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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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    1075Enter Kent, and Steward.
    Steward. Good euen to thee friend, art of the house?
    Kent. I.Stew. Where may we set our horses?
    Kent. It'h mire.Stew. 1080Prethee if thou loue me, tell me.
    Kent. I loue thee not. Stew. Why then I care not for thee.
    Kent. If I had thee in Lipsburie pinfold, I would make thee
    care for mee.
    1085Stew. Why dost thou vse me thus? I know thee not.
    Kent. Fellow I know thee.
    Stew, What dost thou know me for?
    Kent. A knaue, a rascall, an eater of broken meates, a base,
    proud, shallow, beggerly, three shewted hundred 1090pound, filthy
    worsted-stocken knaue, a lilly lyuer'd action taking knaue, a
    whorson glassegazing superfinicall rogue, one truncke inheri-
    ting slaue, one that would'st bee a baud in way of good seruice,
    and art nothing but the composition of a knaue, begger, cow-
    ard, 1095pander, and the sonne and heire of a mungrell bitch, whom
    I will beat into clamorous whyning, if thou denie the least silla-
    ble of the addition.
    Stew. What a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to raile on one,
    that's neither 1100knowne of thee, nor knowes thee.
    Kent. What a brazen fac't varlet art thou, to deny thou
    knowest mee, is it two dayes agoe since I beat thee, and tript vp
    thy heeles before the King? draw you rogue, for though it be
    night the Moone shines, ile make a 1105sop of the moone-shine a'you,
    draw you whorson cullyonly barber-munger, draw?
    Stew. Away, I haue nothing to doe with thee.
    Kent. Draw you rascall, you bring letters against the King,
    and take Vanitie the puppets part, 1110against the royaltie of her
    father, draw you rogue or ile so carbonado your shankes, draw
    you rascall, come your wayes.
    Stew. Helpe, ho, murther, helpe.
    Kent. Strike you slaue, stand rogue, stand you neate 1115slaue,
    strike? Stew. Helpe, ho, murther, helpe.
    Enter Edmund with his rapier drawne, Gloster the Duke
    and Dutchesse.
    Bast. How now, whats the matter?
    Kent.
    The Historie of King Lear.
    Kent. With you goodman boy, and you please come, 1120ile
    fleash you, come on yong maister.
    Glost. Weapons, armes, whats the matter here?
    Duke. Keepe peace vpon your liues, hee dies that strikes a-
    gaine, what's the matter?
    Reg. The messengers from our sister, and the King.
    1125Duke. Whats your difference, speake?
    Stew. I am scarse in breath my Lord.
    Kent. No maruaile you haue so bestir'd your valour, you
    cowardly rascall, nature disclaimes in thee, a Tayler made thee.
    1130Duke. Thou art a strange fellow, a Taylor make a man.
    Kent. I, a Tayler sir; a Stone-cutter, or a Painter could not
    haue made him so ill, though hee had beene but two houres at
    the trade.
    Glost. Speake yet, how grew your quarrell?
    1135Stew. This ancient ruffen sir, whose life I haue spar'd at sute
    of his gray-beard.
    Kent. Thou whorson Zedd, thou vnnecessarie letter, my
    Lord if you'l giue mee leaue, I will tread this vnboulted villaine
    into morter, and daube the walles of a 1140iaques with him, spare
    my gray beard you wagtayle.
    Duke. Peace sir, you beastly Knaue you haue no reuerence.
    Kent. Yes sir, but anger has a priuiledge.
    Duke. Why art thou angry?
    1145Kent. That such a slaue as this should weare a sword,
    That weares no honesty, such smiling roges as these,
    Like Rats oft bite those cordes in twaine,
    Which are to intrench, to inloose smooth euery passion
    That in the natures of their Lords rebell,
    1150Bring oyle to stir, snow to their colder-moods,
    Reneag, affirme, and turne their halcion beakes
    With euery gale and varie of their maisters,
    Knowing nought like dayes but following, a plague vpon your (epeliptick
    Visage, 1155smoyle you my speeches, as I were a foole?
