The Complete Works of William Shakespeare The Tragedy of King Lear

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Scene: – Britain.

ACT I. Scene I.
[King Lear’s Palace.]

Enter Kent, Gloucester, and Edmund. [Kent and Glouceste converse. Edmund stands back.]

Kent. I thought the King had more affected the Duke of Albany than
Glou. It did always seem so to us; but now, in the division of the
kingdom, it appears not which of the Dukes he values most, for
equalities are so weigh’d that curiosity in neither can make choice of either’s moiety.
Kent. Is not this your son, my lord? Glou. His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge. I have so often
blush’d to acknowledge him that now I am braz’d to’t. Kent. I cannot conceive you.
Glou. Sir, this young fellow’s mother could; whereupon she grew round-womb’d, and had indeed, sir, a son for her cradle ere she
had a husband for her bed. Do you smell a fault? Kent. I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper.
Glou. 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 world 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,
Edm. [comes forward] No, my lord.
Glou. My Lord of Kent. Remember him hereafter as my honourable friend.
Edm. My services to your lordship. Kent. I must love you, and sue to know you better. Edm. Sir, I shall study deserving.
Glou. He hath been out nine years, and away he shall again. Sound a sennet. The King is coming.

Enter one bearing a coronet; then Lear; then the Dukes of Albany and Cornwall; next, Goneril, Regan, Cordelia, with Followers.

Lear. Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloucester. Glou. I shall, my liege.
Exeunt [Gloucester and Edmund]. Lear. Meantime we shall express our darker purpose. Give me the map there. Know we have divided In three our kingdom; and ’tis our fast intent To shake all cares and business from our age, Conferring them on younger strengths while we Unburthen’d 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 May be prevented now. The 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 answer’d. Tell me, my daughters (Since now we will divest us both of rule, Interest of territory, cares of state), Which of you shall we say doth love us most? That we our largest bounty may extend Where nature doth with merit challenge. Goneril, Our eldest-born, speak first.
Gon. Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter; Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty; Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare; No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour; As much as child e’er lov’d, or father found; A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable. Beyond all manner of so much I love you. Cor. [aside] What shall Cordelia speak? Love, and be silent. Lear. Of all these bounds, even from this line to this, With shadowy forests and with champains rich’d, With 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. Reg. Sir, I am made
Of the selfsame metal that my sister is, And prize me at her worth. In my true heart I find she names my very deed of love; Only she comes too short, that I profess Myself an enemy to all other joys
Which the most precious square of sense possesses, And find I am alone felicitate
In your dear Highness’ love.
Cor. [aside] Then poor Cordelia!
And yet not so; since I am sure my love’s More richer than my tongue.
Lear. To thee and thine hereditary ever Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom, No less in space, validity, and pleasure Than that conferr’d on Goneril.- Now, our joy, Although the last, not least; to whose young love The vines of France and milk of Burgundy Strive to be interest; what can you say to draw A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak. Cor. Nothing, my lord.
Lear. Nothing?
Cor. Nothing.
Lear. Nothing can come of nothing. Speak again. Cor. Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
My heart into my mouth. I love your Majesty According to my bond; no more nor less. Lear. How, how, Cordelia? Mend your speech a little, Lest it may mar your fortunes.
Cor. Good my lord,
You have begot me, bred me, lov’d me; I Return those duties back as are right fit, Obey you, love you, and most honour 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. Sure I shall never marry like my sisters, To love my father all.
Lear. But goes thy heart with this? Cor. Ay, good my lord.
Lear. So young, and so untender?
Cor. So young, my lord, and true.
Lear. 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; Here 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 To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom Be as well neighbour’d, pitied, and reliev’d, As thou my sometime daughter.
Kent. Good my liege-
Lear. Peace, Kent!
Come not between the dragon and his wrath. I lov’d her most, and thought to set my rest On her kind nursery.- 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? Call Burgundy! 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 That troop with majesty. Ourself, by monthly course, With reservation of an hundred knights, By you to be sustain’d, shall our abode Make with you by due turns. Only we still retain The name, and all th’ additions to a king. The sway, Revenue, execution of the rest,
Beloved sons, be yours; which to confirm, This coronet part betwixt you.
Kent. Royal Lear,
Whom I have ever honour’d as my king, Lov’d as my father, as my master follow’d, 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 When Lear is mad. What wouldst thou do, old man? Think’st thou that duty shall have dread to speak When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour’s bound When majesty falls to folly. Reverse thy doom; And 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.
Lear. Kent, on thy life, no more!
Kent. My life I never held but as a pawn To wage against thine enemies; nor fear to lose it, Thy safety being the motive.
Lear. Out of my sight!
Kent. 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.
Lear. O vassal! miscreant!
[Lays his hand on his sword.] Alb., Corn. Dear sir, forbear!
Kent. Do!
Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy gift, Or, whilst I can vent clamour from my throat, I’ll tell thee thou dost evil.
Lear. Hear me, recreant!
On thine allegiance, hear me!
Since thou hast sought to make us break our vow- Which we durst never yet- and with strain’d pride To come between our sentence and our power,- Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,- Our potency made good, take thy reward. Five days we do allot thee for provision To shield thee from diseases of the world, And on the sixth to turn thy hated back Upon our kingdom. If, on the tenth day following, Thy banish’d trunk be found in our dominions, The moment is thy death. Away! By Jupiter, This shall not be revok’d.
Kent. Fare thee well, King. Since thus thou wilt appear, Freedom lives hence, and banishment is here. [To Cordelia] The gods to their dear shelter take thee, maid,
That justly think’st and hast most rightly said! [To Regan and Goneril] And your large speeches may your deeds
That good effects may spring from words of love. Thus Kent, O princes, bids you all adieu; He’ll shape his old course in a country new. Exit.

Flourish. Enter Gloucester, with France and Burgundy; Attendants.

