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  • Title: King Lear (Quarto 1, 1608)
  • 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    Not Peer Reviewed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 (Quarto 1, 1608)

    Enter Lear, Kent, and foole.
    Kent. Here is the place my Lord, good my Lord enter, the
    tyrannie of the open nights too ruffe 1780for nature to indure.
    Lear. Let me alone. Kent. Good my Lord enter.
    Lear. Wilt breake my heart?
    Kent. I had rather breake mine owne, 1785good my Lord enter.
    Lear. Thou think'st tis much, that this tempestious storme
    Inuades vs to the skin, so tis to thee,
    But where the greater malady is fixt
    The lesser is scarce felt, thoud'st shun a Beare,
    1790But if thy flight lay toward the roring sea,
    Thoud'st meet the beare it'h mouth, whẽ the mind's free
    The bodies delicate, this tempest in my mind
    Doth from my sences take all feeling else
    Saue what beates their filiall ingratitude,
    1795Is it not as this mouth should teare this hand
    For lifting food to't, but I will punish sure,
    No I will weepe no more, in such a night as this!
    O Regan, Gonorill, 1800your old kind father
    Whose franke heart gaue you all, O that way madnes (lies,
    Let me shun that, no more of that.
    Kent. Good my Lord enter.
    Lear. Prethe goe in thy selfe, seeke thy one ease
    1805This tempest will not giue me leaue to ponder
    On things would hurt me more, but ile goe in,
    Poore naked wretches, where so ere you are
    1810That bide the pelting of this pittiles night,
    How shall your house-lesse heads, and vnfed sides,
    Your loopt and windowed raggednes defend you
    From seasons such as these, O I haue tane
    Too little care of this, take physicke pompe,
    1815Expose thy selfe to feele what wretches feele,
    That thou mayst shake the superflux to them,
    And shew the heauens more iust.
    1820Foole. Come not in here Nunckle, her's a spirit, helpe me, helpe
    Kent. Giue me thy hand, whose there.
    Foole. A spirit, he sayes, his nam's poore Tom.
    1825Kent. What art thou that dost grumble there in the straw,
    come forth?
    Edg. Away, the fowle fiend followes me, thorough the sharpe
    hathorne blowes the cold wind, goe to thy cold bed and warme
    1830Lear. Hast thou giuen all to thy two daughters, and art thou
    come to this?
    Edg. Who giues any thing to poore Tom, whome the foule
    Fiende hath led, through fire, and through foord, and
    whirli-poole, ore bog and quag1835mire, that has layd kniues vn-
    der his pillow, and halters in his pue, set ratsbane by his pottage,
    made him proud of heart, to ride on a bay trotting horse ouer
    foure incht bridges, to course his owne shadow for a traytor,
    blesse thy fiue wits, Toms a cold, 1840blesse thee from whirle-winds,
    starre-blusting, and taking, doe poore Tom some charitie, whom
    the foule fiend vexes, there could I haue him now, and there, and
    and there againe.
    Lear. What, his daughters brought him to this passe,
    1845Couldst thou saue nothing, didst thou giue them all?
    Foole. Nay he reseru'd a blanket, else we had beene all sham'd.
    Lear. Now all the plagues that in the pendulous ayre
    Hang fated ore mens faults, fall on thy daughters.
    1850Kent. He hath no daughters sir.
    Lear. Death traytor, nothing could haue subdued nature
    To such a lownes, but his vnkind daughters,
    Is it the fashion that discarded fathers,
    Should haue thus little mercy on their flesh,
    1855Iudicious punishment twas this flesh
    Begot those Pelicane daughters.
    Edg. Pilicock sate on pelicocks hill, a lo lo
    Foole. This cold night will turne vs all to fooles & madmen.
    1860Fdg. Take heede at'h foule fiend, obay thy parents, keep thy
    words iustly, sweare not, commit not with mans sworne spouse,
    set not thy sweet heart on proud array, Toms a cold,
    Lear. What hast thou beene?