    Goose and I had you vpon Sarum plaine,
    Id'e send you cackling home to Camulet.,
    Duke. What art thou mad old fellow?
    Glost. How fell you out, say that?
    Kent.
    The Historie of King Lear.
    1160Kent. No contraries hold more, antipathy,
    Then I and such a knaue.
    Duke. Why dost thou call him knaue, what's his offence.
    Kent. His countenance likes me not.
    1165Duke. No more perchance does mine, or his, or hers.
    Kent. Sir tis my occupation to be plaine,
    I haue seene better faces in my time
    That stands on any shoulder that I see
    Before me at this instant.
    1170Duke. This is a fellow who hauing beene praysd
    For bluntnes doth affect a sawcy ruffines,
    And constraines the garb quite from his nature,
    He cannot flatter he, he must be plaine,
    He must speake truth, 1175and they will tak't so,
    If not he's plaine, these kind of knaues I know
    Which in this plainnes harbour more craft,
    And more corrupter ends, then twentie silly ducking
    Obseruants, that stretch their duties nisely.
    1180Kent. Sir in good sooth, or in sincere veritie,
    Vnder the allowance of your graund aspect.
    Whose influence like the wreath of radient fire
    In flitkering Phoebus front.
    Duke. What mean'st thou by this?
    1185Kent. To goe out of my dialogue which you discommend so
    much, I know sir, I am no flatterer, he that beguild you in a plain
    accent, was a plaine knaue, which for my part I will not bee,
    though I should win your displeasure, to intreat mee too't.
    1190Duke. What's the offence you gaue him?
    Stew. I neuer gaue him any, it pleas'd the King his maister
    Very late to strike at me vpon his misconstruction,
    When he coniunct and flattering his displeasure
    1195Tript me behind, being downe, insulted, rayld,
    And put vpon him such a deale of man, that,
    That worthied him, got prayses of the King,
    For him attempting who was selfe subdued,
    And in the flechuent of this dread exploit,
    1200Drew on me here againe.
    Kent. None of these roges & cowards but AIax is their foole.
    Duke.
    The Historie of King Lear.
    Duke. Bring forth the stockes ho?
    You stubburne miscreant knaue, you reuerent bragart,
    1205Weele teach you.
    Kent. I am too old to learne, call not your stockes for me,
    I serue the King, on whose imployments I was sent to you,
    You should doe small respect, shew too bold malice
    1210Against the Grace and person of my maister,
    Stopping his messenger.
    Duke. Fetch forth the stockes? as I haue life and honour,
    There shall he sit till noone.
    Reg. Till noone, till night my Lord, and all night too.
    1215Kent. Why Madam, if I were your fathers dogge, you could
    not vse me so.
    Reg. Sir being his knaue, I will.
    Duke. This is a fellow of the selfe same nature,
    Our sister speake of, come bring away the stockes?
    1220Glost. Let me beseech your Grace not to doe so,
    His fault is much, and the good King his maister
    1221.1VVill check him for't, your purpost low correction
    Is such, as basest and temnest wretches for pilfrings
    And most common trespasses are punisht with,
    The King must take it ill, that hee's so slightly valued
    In his messenger, should haue him thus restrained.
    Duke. Ile answer that.
    1225Reg. My sister may receiue it much more worse,
    To haue her Gentlemen abus'd, assalted
    1226.1For following her affaires, put in his legges,
    Come my good Lord away?
    Glost. I am sory for thee friend, tis the Dukes pleasure,
    VVhose disposition all the world well knowes
    1230VVill not be rubd nor stopt, ile intreat for thee.
    Kent. Pray you doe not sir, I haue watcht and trauaild (hard,
    Sometime I shal sleepe ont, the rest ile whistle,
    A good mans fortune may grow out at heeles,
    Giue you good morrow.
    1235Glost. The Dukes to blame in this, twill be ill tooke.
    Kent. Good King that must approue the cõmon saw,
    Thou out of heauens benediction comest
    To
    The Historie of King Lear.
    To the warme Sunne.