Glou. Here’s France and Burgundy, my noble lord. Lear. My Lord of Burgundy,
We first address toward you, who with this king Hath rivall’d for our daughter. What in the least Will you require in present dower with her, Or cease your quest of love?
Bur. Most royal Majesty,
I crave no more than hath your Highness offer’d, Nor will you tender less.
Lear. Right noble Burgundy,
When she was dear to us, we did hold her so; But now her price is fall’n. Sir, there she stands. If aught within that little seeming substance, Or all of it, with our displeasure piec’d, And nothing more, may fitly like your Grace, She’s there, and she is yours.
Bur. I know no answer.
Lear. Will you, with those infirmities she owes, Unfriended, new adopted to our hate,
Dow’r’d with our curse, and stranger’d with our oath, Take her, or leave her?
Bur. Pardon me, royal sir.
Election makes not up on such conditions. Lear. Then leave her, sir; for, by the pow’r 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 To match you where I hate; therefore beseech you T’ avert your liking a more worthier way Than on a wretch whom nature is asham’d Almost t’ acknowledge hers.
France. This is most strange,
That 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 favour. Sure her offence Must be of such unnatural degree
That monsters it, or your fore-vouch’d affection Fall’n into taint; which to believe of her Must be a faith that reason without miracle Should never plant in me.
Cor. 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 make known It is no vicious blot, murther, or foulness, No unchaste action or dishonoured step, That hath depriv’d me of your grace and favour; But even for want of that for which I am richer- A still-soliciting eye, and such a tongue As I am glad I have not, though not to have it Hath lost me in your liking.
Lear. Better thou
Hadst not been born than not t’ have pleas’d me better. France. Is it but this- a tardiness in nature Which often leaves the history unspoke That it intends to do? My Lord of Burgundy, What say you to the lady? Love’s not love When it is mingled with regards that stands Aloof from th’ entire point. Will you have her? She is herself a dowry.
Bur. Royal Lear,
Give but that portion which yourself propos’d, And here I take Cordelia by the hand, Duchess of Burgundy.
Lear. Nothing! I have sworn; I am firm. Bur. I am sorry then you have so lost a father That you must lose a husband.
Cor. Peace be with Burgundy!
Since that respects of fortune are his love, I shall not be his wife.
France. Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor; Most choice, forsaken; and most lov’d, despis’d! 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 cold’st neglect My love should kindle to inflam’d respect. Thy dow’rless daughter, King, thrown to my chance, Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France. Not all the dukes in wat’rish Burgundy Can buy this unpriz’d precious maid of me. Bid 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 Without our grace, our love, our benison. Come, noble Burgundy.
Flourish. Exeunt Lear, Burgundy, [Cornwall, Albany, Gloucester, and Attendants]. France. Bid farewell to your sisters.
Cor. The jewels of our father, with wash’d eyes Cordelia leaves you. I know you what you are; And, like a sister, am most loath to call Your faults as they are nam’d. Use well our father. To your professed bosoms I commit him; But yet, alas, stood I within his grace, I would prefer him to a better place! So farewell to you both.
Gon. Prescribe not us our duties.
Reg. Let your study
Be to content your lord, who hath receiv’d you At fortune’s alms. You have obedience scanted, And well are worth the want that you have wanted. Cor. Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides. Who cover faults, at last shame them derides. Well may you prosper!
France. Come, my fair Cordelia.
Exeunt France and Cordelia. Gon. Sister, it is not little I have to say of what most nearly appertains to us both. I think our father will hence to-night.
Reg. That’s most certain, and with you; next month with us. Gon. You see how full of changes his age is. The observation we have made of it hath not been little. He always lov’d our sister most, and with what poor judgment he hath now cast her
off appears too grossly.
Reg. ‘Tis the infirmity of his age; yet he hath ever but slenderly
known himself.
Gon. The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash; then must we look to receive from his age, not alone the imperfections of long-ingraffed condition, but therewithal the unruly waywardness that infirm and choleric years bring with
Reg. Such unconstant starts are we like to have from him as this
of Kent’s banishment.
Gon. There is further compliment of leave-taking between France and
him. Pray you let’s hit together. If our father carry authority
with such dispositions as he bears, this last surrender of his
will but offend us.
Reg. We shall further think on’t.
Gon. We must do something, and i’ th’ heat. Exeunt.

Scene II.
The Earl of Gloucester’s Castle.

Enter [Edmund the] Bastard solus, [with a letter].

Edm. 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 Lag 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? with baseness? bastardy? base, base? Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, take More composition and fierce quality
Than doth, within a dull, stale, tired bed, Go to th’ creating a whole tribe of fops Got ‘tween asleep and wake? Well then, Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land. Our father’s love is to the bastard Edmund As to th’ legitimate. Fine word- ‘legitimate’! Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed, And my invention thrive, Edmund the base Shall top th’ legitimate. I grow; I prosper. Now, gods, stand up for bastards!

Enter Gloucester.

Glou. Kent banish’d thus? and France in choler parted? And the King gone to-night? subscrib’d his pow’r? Confin’d to exhibition? All this done Upon the gad? Edmund, how now? What news? Edm. So please your lordship, none.
[Puts up the letter.] Glou. Why so earnestly seek you to put up that letter? Edm. I know no news, my lord.
Glou. What paper were you reading? Edm. Nothing, my lord.
Glou. No? What needed 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 nothing, I shall not need spectacles.
Edm. I beseech you, sir, pardon me. It is a letter from my brother
that I have not all o’er-read; and for so much as I have perus’d, I find it not fit for your o’erlooking. Glou. Give me the letter, sir.
Edm. I shall offend, either to detain or give it. The contents, as
in part I understand them, are to blame. Glou. Let’s see, let’s see!
Edm. I hope, for my brother’s justification, he wrote this but as
an essay or taste of my virtue.

Glou. (reads) ‘This policy and reverence 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 and fond bondage in the oppression of aged tyranny, who sways,
not as it hath power, but as it is suffer’d. Come to me, that
of this I may speak more. If our father would sleep till I wak’d him, you should enjoy half his revenue for ever, and live
the beloved of your brother,

Hum! Conspiracy? ‘Sleep till I wak’d 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?
Edm. It was not brought me, my lord: there’s the cunning of it. I
found it thrown in at the casement of my closet. Glou. You know the character to be your brother’s? Edm. If the matter were good, my lord, I durst swear it were his;
but in respect of that, I would fain think it were not. Glou. It is his.
Edm. It is his hand, my lord; but I hope his heart is not in the
Glou. Hath he never before sounded you in this business? Edm. Never, my lord. But I have heard him oft maintain it to be fit
that, sons at perfect age, and fathers declining, the father should be as ward to the son, and the son manage his revenue.
Glou. O villain, villain! His very opinion in the letter! Abhorred
villain! Unnatural, detested, brutish villain! worse than brutish! Go, sirrah, seek him. I’ll apprehend him. Abominable
villain! Where is he?
Edm. I do not well know, my lord. If it shall please you to suspend
your indignation against my brother till you can derive from him
better testimony of his 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 honour and shake
in pieces the heart of his obedience. I dare pawn down my life
for him that he hath writ this to feel my affection to your honour, and to no other pretence of danger. Glou. Think you so?
Edm. If your honour judge it meet, I will place you where you shall
hear us confer of this and by an auricular assurance have your
satisfaction, and that without any further delay than this very
Glou. He cannot be such a monster. Edm. Nor is not, sure.
Glou. 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 the business after your own wisdom. I would unstate
myself to be in a due resolution. Edm. I will seek him, sir, presently; convey the business as I shall find means, and acquaint you withal. Glou. These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to
us. Though the wisdom of nature can reason it thus and thus, yet
nature finds itself scourg’d by the sequent effects. Love cools,
friendship falls off, brothers divide. In cities, mutinies; in
countries, discord; in palaces, treason; and the bond crack’d
‘twixt son and father. This villain of mine comes under the prediction; 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 thee nothing; do it carefully. And the noble and true-hearted Kent banish’d! his offence, honesty! ‘Tis strange. Exit. Edm. This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are
sick in fortune, often the surfeit of our own behaviour, we make
guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars; as if
we were villains on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical pre-dominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforc’d obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine
thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whore-master man, to lay
his goatish disposition to the charge of a star! 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 have been that I am, had the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing.

