The Tragedy of King Lear
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DRAMATIS PERSONAE (Persons Represented):
- Lear, King of Britain.
- King of France.
- Duke of Burgundy.
- Duke of Cornwall.
- Duke of Albany.
- Earl of Kent.
- Earl of Gloucester.
- Edgar, Son to Gloucester.
- Edmund, Bastard Son to Gloucester.
- Curan, a Courtier.
- Old Man, Tenant to Gloucester.
- Oswald, steward to Goneril.
- An Officer employed by Edmund.
- Gentleman, attendant on Cordelia.
- A Herald.
- Servants to Cornwall.
- Goneril, daughter to Lear.
- Regan, daughter to Lear.
- Cordelia, daughter to Lear.
- Knights attending on the King, Officers, Messengers, Soldiers, and Attendants.
- 1 ACT I.
- 2 ACT II.
- 3 ACT III.
- 3.1 Scene I. A Heath.
- 3.2 Scene II. Another part of the heath. Storm continues.
- 3.3 Scene III. A Room in Gloucester's Castle.
- 3.4 Scene IV. A part of the Heath with a Hovel. Storm continues.
- 3.5 Scene V. A Room in Gloucester's Castle.
- 3.6 Scene VI. A Chamber in a Farmhouse adjoining the Castle.
- 3.7 Scene VII. A Room in Gloucester's Castle.
- 4 ACT IV.
- 5 ACT V.
Scene I. A Room of State in King Lear's Palace.
[Enter Kent, Gloucester, and Edmund]
- I thought the King had more affected the Duke of Albany than
- 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.
- Is not this your son, my lord?
- His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge: I have so often
- blush'd to acknowledge him that now I am braz'd to't.
- I cannot conceive you.
- 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?
- I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper.
- 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,
- No, my lord.
- My Lord of Kent: remember him hereafter as my honourable friend.
- My services to your lordship.
- I must love you, and sue to know you better.
- Sir, I shall study deserving.
- He hath been out nine years, and away he shall again.—The king
- is coming.
[Enter Lear, Cornwall, Albany, Goneril, Regan, Cordelia, and
- Attend the lords of France and Burgundy,
- I shall, my liege.
[Exeunt Gloucester and Edmund.]
- 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
- Unburden'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.
- Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;
- Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty;
- Beyond what can be valu'd, rich or rare;
- No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour;
- As much as child e'er lov'd, or father found;
- A love that makes breath poor and speech unable;
- Beyond all manner of so much I love you.
- [Aside.] What shall Cordelia speak? Love, and be silent.
- 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.
- Sir, I am made of the selfsame metal that my sister is,
- And prize me at her worth. In my true heart
- I find she names my very deed of love;
- Only she comes too short,—that I profess
- Myself an enemy to all other joys
- Which the most precious square of sense possesses,
- And find I am alone felicitate
- In your dear highness' love.
- [Aside.] Then poor Cordelia!
- And yet not so; since, I am sure, my love's
- More richer than my tongue.
- 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.
- Nothing, my lord.
- Nothing can come of nothing: speak again.
- Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
- My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty
- According to my bond; no more nor less.
- How, how, Cordelia! mend your speech a little,
- Lest you may mar your fortunes.
- Good my lord,
- You have begot me, bred me, lov'd me: I
- Return those duties back as are right fit,
- Obey you, love you, and most honour you.
- Why have my sisters husbands if they say
- They love you all? Haply, when I shall wed,
- That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry
- Half my love with him, half my care and duty:
- Sure I shall never marry like my sisters,
- To love my father all.
- But goes thy heart with this?
- Ay, good my lord.
- So young, and so untender?
- So young, my lord, and true.
- Let it be so,—thy truth then be thy dower:
- For, by the sacred radiance of the sun,
- The mysteries of Hecate, and the night;
- By all the operation of the orbs,
- From whom we do exist and cease to be;
- Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
- Propinquity, and property of blood,
- And as a stranger to my heart and me
- Hold thee, from this for ever. The barbarous Scythian,
- Or he that makes his generation messes
- To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom
- Be as well neighbour'd, pitied, and reliev'd,
- As thou my sometime daughter.
- Good my liege,—
- Peace, Kent!
- Come not between the dragon and his wrath.
- I lov'd her most, and thought to set my rest
- On her kind nursery.—Hence, and avoid my sight!—[To Cordelia.]
- So be my grave my peace, as here I give
- Her father's heart from her!—Call France;—who stirs?
- Call Burgundy!—Cornwall and Albany,
- With my two daughters' dowers digest this third:
- Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.
- I do invest you jointly in my power,
- 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.]
- Royal Lear,
- Whom I have ever honour'd as my king,
- Lov'd as my father, as my master follow'd,
- As my great patron thought on in my prayers.—
- The bow is bent and drawn; make from the shaft.
- Let it fall rather, though the fork invade
- The region of my heart: be Kent unmannerly
- When Lear is mad. What wouldst thou do, old man?
- Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak
- When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour's bound
- When majesty falls to folly. Reverse thy state;
- And in thy best consideration check
- This hideous rashness: answer my life my judgment,
- Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least;
- Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sound
- Reverbs no hollowness.
- Kent, on thy life, no more.
- My life I never held but as a pawn
- To wage against thine enemies; nor fear to lose it,
- Thy safety being the motive.
- Out of my sight!
- See better, Lear; and let me still remain
- The true blank of thine eye.
- Now, by Apollo,—
- Now by Apollo, king,
- Thou swear'st thy gods in vain.
- O vassal! miscreant!
[Laying his hand on his sword.]
Alb. and Corn.
- Dear sir, forbear!
- Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow
- Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy gift,
- Or, whilst I can vent clamour from my throat,
- I'll tell thee thou dost evil.
- Hear me, recreant!
- On thine allegiance, hear me!—
- Since thou hast sought to make us break our vow,—
- Which we durst never yet,—and with strain'd pride
- To come between our sentence and our power,—
- Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,—
- Our potency made good, take thy reward.
- Five days we do allot thee for provision
- To shield thee from diseases of the world;
- And on the sixth to turn thy hated back
- Upon our kingdom: if, on the tenth day following,
- Thy banish'd trunk be found in our dominions,
- The moment is thy death. Away! by Jupiter,
- This shall not be revok'd.
- 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.
[Flourish. Re-enter Gloucester, with France, Burgundy, and
- Here's France and Burgundy, my noble lord.
- My Lord of Burgundy,
- We first address toward you, who with this king
- Hath rivall'd for our daughter: what in the least
- Will you require in present dower with her,
- Or cease your quest of love?
- Most royal majesty,
- I crave no more than hath your highness offer'd,
- Nor will you tender less.
- Right noble Burgundy,
- When she was dear to us, we did hold her so;
- But now her price is fall'n. Sir, there she stands:
- If aught within that little seeming substance,
- Or all of it, with our displeasure piec'd,
- And nothing more, may fitly like your grace,
- She's there, and she is yours.
- I know no answer.
- 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?
- Pardon me, royal sir;
- Election makes not up on such conditions.
- Then leave her, sir; for, by the power that made me,
- I tell you all her wealth.—[To France] For you, great king,
- I would not from your love make such a stray
- To match you where I hate; therefore beseech you
- To avert your liking a more worthier way
- Than on a wretch whom nature is asham'd
- Almost to acknowledge hers.
- This is most strange,
- That she, who even but now was your best object,
- The argument of your praise, balm of your age,
- Most best, most dearest, should in this trice of time
- Commit a thing so monstrous, to dismantle
- So many folds of favour. Sure her offence
- Must be of such unnatural degree
- That monsters it, or your fore-vouch'd affection
- Fall'n into taint; which to believe of her
- Must be a faith that reason without miracle
- Should never plant in me.
- 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 depriv'd me of your grace and favour;
- But even for want of that for which I am richer,—
- A still-soliciting eye, and such a tongue
- As I am glad I have not, though not to have it
- Hath lost me in your liking.
- Better thou
- Hadst not been born than not to have pleas'd me better.
- Is it but this,—a tardiness in nature
- Which often leaves the history unspoke
- That it intends to do?—My lord of Burgundy,
- What say you to the lady? Love's not love
- When it is mingled with regards that stands
- Aloof from the entire point. Will you have her?
- She is herself a dowry.
- Royal king,
- Give but that portion which yourself propos'd,
- And here I take Cordelia by the hand,
- Duchess of Burgundy.
- Nothing: I have sworn; I am firm.
- I am sorry, then, you have so lost a father
- That you must lose a husband.
- Peace be with Burgundy!
- Since that respects of fortune are his love,
- I shall not be his wife.
- Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor;
- Most choice, forsaken; and most lov'd, despis'd!
- Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon:
- Be it lawful, I take up what's cast away.
- Gods, gods! 'tis strange that from their cold'st neglect
- My love should kindle to inflam'd respect.—
- Thy 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 unpriz'd precious maid of me.—
- Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind:
- Thou losest here, a better where to find.
- Thou hast her, France: let her be thine; for we
- Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see
- That face of hers again.—Therefore be gone
- Without our grace, our love, our benison.—
- Come, noble Burgundy.
[Flourish. Exeunt Lear, Burgundy, Cornwall, Albany, Gloucester,
- and Attendants.]
- Bid farewell to your sisters.
- The jewels of our father, with wash'd eyes
- Cordelia leaves you: I know you what you are;
- And, like a sister, am most loath to call
- Your faults as they are nam'd. Love 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.
- Prescribe not us our duties.
- Let your study
- Be to content your lord, who hath receiv'd you
- At fortune's alms. You have obedience scanted,
- And well are worth the want that you have wanted.
- Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides:
- Who cover faults, at last shame them derides.
- Well may you prosper!
- Come, my fair Cordelia.
[Exeunt France and Cordelia.]
- Sister, it is not little I have to say of what most nearly
- appertains to us both. I think our father will hence to-night.
- That's most certain, and with you; next month with us.
- 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.
- 'Tis the infirmity of his age: yet he hath ever but slenderly
- known himself.
- The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash; then must
- we look to receive from his age, not alone the imperfections of
- long-ingraffed condition, but therewithal the unruly waywardness
- that infirm and choleric years bring with them.
- Such unconstant starts are we like to have from him as this of
- Kent's banishment.
- There is further compliment of leave-taking between France and
- him. Pray you let us hit together: if our father carry authority
- with such dispositions as he bears, this last surrender of his
- will but offend us.
- We shall further think of it.
- We must do something, and i' th' heat.
Scene II. A Hall in the Earl of Gloucester's Castle.
[Enter Edmund with a letter.]
- Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law
- My services are bound. Wherefore should I
- Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
- The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
- For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines
- Lag of a brother? Why bastard? wherefore base?