    1240Approach thou beacon to this vnder gloabe,
    That by thy comfortable beames I may
    Peruse this letter, nothing almost sees my wracke
    But miserie, I know tis from Cordelia,
    VVho hath most fortunately bin informed
    1245Of my obscured course, and shall find time
    From this enormious state, seeking to giue
    Losses their remedies, all wearie and ouerwatch
    Take vantage heauie eyes not to behold
    This shamefull lodging, Fortune goodnight,
    1250Smile, once more turne thy wheele. sleepes.
    Enter Edgar.
    Edg. I heare my selfe proclaim'd,
    And by the happie hollow of a tree
    Escapt the hunt, no Port is free, no place
    1255That guard, and most vnusuall vigilence
    Dost not attend my taking while I may scape,
    I will preserue my selfe, and am bethought
    To take the basest and most poorest shape,
    That euer penury in contempt of man,
    1260Brought neare to beast, my face ile grime with filth,
    Blanket my loynes, else all my haire with knots,
    And with presented nakednes outface,
    The wind, and persecution of the skie,
    The Countrie giues me proofe and president
    1265Of Bedlam beggers, who with roring voyces,
    Strike in their numb'd and mortified bare armes,
    Pins, wodden prickes, nayles, sprigs of rosemary,
    And with this horrible obiect from low seruice,
    Poore pelting villages, sheep-coates, and milles,
    1270Sometime with lunaticke bans, sometime with prayers
    Enforce their charitie, poore Turlygod, poore Tom,
    That's something yet, Edgar I nothing am. Exit
    Enter King.
    Lear. Tis strange that they should so depart from (hence,
    1275And not send backe my messenger.
    Knight. As I learn'd, the night before there was
    No
    The Historie of King Lear.
    No purpose of his remoue.
    Kent. Hayle to thee noble maister.
    1280Lear. How, mak'st thou this shame thy pastime?
    Foole. Ha ha, looke he weares crewell garters,
    Horses are tide by the heeles, dogges and beares
    Byt'h necke, munkies bit'h loynes, and men
    Byt'h legges, when a mans 1285ouer lusty at legs,
    Then he weares wooden neatherstockes.
    Lear. Whats he, that hath so much thy place mistooke to set
    thee here?
    Kent. It is both he and shee, your sonne & daugter.
    Lear. No. Kent. Yes.
    Lear. No I say, Kent. I say yea.
    Lear. No no, they would not.Kent. Yes they haue.
    1295Lear. By Iupiter I sweare no, they durst not do't,
    They would not, could not do't, tis worse then murder,
    To doe vpon respect such violent outrage,
    1300Resolue me with all modest hast, which way
    Thou may'st deserue, or they purpose this vsage,
    Coming from vs.
    Kent. My Lord, when at their home
    I did commend your highnes letters to them,
    1305Ere I was risen from the place that shewed
    My dutie kneeling, came there a reeking Post,
    Stewd in his hast, halfe breathles, panting forth
    From Gonerill his mistris, salutations,
    Deliuered letters spite of intermission,
    1310Which presently they read, on whose contents
    They summond vp their men, straight tooke horse,
    Commanded me to follow, and attend the leasure
    Of their answere, gaue me cold lookes,
    And meeting here the other messenger,
    1315Whose welcome I perceau'd had poyson'd mine,
    Being the very fellow that of late
    Display'd so sawcily against your Highnes,
    Hauing more man then wit, about me drew,
    He raised the house with loud and coward cries,
    1320Your sonne and daughter found this trespas worth
    This
    The Historie of King Lear.
    This shame which here it suffers.
    Lear. O how this mother swels vp toward my hart,
    Historica passio downe thou climing sorrow,
    1330Thy element's below, where is this daughter?
    Kent. With the Earle sir within,
    Lear. Follow me not, stay there?
    Knight. Made you no more offẽce then what you speake of?
    1335Kent. No, how chance the King comes with so small a traine?
    Foole. And thou hadst beene set in the stockes for that questi-
    on, thou ha'dst well deserued it.
