Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: King Lear (Modern, Folio)
  • Editor: Michael Best
  • Textual editors: James D. Mardock, Eric Rasmussen
  • Coordinating editor: Michael Best
  • Research assistants: Quinn MacDonald, Michelle Spelay
  • 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    Not Peer Reviewed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 (Modern, Folio)

    Enter Kent, Gloucester, and Edmund [the Bastard].
    I thought the King had more affected the 5Duke of Albany than Cornwall.
    It did always seem so to us, but now in the division of the kingdom it appears not which of the dukes he values most, for qualities are so weighed that curiosity in 10neither can make choice of either's moiety.
    Is not this your son, my lord?
    His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge. I have so often blushed to acknowledge him that now I am brazed to't.
    I cannot conceive you.
    Sir, this young fellow's mother could, whereupon she grew round-wombed, and had indeed, sir, a son for her cradle ere she had a husband for her bed. Do you smell a fault?
    I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper.
    But I have a son, sir, by order of law, some year elder than this, who yet is no dearer in my account, though this knave came something saucily to the 25world before he was sent for. Yet was his mother fair, there was good sport at his making, and the whoreson must be acknowledged.--Do you know this noble gentleman, Edmund?
    No, my lord.
    My Lord of Kent. Remember him hereafter as my honorable friend.
    My services to your lordship.
    I must love you, and sue to know you better.
    Sir, I shall study deserving.
    He hath been out nine years, and away he shall again. The King is coming.
    Sennet. Enter King Lear, Cornwall, Albany, Goneril, Regan, Cordelia, and attendants.
    Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloucester.
    I shall, my lord.
    Exit [Gloucester].
    Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.
    Give me the map there. Know that we have divided
    In three our kingdom, and 'tis our fast intent
    To shake all cares and business from our age,
    45Conferring them on younger strengths, while we
    Unburdened crawl toward death. Our son of Cornwall,
    And you, our no less loving son of Albany,
    We have this hour a constant will to publish
    Our daughters' several dowers, that future strife
    50May be prevented now. The princes France and Burgundy,
    Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,
    Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,
    And here are to be answered. Tell me, my daughters--
    Since now we will divest us both of rule,
    55Interest of territory, cares of state--
    Which of you shall we say doth love us most,
    That we our largest bounty may extend
    Where nature doth with merit challenge. Goneril,
    Our eldest born, speak first.
    Sir, I love you more than word can wield the matter;
    Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty,
    Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare,
    No less than life; with grace, health, beauty, honor,
    As much as child e'er loved or father found;
    65A love that makes breath poor and speech unable.
    Beyond all manner of so much I love you.
    [Aside] What shall Cordelia speak? Love and be silent.
    Of all these bounds even from this line to this,
    With shadowy forests and with champaigns riched
    70With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads,
    We make thee lady. To thine and Albany's issues
    Be this perpetual. What says our second daughter,
    Our dearest Regan, wife of Cornwall?
    I am made of that self-mettle as my sister,
    75And prize me at her worth. In my true heart
    I find she names my very deed of love--
    Only she comes too short--that I profess
    Myself an enemy to all other joys
    Which the most precious square of sense professes,
    80And find I am alone felicitate
    In your dear highness' love.
    [Aside] Then poor Cordelia--
    And yet not so, since I am sure my love's
    More ponderous than my tongue.
    To thee and thine hereditary ever
    Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom,
    No less in space, validity, and pleasure
    Than that conferred on Goneril. Now our joy,
    Although our last and least, to whose young love
    90The vines of France and milk of Burgundy
    Strive to be interessed, what can you say to draw
    A third, more opulent than your sisters'? Speak.
    Nothing my lord.
    Nothing will come of nothing. Speak again.
    Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
    My heart into my mouth. I love your majesty
    According to my bond, no more nor less.
    How, how, Cordelia? Mend your speech a little,
    Lest you may mar your fortunes.
    Good my lord,
    You have begot me, bred me, loved me.
    I return those duties back as are right fit;
    105Obey you, love you, and most honor you.
    Why have my sisters husbands if they say
    They love you all? Haply when I shall wed,
    That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry
    Half my love with him, half my care and duty.
    110Sure I shall never marry like my sisters.
    But goes thy heart with this?
    Ay, my good lord.
    So young and so untender?
    So young, my lord, and true.
    Let it be so. Thy truth then be thy dower;
    For by the sacred radiance of the sun,
    The mysteries of Hecate and the night,
    By all the operation of the orbs
    From whom we do exist and cease to be,
    120Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
    Propinquity and property of blood,
    And as a stranger to my heart and me
    Hold thee from this for ever. The barbarous Scythian,
    Or he that makes his generation messes
    125To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom
    Be as well neighbored, pitied, and relieved
    As thou my sometime daughter.
    Good my liege--
    Peace, Kent!
    130Come not between the dragon and his wrath.
    I loved her most, and thought to set my rest
    On her kind nursery. [To Cordelia] Hence and avoid my sight--
    So be my grave my peace, as here I give
    Her father's heart from her. Call France. Who stirs?
    135Call Burgundy.
    [Exit an attendant.]
    Cornwall and Albany,
    With my two daughters' dowers digest the third.
    Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.
    I do invest you jointly with my power,
    Preeminence, and all the large effects
    140That troop with majesty. Ourself by monthly course,
    With reservation of an hundred knights
    By you to be sustained, shall our abode
    Make with you by due turn; only we shall retain
    The name and all th'addition to a king. The sway,
    145Revenue, execution of the rest,
    Beloved sons, be yours; which to confirm,
    This coronet part between you.
    Royal Lear,
    Whom I have ever honored as my king,
    150Loved as my father, as my master followed,
    As my great patron thought on in my prayers--
    The bow is bent and drawn. Make from the shaft.
    Let it fall rather, though the fork invade
    The region of my heart. Be Kent unmannerly
    155When Lear is mad. What wouldst thou do, old man?
    Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak
    When power to flattery bows? To plainness honor's bound
    When majesty falls to folly. Reserve thy state,
    160And in thy best consideration check
    This hideous rashness. Answer my life my judgment;
    Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least;
    Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sounds
    Reverb no hollowness.
    Kent, on thy life no more.
    My life I never held but as pawn
    To wage against thine enemies, ne'er feared to lose it,
    Thy safety being motive.
    Out of my sight!
    See better Lear, and let me still remain
    The true blank of thine eye.
    Now by Apollo--
    Now, by Apollo, King, thou swear'st thy gods in vain.
    [Threatening Kent] O vassal! Miscreant!
    Albany, [Cornwall or Cordelia]
    Dear sir, forbear!
    Kill thy physician, and thy fee bestow
    Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy gift,
    Or whilst I can vent clamor from my throat
    180I'll tell thee thou dost evil.
    Hear me, recreant, on thine allegiance hear me.
    That thou hast sought to make us break our vows,
    Which we durst never yet, and with strained pride
    To come betwixt our sentences and our power,
    185Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,
    Our potency made good, take thy reward.
    Five days we do allot thee for provision
    To shield thee from disasters of the world,
    And on the sixth to turn thy hated back
    190Upon our kingdom. If on the next day following
    Thy banished trunk be found in our dominions,
    The moment is thy death. Away! By Jupiter,
    This shall not be revoked.
    Fare thee well, King, sith thus thou wilt appear,
    195Freedom lives hence, and banishment is here.
    [To Cordelia] The gods to their dear shelter take thee, maid,
    That justly think'st, and hast most rightly said.
    [To Goneril and Regan] And your large speeches may your deeds approve,
    That good effects may spring from words of love.
    200Thus Kent, O princes, bids you all adieu;
    He'll shape his old course in a country new.
    Flourish. Enter Gloucester with France and Burgundy [and] attendants.
    [Cornwall or Cordelia]
    Here's France and Burgundy, my noble lord.
    My lord of Burgundy,
    We first address toward you, who with this king
    Hath rivaled for our daughter. What in the least
    Will you require in present dower with her,
    Or cease your quest of love?
    Most royal majesty,
    I crave no more than hath your highness offered,
    Nor will you tender less.
    Right noble Burgundy,
    When she was dear to us we did hold her so,
    215But now her price is fallen. Sir, there she stands.
    If aught within that little-seeming substance,
    Or all of it with our displeasure pieced
    And nothing more, may fitly like your grace,
    She's there, and she is yours.
    I know no answer.
    Will you with those infirmities she owes,
    Unfriended, new adopted to our hate,
    Dowered with our curse and strangered with our oath,
    Take her or leave her?
    Pardon me royal sir,
    Election makes not up in such conditions.
    Then leave her sir, for by the power that made me
    I tell you all her wealth. [To France] For you, great king,
    I would not from your love make such a stray
    230To match you where I hate. Therefore, beseech you
    T'avert your liking a more worthier way
    Than on a wretch whom nature is ashamed
    Almost t'acknowledge hers.
    This is most strange,
    235That she whom even but now was your object,
    The argument of your praise, balm of your age,
    The best, the dearest, should in this trice of time
    Commit a thing so monstrous to dismantle
    So many folds of favor. Sure her offence
    240Must be of such unnatural degree
    That monsters it, or your fore-vouched affection
    Fall into taint; which to believe of her
    Must be a faith that reason without miracle
    Should never plant in me.
    I yet beseech your majesty,
    If for I want that glib and oily art,
    To speak and purpose not--since what I will intend
    I'll do't before I speak--that you make known
    It is no vicious blot, murder, or foulness,
    250No unchaste action or dishonored step
    That hath deprived me of your grace and favor,
    But even for want of that for which I am richer--
    A still-soliciting eye, and such a tongue
    That I am glad I have not, though not to have it
    255Hath lost me in your liking.
    Better thou hadst
    Not been born than not t'have pleased me better.
    Is it but this? A tardiness in nature
    Which often leaves the history unspoke
    260That it intends to do? My lord of Burgundy,
    What say you to the lady? Love's not love
    When it is mingled with regards that stands
    Aloof from th'entire point. Will you have her?
    She is herself a dowry.
    Royal King,
    Give but that portion which yourself proposed,
    And here I take Cordelia by the hand,
    Duchess of Burgundy.
    Nothing. I have sworn. I am firm.
    [To Cordelia] I am sorry then you have so lost a father
    That you must lose a husband.
    Peace be with Burgundy;
    Since that respect and fortunes are his love,
    I shall not be his wife.
    Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor,
    Most choice, forsaken, and most loved, despised,
    Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon.
    Be it lawful I take up what's cast away.
    Gods, gods! 'Tis strange, that from their cold'st neglect
    280My love should kindle to inflamed respect.
    Thy dowerless daughter, King, thrown to my chance,
    Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France.
    Not all the dukes of waterish Burgundy,
    Can buy this unprized precious maid of me.
    285Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind.
    Thou losest here a better where to find.
    Thou hast her, France. Let her be thine, for we
    Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see
    That face of hers again. Therefore be gone,
    290Without our grace, our love, our benison.
    Come, noble Burgundy.
    Flourish. Exeunt [Lear, Burgundy, and others].
    Bid farewell to your sisters.
    The jewels of our father, with washed eyes
    Cordelia leaves you. I know you what you are,
    295And like a sister am most loath to call
    Your faults as they are named. Love well our father.
    To your professèd bosoms I commit him;
    But yet, alas, stood I within his grace,
    I would prefer him to a better place.
    300So farewell to you both.
    Prescribe not us our duty.
    Let your study
    Be to content your lord, who hath received you
    At fortune's alms. You have obedience scanted,
    305And well are worth the want that you have wanted.
    Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides;
    Who covers faults at last with shame derides.
    Well may you prosper.
    Come my fair Cordelia.
    Exeunt France and Cordelia.
    Sister, it is not little I have to say of what most nearly appertains to us both. I think our father will hence tonight, next month with us.
    That's most certain, and with you.
    You see how full of changes his age is. The 315observation we have made of it hath been little. He always loved our sister most, and with what poor judgment he hath now cast her off appears too grossly.
    'Tis the infirmity of his age. Yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself.
    The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash. Then must we look from his age to receive not alone the imperfections of long-engrafted condition, but therewithal the unruly waywardness that infirm and choleric years bring with them.
    Such unconstant starts are we like to have from him as this of Kent's banishment.
    There is further compliment of leave-taking between France and him. Pray you let us sit together. If our father carry authority with such disposition as he bears, 330this last surrender of his will but offend us.
    We shall further think of it.
    We must do something, and i'th'heat.
    Enter [the] Bastard [with a letter].
    Thou, Nature, art my goddess. To thy law
    My services are bound. Wherefore should I
    Stand in the plague of custom and permit
    The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
    For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines
    340Lag of a brother? Why "bastard"? Wherefore "base,"
    When my dimensions are as well compact,
    My mind as generous, and my shape as true
    As honest madam's issue? Why brand they us
    With "base"? With baseness? Bastardy? "Base, base"?
    345Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, take
    More composition and fierce quality
    Than doth within a dull, stale, tired bed
    Go to the creating a whole tribe of fops
    Got 'tween asleep and wake. Well then,
    350Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land.
    Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund
    As to th'legitimate. Fine word, "legitimate."
    Well, my "legitimate," if this letter speed
    And my invention thrive, Edmund the base
    355Shall to th'legitimate. I grow, I prosper.
    Now, gods, stand up for bastards!
    Enter Gloucester.
    Kent banished thus? and France in choler parted?
    And the King gone tonight, prescribed his power,
    360Confined to exhibition? All this done
    Upon the gad?--Edmund, how now? What news?
    [Pockets the letter.] So please your lordship, none.
    Why so earnestly seek you to put up that letter?
    I know no news, my lord.
    What paper were you reading?
    Nothing, my lord.
    No? what needed then that terrible dispatch of it into your pocket? The quality of nothing hath not such need to hide itself. Let's see. Come, if it be 370nothing I shall not need spectacles.
    I beseech you, sir, pardon me. It is a letter from my brother that I have not all o'er-read; and for so much as I have perused, I find it not fit for your o'er-looking.
    Give me the letter, sir.
    I shall offend either to detain or give it. The contents, as in part I understand them, are to blame.
    Let's see, let's see!
    I hope for my brother's justification, he wrote this but as an assay, or taste of my virtue.
    [He gives Gloucester the letter.]
    This policy and reverence of age makes the world bitter to the best of our times, keeps our fortunes from us, till our oldness cannot relish them. I begin to find an idle 385and fond bondage in the oppression of aged tyranny, who sways not as it hath power, but as it is suffered. Come to me, that of this I may speak more . If our father would sleep till I waked him, you should enjoy half his revenue for ever, and live the beloved of your brother,
    390Hum, conspiracy! "Sleep till I wake him," "You should enjoy half his revenue"? My son Edgar? Had he a hand to write this? A heart and brain to breed it in? When came you to this? Who brought it?
    It was not brought me, my lord, there's the 395cunning of it. I found it thrown in at the casement of my closet.
    You know the character to be your brother's?
    If the matter were good, my lord, I durst swear it were his; but in respect of that I would fain think it 400were not.
    It is his?
    It is his hand, my lord, but I hope his heart is not in the contents.
    Has he never before sounded you in this business?
    Never, my lord, but I have heard him oft maintain it to be fit that sons at perfect age, and fathers declined, the father should be as ward to the son, and the son manage his revenue.
    O villain, villain! His very opinion in the 410letter. Abhorred villain! Unnatural, detested, brutish villain, worse than brutish. Go sirrah, seek him. I'll apprehend him, abominable villain. Where is he?
    I do not well know, my lord. If it shall please you to suspend your indignation against my brother till you can 415derive from him better testimony of his intent, you should run a certain course; where, if you violently proceed against him mistaking his purpose, it would make a great gap in your own honor and shake in pieces the heart of his obedience. I dare pawn down my life for him that 420he hath writ this to feel my affection to your honor, and to no other pretense of danger.
    Think you so?
    If your honor judge it meet, I will place you where you shall hear us confer of this, and by an 425auricular assurance have your satisfaction--and that without any further delay than this very evening.
