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  • Title: King Lear (Quarto 2, 1619)
  • Editor: Pervez Rizvi
  • 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: Pervez Rizvi
    Not Peer Reviewed

    King Lear (Quarto 2, 1619)

    2430Enter Gloster and Edmund.
    Glo. When shall we come to'th top of that same hill?
    Edg. You do climbe it vp now, looke how we labour?
    Glo. Me thinkes the ground is euen.
    Edg. Horrible steepe: hearke, do you heare the sea?
    Glo. No truly.
    Edg. Why then your other senses grow imperfect
    By your eies anguish.
    Glo. So may it be indeed,
    2440Methinkes thy voice is altered, and thou speakst
    With better phrase and matter then thou didst.
    Edg. Y'are much deceiued, in nothing am I changd,
    But in my garments.
    Glo. Me thinkes y'are better spoken.
    2445Edg. Come on sir, here's the place, stand still, how fearfull
    And dizy tis to cast ones eye so low:
    The Crowes and Choughes that wing the midway ayre
    Shew scarse so grosse as beetles, halfe way downe
    2450Hangs one that gathers Sampire, dreadfull trade,
    Me thinkes he seemes no bigger then his head:
    The fishermen that walke vpon the beake
    Appeare like Mice; and yon tall Anchoring barke
    Diminisht to her cocke; her cocke aboue
    2455Almost too small for sight. The murmuring surge,
    That on the vnnumbred idle peebles chafe,
    Cannot be heard: it is so hie Ile looke no more
    Least my braine turne, and the deficient sight
    Topple downe headlong.
    2460Glo. Set me where you stand.
    Edg. Giue me your hand: you are now within a foot
    Of the extreme verge; for all beneath the Moone
    Would I not leape vpright.
    Glo. Let go my hand:
    2465Heere friend's another purse, in it a Iewell
    Well worth a poore mans taking. Fairies and Gods
    Prosper it with thee: go thou farther off,
    Bid me farewell, and let me heare thee going.
    Edg. Now fare you well good sir.
    2470Glo. With all my heart.
    Edg. Why I do trifle thus with his dispaire, tis done to cure it.
    Glo. O you mighty Gods, He kneels
    This world I do renounce, and in your sights
    2475Shake patiently my great affliction off,
    If I could beare it longer, and not fall
    To quarrell with your great opposelesse wils,
    My snuffe and loathed part of nature should
    Burne it selfe out: if Edgar liue, O blesse,
    2480Now fellow fare thee well. He falles
    Edg. Gon sir, farewell, and yet I know not how conceite may
    rob the treasury of life, when life it selfe yeelds to the theft: had
    he bene where he thought, by this thought had been past: Aliue
    2485or dead? Ho you sir, heare you sir, speake, thus might hee passe
    indeed, yet he reuiues, what are you sir?
    Glo. Away, and let me dye.
    2490Edg. Hadst thou bene ought but gosmore feathers ayre,
    So many fadome downe precipitating,
    Thou hadst shiuerd like an Egge, but thou dost breath,
    Hast heauy substance, bleedst not, speakst, art sound:
    2495Ten Masts at each make not the altitude,
    That thou hast perpendicularly fell,
    Thy lifes a mircale, speake yet againe.
    Glo. But haue I fallen or no?
    Edg. From the dread summons of this chalkie borne.
    2500Looke vp a hight; the shrill gorg'd Larke so farre
    Cannot be seene or heard, do but looke vp.
    Glo. Alacke, I haue no eyes:
    Is wretchednesse depriu'd that benefite
    To end it selfe by death? Twas yet some comfort.
    2505When misery could beguile the Tyrants rage,
    And frustrate his proud will.
    Edg. Giue me your arme:
    Vp, so, how feele you your legges? you stand.
    Glo. Too well, too well.
    2510Edg. This is aboue all strangenesse:
    Vpon the crowne of the cliffe, what thing was that
    Which parted from you?
    Glo. A poore vnfortunate begger.
    Edg. As I stood heere below, methought his eyes
    2515Were two full Moones; a had a thousand noses,
    Hornes, welkt and waued like the enridged sea.
    It was some fiend, therefore thou happy Father
    Thinke that the cleerest Gods, who made their honors
    Of mens impossibilities, haue preserued thee.
    2520Glo. I do remember now, henceforth Ile beare
    Affliction till it do cry out it selfe
    Enough, enough, and dye: that thing you speake of,
    I tooke it for a man: often would he say
    The fiend, the fiend, he led me to that place.
    2525Edg. Bare, free, and patient thoughts : but who comes heere,
    The safer sense will nere accommodate his maister thus.
    Enter Lear mad.
