King Lear, de William Shakespeare


 

CHARACTERS: 

LEAR, King of Britain

GONERIL (sometimes written Gonerill), eldest daughter of Lear

REGAN, second daughter of Lear

CORDELIA, youngest daughter of Lear

DUKE OF ALBANY, husband to Goneril

DUKE OF CORNWALL, husband to Regan

EARL OF GLOUCESTER (sometimes written Gloster)

EARL OF KENT, who appears throughout much of the play under the guise of Caius

EDGAR, son of Gloucester

EDMUND (sometimes written Edmond), bastard son of Gloucester 

OSWALD, steward to Goneril

FOOL

KING OF FRANCE, suitor and later husband to Cordelia

DUKE OF BURGUNDY, suitor to Cordelia

CURAN, a courtier

OLD MAN, tenant of Gloucester.

A Doctor, an Officer employed by Edmund, a Gentleman attending on Cordelia, a Herald, Servants to Cornwall. Knights of Lear's Train, Officers, Messengers, Soldiers, and Attendants 
 
 

ACT 1.  
 

Scene I.  KING LEAR's palace. 
 

Enter KENT, GLOUCESTER, and EDMUND  
 

KENT:

I thought the king had more affected the Duke of

Albany than Cornwall. 

GLOUCESTER:

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

weighed, that curiosity in neither 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. 

KENT:

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? 

KENT:

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

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, Edmund? 

EDMUND:

No, my lord. 

GLOUCESTER:

My lord of Kent: remember him hereafter as my

honourable friend. 

EDMUND:

My services to your lordship. 

KENT:

I must love you, and sue to know you better. 

EDMUND:

Sir, I shall study deserving. 

GLOUCESTER:

He hath been out nine years, and away he shall

again. The king is coming. 
 

Sennet. Enter KING LEAR, CORNWALL, ALBANY, GONERIL, REGAN, CORDELIA, and Attendants 
 

KING LEAR:

Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloucester. 

GLOUCESTER:

I shall, my liege. 
 

Exeunt GLOUCESTER and EDMUND 
 

KING LEAR:

Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.

Give me the map there. Know that 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. 

GONERIL:

Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;

Dearer than eye-sight, 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 loved, or father found;

A 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. 

KING 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. 

REGAN:

Sir, I am made

Of the self-same 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. 

CORDELIA:

[Aside] Then poor Cordelia!

And yet not so; since, I am sure, my love's

More richer than my tongue. 

KING 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 interess'd; what can you say to draw

A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak. 

CORDELIA:

Nothing, my lord. 

KING LEAR:

Nothing! 

CORDELIA:

Nothing. 

KING LEAR:

Nothing will 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. 

KING LEAR:

How, how, Cordelia! 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,

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. 

KING LEAR:

But goes thy heart with this? 

CORDELIA:

Ay, good my lord. 

KING LEAR:

So young, and so untender? 

CORDELIA:

So young, my lord, and true. 

KING 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 relieved,

As thou my sometime daughter. 

KENT:

Good my liege,  

KING LEAR:

Peace, Kent!

Come not between the dragon and his wrath.

I loved 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 with my power,

Pre-eminence, 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 the additions to a king;

The sway, revenue, execution of the rest,

Beloved sons, be yours: which to confirm,

This coronet part betwixt you. 
 

Giving the crown 
 

KENT:

Royal Lear,

Whom I have ever honour'd as my king,

Loved as my father, as my master follow'd,

As my great patron thought on in my prayers,  

KING 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 wilt 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 stoops to folly. Reverse thy doom;

And, in thy best consideration, cheque

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. 

KING LEAR:

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. 

KING LEAR:

Out of my sight! 

KENT:

See better, Lear; and let me still remain

The true blank of thine eye. 

KING LEAR:

Now, by Apollo,  

KENT:

Now, by Apollo, king,

Thou swear'st thy gods in vain. 

KING LEAR:

O, vassal! miscreant! 

Laying his hand on his sword 

ALBANY AND CORNWALL:

Dear sir, forbear. 

KENT:

Do:

Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow

Upon thy foul disease. Revoke thy doom;

Or, whilst I can vent clamour from my throat,

I'll tell thee thou dost evil. 

KING 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 revoked. 

KENT:

Fare thee well, king: sith 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 approve,

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. Re-enter GLOUCESTER, with KING OF FRANCE, BURGUNDY, and Attendants 
 

GLOUCESTER:

Here's France and Burgundy, my noble lord. 

KING LEAR:

My lord of Burgundy.

We first address towards 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? 

BURGUNDY:

Most royal majesty,

I crave no more than what your highness offer'd,

Nor will you tender less. 

KING 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 pieced,

And nothing more, may fitly like your grace,

She's there, and she is yours. 

BURGUNDY:

I know no answer. 

KING LEAR:

Will you, with those infirmities she owes,

Unfriended, new-adopted to our hate,

Dower'd with our curse, and stranger'd with our oath,

Take her, or leave her? 

BURGUNDY:

Pardon me, royal sir;

Election makes not up on such conditions. 

KING LEAR:

Then leave her, sir; for, by the power that made me,

I tell you all her wealth. 
 

To KING OF FRANCE 
 

For you, great king,

I would not from your love make such a stray,

To 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. 

KING OF 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

Could never plant in me. 

CORDELIA:

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, murder, or foulness,

No unchaste action, or dishonour'd step,

That hath deprived 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. 

KING LEAR:

Better thou

Hadst not been born than not to have pleased me better. 

KING OF 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 stand

Aloof from the entire point. Will you have her?

She is herself a dowry. 

BURGUNDY:

Royal Lear,

Give but that portion which yourself proposed,

And here I take Cordelia by the hand,

Duchess of Burgundy. 

KING LEAR:

Nothing: I have sworn; I am firm. 

BURGUNDY:

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. 

KING OF FRANCE:

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 cold'st neglect

My love should kindle to inflamed respect.

Thy dowerless daughter, king, thrown to my chance,

Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France:

Not all the dukes of waterish Burgundy

Can buy this unprized precious maid of me.

Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind:

Thou losest here, a better where to find. 

KING 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 all but KING OF FRANCE, GONERIL, REGAN and CORDELIA. 
 

KING OF FRANCE:

Bid farewell to your sisters. 

CORDELIA:

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 named. 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. 

REGAN:

Prescribe not us our duties. 

GONERIL:

Let your study

Be to content your lord, who hath received you

At fortune's alms. You have obedience scanted,

And well are worth the want that you have wanted. 

CORDELIA:

Time shall unfold what plaited cunning hides:

Who cover faults, at last shame them derides.

Well may you prosper! 

KING OF FRANCE:

Come, my fair Cordelia. 
 

Exeunt KING OF FRANCE and CORDELIA. 
 

GONERIL:

Sister, it is not a little I have to say of what

most nearly appertains to us both. I think our

father will hence to-night. 

REGAN:

That's most certain, and with you; next month with us. 

GONERIL:

You see how full of changes his age is; the

observation 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 grossly. 

REGAN:

'Tis the infirmity of his age: yet he hath ever

but slenderly known himself. 

GONERIL:

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-engraffed

condition, but therewithal the unruly waywardness

that infirm and choleric years bring with them. 

REGAN:

Such unconstant starts are we like to have from

him as this of Kent's banishment. 

GONERIL:

There is further compliment of leavetaking

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. 

REGAN:

We shall further think on't. 

GONERIL:

We must do something, and i' the heat. 

Exeunt 
 

Scene II.   The Earl of GLOUCESTER's castle. 
 

Enter EDMUND, with a letter  
 

EDMUND:

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 moon-shines

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 the 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 the legitimate: fine word, legitimate!

Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed,

And my invention thrive, Edmund the base

Shall top the legitimate. I grow; I prosper:

Now, gods, stand up for bastards! 
 

Enter GLOUCESTER 
 

GLOUCESTER:

Kent banish'd thus! and France in choler parted!

And the king gone to-night! subscribed his power!

Confined to exhibition! All this done

Upon the gad! Edmund, how now! what news? 

EDMUND:

So please your lordship, none. 
 

Putting up the letter 
 

GLOUCESTER:

Why so earnestly seek you to put up that letter? 

EDMUND:

I know no news, my lord. 

GLOUCESTER:

What paper were you reading? 

EDMUND:

Nothing, my lord. 

GLOUCESTER:

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. 

EDMUND:

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 perused, I find it not

fit for your o'er-looking. 

GLOUCESTER:

Give me the letter, sir. 

EDMUND:

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. 

EDMUND:

I hope, for my brother's justification, he wrote

this but as an essay or taste of my virtue. 

GLOUCESTER:

[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 suffered. Come to

me, that of this I may speak more. If our father

would sleep till I waked him, you should half his

revenue for ever, and live the beloved of your

brother, Edgar.'

Hum conspiracy! 'Sleep 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? 

EDMUND:

It was not brought me, my lord; there's the

cunning of it; I found it thrown in at the

casement of my closet. 

GLOUCESTER:

You know the character to be your brother's? 

EDMUND:

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. 

GLOUCESTER:

It is his. 

EDMUND:

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? 

EDMUND:

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. 

GLOUCESTER:

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? 

EDMUND:

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 shall 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 wrote this to feel my

affection to your honour, and to no further

pretence of danger. 

GLOUCESTER:

Think you so? 

EDMUND:

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 evening. 

GLOUCESTER:

He cannot be such a monster  

EDMUND:

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 the

business after your own wisdom. I would unstate

myself, to be in a due resolution. 

EDMUND:

I will seek him, sir, presently: convey the

business as I shall find 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

reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself

scourged by the sequent effects: love cools,

friendship falls off, brothers divide: in

cities, mutinies; in countries, discord; in

palaces, treason; and the bond cracked '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 banished! his

offence, honesty! 'Tis strange. 
 

Exit 
 

EDMUND:

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 moon, and the stars: as

if we were villains by necessity; fools by

heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and

treachers, by spherical predominance; drunkards,

liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedience of

planetary influence; and all that we are evil in,

by a divine thrusting on: an admirable evasion

of whoremaster 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. Tut, I should have been that I am,

had the maidenliest star in the firmament

twinkled on my bastardizing. Edgar.  
 

Enter EDGAR. 

And pat he com

es like the catastrophe of the old

comedy: my cue is villanous melancholy, with a

sigh like Tom o' Bedlam. O, these eclipses do

portend these divisions! fa, sol, la, mi. 

EDGAR:

How now, brother Edmund! what serious

contemplation are you in? 

EDMUND:

I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read

this other day, what should follow these eclipses. 

EDGAR:

Do you busy yourself about that? 

EDMUND:

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. 

EDGAR:

How long have you been a sectary astronomical? 

EDMUND:

Come, come; when saw you my father last? 

EDGAR:

Why, the night gone by. 

EDMUND:

Spake you with him? 

EDGAR:

Ay, two hours together. 

EDMUND:

Parted you in good terms? Found you no

displeasure in him by word or countenance? 

EDGAR:

None at all. 

EDMUND:

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 mischief of your person it

would scarcely allay. 

EDGAR:

Some villain hath done me wrong. 

EDMUND:

That's my fear. I pray you, have a continent

forbearance till the spied 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 armed. 

EDGAR:

Armed, brother! 

EDMUND:

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 you 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? 

EDMUND:

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 practises 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 OSWALD, her steward  
 

GONERIL:

Did my father strike my gentleman for chiding of his fool? 

OSWALD:

Yes, madam. 

GONERIL:

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. 

OSWALD:

He's coming, madam; I hear him. 
 

Horns within 
 

GONERIL:

Put on what weary negligence you please,

You and your fellows; I'll have it come to question:

If he dislike it, let him to our sister,

Whose mind and mine, I know, in that are one,

Not to be over-ruled. 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 cheques as flatteries, when they are seen abused.

Remember what I tell you. 

OSWALD:

Well, madam. 

GONERIL:

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.   A hall in the same. 
 

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 razed my likeness. Now, banish'd Kent,

If thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemn'd,

So may it come, thy master, whom thou lovest,

Shall find thee full of labours. 
 

Horns within. Enter KING LEAR, Knights, and Attendants 
 

KING 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. 

KING 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. 

KING LEAR:

What art thou? 

KENT:

A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the king. 

KING LEAR:

If thou be as poor for a subject as he is for a

king, thou art poor enough. What wouldst thou? 

KENT:

Service. 

KING LEAR:

Who wouldst thou serve? 

KENT:

You. 

KING LEAR:

Dost thou know me, fellow? 

KENT:

No, sir; but you have that in your countenance

which I would fain call master. 

KING LEAR:

What's that? 

KENT:

Authority. 

KING 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. 

KING LEAR:

How old art thou? 

KENT:

Not so young, sir, to love a woman for singing, nor

so old to dote on her for any thing: I have years

on my back forty eight. 

KING 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 
 

You, you, sirrah, where's my daughter? 