    1865Edg. A Seruingman, proud in heart and mind, that curld my
    haire, wore gloues in my cap, serued the lust of my mistris heart,
    and did the act of darkenes with her, swore as many oaths as I
    spake words, and broke them in the sweet face of heauen, one
    that slept in the 1870contriuing of lust, and wakt to doe it, wine lo-
    ued I deeply, dice deerely, and in woman out paromord the
    Turke, false of heart, light of eare, bloudie of hand, Hog in sloth,
    Fox in stealth, Woolfe in greedines,, Dog in madnes, Lyon
    in pray, let not the creeking of shooes, 1875nor the ruslngs of silkes
    betray thy poore heart to women, keepe thy foote out of bro-
    thell, thy hand out of placket, thy pen from lenders booke,
    and defie the foule fiend, still through the hathorne blowes the
    cold wind, hay no on ny, Dolphin my boy, my boy, caese
    1880let him trot by.
    Lear. Why thou wert better in thy graue, then to answere
    with thy vncouered bodie this extremitie of the skies, is man no
    more, but this cõsider him well, thou owest the worme no silke,
    the beast no hide, the sheepe no 1885wooll, the cat no perfume, her's
    three ons are sophisticated, thou art the thing it selfe, vnaccom-
    odated man, is no more but such a poore bare forked Animall
    as thou art, off off you lendings, come on
    Foole. Prithe Nunckle be content, this is a naughty night to
    swim in, now a little fire in a wild field, were like an old leachers
    heart, a small sparke, all the rest in bodie cold, looke here comes
    a walking fire. Enter Gloster.
    1895Edg. This is the foule fiend fliberdegibek, hee begins at cur-
    phew, and walks till the first cocke, he giues the web, & the pin,
    squemes the eye, and makes the hare lip, mildewes the white
    wheate, and hurts the poore creature of earth, swithald 1900footed
    thrice the old, he met the night mare and her nine fold bid her, O
    light and her troth plight and arint thee, witch arint thee.
    Kent. How fares your Grace?
    1905Lear. Whats hee?
    Kent. Whose there, what i'st you seeke?
    Glost. What are you there? your names?
    Edg. Poore Tom, that eats the swimming frog, the tode, the
    tod pole, the wall-newt, and the water, that 1910in the furie of his
    heart, when the foule fiend rages, eats cow-dung for sallets, swal-
    lowes the old ratt, and the ditch dogge, drinkes the greene man-
    tle of the standing poole, who is whipt from tithing to tithing,
    and stock-punisht and imprisoned, who hath had three sutes 1915to
    his backe, sixe shirts to his bodie, horse to ride, and weapon
    to weare.
    But mise and rats, and such small Deere,
    Hath beene Toms foode for seuen long yeare-
    Beware my follower, peace snulbug, peace thou fiend.
    1920Glost. What hath your Grace no better company?
    Edg. The Prince of darkenes is a Gentleman, modo he's caled
    and ma hu---
    Glost. Our flesh and bloud is growne so vild my Lord, that it
    doth hate what gets it.
    1925Edg. Poore Toms a cold.
    Glost. Go in with me, my dutie cãnot suffer to obay in all your
    daughters hard commaunds, though their iniunction be to barre
    my doores, and let this tyranous night take hold vpon you, 1930yet
    haue I venter'd to come seeke you out, and bring you where
    both food and fire is readie.
    Lear. First let me talke with this Philosopher,
    What is the cause of thunder?
    Kent. My good Lord take his offer, 1935goe into the house.
    Lear. Ile talke a word with this most learned Theban, what is
    your studie?
    Edg. How to preuent the fiend, and to kill vermine.
    Lear. Let me aske you one word in priuate.
    1940Kent. Importune him to goe my Lord, his wits begin (to vnsettle.
    Glost. Canst thou blame him,
    His daughters seeke his death, O that good Kent,
    He said it would be thus, poore banisht man,
    1945Thou sayest the King growes mad, ile tell thee friend
    I am almost mad my selfe, I had a sonne
    Now out-lawed from my bloud, a sought my life
    But lately, very late, I lou'd him friend
    No father his sonne deerer, true to tell thee,
    1950The greefe hath craz'd my wits,
    What a nights this? I doe beseech your Grace.
    Lear. O crie you mercie noble Philosopher, your com-(pany.
    Edg. Toms a cold.
    1955Glost. In fellow there, in't houell keepe thee warme.
    Lear. Come lets in all.
    Kent. This way my Lord.
    Lear. With him I wil keep stil, with my Philosopher.
    1960Ken. Good my Lord sooth him, let him take the fellow.
    Glost. Take him you on.
    Kent. Sirah come on, goe along with vs?
    Lear. Come good Athenian.
    1965Glost. No words, no words, hush.
    Edg. Child Rowland, to the darke towne come,
    His word was still fy fo and fum,
    I smell the bloud of a British man.