Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Michael Best
Not Peer Reviewed

King Lear (Quarto 1, 1608)

Enter Lear.
875Lear. Goe you before to
Gloster with these letters, acquaint
my daughter no further with any thing you know, then comes
from her demand out of the letter, if your diligence be not spee-
die, I shall be there before you.
880Kent. I will not sleepe my Lord, till I haue deliuered your
letter. Exit
Foole. If a mans braines where in his heeles, wert not in dan-
ger of kibes? Lear. I boy.
885Foole. Then I prethe be mery, thy wit shal nere goe slipshod.
Lear. Ha ha ha.
Foole. Shalt see thy other daughter will vse thee kindly, for
though shees as like this, as a crab is like an 890apple, yet I con, what
I can tel.
Lear. Why what canst thou tell my boy?
Foole. Sheel tast as like this, as a crab doth to a crab, thou
canst not tell why ones nose stande in the middle of his face?
895Lear. No.
Foole. Why, to keep his eyes on either side's nose, that what
a man cannot smell out, a may spie into.
Lear. I did her wrong.
Foole. Canst tell how an Oyster makes his shell. 900Lear. No.
Foole. Nor I neither, but I can tell why a snayle has a house.
Lear. Why?
Foole. Why, to put his head in, not to giue it away to his
905daughter, and leaue his hornes without a case.
Lear. I will forget my nature, so kind a father; be my horses
Foole. Thy Asses are gone about them, the reason why the
seuen starres are no more then seuen, is a prettie reason.
910Lear. Because they are not eight.
Foole. Yes thou wouldst make a good foole.
Lear. To tak't againe perforce, Monster, ingratitude!
Fool. If thou wert my foole Nunckle, id'e haue thee beatẽ for
being old before thy time.
915Lear. Hows that?
Foole. Thou shouldst not haue beene old, before thou hadst
beene wise.
Lear. O let me not be mad sweet heauen! I would not be mad,
keepe me in temper, I would not be mad, are 920the horses readie?
Seruant. Readie my Lord. Lear. Come boy. Exit.
Foole. Shee that is maide now, and laughs at my departure,
Shall not be a maide long, except things be cut shorter. Exit