OSWALD:

So please you,  
 

Exit 
 

KING LEAR:

What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll back. 
 

Exit a Knight 
 

Where's my fool, ho? I think the world's asleep. 
 

Re-enter Knight 
 

How now! where's that mongrel? 

KNIGHT:

He says, my lord, your daughter is not well. 

KING LEAR:

Why came not the slave back to me when I called him. 

KNIGHT:

Sir, he answered me in the roundest manner, he would

not. 

KING LEAR:

He would not! 

KNIGHT:

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 of kindness appears as well in the

general dependants as in the duke himself also and

your daughter. 

KING LEAR:

Ha! sayest 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 wronged. 

KING 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 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. 

KING LEAR:

No more of that; I have noted it well. Go you, and

tell my daughter I would speak with her. 
 

Exit an Attendant 
 

Go you, call hither my fool. 
 

Exit an Attendant 

Re-enter OSWALD 
 

O, you sir, you, come you hither, sir: who am I,

sir? 

OSWALD:

My lady's father. 

KING LEAR:

'My lady's father'! my lord's knave: your

whoreson dog! you slave! you cur! 

OSWALD:

I am none of these, my lord; I beseech your pardon. 

KING LEAR:

Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal? 
 

Striking him 
 

OSWALD:

I'll not be struck, my lord. 

KENT:

Nor tripped neither, you base football player. 
 

Tripping up his heels 
 

KING LEAR:

I thank thee, fellow; thou servest 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 OSWALD out 
 

KING LEAR:

Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee: there's

earnest of thy service. 
 

Giving KENT money 

Enter Fool 
 

FOOL:

Let me hire him too: here's my coxcomb. 
 

Offering KENT his cap 
 

KING 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 has banished 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! 

KING 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. 

KING LEAR:

Take heed, sirrah; the whip. 

FOOL:

Truth's a dog must to kennel; he must be whipped

out, when Lady the brach may stand by the fire and stink. 

KING LEAR:

A pestilent gall to me! 

FOOL:

Sirrah, I'll teach thee a speech. 

KING 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 unfee'd lawyer; you

gave me nothing for't. Can you make no use of

nothing, nuncle? 

KING 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. 

KING LEAR:

A bitter fool! 

FOOL:

Dost thou know the difference, my boy, between a

bitter fool and a sweet fool? 

KING 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. 

KING 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 fool

to myself; they'll be snatching. Give me an egg,

nuncle, and I'll give thee two crowns. 

KING LEAR:

What two crowns shall they be? 

FOOL:

Why, after I have cut the egg i' the middle, and eat

up the meat, the two crowns of the egg. When thou

clovest thy crown i' the middle, and gavest away

both parts, thou borest thy ass on thy back o'er

the dirt: thou hadst little wit in thy bald crown,

when thou gavest thy golden one away. If I speak

like myself in this, let him be whipped that first

finds it so. 

Singing 

Fools had ne'er less wit in a year;

For wise men are grown foppish,

They know not how their wits to wear,

Their manners are so apish. 

KING LEAR:

When were you wont to be so full of songs, sirrah? 

FOOL:

I have used it, nuncle, ever since thou madest thy

daughters thy mothers: for when thou gavest them

the rod, and put'st down thine own breeches, 

Singing 

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. 

KING LEAR:

An you lie, sirrah, we'll have you whipped. 

FOOL:

I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are:

they'll have me whipped for speaking true, thou'lt

have me whipped for lying; and sometimes I am

whipped 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' the middle: here comes one o'

the parings. 
 

Enter GONERIL 
 

KING LEAR:

How now, daughter! what makes that frontlet on?

Methinks you are too much of late i' the 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. 
 

Pointing to KING LEAR. 
 

That's a shealed peascod. 

GONERIL:

Not only, sir, this your all-licensed 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

Will call discreet proceeding. 

FOOL:

For, you trow, nuncle,

The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long,

That it's had it head bit off by it young.

So, out went the candle, and we were left darkling. 

KING LEAR:

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. 

FOOL:

May not an ass know when the cart

draws the horse? Whoop, Jug! I love thee. 

KING 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. 

KING 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. 

KING LEAR:

Your name, fair gentlewoman? 

GONERIL:

This admiration, sir, is much o' the 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 graced palace. The shame itself doth speak

For instant remedy: be then desired

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,

And know themselves and you. 

KING LEAR:

Darkness and devils!

Saddle my horses; call my train together:

Degenerate bastard! I'll not trouble thee.

Yet have I left a daughter. 

GONERIL:

You strike my people; and your disorder'd rabble

Make servants of their betters. 
 

Enter ALBANY. 
 

KING LEAR:

Woe, that too late repents,  
 

To ALBANY 
 

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! 

ALBANY:

Pray, sir, be patient. 

KING 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!

That, like an engine, wrench'd my frame of nature

From the fix'd place; drew from heart all love,

And added to the gall. O Lear, Lear, Lear!

Beat at this gate, that let thy folly in, 
 

Striking his head 
 

And thy dear judgment out! Go, go, my people. 

ALBANY:

My lord, I am guiltless, as I am ignorant

Of what hath moved you. 

KING 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 disnatured 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 
 

ALBANY:

Now, gods that we adore, whereof comes this? 

GONERIL:

Never afflict yourself to know the cause;

But let his disposition have that scope

That dotage gives it. 
 

Re-enter KING LEAR. 
 

KING LEAR:

What, fifty of my followers at a clap!

Within a fortnight! 

ALBANY:

What's the matter, sir? 

KING LEAR:

I'll tell thee: 
 

To GONERIL. 
 

Life and death! I am ashamed

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!

The 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, it is come to this?

Let is 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 KING LEAR, KENT, and Attendants 
 

GONERIL:

Do you mark that, my lord? 

ALBANY:

I cannot be so partial, Goneril,

To the great love I bear you,  

GONERIL:

Pray you, content. What, Oswald, ho! 
 

To the Fool 
 

You, sir, more knave than fool, after your master. 

FOOL:

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,

If my cap would buy a halter:

So the fool follows after. 
 

Exit 
 

GONERIL:

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 powers,

And hold our lives in mercy. Oswald, I say! 

ALBANY:

Well, you may fear too far. 

GONERIL:

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 the unfitness,  
 

Re-enter OSWALD 
 

How now, Oswald!

What, have you writ that letter to my sister? 

OSWALD:

Yes, madam. 

GONERIL:

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 not, yet, under pardon,

You are much more attask'd for want of wisdom

Than praised for harmful mildness. 

ALBANY:

How far your eyes may pierce I can not tell:

Striving to better, oft we mar what's well. 

GONERIL:

Nay, then  

ALBANY:

Well, well; the event. 

Exeunt 
 

Scene V.   Court before the same. 
 

Enter KING LEAR, KENT, and Fool  
 

KING LEAR:

Go you before to Gloucester with these letters.

Acquaint my daughter no further with any thing 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. 
 

Exit 
 

FOOL:

If a man's brains were in's heels, were't not in

danger of kibes? 

KING LEAR:

Ay, boy. 

FOOL:

Then, I prithee, be merry; thy wit shall ne'er go

slip-shod. 

KING 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. 

KING LEAR:

Why, what canst thou tell, my boy? 

FOOL:

She will taste as like this as a crab does to a

crab. Thou canst tell why one's nose stands i'

the middle on's face? 

KING LEAR:

No. 

FOOL:

Why, to keep one's eyes of either side's nose; that

what a man cannot smell out, he may spy into. 

KING LEAR:

I did her wrong  

FOOL:

Canst tell how an oyster makes his shell? 

KING LEAR:

No. 

Fool

Nor I neither; but I can tell why a snail has a house. 

KING LEAR:

Why? 

FOOL:

Why, to put his head in; not to give it away to his

daughters, and leave his horns without a case. 

KING 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 more than seven is a pretty reason. 

KING LEAR:

Because they are not eight? 

FOOL:

Yes, indeed: thou wouldst make a good fool. 

KING LEAR:

To take 't again perforce! Monster ingratitude! 

FOOL:

If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I'ld have thee beaten

for being old before thy time. 

KING LEAR:

How's that? 

FOOL:

Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst

been wise. 

KING LEAR:

O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven

Keep me in temper: I would not be mad! 
 

Enter Gentleman 
 

How now! are the horses ready? 

GENTLEMAN:

Ready, my lord. 

KING 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 2.  
 

Scene I.   GLOUCESTER's castle.  
 

Enter EDMUND, and CURAN meets him  
 

EDMUND:

Save thee, Curan. 

CURAN:

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. 

EDMUND:

How comes that? 

CURAN:

Nay, I know not. You have heard of the news abroad;

I mean the whispered ones, for they are yet but

ear-kissing arguments? 

EDMUND:

Not I pray you, what are they? 

CURAN:

Have you heard of no likely wars toward, 'twixt the

Dukes of Cornwall and Albany? 

EDMUND:

Not a word. 

CURAN:

You may do, then, in time. Fare you well, sir. 
 

Exit 
 

EDMUND:

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' the night, i' the haste,

And Regan with him: have you nothing said

Upon his party 'gainst the Duke of Albany?

Advise yourself. 

EDGAR:

I am sure on't, not a word. 

EDMUND:

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. 
 

Wounds his arm 
 

Of my more fierce endeavour: I have seen drunkards

Do more than this in sport. Father, father!

Stop, stop! No help? 
 

Enter GLOUCESTER, and Servants with torches 
 

GLOUCESTER:

Now, Edmund, where's the villain? 

EDMUND:

Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out,

Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon

To stand auspicious mistress,  

GLOUCESTER:

But where is he? 

EDMUND:

Look, sir, I bleed. 

GLOUCESTER:

Where is the villain, Edmund? 

EDMUND:

Fled this way, sir. When by no means he could  

GLOUCESTER:

Pursue him, ho! Go after. 
 

Exeunt some Servants 
 

By no means what? 

EDMUND:

Persuade me to the murder 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 the 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, lanced mine arm:

But when he saw my best alarum'd spirits,

Bold in the quarrel's right, roused to the encounter,

Or whether gasted by the noise I made,

Full suddenly he fled. 

GLOUCESTER:

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 finds him shall deserve our thanks,

Bringing the murderous coward to the stake;

He that conceals him, death. 

EDMUND:

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 practise:

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.' 

GLOUCESTER:

Strong and fasten'd 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 the 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 
 

CORNWALL:

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:

O, madam, my old heart is crack'd, it's crack'd! 

REGAN:

What, did my father's godson seek your life?

He whom my father named? your Edgar? 

GLOUCESTER:

O, lady, lady, shame would have it hid! 

REGAN:

Was he not companion with the riotous knights

That tend upon my father? 

GLOUCESTER:

I know not, madam: 'tis too bad, too bad. 

EDMUND:

Yes, madam, he was of that consort. 

REGAN:

No marvel, then, though he were ill affected:

'Tis they have put him on the old man's death,

To have the 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. 

CORNWALL:

Nor I, assure thee, Regan.

Edmund, I hear that you have shown your father

A child-like office. 

EDMUND:

'Twas my duty, sir. 

GLOUCESTER:

He did bewray his practise; and received

This hurt you see, striving to apprehend him. 

CORNWALL:

Is he pursued? 

GLOUCESTER:

Ay, my good lord. 

CORNWALL:

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. 

EDMUND:

I shall serve you, sir,

Truly, however else. 

GLOUCESTER:

For him I thank your grace. 

CORNWALL:

You know not why we came to visit you,  

REGAN:

Thus out of season, threading dark-eyed 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 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

Your needful counsel to our business,

Which craves the instant use. 

GLOUCESTER:

I serve you, madam:

Your graces are right welcome. 

Exeunt 
 

Scene II.   Before GLOUCESTER:'s castle. 
 

Enter KENT and OSWALD, severally  
 

OSWALD:

Good dawning to thee, friend: art of this house? 

KENT:

Ay. 

OSWALD:

Where may we set our horses? 

KENT:

I' the mire. 

OSWALD:

Prithee, if thou lovest 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. 

OSWALD:

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-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a

lily-livered, action-taking knave, a whoreson,

glass-gazing, super-serviceable 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, pandar,

and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch: one whom I

will beat into clamorous whining, if thou deniest

the least syllable of thy addition. 

OSWALD:

Why, what a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to rail

on one that is neither known of thee nor knows thee! 

KENT:

What a brazen-faced varlet art thou, to deny thou

knowest me! Is it two days ago since I tripped up

thy heels, and beat thee before the king? Draw, you

rogue: for, though it be night, yet the moon

shines; I'll make a sop o' the moonshine of you:

draw, you whoreson cullionly barber-monger, draw. 
 

Drawing his sword 
 

OSWALD:

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. 

OSWALD:

Help, ho! murder! help! 

KENT:

Strike, you slave; stand, rogue, stand; you neat

slave, strike. 
 