    He cannot be such a monster. Edmund, seek him out. Wind me into him, I pray you. Frame the business after your own wisdom. I would unstate 430myself to be in a due resolution.
    I will seek him sir, presently; convey the business as I shall find means, and acquaint you withal.
    These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us. Though the wisdom of nature can 435reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself scourged by the sequent effects. Love cools, friendship falls off, brothers divide. In cities, mutinies; in countries, discord; in palaces, treason; and the bond cracked 'twixt son and father. This villain of mine comes under the 440prediction--there's son against father. The King falls from bias of nature--there's father against child. We have seen the best of our time. Machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all ruinous disorders follow us disquietly to our graves. Find out this villain, Edmund. It shall lose 445thee nothing. Do it carefully. And the noble and true-hearted Kent banished; his offence, honesty. 'Tis strange.
    This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune--often the surfeits of our own behavior--we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the 450moon, and stars, as if we were villains on necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical predominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in by a divine 455thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition on the charge of a star. "My father compounded with my mother under the dragon's tail, and my nativity was under Ursa Major, so that it follows I am rough and lecherous." I should 460have been that I am had the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing.
    Enter Edgar.
    Pat he comes, like the catastrophe of the old comedy. My cue is villanous melancholy, with a sigh like Tom 465o'Bedlam. --Oh, these eclipses do portend these divisions. Fa, sol, la, me.
    How now, brother Edmund. What serious contemplation are you in?
    I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read this 470other day, what should follow these eclipses.
    Do you busy yourself with that?
    I promise you, the effects he writes of succeed unhappily.
    When saw you my father last?
    The night gone by.
    Spake you with him?
    Ay, two hours together.
    Parted you in good terms? Found you no displeasure in him, by word, nor countenance?
    None at all.
    Bethink yourself wherein you may have offended him, and at my entreaty forbear his presence until some little time hath qualified the heat of his displeasure, which at this instant so rageth in him that with the 485mischief of your person it would scarcely allay.
    Some villain hath done me wrong.
    That's my fear. I pray you, have 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 hear my lord speak. Pray ye go. There's my key. If you do stir abroad, go armed.
    Armed, brother?
    Brother, I advise you to the best. I am no honest man if there be any good meaning toward you. I have told 495you what I have seen and heard but faintly, nothing like the image and horror of it. Pray you, away!
    Shall I hear from you anon?
    Exit [Edgar].
    [Calling after him] I do serve you in this business.
    A credulous father and a brother noble,
    500Whose nature is so far from doing harms
    That he suspects none; on whose foolish honesty
    My practices ride easy. I see the business.
    Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit.
    All with me's meet that I can fashion fit.
    Enter Goneril and [Oswald, the] steward.
    Did my father strike my gentleman for chiding of his fool?
    Ay, madam.
    By day and night he wrongs me. Every hour
    He flashes into one gross crime or other
    That sets us all at odds. I'll not endure it.
    His knights grow riotous, and himself upbraids us
    On every trifle. When he returns from hunting
    515I will not speak with him. Say I am sick.
    If you come slack of former services
    You shall do well; the fault of it I'll answer.
    [Hunting horns within]
    He's coming madam. I hear him.
    Put on what weary negligence you please,
    520You and your fellows. I'd have 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 have said.
    Well, madam.
    And let his knights have colder looks among you. What grows of it no matter. Advise your fellows so. I'll write straight to my sister to hold my course. Prepare for dinner.
    Exeunt [separately].
    530Enter Kent [disguised as Caius].
    If but as will I other accents borrow
    That can my speech diffuse, my good intent
    May carry through itself to that full issue
    For which I razed my likeness. Now, banished Kent,
    535If thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemned,
    So may it come thy master, whom thou lovest,
    Shall find thee full of labors.
    Horns within. Enter Lear and attendants [from hunting].
    Let me not stay a jot for dinner. Go get it 540ready.
    [Exit an attendant.]
    [To Kent] How now, what art thou?
    A man, sir.
    What dost thou profess? What wouldst thou with us?
    I do profess to be no less than I seem, to serve 545him truly that will put me in trust, to love him that is honest, to converse with him that is wise and says little, to fear judgment, to fight when I cannot choose, and to eat no fish.
    What art thou?
    A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the King.
    If thou be'st as poor for a subject as he's for a king, thou art poor enough. What wouldst thou?
    Who wouldst thou serve?
    Dost thou know me, fellow?
    No sir, but you have that in your countenance which I would fain call master.
    What's that?
    What services canst thou do?
    I can keep honest counsel, ride, run, mar a curious tale in telling it, and deliver a plain message 565bluntly. That which ordinary men are fit for I am qualified in, and the best of me is diligence.
    How old art thou?
    Not so young, sir, to love a woman for singing, nor so old to dote on her for anything. I have years on 570my back forty-eight.
    Follow me. Thou shalt serve me. If I like thee no worse after dinner I will not part from thee yet. Dinner, ho! Dinner! Where's my knave, my fool? Go you and call my fool hither.
    [Exit an attendant.]
    575Enter [Oswald, the] steward.
    You--you, sirrah--where's my daughter?
    So please you--
    Exit [Oswald].
    What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll back.
    [Exit a Knight.]
    Where's my fool? Ho! I think the world's asleep.
    [Enter Knight.]
    How now? Where's that mongrel?
    He says, my lord, your daughter is not well.
    Why came not the slave back to me when I called him?
    Sir, he answered me in the roundest manner he would not.
    He would not?
    My lord, I know not what the matter is, but to my judgment your highness is not entertained with that ceremonious affection as you were wont. There's a great abatement of kindness appears as well in 590the general dependents as in the duke himself also, and your daughter.
    Ha? Sayest thou so?
    I beseech you pardon me, my lord, if I be mistaken, for my duty cannot be silent when I think 595your highness wronged.
    Thou but rememberest me of mine own conception. I have perceived a most faint neglect of late, which I have rather blamed as mine own jealous curiosity than as a very pretense and purpose of unkindness. 600I will look further into 't. But where's my fool? I have not seen him this two days.
    Since my young lady's going into France, sir, the fool hath much pined away.
    No more of that, I have noted it well. Go you 605and tell my daughter I would speak with her.
    [Exit a servant.]
    Go you, call hither my fool.
    [Exit another servant.]
    Enter [Oswald, the] steward.
    O you, sir, you. Come you hither sir. Who am I, sir?
    My lady's father.
    "My lady's father"? My lord's knave, you whoreson dog, you slave, you cur.
    I am none of these, my lord. I beseech your pardon.
    [Striking him] Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?
    I'll not be strucken my lord.
    [Tripping him] Nor tripped neither, you base football player.
    I thank thee, fellow. Thou servest me, and I'll love thee.
    [To Oswald] Come sir, arise. Away! I'll teach you differences. 620Away, away! If you will measure your lubber's length again, tarry, but away! Go to, have you wisdom? So.
    [Exit Oswald.]
    Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee. [Giving money] There's earnest of thy service.
    Enter Fool.
    Let me hire him too. [To Kent, holding out his cap] Here's my coxcomb.
    How now, my pretty knave, how dost thou?
    [To Kent] Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb.
    Why, my boy?
    Why? For taking one's part that's out of favor. 630Nay, an thou canst not smile as the wind sits thou'lt catch cold shortly. There, take my coxcomb. Why this fellow has banished two on's daughters, and did the third a blessing against his will. If thou follow him, thou must needs wear my coxcomb. [To Lear] How now, nuncle? Would 635I had two coxcombs and two daughters.
    Why, my boy?
    If I gave them all my living, I'd keep my coxcombs myself. There's mine; beg another of thy daughters.
    Take heed, sirrah--the whip.
    Truth's a dog must to kennel. He must be whipped out, when the Lady Brach may stand by th'fire and stink.
    A pestilent gall to me.
    Sirrah, I'll teach thee a speech.
    Mark it, nuncle.
    Have more than thou showest,
    Speak less than thou knowest,
    650Lend less than thou owest,
    Ride more than thou goest,
    Learn more than thou trowest,
    Set less than thou throwest,
    Leave thy drink and thy whore,
    655And keep in-a-door,
    And thou shalt have more
    Than two tens to a score.
    This is nothing, fool.
    Then 'tis like the breath of an unfee'd lawyer; 660you gave me nothing for't. Can you make no use of nothing nuncle?
    Why no, boy. Nothing can be made out of nothing.
    [To Kent] Prithee tell him, so much the rent of his land 665comes to. He will not believe a fool.
    A bitter fool.
    [To Lear] Dost thou know the difference, my boy, between a bitter fool and a sweet one?
    No, lad, teach me.
    Nuncle, give me an egg, and I'll give thee two crowns.
    What two crowns shall they be?
    Why, after I have cut the egg i'th'middle and eat up the meat, the two crowns of the egg. When 675thou clovest thy crowns i'th'middle and gavest away both parts, thou borest thine ass on thy back o'er the dirt. Thou had'st little wit in thy bald crown when thou gavest thy golden one away. If I speak like myself in this, let him be whipped that first finds it so.
    680Fools had ne'er less grace in a year,
    For wise men are grown foppish,
    And know not how their wits to wear,
    Their manners are so apish.
    When were you wont to be so full of songs, sirrah?
    I have used it, nuncle, e'er since thou mad'st thy daughters thy mothers; for when thou gav'st them the rod, and puttest down thine own breeches,
    Then they for sudden joy did weep,
    And I for sorrow sung,
    690That such a king should play bo-peep,
    And go the fool among.
    Prithee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach thy fool to lie. I would fain learn to lie.
    An you lie, sirrah, we'll have you whipped.
    I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are. They'll have me whipped for speaking true, thou'lt have me whipped for lying, and sometimes I am whipped for holding my peace. I had rather be any kind o'thing than a fool; and yet I would not be thee nuncle. Thou hast pared thy 700wit o'both sides, and left nothing i'th'middle. Here comes one o'the parings.
    Enter Goneril.
    How now, daughter? What makes that frontlet on? You are too much of late i'th'frown.
    Thou wast a pretty fellow when thou hadst no need to care for her frowning. Now thou art an "O" without a figure. I am better than thou art now--I am a fool, thou art nothing. [To Goneril] Yes, forsooth, I will hold my tongue; so your face bids me though you say nothing.
    710Mum, mum,
    He that keeps nor crust nor crumb,
    Weary of all, shall want some.
    [Pointing to Lear.] That's a shelled peascod.
    Not only, sir, this, your all-licensed fool,
    But other of your insolent retinue
    Do hourly carp and quarrel, breaking forth
    715In rank and not-to-be-endurèd riots. Sir,
    I had thought by making this well known unto you
    To have found a safe redress, but now grow fearful
    By what yourself too late have 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 sleep;
    Which, in the tender of a wholesome weal,
    Might in their working do you that offence,
    Which else were shame, that then necessity
    725Will call discreet proceeding.
    For you know nuncle,
    The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long,
    That it's had its head bit off by its young.
    So out went the candle, and we were left darkling.
    Are you our daughter?
    I would you would make use of your good wisdom,
    Whereof I know you are fraught, and put away
    These dispositions which of late transport you
    From what you rightly are.
    May not an ass know when the cart draws the horse?--
    Whoop, Jug, I love thee!
    Does any here know me? This is not Lear.
    740Does Lear walk thus? Speak thus? Where are his eyes?
    Either his notion weakens, his discernings
    Are lethargied. Ha! Waking? 'Tis not so.
    Who is it that can tell me who I am?
    Lear's shadow.
    Your name, fair gentlewoman?
    This admiration, sir, is much o'th'savor
    Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you
    To understand my purposes aright.
    As you are old and reverend, should be wise.
    750Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires,
    Men so disordered, so debauched and bold,
    That this our court, infected with their manners,
    Shows like a riotous inn. Epicurism and lust
    Makes it more like a tavern or a brothel
    755Than a graced palace. The shame itself doth speak
    For instant remedy. Be then desired
    By her, that else will take the thing she begs,
    A little to disquantity your train,
    And the remainders that shall still depend
    760To be such men as may besort your age,
    Which know themselves, and you.
    Darkness and devils!
    Saddle my horses. Call my train together.
    [Exit one or more.]
    Degenerate bastard, I'll not trouble thee.
    765Yet have I left a daughter.
    You strike my people, and your disordered rabble
    Make servants of their betters.
    Enter Albany.
    Woe that too late repents.
    770[To Albany] Is it your will? Speak, sir. [To a servant] Prepare my horses.
    [Exit servant.]
    Ingratitude! Thou marble-hearted fiend,
    More hideous when thou show'st thee in a child
    Than the sea-monster.
    Pray, sir, be patient.
    [To Goneril] Detested kite, thou liest.
    My train are men of choice and rarest parts,
    That all particulars of duty know,
    And in the most exact regard support
    The worships of their name. Oh, most small fault,
    780How ugly didst thou in Cordelia show,
    Which like an engine, wrenched my frame of nature
    From the fixèd place; drew from my heart all love
    And added to the gall.
    [Striking his head]
    O Lear, Lear, Lear!
    Beat at this gate that let thy folly in
    785And thy dear judgment out. Go, go, my people.
    [Exeunt some.]
    My lord, I am guiltless, as I am ignorant
    Of what hath moved you.
    It may be so, my lord.
    Hear Nature, hear dear goddess, hear.
    790Suspend thy purpose if thou didst intend
    To make this creature fruitful.
    Into her womb convey sterility,
    Dry up in her the organs of increase,
    And from her derogate body never spring
    795A babe to honor her. If she must teem,
    Create her child of spleen, that it may live
    And be a thwart, disnatured torment to her.
    Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth,
    With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks,
    800Turn all her mother's pains and benefits
    To laughter and contempt, that she may feel
    How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
    To have a thankless child. Away, away.
    Exeunt [Lear, Kent, Fool, and servants].
    Now, gods that we adore, 805whereof comes this?
    Never afflict yourself to know more of it,
    But let his disposition have that scope
    As dotage gives it.
    Enter Lear [and Fool].
    What? Fifty of my followers at a clap
    Within a fortnight?
    What's the matter, sir?
    I'll tell thee--life and death, I am ashamed
    815That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus;
    That these hot tears which break from me perforce
    Should make thee worth them. Blasts and fogs upon thee!
    Th'untented woundings of a father's curse
    820Pierce every sense about thee. Old fond eyes,
    Beweep this cause again, I'll pluck ye out
    And cast you with the waters that you loose
    To temper clay. Ha? Let it be so.
    I have another daughter,
    825Who I am sure is kind and comfortable.
    When she shall hear this of thee, with her nails
    She'll flay thy wolvish visage. Thou shalt find
    That I'll resume the shape which thou dost think
    I have cast off for ever.
    Exit [Lear].
    Do you mark that?
    I cannot be so partial, Goneril,
    To the great love I bear you--
    Pray you content. What, Oswald, ho!
    [To the Fool] You, sir, more knave than fool, after your master!
    Nuncle Lear, nuncle Lear, tarry. Take the fool 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 fool follows after.
    Exit [Fool].
    This man hath had good counsel. A hundred knights?
    'Tis politic and safe to let him keep
    845At point a hundred knights? Yes, that on every dream,
    Each buzz, each fancy, each complaint, dislike,
    He may enguard his dotage with their powers
    And hold our lives in mercy.--Oswald, I say!
    Well, you may fear too far.
    Safer than trust too far.
    Let me still take away the harms I fear,
    Not fear still to be taken. I know his heart.
    What he hath uttered I have writ my sister.
    If she sustain him and his hundred knights
    855When I have showed th'unfitness--
    Enter [Oswald the] steward.
    How now Oswald?
    What, have you writ that letter to my sister?
    Ay, madam.
    Take you some company and away to horse.
    Inform her full of my particular fear,
    And thereto add such reasons of your own
    As may compact it more. Get you gone,
    And hasten your return.
    [Exit Oswald.]
    No, no, my lord,
    865This milky gentleness and course of yours,
    Though I condemn not, yet, under pardon,
    You are much more at task for want of wisdom
    Than praised for harmful mildness.
