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About this text

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    Not Peer Reviewed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

    1[Scene 1]
    Enter Kent, Gloucester, and [the] Bastard.
    Kent
    I thought the King had more affected the 5Duke of Albany than Cornwall.
    Gloucester
    It did always seem so to us, but now in the division of the kingdoms it appears not which of the dukes he values most, for equalities are so weighed that curiosity in 10neither can make choice of either's moiety.
    Kent
    Is not this your son, my lord?
    Gloucester
    His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge. I have so often blushed to acknowledge him that now I am brazed to it.
    15Kent
    I cannot conceive you.
    Gloucester
    Sir, this young fellow's mother could, whereupon she grew round-wombed, and had indeed, sir, a son for her cradle ere she had a husband for her bed. Do you smell a fault?
    20Kent
    I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper.
    Gloucester
    But I have, sir, a son by order of law, some year elder than this, who yet is no dearer in my account. Though this knave came something saucily into the 25world before he was sent for, yet was his mother fair, there was good sport at his making, and the whoreson must be acknowledged.--Do you know this noble gentleman, Edmund?
    Bastard
    No, my lord.
    30Gloucester
    My lord of Kent. Remember him hereafter as my honorable friend.
    Bastard
    My services to your lordship.
    Kent
    I must love you, and sue to know you better.
    Bastard
    Sir, I shall study deserving.
    35Gloucester
    He hath been out nine years, and away he shall again. The King is coming.
    Sound a sennet. Enter one bearing a coronet, then Lear, then the Dukes of Albany and Cornwall; next Goneril, Regan, [and] 38.1Cordelia, with followers.
    Lear
    Attend my lords of France and Burgundy, Gloucester.
    40Gloucester
    I shall, my liege.
    [Exit Gloucester.]
    Lear
    Meantime we will express our darker purposes.
    The map there. Know we have divided
    In three our kingdom; and 'tis our first intent
    To shake all cares and business of our state,
    45Confirming them on younger years, while we
    Unburdened crawl toward death. Our son of Cornwall,
    And you, our no less loving son of Albany,
    We have this hour a constant will to publish
    Our daughters' several dowers, that future strife
    50May be prevented now.
    The two great princes France and Burgundy,
    Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,
    Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,
    And here are to be answered. Tell me, my daughters--
    Since now we will divest us both of rule,
    55Interest of territory, cares of state--
    Which of you shall we say doth love us most,
    That we our largest bounty may extend
    Where merit doth most challenge it.
    Goneril, our eldest born, speak first.
    60Goneril
    Sir, I do love you more than words can wield the matter;
    Dearer than eyesight, space or liberty,
    Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare,
    No less than life; with grace, health, beauty, honor,
    As much a child e'er loved or father found;
    65A love that makes breath poor and speech unable.
    Beyond all manner of so much I love you.
    Cordelia
    [Aside] What shall Cordelia do? Love and be silent.
    Lear
    Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,
    With shady forests and with champaigns riched
    70With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads,
    We make thee lady. To thine and Albany's issue
    Be this perpetual. What says our second daughter,
    Our dearest Regan, wife to Cornwall? Speak.
    Regan
    Sir, I am made of the self same mettle
    That my sister is,
    75And prize me at her worth. In my true heart
    I find she names my very deed of love,
    Only she came short, that I profess
    Myself an enemy to all other joys
    Which the most precious square of sense possesses,
    80And find I am alone felicitate
    In your dear highness' love.
    Cordelia
    [Aside] Then poor Cordelia--
    And yet not so, since I am sure my love's
    More richer than my tongue.
    85Lear
    To thee and thine hereditary ever
    Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom,
    No less in space, validity, and pleasure,
    Than that confirmed on Goneril. But now our joy,
    Although the last, not least in our dear love,
    To whose young love
    90The vines of France and milk of Burgundy
    Strive to be interessed,
    What can you say to win a third, more opulent
    Than your sisters'?
    Cordelia
    Nothing my lord.
    Lear
    Nothing?
    95Cordelia
    Nothing.
    Lear
    How? Nothing can come of nothing. Speak again.
    Cordelia
    Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
    My heart into my mouth. I love your majesty
    According to my bond, nor more nor less.
    100Lear
    Go to, go to. Mend your speech a little
    Lest it may mar your fortunes.
    Cordelia
    Good my lord,
    You have begot me, bred me, loved me.
    I return those duties back as are right fit;
    105Obey you, love you, and most honor you.
    Why have my sisters husbands if they say
    They love you all?
    Haply when I shall wed, that lord whose hand
    Must take my plight shall carry half my love with him,
    Half my care and duty. 110Sure I shall never
    Marry like my sisters, to love my father all.
    Lear
    But goes this with thy heart?
    Cordelia
    Ay, good my lord.
    Lear
    So young and so untender.
    Cordelia
    So young, my lord, and true.
    115Lear
    Well, let it be so. Thy truth then be thy dower;
    For by the sacred radiance of the sun,
    The mysteries of Hecate and the night,
    By all the operation of the orbs
    From whom we do exist and cease to be,
    120Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
    Propinquity and property of blood,
    And as a stranger to my heart and me
    Hold thee from this for ever. The barbarous Scythian,
    Or he that makes his generation messes
    125To gorge his appetite
    Shall be as well neighbored, pitied, and relieved
    As thou my sometime daughter.
    Kent
    Good my liege--
    Lear
    Peace, Kent! 130Come not between the dragon and his wrath.
    I loved her most, and thought to set my rest
    On her kind nursery. [To Cordelia] Hence and avoid my sight!--
    So be my grave my peace, as here I give
    Her father's heart from her. Call France. Who stirs?
    135Call Burgundy.
    [Exit an attendant.]
    Cornwall and Albany,
    With my two daughters' dowers digest this third.
    Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.
    I do invest you jointly in my power,
    Preeminence, and all the large effects
    140That troop with majesty. Ourself by monthly course,
    With reservation of a hundred knights
    By you to be sustained, shall our abode
    Make with you by due turns; only we still retain
    The name and all the additions to a king.
    The sway, 145revenue, execution of the rest,
    Beloved sons, be yours; which to confirm,
    This coronet part betwixt you.
    Kent
    Royal Lear,
    Whom I have ever honored as my king,
    150Loved as my father, as my master followed,
    As my great patron thought on in my prayers--
    Lear
    The bow is bent and drawn. Make from the shaft.
    Kent
    Let it fall rather, though the fork invade
    The region of my heart. Be Kent unmannerly
    155When Lear is mad. What wilt thou do old man?
    Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak
    When power to flattery bows? To plainness honor's bound
    When majesty stoops to folly. Reverse thy doom,
    160And in thy best consideration check
    This hideous rashness. Answer my life my judgment;
    Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least;
    Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sound
    Reverbs no hollowness.
    165Lear
    Kent, on thy life no more.
    Kent
    My life I never held but as a pawn
    To wage against thy enemies, nor fear to lose it
    Thy safety being the motive.
    Lear
    Out of my sight!
    170Kent
    See better, Lear, and let me still remain
    The true blank of thine eye.
    Lear
    Now by Apollo--
    Kent
    Now, by Apollo, King, thou swear'st thy gods in vain.
    175Lear
    [Threatening Kent] Vassal, recreant!
    Albany, [Cornwall or Cordelia]
    Dear sir, forbear!
    Kent
    Do. Kill thy physician,
    And the fee bestow upon the foul disease.
    Revoke thy doom, or whilst I can vent clamor
    From my throat 180I'll tell thee thou dost evil.
    Lear
    Hear me. On thy allegiance hear me.
    Since thou hast sought to make us break our vow,
    Which we durst never yet, and with strayed pride
    To come between our sentence and our power,
    185Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,
    Our potency made good, take thy reward.
    Four days we do allot thee for provision
    To shield thee from dis-eases of the world,
    And on the fifth to turn thy hated back
    190Upon our kingdom. If on the next day following
    Thy banished trunk be found in our dominions,
    The moment is thy death. Away! By Jupiter,
    This shall not be revoked.
    Kent
    Why fare thee well, King, since thus thou wilt appear,
    195Friendship lives hence, and banishment is here.
    [To Cordelia] The gods to their protection take thee, maid,
    That rightly thinks and hast most justly said.
    [To Goneril and Regan] And your large speeches may your deeds approve,
    That good effects may spring from words of love.
    200Thus Kent, O princes, bids you all adieu;
    He'll shape his old course in a country new.
    [Exit.]
    Enter France and Burgundy with Gloucester [and an attendant.]
    Gloucester
    Here's France and Burgundy, my noble lord.
    205Lear
    My lord of Burgundy, we first address towards you,
    Who with a king hath rivaled for our daughter.
    What in the least will you require in present
    Dower with her, or cease your quest of love?
    210Burgundy
    Royal majesty, I crave no more than what
    Your highness offered; nor will you tender less.
    Lear
    Right noble Burgundy, when she was dear to us
    We did hold her so,
    215But now her price is fallen. Sir, there she stands.
    If aught within that little-seeming substance,
    Or all of it, with our displeasure pieced
    And nothing else, may fitly like your grace,
    She's there, and she is yours.
    220Burgundy
    I know no answer.
    Lear
    Sir, will you with those infirmities she owes,
    Unfriended, new adopted to our hate,
    Covered with our curse and strangered with our oath,
    Take her or leave her?
    225Burgundy
    Pardon me, royal sir,
    Election makes not up on such conditions.
    Lear
    Then leave her, sir, for by the power that made me
    I tell you all her wealth. [To France] For you, great king,
    I would not from your love make such a stray
    230To match you where I hate. Therefore, beseech you
    To avert your liking a more worthier way
    Than on a wretch whom nature is ashamed
    Almost to acknowledge hers.
    France
    This is most strange,
    235That she, that even but now was your best object,
    The argument of your praise, balm of your age,
    Most best, most dearest, should in this trice of time
    Commit a thing so monstrous to dismantle
    So many folds of favor. Sure her offence
    240Must be of such unnatural degree
    That monsters it, or your fore-vouched affections
    Fallen into taint; which to believe of her
    Must be a faith that reason without miracle
    Could never plant in me.
    245Cordelia
    I yet beseech your majesty,
    If for I want that glib and oily art,
    To speak and purpose not--since what I well intend
    I'll do't before I speak--that you may know
    It is no vicious blot, murder or foulness,
    250No unclean action or dishonored step
    That hath deprived me of your grace and favor,
    But even for want of that for which I am rich--
    A still-soliciting eye, and such a tongue,
    As I am glad I have not--though not to have it,
    255Hath lost me in your liking.
    Lear
    Go to, go to. Better thou hadst
    Not been born, than not to have pleased me better.
    France
    Is it no more but this? A tardiness in nature
    That often leaves the history unspoke
    260That it intends to do? My lord of Burgundy,
    What say you to the lady? Love is not love
    When it is mingled with respects that stands
    Aloof from the entire point. Will you have her?
    She is herself a dowry.
    265Burgundy
    Royal Lear,
    Give but that portion which yourself proposed,
    And here I take Cordelia by the hand,
    Duchess of Burgundy.
    Lear
    Nothing. I have sworn.
    270Burgundy
    [To Cordelia] I am sorry then you have so lost a father
    That you must lose a husband.
    Cordelia
    Peace be with Burgundy; since that respects
    Of fortune are his love, I shall not be his wife.
    275France
    Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor,
    Most choice, forsaken, and most loved, despised,
    Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon.
    Be it lawful I take up what's cast away.
    Gods, gods! 'Tis strange, that from their coldest neglect
    280My love should kindle to inflamed respect.
    Thy dowerless daughter, King, thrown to thy chance,
    Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France.
    Not all the dukes in waterish Burgundy,
    Shall buy this unprized precious maid of me.
    285Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind.
    Thou losest here, a better where to find.
    Lear
    Thou hast her, France. Let her be thine,
    For we have no such daughter, nor shall ever see
    That face of hers again. Therefore be gone,
    290Without our grace, our love, our benison.
    Come, noble Burgundy.
    Exeunt Lear, Burgundy, [and others].
    France
    Bid farewell to your sisters.
    Cordelia
    The jewels of our father, with washed eyes
    Cordelia leaves you. I know you what you are,
    295And like a sister am most loath to call
    Your faults as they are named. Use well our father.
    To your professèd bosoms I commit him;
    But yet, alas, stood I within his grace,
    I would prefer him to a better place.
    300So farewell to you both.
    Goneril
    Prescribe not us our duties.
    Regan
    Let your study
    Be to content your lord, who hath received you
    At fortune's alms. You have obedience scanted,
    305And well are worth the want that you have wanted.
    Cordelia
    Time shall unfold what pleated cunning hides,
    Who covers faults, at last shame them derides.
    Well may you prosper.
    France
    Come, fair Cordelia.
    Exeunt France and Cordelia.
    310Goneril
    Sister, it is not a little I have to say of what most nearly appertains to us both. I think our father will hence tonight.
    Regan
    That's most certain, and with you; next month with us.
    Goneril
    You see how full of changes his age is. The 315observation we have made of it hath not been little. He always loved our sister most, and with what poor judgment he hath now cast her off appears too gross.
    Regan
    'Tis the infirmity of his age. Yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself.
    320Goneril
    The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash. Then must we look to receive from his age not alone the imperfection of long-engrafted condition, but therewithal unruly waywardness that infirm and choleric years bring with them.
    325Regan
    Such unconstant starts are we like to have from him as this of Kent's banishment.
    Goneril
    There is further compliment of leave taking between France and him. Pray let's hit together. If our father carry authority with such dispositions as he bears, 330this last surrender of his will but offend us.
    Regan
    We shall further think on't.
    Goneril
    We must do something, and i'th'heat.
    Exeunt.
    [Scene 2]
    Enter [the] Bastard alone, [with a letter].
    335Bastard
    Thou, Nature, art my goddess. To thy law
    My services are bound. Wherefore should I
    Stand in the plague of custom and permit
    The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
    For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines
    340Lag of a brother? Why "bastard"? Wherefore "base,"
    When my dimensions are as well compact,
    My mind as generous, and my shape as true
    As honest madam's issue?
    Why brand they us with "base," "base bastardy,"
    345Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, take
    More composition and fierce quality
    Than doth within a stale, dull-eyed bed
    Go to the creating of a whole tribe of fops
    Got 'tween asleep and wake. Well, then,
    350Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land.
    Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund
    As to the legitimate.
    Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed
    And my invention thrive, Edmund the base
    355Shall to th'legitimate. I grow, I prosper.
    Now, gods, stand up for bastards!
    Enter Gloucester.
    Gloucester
    Kent banished thus, and France in choler parted?
    And the king gone tonight, subscribed his power,
    360Confined to exhibition? All this done
    Upon the gad?--Edmund, how now? What news?
    Bastard
    [Pockets the letter.] So please your lordship, none.
    Gloucester
    Why so earnestly seek you to put up that letter?
    Bastard
    I know no news, my lord.
    365Gloucester
    What paper were you reading?
    Bastard
    Nothing, my lord.
    Gloucester
    No? What needs then that terrible dispatch of it into your pocket? The quality of nothing hath not such need to hide itself. Let's see. Come, if it be 370nothing I shall not need spectacles.