Beating him 
 

OSWALD:

Help, ho! murder! murder! 
 

Enter EDMUND, with his rapier drawn, CORNWALL, REGAN, GLOUCESTER, and Servants 
 

EDMUND:

How now! What's the matter? 

KENT:

With you, goodman boy, an you please: come, I'll

flesh ye; come on, young master. 

GLOUCESTER:

Weapons! arms! What 's the matter here? 

CORNWALL:

Keep peace, upon your lives:

He dies that strikes again. What is the matter? 

REGAN:

The messengers from our sister and the king. 

CORNWALL:

What is your difference? speak. 

OSWALD:

I am scarce in breath, my lord. 

KENT:

No marvel, you have so bestirred your valour. You

cowardly rascal, nature disclaims in thee: a

tailor made thee. 

CORNWALL:

Thou art a strange fellow: a tailor make a man? 

KENT:

Ay, a tailor, sir: a stone-cutter or painter could

not have made him so ill, though he had been but two

hours at the trade. 

CORNWALL:

Speak yet, how grew your quarrel? 

OSWALD:

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 will give me leave, I will tread this

unbolted villain into mortar, and daub the wall of

a jakes with him. Spare my gray beard, you wagtail? 

CORNWALL:

Peace, sirrah!

You beastly knave, know you no reverence? 

KENT:

Yes, sir; but anger hath a privilege. 

CORNWALL:

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 a-twain

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 nought, like dogs, but following.

A plague upon your epileptic visage!

Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool?

Goose, if I had you upon Sarum plain,

I'ld drive ye cackling home to Camelot. 

CORNWALL:

Why, art thou mad, old fellow? 

GLOUCESTER:

How fell you out? say that. 

KENT:

No contraries hold more antipathy

Than I and such a knave. 

CORNWALL:

Why dost thou call him a knave? What's his offence? 

KENT:

His countenance likes me not. 

CORNWALL:

No more, perchance, does mine, nor his, nor 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. 

CORNWALL:

This is some fellow,

Who, having been praised 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 sooth, in sincere verity,

Under the allowance of your great aspect,

Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire

On flickering Phoebus' front,  

CORNWALL:

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 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. 

CORNWALL:

What was 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,

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-subdued;

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. 

CORNWALL:

Fetch forth the stocks!

You stubborn ancient knave, you reverend 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. 

CORNWALL:

Fetch forth the stocks! As I have life and honour,

There shall he sit till noon. 

REGAN:

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. 

REGAN:

Sir, being his knave, I will. 

CORNWALL:

This is a fellow of the self-same colour

Our sister speaks of. Come, bring away the stocks! 
 

Stocks brought out 
 

GLOUCESTER:

Let me beseech your grace not to do so:

His fault is much, and the good king his master

Will cheque him for 't: your purposed low correction

Is such as basest and contemned'st wretches

For pilferings and most common trespasses

Are punish'd with: the king must take it ill,

That he's so slightly valued in his messenger,

Should have him thus restrain'd. 

CORNWALL:

I'll answer that. 

REGAN:

My sister may receive it much more worse,

To have her gentleman abused, 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. 
 

GLOUCESTER:

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 watched 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! 

GLOUCESTER:

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 comest

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 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.   A wood. 
 

Enter EDGAR.  
 

EDGAR:

I heard myself proclaim'd;

And by the happy hollow of a tree

Escaped 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 out-face

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, sheep-cotes, 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 KING LEAR, Fool, and Gentleman  
 

KING LEAR:

'Tis strange that they should so depart from home,

And not send back my messenger. 

GENTLEMAN:

As I learn'd,

The night before there was no purpose in them

Of this remove. 

KENT:

Hail to thee, noble master! 

KING LEAR:

Ha!

Makest thou this shame thy pastime? 

KENT:

No, my lord. 

FOOL:

Ha, ha! he wears cruel garters. Horses are tied

by the heads, dogs and bears by the neck, monkeys by

the loins, and men by the legs: when a man's

over-lusty at legs, then he wears wooden

nether-stocks. 

KING 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. 

KING LEAR:

No. 

KENT:

Yes. 

KING LEAR:

No, I say. 

KENT:

I say, yea. 

KING LEAR:

No, no, they would not. 

KENT:

Yes, they have. 

KING LEAR:

By Jupiter, I swear, no. 

KENT:

By Juno, I swear, ay. 

KING LEAR:

They durst not do 't;

They could not, would not do 't; 'tis worse than murder,

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 perceived, had poison'd mine,

Being the very fellow that of late

Display'd so saucily against your highness,

Having more man than wit about me, drew:

He raised 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 the poor.

But, for all this, thou shalt have as many dolours

for thy daughters as thou canst tell in a year. 

KING 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. 

KING LEAR:

Follow me not;

Stay here. 
 

Exit 
 

GENTLEMAN:

Made you no more offence but what you speak of? 

KENT:

None.

How chance the king comes with so small a train? 

FOOL:

And thou hadst been set i' the stocks for that

question, thou hadst well deserved it. 

KENT:

Why, fool? 

FOOL:

We'll set thee to school to an ant, to teach thee

there's no labouring i' the 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 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.

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 learned you this, fool? 

FOOL:

Not i' the stocks, fool. 
 

Re-enter KING LEAR with GLOUCESTER 
 

KING 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. 

GLOUCESTER:

My dear lord,

You know the fiery quality of the duke;

How unremoveable and fix'd he is

In his own course. 

KING LEAR:

Vengeance! plague! death! confusion!

Fiery? what quality? Why, Gloucester, Gloucester,

I'ld speak with the Duke of Cornwall and his wife. 

GLOUCESTER:

Well, my good lord, I have inform'd them so. 

KING LEAR:

Inform'd them! Dost thou understand me, man? 

GLOUCESTER:

Ay, my good lord. 

KING 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 fall'n out with my more headier will,

To take the indisposed and sickly fit

For the sound man. Death on my state! wherefore 
 

Looking on KENT 
 

Should he sit here? This act persuades me

That this remotion of the duke and her

Is practise 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. 

GLOUCESTER:

I would have all well betwixt you. 
 

Exit 
 

KING 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' the paste alive; she knapped 'em

o' the 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, and Servants 
 

KING LEAR:

Good morrow to you both. 

CORNWALL:

Hail to your grace! 

KENT: is set at liberty 

REGAN:

I am glad to see your highness. 

KING 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: 
 

Points to his heart 
 

I can scarce speak to thee; thou'lt not believe

With how depraved a quality O Regan! 

REGAN:

I pray you, sir, take patience: I have hope.

You less know how to value her desert

Than she to scant her duty. 

KING LEAR:

Say, how is that? 

REGAN:

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. 

KING LEAR:

My curses on her! 

REGAN:

O, sir, you are old.

Nature in you stands on the very verge

Of her confine: you should be ruled 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. 

KING LEAR:

Ask her forgiveness?

Do you but mark how this becomes the house:

'Dear daughter, I confess that I am old; 
 

Kneeling 
 

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. 

KING LEAR:

[Rising] 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 stored vengeances of heaven fall

On her ingrateful top! Strike her young bones,

You taking airs, with lameness! 

CORNWALL:

Fie, sir, fie! 

KING LEAR:

You nimble lightnings, dart your blinding flames

Into her scornful eyes! Infect her beauty,

You fen-suck'd 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 is on. 

KING 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' the kingdom hast thou not forgot,

Wherein I thee endow'd. 

REGAN:

Good sir, to the purpose. 

KING LEAR:

Who put my man i' the stocks? 
 

Tucket within 
 

CORNWALL:

What trumpet's that? 

REGAN:

I know't, my sister's: this approves her letter,

That she would soon be here. 
 

Enter OSWALD 
 

Is your lady come? 

KING LEAR:

This is a slave, whose easy-borrow'd pride

Dwells in the fickle grace of her he follows.

Out, varlet, from my sight! 

CORNWALL:

What means your grace? 

KING LEAR:

Who stock'd my servant? Regan, I have good hope

Thou didst not know on't. Who comes here? O heavens, 
 

Enter GONERIL. 
 

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 ashamed to look upon this beard?

O Regan, wilt thou take her by the hand? 

GONERIL:

Why not by the hand, sir? How have I offended?

All's not offence that indiscretion finds

And dotage terms so. 

KING LEAR:

O sides, you are too tough;

Will you yet hold? How came my man i' the stocks? 

CORNWALL:

I set him there, sir: but his own disorders

Deserved much less advancement. 

KING LEAR:

You! did you? 

REGAN:

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. 

KING LEAR:

Return to her, and fifty men dismiss'd?

No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose

To wage against the enmity o' the 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. 
 

Pointing at OSWALD 
 

GONERIL:

At your choice, sir. 

KING 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. 

REGAN:

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. 

KING LEAR:

Is this well spoken? 

REGAN:

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. 

GONERIL:

Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance

From 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

To bring but five and twenty: to no more

Will I give place or notice. 

KING LEAR:

I gave you all  

REGAN:

And in good time you gave it. 

KING LEAR:

Made you my guardians, my depositaries;

But kept a reservation to be follow'd

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. 

KING 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. 

GONERIL:

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? 

REGAN:

What need one? 

KING 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's as 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 stir 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 KING LEAR, GLOUCESTER, KENT, and Fool 
 

Storm and tempest 

CORNWALL:

Let us withdraw; 'twill be a storm. 

REGAN:

This house is little: the old man and his people

Cannot be well bestow'd. 

GONERIL:

'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. 

GONERIL:

So am I purposed.

Where is my lord of Gloucester? 

CORNWALL:

Follow'd the old man forth: he is return'd. 
 

Re-enter GLOUCESTER. 
 

GLOUCESTER:

The king is in high rage. 

CORNWALL:

Whither is he going? 

GLOUCESTER:

He calls to horse; but will I know not whither. 

CORNWALL:

'Tis best 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 ruffle; for many miles a bout

There's scarce a bush. 

REGAN:

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 abused, wisdom bids fear. 

CORNWALL:

Shut up your doors, my lord; 'tis a wild night:

My Regan counsels well; come out o' the storm. 

Exeunt 
 

ACT 3.  
 

Scene I.   A heath. 
 

Storm still. Enter KENT and a Gentleman, meeting  
 

KENT:

Who's there, besides foul weather? 

GENTLEMAN:

One minded like the weather, most unquietly. 

KENT:

I know you. Where's the king? 

GENTLEMAN:

Contending with the fretful element:

Bids the winds blow the earth into the sea,

Or swell the curled water '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 out-scorn

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? 

GENTLEMAN:

None but the fool; who labours to out-jest

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

Throned 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 scatter'd 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. Now 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.

I 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. 

KENT:

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;

And 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? 

KENT:

Few words, but, to effect, more than all yet;

That, when we have found the king, in which your pain

That way, I'll this, he that first lights on him

Holla the other. 

Exeunt severally 
 

Scene II. Another part of the heath. Storm still. 
 

Enter KING LEAR and Fool  
 

KING LEAR:

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!

You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout

Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks!

You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,

Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,

Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,

Smite flat the thick rotundity o' the world!

Crack nature's moulds, an germens spill at once,

That make ingrateful man! 

FOOL:

O nuncle, court holy-water in a dry

house is better than this rain-water out o' door.

Good nuncle, in, and ask thy daughters' blessing:

here's a night pities neither wise man nor fool. 

KING LEAR:

Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! spout, rain!

Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters:

I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness;

I never gave you kingdom, call'd you children,

You owe me no subscription: then let fall

Your horrible pleasure: here I stand, your slave,

A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man:

But yet I call you servile ministers,

That have with two pernicious daughters join'd

Your high engender'd battles 'gainst a head

So old and white as this. O! O! 'tis foul! 

FOOL:

He that has a house to put's head in has a good

head-piece.

The cod-piece 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

Shall of a corn cry woe,

And turn his sleep to wake.

For there was never yet fair woman but she made

mouths in a glass. 

KING LEAR:

No, I will be the pattern of all patience;

I will say nothing. 
 

Enter KENT 
 

KENT:

Who's there? 

FOOL:

Marry, here's grace and a cod-piece; that's a wise

man and a fool. 

KENT:

Alas, sir, are you here? things that love night

Love not such nights as these; the wrathful skies

Gallow the very wanderers of the dark,

And make 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 never

Remember to have heard: man's nature cannot carry

The affliction nor the fear. 

KING LEAR:

Let the great gods,

That keep this dreadful pother o'er our heads,

Find out their enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch,

That hast within thee undivulged crimes,

Unwhipp'd of justice: hide thee, thou bloody hand;

Thou perjured, and thou simular man of virtue

That art incestuous: caitiff, to pieces shake,

That under covert and convenient seeming

Hast practised on man's life: close pent-up guilts,

Rive your concealing continents, and cry

These dreadful summoners grace. I am a man

More sinn'd against than sinning. 

KENT:

Alack, bare-headed!

