King Lear

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Original text
Act I, Scene I
Enter Kent, Gloucester, and Edmond.

Kent.
I thought the King had more affected the Duke of
Albany, then Cornwall.

Glou.
It did alwayes seeme so to vs: But now in the
diuision of the Kingdome, it appeares not which of the
Dukes hee valewes most, for qualities are so weigh'd, that
curiosity in neither, can make choise of eithers moity.

Kent.
Is not this your Son, my Lord?

Glou.
His breeding Sir, hath bin at my charge.
I haue so often blush'd to acknowledge him, that now I
am braz'd too't.

Kent.
I cannot conceiue you.

Glou.
Sir,this yong Fellowes mother could;
wherevpon she grew round womb'd, and had indeede
(Sir) a Sonne for her Cradle, ere she had husband for her
bed. Do you smell a fault?

Kent.
I cannot wish the fault vndone, the issue of it, being
so proper.

Glou.
But I haue a Sonne, Sir, by order of Law, some
yeere elder then this; who, yet is no deerer in my account,
though this Knaue came somthing sawcily to the world
before he was sent for: yet was his Mother fayre, there
was good sport at his making, and the horson must be
acknowledged. Doe you know this Noble Gentleman,
Edmond?

Edm.
No, my Lord.

Glou.
My Lord of Kent: / Remember him heereafter,
as my Honourable Friend.

Edm.
My seruices to your Lordship.

Kent.
I must loue you, and sue to know you better.

Edm.
Sir, I shall study deseruing.

Glou.
He hath bin out nine yeares, and away he
shall againe. The King is comming.
Sennet.
Enter King Lear, Cornwall, Albany, Gonerill, Regan,
Cordelia, and attendants.

Lear.
Attend the Lords of France & Burgundy,
Gloster.

Glou.
I shall, my Lord.
Exit.

Lear.
Meane time we shal expresse our darker purpose.
Giue me the Map there. Know, that we haue diuided
In three our Kingdome: and 'tis our fast intent,
To shake all Cares and Businesse from our Age,
Conferring them on yonger strengths, while we
Vnburthen'd crawle toward death. Our son of Cornwal,
And you our no lesse louing Sonne of Albany,
We haue this houre a constant will to publish
Our daughters seuerall Dowers, that future strife
May be preuented now. The Princes, France & Burgundy,
Great Riuals in our yongest daughters loue,
Long in our Court, haue made their amorous soiourne,
And heere are to be answer'd. Tell me my daughters
(Since now we will diuest vs both of Rule,
Interest of Territory, Cares of State)
Which of you shall we say doth loue vs most,
That we, our largest bountie may extend
Where Nature doth with merit challenge. Gonerill,
Our eldest borne, speake first.

Gon.
Sir, I loue you more then word can weild ye matter,
Deerer then eye-sight, space, and libertie,
Beyond what can be valewed, rich or rare,
No lesse then life, with grace, health, beauty, honor:
As much as Childe ere lou'd, or Father found.
A loue that makes breath poore, and speech vnable,
Beyond all manner of so much I loue you.

Cor.
What shall Cordelia speake? Loue, and be silent.

Lear.
Of all these bounds euen from this Line, to this,
With shadowie Forrests, and with Champains rich'd
With plenteous Riuers, and wide-skirted Meades
We make thee Lady. To thine and Albanies issues
Be this perpetuall. What sayes our second Daughter?
Our deerest Regan, wife of Cornwall?

Reg.
I am made of that selfe-mettle as my Sister,
And prize me at her worth. In my true heart,
I finde she names my very deede of loue:
Onely she comes too short, that I professe
My selfe an enemy to all other ioyes,
Which the most precious square of sense professes,
And finde I am alone felicitate
In your deere Highnesse loue.

Cor.
Then poore Cordelia,
And yet not so, since I am sure my loue's
More ponderous then my tongue.

Lear.
To thee, and thine hereditarie euer,
Remaine this ample third of our faire Kingdome,
No lesse in space, validitie, and pleasure
Then that conferr'd on Gonerill. Now our Ioy,
Although our last and least; to whose yong loue,
The Vines of France, and Milke of Burgundie,
Striue to be interest. What can you say, to draw
A third, more opilent then your Sisters? speake.

Cor.
Nothing my Lord.

Lear.
Nothing?

Cor.
Nothing.

Lear.
Nothing will come of nothing, speake againe.

Cor.
Vnhappie that I am, I cannot heaue
My heart into my mouth: I loue your Maiesty
According to my bond, no more nor lesse.

Lear.
How, how Cordelia? mend your speech a little,
Least you may marre your Fortunes.

Cor.
Good my Lord,
You haue begot me, bred me, lou'd me.
I returne those duties backe as are right fit,
Obey you, Loue you, and most Honour you.
Why haue my Sisters Husbands, if they say
They loue you all? Happily when I shall wed,
That Lord, whose hand must take my plight, shall carry
Halfe my loue with him, halfe my Care, and Dutie,
Sure I shall neuer marry like my Sisters.

Lear.
But goes thy heart with this?

Cor.
I my good Lord.

Lear.
So young, and so vntender?

Cor.
So young my Lord, and true.

Lear.
Let it be so, thy truth then be thy dowre:
For by the sacred radience of the Sunne,
The miseries of Heccat and the night:
By all the operation of the Orbes,
From whom we do exist, and cease to be,
Heere I disclaime all my Paternall care,
Propinquity and property of blood,
And as a stranger to my heart and me,
Hold thee from this for euer. The barbarous Scythian,
Or he that makes his generation messes
To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosome
Be as well neighbour'd, pittied, and releeu'd,
As thou my sometime Daughter.

Kent.
Good my Liege.

Lear.
Peace Kent,
Come not betweene the Dragon and his wrath,
I lou'd her most, and thought to set my rest
On her kind nursery. Hence and avoid my sight:
So be my graue my peace, as here I giue
Her Fathers heart from her; call France, who stirres?
Call Burgundy, Cornwall, and Albanie,
With my two Daughters Dowres, digest the third,
Let pride, which she cals plainnesse, marry her:
I doe inuest you ioyntly with my power,
Preheminence, and all the large effects
That troope with Maiesty. Our selfe by Monthly course,
With reseruation of an hundred Knights,
By you to be sustain'd, shall our abode
Make with you by due turne, onely we shall retaine
The name, and all th'addition to a King: the Sway,
Reuennew, Execution of the rest,
Beloued Sonnes be yours, which to confirme,
This Coronet part betweene you.

Kent.
Royall Lear,
Whom I haue euer honor'd as my King,
Lou'd as my Father, as my Master follow'd,
As my great Patron thought on in my praiers.

Le.
The bow is bent & drawne, make from the shaft.

Kent.
Let it fall rather, though the forke inuade
The region of my heart, be Kent vnmannerly,
When Lear is mad, what wouldest thou do old man?
Think'st thou that dutie shall haue dread to speake,
When power to flattery bowes? / To plainnesse honour's bound,
When Maiesty falls to folly, reserue thy state,
And in thy best consideration checke
This hideous rashnesse, answere my life, my iudgement:
Thy yongest Daughter do's not loue thee least,
Nor are those empty hearted, whose low sounds
Reuerbe no hollownesse.

Lear.
Kent, on thy life no more.

Kent.
My life I neuer held but as pawne
To wage against thine enemies, nere feare to loose it,
Thy safety being motiue.

Lear.
Out of my sight.

Kent.
See better Lear, and let me still remaine
The true blanke of thine eie.

Kear.
Now by Apollo,

Lent.
Now by Apollo, King
Thou swear.st thy Gods in vaine.

Lear.
O Vassall! Miscreant.


Alb. Cor.
Deare Sir forbeare.

Kent.
Kill thy Physition, and thy fee bestow
Vpon the foule disease, reuoke thy guift,
Or whil'st I can vent clamour from my throate,
Ile tell thee thou dost euill.

