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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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    530Enter Kent.
    Kent. If but as well I other accents borrow, that can my speech
    defuse, my good intent may carry through it selfe to that full is-
    sue for which I raz'd my likenes, now banisht Kent, 535if thou canst
    serue where thou dost stand condem'd, thy maister whom thou
    louest shall find the full of labour.
    Enter Lear.
    Lear. Let me not stay a iot for dinner, goe get it readie, 540how
    now, what art thou?
    Kent. A man Sir.
    Lear. What dost thou professe? what would'st thou with vs?
    Kent. I doe professe to be no lesse then I seeme, to serue 545him
    truly that will put me in trust, to loue him that is honest, to con-
    uerse with him that is wise, and sayes little, to feare iudgement,
    to fight when I cannot chuse, and to eate no fishe.
    Lear. What art thou?
    550Kent. A very honest harted fellow, and as poore as the king.
    Lear. If thou be as poore for a subiect, as he is for a King, thar't
    poore enough, what would'st thou?
    Kent. Seruice. Lear. 555Who would'st thou serue?
    Kent. You. Lear. Do'st thou know me fellow?
    Kent. No sir, but you haue that in your countenance, which
    I would faine call Maister.
    560Lear. Whats that? Kent. Authoritie.
    Lear. What seruices canst doe?
    Kent. I can keepe honest counsaile, ride, run, mar a curious
    tale in telling it, and deliuer a plaine message 565bluntly, that
    which ordinarie men are fit for, I am qualified in, and the best
    of me, is diligence.
    Lear, How old art thou?
    Kent. Not so yong to loue a woman for singing, nor so old to
    dote on her for any thing, I haue yeares on 570my backe fortie
    eight.
    Lear. Follow mee, thou shalt serue mee, if I like thee no
    worse after dinner, I will not part from thee yet, dinner, ho din-
    ner, wher's my knaue, my foole, goe you and call my foole he-
    ther, you sirra, whers my daughter?
    575Enter Steward.
    Steward. So please you,
    Lear. What say's the fellow there, call the clat-pole backe,
    whers my foole, ho I thinke the world's asleepe, how now,
    wher's that mungrel?
    580Kent. He say's my Lord, your daughter is not well.
    Lear. Why came not the slaue backe to mee when I cal'd
    him?
    seruant. Sir, hee answered mee in the roundest maner, hee
    would not.585 Lear. A would not?
    seruant. My Lord, I know not what the matter is, but to my
    iudgemẽt, your highnes is not ẽtertained with that ceremonious
    affection as you were wont, ther's a great abatement, apeer's as
    well in 590the generall dependants, as in the Duke himselfe also,
    and your daughter. Lear. Ha, say'st thou so?
    seruant. I beseech you pardon mee my Lord, if I be mistaken,
    for my dutie cannot bee silent, when I thinke 595your highnesse
    wrong'd.
    Lear. Thou but remember'st me of mine owne conception, I
    haue perceiued a most faint neglect of late, which I haue rather
    blamed as mine owne ielous curiositie, then as a very pretence &
    purport of vnkindnesse, 600I will looke further into't, but wher's
    this foole? I haue not seene him this two dayes.
    seruant. Since my yong Ladies going into France sir, the foole
    hath much pined away.
    Lear. No more of that, I haue noted it, goe you 605and tell my
    daughter, I would speake with her, goe you cal hither my foole,
    O you sir, you sir, come you hither, who am I sir?
    Steward. My Ladies Father.
    610Lear. My Ladies father, my Lords knaue, you horeson dog,
    you slaue, you cur.
    Stew. I am none of this my Lord,
    I beseech you pardon me.
    Lear. Doe you bandie lookes with me you rascall?
    615Stew. Ile not be struck my Lord,
    Kent. Nor tript neither, you base football player.
    Lear. I thanke thee fellow, thou seru'st me, and ile loue thee.
    Kent. Come sir ile teach you differences, 620away, away, if
    you will measure your lubbers length againe, tarry, but away,
    you haue wisedome.
    Lear. Now friendly knaue I thanke thee, their's earnest of
    thy seruice. Enter Foole.
    625Foole. Let me hire him too, heer's my coxcombe.
    Lear. How now my prety knaue, how do'st thou?
    Foole. Sirra, you were best take my coxcombe.
    Kent. Why Foole?
    Foole. Why for taking on's part, that's out of fauour, 630nay and
    thou can'st not smile as the wind sits, thou't catch cold shortly,
    there take my coxcombe; why this fellow hath banisht two
    on's daughters, and done the third a blessing against his will, if
    thou follow him, thou must needs weare my coxcombe, how
    now nuncle, would 635I had two coxcombes, and two daughters.
    Lear. Why my boy?
    Foole. If I gaue them any liuing, id'e keepe my coxcombs
    my selfe, ther's mine, beg another of thy daughters.
    640Lear. Take heede sirra, the whip.
