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Didst thou give all to thy daughters?

and art thou come to this?


Edgar. Who gives anything to poor Tom? whom the foul fiend hath led through fire and through flame, through ford and whirlpool, o'er bog and quagmire; that hath laid knives under his pillow, and halters in his pew; set ratsbane by his por-55 ridge; 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! Tom 's a-cold. O, 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 here again, and there. (Storm still.)


50. come to this: reduced to such a state of suffering want.

54. that: antecedent is foul fiend.

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57. course: to follow as in the hunt.

58. five wits: intellectual powers.

60. star-blasting: the evil influence of the stars.

taking: infection.

62. have him: catch him (the evil spirit).

The impulse to sympathy which Lear has felt continues to prompt his thought; but in his own trouble he can imagine no evil which might befall another from any cause except filial ingratitude.

In certain forms of insanity, the afflicted think themselves possessed by evil spirits or tormented by devils whom they seek in vain to drive away. Thus Edgar pretends, and furthermore that he is tempted to self-destruction by knives, halters and poison which the devil places conveniently at hand.

Lear. What, have his daughters brought him to

this pass?

Couldst thou save nothing? Wouldst thou give 'em


Fool. Nay, he reserv'd a blanket, else we had been all sham'd.

Lear. Now, all the plagues that in the pendulous air

Hang fated o'er men's faults light on thy daughters!
He hath no daughters, sir.


Lear. Death, traitor! nothing could have subdu'd


To such a lowness but his unkind daughters.

Is it the fashion that discarded fathers

Should have thus little mercy on their flesh?
Judicious punishment! 't was this flesh begot
Those pelican daughters.

Edgar. Pillicock sat on Pillicock-hill

Alow; alow, loo, loo!

64. pass: as in line 50, to such a state.

67. pendulous: impending.

75. pelican daughters: daughters who flourished in their parent's woe, as the young of the pelican was supposed to live upon the parent-bird's blood.

76. Pillicock: a term of vulgar endearment.

Pillicock, Pillicock, sat on a hill;

If he 's not gone, he sits there still.




(Gammer Gurton's Garland.)

Lear's fixed idea dominates all his thinking; and in his sympathy he can only curse those daughters who have caused such disaster to another. Lines 72, 73 are spoken as he sees the half-naked body of poor Tom and notices the way in which he has inflicted self-torture.

The Prompt Book of Edwin Booth, the great actor, at this point had the direction: "Draws a thorn or wooden spike from Edgar's

arm and tries to thrust it into his own."


This cold night will turn us all to fools

and madmen.

Edgar. Take heed o' the foul fiend; obey thy 80 parents; keep thy word's justice; 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?

Edgar. A serving-man, proud in heart and mind; 85 that curled my hair; wore gloves in my cap; 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 90 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 95 shoes nor the rustling of silks betray thy poor heart to woman. 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 sum, mun, nonny. Dolphin my boy, boy, sessa! let him trot by.


(Storm still.)

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