Enter Edgar.

and pat! he comes, like the catastrophe of the old comedy. My
cue is villainous melancholy, with a sigh like Tom o’ Bedlam.
O, these eclipses do portend these divisions! Fa, sol, la, mi.
Edg. How now, brother Edmund? What serious contemplation are you
Edm. I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read this other day,
what should follow these eclipses. Edg. Do you busy yourself with that?
Edm. I promise you, the effects he writes of succeed unhappily: as
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. Edg. How long have you been a sectary astronomical? Edm. Come, come! When saw you my father last? Edg. The night gone by.
Edm. Spake you with him?
Edg. Ay, two hours together.
Edm. Parted you in good terms? Found you no displeasure in him by word or countenance Edg. None at all.
Edm. Bethink yourself wherein you may have offended him; and at my
entreaty forbear his presence until some little time hath qualified the heat of his displeasure, which at this instant so
rageth in him that with the mischief of your person it would scarcely allay.
Edg. Some villain hath done me wrong. Edm. That’s my fear. I pray you have a continent forbearance till
the speed of his rage goes slower; and, as I say, retire with me
to my lodging, from whence I will fitly bring you to hear my lord speak. Pray ye, go! There’s my key. If you do stir abroad,
go arm’d.
Edg. Arm’d, brother?
Edm. Brother, I advise you to the best. Go arm’d. I am no honest man
if there be any good meaning toward you. I have told you what I
have seen and heard; but faintly, nothing like the image and horror of it. Pray you, away!
Edg. Shall I hear from you anon?
Edm. I do serve you in this business. Exit Edgar.
A credulous father! and a brother noble, Whose 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.

Scene III.
The Duke of Albany’s Palace.

Enter Goneril and [her] Steward [Oswald].

Gon. Did my father strike my gentleman for chiding of his fool? Osw. Ay, madam.
Gon. 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, I 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. [Horns within.] Osw. He’s coming, madam; I hear him.
Gon. Put on what weary negligence you please, You and your fellows. I’d have it come to question. If he distaste it, let him to our sister, Whose mind and mine I know in that are one, Not to be overrul’d. 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 us’d With checks as flatteries, when they are seen abus’d. Remember what I have said.
Osw. Very well, madam.
Gon. And let his knights have colder looks among you. What grows of it, no matter. Advise your fellows so. I would breed from hence occasions, and I shall, That I may speak. I’ll write straight to my sister To hold my very course. Prepare for dinner. Exeunt.

Scene IV.
The Duke of Albany’s Palace.

Enter Kent, [disguised].

Kent. If but as well I other accents borrow, That can my speech defuse, my good intent May carry through itself to that full issue For which I raz’d my likeness. Now, banish’d Kent, If thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemn’d, So may it come, thy master, whom thou lov’st, Shall find thee full of labours.

Horns within. Enter Lear, [Knights,] and Attendants.

Lear. Let me not stay a jot for dinner; go get it ready. [Exit an Attendant.] How 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 him 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?
Kent. A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the King. Lear. If thou be’st as poor for a subject as he’s for a king, thou
art poor enough. What wouldst thou? Kent. Service.
Lear. 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.
Lear. What’s that?
Kent. Authority.
Lear. What services canst thou do? Kent. I can keep honest counsel, ride, run, mar a curious tale in
telling it and deliver a plain message bluntly. 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, sir, to love a woman for singing, nor so old to
dote on her for anything. I have years on my 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 an attendant.]

Enter [Oswald the] Steward.

You, you, sirrah, where’s my daughter? Osw. So please you- Exit. Lear. What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll back. [Exit a Knight.] Where’s my fool, ho? I think the world’s asleep.

[Enter Knight]

How now? Where’s that mongrel?
Knight. He says, my lord, your daughter is not well. Lear. Why came not the slave back to me when I call’d him? Knight. Sir, he answered me in the roundest manner, he would not.
Lear. He would not?
Knight. My lord, I know not what the matter is; but to my judgment
your Highness is not entertain’d with that ceremonious affection
as you were wont. There’s a great abatement of kindness appears
as well in the general dependants as in the Duke himself also
and your daughter.
Lear. Ha! say’st thou so?
Knight. I beseech you pardon me, my lord, if I be mistaken; for my duty cannot be silent when I think your Highness wrong’d. Lear. Thou but rememb’rest 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 pretence and purpose of unkindness. I will look further into’t. But where’s my fool? I have not seen him this two days. Knight. Since my young lady’s going into France, sir, the fool hath much pined away.
Lear. No more of that; I have noted it well. Go you and tell my daughter I would speak with her. [Exit Knight.] Go you, call hither my fool.
[Exit an Attendant.]

Enter [Oswald the] Steward.

O, you, sir, you! Come you hither, sir. Who am I, sir? Osw. My lady’s father.
Lear. ‘My lady’s father’? My lord’s knave! You whoreson dog! you
slave! you cur!
Osw. I am none of these, my lord; I beseech your pardon. Lear. Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal? [Strikes him.]
Osw. I’ll not be strucken, my lord. Kent. Nor tripp’d neither, you base football player? [Trips up his heels. Lear. I thank thee, fellow. Thou serv’st me, and I’ll love thee.
Kent. Come, sir, arise, away! I’ll teach you differences. Away, away! If you will measure your lubber’s length again, tarry; but
away! Go to! Have you wisdom? So. [Pushes him out.] Lear. Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee. There’s earnest of thy
service. [Gives money.]

Enter Fool.