Gracious my lord, hard by here is a hovel;

Some friendship will it lend you 'gainst the tempest:

Repose you there; while I to this hard house

More harder than the stones whereof 'tis raised;

Which even but now, demanding after you,

Denied me to come in return, and force

Their scanted courtesy. 

KING LEAR:

My wits begin to turn.

Come on, my boy: how dost, my boy? art cold?

I am cold myself. Where is this straw, my fellow?

The art of our necessities is strange,

That can make vile things precious. Come,

your hovel.

Poor fool and knave, I have one part in my heart

That's sorry yet for thee. 

FOOL:

[Singing]

He that has and a little tiny wit

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,

Must make content with his fortunes fit,

For the rain it raineth every day. 

KING LEAR:

True, my good boy. Come, bring us to this hovel. 
 

Exeunt KING LEAR and KENT 
 

FOOL:

This is a brave night to cool a courtezan.

I'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 burn'd, but wenches' suitors;

When every case in law is right;

No squire in debt, nor no poor knight;

When slanders do not live in tongues;

Nor cutpurses come not to throngs;

When usurers tell their gold i' the field;

And 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. 

Exit 
 

Scene III.   GLOUCESTER's castle. 
 

Enter GLOUCESTER and EDMUND. 

GLOUCESTER:

Alack, alack, Edmund, I like not this unnatural

dealing. When I desire their leave that I might

pity him, they took from me the use of mine own

house; charged me, on pain of their perpetual

displeasure, neither to speak of him, entreat for

him, nor any way sustain him. 

EDMUND:

Most savage and unnatural! 

GLOUCESTER:

Go to; say you nothing. There's a division betwixt

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 footed: we

must incline to the king. I will 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 it, as no less is threatened me,

the king my old master must be relieved. There is

some strange thing toward, Edmund; pray you, be careful. 
 

Exit 
 

EDMUND:

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:

The younger rises when the old doth fall. 

Exit 
 

Scene IV.   The heath. Before a hovel. 
 

Enter KING LEAR, KENT, and Fool  
 

KENT:

Here is the place, my lord; good my lord, enter:

The tyranny of the open night's too rough

For nature to endure. 
 

Storm still 
 

KING LEAR:

Let me alone. 

KENT:

Good my lord, enter here. 

KING LEAR:

Wilt break my heart? 

KENT:

I had rather break mine own. Good my lord, enter. 

KING LEAR:

Thou think'st 'tis much that this contentious storm

Invades us to the skin: so 'tis to thee;

But where the greater malady is fix'd,

The lesser is scarce felt. Thou'ldst shun a bear;

But if thy flight lay toward the raging sea,

Thou'ldst meet the bear i' the mouth. When the

mind's free,

The body's delicate: the tempest in my mind

Doth from my senses take all feeling else

Save what beats there. Filial ingratitude!

Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand

For lifting food to't? But I will punish home:

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!

Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all,

O, that way madness lies; let me shun that;

No more of that. 

KENT:

Good my lord, enter here. 

KING LEAR:

Prithee, go in thyself: seek thine own ease:

This 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. I'll pray, and then I'll sleep. 
 

Fool goes in 
 

Poor naked wretches, whereso'er you are,

That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,

How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,

Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you

From seasons such as these? O, I have ta'en

Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp;

Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,

That thou mayst shake the superflux to them,

And show the heavens more just. 

EDGAR:

[Within] Fathom and half, fathom and half! Poor Tom! 
 

The Fool runs out from the hovel 
 

Fool

Come not in here, nuncle, here's a spirit

Help me, help me! 

KENT:

Give me thy hand. Who's there? 

FOOL:

A spirit, a spirit: he says his name's poor Tom. 

KENT:

What art thou that dost grumble there i' the straw?

Come forth. 
 

Enter EDGAR disguised as a mad man 
 

EDGAR:

Away! the foul fiend follows me!

Through the sharp hawthorn blows the cold wind.

Hum! go to thy cold bed, and warm thee. 

KING LEAR:

Hast thou given all to thy two daughters?

And art thou come to this? 

EDGAR:

Who gives any thing to poor Tom? whom the foul

fiend hath led through fire and through flame, and

through ford and whirlipool e'er bog and quagmire;

that hath laid knives under his pillow, and halters

in his pew; set ratsbane by his porridge; made film

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, O, do

de, do de, do de. Bless 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, and there. 
 

Storm still 
 

KING LEAR:

What, have his daughters brought him to this pass?

Couldst thou save nothing? Didst thou give them all? 

FOOL:

Nay, he reserved a blanket, else we had been all shamed. 

KING LEAR:

Now, all the plagues that in the pendulous air

Hang fated o'er men's faults light on thy daughters! 

KENT:

He hath no daughters, sir. 

KING LEAR:

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?

Judicious punishment! 'twas this flesh begot

Those pelican daughters. 

EDGAR:

Pillicock sat on Pillicock-hill:

Halloo, halloo, loo, loo! 

FOOL:

This cold night will turn us all to fools and madmen. 

EDGAR:

Take heed o' the foul fiend: obey thy parents;

keep thy word justly; swear not; commit not with

man's sworn spouse; set not thy sweet heart on proud

array. Tom's a-cold. 

KING LEAR:

What hast thou been? 

EDGAR:

A serving-man, proud in heart and mind; that curled

my hair; wore gloves in my cap; served the lust of

my mistress' 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 contriving 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 nor the rustling of

silks betray thy poor heart to woman: keep thy foot

out of brothels, thy hand out of plackets, thy pen

from lenders' books, and defy the foul fiend.

Still through the hawthorn blows the cold wind:

Says suum, mun, ha, no, nonny.

Dolphin my boy, my boy, sessa! let him trot by. 
 

Storm still

 

KING LEAR:

Why, thou wert better in thy grave than to answer

with thy uncovered body this extremity of the skies.

Is man no more than this? Consider him well. Thou

owest the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep

no wool, the cat no perfume. Ha! 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!

come unbutton here. 
 

Tearing off his clothes 
 

FOOL:

Prithee, nuncle, be contented; 'tis a naughty night

to swim in. Now a little fire in a wild field were

like an old lecher's heart; a small spark, all the

rest on's body cold. Look, here comes a walking fire. 
 

Enter GLOUCESTER, with a torch 
 

EDGAR:

This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet: he begins

at curfew, and walks till the first cock; he gives

the web and the pin, squints the eye, and makes the

hare-lip; mildews the white wheat, and hurts the

poor creature of earth.

S. Withold footed thrice the old;

He met the night-mare, and her nine-fold;

Bid her alight,

And her troth plight,

And, aroint thee, witch, aroint thee! 

KENT:

How fares your grace? 

KING LEAR:

What's he? 

KENT:

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 in

the fury of his heart, when the foul fiend rages,

eats cow-dung for sallets; 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 to his back, six shirts to his

body, horse to ride, and weapon to wear;

But mice and rats, and such small deer,

Have been Tom's food for seven long year.

Beware my follower. Peace, Smulkin; peace, thou fiend! 

GLOUCESTER:

What, hath your grace no better company? 

EDGAR:

The prince of darkness is a gentleman:

Modo he's call'd, and Mahu. 

GLOUCESTER:

Our flesh and blood is grown so vile, my lord,

That it doth hate what gets it. 

EDGAR:

Poor Tom's a-cold. 

GLOUCESTER:

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,

Yet have I ventured to come seek you out,

And bring you where both fire and food is ready. 

KING LEAR:

First let me talk with this philosopher.

What is the cause of thunder? 

KENT:

Good my lord, take his offer; go into the house. 

KING LEAR:

I'll talk a word with this same learned Theban.

What is your study? 

EDGAR:

How to prevent the fiend, and to kill vermin. 

KING LEAR:

Let me ask you one word in private. 

KENT:

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: ah, that good Kent!

He said it would be thus, poor banish'd man!

Thou say'st the king grows mad; I'll tell thee, friend,

I am almost mad myself: I had a son,

Now outlaw'd from my blood; he sought my life,

But lately, very late: I loved him, friend;

No father his son dearer: truth to tell thee,

The grief hath crazed my wits. What a night's this!

I do beseech your grace,  

KING LEAR:

O, cry your mercy, sir.

Noble philosopher, your company. 

EDGAR:

Tom's a-cold. 

GLOUCESTER:

In, fellow, there, into the hovel: keep thee warm. 

KING LEAR:

Come let's in all. 

KENT:

This way, my lord. 

KING LEAR:

With him;

I will keep still with my philosopher. 

KENT:

Good my lord, soothe him; let him take the fellow. 

GLOUCESTER:

Take him you on. 

KENT:

Sirrah, come on; go along with us. 

KING LEAR:

Come, good Athenian. 

GLOUCESTER:

No words, no words: hush. 

EDGAR:

Child Rowland to the dark tower came,

His word was still, Fie, foh, and fum,

I smell the blood of a British man. 

Exeunt 
 

Scene V.   GLOUCESTER's castle. 
 

Enter CORNWALL and EDMUND. 
 

CORNWALL:

I will have my revenge ere I depart his house. 

EDMUND:

How, my lord, I may be censured, that nature thus

gives way to loyalty, something fears me to think

of. 

CORNWALL:

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. 

EDMUND:

How malicious is my fortune, that I must repent to

be just! This is the letter he spoke of, which

approves him an intelligent party to the advantages

of France: O heavens! that this treason were not,

or not I the detector! 

CORNWALL:

o with me to the duchess. 

EDMUND:

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. 

EDMUND:

[Aside] If I find him comforting the king, it will

stuff his suspicion more fully. 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 a

dearer father in my love. 

Exeunt 
 

Scene VI.   A chamber in a farmhouse adjoining the castle. 
 

Enter GLOUCESTER, KING LEAR, KENT, Fool, and EDGAR.  
 

GLOUCESTER:

Here is better than the open air; take it

thankfully. I will piece out the comfort with what

addition I can: I will not be long from you. 

KENT:

All the power of his wits have given way to his

impatience: the gods reward your kindness! 
 

Exit GLOUCESTER. 
 

EDGAR:

Frateretto calls me; and tells me

Nero is an angler in the lake of darkness.

Pray, innocent, and beware the foul fiend. 

FOOL:

Prithee, nuncle, tell me whether a madman be a

gentleman or a yeoman? 

KING LEAR:

A king, a king! 

FOOL:

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. 

KING LEAR:

To have a thousand with red burning spits

Come hissing in upon 'em,  

EDGAR:

The foul fiend bites my back. 

FOOL:

He's mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf, a

horse's health, a boy's love, or a whore's oath. 

KING LEAR:

It shall be done; I will arraign them straight. 
 

To EDGAR 
 

Come, sit thou here, most learned justicer; 
 

To the Fool 
 

Thou, sapient sir, sit here. Now, you she foxes! 

EDGAR:

Look, where he stands and glares!

Wantest thou eyes at trial, madam?

Come o'er the bourn, Bessy, to me,  

FOOL:

Her boat hath a leak,

And she must not speak

Why she dares not come over to thee. 

EDGAR:

The foul fiend haunts poor Tom in the voice of a

nightingale. Hopdance cries in Tom's belly for two

white herring. Croak not, black angel; I have no

food for thee. 

KENT:

How do you, sir? Stand you not so amazed:

Will you lie down and rest upon the cushions? 

KING LEAR:

I'll see their trial first. Bring in the evidence. 
 

To EDGAR 
 

Thou robed man of justice, take thy place; 
 

To the Fool 
 

And thou, his yoke-fellow of equity,

Bench by his side: 
 

To KENT 
 

you are o' the commission,

Sit you too. 

EDGAR:

Let us deal justly.

Sleepest or wakest thou, jolly shepherd?

Thy sheep be in the corn;

And for one blast of thy minikin mouth,

Thy sheep shall take no harm.

Pur! the cat is gray. 

KING LEAR:

Arraign her first; 'tis Goneril. I here take my

oath before this honourable assembly, she kicked the

poor king her father. 

FOOL:

Come hither, mistress. Is your name Goneril? 

KING LEAR:

She cannot deny it. 

FOOL:

Cry you mercy, I took you for a joint-stool. 

KING LEAR:

And here's another, whose warp'd looks proclaim

What store her heart is made on. Stop her there!

Arms, arms, sword, fire! Corruption in the place!

False justicer, why hast thou let her 'scape? 

EDGAR:

Bless thy five wits! 

KENT:

O pity! Sir, where is the patience now,

That thou so oft have boasted to retain? 

EDGAR:

[Aside] My tears begin to take his part so much,

They'll mar my counterfeiting. 

KING LEAR:

The little dogs and all, Tray, Blanch, and

Sweet-heart, 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;

Mastiff, grey-hound, mongrel grim,

Hound or spaniel, brach or lym,

Or bobtail tike or trundle-tail,

Tom will make them weep and wail:

For, with throwing thus my head,

Dogs leap the hatch, and all are fled.