    How far your eyes may pierce I cannot tell.
    870Striving to better, oft we mar what's well.
    Nay then--
    Well, well, th'event.
    Enter Lear, Kent [disguised as Caius], Gentleman, and Fool.
    [To Kent] Go you before to Gloucester with these letters. Acquaint my daughter no further with anything you know than comes from her demand out of the letter. If your diligence be not speedy, I shall be there afore you.
    I will not sleep, my lord, till I have delivered your letter.
    If a man's brains were in's heels, were't not in danger of kibes?
    Ay, boy.
    Then I prithee be merry. Thy wit shall not go slipshod.
    Ha ha ha.
    Shalt see thy other daughter will use thee kindly, for though she's as like this as a crab's like an 890apple, yet I can tell what I can tell.
    What can'st tell, boy?
    She will taste as like this as a crab does to a crab. Thou canst tell why one's nose stands i'th'middle on's face?
    Why to keep one's eyes of either side 's nose, that what a man cannot smell out he may spy into.
    I did her wrong.
    Canst tell how an oyster makes his shell?
    Nor I neither; but I can tell why a snail has a house.
    Why to put 's head in, not to give it away to his 905daughters and leave his horns without a case.
    I will forget my nature. So kind a father. Be my horses ready?
    Thy asses are gone about 'em. The reason why the seven stars are no more than seven is a pretty reason.
    Because they are not eight?
    Yes indeed. Thou wouldst make a good fool.
    To tak't again perforce. Monster ingratitude!
    If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I'd have thee beaten for being old before thy time.
    How's that?
    Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise.
    O let me not be mad; not mad, sweet heaven. Keep me in temper. I would not be mad.
    [Enter a Gentleman.]
    How now, are 920the horses ready?
    Ready, my lord.
    Come, boy.
    She that's a maid now, and laughs at my departure,
    Shall not be a maid long, unless things be cut shorter.
    Enter [the] Bastard, and Curan, separately.
    Save thee Curan.
    And you, sir. I have been 930with your father, and given him notice that the Duke of Cornwall and Regan his Duchess will be here with him this night.
    How comes that?
    Nay I know not. You have heard of the news abroad, 935I mean the whispered ones, for they are yet but ear-kissing arguments.
    Not I. Pray you what are they?
    Have you heard of no likely wars toward, twixt the Dukes of Cornwall and Albany?
    Not a word.
    You may do then in time. Fare you well, sir.
    Exit [Curan].
    The Duke be here tonight? The better--best.
    This weaves itself perforce into my business,
    945My father hath set guard to take my brother,
    And I have one thing of a queasy question
    Which I must act. Briefness, and fortune work.
    Enter Edgar [above].
    Brother, a word. Descend. Brother, I say,
    950My father watches.
    [Edgar descends.]
    O sir, fly this place!
    Intelligence is given where you are hid.
    You have now the good advantage of the night.
    Have you not spoken 'gainst the Duke of Cornwall?
    He's coming hither, now i'th'night, i'th'haste,
    955And Regan with him. Have you nothing said
    Upon his party 'gainst the Duke of Albany?
    Advise yourself.
    I am sure on't. Not a word.
    I hear my father coming. Pardon me--
    960In cunning, I must draw my sword upon you.
    Draw! Seem to defend yourself. Now quit you well.
    [Shouting] Yield! Come before my father. Light, ho, here!
    [To Edgar] Fly, brother.--[Shouting] Torches, torches! [To Edgar] So farewell.
    965Exit Edgar.
    [Wounding his arm] Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion
    Of my more fierce endeavor. I have seen drunkards
    Do more than this in sport. [Shouting] Father, father!
    Stop, stop! No help?
    970Enter Gloucester and servants, with torches.
    Now Edmund, where's the villain?
    Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out,
    Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon
    To stand auspicious mistress.
    But where is he?
    Look sir, I bleed.
    Where is the villain, Edmund?
    Fled this way, sir, when by no means he could--
    Pursue him, ho! Go after.
    [Exit attendant(s).]
    [To the Bastard] By no means what?
    Persuade me to the murder of your lordship.
    But that I told him the revenging gods
    'Gainst parricides did all the thunder bend;
    Spoke with how manifold and strong a bond
    The child was bound to'th'father. Sir, in fine,
    985Seeing how loathly opposite I stood
    To his unnatural purpose, in fell motion
    With his preparèd sword he charges home
    My unprovided body, latched mine arm.
    And when he saw my best alarumed spirits,
    990Bold in the quarrel's right, roused to th'encounter--
    Or whether gasted by the noise I made--
    Full suddenly he fled.
    Let him fly far.
    Not in this land shall he remain uncaught--
    995And found, dispatch! The noble Duke my master,
    My worthy arch and patron, comes tonight.
    By his authority I will proclaim it.
    That he which finds him shall deserve our thanks,
    Bringing the murderous coward to the stake.
    1000He that conceals him, death.
    When I dissuaded him from his intent
    And found him pitched to do it, with curst speech
    I threatened to discover him. He replied,
    "Thou unpossessing bastard, dost thou think,
    1005If I would stand against thee, would the reposal
    Of any trust, virtue, or worth in thee
    Make thy words faithed? No. What should I deny,
    As this I would, though thou didst produce
    My very character, I'd turn it all
    1010To thy suggestion, plot, and damned practice.
    And thou must make a dullard of the world,
    If they not thought the profits of my death
    Were very pregnant and potential spirits
    To make thee seek it."
    Oh, strange and fastened villain!
    Would he deny his letter, said he?
    Tucket within.
    Hark, the Duke's trumpets. I know not why he comes.
    All ports I'll bar. The villain shall not scape;
    The Duke must grant me that. Besides, his picture
    1020I will send far and near that all the kingdom
    May have due note of him. And of my land,
    Loyal and natural boy, I'll work the means
    To make thee capable.
    Enter Cornwall, Regan, and attendants.
    How now, my noble friend. Since I came hither,
    Which I can call but now, I have heard strangeness.
    If it be true, all vengeance comes too short
    Which can pursue th'offender. How dost, my lord?
    O madam, my old heart is cracked, it's cracked.
    What, did my father's godson seek your life?
    He whom my father named, your Edgar?
    O lady, lady, shame would have it hid.
    Was he not companion with the riotous knights
    That tended upon my father?
    I know not, madam. 'Tis too bad, too bad.
    Yes, madam, he was of that consort.
    No marvel, then, though he were ill affected,
    'Tis they have put him on the old man's death
    To have th'expense and waste of his revenues.
    1040I have this present evening from my sister
    Been well informed of them, and with such cautions,
    That if they come to sojourn at my house
    I'll not be there.
    Nor I, assure thee Regan;
    1045Edmund, I hear that you have shown your father
    A child-like office.
    It was my duty, sir.
    He did bewray his practice, and received
    This hurt you see, striving to apprehend him.
    Is he pursued?
    Ay, my good lord.
    If he be taken, he shall never more
    Be feared of doing harm. Make your own purpose
    How, in my strength, you please. For you, Edmund,
    1055Whose virtue and obedience doth this instant
    So much commend itself, you shall be ours.
    Natures of such deep trust we shall much need.
    You we first seize on.
    I shall serve you, sir, truly, however else.
    For him I thank your grace.
    You know not why we came to visit you?
    Thus out of season, threading dark-eyed night?
    Occasions, noble Gloucester, of some prize,
    Wherein we must have use of your advice.
    1065Our father, he hath writ--so hath our sister--
    Of differences which I best thought it fit
    To answer from our home. The several messengers
    From hence attend dispatch. Our good old friend,
    Lay comforts to your bosom, and bestow
    1070Your needful counsel to our businesses,
    Which craves the instant use.
    I serve you, madam. Your graces are right welcome.
    Exeunt. Flourish.
    1075Enter Kent, and [Oswald, the] steward separately.
    Good dawning to thee friend. Art of this house?
    Where may we set our horses?
    Prithee, if thou lov'st me, tell me.
    I love thee not.
    Why then, I care not for thee.
    If I had thee in Lipsbury Pinfold I would make thee care for me.
    Why dost thou use me thus? I know thee not.
    Fellow, I know thee.
    What dost thou know me for?
    A knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-1090pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking, whoreson, glass-gazing, super-serviceable, finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave. One that wouldst be a bawd in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, 1095pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch--one whom I will beat into clamorous whining if thou deny'st the least syllable of thy addition.
    Why, what a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to rail on one that is neither known of thee, nor 1100knows thee?
    What a brazen-faced varlet art thou, to deny thou knowest me! Is it two days since I tripped up thy heels and beat thee before the king? [Drawing his sword] Draw, you rogue, for though it be night yet the moon shines. I'll make a 1105sop o'th'moonshine of you, you whoreson cullionly barber-monger. Draw!
    Away, I have nothing to do with thee.
    Draw, you rascal. You come with letters against the king, and take Vanity the puppet's part 1110against the royalty of her father. Draw, you rogue, or I'll so carbonado your shanks! Draw, you rascal. Come your ways.
    Help, ho! Murder! Help!
    Strike, you slave. Stand, rogue. Stand, you neat 1115slave--strike!
    Help, ho, murder, murder!
    Enter Bastard, Cornwall, Regan, Gloucester, [and] servants.
    How now, what's the matter? [Drawing his sword] Part.
    [To the Bastard] With you, goodman boy, if you please. Come, 1120I'll flesh ye. Come on, young master.
    [They exchange blows.]
    Weapons? Arms? What's the matter here?
    [Drawing his sword] Keep peace upon your lives. He dies that strikes again. What is the matter?
    The messengers from our sister, and the king.
    What is your difference? Speak.
    I am scarce in breath, my lord.
    No marvel. You have so bestirred your valor, you cowardly rascal, nature disclaims in thee. A tailor made thee.
    Thou art a strange fellow. A tailor make a man?
    A tailor, sir. A stone-cutter or a painter could not have made him so ill though they had been but two years o'th'trade.
    Speak yet. How grew your quarrel?
    This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spared at suit of his gray beard--
    Thou whoreson zed, thou unnecessary letter!--My lord, if you will give me leave, I will tread this unbolted villain into mortar, and daub the wall of a 1140jakes with him. [To Oswald] Spare my gray beard, you wagtail?
    Peace, sirrah!
    You beastly knave, know you no reverence?
    Yes, sir, but anger hath a privilege.
    Why art thou angry?
    That such a slave as this should wear a sword,
    Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as these,
    Like rats, oft bite the holy cords a-twain,
    Which are too intrinse t'unloose; smooth every passion
    That in the natures of their lords rebel,
    1150Being oil to fire, snow to the colder moods,
    Revenge, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks
    With every gall and vary of their masters,
    Knowing naught, like dogs, but following.
    [To Oswald] A plague upon your epileptic visage!
    1155Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool?
    Goose, if I had you upon Sarum Plain,
    I'd drive ye cackling home to Camelot.
    What, art thou mad, old fellow?
    How fell you out, say that.
    No contraries hold more antipathy,
    Than I and such a knave.
    Why dost thou call him knave?
    What is his fault?
    His countenance likes me not.
    No more perchance does mine, nor his, nor hers.
    Sir, 'tis my occupation to be plain.
    I have seen better faces in my time
    Than stands on any shoulder that I see
    Before me at this instant.
    This is some fellow,
    Who, having been praised for bluntness, doth affect
    A saucy roughness, and constrains the garb
    Quite from his nature. He cannot flatter, he.
    An honest mind and plain, he must speak truth,
    1175An they will take it, so; if not, he's plain.
    These kind of knaves I know, which in this "plainness"
    Harbor more craft and more corrupter ends
    Than twenty silly-ducking observants
    That stretch their duties nicely.
    Sir, in good faith, in sincere verity,
    Under th'allowance of your great aspect,
    Whose influence like the wreath of radiant fire
    On flickering Phoebus' front--
    What mean'st by this?
    To go out of my dialect, which you discommend so much. I know, sir, I am no flatterer. He that beguiled you in a plain accent was a plain knave, which for my part I will not be, though I should win your displeasure to entreat me to't.
    [To Oswald] What was th'offence you gave him?
    I never gave him any.
    It pleased the king his master very late
    To strike at me, upon his misconstruction,
    When he, compact and flattering his displeasure,
    1195Tripped me behind; being down, insulted, railed,
    And put upon him such a deal of man
    That worthied him, got praises of the king
    For him attempting who was self-subdued;
    And in the fleshment of this dread exploit
    1200Drew on me here again.
    None of these rogues and cowards
    But Ajax is their fool.
    Fetch forth the stocks.
    You stubborn ancient knave, you reverend braggart,
    1205We'll teach you.
    Sir, I am too old to learn.
    Call not your stocks for me. I serve the king,
    On whose employment I was sent to you.
    You shall do small respects, show too bold malice
    1210Against the grace and person of my master,
    Stocking his messenger.
    Fetch forth the stocks!
    As I have life and honor, there shall he sit till noon.
    Till noon? Till night, my lord, and all night too.
    Why, madam, if I were your father's dog
    You should not use me so.
    Sir, being his knave, I will.
    Stocks brought out.
    This is a fellow of the self same color
    Our sister speaks of. Come, bring away the stocks.
    Let me beseech your grace not to do so.
    The King his master needs must take it ill
    That he, so slightly valued in his messenger,
    Should have him thus restrained.
    I'll answer that.
    My sister may receive it much more worse
    To have her gentleman abused, assaulted.
    [Attendants put Kent in the stocks.]
    Come my lord, away.
    Exeunt [all but Gloucester and Kent].
    I am sorry for thee, friend. 'Tis the Duke's pleasure,
    Whose disposition all the world well knows
    1230Will not be rubbed nor stopped. I'll entreat for thee.
    Pray do not, sir. I have watched and traveled hard.
    Some time I shall sleep out, the rest I'll whistle.
    A good man's fortune may grow out at heels.
    Give you good morrow.
    The Duke's to blame in this,
    'Twill be ill taken.
    Good king, that must approve the common saw,
    Thou out of heaven's benediction com'st
    To the warm sun.
    1240Approach, thou beacon to this under globe,
    That by thy comfortable beams I may
    Peruse this letter. Nothing almost sees miracles
    But misery. I know 'tis from Cordelia,
    Who hath most fortunately been informed
    1245Of my obscurèd course, and shall find time
    From this enormous state, seeking to give
    Losses their remedies. All weary and o'erwatched,
    Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold
    This shameful lodging. Fortune, goodnight.
    1250Smile once more; turn thy wheel.
    [He sleeps.]
    Enter Edgar.
    I heard myself proclaimed,
    And by the happy hollow of a tree
    Escaped the hunt. No port is free, no place
    1255That guard and most unusual vigilance
    Does not attend my taking. Whiles I may scape
    I will preserve myself, and am bethought
    To take the basest and most poorest shape
    That ever penury in contempt of man
    1260Brought near to beast. My face I'll grime with filth,
    Blanket my loins, elf all my hairs in knots,
    And with presented nakedness outface
    The winds and persecutions of the sky.
    The country gives me proof and precedent
    1265Of Bedlam beggars, who, with roaring voices,
    Strike in their numbed and mortified arms
    Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary,
    And with this horrible object, from low farms,
    Poor pelting villages, sheepcotes and mills,
    1270Sometimes with lunatic bans, sometimes with prayers,
    Enforce their charity. "Poor Turlygod, poor Tom."
    That's something yet. Edgar I nothing am.
    Enter Lear, Fool, and [a] gentleman.
    'Tis strange that they should so depart from home,
    1275And not send back my messengers.
    As I learned,
    The night before there was no purpose in them
    Of this remove.
    [From the stocks] Hail to thee, noble master.
    Ha? Mak'st thou this shame thy pastime?
    No, my lord.
    Ha, ha! He wears cruel garters. Horses are tied by the heads, dogs and bears by the neck, monkeys by the loins, and men by the legs. When a man's 1285over-lusty at legs, then he wears wooden netherstocks.
