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About this text

  • Title: King Lear (Modern, Extended Folio)
  • Editor: Michael Best
  • Textual editors: James D. Mardock, Eric Rasmussen
  • Coordinating editor: Michael Best
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-463-9

    Copyright Michael Best. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Michael Best
    Not Peer Reviewed

    King Lear (Modern, Extended Folio)

    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.
    2981.11 Captain
    I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried oats.
    If it be man's work I'll do't.
    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,
    And appointed guard;
    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.
    2997.1At this time we sweat and bleed.
    The friend hath lost his friend, and the best quarrels
    In the heat are cursed by those that feel their sharpness.
    The question of Cordelia and her father
    Requires a fitter place.
    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!
    A herald, ho, a herald!
    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.
    3058.12 Captain
    Sound trumpet!
    A Trumpet sounds.
    "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.
    This would have seemed a period to such
    As love not sorrow, but another to amplify too much
    Would make much more and top extremity.
    Whilst I was big in clamor, came there in a man
    3168.5Who, having seen me in my worst estate,
    Shunned my abhorred society; but then finding
    Who 'twas that so endured, with his strong arms
    He fastened on my neck and bellowed out
    As he'd burst heaven, threw him on my father,
    3168.10Told the most piteous tale of Lear and him
    That ever ear received, which in recounting
    His grief grew puissant and the strings of life
    Began to crack. Twice then the trumpets sounded,
    And there I left him tranced.
    But who was this?
    Kent sir, the banished Kent, who in disguise,
    Followed his enemy king and did him service
    Improper for a slave.
    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].