Fool. Let me hire him too. Here’s my coxcomb. [Offers Kent his cap.] Lear. How now, my pretty knave? How dost thou? Fool. Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb. Kent. Why, fool?
Fool. Why? For taking one’s part that’s out of favour. Nay, an thou
canst not smile as the wind sits, thou’lt catch cold shortly.
There, take my coxcomb! Why, this fellow hath banish’d two on’s
daughters, and did the third a blessing against his will. If thou follow him, thou must needs wear my coxcomb.- How now, nuncle? Would I had two coxcombs and two daughters! Lear. Why, my boy?
Fool. If I gave them all my living, I’ld keep my coxcombs myself.
There’s mine! beg another of thy daughters. Lear. Take heed, sirrah- the whip.
Fool. Truth’s a dog must to kennel; he must be whipp’d out, when
Lady the brach may stand by th’ fire and stink. Lear. A pestilent gall to me!
Fool. Sirrah, I’ll teach thee a speech. Lear. Do.
Fool. Mark it, nuncle.
Have more than thou showest,
Speak less than thou knowest,
Lend 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, And keep in-a-door,
And thou shalt have more
Than two tens to a score.
Kent. This is nothing, fool.
Fool. Then ’tis like the breath of an unfeed lawyer- you 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 comes to. He will not believe a fool. Lear. A bitter fool!
Fool. Dost thou know the difference, my boy, between a bitter fool and a sweet fool?
Lear. No, lad; teach me.
Fool. That lord that counsell’d 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.
Lear. Dost thou call me fool, boy? Fool. All thy other titles thou hast given away; that thou wast born with.
Kent. This is not altogether fool, my lord. Fool. No, faith; lords and great men will not let me. If I had a
monopoly out, they would have part on’t. And ladies too, they
will not let me have all the fool to myself; they’ll be snatching. Give 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 i’ th’ middle and eat up the
meat, the two crowns of the egg. When thou clovest thy crown i’
th’ middle and gav’st away both parts, thou bor’st thine ass on
thy 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 whipp’d that first finds it so.

[Sings] Fools had ne’er less grace in a year, For wise men are grown foppish; They know not how their wits to wear, Their manners are so apish.

Lear. When were you wont to be so full of songs, sirrah? Fool. I have us’d it, nuncle, ever since thou mad’st thy daughters
thy mother; for when thou gav’st them the rod, and put’st down
thine own breeches,

[Sings] Then they for sudden joy did weep, And I for sorrow sung,
That 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, sirrah, we’ll have you whipp’d. Fool. I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are. They’ll have me
whipp’d for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipp’d for lying;
and sometimes I am whipp’d for holding my peace. I had rather be
any kind o’ thing than a fool! And yet I would not be thee, nuncle. Thou hast pared thy wit o’ both sides and left nothing
i’ th’ middle. Here comes one o’ the parings.

Enter Goneril.

Lear. How now, daughter? What makes that frontlet on? Methinks you
are too much o’ late i’ th’ frown. Fool. Thou wast a pretty fellow when thou hadst no need to care for
her frowning. 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. Mum, mum!

He that keeps nor crust nor crum, Weary of all, shall want some.-

[Points at Lear] That’s a sheal’d peascod. Gon. Not only, sir, this your all-licens’d fool, But other of your insolent retinue
Do hourly carp and quarrel, breaking forth In rank and not-to-be-endured 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 By your allowance; which if you should, the fault Would not scape censure, nor the redresses sleep, Which, in the tender of a wholesome weal, Might in their working do you that offence Which else were shame, that then necessity Must call discreet proceeding.
Fool. For you know, nuncle,

The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long That it had it head bit off by it young.

So out went the candle, and we were left darkling. Lear. Are you our daughter?
Gon. 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.
Fool. May not an ass know when the cart draws the horse? Whoop, Jug, I love thee!
Lear. Doth any here know me? This is not Lear. Doth Lear walk thus? speak thus? Where are his eyes? Either his notion weakens, his discernings Are lethargied- Ha! waking? ‘Tis not so! Who is it that can tell me who I am?
Fool. Lear’s shadow.
Lear. I would learn that; for, by the marks of sovereignty, Knowledge, and reason, I should be false persuaded I had daughters.
Fool. Which they will make an obedient father. Lear. Your name, fair gentlewoman?
Gon. This admiration, sir, is much o’ th’ savour Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you To understand my purposes aright.
As you are old and reverend, you should be wise. Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires; Men so disorder’d, so debosh’d, and bold That this our court, infected with their manners, Shows like a riotous inn. Epicurism and lust Make it more like a tavern or a brothel Than a grac’d palace. The shame itself doth speak For instant remedy. Be then desir’d
By her that else will take the thing she begs A little to disquantity your train,
And the remainder that shall still depend To be such men as may besort your age, Which know themselves, and you.
Lear. Darkness and devils!
Saddle my horses! Call my train together! Degenerate bastard, I’ll not trouble thee; Yet have I left a daughter.
Gon. You strike my people, and your disorder’d rabble Make servants of their betters.

Enter Albany.

Lear. Woe that too late repents!- O, sir, are you come? Is it your will? Speak, sir!- Prepare my horses. Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend, More hideous when thou show’st thee in a child Than the sea-monster!
Alb. Pray, sir, be patient.
Lear. [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.- O most small fault, How ugly didst thou in Cordelia show! Which, like an engine, wrench’d my frame of nature From the fix’d place; drew from my heart all love And added to the gall. O Lear, Lear, Lear! Beat at this gate that let thy folly in [Strikes his head.] And thy dear judgment out! Go, go, my people. Alb. My lord, I am guiltless, as I am ignorant Of what hath mov’d you.
Lear. It may be so, my lord.
Hear, Nature, hear! dear goddess, hear! Suspend 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 A babe to honour her! If she must teem, Create her child of spleen, that it may live And be a thwart disnatur’d torment to her. Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth, With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks, Turn all her mother’s pains and benefits To laughter and contempt, that she may feel How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is To have a thankless child! Away, away! Exit. Alb. Now, gods that we adore, whereof comes this? Gon. Never afflict yourself to know the cause; But let his disposition have that scope That dotage gives it.

Enter Lear.

Lear. What, fifty of my followers at a clap? Within a fortnight?
Alb. What’s the matter, sir?
Lear. I’ll tell thee. [To Goneril] Life and death! I am asham’d That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus; That these hot tears, which break from me perforce, Should make thee worth them. Blasts and fogs upon thee! Th’ untented woundings of a father’s curse Pierce every sense about thee!- Old fond eyes, Beweep this cause again, I’ll pluck ye out, And cast you, with the waters that you lose, To temper clay. Yea, is it come to this? Let it be so. Yet have I left a daughter, Who 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. Exeunt [Lear, Kent, and Attendants]. Gon. Do you mark that, my lord?
Alb. I cannot be so partial, Goneril, To the great love I bear you –
Gon. Pray you, content.- What, Oswald, ho! [To the Fool] You, sir, more knave than fool, after your master!
Fool. Nuncle Lear, nuncle Lear, tarry! Take the fool with thee.

A fox when one has caught her,
And such a daughter,
Should sure to the slaughter,
If my cap would buy a halter.
So the fool follows after. Exit. Gon. This man hath had good counsel! A hundred knights? ‘Tis politic and safe to let him keep At point a hundred knights; yes, that on every dream, Each buzz, each fancy, each complaint, dislike, He may enguard his dotage with their pow’rs And hold our lives in mercy.- Oswald, I say! Alb. Well, you may fear too far.
Gon. 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 utter’d I have writ my sister. If she sustain him and his hundred knights, When I have show’d th’ unfitness-

Enter [Oswald the] Steward.