    [To Kent] What's he that hath so much thy place mistook
    To set thee here?
    It is both he and she, 1290your son and daughter.
    No I say.
    I say yea.
    By Jupiter, I swear no.
    By Juno, I swear ay.
    They durst not do't.
    They could not, would not do't. 'Tis worse than murder
    To do upon respect such violent outrage.
    1300Resolve me with all modest haste which way
    Thou might'st deserve, or they impose this usage,
    Coming from us.
    My lord, when at their home
    I did commend your highness' letters to them,
    1305Ere I was risen from the place that showed
    My duty kneeling, came there a reeking post,
    Stewed in his haste, half breathless, panting forth
    From Goneril his mistress, salutations;
    Delivered letters, spite of intermission,
    1310Which presently they read; on those contents
    They summoned up their meiney, straight took horse,
    Commanded me to follow and attend
    The leisure of their answer; gave me cold looks,
    And meeting here the other messenger,
    1315Whose welcome I perceived had poisoned mine,
    Being the very fellow which of late
    Displayed so saucily against your highness,
    Having more man than wit about me, drew.
    He raised the house with loud and coward cries.
    1320Your son and daughter found this trespass worth
    The shame which here it suffers.
    Winter's not gone yet if the wild geese fly that way.
    Fathers that wear rags
    Do make their children blind,
    But fathers that bear bags
    Shall see their children kind.
    1325Fortune, that arrant whore,
    1325.1 Ne'er turns the key to th'poor.
    But for all this thou shalt have as many dolors for thy daughters as thou canst tell in a year.
    Oh, how this mother swells up toward my heart!
    Hysterica passio, down thou climbing sorrow,
    1330Thy element's below. Where is this daughter?
    With the earl, sir, here within.
    [To the Fool and Gentleman] Follow me not, stay here.
    Exit [Lear].
    Made you no more offence but what you speak of?
    How chance the king comes with so small a number?
    An thou hadst been set i'th'stocks for that question, thou'dst well deserved it.
    Why, Fool?
    We'll set thee to school to an ant, to teach thee there's no laboring i'th'winter. All that follow their noses are led by their eyes but blind men, and there's not a nose among twenty but can smell him that's stinking. Let go thy hold when a great wheel runs down a 1345hill, lest it break thy neck with following. But the great one that goes upward, let him draw thee after. When a wise man gives thee better counsel give me mine again. I would have none but knaves follow it, since a fool gives it.
    1350That sir which serves and seeks for gain
    And follows but for form,
    Will pack when it begins to rain,
    And leave thee in the storm.
    But I will tarry, the fool will stay,
    1355 And let the wise man fly.
    The knave turns fool that runs away,
    The fool no knave perdy.
    Enter Lear and Gloucester.
    Where learned you this, Fool?
    Not i'th'stocks, fool.
    Deny to speak with me? They are sick, they are weary,
    They have traveled all the night? Mere fetches,
    The images of revolt and flying off.
    1365Fetch me a better answer.
    My dear lord,
    You know the fiery quality of the Duke,
    How unremoveable and fixed he is
    In his own course.
    Vengeance, plague, death, confusion!
    Fiery? What quality? Why, Gloucester, Gloucester,
    I'd speak with the Duke of Cornwall and his wife.
    Well, my good lord, I have informed them so.
    Informed them? Dost thou understand me, man?
    Ay, my good lord.
    The king would speak with Cornwall. The dear father
    Would with his daughter speak, commands--tends--service.
    Are they informed of this? My breath and blood--
    1380Fiery? The fiery Duke? Tell the hot Duke that--
    No, but not yet. Maybe he is not well.
    Infirmity doth still neglect all office
    Whereto our health is bound. We are not ourselves,
    When nature, being oppressed, commands the mind
    1385To suffer with the body. I'll forbear,
    And am fallen out with my more headier will
    To take the indisposed and sickly fit
    For the sound man.
    [Notices Kent.]
    Death on my state! Wherefore
    Should he sit here? This act persuades me
    1390That this remotion of the Duke and her
    Is practice only. Give me my servant forth.
    Go tell the Duke and 's wife I'd speak with them
    Now, presently. Bid them come forth and hear me,
    Or at their chamber door I'll beat the drum
    1395Till it cry sleep to death.
    I would have all well betwixt you.
    Exit [Gloucester].
    Oh me, my heart, my rising heart! But down.
    Cry to it nuncle, as the cockney did to the eels when she put 'em i'th'paste alive. She knapped 'em 1400o'th'coxcombs with a stick and cried "Down, wantons, down!" 'Twas her brother that in pure kindness to his horse buttered his hay.
    Enter Cornwall, Regan, Gloucester, [and] servants.
    Good morrow to you both.
    Hail to your grace.
    Kent here set at liberty.
    I am glad to see your highness.
    Regan, I think you are. I know what reason
    I have to think so. If thou shouldst not be glad,
    I would divorce me from thy mother's tomb,
    1410Sepulchring an adultress. [To Kent] Oh, are you free?
    Some other time for that.--Belovèd Regan,
    Thy sister's naught. O Regan, she hath tied
    Sharp-toothed unkindness like a vulture here.
    I can scarce speak to thee. Thou'lt not believe
    1415With how depraved a quality, O Regan--
    I pray you, sir, take patience. I have hope
    You less know how to value her desert
    Than she to scant her duty.
    Say? How is that?
    I cannot think my sister in the least
    Would fail her obligation. If, sir, perchance
    She have restrained the riots of your followers,
    'Tis on such ground and to such wholesome end
    As clears her from all blame.
    My curses on her.
    O sir, you are old,
    Nature in you stands on the very verge
    Of his confine. You should be ruled and led
    By some discretion that discerns your state
    1430Better than you yourself. Therefore, I pray you,
    That to our sister you do make return.
    Say you have wronged her.
    Ask her forgiveness?
    Do you but mark how this becomes the house?
    1435[Kneeling] "Dear daughter, I confess that I am old.
    Age is unnecessary. On my knees I beg
    That you'll vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food."
    Good sir, no more. These are unsightly tricks.
    Return you to my sister.
    [Rising] Never, Regan.
    She hath abated me of half my train,
    Looked black upon me, struck me with her tongue
    Most serpent-like upon the very heart.
    All the stored vengeances of heaven fall
    1445On her ungrateful top! Strike her young bones,
    You taking airs, with lameness--
    Fie sir, fie.
    You nimble lightnings dart your blinding flames
    Into her scornful eyes. Infect her beauty,
    1450You fen-sucked fogs, drawn by the powerful sun,
    To fall and blister.
    O the blest gods!
    So will you wish on me when the rash mood is on.
    No Regan, thou shalt never have my curse.
    1455Thy tender-hafted nature shall not give
    Thee o'er to harshness. Her eyes are fierce, but thine
    Do comfort and not burn. 'Tis not in thee
    To grudge my pleasures, to cut off my train,
    To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes,
    1460And, in conclusion, to oppose the bolt
    Against my coming in. Thou better know'st
    The offices of nature, bond of childhood,
    Effects of courtesy, dues of gratitude.
    Thy half o'th'kingdom hast thou not forgot
    1465Wherein I thee endowed.
    Good sir, to th'purpose.
    Tucket within.
    Who put my man i'th'stocks?
    Enter [Oswald, the] steward.
    What trumpet's that?
    I know't my sister's. This approves her letter
    That she would soon be here. [To Oswald] Is your lady come?
    This is a slave, whose easy-borrowed pride
    Dwells in the sickly grace of her he follows.
    [Striking him] Out, varlet, from my sight.
    What means your grace?
    Enter Goneril.
    Who stocked my servant? Regan, I have good hope
    Thou didst not know on't.
    [Seeing Goneril.] Who comes here? O heavens!
    1480If you do love old men, if your sweet sway
    Allow obedience, if you your selves are old,
    Make it your cause. Send down, and take my part.
    [To Goneril] Art not ashamed to look upon this beard?--
    O Regan, will you take her by the hand?
    Why not by th'hand sir? How have I offended?
    All's not offence that indiscretion finds
    And dotage terms so.
    O sides, you are too tough.
    Will you yet hold? 1490How came my man i'th'stocks?
    I set him there, sir, but his own disorders
    Deserved much less advancement.
    You? Did you?
    I pray you, father, being weak, seem so.
    1495If, till the expiration of your month
    You will return and sojourn with my sister,
    Dismissing half your train, come then to me.
    I am now from home, and out of that provision
    Which shall be needful for your entertainment.
    Return to her? And fifty men dismissed?
    No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose
    To wage against the enmity o'th'air,
    To be a comrade with the wolf and owl,
    Necessity's sharp pinch. Return with her?
    1505Why, the hot-blooded France, that dowerless took
    Our youngest born, I could as well be brought
    To knee his throne, and squire-like pension beg
    To keep base life afoot. Return with her?
    Persuade me rather to be slave and sumpter
    [Indicating Oswald]
    1510To this detested groom.
    At your choice, sir.
    I prithee, daughter, do not make me mad.
    I will not trouble thee my child. Farewell.
    We'll no more meet, no more see one another.
    1515But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter--
    Or rather a disease that's in my flesh
    Which I must needs call mine. Thou art a boil,
    A plague sore, or embossèd carbuncle
    In my corrupted blood--but I'll not chide thee.
    1520Let shame come when it will, I do not call it.
    I do not bid the thunder-bearer shoot,
    Nor tell tales of thee to high-judging Jove.
    Mend when thou canst. Be better at thy leisure.
    I can be patient. I can stay with Regan,
    1525I and my hundred knights.
    Not altogether so.
    I looked not for you yet, nor am provided
    For your fit welcome. Give ear, sir, to my sister,
    For those that mingle reason with your passion
    1530Must be content to think you old, and so--
    But she knows what she does.
    Is this well spoken?
    I dare avouch it, sir. What, fifty followers?
    Is it not well? What should you need of more?
    1535Yea, or so many, sith that both charge and danger
    Speak 'gainst so great a number. How in one house
    Should many people under two commands
    Hold amity? 'Tis hard; almost impossible.
    Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance
    1540From those that she calls servants; or from mine?
    Why not, my lord? If then they chanced to slack ye,
    We could control them. If you will come to me,
    For now I spy a danger, I entreat you
    1545To bring but five and twenty. To no more
    Will I give place or notice.
    I gave you all.
    And in good time you gave it.
    Made you my guardians, my depositories,
    1550But kept a reservation to be followed
    With such a number. What, must I come to you
    With five and twenty? Regan, said you so?
    And speak't again, my lord, no more with me.
    Those wicked creatures yet do look well favored
    1555When others are more wicked. Not being the worst
    Stands in some rank of praise. [To Goneril] I'll go with thee.
    Thy fifty yet doth double five and twenty,
    And thou art twice her love.
    Hear me, my lord.
    1560What need you five and twenty? Ten? Or five,
    To follow in a house where twice so many
    Have a command to tend you.
    What need one?
    Oh, reason not the need! Our basest beggars
    1565Are in the poorest thing superfluous.
    Allow not nature more than nature needs,
    Man's life is cheap as beast's. Thou art a lady;
    If only to go warm were gorgeous,
    Why nature needs not what thou gorgeous wearest,
    1570Which scarcely keeps thee warm; but for true need--
    You heavens, give me that patience; patience I need.
    You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,
    As full of grief as age, wretched in both.
    If it be you that stirs these daughters' hearts
    1575Against their father, fool me not so much
    To bear it tamely. Touch me with noble anger,
    And let not women's weapons, water drops,
    Stain my man's cheeks. No, you unnatural hags,
    I will have such revenges on you both
    1580That all the world shall--I will do such things--
    What they are yet I know not, but they shall be
    The terrors of the earth. You think I'll weep.
    No, I'll not weep. I have full cause of weeping,
    Storm and tempest
    1585But this heart shall break into a hundred thousand flaws
    Or ere I'll weep. O Fool, I shall go mad.
    Exeunt [Lear, Gloucester, Kent and Fool].
    Let us withdraw. 'Twill be a storm.
    This house is little. The old man and 's people
    Cannot be well bestowed.
    'Tis his own blame; hath put himself from rest,
    And must needs taste his folly.
    For his particular, I'll receive him gladly,
    But not one follower.
    So am I purposed.
    1595Where is my Lord of Gloucester?
    Enter Gloucester.
    Followed the old man forth--he is returned.
    The king is in high rage.
    Whither is he going?
    He calls to horse, but will I know not whither.
    'Tis best to give him way; he leads himself.
    My lord, entreat him by no means to stay.
    Alack, the night comes on, and the high winds
    Do sorely ruffle. For many miles about
    1605There's scarce a bush.
    O sir, to willful men
    The injuries that they themselves procure,
    Must be their schoolmasters. Shut up your doors.
    He is attended with a desperate train,
    1610And what they may incense him to, being apt
    To have his ear abused, wisdom bids fear.
    Shut up your doors, my lord, 'tis a wild night.
    My Regan counsels well. Come out o'th'storm.
    1615Storm still. Enter Kent [disguised] and a Gentleman, separately.
    Who's there besides foul weather?
    One minded like the weather, most unquietly.
    I know you. Where's the King?
    Contending with the fretful elements;
    1620Bids the wind blow the earth into the sea,
    Or swell the curlèd waters 'bove the main
    That things might change or cease.
    But who is with him?
    None but the Fool, who labors to out-jest
    1625His heart-struck injuries.
    Sir, I do know you,
    And dare upon the warrant of my note
    Commend a dear thing to you. There is division,
    Although as yet the face of it is covered
    1630With mutual cunning, twixt Albany and Cornwall,
    Who have--as who have not that their great stars
    Throned and set high?--servants who seem no less,
    Which are to France the spies and speculations
    Intelligent of our state. What hath been seen,
    1635Either in snuffs and packings of the dukes,
    Or the hard rein which both of them hath born
    Against the old kind King, or something deeper,
    Whereof, perchance, these are but furnishings.
    I will talk further with you.
    No, do not.
    For confirmation that I am much more
    Than my out-wall, open this purse and take
    What it contains. If you shall see Cordelia,
    As fear not but you shall, show her this ring,
    1645And she will tell you who that fellow is
    That yet you do not know. Fie on this storm.
    I will go seek the King.
    Give me your hand.
    Have you no more to say?
    Few words but to effect more than all yet,
    That when we have found the King--in which your pain
    That way, I'll this--he that first lights on him
    Holla the other.
    Exeunt [separately].
    1655Storm still. Enter Lear and Fool.
    Blow winds and crack your cheeks. Rage, blow
    You cataracts, and hurricanoes spout,
    Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks.
    You sulfurous and thought-executing fires,
    1660Vaunt-couriers of oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
    Singe my white head, and thou all-shaking thunder,
    Strike flat the thick rotundity o'th'world,
    Crack nature's molds; all germens spill at once
    That makes ingrateful man.
    O nuncle, court holy-water in a dry house is better than this rainwater out o'door. Good nuncle, in; ask thy daughters' blessing. Here's a night pities neither wise men, nor fools.
    Rumble thy bellyful. Spit fire, spout rain.
    1670Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire are my daughters.
    I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness.
    I never gave you kingdom, called you children.
    You owe me no subscription. Then let fall
    Your horrible pleasure. Here I stand your slave,
    1675A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man.
    But yet I call you servile ministers,
    That will with two pernicious daughters join
    Your high-engendered battles 'gainst a head
    So old and white as this. Oh ho, 'tis foul.
    He that has a house to put's head in, has a good headpiece.
    The codpiece that will house
    Before the head has any,
    The head and he shall louse,
    So beggars marry many.
    The man that makes his toe
    What he his heart should make,
    1685Shall of a corn cry woe,
    And turn his sleep to wake.
    For there was never yet fair woman but she made mouths in a glass.
    Enter Kent [disguised].
    No, I will be the pattern of all patience;
    1690I will say nothing.
    [He sits.]
    Who's there?
