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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    Not Peer Reviewed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.
    735Foole. May not an Asse know, when the Cart drawes
    the Horse ?
    Whoop Iugge I loue thee.
    Lear. Do's any heere know me ?
    This is not Lear:
    740Do's Lear walke thus? Speake thus? Where are his eies?
    Either his Notion weakens, his Discernings
    Are Lethargied. Ha! Waking? 'Tis not so?
    Who is it that can tell me who I am?
    Foole. Lears shadow.
    745Lear. Your name, faire Gentlewoman?
    Gon. This admiration Sir, is much o'th'sauour
    Of other your new prankes. I do beseech you
    To vnderstand my purposes aright:
    As you are Old, and Reuerend, should be Wise.
    750Heere do you keepe a hundred Knights and Squires,
    Men so disorder'd, so debosh'd, and bold,
    That this our Court infected with their manners,
    Shewes like a riotous Inne; Epicurisme and Lust
    Makes it more like a Tauerne, or a Brothell,
    755Then a grac'd Pallace. The shame it selfe doth speake
    For instant remedy. Be then desir'd
    By her, that else will take the thing she begges,
    A little to disquantity your Traine,
    And the remainders that shall still depend,
    760To be such men as may besort your Age,
    Which know themselues, and you.
    Lear. Darknesse, and Diuels.
    Saddle my horses: call my Traine together.
    Degenerate Bastard, Ile not trouble thee;
    765Yet haue I left a daughter.
    Gon. You strike my people, and your disorder'd rable,
    make Seruants of their Betters.

    Enter Albany.
    Lear. Woe, that too late repents:
    770Is it your will, speake Sir? Prepare my Horses.
    Ingratitude! thou Marble-hearted Fiend,
    More hideous when thou shew'st thee in a Child,
    Then the Sea-monster.
    Alb. Pray Sir be patient.
    775Lear. Detested Kite, thou lyest.
    My Traine are men of choice, and rarest parts,
    That all particulars of dutie know,
    And in the most exact regard, support
    The worships of their name. O most small fault,
    780How vgly did'st thou in Cordelia shew?
    Which like an Engine, wrencht my frame of Nature
    From the fixt place: drew from my heart all loue,
    And added to the gall. O Lear, Lear, Lear!
    Beate at this gate that let thy Folly in,
    785And thy deere Iudgement out. Go, go, my people.
    Alb. My Lord, I am guiltlesse, as I am ignorant
    Of what hath moued you.
    Lear. It may be so, my Lord.
    Heare Nature, heare deere Goddesse, heare:
    790Suspend thy purpose, if thou did'st intend
    To make this Creature fruitfull:
    Into her Wombe conuey stirrility,
    Drie vp in her the Organs of increase,
    And from her derogate body, neuer spring
    795A Babe to honor her. If she must teeme,
    Create her childe of Spleene, that it may liue
    And be a thwart disnatur'd torment to her.
    Let it stampe wrinkles in her brow of youth,
    With cadent Teares fret Channels in her cheekes,
    800Turne all her Mothers paines, and benefits
    To laughter, and contempt: That she may feele,
    How sharper then a Serpents tooth it is,
    To haue a thanklesse Childe. Away, away. Exit.
    Alb. Now Gods that we adore,
    805Whereof comes this?
    Gon. Neuer afflict your selfe to know more of it:
    But let his disposition haue that scope
    As dotage giues it.

    Enter Lear.
    810Lear. What fiftie of my Followers at a clap?
    Within a fortnight?
    Alb. What's the matter, Sir?
    Lear. Ile tell thee:
    Life and death, I am asham'd
    815That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus,
    That these hot teares, which breake from me perforce
    Should make thee worth them.
    Blastes and Fogges vpon thee:
    Th'vntented woundings of a Fathers curse
    820Pierce euerie sense about thee. Old fond eyes,
    Beweepe this cause againe, Ile plucke ye out,
    And cast you with the waters that you loose
    To temper Clay. Ha? Let it be so.
    I haue another daughter,
    825Who I am sure is kinde and comfortable:
    When she shall heare this of thee, with her nailes
    Shee'l flea thy Woluish visage. Thou shalt finde,
    That Ile resume the shape which thou dost thinke
    I haue cast off for euer. Exit
    830Gon. Do you marke that?
    Alb. I cannot be so partiall Gonerill,
    To the great loue I beare you.
    Gon. Pray you content. What Oswald, hoa?
    You Sir, more Knaue then Foole, after your Master.
    835Foole. Nunkle Lear, Nunkle Lear,
    Tarry, take the Foole with thee:
    A Fox, when one has caught her,
    And such a Daughter,
    Should sure to the Slaughter,
    840If my Cap would buy a Halter,
    So the Foole followes after. Exit
    Gon. This man hath had good Counsell,
    A hundred Knights?
    'Tis politike, and safe to let him keepe
    845At point a hundred Knights: yes, that on euerie dreame,
    Each buz, each fancie, each complaint, dislike,
    He may enguard his dotage with their powres,
    And hold our liues in mercy. Oswald, I say.
    Alb. Well, you may feare too farre.
    850Gon. Safer then trust too farre;
    Let me still take away the harmes I feare,
    Not feare still to be taken. I know his heart,
    What he hath vtter'd I haue writ my Sister:
    If she sustaine him, and his hundred Knights
    855When I haue shew'd th'vnfitnesse.

    Enter Steward.
    How now Oswald?
    What haue you writ that Letter to my Sister?
    Stew. I Madam.
    860Gon. Take you some company, and away to horse,
    Informe her full of my particular feare,
    And thereto adde such reasons of your owne,
    As may compact it more. Get you gone,