Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Michael Best
Not Peer Reviewed

King Lear (Folio 1, 1623)

Enter Lear,Foole,and Gentleman.
Lea. 'Tis strange that they should so depart from home,
1275And not send backe my Messengers.
Gent. As I learn'd,
The night before,there was no purpose in them
Of this remoue.
Kent. Haile to thee Noble Master.
1280Lear. Ha? Mak'st thou this shame ahy pastime?
Kent. No my Lord.
Foole. Hah, ha, he weares Cruell Garters Horses are
tide by the heads, Dogges and Beares by'th'necke,
Monkies by'th'loynes, and Men by'th'legs: when a man
1285ouerlustie at legs,then he weares wodden nether-stocks.
Lear. What's he,
That hath so much thy place mistooke
To set thee heere?
Kent. It is both he and she,
1290Your Son,and Daughter.
Lear. No.
Kent. Yes.
Lear. No I say.
Kent. I say yea.
1295Lear. By Iupiter I sweare no.
Kent. By Iuno,I sweare I.
Lear. They durst not do't:
They could not, would not do't: 'tis worse then murther,
To do vpon respect such violent outrage:
1300Resolue me with all modest haste, which way
Thou might'st deserue,or they impose this vsage,
Comming from vs.
Kent. My Lord,when at their home
I did commend your Highnesse Letters to them,
1305Ere I was risen from the place, that shewed
My dutie kneeling,came there a reeking Poste,
Stew'd in his haste,halfe breathlesse,painting forth
From Gonerill his Mistris,salutations;
Deliuer'd Letters spight of intermission,
1310Which presently they read; on those contents
They summon'd vp their meiney,straight tooke Horse,
Commanded me to follow,and attend
The leisure of their answer,gaue me cold lookes,
And meeting heere the other Messenger,
1315Whose welcome I perceiu'd had poison'd mine,
Being the very fellow which of late
Displaid so sawcily against your Highnesse,
Hauing more man then wit about me,drew;
He rais'd the house, with loud and coward cries,
1320Your Sonne and Daughter found this trespasse worth
The shame which heere it suffers.
Foole. Winters not gon yet, if the wil'd Geese fly that
Fathers that weare rags, do make their Children blind,
But Fathers that beare bags,shall see their children kind.
1325Fortune that arrant whore,nere turns the key to th'poore.
But for all this thou shalt haue as many Dolors for thy
Daughters,as thou canst tell in a yeare.
Lear. Oh how this Mother swels vp toward my heart!
Historica passio,downe thou climing sorrow,
1330Thy Elements below where is this Daughter?
Kent. Wirh the Earle Sir,here within.
Lear. Follow me not,stay here.
Gen. Made you no more offence,
But what you speake of?
1335Kent. None:
How chance the King comes with so small a number?
Foole. And thou hadst beene set i'th'Stockes for that
question,thoud'st well deseru'd it.
Kent. Why Foole?
1340Foole. Wee'l set thee to schoole to an Ant, to teach
thee ther's no labouring i'th'winter. All that follow their
noses,are led by their eyes, but blinde men, and there's
not a nose among twenty,but can smell him that's stink-
ing; let go thy hold,when a greatwheele runs downe a
1345hill, least it breake thy necke with following. But the
great one that goes vpward, let him drawthee after:
when a wiseman giues thee better counsellgiue me mine
againe,I would hause nonebut knaues follow it, since a
Foole giues it.
1350That Sir,which serues and seekes for gaine,
And followes but for forme;
Will packe,when it begins to raine,
And leaue thee in the storme,
But I will tarry,the Foole will stay,
1355And let the wiseman flie:
The knaue turnes Foole that runnes away,
The Foole noknaue perdie.
Enter Lear,and Gloster:
Kent. Where learn'd you this Foole?
1360Foole. Not i'th'Stocks Foole.
Lear. Deny to speake with me?
They are sicke,they are weary,
They haue trauail'd all the night? meere fetches,
The images of reuolt and flying off.
1365Fetch me a better answer.
Glo. My deere Lord,
You know the fiery quality of the Duke,
How vnremoueable and fixt he is
In his owne course.
1370Lear. Vengeance, Plague,Death,Confusion:
Fiery? What quality? Why Gloster, Gloster,
I'ld speake with the Duke of Cornewall,and his wife.
Glo. Well my good Lord,I haue inform'd them so.
Lear. Inform'd them? Do'st thou vnderstand me man.
1375Glo. I my good Lord.
Lear. The King would speake with Cornwall,
The deere Father
Would with his Daughter speake,commands,tends,ser-
Are they inform'd of this? My breath and blood:
1380Fiery? The fiery Duke,tell the hot Duke that----
No,but not yet,may be he is not well,
Infirmity doth still neglect all office,
Whereto our health is bound,we are not our selues,
When Nature being opprest,commands the mind
1385To suffer with the body; Ile forbeare,
And am fallen out with my more headier will,
To take the indispos'd and sickly fit,
For the sound man. Death on my state: wherefore
Should he sit heere? This act perswades me,
1390That this remotion of the Duke and her
Is practise only. Giue me my Seruant forth;
Goe tell the Duke, and's wife,Il'd speake with them:
Now,presently: bid them come forth and heare me,
Or at their Chamber doore Ile beate the Drum,
1395Till it crie sleepe to death.
