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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    Not Peer Reviewed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.
    485chiefe of your person, it would scarsely alay.
    Edg. Some Villaine hath done me wrong.
    Edm. That's my feare, I pray you haue a continent
    forbearance till the speed of his rage goes slower: and as
    I say, retire with me to my lodging, from whence I will
    490fitly bring you to heare my Lord speake: pray ye goe,
    there's my key: if you do stirre abroad, goe arm'd.
    Edg. Arm'd, Brother?
    Edm. Brother, I aduise you to the best, I am no honest
    man, if ther be any good meaning toward you: I haue told
    495you what I haue seene, and heard: But faintly. Nothing
    like the image, and horror of it, pray you away.
    Edg. Shall I heare from you anon? Exit.
    Edm. I do serue you in this businesse:
    A Credulous Father, and a Brother Noble,
    500Whose nature is so farre from doing harmes,
    That he suspects none: on whose foolish honestie
    My practises ride easie: I see the businesse.
    Let me, if not by birth, haue lands by wit,
    All with me's meete, that I can fashion fit. Exit.

    505Scena Tertia.

    Enter Gonerill, and Steward.

    Gon. Did my Father strike my Gentleman for chi-
    ding of his Foole?
    Ste. I Madam.
    510Gon. By day and night, he wrongs me, euery howre
    He flashes into one grosse crime, or other,
    That sets vs all at ods: Ile not endure it;
    His Knights grow riotous,and himselfe vpbraides vs
    On euery trifle. When he returnes from hunting,
    515I will not speake with him, say I am sicke,
    If you come slacke of former seruices,
    You shall do well, the fault of it Ile answer.
    Ste. He's comming Madam, I heare him.
    Gon. Put on what weary negligence you please,
    520You and your Fellowes: I'de haue it come to question;
    If he distaste it, let him to my Sister,
    Whose mind and mine I know in that are one,
    Remember what I haue said.
    Ste. Well Madam.
    525Gon. And let his Knights haue colder lookes among
    you: what growes of it no matter, aduise your fellowes
    so, Ile write straight to my Sister to hold my course; pre-
    pare for dinner. Exeunt.

    Scena Quarta.

    530Enter Kent.

    Kent. If but as will I other accents borrow,
    That can my speech defuse, my good intent
    May carry through it selfe to that full issue
    For which I raiz'd my likenesse. Now banisht Kent,
    535If thou canst serue where thou dost stand condemn'd,
    So may it come, thy Master whom thou lou'st,
    Shall find thee full of labours.

    Hornes within. Enter Lear and Attendants.
    Lear. Let me not stay a iot for dinner, go get it rea-
    540dy: how now, what art thou?
    Kent. A man Sir.
    Lear. What dost thou professe? What would'st thou
    with vs?
    Kent. I do professe to be no lesse then I seeme; to serue
    545him truely that will put me in trust, to loue him that is
    honest, to conuerse with him that is wise and saies little, to
    feare iudgement, to fight when I cannot choose, and to
    eate no fish.
    Lear. What art thou?
    550Kent. A very honest hearted Fellow, and as poore as
    the King.
    Lear. If thou be'st as poore for a subiect,as hee's for a
    King, thou art poore enough. What wouldst thou?
    Kent. Seruice.
    555Lear. Who wouldst 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 Master.
    560Lear. What's that?
    Kent. Authority.
    Lear. What seruices canst thou do?
    Kent. I can keepe honest counsaile, ride, run, marre a
    curious tale in telling it, and deliuer a plaine message
    565bluntly: that which ordinary men are fit for, I am qual-
    lified in, and the best of me, is Dilligence.
    Lear. How old art thou?
    Kent. Not so young Sir to loue a woman for singing,
    nor so old to dote on her for any thing. I haue yeares on
    570my backe forty eight.
    Lear. Follow me, thou shalt serue me, if I like thee no
    worse after dinner, I will not part from thee yet. Dinner
    ho, dinner, where's my knaue? my Foole? Go you and call
    my Foole hither. You you Sirrah, where's my Daughter?
    575Enter Steward.
    Ste. So please you---- Exit.
    Lear. What saies the Fellow there? Call the Clot-
    pole backe: wher's my Foole? Ho, I thinke the world's
    asleepe, how now? Where's that Mungrell?
    580Knigh. He saies my Lord, your Daughters is not well.
    Lear. Why came not the slaue backe to me when I
    call'd him?
    Knigh. Sir, he answered me in the roundest manner, he
    would not.
    585Lear. He would not ?
    Knight. My Lord, I know not what the matter is,
    but to my iudgement your Highnesse is not entertain'd
    with that Ceremonious affection as you were wont,
    theres a great abatement of kindnesse appeares as well in
    590the generall dependants, as in the Duke himselfe also, and
    your Daughter.
    Lear. Ha? Saist thou so?
    Knigh. I beseech you pardon me my Lord, if I bee
    mistaken, for my duty cannot be silent, when I thinke
    595your Highnesse wrong'd.
    Lear. Thou but remembrest me of mine owne Con-
    ception, I haue perceiued a most faint neglect of late,
    which I haue rather blamed as mine owne iealous curio-
    sitie, then as a very pretence and purpose of vnkindnesse;
    600I will looke further intoo't: but where's my Foole? I
    haue not seene him this two daies.
    Knight. Since my young Ladies going into France