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About this text

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    Not Peer Reviewed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

    [Scene 4]
    530Enter Kent [disguised as Caius].
    If but as well I other accents borrow
    That can my speech diffuse, my good intent
    May carry through itself to that full issue
    For which I razed my likeness. Now, banished Kent,
    535If thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemned,
    Thy master whom thou lovest shall find thee
    Full of labor.
    Enter Lear [and servants from hunting].
    Let me not stay a jot for dinner. Go get it ready.
    [Exit a servant.]
    [To Kent] 540How now, what art thou?
    A man, sir.
    What dost thou profess? What wouldst thou with us?
    I do profess to be no less than I seem, to serve 545him truly that will put me in trust, to love him that is honest, to converse with him that is wise and says little, to fear judgment, to fight when I cannot choose, and to eat no fish.
    What art thou?
    A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the King.
    If thou be as poor for a subject as he is for a king, th'art poor enough. What wouldst thou?
    Who wouldst thou serve?
    Dost thou know me, fellow?
    No sir, but you have that in your countenance which I would fain call master.
    What's that?
    What services canst do?
    I can keep honest counsel, ride, run, mar a curious tale in telling it, and deliver a plain message 565bluntly. That which ordinary men are fit for I am qualified in, and the best of me is diligence.
    How old art thou?
    Not so young to love a woman for singing, nor so old to dote on her for anything. I have years on 570my back forty-eight.
    Follow me. Thou shalt serve me. If I like thee no worse after dinner I will not part from thee yet. Dinner, ho! Dinner! Where's my knave, my fool? Go you and call my fool hither.
    [Exit a servant.]
    575Enter [Oswald, the] steward.
    You, sirrah, where's my daughter?
    So please you--
    [Exit Oswald.]
    What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll back.
    [Exit Kent and a Servant.]
    Where's my fool? Ho! I think the world's asleep.
    [Enter Kent and servant.]
    How now? Where's that mongrel?
    He says, my lord, your daughter is not well.
    Why came not the slave back to me when I called him?
    Sir, he answered me in the roundest manner he would not.
    'A would not?
    My lord, I know not what the matter is, but to my judgment your highness is not entertained with that ceremonious affection as you were wont. There's a great abatement appears as well in 590the general dependents as in the duke himself also, and your daughter.
    Ha? Sayest thou so?
    I beseech you pardon me, my lord, if I be mistaken, for my duty cannot be silent when I think 595your highness wronged.
    Thou but rememberest me of mine own conception. I have perceived a most faint neglect of late, which I have rather blamed as mine own jealous curiosity than as a very pretense and purport of unkindness. 600I will look further into't. But where's this fool? I have not seen him this two days.
    Since my young lady's going into France, sir, the fool hath much pined away.
    No more of that, I have noted it. Go you 605and tell my daughter I would speak with her.
    [Exit a servant.]
    Go you, call hither my fool.
    [Exit another servant.]
    [Enter Oswald.]
    O you, sir, you, sir, come you hither. Who am I, sir?
    My lady's father.
    "My lady's father"? My lord's knave, you whoreson dog, you slave, you cur.
    I am none of this, my lord, I beseech you, pardon me.
    [Striking him] Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?
    I'll not be struck, my lord.
    [Tripping him] Nor tripped neither, you base football player.
    I thank thee, fellow. Thou servest me, and I'll love thee.
    [To Oswald] Come sir, I'll teach you differences. 620Away, away! If you will measure your lubber's length again, tarry; but away, you have wisdom.
    [Exit Oswald.]
    Now friendly knave, I thank thee. [Giving money] There's earnest of thy service.
    Enter Fool.
    Let me hire him too. [To Kent, holding out his cap] Here's my coxcomb.
    How now, my pretty knave, how dost thou?
    [To Kent] Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb.
    Why, Fool?
    Why, for taking one's part, that's out of favor. 630Nay, an thou canst not smile as the wind sits thou'lt catch cold shortly. There, take my coxcomb. Why, this fellow hath banished two on's daughters, and done the third a blessing against his will. If thou follow him, thou must needs wear my coxcomb. [To Lear] How now, nuncle? Would 635I had two coxcombs and two daughters.
    Why, my boy?
    If I gave them any living, I'd keep my coxcombs myself. There's mine; beg another of thy daughters.
    Take heed, sirrah--the whip.
    Truth is a dog that must to kennel. He must be whipped out, when Lady the brach may stand by the fire and stink.
    A pestilent gall to me.
    Sirrah, I'll teach thee a speech.
