Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Michael Best
Not Peer Reviewed

King Lear (Modern, Quarto)

[Scene 21]
Enter Cordelia, Kent [disguised], a doctor, and a gentleman. [Soft music]
O thou good Kent, how shall I live and work
To match thy goodness? My life will be too short,
And every measure fail me.
To be acknowledged, madam, is o'er-paid.
All my reports go with the modest truth,
Nor more, nor clipped, but so.
Be better suited.
These weeds are memories of those Worser hours.
2755I prithee put them off.
Pardon me, dear madam;
Yet to be known shortens my made intent.
My boon I make it that you know me not
Till time and I think meet.
Then be't so, my good lord. [To the doctor] How does the King?
Madam, sleeps still.
O you kind gods,
Cure this great breach in his abusèd nature;
2765The untuned and hurrying senses, O wind up,
Of this child-changed father.
So please your majesty
That we may wake the King. He hath slept long.
Be governed by your knowledge and proceed
2770I'th'sway of your own will. Is he arrayed?
Ay, madam. In the heaviness of his sleep
We put fresh garments on him.
Good madam, be by when we do awake him.
2775I doubt not of his temperance.
Very well.
Please you draw near. Louder the music there.
[Lear is discovered, or carried in, asleep.]
O my dear father, restoration hang
Thy medicine on my lips, and let this kiss
Repair those violent harms that my two sisters
Have in thy reverence made.
Kind and dear princess.
Had you not been their father, these white flakes
Had challenged pity of them. Was this a face
To be exposed against the warring winds,
2783.1To stand against the deep dread-bolted thunder?
In the most terrible and nimble stroke
Of quick cross lightning to watch--poor perdu--
With this thin helm? Mine injurious dog,
Though he had bit me, 2785should have stood that night
Against my fire; and wast thou fain, poor father,
To hovel thee with swine and rogues forlorn,
In short and musty straw? Alack, alack,
'Tis wonder that thy life and wits at once
2790Had not concluded all. He wakes. [To the doctor] Speak to him.
Madam, do you. 'Tis fittest.
How does my royal lord? How fares your majesty?
You do me wrong to take me out o'th'grave.
2795Thou art a soul in bliss, but I am bound
Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears
Do scald like molten lead.
Sir, know me.
Y'are a spirit, I know. Where did you die?
Still, still, far wide.
He's scarce awake. Let him alone a while.
Where have I been? Where am I? Fair daylight?
2805I am mightily abused. I should e'en die with pity
To see another thus. I know not what to say.
I will not swear these are my hands. Let's see--
I feel this pin prick. Would I were assured
Of my condition.
[Kneeling] O look upon me, sir,
And hold your hands in benediction o'er me.
[Lear attempts to kneel.]
No, sir, you must not kneel.
Pray do not mock.
I am a very foolish, fond old man,
2815Fourscore and upward, and to deal plainly,
I fear I am not in my perfect mind.
Methinks I should know you, and know this man,
2820Yet I am doubtful, for I am mainly ignorant
What place this is; and all the skill I have
Remembers not these garments, nor I know not
Where I did lodge last night. Do not laugh at me,
For, as I am a man, I think this lady
2825To be my child, Cordelia.
And so I am.
Be your tears wet? Yes, faith. I pray weep not.
If you have poison for me I will drink it.
2830I know you do not love me, for your sisters
Have, as I do remember, done me wrong.
You have some cause; they have not.
No cause, no cause.
Am I in France?
In your own kingdom, sir.
Do not abuse me.
Be comforted, good madam. The great rage
You see is cured in him; 2838.1and yet it is danger
To make him even o'er the time he has lost.
Desire him to go in. Trouble him no more
Till further settling.
Will't please your highness walk?
You must bear with me. Pray now, forget and forgive.
I am old and foolish.
Exeunt. Kent and [the] gentleman [remain].
Holds it true, sir, that the Duke of Cornwall was so slain?
Most certain, sir.
Who is conductor of his people?
As 'tis said, the bastard son of Gloucester.
They say Edgar, his banished son, is with the Earl of Kent in Germany.
Report is changeable. 'Tis time to look about.
The powers of the kingdom approach apace.
The arbitrament is like to be bloody. Fare you well, sir.
My point and period will be throughly wrought,
Or well, or ill, as this day's battle's fought.