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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    Not Peer Reviewed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 7]
    1075Enter Kent, [disguised, and Oswald the] steward, [meeting].
    Good even to thee friend. Art of the house?
    Where may we set our horses?
    Prithee, if thou love me, tell me.
    I love thee not.
    Why then, I care not for thee.
    If I had thee in Lipsbury Pinfold I would make thee care for me.
    Why dost thou use me thus? I know thee not.
    Fellow, I know thee.
    What dost thou know me for?
    A knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-1090pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking knave; a whoreson glass-gazing super-finical rogue, one-trunk-inheriting slave. One that wouldst be a bawd in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, 1095pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch--whom I will beat into clamorous whining if thou deny the least syllable of the addition.
    What a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to rail on one that's neither known of thee, nor 1100knows thee.
    What a brazen-faced varlet art thou, to deny thou knowest me! Is it two days ago since I beat thee, and tripped up thy heels before the king? [Drawing his sword.] Draw, you rogue, for though it be night the moon shines. I'll make a 1105sop of the moonshine o'you. Draw, you whoreson cullionly barber-monger, draw!
    Away, I have nothing to do with thee.
    Draw, you rascal. You bring letters against the king, and take Vanity the puppet's part 1110against the royalty of her father. Draw, you rogue, or I'll so carbonado your shanks! Draw, you rascal. Come your ways.
    Help, ho! Murder! Help!
    Strike you slave. Stand, rogue. Stand, you neat 1115slave--strike!
    Help, ho, murder, help!
    Enter Edmund [the Bastard] with his rapier drawn, Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess [of Cornwall, and attendants].
    How now, what's the matter?
    [To the Bastard] With you, goodman boy, an you please. Come, 1120I'll flesh you. Come on, young master.
    [They exchange blows.]
    Weapons? Arms? What's the matter here?
    [Drawing his sword] Keep peace upon your lives. He dies that strikes again. What's the matter?
    The messengers from our sister, and the king.
    What's your difference? Speak.
    I am scarce in breath, my lord.
    No marvel. You have so bestirred your valor, you cowardly rascal, nature disclaims in thee. A tailor made thee.
    Thou art a strange fellow. A tailor make a man?
    Ay, a tailor, sir. A stone-cutter, or a painter could not have made him so ill, though he had been but two hours at the trade.
    Speak yet. How grew your quarrel?
    This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spared at suit of his gray beard--
    Thou whoreson zed, thou unnecessary letter!--My lord, if you'll give me leave, I will tread this unbolted villain into mortar, and daub the walls of a 1140jakes with him. [To Oswald] Spare my gray beard, you wagtail?
    Peace sir.
    You beastly knave, have you no reverence?
    Yes, sir, but anger has a privilege.
    Why art thou angry?
    That such a slave as this should wear a sword,
    That wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as these,
    Like rats, oft bite those cords in twain,
    Which are too entrenched to unloose; smooth every passion
    That in the natures of their lords rebel,
    1150Bring oil to fire, snow to their colder moods,
    Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks
    With every gale and vary of their masters,
    Knowing naught, like dogs, but following.
    [To Oswald] A plague upon your epileptic visage!
    1155Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool?
    Goose, an I had you upon Sarum Plain,
    I'd send you cackling home to Camelot.
    What, art thou mad, old fellow?
    How fell you out? Say that.
    No contraries hold more antipathy,
    Than I and such a knave.
    Why dost thou call him knave?
    What's his offence?
    His countenance likes me not.
    No more perchance does mine, or his, or hers.
    Sir, 'tis my occupation to be plain.
    I have seen better faces in my time
    Than stands on any shoulder that I see
    Before me at this instant.
    This is a fellow who, having been praised
    For bluntness, doth affect a saucy roughness,
    And constrains the garb quite from his nature.
    He cannot flatter, he--he must be plain,
    He must speak truth. 1175An they will tak't, so;
    If not, he's plain. These kind of knaves I know
    Which in this "plainness" harbor more craft
    And more corrupter ends than twenty silly-ducking
    Observants that stretch their duties nicely.
    Sir, in good sooth, or in sincere verity,
    Under the allowance of your grand aspect,
    Whose influence like the wreath of radiant fire
    In flickering Phoebus' front--
    What mean'st thou by this?