How now, Oswald?
What, have you writ that letter to my sister? Osw. Yes, madam.
Gon. Take you some company, and away to horse! Inform her full of my particular fear, And thereto add such reasons of your own As may compact it more. Get you gone, And hasten your return. [Exit Oswald.] No, no, my lord! This milky gentleness and course of yours, Though I condemn it not, yet, under pardon, You are much more at task for want of wisdom Than prais’d for harmful mildness.
Alb. How far your eyes may pierce I cannot tell. Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well. Gon. Nay then-
Alb. Well, well; th’ event. Exeunt.

Scene V.
Court before the Duke of Albany’s Palace.

Enter Lear, Kent, and Fool.

Lear. 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 afore you.
Kent. I will not sleep, my lord, till I have delivered your letter.
Fool. If a man’s brains were in’s heels, were’t not in danger of
Lear. Ay, boy.
Fool. Then I prithee be merry. Thy wit shall ne’er go slip-shod.
Lear. Ha, ha, ha!
Fool. Shalt see thy other daughter will use thee kindly; for though
she’s as like this as a crab’s like an apple, yet I can tell what I can tell.
Lear. What canst tell, boy?
Fool. She’ll taste as like this as a crab does to a crab. Thou canst tell why one’s nose stands i’ th’ middle on’s face? Lear. No.
Fool. Why, to keep one’s eyes of 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? Lear. No.
Fool. Nor I neither; but I can tell why a snail has a house. Lear. Why?
Fool. Why, to put’s head in; not to give it away to his daughters,
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 ’em. The reason why the seven stars
are no moe than seven is a pretty reason. Lear. Because they are not eight?
Fool. Yes indeed. Thou wouldst make a good fool. Lear. To tak’t again perforce! Monster ingratitude! Fool. If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I’ld have thee beaten for being
old before thy time.
Lear. How’s that?
Fool. Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise.
Lear. O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven! Keep me in temper; I would not be mad!

[Enter a Gentleman.]

How now? Are the horses ready?
Gent. Ready, my lord.
Lear. Come, boy.
Fool. She that’s a maid now, and laughs at my departure, Shall not be a maid long, unless things be cut shorter Exeunt.


ACT II. Scene I.
A court within the Castle of the Earl of Gloucester.

Enter [Edmund the] Bastard and Curan, meeting.

Edm. Save thee, Curan.
Cur. And you, sir. I have been with your father, and given him notice that the Duke of Cornwall and Regan his Duchess will be
here with him this night.
Edm. How comes that?
Cur. Nay, I know not. You have heard of the news abroad- I mean the
whisper’d ones, for they are yet but ear-kissing arguments? Edm. Not I. Pray you, what are they?
Cur. Have you heard of no likely wars toward ‘twixt the two Dukes
of Cornwall and Albany?
Edm. Not a word.
Cur. You may do, then, in time. Fare you well, sir. Exit. Edm. The Duke be here to-night? The better! best! This weaves itself perforce into my business. My father hath set guard to take my brother; And I have one thing, of a queasy question, Which I must act. Briefness and fortune, work! Brother, a word! Descend! Brother, I say!

Enter Edgar.

My father watches. O sir, 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? He’s coming hither; now, i’ th’ night, i’ th’ haste, And Regan with him. Have you nothing said Upon his party ‘gainst the Duke of Albany? Advise yourself.
Edg. I am sure on’t, not a word.
Edm. I hear my father coming. Pardon me! In cunning I must draw my sword upon you. Draw, seem to defend yourself; now quit you well.- Yield! Come before my father. Light, ho, here! Fly, brother.- Torches, torches!- So farewell. Exit Edgar.
Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion Of my more fierce endeavour. [Stabs his arm.] I have seen drunkards
Do more than this in sport.- Father, father!- Stop, stop! No help?

Enter Gloucester, and Servants with torches.

Glou. Now, Edmund, where’s the villain? Edm. Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out, Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon To stand ‘s auspicious mistress.
Glou. But where is he?
Edm. Look, sir, I bleed.
Glou. Where is the villain, Edmund? Edm. Fled this way, sir. When by no means he could- Glou. Pursue him, ho! Go after. [Exeunt some Servants]. By no means what?
Edm. Persuade me to the murther of your lordship; But that I told him the revenging gods ‘Gainst parricides did all their thunders bend; Spoke with how manifold and strong a bond The child was bound to th’ father- sir, in fine, Seeing how loathly opposite I stood
To his unnatural purpose, in fell motion With his prepared sword he charges home My unprovided body, lanch’d mine arm; But when he saw my best alarum’d spirits, Bold in the quarrel’s right, rous’d to th’ encounter, Or whether gasted by the noise I made, Full suddenly he fled.
Glou. Let him fly far.
Not in this land shall he remain uncaught; And found- dispatch. The noble Duke my master, My worthy arch and patron, comes to-night. By his authority I will proclaim it
That he which find, him shall deserve our thanks, Bringing the murderous caitiff to the stake; He that conceals him, death.
Edm. When I dissuaded him from his intent And found him pight to do it, with curst speech I threaten’d to discover him. He replied, ‘Thou unpossessing bastard, dost thou think, If I would stand against thee, would the reposal Of any trust, virtue, or worth in thee Make thy words faith’d? No. What I should deny (As this I would; ay, though thou didst produce My very character), I’ld turn it all
To thy suggestion, plot, and damned practice; 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.’
Glou. Strong and fast’ned villain! Would he deny his letter? I never got him. Tucket within.
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 I will send far and near, that all the kingdom May have due note of him, and of my land, Loyal and natural boy, I’ll work the means To make thee capable.

Enter Cornwall, Regan, and Attendants.

Corn. How now, my noble friend? Since I came hither (Which I can call but now) I have heard strange news. Reg. If it be true, all vengeance comes too short Which can pursue th’ offender. How dost, my lord? Glou. O madam, my old heart is crack’d, it’s crack’d! Reg. What, did my father’s godson seek your life? He whom my father nam’d? Your Edgar?
Glou. O lady, lady, shame would have it hid! Reg. Was he not companion with the riotous knights That tend upon my father?
Glou. I know not, madam. ‘Tis too bad, too bad! Edm. Yes, madam, he was of that consort. Reg. No marvel then though he were ill affected. ‘Tis they have put him on the old man’s death, To have th’ expense and waste of his revenues. I have this present evening from my sister Been well inform’d of them, and with such cautions That, if they come to sojourn at my house, I’ll not be there.
Corn. Nor I, assure thee, Regan.
Edmund, I hear that you have shown your father A childlike office.
Edm. ‘Twas my duty, sir.
Glou. He did bewray his practice, and receiv’d This hurt you see, striving to apprehend him. Corn. Is he pursued?
Glou. Ay, my good lord.
Corn. If he be taken, he shall never more Be fear’d of doing harm. Make your own purpose, How in my strength you please. For you, Edmund, Whose 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.
Edm. I shall serve you, sir,
Truly, however else.
Glou. For him I thank your Grace.
Corn. You know not why we came to visit you- Reg. Thus out of season, threading dark-ey’d night. Occasions, noble Gloucester, of some poise, Wherein we must have use of your advice. Our father he hath writ, so hath our sister, Of differences, which I best 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 Your needful counsel to our business, Which craves the instant use.
Glou. I serve you, madam.
Your Graces are right welcome.
Exeunt. Flourish.

