Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Pervez Rizvi
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King Lear (Quarto 2, 1619)

Enter Kent.
Ken. If but as well I other accents borrow, that can my speech
defuse, my good intent may carry through it selfe to that ful is-
sue for which I raizd my likenesse; now banisht Kent, if thou
535canst serue where thou dost stand condemn'd, thy master whom
thou louest, shall finde the full of labour.
Enter Lear.
Lear. Let me not stay a iot for dinner, goe get it ready: how
540now, what art thou?
Kent. A man sir.
Lear. What dost thou professe? what wouldst thou with vs?
Kent. I doe professe to bee no lesse then I seeme to serue him
545truely that wil put me in trust, to loue him that is honest, to con-
uerse with him that is wise and saies little, to feare iudgement,
to fight when I cannot chuse, and to eate no fish.
Lear. What art thou?
550Kent. A very honest hearted fellow, and as poore as the King.
Lear. If thou be as poore for a subiect, as he is for a king, thou
art poore enough, what wouldst thou?
Kent. Seruice.
Lear. Who wouldst thou serue?
Kent. You.
Lear. Dost thou know me fellow?
Kent. No sir, but you haue that in your countenance, which
I would faine call Master.
560Lear. 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
565ordinary men are fit for, I am qualified, and the best of me, is
Lear. How old art thou?
Kent. Not so young 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, goe you and call my foole hether,
you sirra, where's my daughter?
Enter Steward.
Steward. So please you -----
Lear. What saies the fellow there? call the clat-pole backe,
where's my foole? ho, I thinke the world's asleepe, how now,
where's that mungrell?
580Kent. He saies my Lord, your daughter is not well.
Lear. Why came not the slaue backe to me when I call'd him?
Seruant. Sir, he answered me in the roundest mannner, hee
585would not.
Lear. He would not?
Seruant. My Lord, I know not what the matter is, but to my
iudgement, your Highnesse is not entertain'd with that ceremo-
nious affection as you were wont, there's a great abatement ap-
peares as well in the generall dependants, as in the Duke himselfe
590also, and your daughter.
Lear. Ha, saist thou so?
Seruant. I beseech you pardon me my Lord, if I be mistaken,
for my duty cannot be silent, when I thinke your Highnesse is
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 curiosity, then as a very pretence
and purport of vnkindnes; I will look further into it, but wher's
600this foole? I haue not seene him this two daies.
Seruant. Since my young Ladies going into France sir, the
foole hath much pined away.
Lear. No more of that, I haue noted it, goe you and tell my
605daughter, I would speake with her, go you call hither my foole;
O you sir, you sir, come you hither, who am I sir?
Stew. My Ladies Father.
610Lear. My Ladies Father, my Lords knaue, you whoreson dog,
you slaue, you curre.
Stew. I am none of this my Lord, I beseech you pardon me.
Lear. Do you bandy lookes with me you rascall?
615Stew. Ile not be strucke my Lord.
Kent. Nor tript neither, you base football plaier.
Lear. I thanke thee fellow, thou seru'st me, and ile loue thee.
Kent. Come sir, ile teach you differences, away, away, if you
620will measure your lubbers length againe, tarry, but away, you
haue wisedome.
Lear. Now friendly knaue I thanke thee, there's earnest of
thy seruice.
Enter Foole.
625Foole. Let me hire him too, here's my coxcombe.
Lear. How now my pretty knaue, how dost thou?
Foole. Sirra, you were best take my coxcombe.
Kent. Why Foole?
Foole. Why for taking ones part that's out of fauour, nay and
630thou canst not smile as the winde sits, thou't catch colde shortly,
there take my coxcombe; why this fellow hath banisht two of
his daughters, and done 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?
Foole. If I gaue them any liuing, ide keepe my coxcombe my
selfe, theres mine, beg another of thy daughters.
640Lear. Take heed sirra, the whip.
Foole. Truth is, a dog that must to kennell, he must bee whipt
out, when Lady oth'e brach may stand by the fire and stinke.
Lear. A pestilent g[u]ll to me.
645Foole. Sirra, ile teach thee a speech.
Lear. Do.
Foole. Marke it Vnckle; haue more then thou shewest, speake
lesse then thou knowest, lend lesse then thou owest, ride more
thou goest, learne more then thou trowest, set lesse then thou
throwest, leaue thy drinke and thy whore, and keepe in a doore,
and thou shalt haue more, then two tens to a score.