    2530Lear. No, they cannot touch me for coyning, I am the King
    Edg. O thou side piercing sight.
    Lear. Nature is aboue Art in that respect, ther's your presse-
    money. That fellow handles his bow like a Crow-keeper, draw
    2535me a clothiers yard. Looke, looke, a Mouse; peace, peace, this
    tosted cheese will do it. Ther's my gantlet, Ile proue it on a Gy-
    ant, bring vp the browne bils. O well flowne birde in the ayre.
    Hagh, giue the word.
    2540Edg. Sweet Margerum.
    Lear. Passe,
    Glo. I know that voice.
    Lear. Ha Gonorill, ha Regan, they flatter'd me like a dogge, and
    told me I had white haires in my beard, ere the black ones were
    2545there; to say I and no to all I saide : I and no too was no good
    Diuinity. When the raine came to wet me once, and the wind to
    make me chatter, when the thunder would not peace at my bid-
    ding, there I found them, there I smelt them out : goe too, they
    2550are not men of their words, they told mee I was euery thing, tis
    a lye, I am not argue-proofe.
    Glost. The tricke of that voyce I doe, well remember, ist not
    the King?
    Lear. I, euery inch a King: when I do stare see how the subiect
    2555quakes: I pardon that mans life, what was thy cause, Adulterie?
    thou shalt not dye for adultery: no, the wren goes toot, and the
    small guilded flye do letcher in my sight; let copulation thriue.
    2560For Glosters bastard son was kinder to his father then my daugh-
    ters got tweene the lawfull sheets, toot Luxury, pell mell, for I
    want souldiers. Behold yon simpring dame, whose face between
    her forkes presageth snow, that minces vertue, and do shake the
    2565head, heare of pleasures name to fichew, nor the soyled Horsse
    goes toot with a more riotous appetite: downe from the waste
    they are Centaures, though women all aboue, but to the girdle
    do the gods inherit, beneath is all the fiends, theres Hell, theres
    darknesse, fie, fie, fie, pah, pah: Giue mee an ounce of Ciuet,
    good Apothecary, to sweeten my imagination, ther's money for
    Glo. O let me kisse that hand.
    2575Lear. Here wipe it first, it smels of mortality.
    Glo. O ruin'd peece of nature, this great world shold so weare
    out to nought, do you know me?
    2580Lear. I remember thy eyes well enough, dost thou squiny on
    me: no, do thy worst blinde Cupid, Ile not loue: Read thou that
    challenge, marke the penning on't.
    Glo. Were all the letters suns I could not see one.
    2585Edg. I would not take this from report, it is, & my hart breaks
    at it.
    Lear. Read.
    Glo. What, with the case of eyes.
    Lear. O ho, are you there with me? No eyes in your head nor
    2590money in your purse? your eyes are in a heauy case, your pursse
    in a light; yet you see how this world goes?
    Glo. I see it feelingly.
    Lea. What art mad? A man may see how the world goes with
    2595no eyes. Looke with thy eares, see how yon Iustice railes vppon
    yon simple theefe: hearke in thy eare, handy dandy, which is the
    theefe, which is the Iustice. Thou hast seene a farmers dog barke
    at a begger.
    2600Glo. I sir.
    Lear. And the creature run from the cur? There thou mightst
    behold the great image of Authoritie, a dogge, so bad in office.
    Thou Rascall Beadle hold thy bloody hand; why dost thou lash
    that whore? strip thine owne backe, thy blood hotly lusts to vse
    2605her in that kind for which thou whipst her. The vsurer hangs the
    cozener, through tattered ragges small vices do appeare, Robes
    and furd-gownes hides all. Get thee glasse eyes, and like a scur-
    uy politician, seeme to see the things thou doest not; No, now
    pull off my boots, harder, harder, so.
    Edg. O matter and impertinency, mixt reason in madnesse.
    Lear. If thou wilt weepe my fortune, take my eyes; I know
    thee well enough, thy name is Gloster, thou must be patient, we
    2620came crying hither: thou knowst the first time that we smel the
    aire, we waile and cry. I will preach to thee, marke me.
    Glo. Alack, alack, the day.
    Lear. When we are borne, we crie that wee are come to this
    2625great stage of fooles: this a good blocke. It were a delicate stra-
    tagem to shoot a troope of horse with fell, and when I haue stole
    vpon these sonnes in law, then kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill.
    2630Enter three Gentlemen.
    Gent. O here he is, lay hands vpon him sirs.
    Lear. No rescue, what a prisoner? I am eene the naturall foole
    of Fortune : vse me well, you shall haue a ransom. Let me haue
    2635a Chirurgeon, I am cut to'th braines.
    Gent. You shall haue any thing.