    Mark it, nuncle.
    Have more than thou showest,
    Speak less than thou knowest,
    650Lend less than thou owest,
    Ride more than thou goest,
    Learn more than thou trowest,
    Set less than thou throwest,
    Leave thy drink and thy whore,
    655And keep in-a-door,
    And thou shalt have more
    Than two tens to a score.
    This is nothing, fool.
    Then, like the breath of an unfee'd lawyer, 660you gave me nothing for't. Can you make no use of nothing, nuncle?
    Why, no, boy. Nothing can be made out of nothing.
    [To Kent] Prithee tell him, so much the rent of his land 665comes to. He will not believe a fool.
    A bitter fool.
    [To Lear] Dost know the difference, my boy, between a bitter fool and a sweet fool?
    No, lad, teach me.
    That lord that counseled thee to give away thy land,
    Come place him here by me; do thou for him stand.
    The sweet and bitter fool will presently appear--
    The one in motley here, the other found out there.
    Dost thou call me fool, boy?
    All thy other titles thou hast given away. That thou wast born with.
    This is not altogether fool, my Lord.
    No, faith, lords and great men will not let me. If I had 669.10a monopoly on't, they would have part on't. And ladies too; they will not let me have all the fool to myself, they'll be snatching. 670Give me an egg, nuncle, and I'll give thee two crowns.
    What two crowns shall they be?
    Why, after I have cut the egg in the middle and eat up the meat, the two crowns of the egg. When 675thou clovest thy crown i'th'middle and gavest away both parts, thou borest thy ass o'th'back o'er the dirt. Thou hadst little wit in thy bald crown when thou gav'st thy golden one away. If I speak like myself in this, let him be whipped that first finds it so.
    680Fools had ne'er less wit in a year,
    For wise men are grown foppish,
    They know not how their wits do wear,
    Their manners are so apish.
    When were you wont to be so full of songs, sirrah?
    I have used it, nuncle, ever since thou mad'st thy daughters thy mother; for when thou gav'st them the rod, and puttest down thine own breeches,
    687.1Then they for sudden joy did weep,
    And I for sorrow sung,
    690That such a king should play bo-peep,
    And go the fools among.
    Prithee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach thy fool to lie. I would fain learn to lie.
    An you lie, we'll have you whipped.
    I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are. They'll have me whipped for speaking true, thou wilt have me whipped for lying, and sometime I am whipped for holding my peace. I had rather be any kind of thing than a fool; and yet I would not be thee, nuncle. Thou hast pared thy 700wit o'both sides, and left nothing in the middle. Here comes one of the parings.
    Enter Goneril.
    How now, daughter? What makes that frontlet on? Methinks you are too much o'late i'th'frown.
    Thou wast a pretty fellow when thou hadst no need to care for her frown. Now thou art an "O" without a figure. I am better than thou art now--I am a fool, thou art nothing. [To Goneril] Yes, forsooth, I will hold my tongue; so your face bids me though you say nothing.
    710Mum, mum,
    He that keeps neither crust nor crumb,
    Weary of all, shall want some.
    [Pointing to Lear.] That's a shelled peascod.
    Not only, sir, this, your all-licensed fool,
    But other of your insolent retinue
    Do hourly carp and quarrel, breaking forth
    715In rank and not-to-be-endurèd riots. Sir,
    I had thought by making this well known unto you
    To have found a safe redress, but now grow fearful,
    By what yourself too late have spoke and done,
    That you protect this course, and put it on
    720By your allowance; which, if you should, the fault
    Would not scape censure, nor the redress sleep;
    Which in the tender of a wholesome weal,
    Might in their working do you that offence,
    That else were shame, that then necessity
    725Must call discreet proceedings.
    For you trow, nuncle,
    The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long
    That it had its head bit off by its young.
    So out went the candle, and we were left darkling.
    Are you our daughter?
    Come, sir.
    I would you would make use of that good wisdom
    Whereof I know you are fraught, and put away
    These dispositions that of late transform you
    From what you rightly are.
    May not an ass know when the cart draws the horse?--
    Whoop, Jug, I love thee!
    Doth any here know me? Why, this is not Lear.
    740Doth Lear walk thus? Speak thus? Where are his eyes?
    Either his notion, weakness, or his discernings
    Are lethargied. Sleeping or waking? Ha!
    Sure 'tis not so.
    Who is it that can tell me who I am?
    Lear's shadow? I would learn that, for by the marks
    Of sovereignty, 744.1knowledge, and reason,
    I should be false persuaded I had daughters.