Lear. This is nothing foole.
Foole. Then like the breath of an vnfeed Lawyer, you gaue me
660nothing for it; can you make no vse of nothing Vncle?
Lear. Why no boy, nothing can be made out of nothing.
Foole. Prethee tell him, so much the rent of his land comes to,
665he will not beleeue a foole.
Lear. A bitter foole.
Foole. Dost thou know the difference my boy, betweene a bit-
ter foole, and a sweete foole.
Lear. No lad, teach me.
669.1Foole. That Lord that counsaild thee to giue away thy Land,
Come place him heere by me, do thou for him stand,
The sweete and bitter foole will presently appeare,
The one in motley here, the other found out there.
.5Lear. Dost thou call me foole boy?
Foole. Al thy other Titles thou hast giuen away, that thou wast
borne with.
Kent. This is not altogether foole my Lord.
Foole. No faith, Lords and great men will not let me, if I had
.10a monopolie out, they would haue part on't, and lodes too, they
will not let me haue all foole to my selfe, thei'l be snatching; giue
670me an egge Nunckle, and ile giue thee two crownes.
Lear. What two crownes shall they be?
Foole. Why after I haue cut the egge in the middle and eate vp
the meate, the two crownes of the egge: when thou clouest thy
675crowne in the middle, and gauest away both parts, thou borest
thy asse on thy back ore the dirt, thou hadst little wit in thy bald
crowne, when thou gauest thy golden one away; if I speak like
my selfe in this, let him be whipt that first findes it so.
680Fooles had nere lesse wit in a yeare,
For wise men are growne foppish,
They know not how their wits do weare,
Their manners are so apish.
Lear. When were you wont to be so full of songs sirra?
685Foole. I haue vsed it Nuncle, euer since thou mad'st thy daugh-
ters thy mother, for when thou gauest them the rod, and putst
downe thine owne breeches, then they for sudden ioy did weep,
and I for sorrow sung, that such a King should play bo-peepe,
690and goe the fooles among: prethee Nunckle keepe a schoole-
master that can teach thy foole to lie, I would faine learne to lie.
Lear. If you lie, wee'l haue you whipt.
695Foole. I maruell what kin thou and thy daughters are, they'l
haue me whipt for speaking true, thou wilt haue mee whipt for
lying, and sometime I am whipt for holding my peace, I had ra-
ther be any kinde of thing then a foole, and yet I would not bee
thee Nunckle, thou hast pared thy wit a both sides, and left no-
700thing in the middle; heere comes one of the parings.
Enter Gonorill.
Lear. How now daughter, what makes that Frontlet on,
Me-thinkes you are too much alate it'h frowne.
705Foole. Thou wast a pretty fellow when thou hadst no neede to
care for her frowne, thou, thou art an O without a figure, I am
better then thou art now, I am a foole, thou art nothing, yes for-
sooth I will hold my tongue, so your face bids me, though you
say nothing.
710Mum, mum, he that keepes neither crust nor crum,
Weary of all, shall want some, That's a sheald pescod.
Gon. Not onely sir this, your all-licenc'd foole, but other of
your insolent retinue do hourely carpe and quarrell, breaking
foorth in ranke and (not to be endured riots) Sir, I had thought
by making this well knowne vnto you, to haue found a safe re-
dresse, but now grow fearefull by what your selfe too late haue
spoke and done, that you protect this course, and put on by your
720allowance, which if you should, the fault would not scape cen-
sure, nor the redresse sleepe, which in the tender of a wholesome
weal, might in their working do you that offence, that else were
shame, that then necessity must call discreete proceedings.
Foole. For you trow Nunckle, the hedge-sparrow fed the Coo-
kow so long, that it had it head bit off beit young, so out went
the Candle, and we were left darkling.
730Lear. Are you our Daughter?
Gonorill. Come sir, I would you would make vse of that good
wisedome whereof I know you are fraught, and put away these
dispositions, that of late transforme you from what you rightly
735Foole. May not an Asse know when the Cart drawes the horse,
whoop Iug I loue thee.
Lear. Doth any here know me? why this is not Lear; doth
740Lear walke thus? speake thus? where are his eies, either his no-
tion, weaknesse, or his discernings are lethergy, sleeping or wa-
king; ha! sure tis not so, who is it that can tell me who I am?
