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King Lear
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Entire Play

King Lear dramatizes the story of an aged king of ancient Britain, whose plan to divide his kingdom among his three…

Act 1, scene 1

King Lear, intending to divide his power and kingdom among his three daughters, demands public professions of their love. His…

Act 1, scene 2

Edmund, the earl of Gloucester’s illegitimate son, plots to displace his legitimate brother, Edgar, as Gloucester’s heir by turning Gloucester…

Act 1, scene 3

Goneril, with whom Lear has gone to live, expresses her anger at Lear and his knights. She orders her steward,…

Act 1, scene 4

The earl of Kent returns in disguise, offers his services to Lear, and is accepted as one of Lear’s followers….

Act 1, scene 5

Lear, setting out for Regan’s with his Fool, sends the disguised Kent ahead with a letter to Regan.

Act 2, scene 1

Edmund tricks Edgar into fleeing from Gloucester’s castle. After more of Edmund’s lies, Gloucester condemns Edgar to death and makes…

Act 2, scene 2

Kent meets Oswald at Gloucester’s castle (where both await answers to the letters they have brought Regan) and challenges Oswald…

Act 2, scene 3

Edgar disguises himself as a madman-beggar to escape his death sentence. (Although Kent remains onstage, a new scene begins because…

Act 2, scene 4

At Gloucester’s castle, Lear is angered that his messenger has been stocked and further angered that Regan and Cornwall refuse…

Act 3, scene 1

Kent, searching for Lear, meets a Gentleman and learns that Lear and the Fool are alone in the storm. Kent…

Act 3, scene 2

Lear rages against the elements while the Fool begs him to return to his daughters for shelter; when Kent finds…

Act 3, scene 3

Gloucester tells Edmund that he has decided to go to Lear’s aid; he also tells him about an incriminating letter…

Act 3, scene 4

Lear, Kent, and the Fool reach the hovel, where they find Edgar disguised as Poor Tom, a madman-beggar. When Gloucester…

Act 3, scene 5

Edmund tells Cornwall about Gloucester’s decision to help Lear and about the incriminating letter from France; in return, Cornwall makes…

Act 3, scene 6

Lear, in his madness, imagines that Goneril and Regan are on trial before a tribunal made up of Edgar, the…

Act 3, scene 7

Cornwall dispatches men to capture Gloucester, whom he calls a traitor. Sending Edmund and Goneril to tell Albany about the…

Act 4, scene 1

Edgar, still in disguise as Poor Tom, meets the blinded Gloucester and agrees to lead him to Dover.

Act 4, scene 2

Goneril and Edmund arrive at Albany and Goneril’s castle. After Goneril has sent Edmund back to Cornwall, Albany enters and…

Act 4, scene 3

In the French camp Kent and a Gentleman discuss Cordelia’s love of Lear, which has brought her back to Britain…

Act 4, scene 4

In the French camp Cordelia orders out a search party for Lear.

Act 4, scene 5

Regan questions Oswald about Goneril and Edmund, states her intention to marry Edmund, and asks Oswald to dissuade Goneril from…

Act 4, scene 6

To cure Gloucester of despair, Edgar pretends to aid him in a suicide attempt, a fall from Dover Cliff to…

Act 4, scene 7

In the French camp, Lear is waked by the doctor treating him and is reunited with Cordelia.

Act 5, scene 1

Albany joins his forces with Regan’s (led by Edmund) to oppose the French invasion. Edgar, still in disguise, approaches Albany…

Act 5, scene 2

Cordelia’s French army is defeated.

Act 5, scene 3

Edmund sends Lear and Cordelia to prison and secretly commissions their assassination. Albany confronts Edmund and Goneril with their intended…

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ACT 1
Scene 1
Enter Kent, Gloucester, and Edmund.

KENT I thought the King had more affected the Duke
 of Albany than Cornwall.
GLOUCESTER It did always seem so to us, but now in
 the division of the kingdom, it appears not which
5 of the dukes he values most, for equalities are so
 weighed that curiosity in neither can make choice
 of either’s moiety.
KENT Is not this your son, my lord?
GLOUCESTER His breeding, sir, hath been at my
10 charge. I have so often blushed to acknowledge
 him that now I am brazed to ’t.
KENT I cannot conceive you.
GLOUCESTER Sir, this young fellow’s mother could,
 whereupon she grew round-wombed and had indeed,
15 sir, a son for her cradle ere she had a husband
 for her bed. Do you smell a fault?
KENT I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it
 being so proper.
GLOUCESTER But I have a son, sir, by order of law,
20 some year elder than this, who yet is no dearer in
 my account. Though this knave came something
 saucily to the world before he was sent for, yet was
 his mother fair, there was good sport at his making,
7

9
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 1

 and the whoreson must be acknowledged.—Do you
25 know this noble gentleman, Edmund?
EDMUND No, my lord.
GLOUCESTER My lord of Kent. Remember him hereafter
 as my honorable friend.
EDMUND My services to your Lordship.
KENT 30I must love you and sue to know you better.
EDMUND Sir, I shall study deserving.
GLOUCESTER He hath been out nine years, and away he
 shall again. (Sennet.) The King is coming.

Enter King Lear, Cornwall, Albany, Goneril, Regan,
Cordelia, and Attendants.


LEAR 
 Attend the lords of France and Burgundy,
35 Gloucester.
GLOUCESTER I shall, my lord.He exits.
LEAR 
 Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.—
 Give me the map there.He is handed a map.
 Know that we have divided
40 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
 Unburdened crawl toward death. Our son of
 Cornwall
45 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 two great princes, France and Burgundy,
50 Great rivals in our youngest daughter’s love,
 Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn
 And here are to be answered. Tell me, my
 daughters—
 [Since now we will divest us both of rule,

11
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 1

55 Interest of territory, cares of state—]
 Which of you shall we say doth love us most,
 That we our largest bounty may extend
 Where nature doth with merit challenge. Goneril,
 Our eldest born, speak first.
GONERIL 
60 Sir, I love you more than word can wield the
 matter,
 Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty,
 Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare,
 No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honor;
65 As much as child e’er loved, or father found;
 A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable.
 Beyond all manner of so much I love you.
CORDELIA, aside 
 What shall Cordelia speak? Love, and be silent.
LEAR, pointing to the map 
 Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,
70 With shadowy forests [and with champains riched,
 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,
75 Our dearest Regan, wife of Cornwall? Speak.
REGAN 
 I am made of that self mettle as my sister
 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
80 Myself an enemy to all other joys
 Which the most precious square of sense
 possesses,
 And find I am alone felicitate
 In your dear Highness’ love.
CORDELIA, aside 85 Then poor Cordelia!
 And yet not so, since I am sure my love’s
 More ponderous than my tongue.

13
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 1

LEAR 
 To thee and thine hereditary ever
 Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom,
90 No less in space, validity, and pleasure
 Than that conferred on Goneril.—Now, our joy,
 Although our last and least, to whose young love
 [The vines of France and milk of Burgundy
 Strive to be interessed,] what can you say to draw
95 A third more opulent than your sisters’? Speak.
CORDELIA Nothing, my lord.
[LEAR Nothing?
CORDELIA Nothing.]
LEAR 
 Nothing will come of nothing. Speak again.
CORDELIA 
100 Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
 My heart into my mouth. I love your Majesty
 According to my bond, no more nor less.
LEAR 
 How, how, Cordelia? Mend your speech a little,
 Lest you may mar your fortunes.
CORDELIA 105 Good my lord,
 You have begot me, bred me, loved me.
 I return those duties back as are right fit:
 Obey you, love you, and most honor you.
 Why have my sisters husbands if they say
110 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,
115 To love my father all.
LEAR But goes thy heart with this?
CORDELIA Ay, my good lord.
LEAR So young and so untender?
CORDELIA So young, my lord, and true.

15
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 1

LEAR 
120 Let it be so. Thy truth, then, be thy dower,
 For by the sacred radiance of the sun,
 The mysteries of Hecate and the night,
 By all the operation of the orbs
 From whom we do exist and cease to be,
125 Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
 Propinquity, and property of blood,
 And as a stranger to my heart and me
 Hold thee from this forever. The barbarous
 Scythian,
130 Or he that makes his generation messes
 To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom
 Be as well neighbored, pitied, and relieved
 As thou my sometime daughter.
KENT  Good my liege—
LEAR 135Peace, Kent.
 Come not between the dragon and his wrath.
 I loved her most and thought to set my rest
 On her kind nursery. To Cordelia. Hence and avoid
 my sight!—
140 So be my grave my peace as here I give
 Her father’s heart from her.—Call France. Who stirs?
 Call Burgundy. An Attendant exits. Cornwall and
 Albany,
 With my two daughters’ dowers digest the third.
145 Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.
 I do invest you jointly with my power,
 Preeminence, and all the large effects
 That troop with majesty. Ourself by monthly course,
 With reservation of an hundred knights
150 By you to be sustained, shall our abode
 Make with you by due turn. Only we shall retain
 The name and all th’ addition to a king.
 The sway, revenue, execution of the rest,

17
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 1

 Belovèd sons, be yours, which to confirm,
155 This coronet part between you.
KENT  Royal Lear,
 Whom I have ever honored as my king,
 Loved as my father, as my master followed,
 As my great patron thought on in my prayers—
LEAR 
160 The bow is bent and drawn. Make from the shaft.
KENT 
 Let it fall rather, though the fork invade
 The region of my heart. Be Kent unmannerly
 When Lear is mad. What wouldst thou do, old man?
 Think’st thou that duty shall have dread to speak
165 When power to flattery bows? To plainness honor’s
 bound
 When majesty falls to folly. Reserve thy state,
 And in thy best consideration check
 This hideous rashness. Answer my life my
170 judgment,
 Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least,
 Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sounds
 Reverb no hollowness.
LEAR  Kent, on thy life, no more.
KENT 
175 My life I never held but as a pawn
 To wage against thine enemies, nor fear to lose
 it,
 Thy safety being motive.
LEAR  Out of my sight!
KENT 
180 See better, Lear, and let me still remain
 The true blank of thine eye.
LEAR Now, by Apollo—
KENT Now, by Apollo, king,
 Thou swear’st thy gods in vain.
LEAR 185O vassal! Miscreant!

19
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 1

[ALBANY/CORNWALL Dear sir, forbear.]
KENT 
 Kill thy physician, and thy fee bestow
 Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy gift,
 Or whilst I can vent clamor from my throat,
190 I’ll tell thee thou dost evil.
LEAR 
 Hear me, recreant; on thine allegiance, hear me!
 That thou hast sought to make us break our vows—
 Which we durst never yet—and with strained pride
 To come betwixt our sentence and our power,
195 Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,
 Our potency made good, take thy reward:
 Five days we do allot thee for provision
 To shield thee from disasters of the world,
 And on the sixth to turn thy hated back
200 Upon our kingdom. If on the tenth day following
 Thy banished trunk be found in our dominions,
 The moment is thy death. Away! By Jupiter,
 This shall not be revoked.
KENT 
 Fare thee well, king. Sith thus thou wilt appear,
205 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 Goneril and Regan. And your large speeches
210 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.
He exits.

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


GLOUCESTER 
 Here’s France and Burgundy, my noble lord.

21
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 1

LEAR 215My lord of Burgundy,
 We first address toward you, who with this king
 Hath rivaled for our daughter. What in the least
 Will you require in present dower with her,
 Or cease your quest of love?
BURGUNDY 220 Most royal Majesty,
 I crave no more than hath your Highness offered,
 Nor will you tender less.
LEAR  Right noble Burgundy,
 When she was dear to us, we did hold her so,
225 But now her price is fallen. Sir, there she stands.
 If aught within that little seeming substance,
 Or all of it, with our displeasure pieced
 And nothing more, may fitly like your Grace,
 She’s there, and she is yours.
BURGUNDY 230 I know no answer.
LEAR 
 Will you, with those infirmities she owes,
 Unfriended, new-adopted to our hate,
 Dowered with our curse and strangered with our
 oath,
235 Take her or leave her?
BURGUNDY  Pardon me, royal sir,
 Election makes not up in such conditions.
LEAR 
 Then leave her, sir, for by the power that made me
 I tell you all her wealth.—For you, great king,
240 I would not from your love make such a stray
 To match you where I hate. Therefore beseech you
 T’ avert your liking a more worthier way
 Than on a wretch whom Nature is ashamed
 Almost t’ acknowledge hers.
FRANCE 245 This is most strange,
 That she whom even but now was your best
 object,
 The argument of your praise, balm of your age,

23
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 1

 The best, the dearest, should in this trice of time
250 Commit a thing so monstrous to dismantle
 So many folds of favor. Sure her offense
 Must be of such unnatural degree
 That monsters it, or your forevouched affection
 Fall into taint; which to believe of her
255 Must be a faith that reason without miracle
 Should never plant in me.
CORDELIA, to Lear I yet beseech your Majesty—
 If for I want that glib and oily art
 To speak and purpose not, since what I well
260 intend
 I’ll do ’t before I speak—that you make known
 It is no vicious blot, murder, or foulness,
 No unchaste action or dishonored step
 That hath deprived me of your grace and favor,
265 But even for want of that for which I am richer:
 A still-soliciting eye and such a tongue
 That I am glad I have not, though not to have it
 Hath lost me in your liking.
LEAR  Better thou
270 Hadst not been born than not t’ have pleased me
 better.
FRANCE 
 Is it but this—a tardiness in nature
 Which often leaves the history unspoke
 That it intends to do?—My lord of Burgundy,
275 What say you to the lady? Love’s not love
 When it is mingled with regards that stands
 Aloof from th’ entire point. Will you have her?
 She is herself a dowry.
BURGUNDY, to Lear  Royal king,
280 Give but that portion which yourself proposed,
 And here I take Cordelia by the hand,
 Duchess of Burgundy.
LEAR 
 Nothing. I have sworn. I am firm.

25
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 1

BURGUNDY, to Cordelia 
 I am sorry, then, you have so lost a father
285 That you must lose a husband.
CORDELIA  Peace be with
 Burgundy.
 Since that respect and fortunes are his love,
 I shall not be his wife.
FRANCE 
290 Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich being poor;
 Most choice, forsaken; and most loved, despised,
 Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon,
 Be it lawful I take up what’s cast away.
 Gods, gods! ’Tis strange that from their cold’st
295 neglect
 My love should kindle to enflamed respect.—
 Thy dowerless daughter, king, thrown to my
 chance,
 Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France.
300 Not all the dukes of wat’rish Burgundy
 Can buy this unprized precious maid of me.—
 Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind.
 Thou losest here a better where to find.
LEAR 
 Thou hast her, France. Let her be thine, for we
305 Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see
 That face of hers again. To Cordelia. Therefore
 begone
 Without our grace, our love, our benison.—
 Come, noble Burgundy.
Flourish. All but France, Cordelia,
Goneril, and Regan exit.

FRANCE 310Bid farewell to your sisters.
CORDELIA 
 The jewels of our father, with washed eyes
 Cordelia leaves you. I know you what you are,
 And like a sister am most loath to call

27
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 1

 Your faults as they are named. Love well our
315 father.
 To your professèd bosoms I commit him;
 But yet, alas, stood I within his grace,
 I would prefer him to a better place.
 So farewell to you both.
REGAN 
320 Prescribe not us our duty.
GONERIL  Let your study
 Be to content your lord, who hath received you
 At Fortune’s alms. You have obedience scanted
 And well are worth the want that you have wanted.
CORDELIA 
325 Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides,
 Who covers faults at last with shame derides.
 Well may you prosper.
FRANCE  Come, my fair Cordelia.
France and Cordelia exit.
GONERIL Sister, it is not little I have to say of what
330 most nearly appertains to us both. I think our
 father will hence tonight.
REGAN That’s most certain, and with you; next month
 with us.
GONERIL You see how full of changes his age is; the
335 observation we have made of it hath not been
 little. He always loved our sister most, and with
 what poor judgment he hath now cast her off
 appears too grossly.
REGAN ’Tis the infirmity of his age. Yet he hath ever
340 but slenderly known himself.
GONERIL The best and soundest of his time hath been
 but rash. Then must we look from his age to
 receive not alone the imperfections of long-engraffed
 condition, but therewithal the unruly waywardness
345 that infirm and choleric years bring with
 them.

29
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 2

REGAN Such unconstant starts are we like to have
 from him as this of Kent’s banishment.
GONERIL There is further compliment of leave-taking
350 between France and him. Pray you, let us sit
 together. If our father carry authority with such
 disposition as he bears, this last surrender of his will
 but offend us.
REGAN We shall further think of it.
GONERIL 355We must do something, and i’ th’ heat.
They exit.


Scene 2
Enter Edmund, the Bastard.

EDMUND 
 Thou, Nature, art my goddess. To thy law
 My services are bound. Wherefore should I
 Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
 The curiosity of nations to deprive me
5 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
10 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
15 Go to th’ creating a whole tribe of fops
 Got ’tween asleep and wake? Well then,
 Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land.
 Our father’s love is to the bastard Edmund
 As to th’ legitimate. Fine word, “legitimate.”
20 Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed

31
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 2

 And my invention thrive, Edmund the base
 Shall top th’ legitimate. I grow, I prosper.
 Now, gods, stand up for bastards!

Enter Gloucester.

