William Shakespeare's King Lear teaches the lesson to never believe everything you hear.
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King Lear

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Act III. Scene IV.

Scene IV.—The Heath. Before 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 con-
tentious storm
Invades us to the skin: so 'tis to thee;
But where the greater malady is fix'd,
The lesser is scarce felt. Thou'dst shun a
bear;
But if thy flight lay toward the roaring sea,
Thou'dst meet the bear i' the mouth. When
the mind's free
The body's delicate; the tempest in my mind
Doth from my senses take all feeling else
Save what beats there. Filial ingratitude!
Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand
For lifting food to't? But I will punish home:
No, I will weep no more. In such a night
To shut me out! Pour on; I will endure.
In such a night as this! O Regan, Goneril!
Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave
all,—
O! that way madness lies; let me shun that;
No more of that.
Kent. Good, my lord, enter here.
Lear. Prithee, go in thyself; seek thine own
ease:
This tempest will not give me leave to ponder
On things would hurt me more. But I'll go
in.
[To the Fool.] In, boy; go first. You houseless
poverty,—
Nay, get thee in. I'll pray, and then I'll sleep.
[Fool goes in.
Poor naked wretches, wheresoever you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your loop'd and window'd 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!
[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?
Fool. A spirit, a spirit: he says his name's
poor Tom.
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 blow the winds.
Hum! go to thy cold bed and warm thee.
Lear. Didst thou give all to thy two daugh-
ters?
And art thou come to this?
Edg. 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 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! 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 there again, and there.
[Storm still.
Lear. What! have his daughters brought him
to this pass?
Couldst thou save nothing? Didst thou give
them all?
Fool. Nay, he reserved a blanket, else we had
been all shamed.
Lear. Now all the plagues that in the pendu-
lous air
Hang fated o'er men's faults light on thy daugh-
ters!
Kent. He hath no daughters, sir.
Lear. Death, traitor! nothing could have
subdued nature
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! 'twas this flesh begot
Those pelican daughters.
Edg. Pillicock sat on Pillicock-hill:
Halloo, halloo, loo, loo!
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; com-
mit 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 servingman, proud in heart and
mind; 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 con-
triving of lust, and waked to do it. Wine loved
I deeply, dice dearly, and in woman out-para-
moured 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 rusthng 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 suum, mun ha no nonny.
Dolphin my boy, my boy; sessa! let him
trot by. [Storm still.
Lear. Why, thou wert better in thy grave
than to answer with thy uncovered body this
extremity of the skies. Is man no more than
this? Consider him well. Thou owest the worm
no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep no wool, the
cat no perfume. Ha! here's three on's are
sophisticated; thou art the thing itself; unac-
commodated man is no more but such a poor,
bare, forked animal as thou art. Off, off, you
lendings! Come; unbutton here.
[Tearing off his clothes.
Fool. Prithee, nuncle, be contented; 'tis a
naughty night to swim in. Now a little fire in a
wide field were like an old lecher's heart; a small
spark, all the rest on's body cold. Look! here
comes a walking fire.

Enter GLOUCESTER with a torch.
Edg. This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet:
he begins at curfew, and walks till the first cock;
he gives the web and the pin, squints the eye,
and makes the harelip; mildews the white wheat,
and hurts the poor creature of earth.
Swithold footed thrice the old;
He met the night-mare, and her nine-fold;
Bid her alight,
And her troth plight,
And aroint thee, witch, aroint thee!
Kent. How fares your Grace?
Lear. What's he?
Kent. Who's there? What is't you seek?
Glo. What are you there? Your names?
Edg. Poor Tom; that eats the swimming frog;
the toad, the tadpole, the wall-newt, and the
water; that in the fury of his heart, when
the foul fiend rages, eats cow-dung for sallets;
swallows the old rat and the ditch-dog; drinks
the green mantle of the standing pool; who is
whipped from tithing to tithing, and stock-
punished, and imprisoned; who hath had three
suits to his back, six shirts to his body, horse to
ride, and weapon to wear;
But mice and rats and such small deer
Have been Tom's food for seven long year.
Beware my follower. Peace, Smulkin! peace,
thou fiend.
Glo. What! hath your Grace no better com-
pany?
Edg. The prince of darkness is a gentleman;
Modo he's call'd, and Mahu.
Glo. Our flesh and blood, my lord, is grown
so vile,
That it doth hate what gets it.
Edg. Poor Tom's a-cold.
Glo. Go in with me. My duty cannot suffer
To obey in all your daughter's hard commands:
Though their injunction be to bar my doors,
And let this tyrannous night take hold upon
you,
Yet have I ventur'd to come seek you out
And bring you where both fire and food is
ready.
Lear. First let me talk with this philosopher.
What is the cause of thunder?
Kent. Good my lord, take his offer; go into
the house.
Lear. I'll talk a word with this same learned
Theban.
What is your study?
Edg. How to prevent the fiend, and to kill
vermin.
Lear. Let me ask you one word in private.
Kent. Importune him once more to go, my
lord;
His wits begin to unsettle.
Glo. Canst thou blame him? [Storm still.
His daughters seek his death. Ah! that good
Kent;
He said it would be thus, poor banish'd man!
Thou sayst the king grows mad; I'll tell thee,
friend,
I am almost mad myself. I had a son,
Now outlaw'd from my blood; he sought my life,
But lately, very late; I lov'd him, friend,
No father his son dearer; true to tell thee,
[Storm continues.
The grief hath craz'd my wits. What a night's
this!
I do beseech your Grace,—
Lear. O! cry you mercy, sir.
Noble philosopher, your company.
Edg. Tom's a-cold.
Glo. In, fellow, there, into the hovel: keep
thee warm.
Lear. Come, let's in all.
Kent. This way, my lord.
Lear. With him;
I will keep still with my philosopher.
Kent. Good my lord, soothe him; let him
take the fellow.
Glo. Take him you on.
Kent. Sirrah, come on; go along with us.
Lear. Come, good Athenian.
Glo. No words, no words: hush.
Edg. Child Rowland to the dark tower came,
His word was still, Fie, foh, and fum,
I smell the blood of a British man.
[Exeunt.
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