Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Michael Best
Not Peer Reviewed

King Lear (Modern, Folio)

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].