GLOUCESTER 
 Kent banished thus? And France in choler parted?
25 And the King gone tonight, prescribed his power,
 Confined to exhibition? All this done
 Upon the gad?—Edmund, how now? What news?
EDMUND So please your Lordship, none. He puts a
 paper in his pocket.

GLOUCESTER Why so earnestly seek you to put up that
30 letter?
EDMUND I know no news, my lord.
GLOUCESTER What paper were you reading?
EDMUND Nothing, my lord.
GLOUCESTER No? What needed then that terrible dispatch
35 of it into your pocket? The quality of nothing
 hath not such need to hide itself. Let’s see. Come, if
 it be nothing, I shall not need spectacles.
EDMUND I beseech you, sir, pardon me. It is a letter
 from my brother that I have not all o’erread; and
40 for so much as I have perused, I find it not fit for
 your o’erlooking.
GLOUCESTER Give me the letter, sir.
EDMUND I shall offend either to detain or give it. The
 contents, as in part I understand them, are to
45 blame.
GLOUCESTER Let’s see, let’s see.
Edmund gives him the paper.
EDMUND I hope, for my brother’s justification, he
 wrote this but as an essay or taste of my virtue.
GLOUCESTER (reads) This policy and reverence of age
50 makes the world bitter to the best of our times, keeps
 our fortunes from us till our oldness cannot relish

33
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 2

 them. I begin to find an idle and fond bondage in the
 oppression of aged tyranny, who sways not as it hath
 power but as it is suffered. Come to me, that of this I
55 may speak more. If our father would sleep till I waked
 him, you should enjoy half his revenue forever and
 live the beloved of your brother. Edgar.

 Hum? Conspiracy? “Sleep till I wake him, you
 should enjoy half his revenue.” My son Edgar! Had
60 he a hand to write this? A heart and brain to breed it
 in?—When came you to this? Who brought it?
EDMUND It was not brought me, my lord; there’s the
 cunning of it. I found it thrown in at the casement
 of my closet.
GLOUCESTER 65You know the character to be your
 brother’s?
EDMUND If the matter were good, my lord, I durst
 swear it were his; but in respect of that, I would
 fain think it were not.
GLOUCESTER 70It is his.
EDMUND It is his hand, my lord, but I hope his heart is
 not in the contents.
GLOUCESTER Has he never before sounded you in this
 business?
EDMUND 75Never, 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.
GLOUCESTER O villain, villain! His very opinion in the
80 letter. Abhorred villain! Unnatural, detested, brutish
 villain! Worse than brutish!—Go, sirrah, seek
 him. I’ll apprehend him.—Abominable villain!—
 Where is he?
EDMUND I do not well know, my lord. If it shall please
85 you to suspend your indignation against my brother
 till you can derive from him better testimony of his
 intent, you should run a certain course; where, if

35
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 2

 you violently proceed against him, mistaking his
 purpose, it would make a great gap in your own
90 honor and shake in pieces the heart of his obedience.
 I dare pawn down my life for him that he hath
 writ this to feel my affection to your Honor, and to
 no other pretense of danger.
GLOUCESTER Think you so?
EDMUND 95If your Honor judge it meet, I will place you
 where you shall hear us confer of this, and by an
 auricular assurance have your satisfaction, and that
 without any further delay than this very evening.
GLOUCESTER He cannot be such a monster.
EDMUND 100Nor is not, sure.
GLOUCESTER To his father, that so tenderly and entirely
 loves him! Heaven and Earth! Edmund, seek him
 out; wind me into him, I pray you. Frame the
 business after your own wisdom. I would unstate
105 myself to be in a due resolution.
EDMUND I will seek him, sir, presently, convey the
 business as I shall find means, and acquaint you
 withal.
GLOUCESTER These late eclipses in the sun and moon
110 portend no good to us. Though the wisdom of
 nature can reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds
 itself scourged by the sequent effects. Love cools,
 friendship falls off, brothers divide; in cities, mutinies;
 in countries, discord; in palaces, treason; and
115 the bond cracked ’twixt son and father. [This villain
 of mine comes under the prediction: there’s son
 against father. The King falls from bias of nature:
 there’s father against child. We have seen the best of
 our time. Machinations, hollowness, treachery, and
120 all ruinous disorders follow us disquietly to our
 graves.]—Find out this villain, Edmund. It shall
 lose thee nothing. Do it carefully.—And the noble
 and true-hearted Kent banished! His offense, honesty!
 ’Tis strange.He exits.

37
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 2

EDMUND 125This is the excellent foppery of the world, that
 when we are sick in fortune (often the surfeits of
 our own behavior) we make guilty of our disasters
 the sun, the moon, and stars, as if we were villains
 on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves,
130 thieves, and treachers by spherical predominance;
 drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced
 obedience of planetary influence; and all that we
 are evil in, by a divine thrusting on. An admirable
 evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish
135 disposition on the charge of a star! My father
 compounded with my mother under the Dragon’s
 tail, and my nativity was under Ursa Major, so that it
 follows I am rough and lecherous. Fut, I should
 have been that I am, had the maidenliest star in the
140 firmament twinkled on my bastardizing. Edgar

Enter Edgar.

 and pat he comes like the catastrophe of the old
 comedy. My cue is villainous melancholy, with a
 sigh like Tom o’ Bedlam.—O, these eclipses do
 portend these divisions. Fa, sol, la, mi.
EDGAR 145How now, brother Edmund, what serious contemplation
 are you in?
EDMUND I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read
 this other day, what should follow these eclipses.
EDGAR Do you busy yourself with that?
EDMUND 150I promise you, the effects he writes of succeed
 unhappily, as of unnaturalness between the
 child and the parent, death, dearth, dissolutions of
 ancient amities, divisions in state, menaces and
 maledictions against king and nobles, needless diffidences,
155 banishment of friends, dissipation of cohorts,
 nuptial breaches, and I know not what.
EDGAR How long have you been a sectary
 astronomical?

39
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 2

EDMUND Come, come, when saw you my father last?
EDGAR 160The night gone by.
EDMUND Spake you with him?
EDGAR Ay, two hours together.
EDMUND Parted you in good terms? Found you no
 displeasure in him by word nor countenance?
EDGAR 165None at all.
EDMUND 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
170 him that with the mischief of your person it would
 scarcely allay.
EDGAR Some villain hath done me wrong.
EDMUND That’s my fear. [I pray you have a continent
 forbearance till the speed of his rage goes slower;
175 and, as I say, retire with me to my lodging, from
 whence I will fitly bring you to hear my lord speak.
 Pray you go. There’s my key. If you do stir abroad,
 go armed.
EDGAR Armed, brother?]
EDMUND 180Brother, I advise you to the best. I am no
 honest man if there be any good meaning toward
 you. I have told you what I have seen and heard, but
 faintly, nothing like the image and horror of it. Pray
 you, away.
EDGAR 185Shall I hear from you anon?
EDMUND I do serve you in this business.Edgar exits.
 A credulous father and a brother noble,
 Whose nature is so far from doing harms
 That he suspects none; on whose foolish honesty
190 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.
He exits.




41
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 3

Scene 3
Enter Goneril and Oswald, her Steward.

GONERIL Did my father strike my gentleman for chiding
 of his Fool?
OSWALD Ay, madam.
GONERIL 
 By day and night he wrongs me. Every hour
5 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.
10 If you come slack of former services,
 You shall do well. The fault of it I’ll answer.
OSWALD He’s coming, madam. I hear him.
GONERIL 
 Put on what weary negligence you please,
 You and your fellows. I’d have it come to question.
15 If he distaste it, let him to my sister,
 Whose mind and mine I know in that are one,
 Not to be overruled. Idle old man
 That still would manage those authorities
 That he hath given away. Now, by my life,
20 Old fools are babes again and must be used
 With checks as flatteries, when they are seen
 abused.
 Remember what I have said.
OSWALD  Well, madam.
GONERIL 
25 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.
They exit in different directions.




43
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 4

Scene 4
Enter Kent in disguise.

KENT 
 If but as well I other accents borrow
 That can my speech diffuse, my good intent
 May carry through itself to that full issue
 For which I razed my likeness. Now, banished Kent,
5 If thou canst serve where thou dost stand
 condemned,
 So may it come thy master, whom thou lov’st,
 Shall find thee full of labors.

Horns within. Enter Lear, Knights, and Attendants.

LEAR Let me not stay a jot for dinner. Go get it ready.
An Attendant exits.
10 How now, what art thou?
KENT A man, sir.
LEAR What dost thou profess? What wouldst thou with
 us?
KENT I do profess to be no less than I seem, to serve
15 him truly that will put me in trust, to love him that
 is honest, to converse with him that is wise and says
 little, to fear judgment, to fight when I cannot
 choose, and to eat no fish.
LEAR What art thou?
KENT 20A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the
 King.
LEAR If thou be’st as poor for a subject as he’s for a
 king, thou art poor enough. What wouldst thou?
KENT Service.
LEAR 25Who wouldst thou serve?
KENT You.
LEAR Dost thou know me, fellow?
KENT No, sir, but you have that in your countenance
 which I would fain call master.

45
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 4

LEAR 30What’s that?
KENT Authority.
LEAR What services canst do?
KENT I can keep honest counsel, ride, run, mar a
 curious tale in telling it, and deliver a plain message
35 bluntly. That which ordinary men are fit for I
 am qualified in, and the best of me is diligence.
LEAR How old art thou?
KENT Not so young, sir, to love a woman for singing,
 nor so old to dote on her for anything. I have years
40 on my back forty-eight.
LEAR Follow me. Thou shalt serve me—if I like thee
 no worse after dinner. I will not part from thee
 yet.—Dinner, ho, dinner!—Where’s my knave, my
 Fool? Go you and call my Fool hither.
An Attendant exits.

Enter Oswald, the Steward.

45 You, you, sirrah, where’s my daughter?
OSWALD So please you—He exits.
LEAR What says the fellow there? Call the clotpole
 back. A Knight exits. Where’s my Fool? Ho! I think
 the world’s asleep.

Enter Knight again.

50 How now? Where’s that mongrel?
KNIGHT He says, my lord, your daughter is not well.
LEAR Why came not the slave back to me when I
 called him?
KNIGHT Sir, he answered me in the roundest manner,
55 he would not.
LEAR He would not?
KNIGHT My lord, I know not what the matter is, but to
 my judgment your Highness is not entertained
 with that ceremonious affection as you were wont.
60 There’s a great abatement of kindness appears as

47
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 4

 well in the general dependents as in the Duke
 himself also, and your daughter.
LEAR Ha? Sayst thou so?
KNIGHT I beseech you pardon me, my lord, if I be
65 mistaken, for my duty cannot be silent when I think
 your Highness wronged.
LEAR Thou but remembrest me of mine own conception.
 I have perceived a most faint neglect of late,
 which I have rather blamed as mine own jealous
70 curiosity than as a very pretense and purpose of
 unkindness. I will look further into ’t. But where’s
 my Fool? I have not seen him this two days.
KNIGHT Since my young lady’s going into France, sir,
 the Fool hath much pined away.
LEAR 75No more of that. I have noted it well.—Go you
 and tell my daughter I would speak with her. An
 Attendant exits. 
Go you call hither my Fool.
Another exits.

Enter Oswald, the Steward.

 O you, sir, you, come you hither, sir. Who am I, sir?
OSWALD My lady’s father.
LEAR 80“My lady’s father”? My lord’s knave! You whoreson
 dog, you slave, you cur!
OSWALD I am none of these, my lord, I beseech your
 pardon.
LEAR Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?
Lear strikes him.
OSWALD 85I’ll not be strucken, my lord.
KENT, tripping him Nor tripped neither, you base
 football player?
LEAR I thank thee, fellow. Thou serv’st me, and I’ll
 love thee.
KENT, to Oswald 90Come, 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.Oswald exits.

49
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 4

LEAR Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee. There’s
95 earnest of thy service.He gives Kent a purse.

Enter Fool.

FOOL Let me hire him too. To Kent. Here’s my
 coxcomb.He offers Kent his cap.
LEAR How now, my pretty knave, how dost thou?
FOOL, to Kent Sirrah, you were best take my
100 coxcomb.
LEAR Why, my boy?
FOOL Why? For taking one’s part that’s out of favor.
 To Kent. Nay, an thou canst not smile as the
 wind sits, thou ’lt catch cold shortly. There, take my
105 coxcomb. Why, this fellow has banished two on ’s
 daughters and did the third a blessing against his
 will. If thou follow him, thou must needs wear my
 coxcomb.—How now, nuncle? Would I had two
 coxcombs and two daughters.
LEAR 110Why, my boy?
FOOL If I gave them all my living, I’d keep my coxcombs
 myself. There’s mine. Beg another of thy
 daughters.
LEAR Take heed, sirrah—the whip.
FOOL 115Truth’s a dog must to kennel; he must be
 whipped out, when the Lady Brach may stand by th’
 fire and stink.
LEAR A pestilent gall to me!
FOOL Sirrah, I’ll teach thee a speech.
LEAR 120Do.
FOOL Mark it, nuncle:
 Have more than thou showest.
 Speak less than thou knowest,
 Lend less than thou owest,
125 Ride more than thou goest,
 Learn more than thou trowest,
 Set less than thou throwest;

51
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 4

 Leave thy drink and thy whore
 And keep in-a-door,
130 And thou shalt have more
 Than two tens to a score.

KENT This is nothing, Fool.
FOOL Then ’tis like the breath of an unfee’d lawyer.
 You gave me nothing for ’t.—Can you make no use
135 of nothing, nuncle?
LEAR Why no, boy. Nothing can be made out of
 nothing.
FOOL, to Kent Prithee tell him, so much the rent of his
 land comes to. He will not believe a Fool.
LEAR 140A bitter Fool!
FOOL Dost know the difference, my boy, between a
 bitter fool and a sweet one?
LEAR No, lad, teach me.
FOOL  That lord that counseled thee
145  To give away thy land,
 Come place him here by me;
  Do thou for him stand.
 The sweet and bitter fool
  Will presently appear:
150 The one in motley here,
  The other found out there.

LEAR Dost thou call me “fool,” boy?
FOOL All thy other titles thou hast given away. That
 thou wast born with.
KENT 155This is not altogether fool, my lord.
FOOL No, faith, lords and great men will not let me. If
 I had a monopoly out, they would have part on ’t.
 And ladies too, they will not let me have all the fool
 to myself; they’ll be snatching.—Nuncle, give me
160 an egg, and I’ll give thee two crowns.
LEAR What two crowns shall they be?
FOOL Why, after I have cut the egg i’ th’ middle and eat
 up the meat, the two crowns of the egg. When thou

53
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 4

 clovest thy crown i’ th’ middle and gav’st away
165 both parts, thou bor’st thine ass on thy back o’er
 the dirt. Thou hadst little wit in thy bald crown
 when thou gav’st thy golden one away. If I speak
 like myself in this, let him be whipped that first
 finds it so. Sings.
170 Fools had ne’er less grace in a year,
  For wise men are grown foppish
 And know not how their wits to wear,
  Their manners are so apish.

LEAR When were you wont to be so full of songs,
175 sirrah?
FOOL I have used it, nuncle, e’er since thou mad’st thy
 daughters thy mothers. For when thou gav’st them
 the rod and put’st down thine own breeches,
Sings.
 Then they for sudden joy did weep,
180  And I for sorrow sung,
 That such a king should play bo-peep
  And go the fools among.

 Prithee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach
 thy Fool to lie. I would fain learn to lie.
LEAR 185An you lie, sirrah, we’ll have you whipped.
FOOL I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are.
 They’ll have me whipped for speaking true, thou ’lt
 have me whipped for lying, and sometimes I am
 whipped for holding my peace. I had rather be any
190 kind o’ thing than a Fool. And yet I would not be
 thee, nuncle. Thou hast pared thy wit o’ both sides
 and left nothing i’ th’ middle. Here comes one o’ the
 parings.

Enter Goneril.

LEAR 
 How now, daughter? What makes that frontlet on?
195 Methinks you are too much of late i’ th’ frown.

55
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 4

FOOL Thou wast a pretty fellow when thou hadst no
 need to care for her frowning. Now thou art an O
 without a figure. I am better than thou art now. I
 am a Fool. Thou art nothing. To Goneril. Yes,
200 forsooth, I will hold my tongue. So your face bids
 me, though you say nothing.
 Mum, mum,
 He that keeps nor crust nor crumb,
 Weary of all, shall want some.

He points at Lear.
205 That’s a shelled peascod.
GONERIL 
 Not only, sir, this your all-licensed Fool,
 But other of your insolent retinue
 Do hourly carp and quarrel, breaking forth
 In rank and not-to-be-endurèd riots. Sir,
210 I had thought by making this well known unto you
 To have found a safe redress, but now grow fearful,
 By what yourself too late have spoke and done,
 That you protect this course and put it on
 By your allowance; which if you should, the fault
215 Would not ’scape censure, nor the redresses sleep
 Which in the tender of a wholesome weal
 Might in their working do you that offense,
 Which else were shame, that then necessity
 Will call discreet proceeding.
FOOL 220For you know, nuncle,
 The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long,
 That it’s had it head bit off by it young.