    Bastard
    I beseech you, sir, pardon me. It is a letter from my brother that I have not all o'er-read. For so much as I have perused, I find it not fit for your liking.
    375Gloucester
    Give me the letter, sir.
    Bastard
    I shall offend either to detain or give it. The contents, as in part I understand them, are to blame.
    Gloucester
    Let's see, let's see!
    380Bastard
    I hope, for my brother's justification, he wrote this but as an assay or taste of my virtue.
    [He gives Gloucester the] letter.
    Gloucester
    [Reads.]
    This policy of age makes the world bitter to the best of our times, keeps our fortunes from us till our oldness cannot relish them. I begin to find an idle 385and fond bondage in the oppression of aged tyranny, who sways not as it hath power, but as it is suffered. Come to me that of this I may speak more. If our father would sleep till I waked him, you should enjoy half his revenue for ever, and live the beloved of your brother,
    Edgar.
    390Hum, conspiracy! "Slept till I waked him," "You should enjoy half his revenue"? My son Edgar? Had he a hand to write this? A heart and brain to breed it in? When came this to you? Who brought it?
    Bastard
    It was not brought me, my lord, there's the 395cunning of it. I found it thrown in at the casement of my closet.
    Gloucester
    You know the character to be your brother's?
    Bastard
    If the matter were good, my lord, I durst swear it were his; but in respect of that I would fain think it 400were not.
    Gloucester
    It is his?
    Bastard
    It is his hand, my lord, but I hope his heart is not in the contents.
    Gloucester
    Hath he never heretofore sounded you in this business?
    405Bastard
    Never, my lord, but I have often heard him maintain it to be fit that sons at perfect age, and fathers declining, his father should be as ward to the son, and the son manage the revenue.
    Gloucester
    O villain, villain! His very opinion in the 410letter. Abhorred villain. Unnatural, detested, brutish villain, worse than brutish. Go sir, seek him. Ay, apprehend him, abominable villain. Where is he?
    Bastard
    I do not well know, my lord. If it shall please you to suspend your indignation against my brother till you can 415derive from him better testimony of this intent, you should run a certain course; where, if you violently proceed against him mistaking his purpose, it would make a great gap in your own honor and shake in pieces the heart of his obedience. I dare pawn down my life for him, 420he hath wrote this to feel my affection to your honor, and to no further pretense of danger.
    Gloucester
    Think you so?
    Bastard
    If your honor judge it meet, I will place you where you shall hear us confer of this, and by an 425auricular assurance have your satisfaction--and that without any further delay than this very evening.
    Gloucester
    He cannot be such a monster.
    427.1Bastard
    Nor is not, sure.
    Gloucester
    To his father, that so tenderly and entirely loves him. Heaven and earth! Edmund, seek him out. Wind me into him. I pray you, frame your business after your own wisdom. I would unstate 430myself to be in a due resolution.
    Bastard
    I shall seek him sir, presently, convey the business as I shall see means, and acquaint you withal.
    Gloucester
    These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us. Though the wisdom of nature can 435reason thus and thus, yet nature finds itself scourged by the sequent effects. Love cools, friendship falls off, brothers divide. In cities mutinies, in countries discords, palaces treason; the bond cracked between son and father. This villain of mine comes under the 440prediction--there's son against father. The King falls from bias of nature--there's father against child. We have seen the best of our time. Machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all ruinous disorders follow us disquietly to our graves. Find out this villain, Edmund. It shall lose 445thee nothing. Do it carefully. And the noble and true-hearted Kent banished, his offence honesty. Strange, strange!
    [Exit.]
    Bastard
    This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune--often the surfeit of our own behavior--we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the 450moon, and the stars, as if we were villains by necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves, thieves, and treacherers by spiritual predominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in by a divine 455thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of stars. "My father compounded with my mother under the dragon's tail, and my nativity was under Ursa Major, so that it follows I am rough and lecherous." Fut! I should 460have been that I am had the maidenliest star of the firmament twinkled on my bastardy. Edgar--
    Enter Edgar.
    --and out he comes like the catastrophe of the old comedy. Mine is villainous melancholy, with a sigh like them of 465Bedlam. --Oh, these eclipses do portend these divisions.
    Edgar
    How now, brother Edmund. What serious contemplation are you in?
    Bastard
    I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read this 470other day, what should follow these eclipses.
    Edgar
    Do you busy yourself about that?
    Bastard
    I promise you the effects he writ of succeed unhappily, 473.1as of unnaturalness between the child and the parent, death, dearth, dissolutions of ancient amities, divisions in state, menaces and maledictions against king and nobles, needless diffidences, banishment of friends, dissipation of cohorts, nuptial breaches, and I know not what.
    473.5Edgar
    How long have you been a sectary astronomical?
    Bastard
    Come, come, when saw you my father last?
    Edgar
    Why, 475the night gone by.
    Bastard
    Spake you with him?
    Edgar
    Two hours together.
    Bastard
    Parted you in good terms? Found you no displeasure in him by word or countenance?
    480Edgar
    None at all.
    Bastard
    Bethink yourself wherein you may have offended him, and at my entreaty forbear his presence till some little time hath qualified the heat of his displeasure, which at this instant so rageth in him that with the 485mischief of your person it would scarce allay.
    Edgar
    Some villain hath done me wrong.
    Bastard
    That's my fear, brother. I advise you to the best. Go armed. I am no honest man if there be any good meaning towards you. I have told 495you what I have seen and heard but faintly, nothing like the image and horror of it. Pray you, away!
    Edgar
    Shall I hear from you anon?
    Bastard
    I do serve you in this business.
    Exit Edgar
    A credulous father and a brother noble,
    500Whose nature is so far from doing harms
    That he suspects none; on whose foolish honesty
    My practices ride easy. I see the business.
    Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit.
    All with me's meet that I can fashion fit.
    Exit.
    505[Scene 3]
    Enter Goneril and [Oswald, her] gentleman.
    Goneril
    Did my father strike my gentleman for chiding of his fool?
    Oswald
    Yes, madam.
    510Goneril
    By day and night he wrongs me. Every hour
    He flashes into one gross crime or other
    That sets us all at odds. I'll not endure it.
    His knights grow riotous, and himself upbraids us
    On every trifle. When he returns from hunting
    515I will not speak with him. Say I am sick.
    If you come slack of former services
    You shall do well; the fault of it I'll answer.
    [Hunting horns within]
    Oswald
    He's coming madam. I hear him.
    Goneril
    Put on what weary negligence you please,
    520You and your fellow servants. I'd have it come in question.
    If he dislike it, let him to our sister,
    Whose mind and mine I know in that are one,
    522.1Not to be overruled. Idle old man
    That still would manage those authorities
    That he hath given away. Now, by my life,
    Old fools are babes again, and must be used
    With checks as flatteries when they are seen abused.
    Remember what I tell you.
    Oswald
    Very well, madam.
    525Goneril
    And let his knights have colder looks among you. What grows of it, no matter. Advise your fellows so. I would breed 526.1from hence occasions, and I shall, that I may speak. I'll write straight to my sister to hold my very course. Go prepare for dinner.
    Exeunt [separately].
    [Scene 4]
    530Enter Kent [disguised as Caius].
    Kent
    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].
    Lear
    Let me not stay a jot for dinner. Go get it ready.
    [Exit a servant.]
    [To Kent] 540How now, what art thou?
    Kent
    A man, sir.
    Lear
    What dost thou profess? What wouldst thou with us?
    Kent
    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.
    Lear
    What art thou?
    550Kent
    A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the King.
    Lear
    If thou be as poor for a subject as he is for a king, th'art poor enough. What wouldst thou?
    Kent
    Service.
    555Lear
    Who wouldst thou serve?
    Kent
    You.
    Lear
    Dost thou know me, fellow?
    Kent
    No sir, but you have that in your countenance which I would fain call master.
    560Lear
    What's that?
    Kent
    Authority.
    Lear
    What services canst do?
    Kent
    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.
    Lear
    How old art thou?
    Kent
    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.
    Lear
    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?
    Oswald
    So please you--
    [Exit Oswald.]
    Lear
    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?
    580Kent
    He says, my lord, your daughter is not well.
    Lear
    Why came not the slave back to me when I called him?
    Servant
    Sir, he answered me in the roundest manner he would not.
    585Lear
    'A would not?
    Servant
    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.
    Lear
    Ha? Sayest thou so?
    Servant
    I beseech you pardon me, my lord, if I be mistaken, for my duty cannot be silent when I think 595your highness wronged.
    Lear
    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.
    Servant
    Since my young lady's going into France, sir, the fool hath much pined away.
    Lear
    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?
    Oswald
    My lady's father.
    610Lear
    "My lady's father"? My lord's knave, you whoreson dog, you slave, you cur.
    Oswald
    I am none of this, my lord, I beseech you, pardon me.
    Lear
    [Striking him] Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?
    615Oswald
    I'll not be struck, my lord.
    Kent
    [Tripping him] Nor tripped neither, you base football player.
    Lear
    I thank thee, fellow. Thou servest me, and I'll love thee.
    Kent
    [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.]
    Lear
    Now friendly knave, I thank thee. [Giving money] There's earnest of thy service.
    Enter Fool.
    625Fool
    Let me hire him too. [To Kent, holding out his cap] Here's my coxcomb.
    Lear
    How now, my pretty knave, how dost thou?
    Fool
    [To Kent] Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb.
    Kent
    Why, Fool?
    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.
    Lear
    Why, my boy?
    Fool
    If I gave them any living, I'd keep my coxcombs myself. There's mine; beg another of thy daughters.
    640Lear
    Take heed, sirrah--the whip.
    Fool
    Truth is a dog that must to kennel. He must be whipped out, when Lady the brach may stand by the fire and stink.
    Lear
    A pestilent gall to me.
    645Fool
    Sirrah, I'll teach thee a speech.
    Lear
    Do.
    Fool
    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.
    Lear
    This is nothing, fool.
    Fool
    Then, like the breath of an unfee'd lawyer, 660you gave me nothing for't. Can you make no use of nothing, nuncle?
    Lear
    Why, no, boy. Nothing can be made out of nothing.
    Fool
    [To Kent] Prithee tell him, so much the rent of his land 665comes to. He will not believe a fool.
    Lear
    A bitter fool.
    Fool
    [To Lear] Dost know the difference, my boy, between a bitter fool and a sweet fool?
    Lear
    No, lad, teach me.
    [Sings.]
    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.
    Lear
    What two crowns shall they be?
    Fool
    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.
    [Sings.]
    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.
    Lear
    When were you wont to be so full of songs, sirrah?
    685Fool
    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,
    [Sings.]
    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.
    Lear
    An you lie, we'll have you whipped.
    695Fool
    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.
    Lear
    How now, daughter? What makes that frontlet on? Methinks you are too much o'late i'th'frown.
    705Fool
    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.
    [Sings.]
    710Mum, mum,
    He that keeps neither crust nor crumb,
    Weary of all, shall want some.
    [Pointing to Lear.] That's a shelled peascod.
    Goneril
    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.
    Fool
    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.
    730Lear
    Are you our daughter?
    Goneril
    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.
    735Fool
    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.
    745Lear
    Your name, fair gentlewoman?
    Goneril
    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.
    Goneril
    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.
    Albany
    Pray, sir, be patient.
    Lear
    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.]
    Albany
    My lord, I am guiltless as I am ignorant
    Of what hath moved you.
    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.]
    Albany
    Now, gods that we adore, 805whereof comes this?
    Goneril
    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?
    Albany
    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.]
    830Goneril
    Do you mark that, my lord?
    Albany
    I cannot be so partial, Goneril,
    To the great love I bear you--
    Goneril
    Come, sir, no more.
    [To the Fool] You, more knave than fool, after your master!
    835Fool
    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.]
    Goneril
    This man hath had good counsel. A hundred knights?
    'Tis politic and safe to let him keep
    845At point a hundred knights? Yes, that on every dream,
    Each buzz, each fancy, each complaint, dislike,
    He may enguard his dotage with their powers
    And hold our lives in mercy.--Oswald, I say!
    Albany
    Well, you may fear too far.
    850Goneril
    Safer than trust too far.
    Let me still take away the harms I fear,
    Not fear still to be taken. I know his heart.
    What he hath uttered I have writ my sister.
    If she sustain him and his hundred knights
    855When I have showed th'unfitness--
    Enter [Oswald the] steward.
    How now Oswald?
    Goneril
    What, have you writ this letter to my sister?
    Oswald
    Yes, madam.
    860Goneril
    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.
    Albany
    How far your eyes may pierce I cannot tell.
    870Striving to better aught, we mar what's well.
    Goneril
    Nay then--
    Albany
    Well, well, the event.
    Exeunt.
    [Scene 5]
    Enter Lear [with Kent, disguised as Caius, and the Fool].
    875Lear
    [To Kent] Go you before to Gloucester with these letters. Acquaint my daughter no further with anything you know than comes from her demand out of the letter. If your diligence be not speedy I shall be there before you.
    880Kent
    I will not sleep, my lord, till I have delivered your letter.
    Exit.
    Fool
    If a man's brains were in his heels, were't not in danger of kibes?
    Lear
    Ay, boy.
    885Fool
    Then I prithee be merry. Thy wit shall ne'er go slipshod.
    Lear
    Ha ha ha.
    Fool
    Shalt see thy other daughter will use thee kindly, for though she's as like this as a crab is like an 890apple, yet I con what I can tell.
    Lear
    Why, what canst thou tell, my boy?
    Fool
    She'll taste as like this as a crab doth to a crab. Thou canst not tell why one's nose stands in the middle of his face?
    895Lear
    No.
    Fool
    Why, to keep his eyes on either side 's nose, that what a man cannot smell out 'a may spy into.
    Lear
    I did her wrong.
    Fool
    Canst tell how an oyster makes his shell?
    900Lear
    No.
    Fool
    Nor I neither; but I can tell why a snail has a house.
    Lear
    Why?
    Fool
    Why, to put his head in, not to give it away to his 905daughter, and leave his horns without a case.
    Lear
    I will forget my nature. So kind a father. Be my horses ready?
    Fool
    Thy asses are gone about them. The reason why the seven stars are no more than seven is a pretty reason.
    910Lear
    Because they are not eight?
    Fool
    Yes. Thou wouldst make a good fool.
    Lear
    To tak't again perforce. Monster ingratitude!
    Fool
    If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I'd have thee beaten for being old before thy time.
    915Lear
    How's that?
    Fool
    Thou shouldst not have been old before thou hadst been wise.
    Lear
    O let me not be mad, sweet heaven! I would not be mad. Keep me in temper. I would not be mad.
    [Enter a servant.]
    Are 920the horses ready?
    Servant
    Ready, my lord.
    Lear
    Come, boy.
    Exeunt [all but the Fool].
    Fool
    She that is maid now, and laughs at my departure,
    Shall not be a maid long, except things be cut shorter.
    925Exit.
    [Scene 6]
    Enter [Edmund the] Bastard and Curan, meeting.
    Bastard
    Save thee, Curan.
    Curan
    And you, sir. I have been 930with your father, and given him notice that the Duke of Cornwall and his Duchess will be here with him tonight.