- When my dimensions are as well compact,
- My mind as generous, and my shape as true
- As honest madam's issue? Why brand they us
- With base? with baseness? bastardy? base, base?
- Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, take
- More composition and fierce quality
- Than doth, within a dull, stale, tired bed,
- Go to 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!
- Kent banish'd thus! and France in choler parted!
- And the king gone to-night! subscrib'd his pow'r!
- Confin'd to exhibition! All this done
- Upon the gad!—Edmund, how now! What news?
- So please your lordship, none.
[Putting up the letter.]
- Why so earnestly seek you to put up that letter?
- I know no news, my lord.
- What paper were you reading?
- Nothing, my lord.
- 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.
- I beseech you, sir, pardon me. It is a letter from my brother
- that I have not all o'er-read; and for so much as I have perus'd,
- I find it not fit for your o'erlooking.
- Give me the letter, sir.
- I shall offend, either to detain or give it. The contents, as in
- part I understand them, are to blame.
- Let's see, let's see!
- I hope, for my brother's justification, he wrote this but as an
- essay or taste of my virtue.
- [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 enjoy half his revenue for ever, and live
- the beloved of your brother,
- 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?
- It was not brought me, my lord, there's the cunning of it; I
- found it thrown in at the casement of my closet.
- You know the character to be your brother's?
- 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.
- It is his.
- It is his hand, my lord; but I hope his heart is not in the
- Hath he never before sounded you in this business?
- Never, my lord: but I have heard him oft maintain it to be fit
- that, sons at perfect age, and fathers declined, the father
- should be as ward to the son, and the son manage his revenue.
- 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?
- I do not well know, my lord. If it shall please you to suspend
- your indignation against my brother till you can derive from him
- better testimony of his intent, you should run a certain course;
- where, if you violently proceed against him, mistaking his
- purpose, it would make a great gap in your own honour, and shake
- in pieces the heart of his obedience. I dare pawn down my life
- for him that he hath writ this to feel my affection to your
- honour, and to no other pretence of danger.
- Think you so?
- 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
- and that without any further delay than this very evening.
- He cannot be such a monster.
- Nor is not, sure.
- 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.
- I will seek him, sir, presently; convey the business as I shall
- find means, and acquaint you withal.
- 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.
- This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are
- sick in fortune,—often the surfeit of our own behaviour,—we
- make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars; as
- if we were villains on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion;
- knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical pre-dominance;
- drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an 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.
Pat!—he comes, like the catastrophe of the old comedy: my cue
- is villainous melancholy, with a sigh like Tom o' Bedlam.—O,
- these eclipses do portend these divisions! fa, sol, la, mi.
- How now, brother Edmund! what serious contemplation are you in?
- I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read this other day,
- what should follow these eclipses.
- Do you busy yourself with that?
- 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.
- How long have you been a sectary astronomical?
- Come, come! when saw you my father last?
- The night gone by.
- Spake you with him?
- Ay, two hours together.
- Parted you in good terms? Found you no displeasure in him by word
- or countenance?
- None at all.
- Bethink yourself wherein you may have offended him: and at my
- entreaty forbear his presence until some little time hath
- qualified the heat of his displeasure; which at this instant so
- rageth in him that with the mischief of your person it would
- scarcely allay.
- Some villain hath done me wrong.
- That's my fear. I pray you have a continent forbearance till the
- speed of his rage goes slower; and, as I say, retire with me to
- my lodging, from whence I will fitly bring you to hear my lord
- speak: pray you, go; there's my key.—If you do stir abroad, go
- Armed, brother!
- Brother, I advise you to the best; I am no honest man
- if there be any good meaning toward you: I have told you what I
- have seen and heard but faintly; nothing like the image and
- horror of it: pray you, away!
- Shall I hear from you anon?
- I do serve you in this business.
A credulous father! and a brother noble,
- Whose nature is so far from doing harms
- That he suspects none; on whose foolish honesty
- My practices ride easy!—I see the business.
- Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit:
- All with me's meet that I can fashion fit.
Scene III. A Room in the Duke of Albany's Palace.
[Enter Goneril and Oswald.]
- Did my father strike my gentleman for chiding of his fool?
Osw. Ay, madam.
- 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.
- He's coming, madam; I hear him.
- Put on what weary negligence you please,
- You and your fellows; I'd have it come to question:
- If he distaste it, let him to our sister,
- Whose mind and mine, I know, in that are one,
- Not to be overruled. Idle old man,
- That still would manage those authorities
- That he hath given away!—Now, by my life,
- Old fools are babes again; and must be us'd
- With checks as flatteries,—when they are seen abus'd.
- Remember what I have said.
- Very well, madam.
- 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.
Scene IV. A Hall in Albany's Palace.
[Enter Kent, disguised.]
- 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 rais'd my likeness.—Now, banish'd Kent,
- If thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemn'd,
- So may it come, thy master, whom thou lov'st,
- Shall find thee full of labours.
[Horns within. Enter King Lear, Knights, and Attendants.]
- Let me not stay a jot for dinner; go get it ready.
[Exit an Attendant.]
How now! what art thou?
- A man, sir.
- What dost thou profess? What wouldst thou with us?
- 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.
- What art thou?
- A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the king.
- If thou be'st as poor for a subject as he's for a king, thou art
- poor enough. What wouldst thou?
- Who wouldst thou serve?
- Dost thou know me, fellow?
- No, sir; but you have that in your countenance which I would fain
- call master.
- What's that?
- What services canst thou do?
- 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.
- How old art thou?
- Not so young, sir, to love a woman for singing; nor so old to
- dote on her for anything: I have years on my back forty-eight.
- 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.]
You, you, sirrah, where's my daughter?
- So please you,—
- What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll back.—
[Exit a Knight.]
Where's my fool, ho?—I think the world's asleep.
How now! where's that mongrel?
- He says, my lord, your daughter is not well.
- Why came not the slave back to me when I called him?
- Sir, he answered me in the roundest manner, he would not.
- He would not!
- 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.
- Ha! say'st thou so?
- I beseech you pardon me, my lord, if I be mistaken; for my duty
- cannot be silent when I think your highness wronged.
- 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.
- Since my young lady's going into France, sir, the fool hath much
- pined away.
- No more of that; I have noted it well.—Go you and tell my
- daughter I would speak with her.—
Go you, call hither my fool.
[Exit another Attendant.]
- O, you, sir, you, come you hither, sir: who am I, sir?
- My lady's father.
- My lady's father! my lord's knave: you whoreson dog! you slave!
- you cur!
- I am none of these, my lord; I beseech your pardon.
- Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?
- [Striking him.]
- I'll not be struck, my lord.
- Nor tripp'd neither, you base football player.
- [Tripping up his heels.]
- I thank thee, fellow; thou servest me, and I'll love thee.
- 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.]
- Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee: there's earnest of thy
- [Giving Kent money.]
Fool. Let me hire him too; here's my coxcomb.
- [Giving Kent his cap.]
- How now, my pretty knave! how dost thou?
- Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb.
- Why, fool?
- Why, for taking one's part that's out of favour. Nay, an thou
- canst not smile as the wind sits, thou'lt catch cold shortly:
- there, take my coxcomb: why, this fellow hath banish'd two on's
- daughters, and did the third a blessing against his will; if
- thou follow him, thou must needs wear my coxcomb.—How now,
- nuncle! Would I had two coxcombs and two daughters!
- Why, my boy?
- If I gave them all my living, I'd keep my coxcombs myself.
- There's mine; beg another of thy daughters.
- Take heed, sirrah,—the whip.
- Truth's a dog must to kennel; he must be whipped out, when
- the lady brach may stand by the fire and stink.
- A pestilent gall to me!
- Sirrah, I'll teach thee a speech.
- 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.
- This is nothing, 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?
- Why, no, boy; nothing can be made out of nothing.
- [to Kent] Pr'ythee tell him, so much the rent of his land
- comes to: he will not believe a fool.
- A bitter fool!
- Dost thou know the difference, my boy, between a bitter fool and
- a sweet one?
- No, lad; teach me.
- 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.
- Dost thou call me fool, boy?
- All thy other titles thou hast given away; that thou wast born
- This is not altogether fool, my lord.
- No, faith; lords and great men will not let me: if I had a
- monopoly out, they would have part on't and loads too: they
- will not let me have all the fool to myself; they'll be
- snatching.—Nuncle, give me an egg, and I'll give thee two
- What two crowns shall they be?
- 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 gav'st away both parts, thou borest thine 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.
- Fools had ne'er less wit in a year;
- For wise men are grown foppish,
- And know not how their wits to wear,
- Their manners are so apish.
- When were you wont to be so full of songs, sirrah?
- I have used it, nuncle, e'er since thou mad'st thy daughters thy
- mothers; for when thou gav'st them the rod, and puttest down
- thine own breeches,
- 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.
Pr'ythee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach thy fool to
- lie; I would fain learn to lie.
- An you lie, sirrah, we'll have you whipped.
- 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.
- How now, daughter? What makes that frontlet on? Methinks you
- are too much of late i' the frown.
- 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; I am a fool, thou art nothing.—Yes, forsooth, I
- will hold my tongue. So your face [To Goneril.] bids me, though
- you say nothing. Mum, mum,
- He that keeps nor crust nor crum,
- Weary of all, shall want some.—
- [Pointing to Lear.] That's a shealed peascod.
- Not only, sir, this your all-licens'd fool,
- But other of your insolent retinue
- Do hourly carp and quarrel; breaking forth
- In rank and not-to-be-endured riots. Sir,
- I had thought, by making this well known unto you,
- To have found a safe redress; but now grow fearful,
- By what yourself too late have spoke and done,
- That you protect this course, and put it on
- By your allowance; which if you should, the fault
- Would not scape censure, nor the redresses sleep,
- Which, in the tender of a wholesome weal,
- Might in their working do you that offence
- Which else were shame, that then necessity
- Will call discreet proceeding.
- For you know, nuncle,
- The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long
- That it had it head bit off by it young.
- So out went the candle, and we were left darkling.
- Are you our daughter?
- 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.
- May not an ass know when the cart draws the horse?—Whoop, Jug! I
- love thee!
- 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?
- Lear's shadow.
- I would learn that; for, by the marks of sovereignty,
- Knowledge, and reason,
- I should be false persuaded I had daughters.
- Which they will make an obedient father.
- Your name, fair gentlewoman?
- This admiration, sir, is much o' the favour
- Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you
- To understand my purposes aright:
- As you are old and reverend, you should be wise.
- Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires;
- Men so disorder'd, so debosh'd, and bold
- That this our court, infected with their manners,
- Shows like a riotous inn: epicurism and lust
- Make it more like a tavern or a brothel
- Than a grac'd palace. The shame itself doth speak
- For instant remedy: be, then, desir'd
- By her that else will take the thing she begs
- A little to disquantity your train;
- And the remainder, that shall still depend,
- To be such men as may besort your age,
- Which know themselves, and you.
- Darkness and devils!—
- Saddle my horses; call my train together.—
- Degenerate bastard! I'll not trouble thee:
- Yet have I left a daughter.
- You strike my people; and your disorder'd rabble
- Make servants of their betters.
- 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!
- Pray, sir, be patient.
- [to Goneril] Detested kite, thou liest!:
- My train are men of choice and rarest parts,
- That all particulars of duty know;
- And in the most exact regard support
- The worships of their name.—O most small fault,
- How ugly didst thou in Cordelia show!
- Which, like an engine, wrench'd my frame of nature
- From the fix'd place; drew from my heart all love,
- And added to the gall. O Lear, Lear, Lear!
- Beat at this gate that let thy folly in [Striking his head.]
- And thy dear judgment out!—Go, go, my people.
- My lord, I am guiltless, as I am ignorant
- Of what hath mov'd you.
- It may be so, my lord.
- Hear, nature, hear; dear goddess, hear
- Suspend thy purpose, if thou didst intend
- To make this creature fruitful!
- Into her womb convey sterility!
- Dry up in her the organs of increase;
- And from her derogate body never spring
- A babe to honour her! If she must teem,
- Create her child of spleen, that it may live
- And be a thwart disnatur'd torment to her!
- Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth;
- With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks;
- Turn all her mother's pains and benefits
- To laughter and contempt; that she may feel
- How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
- To have a thankless child!—Away, away!
- Now, gods that we adore, whereof comes this?
- Never afflict yourself to know more of it;
- But let his disposition have that scope
- That dotage gives it.
- What, fifty of my followers at a clap!
- Within a fortnight!
- What's the matter, sir?
- I'll tell thee.—Life and death!—[To Goneril] I am asham'd
- That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus;
- That these hot tears, which break from me perforce,
- Should make thee worth them.—Blasts and fogs upon thee!
- Th' untented woundings of a father's curse
- Pierce every sense about thee!—Old fond eyes,
- Beweep this cause again, I'll pluck you out,
- And cast you, with the waters that you lose,
- To temper clay. Ha!
- Let it be so: I have another 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.
[Exeunt Lear, Kent, and Attendants.]
- Do you mark that?
- I cannot be so partial, Goneril,
- To the great love I bear you,—
- Pray you, content.—What, Oswald, ho!
- [To the Fool] You, sir, more knave than fool, after your master.
- Nuncle Lear, nuncle Lear, tarry,—take the fool with thee.—
- A fox when one has caught her,
- And such a daughter,
- Should sure to the slaughter,
- If my cap would buy a halter;
- So the fool follows after.
- 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!—
- Well, you may fear too far.
- Safer than trust too far:
- Let me still take away the harms I fear,
- Not fear still to be taken: I know his heart.
- What he hath utter'd I have writ my sister:
- If she sustain him and his hundred knights,
- When I have show'd th' unfitness,—
- How now, Oswald!
- What, have you writ that letter to my sister?
- Ay, madam.
- 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.
No, no, my lord!
- This milky gentleness and course of yours,
- Though I condemn it not, yet, under pardon,
- You are much more attask'd for want of wisdom
- Than prais'd for harmful mildness.
- How far your eyes may pierce I cannot tell:
- Striving to better, oft we mar what's well.
- Nay then,—
- Well, well; the event.
Scene V. Court before the Duke of Albany's Palace.
[Enter Lear, Kent, and Fool.]
- Go you before to Gloucester with these letters: acquaint my
- daughter no further with anything you know than comes from her
- demand out of the letter. If your diligence be not speedy, I
- shall be there afore you.
- I will not sleep, my lord, till I have delivered your letter.
- If a man's brains were in's heels, were't not in danger of kibes?
- Ay, boy.
- Then I pr'ythee be merry; thy wit shall not go slipshod.
- Ha, ha, ha!
- 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.
- What canst tell, boy?
- She'll 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?
- Why, to keep one's eyes of either side's nose, that what a man
- cannot smell out, he may spy into.
- I did her wrong,—
- Canst tell how an oyster makes his shell?
- Nor I neither; but I can tell why a snail has a house.
- Why, to put's head in; not to give it away to his daughters, and
- leave his horns without a case.
- I will forget my nature. So kind a father!—Be my horses ready?
- Thy asses are gone about 'em. The reason why the seven stars are
- no more than seven is a pretty reason.
- Because they are not eight?
- Yes indeed: thou wouldst make a good fool.
- To tak't again perforce!—Monster ingratitude!
- If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I'ld have thee beaten for being
- old before thy time.
- How's that?
- Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise.
- O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven!
- Keep me in temper; I would not be mad!—
How now? are the horses ready?
- Ready, my lord.
- Come, boy.
- She that's a maid now, and laughs at my departure,
- Shall not be a maid long, unless things be cut shorter.
Scene I. A court within the Castle of the Earl of Gloucester.
[Enter Edmund and Curan, meeting.]
- Save thee, 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.
- How comes that?
- Nay, I know not.—You have heard of the news abroad; I mean the
- whispered ones, for they are yet but ear-kissing arguments?
- Not I: pray you, what are they?
- Have you heard of no likely wars toward, 'twixt the two dukes
- of Cornwall and Albany?
- Not a word.
- You may do, then, in time. Fare you well, sir.
- 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!
- My father watches:—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.
- I am sure on't, not a word.
- 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.
- Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion
- Of my more fierce endeavour: [Wounds his arm.]
- I have seen drunkards
- Do more than this in sport.—Father, father!
- Stop, stop! No help?
[Enter Gloucester, and Servants with torches.]
- Now, Edmund, where's the villain?
- Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out,
- Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon
- To stand auspicious mistress,—
- But where is he?
- Look, sir, I bleed.
- Where is the villain, Edmund?
- Fled this way, sir. When by no means he could,—
- Pursue him, ho!—Go after.
—By no means what?
- 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, lanc'd mine arm;
- But when he saw my best alarum'd spirits,
- Bold in the quarrel's right, rous'd to the encounter,
- Or whether gasted by the noise I made,
- Full suddenly he fled.
- Let him fly far;
- Not in this land shall he remain uncaught;
- And found—dispatch'd.—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.
- 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'd turn it all
- To thy suggestion, plot, and damned practice:
- And thou must make a dullard of the world,
- If they not thought the profits of my death
- Were very pregnant and potential spurs
- To make thee seek it.
- Strong and fast'ned villain!
- Would he deny his letter?—I never got him.
- Hark, the duke's trumpets! I know not why he comes.—
- All ports I'll bar; the villain shall not scape;
- The duke must grant me that: besides, his picture
- I will send far and near, that all the kingdom
- May have due note of him; and of my land,
- Loyal and natural boy, I'll work the means
- To make thee capable.
[Enter Cornwall, Regan, and Attendants.]
- How now, my noble friend! since I came hither,—
- Which I can call but now,—I have heard strange news.
- If it be true, all vengeance comes too short
- Which can pursue the offender. How dost, my lord?
- O madam, my old heart is crack'd,—it's crack'd!
- What, did my father's godson seek your life?
- He whom my father nam'd? your Edgar?
- O lady, lady, shame would have it hid!
- Was he not companion with the riotous knights
- That tend upon my father?
- I know not, madam:—
- It is too bad, too bad.
- Yes, madam, he was of that consort.
- 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.
- Nor I, assure thee, Regan.—
- Edmund, I hear that you have shown your father
- A childlike office.
- 'Twas my duty, sir.
- He did bewray his practice; and receiv'd
- This hurt you see, striving to apprehend him.
- Is he pursu'd?
- Ay, my good lord.
- 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.
- I shall serve you, sir,
- Truly, however else.
- For him I thank your grace.
- You know not why we came to visit you,—
- Thus out of season, threading dark-ey'd night:
- Occasions, noble Gloucester, of some poise,
- Wherein we must have use of your advice:—
- Our father he hath writ, so hath our sister,
- Of differences, which I best thought it fit
- To answer from our home; the several messengers
- From hence attend despatch. Our good old friend,
- Lay comforts to your bosom; and bestow
- Your needful counsel to our business,
- Which craves the instant use.
- I serve you, madam:
- Your graces are right welcome.
Scene II. Before Gloucester's Castle.
[Enter Kent and Oswald, severally.]
- Good dawning to thee, friend: art of this house?
- Where may we set our horses?
- I' the mire.
- Pr'ythee, if thou lov'st me, tell me.
- I love thee not.
- Why then, I care not for thee.
- If I had thee in Lipsbury pinfold, I would make thee care for me.
- Why dost thou use me thus? I know thee not.
- Fellow, I know thee.
- What dost thou know me for?
- A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a base, proud,
- shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy,
- worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking, whoreson,
- glass-gazing, superserviceable, finical rogue;
- one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of
- good service, and art nothing but the composition of a
- knave, beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel
- bitch: one whom I will beat into clamorous whining, if thou
- denyest the least syllable of thy addition.
- Why, what a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to rail on one that's
- neither known of thee nor knows thee?
- What a brazen-faced varlet art thou, to deny thou knowest me! Is
- it two days ago since I beat thee and tripped up thy heels before
- the king? 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 barbermonger, draw!
[Drawing his sword.]
- Away! I have nothing to do with thee.
- 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!
- Help, ho! murder! help!
- Strike, you slave; stand, rogue, stand; you neat slave, strike!
- Help, ho! murder! murder!
[Enter Edmund, Cornwall, Regan, Gloucester, and Servants.]
- How now! What's the matter?
- With you, goodman boy, an you please: come, I'll flesh you; come
- on, young master.
- Weapons! arms! What's the matter here?
- Keep peace, upon your lives;
- He dies that strikes again. What is the matter?
- The messengers from our sister and the king.
- What is your difference? speak.
- I am scarce in breath, my lord.
- No marvel, you have so bestirr'd your valour. You cowardly
- rascal, nature disclaims in thee; a tailor made thee.
- Thou art a strange fellow: a tailor make a man?
- Ay, a tailor, sir: a stonecutter or a painter could not have
- made him so ill, though he had been but two hours at the trade.
- Speak yet, how grew your quarrel?
- This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spared at suit of
- his grey
- Thou whoreson zed! thou unnecessary letter!—My lord, if you'll
- give me leave, I will tread this unbolted villain into mortar and
- daub the walls of a jakes with him.—Spare my grey beard, you
- Peace, sirrah!
