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Act I

Scene I

King Lear's palace.

[Enter Kent, Gloucester, and Edmund]

[Sennet. Enter King Lear, Cornwall, Albany, Goneril, Regan, Cordelia, and Attendants]

[Exeunt Gloucester and Edmund]

[Laying his hand on his sword]

[Exit]

[Flourish. Re-enter Gloucester, with France, Burgundy, and Attendants]

[Flourish. Exeunt all but King of France, Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia]

[Exeunt King of France and Cordelia]

[Exeunt]

KENT:
I thought the king had more affected the Duke of Albany
than Cornwall.
GLOUCESTER:
It did always seem so to us: but now, in the division
of the kingdom, it appears not which of the dukes he values
most; for equalities are so weighed, that curiosity in neither(5)
can make choice of either's moiety.
KENT:
Is not this your son, my lord?
GLOUCESTER:
His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge: I have so
often blushed to acknowledge him, that now I am brazed to
it.(10)
KENT:
I cannot conceive you.
GLOUCESTER:
Sir, this young fellow's mother could: whereupon
she grew round-wombed, and had, indeed, sir, a son for her
cradle ere she had a husband for her bed. Do you smell a
fault?(15)
KENT:
I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so
proper.
GLOUCESTER:
But I have, sir, a son by order of law, some year elder
than this, who yet is no dearer in my account: though this
knave came something saucily into the world before he was(20)
sent for, yet was his mother fair; there was good sport at his
making, and the whoreson must be acknowledged. Do you
know this noble gentleman, Edmund?
EDMUND:
No, my lord.
GLOUCESTER:
My lord of Kent: remember him hereafter as my(25)
honorable friend.
EDMUND:
My services to your lordship.
KENT:
I must love you, and sue to know you better.
EDMUND:
Sir, I shall study deserving.
GLOUCESTER:
He hath been out nine years, and away he shall(30)
again. The king is coming.
KING LEAR:
Attend the lords of France and Burgundy,
Gloucester.
GLOUCESTER:
I shall, my liege.
KING LEAR:
Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.(35)
Give me the map there. Know that we have divided
In three our kingdom: and 'tis our fast intent
To shake all cares and business from our age;
Conferring them on younger strengths, while we
Unburthened crawl toward death. Our son of Cornwall,(40)
And you, our no less loving son of Albany,
We have this hour a constant will to publish
Our daughters' several dowers, that future strife
May be prevented now. The princes, France and
Burgundy,(45)
Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,
Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,
And here are to be answered. Tell me, my daughters,—
Since now we will divest us both of rule,
Interest of territory, cares of state,—(50)
Which of you shall we say doth love us most?
That we our largest bounty may extend
Where nature doth with merit challenge. Goneril,
Our eldest-born, speak first.
GONERIL:
Sir, I love you more than words can wield the(55)
matter;
Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty;
Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;
No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honor;
As much as child e'er loved, or father found;(60)
A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable;
Beyond all manner of so much I love you.
CORDELIA:
What shall Cordelia do? Love, and be
silent.

[Aside]

LEAR:
Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,(65)
With shadowy forests and with champains riched,
With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads,
We make thee lady: to thine and Albany's issue
Be this perpetual. What says our second daughter,
Our dearest Regan, wife to Cornwall? Speak.(70)
REGAN:
Sir, I am made
Of the self-same mettle that my sister is,
And prize me at her worth. In my true heart
I find she names my very deed of love;
Only she comes too short: that I profess(75)
Myself an enemy to all other joys,
Which the most precious square of sense possesses;
And find I am alone felicitate
In your dear highness' love.
CORDELIA:
Then poor Cordelia!(80)
And yet not so; since, I am sure, my love's
More richer than my tongue.

[Aside]

