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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    Not Peer Reviewed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
    Kent. I know you: Where's the King?
    Gent. Contending with the fretfull Elements;
    1620Bids the winde blow the Earth into the Sea,
    Or swell the curled Waters 'boue the Maine,
    That things might change, or cease.
    Kent. But who is with him?
    Gent. None but the Foole, who labours to out-iest
    1625His heart-strooke iniuries.
    Kent. Sir, I do know you,
    And dare vpon the warrant of my note
    Commend a deere thing to you. There is diuision
    (Although as yet the face of it is couer'd
    1630With mutuall cunning) 'twixt Albany , and Cornwall:
    Who haue, as who haue not, that their great Starres
    Thron'd and set high; Seruants, who seeme no lesse,
    Which are to France the Spies and Speculations
    Intelligent of our State. What hath bin seene,
    1635Either in snuffes, and packings of the Dukes,
    Or the hard Reine which both of them hath borne
    Against the old kinde King; or something deeper,
    Whereof (perchance) these are but furnishings.
    Gent. I will talke further with you.
    1640Kent. No, do not:
    For confirmation that I am much more
    Then my out-wall; open this Purse, and take
    What it containes. If you shall see Cordelia,
    (As feare not but you shall) shew her this Ring,
    1645And she will tell you who that Fellow is
    That yet you do not know. Fye on this Storme,
    I will go seeke the King.
    Gent. Giue me your hand,
    Haue you no more to say?
    1650Kent. Few words, but to effect more then all yet;
    That when we haue found the King, in which your pain
    That way, Ile this: He that first lights on him,
    Holla the other.

    Scena Secunda.

    Storme still. Enter Lear, and Foole.
    Lear. Blow windes, & crack your cheeks; Rage, blow
    You Cataracts, and Hyrricano's spout,
    Till you haue drench'd our Steeples, drown the Cockes.
    You Sulph'rous and Thought-executing Fires,
    1660Vaunt-curriors of Oake-cleauing Thunder-bolts,
    Sindge my white head. And thou all-shaking Thunder,
    Strike flat the thicke Rotundity o'th'world,
    Cracke Natures moulds, all germaines spill at once
    That makes ingratefull Man.
    1665Foole. O Nunkle, Court holy-water in a dry house, is
    better then this Rain-water out o' doore. Good Nunkle,
    in, aske thy Daughters blessing, heere's a night pitties
    neither Wisemen, nor Fooles.
    Lear. Rumble thy belly full: spit Fire, spowt Raine:
    1670Nor Raine, Winde, Thunder, Fire are my Daughters;
    I taxe not you, you Elements with vnkindnesse.
    I neuer gaue you Kingdome, call'd you Children;
    You owe me no subscription. Then let fall
    Your horrible pleasure. Heere I stand your Slaue,
    1675A poore, infirme, weake, and dispis'd old man:
    But yet I call you Seruile Ministers,
    Thar will with two pernicious Daughters ioyne
    Your high-engender'd Battailes, 'gainst a head
    So old, and white as this. O, ho! 'tis foule.
    1680Foole. He that has a house to put's head in, has a good
    The Codpiece that will house, before the head has any;
    The Head, and he shall Lowse: so Beggers marry many.
    The man yt makes his Toe, what he his Hart shold make,
    1685Shall of a Corne cry woe, and turne his sleepe to wake.
    For there was neuer yet faire woman, but shee made
    mouthes in a glasse.
    Enter Kent.
    Lear. No, I will be the patterne of all patience,
    1690I will say nothing.
    Kent. Who's there?
    Foole. Marry here's Grace, and a Codpiece, that's a
    Wiseman, and a Foole.
    Kent. Alas Sir are you here? Things that loue night,
    1695Loue not such nights as these: The wrathfull Skies
    Gallow the very wanderers of the darke
    And make them keepe their Caues: Since I was man,
    Such sheets of Fire, such bursts of horrid Thunder,
    Such groanes of roaring Winde, and Raine, I neuer
    1700Remember to haue heard. Mans Nature cannot carry
    Th'affliction, nor the feare.
    Lear. Let the great Goddes
    That keepe this dreadfull pudder o're our heads,
    Finde out their enemies now. Tremble thou Wretch,
    1705That hast within thee vndivulged Crimes
    Vnwhipt of Iustice. Hide thee, thou Bloudy hand;
    Thou Periur'd, and thou Simular of Vertue
    That art Incestuous. Caytiffe, to peeces shake
    That vnder couert, and conuenient seeming
    1710Ha's practis'd on mans life. Close pent-vp guilts,
    Riue your concealing Continents, and cry
    These dreadfull Summoners grace. I am a man,
    More sinn'd against, then sinning.
    Kent. Alacke, bare-headed?
    1715Gracious my Lord, hard by heere is a Houell,
    Some friendship will it lend you 'gainst the Tempest:
    Repose you there, while I to this hard house,
    (More harder then the stones whereof 'tis rais'd,
    Which euen but now, demanding after you,
    1720Deny'd me to come in) returne, and force
    Their scanted curtesie.
    Lear. My wits begin to turne.
    Come on my boy. How dost my boy? Art cold?
    I am cold my selfe. Where is this straw, my Fellow?
    1725The Art of our Necessities is strange,
    And can make vilde things precious. Come, your Houel;
    Poore Foole, and Knaue,I haue one part in my heart
    That's sorry yet for thee.
    He that has and a little-tyne wit,
    With heigh-ho, the Winde and the Raine,
    Must make content with his Fortunes fit,
    Though the Raine it raineth euery day.
    Le. True Boy: Come bring vs to this Houell.
    Foole. This is a braue night to coole a Curtizan:
    1735Ile speake a Prophesie ere I go:
    When Priests are more in word, then matter;
    When Brewers marre their Malt with water;
    When Nobles are their Taylors Tutors,
    No Heretiques burn'd, but wenches Sutors;
    1740When euery Case in Law, is right;
    No Squire in debt, nor no poore Knight;
    When Slanders do not liue in Tongues;
    Nor Cut-purses come not to throngs;
    When Vsurers tell their Gold i'th'Field,