    Bastard
    How comes that?
    Curan
    Nay, I know not. You have heard of the news 935abroad, I mean the whispered ones, for there are yet but ear-bussing arguments.
    Bastard
    Not I. Pray you what are they?
    Curan
    Have you heard of no likely wars towards, twixt the two Dukes of Cornwall and Albany?
    940Bastard
    Not a word.
    Curan
    You may, then, in time. Fare you well, sir.
    [Exit Curan.]
    Bastard
    The Duke be here tonight! The better--best.
    This weaves itself perforce into my business.
    Enter Edgar [above].
    945My father hath set guard to take my brother,
    And I have one thing of a queasy question
    Which must ask briefness and fortune's help.
    Brother, a word. Descend. Brother, I say.
    [Edgar descends.]
    950My father watches. Oh, fly this place!
    Intelligence is given where you are hid.
    You have now the good advantage of the night.
    Have you not spoken 'gainst the Duke of Cornwall aught?
    He's coming hither now in the night, i'th'haste,
    955And Regan with him. Have you nothing said
    Upon his party against the Duke of Albany?
    Advise your--
    Edgar
    I am sure on't. Not a word.
    Bastard
    I hear my father coming. Pardon me.
    960In cunning I must draw my sword upon you.
    Seem to defend yourself. Now quit you well.--[Shouting]
    Yield! Come before my father. Light here, here.--[To Edgar]
    Fly, brother, fly.--[Shouting] Torches, torches! [To Edgar] So farewell.
    965[Exit Edgar.]
    [Wounding his arm] Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion
    Of my more fierce endeavor. I have seen drunkards
    Do more than this in sport. [Shouting] Father, father!
    Stop, stop! No help?
    970Enter Gloucester [and attendants].
    Gloucester
    Now Edmund, where is the villain?
    Bastard
    Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out,
    Warbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon
    To stand's auspicious mistress.
    975Gloucester
    But where is he?
    Bastard
    Look sir, I bleed.
    Gloucester
    Where is the villain, Edmund?
    Bastard
    Fled this way, sir, when by no means he could--
    Gloucester
    Pursue him, go after.
    [Exit attendant(s).]
    [To the Bastard] By no means what?
    980Bastard
    Persuade me to the murder of your lordship;
    But that I told him the revengive gods
    'Gainst parricides did all their thunders bend;
    Spoke with how manifold and strong a bond
    The child was bound to the father. Sir, in fine,
    985Seeing how loathly opposite I stood
    To his unnatural purpose, with fell motion
    With his preparèd sword he charges home
    My unprovided body, lanced mine arm.
    But when he saw my best alarumed spirits,
    990Bold in the quarrel's right, roused to the encounter--
    Or whether gasted by the noise I made--
    But suddenly he fled.
    Gloucester
    Let him fly far.
    Not in this land shall he remain uncaught--
    995And found, dispatch! The noble Duke my master,
    My worthy arch and patron, comes tonight.
    By his authority I will proclaim it.
    That he which finds him shall deserve our thanks,
    Bringing the murderous caitiff to the stake.
    1000He that conceals him, death.
    Bastard
    When I dissuaded him from his intent
    And found him pitched to do it, with curst speech
    I threatened to discover him. He replied,
    "Thou unpossessing bastard, dost thou think,
    1005If I would stand against thee, could the reposure
    Of any trust, virtue, or worth in thee
    Make thy words faithed? No. What I should deny,
    As this I would, ay, though thou didst produce
    My very character, I'd turn it all
    1010To thy suggestion, plot, and damned pretense.
    And thou must make a dullard of the world
    If they not thought the profits of my death
    Were very pregnant and potential spurs
    To make thee seek it."
    1015Gloucester
    Strong and fastened villain.
    Would he deny his letter? I never got him.
    [Trumpets sound.]
    Hark, the Duke's trumpets. I know not why he comes.
    All ports I'll bar. The villain shall not scape;
    The Duke must grant me that. Besides, his picture
    1020I will send far and near that all the kingdom
    May have note of him. And of my land,
    Loyal and natural boy, I'll work the means
    To make thee capable.
    Enter the Duke of Cornwall, [Regan, and attendants].
    1025Cornwall
    How now, my noble friend. Since I came hither,
    Which I can call but now, I have heard strange news.
    Regan
    If it be true, all vengeance comes too short
    Which can pursue the offender. How dost, my lord?
    Gloucester
    Madam, my old heart is cracked, is cracked.
    1030Regan
    What, did my father's godson seek your life?
    He whom my father named, your Edgar?
    Gloucester
    Ay, lady, lady, shame would have it hid.
    Regan
    Was he not companion with the riotous knights
    That tend upon my father?
    1035Gloucester
    I know not, madam. 'Tis too bad, too bad.
    Bastard
    Yes, madam, he was.
    Regan
    No marvel, then, though he were ill affected.
    'Tis they have put him on the old man's death,
    To have the spoil and waste of his revenues.
    1040I have this present evening from my sister
    Been well informed of them, and with such cautions
    That if they come to sojourn at my house
    I'll not be there.
    Cornwall
    Nor I, assure thee Regan.
    Edmund, 1045I heard that you have shown your father
    A child-like office.
    Bastard
    'Twas my duty, sir.
    Gloucester
    He did betray his practice, and received
    This hurt you see, striving to apprehend him.
    1050Cornwall
    Is he pursued?
    Gloucester
    Ay, my good lord.
    Cornwall
    If he be taken, he shall never more
    Be feared of doing harm. Make your own purpose
    How, in my strength, you please. For you, Edmund,
    1055Whose virtue and obedience doth this instant
    So much commend itself, you shall be ours.
    Natures of such deep trust we shall much need.
    You we first seize on.
    Bastard
    I shall serve you truly,
    However else.
    1060Gloucester
    For him I thank your grace.
    Cornwall
    You know not why we came to visit you?
    Regan
    This out-of-season, threatening, dark-eyed night?
    Occasions, noble Gloucester, of some poise,
    Wherein we must have use of your advice.
    1065Our father, he hath writ--so hath our sister--
    Of differences which I least thought it fit
    To answer from our home. The several messengers
    From hence attend dispatch. Our good old friend,
    Lay comforts to your bosom, and bestow
    1070Your needful counsel to our business,
    Which craves the instant use.
    Gloucester
    I serve you, madam.
    Your graces are right welcome.
    Exeunt.
    [Scene 7]
    1075Enter Kent, [disguised, and Oswald the] steward, [meeting].
    Oswald
    Good even to thee friend. Art of the house?
    Kent
    Ay.
    Oswald
    Where may we set our horses?
    Kent
    I'th'mire.
    1080Oswald
    Prithee, if thou love me, tell me.
    Kent
    I love thee not.
    Oswald
    Why then, I care not for thee.
    Kent
    If I had thee in Lipsbury Pinfold I would make thee care for me.
    1085Oswald
    Why dost thou use me thus? I know thee not.
    Kent
    Fellow, I know thee.
    Oswald
    What dost thou know me for?
    Kent
    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.
    Oswald
    What a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to rail on one that's neither known of thee, nor 1100knows thee.
    Kent
    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!
    Oswald
    Away, I have nothing to do with thee.
    Kent
    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.
    Oswald
    Help, ho! Murder! Help!
    Kent
    Strike you slave. Stand, rogue. Stand, you neat 1115slave--strike!
    Oswald
    Help, ho, murder, help!
    Enter Edmund [the Bastard] with his rapier drawn, Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess [of Cornwall, and attendants].
    Bastard
    How now, what's the matter?
    Kent
    [To the Bastard] With you, goodman boy, an you please. Come, 1120I'll flesh you. Come on, young master.
    [They exchange blows.]
    Gloucester
    Weapons? Arms? What's the matter here?
    Cornwall
    [Drawing his sword] Keep peace upon your lives. He dies that strikes again. What's the matter?
    Regan
    The messengers from our sister, and the king.
    1125Cornwall
    What's your difference? Speak.
    Oswald
    I am scarce in breath, my lord.
    Kent
    No marvel. You have so bestirred your valor, you cowardly rascal, nature disclaims in thee. A tailor made thee.
    1130Cornwall
    Thou art a strange fellow. A tailor make a man?
    Kent
    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.
    Gloucester
    Speak yet. How grew your quarrel?
    1135Oswald
    This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spared at suit of his gray beard--
    Kent
    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?
    Cornwall
    Peace sir.
    You beastly knave, have you no reverence?
    Kent
    Yes, sir, but anger has a privilege.
    Cornwall
    Why art thou angry?
    1145Kent
    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.
    Cornwall
    What, art thou mad, old fellow?
    Gloucester
    How fell you out? Say that.
    1160Kent
    No contraries hold more antipathy,
    Than I and such a knave.
    Cornwall
    Why dost thou call him knave?
    What's his offence?
    Kent
    His countenance likes me not.
    1165Cornwall
    No more perchance does mine, or his, or hers.
    Kent
    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.
    1170Cornwall
    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.
    1180Kent
    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--
    Cornwall
    What mean'st thou by this?
    1185Kent
    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.
    1190Cornwall
    [To Oswald] What's the offence you gave him?
    Oswald
    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.
    Cornwall
    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.
    Cornwall
    Fetch forth the stocks! As I have life and honor,
    There shall he sit till noon.
    Regan
    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.
    Regan
    Sir, being his knave, I will.
    [Stocks brought out.]
    Cornwall
    This is a fellow of the self same nature
    Our sister speaks of. Come, bring away the stocks.
    1220Gloucester
    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.
    Cornwall
    I'll answer that.
    1225Regan
    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.]
    Gloucester
    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.
    1235Gloucester
    The Duke's to blame in this. 'Twill be ill took.
    [Exit.]
    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.
    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.
    Exit.
    Enter King [Lear, the Fool, and a knight].
    'Tis strange that they should so depart from home,
    1275And not send back my messenger.
    Knight
    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?
    Kent
    No, my lord.
    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.
    Kent
    Yes.
    No, I say
    Kent
    I say yea.
    No, no, they would not.
    Kent
    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.
    Fool
    Winter's not gone yet if the wild geese fly that way.
    Fathers that wear rags
    Do make their children blind,
    But fathers that bear bags
    Shall see their children kind.
    1325Fortune, that arrant whore,
    1325.1 Ne'er turns the key to th'poor.
    But for all this thou shalt have as many dolors for thy daughters as thou canst tell in a year.
    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.]
    Knight
    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.
    [Sings.]
    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.
    Gloucester
    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.
    Gloucester
    Well, my good lord, I have informed them so.
    Lear
    Informed them? Dost thou understand me, man?
    1375Gloucester
    Ay, my good lord.
    The king would speak with Cornwall. The dear father
    Would with his daughter speak, commands her service--
    Are they informed of this? My breath and blood--
    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.
    Gloucester
    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.
    1405Cornwall
    Hail to your grace.
    [Kent here set at liberty.]
    Regan
    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--
    Regan
    I pray, sir, take patience. I have hope
    You less know how to value her desert
    Than she to slack her duty.
    Lear
    Say? How is that?
    1420Regan
    I cannot think my sister in the least
    Would fail her obligation. If, sir, perchance
    She have restrained the riots of your followers,
    'Tis on such ground and to such wholesome end
    As clears her from all blame.
    My curses on her.
    Regan
    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."
    Regan
    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--
    Cornwall
    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.
    Regan
    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.
    Regan
    Good sir, to th'purpose.
    Who put my man i'th'stocks?
    [Trumpet sounds.]
    Cornwall
    What trumpet's that?
    Enter [Oswald the] steward.
    1470Regan
    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.
    1475Cornwall
    What means your grace?
    Enter Goneril.
    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?
    1485Goneril
    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?
    Cornwall
    I set him there, sir, but his own disorders
    Deserved much less advancement.
    You? Did you?
    Regan
    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.
    Goneril
    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.
    Regan
    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?
    Regan
    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.
    Goneril
    Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance
    1540From those that she calls servants; or from mine?
    Regan
    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.
    Regan
    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?
    Regan
    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.
    Goneril
    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.
    Regan
    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.
    Cornwall
    Let us withdraw. 'Twill be a storm.
    Regan
    This house is little. The old man and his people
    Cannot be well bestowed.
    1590Goneril
    'Tis his own blame; hath put himself from rest,
    And must needs taste his folly.
    Regan
    For his particular, I'll receive him gladly,
    But not one follower.
    Cornwall
    So am I purposed. 1595Where is my Lord of Gloucester?
    Enter Gloucester.
    Regan
    Followed the old man forth--he is returned.
    Gloucester
    The king is in high rage 1600and will I know not whither.
    Regan
    'Tis good to give him way; he leads himself.
    Goneril
    My lord, entreat him by no means to stay.
    Gloucester
    Alack, the night comes on, and the bleak winds
    Do sorely rustle. For many miles about
    1605There's not a bush.
    Regan
    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.
    Cornwall
    Shut up your doors, my lord, 'tis a wild night.
    My Regan counsels well. Come out o'th'storm.
    Exeunt.
    [Scene 8]
    1615[Storm still] Enter Kent [disguised] and a Gentleman at separate doors.
    What's here beside foul weather?
    Gentleman
    One minded like the weather, most unquietly.
    I know you. Where's the King?
    Gentleman
    Contending with the fretful element;
    1620Bids the wind blow the earth into the sea,
    Or swell the curlèd waters 'bove the main
    That things might change or cease. Tears his white hair,
    1622.1Which the impetuous blasts with eyeless rage
    Catch in their fury and make nothing of;
    Strives in his little world of man to outscorn
    The to-and-fro-conflicting wind and rain.
    1622.5This night, wherein the cub-drawn bear would couch,
    The lion, and the belly-pinched wolf
    Keep their fur dry, unbonneted he runs,
    And bids what will take all.
    But who is with him?
    Gentleman
    None but the Fool, who labors to out-jest
    1625His heart-struck injuries.
    Sir, I do know you,
    And dare upon the warrant of my art
    Commend a dear thing to you. There is division,
    Although as yet the face of it be covered
    1630With mutual cunning, twixt Albany and Cornwall.
    1638.1But true it is. From France there comes a power
    Into this scattered kingdom, who already
    Wise in our negligence,
    Have secret feet in some of our best ports,
    And are at point to show their open banner.
    1638.5Now to you, if on my credit you dare build so far
    To make your speed to Dover, you shall find
    Some that will thank you, making just report
    Of how unnatural and bemadding sorrow
    The king hath cause to plain,
    1638.10I am a gentleman of blood and breeding,
    And from some knowledge and assurance,
    Offer this office to you.
    Gentleman
    I will talk further with you.
    No, do not.
    For confirmation that I am much more
    Than my out-wall, open this purse and take
    What it contains. If you shall see Cordelia,
    As fear not but you shall, show her this ring,
    1645And she will tell you who your fellow is
    That yet you do not know. Fie on this storm.
    I will go seek the King.
    Gentleman
    Give me your hand. Have you no more to say?
    Few words but to effect more than all yet,
    That when we have found the King--I'll this way, you that--
    He that first lights on him holla the other.
    Exeunt [separately].
