Internet Shakespeare Editions

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    Not Peer Reviewed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.
    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,