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  • 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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    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,
    Ere they shall make vs weepe?
    Weele see e'm staru'd first: come. Exit.
    Bast. Come hither Captaine, hearke.
    2970Take thou this note, go follow them to prison,
    One step I haue aduanc'd thee, if thou do'st
    As this instructs thee, thou dost make thy way
    To Noble Fortunes: know thou this, that men
    Are as the time is; to be tender minded
    2975Do's not become a Sword, thy great imployment
    Will not beare question: either say thou'lt do't,
    Or thriue by other meanes.
    Capt. Ile do't my Lord.
    Bast. About it, and write happy, when th'hast done,
    2980Marke I say instantly, and carry it so
    As I haue set it downe. Exit Captaine.
    Flourish. Enter Albany, Gonerill, Regan, Soldiers.
    Alb. Sir, you haue shew'd to day your valiant straine
    And Fortune led you well: you haue the Captiues
    2985Who were the opposites of this dayes strife:
    I do require them of you so to vse them,
    As we shall find their merites, and our safety
    May equally determine.
    Bast. Sir, I thought it fit,
    2990To send the old and miserable King to some retention,
    Whose age had Charmes in it, whose Title more,
    To plucke the common bosome on his side,
    And turne our imprest Launces in our eies
    Which do command them. With him I sent the Queen:
    2995My reason all the same, and they are ready
    To morrow, or at further space, t' appeare
    Where you shall hold your Session.
    Alb. Sir, by your patience,
    I hold you but a subiect of this Warre,
    3000Not as a Brother.
    Reg. That's as we list to grace him.
    Methinkes our pleasure might haue bin demanded
    Ere you had spoke so farre. He led our Powers,
    Bore the Commission of my place and person,
    3005The which immediacie may well stand vp,
    And call it selfe your Brother.
    Gon. Not so hot:
    In his owne grace he doth exalt himselfe,
    More then in your addition.
    3010Reg. In my rights,
    By me inuested, he compeeres the best.
    Alb. That were the most, if he should husband you.
    Reg. Iesters do oft proue Prophets.
    Gon. Hola, hola,
    3015That eye that told you so, look'd but a squint.
    Rega. Lady I am not well, else I should answere
    From a full flowing stomack. Generall,
    Take thou my Souldiers, prisoners, patrimony,
    Dispose of them, of me, the walls is thine:
    3020Witnesse the world, that I create thee heere
    My Lord, and Master.
    Gon. Meane you to enioy him?
    Alb. The let alone lies not in your good will.
    Bast. Nor in thine Lord.
    3025Alb. Halfe-blooded fellow, yes.
    Reg. Let the Drum strike, and proue my title thine.
    Alb. Stay yet, heare reason: Edmund, I arrest thee
    On capitall Treason; and in thy arrest,
    This guilded Serpent: for your claime faire Sisters,
    3030I bare it in the interest of my wife,
    'Tis she is sub-contracted to this Lord,
    And I her husband contradict your Banes.
    If you will marry, make your loues to me,
    My Lady is bespoke.
    3035Gon. An enterlude.
    Alb. Thou art armed Gloster,
    Let the Trmpet sound:
    If none appeare to proue vpon thy person,
    Thy heynous, manifest, and many Treasons,
    3040There is my pledge: Ile make it on thy heart
    Ere I taste bread, thou art in nothing lesse
    Then I haue heere proclaim'd thee.
    Reg. Sicke, O sicke.
    Gon. If not, Ile nere trust medicine.
    3045Bast. There's my exchange, what in the world hes
    That names me Traitor, villain-like he lies,
    Call by the Trumpet: he that dares approach;
    On him, on you, who not, I will maintaine
    My truth and honor firmely.
    3050Enter a Herald.
    Alb. A Herald, ho.
    Trust to thy single vertue, for thy Souldiers
    All leuied in my name, haue in my name
    Tooke their discharge.
    3055Regan. My sicknesse growes vpon me.
    Alb. She is not well, conuey her to my Tent.
    Come hither Herald, let the Trumper sound,
    And read out this. A Tumpet sounds.
    Herald reads.
    3060 If any man of qualitie or degree, within the lists of the Ar-
    my, will maintaine vpon Edmund, supposed Earle of Gloster,
    that he is a manifold Traitor, let him appeare by the third
    sound of the Trumpet: he is bold in his defence. 1 Trumpet.
    Her. Againe. 2 Trumpet.
    3065Her. Againe. 3 Trumpet.
    Trumpet answers within.
    Enter Edgar armed.
    Alb. Aske him his purposes, why he appeares
    Vpon this Call o'th'Trumpet.
    3070Her. What are you?
    Your name, your quality, and why you answer
    This present Summons?
    Edg. Know my name is lost
    By Treasons tooth: bare-gnawne, and Canker-bit,
    3075Yet am I Noble as the Aduersary
    I come to cope.
    Alb. Which is that Aduersary?
    Edg. What's he that speakes for Edmund Earle of Glo- (ster?
    Bast. Himselfe, what saist thou to him?