Scene II.
Before Gloucester’s Castle.

Enter Kent and [Oswald the] Steward, severally.

Osw. Good dawning to thee, friend. Art of this house? Kent. Ay.
Osw. Where may we set our horses?
Kent. I’ th’ mire.
Osw. Prithee, if thou lov’st me, tell me. Kent. I love thee not.
Osw. Why then, I care not for thee. Kent. If I had thee in Lipsbury Pinfold, I would make thee care for
Osw. Why dost thou use me thus? I know thee not. Kent. Fellow, I know thee.
Osw. What dost thou know me for?
Kent. A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a base, proud,
shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a lily-liver’d, action-taking, whoreson,
glass-gazing, superserviceable, 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, pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch;
one whom I will beat into clamorous whining, if thou deny the
least syllable of thy addition.
Osw. Why, what a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to rail on one that’s neither known of thee nor knows thee! Kent. What a brazen-fac’d varlet art thou, to deny thou knowest me!
Is it two days ago since I beat thee and tripp’d up thy heels
before the King? [Draws his sword.] Draw, you rogue! for, though
it be night, yet the moon shines. I’ll make a sop o’ th’ moonshine o’ you. Draw, you whoreson cullionly barbermonger! draw!
Osw. Away! I have nothing to do with thee. Kent. Draw, you rascal! You come with letters against the King, and
take Vanity the puppet’s part against the royalty of her father.
Draw, you rogue, or I’ll so carbonado your shanks! Draw, you rascal! Come your ways!
Osw. Help, ho! murther! help!
Kent. Strike, you slave! Stand, rogue! Stand, you neat slave! Strike! [Beats him.] Osw. Help, ho! murther! murther!

Enter Edmund, with his rapier drawn, Gloucester, Cornwall, Regan, Servants.

Edm. How now? What’s the matter? Parts [them]. Kent. With you, goodman boy, an you please! Come, I’ll flesh ye!
Come on, young master!
Glou. Weapons? arms? What’s the matter here? Corn. Keep peace, upon your lives!
He dies that strikes again. What is the matter? Reg. The messengers from our sister and the King Corn. What is your difference? Speak.
Osw. I am scarce in breath, my lord. Kent. No marvel, you have so bestirr’d your valour. You cowardly
rascal, nature disclaims in thee; a tailor made thee. Corn. Thou art a strange fellow. A tailor make a man? Kent. Ay, a tailor, sir. A stonecutter or a painter could not have
made him so ill, though he had been but two hours at the trade.
Corn. Speak yet, how grew your quarrel? Osw. This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spar’d At suit of his grey 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 jakes with him. ‘Spare my grey
beard,’ you wagtail?
Corn. Peace, sirrah!
You beastly knave, know you no reverence? Kent. Yes, sir, but anger hath a privilege. Corn. Why art thou angry?
Kent. That such a slave as this should wear a sword, Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as these, Like rats, oft bite the holy cords atwain Which are too intrinse t’ unloose; smooth every passion That in the natures of their lords rebel, Bring 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. A plague upon your epileptic visage!
Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool? Goose, an I had you upon Sarum Plain, I’ld drive ye cackling home to Camelot. Corn. What, art thou mad, old fellow?
Glou. How fell you out? Say that.
Kent. No contraries hold more antipathy Than I and such a knave.
Corn. Why dost thou call him knave? What is his fault? Kent. His countenance likes me not.
Corn. 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.
Corn. This is some fellow
Who, having been prais’d for bluntness, doth affect A saucy roughness, and constrains the garb Quite from his nature. He cannot flatter, he! An honest mind and plain- he must speak truth! An they will take it, so; if not, he’s plain. These kind of knaves I know which in this plainness Harbour more craft and more corrupter ends Than twenty silly-ducking observants
That stretch their duties nicely. Kent. Sir, in good faith, in sincere verity, Under th’ allowance of your great aspect, Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire On flickering Phoebus’ front-
Corn. What mean’st by this?
Kent. To go out of my dialect, which you discommend so much. I know, sir, I am no flatterer. He that beguil’d 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. Corn. What was th’ offence you gave him? Osw. I never gave him any.
It pleas’d the King his master very late To strike at me, upon his misconstruction; When he, conjunct, and flattering his displeasure, Tripp’d me behind; being down, insulted, rail’d And put upon him such a deal of man
That worthied him, got praises of the King For him attempting who was self-subdu’d; And, in the fleshment of this dread exploit, Drew on me here again.
Kent. None of these rogues and cowards But Ajax is their fool.
Corn. Fetch forth the stocks!
You stubborn ancient knave, you reverent braggart, We’ll teach you-
Kent. Sir, I am too old to learn.
Call not your stocks for me. I serve the King; On whose employment I was sent to you. You shall do small respect, show too bold malice Against the grace and person of my master, Stocking his messenger.
Corn. Fetch forth the stocks! As I have life and honour, There shall he sit till noon.
Reg. Till noon? Till night, my lord, and all night too! Kent. Why, madam, if I were your father’s dog, You should not use me so.
Reg. Sir, being his knave, I will. Corn. This is a fellow of the selfsame colour Our sister speaks of. Come, bring away the stocks! Stocks brought out. Glou. Let me beseech your Grace not to do so. His fault is much, and the good King his master Will check him for’t. Your purpos’d low correction Is such as basest and contemn’dest wretches For pilf’rings and most common trespasses Are punish’d with. The King must take it ill That he, so slightly valued in his messenger, Should have him thus restrain’d.
Corn. I’ll answer that.
Reg. My sister may receive it much more worse, To have her gentleman abus’d, assaulted, For following her affairs. Put in his legs.- [Kent is put in the stocks.] Come, my good lord, away.
Exeunt [all but Gloucester and Kent]. Glou. I am sorry for thee, friend. ‘Tis the Duke’s pleasure, Whose disposition, all the world well knows, Will not be rubb’d nor stopp’d. I’ll entreat for thee. Kent. Pray do not, sir. I have watch’d and travell’d hard. Some time I shall sleep out, the rest I’ll whistle. A good man’s fortune may grow out at heels. Give you good morrow!
Glou. The Duke ‘s to blame in this; ’twill be ill taken. Exit.
Kent. Good King, that must approve the common saw, Thou out of heaven’s benediction com’st To the warm sun!
Approach, 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 inform’d Of my obscured course- and [reads] ‘shall find time From this enormous state, seeking to give Losses their remedies’- All weary and o’erwatch’d, Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold This shameful lodging.
Fortune, good night; smile once more, turn thy wheel. Sleeps.