    [Scene 9]
    1655[Storm still.] Enter Lear and Fool.
    Blow wind and crack your cheeks. Rage, blow.
    You cataracts, and hurricanoes spout
    'Til you have drenched the steeples, drowned the cocks.
    You sulfurous and thought-executing fires,
    1660Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
    Singe my white head, and thou, all-shaking thunder,
    Smite flat the thick rotundity of the world,
    Crack nature's mold; all germens spill at once
    That make ingrateful man.
    O nuncle, court holy-water in a dry house is better than this rainwater out o'door. Good nuncle in, and ask thy daughters' blessing. Here's a night pities neither wise man nor fool.
    Rumble thy bellyful. Spit fire, spout rain.
    1670Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters.
    I task not you, you elements, with unkindness.
    I never gave you kingdom, called you children.
    You owe me no subscription. Why, then, let fall
    Your horrible pleasure. Here I stand your slave,
    1675A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man.
    But yet I call you servile ministers,
    That have with two pernicious daughters joined
    Your high-engendered battle 'gainst a head
    So old and white as this. Oh, 'tis foul.
    He that has a house to put his head in, has a good headpiece.
    [Sings]
    The codpiece that will house
    Before the head has any,
    The head and he shall louse,
    So beggars marry many.
    The man that makes his toe
    What he his heart should make,
    1685Shall have a corn cry woe,
    And turn his sleep to wake.
    For there was never yet fair woman but she made mouths in a glass.
    No, I will be the pattern of all patience.
    [He sits.]
    Enter Kent [disguised].
    1690I will say nothing.
    Who's there?
    Marry here's grace, and a codpiece, that's a wise man and a fool.
    Alas, sir, sit you here? Things that love night
    1695Love not such nights as these. The wrathful skies
    Gallow the very wanderers of the dark,
    And makes them keep their caves. Since I was man,
    Such sheets of fire, such bursts of horrid thunder,
    Such groans of roaring wind and rain, I ne'er
    1700Remember to have heard. Man's nature cannot carry
    The affliction, nor the force.
    Let the great gods
    That keep this dreadful pother o'er our heads
    Find out their enemies now. Tremble thou wretch,
    1705That hast within thee undivulgèd crimes,
    Unwhipped of justice. Hide thee, thou bloody hand,
    Thou perjured, and thou simular man of virtue
    That art incestuous; caitiff, in pieces
    Shake, that under covert and convenient
    Seeming 1710hast practised on man's life;
    Close pent-up guilts, rive your concealèd centers,
    And cry these dreadful summoners grace.
    I am a man more sinned against than sinning.
    Alack, bare-headed?
    1715Gracious my lord, hard by here is a hovel.
    Some friendship will it lend you 'gainst the tempest.
    Repose you there whilst I to this hard house--
    More hard than is the stone whereof 'tis raised--
    Which even but now, demanding after you,
    1720Denied me to come in, return and force
    Their scanted courtesy.
    My wit begins to turn.
    [To the Fool] Come on, my boy. How dost, my boy? Art cold?
    I am cold myself. [To Kent] Where is this straw, my fellow?
    1725The art of our necessities is strange that can
    Make vile things precious. Come, your hovel.Poor
    Fool and knave, I have one part of my heart
    That sorrows yet for thee.
    [Sings.]
    He that has a little tiny wit,
    1730 With hey, ho. the wind and the rain,
    Must make content with his fortunes fit,
    For the rain, it raineth every day.
    True, my good boy. [To Kent] Come bring us to this hovel.
    [Exeunt all but the Fool].
    Fool
    This is a brave night to cool a courtesan. 1735I'll speak a prophecy ere I go.
    When priests are more in word than matter,
    When brewers mar their malt with water,
    When nobles are their tailors' tutors,
    No heretics burned but wenches' suitors;
    1740When every case in law is right,
    No squire in debt, nor no poor knight;
    When slanders do not live in tongues,
    Nor cut-purses come not to throngs;
    When usurers tell their gold i'th'field,
    1745And bawds and whores do churches build;
    Then shall the realm of Albion
    Come to great confusion.
    Then comes the time, who lives to see't,
    That going shall be used with feet.
    This prophecy Merlin shall make, for I live before his time.
    1750Exit.
    [Scene 10]
    Enter Gloucester and the Bastard, with lights.
    Gloucester
    Alack, alack, Edmund, I like not this unnatural dealing. When I desired their leave that I might pity him, 1755they took from me the use of mine own house, charg'd me, on pain of their displeasure, neither to speak of him, entreat for him, nor any way sustain him.
    Bastard
    Most savage and unnatural.
    Gloucester
    Go to, say you nothing. There's a division 1760betwixt the Dukes; and a worse matter than that, I have received a letter this night--'tis dangerous to be spoken. I have locked the letter in my closet. These injuries the King now bears will be revenged home; there's part of a power already landed. We must incline to the King. I 1765will seek him, and privily relieve him. Go you and maintain talk with the Duke that my charity be not of him perceived. If he ask for me, I am ill, and gone to bed. Though I die for't, as no less is threatened me, the King my old master must be relieved. There is some strange thing 1770toward. Edmund, pray you be careful.
    Exit.
    Bastard
    This courtesy forbid thee shall the Duke
    Instantly know, and of that letter too.
    This seems a fair deserving, and must draw me
    That which my father loses--no less than all.
    1775The younger rises when the old do fall.
    Exit.
    [Scene 11]
    Enter Lear, Kent [disguised], and Fool.
    Here is the place, my lord. Good my lord, enter.
    The tyranny of the open night's too rough
    1780For nature to endure.
    [Storm still]
    Let me alone.
    Kent
    Good my lord, enter.
    Wilt break my heart?
    I had rather break mine own. 1785Good my lord, enter.
    Thou think'st 'tis much that this contentious storm
    Invades us to the skin. So 'tis to thee;
    But where the greater malady is fixed
    The lesser is scarce felt. Thou'dst shun a bear,
    1790But if thy flight lay toward the roaring sea
    Thou'dst meet the bear i'th'mouth. When the mind's free,
    The body's delicate. This tempest in my mind
    Doth from my senses take all feeling else
    Save what beats there. Filial ingratitude!
    1795Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand
    For lifting food to't? But I will punish sure.
    No, I will weep no more. In such a night
    To shut me out? Pour on. I will endure.
    In such a night as this? O Regan, Goneril,
    O Regan, Goneril, 1800your old kind father
    Whose frank heart gave you all!--Oh, that way madness lies;
    Let me shun that; no more of that.
    Good my lord, enter.
    Prithee go in thyself, seek thy own ease.
    1805This tempest will not give me leave to ponder
    On things would hurt me more. But I'll go in.
    [To the Fool] In boy, go first. You houseless poverty--
    Nay get thee in.
    Exit [the Fool].
    I'll pray, and then I'll sleep.
    Poor naked wretches wheresoe'er you are
    1810That bide the pelting of this pitiless night,
    How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
    Your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you
    From seasons such as these? Oh, I have ta'en
    Too little care of this. Take physic, pomp.
    1815Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
    That thou mayst shake the superflux to them
    And show the heavens more just.
    Enter Edgar [as Poor Tom, behind,] and [the] Fool.
    Edgar
    Fathom and half, fathom and half! Poor Tom.
    Come not in here, nuncle, here's a spirit. Help me, help me!
    Give me thy hand. Who's there?
    A spirit. He says his name's Poor Tom.
    What art thou that dost grumble there in the straw? Come forth.
    [Enter Edgar.]
    Edgar
    Away, the foul fiend follows me. Through the sharp hawthorn blows the cold wind. Go to thy cold bed and warm thee.
    Hast thou given all to thy two daughters, and art thou come to this?
    Edgar
    Who gives anything to poor Tom, whom the foul fiend hath led through fire, and through ford and whirlpool, o'er bog and 1835quagmire; that has laid knives under his pillow and halters in his pew, set ratsbane by his pottage; made him proud of heart, to ride on a bay trotting-horse over four-inched bridges; to course his own shadow for a traitor. Bless thy five wits. Tom's a-cold. 1840Bless thee from whirlwinds, star-blasting, and taking. Do poor Tom some charity, whom the foul fiend vexes. There could I have him now, and there, and there again.
    [Storm still]
    What? His daughters brought him to this pass?
    1845Couldst thou save nothing? Didst thou give them all?
    Nay, he reserved a blanket, else we had been all shamed.
    Now all the plagues that in the pendulous air
    Hang fated o'er men's faults fall on thy daughters.
    He hath no daughters, sir.
    Death, traitor! Nothing could have subdued nature
    To such a lowness but his unkind daughters.
    Is it the fashion that discarded fathers
    Should have thus little mercy on their flesh?
    1855Judicious punishment: 'twas this flesh
    Begot those pelican daughters.
    Edgar
    Pillicock sat on Pillicock's hill, a lo, lo, lo.
    This cold night will turn us all to fools and madmen.
    1860Edgar
    Take heed o'th'foul fiend, obey thy parents, keep thy words justly, swear not, commit not with man's sworn spouse, set not thy sweet heart on proud array. Tom's a-cold.
    What hast thou been?
    1865Edgar
    A servingman, proud in heart and mind, that curled my hair, wore gloves in my cap, served the lust of my mistress's heart and did the act of darkness with her; swore as many oaths as I spake words, and broke them in the sweet face of heaven. One that slept in the 1870contriving of lust and waked to do it. Wine loved I deeply, dice dearly, and in woman out-paramoured the Turk; false of heart, light of ear, bloody of hand; hog in sloth, fox in stealth, wolf in greediness, dog in madness, lion in prey. Let not the creaking of shoes 1875nor the rustlings of silks betray thy poor heart to women. Keep thy foot out of brothel, thy hand out of placket, thy pen from lender's book, and defy the foul fiend. Still through the hawthorn blows the cold wind, heigh no nonny. Dolphin, my boy, 1880my boy. Cease! Let him trot by.
    [Storm still]
    Why, thou wert better in thy grave than to answer with thy uncovered body this extremity of the skies. Is man no more but this? Consider him well. Thou owest the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep no 1885wool, the cat no perfume. Here's three on's are sophisticated; thou art the thing itself. Unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor bare forked animal as thou art. Off, off, you lendings. [Attempts to take off his clothes] Come, unbutton--
    Prithee, nuncle, be content. This is a naughty night to swim in. Now a little fire in a wild field were like an old letcher's heart, a small spark, all the rest in's body cold. Look, here comes a walking fire.
    1890Enter Gloucester [with a torch].
    1895Edgar
    This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibet. He begins at curfew and walks till the first cock. He gives the web and the pin, squinies the eye, and makes the harelip; mildews the white wheat and hurts the poor creature of earth.
    [Sings.]
    1900Swithold footed thrice the wold,
    He met the nightmare and her ninefold,
    Bid her alight
    And her troth plight,
    And aroint thee, witch, aroint thee.
    How fares your grace?
    What's he?
    Who's there? What is't you seek?
    Gloucester
    What are you there? Your names?
    Edgar
    Poor Tom, that eats the swimming frog, the toad, the tadpole, the wall-newt, and the water; that 1910in the fury of his heart, when the foul fiend rages, eats cow dung for salads, swallows the old rat and the ditch dog; drinks the green mantle of the standing pool; who is whipped from tithing to tithing, and stock-punished and imprisoned; who hath had three suits 1915to his back, six shirts to his body.
    Horse to ride, and weapon to wear.
    But mice and rats and such small deer
    Hath been Tom's food for seven long year.
    Beware my follower. Peace, Smolking, peace thou fiend!
    1920Gloucester
    What, hath your grace no better company?
    Edgar
    The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman. Modo, he's called, and Mahu--
    Gloucester
    Our flesh and blood is grown so vile, my lord,
    That it doth hate what gets it.
    Poor Tom's a-cold.
    Gloucester
    [To Lear] Go in with me. My duty cannot suffer
    To obey in all your daughters' hard commands.
    Though their injunction be to bar my doors
    And let this tyrannous night take hold upon you,
    1930Yet have I ventured to come seek you out
    And bring you where both food and fire is ready.
    First let me talk with this philosopher.
    What is the cause of thunder?
    My good lord, take his offer. 1935Go into the house.
    I'll talk a word with this most learnèd Theban.
    What is your study?
    Edgar
    How to prevent the fiend, and to kill vermin.
    Let me ask you one word in private.
    [To Gloucester] Importune him [once more] to go, my lord. His wits
    Begin to unsettle.
    Gloucester
    Canst thou blame him?
    [Storm still]
    His daughters seek his death. Oh, that good Kent,
    He said it would be thus, poor banished man.
    1945Thou say'st the King grows mad. I'll tell thee, friend,
    I am almost mad myself. I had a son
    Now outlawed from my blood. 'A sought my life
    But lately, very late. I loved him, friend,
    No father his son dearer. True to tell thee,
    1950The grief hath crazed my wits.
    What a night's this? [To Lear] I do beseech your grace--
    Oh, cry you mercy. Noble philosopher, your company.
    Edgar
    Tom's a-cold.
    1955Gloucester
    In fellow. There, in th'hovel, keep thee warm.
    Come, let's in all.
    This way, my lord.
    With him.
    I will keep still with my philosopher.
    [To Gloucester] Good my lord, soothe him. Let him take the fellow.
    Gloucester
    Take him you on.
    Sirrah, come on. Go along with us.
    Come, good Athenian.
    1965Gloucester
    No words, no words, hush.
    Edgar
    Childe Rowland to the dark town come,
    His word was still "Fie, fo, and fum,
    I smell the blood of a British man."
    [Exeunt.]
    [Scene 12]
    1970Enter Cornwall and [the] Bastard.
    Cornwall
    I will have my revenge ere I depart the house.
    Bastard
    How, my lord, I may be censured, that nature thus gives way to loyalty, something fears me to think of.
    1975Cornwall
    I now perceive it was not altogether your brother's evil disposition made him seek his death, but a provoking merit set a-work by a reprovable badness in himself.
    Bastard
    How malicious is my fortune that I must 1980repent to be just! This is the letter he spoke of, which approves him an intelligent party to the advantages of France. O heavens, that his treason were not, or not I the detector!
    Cornwall
    Go with me to the duchess.
    1985Bastard
    If the matter of this paper be certain, you have mighty business in hand.
    Cornwall
    True or false, it hath made thee Earl of Gloucester. Seek out where thy father is, that he may be ready for our apprehension.
    1990Bastard
    [Aside] If I find him comforting the King, it will stuff his suspicion more fully. [Aloud] I will persevere in my course of loyalty, though the conflict be sore between that and my blood.
    Cornwall
    I will lay trust upon thee, and thou shalt find 1995a dearer father in my love.
    Exeunt.
    [Scene 13]
    Enter Gloucester and Lear, [with] Kent, [disguised, the] Fool, and [Edgar disguised as Poor] Tom.
    Gloucester
    Here is better than the open air. Take it thankfully. I will piece out the comfort with what addition I 2000can. I will not be long from you.
    All the power of his wits have given way to impatience. The gods discern your kindness.
    [Exit Gloucester.]
    Edgar
    Frateretto calls me, and tells me Nero is an 2005angler in the lake of darkness. Pray, innocent. Beware the foul fiend.