 So out went the candle, and we were left darkling.
LEAR Are you our daughter?
GONERIL 
225 I would you would make use of your good wisdom,
 Whereof I know you are fraught, and put away
 These dispositions which of late transport you
 From what you rightly are.

57
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 4

FOOL May not an ass know when the cart draws the
230 horse? Whoop, Jug, I love thee!
LEAR 
 Does any here know me? This is not Lear.
 Does Lear walk thus, speak thus? Where are his
 eyes?
 Either his notion weakens, his discernings
235 Are lethargied—Ha! Waking? ’Tis not so.
 Who is it that can tell me who I am?
FOOL Lear’s shadow.
LEAR 
 I would learn that, for, by the marks of
 sovereignty,
240 Knowledge, and reason, I should be false persuaded
 I had daughters.
FOOL Which they will make an obedient father.
LEAR Your name, fair gentlewoman?
GONERIL 
 This admiration, sir, is much o’ th’ savor
245 Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you
 To understand my purposes aright.
 As you are old and reverend, should be wise.
 Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires,
 Men so disordered, so debauched and bold,
250 That this our court, infected with their manners,
 Shows like a riotous inn. Epicurism and lust
 Makes it more like a tavern or a brothel
 Than a graced palace. The shame itself doth speak
 For instant remedy. Be then desired,
255 By her that else will take the thing she begs,
 A little to disquantity your train,
 And the remainders that shall still depend
 To be such men as may besort your age,
 Which know themselves and you.
LEAR 260 Darkness and
 devils!—
 Saddle my horses. Call my train together.
Some exit.

59
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 4

 Degenerate bastard, I’ll not trouble thee.
 Yet have I left a daughter.
GONERIL 
265 You strike my people, and your disordered rabble
 Make servants of their betters.

Enter Albany.

LEAR 
 Woe that too late repents!—O, sir, are you
 come?
 Is it your will? Speak, sir.—Prepare my horses.
Some exit.
270 Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend,
 More hideous when thou show’st thee in a child
 Than the sea monster!
[ALBANY  Pray, sir, be patient.]
LEAR, to Goneril Detested kite, thou liest.
275 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,
280 Which, like an engine, wrenched my frame of
 nature
 From the fixed place, drew from my heart all love
 And added to the gall! O Lear, Lear, Lear!
He strikes his head.
 Beat at this gate that let thy folly in
285 And thy dear judgment out. Go, go, my people.
Some exit.
ALBANY 
 My lord, I am guiltless as I am ignorant
 [Of what hath moved you.]
LEAR  It may be so, my lord.—
 Hear, Nature, hear, dear goddess, hear!
290 Suspend thy purpose if thou didst intend

61
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 4

 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
295 A babe to honor her. If she must teem,
 Create her child of spleen, that it may live
 And be a thwart disnatured torment to her.
 Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth,
 With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks,
300 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!
Lear and the rest of his train exit.
ALBANY 
 Now, gods that we adore, whereof comes this?
GONERIL 
305 Never afflict yourself to know more of it,
 But let his disposition have that scope
 As dotage gives it.

Enter Lear and the Fool.

LEAR 
 What, fifty of my followers at a clap?
 Within a fortnight?
ALBANY 310 What’s the matter, sir?
LEAR 
 I’ll tell thee. To Goneril. Life and death! I am
 ashamed
 That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus,
 That these hot tears, which break from me perforce,
315 Should make thee worth them. Blasts and fogs upon
 thee!
 Th’ untented woundings of a father’s curse
 Pierce every sense about thee! Old fond eyes,
 Beweep this cause again, I’ll pluck you out

63
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 4

320 And cast you, with the waters that you loose,
 To temper clay. Yea, is ’t come to this?
 Ha! Let it be so. I have another daughter
 Who, I am sure, is kind and comfortable.
 When she shall hear this of thee, with her nails
325 She’ll flay thy wolvish visage. Thou shalt find
 That I’ll resume the shape which thou dost think
 I have cast off forever.He exits.
GONERIL  Do you mark that?
ALBANY 
 I cannot be so partial, Goneril,
330 To the great love I bear you—
GONERIL Pray you, content.—What, Oswald, ho!—
 You, sir, more knave than Fool, after your master.
FOOL Nuncle Lear, Nuncle Lear, tarry. Take the Fool
 with thee.
335 A fox, when one has caught her,
 And such a daughter,
 Should sure to the slaughter,
 If my cap would buy a halter.
 So the Fool follows after.
He exits.
[GONERIL 
340 This man hath had good counsel. A hundred
 knights!
 ’Tis politic and safe to let him keep
 At point a hundred knights! Yes, that on every
 dream,
345 Each buzz, each fancy, each complaint, dislike,
 He may enguard his dotage with their powers
 And hold our lives in mercy.—Oswald, I say!
ALBANY Well, you may fear too far.
GONERIL Safer than trust too far.
350 Let me still take away the harms I fear,
 Not fear still to be taken. I know his heart.
 What he hath uttered I have writ my sister.
 If she sustain him and his hundred knights
 When I have showed th’ unfitness—

65
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 5

Enter Oswald, the Steward.

355 How now, Oswald?]
 What, have you writ that letter to my sister?
OSWALD Ay, madam.
GONERIL 
 Take you some company and away to horse.
 Inform her full of my particular fear,
360 And thereto add such reasons of your own
 As may compact it more. Get you gone,
 And hasten your return. Oswald exits. No, no, my
 lord,
 This milky gentleness and course of yours,
365 Though I condemn not, yet, under pardon,
 You are much more at task for want of wisdom
 Than praised for harmful mildness.
ALBANY 
 How far your eyes may pierce I cannot tell.
 Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well.
GONERIL 370Nay, then—
ALBANY Well, well, th’ event.
They exit.


Scene 5
Enter Lear, Kent in disguise, Gentleman, and Fool.

LEAR, to Kent Go you before to Gloucester with these
 letters. Acquaint my daughter no further with anything
 you know than comes from her demand out of
 the letter. If your diligence be not speedy, I shall be
5 there afore you.
KENT I will not sleep, my lord, till I have delivered
 your letter.He exits.
FOOL If a man’s brains were in ’s heels, were ’t not in
 danger of kibes?
LEAR 10Ay, boy.

67
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 5

FOOL Then, I prithee, be merry; thy wit shall not go
 slipshod.
LEAR Ha, ha, ha!
FOOL Shalt see thy other daughter will use thee kindly,
15 for, though she’s as like this as a crab’s like an
 apple, yet I can tell what I can tell.
LEAR What canst tell, boy?
FOOL She will taste as like this as a crab does to a crab.
 Thou canst tell why one’s nose stands i’ th’ middle
20 on ’s face?
LEAR No.
FOOL Why, to keep one’s eyes of either side ’s nose,
 that what a man cannot smell out he may spy into.
LEAR I did her wrong.
FOOL 25Canst tell how an oyster makes his shell?
LEAR No.
FOOL Nor I neither. But I can tell why a snail has a
 house.
LEAR Why?
FOOL 30Why, to put ’s head in, not to give it away to his
 daughters and leave his horns without a case.
LEAR I will forget my nature. So kind a father!—Be
 my horses ready?Gentleman exits.
FOOL Thy asses are gone about ’em. The reason why
35 the seven stars are no more than seven is a pretty
 reason.
LEAR Because they are not eight.
FOOL Yes, indeed. Thou wouldst make a good Fool.
LEAR To take ’t again perforce! Monster ingratitude!
FOOL 40If thou wert my Fool, nuncle, I’d have thee
 beaten for being old before thy time.
LEAR How’s that?
FOOL Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst
 been wise.
LEAR 
45 O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven!
 Keep me in temper. I would not be mad!

69
King Lear
ACT 1. SC. 5

Enter Gentleman.

 How now, are the horses ready?
GENTLEMAN Ready, my lord.
LEAR Come, boy.
FOOL 
50 She that’s a maid now and laughs at my departure,
 Shall not be a maid long, unless things be cut
 shorter.
They exit.


ACT 2
Scene 1
Enter Edmund, the Bastard and Curan, severally.

EDMUND Save thee, Curan.
CURAN And you, sir. I have been with your father and
 given him notice that the Duke of Cornwall and
 Regan his duchess will be here with him this night.
EDMUND 5How comes that?
CURAN Nay, I know not. You have heard of the news
 abroad?—I mean the whispered ones, for they are
 yet but ear-kissing arguments.
EDMUND Not I. Pray you, what are they?
CURAN 10Have you heard of no likely wars toward ’twixt
 the dukes of Cornwall and Albany?
EDMUND Not a word.
CURAN You may do, then, in time. Fare you well, sir.
He exits.
EDMUND 
 The Duke be here tonight? The better, best.
15 This weaves itself perforce into my business.
 My father hath set guard to take my brother,
 And I have one thing of a queasy question
 Which I must act. Briefness and fortune work!—
 Brother, a word. Descend. Brother, I say!

Enter Edgar.

20 My father watches. O sir, fly this place!
73

75
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 1

 Intelligence is given where you are hid.
 You have now the good advantage of the night.
 Have you not spoken ’gainst the Duke of Cornwall?
 He’s coming hither, now, i’ th’ night, i’ th’ haste,
25 And Regan with him. Have you nothing said
 Upon his party ’gainst the Duke of Albany?
 Advise yourself.
EDGAR  I am sure on ’t, not a word.
EDMUND 
 I hear my father coming. Pardon me.
30 In cunning I must draw my sword upon you.
 Draw. Seem to defend yourself. Now, quit you
 well.They draw.
 Yield! Come before my father! Light, hoa, here!
 Aside to Edgar. Fly, brother.—Torches, torches!
35 —So, farewell.Edgar exits.
 Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion
 Of my more fierce endeavor. I have seen drunkards
 Do more than this in sport.He wounds his arm.
 Father, father!
40 Stop, stop! No help?

Enter Gloucester, and Servants with torches.

GLOUCESTER  Now, Edmund, where’s the
 villain?
EDMUND 
 Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out,
 Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon
45 To stand auspicious mistress.
GLOUCESTER  But where is he?
EDMUND 
 Look, sir, I bleed.
GLOUCESTER  Where is the villain,
 Edmund?
EDMUND 
50 Fled this way, sir, when by no means he could—

77
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 1

GLOUCESTER 
 Pursue him, ho! Go after. Servants exit. By no
 means what?
EDMUND 
 Persuade me to the murder of your Lordship,
 But that I told him the revenging gods
55 ’Gainst parricides did all the thunder bend,
 Spoke with how manifold and strong a bond
 The child was bound to th’ father—sir, in fine,
 Seeing how loathly opposite I stood
 To his unnatural purpose, in fell motion
60 With his preparèd sword he charges home
 My unprovided body, lanced mine arm;
 And when he saw my best alarumed spirits,
 Bold in the quarrel’s right, roused to th’ encounter,
 Or whether ghasted by the noise I made,
65 Full suddenly he fled.
GLOUCESTER  Let him fly far!
 Not in this land shall he remain uncaught,
 And found—dispatch. The noble duke my master,
 My worthy arch and patron, comes tonight.
70 By his authority I will proclaim it
 That he which finds him shall deserve our thanks,
 Bringing the murderous coward to the stake;
 He that conceals him, death.
EDMUND 
 When I dissuaded him from his intent
75 And found him pight to do it, with curst speech
 I threatened 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
80 Make thy words faithed? No. What I should
 deny—
 As this I would, though thou didst produce

79
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 1

 My very character—I’d turn it all
 To thy suggestion, plot, and damnèd practice.
85 And thou must make a dullard of the world
 If they not thought the profits of my death
 Were very pregnant and potential spurs
 To make thee seek it.”
GLOUCESTER  O strange and fastened villain!
90 Would he deny his letter, said he?
 I never got him.Tucket within.
 Hark, the Duke’s trumpets. I know not why he
 comes.
 All ports I’ll bar. The villain shall not ’scape.
95 The Duke must grant me that. Besides, his picture
 I will send far and near, that all the kingdom
 May have due note of him. And of my land,
 Loyal and natural boy, I’ll work the means
 To make thee capable.

Enter Cornwall, Regan, and Attendants.

CORNWALL 
100 How now, my noble friend? Since I came hither,
 Which I can call but now, I have heard strange
 news.
REGAN 
 If it be true, all vengeance comes too short
 Which can pursue th’ offender. How dost, my
105 lord?
GLOUCESTER 
 O madam, my old heart is cracked; it’s cracked.
REGAN 
 What, did my father’s godson seek your life?
 He whom my father named, your Edgar?
GLOUCESTER 
 O lady, lady, shame would have it hid!
REGAN 
110 Was he not companion with the riotous knights
 That tended upon my father?

81
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 1

GLOUCESTER 
 I know not, madam. ’Tis too bad, too bad.
EDMUND 
 Yes, madam, he was of that consort.
REGAN 
 No marvel, then, though he were ill affected.
115 ’Tis they have put him on the old man’s death,
 To have th’ expense and waste of his revenues.
 I have this present evening from my sister
 Been well informed of them, and with such cautions
 That if they come to sojourn at my house
120 I’ll not be there.
CORNWALL  Nor I, assure thee, Regan.—
 Edmund, I hear that you have shown your father
 A childlike office.
EDMUND  It was my duty, sir.
GLOUCESTER 
125 He did bewray his practice, and received
 This hurt you see striving to apprehend him.
CORNWALL Is he pursued?
GLOUCESTER Ay, my good lord.
CORNWALL 
 If he be taken, he shall never more
130 Be feared of doing harm. Make your own purpose,
 How in my strength you please.—For you, Edmund,
 Whose virtue and obedience doth this instant
 So much commend itself, you shall be ours.
 Natures of such deep trust we shall much need.
135 You we first seize on.
EDMUND  I shall serve you, sir,
 Truly, however else.
GLOUCESTER For him I thank your Grace.
CORNWALL 
 You know not why we came to visit you—
REGAN 
140 Thus out of season, threading dark-eyed night.

83
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 2

 Occasions, noble Gloucester, of some poise,
 Wherein we must have use of your advice.
 Our father he hath writ, so hath our sister,
 Of differences, which I best thought it fit
145 To answer from our home. The several messengers
 From hence attend dispatch. Our good old friend,
 Lay comforts to your bosom and bestow
 Your needful counsel to our businesses,
 Which craves the instant use.
GLOUCESTER 150 I serve you, madam.
 Your Graces are right welcome.
Flourish. They exit.


Scene 2
Enter Kent in disguise and Oswald, the Steward,
severally.


OSWALD Good dawning to thee, friend. Art of this
 house?
KENT Ay.
OSWALD Where may we set our horses?
KENT 5I’ th’ mire.
OSWALD Prithee, if thou lov’st me, tell me.
KENT I love thee not.
OSWALD Why then, I care not for thee.
KENT If I had thee in Lipsbury pinfold, I would make
10 thee care for me.
OSWALD Why dost thou use me thus? I know thee not.
KENT Fellow, I know thee.
OSWALD What dost thou know me for?
KENT A knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats; a
15 base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound,
 filthy worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered,
 action-taking, whoreson, glass-gazing, superserviceable,
 finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting

85
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 2

 slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of good
20 service, and art nothing but the composition of a
 knave, beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir
 of a mongrel bitch; one whom I will beat into
 clamorous whining if thou deny’st the least syllable
 of thy addition.
OSWALD 25Why, what a monstrous fellow art thou thus
 to rail on one that is neither known of thee nor
 knows thee!
KENT What a brazen-faced varlet art thou to deny thou
 knowest me! Is it two days ago since I tripped up
30 thy heels and beat thee before the King? He draws
 his sword. 
Draw, you rogue, for though it be night,
 yet the moon shines. I’ll make a sop o’ th’ moonshine
 of you, you whoreson, cullionly barbermonger.
 Draw!
OSWALD 35Away! I have nothing to do with thee.
KENT Draw, you rascal! You come with letters against
 the King and take Vanity the puppet’s part against
 the royalty of her father. Draw, you rogue, or I’ll so
 carbonado your shanks! Draw, you rascal! Come
40 your ways.
OSWALD Help, ho! Murder! Help!
KENT Strike, you slave! Stand, rogue! Stand, you neat
 slave! Strike!He beats Oswald.
OSWALD Help, ho! Murder, murder!

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


EDMUND 45How now, what’s the matter? Part!
KENT With you, goodman boy, if you please. Come, I’ll
 flesh you. Come on, young master.
GLOUCESTER 
 Weapons? Arms? What’s the matter here?
CORNWALL Keep peace, upon your lives! He dies that
50 strikes again. What is the matter?

