THE TRAGEDY OF KING LEAR
by William Shakespeare
Lear, King of Britain.
King of France.
Duke of Burgundy.
Duke of Cornwall.
Duke of Albany.
Earl of Kent.
Earl of Gloster.
Edgar, Son to Gloster.
Edmund, Bastard Son to Gloster.
Curan, a Courtier.
Old Man, Tenant to Gloster.
Oswald, steward to Goneril.
An Officer employed by Edmund.
Gentleman, attendant on Cordelia.
Servants to Cornwall.
Goneril, daughter to Lear.
Regan, daughter to Lear.
Cordelia, daughter to Lear.
Knights attending on the King, Officers, Messengers, Soldiers,
Scene I. A Room of State in King Lear's Palace.
[Enter Kent, Gloster, 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
[Enter Lear, Cornwall, Albany, Goneril, Regan, Cordelia, and
Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloster.
I shall, my liege.
[Exeunt Gloster 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,--
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 worth
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 gain
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,
Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
And as a stranger to my heart and me
Hold thee, from this for ever.
Good my liege,--
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,
Beloved sons, be yours; which to confirm,
This coronet part betwixt you.
[Giving the crown.]
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!
Do; 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!--
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 Gloster, 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.
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,
Most best, most dearest, should in this trice of time
Commit a thing so monstrous, to dismantle
So many folds of favour.
I yet beseech your majesty,--
--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.
Hadst not been born than not to have pleas'd me better.
Is it but this--My lord of Burgundy,
What say you to the lady? Will you have her?
She is herself a dowry.
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, Gloster,
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.
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
The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash.
Such unconstant starts are we like to have from him as this of
Pray you let us stick 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 Gloster'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! 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
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.
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!-- Go, sirrah, seek him; I'll apprehend him. Abominable
villain!--Where is he?
I do not well know, my lord. 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.
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:
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:
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:--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.
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
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
Some villain hath done me wrong.
That's my fear. --If you do stir abroad, go armed.
Brother, I advise you to the best; I am no honest man
if there be any good meaning toward you: 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.
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 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
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?
[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.
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
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!
I am none of these, my lord; I beseech your pardon.
Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?
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, 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:--
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.
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.
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?
I would you would make use of that good wisdom,
and put away these dispositions, that of late transform you
From what you rightly are.
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?
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!
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 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:
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?
Away to horse:
Inform her full of my particular fear;
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.
Well, well; the event.
Scene V. Court before the Duke of Albany's Palace.
[Enter Lear, Kent, and Fool.]
Go you before to Gloster with these letters: acquaint my
daughter no further with anything you know than comes from her
demand out of the letter.
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?
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.
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.
Scene I. A court within the Castle of the Earl of Gloster.
[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!
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?
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 Gloster, 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;
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.
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 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. I'd turn it all
To thy suggestion, plot, and damned practice.
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, 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.
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. 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 Gloster, 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 Gloster'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 dost thou use me thus? I know thee not.
Fellow, I know thee.
What dost thou know me for?
A knave; a rascal; a base, proud,
shallow, beggarly, whoreson, rogue;
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, Gloster, 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.
Speak yet, how grew your quarrel?
This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spared at suit of
his grey beard,--
Thou whoreson zed! thou unnecessary letter!--My lord, if you'll
give me leave, I will tread this unbolted --Spare my grey beard, you
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.
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: 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.
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, got praises of the king
And, in the fleshment of this dread exploit,
Drew on me here again.
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:
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 Gloster 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.
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 Gloster'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.
No, no; they would not.
Yes, they have.
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.
My lord, when at their home
I did commend your highness' letters to them,
came there, half breathless, panting forth
From Goneril his mistress salutations;
Which presently they read: on whose contents,
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.
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.
O, how this mother swells up toward my heart!
--Down, thou climbing sorrow,
Thy element's below!--Where is this daughter?
With the earl, sir, here within.
Follow me not;
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.
We'll set thee to school to an ant, to teach thee there's no
labouring in the winter. 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.
Where learn'd you this, fool?
Not i' the stocks, fool.
[Re-enter Lear, with Gloster.]
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, Gloster, Gloster,
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:
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:
we are not ourselves
When nature, being oppress'd, commands the mind
To suffer with the body: I'll forbear.
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, Gloster, 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?
[Rising.] Never, Regan:
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:
'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.
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.
Is your lady come?
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.
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,--
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;
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, Gloster, Kent, and Fool. Storm heard at a
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.
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.
Shut up your doors, my lord; 'tis a wild night:
My Regan counsels well: come out o' the storm.
Scene I. A Heath. [omitted]
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.
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.
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.
The art of our necessities is strange,
That can make vile things precious. Come,
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.
Scene III. A Room in Gloster's Castle.
[Enter Gloster 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. I have received a letter this
night;--'tis dangerous to be spoken;
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;
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.-- 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?
[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; there could I have him now,--and
there,--and there again, and there.
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?
This cold night will turn us all to fools and madmen.
[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;
How fares your grace?
[Enter Gloster with a torch.]
Who's there? What is't you seek?
What are you there? Your names?
who is whipped from tithing to tithing, and stocked, punished,
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:
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.
In, fellow, there, into the hovel; keep thee warm.