    Prithee nuncle, tell me whether a madman be a gentleman or a yeoman.
    Lear
    A king, a king.
    2010Fool
    No, he's a yeoman that has a gentleman to his son, for he's a mad yeoman that sees his son a gentleman before him.
    Lear
    To have a thousand with red burning spits come hissing in upon them.
    The foul fiend bites my back.
    He's mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf, a horse's health, a boy's love, or a whore's oath.
    It shall be done. I will arraign them straight.
    2014.5[To Edgar] Come sit thou here most learned justice.
    [To the Fool] Thou, sapient sir, sit here. No, you she foxes--
    Look where he stands and glares. Want'st thou eyes at troll-madam?
    [Sings.]
    Come o'er the burn Bessy, to me.
    [Sings.]
    Her boat hath a leak,
    And she must not speak,
    2014.10Why she dares not come over to thee.
    The foul fiend haunts poor Tom in the voice of a nightingale. Hoppedance cries in Tom's belly for two white herring. Croak not, black angel, I have no food for thee.
    How do you sir? Stand you not so amazed. Will you 2014.15lie down and rest upon the cushions?
    I'll see their trial first. Bring in their evidence. [To Edgar] Thou robed man of justice, take thy place; [To the Fool] and thou, his yokefellow of equity, bench by his side. [To Kent] You are o'th'commission, sit you too.
    Let us deal justly.
    [Sings]
    Sleepest or wakest, thou jolly shepherd,
    2014.20 Thy sheep be in the corn,
    And for one blast of thy minikin mouth
    Thy sheep shall take no harm.
    Purr, the cat is gray.
    Arraign her first. 'Tis Goneril. I here take my oath before this honorable assembly she kicked the poor king her father.
    Come hither, mistress. Is your name Goneril?
    She cannot deny it.
    Cry you mercy, I took you for a join-stool.
    And here's another whose warped looks proclaim,
    What store her heart is made on. Stop her there!
    Arms, arms, sword, fire, corruption in the place!
    2014.30False justicer, why hast thou let her 'scape?
    2015Edgar
    Bless thy five wits.
    Oh, pity! Sir, where is the patience now,
    That you so oft have boasted to retain?
    Edgar
    [Aside] My tears begin to take his part so much
    They'll mar my counterfeiting.
    The little dogs and all,
    Trey, Blanch, and Sweetheart--see they bark at me.
    Edgar
    Tom will throw his head at them. Avaunt, you curs!
    Be thy mouth or black or white,
    Tooth that poisons if it bite,
    2025Mastiff, greyhound, mongrel grim,
    Hound or spaniel, brach, or him,
    Bobtail tyke or trundle-tail,
    Tom will make them weep and wail,
    For, with throwing thus my head
    2030Dogs leap the hatch and all are fled.
    Loudla doodla, come march to wakes and fairs and market towns. Poor Tom, thy horn is dry.
    Then let them anatomize Regan, see what breeds about her heart. Is there any cause in nature that 2035makes this hardness? [To Edgar] You, sir, I entertain you for one of my hundred, only I do not like the fashion of your garments. You'll say they are Persian attire, but let them be changed.
    Now, good my lord, lie here awhile.
    Make no noise, make no noise, draw the curtains, so, so, so. We'll go to supper i'th'morning, so, so, so.
    [He sleeps.]
    Fool
    And I'll go to bed at noon.
    Enter Gloucester.
    Gloucester
    Come hither, friend. 2045Where is the King, my master?
    Here, sir, but trouble him not. His wits are gone.
    Gloucester
    Good friend, I prithee take him in thy arms.
    I have o'erheard a plot of death upon him.
    There is a litter ready. Lay him in't,
    2050And drive towards Dover, friend, where thou shalt meet
    Both welcome and protection. Take up thy master.
    If thou shouldst dally half an hour, his life,
    With thine and all that offer to defend him,
    Stand in assurèd loss. Take up the King
    2055And follow me, that will to some provision
    Give thee quick conduct.
    Oppressèd nature sleeps.
    This rest might yet have balmed thy broken sinews,
    Which, if convenience will not allow,
    Stand in hard cure. [To the Fool] Come, help to bear thy master.
    Thou must not stay behind.
    2056.5Gloucester
    Come, come away.
    Exeunt [all but Edgar].
    When we our betters see bearing our woes
    We scarcely think our miseries our foes.
    Who alone suffers, suffers most i'th'mind,
    Leaving free things and happy shows behind,
    2056.10But then the mind much sufferance doth o'erskip,
    When grief hath mates, and bearing fellowship.
    How light and portable my pain seems now,
    When that which makes me bend, makes the king bow;
    He childed as I fathered. Tom, away.
    2056.15Mark the high noises, and thyself bewray,
    When false opinion, whose wrong thoughts defile thee,
    In thy just proof repeals and reconciles thee.
    What will hap more tonight, safe 'scape the king.
    Lurk, lurk.
    [Exit.]
    [Scene 14]
    Enter Cornwall, Regan, Goneril, [the] Bastard [and servants].
    2060Cornwall
    [To Goneril] Post speedily to my lord your husband. Show him this letter. The army of France is landed. [To a servant] Seek out the villain Gloucester.
    [Exit servant.]
    Regan
    Hang him instantly.
    Goneril
    Pluck out his eyes.
    2065Cornwall
    Leave him to my displeasure. Edmund, keep you our sister company. The revenge we are bound to take upon your traitorous father are not fit for your beholding. Advise the Duke where you are going, to a most festinate preparation. We are bound to the like. Our 2070post shall be swift and intelligent betwixt us. Farewell dear sister. Farewell my lord of Gloucester.
    [The Bastard and Goneril start to leave.]
    Enter [Oswald the] steward.
    How now, where's the King?
    Oswald
    My lord of Gloucester hath conveyed him hence.
    2075Some five or six and thirty of his knights,
    Hot questrists after him, met him at gate,
    Who with some other of the lord's dependants
    Are gone with him towards Dover, where they boast
    To have well-armed friends.
    2080Cornwall
    [To Oswald] Get horses for your mistress.
    [Exit Oswald]
    Goneril
    Farewell, sweet lord, and sister.
    Cornwall
    Edmund farewell.
    Exeunt Goneril and [the] Bastard..
    [To servants] Go seek the traitor Gloucester.
    Pinion him like a thief. Bring him before us.
    [Exeunt servants.]
    Though we may not pass upon his life
    2085Without the form of justice, yet our power
    Shall do a court'sy to our wrath, which men may blame
    But not control. Who's there? The traitor?
    Enter Gloucester brought in by two or three.
    2090Regan
    Ingrateful fox, 'tis he.
    Cornwall
    [To servants] Bind fast his corky arms.
    Gloucester
    What means your graces? Good my friends, consider,
    You are my guests. Do me no foul play, friends.
    2095Cornwall
    Bind him, I say.
    [They bind him.]
    Regan
    Hard, hard. O filthy traitor!
    Gloucester
    Unmerciful lady as you are, I am true.
    Cornwall
    To this chair bind him. Villain, thou shalt find--
    [Regan plucks hairs from Gloucester's beard.]
    2100Gloucester
    By the kind gods, 'tis most ignobly done,
    To pluck me by the beard.
    Regan
    So white and such a traitor?
    Gloucester
    Naughty lady.
    These hairs which thou dost ravish from my chin
    2105Will quicken and accuse thee. I am your host.
    With robbers' hands my hospitable favors
    You should not ruffle thus. What will you do?
    Cornwall
    Come, sir. What letters had you late from France?
    2110Regan
    Be simple, answerer, for we know the truth.
    Cornwall
    And what confederacy have you with
    The traitors late footed in the kingdom?
    To whose hands you have sent the lunatic King.
    Speak.
    2115Gloucester
    I have a letter guessingly set down
    Which came from one that's of a neutral heart,
    And not from one opposed.
    Cornwall
    Cunning.
    Regan
    And false.
    2120Cornwall
    Where hast thou sent the King?
    Gloucester
    To Dover.
    Regan
    Wherefore to Dover? Wast thou not charged at peril--
    Cornwall
    Wherefore to Dover? Let him first answer that.
    2125Gloucester
    I am tied to th'stake, and I must stand the course.
    Regan
    Wherefore to Dover, sir?
    Gloucester
    Because I would not see thy cruel nails
    Pluck out his poor old eyes, nor thy fierce sister
    2130In his anointed flesh rash boarish fangs.
    The sea, with such a storm on his bowed head
    In hell-black night endured, would have buoyed up
    And quenched the stellèd fires, yet, poor old heart,
    He helped the heavens to rage.
    2135If wolves had at thy gate howled that dern time
    Thou shouldst have said, "Good porter, turn the key."
    All cruels else subscribe. But I shall see
    The wingèd vengeance overtake such children.
    Cornwall
    See't shalt thou never. Fellows, hold the chair.
    2140Upon those eyes of thine I'll set my foot.
    Gloucester
    He that will think to live till he be old
    Give me some help.
    [Cornwall puts out one of Gloucester's eyes.]
    Oh, cruel! O ye gods!
    Regan
    One side will mock another. T'other too.
    Cornwall
    If you see vengeance--
    21451 Servant
    Hold your hand, my lord.
    I have served you ever since I was a child,
    But better service have I never done you
    Than now to bid you hold.
    Regan
    How now, you dog!
    21501 Servant
    If you did wear a beard upon your chin
    I'd shake it on this quarrel. [To Cornwall] What do you mean?
    Cornwall
    My villein!
    1 Servant
    Why then, come on, and take the chance of anger.
    Draw and fight. [Cornwall is wounded.]
    Regan
    [To another servant] Give me thy sword. A peasant stand up thus?
    2155She takes a sword and runs at him behind.
    1 Servant
    Oh, I am slain, my lord. Yet have you one eye left
    To see some mischief on him--oh!
    [He dies.]
    Cornwall
    Lest it see more, prevent it. Out vile jelly.
    [Puts out Gloucester's other eye.]
    Where is thy luster now?
    2160Gloucester
    All dark and comfortless. Where's my son, Edmund?
    Edmund, unbridle all the sparks of nature
    To quite this horrid act.
    Regan
    Out, villain,
    2165Thou call'st on him that hates thee. It was he
    That made the overture of thy treasons
    To us, who is too good to pity thee.
    Gloucester
    Oh my follies! Then Edgar was abused.
    Kind gods, forgive me that, and prosper him.
    2170Regan
    Go thrust him out at gates, and let him smell
    His way to Dover.
    [Exeunt servant with Gloucester.]
    How is't my lord? How look you?
    Cornwall
    I have received a hurt. Follow me, lady.
    [To a servant] Turn out that eyeless villain. Throw this slave
    2175Upon the dunghill. Regan, I bleed apace.
    Untimely comes this hurt. Give me your arm.
    Exeunt [Cornwall and Regan].
    2176.12 Servant
    I'll never care what wickedness I do
    If this man come to good.
    3 Servant
    If she live long,
    And in the end meet the old course of death,
    Women will all turn monsters.
    2176.52 Servant
    Let's follow the old earl and get the bedlam
    To lead him where he would. His roguish madness
    Allows itself to anything.
    3 Servant
    Go thou. I'll fetch some flax and whites of eggs
    To apply to his bleeding face. Now heaven help him.
    Exeunt [with the body].
    [Scene 15]
    Enter Edgar [disguised as Poor Tom].
    Edgar
    Yet better thus, and known to be contemned,
    2180Than still contemned and flattered. To be worst,
    The lowest and most dejected thing of fortune
    Stands still in esperance, lives not in fear.
    The lamentable change is from the best;
    The worst returns to laughter. Welcome, then,
    2185Thou unsubstantial air that I embrace.
    The wretch that thou hast blown unto the worst
    Owes nothing to thy blasts.
    Enter Gloucester, led by an Old Man.
    Who's here? My father, parti-eyed? 2190World, world, O world!
    But that thy strange mutations make us hate thee,
    Life would not yield to age.
    [Edgar stands aside.]
    Old Man
    O my good lord, I have been your tenant,
    And your father's tenant, this fourscore--
    2195Gloucester
    Away, get thee away. Good friend, be gone.
    Thy comforts can do me no good at all,
    Thee they may hurt.
    Old Man
    Alack, sir, you cannot see your way.
    Gloucester
    I have no way and therefore want no eyes;
    2200I stumbled when I saw. Full oft 'tis seen
    Our means secure us, and our mere defects
    Prove our commodities. Ah, dear son Edgar,
    The food of thy abusèd father's wrath,
    Might I but live to see thee in my touch
    2205I'd say I had eyes again.
    Old Man
    How now, who's there?
    Edgar
    [Aside] O gods! Who is't can say "I am at the worst"?
    I am worse then ere I was.
    Old Man
    'Tis poor mad Tom.
    2210Edgar
    [Aside] And worse I may be yet. The worst is not
    As long as we can say, "This is the worst."
    Old Man
    [To Edgar] Fellow, where goest?
    Gloucester
    Is it a beggar man?
    Old Man
    Madman, and beggar too.
    2215Gloucester
    'A has some reason, else he could not beg.
    In the last night's storm I such a fellow saw,
    Which made me think a man a worm. My son
    Came then into my mind, and yet my mind
    Was then scarce friends with him. 2220I have heard more since.
    As flies to wanton boys are we to th'gods;
    They kill us for their sport.
    [Aside] How should this be?
    Bad is the trade that must play the fool to sorrow,
    2225Angering itself and others. [Aloud] Bless thee master.
    Gloucester
    Is that the naked fellow?
    Old Man
    Ay, my lord.
    Gloucester
    Then prithee get thee gone. If for my sake
    Thou wilt o'ertake us hence a mile or twain
    2230I'th'way toward Dover, do it for ancient love,
    And bring some covering for this naked soul,
    Who I'll entreat to lead me.
    Old Man
    Alack sir, he is mad.
    Gloucester
    'Tis the time's plague 2235when madmen lead the blind.
    Do as I bid thee--or rather, do thy pleasure.
    Above the rest, be gone.
    Old Man
    I'll bring him the best 'parel that I have,
    Come on't what will.
    [Exit.]
    2240Gloucester
    Sirrah, naked fellow.
    Edgar
    Poor Tom's a cold. [Aside] I cannot dance it farther.
    Gloucester
    Come hither, fellow.
    Edgar
    [Aside] And yet I must. [Aloud] Bless thy sweet eyes, they bleed.
    2245Gloucester
    Know'st thou the way to Dover?
    Edgar
    Both stile and gate, horse-way, and footpath, poor Tom hath been scared out of his good wits. Bless the good man from the foul fiend. 2248.1Five fiends have been in poor Tom at once: of lust, as Obidicut; Hobbididence, Prince of darkness; Mahu of stealing, Modo of murder, Flibbertigibbet, of mocking and mowing, who since possesses chambermaids 2248.5and waiting women. So bless thee master.
    Gloucester
    Here, take this purse, thou whom the heavens' plagues
    2250Have humbled to all strokes. That I am wretched
    Makes thee the happier. Heavens deal so still.
    Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man
    That stands your ordinance, that will not see
    Because he does not feel, feel your power quickly;
    2255So distribution should undo excess,
    And each man have enough. Dost thou know Dover?
