce it.
able 'em authorize them, i.e., exempt everyone from legal guilt
168   None does offend, none, I say, none; I'll able 'em:
169   Take that of me, my friend, who have the power
170   To seal the accuser's lips. Get thee glass eyes;
scurvy politician vile schemer
171   And like a scurvy politician, seem
172   To see the things thou dost not. Now, now, now, now:
173   Pull off my boots: harder, harder: so.

      EDGAR [Aside.]
matter and impertinency sense and nonsense
174   O, matter and impertinency mix'd!
175   Reason in madness!

176   If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes.
177   I know thee well enough; thy name is Gloucester:
178   Thou must be patient; we came crying hither:
179   Thou know'st, the first time that we smell the air,
180   We wawl and cry. I will preach to thee. Mark.  

[Lear takes off his crown of weeds and flowers.]

This' a good block This is a good block —A block is a wooden hat mold. Perhaps Lear is pointing to his own head.
delicate stratagem subtle strategy
put 't in proof i.e., test my stratagem
stol'n upon sneaked up on
181   Alack, alack the day!

182   When we are born, we cry that we are come
183   To this great stage of fools. —This' a good block;
184   It were a delicate stratagem, to shoe
185   A troop of horse with felt: I'll put 't in proof;
186   And when I have stol'n upon these sons-in-law,
187   Then, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!

           Enter a Gentleman [with Attendants].

188   O, here he is: lay hand upon him. —Sir,
189   Your most dear daughter—

I am even / The natural fool of fortune
190   No rescue? What, a prisoner? I am even
191   The natural fool of fortune. Use me well;
192   You shall have ransom. Let me have surgeons;
cut wounded
193   I am cut to the brains.

193                                       You shall have any thing.

No seconds? No supporters (or associates)?
this would make a man a man of salt being alone would reduce a man to nothing but salty tears garden water-pots watering cans
Ay, and laying autumn's dust Yes, and (good for) keeping down the dust of autumn
194   No seconds? all myself?
195   Why, this would make a man a man of salt,
196   To use his eyes for garden water-pots,
197   Ay, and laying autumn's dust.

197                                                       Good sir,—

I will die bravely, like a smug bridegroom. —King Lear is punning. "Die" can also mean "have an orgasm," and "bravely" can mean "finely attired."
198   I will die bravely, like a smug bridegroom. What!
199   I will be jovial: come, come; I am a king,
200   My masters, know you that.

201   You are a royal one, and we obey you.

there's life in't i.e., there's hope left
202   Then there's life in't. Nay, if you get it, you
Sa, sa, sa, sa. a cry to encourage dogs in the hunt
203   shall get it with running. Sa, sa, sa, sa.

           Exit [running; Attendants follow].

204   A sight most pitiful in the meanest wretch,
Thou i.e., King Lear | one daughter i.e., Cordelia
205   Past speaking of in a king! Thou hast one daughter,
206   Who redeems nature from the general curse
twain i.e., two daughters, Goneril and Regan
207   Which twain have brought her to.

gentle noble
208   Hail, gentle sir.

speed you God speed you
208                               Sir, speed you: what's your will?

toward coming
209   Do you hear aught, sir, of a battle toward?

vulgar commonly known
Which Who
210   Most sure and vulgar: every one hears that,
211   Which can distinguish sound.

211                                                     But, by your favour,
212   How near's the other army?

the main descry / Stands on the hourly thought the appearance of the main force is expected immediately
213   Near and on speedy foot; the main descry
214   Stands on the hourly thought.

214                                                   I thank you, sir: that's all.

on special cause for a special reason
215   Though that the queen on special cause is here,
216   Her army is moved on.

216                                         I thank you, sir.

           Exit [Gentleman].

217   You ever-gentle gods, take my breath from me:
my worser spirit wicked inclination; bad angel
218   Let not my worser spirit tempt me again
219   To die before you please!

Well pray you, father You are praying well, father —Edgar is not revealing his identity as Gloucester's son. "Father" is a term of respect for an elderly man.
219                                             Well pray you, father.

220   Now, good sir, what are you?

221   A most poor man, made tame to fortune's blows;
feeling profound
pregnant to disposed to feel
biding resting place
222   Who, by the art of known and feeling sorrows,
223   Am pregnant to good pity. Give me your hand,
224   I'll lead you to some biding.

224                                                 Hearty thanks:
The bounty ... and boot! i.e., in addition to my thanks, may heaven give you both a great blessing and a bountiful worldly reward
225   The bounty and the benison of heaven
226   To boot, and boot!

           Enter Steward [OSWALD].