87
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 2

REGAN 
 The messengers from our sister and the King.
CORNWALL What is your difference? Speak.
OSWALD I am scarce in breath, my lord.
KENT No marvel, you have so bestirred your valor.
55 You cowardly rascal, nature disclaims in thee; a
 tailor made thee.
CORNWALL Thou art a strange fellow. A tailor make a
 man?
KENT A tailor, sir. A stonecutter or a painter could not
60 have made him so ill, though they had been but two
 years o’ th’ trade.
CORNWALL Speak yet, how grew your quarrel?
OSWALD This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have
 spared at suit of his gray beard—
KENT 65Thou whoreson zed, thou unnecessary letter!
 —My lord, if you will give me leave, I will tread
 this unbolted villain into mortar and daub the wall
 of a jakes with him.—Spare my gray beard, you
 wagtail?
CORNWALL 70Peace, sirrah!
 You beastly knave, know you no reverence?
KENT 
 Yes, sir, but anger hath a privilege.
CORNWALL Why art thou angry?
KENT 
 That such a slave as this should wear a sword,
75 Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as
 these,
 Like rats, oft bite the holy cords atwain
 Which are too intrinse t’ unloose; smooth every
 passion
80 That in the natures of their lords rebel—
 Being oil to fire, snow to the colder moods—
 Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks
 With every gale and vary of their masters,

89
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 2

 Knowing naught, like dogs, but following.—
85 A plague upon your epileptic visage!
 Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool?
 Goose, if I had you upon Sarum plain,
 I’d drive you cackling home to Camelot.
CORNWALL What, art thou mad, old fellow?
GLOUCESTER 90How fell you out? Say that.
KENT 
 No contraries hold more antipathy
 Than I and such a knave.
CORNWALL 
 Why dost thou call him “knave”? What is his fault?
KENT His countenance likes me not.
CORNWALL 
95 No more, perchance, does mine, nor his, nor hers.
KENT 
 Sir, ’tis my occupation to be plain:
 I have seen better faces in my time
 Than stands on any shoulder that I see
 Before me at this instant.
CORNWALL 100 This is some fellow
 Who, having been praised for bluntness, doth affect
 A saucy roughness and constrains the garb
 Quite from his nature. He cannot flatter, he.
 An honest mind and plain, he must speak truth!
105 An they will take it, so; if not, he’s plain.
 These kind of knaves I know, which in this
 plainness
 Harbor more craft and more corrupter ends
 Than twenty silly-ducking observants
110 That stretch their duties nicely.
KENT 
 Sir, in good faith, in sincere verity,
 Under th’ allowance of your great aspect,
 Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire
 On flick’ring Phoebus’ front—

91
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 2

CORNWALL 115 What mean’st by this?
KENT To go out of my dialect, which you discommend
 so much. I know, sir, I am no flatterer. He that
 beguiled you in a plain accent was a plain knave,
 which for my part I will not be, though I should
120 win your displeasure to entreat me to ’t.
CORNWALL, to Oswald What was th’ offense you gave
 him?
OSWALD I never gave him any.
 It pleased the King his master very late
125 To strike at me, upon his misconstruction;
 When he, compact, and flattering his displeasure,
 Tripped me behind; being down, insulted, railed,
 And put upon him such a deal of man
 That worthied him, got praises of the King
130 For him attempting who was self-subdued;
 And in the fleshment of this dread exploit,
 Drew on me here again.
KENT None of these rogues and cowards
 But Ajax is their fool.
CORNWALL 135 Fetch forth the stocks.—
 You stubborn ancient knave, you reverent braggart,
 We’ll teach you.
KENT  Sir, I am too old to learn.
 Call not your stocks for me. I serve the King,
140 On whose employment I was sent to you.
 You shall do small respect, show too bold
 malice
 Against the grace and person of my master,
 Stocking his messenger.
CORNWALL 
145 Fetch forth the stocks.—As I have life and honor,
 There shall he sit till noon.
REGAN 
 Till noon? Till night, my lord, and all night, too.

93
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 2

KENT 
 Why, madam, if I were your father’s dog,
 You should not use me so.
REGAN 150Sir, being his knave, I will.
CORNWALL 
 This is a fellow of the selfsame color
 Our sister speaks of.—Come, bring away the stocks.
Stocks brought out.
GLOUCESTER 
 Let me beseech your Grace not to do so.
 His fault is much, and the good king his master
155 Will check him for ’t. Your purposed low correction
 Is such as basest and contemned’st wretches
 For pilf’rings and most common trespasses
 Are punished with. The King must take it ill
 That he, so slightly valued in his messenger,
160 Should have him thus restrained.
CORNWALL  I’ll answer that.
REGAN 
 My sister may receive it much more worse
 To have her gentleman abused, assaulted
 For following her affairs.—Put in his legs.
Kent is put in the stocks.
CORNWALL 165Come, my good lord, away.
All but Gloucester and Kent exit.
GLOUCESTER 
 I am sorry for thee, friend. ’Tis the Duke’s
 pleasure,
 Whose disposition all the world well knows
 Will not be rubbed nor stopped. I’ll entreat for thee.
KENT 
170 Pray, do not, sir. I have watched and traveled 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.

95
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 3

GLOUCESTER 
 The Duke’s to blame in this. ’Twill be ill taken.
He exits.
KENT 
175 Good king, that must approve the common saw,
 Thou out of heaven’s benediction com’st
 To the warm sun.He takes out a paper.
 Approach, thou beacon to this under globe,
 That by thy comfortable beams I may
180 Peruse this letter. Nothing almost sees miracles
 But misery. I know ’tis from Cordelia,
 Who hath most fortunately been informed
 Of my obscurèd course, and shall find time
 From this enormous state, seeking to give
185 Losses their remedies. All weary and o’erwatched,
 Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold
 This shameful lodging.
 Fortune, good night. Smile once more; turn thy
 wheel.
Sleeps.


Scene 3
Enter Edgar.

EDGAR I heard myself proclaimed,
 And by the happy hollow of a tree
 Escaped the hunt. No port is free; no place
 That guard and most unusual vigilance
5 Does not attend my taking. Whiles I may ’scape,
 I will preserve myself, and am bethought
 To take the basest and most poorest shape
 That ever penury in contempt of man
 Brought near to beast. My face I’ll grime with filth,
10 Blanket my loins, elf all my hairs in knots,
 And with presented nakedness outface

97
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 4

 The winds and persecutions of the sky.
 The country gives me proof and precedent
 Of Bedlam beggars who with roaring voices
15 Strike in their numbed and mortifièd arms
 Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary,
 And, with this horrible object, from low farms,
 Poor pelting villages, sheepcotes, and mills,
 Sometime with lunatic bans, sometime with prayers,
20 Enforce their charity. “Poor Turlygod! Poor Tom!”
 That’s something yet. “Edgar” I nothing am.
He exits.


Scene 4
Enter Lear, Fool, and Gentleman.

LEAR 
 ’Tis strange that they should so depart from home
 And not send back my messenger.
GENTLEMAN  As I learned,
 The night before there was no purpose in them
5 Of this remove.
KENT, waking  Hail to thee, noble master.
LEAR Ha?
 Mak’st thou this shame thy pastime?
[KENT  No, my lord.]
FOOL 10Ha, ha, he wears cruel garters. Horses are tied
 by the heads, dogs and bears by th’ neck, monkeys
 by th’ loins, and men by th’ legs. When a man’s
 overlusty at legs, then he wears wooden
 netherstocks.
LEAR 
15 What’s he that hath so much thy place mistook
 To set thee here?
KENT  It is both he and she,
 Your son and daughter.

99
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 4

LEAR No.
KENT 20Yes.
LEAR No, I say.
KENT I say yea.
LEAR By Jupiter, I swear no.
[KENT By Juno, I swear ay.
LEAR] 25 They durst not do ’t.
 They could not, would not do ’t. ’Tis worse than
 murder
 To do upon respect such violent outrage.
 Resolve me with all modest haste which way
30 Thou might’st deserve or they impose this usage,
 Coming from us.
KENT  My lord, when at their home
 I did commend your Highness’ letters to them,
 Ere I was risen from the place that showed
35 My duty kneeling, came there a reeking post,
 Stewed in his haste, half breathless, panting forth
 From Goneril his mistress salutations;
 Delivered letters, spite of intermission,
 Which presently they read; on whose contents
40 They summoned up their meiny, straight took
 horse,
 Commanded me to follow and attend
 The leisure of their answer, gave me cold looks;
 And meeting here the other messenger,
45 Whose welcome, I perceived, had poisoned mine,
 Being the very fellow which of late
 Displayed so saucily against your Highness,
 Having more man than wit about me, drew.
 He raised the house with loud and coward cries.
50 Your son and daughter found this trespass worth
 The shame which here it suffers.
[FOOL Winter’s not gone yet if the wild geese fly that
 way.

101
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 4

 Fathers that wear rags
55  Do make their children blind,
 But fathers that bear bags
  Shall see their children kind.
 Fortune, that arrant whore,
 Ne’er turns the key to th’ poor.

60 But, for all this, thou shalt have as many dolors for
 thy daughters as thou canst tell in a year.]
LEAR 
 O, how this mother swells up toward my heart!
 Hysterica passio, down, thou climbing sorrow!
 Thy element’s below.—Where is this daughter?
KENT 65With the Earl, sir, here within.
LEAR, to Fool and Gentleman Follow me not. Stay
 here.He exits.
GENTLEMAN 
 Made you no more offense but what you speak of?
KENT None.
70 How chance the King comes with so small a number?
FOOL An thou hadst been set i’ th’ stocks for that
 question, thou ’dst well deserved it.
KENT Why, Fool?
FOOL We’ll set thee to school to an ant to teach thee
75 there’s no laboring i’ th’ winter. All that follow
 their noses are led by their eyes but blind men, and
 there’s not a nose among twenty but can smell him
 that’s stinking. Let go thy hold when a great wheel
 runs down a hill lest it break thy neck with following;
80 but the great one that goes upward, let him
 draw thee after. When a wise man gives thee better
 counsel, give me mine again. I would have none but
 knaves follow it, since a Fool gives it.
 That sir which serves and seeks for gain,
85  And follows but for form,
 Will pack when it begins to rain

103
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 4

  And leave thee in the storm.
 But I will tarry; the Fool will stay,
  And let the wise man fly.
90 The knave turns fool that runs away;
  The Fool no knave, perdie.

KENT Where learned you this, Fool?
FOOL Not i’ th’ stocks, fool.

Enter Lear and Gloucester.

LEAR 
 Deny to speak with me? They are sick? They are
95 weary?
 They have traveled all the night? Mere fetches,
 The images of revolt and flying off.
 Fetch me a better answer.
GLOUCESTER  My dear lord,
100 You know the fiery quality of the Duke,
 How unremovable and fixed he is
 In his own course.
LEAR 
 Vengeance, plague, death, confusion!
 “Fiery”? What “quality”? Why Gloucester,
105 Gloucester,
 I’d speak with the Duke of Cornwall and his wife.
[GLOUCESTER 
 Well, my good lord, I have informed them so.
LEAR 
 “Informed them”? Dost thou understand me,
 man?]
GLOUCESTER 110Ay, my good lord.
LEAR 
 The King would speak with Cornwall. The dear
 father
 Would with his daughter speak, commands, tends
 service.
115 [Are they “informed” of this? My breath and
 blood!]

105
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 4

 “Fiery”? The “fiery” duke? Tell the hot duke that—
 No, but not yet. Maybe he is not well.
 Infirmity doth still neglect all office
120 Whereto our health is bound. We are not ourselves
 When nature, being oppressed, commands the mind
 To suffer with the body. I’ll forbear,
 And am fallen out with my more headier will,
 To take the indisposed and sickly fit
125 For the sound man. Noticing Kent again. Death on
 my state! Wherefore
 Should he sit here? This act persuades me
 That this remotion of the Duke and her
 Is practice only. Give me my servant forth.
130 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.
GLOUCESTER I would have all well betwixt you.
He exits.
LEAR 
135 O me, my heart, my rising heart! But down!
FOOL Cry to it, nuncle, as the cockney did to the eels
 when she put ’em i’ th’ paste alive. She knapped
 ’em o’ th’ coxcombs with a stick and cried “Down,
 wantons, down!” ’Twas her brother that in pure
140 kindness to his horse buttered his hay.

Enter Cornwall, Regan, Gloucester, Servants.

LEAR Good morrow to you both.
CORNWALL Hail to your Grace.
Kent here set at liberty.
REGAN I am glad to see your Highness.
LEAR 
 Regan, I think you are. I know what reason
145 I have to think so: if thou shouldst not be glad,
 I would divorce me from thy mother’s tomb,

107
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 4

 Sepulch’ring an adult’ress. To Kent. O, are you
 free?
 Some other time for that.—Belovèd Regan,
150 Thy sister’s naught. O Regan, she hath tied
 Sharp-toothed unkindness, like a vulture, here.
 I can scarce speak to thee. Thou ’lt not believe
 With how depraved a quality—O Regan!
REGAN 
 I pray you, sir, take patience. I have hope
155 You less know how to value her desert
 Than she to scant her duty.
[LEAR  Say? How is that?
REGAN 
 I cannot think my sister in the least
 Would fail her obligation. If, sir, perchance
160 She have restrained the riots of your followers,
 ’Tis on such ground and to such wholesome end
 As clears her from all blame.]
LEAR My curses on her.
REGAN O sir, you are old.
165 Nature in you stands on the very verge
 Of his confine. You should be ruled and led
 By some discretion that discerns your state
 Better than you yourself. Therefore, I pray you
 That to our sister you do make return.
170 Say you have wronged her.
LEAR  Ask her forgiveness?
 Do you but mark how this becomes the house:
He kneels.
 “Dear daughter, I confess that I am old.
 Age is unnecessary. On my knees I beg
175 That you’ll vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food.”
REGAN 
 Good sir, no more. These are unsightly tricks.
 Return you to my sister.

109
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 4

LEAR, rising  Never, Regan.
 She hath abated me of half my train,
180 Looked black upon me, struck me with her tongue
 Most serpentlike upon the very heart.
 All the stored vengeances of heaven fall
 On her ingrateful top! Strike her young bones,
 You taking airs, with lameness!
CORNWALL 185 Fie, sir, fie!
LEAR 
 You nimble lightnings, dart your blinding flames
 Into her scornful eyes! Infect her beauty,
 You fen-sucked fogs drawn by the powerful sun
 To fall and blister!
REGAN 
190 O, the blest gods! So will you wish on me
 When the rash mood is on.
LEAR 
 No, Regan, thou shalt never have my curse.
 Thy tender-hefted nature shall not give
 Thee o’er to harshness. Her eyes are fierce, but
195 thine
 Do comfort and not burn. ’Tis not in thee
 To grudge my pleasures, to cut off my train,
 To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes,
 And, in conclusion, to oppose the bolt
200 Against my coming in. Thou better know’st
 The offices of nature, bond of childhood,
 Effects of courtesy, dues of gratitude.
 Thy half o’ th’ kingdom hast thou not forgot,
 Wherein I thee endowed.
REGAN 205 Good sir, to th’ purpose.
Tucket within.
LEAR 
 Who put my man i’ th’ stocks?
CORNWALL  What trumpet’s that?

111
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 4

REGAN 
 I know ’t—my sister’s. This approves her letter,
 That she would soon be here.

Enter Oswald, the Steward.

210 Is your lady come?
LEAR 
 This is a slave whose easy-borrowed pride
 Dwells in the fickle grace of her he follows.—
 Out, varlet, from my sight!
CORNWALL  What means your Grace?
LEAR 
215 Who stocked my servant? Regan, I have good hope
 Thou didst not know on ’t.

Enter Goneril.

 Who comes here? O heavens,
 If you do love old men, if your sweet sway
 Allow obedience, if you yourselves are old,
220 Make it your cause. Send down and take my part.
 To Goneril. Art not ashamed to look upon this
 beard?Regan takes Goneril’s hand.
 O Regan, will you take her by the hand?
GONERIL 
 Why not by th’ hand, sir? How have I offended?
225 All’s not offense that indiscretion finds
 And dotage terms so.
LEAR  O sides, you are too tough!
 Will you yet hold?—How came my man i’ th’
 stocks?
CORNWALL 
230 I set him there, sir, but his own disorders
 Deserved much less advancement.
LEAR  You? Did you?
REGAN 
 I pray you, father, being weak, seem so.
 If till the expiration of your month

113
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 4

235 You will return and sojourn with my sister,
 Dismissing half your train, come then to me.
 I am now from home and out of that provision
 Which shall be needful for your entertainment.
LEAR 
 Return to her? And fifty men dismissed?
240 No! Rather I abjure all roofs, and choose
 To wage against the enmity o’ th’ air,
 To be a comrade with the wolf and owl,
 Necessity’s sharp pinch. Return with her?
 Why the hot-blooded France, that dowerless took
245 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.He indicates Oswald.
GONERIL 250 At your choice, sir.
LEAR 
 I prithee, daughter, do not make me mad.
 I will not trouble thee, my child. Farewell.
 We’ll no more meet, no more see one another.
 But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter,
255 Or, rather, a disease that’s in my flesh,
 Which I must needs call mine. Thou art a boil,
 A plague-sore or embossèd carbuncle
 In my corrupted blood. But I’ll not chide thee.
 Let shame come when it will; I do not call it.
260 I do not bid the thunder-bearer shoot,
 Nor tell tales of thee to high-judging Jove.
 Mend when thou canst. Be better at thy leisure.
 I can be patient. I can stay with Regan,
 I and my hundred knights.
REGAN 265Not altogether so.
 I looked 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

115
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 4

 Must be content to think you old, and so—
270 But she knows what she does.
LEAR  Is this well spoken?
REGAN 
 I dare avouch it, sir. What, fifty followers?
 Is it not well? What should you need of more?
 Yea, or so many, sith that both charge and danger
275 Speak ’gainst so great a number? How in one house
 Should many people under two commands
 Hold amity? ’Tis hard, almost impossible.
GONERIL 
 Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance
 From those that she calls servants, or from mine?
REGAN 
280 Why not, my lord? If then they chanced to slack
 you,
 We could control them. If you will come to me
 (For now I spy a danger), I entreat you
 To bring but five-and-twenty. To no more
285 Will I give place or notice.
LEAR I gave you all—
REGAN And in good time you gave it.
LEAR 
 Made you my guardians, my depositaries,
 But kept a reservation to be followed
290 With such a number. What, must I come to you
 With five-and-twenty? Regan, said you so?
REGAN 
 And speak ’t again, my lord. No more with me.
LEAR 
 Those wicked creatures yet do look well-favored
 When others are more wicked. Not being the worst
295 Stands in some rank of praise. To Goneril. I’ll go
 with thee.
 Thy fifty yet doth double five-and-twenty,
 And thou art twice her love.
GONERIL  Hear me, my lord.