KING LEAR:
To thee and thine hereditary ever
Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom;
No less in space, validity, and pleasure,(85)
Than that conferred on Goneril. Now, our joy,
Although the last, not least; to whose young love
The vines of France and milk of Burgundy
Strive to be interest; what can you say to draw
A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak.(90)
CORDELIA:
Nothing, my lord.
KING LEAR:
Nothing!
CORDELIA:
Nothing.
KING LEAR:
Nothing will come of nothing: speak again.
CORDELIA:
Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave(95)
My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty
According to my bond; nor more nor less.
KING LEAR:
How, how, Cordelia! mend your speech a little,
Lest it may mar your fortunes.
CORDELIA:
Good my lord,(100)
You have begot me, bred me, loved me: I
Return those duties back as are right fit,
Obey you, love you, and most honor you.
Why have my sisters husbands, if they say
They love you all? Haply, when I shall wed,(105)
That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry
Half my love with him, half my care and duty:
Sure, I shall never marry like my sisters,
To love my father all.
KING LEAR:
But goes thy heart with this?(110)
CORDELIA:
Ay, good my lord.
KING LEAR:
So young, and so untender?
CORDELIA:
So young, my lord, and true.
KING LEAR:
Let it be so; thy truth, then, be thy dower:
For, by the sacred radiance of the sun,(115)
The mysteries of Hecate, and the night;
By all the operation of the orbs
From whom we do exist, and cease to be;
Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
Propinquity and property of blood,(120)
And as a stranger to my heart and me
Hold thee, from this, for ever. The barbarous Scythian,
Or he that makes his generation messes
To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom
Be as well neighbored, pitied, and relieved,(125)
As thou my sometime daughter.
KENT:
Good my liege,—
KING LEAR:
Peace, Kent!
Come not between the dragon and his wrath.
I loved her most, and thought to set my rest(130)
On her kind nursery. Hence, and avoid my sight!
So be my grave my peace, as here I give
Her father's heart from her! Call France; who stirs?
Call Burgundy, Cornwall and Albany,
With my two daughters' dowers digest this third:(135)
Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.
I do invest you jointly with my power,
Pre-eminence, and all the large effects
That troop with majesty. Ourself, by monthly course,
With reservation of an hundred knights,(140)
By you to be sustained, shall our abode
Make with you by due turns. Only we still retain
The name, and all the additions to a king;
The sway, revenue, execution of the rest,
Beloved sons, be yours: which to confirm,(145)
This coronet part betwixt you.
KENT:
Royal Lear,
Whom I have ever honored as my king,
Loved as my father, as my master followed,
As my great patron thought on in my prayers,—(150)
KING LEAR:
The bow is bent and drawn, make from the shaft.
KENT:
Let it fall rather, though the fork invade
The region of my heart: be Kent unmannerly,
When Lear is mad. What wilt thou do, old man?
Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak,(155)
When power to flattery bows? To plainness honor's bound,
When majesty stoops to folly. Reverse thy doom;
And, in thy best consideration, check
This hideous rashness: answer my life my judgment,
Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least;(160)
Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sound
Reverbs no hollowness.
KING LEAR:
Kent, on thy life, no more.
KENT:
My life I never held but as a pawn
To wage against thy enemies; nor fear to lose it,(165)
Thy safety being the motive.
KING LEAR:
Out of my sight!
KENT:
See better, Lear; and let me still remain
The true blank of thine eye.
KING LEAR:
Now, by Apollo,—(170)
KENT:
Now, by Apollo, king,
Thou swear'st thy gods in vain.
KING LEAR:
O, vassal! miscreant!
ALBANY, CORNWALL:
Dear sir, forbear!
KENT:
Do!(175)
Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow
Upon thy foul disease. Revoke thy doom;
Or, whilst I can vent clamor from my throat,
I'll tell thee thou dost evil.
KING LEAR:
Hear me, recreant!(180)
On thine allegiance, hear me!
Since thou hast sought to make us break our vow,
Which we durst never yet, and with strained pride
To come between our sentence and our power,
Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,(185)
Our potency made good, take thy reward.
Five days we do allot thee, for provision
To shield thee from diseases of the world;
And on the sixth to turn thy hated back
Upon our kingdom: if, on the tenth day following,(190)
Thy banished trunk be found in our dominions,
The moment is thy death. Away! by Jupiter,
This shall not be revoked.
KENT:
Fare thee well, king: sith thus thou wilt appear,
Freedom lives hence, and banishment is here.(195)
The gods to their dear shelter take thee,
maid,
That justly think'st, and hast most rightly said!
And your large speeches may
your deeds approve,(200)
That good effects may spring from words of love.
Thus Kent, O princes, bids you all adieu;
He'll shape his old course in a country new.

[To Cordelia]

[To Regan and Goneril]

GLOUCESTER:
Here's France and Burgundy, my noble lord.
KING LEAR:
My lord of Burgundy.(205)
We first address towards you, who with this king
Hath rivalled for our daughter: what, in the least,
Will you require in present dower with her,
Or cease your quest of love?
BURGUNDY:
Most royal majesty,(210)
I crave no more than what your highness offered,
Nor will you tender less.
KING LEAR:
Right noble Burgundy,
When she was dear to us, we did hold her so;
But now her price is fall'n. Sir, there she stands:(215)
If aught within that little seeming substance,
Or all of it, with our displeasure pieced,
And nothing more, may fitly like your grace,
She's there, and she is yours.
BURGUNDY:
I know no answer.(220)
KING LEAR:
Will you, with those infirmities she owes,
Unfriended, new-adopted to our hate,
Dowered with our curse, and strangered with our oath,
Take her, or leave her?
BURGUNDY:
Pardon me, royal sir;(225)
Election makes not up on such conditions.
KING LEAR:
Then leave her, sir; for, by the power that made
me,
I tell you all her wealth.
For you, great king,(230)
I would not from your love make such a stray,
To match you where I hate; therefore beseech you
To avert your liking a more worthier way
Than on a wretch whom nature is ashamed
Almost to acknowledge hers.(235)

[To King of France]