- You beastly knave, know you no reverence?
- Yes, sir; but anger hath a privilege.
- Why art thou angry?
- 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 naught, like dogs, but following.—
- A plague upon your epileptic visage!
- Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool?
- Goose, an I had you upon Sarum plain,
- I'd drive ye cackling home to Camelot.
- What, art thou mad, old fellow?
- How fell you out?
- Say that.
- No contraries hold more antipathy
- Than I and such a knave.
- Why dost thou call him knave? What is his fault?
- His countenance likes me not.
- No more perchance does mine, or his, or hers.
- Sir, 'tis my occupation to be plain:
- I have seen better faces in my time
- Than stands on any shoulder that I see
- Before me at this instant.
- This is some fellow
- Who, having been prais'd for bluntness, doth affect
- A saucy roughness, and constrains the garb
- Quite from his nature: he cannot flatter, he,—
- An honest mind and plain,—he must speak truth!
- An they will take it, so; if not, he's plain.
- These kind of knaves I know which in this plainness
- Harbour more craft and more corrupter ends
- Than twenty silly-ducking observants
- That stretch their duties nicely.
- Sir, in good faith, in sincere verity,
- Under the allowance of your great aspect,
- Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire
- On flickering Phoebus' front,—
- What mean'st by this?
- 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.
- What was the offence you gave him?
- I never gave him any:
- It pleas'd the king his master very late
- To strike at me, upon his misconstruction;
- When he, compact, and flattering his displeasure,
- Tripp'd me behind; being down, insulted, rail'd
- And put upon him such a deal of man,
- That worthied him, got praises of the king
- For him attempting who was self-subdu'd;
- And, in the fleshment of this dread exploit,
- Drew on me here again.
- None of these rogues and cowards
- But Ajax is their fool.
- Fetch forth the stocks!—
- You stubborn ancient knave, you reverent braggart,
- We'll teach you,—
- 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.
- Fetch forth the stocks!—As I have life and honour,
- there shall he sit till noon.
- Till noon! Till night, my lord; and all night too!
- Why, madam, if I were your father's dog,
- You should not use me so.
- Sir, being his knave, I will.
- This is a fellow of the self-same colour
- Our sister speaks of.—Come, bring away the stocks!
[Stocks brought out.]
- Let me beseech your grace not to do so:
- His fault is much, and the good king his master
- Will check him for't: your purpos'd low correction
- Is such as basest and contemned'st wretches
- For pilferings and most common trespasses,
- Are punish'd with: the king must take it ill
- That he, so slightly valu'd in his messenger,
- Should have him thus restrain'd.
- I'll answer that.
- My sister may receive it much more worse,
- To have her gentleman abus'd, assaulted,
- For following her affairs.—Put in his legs.—
[Kent is put in the stocks.]
- Come, my good lord, away.
[Exeunt all but Gloucester and Kent.]
- 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.
- Pray do not, sir: I have watch'd, and travell'd hard;
- Some time I shall sleep out, the rest I'll whistle.
- A good man's fortune may grow out at heels:
- Give you good morrow!
- The duke's to blame in this: 'twill be ill taken.
- Good king, that must approve the common saw,—
- Thou out of heaven's benediction com'st
- To the warm sun!
- Approach, thou beacon to this under globe,
- That by thy comfortable beams I may
- Peruse this letter.—Nothing almost sees miracles
- But misery:—I know 'tis from Cordelia,
- Who hath most fortunately been inform'd
- Of my obscured course; and 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!
Scene III. The open Country.
- I heard myself proclaim'd;
- And by the happy hollow of a tree
- Escap'd the hunt. No port is free; no place
- That guard and most unusual vigilance
- Does not attend my taking. While I may scape,
- I will preserve myself: and am bethought
- To take the basest and most poorest shape
- That ever penury, in contempt of man,
- Brought near to beast: my face I'll grime with filth;
- Blanket my loins; elf all my hair in knots;
- And with presented nakedness outface
- The winds and persecutions of the sky.
- The country gives me proof and precedent
- Of Bedlam beggars, who, with roaring voices,
- Strike in their numb'd and mortified bare arms
- Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary;
- And with this horrible object, from low farms,
- Poor pelting villages, 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.
Scene IV. Before Gloucester's Castle; Kent in the stocks.
[Enter Lear, Fool, and Gentleman.]
- 'Tis strange that they should so depart from home,
- And not send back my messenger.
- As I learn'd,
- The night before there was no purpose in them
- Of this remove.
- Hail to thee, noble master!
- Mak'st thou this shame thy pastime?
- No, my lord.
- Ha, ha! he wears cruel garters. Horses are tied by the
- head; dogs and bears by the neck, monkeys by the loins, and
- men by the legs: when a man is over-lusty at legs, then he
- wears wooden nether-stocks.
- What's he that hath so much thy place mistook
- To set thee here?
- It is both he and she,
- Your son and daughter.
- No, I say.
- I say, yea.
- By Jupiter, I swear no.
- By Juno, I swear ay.
- They durst not do't.
- They would not, could 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.
- My lord, when at their home
- I did commend your highness' letters to them,
- Ere I was risen from the place that show'd
- My duty kneeling, came there a reeking post,
- Stew'd in his haste, half breathless, panting forth
- From Goneril his mistress salutations;
- Deliver'd letters, spite of intermission,
- Which presently they read: on whose contents,
- They summon'd up their meiny, straight took horse;
- Commanded me to follow and attend
- The leisure of their answer; gave me cold looks:
- And meeting here the other messenger,
- Whose welcome I perceiv'd had poison'd mine,—
- Being the very fellow which of late
- Display'd so saucily against your highness,—
- Having more man than wit about me, drew:
- He rais'd the house with loud and coward cries.
- Your son and daughter found this trespass worth
- The shame which here it suffers.
- Winter's not gone yet, if the wild geese fly that way.
- Fathers that wear rags
- Do make their children blind;
- But fathers that bear bags
- Shall see their children kind.
- Fortune, that arrant whore,
- Ne'er turns the key to th' poor.
- But for all this, thou shalt have as many dolours for thy
- daughters as thou canst tell in a year.
- O, how this mother swells up toward my heart!
- Hysterica passio,—down, thou climbing sorrow,
- Thy element's below!—Where is this daughter?
- With the earl, sir, here within.
- Follow me not;
- Stay here.
- Made you no more offence but what you speak of?
- How chance the king comes with so small a number?
- An thou hadst been set i' the stocks for that question,
- thou hadst well deserved it.
- Why, fool?
- We'll set thee to school to an ant, to teach thee there's no
- labouring in 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
- 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.
- Where learn'd you this, fool?
- Not i' the stocks, fool.
[Re-enter Lear, with Gloucester.]
- 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.
- My dear lord,
- You know the fiery quality of the duke;
- How unremovable and fix'd he is
- In his own course.
- Vengeance! plague! death! confusion!—
- Fiery? What quality? why, Gloucester, Gloucester,
- I'd speak with the Duke of Cornwall and his wife.
- Well, my good lord, I have inform'd them so.
- Inform'd them! Dost thou understand me, man?
- Ay, my good lord.
- The King would speak with Cornwall; the dear father
- Would with his daughter speak, commands her service:
- Are they inform'd of this?—My breath and blood!—
- Fiery? the fiery duke?—Tell the hot duke that—
- No, but not yet: may be he is not well:
- Infirmity doth still neglect all office
- Whereto our health is bound: we are not ourselves
- When nature, being oppress'd, commands the mind
- To suffer with the body: I'll forbear;
- And am fallen out with my more headier will,
- To take the indispos'd and sickly fit
- For the sound man.—Death on my state! Wherefore
- [Looking on Kent.]
- Should he sit here? This act persuades me
- That this remotion of the duke and her
- Is practice only. Give me my servant forth.
- Go tell the duke and's wife I'd 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.'
- I would have all well betwixt you.
- O me, my heart, my rising heart!—but down!
- 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.]
- Good-morrow to you both.
- Hail to your grace!
[Kent is set at liberty.]
- I am glad to see your highness.
- Regan, I think you are; I know what reason
- I have to think so: if thou shouldst not be glad,
- I would divorce me from thy mother's tomb,
- 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 deprav'd a quality—O Regan!
- I pray you, sir, take patience: I have hope
- You less know how to value her desert
- Than she to scant her duty.
- Say, how is that?
- 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.
- My curses on her!
- O, sir, you are old;
- Nature in you stands on the very verge
- Of her confine: you should be rul'd and led
- By some discretion, that discerns your state
- Better than you yourself. Therefore, I pray you,
- That to our sister you do make return;
- Say you have wrong'd her, sir.
- Ask her forgiveness?
- Do you but mark how this becomes the house:
- 'Dear daughter, I confess that I am old;
- Age is unnecessary: on my knees I beg
- That you'll vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food.'
- Good sir, no more! These are unsightly tricks:
- Return you to my sister.
- [Rising.] Never, Regan:
- She hath abated me of half my train;
- Look'd black upon me; struck me with her tongue,
- Most serpent-like, upon the very heart:—
- All the stor'd vengeances of heaven fall
- On her ingrateful top! Strike her young bones,
- You taking airs, with lameness!
- Fie, sir, fie!
- 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!
- O the blest gods!
- So will you wish on me when the rash mood is on.
- 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.
- Good sir, to the purpose.
- Who put my man i' the stocks?
- What trumpet's that?
- I know't—my sister's: this approves her letter,
- That she would soon be here.
- Is your lady come?
- This is a slave, whose easy-borrowed pride
- Dwells in the fickle grace of her he follows.—
- Out, varlet, from my sight!
- What means your grace?
- Who stock'd my servant? Regan, I have good hope
- Thou didst not know on't.—Who comes here? O heavens!
- If you do love old men, if your sweet sway
- Allow obedience, if yourselves are old,
- Make it your cause; send down, and take my part!—
- [To Goneril.] Art not asham'd to look upon this beard?—
- O Regan, wilt thou take her by the hand?
- Why not by the hand, sir? How have I offended?
- All's not offence that indiscretion finds
- And dotage terms so.
- O sides, you are too tough!
- Will you yet hold?—How came my man i' the stocks?
- I set him there, sir: but his own disorders
- Deserv'd much less advancement.
- You? did you?
- 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.
- 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 to Oswald.]
- At your choice, sir.
- I pr'ythee, 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.
- 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.
- Is this well spoken?
- 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.
- Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance
- From those that she calls servants, or from mine?
- Why not, my lord? If then they chanc'd 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.
- I gave you all,—
- And in good time you gave it.
- 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?
- And speak't again my lord; no more with me.