    Edgar
    Ay, master.
    Gloucester
    There is a cliff, whose high and bending head
    Looks firmly in the confinèd deep.
    2260Bring me but to the very brim of it,
    And I'll repair the misery thou dost bear
    With something rich about me. From that place
    I shall no leading need.
    Edgar
    Give me thy arm.
    2265Poor Tom shall lead thee.
    [Exeunt.]
    [Scene 16]
    Enter Goneril and [the] Bastard.
    Goneril
    Welcome, my lord. I marvel our mild husband
    Not met us on the way.
    2269.1Enter [Oswald the] steward.
    Now, where's your master?
    2270Oswald
    Madam, within, but never man so changed.
    I told him of the army that was landed;
    He smiled at it. I told him you were coming;
    His answer was "The worse." Of Gloucester's treachery
    And of the loyal service of his son,
    2275When I informed him, then he called me sot
    And told me I had turned the wrong side out.
    What he should most defy seems pleasant to him,
    What like, offensive.
    Goneril
    [To the Bastard] Then shall you go no further.
    2280It is the cowish terror of his spirit
    That dares not undertake. He'll not feel wrongs
    Which tie him to an answer. Our wishes on the way
    May prove effects. Back, Edmund, to my brother;
    Hasten his musters, and conduct his powers.
    2285I must change arms at home and give the distaff
    Into my husband's hands. This trusty servant
    Shall pass between us. Ere long you are like to hear,
    If you dare venture in your own behalf,
    A mistress's command. Wear this--spare speech.
    [Gives him a favor of some kind.]
    2290Decline your head.
    [She kisses him.]
    This kiss, if it durst speak,
    Would stretch thy spirits up into the air.
    Conceive--and fare you well.
    Bastard
    Yours in the ranks of death.
    [Exit.]
    Goneril
    My most dear Gloucester.
    2295Oh, the difference of man and man.
    To thee a woman's services are due--
    A fool usurps my bed.
    Oswald
    Madam, here comes my lord.
    Exit [Oswald the] steward.
    [Enter Albany.]
    2300Goneril
    I have been worth the whistling.
    Albany
    O Goneril,
    You are not worth the dust which the rude wind
    Blows in your face. I fear your disposition.
    2303.1That nature which contemns its origin
    Cannot be bordered certain in itself.
    She that herself will sliver and disbranch
    From her material sap, perforce must wither
    2303.5And come to deadly use.
    Goneril
    No more, the text is foolish.
    Albany
    Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile.
    Filths savor but themselves. What have you done?
    Tigers, not daughters, what have you performed?
    2303.10A father, and a gracious agèd man,
    Whose reverence even the head-lugged bear would lick,
    Most barbarous, most degenerate have you madded.
    Could my good brother suffer you to do it?
    A man, a prince, by him so benefited?
    2303.15If that the heavens do not their visible spirits
    Send quickly down to tame these vile offences,
    It will come. Humanity must perforce prey on itself
    Like monsters of the deep.
    Goneril
    Milk-livered man,
    2305That bearest a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs;
    Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning
    Thine honor from thy suffering; that not know'st
    Fools do those villains pity 2307.1who are punished
    Ere they have done their mischief. Where's thy drum?
    France spreads his banners in our noiseless land,
    With plumèd helm, thy flaxen biggin threats,
    Whilst thou, a moral fool, sits still and cries
    2307.5"Alack, why does he so?"
    Albany
    See thyself, devil.
    Proper deformity shows not in the fiend
    2310So horrid as in woman.
    Goneril
    O vain fool!
    2311.1Albany
    Thou changèd, and self-covered thing, for shame,
    Bemonster not thy feature. Wer't my fitness
    To let these hands obey my blood,
    They are apt enough to dislocate and tear
    2311.5Thy flesh and bones. Howe'er thou art a fiend,
    A woman's shape doth shield thee.
    Goneril
    Marry, your manhood?--mew!
    Enter a Gentleman.
    2312.1Albany
    What news?
    1 Gentleman
    O my good lord, the Duke of Cornwall's dead,
    Slain by his servant, going to put out
    2315The other eye of Gloucester.
    Albany
    Gloucester's eyes?
    1 Gentleman
    A servant that he bred, thralled with remorse,
    Opposed against the act, bending his sword
    To his great master; who thereat enraged,
    2320Flew on him, and amongst them felled him dead;
    But not without that harmful stroke which since
    Hath plucked him after.
    Albany
    This shows you are above, you justicers,
    That these our nether crimes 2325so speedily can venge.
    But oh, poor Gloucester, lost he his other eye?
    1 Gentleman
    Both, both, my lord. [To Goneril] This letter, madam, craves
    A speedy answer. 'Tis from your sister.
    2330Goneril
    [Aside] One way I like this well;
    But being widow, and my Gloucester with her,
    May all the building on my fancy pluck
    Upon my hateful life. Another way
    The news is not so took. [Aloud] I'll read and answer.
    Exit [Goneril].
    2335Albany
    Where was his son when they did take his eyes?
    1 Gentleman
    Come with my lady hither.
    Albany
    He is not here?
    1 Gentleman
    No, my good lord, I met him back again.
    2340Albany
    Knows he the wickedness?
    1 Gentleman
    Ay, my good lord, 'twas he informed against him,
    And quit the house on purpose that their punishment
    Might have the freer course.
    Albany
    Gloucester, I live
    2345To thank thee for the love thou showed'st the king,
    And to revenge thy eyes.--Come hither, friend,
    Tell me what more thou knowest.
    Exeunt.
    2347.1[Scene 17]
    [This scene is not in the Folio text.]
    Enter Kent [disguised] and a Gentleman.
    Why the king of France is so suddenly gone back, know you no reason?
    2 Gentleman
    Something he left imperfect in the state, which since his 2347.5coming forth is thought of; which imports to the kingdom so much fear and danger that his personal return was most required and necessary.
    Who hath he left behind him general?
    2 Gentleman
    The Marshal of France, Monsieur la Far.
    Did your letters pierce the queen to any demonstration of grief?
    2 Gentleman
    I say she took them, read them in my presence,
    And now and then an ample tear trilled down
    Her delicate cheek. It seemed she was a queen
    Over her passion, who, most rebel-like,
    Sought to be king o'er her.
    Oh, then it moved her.
    2 Gentleman
    Not to a rage; patience and sorrow strove
    Who should express her goodliest. You have seen
    Sunshine and rain at once; her smiles and tears
    Were like a better way. Those happy smilets
    2347.20That played on her ripe lip seemed not to know
    What guests were in her eyes, which parted thence
    As pearls from diamonds dropped. In brief,
    Sorrow would be a rarity most beloved
    If all could so become it.
    Made she no verbal question?
    2 Gentleman
    Faith, once or twice she heaved the name of "father"
    Pantingly forth, as if it pressed her heart;
    Cried "Sisters, sisters, shame of ladies! Sisters?
    Kent, father, sisters? What, i'th'storm, i'th'night?
    2347.30Let pity not be believed." There she shook
    The holy water from her heavenly eyes,
    And clamor-moistened her. Then away she started,
    To deal with grief alone.
    It is the stars,
    The stars above us govern our conditions,
    2347.35Else one self mate and make could not beget
    Such different issues. You spoke not with her since?
    2 Gentleman
    No.
    Kent
    Was this before the King returned?
    2 Gentleman
    No, since.
    Well, sir, the poor distressèd Lear's i'th'town,
    2347.40Who sometime in his better tune remembers
    What we are come about, and by no means
    Will yield to see his daughter.
    2 Gentleman
    Why, good sir?
    A sovereign shame so elbows him. His own unkindness
    That stripped her from his benediction, turned her
    2347.45To foreign casualties, gave her dear rights
    To his dog-hearted daughters; these things sting
    His mind so venomously that burning
    Shame detains him from Cordelia.
    2 Gentleman
    Alack, poor gentleman.
    Of Albany's and Cornwall's powers you heard not?
    2347.502 Gentleman
    'Tis so. They are afoot.
    Well, sir, I'll bring you to our master Lear,
    And leave you to attend him. Some dear cause
    Will in concealment wrap me up awhile.
    When I am known aright you shall not grieve,
    2347.55Lending me this acquaintance. I pray you, go
    Along with me.
    Exeunt.
    [Scene 18]
    Enter Cordelia, Doctor, and others.
    Cordelia
    Alack, 'tis he. Why, he was met even now,
    As mad as the vexed sea, singing aloud;
    Crowned with rank fumitor and furrow-weeds,
    With burdocks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo flowers,
    2355Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow
    In our sustaining corn. [To an attendant] A century send forth.
    Search every acre in the high-grown field
    And bring him to our eye.
    [Exit attendant.]
    What can man's wisdom
    In the restoring his bereavèd sense?
    He that can help him 2360take all my outward worth.
    Doctor
    There is means, madam.
    Our foster nurse of nature is repose,
    The which he lacks; that to provoke in him
    Are many simples operative, whose power
    2365Will close the eye of anguish.
    Cordelia
    All blest secrets,
    All you unpublished virtues of the earth,
    Spring with my tears; be aidant and remediate
    In the good man's distress. Seek, seek for him,
    2370Lest his ungoverned rage dissolve the life
    That wants the means to lead it.
    Enter [a] messenger.
    Messenger
    News, madam.
    The British powers are marching hitherward.
    2375Cordelia
    'Tis known before. Our preparation stands
    In expectation of them.--O dear father,
    It is thy business that I go about. Therefore great France
    My mourning and important tears hath pitied.
    No blown ambition doth our arms incite,
    2380But love, dear love, and our agèd father's right.
    Soon may I hear and see him.
    Exeunt.
    [Scene 19]
    Enter Regan and [Oswald, the] steward.
    Regan
    But are my brother's powers set forth?
    2385Oswald
    Ay, madam.
    Regan
    Himself in person?
    Oswald
    Madam, with much ado.
    Your sister is the better soldier.
    Regan
    Lord Edmund spake not with your lady at home?
    2390Oswald
    No, madam.
    Regan
    What might import my sister's letters to him?
    Oswald
    I know not, lady.
    Regan
    Faith, he is posted hence on serious matter.
    It was great ignorance, Gloucester's eyes being out,
    2395To let him live. Where he arrives he moves
    All hearts against us. Edmund I think is gone
    In pity of his misery to dispatch
    His nighted life; moreover to descry
    The strength o'th'army.
    2400Oswald
    I must needs after him with my letters.
    Regan
    Our troop sets forth tomorrow; stay with us.
    The ways are dangerous.
    Oswald
    I may not, madam.
    My lady charged my duty in this business.
    2405Regan
    Why should she write to Edmund? Might not you
    Transport her purposes by word? Belike--
    Something--I know not what. I'll love thee much.
    Let me unseal the letter.
    Oswald
    Madam I'd rather--
    2410Regan
    I know your lady does not love her husband--
    I am sure of that--and at her late being here
    She gave strange oeillades and most speaking looks
    To noble Edmund. I know you are of her bosom.
    Oswald
    I, madam?
    2415Regan
    I speak in understanding, for I know't.
    Therefore I do advise you take this note.
    My lord is dead; Edmund and I have talked,
    And more convenient is he for my hand
    Than for your lady's. You may gather more.
    2420If you do find him, pray you give him this,
    And when your mistress hears thus much from you
    I pray desire her call her wisdom to her. So farewell.
    If you do chance to hear of that blind traitor,
    2425Preferment falls on him that cuts him off.
    Oswald
    Would I could meet him, madam, I would show
    What lady I do follow.
    Regan
    Fare thee well.
    Exeunt [separately].
    [Scene 20]
    2430Enter Gloucester and Edgar [dressed like a peasant].
    Gloucester
    When shall we come to th'top of that same hill?
    Edgar
    You do climb it up now. Look how we labor.
    Gloucester
    Methinks the ground is even.
    Edgar
    Horrible steep. 2435Hark, do you hear the sea?
    Gloucester
    No, truly.
    Edgar
    Why, then your other senses grow imperfect
    By your eyes' anguish.
    Gloucester
    So may it be, indeed.
    2440Methinks thy voice is altered, and thou speakest
    With better phrase and matter than thou didst.
    Edgar
    Y'are much deceived. In nothing am I changed
    But in my garments.
    Gloucester
    Methinks y'are better spoken.
    2445Edgar
    Come on sir, here's the place. Stand still. How fearful
    And dizzy 'tis to cast one's eyes so low.
    The crows and choughs that wing the midway air
    Show scarce so gross as beetles. Half way down
    2450Hangs one that gathers samphire--dreadful trade.
    Methinks he seems no bigger than his head.
    The fishermen that walk upon the beach
    Appear like mice, and yon tall anchoring bark
    Diminished to her cock, her cock a buoy
    2455Almost too small for sight. The murmuring surge,
    That on the unnumbered idle pebble chafes
    Cannot be heard. It's so high I'll look no more
    Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight
    Topple down headlong.
    2460Gloucester
    Set me where you stand.
    Edgar
    Give me your hand. You are now within a foot
    Of th'extreme verge. For all beneath the moon
    Would I not leap upright.
    Gloucester
    Let go my hand.
    2465Here, friend, 's another purse; in it a jewel
    Well worth a poor man's taking. Fairies and gods
    Prosper it with thee. Go thou farther off.
    Bid me farewell, and let me hear thee going.
    Edgar
    [Pretending to leave] Now fare you well, good sir.
    2470Gloucester
    With all my heart.
    Edgar
    [Aside] Why I do trifle thus with his despair
    Is done to cure it.
    Gloucester
    O you mighty gods--
    He kneels.
    This world I do renounce, and in your sights
    2475Shake patiently my great affliction off.
    If I could bear it longer, and not fall
    To quarrel with your great opposeless wills,
    My snuff and loathèd part of nature should
    Burn itself out. If Edgar live, O bless him.
    2480Now, fellow, fare thee well.
    He falls [forward].
    Gone, sir; farewell.
    [Aside] And yet I know not how conceit may rob
    The treasury of life, when life itself
    Yields to the theft. Had he been where he thought,
    2485By this had thought been past. Alive or dead?
    [Aloud] Ho, you sir. Hear you sir? Speak.
    [Aside] Thus might he pass indeed. Yet he revives.
    [Aloud] What are you, sir?
    Gloucester
    Away, and let me die.
    2490Edgar
    Hadst thou been aught but gossamer, feathers, air,
    So many fathom down precipitating,
    Thou hadst shivered like an egg. But thou dost breathe,
    Hast heavy substance, bleed'st not, speakest, art sound.
    2495Ten masts at each make not the altitude
    Which thou hast perpendicularly fell.
    Thy life's a miracle. Speak yet again.
    Gloucester
    But have I fallen or no?
    Edgar
    From the dread summit of this chalky bourn,
    2500Look up a height. The shrill-gorged lark so far
    Cannot be seen or heard. Do but look up.
    Gloucester
    Alack, I have no eyes.
    Is wretchedness deprived that benefit
    To end itself by death? 'Twas yet some comfort
    2505When misery could beguile the tyrant's rage
    And frustrate his proud will.
    Edgar
    Give me your arm.