FRANCE:
This is most strange,
That she, that even but now was your best object,
The argument of your praise, balm of your age,
Most best, most dearest, should in this trice of time
Commit a thing so monstrous, to dismantle(240)
So many folds of favor. Sure, her offense
Must be of such unnatural degree,
That monsters it, or your fore-vouched affection
Fall'n into taint: which to believe of her,
Must be a faith that reason without miracle(245)
Could never plant in me.
CORDELIA:
I yet beseech your majesty,—
If for I want that glib and oily art,
To speak and purpose not, since what I well intend,
I'll do't before I speak,—that you make known(250)
It is no vicious blot, murder, or foulness,
No unchaste action, or dishonored step,
That hath deprived me of your grace and favor;
But even for want of that for which I am richer,
A still-soliciting eye, and such a tongue(255)
As I am glad I have not, though not to have it
Hath lost me in your liking.
KING LEAR:
Better thou
Hadst not been born than not to have pleased me better.
FRANCE:
Is it but this,—a tardiness in nature(260)
Which often leaves the history unspoke
That it intends to do? My lord of Burgundy,
What say you to the lady? Love's not love
When it is mingled with regards that stand
Aloof from the entire point. Will you have her?(265)
She is herself a dowry.
BURGUNDY:
Royal Lear,
Give but that portion which yourself proposed,
And here I take Cordelia by the hand,
Duchess of Burgundy.(270)
KING LEAR:
Nothing: I have sworn; I am firm.
BURGUNDY:
I am sorry, then, you have so lost a father
That you must lose a husband.
CORDELIA:
Peace be with Burgundy!
Since that respects of fortune are his love,(275)
I shall not be his wife.
FRANCE:
Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor;
Most choice, forsaken; and most loved, despised!
Thee and thy virtues here seize upon:
Be it lawful I take up what's cast away.(280)
Gods, gods! 'tis strange that from their cold'st neglect
My love should kindle to inflamed respect.
Thy dowerless daughter, king, thrown to my chance,
Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair FRANCE:
Not all the dukes of waterish Burgundy(285)
Can buy this unprized precious maid of me.
Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind:
Thou losest here, a better where to find.
KING LEAR:
Thou hast her, France: let her be thine; for we
Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see(290)
That face of hers again. Therefore be gone
Without our grace, our love, our benison.
Come, noble Burgundy.
FRANCE:
Bid farewell to your sisters.
CORDELIA:
The jewels of our father, with washed eyes(295)
Cordelia leaves you: I know you what you are;
And like a sister am most loath to call
Your faults as they are named. Use well our father:
To your professed bosoms I commit him.
But yet, alas, stood I within his grace,(300)
I would prefer him to a better place.
So, farewell to you both.
REGAN:
Prescribe not us our duties.
GONERIL:
Let your study
Be to content your lord, who hath received you(305)
At fortune's alms. You have obedience scanted,
And well are worth the want that you have wanted.
CORDELIA:
Time shall unfold what plaited cunning hides:
Who covers faults, at last shame them derides.
Well may you prosper!(310)
FRANCE:
Come, my fair Cordelia.
GONERIL:
Sister, it is not a little I have to say of what most nearly
appertains to us both. I think our father will hence tonight.
REGAN:
That's most certain, and with you; next month with us.
GONERIL:
You see how full of changes his age is; the observation(315)
we have made of it hath not been little: he always loved our
sister most; and with what poor judgment he hath now cast
her off appears too grossly.
REGAN:
'Tis the infirmity of his age: yet he
hath ever but slenderly known himself.(320)
GONERIL:
The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash;
then must we look to receive from his age, not alone the
imperfections of long-engraffed condition, but therewithal
the unruly waywardness that infirm and choleric years bring
with them.(325)
REGAN:
Such unconstant starts are we like to have from him as
this of Kent's banishment.
GONERIL:
There is further compliment of leavetaking between
France and him. Pray you, let's hit together: if our father
carry authority with such dispositions as he bears, this last(330)
surrender of his will but offend us.
REGAN:
We shall further think on 't.
GONERIL:
We must do something, and i' the heat.

Scene II

The Earl of Gloucester's castle.

[Enter Edmund, with a letter]

[Enter Gloucester]

[Putting up the letter]

[Exit]

[Exit]

EDMUND:
Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law
My services are bound. Wherefore should I
Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines(5)
Lag of a brother? Why bastard? wherefore base?
When my dimensions are as well compact,
My mind as generous, and my shape as true,
As honest madam's issue? Why brand they us
With base? with baseness? bastardy? base, base?(10)
Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, take
More composition and fierce quality
Than doth, within a dull, stale, tired bed,
Go to the creating a whole tribe of fops,
Got 'tween asleep and wake? Well, then,(15)
Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land:
Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund
As to the legitimate: fine word,–legitimate!
Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed,
And my invention thrive, Edmund the base(20)
Shall top the legitimate. I grow; I prosper:
Now, gods, stand up for bastards!
GLOUCESTER:
Kent banished thus! and France in choler
parted!
And the king gone tonight! subscribed his power!(25)
Confined to exhibition! All this done
Upon the gad! Edmund, how now! what news?
EDMUND:
So please your lordship, none.
GLOUCESTER:
Why so earnestly seek you to put up that
letter?(30)
EDMUND:
I know no news, my lord.
GLOUCESTER:
What paper were you reading?
EDMUND:
Nothing, my lord.
GLOUCESTER:
No? What needed, then, that terrible dispatch of
it into your pocket? the quality of nothing hath not such(35)
need to hide itself. Let's see: come, if it be nothing, I shall
not need spectacles.
EDMUND:
I beseech you, sir, pardon me: it is a letter from my
brother, that I have not all o'er-read; and for so much as I
have perused, I find it not fit for your o'er-looking.(40)
GLOUCESTER:
Give me the letter, sir.
EDMUND:
I shall offend, either to detain or give it. The
contents, as in part I understand them, are to blame.
GLOUCESTER:
Let's see, let's see.
EDMUND:
I hope, for my brother's justification, he wrote this(45)
but as an essay or taste of my virtue.
GLOUCESTER:
[Reads]
'This policy and reverence of age makes the world bitter to the
best of our times; keeps our fortunes from us till our oldness
cannot relish them. I begin to find an idle and fond bondage in the(50)
oppression of aged tyranny; who sways, not as it hath power, but as
it is suffered. Come to me, that of this I may speak more. If our
father would sleep till I waked him, you should half his revenue for
ever, and live the beloved of your brother,
Hum–conspiracy!—“Sleep till I waked him,—you should(55)
enjoy half his revenue,”—My son Edgar! Had he a hand to
write this? a heart and brain to breed it in?—When came this
to you? who brought it?