117
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 4

300 What need you five-and-twenty, ten, or five,
 To follow in a house where twice so many
 Have a command to tend you?
REGAN  What need one?
LEAR 
 O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars
305 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,
310 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.
315 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,
320 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.
325 I have full cause of weeping, but this heart
Storm and tempest.
 Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws
 Or ere I’ll weep.—O Fool, I shall go mad!
Lear, Kent, and Fool exit
with Gloucester and the Gentleman.

CORNWALL Let us withdraw. ’Twill be a storm.
REGAN 
 This house is little. The old man and ’s people
330 Cannot be well bestowed.

119
King Lear
ACT 2. SC. 4

GONERIL 
 ’Tis his own blame hath put himself from rest,
 And must needs taste his folly.
REGAN 
 For his particular, I’ll receive him gladly,
 But not one follower.
GONERIL 
335 So am I purposed. Where is my lord of Gloucester?
CORNWALL 
 Followed the old man forth.

Enter Gloucester.

 He is returned.
GLOUCESTER The King is in high rage.
[CORNWALL Whither is he going?
GLOUCESTER 
340 He calls to horse,] but will I know not whither.
CORNWALL 
 ’Tis best to give him way. He leads himself.
GONERIL, to Gloucester 
 My lord, entreat him by no means to stay.
GLOUCESTER 
 Alack, the night comes on, and the high winds
 Do sorely ruffle. For many miles about
345 There’s scarce a bush.
REGAN  O sir, to willful men
 The injuries that they themselves procure
 Must be their schoolmasters. Shut up your doors.
 He is attended with a desperate train,
350 And what they may incense him to, being apt
 To have his ear abused, wisdom bids fear.
CORNWALL 
 Shut up your doors, my lord. ’Tis a wild night.
 My Regan counsels well. Come out o’ th’ storm.
They exit.


ACT 3
Scene 1
Storm still. Enter Kent in disguise, and a Gentleman,
severally.


KENT Who’s there, besides foul weather?
GENTLEMAN 
 One minded like the weather, most unquietly.
KENT I know you. Where’s the King?
GENTLEMAN 
 Contending with the fretful elements;
5 Bids the wind blow the earth into the sea
 Or swell the curlèd waters ’bove the main,
 That things might change or cease; tears his white
 hair,
 Which the impetuous blasts with eyeless rage
10 Catch in their fury and make nothing of;
 Strives in his little world of man to outscorn
 The to-and-fro conflicting wind and rain.
 This night, wherein the cub-drawn bear would
 couch,
15 The lion and the belly-pinchèd wolf
 Keep their fur dry, unbonneted he runs
 And bids what will take all.
KENT  But who is with him?
GENTLEMAN 
 None but the Fool, who labors to outjest
20 His heart-struck injuries.
123

125
King Lear
ACT 3. SC. 1

KENT  Sir, I do know you
 And dare upon the warrant of my note
 Commend a dear thing to you. There is division,
 Although as yet the face of it is covered
25 With mutual cunning, ’twixt Albany and Cornwall,
 [Who have—as who have not, that their great stars
 Throned and set high?—servants, who seem no less,
 Which are to France the spies and speculations
 Intelligent of our state.] From France there comes
30 a power
 Into this scattered kingdom, who already,
 Wise in our negligence, have secret feet
 In some of our best ports and are at point
 To show their open banner. Now to you:
35 If on my credit you dare build so far
 To make your speed to Dover, you shall find
 Some that will thank you, making just report
 Of how unnatural and bemadding sorrow
 The King hath cause to plain: [what hath been seen,
40 Either in snuffs and packings of the dukes,
 Or the hard rein which both of them hath borne
 Against the old kind king, or something deeper,
 Whereof perchance these are but furnishings.]
 I am a gentleman of blood and breeding,
45 And from some knowledge and assurance offer
 This office to you.
GENTLEMAN 
 I will talk further with you.
KENT  No, do not.
 For confirmation that I am much more
50 Than my outwall, open this purse and take
 What it contains.
Kent hands him a purse and a ring.
 If you shall see Cordelia
 (As fear not but you shall), show her this ring,
 And she will tell you who that fellow is

127
King Lear
ACT 3. SC. 2

55 That yet you do not know. Fie on this storm!
 I will go seek the King.
GENTLEMAN 
 Give me your hand. Have you no more to say?
KENT 
 Few words, but, to effect, more than all yet:
 That when we have found the King—in which your
60 pain
 That way, I’ll this—he that first lights on him
 Holla the other.
They exit separately.


Scene 2
Storm still. Enter Lear and Fool.

LEAR 
 Blow winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage, blow!
 You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
 Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the
 cocks.
5 You sulph’rous and thought-executing fires,
 Vaunt-couriers of oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
 Singe my white head. And thou, all-shaking
 thunder,
 Strike flat the thick rotundity o’ th’ world.
10 Crack nature’s molds, all germens spill at once
 That makes ingrateful man.
FOOL O nuncle, court holy water in a dry house is
 better than this rainwater out o’ door. Good nuncle,
 in. Ask thy daughters’ blessing. Here’s a night
15 pities neither wise men nor fools.
LEAR 
 Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! Spout, rain!
 Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire are my daughters.
 I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness.

129
King Lear
ACT 3. SC. 2

 I never gave you kingdom, called you children;
20 You owe me no subscription. Then let fall
 Your horrible pleasure. Here I stand your slave,
 A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man.
 But yet I call you servile ministers,
 That will with two pernicious daughters join
25 Your high-engendered battles ’gainst a head
 So old and white as this. O, ho, ’tis foul!
FOOL He that has a house to put ’s head in has a good
 headpiece.
 The codpiece that will house
30  Before the head has any,
 The head and he shall louse;
  So beggars marry many.
 The man that makes his toe
  What he his heart should make,
35 Shall of a corn cry woe,
  And turn his sleep to wake.

 For there was never yet fair woman but she made
 mouths in a glass.
LEAR 
 No, I will be the pattern of all patience.
40 I will say nothing.

Enter Kent in disguise.

KENT Who’s there?
FOOL Marry, here’s grace and a codpiece; that’s a
 wise man and a fool.
KENT 
 Alas, sir, are you here? Things that love night
45 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
50 Remember to have heard. Man’s nature cannot carry
 Th’ affliction nor the fear.

131
King Lear
ACT 3. SC. 2

LEAR  Let the great gods
 That keep this dreadful pudder o’er our heads
 Find out their enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch,
55 That hast within thee undivulgèd crimes
 Unwhipped of justice. Hide thee, thou bloody hand,
 Thou perjured, and thou simular of virtue
 That art incestuous. Caitiff, to pieces shake,
 That under covert and convenient seeming
60 Has practiced on man’s life. Close pent-up guilts,
 Rive your concealing continents and cry
 These dreadful summoners grace. I am a man
 More sinned against than sinning.
KENT  Alack,
65 bareheaded?
 Gracious my lord, hard by here is a hovel.
 Some friendship will it lend you ’gainst the tempest.
 Repose you there while I to this hard house—
 More harder than the stones whereof ’tis raised,
70 Which even but now, demanding after you,
 Denied me to come in—return and force
 Their scanted courtesy.
LEAR  My wits begin to turn.—
 Come on, my boy. How dost, my boy? Art cold?
75 I am cold myself.—Where is this straw, my fellow?
 The art of our necessities is strange
 And can make vile things precious. Come, your
 hovel.—
 Poor Fool and knave, I have one part in my heart
80 That’s sorry yet for thee.
FOOL sings 
 He that has and a little tiny wit,
  With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
 Must make content with his fortunes fit,
  Though the rain it raineth every day.

LEAR 
85 True, my good boy.—Come, bring us to this hovel.
Lear and Kent exit.

133
King Lear
ACT 3. SC. 3

[FOOL This is a brave night to cool a courtesan. I’ll
 speak a prophecy ere I go:
 When priests are more in word than matter,
 When brewers mar their malt with water,
90 When nobles are their tailors’ tutors,
 No heretics burned but wenches’ suitors,
 When every case in law is right,
 No squire in debt, nor no poor knight;
 When slanders do not live in tongues,
95 Nor cutpurses come not to throngs,
 When usurers tell their gold i’ th’ field,
 And bawds and whores do churches build,
 Then shall the realm of Albion
 Come to great confusion;
100 Then comes the time, who lives to see ’t,
 That going shall be used with feet.

 This prophecy Merlin shall make, for I live before
 his time.
He exits.]


Scene 3
Enter Gloucester and Edmund.

GLOUCESTER 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
5 displeasure neither to speak of him, entreat for
 him, or any way sustain him.
EDMUND Most savage and unnatural.
GLOUCESTER Go to; say you nothing. There is division
 between the dukes, and a worse matter than that. I
10 have received a letter this night; ’tis dangerous to
 be spoken; I have locked the letter in my closet.
 These injuries the King now bears will be revenged

135
King Lear
ACT 3. SC. 4

 home; there is part of a power already footed. We
 must incline to the King. I will look him and privily
15 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 strange things toward,
20 Edmund. Pray you, be careful.He exits.
EDMUND 
 This courtesy forbid thee shall the Duke
 Instantly know, and of that letter too.
 This seems a fair deserving, and must draw me
 That which my father loses—no less than all.
25 The younger rises when the old doth fall.
He exits.


Scene 4
Enter Lear, Kent in disguise, and Fool.

KENT 
 Here is the place, my lord. Good my lord, enter.
 The tyranny of the open night ’s too rough
 For nature to endure.Storm still.
LEAR  Let me alone.
KENT 
5 Good my lord, enter here.
LEAR  Wilt break my heart?
KENT 
 I had rather break mine own. Good my lord, enter.
LEAR 
 Thou think’st ’tis much that this contentious storm
 Invades us to the skin. So ’tis to thee.
10 But where the greater malady is fixed,
 The lesser is scarce felt. Thou ’dst shun a bear,
 But if thy flight lay toward the roaring sea,

137
King Lear
ACT 3. SC. 4

 Thou ’dst meet the bear i’ th’ mouth. When the
 mind’s free,
15 The body’s delicate. This 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.
20 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;
25 No more of that.
KENT  Good my lord, enter here.
LEAR 
 Prithee, go in thyself. Seek thine own ease.
 This tempest will not give me leave to ponder
 On things would hurt me more. But I’ll go in.—
30 [In, boy; go first.—You houseless poverty—
 Nay, get thee in. I’ll pray, and then I’ll sleep.]
Fool exits.
 Poor naked wretches, wheresoe’er you are,
 That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
 How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
35 Your looped and windowed 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,
40 That thou may’st shake the superflux to them
 And show the heavens more just.
[EDGAR within Fathom and half, fathom and half!
 Poor Tom!

Enter Fool.]

FOOL Come not in here, nuncle; here’s a spirit. Help
45 me, help me!

139
King Lear
ACT 3. SC. 4

KENT Give me thy hand. Who’s there?
FOOL A spirit, a spirit! He says his name’s Poor Tom.
KENT What art thou that dost grumble there i’ th’
 straw? Come forth.

Enter Edgar in disguise.

EDGAR 50Away. The foul fiend follows me. Through the
 sharp hawthorn blows the cold wind. Hum! Go to
 thy cold bed and warm thee.
LEAR Didst thou give all to thy daughters? And art thou
 come to this?
EDGAR 55Who 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,
60 made him proud of heart to ride on a bay trotting
 horse over four-inched bridges to course his own
 shadow for a traitor? Bless thy five wits! Tom’s
 a-cold. O, do de, do de, do de. Bless thee from
 whirlwinds, star-blasting, and taking! Do Poor Tom
65 some charity, whom the foul fiend vexes. There
 could I have him now, and there—and there again
 —and there.Storm still.
LEAR 
 Has his daughters brought him to this pass?—
 Couldst thou save nothing? Wouldst thou give ’em
70 all?
FOOL Nay, he reserved a blanket, else we had been all
 shamed.
LEAR 
 Now all the plagues that in the pendulous air
 Hang fated o’er men’s faults light on thy daughters!
KENT 75He hath no daughters, sir.
LEAR 
 Death, traitor! Nothing could have subdued nature
 To such a lowness but his unkind daughters.

141
King Lear
ACT 3. SC. 4

 Is it the fashion that discarded fathers
 Should have thus little mercy on their flesh?
80 Judicious punishment! ’Twas this flesh begot
 Those pelican daughters.
EDGAR Pillicock sat on Pillicock Hill. Alow, alow, loo,
 loo.
FOOL This cold night will turn us all to fools and
85 madmen.
EDGAR Take heed o’ th’ foul fiend. Obey thy parents,
 keep thy word’s justice, swear not, commit not with
 man’s sworn spouse, set not thy sweet heart on
 proud array. Tom’s a-cold.
LEAR 90What hast thou been?
EDGAR A servingman, proud in heart and mind, that
 curled my hair, wore gloves in my cap, served the
 lust of my mistress’ heart and did the act of
 darkness with her, swore as many oaths as I spake
95 words and broke them in the sweet face of heaven;
 one that slept in the contriving of lust and waked to
 do it. Wine loved I deeply, dice dearly, and in
 woman out-paramoured the Turk. False of heart,
 light of ear, bloody of hand; hog in sloth, fox in
100 stealth, wolf in greediness, dog in madness, lion in
 prey. Let not the creaking of shoes nor the rustling
 of silks betray thy poor heart to woman. Keep thy
 foot out of brothels, thy hand out of plackets, thy
 pen from lenders’ books, and defy the foul fiend.
105 Still through the hawthorn blows the cold wind;
 says suum, mun, nonny. Dolphin my boy, boy, sessa!
 Let him trot by.Storm still.
LEAR Thou wert better in a grave than to answer with
 thy uncovered body this extremity of the skies.—Is
110 man no more than this? Consider him well.—Thou
 ow’st 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,

143
King Lear
ACT 3. SC. 4

115 forked animal as thou art. Off, off, you lendings!
 Come, unbutton here.Tearing off his clothes.
FOOL Prithee, nuncle, be contented. ’Tis a naughty
 night to swim in. Now, a little fire in a wild field
 were like an old lecher’s heart—a small spark, all
120 the rest on ’s body cold.

Enter Gloucester, with a torch.

 Look, here comes a walking fire.
EDGAR This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet. He begins
 at curfew and walks till the first cock. He
 gives the web and the pin, squints the eye, and
125 makes the harelip, mildews the white wheat, and
 hurts the poor creature of earth.
 Swithold footed thrice the ’old,
 He met the nightmare and her ninefold,
  Bid her alight,
130  And her troth plight,
 And aroint thee, witch, aroint thee.

KENT How fares your Grace?
LEAR What’s he?
KENT Who’s there? What is ’t you seek?
GLOUCESTER 135What are you there? Your names?
EDGAR Poor Tom, that eats the swimming frog, the
 toad, the tadpole, the wall newt, and the water;
 that, in the fury of his heart, when the foul fiend
 rages, eats cow dung for sallets, swallows the old
140 rat and the ditch-dog, drinks the green mantle of
 the standing pool; who is whipped from tithing to
 tithing, and stocked, punished, and imprisoned;
 who hath had three suits to his back, six shirts to
 his body,
145 Horse to ride, and weapon to wear;
 But mice and rats and such small deer
 Have been Tom’s food for seven long year.