Lea.
Heare me recreant, on thine allegeance heare me;
That thou hast sought to make vs breake our vowes,
Which we durst neuer yet; and with strain'd pride,
To come betwixt our sentences, and our power,
Which, nor our nature, nor our place can beare;
Our potencie made good, take thy reward.
Fiue dayes we do allot thee for prouision,
To shield thee from disasters of the world,
And on the sixt to turne thy hated backe
Vpon our kingdome; if on the tenth day following,
Thy banisht trunke be found in our Dominions,
The moment is thy death, away. By Iupiter,
This shall not be reuok'd,

Kent.
Fare thee well King, sith thus thou wilt appeare,
Freedome liues hence, and banishment is here;
The Gods to their deere shelter take thee Maid,
That iustly think'st, and hast most rightly said:

And your large speeches,may your deeds approue,
That good effects may spring from words of loue:
Thus Kent, O Princes, bids you all adew,
Hee'l shape his old course, in a Country new.
Exit.
Flourish. Enter Gloster with France, and Burgundy,
Attendants.

Cor.
Heere's France and Burgundy, my Noble Lord.

Lear.
My Lord of Bugundie,
We first addresse toward you, who with this King
Hath riuald for our Daughter; what in the least
Will you require in present Dower with her,
Or cease your quest of Loue?

Bur.
Most Royall Maiesty,
I craue no more then hath your Highnesse offer'd,
Nor will you tender lesse?

Lear.
Right Noble Burgundy,
When she was deare to vs, we did hold her so,
But now her price is fallen: Sir, there she stands,
If ought within that little seeming substance,
Or all of it with our displeasure piec'd,
And nothing more may fitly like your Grace,
Shee's there, and she is yours.

Bur.
I know no answer.

Lear.
Will you with those infirmities she owes,
Vnfriended, new adopted to our hate,
Dow'rd with our curse, and stranger'd with our oath,
Take her or, leaue her.

Bur.
Pardon me Royall Sir,
Election makes not vp in such conditions.

Le.
Then leaue her sir, for by the powre that made me,
I tell you all her wealth. For you great King,
I would not from your loue make such a stray,
To match you where I hate, therefore beseech you
T'auert your liking a more worthier way,
Then on a wretch whom Nature is asham'd
Almost t'acknowledge hers.

Fra.
This is most strange,
That she whom euen but now, was your obiect,
The argument of your praise, balme of your age,
The best, the deerest, should in this trice of time
Commit a thing so monstrous, to dismantle
So many folds of fauour: sure her offence
Must be of such vnnaturall degree,
That monsters it: Or your fore-voucht affection
Fall into taint, which to beleeue of her
Must be a faith that reason without miracle
Should neuer plant in me.

Cor.
I yet beseech your Maiesty.
If for I want that glib and oylie Art,
To speake and purpose not, since what I will intend,
Ile do't before I speake, that you make knowne
It is no vicious blot, murther, or foulenesse,
No vnchaste action or dishonoured step
That hath depriu'd me of your Grace and fauour,
But euen for want of that, for which I am richer,
A still soliciting eye, and such a tongue,
That I am glad I haue not, though not to haue it,
Hath lost me in your liking.

Lear.
Better thou had'st'
Not beene borne, then not t haue pleas'd me better.

Fra.
Is it but this? A tardinesse in nature,
Which often leaues the history vnspoke
That it intends to do: my Lord of Burgundy,
What say you to the Lady? Loue's not loue
When it is mingled with regards, that stands
Aloofe from th'intire point, will you haue her?
She is herselfe a Dowrie.

Bur.
Royall King,
Giue but that portion which your selfe propos'd,
And here I take Cordelia by the hand,
Dutchesse of Burgundie.

Lear.
Nothing, I haue sworne, I am firme.

Bur.
I am sorry then you haue so lost a Father,
That you must loose a husband.

Cor.
Peace be with Burgundie,
Since that respect and Fortunes are his loue,
I shall not be his wife.

Fra.
Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich being poore,
Most choise forsaken, and most lou'd despis'd,
Thee and thy vertues here I seize vpon,
Be it lawfull I take vp what's cast away.
Gods, Gods! 'Tis strange, that from their cold'st neglect
My Loue should kindle to enflam'd respect.
Thy dowrelesse Daughter King, throwne to my chance,
Is Queene of vs, of ours, and our faire France:
Not all the Dukes of watrish Burgundy,
Can buy this vnpriz'd precious Maid of me.
Bid them farewell Cordelia, though vnkinde,
Thou loosest here a better where to finde.

Lear.
Thou hast her France, let her be thine,for we
Haue no such Daughter, nor shall euer see
That face of hers againe, therfore be gone,
Without our Grace, our Loue, our Benizon:
Come Noble Burgundie.
Flourish. Exeunt.

Fra.
Bid farwell to your Sisters.

Cor.
The Iewels of our Father,with wash'd eies
Cordelia leaues you, I know you what you are,
And like a Sister am most loth to call
Your faults as they are named. Loue well our Father:
To your professed bosomes I commit him,
But yet alas, stood I within his Grace,
I would prefer him to a better place,
So farewell to you both.

Regn.
Prescribe not vs our dutie.

Gon.
Let your study
Be to content your Lord, who hath receiu'd you
At Fortunes almes, you haue obedience scanted,
And well are worth the want that you haue wanted.

Cor.
Time shall vnfold what plighted cunning hides,
Who couers faults, at last with shame derides:
Well may you prosper.

Fra.
Come my faire Cordelia.
Exit France and Cor.

Gon.
Sister, it is not little I haue to say, / Of what most
neerely appertaines to vs both, / I thinke our Father will
hence to night.

Reg.
That's most certaine, and with you: next moneth
with vs.

Gon.
You see how full of changes his age is, the
obseruation we haue made of it hath beene little; he
alwaies lou'd our Sister most, and with what poore iudgement
he hath now cast her off, appeares too grossely.

Reg.
'Tis the infirmity of his age, yet he hath euer but
slenderly knowne himselfe.

Gon.
The best and soundest of his time hath bin
but rash, then must we looke from his age, to receiue not
alone the imperfections of long ingraffed condition, but
therewithall the vnruly way-wardnesse, that infirme and
cholericke yeares bring with them.

Reg.
Such vnconstant starts are we like to haue from
him, as this of Kents banishment.

Gon.
There is further complement of leaue-taking
betweene France and him, pray you let vs sit together,
if our Father carry authority with such disposition as he
beares, this last surrender of his will but offend vs.

Reg.
We shall further thinke of it.

Gon.
We must do something, and i'th'heate.
Exeunt.
Original text
Act I, Scene II
Enter Bastard.

Bast.
Thou Nature art my Goddesse, to thy Law
My seruices are bound, wherefore should I
Stand in the plague of custome, and permit
The curiosity of Nations, to depriue me?
For that I am some twelue, or fourteene Moonshines
Lag of a Brother? Why Bastard? Wherefore base?
When my Dimensions are as well compact,
My minde as generous, and my shape as true
As honest Madams issue? Why brand they vs
With Base? With basenes Barstadie? Base, Base?
Who in the lustie stealth of Nature, take
More composition, and fierce qualitie,
Then doth within a dull stale tyred bed
Goe to th'creating a whole tribe of Fops
Got 'tweene a sleepe, and wake? Well then,
Legitimate Edgar, I must haue your land,
Our Fathers loue, is to the Bastard Edmond,
As to th'legitimate: fine word: Legitimate.
Well, my Legittimate, if this Letter speed,
And my inuention thriue, Edmond the base
Shall to'th'Legitimate: I grow, I prosper:
Now Gods, stand vp for Bastards.
Enter Gloucester.

Glo.
Kent banish'd thus? and France in choller parted?
And the King gone to night? Prescrib'd his powre,
Confin'd to exhibition? All this done
Vpon the gad? Edmond, how now? What newes?

Bast.
So please your Lordship, none.

Glou.
Why so earnestly seeke you to put vp yt
Letter?

Bast.
I know no newes, my Lord.

