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  • Title: King Lear (Quarto 1, 1608)
  • Editor: Michael Best
  • Textual editors: James D. Mardock, Eric Rasmussen
  • Coordinating 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    Not Peer Reviewed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 (Quarto 1, 1608)

    2430Enter Gloster and Edmund.
    Glost. When shall we come toth' top of that same hill?
    Edg. You do climbe it vp now, looke how we labour?
    Glost. Me thinks the ground is euen.
    Edg. Horrible steepe, 2435harke doe you heare the sea?
    Glost. No truly.
    Edg. Why then your other sences grow imperfect
    By your eyes anguish.
    Glost. So may it be indeed,
    2440Me thinks thy voyce is altered, and thou speakest
    With better phrase and matter then thou didst.
    Edg. Y'ar much deceaued, in nothing am I chang'd
    But in my garments.
    Glost. Me thinks y'ar better spoken.
    2445Edg. Come on sir, her's the place, stand still, how (feareful
    And dizi tis to cast ones eyes so low
    The crowes and choghes that wing the midway ayre
    Shew scarce so grosse as beetles, halfe way downe
    2450Hangs one that gathers sampire, dreadfull trade,
    Me thinkes he seemes no bigger then his head,
    The fishermen that walke vpon the beach
    Appeare like mise, and yon tall anchoring barke
    Diminisht to her cock, her cock a boui
    2455Almost too small for sight, the murmuring surge
    That on the vnnumbred idle peeble chaffes
    Cannot be heard, its so hie ile looke no more,
    Least my braine turne, and the deficient sight
    Topple downe headlong.
    2460Glost. Set me where you stand?
    Edg. Giue me your hand, you are now within a foot
    Of th'extreame verge, for all beneath the Moone
    Would I not leape vpright.
    Glost. Let goe my hand,
    2465Here friend's another pursse, in it a iewell,
    Well worth a poore mans taking, Fairies and Gods
    Prosper it with thee, goe thou farther off,
    Bid me farewell, and let me heare thee going.
    Edg. Now fare you well good sir.
    2470Glost. With all my heart.
    Edg. Why I do trifell thus with his dispaire is done(to cure it.
    Glost. O you mightie Gods, He kneeles.
    This world I doe renounce, and in your sights
    2475Shake patiently my great affliction off,
    If I could beare it longer and not fall
    To quarel with your great opposles wils
    My snurff and loathed part of nature should
    Burne it selfe out, if Edgar liue, O blesse,
    2480Now fellow fare thee well. He fals.
    Edg. Gon sir, farewell, and yet I know not how conceit my
    robbe the treasurie of life, when life it selfe yealds to the theft,
    had he beene where he thought 2485by this had thought beene past,
    aliue or dead, ho you sir, heare you sir, speak, thus might he passe
    indeed, yet he reuiues, what are you sir?
    Glost. Away and let me die.
    2490Edg. Hadst thou beene ought but gosmore feathers ayre,
    So many fadome downe precipitating
    Thou hadst shiuerd like an egge, but thou dost breath
    Hast heauy substance, bleedst not, speakest, art sound,
    2495Ten masts at each, make not the altitude,
    Which thou hast perpendicularly fell,
    Thy lifes a miracle, speake yet againe.
    Glost. But haue I fallen or no l
    Edg. From the dread sommons of this chalkie borne,
    2500Looke vp a hight, the shrill gorg'd larke so farre
    Cannot bee seene or heard, doe but looke vp?
    Glost. Alack I haue no eyes
    Is wretchednes depriu'd, that benefit
    To end it selfe by death twas yet some comfort
    2505When misery could beguile the tyrants rage
    And frustrate his proud will.
    Edg. Giue me your arme?
    Vp, so, how feele you your legges, you stand.
    Glost. Too well, too well.
    2510Edg. This is aboue all strangenes
    Vpon the crowne of the cliffe what thing was that
    Which parted from you.
    Glost. A poore vnfortunate bagger.
    Edg. As I stood here below me thoughts his eyes
    2515Were two full Moones, a had a thousand noses
    Hornes, welk't and waued like the enridged sea,
    It was some fiend, therefore thou happy father
    Thinke that the cleerest Gods, who made their honours
    Of mens impossibilities, haue preserued thee.
    2520Glost. I doe remember now, henceforth ile beare
    Affliction till it doe crie out it selfe
    Enough, enough,and die that thing you speake of,
    I tooke it for a man, often would it say
    The fiend the fiend, he led me to that place
    2525Edg. Bare free & patient thoughts, but who comes here
    The safer sence will neare accõmodate his maister thus.
    Enter Lear mad.
    2530Lear. No they cannot touch mee for coyning, I am the king (himselfe.