    Marry here's grace, and a codpiece, that's a wise man and a fool.
    Alas, sir, are you here? Things that love night
    1695Love not such nights as these. The wrathful skies
    Gallow the very wanderers of the dark
    And make them keep their caves. Since I was man
    Such sheets of fire, such bursts of horrid thunder,
    Such groans of roaring wind and rain I never
    1700Remember to have heard. Man's nature cannot carry
    Th'affliction, nor the fear.
    Let the great gods
    That keep this dreadful pudder o'er our heads
    Find out their enemies now. Tremble thou wretch
    1705That hast within thee undivulgèd crimes
    Unwhipped of justice. Hide thee, thou bloody hand,
    Thou perjured, and thou simular of virtue
    That art incestuous; caitiff, to pieces shake,
    That under covert and convenient seeming
    1710Has practised on man's life; close pent-up guilts,
    Rive your concealing continents and cry
    These dreadful summoners grace. I am a man
    More sinned against than sinning.
    Alack, bare-headed?
    1715Gracious my lord, hard by here is a hovel.
    Some friendship will it lend you 'gainst the tempest.
    Repose you there while I to this hard house--
    More harder than the stones whereof 'tis raised--
    Which even but now, demanding after you,
    1720Denied me to come in, return and force
    Their scanted courtesy.
    My wits begin to turn.
    [To the Fool] Come on my boy. How dost my boy? Art cold?
    I am cold myself. [To Kent] Where is this straw, my fellow?
    1725The art of our necessities is strange,
    And can make vile things precious. Come, your hovel.
    Poor fool and knave, I have one part in my heart
    That's sorry yet for thee.
    He that has and a little tiny wit,
    1730 With heigh, ho, the wind and the rain,
    Must make content with his fortunes fit,
    Though the rain it raineth every day.
    True, boy. [To Kent] Come bring us to this hovel.
    Exeunt [all but the Fool].
    This is a brave night to cool a courtesan. 1735I'll speak a prophecy ere I go.
    When priests are more in word than matter,
    When brewers mar their malt with water,
    When nobles are their tailors' tutors,
    No heretics burned but wenches' suitors;
    1740When every case in law is right,
    No squire in debt, nor no poor knight;
    When slanders do not live in tongues,
    Nor cut-purses come not to throngs;
    When usurers tell their gold i'th'field,
    1745And bawds and whores do churches build;
    Then shall the realm of Albion
    Come to great confusion.
    Then comes the time, who lives to see't,
    That going shall be used with feet.
    This prophecy Merlin shall make, for I live before his time.
    Enter Gloucester and Edmund [the Bastard, with lights].
    Alack, alack, Edmund, I like not this unnatural dealing. When I desired their leave that I might pity him, 1755they took from me the use of mine own house, charged me on pain of perpetual displeasure neither to speak of him, entreat for him, or any way sustain him.
    Most savage and unnatural.
    Go to, say you nothing. There is division 1760between the Dukes, and a worse matter than that. I have received a letter this night--'tis dangerous to be spoken. I have locked the letter in my closet. These injuries the King now bears will be revenged home; there is part of a power already footed. We must incline to the King. I 1765will look [for] him, and privily relieve him. Go you and maintain talk with the Duke that my charity be not of him perceived. If he ask for me, I am ill, and gone to bed. If I die for it, as no less is threatened me, the King my old master must be relieved. There is strange things 1770toward. Edmund, pray you be careful.
    This courtesy forbid thee shall the Duke
    Instantly know, and of that letter too.
    This seems a fair deserving, and must draw me
    That which my father loses--no less than all.
    1775The younger rises when the old doth fall.
    Enter Lear, Kent [disguised], and Fool.
    Here is the place, my lord. Good my lord, enter.
    The tyranny of the open night's too rough
    1780For nature to endure.
    Storm still
    Let me alone.
    Good my lord, enter here.
    Wilt break my heart?
    I had rather break mine own. 1785Good my lord, enter.
    Thou think'st 'tis much that this contentious storm
    Invades us to the skin. So 'tis to thee;
    But where the greater malady is fixed
    The lesser is scarce felt. Thou'dst shun a bear,
    1790But if thy flight lay toward the roaring sea
    Thou'dst meet the bear i'th'mouth. When the mind's free
    The body's delicate. The tempest in my mind
    Doth from my senses take all feeling else
    Save what beats there. Filial ingratitude!
    1795Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand
    For lifting food to't? But I will punish home.
    No, I will weep no more. In such a night
    To shut me out? Pour on. I will endure.
    In such a night as this? O Regan, Goneril,
    1800Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all!--
    Oh, that way madness lies; let me shun that;
    No more of that.
    Good my lord, enter here.
    Prithee go in thyself, seek thine own ease.
    1805This tempest will not give me leave to ponder
    On things would hurt me more. But I'll go in.
    [To the Fool] In boy, go first. You houseless poverty--
    Nay get thee in.
    Exit [the Fool].
    I'll pray, and then I'll sleep.
    Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are
    1810That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
    How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
    Your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you
    From seasons such as these? Oh, I have ta'en
    Too little care of this. Take physic, pomp.
    1815Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel
    That thou mayst shake the superflux to them
    And show the heavens more just.
    Enter Edgar [as Poor Tom, behind,] and [the] Fool.
    Fathom and half, fathom and half! Poor Tom.
    Come not in here, nuncle, here's a spirit. Help me, help me!
    Give me thy hand. Who's there?
    A spirit, a spirit. He says his name's Poor Tom.
    What art thou that dost grumble there i'th'straw? Come forth.
    [Edgar comes forward.]
    Away, the foul fiend follows me. Through the sharp hawthorn blow the winds. Humh, go to thy bed and warm thee.
    Did'st thou give all to thy daughters? And art thou come to this?
    Who gives anything to poor Tom, whom the foul fiend hath led though fire and through flame, through ford and whirlpool, o'er bog and 1835quagmire; that hath laid knives under his pillow and halters in his pew, set ratsbane by his porridge; made him proud of heart, to ride on a bay trotting-horse over four-inched bridges; to course his own shadow for a traitor. Bless thy five wits. Tom's a'cold. O do, de, do, de, do de. 1840Bless thee from whirlwinds, star-blasting, and taking. Do poor Tom some charity, whom the foul fiend vexes. There could I have him now, and there, and there again, and there.
    Storm still
    Have his daughters brought him to this pass? 1845Couldst thou save nothing? Wouldst thou give 'em all?
    Nay, he reserved a blanket, else we had been all shamed.
    Now all the plagues that in the pendulous air
    Hang fated o'er men's faults light on thy daughters.
    He hath no daughters, sir.
    Death, traitor! Nothing could have subdued nature
    To such a lowness but his unkind daughters.
    Is it the fashion that discarded fathers
    Should have thus little mercy on their flesh?
    1855Judicious punishment. 'Twas this flesh begot
    Those pelican daughters.
    Pillicock sat on Pillicock hill. Alow, alow, loo, loo.
    This cold night will turn us all to fools and madmen.
    Take heed o'th'foul fiend, obey thy parents, keep thy word's justice, swear not, commit not with man's sworn spouse, set not thy sweetheart on proud array. Tom's a-cold.
    What hast thou been?
    A servingman, proud in heart and mind, that curled my hair, wore gloves in my cap, served the lust of my mistress' heart and did the act of darkness with her; swore as many oaths as I spake words, and broke them in the sweet face of heaven. One that slept in the 1870contriving of lust and waked to do it. Wine loved I dearly, dice dearly, and in woman out-paramoured the Turk; false of heart, light of ear, bloody of hand; hog in sloth, fox in stealth, wolf in greediness, dog in madness, lion in prey. Let not the creaking of shoes 1875nor the rustling of silks betray thy poor heart to woman. Keep thy foot out of brothels, thy hand out of plackets, thy pen from lenders' books, and defy the foul fiend. Still through the hawthorn blows the cold wind. Says suum, mun, nonny, dolphin my boy, 1880boy sesey. Let him trot by.
    Storm still
    Thou wert better in a grave than to answer with thy uncovered body this extremity of the skies. Is man no more than this? Consider him well. Thou owest the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep no 1885wool, the cat no perfume. Ha? Here's three on's are sophisticated; thou art the thing itself. Unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art. Off, off you lendings. [Attempts to take off his clothes] Come, unbutton here.
    Prithee nuncle be contented. 'Tis a naughty night to swim in. Now a little fire in a wild field were like an old letcher's heart, a small spark, all the rest on's body cold. Look, here comes a walking fire.
    1890Enter Gloucester with a torch.
    This is the foul Flibbertigibet. He begins at curfew and walks at first cock. He gives the web and the pin, squints the eye, and makes the harelip; mildews the white wheat and hurts the poor creature of earth.
    1900Swithold footed thrice the wold,
    He met the nightmare and her ninefold,
    Bid her alight
    And her troth plight,
    And aroint thee witch, aroint thee.
    How fares your grace?
    What's he?
    Who's there? What is't you seek?
    What are you there? Your names?
    Poor Tom, that eats the swimming frog, the toad, the tadpole, the wall-newt, and the water; that 1910in the fury of his heart, when the foul fiend rages, eats cow dung for salads, swallows the old rat and the ditch dog; drinks the green mantle of the standing pool; who is whipped from tithing to tithing, and stocked, punished, and imprisoned; who hath three suits 1915to his back, six shirts to his body.
    Horse to ride, and weapon to wear,
    But mice and rats, and such small deer
    Have been Tom's food for seven long year.
    Beware my follower. Peace, Smolking, peace thou fiend!
    What, hath your grace no better company?
    The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman. Modo, he's called, and Mahu.
    Our flesh and blood, my lord, is grown so
    Vile that it doth hate what gets it.
    Poor Tom's a-cold.
    [To Lear] Go in with me. My duty cannot suffer
    T'obey in all your daughters' hard commands.
    Though their injunction be to bar my doors
    And let this tyrannous night take hold upon you,
    1930Yet have I ventured to come seek you out
    And bring you where both fire and food is ready.
    First let me talk with this philosopher.
    What is the cause of thunder?
    Good my lord, take his offer. 1935Go into th'house.
    I'll talk a word with this same learnèd Theban.
    What is your study?
    How to prevent the fiend, and to kill vermin.
    Let me ask you one word in private.
    [To Gloucester] Importune him once more to go, my lord.
    His wits begin t'unsettle.
    Canst thou blame him?
    Storm still
    His daughters seek his death. Ah, that good Kent,
    He said it would be thus, poor banished man.
    1945Thou say'st the King grows mad. I'll tell thee, friend,
    I am almost mad myself. I had a son
    Now outlawed from my blood. He sought my life
    But lately; very late. I loved him, friend,
    No father his son dearer. True to tell thee
    1950The grief hath crazed my wits. What a night's this?
    [To Lear] I do beseech your grace--
    Oh, cry you mercy, sir.
    Noble philosopher, your company.
    Tom's a-cold.
    In fellow. There, into th'hovel; keep thee warm.
    Come, let's in all.
    This way, my lord.
    With him.
    I will keep still with my philosopher.
    [To Gloucester] Good my lord, soothe him. Let him take the fellow.
    Take him you on.
    Sirrah, come on. Go along with us.
    Come, good Athenian.
    No words, no words, hush.
    Childe Rowland to the dark tower came,
    His word was still "Fie, foh, and fum,
    I smell the blood of a British man."
    1970Enter Cornwall and Edmund [the Bastard].
    I will have my revenge ere I depart his house.
    How, my lord, I may be censured, that nature thus gives way to loyalty, something fears me to think of.
    I now perceive it was not altogether your brother's evil disposition made him seek his death, but a provoking merit set a-work by a reprovable badness in himself.
    How malicious is my fortune that I must 1980repent to be just! This is the letter which he spoke of, which approves him an intelligent party to the advantages of France. O heavens, that this treason were not, or not I the detector!
    Go with me to the duchess.
    If the matter of this paper be certain, you have mighty business in hand.
    True or false, it hath made thee Earl of Gloucester. Seek out where thy father is, that he may be ready for our apprehension.
    [Aside] If I find him comforting the King, it will stuff his suspicion more fully. [Aloud] I will persevere in my course of loyalty, though the conflict be sore between that and my blood.
    I will lay trust upon thee, and thou shalt find 1995a dear father in my love.
    Enter Kent [disguised] and Gloucester.
    Here is better than the open air. Take it thankfully. I will piece out the comfort with what addition I 2000can. I will not be long from you.
    All the power of his wits have given way to his impatience. The gods reward your kindness.
    Exit [Gloucester].
    Enter Lear, Edgar [as Poor Tom], and Fool.
    Frateretto calls me, and tells me Nero is an 2005angler in the lake of darkness. Pray, innocent, and beware the foul fiend.
    Prithee nuncle, tell me whether a madman be a gentleman or a yeoman.
    A king, a king.
    No, he's a yeoman that has a gentleman to his son, for he's a mad yeoman that sees his son a gentleman before him.
    To have a thousand with red burning spits
    Come hissing in upon 'em.
    Bless thy five wits.
    Oh, pity! Sir, where is the patience now
    That you so oft have boasted to retain?
    [Aside] My tears begin to take his part so much
    They mar my counterfeiting.
    The little dogs and all,
    Trey, Blanch, and Sweetheart--see, they bark at me.
    Tom will throw his head at them. Avaunt, you curs!
    Be thy mouth or black or white,
    Tooth that poisons if it bite,
    2025Mastiff, greyhound, mongrel grim,
    Hound or spaniel, brach, or him,
    Or bobtail tyke or trundle-tail,
    Tom will make him weep and wail,
    For, with throwing thus my head
    2030Dogs leaped the hatch and all are fled.
    Do, de, de, de: sese. Come, march to wakes and fairs and market towns. Poor Tom, thy horn is dry.
    Then let them anatomize Regan; see what breeds about her heart. Is there any cause in nature that 2035make these hard hearts? [To Edgar] You sir, I entertain for one of my hundred, only I do not like the fashion of your garments. You will say they are Persian, but let them be changed.
    Enter Gloucester(?).
    Now, good my lord, lie here, and rest awhile.
    Make no noise, make no noise, draw the curtains, so, so. We'll go to supper i'th'morning.
    [He sleeps.]
    And I'll go to bed at noon.
    Enter Gloucester(?).
    Come hither, friend. 2045Where is the King, my master?
    Here, sir, but trouble him not. His wits are gone.
    Good friend, I prithee take him in thy arms.
    I have o'erheard a plot of death upon him.
    There is a litter ready. Lay him in't,
    2050And drive toward Dover, friend, where thou shalt meet
    Both welcome and protection. Take up thy master.
    If thou shouldst dally half an hour, his life,
    With thine and all that offer to defend him,
    Stand in assurèd loss. Take up, take up,
    2055And follow me, that will to some provision
    Give thee quick conduct. Come, come, away.
    Enter Cornwall, Regan, Goneril, [the] Bastard, and servants.
    [To Goneril] Post speedily to my lord your husband. Show him this letter. The army of France is landed. [To a servant] Seek out the traitor Gloucester.
    [Exit servant.]
    Hang him instantly.
    Pluck out his eyes.
    Leave him to my displeasure. Edmund, keep you our sister company. The revenges we are bound to take upon your traitorous father are not fit for your beholding. Advise the Duke where you are going, to a most festinate preparation. We are bound to the like. Our 2070posts shall be swift and intelligent betwixt us. Farewell dear sister. Farewell my lord of Gloucester.
    [The Bastard and Goneril start to leave.]
    Enter [Oswald the] steward.
    How now, where's the King?
    My lord of Gloucester hath conveyed him hence.
    2075Some five or six and thirty of his knights,
    Hot questrists after him, met him at gate,
    Who, with some other of the lord's dependants,
    Are gone with him toward Dover, where they boast
    To have well-armed friends.
    [To Oswald] Get horses for your mistress.
    [Exit Oswald]
    Farewell, sweet lord, and sister.
    Exeunt [Goneril and the Bastard].
