William Shakespeare: King Lear, Act IV
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 Gloucester, led by an Old Man
My father, poorly led? World, world, O world! But that thy strange mutations make us hate thee, Lie would not yield to age.
Away, get thee away; good friend, be gone: Thy comforts can do me no good at all; Thee they may hurt.
I have no way, and therefore want no eyes; I stumbled when I saw: full oft 'tis seen, Our means secure us, and our mere defects Prove our commodities. O dear son Edgar, The food of thy abused father's wrath! Might I but live to see thee in my touch, I'ld say I had eyes again!
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.
[Aside] How should this be? Bad is the trade that must play fool to sorrow, Angering itself and others.—Bless thee, master!
Then, prithee, get thee gone: if, for my sake, Thou wilt o'ertake us, hence a mile or twain, I' the way toward Dover, do it for ancient love; And bring some covering for this naked soul, Who I'll entreat to lead me.
'Tis the times' plague, when madmen lead the blind. Do as I bid thee, or rather do thy pleasure; Above the rest, be gone.
Both stile and gate, horse-way and foot-path. Poor Tom hath been scared out of his good wits: bless thee, good man's son, from the foul fiend! five fiends have been in poor Tom at once; of lust, as Obidicut; Hobbididence, prince of dumbness; Mahu, of stealing; Modo, of murder; Flibbertigibbet, of mopping and mowing, who since possesses chambermaids and waiting-women. So, bless thee, master!
Here, take this purse, thou whom the heavens' plagues Have humbled to all strokes: that I am wretched Makes thee the happier: heavens, deal so still! Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man, 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?
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 I shall no leading need.