    Kent. Why foole?
    1340Foole. Weele set thee to schoole to an Ant, to teach thee ther's
    no labouring in the winter, all that follow their noses, are led by
    their eyes, but blind men, and ther's not a nose among a 100. but
    can smell him thats stincking, let goe thy hold when a great
    wheele runs downe a 1345hill, least it breake thy necke with follow-
    ing it, but the great one that goes vp the hill, let him draw thee
    after, when a wise man giues thee better councell, giue mee mine
    againe, I would haue none but knaues follow it, sincea foole
    giues it.
    That Sir that serues for gaine,
    And followes but for forme:
    Will packe when it begin to raine,
    And leaue thee in the storme.
    But I will tarie, the foole will stay,
    1355 And let the wise man flie:
    The knaue turnes foole that runs away,
    The foole no knaue perdy.
    Kent. Where learnt you this foole?
    1360Foole. Not in the stockes.
    Enter Lear and Gloster.
    Lear. Denie to speake with mee, th'are sicke, th'are (weary,
    They traueled hard to night, meare Iustice,
    I the Images of reuolt and flying off,
    1365Fetch mee a better answere.
    Glost. My deere Lord,
    you know the fierie qualitie of the
    Duke, how vnremoueable and fixt he is in his owne Course.
    1370Lear. Vengeance, death, plague, confusion, what fierie quality,
    Why
    The Historie of King Lear.
    why Gloster, Gloster, id'e speake with the Duke of Cornewall, and
    his wife.
    Glost. I my good Lord.
    Lear. The King would speak with Cornewal, the deare father
    Would with his daughter speake, commands her seruice,
    1380Fierie Duke, tell the hot Duke that Lear,
    No but not yet may be he is not well,
    Infirmitie doth still neglect all office, where to our health
    Is boũd, we are not our selues, when nature being oprest
    Cõmand the mind 1385to suffer with the bodie, ile forbeare,
    And am fallen out with my more hedier will,
    To take the indispos'd and sickly fit, for the sound man,
    Death on my state, wherfore should he sit here?
    This act perswades me, 1390that this remotion of the Duke, (& her
    Is practise, only giue me my seruant forth,
    Tell the Duke and's wife, Ile speake with them
    Now presently, bid them come forth and heare me,
    Or at their chamber doore ile beat the drum,
    1395Till it cry sleepe to death.
    Glost. I would haue all well betwixt you.
    Lear. O my heart, my heart.
    Foole. Cry to it Nunckle, as the Cokney did to the eeles, when
    she put vm ith pâst aliue, she rapt vm 1400ath coxcombs with a stick,
    and cryed downe wantons downe, twas her brother, that in pure
    kindnes to his horse buttered his hay.
    Enter Duke and Regan.
    Lear. Good morrow to you both.
    1405Duke. Hayle to your Grace.
    Reg. I am glad to see your highnes.
    Lear. Regan I thinke you are, I know what reason
    I haue to thinke so, if thou shouldst not be glad,
    I would diuorse me from thy mothers tombe
    1410Sepulchring an adultresse, yea are you free?
    Some other time for that. Beloued Regan,
    Thy sister is naught, oh Regan she hath tyed,
    Sharpe tooth'd vnkindnes, like a vulture heare,
    I can scarce speake to thee, thout not beleeue,
    1415Of how depriued a qualitie, O Regan.
    Reg.
    The Historie of King Lear.
    Reg. I pray sir take patience, I haue hope
    You lesse know how to value her desert,
    Then she to slacke her dutie.
    1425Lear. My cursses on her.
    Reg. O Sir you are old,
    Nature on you standes on the very verge of her con- (fine,
    You should be rul'd and led by some discretion,
    That discernes your state 1430better thẽ you your selfe,
    Therfore I pray that to our sister, you do make returne,
    Say you haue wrong'd her Sir?
    Lear. Aske her forgiuenes,
    Doe you marke how this becomes the house,
    1435Deare daughter, I confesse that I am old,
    Age is vnnecessarie, on my knees I beg,
    That you'l vouchsafe me rayment, bed and food.