    Up, so. How is't? Feel you your legs? You stand.
    Gloucester
    Too well, too well.
    2510Edgar
    This is above all strangeness.
    Upon the crown of the cliff, what thing was that
    Which parted from you?
    Gloucester
    A poor unfortunate beggar.
    Edgar
    As I stood here below, methought his eyes
    2515Were two full moons. 'A had a thousand noses,
    Horns, whelked and waved like the enridgèd sea.
    It was some fiend. Therefore, thou happy father,
    Think that the clearest gods, who made their honors
    Of men's impossibilities, have preserved thee.
    2520Gloucester
    I do remember now. Henceforth I'll bear
    Affliction till it do cry out itself
    "Enough, enough," and die. That thing you speak of,
    I took it for a man. Often would it say
    "The fiend, the fiend." He led me to that place.
    2525Edgar
    Bear free and patient thoughts. But who comes here?
    Enter Lear mad, [crowned with weeds and flowers].
    The safer sense will ne'er accommodate
    His master thus.
    No, they cannot touch me for coining. I am the King himself.
    Edgar
    Oh, thou side-piercing sight!
    Nature is above art in that respect. There's your press-money. That fellow handles his bow like a 2535crow-keeper. Draw me a clothier's yard. Look, look, a mouse! Peace, peace. This toasted cheese will do it. There's my gauntlet; I'll prove it on a giant. Bring up the brown bills. Oh, well flown, bird, in the air, ha! Give the word.
    2540Edgar
    Sweet marjoram.
    Pass.
    Gloucester
    I know that voice.
    Ha, Goneril! Ha, Regan! They flattered me like a dog and told me I had white hairs in 2545my beard ere the black ones were there. To say "ay" and "no" to everything I said "ay" and "no" to was no good divinity. When the rain came to wet me once, and the wind to make me chatter; when the thunder would not peace at my bidding--there I found them, there I smelt them 2550out. Go to, they are not men of their words; they told me I was everything. 'Tis a lie. I am not ague-proof.
    Gloucester
    The trick of that voice I do well remember.
    Is't not the King?
    Ay, every inch a king.
    2555When I do stare, see how the subject quakes.
    I pardon that man's life. What was thy cause?
    Adultery? Thou shalt not die for adultery.
    No, the wren goes to't, and the small gilded fly
    Does lecher in my sight. Let copulation thrive,
    2560For Gloucester's bastard son was kinder to his father
    Than my daughters got 'tween the lawful sheets.
    To't luxury, pell-mell, for I lack soldiers.
    Behold yon simp'ring dame,
    Whose face between her forks presageth snow,
    That minces virtue, and does shake 2565the head
    To hear of pleasure's name. The fitchew, nor
    The soilèd horse goes to't with a more riotous
    Appetite. Down from the waist th'are centaurs,
    Though women all above. But to the girdle
    Do the gods inherit; beneath is all the fiend's.
    There's hell, there's 2570darkness, there's the sulphury pit, burning, scalding, stench, consummation. Fie, fie, fie, pah, pah! Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, to sweeten my imagination. There's money for thee.
    Gloucester
    Oh, let me kiss that hand.
    Here, wipe it first. It smells of mortality.
    Gloucester
    O ruined piece of nature! This great world
    Should so wear out to naught. Do you know me?
    I remember thy eyes well enough. Dost thou squinny on me? No, do thy worst, blind Cupid, I'll not love. Read thou that challenge; mark the penning of't.
    Gloucester
    Were all the letters suns I could not see one.
    [Aside] I would not take this from report. It is,
    2586.1And my heart breaks at it.
    Lear
    Read.
    Gloucester
    What? With the case of eyes?
    Oh ho, are you there with me? No eyes in your 2590head, nor no money in your purse? Your eyes are in a heavy case, your purse in a light, yet you see how this world goes.
    Gloucester
    I see it feelingly.
    What, art mad? A man may see how the world 2595goes with no eyes. Look with thy ears. See how yon justice rails upon yon simple thief? Hark in thy ear--handy-dandy, which is the thief, which is the justice? Thou hast seen a farmer's dog bark at a beggar?
    2600Gloucester
    Ay, sir.
    And the creature run from the cur? There thou mightst behold the great image of authority: a dog's obeyed in office.
    2603.1Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand.
    Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thine own 2605back;
    Thy blood hotly lusts to use her in that kind
    For which thou whip'st her.
    The usurer hangs the cozener.
    Through tattered rags small vices do appear;
    Robes and furred gowns hides all. Plate sins with gold
    And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks;
    Arm it in 2610rags, a pigmy's straw does pierce it.
    None does offend, none, I say none. I'll able 'em.
    Take that of me my friend, who have the power
    To seal th'accuser's lips. Get thee glass eyes,
    And, like a scurvy politician, seem
    To see the things thou dost not.
    No; now pull off my 2615boots. Harder, harder, so.
    [Aside] Oh, matter and impertinency mixed;
    Reason in madness.
    If thou wilt weep my fortune, take my eyes.
    I know thee well enough; thy name is Gloucester.
    2620Thou must be patient. We came crying hither;
    Thou knowst the first time that we smell the air
    We wail and cry. I will preach to thee. Mark me.
    Gloucester
    Alack, alack the day.
    When we are born, we cry that we are come 2625to this great stage of fools.--This' a good block. It were a delicate stratagem to shoe a troop of horse with felt, and when I have stolen upon these son-in-laws, then kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill.
    2630Enter three gentlemen.
    [1] Gentleman
    Oh, here he is. Lay hands upon him, sirs.
    Your most dear--
    No rescue? What, a prisoner? I am e'en
    The natural fool of fortune. Use me well,
    2635You shall have ransom. Let me have a surgeon;
    I am cut to the brains.
    [1] Gentleman
    You shall have anything.
    Lear
    No seconds? All myself? Why, this would make a man of salt 2640to use his eyes for garden water-pots, ay, and laying autumn's dust.
    [1] Gentleman
    Good sir--
    Lear
    I will die bravely like a bridegroom. What? I will be jovial. Come, come, I am a king, my masters, know you that?
    [1] Gentleman
    You are a royal one, and we obey you.
    Then there's life in't. Nay, an 2645you get it, you shall get it with running.
    Exit King [Lear], running, [pursued by two gentlemen].
    [1] Gentleman
    A sight most pitiful in the meanest wretch,
    Past speaking of in a king. Thou hast one daughter
    Who redeems nature from the general curse
    Which twain hath brought her to.
    2650Edgar
    Hail, gentle sir.
    [1] Gentleman
    Sir, speed you. What's your will?
    Edgar
    Do you hear aught of a battle toward?
    [1] Gentleman
    Most sure and vulgar. Everyone hears that,
    That can distinguish sense.
    2655Edgar
    But, by your favor, how near's the other army?
    [1] Gentleman
    Near and on speedy foot. The main descry
    Stands on the hourly thought.
    Edgar
    I thank you, sir. That's all.
    2660[1] Gentleman
    Though that the queen on special cause is here,
    Her army is moved on.
    Edgar
    I thank you, sir.
    Exit [Gentleman].
    Gloucester
    You ever gentle gods take my breath from me.
    Let not my worser spirit tempt me again
    2665To die before you please.
    Edgar
    Well pray you, father.
    Gloucester
    Now, good sir, what are you?
    Edgar
    A most poor man made lame by fortune's blows,
    Who by the art of known and feeling sorrows
    2670Am pregnant to good pity. Give me your hand.
    I'll lead you to some biding.
    Gloucester
    Hearty thanks.
    The bounty and benison of heaven
    Send thee boot, to boot.
    2675Enter [Oswald, the] steward.
    Oswald
    A proclaimed prize! Most happy.
    That eyeless head of thine was first framed flesh
    To raise my fortunes. Thou most unhappy traitor,
    Briefly thyself remember. The sword is out
    2680That must destroy thee.
    Gloucester
    Now let thy friendly hand
    Put strength enough to't.
    [Edgar steps between them.]
    Oswald
    Wherefore, bold peasant,
    Durst thou support a published traitor? Hence,
    2685Lest the infection of his fortune take
    Like hold on thee. Let go his arm.
    Edgar
    Chill not let go, sir, without 'cagion.
    Oswald
    Let go, slave, or thou diest.
    2690Edgar
    Good gentleman go your gait. Let poor volk pass. An 'chud have been swaggered out of my life, it would not have been so long by a vortnight. Nay come not near the old man. Keep out, che vor ye, or I'll try whether your costard or my baton be the harder. 2695I'll be plain with you.
    Oswald
    Out, dunghill!
    They fight.
    Edgar
    Chill pick your teeth, sir. Come, no matter for your foins.
    [Edgar knocks him down.]
    Oswald
    Slave, thou hast slain me. Villain, take my purse.
    2700If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body,
    And give the letters which thou find'st about me
    To Edmund, Earl of Gloucester. Seek him out upon
    The British party. Oh, untimely death! Death.
    He dies.
    Edgar
    I know thee well. A serviceable villain,
    2705As duteous to the vices of thy mistress
    As badness would desire.
    Gloucester
    What, is he dead?
    Edgar
    Sit you down, father; rest you.
    [Gloucester sits.]
    Let's see his pockets. These letters that he speaks of
    2710May be my friends. He's dead. I am only sorry
    He had no other deathsman. Let us see.
    Leave, gentle wax, and manners blame us not.
    To know our enemy's minds we'd rip their hearts;
    Their papers is more lawful.
    2715[Reads] a letter.
    "Let your reciprocal vows be remembered. You have many opportunities to cut him off. If your will want not, time and place will be fruitfully offered. There is nothing done if he return the conqueror, then am I the prisoner and his bed my 2720jail, from the loathed warmth whereof deliver me and supply the place for your labor.
    Your wife--so I would say--your affectionate servant, and for you her own for venture,
    Goneril."
    Oh, indistinguished space of woman's wit!
    2725A plot upon her virtuous husband's life,
    And the exchange my brother. [To Oswald's body] Here in the sands
    Thee I'll rake up, the post unsanctified
    Of murderous lechers, and in the mature time
    With this ungracious paper strike the sight
    2730Of the death-practiced Duke. For him 'tis well
    That of thy death and business I can tell.
    Gloucester
    The King is mad. How stiff is my vile sense
    That I stand up and have ingenious feeling
    2735Of my huge sorrows! Better I were distract;
    So should my thoughts be fencèd from my griefs,
    And woes by wrong imaginations lose
    The knowledge of themselves.
    A drum afar off
    2740Edgar
    Give me your hand.
    Far off methinks I hear the beaten drum.
    Come father, I'll bestow you with a friend.
    Exeunt, [dragging off the body].
    [Scene 21]
    Enter Cordelia, Kent [disguised], a doctor, and a gentleman. [Soft music]
    2745Cordelia
    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.
    Cordelia
    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.
    2760Cordelia
    Then be't so, my good lord. [To the doctor] How does the King?
    Doctor
    Madam, sleeps still.
    Cordelia
    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.
    Doctor
    So please your majesty
    That we may wake the King. He hath slept long.
    Cordelia
    Be governed by your knowledge and proceed
    2770I'th'sway of your own will. Is he arrayed?
    Doctor
    Ay, madam. In the heaviness of his sleep
    We put fresh garments on him.
    Gentleman
    Good madam, be by when we do awake him.
    2775I doubt not of his temperance.
    2775.1Cordelia
    Very well.
    Doctor
    Please you draw near. Louder the music there.
    [Lear is discovered, or carried in, asleep.]
    Cordelia
    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.
    Cordelia
    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.
    Doctor
    Madam, do you. 'Tis fittest.
    Cordelia
    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.
    Cordelia
    Sir, know me.
    Y'are a spirit, I know. Where did you die?
    2800Cordelia
    Still, still, far wide.
    Doctor
    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.
    2810Cordelia
    [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.
    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.
    Cordelia
    No cause, no cause.
    Lear
    Am I in France?
    In your own kingdom, sir.
    Do not abuse me.
    Doctor
    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.
    2840Cordelia
    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].
    2843.1Gentleman
    Holds it true, sir, that the Duke of Cornwall was so slain?
    Most certain, sir.
    Gentleman
    Who is conductor of his people?
    As 'tis said, the bastard son of Gloucester.
    2843.5Gentleman
    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.
    Gentleman
    The arbitrament is like to be bloody. Fare you well, sir.
    [Exit.]
    My point and period will be throughly wrought,
    Or well, or ill, as this day's battle's fought.
    Exit.
    [Scene 22]
    2845Enter Edmund [the Bastard], Regan, and their powers.
    Bastard
    [To an officer] Know of the Duke if his last purpose hold,
    Or whether since he is advised by aught
    To change the course. He's full of alteration
    2850And self-reproving. Bring his constant pleasure.
    [Exit officer.]
    Regan
    Our sister's man is certainly miscarried.
    Bastard
    'Tis to be doubted, madam.
    Regan
    Now, sweet lord,
    You know the goodness I intend upon you.
    2855Tell me but truly--but then speak the truth--
    Do you not love my sister?
    Bastard
    Ay, honored love.
    Regan
    But have you never found my brother's way
    To the forfended place?
    Bastard
    That thought abuses you.
    I am doubtful that you have been conjunct and
    Bosomed with her, as far as we call hers.
    2860Bastard
    No, by mine honor, madam.
    Regan
    I never shall endure her. Dear my lord,
    Be not familiar with her.
    Bastard
    Fear me not.--
    She and the Duke her husband.
    Enter Albany and Goneril with troops.
    2864.1Goneril
    [Aside] I had rather
    Lose the battle than that sister should loosen
    Him and me.
    2865Albany
    Our very loving sister, well be-met.
    For this I hear: the King is come to his daughter
    With others, whom the rigor of our state
    Forced to cry out. 2868.1Where I could not be honest,
    I never yet was valiant. For this business,
    It touches us as France invades our land,
    Not bolds the king, with others, whom I fear
    2868.5Most just and heavy causes make oppose.
    Bastard
    Sir, you speak nobly.
    Regan
    Why is this reasoned?
    2870Goneril
    Combine together 'gainst the enemy,
    For these domestic-door particulars
    Are not to question here.
    Albany
    Let us then determine
    With the ensign of war on our proceedings.
    2874.1Bastard
    I shall attend you presently at your tent.
    [Exit the Bastard with his men.]
    2875Regan
    Sister, you'll go with us?
    Goneril
    No.
    Regan
    'Tis most convenient. Pray you go with us.
    Goneril
    [Aside] Oh ho, I know the riddle.--I will go.
    2880Enter Edgar, [disguised, speaking to Albany as he is leaving.]
    Edgar
    If ere your grace had speech with man so poor,
    Hear me one word.
    Exeunt [all but Albany and Edgar].
    Albany
    [To those leaving] I'll overtake you. [To Edgar] Speak.
    Edgar
    Before you fight the battle, ope this letter.
    2885If you have victory, let the trumpet sound
    For him that brought it. Wretched though I seem,
    I can produce a champion that will prove
    What is avouchèd there. If you miscarry,
    Your business of the world hath so an end.
    2890Fortune love you.
    Albany
    Stay till I have read the letter.
    I was forbid it.