Glou.
What Paper were you reading?

Bast.
Nothing my Lord.

Glou.
No? what needed then that terrible dispatch
of it into your Pocket? The quality of nothing,
hath not such neede to hide it selfe. Let's see: come, if it
bee nothing, I shall not neede Spectacles.

Bast.
I beseech you Sir, pardon mee; it is a Letter from
my Brother, that I haue not all ore-read; and for so much
as I haue perus'd, I finde it not fit for your ore-looking.

Glou.
Giue me the Letter, Sir.

Bast.
I shall offend, either to detaine, or giue it: / The
Contents, as in part I vnderstand them, / Are too blame.

Glou.
Let's see, let's see.

Bast.
I hope for my Brothers iustification, hee wrote
this but as an essay, or taste of my Vertue.

Glou.
reads.
This policie, and reuerence of Age,
makes the world bitter to the best of our times: keepes our
Fortunes fromvs, till our oldnesse cannot rellish them. I begin
to finde an idleand fond bondage, in the oppression of aged
tyranny, who swayes not as it hath power, but as it is
suffer'd. Come to me, that of this I may speake more. If our
Father would sleepe till I wak'd him, you should enioy halfe
his Reuennew for euer, and liue the beloued of your Brother.
Edgar.
Hum? Conspiracy? Sleepe till I wake him, you should
enioy halfe his Reuennew: my Sonne Edgar, had hee a hand to
write this? A heart and braine to breede it in? When came
you to this? Who brought it?

Bast.
It was not brought mee, my Lord; there's the
cunning of it. I found it throwne in at the Casement of my
Closset.

Glou.
You know the character to be your
Brothers?

Bast.
If the matter were good my Lord, I durst swear
it were his: but in respect of that, I would faine thinke it
were not.

Glou.
It is his.

Bast.
It is his hand, my Lord: but I hope his heart is
not in the Contents.

Glo.
Has he neuer before sounded you in this
busines?

Bast.
Neuer my Lord. But I haue heard him oft maintaine
it to be fit, that Sonnes at perfect age, and Fathers
declin'd, the Father should bee as Ward to the Son, and
the Sonne manage his Reuennew.

Glou.
O Villain, villain: his very opinion in the
Letter. Abhorred Villaine, vnnaturall, detested, brutish
Villaine; worse then brutish: Go sirrah, seeke him: Ile
apprehend him. Abhominable Villaine, where is he?

Bast.
I do not well know my L. If it shall please
you to suspend your indignation against my Brother, til
you can deriue from him better testimony of his intent,
you shold run a certaine course: where, if you violently
proceed against him, mistaking his purpose, it would
make a great gap in your owne Honor, and shake in
peeces, the heart of his obedience. I dare pawne downe
my life for him, that he hath writ this to feele my affection to
your Honor, & to no other pretence of danger.

Glou.
Thinke you so?

Bast.
If your Honor iudge it meete, I will place you
where you shall heare vs conferre of this, and by an
Auricular assurance haue your satisfaction, and that
without any further delay, then this very Euening.

Glou.
He cannot bee such a Monster.
Edmond seeke him out:
winde me into him, I pray you: frame the Businesse after
your owne wisedome. I would vnstate my selfe, to be in a due
resolution.

Bast.
I will seeke him Sir, presently: conuey the businesse
as I shall find meanes, and acquaint you withall.

Glou.
These late Eclipses in the Sun and Moone
portend no good to vs: though the wisedome of Nature
can reason it thus, and thus, yet Nature finds it selfe
scourg'd by the sequent effects. Loue cooles, friendship
falls off, Brothers diuide. In Cities, mutinies; in Countries,
discord; in Pallaces, Treason; and the Bond crack'd, 'twixt
Sonne and Father. This villaine of mine comes vnder the
prediction; there's Son against Father, the King fals
from byas of Nature, there's Father against Childe. We
haue seene the best of our time. Machinations, hollownesse,
treacherie, and all ruinous disorders follow vs disquietly
to our Graues. Find out this Villain, Edmond,
it shall lose thee nothing, do it carefully: and the Noble
& true-harted Kent banish'd; his offence, honesty.
'Tis strange.
Exit

Bast.
This is the excellent foppery of the world, that
when we are sicke in fortune, often the surfets of our
own behauiour, we make guilty of our disasters, the Sun,
the Moone, and Starres, as if we were villaines on necessitie,
Fooles by heauenly compulsion, Knaues, Theeues, and
Treachers by Sphericall predominance. Drunkards, Lyars,
and Adulterers by an inforc'd obedience of Planatary
influence; and all that we are euill in, by a diuine
thrusting on. An admirable euasion of Whore-master-
man, to lay his Goatish disposition on the charge of a
Starre, My father compounded with my mother vnder the
Dragons taile, and my Natiuity was vnder Vrsa Maior, so
that it followes, I am rough and Leacherous. I should
haue bin that I am, had the maidenlest Starre in the
Firmament twinkled on my bastardizing.
Enter Edgar.
Pat: he comes like the Catastrophe of the old Comedie:
my Cue is villanous Melancholly, with a sighe like Tom
o'Bedlam. --- O these Eclipses do portend these
diuisions. Fa, Sol, La, Me.

Edg.
How now Brother Edmond, what serious
contemplation are you in?

Bast.
I am thinking Brother of a prediction I read
this other day, what should follow these Eclipses.

Edg.
Do you busie your selfe with that?

Bast.
I promise you, the effects he writes of, succeede
vnhappily.
When saw you my Father last?

Edg.
The night gone by.

Bast.
Spake you with him??

Edg.
I, two houres together.

Bast.
Parted you in good termes? Found you no
displeasure in him, by word, nor countenance?

Edg.
None at all,

Bast.
Bethink your selfe wherein you may haue
offended him: and at my entreaty forbeare his presence,
vntill some little time hath qualified the heat of his
displeasure, which at this instant so rageth in him, that with
the mischiefe of your person, it would scarsely alay.

Edg.
Some Villaine hath done me wrong.

Edm.
That's my feare, I pray you haue a continent
forbearance till the speed of his rage goes slower: and
as I say, retire with me to my lodging, from whence I
will fitly bring you to heare my Lord speake: pray ye goe,
there's my key: if you do stirre abroad, goe arm'd.

Edg.
Arm'd, Brother?

Edm.
Brother, I aduise you to the best, I am no honest
man, if ther be any good meaning toward you:I haue
told you what I haue seene, and heard: But faintly. Nothing
like the image, and horror of it, pray you away.

Edg.
Shall I heare from you anon?

Edm.
I do serue you in this businesse:
Exit.
A Credulous Father, and a Brother Noble,
Whose nature is so farre from doing harmes,
That he suspects none: on whose foolish honestie
My practises ride easie: I see the businesse.
Let me, if not by birth, haue lands by wit,
All with me's meete, that I can fashion fit.
Exit.
Original text
Act I, Scene III
Enter Gonerill, and Steward.

Gon.
Did my Father strike my Gentleman for chiding
of his Foole?

Ste.
I Madam.

Gon.
By day and night, he wrongs me, euery howre
He flashes into one grosse crime, or other,
That sets vs all at ods: Ile not endure it;
His Knights grow riotous, and himselfe vpbraides vs
On euery trifle. When he returnes from hunting,
I will not speake with him, say I am sicke,
If you come slacke of former seruices,
You shall do well, the fault of it Ile answer.

Ste.
He's comming Madam, I heare him.

Gon.
Put on what weary negligence you please,
You and your Fellowes: I'de haue it come to question;
If he distaste it, let him to my Sister,
Whose mind and mine I know in that are one,
Remember what I haue said.

Ste.
Well Madam.

Gon.
And let his Knights haue colder lookes among you:
what growes of it no matter, aduise your fellowes so,
Ile write straight to my Sister
to hold my course; prepare for dinner.
Exeunt.
Original text
Act I, Scene IV
Enter Kent.