    Reg. Good sir no more, these are vnsightly tricks,
    Returne you to my sister.
    1440Lear. No Regan,
    She hath abated me of halfe my traine,
    Lookt blacke vpon me, strooke mee with her tongue
    Most Serpent-like vpon the very heart,
    All the stor'd vengeances of heauen fall 1445on her ingratful (top,
    Strike her yong bones, you taking ayrs with lamenes.
    Duke. Fie fie sir.
    Lear. You nimble lightnings dart your blinding flames,
    Into her scornfull eyes, infect her beautie,
    1450You Fen suckt fogs, drawne by the powrefull Sunne,
    To fall and blast her pride.
    Reg. O the blest Gods, so will you wish on me,
    When the rash mood---
    Lear. No Regan, thou shalt neuer haue my curse,
    1455The tẽder hested nature shall not giue the or'e
    To harshnes, her eies are fierce, but thine do cõfort & not (burne
    Tis not in thee to grudge my pleasures, to cut off my
    (traine,
    To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes,
    1460And in conclusion, to oppose the bolt
    Against my coming in, thou better knowest,
    The offices of nature, bond of child-hood,
    Effects
    The Historie of King Lear.
    Effects of curtesie, dues of gratitude,
    Thy halfe of the kingdome, hast thou not forgot
    1465Wherein I thee indow'd.
    Reg. Good sir too'th purpose.
    Lear. Who put my man i'th stockes?
    Duke. What trumpets that? Enter Steward.
    1470Reg. I know't my sisters, this approues her letters,
    That she would soone be here, is your Lady come?
    Lear. This is a slaue, whose easie borrowed pride
    Dwels in the fickle grace of her, a followes,
    Out varlet, from my sight.
    1475Duke. What meanes your Grace? Enter Gon.
    Gon. Who struck my seruant, Regan I haue good hope
    Thou didst not know ant.
    Lear. Who comes here? O heauens!
    1480If you doe loue old men, if you sweet sway allow
    Obedience, if your selues are old, make it your cause,
    Send downe and take my part,
    Art not asham'd to looke vpon this beard?
    O Regan wilt thou take her by the hand?
    1485Gon. Why not by the hand sir, how haue I offended?
    Als not offence that indiscretion finds
    And dotage tearmes so.
    Lear. O sides you are too tough,
    Will you yet hold? 1490how came my man it'h stockes?
    Duke. I set him there sir, but his owne disorders
    Deseru'd much lesse aduancement,
    Lear. You, did you?
    Reg. I pray you father being weake seeme so,
    1495If till the expiration of your moneth,
    You will returne and soiorne with my sister,
    Dismissing halfe your traine, come then to me,
    I am now from home, and out of that prouision,
    Which shall be needful for your entertainment.
    1500Lear. Returne to her, and fiftie men dismist,
    No rather I abiure all roofes, and chuse
    To wage against the enmitie of the Ayre,
    To be a Comrade with the Woolfe and owle,
    Necessities
    The Historie of King Lear.
    Necessities sharpe pinch, returne with her,
    1505Why the hot bloud in France, that dowerles
    Tooke our yongest borne, I could as well be brought
    To knee his throne, and Squire-like pension bag,
    To keepe base life afoot, returne with her,
    Perswade me rather to be slaue and sumter
    1510To this detested groome.
    Gon. At your choise sir.
    Lear. Now I prithee daughter do not make me mad,
    I will not trouble thee my child, farewell,
    Wee'le no more meete, no more see one another.
    1515But yet thou art my flesh, my bloud, my daughter,
    Or rather a disease that lies within my flesh,
    Which I must needs call mine, thou art a bile,
    A plague sore, an imbossed carbuncle in my
    Corrupted bloud, but Ile not chide thee,
    1520Let shame come when it will, I doe not call it,
    I doe not bid the thunder bearer shoote,
    Nor tell tailes of thee to high Iudging Ioue,
    Mend when thou canst, be better at thy leasure,
    I can be patient, I can stay with Regan,
    1525I and my hundred Knights.