    To go out of my dialogue, which you discommend so much. I know, sir, I am no flatterer. He that beguiled you in a plain accent was a plain knave, which for my part I will not be, though I should win your displeasure to entreat me to't.
    [To Oswald] What's the offence you gave him?
    I never gave him any.
    It pleased the king his master very late
    To strike at me, upon his misconstruction,
    When he, conjunct, and flattering his displeasure,
    1195Tripped me behind; being down, insulted, railed,
    And put upon him such a deal of man that
    That worthied him, got praises of the king,
    For him attempting who was self-subdued;
    And in the fleshment of this dread exploit
    1200Drew on me here again.
    None of these rogues and cowards
    But Ajax is their fool.
    Bring forth the stocks, ho!
    You stubborn, ancient knave, you reverend braggart,
    1205We'll teach you.
    I am too old to learn.
    Call not your stocks for me. I serve the king,
    On whose employments I was sent to you.
    You should do small respect, show too bold malice
    1210Against the grace and person of my master,
    Stocking his messenger.
    Fetch forth the stocks! As I have life and honor,
    There shall he sit till noon.
    Till noon? Till night, my lord, and all night too.
    Why, madam, if I were your father's dog
    You could not use me so.
    Sir, being his knave, I will.
    [Stocks brought out.]
    This is a fellow of the self same nature
    Our sister speaks of. Come, bring away the stocks.
    Let me beseech your grace not to do so.
    1220.1His fault is much, and the good king his master
    Will check him for't. Your purposed, low correction
    Is such as basest and 'temnedst wretches
    For pilferings and most common trespasses
    Are punished with. The king must take it ill
    That he's so slightly valued in his messenger,
    Should have him thus restrained.
    I'll answer that.
    My sister may receive it much more worse
    To have her gentlemen abused, assaulted
    1226.1For following her affairs. Put in his legs.
    [Attendants put Kent in the stocks.]
    Come, my good lord, away.
    [Exeunt all but Gloucester and Kent.]
    I am sorry for thee, friend. 'Tis the Duke's pleasure,
    Whose disposition all the world well knows
    1230Will not be rubbed nor stopped. I'll entreat for thee.
    Pray you, do not, sir. I have watched and traveled hard.
    Some time I shall sleep on't, the rest I'll whistle.
    A good man's fortune may grow out at heels.
    Give you good morrow.
    The Duke's to blame in this. 'Twill be ill took.
    Good king, that must approve the common saw,
    Thou out of heaven's benediction comest
    To the warm sun.
    1240Approach, thou beacon to this under globe,
    That by thy comfortable beams I may
    Peruse this letter. Nothing almost sees miracles
    But misery. I know 'tis from Cordelia,
    Who hath most fortunately been informed
    1245Of my obscurèd course, and shall find time
    From this enormous state, seeking to give
    Losses their remedies. All weary and overwatched,
    Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold
    This shameful lodging. Fortune, goodnight.
    1250Smile; once more turn thy wheel.
    [He] sleeps.
    Enter Edgar.
    I hear myself proclaimed,
    And by the happy hollow of a tree
    Escaped the hunt. No port is free, no place
    1255That guard and most unusual vigilance
    Does not attend my taking. While I may scape,
    I will preserve myself, and am bethought
    To take the basest and most poorest shape
    That ever penury in contempt of man
    1260Brought near to beast. My face I'll grime with filth,
    Blanket my loins, elf all my hair with knots,
    And with presented nakedness outface
    The wind and persecution of the sky.
    The country gives me proof and precedent
    1265Of Bedlam beggars, who, with roaring voices,
    Strike in their numbed and mortified bare arms
    Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary,
    And with this horrible object, from low service,
    Poor pelting villages, sheepcotes, and mills,
    1270Sometime with lunatic bans, sometime with prayers,
    Enforce their charity. "Poor Turlygod, poor Tom."
    That's something yet. Edgar I nothing am.
    Enter King [Lear, the Fool, and a knight].
    'Tis strange that they should so depart from home,
    1275And not send back my messenger.
    As I learned, the night before there was
    No purpose of his remove.
    [From the stocks] Hail to thee, noble master.
    How? Mak'st thou this shame thy pastime?
