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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    Not Peer Reviewed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.
    You know the goodnesse I intend vpon you:
    2855Tell me but truly, but then speake the truth,
    Do you not loue my Sister?
    Bast. In honour'd Loue.
    Reg. But haue you neuer found my Brothers way,
    To the fore-fended place?
    2860Bast. No by mine honour, Madam.
    Reg. I neuer shall endure her, deere my Lord
    Be not familiar with her.
    Bast. Feare not, she and the Duke her husband.

    Enter with Drum and Colours, Albany, Gonerill, Soldiers.

    2865Alb. Our very louing Sister, well be-met:
    Sir, this I heard, the King is come to his Daughter
    With others, whom the rigour of our State
    Forc'd to cry out.
    Regan. Why is this reasond?
    2870Gone. Combine together 'gainst the Enemie:
    For these domesticke and particurlar broiles,
    Are not the question heere.
    Alb. Let's then determine with th'ancient of warre
    On our proceeding.
    2875Reg. Sister you'le go with vs?
    Gon. No.
    Reg. 'Tis most conuenient, pray go with vs.
    Gon. Oh ho, I know the Riddle, I will goe.
    Exeunt both the Armies.

    Enter Edgar.
    Edg. If ere your Grace had speech with man so poore,
    Heare me one word.
    Alb. Ile ouertake you, speake.
    Edg. Before you fight the Battaile, ope this Letter:
    2885If you haue victory, let the Trumpet sound
    For him that brought it: wretched though I seeme,
    I can produce a Champion, that will proue
    What is auouched there. If you miscarry,
    Your businesse of the world hath so an end,
    2890And machination ceases. Fortune loues you.
    Alb. Stay till I haue read the Letter.
    Edg. I was forbid it:
    When time shall serue, let but the Herald cry,
    And Ile appeare againe.
    2895Alb. Why farethee well, I will o're-looke thy paper.

    Enter Edmund.

    Bast. The Enemy's in view, draw vp your powers,
    Heere is the guesse of their true strength and Forces,
    By dilligent discouerie, but your hast
    2900Is now vrg'd on you.
    Alb. We will greet the time.
    Bast. To both these Sisters haue I sworne my loue:
    Each iealous of the other, as the stung
    Are of the Adder. Which of them shall I take?
    2905Both? One ? Or neither? Neither can be enioy'd
    If both remaine aliue: To take the Widdow,
    Exasperates, makes mad her Sister Gonerill,
    And hardly shall I carry out my side,
    Her husband being aliue. Now then, wee'l vse
    2910His countenance for the Battaile, which being done,
    Let her who would be rid of him, deuise
    His speedy taking off. As for the mercie
    Which he intends to Lear and to Cordelia,
    The Battaile done, and they within our power,
    2915Shall neuer see his pardon: for my state,
    Stands on me to defend, not to debate.

    Scena Secunda.

    Alarum within. Enter with Drumme and Colours, Lear,
    Cordelia, and Souldiers, ouer the Stage, and Exeunt.

    Enter Edgar, and Gloster.

    Edg. Heere Father, take the shadow of this Tree
    For your good hoast: pray that the right may thriue:
    If euer I returne to you againe,
    Ile bring you comfort.
    2925Glo. Grace go with you Sir.
    Alarum and Retreat within.
    Enter Edgar.
    Egdar. Away old man, giue me thy hand, away:
    King Lear hath lost, he and his Daughter tane,
    2930Giue me thy hand: Come on.
    Glo. No further Sir, a man may rot euen heere.
    Edg. What in ill thoughts againe?
    Men must endure
    Their going hence, euen as their comming hither,
    2935Ripenesse is all come on.
    Glo. And that's true too.

    Scena Tertia.

    Enter in conquest with Drum and Colours, Edmund, Lear,
    and Cordelia, as prisoners, Souldiers, Captaine.

    2940Bast. Some Officers take them away: good guard,
    Vntill their greater pleasures first be knowne
    That are to censure them.
    Cor. We are not the first,
    Who with best meaning haue incurr'd the worst:
    2945For thee oppressed King I am cast downe,
    My selfe could else out-frowne false Fortunes frowne.
    Shall we not see these Daughters, and these Sisters?
    Lear. No, no, no, no: come let's away to prison,
    We two alone will sing like Birds i'th'Cage:
    2950When thou dost aske me blessing, Ile kneele downe
    And aske of thee forgiuenesse: So wee'l liue,
    And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
    At gilded Butterflies: and heere (poore Rogues)
    Talke of Court newes, and wee'l talke with them too,
    2955Who looses, and who wins; who's in, who's out;
    And take vpon's the mystery of things,
    As if we were Gods spies: And wee'l weare out
    In a wall'd prison, packs and sects of great ones,
    That ebbe and flow by th'Moone.
    2960Bast. Take them away.
    Lear. Vpon such sacrifices my Cordelia,
    The Gods themselues throw Incense.
    Haue I caught thee?
    He that parts vs, shall bring a Brand from Heauen,
    2965And fire vs hence, like Foxes: wipe thine eyes,
    The good yeares shall deuoure them, flesh and fell,