Edgar.'

EDMUND:
It was not brought me, my lord; there's the cunning of
it; I found it thrown in at the casement of my closet.(60)
GLOUCESTER:
You know the character to be your brother's?
EDMUND:
If the matter were good, my lord, I durst swear it were
his; but, in respect of that, I would fain think it were not.
GLOUCESTER:
It is his.
EDMUND:
It is his hand, my lord; but I hope his heart is not in(65)
the contents.
GLOUCESTER:
Hath he never heretofore sounded you in this
business?
EDMUND:
Never, my lord: but I have heard him oft maintain it to
be fit, that, sons at perfect age, and fathers declining, the(70)
father should be as ward to the son, and the son manage his
revenue.
GLOUCESTER:
O villain, villain! His very opinion in the letter!
Abhorred villain! Unnatural, detested, brutish villain! worse
than brutish! Go, sirrah, seek him; I'll apprehend him:(75)
abominable villain! Where is he?
EDMUND:
I do not well know, my lord. If it shall please you to
suspend your indignation against my brother till you can
derive from him better testimony of his intent, you shall run a
certain course; where, if you violently proceed against him,(80)
mistaking his purpose, it would make a great gap in your
own honor, and shake in pieces the heart of his obedience. I
dare pawn down my life for him, that he hath wrote this to
feel my affection to your honor, and to no further pretense
of danger.(85)
GLOUCESTER:
Think you so?
EDMUND:
If your honor judge it meet, I will place you where
you shall hear us confer of this, and by an auricular
assurance have your satisfaction; and that without any
further delay than this very evening.(90)
GLOUCESTER:
He cannot be such a monster—
EDMUND:
Nor is not, sure.
GLOUCESTER:
To his father, that so tenderly and entirely loves
him. Heaven and earth! Edmund, seek him out: wind
me into him, I pray you: frame the business after your(95)
own wisdom. I would unstate myself, to be in a due
resolution.
EDMUND:
I will seek him, sir, presently: convey the business as
I shall find means and acquaint you withal.
GLOUCESTER:
These late eclipses in the sun and moon(100)
portend no good to us: though the wisdom of nature can
reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself scourged
by the sequent effects: love cools, friendship falls off,
brothers divide: in cities, mutinies; in countries, discord;
in palaces, treason; and the bond cracked 'twixt son and(105)
father. This villain of mine comes under the prediction;
there's son against father: the king falls from bias of nature;
there's father against child. We have seen the best of our
time: machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all
ruinous disorders, follow us disquietly to our graves. Find(110)
out this villain, Edmund; it shall lose thee nothing; do it
carefully. And the noble and true-hearted Kent banished!
his offense, honesty! 'Tis strange.
EDMUND:
This is the excellent foppery of the world,
that, when we are sick in fortune—often the surfeit(115)
of our own behavior,—we make guilty of our disasters
the sun, the moon, and the stars: as if we were villains
by necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves,
thieves, and treachers, by spherical predominance;
drunkards, liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedience(120)
of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a
divine thrusting on: an admirable evasion of whoremaster
man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a
star! My father compounded with my mother under the
dragon's tail; and my nativity was under Ursa major;(125)
so that it follows, I am rough and lecherous. Tut, I should
have been that I am, had the maidenliest star in the
firmament twinkled on my bastardizing. Edgar—
And pat he comes, like the catastrophe of the old
comedy: my cue is villainous melancholy, with a sigh(130)
like Tom o' Bedlam. O, these eclipses do portend these
divisions! fa, sol, la, mi.