Do de, de, de. Sessa! Come, march to wakes and

fairs and market-towns. Poor Tom, thy horn is dry. 

KING LEAR:

Then let them anatomize Regan; see what breeds

about her heart. Is there any cause in nature that

makes these hard hearts? 
 

To EDGAR 
 

You, sir, I entertain for one of my hundred; only I

do not like the fashion of your garments: you will

say they are Persian attire: but let them be changed. 

KENT:

Now, good my lord, lie here and rest awhile. 

KING LEAR:

Make no noise, make no noise; draw the curtains:

so, so, so. We'll go to supper i' he morning. So, so, so. 

FOOL:

And I'll go to bed at noon. 
 

Re-enter GLOUCESTER 
 

GLOUCESTER:

Come hither, friend: where is the king my master? 

KENT:

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,

And 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 assured loss: take up, take up;

And follow me, that will to some provision

Give thee quick conduct. 

KENT:

Oppressed nature sleeps:

This rest might yet have balm'd thy broken senses,

Which, if convenience will not allow,

Stand in hard cure. 
 

To the Fool 
 

Come, help to bear thy master;

Thou must not stay behind. 

GLOUCESTER:

Come, come, away. 
 

Exeunt all but EDGAR 
 

EDGAR:

When we our betters see bearing our woes,

We scarcely think our miseries our foes.

Who alone suffers suffers most i' the mind,

Leaving free things and happy shows behind:

But then the mind much sufferance doth o'er skip,

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 father'd! Tom, away!

Mark the high noises; and thyself bewray,

When false opinion, whose wrong thought defiles thee,

In thy just proof, repeals and reconciles thee.

What will hap more to-night, safe 'scape the king!

Lurk, lurk. 

Exit 
 

Scene VII.   GLOUCESTER's castle. 
 

Enter CORNWALL, REGAN, GONERIL, EDMUND, and Servants  
 

CORNWALL:

Post speedily to my lord your husband; show him

this letter: the army of France is landed. Seek

out the villain Gloucester. 
 

Exeunt some of the Servants 
 

REGAN:

Hang him instantly. 

GONERIL:

Pluck out his eyes. 

CORNWALL:

Leave him to my displeasure. Edmund, keep you our

sister company: the revenges 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 posts shall be swift and intelligent

betwixt us. Farewell, dear sister: farewell, my

lord of Gloucester. 
 

Enter OSWALD 
 

How now! where's the king? 

OSWALD:

My lord of Gloucester hath convey'd him hence:

Some five or six and thirty of his knights,

Hot questrists after him, met him at gate;

Who, with some other of the lords dependants,

Are gone with him towards Dover; where they boast

To have well-armed friends. 

CORNWALL:

Get horses for your mistress. 

GONERIL:

Farewell, sweet lord, and sister. 

CORNWALL:

Edmund, farewell. 
 

Exeunt GONERIL, EDMUND, and OSWALD 
 

Go seek the traitor Gloucester,

Pinion him like a thief, bring him before us. 
 

Exeunt other Servants 
 

Though well we may not pass upon his life

Without the form of justice, yet our power

Shall do a courtesy to our wrath, which men

May blame, but not control. Who's there? the traitor? 
 

Enter GLOUCESTER, brought in by two or three 
 

REGAN:

Ingrateful fox! 'tis he. 

CORNWALL:

Bind fast his corky arms. 

GLOUCESTER:

What mean your graces? Good my friends, consider

You are my guests: do me no foul play, friends. 

CORNWALL:

Bind him, I say. 
 

Servants bind him 
 

REGAN:

Hard, hard. O filthy traitor! 

GLOUCESTER:

Unmerciful lady as you are, I'm none. 

CORNWALL:

To this chair bind him. Villain, thou shalt find  

REGAN: plucks his beard 

GLOUCESTER:

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,

Will quicken, and accuse thee: I am your host:

With robbers' hands my hospitable favours

You should not ruffle thus. What will you do? 

CORNWALL:

Come, sir, what letters had you late from France? 

REGAN:

Be simple answerer, for we know the truth. 

CORNWALL:

And what confederacy have you with the traitors

Late footed in the kingdom? 

REGAN:

To whose hands have you sent the lunatic king? Speak. 

GLOUCESTER:

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. 

CORNWALL:

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. 

GLOUCESTER:

I am tied to the 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

In his anointed flesh stick boarish fangs.

The sea, with such a storm as his bare head

In hell-black night endured, would have buoy'd up,

And quench'd the stelled fires:

Yet, poor old heart, he holp the heavens to rain.

If wolves had at thy gate howl'd that stern time,

Thou shouldst have said 'Good porter, turn the key,'

All cruels else subscribed: but I shall see

The winged vengeance overtake such children. 

CORNWALL:

See't shalt thou never. Fellows, hold the chair.

Upon these eyes of thine I'll set my foot. 

GLOUCESTER:

He that will think to live till he be old,

Give me some help! O cruel! O you gods! 

REGAN:

One side will mock another; the other too. 

CORNWALL:

If you see vengeance,  

FIRST 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! 

FIRST SERVANT:

If you did wear a beard upon your chin,

I'd shake it on this quarrel. What do you mean? 

CORNWALL:

My villain! 
 

They draw and fight 
 

FIRST SERVANT:

Nay, then, come on, and take the chance of anger. 

REGAN:

Give me thy sword. A peasant stand up thus! 
 

Takes a sword, and runs at him behind 
 

FIRST SERVANT:

O, I am slain! My lord, you have one eye left

To see some mischief on him. O! 
 

Dies 
 

CORNWALL:

Lest it see more, prevent it. Out, vile jelly!

Where is thy lustre now? 

GLOUCESTER:

All dark and comfortless. Where's my son Edmund?

Edmund, enkindle all the sparks of nature,

To quit this horrid act. 

REGAN:

Out, treacherous villain!

Thou 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:

O my follies! then Edgar was abused.

Kind gods, forgive me that, and prosper him! 

REGAN:

Go thrust him out at gates, and let him smell

His way to Dover. 
 

Exit one with GLOUCESTER. 
 

How is't, my lord? how look you? 

CORNWALL:

I have received a hurt: follow me, lady.

Turn out that eyeless villain; throw this slave

Upon the dunghill. Regan, I bleed apace:

Untimely comes this hurt: give me your arm. 
 

Exit CORNWALL, led by REGAN 
 

SECOND SERVANT:

I'll never care what wickedness I do,

If this man come to good. 

THIRD SERVANT:

If she live long,

And in the end meet the old course of death,

Women will all turn monsters. 

SECOND SERVANT:

Let's follow the old earl, and get the Bedlam

To lead him where he would: his roguish madness

Allows itself to any thing. 

THIRD SERVANT:

Go thou: I'll fetch some flax and whites of eggs

To apply to his bleeding face. Now, heaven help him! 

Exeunt severally 
 

ACT 4.  
 

Scene I.   The heath. 
 

Enter EDGAR.  
 

EDGAR:

Yet better thus, and known to be contemn'd,

Than still contemn'd and flatter'd. 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,

Thou unsubstantial air that I embrace!

The wretch that thou hast blown unto the worst

Owes nothing to thy blasts. But who comes here? 
 

Enter GLOUCESTER, led by an Old Man 
 

My father, poorly led? World, world, O world!

But that thy strange mutations make us hate thee,

Lie would not yield to age. 

OLD MAN:

O, my good lord, I have been your tenant, and

your father's tenant, these fourscore years. 

GLOUCESTER:

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;

I stumbled when I saw: full oft 'tis seen,

Our means secure us, and our mere defects

Prove our commodities. O dear son Edgar,

The food of thy abused father's wrath!

Might I but live to see thee in my touch,

I'ld 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 than e'er I was. 

OLD MAN:

'Tis poor mad Tom. 

EDGAR:

[Aside] And worse I may be yet: the worst is not

So long as we can say 'This is the worst.' 

OLD MAN:

Fellow, where goest? 

GLOUCESTER:

Is it a beggar-man? 

OLD MAN:

Madman and beggar too. 

GLOUCESTER:

He has some reason, else he could not beg.

I' 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: I have heard

more since.

As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods.

They kill us for their sport. 

EDGAR:

[Aside] How should this be?

Bad is the trade that must play fool to sorrow,

Angering itself and others. 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,

I' the 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 times' plague, when 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 
 

GLOUCESTER:

Sirrah, naked fellow,  

EDGAR:

Poor Tom's a-cold. 
 

Aside 
 

I cannot daub it further. 

GLOUCESTER:

Come hither, fellow. 

EDGAR:

[Aside] And yet I must. Bless thy sweet eyes, they bleed. 

GLOUCESTER:

Know'st thou the way to Dover? 

EDGAR:

Both stile and gate, horse-way and foot-path. Poor

Tom hath been scared out of his good wits: bless

thee, good man's son, from the foul fiend! five

fiends have been in poor Tom at once; of lust, as

Obidicut; Hobbididence, prince of dumbness; Mahu, of

stealing; Modo, of murder; Flibbertigibbet, of

mopping and mowing, who since possesses chambermaids

and waiting-women. So, bless thee, master! 

GLOUCESTER:

Here, take this purse, thou whom the heavens' plagues

Have humbled to all strokes: that I am wretched

Makes thee the happier: heavens, deal so still!

Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man,

That slaves your ordinance, that will not see

Because he doth not feel, feel your power quickly;

So 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 fearfully in the confined deep:

Bring 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:

Poor Tom shall lead thee. 

Exeunt 
 

Scene II.   Before ALBANY's palace. 
 

Enter GONERIL and EDMUND  
 

GONERIL:

Welcome, my lord: I marvel our mild husband

Not met us on the way. 
 

Enter OSWALD 
 

Now, where's your master'? 

OSWALD:

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,

When I inform'd him, then he call'd me sot,

And told me I had turn'd the wrong side out:

What most he should dislike seems pleasant to him;

What like, offensive. 

GONERIL:

[To EDMUND] Then shall you go no further.

It 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:

I 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; 
 

Giving a favour 
 

Decline your head: this kiss, if it durst speak,

Would stretch thy spirits up into the air:

Conceive, and fare thee well. 

EDMUND:

Yours in the ranks of death. 

GONERIL:

My most dear Gloucester! 
 

Exit EDMUND 
 

O, the difference of man and man!

To thee a woman's services are due:

My fool usurps my body. 

OSWALD:

Madam, here comes my lord. 
 

Exit 

Enter ALBANY 
 

GONERIL:

I have been worth the whistle. 

ALBANY:

O Goneril!

You are not worth the dust which the rude wind

Blows in your face. I fear your disposition:

That nature, which contemns its origin,

Cannot be border'd certain in itself;

She that herself will sliver and disbranch

From her material sap, perforce must wither

And come to deadly use. 

GONERIL:

No more; the text is foolish. 

ALBANY:

Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile:

Filths savour but themselves. What have you done?

Tigers, not daughters, what have you perform'd?

A father, and a gracious aged man,

Whose reverence even the head-lugg'd 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!

If 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-liver'd man!

That bear'st a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs;

Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning

Thine honour from thy suffering; that not know'st

Fools do those villains pity who are punish'd

Ere they have done their mischief. Where's thy drum?

France spreads his banners in our noiseless land;

With plumed helm thy slayer begins threats;

Whiles thou, a moral fool, sit'st still, and criest

'Alack, why does he so?' 

ALBANY:

See thyself, devil!

Proper deformity seems not in the fiend

So horrid as in woman. 

GONERIL:

O vain fool! 

ALBANY:

Thou changed and self-cover'd thing, for shame,

Be-monster not thy feature. Were't my fitness

To let these hands obey my blood,

They are apt enough to dislocate and tear

Thy flesh and bones: howe'er thou art a fiend,

A woman's shape doth shield thee. 

GONERIL:

Marry, your manhood now  
 

Enter a Messenger 
 

ALBANY:

What news? 

MESSENGER:

O, my good lord, the Duke of Cornwall's dead:

Slain by his servant, going to put out

The other eye of Gloucester. 

ALBANY:

Gloucester’s eye! 

MESSENGER:

A servant that he bred, thrill'd with remorse,

Opposed against the act, bending his sword

To his great master; who, thereat enraged,

Flew on him, and amongst them fell'd him dead;

But not without that harmful stroke, which since

Hath pluck'd him after. 

ALBANY:

This shows you are above,

You justicers, that these our nether crimes

So speedily can venge! But, O poor Gloucester!

Lost he his other eye? 

MESSENGER:

Both, both, my lord.

This letter, madam, craves a speedy answer;

'Tis from your sister. 

GONERIL:

[Aside] One way I like this well;

But being widow, and my Gloucester with her,

May all the building in my fancy pluck

Upon my hateful life: another way,

The news is not so tart. I'll read, and answer. 
 

Exit 
 

ALBANY:

Where was his son when they did take his eyes? 