    Foole. Truth is a dog that must to kenell, hee must bee whipt
    out, when Ladie oth'e brach may stand by the fire and stincke.
    Lear. A pestilent gull to mee.
    645Foole. Sirra ile teach thee a speech. Lear. Doe.
    Foole. Marke it vncle, haue more then thou shewest, speake
    lesse then thou knowest, 650lend lesse then thou owest, ride more
    then thou goest, learne more then thou trowest, set lesse then
    thou throwest, leaue thy drinke and thy whore, 655and keepe in a
    doore, and thou shalt haue more, then two tens to a score.
    Lear. This is nothing foole.
    Foole. Then like the breath of an vnfeed Lawyer, 660you gaue
    me nothing for't, can you make no vse of nothing vncle?
    Lear. Why no boy, nothing can be made out of nothing.
    Foole. Preethe tell him so much the rent of his land 665comes to,
    he will not beleeue a foole.
    Lear. A bitter foole.
    Foole. Doo'st know the difference my boy, betweene a bitter
    foole, and a sweete foole.
    Lear. No lad, teach mee.
    670Foole. 670.01That Lord that counsail'd thee to giue away thy land,
    Come place him heere by mee, doe thou for him stand,
    The sweet and bitter foole will presently appeare,
    The one in motley here, the other found out there.
    670.05Lear. Do'st thou call mee foole boy?
    Foole. All thy other Titles thou hast giuen away, tha thou
    wast borne with.
    Kent. This is not altogether foole my Lord.
    Foole. No faith, Lords and great men will not let me, if I had
    670.10a monopolie out, they would haue part an't, and Ladies too, they
    will not let me haue all the foole to my selfe, they'l be snatching;
    giue me an egge Nuncle, and ile giue thee two crownes.
    Lear. What two crownes shall they be?
    Foole. Why, after I haue cut the egge in the middle and eate
    vp the meate, the two crownes of the egge; when 675thou clouest
    thy crowne it'h middle, and gauest away both parts, thou borest
    thy asse at'h backe or'e the durt, thou had'st little wit in thy bald
    crowne, when thou gauest thy golden one away, if I speake like
    my selfe in this, let him be whipt that first finds it so.
    680Fooles had nere lesse wit, in a yeare,
    For wise men are growne foppish,
    They know not how their wits doe weare,
    Their manners are so apish.
    Lear. When were you wont to be so full of songs sirra?
    685Foole. I haue vs'd it nuncle, euer since thou mad'st thy daugh-
    ters thy mother, for when thou gauest them the rod, and put'st
    downe thine own breeches, then they for sudden ioy did weep,
    and I for sorrow sung, 690that such a King should play bo-peepe,
    and goe the fooles among: prethe Nunckle keepe a schoolema-
    ster that can teach thy foole to lye, I would faine learneto lye.
    Lear. And you lye, weele haue you whipt.
    695Foole. I maruell what kin thou and thy daughters are, they'l
    haue me whipt for speaking true, thou wilt haue mee whipt for
    lying, and sometime I am whipt for holding my peace, I had
    rather be any kind of thing then a foole, and yet I would not bee
    thee Nuncle, thou hast pared thy 700wit a both sides, & left nothing
    in the middle, here comes one of the parings.
    Enter Gonorill.
    Lear. How now daughter, what makes that Frontlet on,
    Me thinks you are too much alate it'h frowne.
    705Foole. Thou wast a prettie fellow when thou had'st no need
    to care for her frowne, now thou art an O without a figure, I am
    better then thou art now, I am a foole, thou art nothing, yes for-
    sooth I will hould my tongue, so your face bids mee, though
    you say nothing.
    710Mum, mum, he that keepes neither crust nor crum,
    Wearie of all, shall want some. That's a sheald pescod.
    Gon. Not onely sir this, your all-licenc'd foole, but other of
    your insolent retinue do hourely carpe and quarrell, breaking
    forth in ranke & (not to be indured riots,) Sir I had thought by
    making this well knowne vnto you, to haue found a safe redres,
    but now grow fearefull by what your selfe too late haue spoke
    and done, that you protect this course, and put on 720by your al-
    lowance, which if you should, the fault would not scape censure,
    nor the redresse, sleepe, which in the tender of a wholsome
    weale, might in their working doe you that offence, that else
    were shame, that then necessitie 725must call discreet proceedings.
    Foole. For you trow nuncle, the hedge sparrow fed the Coo-
    kow so long, that it had it head bit off beit young, so out went
    the candle, and we were left darkling.
    730Lear. Are you our daughter?
    Gon. Come sir, I would you would make vse of that good
    wisedome whereof I know you are fraught, and put away these
    dispositions, that of late transforme you from what you rightly
    are.
    735Foole. May not an Asse know when the cart drawes the horse,
    whoop Iug I loue thee.