[Enter Edgar]

EDGAR:
How now, brother Edmund! what serious contemplation
are you in?
EDMUND:
I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read this other(135)
day, what should follow these eclipses.
EDGAR:
Do you busy yourself about that?
EDMUND:
I promise you, the effects he writes of succeed
unhappily; as of unnaturalness between the child and
the parent; death, dearth, dissolutions of ancient amities;(140)
divisions in state, menaces and maledictions against king
and nobles; needless diffidences, banishment of friends,
dissipation of cohorts, nuptial breaches, and I know not
what.
EDGAR:
How long have you been a sectary astronomical?(145)
EDMUND:
Come, come; when saw you my father last?
EDGAR:
Why, the night gone by.
EDMUND:
Spake you with him?
EDGAR:
Ay, two hours together.
EDMUND:
Parted you in good terms? Found you no displeasure in(150)
him by word or countenance?
EDGAR:
None at all.
EDMUND:
Bethink yourself wherein you may have offended
him: and at my entreaty forbear his presence till some little
time hath qualified the heat of his displeasure; which at(155)
this instant so rageth in him, that with the mischief of your
person it would scarcely allay.
EDGAR:
Some villain hath done me wrong.
EDMUND:
That's my fear. I pray you, have a continent forbearance
till the speed of his rage goes slower; and, as I say, retire with(160)
me to my lodging, from whence I will fitly bring you to hear
my lord speak: pray ye, go; there's my key: if you do stir
abroad, go armed.
EDGAR:
Armed, brother!
EDMUND:
Brother, I advise you to the best; go armed: I am no(165)
honest man if there be any good meaning towards you: I have
told you what I have seen and heard; but faintly, nothing like
the image and horror of it: pray you, away.
EDGAR:
Shall I hear from you anon?
EDMUND:
I do serve you in this business.(170)
A credulous father! and a brother noble,
Whose nature is so far from doing harms
That he suspects none: on whose foolish honesty
My practices ride easy! I see the business.
Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit:(175)
All with me's meet that I can fashion fit.

[Exit Edgar]

Scene III

The Duke of Albany's palace.

[Enter Goneril, and Oswald, her steward]

[Horns within]

[Exeunt]

GONERIL:
Did my father strike my gentleman for chiding of
his fool?
OSWALD:
Yes, madam.
GONERIL:
By day and night he wrongs me; every hour
He flashes into one gross crime or other,(5)
That sets us all at odds: I'll not endure it:
His knights grow riotous, and himself upbraids us
On every trifle. When he returns from hunting,
I will not speak with him; say I am sick:
If you come slack of former services,(10)
You shall do well; the fault of it I'll answer.
OSWALD:
He's coming, madam; I hear him.
GONERIL:
Put on what weary negligence you please,
You and your fellows; I'll have it come to question:
If he dislike it, let him to our sister,(15)
Whose mind and mine, I know, in that are one,
Not to be over-ruled. Idle old man,
That still would manage those authorities
That he hath given away! Now, by my life,
Old fools are babes again; and must be used(20)
With checks as flatteries,—when they are seen abused.
Remember what I tell you.
OSWALD:
Well, madam.
GONERIL:
And let his knights have colder looks among you;
What grows of it, no matter; advise your fellows so:(25)
I would breed from hence occasions, and I shall,
That I may speak: I'll write straight to my sister,
To hold my very course. Prepare for dinner.

Scene IV

A hall in the same.

[Enter Kent, disguised]

[Horns within. Enter King Lear, Knights, and Attendants]

[Exit]

[Striking him]

[Tripping up his heels]

[Pushes Oswald out]

[Giving Kent money]

[Enter Fool]

[Offering Kent his cap]

[Enter Goneril]

[Enter Albany]

[Exit]

[Re-enter King Lear]

[Exeunt King Lear, Kent, and Attendants]

[Exit]

[Exeunt]

KENT:
If but as well I other accents borrow,
That can my speech defuse, my good intent
May carry through itself to that full issue
For which I razed my likeness. Now, banished Kent,
If thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemned,(5)
So may it come, thy master, whom thou lovest,
Shall find thee full of labors.
KING LEAR:
Let me not stay a jot for dinner; go get it ready.
How now! what art thou?

[Exit an Attendant]

KENT:
A man, sir.(10)
KING LEAR:
What dost thou profess? what wouldst thou with
us?
KENT:
I do profess to be no less than I seem; to serve him truly that
will put me in trust: to love him that is honest; to converse
with him that is wise, and says little; to fear judgment; to(15)
fight when I cannot choose; and to eat no fish.
KING LEAR:
What art thou?
KENT:
A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the king.
KING LEAR:
If thou be as poor for a subject as he is for a king,
thou art poor enough. What wouldst thou?(20)
KENT:
Service.
KING LEAR:
Who wouldst thou serve?
KENT:
You.
KING LEAR:
Dost thou know me, fellow?
KENT:
No, sir; but you have that in your countenance which I(25)
would fain call master.
KING LEAR:
What's that?
KENT:
Authority.
KING LEAR:
What services canst thou do?
KENT:
I can keep honest counsel, ride, run, mar a curious tale(30)
in telling it, and deliver a plain message bluntly: that which
ordinary men are fit for, I am qualified in; and the best of me
is diligence.
KING LEAR:
How old art thou?
KENT:
Not so young, sir, to love a woman for singing, nor so(35)
old to dote on her for any thing: I have years on my back
forty-eight.
KING LEAR:
Follow me; thou shalt serve me: if I like thee no
worse after dinner, I will not part from thee yet. Dinner, ho,
dinner! Where's my knave? my fool? Go you, and call my(40)
fool hither.
You, you, sirrah, where's my daughter?