    Edmund farewell. [To servants] Go seek the traitor Gloucester.
    Pinion him like a thief. Bring him before us.
    [Exeunt servants.]
    Though well we may not pass upon his life
    2085Without the form of justice, yet our power
    Shall do a court'sy to our wrath, which men
    May blame, but not control.
    Enter Gloucester and servants.
    Who's there? The traitor?
    Ingrateful fox, 'tis he.
    [To servants] Bind fast his corky arms.
    What means your graces?
    Good my friends, consider, you are my guests.
    Do me no foul play, friends.
    Bind him, I say.
    [They bind him.]
    Hard, hard. O filthy traitor!
    Unmerciful lady as you are, I'm none.
    To this chair bind him. Villain, thou shalt find--
    [Regan plucks hairs from Gloucester's beard.]
    By the kind gods, 'tis most ignobly done,
    To pluck me by the beard.
    So white and such a traitor?
    Naughty lady.
    These hairs which thou dost ravish from my chin
    2105Will quicken and accuse thee. I am your host.
    With robbers' hands my hospitable favors
    You should not ruffle thus. What will you do?
    Come, sir. What letters had you late from France?
    Be simple-answered, for we know the truth.
    And what confederacy have you with
    The traitors late footed in the kingdom?
    To whose hands you have sent the lunatic King.
    I have a letter guessingly set down
    Which came from one that's of a neutral heart,
    And not from one opposed.
    And false.
    Where hast thou sent the King?
    To Dover.
    Wherefore to Dover? Wast thou not charged at peril--
    Wherefore to Dover? Let him answer that.
    I am tied to th'stake, and I must stand the course.
    Wherefore to Dover?
    Because I would not see thy cruel nails
    Pluck out his poor old eyes, nor thy fierce sister
    2130In his anointed flesh stick boarish fangs.
    The sea, with such a storm as his bare head
    In hell-black night endured, would have buoyed up
    And quenched the stellèd fires.
    Yet, poor old heart, he helped the heavens to rain.
    2135If wolves had at thy gate howled that stern time,
    Thou shouldst have said, "Good porter, turn the key."
    All cruels else subscribe. But I shall see
    The wingèd vengeance overtake such children.
    See't shalt thou never. Fellows, hold the chair.
    2140Upon these eyes of thine I'll set my foot.
    He that will think to live till he be old
    Give me some help.
    [Cornwall puts out one of Gloucester's eyes.]
    Oh, cruel! O you Gods!
    One side will mock another. Th'other too.
    If you see vengeance--
    21451 Servant
    Hold your hand, my lord.
    I have served you ever since I was a child,
    But better service have I never done you
    Than now to bid you hold.
    How now, you dog!
    If you did wear a beard upon your chin
    I'd shake it on this quarrel. [To Cornwall] What do you mean?
    My villein!
    Nay then, come on and take the chance of anger.
    [They draw and fight. Cornwall is wounded.]
    [To another servant] Give me thy sword. A peasant stand up thus?
    2155Kills him.
    Oh, I am slain. My lord, you have one eye left
    To see some mischief on him--oh!
    [He dies.]
    Lest it see more, prevent it. Out vile jelly.
    [Puts out Gloucester's other eye.]
    Where is thy luster now?
    All dark and comfortless. Where's my son, Edmund?
    Edmund, enkindle all the sparks of nature
    To quite this horrid act.
    Out, treacherous villain.
    2165Thou call'st on him that hates thee. It was he
    That made the overture of thy treasons
    To us, who is too good to pity thee.
    Oh my follies! Then Edgar was abused.
    Kind gods, forgive me that, and prosper him.
    Go thrust him out at gates, and let him smell
    His way to Dover.
    Exeunt [servant] with Gloucester.
    How is't my lord? How look you?
    I have received a hurt. Follow me, lady.
    [To servants] Turn out that eyeless villain. Throw this slave
    2175Upon the dunghill. Regan, I bleed apace.
    Untimely comes this hurt. Give me your arm.
    Exeunt [with the body].
    Enter Edgar [disguised as Poor Tom].
    Yet better thus, and known to be contemned,
    2180Than still contemned and flattered. To be worst,
    The lowest and most dejected thing of fortune
    Stands still in esperance, lives not in fear.
    The lamentable change is from the best;
    The worst returns to laughter. Welcome, then,
    2185Thou unsubstantial air that I embrace.
    The wretch that thou hast blown unto the worst
    Owes nothing to thy blasts.
    Enter Gloucester, and an Old Man.
    But who comes here?
    My father, poorly led? 2190World, world, O world!
    But that thy strange mutations make us hate thee,
    Life would not yield to age.
    [Edgar stands aside.]
    Old Man
    O my good lord, I have been your tenant,
    And your father's tenant, these fourscore years--
    Away, get thee away. Good friend, be gone.
    Thy comforts can do me no good at all,
    Thee they may hurt.
    Old Man
    You cannot see your way.
    I have no way and therefore want no eyes;
    2200I stumbled when I saw. Full oft 'tis seen
    Our means secure us, and our mere defects
    Prove our commodities. O dear son Edgar,
    The food of thy abusèd father's wrath,
    Might I but live to see thee in my touch
    2205I'd say I had eyes again.
    Old Man
    How now, who's there?
    [Aside] O gods! Who is't can say "I am at the worst"?
    I am worse then ere I was.
    Old Man
    'Tis poor mad Tom.
    [Aside] And worse I may be yet. The worst is not
    So long as we can say, "This is the worst."
    Old Man
    [To Edgar] Fellow, where goest?
    Is it a beggar man?
    Old Man
    Madman, and beggar too.
    He has some reason, else he could not beg.
    I'th'last night's storm I such a fellow saw,
    Which made me think a man a worm. My son
    Came then into my mind, and yet my mind
    Was then scarce friends with him. 2220I have heard more since.
    As flies to wanton boys are we to th'gods;
    They kill us for their sport.
    [Aside] How should this be?
    Bad is the trade that must play fool to sorrow,
    2225Angering itself and others. [Aloud] Bless thee master.
    Is that the naked fellow?
    Old Man
    Ay, my lord.
    Get thee away. If for my sake
    Thou wilt o'ertake us hence a mile or twain
    2230I'th'way toward Dover, do it for ancient love,
    And bring some covering for this naked soul,
    Which I'll entreat to lead me.
    Old Man
    Alack sir, he is mad.
    'Tis the time's plague 2235when madmen lead the blind.
    Do as I bid thee--or rather, do thy pleasure.
    Above the rest, be gone.
    Old Man
    I'll bring him the best 'parel that I have,
    Come on't what will.
    Sirrah, naked fellow.
    Poor Tom's a cold. [Aside] I cannot daub it further.
    Come hither, fellow.
    [Aside] And yet I must. [Aloud] Bless thy sweet eyes, they bleed.
    Know'st thou the way to Dover?
    Both stile, and gate, horse-way, and footpath, poor Tom hath been scared out of his good wits. Bless thee, good man's son, from the foul fiend.
    Here, take this purse, thou whom the heavens' plagues
    2250Have humbled to all strokes. That I am wretched
    Makes thee the happier. Heavens deal so still.
    Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man
    That slaves your ordinance, that will not see
    Because he does not feel, feel your power quickly;
    2255So distribution should undo excess,
    And each man have enough. Dost thou know Dover?
    Ay, master.
    There is a cliff, whose high and bending head
    Looks fearfully in the confinèd deep.
    2260Bring me but to the very brim of it,
    And I'll repair the misery thou dost bear
    With something rich about me. From that place
    I shall no leading need.
    Give me thy arm.
    2265Poor Tom shall lead thee.
    Enter Goneril, [Edmund the] Bastard, and [Oswald, the] steward.
    Welcome, my lord. I marvel our mild husband
    Not met us on the way. Now, where's your master?
    Madam, within, but never man so changed.
    I told him of the army that was landed;
    He smiled at it. I told him you were coming;
    His answer was "The worse." Of Gloucester's treachery
    And of the loyal service of his son,
    2275When I informed him, then he called me sot
    And told me I had turned the wrong side out.
    What most he should dislike seems pleasant to him,
    What like, offensive.
    [To the Bastard] Then shall you go no further.
    2280It is the cowish terror of his spirit
    That dares not undertake. He'll not feel wrongs
    Which tie him to an answer. Our wishes on the way
    May prove effects. Back, Edmund, to my brother;
    Hasten his musters, and conduct his powers.
    2285I must change names at home and give the distaff
    Into my husband's hands. This trusty servant
    Shall pass between us. Ere long you are like to hear,
    If you dare venture in your own behalf,
    A mistress's command. Wear this--spare speech.
    [Gives him a favor of some kind.]
    2290Decline your head.
    [She kisses him.]
    This kiss, if it durst speak,
    Would stretch thy spirits up into the air.
    Conceive--and fare thee well.
    Yours in the ranks of death.
    My most dear Gloucester.
    2295Oh, the difference of man and man.
    To thee a woman's services are due--
    My fool usurps my body.
    Madam, here comes my lord.
    [Exit Oswald.]
    Enter Albany.
    I have been worth the whistle.
    O Goneril,
    You are not worth the dust which the rude wind
    Blows in your face.
    Milk-livered man,
    2305That bear'st a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs,
    Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning
    Thine honor from thy suffering.
    See thyself, devil.
    Proper deformity seems not in the fiend
    2310So horrid as in woman.
    O vain fool.
    Enter a Messenger.
    O my good lord, the Duke of Cornwall's dead,
    Slain by his servant, going to put out
    2315The other eye of Gloucester.
    Gloucester's eyes?
    A servant that he bred, thrilled with remorse,
    Opposed against the act; bending his sword
    To his great master, who, threat-enraged,
    2320Flew on him, and amongst them felled him dead;
    But not without that harmful stroke which since
    Hath plucked him after.
    This shows you are above
    You justices, that these our nether crimes
    2325So speedily can venge. But oh, poor Gloucester,
    Lost he his other eye?
    Both, both, my lord.
    [To Goneril] This letter, madam, craves a speedy answer.
    'Tis from your sister.
    [Aside] One way I like this well;
    But being widow, and my Gloucester with her,
    May all the building in my fancy pluck
    Upon my hateful life. Another way
    The news is not so tart. [Aloud] I'll read, and answer.
    [Exit Goneril.]
    Where was his son when they did take his eyes?
    Come with my lady hither.
    He is not here?
    No, my good lord, I met him back again.
    Knows he the wickedness?
    Ay, my good lord, 'twas he informed against him,
    And quit the house on purpose that their punishment
    Might have the freer course.
    Gloucester, I live
    2345To thank thee for the love thou showed'st the King,
    And to revenge thine eyes.--Come hither, friend,
    Tell me what more thou knowest.
    Enter, with drum and colours, Cordelia, gentlemen, 2350and soldiers.
    Alack, 'tis he. Why, he was met even now,
    As mad as the vexed sea, singing aloud;
    Crowned with rank fumitor and furrow-weeds,
    With burdocks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo flowers,
    2355Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow
    In our sustaining corn. [To an officer] A century send forth.
    Search every acre in the high-grown field
    And bring him to our eye.
    [Exit soldier(s).]
    What can man's wisdom
    In the restoring his bereavèd sense? He that helps him
    2360Take all my outward worth.
    There is means madam.
    Our foster nurse of nature is repose,
    The which he lacks; that to provoke in him
    Are many simples operative, whose power
    2365Will close the eye of anguish.
    All blest secrets,
    All you unpublished virtues of the earth,
    Spring with my tears; be aidant and remediate
    In the good man's distress. Seek, seek for him,
    2370Lest his ungoverned rage dissolve the life
    That wants the means to lead it.
    Enter Messenger.
    News, madam.
    The British powers are marching hitherward.
    'Tis known before. Our preparation stands
    In expectation of them.--O dear father,
    It is thy business that I go about. Therefore great France
    My mourning and importuned tears hath pitied.
    No blown ambition doth our arms incite,
    2380But love, dear love, and our agèd father's right.
    Soon may I hear and see him.
    Enter Regan and [Oswald, the] steward.
    But are my brother's powers set forth?
    Ay, madam.
    Himself in person there?
    Madam, with much ado.
    Your sister is the better soldier.
    Lord Edmund spake not with your lord at home?
    No, madam.
    What might import my sister's letter to him?
    I know not, lady.
    Faith, he is posted hence on serious matter.
    It was great ignorance, Gloucester's eyes being out,
    2395To let him live. Where he arrives he moves
    All hearts against us. Edmund I think is gone
    In pity of his misery to dispatch
    His nighted life; moreover to descry
    The strength o'th'enemy.
    I must needs after him, madam, with my letter.
    Our troops set forth tomorrow. Stay with us;
    The ways are dangerous.
    I may not, madam.
    My lady charged my duty in this business.
    Why should she write to Edmund? Might not you
    Transport her purposes by word? Belike--
    Some things--I know not what. I'll love thee much.
    Let me unseal the letter.
    Madam, I had rather--
    I know your lady does not love her husband--
    I am sure of that--and at her late being here
    She gave strange oeillades and most speaking looks
    To noble Edmund. I know you are of her bosom.
    I, madam?
    I speak in understanding. Y'are, I know't.
    Therefore I do advise you take this note.
    My lord is dead; Edmund and I have talked,
    And more convenient is he for my hand
    Than for your lady's. You may gather more.
    2420If you do find him, pray you give him this,
    And when your mistress hears thus much from you,
    I pray desire her call her wisdom to her.
    So fare you well.
    If you do chance to hear of that blind traitor,
    2425Preferment falls on him that cuts him off.
    Would I could meet, madam, I should show
    What party I do follow.
    Fare thee well.
    Exeunt [separately].
    2430Enter Gloucester and Edgar [dressed like a peasant].
    When shall I come to th'top of that same hill?
    You do climb up it now. Look how we labor.
    Methinks the ground is even.
    Horrible steep.
    2435Hark, do you hear the sea?
    No, truly.
    Why, then your other senses grow imperfect
    By your eyes' anguish.
    So may it be, indeed.
    2440Methinks thy voice is altered, and thou speakest
    In better phrase and matter than thou didst.
    Y'are much deceived. In nothing am I changed
    But in my garments.
    Methinks y'are better spoken.
    Come on sir, here's the place. Stand still. How fearful
    And dizzy 'tis to cast one's eyes so low.
    The crows and choughs that wing the midway air
    Show scarce so gross as beetles. Half way down
    2450Hangs one that gathers samphire--dreadful trade.
    Methinks he seems no bigger than his head.
    The fishermen that walk upon the beach
    Appear like mice, and yond tall anchoring bark
    Diminished to her cock, her cock a buoy
    2455Almost too small for sight. The murmuring surge,
    That on th'unnumbered idle pebble chafes
    Cannot be heard so high. I'll look no more
    Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight
    Topple down headlong.
    Set me where you stand.
    Give me your hand.
    You are now within a foot of th'extreme verge.
    For all beneath the moon would I not leap upright.
    Let go my hand.
    2465Here, friend, 's another purse; in it a jewel
    Well worth a poor man's taking. Fairies and gods
    Prosper it with thee. Go thou further off.
    Bid me farewell and let me hear thee going.
    [Pretending to leave] Now fare ye well, good sir.
    With all my heart.
    [Aside] Why I do trifle thus with his despair
    Is done to cure it.
    O you mighty gods--
    [He kneels.]
    This world I do renounce, and in your sights
    2475Shake patiently my great affliction off.
    If I could bear it longer, and not fall
    To quarrel with your great opposeless wills,
    My snuff and loathèd part of nature should
    Burn itself out. If Edgar live, O bless him.
    2480Now, fellow, fare thee well.
    [He falls forward.]
    Gone, sir; farewell.
    [Aside] And yet I know not how conceit may rob
    The treasury of life, when life itself
    Yields to the theft. Had he been where he thought,
    2485By this had thought been past. Alive, or dead?
    [Aloud] Ho, you sir! Friend, hear you sir? Speak.
    [Aside] Thus might he pass indeed. Yet he revives.
