King Lear By William Shakespeare Act IV: Scene 6

Scene VI. The country near Dover.

[Enter Gloucester, and Edgar dressed like a peasant.]

GLOUCESTER.
When shall I come to the top of that same hill?

EDGAR.
You do climb up it now: look, how we labour.

GLOUCESTER.
Methinks the ground is even.

EDGAR.
Horrible steep.
Hark, do you hear the sea?

GLOUCESTER.
No, truly.

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

GLOUCESTER.
So may it be indeed:
Methinks thy voice is alter'd; and thou speak'st
In better phrase and matter than thou didst.

EDGAR.
You are much deceiv'd: in nothing am I chang'd
But in my garments.

GLOUCESTER.
Methinks you're better spoken.

EDGAR.
Come on, sir; here's the place: — stand still. — How fearful
And dizzy 'tis to cast one's eyes so low!
The crows and choughs that wing the midway air
Show scarce so gross as beetles: half way down
Hangs one that gathers samphire — dreadful trade!
Methinks he seems no bigger than his head:
The fishermen that walk upon the beach
Appear like mice; and yond tall anchoring bark,
Diminish'd to her cock; her cock a buoy
Almost too small for sight: the murmuring surge
That on the unnumber'd idle pebble chafes
Cannot be heard so high. — I'll look no more;
Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight
Topple down headlong.

GLOUCESTER.
Set me where you stand.

EDGAR.
Give me your hand: — you are now within a foot
Of th' extreme verge: for all beneath the moon
Would I not leap upright.

GLOUCESTER.
Let go my hand.
Here, friend, 's another purse; in it a jewel
Well worth a poor man's taking: fairies and gods
Prosper it with thee! Go thou further off;
Bid me farewell, and let me hear thee going.

EDGAR.
Now fare ye well, good sir.

[Seems to go.]

GLOUCESTER.
With all my heart.

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

GLOUCESTER.
O you mighty gods!
This world I do renounce, and, in your sights,
Shake patiently my great affliction off:
If I could bear it longer, and not fall
To quarrel with your great opposeless wills,
My snuff and loathed part of nature should
Burn itself out. If Edgar live, O, bless him! —
Now, fellow, fare thee well.

EDGAR.
Gone, sir: — farewell. —

[Gloucester leaps, and falls along.]

And yet I know not how conceit may rob
The treasury of life when life itself
Yields to the theft: had he been where he thought,
By this had thought been past. — Alive or dead?
Ho you, sir! friend! Hear you, sir? — speak! —
Thus might he pass indeed: — yet he revives. —
What are you, sir?

GLOUCESTER.
Away, and let me die.

EDGAR.
Hadst thou been aught but gossamer, feathers, air,
So many fathom down precipitating,
Thou'dst shiver'd like an egg: but thou dost breathe;
Hast heavy substance; bleed'st not; speak'st; art sound.
Ten masts at each make not the altitude
Which thou hast perpendicularly fell:
Thy life is a miracle. — Speak yet again.

GLOUCESTER.
But have I fall'n, or no?

EDGAR.
From the dread summit of this chalky bourn.
Look up a-height; — the shrill-gorg'd lark so far
Cannot be seen or heard: do but look up.

GLOUCESTER.
Alack, I have no eyes. —
Is wretchedness depriv'd that benefit
To end itself by death? 'Twas yet some comfort
When misery could beguile the tyrant's rage
And frustrate his proud will.

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

GLOUCESTER.
Too well, too well.

EDGAR.
This is above all strangeness.
Upon the crown o' the cliff what thing was that
Which parted from you?

GLOUCESTER.
A poor unfortunate beggar.

EDGAR.
As I stood here below, methought his eyes
Were two full moons; he had a thousand noses,
Horns whelk'd and wav'd like the enridged sea:
It was some fiend; therefore, thou happy father,
Think that the clearest gods, who make them honours
Of men's impossibility, have preserv'd thee.

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

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