145
King Lear
ACT 3. SC. 4

 Beware my follower. Peace, Smulkin! Peace, thou
 fiend!
GLOUCESTER, to Lear 
150 What, hath your Grace no better company?
EDGAR The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman. Modo
 he’s called, and Mahu.
GLOUCESTER, to Lear 
 Our flesh and blood, my lord, is grown so vile
 That it doth hate what gets it.
EDGAR 155Poor Tom’s a-cold.
GLOUCESTER, to Lear 
 Go in with me. My duty cannot suffer
 T’ obey in all your daughters’ hard commands.
 Though their injunction be to bar my doors
 And let this tyrannous night take hold upon you,
160 Yet have I ventured to come seek you out
 And bring you where both fire and food is ready.
LEAR 
 First let me talk with this philosopher.
 To Edgar. What is the cause of thunder?
KENT 
 Good my lord, take his offer; go into th’ house.
LEAR 
165 I’ll talk a word with this same learnèd Theban.—
 What is your study?
EDGAR How to prevent the fiend and to kill vermin.
LEAR Let me ask you one word in private.
They talk aside.
KENT, to Gloucester 
 Importune him once more to go, my lord.
170 His wits begin t’ unsettle.
GLOUCESTER  Canst thou blame him?
Storm still.
 His daughters seek his death. Ah, that good Kent!
 He said it would be thus, poor banished man.
 Thou sayest the King grows mad; I’ll tell thee,
175 friend,

147
King Lear
ACT 3. SC. 5

 I am almost mad myself. I had a son,
 Now outlawed from my blood. He sought my life
 But lately, very late. I loved him, friend,
 No father his son dearer. True to tell thee,
180 The grief hath crazed my wits. What a night’s this!
 —I do beseech your Grace—
LEAR O, cry you mercy, sir.
 To Edgar. Noble philosopher, your company.
EDGAR Tom’s a-cold.
GLOUCESTER, to Edgar 
185 In fellow, there, into th’ hovel. Keep thee warm.
LEAR Come, let’s in all.
KENT  This way, my lord.
LEAR, indicating Edgar  With him.
 I will keep still with my philosopher.
KENT, to Gloucester 
190 Good my lord, soothe him. Let him take the fellow.
GLOUCESTER, to Kent Take him you on.
KENT, to Edgar 
 Sirrah, come on: go along with us.
LEAR Come, good Athenian.
GLOUCESTER No words, no words. Hush.
EDGAR 
195 Child Rowland to the dark tower came.
 His word was still “Fie, foh, and fum,
 I smell the blood of a British man.”

They exit.


Scene 5
Enter Cornwall, and Edmund with a paper.

CORNWALL I will have my revenge ere I depart his
 house.
EDMUND How, my lord, I may be censured, that nature
 thus gives way to loyalty, something fears me to
5 think of.

149
King Lear
ACT 3. SC. 6

CORNWALL I now perceive it was not altogether your
 brother’s evil disposition made him seek his death,
 but a provoking merit set awork by a reprovable
 badness in himself.
EDMUND 10How malicious is my fortune that I must
 repent to be just! This is the letter he spoke of,
 which approves him an intelligent party to the
 advantages of France. O heavens, that this treason
 were not, or not I the detector.
CORNWALL 15Go with me to the Duchess.
EDMUND If the matter of this paper be certain, you
 have mighty business in hand.
CORNWALL True or false, it hath made thee Earl of
 Gloucester. Seek out where thy father is, that he
20 may be ready for our apprehension.
EDMUND, aside If I find him comforting the King, it
 will stuff his suspicion more fully.—I will persevere
 in my course of loyalty, though the conflict be sore
 between that and my blood.
CORNWALL 25I will lay trust upon thee, and thou shalt
 find a dearer father in my love.
They exit.


Scene 6
Enter Kent in disguise, and Gloucester.

GLOUCESTER Here is better than the open air. Take it
 thankfully. I will piece out the comfort with what
 addition I can. I will not be long from you.
KENT All the power of his wits have given way to his
5 impatience. The gods reward your kindness!
Gloucester exits.

Enter Lear, Edgar in disguise, and Fool.

EDGAR Frateretto calls me and tells me Nero is an

151
King Lear
ACT 3. SC. 6

 angler in the lake of darkness. Pray, innocent, and
 beware the foul fiend.
FOOL Prithee, nuncle, tell me whether a madman be a
10 gentleman or a yeoman.
LEAR A king, a king!
[FOOL No, he’s a yeoman that has a gentleman to his
 son, for he’s a mad yeoman that sees his son a
 gentleman before him.
LEAR] 
15 To have a thousand with red burning spits
 Come hissing in upon ’em!
EDGAR The foul fiend bites my back.
FOOL He’s mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf, a
 horse’s health, a boy’s love, or a whore’s oath.
LEAR 
20 It shall be done. I will arraign them straight.
 To Edgar. Come, sit thou here, most learnèd
 justice.
 To Fool. Thou sapient sir, sit here. Now, you
 she-foxes—
EDGAR 25Look where he stands and glares!—Want’st
 thou eyes at trial, madam?
Sings. Come o’er the burn, Bessy, to me—
FOOL sings 
 Her boat hath a leak,
 And she must not speak
30 Why she dares not come over to thee.

EDGAR The foul fiend haunts Poor Tom in the voice of
 a nightingale. Hoppedance cries in Tom’s belly for
 two white herring.—Croak not, black angel. I have
 no food for thee.
KENT, to Lear 
35 How do you, sir? Stand you not so amazed.
 Will you lie down and rest upon the cushions?
LEAR 
 I’ll see their trial first. Bring in their evidence.

153
King Lear
ACT 3. SC. 6

 To Edgar. Thou robèd man of justice, take thy
 place,
40 To Fool. And thou, his yokefellow of equity,
 Bench by his side. To Kent. You are o’ th’
 commission;
 Sit you, too.
EDGAR Let us deal justly.
Sings.45 Sleepest or wakest, thou jolly shepherd?
  Thy sheep be in the corn.
 And for one blast of thy minikin mouth,
  Thy sheep shall take no harm.

 Purr the cat is gray.
LEAR 50Arraign her first; ’tis Goneril. I here take my oath
 before this honorable assembly, kicked the poor
 king her father.
FOOL Come hither, mistress. Is your name Goneril?
LEAR She cannot deny it.
FOOL 55Cry you mercy, I took you for a joint stool.
LEAR 
 And here’s another whose warped looks proclaim
 What store her heart is made on. Stop her there!
 Arms, arms, sword, fire! Corruption in the place!
 False justicer, why hast thou let her ’scape?
EDGAR 60Bless thy five wits!
KENT, to Lear 
 O pity! Sir, where is the patience now
 That you so oft have boasted to retain?
EDGAR, aside 
 My tears begin to take his part so much
 They mar my counterfeiting.
LEAR 65The little dogs and all,
 Tray, Blanch, and Sweetheart, see, they bark at me.
EDGAR Tom will throw his head at them.—Avaunt, you
 curs!
 Be thy mouth or black or white,
70 Tooth that poisons if it bite,

155
King Lear
ACT 3. SC. 6

 Mastiff, greyhound, mongrel grim,
 Hound or spaniel, brach, or lym,
 Bobtail tike, or trundle-tail,
 Tom will make him weep and wail;
75 For, with throwing thus my head,
 Dogs leapt the hatch, and all are fled.

 Do de, de, de. Sessa! Come, march to wakes
 and fairs and market towns. Poor Tom, thy horn
 is dry.
LEAR 80Then let them anatomize Regan; see what breeds
 about her heart. Is there any cause in nature that
 make these hard hearts? To Edgar. You, sir, I
 entertain for one of my hundred; only I do not like
 the fashion of your garments. You will say they are
85 Persian, but let them be changed.
KENT 
 Now, good my lord, lie here and rest awhile.
LEAR, lying down Make no noise, make no noise.
 Draw the curtains. So, so, we’ll go to supper i’ th’
 morning.
[FOOL 90And I’ll go to bed at noon.]

Enter Gloucester.

GLOUCESTER, to Kent 
 Come hither, friend. Where is the King my master?
KENT 
 Here, sir, but trouble him not; his wits are gone.
GLOUCESTER 
 Good friend, I prithee, take him in thy arms.
 I have o’erheard a plot of death upon him.
95 There is a litter ready; lay him in ’t,
 And drive toward Dover, friend, where thou shalt
 meet
 Both welcome and protection. Take up thy master.
 If thou shouldst dally half an hour, his life,
100 With thine and all that offer to defend him,
 Stand in assurèd loss. Take up, take up,

157
King Lear
ACT 3. SC. 7

 And follow me, that will to some provision
 Give thee quick conduct.
KENT  Oppressèd nature sleeps.
105 This rest might yet have balmed thy broken sinews,
 Which, if convenience will not allow,
 Stand in hard cure. To the Fool. Come, help to
 bear thy master.
 Thou must not stay behind.
GLOUCESTER 110 Come, come away.
All but Edgar exit, carrying Lear.
EDGAR 
 When we our betters see bearing our woes,
 We scarcely think our miseries our foes.
 Who alone suffers suffers most i’ th’ mind,
 Leaving free things and happy shows behind.
115 But then the mind much sufferance doth o’erskip
 When grief hath mates and bearing fellowship.
 How light and portable my pain seems now
 When that which makes me bend makes the King
 bow!
120 He childed as I fathered. Tom, away.
 Mark the high noises, and thyself bewray
 When false opinion, whose wrong thoughts defile
 thee,
 In thy just proof repeals and reconciles thee.
125 What will hap more tonight, safe ’scape the King!
 Lurk, lurk.
He exits.


Scene 7
Enter Cornwall, Regan, Goneril, Edmund, the Bastard,
and Servants.


CORNWALL, to Goneril Post speedily to my lord your
 husband. Show him this letter. He gives her a
 paper. 
The army of France is landed.—Seek out
 the traitor Gloucester.Some Servants exit.

159
King Lear
ACT 3. SC. 7

REGAN 5Hang him instantly.
GONERIL Pluck out his eyes.
CORNWALL Leave him to my displeasure.—Edmund,
 keep you our sister company. The revenges we are
 bound to take upon your traitorous father are not
10 fit for your beholding. Advise the Duke, where you
 are going, to a most festinate preparation; we are
 bound to the like. Our posts shall be swift and
 intelligent betwixt us.—Farewell, dear sister.—
 Farewell, my lord of Gloucester.

Enter Oswald, the Steward.

15 How now? Where’s the King?
OSWALD 
 My lord of Gloucester hath conveyed him hence.
 Some five- or six-and-thirty of his knights,
 Hot questrists after him, met him at gate,
 Who, with some other of the lord’s dependents,
20 Are gone with him toward Dover, where they boast
 To have well-armèd friends.
CORNWALL Get horses for your mistress.
Oswald exits.
GONERIL Farewell, sweet lord, and sister.
CORNWALL 
 Edmund, farewell.Goneril and Edmund exit.
25 Go seek the traitor Gloucester.
 Pinion him like a thief; bring him before us.
Some Servants exit.
 Though well we may not pass upon his life
 Without the form of justice, yet our power
 Shall do a court’sy to our wrath, which men
30 May blame but not control.

Enter Gloucester and Servants.

 Who’s there? The
 traitor?

161
King Lear
ACT 3. SC. 7

REGAN Ingrateful fox! ’Tis he.
CORNWALL Bind fast his corky arms.
GLOUCESTER 
35 What means your Graces? Good my friends,
 consider
 You are my guests; do me no foul play, friends.
CORNWALL 
 Bind him, I say.
REGAN  Hard, hard. O filthy traitor!
GLOUCESTER 
40 Unmerciful lady as you are, I’m none.
CORNWALL 
 To this chair bind him.Servants bind Gloucester.
 Villain, thou shalt find—
Regan plucks Gloucester’s beard.
GLOUCESTER 
 By the kind gods, ’tis most ignobly done
 To pluck me by the beard.
REGAN 
45 So white, and such a traitor?
GLOUCESTER  Naughty lady,
 These hairs which thou dost ravish from my chin
 Will quicken and accuse thee. I am your host;
 With robber’s hands my hospitable favors
50 You should not ruffle thus. What will you do?
CORNWALL 
 Come, sir, what letters had you late from France?
REGAN 
 Be simple-answered, for we know the truth.
CORNWALL 
 And what confederacy have you with the traitors
 Late footed in the kingdom?
REGAN 55 To whose hands
 You have sent the lunatic king. Speak.
GLOUCESTER 
 I have a letter guessingly set down

163
King Lear
ACT 3. SC. 7

 Which came from one that’s of a neutral heart,
 And not from one opposed.
CORNWALL 60Cunning.
REGAN And false.
CORNWALL Where hast thou sent the King?
GLOUCESTER To Dover.
REGAN 
 Wherefore to Dover? Wast thou not charged at
65 peril—
CORNWALL 
 Wherefore to Dover? Let him answer that.
GLOUCESTER 
 I am tied to th’ stake, and I must stand the course.
REGAN Wherefore to Dover?
GLOUCESTER 
 Because I would not see thy cruel nails
70 Pluck out his poor old eyes, nor thy fierce sister
 In his anointed flesh stick boarish fangs.
 The sea, with such a storm as his bare head
 In hell-black night endured, would have buoyed up
 And quenched the stellèd fires;
75 Yet, poor old heart, he holp the heavens to rain.
 If wolves had at thy gate howled that stern time,
 Thou shouldst have said “Good porter, turn the
 key.”
 All cruels else subscribe. But I shall see
80 The wingèd vengeance overtake such children.
CORNWALL 
 See ’t shalt thou never.—Fellows, hold the chair.—
 Upon these eyes of thine I’ll set my foot.
GLOUCESTER 
 He that will think to live till he be old,
 Give me some help!
As Servants hold the chair, Cornwall forces out
one of Gloucester’s eyes.

85 O cruel! O you gods!

165
King Lear
ACT 3. SC. 7

REGAN 
 One side will mock another. Th’ other too.
CORNWALL 
 If you see vengeance—
FIRST SERVANT  Hold your hand,
 my lord.
90 I have served you ever since I was a child,
 But better service have I never done you
 Than now to bid you hold.
REGAN  How now, you dog?
FIRST SERVANT 
 If you did wear a beard upon your chin,
95 I’d shake it on this quarrel. What do you mean?
CORNWALL My villain?Draw and fight.
FIRST SERVANT 
 Nay, then, come on, and take the chance of anger.
REGAN, to an Attendant 
 Give me thy sword. A peasant stand up thus?
She takes a sword and runs
at him behind; kills him.

FIRST SERVANT 
 O, I am slain! My lord, you have one eye left
100 To see some mischief on him. O!He dies.
CORNWALL 
 Lest it see more, prevent it. Out, vile jelly!
Forcing out Gloucester’s other eye.
 Where is thy luster now?
GLOUCESTER 
 All dark and comfortless! Where’s my son
 Edmund?—
105 Edmund, enkindle all the sparks of nature
 To quit this horrid act.
REGAN  Out, treacherous villain!
 Thou call’st on him that hates thee. It was he
 That made the overture of thy treasons to us,
110 Who is too good to pity thee.

167
King Lear
ACT 3. SC. 7

GLOUCESTER 
 O my follies! Then Edgar was abused.
 Kind gods, forgive me that, and prosper him.
REGAN 
 Go thrust him out at gates, and let him smell
 His way to Dover.
Some Servants exit with Gloucester.
115 How is ’t, my lord? How look you?
CORNWALL 
 I have received a hurt. Follow me, lady.—
 Turn out that eyeless villain. Throw this slave
 Upon the dunghill.—Regan, I bleed apace.
 Untimely comes this hurt. Give me your arm.
Cornwall and Regan exit.
SECOND SERVANT 
120 I’ll never care what wickedness I do
 If this man come to good.
THIRD SERVANT  If she live long
 And in the end meet the old course of death,
 Women will all turn monsters.
SECOND SERVANT 
125 Let’s follow the old earl and get the Bedlam
 To lead him where he would. His roguish madness
 Allows itself to anything.
THIRD SERVANT 
 Go thou. I’ll fetch some flax and whites of eggs
 To apply to his bleeding face. Now heaven help him!
They exit.


ACT 4
Scene 1
Enter Edgar in disguise.

EDGAR 
 Yet better thus, and known to be contemned,
 Than still contemned and flattered. To be worst,
 The lowest and most dejected thing of Fortune,
 Stands still in esperance, lives not in fear.
5 The lamentable change is from the best;
 The worst returns to laughter. [Welcome, then,
 Thou unsubstantial air that I embrace.
 The wretch that thou hast blown unto the worst
 Owes nothing to thy blasts.] But who comes here?

Enter Gloucester and an old man.