    Ha ha! Look, he wears cruel garters. Horses are tied by the heels, dogs and bears by the neck, monkeys by the loins, and men by the legs. When a man's 1285over-lusty at legs, then he wears wooden netherstocks.
    [To Kent] What's he that hath so much thy place mistook
    To set thee here?
    It is both he and she, 1290your son and daughter.
    No, I say
    I say yea.
    No, no, they would not.
    Yes they have.
    By Jupiter I swear no, they durst not do't,
    They would not, could not do't. 'Tis worse than murder
    To do upon respect such violent outrage.
    1300Resolve me with all modest haste which way
    Thou may'st deserve, or they purpose this usage,
    Coming from us.
    My lord, when at their home
    I did commend your highness' letters to them,
    1305Ere I was risen from the place that showed
    My duty kneeling, came there a reeking post,
    Stewed in his haste, half breathless, panting forth
    From Goneril his mistress, salutations;
    Delivered letters, spite of intermission,
    1310Which presently they read; on whose contents
    They summoned up their men, straight took horse,
    Commanded me to follow and attend
    the leisure Of their answer; gave me cold looks.
    And, meeting here the other messenger,
    1315Whose welcome I perceived had poisoned mine,
    Being the very fellow that of late
    Displayed so saucily against your highness,
    Having more man than wit about me, drew.
    He raised the house with loud and coward cries.
    1320Your son and daughter found this trespass worth
    This shame which here it suffers.
    Oh, how this mother swells up toward my heart.
    Hysterica passio, down thou climbing sorrow,
    1330Thy element's below. Where is this daughter?
    With the earl, sir, within.
    [To the Fool and Knight] Follow me not, stay there.
    [Exit Lear.]
    Made you no more offence than what you speak of?
    No. How chance the king comes with so small a train?
    An thou hadst been set in the stocks for that question, thou hadst well deserved it.
    Why, Fool?
    We'll set thee to school to an ant, to teach thee there's no laboring in the winter. All that follow their noses are led by their eyes but blind men, and there's not a nose among a hundred but can smell him that's stinking. Let go thy hold when a great wheel runs down a 1345hill, lest it break thy neck with following it. But the great one that goes up the hill, let him draw thee after. When a wise man gives thee better counsel, give me mine again. I would have none but knaves follow it, since a fool gives it.
    1350That sir that serves for gain
    And follows but for form,
    Will pack when it begin to rain,
    And leave thee in the storm.
    But I will tarry, the fool will stay,
    1355 And let the wise man fly.
    The knave turns fool that runs away,
    The fool no knave perdy.
    Where learned you this, Fool?
    Not in the stocks.
    Enter Lear and Gloucester.
    Deny to speak with me? Th'are sick, th'are weary,
    They traveled hard tonight? Mere insolence.
    Ay, the images of revolt and flying off.
    1365Fetch me a better answer.
    My dear lord,
    You know the fiery quality of the Duke,
    How unremoveable and fixed he is
    In his own course.
    Vengeance, death, plague, confusion!
    What fiery quality? Why, Gloucester, Gloucester,
    I'd speak with the Duke of Cornwall, and his wife.
    Ay, my good lord.
    The king would speak with Cornwall. The dear father
    Would with his daughter speak, commands her service--
    1380Fiery Duke? Tell the hot Duke that Lear--
    No, but not yet. Maybe he is not well.
    Infirmity doth still neglect all office
    Whereto our health is bound. We are not ourselves
    When nature, being oppressed, commands the mind
    1385To suffer with the body. I'll forbear,
    And am fallen out with my more headier will
    To take the indisposed and sickly fit
    For the sound man.
    [Notices Kent.]
    Death on my state! Wherefore
    Should he sit here? This act persuades me
    1390That this remotion of the Duke and her
    Is practice only. Give me my servant forth.
    Tell the Duke and 's wife I'll speak with them
    Now, presently. Bid them come forth and hear me,
    Or at their chamber door I'll beat the drum
    1395Till it cry sleep to death.
    I would have all well betwixt you.
    [Exit Gloucester.]
    Oh, my heart, my heart.
    Cry to it nuncle, as the cockney did to the eels when she put 'em i'th'paste alive. She rapped 'em 1400o'th'coxcombs with a stick and cried, "Down, wantons, down!" 'Twas her brother that in pure kindness to his horse buttered his hay.