- 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.
- 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?
- What need one?
- O, reason not the need: our basest beggars
- Are in the poorest thing superfluous:
- Allow not nature more than nature needs,
- Man's life is cheap as beast's: thou art a lady;
- If only to go warm were gorgeous,
- Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear'st
- Which scarcely keeps thee warm.—But, for true need,—
- You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need!
- You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,
- As full of grief as age; wretched in both!
- If it be you that stirs these daughters' hearts
- Against their father, fool me not so much
- To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger,
- And let not women's weapons, water-drops,
- Stain my man's cheeks!—No, you unnatural hags,
- I will have such revenges on you both
- That all the world shall,—I will do such things,—
- What they are yet, I know not; but they shall be
- The terrors of the earth. You think I'll weep;
- No, I'll not weep:—
- I have full cause of weeping; but this heart
- Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws
- Or ere I'll weep.—O fool, I shall go mad!
[Exeunt Lear, Gloucester, Kent, and Fool. Storm heard at a distance.]
- Let us withdraw; 'twill be a storm.
- This house is little: the old man and his people
- Cannot be well bestow'd.
- 'Tis his own blame; hath put himself from rest
- And must needs taste his folly.
- For his particular, I'll receive him gladly,
- But not one follower.
- So am I purpos'd.
- Where is my lord of Gloucester?
- Followed the old man forth:—he is return'd.
- The king is in high rage.
- Whither is he going?
- He calls to horse; but will I know not whither.
- 'Tis best to give him way; he leads himself.
- My lord, entreat him by no means to stay.
- Alack, the night comes on, and the high winds
- Do sorely ruffle; for many miles about
- There's scarce a bush.
- O, sir, to wilful men
- The injuries that they themselves procure
- Must be their schoolmasters. Shut up your doors:
- He is attended with a desperate train;
- And what they may incense him to, being apt
- To have his ear abus'd, wisdom bids fear.
- Shut up your doors, my lord; 'tis a wild night:
- My Regan counsels well: come out o' the storm.
Scene I. A Heath.
[A storm with thunder and lightning. Enter Kent and a Gentleman,
- Who's there, besides foul weather?
- One minded like the weather, most unquietly.
- I know you. Where's the king?
- Contending with the fretful elements;
- Bids the wind blow the earth into the sea,
- Or swell the curled waters 'bove the main,
- That things might change or cease; tears his white hair,
- Which the impetuous blasts, with eyeless rage,
- Catch in their fury and make nothing of;
- Strives in his little world of man to outscorn
- The to-and-fro-conflicting wind and rain.
- This night, wherein the cub-drawn bear would couch,
- The lion and the belly-pinched wolf
- Keep their fur dry, unbonneted he runs,
- And bids what will take all.
- But who is with him?
- None but the fool, who labours to out-jest
- His heart-struck injuries.
- 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
- Throne 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.
- I will talk further with you.
- No, do not.
- For confirmation that I am much more
- Than my out wall, open this purse, and take
- What it contains. If you shall see Cordelia,—
- As fear not but you shall,—show her this ring;
- 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.
- Give me your hand: have you no more to say?
- Few words, but, to effect, more than all yet,—
- That, when we have found the king,—in which your pain
- That way, I'll this,—he that first lights on him
- Holla the other.
Scene II. Another part of the heath. Storm continues.
[Enter Lear and Fool.]
- 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,
- Strike flat the thick rotundity o' the world!
- Crack nature's moulds, all germens spill at once,
- That make ingrateful man!
- 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 nether wise men nor fools.
- 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 despis'd old man:—
- But yet I call you servile ministers,
- That will with two pernicious daughters join
- Your high-engender'd battles 'gainst a head
- So old and white as this! O! O! 'tis foul!
- He that has a house to put 's head in has a good head-piece.
- The codpiece that will house
- Before the head has any,
- The head and he shall louse:
- So beggars marry many.
- The man that makes his toe
- What he his heart should make
- 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
- No, I will be the pattern of all patience;
- I will say nothing.
- Who's there?
- Marry, here's grace and a codpiece; that's a wise man and a fool.
- 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
- Th' affliction nor the fear.
- 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 perjur'd, and thou simular man of virtue
- That art incestuous: caitiff, to pieces shake
- That under covert and convenient seeming
- Hast practis'd 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.
- Alack, bareheaded!
- Gracious my lord, hard by here is a hovel;
- Some friendship will it lend you 'gainst the tempest:
- Repose you there, whilst I to this hard house,—
- More harder than the stones whereof 'tis rais'd;
- Which even but now, demanding after you,
- Denied me to come in,—return, and force
- Their scanted courtesy.
- 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.
- 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.
- True, boy.—Come, bring us to this hovel.
[Exeunt Lear and Kent.]
- 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 us'd with feet.
- This prophecy Merlin shall make; for I live before his time.
Scene III. A Room in Gloucester's Castle.
[Enter Gloucester and Edmund.]
- Alack, alack, Edmund, I like not this unnatural dealing. When I
- desired their leave that I might pity him, they took from me the
- use of mine own house; charged me on pain of perpetual displeasure,
- neither to speak of him, entreat for him, nor any way sustain him.
- Most savage and unnatural!
- Go to; say you nothing. There is 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. If 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.
- 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.
Scene IV. A part of the Heath with a Hovel. Storm continues.
[Enter Lear, Kent, and Fool.]
- Here is the place, my lord; good my lord, enter:
- The tyranny of the open night's too rough
- For nature to endure.
- Let me alone.
- Good my lord, enter here.
- Wilt break my heart?
- I had rather break mine own. Good my lord, enter.
- Thou think'st 'tis much that this contentious storm
- Invades us to the skin: so 'tis to thee
- But where the greater malady is fix'd,
- The lesser is scarce felt. Thou'dst shun a bear;
- But if thy flight lay toward the raging sea,
- Thou'dst 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.
- Good my lord, enter here.
- Pr'ythee 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, wheresoe'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.
- [Within.] Fathom and half, fathom and half! Poor Tom!
[The Fool runs out from the hovel.]
- Come not in here, nuncle, here's a spirit.
- Help me, help me!
- Give me thy hand.—Who's there?
- A spirit, a spirit: he says his name's poor Tom.
- What art thou that dost grumble there i' the straw?
- Come forth.
[Enter Edgar, disguised as a madman.]
- Away! the foul fiend follows me!—
- Through the sharp hawthorn blows the cold wind.—
- Hum! go to thy cold bed, and warm thee.
- Didst thou give all to thy two daughters?
- And art thou come to this?
- Who gives anything to poor Tom? whom the foul fiend hath led
- through fire and through flame, through ford and whirlpool, o'er
- bog and quagmire; that hath laid knives under his pillow and
- halters in his pew, set ratsbane by his porridge; made him proud
- of heart, to ride on a bay trotting horse over four-inched
- bridges, to course his own shadow for a traitor.—Bless thy five
- wits!—Tom's a-cold.—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 continues.]
- What, have his daughters brought him to this pass?—
- Couldst thou save nothing? Didst thou give 'em all?
- Nay, he reserv'd a blanket, else we had been all shamed.
- Now all the plagues that in the pendulous air
- Hang fated o'er men's faults light on thy daughters!
- He hath no daughters, sir.
- Death, traitor! nothing could have subdu'd 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.
- Pillicock sat on Pillicock-hill:—
- Halloo, halloo, loo loo!
- This cold night will turn us all to fools and madmen.
- Take heed o' th' 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.
- What hast thou been?
- 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-paramour'd 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 brothel, thy hand
- out of placket, thy pen from lender's book, and defy the foul
- fiend.—Still through the hawthorn blows the cold wind: says
- suum, mun, nonny. Dolphin my boy, boy, sessa! let him trot by.
[Storm still continues.]
- 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
- [Tears off his clothes.]
- Pr'ythee, 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.
- 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 harelip; mildews the white wheat,
- and hurts the poor creature of earth.
- Swithold footed thrice the old;
- He met the nightmare, and her nine-fold;
- Bid her alight
- And her troth plight,
- And aroint thee, witch, aroint thee!
- How fares your grace?
[Enter Gloucester with a torch.]
- What's he?
- Who's there? What is't you seek?
- What are you there? Your names?
- Poor Tom; that eats the swimming frog, the toad, the todpole, 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 stocked, punished,
- and imprisoned; who hath had three suits to his back, six shirts
- to his body, horse to ride, and weapons 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!
- What, hath your grace no better company?
- The prince of darkness is a gentleman:
- Modo he's call'd, and Mahu.
- Our flesh and blood, my lord, is grown so vile
- That it doth hate what gets it.
- Poor Tom's a-cold.
- 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 ventur'd to come seek you out
- And bring you where both fire and food is ready.
- First let me talk with this philosopher.—
- What is the cause of thunder?
- Good my lord, take his offer; go into the house.
- I'll talk a word with this same learned Theban.—
- What is your study?
- How to prevent the fiend and to kill vermin.
- Let me ask you one word in private.
- Importune him once more to go, my lord;
- His wits begin to unsettle.
- Canst thou blame him?
- 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 lov'd him, friend,—
- No father his son dearer: true to tell thee,
- [Storm continues.]
- The grief hath craz'd my wits.—What a night's this!—
- I do beseech your grace,—
- O, cry you mercy, sir.—
- Noble philosopher, your company.
- Tom's a-cold.
- In, fellow, there, into the hovel; keep thee warm.
- Come, let's in all.
- This way, my lord.
- With him;
- I will keep still with my philosopher.
- Good my lord, soothe him; let him take the fellow.
- Take him you on.
- Sirrah, come on; go along with us.
- Come, good Athenian.
- No words, no words: hush.
- Child Rowland to the dark tower came,
- His word was still—Fie, foh, and fum,
- I smell the blood of a British man.
Scene V. A Room in Gloucester's Castle.
[Enter Cornwall and Edmund.]
- I will have my revenge ere I depart his house.
- How, my lord, I may be censured, that nature thus gives way to
- loyalty, something fears me to think of.
- 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 reproveable badness in himself.
- 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!
- Go with me to the duchess.
- If the matter of this paper be certain, you have mighty business
- in hand.
- True or false, it hath made thee earl of Gloucester. Seek out
- where thy father is, that he may be ready for our apprehension.
- [Aside.] If I find him comforting the king, it will stuff his
- suspicion more fully.—I will persever in my course of loyalty,
- though the conflict be sore between that and my blood.
- I will lay trust upon thee; and thou shalt find a dearer father
- in my love.
Scene VI. A Chamber in a Farmhouse adjoining the Castle.
[Enter Gloucester, Lear, Kent, Fool, and Edgar.]
- 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.
