Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Michael Best
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King Lear (Quarto 1, 1608)

Enter King.
Lear. Tis strange that they should so depart from
1275And not send backe my messenger.
Knight. As I learn'd, the night before there was
No purpose of his remoue.
Kent. Hayle to thee noble maister.
1280Lear. How, mak'st thou this shame thy pastime?
Foole. Ha ha, looke he weares crewell garters,
Horses are tide by the heeles, dogges and beares
Byt'h necke, munkies bit'h loynes, and men
Byt'h legges, when a mans 1285ouer lusty at legs,
Then he weares wooden neatherstockes.
Lear. Whats he, that hath so much thy place mistooke to set
thee here?
Kent. It is both he and shee, your sonne & daugter.
Lear. No. Kent. Yes.
Lear. No I say, Kent. I say yea.
Lear. No no, they would not.Kent. Yes they haue.
1295Lear. By Iupiter I sweare no, they durst not do't,
They would not, could not do't, tis worse then murder,
To doe vpon respect such violent outrage,
1300Resolue me with all modest hast, which way
Thou may'st deserue, or they purpose this vsage,
Coming from vs.
Kent. My Lord, when at their home
I did commend your highnes letters to them,
1305Ere I was risen from the place that shewed
My dutie kneeling, came there a reeking Post,
Stewd in his hast, halfe breathles, panting forth
From Gonerill his mistris, salutations,
Deliuered letters spite of intermission,
1310Which presently they read, on whose contents
They summond vp their men, straight tooke horse,
Commanded me to follow, and attend the leasure
Of their answere, gaue me cold lookes,
And meeting here the other messenger,
1315Whose welcome I perceau'd had poyson'd mine,
Being the very fellow that of late
Display'd so sawcily against your Highnes,
Hauing more man then wit, about me drew,
He raised the house with loud and coward cries,
1320Your sonne and daughter found this trespas worth
This shame which here it suffers.
Lear. O how this mother swels vp toward my hart,
Historica passio downe thou climing sorrow,
1330Thy element's below, where is this daughter?
Kent. With the Earle sir within,
Lear. Follow me not, stay there?
Knight. Made you no more offẽce then what you speake of?
1335Kent. No, how chance the King comes with so small a traine?
Foole. And thou hadst beene set in the stockes for that questi-
on, thou ha'dst well deserued it.
Kent. Why foole?
1340Foole. Weele set thee to schoole to an Ant, to teach thee ther's
no labouring in the winter, all that follow their noses, are led by
their eyes, but blind men, and ther's not a nose among a 100. but
can smell him thats stincking, let goe thy hold when a great
wheele runs downe a 1345hill, least it breake thy necke with follow-
ing it, but the great one that goes vp the hill, let him draw thee
after, when a wise man giues thee better councell, giue mee mine
againe, I would haue none but knaues follow it, since a foole
giues it.
1350That Sir that serues for gaine,
And followes but for forme:
Will packe when it begin to raine,
And leaue thee in the storme.
But I will tarie, the foole will stay,
1355And let the wise man flie :
The knaue turnes foole that runs away,
The foole no knaue perdy.
Kent. Where learnt you this foole?
1360Foole. Not in the stockes.
Enter Lear and Gloster.
Lear. Denie to speake with mee, th'are sicke, th'are
They traueled hard to night, meare Iustice,
I the Images of reuolt and flying off,
1365Fetch mee a better answere.
Glost. My deere Lord, you know the fierie qualitie of the
Duke, how vnremoueable and fixt he is in his owne Course.
1370Lear. Vengeance, death, plague, confusion, what fierie quality,
why Gloster, Gloster, id'e speake with the Duke of Cornewall, and
his wife.
Glost. I my good Lord.
Lear. The King would speak with Cornewal, the deare father
Would with his daughter speake, commands her seruice,
1380Fierie Duke, tell the hot Duke that Lear,
No but not yet may be he is not well,
Infirmitie doth still neglect all office, where to our health
Is bo{u~}d, we are not our selues, when nature being oprest
Cõmand the mind 1385to suffer with the bodie, ile forbeare,
And am fallen out with my more hedier will,
To take the indispos'd and sickly fit, for the sound man,
Death on my state, wherfore should he sit here?