Glo. I would haue all well betwixt you.
Lear. Oh me my heart! My rising heart! But downe.
Foole. Cry to it Nunckle, as the Cockney did to the
Eeles,when she put 'em i'th'Paste aliue, she knapt 'em
1400o'th'coxcombs with a sticke,and cryed downe wantons,
downe; 'twas her Brother, that in pure kindnesse to his
Horse buttered his Hay.
Enter Cornewall,Regan,Gloster,Seruants.
Lear. Good morrow to you both.
1405Corn. Haile to your Grace. Kent here set at liberty.
Reg. I am glad to see your Highnesse.
Lear. Regan, I thinke your are. I know what reason
I haue to thinke so,if thou should'st not be glad,
I would diuorce me from thy Mother Tombe,
1410Sepulchring an Adultresse. O are you free?
Some other time for that. Beloued Regan,
Thy Sisters naught: oh Regan, she hath tied
Sharpe-tooth'd vnkindnesse,like a vulture heere,
I can scarce speake to thee,thou'lt not beleeue
1415With how deprau'd a quality. Oh Regan.
Reg. I pray you Sir,take patience,I haue hope
You lesse know how to value her desert,
Then she to scant her dutie.
Lear. Say? How is that?
1420Reg. I cannot thinke my Sister in the least
Would faile her Obligation. If Sir perchance
She haue restrained the Riots of your Followres,
'Tis on such ground,and to such wholesome end,
As cleeres her from all blame.
1425Lear. My curses on her.
Reg. O Sir,you are old,
Nature in you stands on the very Verge
Of his confine: you should be rul'd, and led
By some discretion, that discernes your state
1430Better then you your selfe: therefore I pray you,
That to our Sister, you do make returne,
Say you haue wrong'd her.
Lear. Aske her forgiuenesse?
Do you but marke how this becomes the house?
1435Deere daughter, I confesse that I am old;
Age is vnnecessary: on my knees I begge,
That you'l vouchsafe me Rayment, Bed,and Food.
Reg. Good Sir,no more: these are vnsightly trickes:
Returne you to my Sister.
1440Lear. Neuer Regan:
She hath abated me of halfe my Traine;
Look'd blacke vpon me, strooke me with her Tongue
Most Serpent-like, vpon the very Heart.
All the stor'd Vengeances of Heauen, fall
1445On her ingratefull top: strike her yong bones
You taking Ayres, with Lamenesse.
Corn. Fye sir, fie.
Le. You nimble Lightnings,dart your blinding flames
Into her scornfull eyes: Infect her Beauty,
1450You Fen-suck'd Fogges, drawne by the powrfull Sunne,
To fall,and blister.
Reg. O the blest Gods!
So will you wish on me, when the rash moode is on.
Lear. No Regan,thou shalt neuer haue my curse:
1455Thy tender-hefted -->Nature shall not giue
Thee o're to harshnesse: Her eyes are fierce, but thine
Do comfort, and not burne. 'Tis not in thee
To grudge my pleasures, to cut off my Traine,
To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes,
1460And in conclusion, to oppose the bolt
Against my comming in. Thou better know'st
The Offices of Nature, bond of Childhood,
Effects of Curtesie, dues of Gratitude:
Thy halfe o'th'Kingdome hast thou not forgot,
1465Wherein I thee endow'd.
Reg. Good Sir, to'th'purpose.
Tucket within.
Lear. Who put my man i'th'Stockes?
Enter Steward.
Corn. What Trumpet's that?
1470Reg. I know't,my Sisters: this approues her Letter,
That she would soone be heere. Is your Lady come?
Lear. This is a Slaue, whose easie borrowed pride
Dwels in the sickly grace of her he followes.
Out Varlet, from my sight.
1475Corn. What meanes your Grace?
Enter Gonerill.
Lear. Who stockt my Seruant? Regan,I haue good hope
Thou did'st not know on't.
Who comes here? O Heauens!
1480If you do loue old men; if your sweet sway
Allow Obedience; if you your selues are old,
Make it your cause: Send downe,and take my part.
Art not asham'd to looke vpon this Beard?
O Regan, will you take her by the hand?
1485Gon. Why not by'th'hand Sir? How haue I offended?
All's not offence that indiscretion findes,
And dotage termes so.
Lear. O sides, you are too tough!
Will you yet hold?
1490How came my man i'th'Stockes?
Corn. I set him there,Sir: but his owne Disorders
Deseru'd much lesse aduancement.
Lear. You? Did you?
Reg. I pray you Father being weake,seeme so.
1495If till the expiration of your Moneth
You will returne and soiourne with my Sister,
Dismissing halfe your traine, come then to me,
I am now from home,and out of that prouision
Which shall be needfull for your entertainement.