- All the power of his wits have given way to his impatience:—
- the gods reward your kindness!
- Frateretto calls me; and tells me Nero is an angler in the lake
- of darkness.—Pray, innocent, and beware the foul fiend.
- Pr'ythee, nuncle, tell me whether a madman be a gentleman or a
- A king, a king!
- 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.
- To have a thousand with red burning spits
- Come hissing in upon 'em,—
- The foul fiend bites my back.
- He's mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf, a horse's health,
- a boy's love, or a whore's oath.
- It shall be done; I will arraign them straight.—
- [To Edgar.] Come, sit thou here, most learned justicer—
- [To the Fool.] Thou, sapient sir, sit here. Now, you she-foxes!—
- Look, where he stands and glares!—Want'st thou eyes at trial,
- Come o'er the bourn, Bessy, to me,—
- Her boat hath a leak,
- And she must not speak
- Why she dares not come over to thee.
- The foul fiend haunts poor Tom in the voice of a nightingale.
- Hoppedance cries in Tom's belly for two white herring. Croak not,
- black angel; I have no food for thee.
- How do you, sir? Stand you not so amaz'd;
- Will you lie down and rest upon the cushions?
- I'll see their trial first.—Bring in their evidence.
- [To Edgar.] Thou, robed man of justice, take thy place;—
- [To the Fool.] And thou, his yokefellow of equity,
- Bench by his side:—[To Kent.] you are o' the commission,
- Sit you too.
- 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.
- Purr! the cat is gray.
- Arraign her first; 'tis Goneril. I here take my oath before
- this honourable assembly, she kicked the poor king her father.
- Come hither, mistress. Is your name Goneril?
- She cannot deny it.
- Cry you mercy, I took you for a joint-stool.
- 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?
- Bless thy five wits!
- O pity!—Sir, where is the patience now
- That you so oft have boasted to retain?
- [Aside.] My tears begin to take his part so much
- They'll mar my counterfeiting.
- The little dogs and all,
- Tray, Blanch, and Sweetheart, see, they bark at me.
- Tom will throw his head at them.—Avaunt, you curs!
- Be thy mouth or black or white,
- Tooth that poisons if it bite;
- Mastiff, greyhound, 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.
- 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 you for one of my
- hundred; only I do not like the fashion of your garments: you'll
- say they are Persian; but let them be changed.
- Now, good my lord, lie here and rest awhile.
- Make no noise, make no noise; draw the curtains:
- So, so. We'll go to supper i' the morning.
- And I'll go to bed at noon.
- Come hither, friend: where is the king my master?
- Here, sir; but trouble him not,—his wits are gone.
- Good friend, I pr'ythee, 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.
- Oppressed nature sleeps:—
- This rest might yet have balm'd thy broken sinews,
- Which, if convenience will not allow,
- Stand in hard cure.—Come, help to bear thy master;
- [To the Fool.] Thou must not stay behind.
- Come, come, away!
[Exeunt Kent, Gloucester, and the Fool, bearing off Lear.]
- 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'erskip
- When grief hath mates, and bearing fellowship.
- How light and portable my pain seems now,
- When that which makes me bend makes the king bow;
- He childed as I fathered!—Tom, away!
- 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.
Scene VII. A Room in Gloucester's Castle.
[Enter Cornwall, Regan, Goneril, Edmund, and Servants.]
- Post speedily to my lord your husband, show him this letter:—
- the army of France is landed.—Seek out the traitor Gloucester.
[Exeunt some of the Servants.]
- Hang him instantly.
- Pluck out his eyes.
- 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.
How now! Where's the king?
- 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 lord's dependants,
- Are gone with him towards Dover: where they boast
- To have well-armed friends.
- Get horses for your mistress.
- Farewell, sweet lord, and sister.
- 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?
[Re-enter servants, with Gloucester.]
- Ingrateful fox! 'tis he.
- Bind fast his corky arms.
- What mean your graces?—Good my friends, consider
- You are my guests: do me no foul play, friends.
- Bind him, I say.
[Servants bind him.]
- Hard, hard.—O filthy traitor!
- Unmerciful lady as you are, I'm none.
- To this chair bind him.—Villain, thou shalt find,—
[Regan plucks his beard.]
- By the kind gods, 'tis most ignobly done
- To pluck me by the beard.
- So white, and such a traitor!
- Naughty lady,
- These hairs which thou dost ravish from my chin
- Will quicken, and accuse thee: I am your host:
- With robber's hands my hospitable favours
- You should not ruffle thus. What will you do?
- Come, sir, what letters had you late from France?
- Be simple-answer'd, for we know the truth.
- And what confederacy have you with the traitors
- Late footed in the kingdom?
- To whose hands have you sent the lunatic king?
- I have a letter guessingly set down,
- Which came from one that's of a neutral heart,
- And not from one oppos'd.
- And false.
- Where hast thou sent the king?
- To Dover.
- Wherefore to Dover? Wast thou not charg'd at peril,—
- Wherefore to Dover? Let him first answer that.
- I am tied to the stake, and I must stand the course.
- Wherefore to Dover, sir?
- 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 endur'd, 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 subscrib'd:—but I shall see
- The winged vengeance overtake such children.
- See't shalt thou never.—Fellows, hold the chair.
- Upon these eyes of thine I'll set my foot.
[Gloucester is held down in his chair, while Cornwall plucks out one
- of his eyes and sets his foot on it.]
- He that will think to live till he be old,
- Give me some help!—O cruel!—O ye gods!
- One side will mock another; the other too!
- If you see vengeance,—
- Hold your hand, my lord:
- I have serv'd you ever since I was a child;
- But better service have I never done you
- Than now to bid you hold.
- How now, you dog!
- If you did wear a beard upon your chin,
- I'd shake it on this quarrel. What do you mean?
- My villain!
[Draws, and runs at him.]
- Nay, then, come on, and take the chance of anger.
[Draws. They fight. Cornwall is wounded.]
- Give me thy sword [to another servant.]—A peasant stand up thus?
[Snatches a sword, comes behind, and stabs him.]
- O, I am slain!—My lord, you have one eye left
- To see some mischief on thim. O!
- Lest it see more, prevent it.—Out, vile jelly!
- Where is thy lustre now?
[Tears out Gloucester's other eye and throws it on the ground.]
- All dark and comfortless.—Where's my son Edmund?
- Edmund, enkindle all the sparks of nature
- To quit this horrid act.
- 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.
- O my follies! Then Edgar was abus'd.—
- Kind gods, forgive me that, and prosper him!
- Go thrust him out at gates, and let him smell
- His way to Dover.—How is't, my lord? How look you?
- I have receiv'd 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; Servants unbind Gloucester and lead
- him out.]
- I'll never care what wickedness I do,
- If this man come to good.
- If she live long,
- And in the end meet the old course of death,
- Women will all turn monsters.
- Let's follow the old earl, and get the Bedlam
- To lead him where he would: his roguish madness
- Allows itself to anything.
- Go thou: I'll fetch some flax and whites of eggs
- To apply to his bleeding face. Now heaven help him!
Scene I. The heath.
- 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,
- Life would not yield to age.
- O my good lord,
- I have been your tenant, and your father's tenant,
- These fourscore years.
- Away, get thee away; good friend, be gone:
- Thy comforts can do me no good at all;
- Thee they may hurt.
- You cannot see your way.
- 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'd say I had eyes again!
- How now! Who's there?
- [Aside.] O gods! Who is't can say 'I am at the worst'?
- I am worse than e'er I was.
- 'Tis poor mad Tom.
- [Aside.] And worse I may be yet. The worst is not
- So long as we can say 'This is the worst.'
- Fellow, where goest?
- Is it a beggar-man?
- Madman and beggar too.
- 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.
- [Aside.] How should this be?—
- Bad is the trade that must play fool to sorrow,
- Angering itself and others.—Bless thee, master!
- Is that the naked fellow?
- Ay, my lord.
- Then pr'ythee 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,
- Which I'll entreat to lead me.
- Alack, sir, he is mad.
- 'Tis the time's plague when madmen lead the blind.
- Do as I bid thee, or rather do thy pleasure;
- Above the rest, be gone.
- I'll bring him the best 'parel that I have,
- Come on't what will.
- Sirrah naked fellow,—
- Poor Tom's a-cold.
- [Aside.] I cannot daub it further.
- Come hither, fellow.
- [Aside.] And yet I must.—Bless thy sweet eyes, they bleed.
- Know'st thou the way to Dover?
- Both stile and gate, horseway and footpath. 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!
- 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 does not feel, feel your power quickly;
- So distribution should undo excess,
- And each man have enough.—Dost thou know Dover?
- Ay, master.
- 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.
- Give me thy arm:
- Poor Tom shall lead thee.
Scene II. Before the Duke of Albany's Palace.
[Enter Goneril and Edmund; Oswald meeting them.]
- Welcome, my lord: I marvel our mild husband
- Not met us on the way.—Now, where's your master?
- Madam, within; but never man so chang'd.
- I told him of the army that was landed;
- He smil'd 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.
- [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. [Giving a favour.]
- Wear this; spare speech;
- Decline your head: this kiss, if it durst speak,
- Would stretch thy spirits up into the air:—
- Conceive, and fare thee well.
- Yours in the ranks of death!
- My most dear Gloucester.
- O, the difference of man and man!
- To thee a woman's services are due:
- My fool usurps my body.
- Madam, here comes my lord.
- I have been worth the whistle.
- O Goneril!
- You are not worth the dust which the rude wind
- Blows in your face! I fear your disposition:
- That nature which contemns it origin
- Cannot be bordered certain in itself;
- She that herself will sliver and disbranch
- From her material sap, perforce must wither
- And come to deadly use.
- No more; the text is foolish.
- 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.
- 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, sitt'st still, and criest
- 'Alack, why does he so?'
- See thyself, devil!
- Proper deformity seems not in the fiend
- So horrid as in woman.
- O vain fool!
- 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.
- Marry, your manhood now!
[Enter a Messenger.]
- What news?
- O, my good lord, the Duke of Cornwall's dead;
- Slain by his servant, going to put out
- The other eye of Gloucester.
- Gloucester's eyes!
- A servant that he bred, thrill'd with remorse,
- Oppos'd against the act, bending his sword
- To his great master; who, thereat enrag'd,
- Flew on him, and amongst them fell'd him dead;
- But not without that harmful stroke which since
- Hath pluck'd him after.
- 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?
- Both, both, my lord.—
- This letter, madam, craves a speedy answer;
- 'Tis from your sister.
- [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.
- Where was his son when they did take his eyes?
- Come with my lady hither.
- He is not here.
- No, my good lord; I met him back again.