    Lear. No seconds, all my selfe: why this would make a man
    of salt 2640to vse his eyes for garden water-pottes, I and laying Au-
    2640.1tumnes dust.Gent. Good Sir.
    Lear. I will dye brauely like a Bridegroome. What, I will bee
    iouiall: Come, come, I am a King my masters, know you that?
    Gent. You are a royall one, and we obey you.
    Lear. Then theres life int, nay if you get it you shall get it
    2645with running. Exit King running.
    Gent. A sight most pittifull in the meanest wretch, past spea-
    king of in a king: thou hast one daughter who redeemes nature
    from the generall curse which twaine hath brought her to.
    2650Edg. Haile gentle sir.
    Gent. Sir speed you, what's your will?
    Edg. Do you heare ought of a battell toward?
    Gent. Most sure and vulgar, euery ones heares
    That can distinguish sense.
    2655Edg. But by your fauour, how neeres the other army?
    Gent. Neere and on the speed for't, the maine descries,
    Stands on the hourely thoughts.
    Edg. I thanke you sir, thats all.
    2660Gent. Though that the Queene on speciall cause is heere,
    His army is mou'd on.
    Edg. I thanke you sir. Exit
    Glo. You euer gentle gods take my breath from me,
    Let not my worser spirit tempt me againe,
    2665To dye before you please.
    Edg. Well pray you father.
    Glo. Now good sir what are you.
    Edg. A most poore man, made lame by fortunes blowes,
    Who by the Art of knowne and feeling sorrowes
    2670Am pregnant to good pitty. Giue me your hand,
    Ile lead you to some biding.
    Glost. Hearty thankes, the bounty and benizon of heauen
    to boot, to boot.
    2675Enter Steward.
    Stew. A proclaim'd prize, most happy; that eyles head of thine
    was first framed flesh to raise my fortunes. Thou most vnhappy
    Traitor, briefely thy selfe remember, the sword is out that must
    2680destroy thee.
    Glo. Now let thy friendly hand put strength enough to't.
    Stew. Wherefore bolde pezant darst thou support a publisht
    traytor, hence least the infection of his fortune take like hold on
    thee, let go his arme.
    Edg. Chill not let go sir without cagion.
    Stew. Let go slaue, or thou diest.
    2690Edg. Good Gentleman goe your gate, let poore volke passe:
    and chud haue been zwaggar'd out of my life, it would not haue
    bene zo long by a vortnight: nay come not neere the olde man,
    keepe out cheuore ye, or ile try whether your costard or my bat
    be the harder, chill be plaine with you.
    Stew. Out dunghill. They fight.
    Edg. Chil pick your teeth zir, come no matter for your foines.
    Stew. Slaue thou hast slaine me, Villaine take my purse:
    2700If euer thou wilt thriue, bury my body,
    And giue the Letters which thou findst about me
    To Edmund Earle of Gloster, seeke him out, vpon
    The British party: ô vntimely death! death.
    2703.1He dyes.
    Edg. I know thee well, a seruiceable villaine,
    2705As dutious to the vices of thy Mistris,
    As badnesse would desire.
    Glo. What is he dead?
    Edg, Sit you downe father, rest you, lets see his pockets,
    These Letters that he speakes of may be my friends,
    2710Hee's dead, I am onely sorry he had no other deathsman.
    Let vs see, leaue gentle wax, and manners blame vs not,
    To know our enemies minds wee'd rip their hearts,
    Their papers is more lawfull.
    2715A Letter.
    Let your reciprocall vowes be remembred,
    You haue many opportunities to cut him off.
    If your will want not, time and place will be fruitfully offered.
    There is nothing done: If he returne the Conqueror,
    Then am I the prisoner, and his bed my Iayle,
    2720From the loath'd warmth whereof deliuer me,
    And supply the place for your labour.
    Your wife (so I would say) & your affectionate seruant,
    Edg. O vndistinguisht space of womans wit,
    2725A plot vpon her vertuous husbands life,
    And the exchange my Brother: heere in the sands
    Thee Ile rake vp, the post vnsanctified
    Of murtherous letchers, and in the mature time
    With this vngracious paper strike the sight
    2730Of the death practisd Duke, for him tis well,
    That of his death and businesse I can tell.
    Glo. The King is mad, how stiffe is my vilde sense,
    That I stand vp, and haue ingenious feeling
    2735Of my huge sorrowes, better I were distract,
    So should my thoughts be senced from my greefes,
    And woes by wrong imaginations, lose
    The knowledge of themselues.
    A Drumme afarre off.
    2740Edg. Giue me your hand:
    Farre off methinkes I heare the beaten drum.
    Come Father Ile bestow you with a friend. Exit