    Edg. O thou side pearcing sight.
    Lear. Nature is aboue Art in that respect, ther's your presse
    money, that fellow handles his bow like a crow-2535keeper, draw me
    a clothiers yard, looke, looke a mowse, peace, peace, this tosted
    cheese will do it, ther's my gauntlet, ile proue it on a gyant, bring
    vp the browne-billes, O well flowne bird in the ayre, hagh, giue
    the word ? 2540 Edg. Sweet Margerum.
    Lear. Passe. Glost. I know that voyce.
    Lear. Ha Gonorill, ha Regan, they flattered mee like a dogge,
    and tould me I had white haires in 2545my beard, ere the black ones
    were there, to say I and no, to euery thing I saide, I and no toe,
    was no good diuinitie, when the raine came to wet me once, and
    the winde to make mee chatter, when the thunder would not
    peace at my bidding, there I found them, there I smelt them 2550out,
    goe toe, they are not men of their words, they told mee I was
    euery thing, tis a lye, I am not argue-proofe.
    Glost. The tricke of that voyce I doe well remember, ist not
    the King?
    Lear. I euer inch a King 2555when I do stare, see how the subiect
    quakes, I pardon that mans life, what was thy cause, adultery?
    thou shalt not die for adulterie, no the wren goes toot, and the
    smal guilded flie doe letcher in my sight, let copulation thriue,
    2560for Glosters bastard son was kinder to his father then my daugh-
    ters got tweene the lawfull sheets, toot luxurie, pell, mell, for I
    lacke souldiers, behold yon simpring dame whose face between
    her forkes presageth snow, that minces vertue, and do shake 2565the
    head heare of pleasures name to fichew nor the soyled horse
    goes toot with a more riotous appetite, down frõ the wast tha're
    centaures, though women all aboue, but to the girdle doe the
    gods inherit, beneath is all the fiends, thers hell, thers dark2570nesse,
    ther's the sulphury pit, burning, scalding, stench, consumation,
    fie, fie, fie, pah, pah, Giue mee an ounce of Ciuet, good Apo-
    thocarie,to sweeten my imagination, ther's money for thee.
    Glost. O let me kisse that hand.
    2575Lear. Here wipe it first, it smels of mortalitie.
    Glost. O ruind peece of nature, this great world should so
    weare out to naught, do you know me?
    2580Lear. I remember thy eyes well inough, dost thou squiny on
    me, no do thy worst blind Cupid, ile not loue, reade thou that
    challenge, marke the penning oft.
    Glost. Were all the letters sunnes I could not see one.
    2585Edg. I would not take this from report, it is, and my heart
    breakes at it. Lear. Read. Glost. What! with the case of eyes
    Lear. O ho, are you there with me, no eyes in your 2590head, norno mony in your purse, your eyes are in a heauie case, your purse
    in a light, yet you see how this world goes.
    Glost. I see it feelingly.
    Lear. What art mad, a man may see how the world 2595goes with
    no eyes, looke with thy eares, see how yon Iustice railes vpon
    yon simple theefe, harke in thy eare handy, dandy, which is the
    theefe, which is the Iustice, thou hast seene a farmers dogge barke
    at a begger.2600 Glost. I sir.
    Lear. And the creature runne from the cur, there thou mightst
    behold the great image of authoritie, a dogge, so bade in office,
    thou rascall beadle hold thy bloudy hand, why dost thou lash
    that whore, strip thine owne 2605backe, thy bloud hotly lusts to vse
    her in that kind for which thou whipst her, the vsurer hangs the
    cosioner, through tottered raggs, smal vices do appeare, robes &
    furd-gownes hides all, get thee glasse eyes, and like a scuruy po-
    lititian seeme to see the things thou doest not, no now pull off
    my 2615bootes, harder, harder, so.
    Edg. O matter and impertinencie mixt reason in madnesse.
    Lear. If thou wilt weepe my fortune take my eyes, I knowe
    thee well inough thy name is Gloster, 2620thou must be patient, we
    came crying hither, thou knowest the first time that we smell the
    aire, we wayl and cry, I will preach to thee marke me.
    Gost. Alack alack the day.
    Lear. When we are borne, we crie that wee are come 2625to this
    great stage of fooles, this a good blocke. It were a delicate stra-
    tagem to shoot a troupe of horse with fell, & when I haue stole
    vpon these sonne in lawes, then kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill.
    2630Enter three Gentlemen.
    Gent. O here he is, lay hands vpon him sirs, your most deere
    Lear. No reskue, what a prisoner, I am eene the naturall foole
    of Fortune, vse me well 2635you shall haue ransome, let mee haue a
    churgion I am cut to the braines.