    When time shall serve, let but the herald cry,
    And I'll appear again.
    2895Albany
    Why fare thee well, I will o'erlook the paper.
    Exit [Edgar].
    Enter Edmund [the Bastard].
    Bastard
    The enemy's in view. Draw up your powers.
    Hard is the guess of their great strength and forces
    By diligent discovery, but your haste
    2900Is now urged on you.
    Albany
    We will greet the time.
    Exit.
    Bastard
    To both these sisters have I sworn my love,
    Each jealous of the other as the stung
    Are of the adder. Which of them shall I take?
    2905Both? One? Or neither? Neither can be enjoyed
    If both remain alive. To take the widow
    Exasperates, makes mad her sister Goneril;
    And hardly shall I carry out my side,
    Her husband being alive. Now then, we'll use
    2910His countenance for the battle; which, being done,
    Let her that would be rid of him devise
    His speedy taking off. As for his mercy
    Which he intends to Lear and to Cordelia,
    The battle done, and they within our power,
    2915Shall never see his pardon; for my state
    Stands on me to defend, not to debate.
    Exit.
    [Scene 23]
    Alarum. Enter the powers of France over the stage, Cordelia with her father [Lear] in her hand. [They pass over the stage and exeunt.]
    2920Enter Edgar [in disguise] and Gloucester.
    Edgar
    Here, father, take the shadow of this bush
    For your good host. Pray that the right may thrive.
    If ever I return to you again I'll bring you comfort.
    Exit [Edgar].
    2925Gloucester
    Grace go with you, sir.
    Alarum and retreat [within].
    [Re-enter Edgar.]
    Edgar
    Away, old man, give me thy hand, away!
    King Lear hath lost, he and his daughter ta'en.
    2930Give me thy hand. Come on.
    Gloucester
    No farther sir, a man may rot even here.
    Edgar
    What, in ill thoughts again? Men must endure
    Their going hence, even as their coming hither.
    2935Ripeness is all. Come on.
    Gloucester
    And that's true too.
    [Exeunt.]
    [Scene 24]
    Enter [the Bastard] Edmund, with Lear and Cordelia prisoners, [a captain, and soldiers].
    2940Bastard
    Some officers take them away. Good guard,
    Until their greater pleasures best be known
    That are to censure them.
    Cordelia
    We are not the first
    Who, with best meaning, have incurred the worst.
    2945For thee, oppressèd king am I cast down;
    Myself could else out-frown false fortune's frown.
    Shall we not see these daughters and these sisters?
    No, no. Come, let's away to prison.
    We two alone will sing like birds i'th'cage.
    2950When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down
    And ask of thee forgiveness; so we'll live,
    And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
    At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
    Talk of court news; and we'll talk with them too--
    2955Who loses and who wins, who's in, who's out,
    And take upon's the mystery of things
    As if we were gods' spies; and we'll wear out,
    In a walled prison, packs and sects of great ones
    That ebb and flow by th'moon.
    2960Bastard
    [To soldiers] Take them away.
    Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,
    The gods themselves throw incense.
    [Embracing Cordelia]
    Have I caught thee?
    He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven,
    2965And fire us hence like foxes. Wipe thine eyes.
    The goodyears shall devour 'em, flesh and fell,
    Ere they shall make us weep. We'll see 'em starve first.
    Come.
    [Exeunt Lear and Cordelia, guarded.]
    Bastard
    Come hither captain, hark. [Handing him a paper]
    2970Take thou this note. Go follow them to prison.
    One step I have advanced thee; if thou dost
    As this instructs thee, thou dost make thy way
    To noble fortunes. Know thou this, that men
    Are as the time is. To be tender-minded
    2975Does not become a sword. Thy great employment
    Will not bear question. Either say thou'lt do't,
    Or thrive by other means.
    1 Captain
    I'll do't, my lord.
    Bastard
    About it, and write "happy" when thou hast done.
    2980Mark--I say instantly, and carry it so
    As I have set it down.
    2981.11 Captain
    I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried oats.
    If it be man's work I'll do't.
    [Exit the captain.]
    Enter [the] Duke [of Albany], the two ladies [Goneril and Regan], and others.
    Albany
    [To the Bastard] Sir, you have showed today your valiant strain,
    And fortune led you well. You have the captives
    2985That were the opposites of this day's strife.
    We do require them of you, so to use them
    As we shall find their merits and our safety
    May equally determine.
    Bastard
    Sir, I thought it fit
    2990To send the old and miserable King
    To some retention and appointed guard;
    Whose age has charms in it, whose title more,
    To pluck the common bosom on his side,
    And turn our impressèd lances in our eyes
    Which do command them. With him I sent the Queen--
    2995My reason all the same--and they are ready tomorrow,
    Or at further space, to appear where you shall hold
    Your session. 2997.1At this time we sweat and bleed.
    The friend hath lost his friend, and the best quarrels
    In the heat are cursed by those that feel their sharpness.
    The question of Cordelia and her father
    Requires a fitter place.
    Albany
    Sir, by your patience,
    I hold you but a subject of this war,
    3000Not as a brother.
    Regan
    That's as we list to grace him.
    Methinks our pleasure should have been demanded
    Ere you had spoke so far. He led our powers,
    Bore the commission of my place and person,
    3005The which immediate may well stand up
    And call itself your brother.
    Goneril
    Not so hot.
    In his own grace he doth exalt himself
    More than in your advancement.
    3010Regan
    In my right,
    By me invested, he compeers the best.
    Goneril
    That were the most, if he should husband you.
    Regan
    Jesters do oft prove prophets.
    Goneril
    Hola, hola!
    3015That eye that told you so looked but asquint.
    Regan
    Lady, I am not well, else I should answer
    From a full-flowing stomach. [To the Bastard] General,
    Take thou my soldiers, prisoners, patrimony.
    Dispose of them, of me. The walls are thine.
    3020Witness the world that I create thee here
    My lord and master.
    Goneril
    Mean you to enjoy him then?
    Albany
    The let-alone lies not in your good will.
    Bastard
    Nor in thine, lord.
    3025Albany
    Half-blooded fellow, yes.
    Bastard
    Let the drum strike, and prove my title good.
    Albany
    Stay yet, hear reason. Edmund, I arrest thee
    On capital treason, and in thine attaint
    [Indicating Goneril] This gilded serpent. [To Regan] For your claim, fair sister,
    3030I bar it in the interest of my wife.
    'Tis she is subcontracted to this lord,
    And I, her husband, contradict the banns.
    If you will marry, make your love to me--
    My lady is bespoke.
    3035Goneril
    An interlude!
    Albany
    Thou art armed, Gloucester. Let the trumpet sound.
    If none appear to prove upon thy head
    Thy heinous, manifest, and many treasons,
    [Throwing down a glove]
    3040There is my pledge. I'll prove it on thy heart,
    Ere I taste bread, thou art in nothing less
    Than I have here proclaimed thee.
    Regan
    Sick, oh sick.
    Goneril
    [Aside] If not, I'll ne'er trust poison.
    3045Bastard
    [Throwing down a glove] There's my exchange. What in the world he is
    That names me traitor, villain-like he lies.
    Call by thy trumpet. He that dares approach,
    On him, on you--who not?--I will maintain
    My truth and honor firmly.
    Albany
    A herald, ho!
    Bastard
    A herald, ho, a herald!
    3050[Enter a herald.]
    Albany
    [To the Bastard] Trust to thy single virtue, for thy soldiers,
    All levied in my name, have in my name
    Took their discharge.
    3055Regan
    This sickness grows upon me.
    Albany
    She is not well. Convey her to my tent.
    [Exit Regan, supported.]
    Come hither herald. Let the trumpet sound,
    And read out this.
    3058.12 Captain
    Sound trumpet!
    [Trumpet sounds]
    3060Herald
    [Reads]
    "If any man of quality or degree, in the host of the army, will maintain upon Edmund, supposed Earl of Gloucester, that he's a manifold traitor, let him appear at the third sound of the trumpet. He is bold in his defense."
    Bastard
    Sound!
    [Trumpet sounds]
    Again!
    [Trumpet sounds]
    Enter Edgar at the third sound, a trumpeter before him.
    Albany
    Ask him his purposes; why he appears
    Upon this call o'th'trumpet.
    3070Herald
    What are you? Your name and quality,
    And why you answer this present summons.
    Edgar
    Oh, know my name is lost, by treason's tooth
    Bare-gnawn and canker-bit. 3075Yet, ere I move't,
    Where is the adversary I come
    To cope withal?
    Albany
    Which is that adversary?
    Edgar
    What's he that speaks for Edmund, Earl of Gloucester?
    Bastard
    Himself. What sayest thou to him?
    3080Edgar
    Draw thy sword,
    That if my speech offend a noble heart
    Thy arm may do thee justice. Here is mine.
    [Draws his sword.]
    Behold. It is the privilege of my tongue,
    3085My oath, and my profession. I protest,
    Maugre thy strength, youth, place and eminence,
    Despite thy victor-sword and fire-new fortune,
    Thy valor and thy heart--thou art a traitor,
    False to thy gods, thy brother, and thy father;
    3090Conspirant 'gainst this high, illustrious prince,
    And from th'extremest upward of thy head
    To the descent and dust beneath thy feet
    A most toad-spotted traitor. Say thou no,
    This sword, this arm, and my best spirits are bent
    3095To prove upon thy heart whereto I speak
    Thou liest.
    Bastard
    In wisdom I should ask thy name,
    But since thy outside looks so fair and warlike,
    And that thy being some say of breeding breathes,
    3100What safe and nicely I might well delay
    By right of knighthood, I disdain and spurn.
    Here do I toss those treasons to thy head,
    With the hell-hated lie o'erturn thy heart,
    Which, for they yet glance by and scarcely bruise,
    3105This sword of mine shall give them instant way
    Where they shall rest for ever. Trumpets, speak!
    [Trumpet sounds. They fight, and the Bastard is wounded.]
    Albany
    [To Edgar] Save him, save him.
    Goneril
    This is mere practice, Gloucester.
    By the law of arms thou art not bound to answer
    3110An unknown opposite. Thou art not vanquished,
    But cozened and beguiled.
    Albany
    Stop your mouth, dame,
    Or with this paper shall I stopple it.
    [Giving her the letter] Thou worse than anything, read thine own evil.
    3115Nay, no tearing, lady, I perceive you know't.
    Goneril
    Say if I do, the laws are mine not thine.
    Who shall arraign me for't?
    Albany
    Most monstrous! [To Goneril] Know'st thou this paper?
    Goneril
    Ask me not what I know.
    Exit Goneril.
    3120Albany
    [To an attendant] Go after her. She's desperate--govern her.
    [Exit attendant.]
    Bastard
    What you have charged me with, that have I done,
    And more, much more. The time will bring it out.
    'Tis past, and so am I. [To Edgar] But what art thou
    3125That hast this fortune on me? If thou beest noble,
    I do forgive thee.
    Edgar
    Let's exchange charity.
    I am no less in blood than thou art, Edmund;
    If more, the more thou hast wronged me.
    3130My name is Edgar, and thy father's son.
    The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices
    Make instruments to scourge us. The dark and vicious
    Place where thee he got cost him his eyes.
    3135Bastard
    Thou hast spoken truth. The wheel is come
    Full circle; I am here.
    Albany
    [To Edgar] Methought thy very gait did prophesy,
    A royal nobleness. I must embrace thee.
    Let sorrow split my heart if I 3140did ever
    Hate thee or thy father.
    Edgar
    Worthy prince, I know't.
    Albany
    Where have you hid yourself?
    How have you known the miseries of your father?
    Edgar
    By nursing them, my lord. List a brief tale,
    3145And when 'tis told, 3145.1oh, that my heart would burst.
    The bloody proclamation to escape,
    That followed me so near--oh, our lives' sweetness,
    That we the pain of death would hourly die
    Rather than die at once--taught me to shift
    3150Into a madman's rags, to assume a semblance
    That very dogs disdained; and in this habit
    Met I my father with his bleeding rings,
    The precious stones new lost; became his guide,
    Led him, begged for him, saved him from despair.
    3155Never--O father!--revealed myself unto him
    Until some half hour past when I was armed.
    Not sure, though hoping of this good success,
    I asked his blessing, and from first to last
    Told him my pilgrimage. But his flawed heart,
    3160Alack, too weak the conflict to support,
    'Twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief,
    Burst smilingly.
    Bastard
    This speech of yours hath moved me,
    And shall perchance do good; but speak you on,
    3165You look as you had something more to say.
    Albany
    If there be more, more woeful, hold it in,
    For I am almost ready to dissolve,
    Hearing of this.
    This would have seemed a period to such
    As love not sorrow, but another to amplify too much
    Would make much more and top extremity.
    Whilst I was big in clamor, came there in a man
    3168.5Who, having seen me in my worst estate,
    Shunned my abhorred society; but then finding
    Who 'twas that so endured, with his strong arms
    He fastened on my neck and bellowed out
    As he'd burst heaven, threw him on my father,
    3168.10Told the most piteous tale of Lear and him
    That ever ear received, which in recounting
    His grief grew puissant and the strings of life
    Began to crack. Twice then the trumpets sounded,
    And there I left him tranced.
    But who was this?
    Kent sir, the banished Kent, who in disguise,
    Followed his enemy king and did him service
    Improper for a slave.
    Enter one with a bloody knife.
    3170Gentleman
    Help, help!
    Albany
    What kind of help? What means that bloody knife?
    Gentleman
    It's hot, it smokes. It came even from the heart 3175of--
    Albany
    Who, man? Speak!
    Gentleman
    Your lady, sir, your lady; and her sister
    By her is poisoned. She hath confessed it.
    Bastard
    I was contracted to them both. All three
    3180Now marry in an instant.
    Albany
    Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead.
    [Exit Gentleman.]
    3185This justice of the heavens that makes us tremble
    Touches us not with pity.
    Edgar
    Here comes Kent, sir.
    Enter Kent [as himself].
    Albany
    Oh, 'tis he. The time will not allow
    The compliment that very manners urges.
    I am come 3190to bid my king and master aye good night.
    Is he not here?
    Albany
    Great thing of us forgot.
    Speak, Edmund, where's the King, and where's Cordelia?
    Seest thou this object, Kent?
    The bodies of Goneril and Regan are brought in.
    Alack, why thus?
    Bastard
    Yet Edmund was beloved.
    The one the other poisoned for my sake,
    And after slew herself.
    Albany
    Even so. Cover their faces.
    3200Bastard
    I pant for life. Some good I mean to do
    Despite of my own nature. Quickly send--
    Be brief in't--to th'castle, for my writ
    Is on the life of Lear and on Cordelia.
    Nay, send in time.
    3205Albany
    Run, run, Oh run!
    Edgar
    To who my lord? Who hath the office? [To the Bastard] Send
    Thy token of reprieve.
    Bastard
    Well thought on. Take my sword. The Captain,
    Give it the Captain.
    3210Albany
    Haste thee for thy life.
    [Exit 2 Captain.]
    Bastard
    He hath commission from thy wife and me
    To hang Cordelia in the prison, and
    To lay the blame upon her own despair