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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    Not Peer Reviewed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.
    And ha sten your returne; no, no, my Lord,
    865This milky gentlene s s e, and course of yours
    Though I condemne not, yet vnder pardon
    Your are much more at task for want of wisedome,
    Then prai'sd for harmefull mildne s s e.
    Alb. How farre your eies may pierce I cannot tell;
    870Striuing to better, oft we marre what's well.
    Gon. Nay then----
    Alb. Well, well, th'euent. Exeunt

    Scena Quinta.

    Enter Lear, Kent, Gentleman, and Foole.

    875 Lear. Go you before to Glo ster with these Letters;
    acquaint my Daughter no further with any thing you
    know, then comes from her demand out of the Letter,
    if your Dilligence be not speedy, I shall be there afore
    880 Kent. I will not sleepe my Lord, till I haue deliuered
    your Letter. Exit.
    Foole. If a mans braines were in's heeles, wert not in
    danger of kybes?
    Lear. I Boy.
    885 Foole. Then I prythee be merry, thy wit shall not go
    slip- shod.
    Lear. Ha,ha,ha.
    Fool. Shalt see thy other Daughter will vse thee kind-
    ly, for though she's as like this, as a Crabbe's like an
    890Apple, yet I can tell what I can tell.
    Lear. What can' st tell Boy?
    Foole. She will ta ste as like this as, a Crabbe do's to a
    Crab: thou can st tell why ones nose stands i'th'middle
    on's face?
    895 Lear. No.
    Foole. Why to keepe ones eyes of either side's nose,
    that what a man cannot smell out, he may spy into.
    Lear. I did her wrong.
    Foole. Can' st tell how an Oy ster makes his shell?
    900 Lear. No.
    Foole. Nor I neither; but I can tell why a Snaile ha's
    a house.
    Lear. Why?
    Foole. Why to put's head in, not to giue it away to his
    905daughters, and leaue his hornes without a case.
    Lear. I will forget my Nature, so kind a Father? Be
    my Hor s s es ready?
    Foole. Thy A s s es are gone about 'em; the reason why
    the seuen Starres are no mo then seuen, is a pretty reason.
    910 Lear. Because they are not eight.
    Foole. Yes indeed, thou would' st make a good Foole.
    Lear. To tak't againe perforce; Mon ster Ingratitude!
    Foole. If thou wert my Foole Nunckle, Il'd haue thee
    beaten for being old before thy time.
    915 Lear. How's that?
    Foole. Thou should st not haue bin old, till thou had st
    bin wise.
    Lear. O let me not be mad, not mad sweet Heauen:
    keepe me in temper, I would not be mad. How now are
    920the Horses ready?
    Gent. Ready my Lord.
    Lear. Come Boy.
    Fool. She that's a Maid now, & laughs at my departure,
    Shall not be a Maid long, vnle s s e things be cut shorter.
    925 Exeunt.

    Actus Secundus. Scena Prima.

    Enter Ba stard, and Curan, seuerally.

    Ba st . Saue thee Curan.
    Cur. And your Sir, I haue bin
    930With your Father, and giuen him notice
    That the Duke of Cornwall, and Regan his Duche s s e
    Will be here with him this night.
    Ba st . How comes that?
    Cur. Nay I know not, you haue heard of the newes a-
    935broad, I meane the whisper'd ones, for they are yet but
    ear-ki s sing arguments.
    Ba st . Not I: pray you what are they?
    Cur. Haue you heard of no likely Warres toward,
    'Twixt the Dukes of Cornwall, and Albany?
    940 Ba st . Not a word.
    Cur. You may do then in time,
    Fare you well Sir. Exit.
    Bast . The Duke be here to night? The better be st,
    This weaues it selfe perforce into my bu sine s s e,
    945My Father hath set guard to take my Brother,
    And I haue one thing of a queazie que stion
    Which I mu st act, Briefene s s e, and Fortune worke.
    Enter Edgar.
    Brother, a word, discend; Brother I say,
    950My Father watches: O Sir, fly this place,
    Intelligence is giuen where you are hid;
    You haue now the good aduantage of the night,
    Haue you not spoken 'gain st the Duke of Cornewall?
    Hee's comming hither, now i'th'night, i'th'ha ste,
    955And Regan with him, haue you nothing said
    Vpon his partie 'gain st the Duke of Albany ?
    Aduise your selfe.
    Edg. I am sure on't, not a word.
    Ba st . I heare my Father comming, pardon me:
    960In cunning, I mu st draw my Sword vpon you:
    Draw, seeme to defend your selfe,
    Now quit you well.
    Yeeld, come before my Father, light hoa, here,
    Fly Brother, Torches, Torches, so farewell.
    965 Exit Edgar.
    Some blood drawne on me, would beget opinion
    Of my more fierce endeauour. I haue seene drunkards
    Do more then this in sport; Father, Father,
    Stop, stop, no helpe?

    970 Enter Glo ster, and Seruants with Torches.

    Glo. Now Edmund, where's the villaine?
    Ba st . Here stood he in the dark, his sharpe Sword out,
    Mumbling of wicked charmes, coniuring the Moone
    To stand auspicious Mi stris.
    975 Glo. But where is he?
    Ba st . Looke Sir, I bleed.
    Glo. Where is the villaine, Edmund?
    Ba st . Fled this way Sir, when by no meanes he could.
    Glo. Pursue him, ho: go after. By no meanes, what?
    980 Ba st . Perswade me to the murther of your Lord ship,