Come, let's in all.
This way, my lord.
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 Gloster'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
True or false, it hath made thee earl of Gloster. 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 Gloster, 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.
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!--
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.
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.
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.
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, Gloster, and the Fool, bearing off Lear.]
Scene VII. A Room in Gloster'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 Gloster.
[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.
Our posts shall be swift and intelligent betwixt us.
Farewell, dear sister:--farewell, my lord of Gloster.
Farewell, sweet lord, and sister.
[Exeunt Goneril, Edmund, and Oswald.]
Who's there? the traitor?
[Re-enter servants, with Gloster.]
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!
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.
Where hast thou sent the king?
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.
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.
[Gloster 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?
[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 Gloster's other eye and throws it on the ground.]
All dark and comfortless.--Where's my son Edmund?
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.--
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 Gloster and lead
Scene I. The heath.
--But who comes here?
[Enter Gloster, led by an Old Man.]
My father, poorly led?--World, world, O world!
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:
--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?
There is a cliff, whose high and bending head
Looks fearfully in the confined deep:
Bring me but to the very brim of it,
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'.
What most he should dislike seems pleasant to him;
What like, offensive.
It is the cowish terror of his spirit,
That dares not undertake.
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 Gloster.
Madam, here comes my lord.
I have been worth the whistle.
You are not worth the dust which the rude wind
Blows in your face! I fear your disposition:
No more; the text is foolish.
What have you done?
Tigers, not daughters, what have you perform'd?
A father, and a gracious aged man,
Most barbarous, most degenerate, have you madded.
Could my good brother suffer you to do it?
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!
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.]
O, my good lord, the Duke of Cornwall's dead;
Slain by his servant, while going to put out
The other eye of Gloster.
This shows you are above,
You justicers, that these our nether crimes
So speedily can venge!--But, O poor Gloster!
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 Gloster with her,
The news is not so tart.--I'll read, and answer.
Gloster, I live
To thank thee for the love thou show'dst the king,
And to revenge thine eyes.
Scene III. The French camp near Dover. [omitted]
Scene IV. The French camp. A Tent. [omitted]
Scene V. A Room in Gloster's Castle.
[Enter Regan and Oswald.]
But are my brother's powers set forth?
Himself in person there?
Madam, with much ado.
Your sister is the better soldier.
Lord Edmund spake not with your lord at home?
What might import my sister's letter to him?
I know not, lady.
Faith, he is posted hence on serious matter.
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 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 Gloster, 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.
Hark, do you hear the sea?
Why, then, your other senses grow imperfect
By your eyes' anguish.
So may it be indeed:
Come on, sir; here's the place:--stand still.--How fearful
And dizzy 'tis to cast one's eyes so low!
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; 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.
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 Edgar live, O, bless him!--
Now, fellow, fare thee well.
[Gloster leaps, and falls along.]
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;
Thy life is a miracle.--Speak yet again.
But have I fall'n, or no?
Do but look up.
Alack, I have no eyes.--
Is wretchedness depriv'd that benefit
To end itself by death?
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.
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 Gloster'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.
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?
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.
None does offend, none.--I say none.
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 Gloster:
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--
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.
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.
Give me your hand,
I'll lead you to some biding.
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;
Let go his arm.
Let go, slave, or thou diest!
Good gentleman, go your gait, and let poor voke pass.
Nay, come not near the old man.
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 Gloster; 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
'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,
A plot upon her virtuous husband's life;
And the exchange my brother!
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.
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?
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 will not swear these are my hands.
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.
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.
You must bear with me:
Pray you now, forget and forgive: I am old and foolish.
[Exeunt Lear, Cordelia, Physician, and Attendants.]
Scene I. The Camp of the British Forces near Dover.
[Enter, with drum and colours, Edmund, Regan, Officers, Soldiers,
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.
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 Gloster.]
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: guard them well
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 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:
I do require them of you.
Sir, I thought it fit
To send the old and miserable king
To some retention and appointed guard.
With him I sent the queen.
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.
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.
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.
Thou art arm'd, Gloster:--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.
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.
[A trumpet sounds.]
[Reads.] 'If any man of quality or degree within the lists of
the army will maintain upon Edmund, supposed Earl of Gloster,
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 Gloster?
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;
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.
[Alarums. They fight. Edmund falls.]
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.
Save him, save him!
This is mere practice, Gloster:
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?
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.
I must embrace thee:
Let sorrow split my heart if ever I
Did hate thee or thy father!
Worthy prince, I know't.
How have you known the miseries of your father?
By nursing them, my lord.
Never,--O fault!--reveal'd myself unto him
Until some half hour past, when I was arm'd;
I ask'd his blessing, but his flaw'd heart,--
Alack, too weak the conflict to support!--
'Twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief,
[Enter a Gentleman hastily, with a bloody knife.]
Help, help! O, help!
What kind of help?
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.
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?
Seest thou this object, Kent?
Alack, why thus?
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!
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.
[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.]
'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.
Are you not Kent?
Your servant Kent.—Who was 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,--
That from your first of difference and decay
Have follow'd your sad steps.
You are welcome hither.
He knows not what he says; and vain is it
That we present us to him.
[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.
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.]