    Gent. You shall haue any thing.
    Lear. No seconds, all my selfe, why this would make a man
    of salt 2640to vse his eyes for garden waterpots, I and laying Autumsdust.
    Lear. I will die brauely like a bridegroome, what? I will be
    Iouiall, come, come, I am a King my maisters, know you that.
    Gent. You are a royall one, and we obey you.
    Lear. Then theres life int, nay and 2645you get it you shall get it
    with running. Exit King running.
    Gent. A sight most pitifull in the meanest wretch, past spea-
    king of in a king: thou hast one daughter who redeemes nature
    from the generall curse which twaine hath brought her to.
    2650Edg. Haile gentle sir.
    Gent. Sir speed you, whats your will.
    Edg. Do you heare ought of a battell toward.
    Gent. Most sure and vulgar euery one here's that
    That can distinguish sence.
    2655Edg. But by your fauour how neers the other army.
    Gent. Neere and on speed fort the maine descryes,
    Standst on the howerly thoughts.
    Edg. I thanke you sir thats all.
    2660Gent. Though that the Queene on speciall cause is here,
    Hir army is moued on. Edg. I thanke you sir. Exit.
    Glost. You euer gentle gods take my breath from me,
    Let not my worser spirit tempt me againe,
    2665To dye before you please. Edg. Well, pray you father.
    Glost. Now good sir what are you.
    Edg. A most poore man made lame by Fortunes blowes,
    Who by the Art of knowne and feeling sorrowes
    2670Am pregnant to good pitty, giue me your hand
    Ile leade you to some biding.
    Glost. Hartie thankes, the bornet and beniz of heauen to
    saue thee. 2675 Enter Steward.
    Stew. A proclamed prize, most happy, that eyles head of thine
    was framed flesh to rayse my fortunes, thou most vnhappy tray-
    tor, briefly thy selfe remember, the sword is out 2680that must de-
    stroy thee.
    Glost. Now let thy friendly hand put strength enough to't.
    Stew. Wherefore bould pesant durst thou support a publisht
    traytor, hence 2685least the infection of his fortune take like hold on
    thee, let goe his arme?
    Edg. Chill not let goe sir without cagion.
    Stew. Let goe slaue, or thou diest.
    2690Edg. Good Gentleman goe your gate, let poore voke passe,
    and chud haue beene swaggar'd out of my life, it would not haue
    beene so long by a fortnight, nay come not neare the old man,
    keepe out, cheuore ye, or ile trie whether your coster or my bat-
    tero be the harder, 2695ile be plaine with you.
    Stew. Out dunghill.
    they fight.
    Edg.Possible blackletter period.--> Chill pick your teeth sir, come, no matter for your foyns.
    Stew. Slaue thou hast slaine me, villaine take my pursse,
    2700If euer thou wilt thriue, burie my bodie,
    And giue the letters which thou find'st about me
    To Edmund Earle of Gloster, seeke him out vpon
    The British partie, ô vntimely death! death. He dies.
    Edg. I know thee well, a seruiceable villaine,
    2705As dutious to the vices of thy mistres, as badnes would(desire.
    Glost. What is he dead?
    Edg. Sit you down father, rest you lets see his pockets
    These letters that he speakes of 2710may be my friends,
    Hee's dead, I am only sorrow he had no other deaths
    Let vs see, leaue gentle waxe, and manners blame vs not
    To know our enemies minds wee'd rip their hearts,
    Their papers is more lawfull.
    Let your reciprocall vowes bee remembred, you haue many
    opportunities to cut him off, if your will want not, time and place
    will be fruitfully offered, there is nothing done, If he returne the
    conquerour, then am I the prisoner, and his bed my 2720gayle, from
    the lothed warmth whereof deliuer me, and supply the place for
    your labour, your wife (so I would say) your affectionate seruant
    and for you her owne for Venter, Gonorill.
    Edg. O Indistinguisht space of womans wit,
    2725A plot vpon her vertuous husbands life,
    And the exchange my brother heere in the sands,
    Thee ile rake vp, the post vnsanctified
    Of murtherous leachers, and in the mature time,
    With this vngratious paper strike the sight
    2730Of the death practis'd Duke, for him tis well,
    That of thy death and businesse I can tell.
    Glost. The King is mad, how stiffe is my vild sence,
    That I stand vp and haue ingenious feeling
    2735Of my huge sorowes, better I were distract,
    So should my thoughts be fenced from my griefes,
    And woes by wrong imaginations loose
    The knowledge of themselues. A drum a farre off.
    2740Edg. Giue me your hand far off me thinks I heare the beaten (drum,
    Come father ile bestow you with a friend.Exit.