Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Michael Best
Not Peer Reviewed

King Lear (Quarto 1, 1608)

The Historie of King Lear.
Giue it the Captaine? 3210 Duke. Hast thee for thy life.
Bast. He hath Commission from thy wife and me,
To hang Cordelia in the prison, and to lay
The blame vpon her owne despaire,
That she fordid her selfe.
3215Duke. The Gods defend her, beare him hence a while.
Enter Lear with Cordelia in his armes.
Lear. Howle, howle, howle, howle, O you are men of stones,
Had I your tongues and eyes, I would vse them so,
That heauens vault should cracke, shees gone for euer,
3220I know when one is dead and when one liues,
Shees dead as earth, lend me a looking glasse,
If that her breath will mist or staine the stone,
Why then she liues. Kent. Is this the promist end.
3225Edg. Or image of that horror. Duke. Fall and cease.
Lear. This feather stirs she liues, if it be so,
It is a chance which do's redeeme all sorowes
That euer I haue felt. Kent. A my good maister.
Lear. Prethe away? Edg. Tis noble Kent your friend.
Lear. A plague vpon your murderous traytors all,
I might haue saued her, now shees gone for euer,
3235Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little, ha,
What ist thou sayest, her voyce was euer soft,
Gentle and low, an excellent thing in women,
I kild the slaue that was a hanging thee.
Cap. Tis true my Lords, he did.
3240Lear. Did I not fellow? I haue seene the day,
With my good biting Fauchon I would
Haue made them skippe, I am old now,
And these same crosses spoyle me, who are you?
Mine eyes are not othe best, ile tell you straight.
3245Kent. If Fortune bragd of two she loued or hated,
One of them we behold. Lear. Are not you Kent?
Kent. The same your seruant Kent, where is your seruant Caius,
3250Lear. Hees a good fellow, I can tell that,
Heele strike and quickly too, hees dead and rotten.
Kent. No my good Lord, I am the very man.
Lear. Ile see that straight.