Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Pervez Rizvi
Not Peer Reviewed

King Lear (Quarto 2, 1619)


Enter King, and a Knight.
Lear. Tis strange that they should so depart from hence,
1275And not send backe my messenger.
Knight. As I learn'd, the night before there was
No purpose of his remoue.
Kent. Haile to thee noble Master.
1280Lear. How, mak'st thou this shame thy pastime?
Foole. Ha, ha, looke, he weares crewell garters,
Horses are tide by the heeles, dogs and beares
By the necke, munkies by the loines, and men
By the legs, when a man's ouer-lusty at legs,
1285[T]hen he weares wooden neather-stockes.
Lear. What's he, that hath so much thy place mistooke to set
thee here?
Kent. It is both he and she, your sonne and daughter.
Lear. No.
Kent. Yes.
Lear. No I say.
Kent. I say yea.
1294.1Lear. No, no, they would not.
Kent. Yes they haue.
1295Lear. By Iupiter I sweare no, they durst not do it,
They would not, could not do it, tis worse then murder,
To do vpon respect such violent out-rage,
1300Resolue me with all modest haste, which way
Thou maist deserue, or they purpose 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 duty kneeling, came there a reeking Poste,
Stewd in his haste, halfe breathlesse, panting forth
From Gonorill his Mistris, salutations,
Deliuered letters spite of intermission,
1310Which presently they read; on whose contents
They summoned vp their men, 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 poisoned mine,
Being the very fellow that of late
Displaid so sawcily against your Highnesse,
Hauing more man then wit about me, drew;
He raised the house with loud and coward cries,
1320Your sonne and daughter found this trespasse worth
This shame which here it suffers.
Lear. O how this mother swels vp toward my heart,
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 offence then what you speake of?
1335Kent. No, how chance the King comes with so small a traine?
Foole. If thou hadst beene set in the stockes for that question,
thou hadst well deserued it.
Kent. Why foole?
1340Foole. Wee'l 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 blinde men, and there's not a nose among a hun-
dred, but can smell him that's stincking; let goe thy hold when
a great wheele runs downe a hill, least it breake thy necke with
1345following it, but the great one that goes vp the hil, let him draw
thee after, when a wise man giues thee better counsell, giue mee
mine againe, I would haue none but knaues follow it, since a
foole giues it.
1350
That Sir that serues 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 wise man flie:
The knaue turnes foole that runnes away,
The foole no knaue perdy.
Kent. Where learnt you this foole?
Foole. Not in the stockes.
1360
Enter Lear and Glocester.
Lear. Deny to speake with me? th'are sicke, th'are weary,
They traueld hard to night, meare Iustice,
I the images of reuolt and flying off,
1365Fetch me a better answer.
Glost. My deare Lord, you know the fiery quality of the Duke,
how vnremoueable and fixt he is in his owne course.
1370Lear. Veangeance, death, plague, confusion, what fiery quali-
ty; why Glocester,Glocester, ide speake with the Duke of Corne-
wall, and his wife.
1375Glost. I my good Lord.
Lear. The King would speake with Cornwall, the deare father
Would with his daughter speake, commands her seruice,
1380Fiery Duke, tell the hot Duke that Lear,
No but not yet, may be he is not well,
Infirmity doth still neglect all office, where to our health
Is bound, we are not our selues, when nature being opprest,
Commands the minde to suffer with the body; ile forbeare,
And am fallen out with my more headier will,
To take the indisposed and sickly fit, for the sound man.
Death on my state, wherefore should he sit here?
This acte perswades me, that this remotion of the Duke & her
Is practice, onely giue me my seruant foorth;
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 beate 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 Cockney did to the Eeles,
when she put them vp i'th paste aliue, she rapt vm ath coxcombs
1400with a sticke, and cryed downe wantons, downe; twas her bro-
ther, that in pure kindnesse to his horse, butterd his hay.
Enter Duke and Regan.
Lear. Good morrow to you both.
1405Duke. Haile to your Grace.
Reg. I am glad to see your Highnesse.
Lear. Regan, I thinke you are, I know what reason
I haue to thinke so; if thou shouldst not be glad,
I would diuorce me from thy mothers toombe,
1410Sepulchring an adulteresse, yea, are you free?