    Enter [the] Duke [of Cornwall] and Regan [with Gloucester and servants].
    Good morrow to you both.
    Hail to your grace.
    [Kent here set at liberty.]
    I am glad to see your highness.
    Regan, I think you are. I know what reason
    I have to think so. If thou shouldst not be glad,
    I would divorce me from thy mother's tomb,
    1410Sepulchring an adultress. [To Kent] Yea, are you free?
    Some other time for that.--Belovèd Regan,
    Thy sister is naught. O Regan, she hath tied
    Sharp-toothed unkindness, like a vulture, here.
    I can scarce speak to thee. Thou'lt not believe
    1415Of how depraved a quality, O Regan--
    I pray, sir, take patience. I have hope
    You less know how to value her desert
    Than she to slack her duty.
    My curses on her.
    O sir, you are old,
    Nature on you stands on the very verge
    Of her confine. You should be ruled and led
    By some discretion that discerns your state
    1430Better than you yourself. Therefore, I pray
    That to our sister you do make return.
    Say you have wronged her, sir.
    Ask her forgiveness?
    Do you mark how this becomes the house?
    1435[Kneeling] "Dear daughter, I confess that I am old.
    Age is unnecessary. On my knees I beg
    That you'll vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food."
    Good sir, no more. These are unsightly tricks.
    Return you to my sister.
    [Rising] No, Regan.
    She hath abated me of half my train,
    Looked black upon me, struck me with her tongue
    Most serpent-like upon the very heart.
    All the stored vengeances of heaven fall
    1445On her ungrateful top! Strike her young bones,
    You taking airs, with lameness--
    Fie, fie, sir.
    You nimble lightnings dart your blinding flames
    Into her scornful eyes. Infect her beauty,
    1450You fen-sucked fogs, drawn by the powerful sun,
    To fall and blast her pride.
    O the blest gods! So will you wish on me
    When the rash mood--
    No Regan, thou shalt never have my curse.
    1455Thy tender-hested nature shall not give
    Thee o'er to harshness. Her eyes are fierce, but thine
    Do comfort and not burn. 'Tis not in thee
    To grudge my pleasures, to cut off my train,
    To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes,
    1460And, in conclusion, to oppose the bolt
    Against my coming in. Thou better knowest
    The offices of nature, bond of childhood,
    Effects of courtesy, dues of gratitude.
    Thy half of the kingdom hast thou not forgot
    1465Wherein I thee endowed.
    Good sir, to th'purpose.
    Who put my man i'th'stocks?
    [Trumpet sounds.]
    What trumpet's that?
    Enter [Oswald the] steward.
    I know't my sister's. This approves her letters
    That she would soon be here. [To Oswald] Is your lady come?
    This is a slave, whose easy-borrowed pride
    Dwells in the fickle grace of her 'a follows.
    [Striking him] Out, varlet, from my sight.
    What means your grace?
    Enter Goneril.
    Who struck my servant? Regan I have good hope
    Thou didst not know on't.
    Who comes here? O heavens!
    1480If you do love old men, if your sweet sway allow
    Obedience, if your selves are old, make it your cause.
    Send down and take my part.
    [To Goneril] Art not ashamed to look upon this beard?--
    O Regan, wilt thou take her by the hand?
    Why not by the hand, sir? How have I offended?
    All's not offence that indiscretion finds
    And dotage terms so.
    O sides, you are too tough.
    Will you yet hold? 1490How came my man i'th'stocks?
    I set him there, sir, but his own disorders
    Deserved much less advancement.
    You? Did you?
    I pray you, father, being weak, seem so.
    1495If till the expiration of your month
    You will return and sojourn with my sister,
    Dismissing half your train, come then to me.
    I am now from home, and out of that provision
    Which shall be needful for your entertainment.
    Return to her, and fifty men dismissed?
    No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose
    To wage against the enmity of the air,
    To be a comrade with the wolf and owl,
    Necessity's sharp pinch. Return with her?
    1505Why, the hot blood in France, that dowerless
    Took our youngest born, I could as well be brought
    To knee his throne, and squire-like pension beg
    To keep base life afoot. Return with her?
    Persuade me rather to be slave and sumpter
    [Indicating Oswald]
    1510To this detested groom.