Kent.
If but as will I other accents borrow,
That can my speech defuse, my good intent
May carry through it selfe to that full issue
For which I raiz'd my likenesse. Now banisht Kent,
If thou canst serue where thou dost stand condemn'd,
So may it come, thy Master whom thou lou'st,
Shall find thee full of labours.
Hornes within. Enter Lear and Attendants.

Lear.
Let me not stay a iot for dinner, go get it ready:
how now, what art thou?

Kent.
A man Sir.

Lear.
What dost thou professe? What would'st thou with
vs?

Kent.
I do professe to be no lesse then I seeme; to serue him
truely that will put me in trust, to loue him that is honest,
to conuerse with him that is wise and saies little, to feare
iudgement, to fight when I cannot choose, and to eate no
fish.

Lear.
What art thou?

Kent.
A very honest hearted Fellow, and as poore as the
King.

Lear.
If thou be'st as poore for a subiect, as hee's for a King,
thou art poore enough. What wouldst thou?

Kent.
Seruice.

Lear.
Who wouldst thou serue?

Kent.
You.

Lear.
Do'st thou know me fellow?

Kent.
No Sir, but you haue that in your countenance,
which I would faine call Master.

Lear.
What's that?

Kent.
Authority.

Lear.
What seruices canst thou do?

Kent.
I can keepe honest counsaile, ride, run, marre a curious
tale in telling it, and deliuer a plaine message bluntly:
that which ordinary men are fit for, I am quallified in,
and the best of me, is Dilligence.

Lear.
How old art thou?

Kent.
Not so young Sir to loue a woman for singing, nor
so old to dote on her for any thing. I haue yeares on my
backe forty eight.

Lear.
Follow me,thou shalt serue me, if I like thee no
worse after dinner, I will not part from thee yet. Dinner
ho, dinner, where's my knaue? my Foole? Go you and
call my Foole hither.
Enter Steward.
You you Sirrah, where's my Daughter?

Ste.
So please you----
Exit.

Lear.
What saies the Fellow there? Call the Clotpole backe:
wher's my Foole? Ho, I thinke the world's asleepe,
how now? Where's that Mungrell?

Knigh.
He saies my Lord, your Daughters is not
well.

Lear.
Why came not the slaue backe to me when I call'd
him?

Knigh.
Sir,he answered me in the roundest
manner, he would not.

Lear.
He would not?

Knight.
My Lord, I know not what the matter is,
but to my iudgement your Highnesse is not entertain'd
with that Ceremonious affection as you were wont,
theres a great abatement of kindnesse appeares as well
in the generall dependants, as in the Duke himselfe also,
and your Daughter.

Lear.
Ha? Saist thou so?

Knigh.
I beseech you pardon me my Lord, if I
bee mistaken, for my duty cannot be silent, when I thinke
your Highnesse wrong'd.

Lear.
Thou but remembrest me of mine owne Conception,
I haue perceiued a most faint neglect of late,
which I haue rather blamed as mine owne iealous
curiositie, then as a very pretence and purpose of
vnkindnesse; I will looke further intoo't: but where's my
Foole? I haue not seene him this two daies.

Knight.
Since my young Ladies going into
France Sir, the Foole hath much pined away.

Lear.
No more of that, I haue noted it well, goe you and
tell my Daughter, I would speake with her.
Goe you call hither my Foole;
Enter Steward.
Oh you Sir, you, come you hither / Sir, who am I Sir?

Ste.
My Ladies Father.

Lear.
My Ladies Father? my Lords knaue, you whorson
dog, you slaue, you curre.

Ste.
I am none of these my Lord, / I beseech your
pardon.

Lear.
Do you bandy lookes with me, you Rascall?

Ste.
Ile not be strucken my Lord.

Kent.
Nor tript neither, you base Foot-ball plaier.

Lear.
I thanke thee fellow. / Thou seru'st me, and Ile loue
thee.

Kent.
Come sir, arise, away, Ile teach you
differences: away, away, if you will measure your
lubbers length againe, tarry, but away, goe too, haue you
wisedome,
so.

Lear.
Now my friendly knaue I thanke thee, there's
earnest of thy seruice.
Enter Foole.

Foole.
Let me hire him too, here's my Coxcombe.

Lear.
How now my pretty knaue, how dost thou?

Foole.
Sirrah, you were best take my Coxcombe.

Lear.
Why my Boy?

Foole.
Why? for taking ones part that's out of fauour,
nay, & thou canst not smile as the wind sits, thou'lt
catch colde shortly, there take my Coxcombe; why this
fellow ha's banish'd two on's Daughters, and did the
third a blessing against his will, if thou follow him, thou
must needs weare my Coxcombe. How now Nunckle?
would I had two Coxcombes and two Daughters.

Lear.
Why my Boy?

Fool.
If I gaue them all my liuing,I'ld keepe my Coxcombes
my selfe, there's mine, beg another of thy Daughters.

Lear.
Take heed Sirrah, the whip.

Foole.
Truth's a dog must to kennell, hee must bee whipt
out, when the Lady Brach may stand by'th'fire and
stinke.

Lear.
A pestilent gall to me.

Foole.
Sirha, Ile teach thee a speech.

Lear.
Do.

Foole.
Marke it Nuncle;
Haue more then thou showest,
Speake lesse then thou knowest,
Lend lesse then thou owest,
Ride more then thou goest,
Learne more then thou trowest,
Set lesse then thou throwest;
Leaue thy drinke and thy whore,
And keepe in a dore,
And thou shalt haue more,
Then two tens to a score.

Kent.
This is nothing Foole.

Foole.
Then 'tis like the breath of an vnfeed Lawyer, you
gaue me nothing for't, can you make no vse of nothing
Nuncle?

Lear.
Why no Boy, Nothing can be made out of nothing.

Foole.
Prythee tell him, so much the rent of his
land comes to, he will not beleeue a Foole.

Lear.
A bitter Foole.

Foole.
Do'st thou know the difference my Boy, betweene a
bitter Foole, and a sweet one.

Lear.
No Lad, reach me.
Foole.
Nunckle, giue me an egge, and
Ile giue thee two Crownes.

Lear.
What two Crownes shall they be?

Foole.
Why after I haue cut the egge i'th'middle and eate
vp the meate, the two Crownes of the egge: when thou
clouest thy Crownes i'th'middle, and gau'st away both
parts, thou boar'st thine Asse on thy backe o're the durt,
thou had'st little wit in thy bald crowne, when thou
gau'st thy golden one away; if I speake like my selfe in
this, let him be whipt that first findes it so.
Fooles had nere lesse grace in a yeere,
For wisemen are growne foppish,
And know not how their wits to weare,
Their manners are so apish.

Le.
When were you wont to be so full of Songs sirrah?

Foole.
I haue vsed it Nunckle, ere since thou mad'st thy
Daughters thy Mothers, for when thou gau'st them the
rod, and put'st downe thine owne breeches,
then they / For sodaine ioy did weepe,
And I for sorrow sung,
That such a King should play bo-peepe,
And goe the Foole among.
Pry'thy Nunckle keepe a Schoolemaster that can teach thy
Foole to lie, I would faine learne to lie.

Lear.
And you lie sirrah, wee'l haue you whipt.

Foole.
I maruell what kin thou and thy daughters are,
they'l haue me whipt for speaking true: thou'lt
haue me whipt for lying, and sometimes I am
whipt for holding my peace. I had rather be any kind
o'thing then a foole, and yet I would not be thee Nunckle,
thou hast pared thy wit o'both sides, and left nothing
i'th'middle; heere comes one o'the parings.
Enter Gonerill.

Lear.
How now Daughter? what makes that Frontlet on?
You are too much of late i'th'frowne.

Foole.
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 then thou art now, I am a Foole, thou
art nothing. Yes forsooth I will hold my
tongue, so your face bids me, though you say nothing.
Mum, mum,
he that keepes nor crust, not crum,
Weary of all, shall want some.

That's a sheal'd Pescod.