MESSENGER:

Come with my lady hither. 

ALBANY:

He is not here. 

MESSENGER:

No, my good lord; I met him back again. 

ALBANY:

Knows he the wickedness? 

MESSENGER:

Ay, my good lord; 'twas he inform'd against him;

And quit the house on purpose, that their punishment

Might have the freer course. 

ALBANY:

Gloucester, I live

To thank thee for the love thou show'dst the king,

And to revenge thine eyes. Come hither, friend:

Tell me what more thou know'st. 

Exeunt 
 

Scene III.   The French camp near Dover. 
 

Enter KENT and a Gentleman  
 

KENT:

Why the King of France is so suddenly gone back

know you the reason? 

Gentleman

Something he left imperfect in the

state, which since his coming forth is thought

of; which imports to the kingdom so much

fear and danger, that his personal return was

most required and necessary. 

KENT:

Who hath he left behind him general? 

GENTLEMAN:

The Marshal of France, Monsieur La Far. 

KENT:

Did your letters pierce the queen to any

demonstration of grief? 

GENTLEMAN:

Ay, sir; she took them, read them in my presence;

And now and then an ample tear trill'd down

Her delicate cheek: it seem'd she was a queen

Over her passion; who, most rebel-like,

Sought to be king o'er her. 

KENT:

O, then it moved her. 

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,

That play'd on her ripe lip, seem'd not to know

What guests were in her eyes; which parted thence,

As pearls from diamonds dropp'd. In brief,

Sorrow would be a rarity most beloved,

If all could so become it. 

KENT:

Made she no verbal question? 

GENTLEMAN:

'Faith, once or twice she heaved the name of 'father'

Pantingly forth, as if it press'd her heart:

Cried 'Sisters! sisters! Shame of ladies! sisters!

Kent! father! sisters! What, i' the storm? i' the night?

Let pity not be believed!' There she shook

The holy water from her heavenly eyes,

And clamour moisten'd: then away she started

To deal with grief alone. 

KENT:

It is the stars,

The stars above us, govern our conditions;

Else one self mate and mate could not beget

Such different issues. You spoke not with her since? 

GENTLEMAN:

No. 

KENT:

Was this before the king return'd? 

GENTLEMAN:

No, since. 

KENT:

Well, sir, the poor distressed Lear's i' the town;

Who sometime, in his better tune, remembers

What we are come about, and by no means

Will yield to see his daughter. 

GENTLEMAN:

Why, good sir? 

KENT:

A sovereign shame so elbows him: his own unkindness,

That stripp'd her from his benediction, turn'd her

To 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. 

GENTLEMAN:

Alack, poor gentleman! 

KENT:

Of Albany's and CORNWALL's powers you heard not? 

GENTLEMAN:

'Tis so, they are afoot. 

KENT:

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

Lending me this acquaintance. I pray you, go

Along with me. 

Exeunt 
 

Scene IV.   The same. A tent. 
 

Enter, with drum and colours, CORDELIA, Doctor, and Soldiers  
 

CORDELIA:

Alack, 'tis he: why, he was met even now

As mad as the vex'd sea; singing aloud;

Crown'd with rank fumiter and furrow-weeds,

With bur-docks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo-flowers,

Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow

In our sustaining corn. A century send forth;

Search every acre in the high-grown field,

And bring him to our eye. 
 

Exit an Officer 
 

What can man's wisdom

In the restoring his bereaved sense?

He that helps him take 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

Will close the eye of anguish. 

CORDELIA:

All blest secrets,

All you unpublish'd virtues of the earth,

Spring with my tears! be aidant and remediate

In the good man's distress! Seek, seek for him;

Lest his ungovern'd rage dissolve the life

That wants the means to lead it. 
 

Enter a Messenger 
 

MESSENGER:

News, madam;

The British powers are marching hitherward. 

CORDELIA:

'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,

But love, dear love, and our aged father's right:

Soon may I hear and see him! 

Exeunt 
 

Scene V.   GLOUCESTER's castle. 
 

Enter REGAN and OSWALD  
 

REGAN:

But are my brother's powers set forth? 

OSWALD:

Ay, madam. 

REGAN:

Himself in person there? 

OSWALD:

Madam, with much ado:

Your sister is the better soldier. 

REGAN:

Lord Edmund spake not with your lord at home? 

OSWALD:

No, madam. 

REGAN:

What might import my sister's letter 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,

To 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' the enemy. 

OSWALD:

I must needs after him, madam, with my letter. 

REGAN:

Our troops set forth to-morrow: stay with us;

The ways are dangerous. 

OSWALD:

I may not, madam:

My lady charged my duty in this business. 

REGAN:

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 had rather  

REGAN:

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? 

REGAN:

I speak in understanding; you are; I know't:

Therefore I do advise you, take this note:

My lord is dead; Edmund and I have talk'd;

And more convenient is he for my hand

Than for your lady's: you may gather more.

If 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, fare you well.

If you do chance to hear of that blind traitor,

Preferment falls on him that cuts him off. 

OSWALD:

Would I could meet him, madam! I should show

What party I do follow. 

REGAN:

Fare thee well. 

Exeunt 
 

Scene VI.   Fields near Dover. 
 

Enter GLOUCESTER, and EDGAR dressed like a peasant  
 

GLOUCESTER:

When shall we come to the top of that same hill? 

EDGAR:

You do climb up it now: look, how we labour. 

GLOUCESTER:

Methinks the ground is even. 

EDGAR:

Horrible steep.

Hark, 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:

Methinks thy voice is alter'd; and thou speak'st

In better phrase and matter than thou didst. 

EDGAR:

You're much deceived: in nothing am I changed

But in my garments. 

GLOUCESTER:

Methinks you're better spoken. 

EDGAR:

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

Hangs 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 yond tall anchoring bark,

Diminish'd to her cock; her cock, a buoy

Almost too small for sight: the murmuring surge,

That on the unnumber'd idle pebbles chafes,

Cannot be heard so high. I'll look no more;

Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight

Topple down headlong. 

GLOUCESTER:

Set me where you stand. 

EDGAR:

Give me your hand: you are now within a foot

Of the extreme verge: for all beneath the moon

Would I not leap upright. 

GLOUCESTER:

Let go my hand.

Here, 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:

Now fare you well, good sir. 

GLOUCESTER:

With all my heart. 

EDGAR:

Why I do trifle thus with his despair

Is done to cure it. 

GLOUCESTER:

[Kneeling] O you mighty gods!

This world I do renounce, and, in your sights,

Shake patiently my great affliction off:

If I could bear it longer, and not fall

To quarrel with your great opposeless wills,

My snuff and loathed part of nature should

Burn itself out. If Edgar live, O, bless him!

Now, fellow, fare thee well. 
 

He falls forward 
 

EDGAR:

Gone, sir: farewell.

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,

By this, had thought been past. Alive or dead?

Ho, you sir! friend! Hear you, sir! speak!

Thus might he pass indeed: yet he revives.

What are you, sir? 

GLOUCESTER:

Away, and let me die. 

EDGAR:

Hadst thou been aught but gossamer, feathers, air,

So many fathom down precipitating,

Thou'dst shiver'd like an egg: but thou dost breathe;

Hast heavy substance; bleed'st not; speak'st; art sound.

Ten masts at each make not the altitude

Which thou hast perpendicularly fell:

Thy life's a miracle. Speak yet again. 

GLOUCESTER:

But have I fall'n, or no? 

EDGAR:

From the dread summit of this chalky bourn.

Look 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,

When 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. 

EDGAR:

This is above all strangeness.

Upon the crown o' the cliff, what thing was that

Which parted from you? 

GLOUCESTER:

A poor unfortunate beggar. 

EDGAR:

As I stood here below, methought his eyes

Were two full moons; he had a thousand noses,

Horns whelk'd and waved like the enridged sea:

It was some fiend; therefore, thou happy father,

Think that the clearest gods, who make them honours

Of men's impossibilities, have preserved thee. 

GLOUCESTER:

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 'twould say

'The fiend, the fiend:' he led me to that place. 

EDGAR:

Bear free and patient thoughts. But who comes here? 

Enter KING LEAR, fantastically dressed with wild flowers 

The safer sense will ne'er accommodate

His master thus. 

KING LEAR:

No, they cannot touch me for coining; I am the

king himself. 

EDGAR:

O thou side-piercing sight! 

KING LEAR:

Nature's above art in that respect. There's your

press-money. That fellow handles his bow like a

crow-keeper: draw me a clothier's yard. Look,

look, a mouse! Peace, peace; this piece of toasted

cheese will do 't. There's my gauntlet; I'll prove

it on a giant. Bring up the brown bills. O, well

flown, bird! i' the clout, i' the clout: hewgh!

Give the word. 

EDGAR:

Sweet marjoram. 

KING LEAR:

Pass. 

GLOUCESTER:

I know that voice. 

KING LEAR:

Ha! Goneril, with a white beard! They flattered

me like a dog; and told me I had white hairs in my

beard ere the black ones were there. To say 'ay'

and 'no' to every thing that I said! 'Ay' and 'no'

too 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 'em, there I smelt 'em out. Go to, they are

not men o' their words: they told me I was every

thing; 'tis a lie, I am not ague-proof. 

GLOUCESTER:

The trick of that voice I do well remember:

Is 't not the king? 

KING LEAR:

Ay, every inch a king:

When I do stare, see how the subject quakes.

I pardon that man's life. What was thy cause? Adultery?

Thou shalt not die: die for adultery! No:

The wren goes to 't, and the small gilded fly

Does lecher in my sight.

Let copulation thrive; for 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 yond simpering dame,

Whose face between her forks presages snow;

That minces virtue, and does shake the head

To hear of pleasure's name;

The fitchew, nor the soiled horse, goes to 't

With a more riotous appetite.

Down from the waist they are Centaurs,

Though women all above:

But to the girdle do the gods inherit,

Beneath is all the fiends';

There's hell, there's darkness, there's the

sulphurous pit,

Burning, scalding, stench, consumption; fie,

fie, fie! pah, pah! Give me an ounce of civet,

good apothecary, to sweeten my imagination:

there's money for thee. 

GLOUCESTER:

O, let me kiss that hand! 

KING LEAR:

Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality. 

GLOUCESTER:

O ruin'd piece of nature! This great world

Shall so wear out to nought. Dost thou know me? 

KING LEAR:

I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost thou squiny

at me? No, do thy worst, blind Cupid! I'll not

love. Read thou this challenge; mark but the

penning of it. 

GLOUCESTER:

Were all the letters suns, I could not see one. 

EDGAR:

I would not take this from report; it is,

And my heart breaks at it. 

KING LEAR:

Read. 

GLOUCESTER:

What, with the case of eyes? 

KING LEAR:

O, ho, are you there with me? No eyes in your

head, 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. 

KING LEAR:

What, art mad? A man may see how this world goes

with no eyes. Look with thine ears: see how yond

justice rails upon yond simple thief. Hark, in

thine ear: change places; and, handy-dandy, which

is the justice, which is the thief? Thou hast seen

a farmer's dog bark at a beggar? 

GLOUCESTER:

Ay, sir. 

KING LEAR:

And the creature run from the cur? There thou

mightst behold the great image of authority: a

dog's obeyed in office.

Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand!

Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thine own back;

Thou hotly lust'st to use her in that kind

For which thou whipp'st her. The usurer hangs the cozener.

Through tatter'd clothes small vices do appear;

Robes and furr'd gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold,

And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks:

Arm it in rags, 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 the accuser's lips. Get thee glass eyes;

And like a scurvy politician, seem

To see the things thou dost not. Now, now, now, now:

Pull off my boots: harder, harder: so. 

EDGAR:

O, matter and impertinency mix'd! Reason in madness! 

KING LEAR:

If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes.

I know thee well enough; thy name is Gloucester,

Thou must be patient; we came crying hither:

Thou know'st, the first time that we smell the air,

We wawl and cry. I will preach to thee: mark. 

GLOUCESTER:

Alack, alack the day! 

KING LEAR:

When we are born, we cry that we are come

To this great stage of fools: this a good block;

It were a delicate stratagem, to shoe

A troop of horse with felt: I'll put 't in proof;

And when I have stol'n upon these sons-in-law,

Then, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill! 
 

Enter a Gentleman, with Attendants 
 

GENTLEMAN:

O, here he is: lay hand upon him. Sir,

Your most dear daughter  

KING LEAR:

No rescue? What, a prisoner? I am even

The natural fool of fortune. Use me well;

You shall have ransom. Let me have surgeons;

I am cut to the brains. 

GENTLEMAN:

You shall have any thing. 

KING LEAR:

No seconds? all myself?

Why, this would make a man a man of salt,

To use his eyes for garden water-pots,

Ay, and laying autumn's dust. 

