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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    Not Peer Reviewed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
    Sir, the Foole hath much pined away.
    Lear. No more of that, I haue noted it well, goe you
    605and tell my Daughter, I would speake with her. Goe you
    call hither my Foole; Oh you Sir, you, come you hither
    Sir, who am I Sir?
    Enter Steward.
    Ste. My Ladies Father.
    610Lear. My Ladies Father? my Lords knaue, you whor-
    son dog, you slaue, you curre.
    Ste. I am none of these my Lord,
    I beseech your pardon.
    Lear. Do you bandy lookes with me, you Rascall?
    615Ste. Ile not be strucken my Lord.
    Kent. Nor tript neither, you base Foot-ball plaier.
    Lear. I thanke thee fellow.
    Thou seru'st me, and Ile loue thee.
    Kent. Come sir, arise, away, Ile teach you differences:
    620away, away, if you will measure your lubbers length a-
    gaine, tarry, but away, goe too, haue you wisedome, so.
    Lear. Now my friendly knaue I thanke thee, there's
    earnest of thy seruice.
    Enter Foole.
    625Foole. Let me hire him too, here's my Coxcombe.
    Lear. How now my pretty knaue, how dost thou?
    Foole. Sirrah, you were best take my Coxcombe.
    Lear. Why my Boy?
    Foole. Why? for taking ones part that's out of fauour,
    630nay, & thou canst not smile as the wind sits, thou'lt catch
    colde shortly, there take my Coxcombe; why this fellow
    ha's banish'd two on's Daughters, and did the third a
    blessing against his will, if thou follow him, thou must
    needs weare my Coxcombe. How now Nunckle? would
    635I had two Coxcombes and two Daughters.
    Lear. Why my Boy?
    Fool. If I gaue them all my liuing, I'ld keepe my Cox-
    combes my selfe, there's mine, beg another of thy
    640Lear. Take heed Sirrah, the whip.
    Foole. Truth's a dog must to kennell, hee must bee
    whipt out, when the Lady Brach may stand by'th'fire
    and stinke.
    Lear. A pestilent gall to me.
    645Foole. Sirha, Ile teach thee a speech.
    Lear. Do.
    Foole. Marke it Nuncle;
    Haue more then thou showest,
    Speake lesse then thou knowest,
    650Lend lesse then thou owest,
    Ride more then thou goest,
    Learne more then thou trowest,
    Set lesse then thou throwest;
    Leaue thy drinke and thy whore,
    655And keepe in a dore,
    And thou shalt haue more,
    Then two tens to a score.
    Kent. This is nothing Foole.
    Foole. Then 'tis like the breath of an vnfeed Lawyer,
    660you gaue me nothing for't, can you make no vse of no-
    thing Nuncle ?
    Lear. Why no Boy,
    Nothing can be made out of nothing.
    Foole. Prythee tell him, so much the rent of his land
    665comes to, he will not beleeue a Foole.
    Lear. A bitter Foole.
    Foole. Do'st thou know the difference my Boy, be-
    tweene a bitter Foole, and a sweet one.
    Lear. No Lad, reach me.
    670Foole. Nunckle, giue me an egge, and Ile giue thee
    two Crownes.
    Lear. What two Crownes shall they be?
    Foole. Why after I haue cut the egge i'th'middle and
    eate vp the meate, the two Crownes of the egge : when
    675thou clouest thy Crownes i'th'middle, and gau'st away
    both parts, thou boar'st thine Asse on thy backe o're the
    durt, thou had'st little wit in thy bald crowne, when thou
    gau'st thy golden one away ; if I speake like my selfe in
    this, let him be whipt that first findes it so.
    680Fooles had nere lesse grace in a yeere,
    For wisemen are growne foppish,
    And know not how their wits to weare,
    Their manners are so apish.
    Le. When were you wont to be so full of Songs sirrah?
    685Foole. I haue vsed it Nunckle, ere since thou mad'st
    thy Daughters thy Mothers, for when thou gau'st them
    the rod, and put'st downe thine owne breeches, then they
    For sodaine ioy did weepe,
    And I for sorrow sung,
    690That such a King should play bo-peepe,
    And goe the Foole among.
    Pry'thy Nunckle keepe a Schoolemaster that can teach
    thy Foole to lie, I would faine learne to lie.
    Lear. And you lie sirrah, wee'l haue you whipt.
    695Foole. I maruell what kin thou and thy daughters are,
    they'l haue me whipt for speaking true: thou'lt haue me
    whipt for lying, and sometimes I am whipt for holding
    my peace. I had rather be any kind o'thing then a foole,
    and yet I would not be thee Nunckle, thou hast pared thy
    700wit o'both sides, and left nothing i'th'middle; heere
    comes one o'the parings.
    Enter Gonerill.
    Lear. How now Daughter? what makes that Frontlet
    on? You are too much of late i'th'frowne.
    705Foole. Thou wast a pretty fellow when thou hadst no
    need to care for her frowning, now thou art an O with-
    out a figure, I am better then thou art now, I am a Foole,
    thou art nothing. Yes forsooth I will hold my tongue, so
    your face bids me, though you say nothing.
    710Mum, mum, he that keepes nor crust, not crum,
    Weary of all, shall want some. That's a sheal'd Pescod.
    Gon. Not only Sir this, your all-lycenc'd Foole,
    But other of your insolent retinue
    Do hourely Carpe and is Quarrell, breaking forth
    715In ranke, and (not to be endur'd) riots Sir.
    I had thought by making this well knowne vnto you,
    To haue found a safe redresse, but now grow fearefull
    By what your selfe too late haue spoke and done,
    That you protect this course, and put it on
    720By your allowance, which if you should, the fault
    Would not scape censure, nor the redresses sleepe,
    Which in the tender of a wholesome weale,
    Might in their working do you that offence,
    Which else were shame, that then necessitie
    725Will call discreet proceeding.
    Foole. For you know Nunckle, the Hedge-Sparrow
    fed the Cuckoo so long, that it's had it head bit off by it
    young, so out went the Candle, and we were left dark-
    730Lear. Are you our Daughter?
    Gon. I would you would make vse of your good wise- (dome
    (Whereof I know you are fraught), and put away
    These dispositions, which of late transport you
    From what you rightly are.
    Foole. May