Gon.
Not only Sir this, your all-lycenc'd Foole,
But other of your insolent retinue
Do hourely Carpe and is Quarrell, breaking forth
In ranke, and (not to be endur'd) riots Sir.
I had thought by making this well knowne vnto you,
To haue found a safe redresse, but now grow fearefull
By what your selfe too late haue 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 sleepe,
Which in the tender of a wholesome weale,
Might in their working do you that offence,
Which else were shame, that then necessitie
Will call discreet proceeding.

Foole.
For you know Nunckle,
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.

Lear.
Are you our Daughter?

Gon.
I would you would make vse of your good wisedome
(Whereof I know you are fraught), and put away
These dispositions, which of late transport you
From what you rightly are.

Foole.
May not an Asse know, when the Cart drawes the
Horse?
Whoop Iugge I loue thee.

Lear.
Do's any heere know me? / This is not Lear:
Do's Lear walke thus? Speake thus? Where are his eies?
Either his Notion weakens, his Discernings
Are Lethargied. Ha! Waking? 'Tis not so?
Who is it that can tell me who I am?

Foole.
Lears shadow.

Lear.
Your name, faire Gentlewoman?

Gon.
This admiration Sir, is much o'th'sauour
Of other your new prankes. I do beseech you
To vnderstand my purposes aright:
As you are Old, and Reuerend, should be Wise.
Heere do you keepe a hundred Knights and Squires,
Men so disorder'd, so debosh'd, and bold,
That this our Court infected with their manners,
Shewes like a riotous Inne; Epicurisme and Lust
Makes it more like a Tauerne, or a Brothell,
Then a grac'd Pallace. The shame it selfe doth speake
For instant remedy. Be then desir'd
By her, that else will take the thing she begges,
A little to disquantity your Traine,
And the remainders that shall still depend,
To be such men as may besort your Age,
Which know themselues, and you.

Lear.
Darknesse, and Diuels.
Saddle my horses: call my Traine together.
Degenerate Bastard, Ile not trouble thee;
Yet haue I left a daughter.

Gon.
You strike my people, and your disorder'd rable,
make Seruants of their Betters.
Enter Albany.

Lear.
Woe, that too late repents:
Is it your will, speake Sir? Prepare my Horses.
Ingratitude! thou Marble-hearted Fiend,
More hideous when thou shew'st thee in a Child,
Then the Sea-monster.

Alb.
Pray Sir be patient.

Lear.

Detested Kite, thou lyest.
My Traine are men of choice, and rarest parts,
That all particulars of dutie know,
And in the most exact regard, support
The worships of their name. O most small fault,
How vgly did'st thou in Cordelia shew?
Which like an Engine, wrencht my frame of Nature
From the fixt place: drew from my heart all loue,
And added to the gall. O Lear, Lear, Lear!
Beate at this gate that let thy Folly in,
And thy deere Iudgement out. Go, go, my people.

Alb.
My Lord, I am guiltlesse, as I am ignorant
Of what hath moued you.

Lear.
It may be so, my Lord.

Heare Nature, heare deere Goddesse, heare:
Suspend thy purpose, if thou did'st intend
To make this Creature fruitfull:
Into her Wombe conuey stirrility,
Drie vp in her the Organs of increase,
And from her derogate body, neuer spring
A Babe to honor her. If she must teeme,
Create her childe of Spleene, that it may liue
And be a thwart disnatur'd torment to her.
Let it stampe wrinkles in her brow of youth,
With cadent Teares fret Channels in her cheekes,
Turne all her Mothers paines, and benefits
To laughter, and contempt: That she may feele,
How sharper then a Serpents tooth it is,
To haue a thanklesse Childe. Away, away.
Exit.

Alb.
Now Gods that we adore, / Whereof comes this?

Gon.
Neuer afflict your selfe to know more of it:
But let his disposition haue that scope
As dotage giues it.
Enter Lear.

Lear.
What fiftie of my Followers at a clap?
Within a fortnight?

Alb.
What's the matter, Sir?

Lear.
Ile tell thee: / Life and death, I am asham'd
That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus,
That these hot teares, which breake from me perforce
Should make thee worth them. / Blastes and Fogges vpon thee:
Th'vntented woundings of a Fathers curse
Pierce euerie sense about thee. Old fond eyes,
Beweepe this cause againe, Ile plucke ye out,
And cast you with the waters that you loose
To temper Clay. Ha?
Let it be so. / I haue another daughter,
Who I am sure is kinde and comfortable:
When she shall heare this of thee, with her nailes
Shee'l flea thy Woluish visage. Thou shalt finde,
That Ile resume the shape which thou dost thinke
I haue cast off for euer.
Exit

Gon.
Do you marke that?

Alb.
I cannot be so partiall Gonerill,
To the great loue I beare you.

Gon.
Pray you content. What Oswald, hoa?

You Sir, more Knaue then Foole, after your Master.

Foole.
Nunkle Lear, Nunkle Lear, / Tarry, take the Foole
with thee:
A Fox, when one has caught her,
And such a Daughter,
Should sure to the Slaughter,
If my Cap would buy a Halter,
So the Foole followes after.
Exit

Gon.
This man hath had good Counsell, / A hundred Knights?
'Tis politike, and safe to let him keepe
At point a hundred Knights: yes, that on euerie dreame,
Each buz, each fancie, each complaint, dislike,
He may enguard his dotage with their powres,
And hold our liues in mercy. Oswald, I say.

Alb.
Well,you may feare too farre.

Gon.
Safer then trust too farre;
Let me still take away the harmes I feare,
Not feare still to be taken. I know his heart,
What he hath vtter'd I haue writ my Sister:
If she sustaine him, and his hundred Knights
When I haue shew'd th'vnfitnesse.
Enter Steward.
How now Oswald?
What haue you writ that Letter to my Sister?

Stew.
I Madam.

Gon.
Take you some company, and away to horse,
Informe her full of my particular feare,
And thereto adde such reasons of your owne,
As may compact it more. Get you gone,
And hasten your returne;
no, no, my Lord,
This milky gentlenesse, and course of yours
Though I condemne not, yet vnder pardon
Your are much more at task for want of wisedome,
Then prai'sd for harmefull mildnesse.

Alb.
How farre your eies may pierce I cannot tell;
Striuing to better, oft we marre what's well.

Gon.
Nay then----

Alb.
Well, well, th'euent.
Exeunt
Original text
Act I, Scene V
Enter Lear, Kent, Gentleman, and Foole.

Lear.

Go you before to Gloster with these
Letters; acquaint my Daughter no further with any thing
you know, then comes from her demand out of the Letter,
if your Dilligence be not speedy, I shall be there afore
you.

Kent.
I will not sleepe my Lord, till I haue deliuered your
Letter.
Exit.

Foole.
If a mans braines were in's heeles, wert not in
danger of kybes?

Lear.
I Boy.

Foole.
Then I prythee be merry, thy wit shall not go
slip-shod.

Lear.
Ha, ha, ha.

Fool.
Shalt see thy other Daughter will vse thee kindly,
for though she's as like this, as a Crabbe's like an Apple, yet
I can tell what I can tell.

Lear.
What can'st tell Boy?

Foole.
She will taste as like this as, a Crabbe do's to a Crab:
thou canst tell why ones nose stands i'th'middle on's
face?

Lear.
No.

Foole.
Why to keepe ones eyes of either side's nose, that
what a man cannot smell out, he may spy into.

Lear.
I did her wrong.

Foole.
Can'st tell how an Oyster makes his shell?

Lear.
No.

Foole.
Nor I neither; but I can tell why a Snaile ha's a house.

Lear.
Why?

Foole.
Why to put's head in, not to giue it away to his
daughters, and leaue his hornes without a case.

Lear.
I will forget my Nature, so kind a Father? Be my
Horsses ready?

Foole.
Thy Asses are gone about 'em; the reason why the
seuen Starres are no mo then seuen, is a pretty reason.

Lear.
Because they are not eight.