    [Aloud] What are you, sir?
    Away, and let me die.
    Hadst thou been aught but gossamer, feathers, air,
    So many fathom down precipitating,
    Thoudst shivered like an egg. But thou dost breathe,
    Hast heavy substance, bleed'st not, speakest, art sound.
    2495Ten masts at each make not the altitude
    Which thou hast perpendicularly fell.
    Thy life's a miracle. Speak yet again.
    But have I fallen or no?
    From the dread summit of this chalky bourn,
    2500Look up a height. The shrill-gorged lark so far
    Cannot be seen or heard. Do but look up.
    Alack, I have no eyes.
    Is wretchedness deprived that benefit
    To end itself by death? 'Twas yet some comfort
    2505When misery could beguile the tyrant's rage
    And frustrate his proud will.
    Give me your arm.
    Up, so. How is't? Feel you your legs? You stand.
    Too well, too well.
    This is above all strangeness.
    Upon the crown o'th'cliff, what thing was that
    Which parted from you?
    A poor unfortunate beggar.
    As I stood here below, methought his eyes
    2515Were two full moons. He had a thousand noses,
    Horns whelked and waved like the enragèd sea.
    It was some fiend. Therefore, thou happy father,
    Think that the clearest gods, who make them honors
    Of men's impossibilities, have preserved thee.
    I do remember now. Henceforth I'll bear
    Affliction till it do cry out itself
    "Enough, enough," and die. That thing you speak of,
    I took it for a man. Often 'twould say
    "The fiend, the fiend." He led me to that place.
    Bear free and patient thoughts.
    Enter Lear [crowned with weeds and flowers].
    But who comes here?
    The safer sense will ne'er accommodate
    His master thus.
    No, they cannot touch me for crying. I am the King himself.
    Oh, thou side-piercing sight!
    Nature's above art in that respect. There's your press-money. That fellow handles his bow like a 2535crow-keeper. Draw me a clothier's yard. Look, look, a mouse! Peace, peace. This piece of toasted cheese will do't. There's my gauntlet; I'll prove it on a giant. Bring up the brown bills. Oh, well flown, bird; i'th' clout, i'th'clout. Hewgh. Give the word.
    Sweet marjoram.
    I know that voice.
    Ha! Goneril with a white beard? They flattered me like a dog and told me I had the white hairs in 2545my beard ere the black ones were there. To say "ay" and "no" to everything that I said "Ay" and "no" to was no good divinity. When the rain came to wet me once, and the wind to make me chatter; when the thunder would not peace at my bidding--there I found 'em, there I smelt 'em 2550out. Go to, they are not men o'their words; they told me I was everything. 'Tis a lie. I am not ague-proof.
    The trick of that voice I do well remember.
    Is't not the King?
    Ay, every inch a king.
    2555When I do stare, see how the subject quakes?
    I pardon that man's life. What was thy cause?
    Adultery? Thou shalt not die. Die for adultery?
    No, the wren goes to't, and the small gilded fly
    Does lecher in my sight. Let copulation thrive,
    2560For Gloucester's bastard son was kinder to his father
    Than my daughters got 'tween the lawful sheets.
    To't luxury, pell-mell, for I lack soldiers.
    Behold yond simp'ring dame,
    Whose face between her forks presages snow,
    That minces virtue, and does shake 2565the head
    To hear of pleasure's name. The fitchew, nor
    The soilèd horse goes to't with a more riotous
    Appetite. Down from the waist they are centaurs,
    Though women all above. But to the girdle
    Do the gods inherit; beneath is all the fiend's.
    There's hell, there's 2570darkness, there is the sulphurous pit; burning, scalding, stench, consumption. Fie, fie, fie, pah, pah. Give me an ounce of civet; good apothecary, sweeten my imagination. There's money for thee.
    Oh, let me kiss that hand.
    Let me wipe it first. It smells of mortality.
    O ruined piece of nature! This great world
    Shall so wear out to naught. Dost thou know me?
    I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost thou squinny at me? No, do thy worst, blind Cupid, I'll not love. Read thou this challenge; mark but the penning of it.
    Were all thy letters suns I could not see.
    [Aside] I would not take this from report. It is,
    And my heart breaks at it.
    What? With the case of eyes?
    Oh ho, are you there with me? No eyes in your 2590head, nor no money in your purse? Your eyes are in a heavy case, your purse in a light, yet you see how this world goes.
    I see it feelingly.
    What, art mad? A man may see how this world 2595goes with no eyes. Look with thine ears. See how yond justice rails upon yond simple thief? Hark in thine ear. Change places, and handy-dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief? Thou hast seen a farmer's dog bark at a beggar?
    Ay, sir.
    And the creature run from the cur? There thou mightst behold the great image of authority: a dog's obeyed in office.
    2603.1Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand.
    Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thy own 2605back.
    Thou hotly lusts to use her in that kind
    For which thou whip'st her.
    The usurer hangs the cozener.
    Through tattered clothes great vices do appear;
    Robes and furred gowns hide all. Plate sins with gold
    And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks;
    Arm it in 2610rags, a pigmy's straw does pierce it.
    None does offend, none, I say none. I'll able 'em.
    Take that of me my friend, who have the power
    To seal th'accuser's lips. Get thee glass eyes,
    And, like a scurvy politician, seem
    To see the things thou dost not. Now, now, now, now.
    Pull off my 2615boots. Harder, harder, so.
    [Aside] Oh, matter and impertinency mixed;
    Reason in madness.
    If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes.
    I know thee well enough; thy name is Gloucester.
    2620Thou must be patient. We came crying hither;
    Thou know'st the first time that we smell the air
    We wawl and cry. I will preach to thee. Mark.
    Alack, alack the day.
    When we are born, we cry that we are come
    2625To this great stage of fools.-- This' a good block.
    It were a delicate stratagem to shoe
    A troop of horse with felt. I'll put't in proof,
    And when I have stolen upon these son-in-laws,
    Then kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill.
    2630Enter a Gentleman.
    Oh, here he is. Lay hand upon him. Sir,
    Your most dear daughter--
    No rescue? What, a prisoner? I am even
    The natural fool of fortune. Use me well.
    2635You shall have ransom. Let me have surgeons;
    I am cut to th'brains.
    You shall have anything.
    No seconds? All myself?
    Why, this would make a man, a man of salt,
    2640To use his eyes for garden water-pots.
    I will die bravely Like a smug bridegroom.
    What? I will be jovial.
    Come, come, I am a king, masters, know you that?
    You are a royal one, and we obey you.
    Then there's life in't. Come, an you get it,
    2645You shall get it by running: Sa, sa, sa, sa.
    Exit [King Lear, running, pursued by attendants].
    A sight most pitiful in the meanest wretch,
    Past speaking of in a king. Thou hast a daughter
    Who redeems nature from the general curse
    Which twain have brought her to.
    Hail, gentle sir.
    Sir, speed you. What's your will?
    Do you hear aught, sir, of a battle toward?
    Most sure and vulgar.
    Everyone hears that which can distinguish sound.
    But, by your favor, how near's the other army?
    Near and on speedy foot. The main descry
    Stands on the hourly thought.
    I thank you, sir. That's all.
    Though that the queen on special cause is here
    Her army is moved on.
    I thank you, sir.
    Exit [Gentleman].
    You ever gentle gods take my breath from me.
    Let not my worser spirit tempt me again
    2665To die before you please.
    Well pray you, father.
    Now, good sir, what are you?
    A most poor man made tame to fortune's blows,
    Who by the art of known and feeling sorrows
    2670Am pregnant to good pity. Give me your hand.
    I'll lead you to some biding.
    Hearty thanks.
    The bounty and the benison of heaven
    To boot, and boot.
    2675Enter [Oswald, the] steward.
    A proclaimed prize! Most happy.
    That eyeless head of thine was first framed flesh
    To raise my fortunes. Thou old, unhappy traitor,
    Briefly thyself remember. The sword is out
    2680That must destroy thee.
    Now let thy friendly hand
    Put strength enough to't.
    [Edgar steps between them.]
    Wherefore, bold peasant
    Dar'st thou support a published traitor? Hence,
    2685Lest that th'infection of his fortune take
    Like hold on thee. Let go his arm.
    Chill not let go zir, without vurther 'casion.
    Let go, slave, or thou diest.
    Good gentleman, go your gait and let poor volk pass. An 'chud ha' bin zwaggered out of my life, 'twould not ha' bin zo long as 'tis, by a vortnight. Nay, come not near th'old man. Keep out, che vor ye, or I'se try whether your costard or my ballow be the harder. 2695Chill be plain with you.
    Out, dunghill!
    [They fight.]
    Chill pick your teeth, zir. Come, no matter vor your foins.
    [Edgar knocks him down.]
    Slave, thou hast slain me. Villain, take my purse.
    2700If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body,
    And give the letters which thou find'st about me
    To Edmund Earl of Gloucester. Seek him out
    Upon the English party. Oh, untimely death! Death.
    [He dies.]
    I know thee well. A serviceable villain,
    2705As duteous to the vices of thy mistress
    As badness would desire.
    What, is he dead?
    Sit you down, father; rest you.--
    [Gloucester sits.]
    Let's see these pockets. The letters that he speaks of
    2710May be my friends. He's dead. I am only sorry
    He had no other deathsman. Let us see.
    Leave, gentle wax; and manners blame us not.
    To know our enemy's minds we rip their hearts;
    Their papers is more lawful.
    2715Reads the letter.
    "Let our reciprocal vows be remembered. You have many opportunities to cut him off. If your will want not, time and place will be fruitfully offered. There is nothing done if he return the conqueror, then am I the prisoner and his bed my 2720jail, from the loathed warmth whereof deliver me and supply the place for your labor. Your--wife, so I would say--affectionate servant.
    Oh, indistinguished space of woman's will!
    2725A plot upon her virtuous husband's life,
    And the exchange my brother. [To Oswald's body] Here in the sands
    Thee I'll rake up, the post unsanctified
    Of murderous lechers, and in the mature time
    With this ungracious paper strike the sight
    2730Of the death-practiced Duke. For him 'tis well
    That of thy death and business I can tell.
    The King is mad. How stiff is my vile sense
    That I stand up and have ingenious feeling
    2735Of my huge sorrows! Better I were distract;
    So should my thoughts be severed from my griefs,
    Drum afar off.
    And woes, by wrong imaginations lose
    The knowledge of themselves.
    Give me your hand.
    Far off methinks I hear the beaten drum.
    Come father, I'll bestow you with a friend.
    Exeunt, [dragging off the body].
    Enter Cordelia, Kent [disguised], and a gentleman.
    O thou good Kent, how shall I live and work
    To match thy goodness? My life will be too short,
    And every measure fail me.
    To be acknowledged, madam, is o'er-paid.
    All my reports go with the modest truth,
    Nor more, nor clipped, but so.
    Be better suited.
    These weeds are memories of those worser hours.
    2755I prithee put them off.
    Pardon, dear madam;
    Yet to be known shortens my made intent.
    My boon I make it that you know me not
    Till time and I think meet.
    Then be't so, my good lord. [To the Gentleman] How does the King?
    Madam, sleeps still.
    O you kind gods,
    Cure this great breach in his abusèd nature;
    2765Th'untuned and jarring senses, O wind up,
    Of this child-changed father.
    So please your majesty
    That we may wake the King. He hath slept long.
    Be governed by your knowledge and proceed
    2770I'th'sway of your own will. Is he arrayed?
    Enter Lear in a chair carried by servants.
    Ay, madam. In the heaviness of sleep
    We put fresh garments on him.
    Be by, good madam, when we do awake him.
    2775I doubt of his temperance.
    O my dear father, restoration hang
    Thy medicine on my lips, and let this kiss
    Repair those violent harms that my two sisters
    Have in thy reverence made.
    Kind and dear princess.
    Had you not been their father, these white flakes
    Did challenge pity of them. Was this a face
    To be opposed against the jarring winds?
    Mine enemy's dog, though he had bit me,
    2785Should have stood that night against my fire;
    And wast thou fain, poor father,
    To hovel thee with swine and rogues forlorn
    In short and musty straw? Alack, alack,
    'Tis wonder that thy life and wits at once
    2790Had not concluded all. He wakes. [To the Gentleman] Speak to him.
    Madam do you. 'Tis fittest.
    How does my royal lord? How fares your majesty?
    You do me wrong to take me out o'th'grave.
    2795Thou art a soul in bliss, but I am bound
    Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears
    Do scald like molten lead.
    Sir, do you know me?
    You are a spirit, I know. Where did you die?
    Still, still, far wide.
    He's scarce awake. Let him alone a while.
    Where have I been? Where am I? Fair daylight?
    2805I am mightily abused. I should e'en die with pity
    To see another thus. I know not what to say.
    I will not swear these are my hands. Let's see--
    I feel this pin prick. Would I were assured
    Of my condition.
    [Kneeling] O look upon me, sir,
    And hold your hand in benediction o'er me.
    [Lear attempts to kneel.]
    You must not kneel.
    Pray do not mock me.
    I am a very foolish, fond old man,
    2815Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less,
    And, to deal plainly,
    I fear I am not in my perfect mind.
    Methinks I should know you, and know this man,
    2820Yet I am doubtful, for I am mainly ignorant
    What place this is; and all the skill I have
    Remembers not these garments, nor I know not
    Where I did lodge last night. Do not laugh at me,
    For, as I am a man, I think this lady
    2825To be my child, Cordelia.
    And so I am, I am.
    Be your tears wet? Yes, faith. I pray weep not.
    If you have poison for me I will drink it.
    2830I know you do not love me, for your sisters
    Have, as I do remember, done me wrong.
    You have some cause; they have not.
    No cause, no cause.
    Am I in France?
    In your own kingdom, sir.
    Do not abuse me.
    Be comforted, good madam. The great rage
    You see is killed in him. Desire him to go in.
    Trouble him no more till further settling.
    Will't please your highness walk?
    You must bear with me.
    Pray you now, forget and forgive.
    I am old and foolish.
    2845Enter, with drum and colors, Edmund [the Bastard], Regan, gentlemen, and soldiers.
    [To an officer] Know of the Duke if his last purpose hold,
    Or whether since he is advised by aught
    To change the course. He's full of alteration
    2850And self-reproving. Bring his constant pleasure.
    [Exit officer.]
    Our sister's man is certainly miscarried.
    'Tis to be doubted, madam.
    Now, sweet lord,
    You know the goodness I intend upon you.
    2855Tell me but truly--but then speak the truth--
    Do you not love my sister?
    In honored love.
    But have you never found my brother's way
    To the forfended place?
    No, by mine honor, madam.
    I never shall endure her. Dear my lord,
    Be not familiar with her.
    Fear not.--
    She and the Duke her husband.
    Enter, with drum and colors, Albany, Goneril, [and] soldiers.
    Our very loving sister, well be-met.
    Sir, this I heard: the King is come to his daughter
    With others whom the rigor of our state
    Forced to cry out.
    Why is this reasoned?
    Combine together 'gainst the enemy,
    For these domestic and particular broils
    Are not the question here.
    Let's then determine with th'ensign of war
    On our proceeding.
    Sister, you'll go with us?
    'Tis most convenient. Pray go with us.
    [Aside] Oh ho, I know the riddle.--I will go.
    Exeunt both the armies.
    2880Enter Edgar, [disguised, speaking to Albany as he is leaving].
    If ere your grace had speech with man so poor,
    Hear me one word.
    [To those leaving] I'll overtake you. [To Edgar] Speak.
    Before you fight the battle, ope this letter.
    2885If you have victory, let the trumpet sound
    For him that brought it. Wretched though I seem,
    I can produce a champion that will prove
    What is avouchèd there. If you miscarry,
    Your business of the world hath so an end,
    2890And machination ceases. Fortune loves you.
    Stay till I have read the letter.
    I was forbid it.
    When time shall serve, let but the herald cry,
    And I'll appear again.