Scene III.
The open country.

Enter Edgar.

Edg. I heard myself proclaim’d,
And by the happy hollow of a tree Escap’d the hunt. No port is free, no place That guard and most unusual vigilance Does not attend my taking. Whiles 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, Brought near to beast. My face I’ll grime with filth, Blanket my loins, elf all my hair in knots, And with presented nakedness outface
The winds and persecutions of the sky. The country gives me proof and precedent Of Bedlam beggars, who, with roaring voices, Strike in their numb’d and mortified bare arms Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary; And with this horrible object, from low farms, Poor pelting villages, sheepcotes, and mills, Sometime with lunatic bans, sometime with prayers, Enforce their charity. ‘Poor Turlygod! poor Tom!’ That’s something yet! Edgar I nothing am. Exit.

Scene IV.
Before Gloucester’s Castle; Kent in the stocks.

Enter Lear, Fool, and Gentleman.

Lear. ‘Tis strange that they should so depart from home, And not send back my messenger.
Gent. As I learn’d,
The night before there was no purpose in them Of this remove.
Kent. Hail to thee, noble master!
Lear. Ha!
Mak’st thou this shame thy pastime? Kent. No, my lord.
Fool. Ha, ha! look! he wears cruel garters. Horses are tied by the
head, dogs and bears by th’ neck, monkeys by th’ loins, and men
by th’ legs. When a man’s over-lusty at legs, then he wears wooden nether-stocks.
Lear. What’s he that hath so much thy place mistook To set thee here?
Kent. It is both he and she-
Your son and daughter.
Lear. No.
Kent. Yes.
Lear. No, I say.
Kent. I say yea.
Lear. No, no, they would not!
Kent. Yes, they have.
Lear. By Jupiter, I swear no!
Kent. By Juno, I swear ay!
Lear. They durst not do’t;
They would not, could not do’t. ‘Tis worse than murther To do upon respect such violent outrage. Resolve me with all modest haste which way Thou mightst deserve or they impose this usage, Coming from us.
Kent. My lord, when at their home
I did commend your Highness’ letters to them, Ere I was risen from the place that show’d My duty kneeling, came there a reeking post, Stew’d in his haste, half breathless, panting forth From Goneril his mistress salutations; Deliver’d letters, spite of intermission, Which presently they read; on whose contents, They summon’d up their meiny, straight took horse, Commanded me to follow and attend
The leisure of their answer, gave me cold looks, And meeting here the other messenger, Whose welcome I perceiv’d had poison’d mine- Being the very fellow which of late
Display’d so saucily against your Highness- Having more man than wit about me, drew. He rais’d the house with loud and coward cries. Your son and daughter found this trespass worth The 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. Fortune, that arrant whore,
Ne’er turns the key to th’ poor.

But for all this, thou shalt have as many dolours for thy daughters as thou canst tell in a year. Lear. O, how this mother swells up toward my heart! Hysterica passio! Down, thou climbing sorrow! Thy element’s below! Where is this daughter? Kent. With the Earl, sir, here within.
Lear. Follow me not;
Stay here. Exit. Gent. Made you no more offence but what you speak of? Kent. None.
How chance the King comes with so small a number? Fool. An thou hadst been set i’ th’ stocks for that question, thou’dst well deserv’d it.
Kent. Why, fool?
Fool. We’ll set thee to school to an ant, to teach thee there’s no
labouring i’ th’ winter. All that follow their noses are led by their eyes but blind men, and there’s not a nose among twenty
but can smell him that’s stinking. Let go thy hold when a great
wheel runs down a hill, lest it break thy neck with following
it; but the great one that goes upward, 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. That sir which serves and seeks for gain, And follows but for form,
Will pack when it begins to rain And leave thee in the storm.
But I will tarry; the fool will stay, And let the wise man fly.
The knave turns fool that runs away; The fool no knave, perdy.
Kent. Where learn’d you this, fool? Fool. Not i’ th’ stocks, fool.

Enter Lear and Gloucester

Lear. Deny to speak with me? They are sick? they are weary? They have travell’d all the night? Mere fetches- The images of revolt and flying off!
Fetch me a better answer.
Glou. My dear lord,
You know the fiery quality of the Duke, How unremovable and fix’d he is
In his own course.
Lear. Vengeance! plague! death! confusion! Fiery? What quality? Why, Gloucester, Gloucester, I’ld speak with the Duke of Cornwall and his wife. Glou. Well, my good lord, I have inform’d them so. Lear. Inform’d them? Dost thou understand me, man? Glou. Ay, my good lord.
Lear. The King would speak with Cornwall; the dear father Would with his daughter speak, commands her service. Are they inform’d of this? My breath and blood! Fiery? the fiery Duke? Tell the hot Duke that- No, but not yet! May be he is not well. Infirmity doth still neglect all office Whereto our health is bound. We are not ourselves When nature, being oppress’d, commands the mind To suffer with the body. I’ll forbear; And am fallen out with my more headier will, To take the indispos’d and sickly fit For the sound man.- Death on my state! Wherefore Should he sit here? This act persuades me That this remotion of the Duke and her Is practice only. Give me my servant forth. Go tell the Duke and ‘s wife I’ld speak with them- Now, presently. Bid them come forth and hear me, Or at their chamber door I’ll beat the drum Till it cry sleep to death.
Glou. I would have all well betwixt you. Exit. Lear. O me, my heart, my rising heart! But down! Fool. Cry to it, nuncle, as the cockney did to the eels when she
put ’em i’ th’ paste alive. She knapp’d ’em o’ th’ coxcombs with
a stick and cried ‘Down, wantons, down!’ ‘Twas her brother that,
in pure kindness to his horse, buttered his hay.

Enter Cornwall, Regan, Gloucester, Servants.