Foole.
Yes indeed, thou would'st make a good Foole.

Lear.
To tak't againe perforce; Monster Ingratitude!

Foole.
If thou wert my Foole Nunckle, Il'd haue thee beaten
for being old before thy time.

Lear.
How's that?

Foole.
Thou shouldst not haue bin old, till thou hadst
bin wise.

Lear.
O let me not be mad, not mad sweet Heauen:
keepe me in temper, I would not be mad.
How now are the Horses ready?

Gent.
Ready my Lord.

Lear.
Come Boy.

Fool.
She that's a Maid now,& laughs at my departure,
Shall not be a Maid long, vnlesse things be cut shorter.
Exeunt.
Modern text
Act I, Scene I
Enter Kent, Gloucester, and Edmund

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 qualities are so weighed that
curiosity in neither 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.

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?

KENT
I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being
so proper.

GLOUCESTER
But I have a son, sir, by order of law, some
year elder than this, who yet is no dearer in my account.
Though this knave came something saucily to the world,
before he was 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 honourable 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 again. The King is coming.
Sound a sennet. Enter one bearing a coronet
Enter King Lear, Cornwall, Albany, Gonerill, Regan,
Cordelia, and attendants

LEAR
Attend the lords of France and Burgundy,
Gloucester

GLOUCESTER
I shall, my liege.
Exeunt Gloucester and Edmund

LEAR
Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.
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
Unburdened crawl toward death. Our son of Cornwall –
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,
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,
Which of you shall we say doth love us most,
That we our largest bounty may extend
Where nature doth with merit challenge. Gonerill,
Our eldest born, speak first.

GONERILL
Sir, I love you more than word can wield the matter,
Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty,
Beyond what can be valued rich or rare,
No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour,
As much as child e'er loved or father found;
A love that makes breath poor and speech unable;
Beyond all manner of ‘ so much ’ I love you.

CORDELIA
(aside)
What shall Cordelia speak? Love, and be silent.

LEAR
Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,
With shadowy forests and with champains riched,
With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads,
We make thee lady. To thine and Albany's issues
Be this perpetual. – What says our second daughter,
Our dearest Regan, wife of Cornwall?

REGAN
I am made of the self metal as my sister
And price 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
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
(aside)
Then poor Cordelia!
And yet not so, since I am sure my love's
More ponderous than my tongue.

LEAR
To thee and thine hereditary ever
Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom,
No less in space, validity, and pleasure
Than that conferred on Gonerill. – Now, our joy,
Although our last and least, to whose young love
The vines of France and milk of Burgundy
Strive to be interessed; what can you say to draw
A third more opulent than your sisters'? Speak!

CORDELIA
Nothing, my lord.

LEAR
Nothing?

CORDELIA
Nothing.

LEAR
Nothing will come of nothing. Speak again.

CORDELIA
Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
My heart into my mouth. I love your majesty
According to my bond, no more nor less.

LEAR
How, how, Cordelia! Mend your speech a little
Lest you may mar your fortunes.

CORDELIA
Good my lord,
You have begot me, bred me, loved me.
I return those duties back as are right fit,
Obey you, love you, and most honour you.
Why have my sisters husbands, if they say
They love you all? Haply when I shall wed,
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.

LEAR
But goes thy heart with this?

CORDELIA
Ay, my good lord.

LEAR
So young, and so untender?

CORDELIA
So young, my lord, and true.

LEAR
Let it be so! Thy truth then be thy dower!
For by the sacred radiance of the sun,
The mysteries of Hecat 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,
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 neighboured, pitied, and relieved
As thou my sometime daughter.

KENT
Good my liege –

LEAR
Peace, Kent!
Come not between the dragon and his wrath.
I loved her most, and thought to set my rest
On her kind nursery. (To Cordelia) 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 the third.
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,
By you to be sustained, shall our abode
Make with you by due turn. Only we shall retain
The name and all th' addition to a king; the sway,
Revenue, execution of the rest,
Beloved sons, be yours; which to confirm,
This coronet part between you.

KENT
Royal Lear,
Whom I have ever honoured as my king,
Loved as my father, as my master followed,
As my great patron thought on in my prayers –

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 wouldst thou do, old man?
Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak
When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour's bound
When majesty stoops to folly. Reserve thy state,
And in thy best consideration check
This hideous rashness. Answer my life my judgement,
Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least,
Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sounds
Reverb no hollowness.

LEAR
Kent, on thy life, no more!

KENT
My life I never held but as a pawn
To wage against thine enemies; nor fear to lose it,
Thy safety being motive.

LEAR
Out of my sight!

KENT
See better, Lear, and let me still remain
The true blank of thine eye.

LEAR
Now by Apollo –

KENT
Now by Apollo, King,
Thou swear'st thy gods in vain.

LEAR
O, vassal, miscreant!
He makes to strike him

ALBANY and CORNWALL
Dear sir, forbear!

KENT
Kill thy physician and thy fee bestow
Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy gift,
Or whilst I can vent clamour from my throat
I'll tell thee thou dost evil.

LEAR
Hear me, recreant,
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 betwixt our sentence and our power,
Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,
Our potency made good, take thy reward.
Five days we do allot thee for provision
To shield thee from disasters of the world,
And on the sixth to turn thy hated back
Upon our kingdom. If on the tenth day following
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.
(To Cordelia)
The gods to their dear shelter take thee, maid,
That justly think'st and hast most rightly said.
(To Gonerill and Regan)
And your large speeches may your deeds approve
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.
Exit
Flourish. Enter Gloucester with France and Burgundy,
and attendants

GLOUCESTER
Here's France and Burgundy, my noble lord.

LEAR
My lord of Burgundy,
We first address toward 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,
I crave no more than hath your highness offered,
Nor will you tender less.

LEAR
Right noble Burgundy,
When she was dear to us we did hold her so;
But now her price is fallen. Sir, there she stands;
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.

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,
Election makes not up in such conditions.

LEAR
Then leave her, sir, for, by the power that made me,
I tell you all her wealth. (To France) For you, great king,
I would not from your love make such a stray
To match you where I hate; therefore beseech you
T' avert your liking a more worthier way
Than on a wretch whom Nature is ashamed
Almost t' acknowledge hers.

FRANCE
This is most strange,
That she whom even but now was your best object,
The argument of your praise, balm of your age,
The best, the dearest, should in this trice of time
Commit a thing so monstrous to dismantle
So many folds of favour. Sure her offence
Must be of such unnatural degree
That monsters it; or your fore-vouched affection
Fall into taint; which to believe of her
Must be a faith that reason without miracle
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
It is no vicious blot, murder or foulness,
No unchaste action or dishonoured step
That hath deprived me of your grace and favour,
But even for want of that for which I am richer:
A still-soliciting eye and such a tongue
As I am glad I have not, though not to have it
Hath lost me in your liking.

LEAR
Better thou
Hadst not been born than not t' have pleased me better.

FRANCE
Is it but this, a tardiness in nature
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 stands
Aloof from th' entire point. Will you have her?
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.

LEAR
Nothing! I have sworn; I am firm.

BURGUNDY
(to Cordelia)
I am sorry then you have so lost a father
That you must lose a husband.

CORDELIA
Peace be with Burgundy!
Since that respect and fortunes are his love,
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 I seize upon.
Be it lawful I take up what's cast away.
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
Can buy this unprized-precious maid of me.
Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind.
Thou losest here, a better where to find.

LEAR
Thou hast her, France; let her be thine, for we
Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see
That face of hers again. Therefore begone,
Without our grace, our love, our benison!
Come, noble Burgundy.
Flourish. Exeunt Lear, Burgundy, Cornwall, Albany,
Gloucester, and attendants

FRANCE
Bid farewell to your sisters.

CORDELIA
The jewels of our father, with washed eyes
Cordelia leaves you. I know you what you are;
And, like a sister, am most loath to call
Your faults as they are named. Love well our father!
To your professed bosoms I commit him.
But yet, alas, stood I within his grace,
I would prefer him to a better place.
So farewell to you both.