    Why fare thee well, I will o'erlook thy paper.
    Exit [Edgar].
    Enter Edmund [the Bastard].
    The enemy's in view. Draw up your powers.
    Here is the guess of their true strength and forces
    By diligent discovery, but your haste
    2900Is now urged on you.
    We will greet the time.
    To both these sisters have I sworn my love,
    Each jealous of the other as the stung
    Are of the adder. Which of them shall I take?
    2905Both? One? Or neither? Neither can be enjoyed
    If both remain alive. To take the widow
    Exasperates, makes mad her sister Goneril;
    And hardly shall I carry out my side,
    Her husband being alive. Now then, we'll use
    2910His countenance for the battle; which, being done,
    Let her who would be rid of him devise
    His speedy taking off. As for the mercy
    Which he intends to Lear and to Cordelia,
    The battle done, and they within our power,
    2915Shall never see his pardon; for my state
    Stands on me to defend, not to debate.
    Alarum within. Enter with drum and colors, Lear, Cordelia, and soldiers; [they pass] over the stage, and exeunt.
    2920Enter Edgar [in disguise] and Gloucester.
    Here, father, take the shadow of this tree
    For your good host. Pray that the right may thrive.
    If ever I return to you again I'll bring you comfort.
    Grace go with you, sir.
    Exit [Edgar].
    Alarum and retreat within
    Enter Edgar.
    Away, old man, give me thy hand, away!
    King Lear hath lost, he and his daughter ta'en.
    2930Give me thy hand. Come on.
    No further, sir, a man may rot even here.
    What, in ill thoughts again? Men must endure
    Their going hence, even as their coming hither.
    2935Ripeness is all. Come on.
    And that's true too.
    Enter, in conquest with drum and colors, Edmund [the Bastard]; Lear, and Cordelia, as prisoners; soldiers, Captain.
    Some officers take them away. Good guard,
    Until their greater pleasures first be known
    That are to censure them.
    We are not the first
    Who, with best meaning, have incurred the worst.
    2945For thee, oppressèd king I am cast down;
    Myself could else out-frown false fortune's frown.
    Shall we not see these daughters and these sisters?
    No, no, no, no. Come, let's away to prison.
    We two alone will sing like birds i'th'cage.
    2950When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down
    And ask of thee forgiveness; so we'll live,
    And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
    At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
    Talk of court news; and we'll talk with them too--
    2955Who loses and who wins, who's in, who's out,
    And take upon's the mystery of things
    As if we were gods' spies; and we'll wear out,
    In a walled prison, packs and sects of great ones
    That ebb and flow by th'moon.
    [To soldiers] Take them away.
    Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,
    The gods themselves throw incense.
    [Embracing Cordelia]
    Have I caught thee?
    He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven
    2965And fire us hence, like foxes. Wipe thine eyes.
    The goodyears shall devour them, flesh and fell,
    Ere they shall make us weep. We'll see 'em starved first.
    Exeunt [Lear and Cordelia, guarded].
    Come hither captain, hark. [Handing him a paper]
    2970Take thou this note. Go follow them to prison.
    One step I have advanced thee; if thou dost
    As this instructs thee, thou dost make thy way
    To noble fortunes. Know thou this, that men
    Are as the time is. To be tender-minded
    2975Does not become a sword. Thy great employment
    Will not bear question. Either say thou'lt do't,
    Or thrive by other means.
    I'll do't, my lord.
    About it, and write "happy" when th'hast done.
    2980Mark--I say instantly, and carry it so
    As I have set it down.
    Exit Captain.
    Flourish. Enter Albany, Goneril, Regan, soldiers.
    [To the Bastard] Sir, you have showed today your valiant strain
    And fortune led you well. You have the captives
    2985Who were the opposites of this day's strife.
    I do require them of you, so to use them
    As we shall find their merits and our safety
    May equally determine.
    Sir, I thought it fit
    2990To send the old and miserable King to some retention,
    Whose age had charms in it, whose title more,
    To pluck the common bosom on his side
    And turn our impressèd lances in our eyes
    Which do command them. With him I sent the queen--
    2995My reason all the same--and they are ready
    Tomorrow, or at further space, t'appear
    Where you shall hold your session.
    Sir, by your patience,
    I hold you but a subject of this war,
    3000Not as a brother.
    That's as we list to grace him.
    Methinks our pleasure might have been demanded
    Ere you had spoke so far. He led our powers,
    Bore the commission of my place and person,
    3005The which immediacy may well stand up
    And call itself your brother.
    Not so hot.
    In his own grace he doth exalt himself
    More than in your addition.
    In my rights,
    By me invested, he compeers the best.
    That were the most, if he should husband you.
    Jesters do oft prove prophets.
    Hola, hola!
    3015That eye that told you so looked but asquint.
    Lady, I am not well, else I should answer
    From a full-flowing stomach. [To the Bastard] General,
    Take thou my soldiers, prisoners, patrimony;
    Dispose of them, of me. The walls are thine.
    3020Witness the world that I create thee here
    My lord and master.
    Mean you to enjoy him?
    The let-alone lies not in your good will.
    Nor in thine, lord.
    Half-blooded fellow, yes.
    [To Edmund] Let the drum strike, and prove my title thine.
    Stay yet, hear reason. Edmund, I arrest thee
    On capital treason, and in thy arrest
    [Indicating Goneril] This gilded serpent. [To Regan] For your claim, fair sister,
    3030I bar it in the interest of my wife.
    'Tis she is subcontracted to this lord,
    And I, her husband, contradict your banns.
    If you will marry, make your loves to me--
    My lady is bespoke.
    An interlude!
    Thou art armed, Gloucester. Let the trumpet sound.
    If none appear to prove upon thy person
    Thy heinous, manifest, and many treasons,
    [Throwing down a glove]
    3040There is my pledge. I'll make it on thy heart,
    Ere I taste bread, thou art in nothing less
    Than I have here proclaimed thee.
    Sick, oh sick.
    [Aside] If not, I'll ne'er trust medicine.
    [Throwing down a glove] There's my exchange. What in the world he is
    That names me traitor, villain-like he lies.
    Call by the trumpet. He that dares approach,
    On him, on you--who not?--I will maintain
    My truth and honor firmly.
    A herald, ho!
    3050Enter a Herald.
    [To the Bastard] Trust to thy single virtue, for thy soldiers,
    All levied in my name, have in my name
    Took their discharge.
    My sickness grows upon me.
    She is not well. Convey her to my tent.
    [Exit Regan, supported.]
    Come hither herald. Let the trumpet sound,
    And read out this.
    A Trumpet sounds.
    Herald reads.
    "If any man of quality or degree within the lists of the army will maintain upon Edmund, supposed Earl of Gloucester, that he is a manifold traitor, let him appear by the third sound of the trumpet. He is bold in his defense."
    First trumpet
    Second trumpet
    Third trumpet
    Trumpet answers within.
    Enter Edgar, armed.
    Ask him his purposes; why he appears
    Upon this call o'th'trumpet.
    What are you?
    Your name, your quality, and why you answer
    This present summons.
    Know my name is lost,
    By treason's tooth bare-gnawn and canker-bit.
    3075Yet am I noble as the adversary
    I come to cope.
    Which is that adversary?
    What's he that speaks for Edmund, Earl of Gloucester?
    Himself. What sayest thou to him?
    Draw thy sword
    That if my speech offend a noble heart
    Thy arm may do thee justice. Here is mine.
    [Draws his sword.]
    Behold. It is my privilege,
    The privilege of mine honors,
    3085My oath, and my profession. I protest,
    Maugre thy strength, place, youth, and eminence,
    Despite thy victor-sword and fire-new fortune,
    Thy valor and thy heart--thou art a traitor,
    False to thy gods, thy brother, and thy father;
    3090Conspirant 'gainst this high, illustrious prince,
    And from th'extremest upward of thy head,
    To the descent and dust below thy foot
    A most toad-spotted traitor. Say thou no,
    This sword, this arm, and my best spirits are bent
    3095To prove upon thy heart whereto I speak
    Thou liest.
    In wisdom I should ask thy name,
    But since thy outside looks so fair and warlike,
    And that thy tongue some say of breeding breathes,
    3100What safe and nicely I might well delay
    By rule of knighthood, I disdain and spurn.
    Back do I toss these treasons to thy head,
    With the hell-hated lie o'erwhelm thy heart,
    Which, for they yet glance by and scarcely bruise,
    3105This sword of mine shall give them instant way
    Where they shall rest for ever. Trumpets, speak!
    Alarums. Fights. [The Bastard is wounded.]
    [To Edgar] Save him, save him.
    This is practice, Gloucester.
    By th'law of war thou wast not bound to answer
    3110An unknown opposite. Thou art not vanquished,
    But cozened and beguiled.
    Shut your mouth, dame,
    Or with this paper shall I stop it.--Hold, sir--
    [To Goneril, giving her the letter] Thou, worse than any name, read thine own evil.
    3115No tearing, lady, I perceive you know it.
    Say if I do, the laws are mine not thine.
    Who can arraign me for't?
    Exit [Goneril].
    Most monstrous!
    [To Edmund] Oh, know'st thou this paper?
    Ask me not what I know.
    [To an attendant] Go after her. She's desperate--govern her.
    [Exit an attendant.]
    What you have charged me with, that have I done,
    And more, much more. The time will bring it out.
    'Tis past, and so am I. [To Edgar] But what art thou
    3125That hast this fortune on me? If thou'rt noble,
    I do forgive thee.
    Let's exchange charity.
    I am no less in blood than thou art, Edmund;
    If more, the more th'hast wronged me.
    3130My name is Edgar, and thy father's son.
    The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices
    Make instruments to plague us.
    The dark and vicious place where thee he got,
    Cost him his eyes.
    Th'hast spoken right, 'tis true.
    The wheel is come full circle; I am here.
    [To Edgar] Methought thy very gait did prophesy
    A royal nobleness. I must embrace thee.
    Let sorrow split my heart if ever I
    3140Did hate thee or thy father.
    Worthy prince, I know't.
    Where have you hid yourself?
    How have you known the miseries of your father?
    By nursing them, my lord. List a brief tale,
    3145And when 'tis told, oh, that my heart would burst.
    The bloody proclamation to escape,
    That followed me so near--oh, our life's sweetness,
    That we the pain of death would hourly die
    Rather than die at once--taught me to shift
    3150Into a madman's rags, t'assume a semblance
    That very dogs disdained; and in this habit
    Met I my father with his bleeding rings,
    Their precious stones new lost, became his guide,
    Led him, begged for him, saved him from despair.
    3155Never--oh, fault!--revealed myself unto him
    Until some half hour past when I was armed;
    Not sure, though hoping of this good success,
    I asked his blessing, and from first to last
    Told him our pilgrimage. But his flawed heart,
    3160Alack, too weak the conflict to support,
    'Twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief,
    Burst smilingly.
    This speech of yours hath moved me,
    And shall perchance do good; but speak you on,
    3165You look as you had something more to say.
    If there be more, more woeful, hold it in,
    For I am almost ready to dissolve,
    Hearing of this.
    Enter a Gentleman [with a bloody knife].
    Help, help, oh help!
    What kind of help?
    Speak, man.
    What means this bloody knife?
    'Tis hot, it smokes.
    It came even from the heart 3175of--oh she's dead.
    Who dead? Speak, man.
    Your lady, sir, your lady; and her sister
    By her is poisoned. She confesses it.
    I was contracted to them both. All three
    3180Now marry in an instant.
    Here comes Kent.
    Enter Kent [as himself].
    Produce the bodies, be they alive or dead.
    Goneril and Regan's bodies brought out.
    3185This judgment of the heavens that makes us tremble
    Touches us not with pity. Oh, is this he?
    [To Kent] The time will not allow the compliment
    Which very manners urges.
    I am come
    3190To bid my king and master aye good night.
    Is he not here?
    Great thing of us forgot.
    Speak, Edmund, where's the King, and where's Cordelia?
    Seest thou this object, Kent?
    Alack, why thus?
    Yet Edmund was beloved.
    The one the other poisoned for my sake,
    And after slew herself.
    Even so. Cover their faces.
    I pant for life. Some good I mean to do
    Despite of mine own nature. Quickly send--
    Be brief in it--to th'castle, for my writ
    Is on the life of Lear, and on Cordelia.
    Nay, send in time.
    Run, run, Oh, run!
    To who my lord? Who has the office?
    [To Edmund] Send thy token of reprieve.
    Well thought on. Take my sword. Give it the captain.
    Haste thee for thy life.
    [Exit a Gentleman.]
    He hath commission from thy wife and me
    To hang Cordelia in the prison, and
    To lay the blame upon her own despair
    That she fordid herself.
    The gods defend her. Bear him hence awhile.
    [The Bastard is carried off.]
    Enter Lear with Cordelia in his arms [followed by the Gentleman].
    Howl, howl, howl. Oh, you are men of stones.
    Had I your tongues and eyes I'd use them so
    That heaven's vault should crack. She's gone for ever.
    3220I know when one is dead and when one lives;
    She's dead as earth. Lend me a looking-glass.
    If that her breath will mist or stain the stone,
    Why then she lives.
    Is this the promised end?
    Or image of that horror?
    Fall and cease.
    This feather stirs--she lives. If it be so,
    It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows
    That ever I have felt.
    O my good master.
    Prithee, away.
    'Tis noble Kent, your friend.
    A plague upon you murderers, traitors all.
    I might have saved her. Now she's gone for ever.
    3235Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little. Ha?
    What is't thou sayest? Her voice was ever soft,
    Gentle and low, an excellent thing in woman.
    I killed the slave that was a-hanging thee.
    'Tis true, my lords, he did.
    Did I not, fellow?
    I have seen the day, with my good biting falchion
    I would have made him skip. I am old now,
    And these same crosses spoil me. [To Kent] Who are you?
    Mine eyes are not o'th'best, I'll tell you straight.
    If fortune brag of two she loved and hated,
    One of them we behold.
    This is a dull sight. Are you not Kent?
    The same; your servant Kent. Where is your servant Caius?
    He's a good fellow, I can tell you that.
    He'll strike, and quickly too. He's dead and rotten.
    No, my good lord, I am the very man--
    I'll see that straight.
    That from your first of difference and decay
    3255Have followed your sad steps.
    You are welcome hither.
    Nor no man else. All's cheerless, dark, and deadly.
    Your eldest daughters have foredone themselves
    3260And desperately are dead.
    Ay, so I think.
    He knows not what he says, and vain is it
    That we present us to him.
    Enter a Messenger.
    Very bootless.
    Edmund is dead, my lord.
    That's but a trifle here.
    You lords and noble friends, know our intent.
    What comfort to this great decay may come
    3270Shall be applied. For us we will resign
    During the life of this old majesty
    To him our absolute power. [To Edgar and Kent] You to your rights
    With boot, and such addition as your honors
    Have more than merited. All friends shall
    3275Taste the wages of their virtue, and all foes
    The cup of their deservings. Oh, see, see!
    And my poor fool is hanged. No, no, no life?
    Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life,
    And thou no breath at all? Thou'lt come no more,
    3280Never, never, never, never, never.
    Pray you, undo this button. Thank you sir.
    Do you see this? Look on her. Look, her lips--
    Look there, look there.
    He dies.
    He faints. My lord, my lord!
    Break heart, I prithee break.
    Look up, my lord.
    Vex not his ghost. O let him pass. He hates him
    That would upon the rack of this tough world
    Stretch him out longer.
    He is gone indeed.
    The wonder is he hath endured so long;
    He but usurped his life.
    Bear them from hence. Our present business
    Is general woe. [To Kent and Edgar] Friends of my soul, you twain
    3295Rule in this realm, and the gored state sustain.
    I have a journey, sir, shortly to go.
    My master calls me; I must not say no.
    The weight of this sad time we must obey,
    Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
    3300The oldest hath borne most; we that are young
    Shall never see so much, nor live so long.
    Exeunt with a dead march, [bearing the bodies].