GENTLEMAN:

Good sir,  

KING LEAR:

I will die bravely, like a bridegroom. What!

I will be jovial: come, come; I am a king,

My masters, know you that. 

GENTLEMAN:

You are a royal one, and we obey you. 

KING LEAR:

Then there's life in't. Nay, if you get it, you

shall get it with running. Sa, sa, sa, sa. 
 

Exit running; Attendants follow 
 

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 have brought her to. 

EDGAR:

Hail, gentle sir. 

GENTLEMAN:

Sir, speed you: what's your will? 

EDGAR:

Do you hear aught, sir, of a battle toward? 

GENTLEMAN:

Most sure and vulgar: every one hears that,

Which can distinguish sound. 

EDGAR:

But, by your favour,

How near's the other army? 

GENTLEMAN:

Near and on speedy foot; the main descry

Stands on the hourly thought. 

EDGAR:

I thank you, sir: that's all. 

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

To die before you please! 

EDGAR:

Well pray you, father. 

GLOUCESTER:

Now, good sir, what are you? 

EDGAR:

A most poor man, made tame to fortune's blows;

Who, by the art of known and feeling sorrows,

Am pregnant to good pity. Give me your hand,

I'll lead you to some biding. 

GLOUCESTER:

Hearty thanks:

The bounty and the benison of heaven

To boot, and boot! 
 

Enter OSWALD 
 

OSWALD:

A proclaim'd prize! Most happy!

That eyeless head of thine was first framed flesh

To raise my fortunes. Thou old unhappy traitor,

Briefly thyself remember: the sword is out

That must destroy thee. 

GLOUCESTER:

Now let thy friendly hand

Put strength enough to't. 
 

EDGAR interposes 
 

OSWALD:

Wherefore, bold peasant,

Darest thou support a publish'd traitor? Hence;

Lest that the infection of his fortune take

Like hold on thee. Let go his arm. 

EDGAR:

Ch'ill not let go, zir, without vurther 'casion. 

OSWALD:

Let go, slave, or thou diest! 

EDGAR:

Good gentleman, go your gait, and let poor volk

pass. An chud ha' bin zwaggered out of my life,

'twould not ha' bin zo long as 'tis by a vortnight.

Nay, come not near th' old man; keep out, che vor

ye, or ise try whether your costard or my ballow be

the harder: ch'ill be plain with you. 

OSWALD:

Out, dunghill! 

EDGAR:

Ch'ill pick your teeth, zir: come; no matter vor

your foins. 
 

They fight, and EDGAR knocks him down 
 

OSWALD:

Slave, thou hast slain me: villain, take my purse:

If 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: O, untimely death! 
 

Dies 
 

EDGAR:

I know thee well: a serviceable villain;

As duteous to the vices of thy mistress

As badness would desire. 

GLOUCESTER:

What, is he dead? 

EDGAR:

Sit you down, father; rest you

Let's see these pockets: the letters that he speaks of

May be my friends. He's dead; I am only sorry

He had no other death's-man. Let us see:

Leave, gentle wax; and, manners, blame us not:

To know our enemies' minds, we'ld rip their hearts;

Their papers, is more lawful. 
 

Reads 
 

'Let our 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 goal; from

the loathed warmth whereof deliver me, and supply

the place for your labour.

'Your wife, so I would say

'Affectionate servant,

'GONERIL.'

O undistinguish'd space of woman's will!

A plot upon her virtuous husband's life;

And the exchange my brother! 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

Of the death practised 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

Of my huge sorrows! Better I were distract:

So should my thoughts be sever'd from my griefs,

And woes by wrong imaginations lose

The knowledge of themselves. 

EDGAR:

Give me your hand: 
 

Drum afar off 
 

Far off, methinks, I hear the beaten drum:

Come, father, I'll bestow you with a friend. 

Exeunt 
 

Scene VII.  . A tent in the French camp. LEAR on a bed asleep, soft music playing; Gentleman, and others attending. 
 

Enter CORDELIA, KENT, and Doctor 
 

CORDELIA:

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. 

KENT:

To be acknowledged, madam, is o'erpaid.

All my reports go with the modest truth;

Nor more nor clipp'd, but so. 

CORDELIA:

Be better suited:

These weeds are memories of those worser hours:

I prithee, put them off. 

KENT:

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. 

CORDELIA:

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 abused nature!

The untuned and jarring 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 govern'd by your knowledge, and proceed

I' the sway of your own will. Is he array'd? 

GENTLEMAN:

Ay, madam; in the heaviness of his sleep

We put fresh garments on him. 

DOCTOR:

Be by, good madam, when we do awake him;

I doubt not of his temperance. 

CORDELIA:

Very well. 

DOCTOR:

Please you, draw near. Louder the music there! 

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! 

KENT:

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 opposed against the warring winds?

To 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 enemy's dog,

Though he had bit me, should 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

Had not concluded all. He wakes; speak to him. 

DOCTOR:

Madam, do you; 'tis fittest. 

CORDELIA:

How does my royal lord? How fares your majesty? 

KING LEAR:

You do me wrong to take me out o' the grave:

Thou art a soul in bliss; but I am bound

Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears

Do scald like moulten lead. 

CORDELIA:

Sir, do you know me? 

KING LEAR:

You are a spirit, I know: when did you die? 

CORDELIA:

Still, still, far wide! 

DOCTOR:

He's scarce awake: let him alone awhile. 

KING LEAR:

Where have I been? Where am I? Fair daylight?

I 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! 

CORDELIA:

O, look upon me, sir,

And hold your hands in benediction o'er me:

No, sir, you must not kneel. 

KING LEAR:

Pray, do not mock me:

I am a very foolish fond old man,

Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less;

And, to deal plainly,

I fear I am not in my perfect mind.

Methinks I should know you, and know this man;

Yet 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

To be my child Cordelia. 

CORDELIA:

And so I am, I am. 

KING LEAR:

Be your tears wet? yes, 'faith. I pray, weep not:

If you have poison for me, I will drink it.

I 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. 

KING LEAR:

Am I in France? 

KENT:

In your own kingdom, sir. 

KING LEAR:

Do not abuse me. 

DOCTOR:

Be comforted, good madam: the great rage,

You see, is kill'd in him: and 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. 

CORDELIA:

Will't please your highness walk? 

KING LEAR:

You must bear with me:

Pray you now, forget and forgive: I am old and foolish. 
 

Exeunt all but KENT and Gentleman 
 

GENTLEMAN:

Holds it true, sir, that the Duke of Cornwall was so slain? 

KENT:

Most certain, sir. 

GENTLEMAN:

Who is conductor of his people? 

KENT:

As 'tis said, the bastard son of Gloucester. 

GENTLEMAN:

They say Edgar, his banished son, is with the Earl

of Kent in Germany. 

KENT:

Report is changeable. 'Tis time to look about; the

powers of the kingdom approach apace. 

GENTLEMAN:

The arbitrement is like to be bloody. Fare you

well, sir. 
 

Exit 
 

KENT:

My point and period will be throughly wrought,

Or well or ill, as this day's battle's fought. 

Exit 
 

ACT 5.  
 

Scene I.  The British camp, near Dover. 
 

Enter, with drum and colours, EDMUND, REGAN, Gentlemen, and Soldiers.  
 

EDMUND:

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

And self-reproving: bring his constant pleasure. 
 

To a Gentleman, who goes out 
 

REGAN:

Our sister's man is certainly miscarried. 

EDMUND:

'Tis to be doubted, madam. 

REGAN:

Now, sweet lord,

You know the goodness I intend upon you:

Tell me but truly but then speak the truth,

Do you not love my sister? 

EDMUND:

In honour'd love. 

REGAN:

But have you never found my brother's way

To the forfended place? 

EDMUND:

That thought abuses you. 

REGAN:

I am doubtful that you have been conjunct

And bosom'd with her, as far as we call hers. 

EDMUND:

No, by mine honour, madam. 

REGAN:

I never shall endure her: dear my lord,

Be not familiar with her. 

EDMUND:

Fear me not:

She and the duke her husband! 
 

Enter, with drum and colours, ALBANY, GONERIL, and Soldiers 
 

GONERIL:

[Aside] I had rather lose the battle than that sister

Should loosen him and me. 

ALBANY:

Our very loving sister, well be-met.

Sir, this I hear; the king is come to his daughter,

With others whom the rigor of our state

Forced to cry out. Where I could not be honest,

I never yet was valiant: for this business,

It toucheth us, as France invades our land,

Not bolds the king, with others, whom, I fear,

Most just and heavy causes make oppose. 

EDMUND:

Sir, you speak nobly. 

REGAN:

Why is this reason'd? 

GONERIL:

Combine together 'gainst the enemy;

For these domestic and particular broils

Are not the question here. 

ALBANY:

Let's then determine

With the ancient of war on our proceedings. 

EDMUND:

I shall attend you presently at your tent. 

REGAN:

Sister, you'll go with us? 

GONERIL:

No. 

REGAN:

'Tis most convenient; pray you, go with us. 

GONERIL:

[Aside] O, ho, I know the riddle. I will go. 
 

As they are going out, enter EDGAR disguised 
 

EDGAR:

If e'er your grace had speech with man so poor,

Hear me one word. 

ALBANY:

I'll overtake you. Speak. 
 

Exeunt all but ALBANY and EDGAR 
 

EDGAR:

Before you fight the battle, ope this letter.

If 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 avouched there. If you miscarry,

Your business of the world hath so an end,

And machination ceases. Fortune love you. 

ALBANY:

Stay till I have read the letter. 

EDGAR:

I was forbid it.

When time shall serve, let but the herald cry,

And I'll appear again. 

ALBANY:

Why, fare thee well: I will o'erlook thy paper. 
 

Exit EDGAR 

Re-enter EDMUND. 
 

EDMUND:

The enemy's in view; draw up your powers.

Here is the guess of their true strength and forces

By diligent discovery; but your haste

Is now urged on you. 

ALBANY:

We will greet the time. 
 

Exit 
 

EDMUND:

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?

Both? one? or neither? Neither can be enjoy'd,

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

His countenance for the battle; which being done,

Let her who would be rid of him devise

His speedy taking off. As for the mercy

Which he intends to Lear and to Cordelia,

The battle done, and they within our power,

Shall never see his pardon; for my state

Stands on me to defend, not to debate. 

Exit 
 

Scene II.   A field between the two camps. 
 

Alarum within. Enter, with drum and colours, KING LEAR, CORDELIA, and Soldiers, over the stage; and exeunt  

Enter EDGAR and GLOUCESTER 
 

EDGAR:

Here, father, take the shadow of this tree

For your good host; pray that the right may thrive:

If ever I return to you again,

I'll bring you comfort. 

GLOUCESTER:

Grace go with you, sir! 
 

Exit EDGAR 

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:

Give 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;

Ripeness is all: come on. 

GLOUCESTER:

And that's true too. 

Exeunt 
 

Scene III.   The British camp near Dover. 
 

Enter, in conquest, with drum and colours, EDMUND, KING LEAR and CORDELIA, prisoners; Captain, Soldiers, & c  
 

EDMUND:

Some officers take them away: good guard,

Until their greater pleasures first be known

That are to censure them. 

CORDELIA:

We are not the first

Who, with best meaning, have incurr'd the worst.

For thee, oppressed king, am I cast down;

Myself could else out-frown false fortune's frown.

Shall we not see these daughters and these sisters? 

KING LEAR:

No, no, no, no! Come, let's away to prison:

We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage:

When 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,

Who loses and who wins; who's in, who's out;

And take upon's the mystery of things,

As if we were God's spies: and we'll wear out,

In a wall'd prison, packs and sects of great ones,

That ebb and flow by the moon. 

EDMUND:

Take them away. 

KING LEAR:

Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,

The gods themselves throw incense. Have I caught thee?

He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven,

And fire us hence like foxes. Wipe thine eyes;

The good-years shall devour them, flesh and fell,

Ere they shall make us weep: we'll see 'em starve

first. Come. 
 

Exeunt KING LEAR and CORDELIA, guarded 
 

EDMUND:

Come hither, captain; hark.

Take thou this note; 
 

Giving a paper 
 

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

Does not become a sword: thy great employment

Will not bear question; either say thou'lt do 't,

Or thrive by other means. 

CAPTAIN:

I'll do 't, my lord. 

EDMUND:

About it; and write happy when thou hast done.

Mark, I say, instantly; and carry it so

As I have set it down. 

CAPTAIN:

I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried oats;

If it be man's work, I'll do 't. 
 

Exit 

Flourish. Enter ALBANY, GONERIL, REGAN, another Captain, and Soldiers 
 

ALBANY:

Sir, you have shown to-day your valiant strain,

And fortune led you well: you have the captives

That 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. 

EDMUND:

Sir, I thought it fit

To 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,

An turn our impress'd lances in our eyes

Which do command them. With him I sent the queen;

My reason all the same; and they are ready

To-morrow, or at further space, to appear

Where you shall hold your session. At 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,

Not as a brother. 