    At your choice, sir.
    Now, I prithee daughter, do not make me mad.
    I will not trouble thee, my child. Farewell.
    We'll no more meet, no more see one another.
    1515But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter--
    Or rather a disease that lies within my flesh,
    Which I must needs call mine. Thou art a boil,
    A plague sore, an embossèd carbuncle
    In my corrupted blood--but I'll not chide thee.
    1520Let shame come when it will, I do not call it.
    I do not bid the thunder-bearer shoot,
    Nor tell tales of thee to high-judging Jove.
    Mend when thou canst. Be better at thy leisure.
    I can be patient. I can stay with Regan,
    1525I and my hundred knights.
    Not altogether so, sir. I look not for you yet,
    Nor am provided for your fit welcome.
    Give ear, sir, to my sister, for those
    That mingle reason with your passion
    1530Must be content to think you are old, and so--
    But she knows what she does.
    Is this well spoken, now?
    I dare avouch it, sir. What, fifty followers?
    Is it not well? What should you need of more?
    1535Yea, or so many, sith that both charge and danger
    Speaks 'gainst so great a number. How, in a house,
    Should many people under two commands
    Hold amity? 'Tis hard; almost impossible.
    Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance
    1540From those that she calls servants; or from mine?
    Why not, my lord? If then they chanced to slack you,
    We could control them. If you will come to me,
    For now I spy a danger, I entreat you
    1545To bring but five and twenty. To no more
    Will I give place or notice.
    I gave you all.
    And in good time you gave it.
    Made you my guardians, my depositories,
    1550But kept a reservation to be followed
    With such a number. What, must I come to you
    With five and twenty? Regan, said you so?
    And speak't again, my lord, no more with me.
    Those wicked creatures yet do seem well favored
    1555When others are more wicked. Not being the worst
    Stands in some rank of praise. [To Goneril] I'll go with thee.
    Thy fifty yet doth double five and twenty,
    And thou art twice her love.
    Hear me, my lord.
    1560What need you five and twenty? Ten? Or five,
    To follow in a house where twice so many
    Have a command to tend you.
    What needs one?
    Oh, reason not the need! Our basest beggars
    1565Are in the poorest thing superfluous.
    Allow not nature more than nature needs,
    Man's life is cheap as beast's. Thou art a lady;
    If only to go warm were gorgeous,
    Why nature needs not what thou gorgeous wearest,
    1570Which scarcely keeps thee warm; but for true need--
    You heavens, give me that patience; patience I need.
    You see me here, you gods, a poor old fellow,
    As full of grief as age, wretched in both.
    If it be you that stirs these daughters' hearts
    1575Against their father, fool me not too much
    To bear it lamely. Touch me with noble anger.
    Oh, let not women's weapons, water drops,
    Stain my man's cheeks. No, you unnatural hags,
    I will have such revenges on you both
    1580That all the world shall--I will do such things--
    What they are yet I know not, but they shall be
    The terrors of the earth. You think I'll weep.
    No, I'll not weep. I have full cause of weeping,
    [Storm and tempest]
    1585But this heart shall break in a hundred thousand flaws
    Or ere I'll weep. O Fool, I shall go mad.
    Exeunt Lear, Gloucester, Kent, and Fool.
    Let us withdraw. 'Twill be a storm.
    This house is little. The old man and his people
    Cannot be well bestowed.
    'Tis his own blame; hath put himself from rest,
    And must needs taste his folly.
    For his particular, I'll receive him gladly,
    But not one follower.
    So am I purposed. 1595Where is my Lord of Gloucester?
    Enter Gloucester.
    Followed the old man forth--he is returned.
    The king is in high rage 1600and will I know not whither.
    'Tis good to give him way; he leads himself.
    My lord, entreat him by no means to stay.
    Alack, the night comes on, and the bleak winds
    Do sorely rustle. For many miles about
    1605There's not a bush.
    O sir, to willful men
    The injuries that they themselves procure
    Must be their schoolmasters. Shut up your doors.
    He is attended with a desperate train,
    1610And what they may incense him to, being apt
    To have his ear abused, wisdom bids fear.
    Shut up your doors, my lord, 'tis a wild night.
    My Regan counsels well. Come out o'th'storm.