    3080Edg. Draw thy Sword,
    That if my speech offend a Noble heart,
    Thy arme may do thee Iustice, heere is mine:
    Behold it is my priuiledge,
    The priuiledge of mine Honours,
    3085My oath, and my profession. I protest,
    Maugre thy strength, place, youth, and eminence,
    Despise thy victor-Sword, and fire new Fortune,
    Thy valor, and thy heart, thou art a Traitor:
    False to thy Gods, thy Brother, and thy Father,
    3090Conspirant 'gainst this high illustirous Prince,
    And from th'extremest vpward of thy head,
    To the discent and dust below thy foote,
    A most Toad-spotted Traitor. Say thou no,
    This Sword, this arme, and my best spirits are bent
    3095To proue vpon thy heart, whereto I speake,
    Thou lyest.
    Bast. In wisedome I should aske thy name,
    But since thy out-side lookes so faire and Warlike,
    And that thy tongue (some say) of breeding breathes,
    3100What safe, and nicely I might well delay,
    By rule of Knight-hood, I disdaine and spurne:
    Backe do I tosse these Treasons to thy head,
    With the hell-hated Lye, ore-whelme thy heart,
    Which for they yet glance by, and scarely bruise,
    3105This Sword of mine shall giue them instant way,
    Where they shall rest for euer. Trumpets speake.
    Alb. Saue him, saue him. Alarums. Fights.
    Gon. This is practise Gloster,
    By th'law of Warre, thou wast not bound to answer
    3110An vnknowne opposite: thou art not vanquish'd,
    But cozend, and beguild.
    Alb. Shut your mouth Dame,
    Or with this paper shall I stop it: hold Sir,
    Thou worse then any name, reade thine owne euill:
    3115No tearing Lady, I perceiue you know it.
    Gon. Say if I do, the Lawes are mine not thine,
    Who can araigne me for't? Exit.
    Alb. Most monstrous! O, know'st thou this paper?
    Bast. Aske me not what I know.
    3120Alb. Go after her, she's desperate, gouerne her.
    Bast. What you haue charg'd me with,
    That haue I done,
    And more, much more, the time will bring it out.
    'Tis past, and so am I: But what art thou
    3125That hast this Fortune on me? If thou'rt Noble,
    I do forgiue thee.
    Edg. Let's exchange charity:
    I am no lesse in blood then thou art Edmond,
    If more, the more th'hast wrong'd me.
    3130My name is Edgar and thy Fathers Sonne,
    The Gods are iust, and of our pleasant vices
    Make instruments to plague vs:
    The darke and vitious place where thee he got,
    Cost him his eyes.
    3135Bast. Th'hast spoken right, 'tis true,
    The Wheele is come full circle, I am heere.
    Alb. Me thought thy very gate did prophesie
    A Royall Noblenesse: I must embrace thee,
    Let sorrow split my heart, if euer I
    3140Did hate thee, or thy father.
    Edg. Worthy Prince I know't.
    Alb. Where haue you hid your selfe?
    How haue you knowne the miseries of your Father?
    Edg. By nursing them my Lord. List a breefe tale,
    3145And when 'tis told, O that my heart would burst.
    The bloody proclamation to escape
    That follow'd me so neere, (O our liues sweetnesse,
    That we the paine of death would hourely dye,
    Rather then die at once) taught me to shift
    3150Into a mad-mans rags, t'assume a semblance
    That very Dogges disdain'd: and in this habit
    Met I my Father with his bleeding Rings,
    Their precious Stones new lost: became his guide,
    Led him, begg'd for him, sau'd him from dispaire.
    3155Neuer (O fault) reueal'd my selfe vnto him,
    Vntill some halfe houre past when I was arm'd,
    Not sure, though hoping of this good successe,
    I ask'd his blessing, and from first to last
    Told him our pilgrimage. But his flaw'd heart
    3160(Alacke too weake the conflict to support)
    Twixt two extremes of passion, ioy and greefe,
    Burst smilingly.
    Bast. This speech of yours hath mou'd me,
    And shall perchance do good, but speake you on,
    3165You looke as you had something more to say.
    Alb. If there be more, more wofull, hold it in,
    For I am almost ready to dissolue,
    Hearing of this.
    Enter a Gentleman.
    3170Gen. Helpe, helpe: O helpe.
    Edg. What kinde of helpe?
    Alb. Speake man.
    Edg. What meanes this bloody Knife?
    Gen. 'Tis hot, it smoakes, it came euen from the heart
    3175of----O she's dead.
    Alb. Who dead? Speake man.
    Gen. Your Lady Sir, your Lady; and her Sister
    By her is poyson'd: she confesses it.
    Bast. I was contracted to them both, all three
    3180Now marry in an instant.
    Edg. Here comes Kent.
    Enter Kent.
    Alb. Produce the bodies, be they aliue or dead;
    Gonerill and Regans bodies brought out.
    3185This iudgement of the Heauens that makes vs tremble.
    Touches vs not with pitty: O, is this he?
    The time will not allow the complement
    Which very manners vrges.
    Kent. I am come
    3190To bid my King and Master aye good night.