1500Lear. Returne to her? and fifty men dismiss'd?
No, rather I abiure all roofes,and chuse
To wage against the enmity oth'ayre,
To be a Comrade with the Wolfe,and Owle,
Necessities sharpe pinch. Returne with her?
1505Why the hot-bloodiedFrance,that dowerlesse tooke
Our yongest borne, I could as well be brought
To knee his Throne,and Squire-like pension beg,
To keepe base life a foote; returne with her?
Perswade me rather to be slaue and sumpter
1510To this detested groome.
Gon. At your choice Sir.
Lear. I prythee Daughter do not make me mad,
I will not trouble thee my Child;farewell:
Wee'l no more meete,no more see one another.
1515But yet thou art my flesh,my blood,my Daughter,
Or rather a disease that's in my flesh,
Which I must needs call mine. Thou art a Byle,
A plague sore,or imbossed Carbuncle
In my corrupted blood. But Ile not chide thee,
1520Let shame come when it will,I do not call it,
I do not bid the Thunder-bearer shoote,
Nor tell tales of thee to high-iudging Ioue,
Mend when thou can'st,be better at thy leisure,
I can be patient,I can stay with Regan,
1525I and my hundred Knights.
Reg. Not altogether so,
I look'd not for you yet,nor am prouided
For your fit welcome,giue eare Sir to my Sister,
For those that mingle reason with your passion,
1530Must be content to thinke you old,and so,
But she knowes what she doe's.
Lear. Is this well spoken?
Reg. I dare auouch it Sir,what fifty Followers?
Is it not well? What should you need of more?
1535Yea,or so many? Sith that both charge and danger,
Speake 'gainst so great a number? How in one house
Should many people,vnder two commands
Hold amity? 'Tis hard,almost impossible.
Gon. Why might not you my Lord,receiue attendance
1540From those that she cals Seruants,or from mine?
Reg. Why not my Lord?
If then they chanc'd to slacke ye,
We could comptroll them; if you will come to me,
(For now I spie a danger)I entreate you
1545To bring but fiue and twentie,to no more
Will I giue place or notice.
Lear. I gaue you all.
Reg. And in good time you gaue it.
Lear. Made you my Guardians,my Depositaries,
1550But kept a reseruation to be followed
With such a number? What, must I come to you
With fiue and twenty? Regan,said you so?
Reg. And speak't againe my Lord, no more with me.
Lea. Those wicked Creatures yet do look wel fauor'd
1555When others are more wicked,not being the worst
Stands in some ranke of praise,Ile go with thee,
Thy fifty yet doth double fiue and twenty,
And thou art twice her Loue.
Gon. Heare me my Lord;
1560What need you fiue and twenty? Ten? Or fiue?
To follow in a house, where twice so many
Haue a command to tend you?
Reg. What need one?
Lear. O reason not the need: our basest Beggers
1565Are in the poorest thing superfluous.
Allow not Nature,more then Nature needs:
Mans life is cheape as Beastes. Thou art a Lady;
If onely to go warme were gorgeous,
Why Nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear'st,
1570Which scarcely keepes thee warme,but for trueneed:
You Heauens,giue me that patience,patience I need,
You see me heere (you Gods)a poore old man,
As full of griefe as age,wretched in both,
If it be you that stirres these Daughters hearts
1575Against their Father,foole me not so much,
To beare it tamely{ }:touch me with Noble anger,
And let not womens weapons, water drops,
Staine my mans cheekes.No you vnnaturall Hags,
I will haue such reuenges on you both,
1580That all the world shall---I will do such things,
What they are yet,I know not,but they shalbe
The terrors of the earth?you thinke Ile weepe,
No,Ile not weepe,I haue full cause of weeping.
Storme and Tempest.
1585But this heart shal break into a hundred thousand flawes
Or ere Ile weepe; O Foole,I shall go mad.
Corn. Let vs withdraw, 'twill be a Storme.
Reg. This house is little,the old man an'ds people,
Cannot be well bestow'd.
1590Gon. 'Tis his owne blame hath put himselfe from rest,
And must needs taste his folly.
Reg. For his particular,Ile receiue him gladly,
But not one follower.
Gon. So am I purpos'd.
1595Where is my Lord of Gloster?
Enter Gloster.
Corn. Followed the old man forth,he is return'd.
Glo. The King is in high rage.
Corn. Whether is he going?
1600Glo. He cals to Horse,but will I know not whether.
Corn. 'Tis best to giue him way,he leads himselfe.
Gon. My Lord,entreate him by no meanes to stay.
Glo. Alacke the night comes on,and the high windes
Do sorely ruffle,for many Miles about
1605There's scarce a Bush.
Reg. O Sir,to wilfull men,
The iniuries that they themselues procure,
Must be their Schoole-Masters: shut vp your doores,
He is attended with a desperate traine,
1610And what they may incense him too,being apt,
To haue his eare abus'd,wisedome bids feare.
Cor. Shut vp your doores my Lord, 'tis a wil'd night,
My Regan counsels well: come out oth'storme.