    Reg. Not altogether so sir, I looke not for you yet,
    Nor am prouided for your fit welcome,
    Giue eare sir to my sister, for those
    That mingle reason with your passion,
    1530Must be content to thinke you are old, and so,
    But she knowes what shee does.
    Lear. Is this well spoken now?
    Reg. I dare auouch it sir, what fiftie followers,
    Is it not well, what should you need of more,
    1535Yea or so many, sith that both charge and danger
    Speakes gainst so great a number, how in a house
    Should many people vnder two commands
    Hold amytie, tis hard, almost impossible.
    Gon. Why might not you my Lord receiue attendãce
    1540From those that she cals seruants, or from mine?
    Reg. Why not my Lord? if then they chanc'st to slacke you,
    We could controwle them, if you will come to me,
    For
    The Historie of King Lear.
    For now I spie a danger, I intreat you,
    1545To bring but fiue and twentie, to no more
    Will I giue place or notice.
    Lear. I gaue you all.
    Reg. And in good time you gaue it.
    Lear. Made you my guardians, my depositaries,
    1550But kept a reseruation to be followed
    With such a number, what, must I come to you
    With fiue and twentie, Regan said you so?
    Reg. And speak't againe my Lord, no more with me.
    Lea. Those wicked creatures yet do seem wel fauor'd
    1555When others are more wicked, not being the worst
    Stands in some ranke of prayse, Ile goe with thee,
    Thy fifty yet doth double fiue and twentie,
    And thou art twice her loue.
    Gon. Heare me my Lord,
    1560What need you fiue and twentie, tenne, or fiue,
    To follow in a house, where twise so many
    Haue a commaund to tend you.
    Regan. What needes one?
    Lear. O reason not the deed, our basest beggers,
    1565Are in the poorest thing superfluous,
    Allow not nature more then nature needes,
    Mans life as cheape as beasts, thou art a Lady,
    If onely to goe warme were gorgeous,
    Why nature needes not, what thou gorgeous wearest
    1570Which scarcely keepes thee warme, but for true need,
    You heauens giue me that patience, patience I need,
    You see me here (you Gods) a poore old fellow,
    As full of greefe as age, wretched in both,
    If it be you that stirres these daughters hearts
    1575Against their Father, foole me not to much,
    To beare it lamely, touch me with noble anger,
    O let not womens weapons, water drops
    Stayne my mans cheekes, no you vnnaturall hags,
    I will haue such reuenges on you both,
    1580That all the world shall, I will doe such things,
    What they are yet I know not, but they shalbe
    The
    The Historie of King Lear.
    The terrors of the earth, you thinke ile weepe,
    No ile not weepe, I haue full cause of weeping,
    1585But this heart shall breake, in a 100. thousand flowes
    Or ere ile weepe, O foole I shall goe mad.
    Exeunt Lear, Leister, Kent, and Foole.
    Duke. Let vs withdraw, twill be a storme.
    Reg. This house is little the old man and his people,
    Cannot be well bestowed.
    1590Gon. Tis his own blame hath put himselfe from rest,
    And must needs tast his folly.
    Reg. For his particuler, ile receiue him gladly,
    But not one follower.
    Duke. So am I puspos'd, 1595where is my Lord of Gloster? Enter Glo.
    Reg. Followed the old man forth, he is return'd.
    Glo. The King is in high rage, 1600& wil I know not whe- (ther.
    Re. Tis good to giue him way, he leads himselfe.
    Gon. My Lord, intreat him by no meanes to stay.
    Glo. Alack the night comes on, and the bleak winds
    Do sorely russel, for many miles about ther's not a bush.
    Reg. O sir, to wilfull men
    The iniuries that they themselues procure,
    Must be their schoolemasters, shut vp your doores,
    He is attended with a desperate traine,
    1610And what they may incense him to, being apt,
    To haue his eare abusd, wisedome bids feare.
    Duke. Shut vp your doores my Lord, tis a wild night,
    My Reg counsails well, come out at'h storme. Exeũt