[Exit an Attendant]

[Enter Oswald]

OSWALD:
So please you,—
KING LEAR:
What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll
back. [Exit a Knight] Where's my fool, ho? I think the(45)
world's asleep. [Re-enter Knight] How now! where's that
mongrel?
KNIGHT:
He says, my lord, your daughter is not well.
KING LEAR:
Why came not the slave back to me when I called
him?(50)
KNIGHT:
Sir, he answered me in the roundest manner, he
would not.
KING LEAR:
He would not!
KNIGHT:
My lord, I know not what the matter is; but, to
my judgment, your highness is not entertained with(55)
that ceremonious affection as you were wont; there's
a great abatement of kindness appears as well in the
general dependants as in the duke himself also and your
daughter.
KING LEAR:
Ha! sayest thou so?(60)
KNIGHT:
I beseech you, pardon me, my lord, if I be mistaken;
for my duty cannot be silent when I think your highness
wronged.
KING LEAR:
Thou but rememberest me of mine own
conception: I have perceived a most faint neglect of late;(65)
which I have rather blamed as mine own jealous curiosity
than as a very pretense and purpose of unkindness: I will
look further into 't. But here's my fool? I have not seen him
this two days.
KNIGHT:
Since my young lady's going into France, sir, the fool(70)
hath much pined away.
KING LEAR:
No more of that; I have noted it well. Go you, and
tell my daughter I would speak with her.
Go you, call hither my fool.
O, you sir, you, come you hither, sir: who am I, sir?(75)

[Exit an Attendant]

[Exit an Attendant]

[Re-enter Oswald]

OSWALD:
My lady's father.
KING LEAR:
‘My lady's father’! my lord's knave: your whoreson
dog! you slave! you cur!
OSWALD:
I am none of these, my lord; I beseech your pardon.
KING LEAR:
Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?(80)
OSWALD:
I'll not be struck, my lord.
KENT:
Nor tripped neither, you base football player.
KING LEAR:
I thank thee, fellow; thou servest me, and I'll love
thee.
KENT:
Come, sir, arise, away! I'll teach you differences: away,(85)
away! if you will measure your lubber's length again,
tarry: but away! go to; have you wisdom? so.
KING LEAR:
Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee: there's earnest
of thy service.
FOOL:
Let me hire him too: here's my coxcomb.(90)
KING LEAR:
How now, my pretty knave! how dost thou?
FOOL:
Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb.
KENT:
Why, fool?
FOOL:
Why, for taking one's part that's out of favor: nay, an thou
canst not smile as the wind sits, thou'lt catch cold shortly:(95)
there, take my coxcomb: why, this fellow has banished two
on's daughters, and did the third a blessing against his
will; if thou follow him, thou must needs wear my coxcomb.
How now, nuncle! Would I had two coxcombs and two
daughters!(100)
KING LEAR:
Why, my boy?
FOOL:
If I gave them all my living, I'ld keep my coxcombs
myself. There's mine; beg another of thy daughters.
KING LEAR:
Take heed, sirrah; the whip.
FOOL:
Truth's a dog must to kennel; he must be whipped out,(105)
when Lady the brach may stand by the fire and stink.
KING LEAR:
A pestilent gall to me!
FOOL:
Sirrah, I'll teach thee a speech.
KING LEAR:
Do.
FOOL:
Mark it, nuncle:(110)
Have more than thou showest,
Speak less than thou knowest,
Lend less than thou owest,
Ride more than thou goest,
Learn more than thou trowest,(115)
Set less than thou throwest,
Leave thy drink and thy whore,
And keep in-a-door,
And thou shalt have more
Than two tens to a score.(120)
KENT:
This is nothing, fool.
FOOL:
Then 'tis like the breath of an unfee'd lawyer; you
gave me nothing for't. Can you make no use of nothing,
nuncle?
KING LEAR:
Why, no, boy; nothing can be made out of(125)
nothing.
FOOL:
Prithee, tell him, so much the rent of his
land comes to: he will not believe a fool.

[To Kent]

KING LEAR:
A bitter fool!
FOOL:
Dost thou know the difference, my boy, between a(130)
bitter fool and a sweet fool?
KING LEAR:
No, lad; teach me.
FOOL:
That lord that counseled thee
To give away thy land,
Come place him here by me,(135)
Do thou for him stand:
The sweet and bitter fool
Will presently appear;
The one in motley here,
The other found out there.(140)
KING LEAR:
Dost thou call me fool, boy?
FOOL:
All thy other titles thou hast given away; that thou wast
born with.
KENT:
This is not altogether fool, my lord.
FOOL:
No, faith, lords and great men will not let me; if I had(145)
a monopoly out, they would have part on't: and ladies
too, they will not let me have all fool to myself; they'll be
snatching. Give me an egg, nuncle, and I'll give thee two
crowns.
KING LEAR:
What two crowns shall they be?(150)
FOOL:
Why, after I have cut the egg in the middle, and eat up the
meat, the two crowns of the egg. When thou clovest
thy crown i' the middle, and gavest away both parts, thou
borest thy ass on thy back o'er the dirt: thou hadst little
wit in thy bald crown, when thou gavest thy golden one(155)
away. If I speak like myself in this, let him be whipped that
first finds it so.
Fools had ne'er less wit in a year;
For wise men are grown foppish,
They know not how their wits to wear,(160)
Their manners are so apish.