This act perswades me, 1390that this remotion of the Duke,
Is practise, only giue me my seruant forth,
Tell the Duke and's wife, Ile speake with them
Now presently, bid them come forth and heare me,
Or at their chamber doore ile beat the drum,
1395Till it cry sleepe to death.
Glost. I would haue all well betwixt you.
Lear. O my heart, my heart.
Foole. Cry to it Nunckle, as the Cokney did to the eeles, when
she put vm it'h pâst aliue, she rapt vm 1400ath coxcombs with a stick,
and cryed downe wantons downe, twas her brother, that in pure
kindnes to his horse buttered his hay.
Enter Duke and Regan.
Lear. Good morrow to you both.
1405Duke. Hayle to your Grace.
Reg. I am glad to see your highnes.
Lear. Regan I thinke you are, I know what reason
I haue to thinke so, if thou shouldst not be glad,
I would diuorse me from thy mothers tombe
1410Sepulchring an adultresse, yea are you free?
Some other time for that. Beloued Regan,
Thy sister is naught, oh Regan she hath tyed,
Sharpe tooth'd vnkindnes, like a vulture heare,
I can scarce speake to thee, thout not beleeue,
1415Of how depriued a qualitie, O Regan.
Reg. I pray sir take patience, I haue hope
You lesse know how to value her desert,
Then she to slacke her dutie.
1425Lear. My cursses on her.
Reg. O Sir you are old,
Nature on you standes on the very verge of her con-
You should be rul'd and led by some discretion,
That discernes your state 1430better thẽ you your selfe,
Therfore I pray that to our sister, you do make returne,
Say you haue wrong'd her Sir?
Lear. Aske her forgiuenes,
Doe you marke how this becomes the house,
1435Deare daughter, I confesse that I am old,
Age is vnnecessarie, on my knees I beg,
That you'l vouchsafe me rayment, bed and food.
Reg. Good sir no more, these are vnsightly tricks,
Returne you to my sister.
1440Lear. No Regan,
She hath abated me of halfe my traine,
Lookt blacke vpon me, strooke mee with her tongue
Most Serpent-like vpon the very heart,
All the stor'd vengeances of heauen fall 1445on her ingratful
Strike her yong bones, you taking ayrs with lamenes.
Duke. Fie fie sir.
Lear. You nimble lightnings dart your blinding flames,
Into her scornfull eyes, infect her beautie,
1450You Fen suckt fogs, drawne by the powrefull Sunne,
To fall and blast her pride.
Reg. O the blest Gods, so will you wish on me,
When the rash mood---
Lear. No Regan, thou shalt neuer haue my curse,
1455The tẽder hested nature shall not giue the or'e
To harshnes, her eies are fierce, but thine do cõfort & not
Tis not in thee to grudge my pleasures, to cut off my
To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes,
1460And in conclusion, to oppose the bolt
Against my coming in, thou better knowest,
The offices of nature, bond of child-hood,
Effects of curtesie, dues of gratitude,
Thy halfe of the kingdome, hast thou not forgot
1465Wherein I thee indow'd.
Reg. Good sir too'th purpose.
Lear. Who put my man i'th stockes?
Duke. What trumpets that?
Enter Steward.
1470Reg. I know't my sisters, this approues her letters,
That she would soone be here, is your Lady come?
Lear. This is a slaue, whose easie borrowed pride
Dwels in the fickle grace of her a followes,
Out varlet, from my sight.
1475Duke. What meanes your Grace?
Enter Gon.
Gon. Who struck my seruant, Regan I haue good hope
Thou didst not know ant.
Lear. Who comes here? O heauens!
1480If you doe loue old men, if you sweet sway allow
Obedience, if 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 wilt thou take her by the hand?
1485Gon. Why not by the hand sir, how haue I offended?
Als not offence that indiscretion finds,
And dotage tearmes so.
Lear. O sides you are too tough,
Will you yet hold? 1490how came my man it'h stockes?
Duke. 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 soiorne with my sister,
Dismissing halfe your traine, come then to me,
I am now from home, and out of that prouision,
Which shall be needful for your entertainment.
