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About this text

  • Title: King Lear (Folio 1, 1623)
  • Editor: Michael Best
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-463-9

    Copyright Michael Best. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Michael Best
    Not Peer Reviewed

    King Lear (Folio 1, 1623)

    The Tragedie of King Lear.
    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