King Lear, II.iiiEdgar:
Edmund, the Duke of Gloucester's bastard son, has plotted against his brother Edgar to make their father believe that Edgar intends to murder him to inherit his title and his wealth. In order not to be arrested for treason, Edgar decides to assume the disguise of a madman and to live the life of a beggar...
I heard myself proclaim'd;
And by the happy hollow of a tree
Escaped the hunt. No port is free; no place,
That guard, and most unusual vigilance,
Does not attend my taking. Whiles I may 'scape,
I will preserve myself: and am bethought
To take the basest and most poorest shape
That ever penury, in contempt of man,
Brought near to beast: my face I'll grime with filth;
Blanket my loins: elf all my hair in knots;
And with presented nakedness out-face
The winds and persecutions of the sky.
The country gives me proof and precedent
Of Bedlam beggars, who, with roaring voices,
Strike in their numb'd and mortified bare arms
Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary;
And with this horrible object, from low farms,
Poor pelting villages, sheep-cotes, and mills,
Sometime with lunatic bans, sometime with prayers,
Enforce their charity. Poor Turlygod! poor Tom!
That's something yet: Edgar I nothing am.
King Lear, IV.iEdgar:
The old Duke of Gloucester is now blind and wants to find his way to Dover to jump over the cliffs. He is now aware of Edmund's manipulation but he is unable to recognise his son Edgar who still assumes the disguise of a Bedlam beggar.
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.Old Man:
'Tis poor mad Tom.Edgar:
[Aside] And worse I may be yet: the worst is not
So long as we can say 'This is the worst.'Old Man:
Fellow, where goest?Gloucester:
Is it a beggar-man?Old Man:
Madman and beggar too.Gloucester:
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.Edgar:
[Aside] How should this be?
Bad is the trade that must play fool to sorrow,
Angering itself and others.--Bless thee, master!Gloucester:
Is that the naked fellow?Old Man:
Ay, my lord.Gloucester:
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.Old Man:
Alack, sir, he is mad.Gloucester:
Know'st thou the way to Dover?Edgar:
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!