1500Lear. Returne to her, and fiftie men dismist,
No rather I abiure all roofes, and chuse
To wage against the enmitie of the Ayre,
To be a Comrade with the Woolfe and owle,
Necessities sharpe pinch, returne with her,
1505Why the hot bloud in France, that dowerles
Tooke our yongest borne, I could as well be brought
To knee his throne, and Squire-like pension bag,
To keepe base life afoot, returne with her,
Perswade me rather to be slaue and sumter
1510To this detested groome.
Gon. At your choise sir.
Lear. Now I prithee daughter do not make me mad,
I will not trouble thee my child, farewell,
Wee'le no more meete, no more see one another.
1515But yet thou art my flesh, my bloud, my daughter,
Or rather a disease that lies within my flesh,
Which I must needs call mine, thou art a bile,
A plague sore, an imbossed carbuncle in my
Corrupted bloud, but Ile not chide thee,
1520Let shame come when it will, I doe not call it,
I doe not bid the thunder bearer shoote,
Nor tell tailes of thee to high Iudging Ioue,
Mend when thou canst, be better at thy leasure,
I can be patient, I can stay with Regan,
1525I and my hundred Knights.
Reg. Not altogether so sir, I looke 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 are old, and so,
But she knowes what shee does.
Lear. Is this well spoken now?
Reg. I dare auouch it sir, what fiftie followers,
Is it not well what should you need of more,
1535Yea or so many, sith that both charge and danger
Speakes gainst so great a number, how in a house
Should many people vnder two commands
Hold amytie, tis hard, almost impossible.
Gon. Why might not you my Lord receiue attendãce
1540From those that she cals seruants, or from mine?
Reg. Why not my Lord? if then they chanc'st to slacke you,
We could controwle them, if you will come to me,
For now I spie a danger, I intreat 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 twentie, Regan said you so?
Reg. And speak't againe my Lord, no more with me.
Lea. Those wicked creatures yet do seem wel fauor'd
1555When others are more wicked, not being the worst
Stands in some ranke of prayse, Ile goe with thee,
Thy fifty yet doth double fiue and twentie,
And thou art twice her loue.
Gon. Heare me my Lord,
1560What need you fiue and twentie, tenne, or fiue,
To follow in a house, where twise so many
Haue a commaund to tend you.
Regan. What needes one?
Lear. O reason not the deed, our basest beggers,
1565Are in the poorest thing superfluous,
Allow not nature more then nature needes,
Mans life as cheape as beasts, thou art a Lady,
If onely to goe warme were gorgeous,
Why nature needes not, what thou gorgeous wearest
1570Which scarcely keepes thee warme, but for true need,
You heauens giue me that patience, patience I need,
You see me here (you Gods) a poore old fellow,
As full of greefe as age, wretched in both,
If it be you that stirres these daughters hearts
1575Against their Father, foole me not to much,
To beare it lamely, touch me with noble anger,
O let not womens weapons, water drops
Stayne my mans cheekes, no you vnnaturall hags,
I will haue such reuenges on you both,
1580That all the world shall, I will doe 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,
1585But this heart shall breake, in a 100. thousand flowes
Or ere ile weepe, O foole I shall goe mad.
Exeunt Lear, Leister, Kent, and Foole.
Duke. Let vs withdraw, twill be a storme.
Reg. This house is little the old man and his people,
Cannot be well bestowed.
1590Gon. Tis his own blame hath put himselfe from rest,
And must needs tast his folly.
Reg. For his particuler, ile receiue him gladly,
But not one follower.
Duke. So am I puspos'd, 1595where is my Lord of Gloster? Enter Glo.
Reg. Followed the old man forth, he is return'd.
Glo. The King is in high rage, 1600& wil I know not whe-
Re. Tis good to giue him way, he leads himselfe.
Gon. My Lord, intreat him by no meanes to stay.
Glo. Alack the night comes on, and the bleak winds
Do sorely russel, for many miles about ther's not a bush.
Reg. O sir, to wilfull men
The iniuries that they themselues procure,
Must be their schoolemasters, shut vp your doores,
He is attended with a desperate traine,
1610And what they may incense him to, being apt,
To haue his eare abusd, wisedome bids feare.
Duke. Shut vp your doores my Lord, tis a wild night,
My Reg counsails well, come out at'h storme.