REGAN:

That's as we list to grace him.

Methinks our pleasure might have been demanded,

Ere you had spoke so far. He led our powers;

Bore the commission of my place and person;

The which immediacy 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 addition. 

REGAN:

In my rights,

By me invested, he compeers the best. 

GONERIL:

That were the most, if he should husband you. 

REGAN:

Jesters do oft prove prophets. 

GONERIL:

Holla, holla!

That eye that told you so look'd but a-squint. 

REGAN:

Lady, I am not well; else I should answer

From a full-flowing stomach. General,

Take thou my soldiers, prisoners, patrimony;

Dispose of them, of me; the walls are thine:

Witness the world, that I create thee here

My lord and master. 

GONERIL:

Mean you to enjoy him? 

ALBANY:

The let-alone lies not in your good will. 

EDMUND:

Nor in thine, lord. 

ALBANY:

Half-blooded fellow, yes. 

REGAN:

[To EDMUND] Let the drum strike, and prove my title thine. 

ALBANY:

Stay yet; hear reason. Edmund, I arrest thee

On capital treason; and, in thine attaint,

This gilded serpent 

Pointing to GONERIL. 

For your claim, fair sister,

I bar it in the interest of my wife:

'Tis she is sub-contracted to this lord,

And I, her husband, contradict your bans.

If you will marry, make your loves to me,

My lady is bespoke. 

GONERIL:

An interlude! 

ALBANY:

Thou art arm'd, Gloucester: let the trumpet sound:

If none appear to prove upon thy head

Thy heinous, manifest, and many treasons,

There is my pledge; 
 

Throwing down a glove 
 

I'll prove it on thy heart,

Ere I taste bread, thou art in nothing less

Than I have here proclaim'd thee. 

REGAN:

Sick, O, sick! 

GONERIL:

[Aside] If not, I'll ne'er trust medicine. 

EDMUND:

There's my exchange: 
 

Throwing down a glove 
 

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 honour firmly. 

ALBANY:

A herald, ho! 

EDMUND:

A herald, ho, a herald! 

ALBANY:

Trust to thy single virtue; for thy soldiers,

All levied in my name, have in my name

Took their discharge. 

REGAN:

My sickness grows upon me. 

ALBANY:

She is not well; convey her to my tent. 
 

Exit REGAN, led 

Enter a Herald 
 

Come hither, herald, Let the trumpet sound,

And read out this. 

CAPTAIN:

Sound, trumpet! 

A trumpet sounds 

HERALD:

[Reads] 'If any man of quality or degree within

the lists of the army will maintain upon Edmund,

supposed Earl of Gloucester, that he is a manifold

traitor, let him appear by the third sound of the

trumpet: he is bold in his defence.' 

EDMUND:

Sound! 

First trumpet 

HERALD:

Again! 

Second trumpet 

HERALD:

Again! 

Third trumpet 

Trumpet answers within 

Enter EDGAR, at the third sound, armed, with a trumpet before him 
 

ALBANY:

Ask him his purposes, why he appears

Upon this call o' the trumpet. 

HERALD:

What are you?

Your name, your quality? and why you answer

This present summons? 

EDGAR:

Know, my name is lost;

By treason's tooth bare-gnawn and canker-bit:

Yet am I noble as the adversary

I come to cope. 

ALBANY:

Which is that adversary? 

EDGAR:

What's he that speaks for Edmund Earl of Gloucester? 

EDMUND:

Himself: what say'st thou to him? 

EDGAR:

Draw thy sword,

That, if my speech offend a noble heart,

Thy arm may do thee justice: here is mine.

Behold, it is the privilege of mine honours,

My oath, and my profession: I protest,

Maugre thy strength, youth, place, and eminence,

Despite thy victor sword and fire-new fortune,

Thy valour and thy heart, thou art a traitor;

False to thy gods, thy brother, and thy father;

Conspirant 'gainst this high-illustrious prince;

And, from the extremest upward of thy head

To the descent and dust below thy foot,

A most toad-spotted traitor. Say thou 'No,'

This sword, this arm, and my best spirits, are bent

To prove upon thy heart, whereto I speak,

Thou liest. 

EDMUND:

In wisdom I should ask thy name;

But, since thy outside looks so fair and warlike,

And that thy tongue some say of breeding breathes,

What safe and nicely I might well delay

By rule of knighthood, I disdain and spurn:

Back do I toss these treasons to thy head;

With the hell-hated lie o'erwhelm thy heart;

Which, for they yet glance by and scarcely bruise,

This sword of mine shall give them instant way,

Where they shall rest for ever. Trumpets, speak! 
 

Alarums. They fight. EDMUND falls 
 

ALBANY:

Save him, save him! 

GONERIL:

This is practise, Gloucester

By the law of arms thou wast not bound to answer

An unknown opposite; thou art not vanquish'd,

But cozen'd and beguiled. 

ALBANY:

Shut your mouth, dame,

Or with this paper shall I stop it: Hold, sir:

Thou worse than any name, read thine own evil:

No tearing, lady: I perceive you know it. 
 

Gives the letter to EDMUND 
 

GONERIL:

Say, if I do, the laws are mine, not thine:

Who can arraign me for't. 

ALBANY:

Most monstrous! oh!

Know'st thou this paper? 

GONERIL:

Ask me not what I know. 
 

Exit 
 

ALBANY:

Go after her: she's desperate; govern her. 

EDMUND:

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. But what art thou

That hast this fortune on me? If thou'rt 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 wrong'd me.

My name is Edgar, and thy father's son.

The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices

Make instruments to plague us:

The dark and vicious place where thee he got

Cost him his eyes. 

EDMUND:

Thou hast spoken right, 'tis true;

The wheel is come full circle: I am here. 

ALBANY:

Methought thy very gait did prophesy

A royal nobleness: I must embrace thee:

Let sorrow split my heart, if ever I

Did 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;

And when 'tis told, O, that my heart would burst!

The bloody proclamation to escape,

That follow'd me so near, O, our lives' sweetness!

That we the pain of death would hourly die

Rather than die at once! taught me to shift

Into a madman's rags; to assume a semblance

That very dogs disdain'd: and in this habit

Met I my father with his bleeding rings,

Their precious stones new lost: became his guide,

Led him, begg'd for him, saved him from despair;

Never, O fault! reveal'd myself unto him,

Until some half-hour past, when I was arm'd:

Not sure, though hoping, of this good success,

I ask'd his blessing, and from first to last

Told him my pilgrimage: but his flaw'd heart,

Alack, too weak the conflict to support!

'Twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief,

Burst smilingly. 

EDMUND:

This speech of yours hath moved me,

And shall perchance do good: but speak you on;

You 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. 

EDGAR:

This would have seem'd 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 clamour came there in a man,

Who, having seen me in my worst estate,

Shunn'd my abhorr'd society; but then, finding

Who 'twas that so endured, with his strong arms

He fastened on my neck, and bellow'd out

As he'ld burst heaven; threw him on my father;

Told 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. 

ALBANY:

But who was this? 

EDGAR:

Kent, sir, the banish'd Kent; who in disguise

Follow'd his enemy king, and did him service

Improper for a slave. 
 

Enter a Gentleman, with a bloody knife 
 

GENTLEMAN:

Help, help, O, help! 

EDGAR:

What kind of help? 

ALBANY:

Speak, man. 

EDGAR:

What means that bloody knife? 

GENTLEMAN:

'Tis hot, it smokes;

It came even from the heart of O, she's dead! 

ALBANY:

Who dead? speak, man. 

GENTLEMAN:

Your lady, sir, your lady: and her sister

By her is poisoned; she hath confess'd it. 

EDMUND:

I was contracted to them both: all three

Now marry in an instant. 

EDGAR:

Here comes Kent. 

ALBANY:

Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead:

This judgment of the heavens, that makes us tremble,

Touches us not with pity. 
 

Exit Gentleman 

Enter KENT 
 

O, is this he?

The time will not allow the compliment

Which very manners urges. 

KENT:

I am come

To 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?

See'st thou this object, Kent? 
 

The bodies of GONERIL and REGAN are brought in 
 

KENT:

Alack, why thus? 

EDMUND:

Yet Edmund was beloved:

The one the other poison'd for my sake,

And after slew herself. 

ALBANY:

Even so. Cover their faces. 

EDMUND:

I pant for life: some good I mean to do,

Despite of mine own nature. Quickly send,

Be brief in it, to the castle; for my writ

Is on the life of Lear and on Cordelia

Nay, send in time. 

ALBANY:

Run, run, O, run! 

EDGAR:

To who, my lord? Who hath the office? send

Thy token of reprieve. 

EDMUND:

Well thought on: take my sword,

Give it the captain. 

ALBANY:

Haste thee, for thy life. 
 

Exit EDGAR 
 

EDMUND:

He hath commission from thy wife and me

To hang Cordelia in the prison, and

To lay the blame upon her own despair,

That she fordid herself. 

ALBANY:

The gods defend her! Bear him hence awhile. 

EDMUND: is borne off 
 

Re-enter KING LEAR, with CORDELIA dead in his arms; EDGAR, Captain, and others following 
 

KING LEAR:

Howl, howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stones:

Had I your tongues and eyes, I'ld use them so

That heaven's vault should crack. She's gone for ever!

I know when one is dead, and when one lives;

She's dead as earth. Lend me a looking-glass;

If that her breath will mist or stain the stone,

Why, then she lives. 

KENT:

Is this the promised end 

EDGAR:

Or image of that horror? 

ALBANY:

Fall, and cease! 

KING LEAR:

This feather stirs; she lives! if it be so,

It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows

That ever I have felt. 

KENT:

[Kneeling] O my good master! 

KING LEAR:

Prithee, away. 

EDGAR:

'Tis noble Kent, your friend. 

KING LEAR:

A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all!

I might have saved her; now she's gone for ever!

Cordelia, Cordelia! stay a little. Ha!

What is't thou say'st? Her voice was ever soft,

Gentle, and low, an excellent thing in woman.

I kill'd the slave that was a-hanging thee. 

CAPTAIN:

'Tis true, my lords, he did. 

KING LEAR:

Did I not, fellow?

I have seen the day, with my good biting falchion

I would have made them skip: I am old now,

And these same crosses spoil me. Who are you?

Mine eyes are not o' the best: I'll tell you straight. 

KENT:

If fortune brag of two she loved and hated,

One of them we behold. 

KING LEAR:

This is a dull sight. Are you not Kent? 

KENT:

The same,

Your servant Kent. Where is your servant Caius? 

KING LEAR:

He's a good fellow, I can tell you that;

He'll strike, and quickly too: he's dead and rotten. 

KENT:

No, my good lord; I am the very man,  

KING LEAR:

I'll see that straight. 

KENT:

That, from your first of difference and decay,

Have follow'd your sad steps. 

KING LEAR:

You are welcome hither. 

KENT:

Nor no man else: all's cheerless, dark, and deadly.

Your eldest daughters have fordone them selves,

And desperately are dead. 

KING LEAR:

Ay, so I think. 

ALBANY:

He knows not what he says: and vain it is

That we present us to him. 

EDGAR:

Very bootless. 
 

Enter a Captain 
 

CAPTAIN:

Edmund is dead, my lord. 

ALBANY:

That's but a trifle here.

You lords and noble friends, know our intent.

What comfort to this great decay may come

Shall be applied: for us we will resign,

During the life of this old majesty,

To him our absolute power: 
 

To EDGAR and KENT 
 

you, to your rights:

With boot, and such addition as your honours

Have more than merited. All friends shall taste

The wages of their virtue, and all foes

The cup of their deservings. O, see, see! 

KING LEAR:

And my poor fool is hang'd! No, no, no life!

Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life,

And thou no breath at all? Thou'lt come no more,

Never, never, never, never, never!

Pray you, undo this button: thank you, sir.

Do you see this? Look on her, look, her lips,

Look there, look there! 
 

Dies 
 

EDGAR:

He faints! My lord, my lord! 

KENT:

Break, heart; I prithee, break! 

EDGAR:

Look up, my lord. 

KENT:

Vex not his ghost: O, let him pass! he hates him much

That would upon the rack of this tough world

Stretch him out longer. 

EDGAR:

He is gone, indeed. 

KENT:

The wonder is, he hath endured so long:

He but usurp'd his life. 

ALBANY:

Bear them from hence. Our present business

Is general woe. 
 

To KENT and EDGAR 
 

Friends of my soul, you twain

Rule in this realm, and the gored state sustain. 

KENT:

I have a journey, sir, shortly to go;

My master calls me, I must not say no. 

ALBANY:

The weight of this sad time we must obey;

Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.

The oldest hath borne most: we that are young

Shall never see so much, nor live so long. 

Exeunt, with a dead march 
 

THE END

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