    Lear. Doth any here know mee? why this is not Lear, 740doth
    Lear walke thus? speake thus? where are his eyes, either his no-
    tion, weaknes, or his discernings are lethergie, sleeping, or wake-
    ing; ha! sure tis not so, who is it that can tell me who I am? Lears
    shadow? I would learne that, for by the markes of soueraintie,
    744.1knowledge, and reason, I should bee false perswaded I had
    daughters.
    Foole. Which they, will make an obedient father.
    745Lear. Your name faire gentlewoman?
    Gon. Come sir, this admiration is much of the sauour of other
    your new prankes, I doe beseech you vnderstand my purposes
    aright, as you are old and reuerend, should be wise, 750here do you
    keepe a 100. Knights and Squires, men so disordred, so deboyst
    and bold, that this our court infected with their manners, showes
    like a riotous Inne, epicurisme, and lust make more like a tauerne
    or brothell, 755then a great pallace, the shame it selfe doth speake
    for instant remedie, be thou desired by her, that else will take the
    thing shee begs, a little to disquantitie your traine, and the re-
    mainder that shall still depend, 760to bee such men as may besort
    your age, that know themselues and you.
    Lear. Darkenes, and Deuils! saddle my horses, call my traine
    together, degenerate bastard, ile not trouble thee, 765yet haue I left
    a daughter.
    Gon. You strike my people, and your disordred rabble, make
    seruants of their betters. Enter Duke.
    Lear. We that too late repent's, O sir, are you come? 770is it your
    will that wee prepare any horses, ingratitude! thou marble har-
    ted fiend, more hideous when thou shewest thee in a child, then
    the Sea-monster, 775detested kite, thou list my traine, and men of
    choise and rarest parts, that all particulars of dutie knowe, and
    in the most exact regard, support the worships of their name, O
    most small fault, 780how vgly did'st thou in Cordelia shewe, that
    like an engine wrencht my frame of nature from the fixt place,
    drew from my heart all loue and added to the gall, O Lear. Lear!
    beat at this gate that let thy folly in, 785and thy deere iudgement
    out, goe goe, my people?
    Duke, My Lord, I am giltles as I am ignorant.
    Leir. It may be so my Lord, harke Nature, heare deere God-
    desse, 790suspend thy purpose, if thou did'st intend to make this
    creature fruitful into her wombe, conuey sterility, drie vp in hir
    the organs of increase, and from her derogate body neuer spring
    795a babe to honour her, if shee must teeme, create her childe of
    spleene, that it may liue and bee a thourt disuetur'd torment to
    her, let it stampe wrinckles in her brow of youth, with accent
    teares, fret channels in her cheeks, 800turne all her mothers paines
    and benefits to laughter and contempt, that shee may feele, that
    she may feele, how sharper then a serpents tooth it is, to haue a
    thanklesse child, goe, goe, my people?
    Duke. Now Gods that we adore, 805whereof comes this!
    Gon. Neuer afflict your selfe to know the cause, but let his
    disposition haue that scope that dotage giues it.
    810Lear. What, fiftie of my followers at a clap, within a fortnight?
    Duke. What is the matter sir?
    Lear. Ile tell thee, life and death! I am asham'd
    815that thou hast
    power to shake my manhood thus, that these hot teares that
    breake from me perforce. should make the worst blasts and fogs
    vpon the vntented woundings of a fathers cursse, 820pierce euery
    sence about the old fond eyes, beweepe this cause againe, ile
    pluck you out, & you cast with the waters that you make to tem-
    per clay, yea, i'st come to this? yet haue I left a daughter, 825whom
    I am sure is kind and comfortable, when shee shall heare this of
    thee, with her nailes shee'l flea thy woluish visage, thou shalt
    find that ile resume the shape, which thou dost thinke I haue cast
    off for euer, thou shalt I warrant thee.
    830Gon. Doe you marke that my Lord?
    Duke. I cannot bee so partiall Gonorill
    to the great loue I beare you,
    Gon. Come sir no more,
    you, more knaue then foole, after your master? 835
    Foole. Nunckle Lear, Nunckle Lear, tary and take the foole with a fox when one has caught her, and such a daughter should sure to the slaughter, 840if my cap would buy a halter, so the foole followes after.
    Gon. What Oswald, ho.Oswald. Here Madam,
    Gon. What haue you writ this letter to my sister?
    Osw. Yes Madam. 860
    Gon. Take you some company, and away to horse,
    informe her full of my particular feares, and thereto add such reasons of
    your owne, as may compact it more, get you gon, & hasten your
    returne now my Lord, 865this mildie gentlenes and course of yours
    though I dislike not, yet vnder pardon y'are much more attastk
    for want of wisedome, then praise for harmfull mildnes.
    Duke. How farre your eyes may pearce I cannot tell, 870striuingto better ought, we marre whats well.
    Gon. Nay then. Duke. Well, well, the euent, Exeunt