10 My father, poorly led? World, world, O world,
 But that thy strange mutations make us hate thee,
 Life would not yield to age.
OLD MAN 
 O my good lord, I have been your tenant
 And your father’s tenant these fourscore years.
GLOUCESTER 
15 Away, get thee away. Good friend, begone.
 Thy comforts can do me no good at all;
 Thee they may hurt.
OLD MAN  You cannot see your way.
171

173
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 1

GLOUCESTER 
 I have no way and therefore want no eyes.
20 I stumbled when I saw. Full oft ’tis seen
 Our means secure us, and our mere defects
 Prove our commodities. O dear son Edgar,
 The food of thy abusèd father’s wrath,
 Might I but live to see thee in my touch,
25 I’d say I had eyes again.
OLD MAN  How now? Who’s there?
EDGAR, aside 
 O gods, who is ’t can say “I am at the worst”?
 I am worse than e’er I was.
OLD MAN  ’Tis poor mad Tom.
EDGAR, aside 
30 And worse I may be yet. The worst is not
 So long as we can say “This is the worst.”
OLD MAN 
 Fellow, where goest?
GLOUCESTER  Is it a beggar-man?
OLD MAN Madman and beggar too.
GLOUCESTER 
35 He has some reason, else he could not beg.
 I’ th’ 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
40 more since.
 As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods;
 They kill us for their sport.
EDGAR, aside  How should this be?
 Bad is the trade that must play fool to sorrow,
45 Ang’ring itself and others.—Bless thee, master.
GLOUCESTER 
 Is that the naked fellow?
OLD MAN  Ay, my lord.
GLOUCESTER 
 Then, prithee, get thee away. If for my sake

175
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 1

 Thou wilt o’ertake us hence a mile or twain
50 I’ th’ way toward Dover, do it for ancient love,
 And bring some covering for this naked soul,
 Which I’ll entreat to lead me.
OLD MAN Alack, sir, he is mad.
GLOUCESTER 
 ’Tis the time’s plague when madmen lead the blind.
55 Do as I bid thee, or rather do thy pleasure.
 Above the rest, begone.
OLD MAN 
 I’ll bring him the best ’parel that I have,
 Come on ’t what will.He exits.
GLOUCESTER  Sirrah, naked fellow—
EDGAR 
60 Poor Tom’s a-cold. Aside. I cannot daub it further.
GLOUCESTER Come hither, fellow.
EDGAR, aside 
 And yet I must.—Bless thy sweet eyes, they bleed.
GLOUCESTER Know’st thou the way to Dover?
EDGAR Both stile and gate, horseway and footpath.
65 Poor Tom hath been scared out of his good wits.
 Bless thee, good man’s son, from the foul fiend.
 Five fiends have been in Poor Tom at once: of lust,
 as Obidicut; Hobbididance, prince of dumbness;
 Mahu, of stealing; Modo, of murder; Flibbertigibbet,
70 of mopping and mowing, who since possesses
 chambermaids and waiting women. So, bless
 thee, master.
GLOUCESTER, giving him money 
 Here, take this purse, thou whom the heavens’
 plagues
75 Have humbled to all strokes. That I am wretched
 Makes thee the happier. Heavens, deal so still:
 Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man,
 That slaves your ordinance, that will not see
 Because he does not feel, feel your power quickly.

177
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 2

80 So distribution should undo excess
 And each man have enough. Dost thou know Dover?
EDGAR Ay, master.
GLOUCESTER 
 There is a cliff, whose high and bending head
 Looks fearfully in the confinèd deep.
85 Bring me but to the very brim of it,
 And I’ll repair the misery thou dost bear
 With something rich about me. From that place
 I shall no leading need.
EDGAR  Give me thy arm.
90 Poor Tom shall lead thee.
They exit.


Scene 2
Enter Goneril and Edmund, the Bastard.

GONERIL 
 Welcome, my lord. I marvel our mild husband
 Not met us on the way.

Enter Oswald, the Steward.

 Now, where’s your master?
OSWALD 
 Madam, within, but never man so changed.
5 I told him of the army that was landed;
 He smiled at it. I told him you were coming;
 His answer was “The worse.” Of Gloucester’s
 treachery
 And of the loyal service of his son
10 When I informed him, then he called me “sot”
 And told me I had turned the wrong side out.
 What most he should dislike seems pleasant to him;
 What like, offensive.
GONERIL, to Edmund  Then shall you go no further.

179
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 2

15 It is the cowish terror of his spirit,
 That dares not undertake. He’ll not feel wrongs
 Which tie him to an answer. Our wishes on the way
 May prove effects. Back, Edmund, to my brother.
 Hasten his musters and conduct his powers.
20 I must change names 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—
25 A mistress’s command. Wear this; spare speech.
She gives him a favor.
 Decline your head. She kisses him. This kiss, if it
 durst speak,
 Would stretch thy spirits up into the air.
 Conceive, and fare thee well.
EDMUND 
30 Yours in the ranks of death.He exits.
GONERIL  My most dear
 Gloucester!
 [O, the difference of man and man!]
 To thee a woman’s services are due;
35 My fool usurps my body.
OSWALD Madam, here comes my lord.He exits.

Enter Albany.

GONERIL 
 I have been worth the whistle.
ALBANY  O Goneril,
 You are not worth the dust which the rude wind
40 Blows in your face. I fear your disposition.
 That nature which contemns its origin
 Cannot be bordered certain in itself.
 She that herself will sliver and disbranch
 From her material sap perforce must wither
45 And come to deadly use.
GONERIL No more. The text is foolish.

181
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 2

ALBANY 
 Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile.
 Filths savor but themselves. What have you done?
 Tigers, not daughters, what have you performed?
50 A father, and a gracious agèd man,
 Whose reverence even the head-lugged bear would
 lick,
 Most barbarous, most degenerate, have you
 madded.
55 Could my good brother suffer you to do it?
 A man, a prince, by him so benefited!
 If that the heavens do not their visible spirits
 Send quickly down to tame these vile offenses,
 It will come:
60 Humanity must perforce prey on itself,
 Like monsters of the deep.
GONERIL  Milk-livered man,
 That bear’st a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs;
 Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning
65 Thine honor from thy suffering; that not know’st
 Fools do those villains pity who are punished
 Ere they have done their mischief. Where’s thy
 drum?
 France spreads his banners in our noiseless land,
70 With plumèd helm thy state begins to threat,
 Whilst thou, a moral fool, sits still and cries
 “Alack, why does he so?”
ALBANY  See thyself, devil!
 Proper deformity shows not in the fiend
75 So horrid as in woman.
GONERIL  O vain fool!
ALBANY 
 Thou changèd and self-covered thing, for shame
 Bemonster not thy feature. Were ’t my fitness
 To let these hands obey my blood,
80 They are apt enough to dislocate and tear

183
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 2

 Thy flesh and bones. Howe’er thou art a fiend,
 A woman’s shape doth shield thee.
GONERIL  Marry, your manhood, mew—

Enter a Messenger.

ALBANY What news?
MESSENGER 
85 O, my good lord, the Duke of Cornwall’s dead,
 Slain by his servant, going to put out
 The other eye of Gloucester.
ALBANY  Gloucester’s eyes?
MESSENGER 
 A servant that he bred, thrilled with remorse,
90 Opposed against the act, bending his sword
 To his great master, who, thereat enraged,
 Flew on him and amongst them felled him dead,
 But not without that harmful stroke which since
 Hath plucked him after.
ALBANY 95 This shows you are above,
 You justicers, that these our nether crimes
 So speedily can venge. But, O poor Gloucester,
 Lost he his other eye?
MESSENGER  Both, both, my lord.—
100 This letter, madam, craves a speedy answer.
Giving her a paper.
 ’Tis from your sister.
GONERIL, aside  One way I like this well.
 But being widow and my Gloucester with her
 May all the building in my fancy pluck
105 Upon my hateful life. Another way
 The news is not so tart.—I’ll read, and answer.
She exits.
ALBANY 
 Where was his son when they did take his eyes?
MESSENGER 
 Come with my lady hither.

185
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 3

ALBANY  He is not here.
MESSENGER 
110 No, my good lord. I met him back again.
ALBANY Knows he the wickedness?
MESSENGER 
 Ay, my good lord. ’Twas he informed against him
 And quit the house on purpose, that their punishment
 Might have the freer course.
ALBANY 115 Gloucester, I live
 To thank thee for the love thou show’d’st the King,
 And to revenge thine eyes.—Come hither, friend.
 Tell me what more thou know’st.
They exit.


Scene 3
Enter Kent in disguise and a Gentleman.

KENT Why the King of France is so suddenly gone
 back know you no reason?
GENTLEMAN Something he left imperfect in the state,
 which since his coming forth is thought of, which
5 imports to the kingdom so much fear and danger
 that his personal return was most required and
 necessary.
KENT Who hath he left behind him general?
GENTLEMAN The Marshal of France, Monsieur La Far.
KENT 10Did your letters pierce the Queen to any demonstration
 of grief?
GENTLEMAN 
 Ay, sir, she took them, read them in my
 presence,
 And now and then an ample tear trilled down
15 Her delicate cheek. It seemed she was a queen
 Over her passion, who, most rebel-like,
 Fought to be king o’er her.
KENT  O, then it moved her.

187
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 3

GENTLEMAN 
 Not to a rage. Patience and sorrow strove
20 Who should express her goodliest. You have seen
 Sunshine and rain at once; her smiles and tears
 Were like a better way. Those happy smilets
 That played on her ripe lip seemed not to know
 What guests were in her eyes, which parted thence
25 As pearls from diamonds dropped. In brief,
 Sorrow would be a rarity most beloved
 If all could so become it.
KENT Made she no verbal question?
GENTLEMAN 
 Faith, once or twice she heaved the name of
30 “father”
 Pantingly forth, as if it pressed her heart;
 Cried “Sisters, sisters, shame of ladies, sisters!
 Kent, father, sisters! What, i’ th’ storm, i’ th’ night?
 Let pity not be believed!” There she shook
35 The holy water from her heavenly eyes,
 And clamor moistened. Then away she started,
 To deal with grief alone.
KENT  It is the stars.
 The stars above us govern our conditions,
40 Else one self mate and make could not beget
 Such different issues. You spoke not with her
 since?
GENTLEMAN No.
KENT 
 Was this before the King returned?
GENTLEMAN 45 No, since.
KENT 
 Well, sir, the poor distressèd Lear’s i’ th’ town,
 Who sometime in his better tune remembers
 What we are come about, and by no means
 Will yield to see his daughter.
GENTLEMAN 50 Why, good sir?

189
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 4

KENT 
 A sovereign shame so elbows him—his own
 unkindness,
 That stripped her from his benediction, turned her
 To foreign casualties, gave her dear rights
55 To his dog-hearted daughters—these things sting
 His mind so venomously that burning shame
 Detains him from Cordelia.
GENTLEMAN Alack, poor gentleman!
KENT 
 Of Albany’s and Cornwall’s powers you heard not?
GENTLEMAN 60’Tis so. They are afoot.
KENT 
 Well, sir, I’ll bring you to our master Lear
 And leave you to attend him. Some dear cause
 Will in concealment wrap me up awhile.
 When I am known aright, you shall not grieve
65 Lending me this acquaintance. I pray you, go
 Along with me.
They exit.


Scene 4
Enter with Drum and Colors, Cordelia, Doctor,
Gentlemen, and Soldiers.


CORDELIA 
 Alack, ’tis he! Why, he was met even now
 As mad as the vexed sea, singing aloud,
 Crowned with rank fumiter and furrow-weeds,
 With hardocks, hemlock, nettles, cuckooflowers,
5 Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow
 In our sustaining corn. A century send forth.
 Search every acre in the high-grown field
 And bring him to our eye.Soldiers exit.
 What can man’s wisdom

191
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 5

10 In the restoring his bereavèd sense?
 He that helps him take all my outward worth.
DOCTOR There is means, madam.
 Our foster nurse of nature is repose,
 The which he lacks. That to provoke in him
15 Are many simples operative, whose power
 Will close the eye of anguish.
CORDELIA  All blest secrets,
 All you unpublished virtues of the earth,
 Spring with my tears. Be aidant and remediate
20 In the good man’s distress. Seek, seek for him,
 Lest his ungoverned rage dissolve the life
 That wants the means to lead it.

Enter Messenger.

MESSENGER  News, madam.
 The British powers are marching hitherward.
CORDELIA 
25 ’Tis known before. Our preparation stands
 In expectation of them.—O dear father,
 It is thy business that I go about.
 Therefore great France
 My mourning and importuned tears hath pitied.
30 No blown ambition doth our arms incite,
 But love, dear love, and our aged father’s right.
 Soon may I hear and see him.
They exit.


Scene 5
Enter Regan and Oswald, the Steward.

REGAN 
 But are my brother’s powers set forth?
OSWALD  Ay, madam.
REGAN Himself in person there?

193
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 5

OSWALD Madam, with much ado.
5 Your sister is the better soldier.
REGAN 
 Lord Edmund spake not with your lord at home?
OSWALD No, madam.
REGAN 
 What might import my sister’s letter to him?
OSWALD I know not, lady.
REGAN 
10 Faith, he is posted hence on serious matter.
 It was great ignorance, Gloucester’s eyes being out,
 To let him live. Where he arrives he moves
 All hearts against us. Edmund, I think, is gone,
 In pity of his misery, to dispatch
15 His nighted life; moreover to descry
 The strength o’ th’ enemy.
OSWALD 
 I must needs after him, madam, with my letter.
REGAN 
 Our troops set forth tomorrow. Stay with us.
 The ways are dangerous.
OSWALD 20 I may not, madam.
 My lady charged my duty in this business.
REGAN 
 Why should she write to Edmund? Might not you
 Transport her purposes by word? Belike,
 Some things—I know not what. I’ll love thee much—
25 Let me unseal the letter.
OSWALD  Madam, I had rather—
REGAN 
 I know your lady does not love her husband;
 I am sure of that; and at her late being here,
 She gave strange eliads and most speaking looks
30 To noble Edmund. I know you are of her bosom.
OSWALD I, madam?
REGAN 
 I speak in understanding. Y’ are; I know ’t.

195
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 6

 Therefore I do advise you take this note:
 My lord is dead; Edmund and I have talked,
35 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.
40 So, fare you well.
 If you do chance to hear of that blind traitor,
 Preferment falls on him that cuts him off.
OSWALD 
 Would I could meet him, madam. I should show
 What party I do follow.
REGAN 45 Fare thee well.
They exit.


Scene 6
Enter Gloucester and Edgar dressed as a peasant.

GLOUCESTER 
 When shall I come to th’ top of that same hill?
EDGAR 
 You do climb up it now. Look how we labor.
GLOUCESTER 
 Methinks the ground is even.
EDGAR  Horrible steep.
5 Hark, do you hear the sea?
GLOUCESTER  No, truly.
EDGAR 
 Why then, your other senses grow imperfect
 By your eyes’ anguish.
GLOUCESTER  So may it be indeed.
10 Methinks thy voice is altered and thou speak’st
 In better phrase and matter than thou didst.

197
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 6

EDGAR 
 You’re much deceived; in nothing am I changed
 But in my garments.
GLOUCESTER  Methinks you’re better spoken.
EDGAR 
15 Come on, sir. Here’s the place. Stand still. How
 fearful
 And dizzy ’tis to cast one’s eyes so low!
 The crows and choughs that wing the midway air
 Show scarce so gross as beetles. Halfway down
20 Hangs one that gathers samphire—dreadful trade;
 Methinks he seems no bigger than his head.
 The fishermen that walk upon the beach
 Appear like mice, and yond tall anchoring bark
 Diminished to her cock, her cock a buoy
25 Almost too small for sight. The murmuring surge
 That on th’ unnumbered idle pebble chafes
 Cannot be heard so high. I’ll look no more
 Lest my brain turn and the deficient sight
 Topple down headlong.
GLOUCESTER 30 Set me where you stand.
EDGAR 
 Give me your hand. You are now within a foot
 Of th’ extreme verge. For all beneath the moon
 Would I not leap upright.
GLOUCESTER  Let go my hand.
35 Here, friend, ’s another purse; in it a jewel
 Well worth a poor man’s taking. Fairies and gods
 Prosper it with thee.He gives Edgar a purse.
 Go thou further off.
 Bid me farewell, and let me hear thee going.
EDGAR, walking away 
40 Now fare you well, good sir.
GLOUCESTER  With all my heart.
EDGAR, aside 
 Why I do trifle thus with his despair
 Is done to cure it.

199
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 6

GLOUCESTER  O you mighty gods!He kneels.
45 This world I do renounce, and in your sights
 Shake patiently my great affliction off.
 If I could bear it longer, and not fall
 To quarrel with your great opposeless wills,
 My snuff and loathèd part of nature should
50 Burn itself out. If Edgar live, O, bless him!—
 Now, fellow, fare thee well.He falls.
EDGAR  Gone, sir. Farewell.—
 And yet I know not how conceit may rob
 The treasury of life, when life itself
55 Yields to the theft. Had he been where he thought,
 By this had thought been past. Alive or dead?—
 Ho you, sir! Friend, hear you. Sir, speak.—
 Thus might he pass indeed. Yet he revives.—
 What are you, sir?
GLOUCESTER 60 Away, and let me die.
EDGAR 
 Hadst thou been aught but gossamer, feathers, air,
 So many fathom down precipitating,
 Thou ’dst shivered like an egg; but thou dost
 breathe,
65 Hast heavy substance, bleed’st not, speak’st, art
 sound.
 Ten masts at each make not the altitude
 Which thou hast perpendicularly fell.
 Thy life’s a miracle. Speak yet again.
GLOUCESTER 70But have I fall’n or no?
EDGAR 
 From the dread summit of this chalky bourn.
 Look up a-height. The shrill-gorged lark so far
 Cannot be seen or heard. Do but look up.
GLOUCESTER Alack, I have no eyes.
75 Is wretchedness deprived that benefit
 To end itself by death? ’Twas yet some comfort
 When misery could beguile the tyrant’s rage
 And frustrate his proud will.

201
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 6

EDGAR  Give me your arm.
He raises Gloucester.
80 Up. So, how is ’t? Feel you your legs? You stand.
GLOUCESTER 
 Too well, too well.
EDGAR  This is above all strangeness.
 Upon the crown o’ th’ cliff, what thing was that
 Which parted from you?
GLOUCESTER 85 A poor unfortunate beggar.
EDGAR 
 As I stood here below, methought his eyes
 Were two full moons; he had a thousand noses,
 Horns whelked and waved like the enragèd sea.
 It was some fiend. Therefore, thou happy father,
90 Think that the clearest gods, who make them
 honors
 Of men’s impossibilities, have preserved thee.
GLOUCESTER 
 I do remember now. Henceforth I’ll bear
 Affliction till it do cry out itself
95 “Enough, enough!” and die. That thing you speak of,
 I took it for a man. Often ’twould say
 “The fiend, the fiend!” He led me to that place.
EDGAR 
 Bear free and patient thoughts.