    Is he not here?
    Alb. Great thing of vs forgot,
    Speake Edmund, where's the King? and where's Cordelia?
    Seest thou this obiect Kent?
    3195Kent. Alacke, why thus?
    Bast. Yet Edmund was belou'd:
    The one the other poison'd for my sake,
    And after slew herselfe.
    Alb. Euen so: couer their faces.
    3200Bast. I pant for life: some good I meane to do
    Despight of mine owne Nature. Quickly send,
    (Be briefe in it) to'th'Castle, for my Writ
    Is on the life of Lear, and on Cordelia:
    Nay, send in time.
    3205Alb. Run, run, O run.
    Edg. To who my Lord? Who ha's the Office?
    Send thy token of repreeue.
    Bast. Well thought on, take my Sword,
    Giue it the Captaine.
    3210Edg. Hast thee for thy life.
    Bast. He hath Commission from thy Wife and me,
    To hang Cordelia in the prison, and
    To lay the blame vpon her owne dispaire,
    That she for-did her selfe.
    3215Alb. The Gods defend her, beare him hence awhile.
    Enter Lear with Cordelia in his armes.
    Lear. Howle, howle, howle: O your are men of stones,
    Had I your tongues and eyes, Il'd vse them so,
    That Heauens vault should crack: she's gone for euer.
    3220I know when one is dead, and when one liues,
    She's dead as earth: Lend me a Looking-glasse,
    If that her breath will mist or staine the stone,
    Why then she liues.
    Kent. Is this the promis'd end?
    3225Edg. Or image of that horror.
    Alb. Fall and cease.
    Lear. This feather stirs , she liues: if it be so,
    It is a chance which do's redeeme all sorrowes
    That euer I haue felt.
    3230Kent. O my good Master.
    Lear. Prythee away.
    Edg. 'Tis Noble Kent your Friend.
    Lear. A plague vpon you Murderors, Traitors all,
    I might haue sau'd her, now she's gone for euer:
    3235Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little. Ha:
    What is't thou saist? Her voice was euer soft,
    Gentle, and low, an excellent thing in woman.
    I kill'd the Slaue that was a hanging thee.
    Gent. 'Tis true (my Lords) he did.
    3240Lear. Did I not fellow?
    I haue seene the day, with my good biting Faulchion
    I would haue made him skip: I am old now,
    And these same crosses spoile me. Who are you?
    Mine eyes are not o'th'best, Ile tell you straight.
    3245Kent. If Fortune brag of two, she lou'd and hated,
    One of them we behold.
    Lear. This is a dull sight, are you not Kent?
    Kent. The same: your Seruant Kent,
    Where is your Seruant Caius?
    3250Lear. He's a good fellow, I can tell you that,
    He'le strike and quickly too, he's dead and rotten.
    Kent. No my good Lord, I am the very man.
    Lear. Ile see that straight.
    Kent. That from your first of difference and decay,
    3255Haue follow'd your sad steps.
    Lear. Your are welcome hither.
    Kent. Nor no man else:
    All's cheerlesse, darke, and deadly,
    Your eldest Daughters haue fore-done themselues,
    3260And desperately are dead
    Lear. I so I thinke.
    Alb. He knowes not what he saies, and vaine is it
    That we present vs to him.
    Enter a Messenger.
    3265Edg. Very bootlesse.
    Mess. Edmund is dead my Lord.
    Alb. That's but a trifle heere:
    You Lords and Noble Friends, know our intent,
    What comfort to this great decay may come,
    3270Shall be appli'd. For vs we will resigne,
    During the life of this old Maiesty
    To him our absolute power, you to your rights,
    With boote, and such addition as your Honours
    Haue more then merited. All Friends shall
    3275Taste the wages of their vertue, and all Foes
    The cup of their deseruings: O see, see.
    Lear. And my poore Foole is hang'd: no, no, no life?
    Why should a Dog, a Horse, a Rat haue life,
    And thou no breath at all? Thou'lt come no more,
    3280Neuer, neuer, neuer, neuer, neuer.
    Pray you vndo this Button. Thanke you Sir,
    Do you see this? Looke on her? Looke her lips,
    Looke there, looke there. He dies.
    Edg. He faints, my Lord, my Lord.
    3285Kent. Breake heart, I prythee breake.
    Edg. Looke vp my Lord.
    Kent. Vex not his ghost, O let him passe, he hates him,
    That would vpon the wracke of this tough world
    Stretch him out longer.
    3290Edg. He is gon indeed.
    Kent. The wonder is, he hath endur'd so long,
    He but vsurpt his life.
    Alb. Beare them from hence, our present businesse
    Is generall woe : Friends of my soule, you twaine,
    3295Rule in this Realme, and the gor'd state sustaine.
    Kent. I haue a iourney Sir, shortly to go,
    My Master calls me, I must not say no.
    Edg. The waight of this sad time we must obey,
    Speake what we feele, not what we ought to say:
    3300The oldest hath borne most, we that are yong,
    Shall neuer see so much, nor liue so long.
    Exeunt with a dead March.