    Which they will make an obedient father.
    Your name, fair gentlewoman?
    Come, sir,
    This admiration is much of the savor
    Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you
    Understand my purposes aright.
    As you are old and reverend, should be wise.
    750Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires,
    Men so disordered, so debauched and bold,
    That this our court, infected with their manners,
    Shows like a riotous inn. Epicurism
    And lust make more like a tavern or brothel
    755Than a great palace. The shame itself doth speak
    For instant remedy. Be thou desired,
    By her that else will take the thing she begs,
    A little to disquantity your train;
    And the remainder that shall still depend
    760To be such men as may besort your age,
    That know themselves and you.
    Darkness and devils!
    Saddle my horses. Call my train together.
    [Exit one or more.]
    Degenerate bastard, I'll not trouble thee.
    765Yet have I left a daughter.
    You strike my people, and your disordered rabble
    Make servants of their betters.
    Enter Duke [Albany].
    We that too late repent us-- [To Albany] Oh, sir, are you come?
    770Is it your will that we-- [To a servant] Prepare my horses!
    [Exit servant.]
    Ingratitude! Thou marble-hearted fiend,
    More hideous when thou show'st thee in a child
    Than the sea-monster. 775[To Goneril] Detested kite, thou liest.
    My train are men of choice and rarest parts
    That all particulars of duty know,
    And in the most exact regard support
    The worships of their name. Oh, most small fault,
    780How ugly didst thou in Cordelia show,
    That, like an engine, wrenched my frame of nature
    From the fixèd place, drew from my heart all love
    And added to the gall.
    [Striking his head]
    O Lear, Lear!
    Beat at this gate that let thy folly in
    785And thy dear judgment out. Go, go, my people.
    [Exeunt some.]
    My lord, I am guiltless as I am ignorant.
    It may be so, my lord. Hark, Nature, hear.
    Dear goddess,
    790Suspend thy purpose if thou didst intend
    To make this creature fruitful.
    Into her womb convey sterility,
    Dry up in her the organs of increase,
    And from her derogate body never spring
    795A babe to honor her. If she must teem,
    Create her child of spleen, that it may live
    And be a thwart, disnatured torment to her.
    Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth,
    With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks,
    800Turn all her mother's pains and benefits
    To laughter and contempt, that she may feel--
    That she may feel
    How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
    To have a thankless child. Go, go, my people!
    [Exeunt Lear, Kent, Fool, and servants.]
    Now, gods that we adore, 805whereof comes this?
    Never afflict yourself to know the cause,
    But let his disposition have that scope
    That dotage gives it.
    [Enter Lear and Fool.]
    What? Fifty of my followers at a clap
    Within a fortnight?
    What is the matter, sir?
    I'll tell thee--life and death! I am ashamed
    815That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus,
    That these hot tears that break from me perforce
    Should make--the worst blasts and fogs upon thee;
    Untented woundings of a father's curse
    820Pierce every sense about thee. Old fond eyes,
    Beweep this cause again, I'll pluck you out,
    And cast you with the waters that you make
    To temper clay. Yea, is't come to this?
    Yet have I left a daughter,
    825Who I am sure is kind and comfortable.
    When she shall hear this of thee, with her nails
    She'll flay thy wolvish visage. Thou shalt find
    That I'll resume the shape which thou dost think
    I have cast off for ever--thou shalt, I warrant thee.
    [Exit Lear.]
    Do you mark that, my lord?
    I cannot be so partial, Goneril,
    To the great love I bear you--
    Come, sir, no more.
    [To the Fool] You, more knave than fool, after your master!
    Nuncle Lear, nuncle Lear, tarry and take the fool with thee.
    A fox, when one has caught her,
    And such a daughter,
    Should sure to the slaughter,
    840If my cap would buy a halter.
    So the fool follows after.
    [Exit Fool.]
    What, Oswald, ho!
    [Enter Oswald.]
    Here Madam.
    What, have you writ this letter to my sister?
    Yes, madam.
    Take you some company and away to horse.
    Inform her full of my particular fears,
    And thereto add such reasons of your own
    As may compact it more. Get you gone,
    And hasten your return.
    [Exit Oswald.]
    Now, my lord,
    865This milky gentleness and course of yours,
    Though I dislike not, yet, under pardon,
    Y'are much more attasked for want of wisdom
    Than praised for harmful mildness.
    How far your eyes may pierce I cannot tell.
    870Striving to better aught, we mar what's well.
    Nay then--
    Well, well, the event.