[Singing]

KING LEAR:
When were you wont to be so full of songs, sirrah?
FOOL:
I have used it, nuncle, ever since thou madest thy
daughters thy mothers: for when thou gavest them the rod,
and put'st down thine own breeches,(165)
Then they for sudden joy did weep,
And I for sorrow sung,
That such a king should play bo-peep,
And go the fools among.
Prithee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach thy fool(170)
to lie: I would fain learn to lie.

[Singing]

KING LEAR:
An you lie, sirrah, we'll have you whipped.
FOOL:
I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are: they'll
have me whipped for speaking true, thou'lt have me whipped
for lying; and sometimes I am whipped for holding my peace.(175)
I had rather be any kind o' thing than a Fool: and yet I would
not be thee, nuncle; thou hast pared thy wit o' both sides, and
left nothing i' the middle: here comes one o' the parings.
KING LEAR:
How now, daughter! what makes that frontlet
on?(180)
Methinks you are too much of late i' the frown.
FOOL:
Thou wast a pretty fellow when thou hadst no need to
care for her frowning; now thou art an O without a figure:
I am better than thou art now; I am a fool, thou art nothing.
Yes, forsooth, I will hold my tongue; so your face
bids me, though you say nothing.(185)
Mum, mum,
He that keeps nor crust nor crum,
Weary of all, shall want some.
That's a shealed peascod.(190)

[To Goneri]

[Pointing to King Lear]

GONERIL:
Not only, sir, this your all-licensed fool,
But other of your insolent retinue
Do hourly carp and quarrel; breaking forth
In rank and not-to-be endured riots. Sir,
I had thought, by making this well known unto you,(195)
To have found a safe redress; but now grow fearful,
By what yourself too late have spoke and done.
That you protect this course, and put it on
By your allowance; which if you should, the fault
Would not 'scape censure, nor the redresses sleep,(200)
Which, in the tender of a wholesome weal,
Might in their working do you that offense,
Which else were shame, that then necessity
Will call discreet proceeding.
FOOL:
For, you trow, nuncle,(205)
The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long,
That it's had it head bit off by it young.
So out went the candle, and we were left darkling.
KING LEAR:
Are you our daughter?
GONERIL:
Come, sir,(210)
I would you would make use of that good wisdom,
Whereof I know you are fraught; and put away
These dispositions, that of late transform you
From what you rightly are.
FOOL:
May not an ass know when the cart draws the horse?(215)
Whoop, Jug! I love thee.
KING LEAR:
Doth any here know me? This is not Lear:
Doth Lear walk thus? speak thus? Where are his eyes?
Either his notion weakens, his discernings
Are lethargied—Ha! waking? 'tis not so.(220)
Who is it that can tell me who I am?
FOOL:
Lear's shadow.
KING LEAR:
I would learn that; for, by the marks of sovereignty,
knowledge, and reason, I should be false persuaded I had
daughters.(225)
FOOL:
Which they will make an obedient father.
KING LEAR:
Your name, fair gentlewoman?
GONERIL:
This admiration, sir, is much o' the savor
Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you
To understand my purposes aright:(230)
As you are old and reverend, you should be wise.
Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires;
Men so disordered, so deboshed and bold,
That this our court, infected with their manners,
Shows like a riotous inn: epicurism and lust(235)
Make it more like a tavern or a brothel
Than a graced palace. The shame itself doth speak
For instant remedy: be then desired
By her, that else will take the thing she begs,
A little to disquantity your train;(240)
And the remainder, that shall still depend,
To be such men as may besort your age,
And know themselves and you.
KING LEAR:
Darkness and devils!
Saddle my horses; call my train together:(245)
Degenerate bastard! I'll not trouble thee.
Yet have I left a daughter.
GONERIL:
You strike my people; and your disordered rabble
Make servants of their betters.
KING LEAR:
Woe, that too late repents,—(250)
O, sir, are you come?
Is it your will? Speak, sir. Prepare my horses.
Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend,
More hideous when thou show'st thee in a child
Than the sea-monster!(255)

[To Albany]

ALBANY:
Pray, sir, be patient.
KING LEAR:
Detested kite, thou liest.
My train are men of choice and rarest parts,
That all particulars of duty know,
And in the most exact regard support(260)
The worships of their name. O most small fault,
How ugly didst thou in Cordelia show!
That, like an engine, wrenched my frame of nature
From the fixed place; drew from my heart all love,
And added to the gall. O Lear, Lear, Lear!(265)
Beat at this gate, that let thy folly in, [Striking his head]
And thy dear judgement out! Go, go, my people.