REGAN
Prescribe not us our duty.

GONERILL
Let your study
Be to content your lord, who hath received you
At Fortune's alms. You have obedience scanted,
And well are worth the want that you have wanted.

CORDELIA
Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides;
Who covers faults, at last with shame derides.
Well may you prosper!

FRANCE
Come, my fair Cordelia.
Exeunt France and Cordelia

GONERILL
Sister, it is not 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.

GONERILL
You see how full of changes his age is. The
observation we have made of it hath not been little. He
always loved our sister most; and with what poor judgement
he hath now cast her off appears too grossly.

REGAN
'Tis the infirmity of his age. Yet he hath ever but
slenderly known himself.

GONERILL
The best and soundest of his time hath been
but rash. Then must we look from his age to receive not
alone the imperfections of long-ingraffed condition, but
therewithal the unruly waywardness that infirm and
choleric years bring with them.

REGAN
Such unconstant starts are we like to have from
him as this of Kent's banishment.

GONERILL
There is further compliment of leave-taking
between France and him. Pray you, let us hit together.
If our father carry authority with such disposition as he
bears, this last surrender of his will but offend us.

REGAN
We shall further think of it.

GONERILL
We must do something, and i'th' heat.
Exeunt
Modern text
Act I, Scene II
Enter Edmund

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
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 ’?
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,
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
Shall top the legitimate. I grow. I prosper.
Now gods stand up for bastards!
Enter Gloucester

GLOUCESTER
Kent banished thus? and France in choler parted?
And the King gone tonight? prescribed his power?
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?

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 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'erlooking.

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 but as an essay or taste of my virtue.

GLOUCESTER
(reading)
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 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 enjoy half
his revenue for ever, and live the beloved of your brother,
Edgar.
Hum! Conspiracy! ‘ Sleep till I waked him, you should
enjoy half his revenue.’ My son Edgar, had he a hand to
write this? a heart and brain to breed it in? When came
you to this? Who brought it?

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.

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 the contents.

GLOUCESTER
Has he never before 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
declined, the 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. 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 should run a certain course; where, if you violently
proceed against him, mistaking his purpose, it would
make a great gap in your own honour and shake in
pieces the heart of his obedience. I dare pawn down my
life for him that he hath writ this to feel my affection to
your honour and to no other pretence of danger.

GLOUCESTER
Think you so?

EDMUND
If your honour 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.

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 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
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 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 out this villain, Edmund;
it shall lose thee nothing; do it carefully – and the noble
and true-hearted Kent banished! His offence, honesty!
'Tis strange.
Exit

EDMUND
This is the excellent foppery of the world, that
when we are sick in fortune – often the surfeits of our
own behaviour – we make guilty of our disasters the sun,
the moon, and stars, as if we were villains on necessity,
fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves, thieves, and
treachers by spherical predominance, drunkards, liars,
and adulterers by an enforced obedience 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, so
that it follows I am rough and lecherous. Fut! I should
have been that I am had the maidenliest star in the
firmament twinkled on my bastardizing. Edgar –
(Enter Edgar)
pat he comes, like the catastrophe of the old comedy.
My cue is villainous melancholy, with a sigh like Tom
o' Bedlam. (Aloud) O these eclipses do portend these
divisions: (he sings) Fa, sol, la, mi.

EDGAR
How now, brother Edmund! What serious
contemplation are you in?

EDMUND
I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read
this other day, what should follow these eclipses.

EDGAR
Do you busy yourself with 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,
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?

EDMUND
When saw you my father last?

EDGAR
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 him by word nor countenance?

EDGAR
None at all.

EDMUND
Bethink yourself wherein you may have
offended him, and at my entreaty forbear his presence
until some little time hath qualified the heat of his
displeasure, which at 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 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. I am no honest
man if there be any good meaning toward 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.
Exit Edgar
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;
All with me's meet that I can fashion fit.
Exit
Modern text
Act I, Scene III
Enter Gonerill and Oswald, her steward

GONERILL
Did my father strike my gentleman for chiding
of his Fool?

OSWALD
Ay, madam.

GONERILL
By day and night he wrongs me; every hour
He flashes into one gross crime or other
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
You shall do well; the fault of it I'll answer.

OSWALD
He's coming, madam; I hear him.

GONERILL
Put on what weary negligence you please,
You and your fellows. I'd have it come to question.
If he distaste it, let him to my sister,
Whose mind and mine I know in that are one,
Not to be overruled. 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
With checks, as flatteries, when they are seen abused.
Remember what I have said.

OSWALD
Well, madam.

GONERILL
And let his knights have colder looks among you.
What grows of it, no matter. Advise your fellows so.
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.
Exeunt
Modern text
Act I, Scene IV
Enter Kent in disguise

KENT
If but as well I other accents borrow
That can my speech diffuse, 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,
So may it come thy master whom thou lovest
Shall find thee full of labours.
Horns within. Enter Lear and Knights

LEAR
Let me not stay a jot for dinner! Go, get it ready!
Exit First Knight
How now? What art thou?

KENT
A man, sir.

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
judgement, to fight when I cannot choose, and to eat no
fish.

LEAR
What art thou?

KENT
A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the
King.

LEAR
If thou be'st as poor for a subject as he's for a king
thou art poor enough. What wouldst thou?

KENT
Service.

LEAR
Who wouldst thou serve?

KENT
You.

LEAR
Dost thou know me, fellow?

KENT
No, sir; but you have that in your countenance
which I would fain call master.

LEAR
What's that?

KENT
Authority.

LEAR
What services canst thou do?

KENT
I can keep honest counsel, ride, run, mar a curious
tale 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.

LEAR
How old art thou?

KENT
Not so young, sir, to love a woman for singing, nor
so old to dote on her for anything. I have years on my
back forty-eight.

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 Fool hither.
Exit Second Knight
Enter Oswald
You! You, sirrah! Where's my daughter?

OSWALD
So please you –
Exit

LEAR
What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll back.
Exit Third Knight
Where's my Fool? Ho, I think the world's asleep.
Enter Third Knight
How now? Where's that mongrel?

KNIGHT
He says, my lord, your daughter is not
well.

LEAR
Why came not the slave back to me when I called
him?

KNIGHT
Sir, he answered me in the roundest
manner he would not.

LEAR
He would not!

KNIGHT
My lord, I know not what the matter is,
but to my judgement your highness is not entertained
with 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.

LEAR
Ha! Sayest thou so?

KNIGHT
I beseech you pardon me, my lord, if I
be mistaken; for my duty cannot be silent when I think
your highness wronged.

LEAR
Thou but rememberest me of mine own conception.
I have perceived a most faint neglect of late,
which I have rather blamed as mine own jealous
curiosity than as a very pretence and purpose of
unkindness. I will look further into't. But where's my
Fool? I have not seen him this two days.

KNIGHT
Since my young lady's going into
France, sir, the Fool hath much pined away.

LEAR
No more of that! I have noted it well. Go you and
tell my daughter I would speak with her.
Exit Third Knight
Go you, call hither my Fool.
Exit another Knight
Enter Oswald
O, you, sir, you! Come you hither, sir. Who am I, sir?

OSWALD
My lady's father.

LEAR
‘ My lady's father,’ my lord's knave! You whoreson
dog! You slave! You cur!

OSWALD
I am none of these, my lord, I beseech your
pardon.

LEAR
Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?
He strikes him

OSWALD
I'll not be strucken, my lord.

KENT
Nor tripped neither, you base football-player.
He trips him

LEAR
I thank thee, fellow. Thou servest me and I'll love
thee.

KENT
(to Oswald)
Come, sir, arise, away! I'll teach you
differences. Away, away! If you will measure your
lubber's length again, tarry; but away, go to! Have you
wisdom?
He pushes Oswald out
So.

LEAR
Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee. There's
earnest of thy service.
He gives him money
Enter the Fool

FOOL
Let me hire him too. Here's my coxcomb.