Lears shadow? I would learne that, for by the markes of soue-
744.1raignty, knowledge, & reason, I should be false perswaded I had
Foole. Which they, will make an obedient Father.
745Le. Your name faire gentlewoman?
Gon. Come sir, this admiration is much of the fauour of other
your new prankes; I do beseech you vnderstand my purposes a-
right, as you are old and reuerend, you should be wise, heere doe
750you keepe one hundred Knights and Squires, men so disordered,
so deboyst and bold, that this our Court infected with their
manners, shewes like a riotous Inne, epicurisme and lust make
more like a Tauerne or Brothell, then a great Pallace, the shame
755it selfe doth speake for instant remedy, bee thou desired by her,
that else will take the thing she begs, a little to disquantity your
traine, and the remainder that shall still depend, to be such men
760as may besort your age, and 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
765a daughter.
Gon. You strike my people, and your disordered rabble, make
seruants of their betters.
Enter Duke.
Lear. We that too late repent's vs; O sir, are you come? Is it
770your will that we prepare any horses, ingratitude! thou marble-
hearted fiend, more hideous when thou shewest thee in a childe,
then the Sea-monster, detested kite, thou lessen my traine and
men of choise and rarest parts, that all particulars of duty know,
and in the most exact regard, support the worshippes of their
name, O most small fault, how vgly didst thou in Cordelia shew,
that like an engine wrencht my frame of nature from the fixt
place, drew from my heart all loue, & added to the gall; ô Lear,
Lear beate at this gate that let thy folly in, and thy deare iudg-
785ment out, goe, goe, my people?
Duke. My Lord, I am guiltlesse as I am ignorant.
Lear. It may be so my Lord, harke Nature, heare deere God-
desse, suspend thy purpose, if thou didst intend to make this cre-
ture fruitefull, into her wombe conuey sterility, dry vp in her the
Organs of encrease, and from her derogate body neuer spring a
795babe to honor her; if she must teem, create her childe of spleen,
that it may liue and be a thourt disuetur'd torment to her, let it
stampe wrinckles in her brow of youth, with accent teares, fret
channels in her cheek[e]s, turne all her mothers paines and bene-
800fits to laughter and contempt, that shee may feele, how sharper
then a serpents tooth it is, to haue a thanklesse childe, goe, goe,
802.1my people?
Duke. Now Gods that we adore, whereof comes this!
Gon. Neuer afflict your selfe to know the cause, but let his dis-
position haue that scope that dotage giues it.
810Lear. What, fifty of my followers at a clap, within a fortnight?
Duke. What is the matter sir?
Lear. Ile tell thee, life and death! I am sham'd that thou hast
815power to shake my man-hood thus, that these hot teares that
breake from me perforce, should make the worst blasts and fogs
vpon the vntender woundings of a fathers curse, peruse euery
820sence about the olde fond eies, be-weepe this cause againe, ile
plucke you out, and you can cast with the waters that you make to
temper clay, yea, is it come to this? yet haue I left a daughter,
825whom I am sure is kinde and comfortable, when she shall heare
this of thee, with her nailes shee'l fley thy woluish visage, thou
shalt finde that ile resume the shape, which thou doest thinke I
haue cast off for euer, thou shalt I warrant thee.
830Gon. Do you marke that my Lord?
Duke. I cannot be so partiall Gonorill to the great loue I beare
Gon. Come sir, no more ; you, more knaue then foole, after your
835Foole. Nuncle Lear, Nuncle Lear, tarry and take the foole with
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 fol-
lowes after.
Gon. What Oswald, ho.
848.1Oswald. Heere Madam.
Gon. What, haue you writ this letter to my sister?
Osw. Yes Madam.
860Gon. Take you some company, and away to horse, informe her
full of my particular feares, and thereto adde such reasons of your
owne, as may compact it more, get you gone, and after your re-
turne -------- now my Lord, this mildie gentlenesse and course of
865yours though I dislike not, yet vnder pardon y'are much more a-
lapt want of wisedome, then praise for harmfull mildnesse.
Duke. How farre your eies may pierce I cannot tell,
870Striuing to better ought, we marre what's well.
Gon. Nay then -------
Duke. Well, well, the euent.