[To Goneril]

ALBANY:
My lord, I am guiltless, as I am ignorant
Of what hath moved you.
KING LEAR:
It may be so, my lord.(270)
Hear, nature, hear; dear goddess, hear!
Suspend thy purpose, if thou didst intend
To make this creature fruitful!
Into her womb convey sterility!
Dry up in her the organs of increase;(275)
And from her derogate body never spring
A babe to honor her! If she must teem,
Create her child of spleen; that it may live,
And be a thwart disnatured torment to her!
Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth;(280)
With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks;
Turn all her mother's pains and benefits
To laughter and contempt; that she may feel
How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
To have a thankless child! Away, away!(285)
ALBANY:
Now, gods that we adore, whereof comes this?
GONERIL:
Never afflict yourself to know the cause;
But let his disposition have that scope
That dotage gives it.
KING LEAR:
What, fifty of my followers at a clap!(290)
Within a fortnight!
ALBANY:
What's the matter, sir?
KING LEAR:
I'll tell thee: [To Goneril] Life and death! I am
ashamed
That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus;(295)
That these hot tears, which break from me perforce,
Should make thee worth them. Blasts and fogs upon
thee!
The untented woundings of a father's curse
Pierce every sense about thee! Old fond eyes,(300)
Beweep this cause again, I'll pluck ye out,
And cast you, with the waters that you lose,
To temper clay. Yea, it is come to this?
Let it be so: yet have I left a daughter,
Who, I am sure, is kind and comfortable:(305)
When she shall hear this of thee, with her nails
She'll flay thy wolvish visage. Thou shalt find
That I'll resume the shape which thou dost think
I have cast off for ever: thou shalt,
I warrant thee.(310)
GONERIL:
Do you mark that, my lord?
ALBANY:
I cannot be so partial, Goneril,
To the great love I bear you,—
GONERIL:
Pray you, content. What, Oswald, ho!
You, sir, more knave than fool, after your(315)
master.

[To the Fool]

FOOL:
Nuncle Lear, nuncle Lear, tarry and take the fool with
thee.
A fox, when one has caught her,
And such a daughter,(320)
Should sure to the slaughter,
If my cap would buy a halter:
So the fool follows after.
GONERIL:
This man hath had good counsel:—a hundred
knights!(325)
'Tis politic and safe to let him keep
At point a hundred knights: yes, that, on every dream,
Each buzz, each fancy, each complaint, dislike,
He may enguard his dotage with their powers,
And hold our lives in mercy. Oswald, I say!(330)
ALBANY:
Well, you may fear too far.
GONERIL:
Safer than trust too far:
Let me still take away the harms I fear,
Not fear still to be taken: I know his heart.
What he hath uttered I have writ my sister(335)
If she sustain him and his hundred knights
When I have showed the unfitness,—
How now, Oswald!
What, have you writ that letter to my sister?

[Re-enter Oswald]

OSWALD:
Yes, madam.(340)
GONERIL:
Take you some company, and away to horse:
Inform her full of my particular fear;
And thereto add such reasons of your own
As may compact it more. Get you gone;
And hasten your return. [Exit Oswald] No, no, my lord,(345)
This milky gentleness and course of yours
Though I condemn not, yet, under pardon,
You are much more attasked for want of wisdom
Than praised for harmful mildness.
ALBANY:
How far your eyes may pierce I can not tell:(350)
Striving to better, oft we mar what's well.
GONERIL:
Nay, then—
ALBANY:
Well, well; the event.

Scene V

Court before the same.

[Enter King Lear, Kent, and Fool]

[Exit]

[Exeunt]

KING LEAR:
Go you before to Gloucester with these letters.
Acquaint my daughter no further with any thing you
know than comes from her demand out of the letter.
If your diligence be not speedy, I shall be there afore you.
KENT:
I will not sleep, my lord, till I have delivered your(5)
letter.
FOOL:
If a man's brains were in's heels, were't not in danger
of kibes?
KING LEAR:
Ay, boy.
FOOL:
Then, I prithee, be merry; thy wit shall ne'er go(10)
slip-shod.
KING LEAR:
Ha, ha, ha!
FOOL:
Shalt see thy other daughter will use thee kindly; for
though she's as like this as a crab's like an apple, yet I can
tell what I can tell.(15)
KING LEAR:
Why, what canst thou tell, my boy?
FOOL:
She will taste as like this as a crab does to a crab.
Thou canst tell why one's nose stands i' the middle on's face?
KING LEAR:
No.
FOOL:
Why, to keep one's eyes of either side's nose; that what(20)
a man cannot smell out, he may spy into.
KING LEAR:
I did her wrong—
FOOL:
Canst tell how an oyster makes his shell?
KING LEAR:
No.
FOOL:
Nor I neither; but I can tell why a snail has a house.(25)
KING LEAR:
Why?
FOOL:
Why, to put his head in; not to give it away to his
daughters, and leave his horns without a case.
KING LEAR:
I will forget my nature. So kind a father! Be my
horses ready?(30)
FOOL:
Thy asses are gone about 'em. The reason why the seven
stars are no more than seven is a pretty reason.
KING LEAR:
Because they are not eight?
FOOL:
Yes, indeed: thou wouldst make a good fool.
KING LEAR:
To take 't again perforce! Monster ingratitude!(35)
FOOL:
If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I'ld have thee beaten for
being old before thy time.
KING LEAR:
How's that?
FOOL:
Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been
wise.(40)
KING LEAR:
O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven Keep me in temper: I would not be mad!
How now! are the horses ready?

[Enter Gentleman]

GENTLEMAN:
Ready, my lord.
KING LEAR:
Come, boy.
FOOL:
She that's a maid now, and laughs at my departure,(45)
Shall not be a maid long, unless things be cut shorter.