Some other time for that. Beloued Regan,
Thy sister is naught, ô Regan she hath tied
Sharpe tooth'd vnkindnesse, like a vulture heere.
I can scarse speake to thee, thou't not beleeue,
1415Of how depriued a quality, O Regan.
Reg. I pray sir take patience, I haue hope
You lesse know how to value her desert,
Then she to slacke her duty.
1425Lear. My curses on her.
Reg. O sir, you are olde,
Nature on you stands on the very verge of her Confine,
You should be ruled and led by some discretion,
That discernes your state better then you your selfe,
1430Therefore I pray, that to our sister you do make returne,
Say you haue wrongd her sir.
Lear. Aske her forgiuenesse,
Do you marke how this becomes the house?
1435Deare daughter, I confesse that I am old,
Age is vnnecessary, 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 backe vpon me, stroke me with her tongue,
Most serpent-like vpon the very heart,
All the stor'd vengeances of heauen fall on her ingratefull top,
1445Strike her young bones, you taking aires with lamnesse.
Duke. Fie, fie sir.
Lear. You nimble lightnings dart your blinding flames
Into her scornfull eies, infect her beauty,
1450You Fen suckt fogs, drawne by the powerfull 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 tender hested nature shall not giue thee ore
To harshnes, her eies are fierce, but thine do comfort & not burn
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 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 endowed.
Reg. Good sir to the 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 he followes,
Out varlet, from my sight.
1475Duke. What meanes your Grace?
Enter Gonorill.
Gon. Who strucke my seruant? Regan, I haue good hope
Thou didst not know ant.
Lear. Who comes here? O heauens!
1480If you do loue olde men, if you sweet sway alow
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?
All's not offence that indiscretion findes,
And dotage tearmes so.
Lear. O sides, you are too tough,
Will you yet hold? how came my man i'th stockes?
Duke. I set him there, 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 entertainment.
1500Lear. Returne to her, and fifty men dismist?
No, rather I abiure all roofes, and chuse
To wage against the enmity of the ayre,
To be a Comrade with the Wolfe and Owle,
Necessities sharpe pinch, returne with her:
1505Why the hot blood in France, that dowerles
Tooke our yongest borne, I could as well be brought
To knee his Throne, and Squire-like pension beg,
To keepe base life afoote; returne with her?
Perswade me rather to be slaue and sumpter
1510To this detested groome.
Gon. At your choise sir.
Lear. Now I prethee daughter do not make me mad,
I will not trouble thee my childe, farwell,
Wee'l 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 byle
A plague sore, an imbossed carbuncle in my
Corrupted bloud, 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 canst, be better at thy leisure,
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 to my sister, for those
That mingle r[ea]son with your passion,
1530Must be content to thinke you are old, and so,
But she knowes what she does.
Lear. Is this well spoken now?
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
Speakes gainst so great a number, how in a 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 chancst to slacke you,
We could controle them; if you will come to me,
(For now I spie a danger) I entreate you
1545To bring but fiue and twenty 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.
Lear. Those wicked creatures yet do seeme well-fauour'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?
Regan. What needs one?
Lear. O reason not the deed, our basest beggers
1565Are in the poorest thing superfluous,
Allow not nature more then nature needs,
Mans life's as cheap as beasts; thou art a Lady,
If onely to go warme were gorgious,
Why nature needs not what thou gorgious wearest,
1570Which scarsely keepes thee warme, but for true need,
You heauens giue me that patience, patience I need,
You see me heere (you Gods) a poore olde 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 too much,
To beare it lamely, touch me with noble anger,
O 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 shall be
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 thousand flowes
Ere ile weepe; ô foole, I shall go mad.
Exuent Lear, Glocester, 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 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.
Duke. So am I purposd, where is my Lord of Glocester
Enter Glocester.
Reg. Followed the old man forth, he is return'd.
Glo. The King is in high rage, and will I know not whether.
Reg. Tis good 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 bleake windes
Do sorely ruffell, for many miles about there's not 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 abused, wisedome bids feare.
Duke. Shut vp your doores my Lord, tis a wilde night,
My Regan counsels well, come out ath storme.
Exuent omnes.