A proclaim'd prize! A wanted man with a bounty on his life! | happy lucky | framed made of | unhappy unlucky
Briefly thyself remember i.e., say your prayers and prepare to die
226                                 A proclaim'd prize! Most happy!
227   That eyeless head of thine was first framed flesh
228   To raise my fortunes. Thou old unhappy traitor,
229   Briefly thyself remember: the sword is out
230   That must destroy thee.

friendly friendly (because I desire death)
230                                         Now let thy friendly hand
231   Put strength enough to't.

           [EDGAR interposes.]

231                                               Wherefore, bold peasant,
Hence ... on thee Go away, lest his bad luck infect you, too.
232   Darest thou support a publish'd traitor? Hence;
233   Lest that the infection of his fortune take
234   Like hold on thee. Let go his arm.

Chill I will —Edgar plays the part of a peasant, using Somerset dialect. | vurther cagion further occasion (i.e., more reason than just your say-so)
235   Chill not let go, zir, without vurther cagion.

236   Let go, slave, or thou diest!

go your gait walk away | voke folk
237   Good gentleman, go your gait, and let poor voke
An chud ha' If I could have | zwagger'd swaggered, bullied 'twould ... vortnight it (my life) wouldn't have lasted a fortnight che vor' ... the harder
Chill I'll
238   pass. An chud ha' bin zwagger'd out of my life,
239   'twould not ha' bin zo long as 'tis by a vortnight.
240   Nay, come not near th' old man; keep out, che vor'
241   ye, or Ice try whether your costard or my ballow be
242   the harder. Chill be plain with you.

Out, dunghill! i.e., Out of my way, you low-class pile of shit!
243   Out, dunghill!

Chill I'll | pick your teeth i.e., knock your teeth out (?) foins sword thrusts
244   Chill pick your teeth, zir. Come; no matter vor
245   your foins.

           [They fight.]

246   Slave, thou hast slain me: villain, take my purse:
247   If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body;
248   And give the letters which thou find'st about me
249   To Edmund Earl of Gloucester; seek him out
Upon Within
250   Upon the English party: O, untimely death!
251   Death!


252   I know thee well: a serviceable villain;
253   As duteous to the vices of thy mistress
254   As badness would desire.

254                                             What, is he dead?

255   Sit you down, father; rest you
pockets i.e., messenger bags
256   Let's see these pockets: the letters that he speaks of
257   May be my friends. He's dead; I am only sorry
deathsman executioner
Leave By your leave | wax the wax seal on the letter
258   He had no other deathsman. Let us see:
259   Leave, gentle wax; and, manners, blame us not:
260   To know our enemies' minds, we'ld rip their hearts;
Their papers i.e., To rip their papers
261   Their papers, is more lawful.


262   'Let our reciprocal vows be rememb'red. You have
263   many opportunities to cut him off: if your will
want lack | fruitfully plentifully
264   want not, time and place will be fruitfully offer'd.
done accomplished
265   There is nothing done, if he return the conqueror:
266   then am I the prisoner, and his bed my jail; from
and supply ... labour and take his place in my bed as the reward for your work (in killing him)
267   the loath'd warmth whereof deliver me, and supply
268   the place for your labour.
269        Your (wife, so I would say) affectionate servant,
270             Goneril.'
indistinguish'd space of woman's will limitless extent of woman's appetite
exchange substitute
Thee I'll rake up i.e., I'll bury you in a shallow grave post unsanctified unholy messenger in the mature time when the time is ripe ungracious wicked | strike the sight i.e., astound death-practic'd Duke Duke whose death is plotted
271   O indistinguish'd space of woman's will!
272   A plot upon her virtuous husband's life;
273   And the exchange my brother! Here, in the sands,
274   Thee I'll rake up, the post unsanctified
275   Of murderous lechers: and in the mature time
276   With this ungracious paper strike the sight
277   Of the death-practic'd Duke: for him 'tis well
278   That of thy death and business I can tell.

how stiff ... sorrows how obstinate is my unwanted rationality, so that I remain sane and have a keen sense of my overwhelming sorrows! | distract mad
279   The king is mad: how stiff is my vile sense,
280   That I stand up, and have ingenious feeling
281   Of my huge sorrows! Better I were distract:
282   So should my thoughts be sever'd from my griefs,
wrong imaginations delusions
283   And woes by wrong imaginations lose
284   The knowledge of themselves.

284                                                      Give me your hand:

           Drum afar off.

285   Far off, methinks, I hear the beaten drum:
bestow lodge
286   Come, father, I'll bestow you with a friend.