Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Michael Best
Not Peer Reviewed

King Lear (Quarto 1, 1608)

The Historie of King Lear.
Foole. All thy other Titles thou hast giuen away, tha thou
wast borne with.
Kent. This is not altogether foole my Lord.
Foole. No faith, Lords and great men will not let me, if I had
670.10a monopolie out, they would haue part an't, and Ladies too, they
will not let me haue all the foole to my selfe, they'l be snatching;
giue me an egge Nuncle, and ile giue thee two crownes.
Lear. What two crownes shall they be?
Foole. Why, after I haue cut the egge in the middle and eate
vp the meate, the two crownes of the egge; when 675thou clouest
thy crowne it'h middle, and gauest away both parts, thou borest
thy asse at'h backe or'e the durt, thou had'st little wit in thy bald
crowne, when thou gauest thy golden one away, if I speake like
my selfe in this, let him be whipt that first finds it so.
680Fooles had nere lesse wit, in a yeare,
For wise men are growne foppish,
They know not how their wits doe weare,
Their manners are so apish.
Lear. When were you wont to be so full of songs sirra?
685Foole. I haue vs'd it nuncle, euer since thou mad'st thy daugh-
ters thy mother, for when thou gauest them the rod, and put'st
downe thine own breeches, then they for sudden ioy did weep,
and I for sorrow sung, 690that such a King should play bo-peepe,
and goe the fooles among: prethe Nunckle keepe a schoolema-
ster that can teach thy foole to lye, I would faine learneto lye.
Lear. And you lye, weele haue you whipt.
695Foole. I maruell what kin thou and thy daughters are, they'l
haue me whipt for speaking true, thou wilt haue mee whipt for
lying, and sometime I am whipt for holding my peace, I had
rather be any kind of thing then a foole, and yet I would not bee
thee Nuncle, thou hast pared thy 700wit a both sides, & left nothing
in the middle, here comes one of the parings.
Enter Gonorill.
Lear. How now daughter, what makes that Frontlet on,
Me thinks you are too much alate it'h frowne.
705Foole. Thou wast a prettie fellow when thou had'st no need
to care for her frowne, now thou art an O without a figure, I am
better then thou art now, I am a foole, thou art nothing, yes for-