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 favour.
Nay, and thou canst not smile as the wind sits, thou'lt
catch cold shortly. 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!

LEAR
Why, my boy?

FOOL
If I gave them all my living, I'd keep my coxcombs
myself. There's mine. Beg another of thy daughters.

LEAR
Take heed, sirrah, the whip!

FOOL
Truth's a dog must to kennel; he must be whipped
out when the Lady Brach may stand by the fire and
stink.

LEAR
A pestilent gall to me!

FOOL
Sirrah, I'll teach thee a speech.

LEAR
Do.

FOOL
Mark it, nuncle:
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,
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.

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?

LEAR
Why, no, boy. Nothing can be made out of nothing.

FOOL
(to Kent)
Prithee tell him; so much the rent of his
his land comes to. He will not believe a fool.

LEAR
A bitter fool!

FOOL
Dost thou know the difference, my boy, between a
bitter fool and a sweet fool?

LEAR
No, lad; teach me.

FOOL
That lord that counselled thee
To give away thy land,
Come place him here by me;
Do thou for him stand.
The sweet and bitter fool
Will presently appear:
The one in motley here,
The other found out – there.

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 a monopoly out they would have part on't; and
ladies too – they will not let me have all the fool to myself;
they'll be snatching. Nuncle, give me an egg and
I'll give thee two crowns.

LEAR
What two crowns shall they be?

FOOL
Why, after I have cut the egg i'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 thine ass on thy back o'er the dirt
Thou hadst little wit in thy bald crown when thou
gavest thy golden one away. If I speak like myself in
this, let him be whipped that first finds it so.
Fools had ne'er less grace in a year,
For wise men are grown foppish
And know not how their wits to wear,
Their manners are so apish.

LEAR
When were you wont to be so full of songs, sirrah?

FOOL
I have used it, nuncle, e'er since thou madest thy
daughters thy mothers; for when thou gavest them the
rod and puttest down thine own breeches,
(sings)
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 to lie; I would fain learn to lie.

LEAR
And 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. 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.
Enter Gonerill

LEAR
How now, daughter! What makes that frontlet on?
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 0 without a
figure. I am better than thou art now; I am a fool; thou
art nothing. (To Gonerill) Yes, forsooth, I will hold my
tongue. So your face bids me, though you say nothing.
Mum, mum!
He that keeps nor crust nor crumb,
Weary of all, shall want some.
He points to Lear
That's a shelled peascod.

GONERILL
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
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;
Which in the tender of a wholesome weal
Might in their working do you that offence
Which else were shame, that then necessity
Will call discreet proceeding.

FOOL
For you know, nuncle,
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.

LEAR
Are you our daughter?

GONERILL
I would you would make use of your good wisdom,
Whereof I know you are fraught, and put away
These dispositions which of late transform you
From what you rightly are.

FOOL
May not an ass know when the cart draws the
horse?
Whoop, Jug, I love thee!

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!
Who is it that can tell me who I am?

FOOL
Lear's shadow.

LEAR
I would learn that; for by the marks of sovereignty,
knowledge, and reason, I should be false persuaded I
had daughters.

FOOL
Which they will make an obedient father.

LEAR
Your name, fair gentlewoman?

GONERILL
This admiration, sir, is much o'the savour
Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you
To understand my purposes aright:
As you are old and reverend, 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
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,
And the remainders that shall still depend
To be such men as may besort your age,
Which know themselves and you.

LEAR
Darkness and devils!
Saddle my horses! Call my train together!
Degenerate bastard, I'll not trouble thee.
Yet have I left a daughter.

GONERILL
You strike my people, and your disordered rabble
Make servants of their betters.
Enter Albany

LEAR
Woe that too late repents! – O, sir, are you come?
Is it your will? Speak, sir! – Prepare my horses.
Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend,
More hideous when thou showest thee in a child
Than the sea-monster!

ALBANY
Pray, sir, be patient.

LEAR
(to Gonerill)
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
The worships of their name. O most small fault,
How ugly didst thou in Cordelia show!
Which, like an engine, wrenched my frame of nature
From the fixed place, drew from heart all love,
And added to the gall. O Lear, Lear, Lear!
Beat at this gate that let thy folly in
(he strikes his head)
And thy dear judgement out! Go, go, my people.
Exeunt Kent and Knights

ALBANY
My lord, I am guiltless as I am ignorant
Of what hath moved you.

LEAR
It may be so, my lord.
He kneels
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,
And from her derogate body never spring
A babe to honour 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,
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!
Exit

ALBANY
Now gods that we adore, whereof comes this?

GONERILL
Never afflict yourself to know more of it;
But let his disposition have that scope
As dotage gives it.
Enter Lear

LEAR
What, fifty of my followers at a clap!
Within a fortnight?

ALBANY
What's the matter, sir?

LEAR
I'll tell thee – (to Gonerill) life and death! I am ashamed
That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus,
That these hot tears which break from me perforce
Should make thee worth them. Blasts and fogs upon thee!
Th' untented woundings of a father's curse
Pierce every sense about thee! – Old fond eyes,
Beweep this cause again, I'll pluck ye out
And cast you with the waters that you loose
To temper clay. Yea, is't come to this?
Let it be so. I have another daughter,
Who, I am sure, is kind and comfortable.
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.
Exit

GONERILL
Do you mark that?

ALBANY
I cannot be so partial, Gonerill,
To the great love I bear you –

GONERILL
Pray you, content – What, Oswald, ho!
(To the Fool)
You, sir, more knave than fool, after your master!

FOOL
Nuncle Lear, nuncle Lear, tarry! Take the Fool
with thee.
A fox, when one has caught her,
And such a daughter
Should sure to the slaughter,
If my cap would buy a halter –
So the fool follows after.
Exit

GONERILL
This man hath had good counsel! A hundred knights!
'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!

ALBANY
Well, you may fear too far.

GONERILL
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;
If she sustain him and his hundred knights
When I have showed th' unfitness –
Enter Oswald
How now, Oswald!
What, have you writ that letter to my sister?

OSWALD
Yes, madam.

GONERILL
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,
This milky gentleness and course of yours,
Though I condemn not, yet, under pardon,
You are much more a-taxed for want of wisdom
Than praised for harmful mildness.

ALBANY
How far your eyes may pierce I cannot tell;
Striving to better, oft we mar what's well.

GONERILL
Nay then –

ALBANY
Well, well – th' event!
Exeunt
Modern text
Act I, Scene V
Enter Lear, Kent, Knight, and the Fool

LEAR
(to Kent)
Go you before to Gloucester with these
letters. Acquaint my daughter no further with anything
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
letter.
Exit

FOOL
If a man's brains were in's heels, were't not in
danger of kibes?

LEAR
Ay, boy.

FOOL
Then I prithee be merry. Thy wit shall not go
slipshod.

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.

LEAR
What canst tell, 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?

LEAR
No.

FOOL
Why, to keep one's eyes of either side's nose; that
what a man cannot smell out he may spy into.

LEAR
I did her wrong.

FOOL
Canst tell how an oyster makes his shell?

LEAR
No.

FOOL
Nor I neither. But I can tell why a snail has a house.

LEAR
Why?

FOOL
Why, to put's head in; not to give it away to his
daughters, and leave his horns without a case.

LEAR
I will forget my nature. So kind a father! – Be my
horses ready?

FOOL
Thy asses are gone about 'em. The reason why the
seven stars are no more than seven is a pretty reason.

LEAR
Because they are not eight?

FOOL
Yes, indeed. Thou wouldst make a good fool.

LEAR
To take't again perforce! Monster ingratitude!

FOOL
If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I'd have thee beaten
for being old before thy time.

LEAR
How's that?

FOOL
Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst
been wise.

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?

KNIGHT
Ready, my lord.

LEAR
Come, boy.
Exeunt all except the Fool

FOOL
She that's a maid now, and laughs at my departure,
Shall not be a maid long, unless things be cut shorter.
Exit
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