- Knows he the wickedness?
- Ay, my good lord. 'Twas he inform'd against him;
- And quit the house on purpose, that their punishment
- Might have the freer course.
- 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.
Scene III. The French camp near Dover.
[Enter Kent and a Gentleman.]
- Why the king of France is so suddenly gone back know you the
- 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
- Who hath he left behind him general?
- The Mareschal of France, Monsieur La Far.
- Did your letters pierce the queen to any demonstration of grief?
- 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.
- O, then it mov'd her.
- 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 day: 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 belov'd, if all
- Could so become it.
- Made she no verbal question?
- Faith, once or twice she heav'd 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 believ'd!'—There she shook
- The holy water from her heavenly eyes,
- And clamour moisten'd: then away she started
- To deal with grief alone.
- 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?
- Was this before the king return'd?
- No, since.
- 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.
- Why, good sir?
- 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.
- Alack, poor gentleman!
- Of Albany's and Cornwall's powers you heard not?
- 'Tis so; they are a-foot.
- 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.
Scene IV. The French camp. A Tent.
[Enter Cordelia, Physician, and Soldiers.]
- 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 harlocks, 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.
- 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.
- All bless'd 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.]
- News, madam;
- The British powers are marching hitherward.
- '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 ag'd father's right:
- Soon may I hear and see him!
Scene V. A Room in Gloucester's Castle.
[Enter Regan and Oswald.]
- But are my brother's powers set forth?
- Ay, madam.
- Himself in person there?
- Madam, with much ado.
- Your sister is the better soldier.
- Lord Edmund spake not with your lord at home?
- No, madam.
- What might import my sister's letter to him?
- I know not, lady.
- 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 despatch
- His nighted life; moreover, to descry
- The strength o' the enemy.
- I must needs after him, madam, with my letter.
- Our troops set forth to-morrow: stay with us;
- The ways are dangerous.
- I may not, madam:
- My lady charg'd my duty in this business.
- 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.
- Madam, I had rather,—
- I know your lady does not love her husband;
- I am sure of that: and at her late being here
- She gave strange eyeliads and most speaking looks
- To noble Edmund. I know you are of her bosom.
- I, madam?
- 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.
- Would I could meet him, madam! I should show
- What party I do follow.
- Fare thee well.
Scene VI. The country near Dover.
[Enter Gloucester, and Edgar dressed like a peasant.]
- When shall I come to the top of that same hill?
- You do climb up it now: look, how we labour.
- Methinks the ground is even.
- Horrible steep.
- Hark, do you hear the sea?
- No, truly.
- Why, then, your other senses grow imperfect
- By your eyes' anguish.
- So may it be indeed:
- Methinks thy voice is alter'd; and thou speak'st
- In better phrase and matter than thou didst.
- You are much deceiv'd: in nothing am I chang'd
- But in my garments.
- Methinks you're better spoken.
- 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 pebble chafes
- Cannot be heard so high.—I'll look no more;
- Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight
- Topple down headlong.
- Set me where you stand.
- Give me your hand:—you are now within a foot
- Of th' extreme verge: for all beneath the moon
- Would I not leap upright.
- 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 further off;
- Bid me farewell, and let me hear thee going.
- Now fare ye well, good sir.
[Seems to go.]
- With all my heart.
- [Aside.] Why I do trifle thus with his despair
- Is done to cure it.
- 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.
- Gone, sir:—farewell.—
[Gloucester leaps, and falls along.]
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?
- Away, and let me die.
- 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 is a miracle.—Speak yet again.
- But have I fall'n, or no?
- From the dread summit of this chalky bourn.
- Look up a-height;—the shrill-gorg'd lark so far
- Cannot be seen or heard: do but look up.
- Alack, I have no eyes.—
- Is wretchedness depriv'd that benefit
- To end itself by death? 'Twas yet some comfort
- When misery could beguile the tyrant's rage
- And frustrate his proud will.
- Give me your arm:
- Up:—so.—How is't? Feel you your legs? You stand.
- Too well, too well.
- This is above all strangeness.
- Upon the crown o' the cliff what thing was that
- Which parted from you?
- A poor unfortunate beggar.
- As I stood here below, methought his eyes
- Were two full moons; he had a thousand noses,
- Horns whelk'd and wav'd like the enridged sea:
- It was some fiend; therefore, thou happy father,
- Think that the clearest gods, who make them honours
- Of men's impossibility, have preserv'd thee.
- 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.
- Bear free and patient thoughts.—But who comes here?
[Enter Lear, fantastically dressed up with flowers.]
The safer sense will ne'er accommodate
- His master thus.
- No, they cannot touch me for coining;
- I am the king himself.
- O thou side-piercing sight!
- 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.
- Sweet marjoram.
- I know that voice.
- 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 everything 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 everything; 'tis a
- lie—I am not ague-proof.
- The trick of that voice I do well remember:
- Is't not the king?
- Ay, every inch a king:
- When I do stare, see how the subject quakes.
- I pardon that man's life.—What was thy cause?—
- 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 fiend's; there's hell, there's darkness,
- There is 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.
- O, let me kiss that hand!
- Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality.
- O ruin'd piece of nature! This great world
- Shall so wear out to naught.—Dost thou know me?
- 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.
- Were all the letters suns, I could not see one.
- I would not take this from report;—it is,
- And my heart breaks at it.
- What, with the case of eyes?
- 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.
- I see it feelingly.
- What, art mad? A man may see how the 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?
- Ay, sir.
- 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 pygmy'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.
- O, matter and impertinency mix'd!
- Reason, in madness!
- 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.
- Alack, alack the day!
- 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].
- O, here he is: lay hand upon him.—Sir,
- Your most dear daughter,—
- 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.
- You shall have anything.
- No seconds? all myself?
- Why, this would make a man a man of salt,
- To use his eyes for garden water-pots,
- Ay, and for laying Autumn's dust.
- Good sir,—
- I will die bravely, like a smug bridegroom. What!
- I will be jovial: come, come, I am a king,
- My masters, know you that.
- You are a royal one, and we obey you.
- Then there's life in't. Nay, an you get it, you shall get it
- by running. Sa, sa, sa, sa!
[Exit running. Attendants follow.]
- 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.
- Hail, gentle sir.
- Sir, speed you. What's your will?
- Do you hear aught, sir, of a battle toward?
- Most sure and vulgar: every one hears that
- Which can distinguish sound.
- But, by your favour,
- How near's the other army?
- Near and on speedy foot; the main descry
- Stands on the hourly thought.
- I thank you sir: that's all.
- Though that the queen on special cause is here,
- Her army is mov'd on.
- I thank you, sir.
- You ever-gentle gods, take my breath from me;
- Let not my worser spirit tempt me again
- To die before you please!
- Well pray you, father.
- Now, good sir, what are you?
- 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.
- Hearty thanks:
- The bounty and the benison of heaven
- To boot, and boot!
- A proclaim'd prize! Most happy!
- That eyeless head of thine was first fram'd flesh
- To raise my fortunes.—Thou old unhappy traitor,
- Briefly thyself remember:—the sword is out
- That must destroy thee.
- Now let thy friendly hand
- Put strength enough to it.
- Wherefore, bold peasant,
- Dar'st thou support a publish'd traitor? Hence;
- Lest that the infection of his fortune take
- Like hold on thee. Let go his arm.
- Chill not let go, zir, without vurther 'casion.
- Let go, slave, or thou diest!
- Good gentleman, go your gait, and let poor voke 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 the old man; keep out,
- che vore ye, or ise try whether your costard or my bat be the
- harder: chill be plain with you.
- Out, dunghill!
- Chill pick your teeth, zir. Come! No matter vor your foins.
[They fight, and Edgar knocks him down.]
- 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!
- I know thee well: a serviceable villain;
- As duteous to the vices of thy mistress
- As badness would desire.
- What, is he dead?
- 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'd 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
- gaol; from the loathed warmth whereof deliver me, and supply the
- place for your labour.
- 'Your (wife, so I would say) affectionate servant,
- O indistinguish'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-practis'd duke: for him 'tis well
- That of thy death and business I can tell.
[Exit Edgar, dragging out the body.]
- 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.
- Give me your hand:
- [A drum afar off.]
- Far off methinks I hear the beaten drum:
- Come, father, I'll bestow you with a friend.
Scene VII. A Tent in the French Camp.
[Lear on a bed, asleep, soft music playing; Physician, Gentleman, and others attending.]
[Enter Cordelia, and Kent.]
- O thou good Kent, how shall I live and work
- To match thy goodness? My life will be too short
- And every measure fail me.
- To be acknowledg'd, madam, is o'erpaid.
- All my reports go with the modest truth;
- Nor more nor clipp'd, but so.
- Be better suited:
- These weeds are memories of those worser hours:
- I pr'ythee, put them off.
- Pardon, 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.
- Then be't so, my good lord. [To the Physician.] How, does the
- Madam, sleeps still.
- O you kind gods,
- Cure this great breach in his abused nature!
- The untun'd and jarring senses, O, wind up
- Of this child-changed father!
- So please your majesty
- That we may wake the king: he hath slept long.
- Be govern'd by your knowledge, and proceed
- I' the sway of your own will. Is he array'd?
- Ay, madam. In the heaviness of sleep
- We put fresh garments on him.
- Be by, good madam, when we do awake him;
- I doubt not of his temperance.
- Very well.
- Please you draw near.—Louder the music there!
- O my dear father! Restoration hang
- Thy medicine on my lips; and let this kiss
- Repair those violent harms that my two sisters
- Have in thy reverence made!
- Kind and dear princess!
- Had you not been their father, these white flakes
- Had challeng'd pity of them. Was this a face
- To be oppos'd 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.
- Madam, do you; 'tis fittest.
- How does my royal lord? How fares your majesty?
- 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 molten lead.
- Sir, do you know me?
- You are a spirit, I know: when did you die?
- Still, still, far wide!
- He's scarce awake: let him alone awhile.
- Where have I been? Where am I?—Fair daylight,—
- I am mightily abus'd.—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 assur'd
- Of my condition!
- O, look upon me, sir,
- And hold your hands in benediction o'er me.—
- No, sir, you must not kneel.
- 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.
- And so I am. I am.
- 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.
- No cause, no cause.
- Am I in France?
- In your own kingdom, sir.
- Do not abuse me.
- 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.
- Will't please your highness walk?
- You must bear with me:
- Pray you now, forget and forgive: I am old and foolish.
[Exeunt Lear, Cordelia, Physician, and Attendants.]
- Holds it true, sir, that the Duke of Cornwall was so slain?
- Most certain, sir.
- Who is conductor of his people?
