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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    Not Peer Reviewed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.
    2475Shake patiently my great affliction off:
    If I could beare it longer, and not fall
    To quarrell with your great opposelesse willes,
    My snuffe, and loathed part of Nature should
    Burne it selfe out. If Edgar liue, O blesse him:
    2480Now Fellow, fare thee well.
    Edg. Gone Sir, farewell:
    And yet I know not how conceit may rob
    The Treasury of life, when life it selfe
    Yeelds to the Theft. Had he bin where he thought,
    2485By this had thought bin past. Aliue, or dead?
    Hoa, you Sir: Friend, heare you Sir, speake:
    Thus might he passe indeed: yet he reuiues.
    What are you Sir?
    Glou. Away, and let me dye.
    2490Edg. Had'st thou beene ought
    But Gozemore, Feathers, Ayre,
    (So many fathome downe precipitating)
    Thou'dst shiuer'd like an Egge: but thou do'st breath:
    Hast heauy substance, bleed'st not, speak'st, art sound,
    2495Ten Masts at each, make not the altitude
    Which thou hast perpendicularly fell,
    Thy life's a Myracle. Speake yet againe.
    Glou. But haue I falne, or no?
    Edg. From the dread Somnet of this Chalkie Bourne
    2500Looke vp a height, the shrill-gorg'd Larke so farre
    Cannot be seene, or heard: Do but looke vp.
    Glou. Alacke, I haue no eyes:
    Is wretchednesse depriu'd that benefit
    To end it selfe by death? 'Twas yet some comfort,
    2505When misery could beguile the Tyranrs rage,
    And frustrate his proud will.
    Edg. Giue me your arme.
    Vp, so: How is't? Feele you your Legges? You stand.
    Glou. Too well, too well.
    2510Edg. This is aboue all strangenesse,
    Vpon the crowne o'th'Cliffe. What thing was that
    Which parted from you?
    Glou. A poore vnfortunate Beggar.
    Edg. As I stood heere below, me thought his eyes
    2515Were two full Moones: he had a thousand Noses,
    Hornes wealk'd, and waued like the enraged Sea:
    It was some Fiend: Therefore thou happy Father,
    Thinke that the cleerest Gods, who make them Honors
    Of mens Impossibilities, haue preserued thee.
    2520Glou. I do remember now: henceforth Ile beare
    Affliction, till it do cry out it selfe
    Enough, enough, and dye. That thing you speake of,
    I tooke it for a man: often 'twould say
    The Fiend, the Fiend, he led me to that place.
    2525Edgar. Beare free and patient thoughts.
    Enter Lear.
    But who comes heere?
    The safer sense will ne're accommodate
    His Master thus.
    2530Lear. No, they cannot touch me for crying. I am the
    King himselfe.
    Edg. O thou side-piercing sight!
    Lear. Nature's aboue Art, in that respect. Ther's your
    Presse-money. That fellow handles his bow, like a Crow-
    2535keeper: draw mee a Cloathiers yard. Looke, looke, a
    Mouse: peace, peace, this peece of toasted Cheese will
    doo't. There's my Gauntlet, Ile proue it on a Gyant.
    Bring vp the browne Billes. O well flowne Bird: i'th'
    clout, i'th'clout: Hewgh. Giue the word.
    2540Edg. Sweet Mariorum.
    Lear. Passe.
    Glou. I know that voice.
    Lear. Ha! Gonerill with a white beard? They flatter'd
    me like a Dogge, and told mee I had the white hayres in
    2545my Beard, ere the blacke ones were there. To say I, and
    no, to euery thing that I said: I, and no too, was no good
    Diuinity. When the raine came to wet me once, and the
    winde to make me chatter: when the Thunder would not
    peace at my bidding, there I found 'em, there I smelt 'em
    2550out. Go too, they are not men o'their words; they told
    me, I was euery thing: 'Tis a Lye, I am not Agu-proofe.
    Glou. The tricke of that voyce, I do well remember:
    Is't not the King?
    Lear. I, euery 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 dye: dye for Adultery?
    No, the Wren goes too't, and the small gilded Fly
    Do's letcher in my sight. Let Copulation thriue:
    2560For Glousters bastard Son was kinder to his Father,
    Then my Daughters got 'tweene the lawfull sheets.
    Too't Luxury pell-mell, for I lacke Souldiers.
    Behold yond simpring Dame, whose face betweene her
    Forkes presages Snow; that minces Vertue, & do's shake
    2565the head to heare of pleasures name. The Fitchew, nor
    the soyled Horse goes too't with a more riotous appe-
    tite: Downe from the waste they are Centaures, though
    Women all aboue: but to the Girdle do the Gods inhe-
    rit, beneath is all the Fiends. There's hell, there's darke-
    2570nes, there is the sulphurous pit; burning, scalding, stench,
    consumption: Fye, fie, fie; pah, pah: Giue me an Ounce
    of Ciuet; good Apothecary sweeten my immagination:
    There's money for thee.
    Glou. O let me kisse that hand.
    2575Lear. Let me wipe it first,
    It smelles of Mortality.
    Glou. O ruin'd peece of Nature, this great world
    Shall so weare out to naught.
    Do'st thou know me?
    2580Lear. I remember thine eyes well enough: dost thou
    squiny at me? No, doe thy worst blinde Cupid, Ile not
    loue. Reade thou this challenge, marke but the penning
    of it.
    Glou. Were all thy Letters Sunnes, I could not see.
    2585Edg. I would not take this from report,
    It is, and my heart breakes at it.
    Lear. Read.
    Glou. What with the Case of eyes?
    Lear. Oh ho, are you there with me? No eies in your
    2590head, nor no mony in your purse? Your eyes are in a hea-
    uy case, your purse in a light, yet you see how this world
    Glou. I see it feelingly.
    Lear. What, art mad? A man may see how this world
    2595goes, with no eyes. Looke with thine eares: See how
    yond Iustice railes vpon yond simple theefe. Hearke in
    thine eare: Change places, and handy-dandy, which is
    the Iustice, which is the theefe: Thou hast seene a Far-
    mers dogge barke at a Beggar?
    2600Glou. I Sir.
    Lear. And the Creature run from the Cur: there thou
    might'st behold the great image of Authoritie, a Dogg's
    obey'd in Office. Thou, Rascall Beadle, hold thy bloody
    hand: why dost thou lash that Whore? Strip thy owne
    2605backe, thou hotly lusts to vse her in that kind, for which
    thou whip'st her. The Vsurer hangs the Cozener. Tho-