Lear. Good morrow to you both.
Corn. Hail to your Grace!
Kent here set at liberty. Reg. I am glad to see your Highness.
Lear. 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, Sepulchring an adultress. [To Kent] O, are you free? Some other time for that.- Beloved Regan, Thy sister’s naught. O Regan, she hath tied Sharp-tooth’d unkindness, like a vulture, here! [Lays his hand on his heart.] I can scarce speak to thee. Thou’lt not believe With how deprav’d a quality- O Regan! Reg. I pray you, sir, take patience. I have hope You less know how to value her desert Than she to scant her duty.
Lear. Say, how is that?
Reg. I cannot think my sister in the least Would fail her obligation. If, sir, perchance She have restrain’d the riots of your followers, ‘Tis on such ground, and to such wholesome end, As clears her from all blame.
Lear. My curses on her!
Reg. O, sir, you are old!
Nature in you stands on the very verge Of her confine. You should be rul’d, and led By some discretion that discerns your state Better than you yourself. Therefore I pray you That to our sister you do make return; Say you have wrong’d her, sir.
Lear. Ask her forgiveness?
Do you but mark how this becomes the house: ‘Dear daughter, I confess that I am old. [Kneels.] Age is unnecessary. On my knees I beg That you’ll vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food.’ Reg. Good sir, no more! These are unsightly tricks. Return you to my sister.
Lear. [rises] Never, Regan!
She hath abated me of half my train; Look’d black upon me; struck me with her tongue, Most serpent-like, upon the very heart. All the stor’d vengeances of heaven fall On her ingrateful top! Strike her young bones, You taking airs, with lameness!
Corn. Fie, sir, fie!
Lear. You nimble lightnings, dart your blinding flames Into her scornful eyes! Infect her beauty, You fen-suck’d fogs, drawn by the pow’rful sun, To fall and blast her pride!
Reg. O the blest gods! so will you wish on me When the rash mood is on.
Lear. No, Regan, thou shalt never have my curse. Thy tender-hefted 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, And, in conclusion, to oppose the bolt Against my coming in. Thou better know’st The offices of nature, bond of childhood, Effects of courtesy, dues of gratitude. Thy half o’ th’ kingdom hast thou not forgot, Wherein I thee endow’d.
Reg. Good sir, to th’ purpose.
Tucket within. Lear. Who put my man i’ th’ stocks?
Corn. What trumpet’s that?
Reg. I know’t- my sister’s. This approves her letter, That she would soon be here.

Enter [Oswald the] Steward.

Is your lady come?
Lear. This is a slave, whose easy-borrowed pride Dwells in the fickle grace of her he follows. Out, varlet, from my sight!
Corn. What means your Grace?

Enter Goneril.

Lear. Who stock’d my servant? Regan, I have good hope Thou didst not know on’t.- Who comes here? O heavens! If you do love old men, if your sweet sway Allow obedience- if yourselves are old, Make it your cause! Send down, and take my part! [To Goneril] Art not asham’d to look upon this beard?- O Regan, wilt thou take her by the hand? Gon. Why not by th’ hand, sir? How have I offended? All’s not offence that indiscretion finds And dotage terms so.
Lear. O sides, you are too tough!
Will you yet hold? How came my man i’ th’ stocks? Corn. I set him there, sir; but his own disorders Deserv’d much less advancement.
Lear. You? Did you?
Reg. I pray you, father, being weak, seem so. If, 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. Lear. Return to her, and fifty men dismiss’d? No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose To wage against the enmity o’ th’ air, To be a comrade with the wolf and owl- Necessity’s sharp pinch! Return with her? Why, the hot-blooded 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 To this detested groom. [Points at Oswald.] Gon. At your choice, sir.
Lear. 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. But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter; Or rather a disease that’s in my flesh, Which I must needs call mine. Thou art a boil, A plague sore, an embossed carbuncle
In my corrupted blood. But I’ll not chide thee. Let 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, I and my hundred knights.
Reg. Not altogether so.
I look’d 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 Must be content to think you old, and so- But she knows what she does.
Lear. Is this well spoken?
Reg. I dare avouch it, sir. What, fifty followers? Is it not well? What should you need of more? Yea, or so many, sith that both charge and danger Speak ‘gainst so great a number? How in one house Should many people, under two commands, Hold amity? ‘Tis hard; almost impossible. Gon. Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance From those that she calls servants, or from mine? Reg. Why not, my lord? If then they chanc’d to slack ye, We could control them. If you will come to me (For now I spy a danger), I entreat you To bring but five-and-twenty. To no more Will I give place or notice.
Lear. I gave you all-
Reg. And in good time you gave it! Lear. Made you my guardians, my depositaries; But kept a reservation to be followed With such a number. What, must I come to you With five-and-twenty, Regan? Said you so? Reg. And speak’t again my lord. No more with me. Lear. Those wicked creatures yet do look well-favour’d When 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.
Gon. Hear, me, my lord.
What need you five-and-twenty, ten, or five, To follow in a house where twice so many Have a command to tend you?
Reg. What need one?
Lear. O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars Are 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 wear’st Which 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 man, As full of grief as age; wretched in both. If it be you that stirs these daughters’ hearts Against their father, fool me not so much To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger, And let not women’s weapons, water drops, Stain my man’s cheeks! No, you unnatural hags! I will have such revenges on you both That 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, but this heart Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws Or ere I’ll weep. O fool, I shall go mad! Exeunt Lear, Gloucester, Kent, and Fool. Storm and tempest.
Corn. Let us withdraw; ’twill be a storm. Reg. This house is little; the old man and ‘s people Cannot be well bestow’d.
Gon. ‘Tis his own blame; hath put himself from rest And must needs taste his folly.
Reg. For his particular, I’ll receive him gladly, But not one follower.
Gon. So am I purpos’d.
Where is my Lord of Gloucester?
Corn. Followed the old man forth.

Enter Gloucester.

He is return’d.
Glou. The King is in high rage.
Corn. Whither is he going?
Glou. He calls to horse, but will I know not whither. Corn. ‘Tis best to give him way; he leads himself. Gon. My lord, entreat him by no means to stay. Glou. Alack, the night comes on, and the bleak winds Do sorely ruffle. For many miles about There’s scarce a bush.
Reg. O, sir, to wilful men
The injuries that they themselves procure Must be their schoolmasters. Shut up your doors. He is attended with a desperate train, And what they may incense him to, being apt To have his ear abus’d, wisdom bids fear. Corn. Shut up your doors, my lord: ’tis a wild night. My Regan counsels well. Come out o’ th’ storm. [Exeunt.]


ACT III. Scene I.
A heath.

Storm still. Enter Kent and a Gentleman at several doors.

Kent. Who’s there, besides foul weather? Gent. One minded like the weather, most unquietly. Kent. I know you. Where’s the King?
Gent. Contending with the fretful elements; Bids the wind blow the earth into the sea, Or swell the curled waters ‘bove the main, That things might change or cease; tears his white hair, Which 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. This 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.
Kent. But who is with him?
Gent. None but the fool, who labours to outjest His heart-struck injuries.
Kent. Sir, I do know you,
And dare upon the warrant of my note Commend a dear thing to you. There is division (Although as yet the face of it be cover’d With mutual cunning) ‘twixt Albany and Cornwall; Who have (as who have not, that their great stars Thron’d and set high?) servants, who seem no less, Which are to France the spies and speculations Intelligent of our state. What hath been seen, Either in snuffs and packings of the Dukes, Or the hard rein which both of them have borne Against the old kind King, or something deeper, Whereof, perchance, these are but furnishings- But, true it is, from France there comes a power Into this scattered kingdom, who already, Wise in our negligence, have secret feet