- As 'tis said, the bastard son of Gloucester.
- They say Edgar, his banished son, is with the Earl of Kent
- in Germany.
- Report is changeable. 'Tis time to look about; the powers of
- the kingdom approach apace.
- The arbitrement is like to be bloody.
- Fare you well, sir.
- My point and period will be throughly wrought,
- Or well or ill, as this day's battle's fought.
Scene I. The Camp of the British Forces near Dover.
[Enter, with drum and colours, Edmund, Regan, Officers, Soldiers,
- and others.]
- Know of the duke if his last purpose hold,
- Or whether since he is advis'd by aught
- To change the course: he's full of alteration
- And self-reproving:—bring his constant pleasure.
[To an Officer, who goes out.]
- Our sister's man is certainly miscarried.
- Tis to be doubted, madam.
- 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?
- In honour'd love.
- But have you never found my brother's way
- To the forfended place?
- That thought abuses you.
- I am doubtful that you have been conjunct
- And bosom'd with her, as far as we call hers.
- No, by mine honour, madam.
- I never shall endure her: dear my lord,
- Be not familiar with her.
- Fear me not:—
- She and the duke her husband!
[Enter, with drum and colours, Albany, Goneril, and Soldiers.]
- [Aside.] I had rather lose the battle than that sister
- Should loosen him and me.
- Our very loving sister, well be-met.—
- Sir, this I heard,—the king is come to his daughter,
- With others whom the rigour of our state
- Forc'd 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.
- Sir, you speak nobly.
- Why is this reason'd?
- Combine together 'gainst the enemy;
- For these domestic and particular broils
- Are not the question here.
- Let's, then, determine
- With the ancient of war on our proceeding.
- I shall attend you presently at your tent.
- Sister, you'll go with us?
- 'Tis most convenient; pray you, go with us.
- [Aside.] O, ho, I know the riddle.—I will go.
[As they are going out, enter Edgar disguised.]
- If e'er your grace had speech with man so poor,
- Hear me one word.
- I'll overtake you.—Speak.
[Exeunt Edmund, Regan, Goneril, Officers, Soldiers, and
- 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!
- Stay till I have read the letter.
- I was forbid it.
- When time shall serve, let but the herald cry,
- And I'll appear again.
- Why, fare thee well: I will o'erlook thy paper.
- 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 urg'd on you.
- We will greet the time.
- 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.
Scene II. A field between the two Camps.
[Alarum within. Enter, with drum and colours, Lear, Cordelia, and
- their Forces, and exeunt.]
[Enter Edgar and Gloucester.]
- 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.
- Grace go with you, sir!
[Alarum and retreat within. R-enter 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!
- No further, sir; a man may rot even here.
- What, in ill thoughts again? Men must endure
- Their going hence, even as their coming hither;
- Ripeness is all:—come on.
- And that's true too.
Scene III. The British Camp near Dover.
[Enter, in conquest, with drum and colours, Edmund; Lear and
- Cordelia prisoners; Officers, Soldiers, &c.]
- Some officers take them away: good guard
- Until their greater pleasures first be known
- That are to censure them.
- 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?
- 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.
- Take them away.
- 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 goodyears shall devour them, flesh and fell,
- Ere they shall make us weep: we'll see 'em starve first.
[Exeunt Lear and Cordelia, guarded.]
- Come hither, captain; hark.
- Take thou this note [giving a paper]; go follow them to prison:
- One step I have advanc'd 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.
- I'll do't, my lord.
- About it; and write happy when thou hast done.
- Mark,—I say, instantly; and carry it so
- As I have set it down.
- I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried oats;
- If it be man's work, I'll do't.
[Flourish. Enter Albany, Goneril, Regan, Officers, and
- Sir, you have show'd to-day your valiant strain,
- And fortune led you well: you have the captives
- Who 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.
- 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,
- And 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 curs'd
- By those that feel their sharpness:—
- The question of Cordelia and her father
- Requires a fitter place.
- Sir, by your patience,
- I hold you but a subject of this war,
- Not as a brother.
- 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.
- Not so hot:
- In his own grace he doth exalt himself,
- More than in your addition.
- In my rights
- By me invested, he compeers the best.
- That were the most if he should husband you.
- Jesters do oft prove prophets.
- Holla, holla!
- That eye that told you so look'd but asquint.
- 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.
- Mean you to enjoy him?
- The let-alone lies not in your good will.
- Nor in thine, lord.
- Half-blooded fellow, yes.
- [To Edmund.] Let the drum strike, and prove my title thine.
- Stay yet; hear reason.—Edmund, I arrest thee
- On capital treason; and, in thine arrest,
- This gilded serpent [pointing to Goneril.],—For your claim, fair
- I bar it in the interest of my wife;
- 'Tis she is subcontracted to this lord,
- And I, her husband, contradict your bans.
- If you will marry, make your loves to me,—
- My lady is bespoke.
- An interlude!
- Thou art arm'd, Gloucester:—let the trumpet sound:
- If none appear to prove upon thy person
- Thy heinous, manifest, and many treasons,
- There is my pledge [throwing down a glove]; I'll prove it on thy
- Ere I taste bread, thou art in nothing less
- Than I have here proclaim'd thee.
- Sick, O, sick!
- [Aside.] If not, I'll ne'er trust medicine.
- There's my exchange [throwing down a glove]: what in the world he
- 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.
- A herald, ho!
- A herald, ho, a herald!
- Trust to thy single virtue; for thy soldiers,
- All levied in my name, have in my name
- Took their discharge.
- My sickness grows upon me.
- 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.
- Sound, trumpet!
[A trumpet sounds.]
- [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.'
[Third trumpet. Trumpet answers within. Enter Edgar, armed,
- preceded by a trumpet.]
- Ask him his purposes, why he appears
- Upon this call o' the trumpet.
- What are you?
- Your name, your quality? and why you answer
- This present summons?
- 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.
- Which is that adversary?
- What's he that speaks for Edmund Earl of Gloucester?
- Himself:—what say'st thou to him?
- 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 beneath 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.
- 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 those 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.]
- Save him, save him!
- This is mere practice, Gloucester:
- By the law of arms thou wast not bound to answer
- An unknown opposite; thou art not vanquish'd,
- But cozen'd and beguil'd.
- 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.]
- Say if I do,—the laws are mine, not thine:
- Who can arraign me for't?
- Most monstrous!
- Know'st thou this paper?
- Ask me not what I know.
- Go after her: she's desperate; govern her.
[To an Officer, who goes out.]
- What, you have charg'd 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.
- 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.
- Thou hast spoken right; 'tis true;
- The wheel is come full circle; I am here.
- 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!
- Worthy prince, I know't.
- Where have you hid yourself?
- How have you known the miseries of your father?
- 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 with the pain of death we'd 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, sav'd 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.
- This speech of yours hath mov'd me,
- And shall perchance do good: but speak you on;
- You look as you had something more to say.
- If there be more, more woeful, hold it in;
- For I am almost ready to dissolve,
- Hearing of this.
- 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 a man
- Who, having seen me in my worst estate,
- Shunn'd my abhorr'd society; but then, finding
- Who 'twas that so endur'd, with his strong arms
- He fastened on my neck, and bellow'd out
- As he'd burst heaven; threw him on my father;
- Told the most piteous tale of Lear and him
- That ever ear receiv'd: 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 tranc'd.
- But who was this?
- 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 hastily, with a bloody knife.]
- Help, help! O, help!
- What kind of help?
- Speak, man.
- What means that bloody knife?
- 'Tis hot, it smokes;
- It came even from the heart of—O! she's dead!
- Who dead? speak, man.
- Your lady, sir, your lady: and her sister
- By her is poisoned; she hath confess'd it.
- I was contracted to them both: all three
- Now marry in an instant.
- Here comes Kent.
- Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead:—
- This judgement of the heavens, that makes us tremble
- Touches us not with pity. [Exit Gentleman.]
O, is this he?
- The time will not allow the compliment
- That very manners urges.
- I am come
- To bid my king and master aye good night:
- Is he not here?
- Great thing of us forgot!
- Speak, Edmund, where's the king? and where's Cordelia?
[The bodies of Goneril and Regan are brought in.]
Seest thou this object, Kent?
- Alack, why thus?
- Yet Edmund was belov'd.
- The one the other poisoned for my sake,
- And after slew herself.
- Even so.—Cover their faces.
- 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.
- Run, run, O, run!
- To who, my lord?—Who has the office? send
- Thy token of reprieve.
- Well thought on: take my sword,
- Give it the Captain.
- Haste thee for thy life.
- 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.
- The gods defend her!—Bear him hence awhile.
[Edmund is borne off.]
[Re-enter Lear, with Cordelia dead in his arms; Edgar, Officer, and others following.]
- Howl, howl, howl, howl!—O, you are men of stone.
- 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.
- Is this the promis'd end?
- Or image of that horror?
- Fall, and cease!
- This feather stirs; she lives! If it be so,
- It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows
- That ever I have felt.
- O my good master! [Kneeling.]
- Pr'ythee, away!
- 'Tis noble Kent, your friend.
- A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all!
- I might have sav'd 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.
- 'Tis true, my lords, he did.
- 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.
- If fortune brag of two she lov'd and hated,
- One of them we behold.
- This is a dull sight. Are you not Kent?
- The same,
- Your servant Kent.—Where is your servant Caius?
- He's a good fellow, I can tell you that;
- He'll strike, and quickly too:—he's dead and rotten.
- No, my good lord; I am the very man,—
- I'll see that straight.
- That from your first of difference and decay
- Have follow'd your sad steps.
- You are welcome hither.
- Nor no man else:—All's cheerless, dark, and deadly.—
- Your eldest daughters have fordone themselves,
- And desperately are dead.
- Ay, so I think.
- He knows not what he says; and vain is it
- That we present us to him.
- Very bootless.
[Enter a Officer.]
- Edmund is dead, my lord.
- 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
- 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!
- 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!—
- He faints!—My lord, my lord!—
- Break, heart; I pr'ythee break!
- Look up, my lord.
- Vex not his ghost: O, let him pass! he hates him
- That would upon the rack of this rough world
- Stretch him out longer.
- He is gone indeed.
- The wonder is, he hath endur'd so long:
- He but usurp'd his life.
- Bear them from hence.—Our present business
- Is general woe.—[To Kent and Edgar.] Friends of my soul, you
- Rule in this realm, and the gor'd state sustain.
- I have a journey, sir, shortly to go;
- My master calls me,—I must not say no.
- The weight of this sad time we must obey;
- Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
- The oldest have borne most: we that are young
- Shall never see so much, nor live so long.
[Exeunt, with a dead march.]