Enter Lear.

 But who comes here?
100 The safer sense will ne’er accommodate
 His master thus.
LEAR No, they cannot touch me for coining. I am the
 King himself.
EDGAR O, thou side-piercing sight!
LEAR 105Nature’s above art in that respect. There’s your
 press-money. That fellow handles his bow like a
 crowkeeper. Draw me a clothier’s yard. Look, look,

203
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 6

 a mouse! Peace, peace! This piece of toasted cheese
 will do ’t. There’s my gauntlet; I’ll prove it on a
110 giant. Bring up the brown bills. O, well flown, bird!
 I’ th’ clout, i’ th’ clout! Hewgh! Give the word.
EDGAR Sweet marjoram.
LEAR Pass.
GLOUCESTER I know that voice.
LEAR 115Ha! Goneril with a white beard? They flattered
 me like a dog and told me I had the white hairs in
 my beard ere the black ones were there. To say “ay”
 and “no” to everything that I said “ay” and “no” to
 was no good divinity. When the rain came to wet me
120 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.
GLOUCESTER 
125 The trick of that voice I do well remember.
 Is ’t not the King?
LEAR  Ay, every inch a king.
 When I do stare, see how the subject quakes.
 I pardon that man’s life. What was thy cause?
130 Adultery? Thou shalt not die. Die for adultery? No.
 The wren goes to ’t, and the small gilded fly does
 lecher in my sight. Let copulation thrive, for
 Gloucester’s bastard son was kinder to his father
 than my daughters got ’tween the lawful sheets. To
135 ’t, luxury, pell-mell, for I lack soldiers. Behold yond
 simp’ring 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
140 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,

205
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 6

 there’s darkness, there is the sulphurous pit; burning,
 scalding, stench, consumption! Fie, fie, fie, pah,
145 pah! Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary;
 sweeten my imagination. There’s money for thee.
GLOUCESTER O, let me kiss that hand!
LEAR Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality.
GLOUCESTER 
 O ruined piece of nature! This great world
150 Shall so wear out to naught. Dost thou know me?
LEAR I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost thou
 squinny at me? No, do thy worst, blind Cupid, I’ll
 not love. Read thou this challenge. Mark but the
 penning of it.
GLOUCESTER 
155 Were all thy letters suns, I could not see.
EDGAR, aside 
 I would not take this from report. It is,
 And my heart breaks at it.
LEAR Read.
GLOUCESTER What, with the case of eyes?
LEAR 160O ho, are you there with me? No eyes in your
 head, nor no money in your purse? Your eyes are in
 a heavy case, your purse in a light, yet you see how
 this world goes.
GLOUCESTER I see it feelingly.
LEAR 165What, art mad? A man may see how this world
 goes with no eyes. Look with thine ears. See how
 yond justice rails upon yond simple thief. Hark in
 thine ear. Change places and, handy-dandy, which
 is the justice, which is the thief? Thou hast seen a
170 farmer’s dog bark at a beggar?
GLOUCESTER Ay, sir.
LEAR And the creature run from the cur? There thou
 might’st behold the great image of authority: a
 dog’s obeyed in office.

207
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 6

175 Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand!
 Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thy own back.
 Thou hotly lusts to use her in that kind
 For which thou whipp’st her. The usurer hangs the
 cozener.
180 Through tattered clothes small vices do appear.
 Robes and furred gowns hide all. [Plate sin with
 gold,
 And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks.
 Arm it in rags, a pygmy’s straw does pierce it.
185 None does offend, none, I say, none; I’ll able ’em.
 Take that of me, my friend, who have the power
 To seal th’ accuser’s lips.] Get thee glass eyes,
 And like a scurvy politician
 Seem to see the things thou dost not. Now, now,
190 now, now.
 Pull off my boots. Harder, harder. So.
EDGAR, aside 
 O, matter and impertinency mixed,
 Reason in madness!
LEAR 
 If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes.
195 I know thee well enough; thy name is Gloucester.
 Thou must be patient. We came crying hither;
 Thou know’st the first time that we smell the air
 We wawl and cry. I will preach to thee. Mark.
GLOUCESTER Alack, alack the day!
LEAR 
200 When we are born, we cry that we are come
 To this great stage of fools.—This’ a good block.
 It were a delicate stratagem to shoe
 A troop of horse with felt. I’ll put ’t in proof,
 And when I have stol’n upon these son-in-laws,
205 Then kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!

Enter a Gentleman and Attendants.


209
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 6

GENTLEMAN, noticing Lear 
 O, here he is. To an Attendant. Lay hand upon
 him.—Sir,
 Your most dear daughter—
LEAR 
 No rescue? What, a prisoner? I am even
210 The natural fool of Fortune. Use me well.
 You shall have ransom. Let me have surgeons;
 I am cut to th’ brains.
GENTLEMAN  You shall have anything.
LEAR No seconds? All myself?
215 Why, this would make a man a man of salt,
 To use his eyes for garden waterpots,
 Ay, and laying autumn’s dust.
 I will die bravely like a smug bridegroom. What?
 I will be jovial. Come, come, I am a king,
220 Masters, know you that?
GENTLEMAN 
 You are a royal one, and we obey you.
LEAR Then there’s life in ’t. Come, an you get it, you
 shall get it by running. Sa, sa, sa, sa.
The King exits running pursued by Attendants.
GENTLEMAN 
 A sight most pitiful in the meanest wretch,
225 Past speaking of in a king. Thou hast a daughter
 Who redeems nature from the general curse
 Which twain have brought her to.
EDGAR Hail, gentle sir.
GENTLEMAN Sir, speed you. What’s your will?
EDGAR 
230 Do you hear aught, sir, of a battle toward?
GENTLEMAN 
 Most sure and vulgar. Everyone hears that,
 Which can distinguish sound.
EDGAR  But, by your favor,
 How near’s the other army?

211
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 6

GENTLEMAN 
235 Near and on speedy foot. The main descry
 Stands on the hourly thought.
EDGAR I thank you, sir. That’s all.
GENTLEMAN 
 Though that the Queen on special cause is here,
 Her army is moved on.
EDGAR 240 I thank you, sir.
Gentleman exits.
GLOUCESTER 
 You ever-gentle gods, take my breath from me;
 Let not my worser spirit tempt me again
 To die before you please.
EDGAR Well pray you, father.
GLOUCESTER 245Now, good sir, what are you?
EDGAR 
 A most poor man, made tame to Fortune’s blows,
 Who, by the art of known and feeling sorrows,
 Am pregnant to good pity. Give me your hand;
 I’ll lead you to some biding.
He takes Gloucester’s hand.
GLOUCESTER 250 Hearty thanks.
 The bounty and the benison of heaven
 To boot, and boot.

Enter Oswald, the Steward.

OSWALD, drawing his sword 
 A proclaimed prize! Most happy!
 That eyeless head of thine was first framed flesh
255 To raise my fortunes. Thou old unhappy traitor,
 Briefly thyself remember; the sword is out
 That must destroy thee.
GLOUCESTER  Now let thy friendly hand
 Put strength enough to ’t.
Edgar steps between Gloucester and Oswald.
OSWALD 260 Wherefore, bold peasant,

213
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 6

 Dar’st thou support a published traitor? Hence,
 Lest that th’ infection of his fortune take
 Like hold on thee. Let go his arm.
EDGAR Chill not let go, zir, without vurther ’casion.
OSWALD 265Let go, slave, or thou diest!
EDGAR Good gentleman, go your gait, and let poor
 volk pass. An ’chud ha’ bin zwaggered out of my
 life, ’twould not ha’ bin zo long as ’tis by a vortnight.
 Nay, come not near th’ old man. Keep out,
270 che vor’ ye, or Ise try whether your costard or my
 ballow be the harder. Chill be plain with you.
OSWALD Out, dunghill.
EDGAR Chill pick your teeth, zir. Come, no matter vor
 your foins.They fight.
OSWALD, falling 
275 Slave, thou hast slain me. Villain, take my purse.
 If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body,
 And give the letters which thou find’st about me
 To Edmund, Earl of Gloucester. Seek him out
 Upon the English party. O, untimely death! Death!
He dies.
EDGAR 
280 I know thee well, a serviceable villain,
 As duteous to the vices of thy mistress
 As badness would desire.
GLOUCESTER What, is he dead?
EDGAR Sit you down, father; rest you.
285 Let’s see these pockets. The letters that he speaks of
 May be my friends. He’s dead; I am only sorry
 He had no other deathsman. Let us see.
He opens a letter.
 Leave, gentle wax, and, manners, blame us not.
 To know our enemies’ minds, we rip their hearts.
290 Their papers is more lawful.Reads the letter.
 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

215
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 7

 nothing done if he return the conqueror. Then am I
295 the prisoner, and his bed my jail, from the loathed
 warmth whereof deliver me and supply the place for
 your labor.
 Your (wife, so I would say) affectionate servant,
 and, for you, her own for venture,Goneril.

300 O indistinguished space of woman’s will!
 A plot upon her virtuous husband’s life,
 And the exchange my brother.—Here, in the sands
 Thee I’ll rake up, the post unsanctified
 Of murderous lechers; and in the mature time
305 With this ungracious paper strike the sight
 Of the death-practiced duke. For him ’tis well
 That of thy death and business I can tell.
GLOUCESTER 
 The King is mad. How stiff is my vile sense
 That I stand up and have ingenious feeling
310 Of my huge sorrows! Better I were distract.
 So should my thoughts be severed from my griefs,
 And woes, by wrong imaginations, lose
 The knowledge of themselves.Drum afar off.
EDGAR  Give me your hand.
315 Far off methinks I hear the beaten drum.
 Come, father, I’ll bestow you with a friend.
They exit.


Scene 7
Enter Cordelia, Kent in disguise, Doctor, and
Gentleman.


CORDELIA 
 O, thou good Kent, how shall I live and work
 To match thy goodness? My life will be too short,
 And every measure fail me.
KENT 
 To be acknowledged, madam, is o’erpaid.

217
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 7

5 All my reports go with the modest truth,
 Nor more, nor clipped, but so.
CORDELIA  Be better suited.
 These weeds are memories of those worser hours.
 I prithee put them off.
KENT 10 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.
CORDELIA 
 Then be ’t so, my good lord.—How does the King?
DOCTOR 15Madam, sleeps still.
CORDELIA O, you kind gods,
 Cure this great breach in his abusèd nature!
 Th’ untuned and jarring senses, O, wind up,
 Of this child-changèd father!
DOCTOR 20 So please your Majesty
 That we may wake the King? He hath slept
 long.
CORDELIA 
 Be governed by your knowledge, and proceed
 I’ th’ sway of your own will. Is he arrayed?

Enter Lear in a chair carried by Servants.

GENTLEMAN 
25 Ay, madam. In the heaviness of sleep,
 We put fresh garments on him.
DOCTOR 
 Be by, good madam, when we do awake him.
 I doubt not of his temperance.
CORDELIA  Very well.
Music.
DOCTOR 
30 Please you, draw near.—Louder the music there.
CORDELIA, kissing Lear 
 O, my dear father, restoration hang

219
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 7

 Thy medicine on my lips, and let this kiss
 Repair those violent harms that my two sisters
 Have in thy reverence made.
KENT 35 Kind and dear princess.
CORDELIA 
 Had you not been their father, these white flakes
 Did challenge pity of them. Was this a face
 To be opposed against the jarring winds?
 To stand against the deep dread-bolted thunder,
40 In the most terrible and nimble stroke
 Of quick cross-lightning? To watch, poor perdu,
 With this thin helm? Mine enemy’s dog,
 Though he had bit me, should have stood that night
 Against my fire. And wast thou fain, poor father,
45 To hovel thee with swine and rogues forlorn
 In short and musty straw? Alack, alack,
 ’Tis wonder that thy life and wits at once
 Had not concluded all.—He wakes. Speak to him.
DOCTOR Madam, do you; ’tis fittest.
CORDELIA 
50 How does my royal lord? How fares your Majesty?
LEAR 
 You do me wrong to take me out o’ th’ 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.
CORDELIA 55 Sir, do you know me?
LEAR 
 You are a spirit, I know. Where did you die?
CORDELIA Still, still, far wide.
DOCTOR 
 He’s scarce awake. Let him alone awhile.
LEAR 
 Where have I been? Where am I? Fair daylight?
60 I am mightily abused; I should e’en die with pity

221
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 7

 To see another thus. I know not what to say.
 I will not swear these are my hands. Let’s see.
 I feel this pinprick. Would I were assured
 Of my condition!
CORDELIA 65 O, look upon me, sir,
 And hold your hand in benediction o’er me.
 No, sir, you must not kneel.
LEAR  Pray do not mock:
 I am a very foolish fond old man,
70 Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less,
 And to deal plainly,
 I fear I am not in my perfect mind.
 Methinks I should know you and know this man,
 Yet I am doubtful, for I am mainly ignorant
75 What place this is, and all the skill I have
 Remembers not these garments; nor I know not
 Where I did lodge last night. Do not laugh at me,
 For, as I am a man, I think this lady
 To be my child Cordelia.
CORDELIA, weeping 80And so I am; I am.
LEAR 
 Be your tears wet? Yes, faith. I pray, weep not.
 If you have poison for me, I will drink it.
 I know you do not love me, for your sisters
 Have, as I do remember, done me wrong.
85 You have some cause; they have not.
CORDELIA  No cause, no
 cause.
LEAR Am I in France?
KENT In your own kingdom, sir.
LEAR 90Do not abuse me.
DOCTOR 
 Be comforted, good madam. The great rage,
 You see, is killed in him, and yet it is danger
 To make him even o’er the time he has lost.

223
King Lear
ACT 4. SC. 7

 Desire him to go in. Trouble him no more
95 Till further settling.
CORDELIA Will ’t please your Highness walk?
LEAR You must bear with me.
 Pray you now, forget, and forgive. I am old and
 foolish.They exit. Kent and Gentleman remain.
GENTLEMAN 100Holds it true, sir, that the Duke of Cornwall
 was so slain?
KENT Most certain, sir.
GENTLEMAN Who is conductor of his people?
KENT As ’tis said, the bastard son of Gloucester.
GENTLEMAN 105They say Edgar, his banished son, is with
 the Earl of Kent in Germany.
KENT Report is changeable. ’Tis time to look about.
 The powers of the kingdom approach apace.
GENTLEMAN The arbitrament is like to be bloody. Fare
110 you well, sir.He exits.
KENT 
 My point and period will be throughly wrought,
 Or well, or ill, as this day’s battle’s fought.
He exits.


ACT 5
Scene 1
Enter, with Drum and Colors, Edmund, Regan,
Gentlemen, and Soldiers.


EDMUND, to a Gentleman 
 Know of the Duke if his last purpose hold,
 Or whether since he is advised by aught
 To change the course. He’s full of alteration
 And self-reproving. Bring his constant pleasure.
A Gentleman exits.
REGAN 
5 Our sister’s man is certainly miscarried.
EDMUND 
 ’Tis to be doubted, madam.
REGAN  Now, sweet lord,
 You know the goodness I intend upon you;
 Tell me but truly, but then speak the truth,
10 Do you not love my sister?
EDMUND  In honored love.
REGAN 
 But have you never found my brother’s way
 To the forfended place?
EDMUND That thought abuses you.
REGAN 
15 I am doubtful that you have been conjunct
 And bosomed with her as far as we call hers.
EDMUND No, by mine honor, madam.
227

229
King Lear
ACT 5. SC. 1

REGAN 
 I never shall endure her. Dear my lord,
 Be not familiar with her.
EDMUND 
20 Fear me not. She and the Duke, her husband.

Enter, with Drum and Colors, Albany, Goneril, Soldiers.

GONERIL, aside 
 I had rather lose the battle than that sister
 Should loosen him and me.
ALBANY 
 Our very loving sister, well bemet.—
 Sir, this I heard: the King is come to his daughter,
25 With others whom the rigor of our state
 Forced to cry out. Where I could not be honest,
 I never yet was valiant. For this business,
 It touches us as France invades our land,
 Not bolds the King, with others whom, I fear,
30 Most just and heavy causes make oppose.
EDMUND 
 Sir, you speak nobly.
REGAN  Why is this reasoned?
GONERIL 
 Combine together ’gainst the enemy,
 For these domestic and particular broils
35 Are not the question here.
ALBANY  Let’s then determine
 With th’ ancient of war on our proceeding.
EDMUND 
 I shall attend you presently at your tent.
REGAN Sister, you’ll go with us?
GONERIL 40No.
REGAN 
 ’Tis most convenient. Pray, go with us.
GONERIL, aside 
 Oho, I know the riddle.—I will go.
They begin to exit.

231
King Lear
ACT 5. SC. 1

Enter Edgar dressed as a peasant.

EDGAR, to Albany 
 If e’er your Grace had speech with man so poor,
 Hear me one word.
ALBANY, to those exiting 
45 I’ll overtake you.—Speak.
Both the armies exit.
EDGAR, giving him a paper 
 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
50 What is avouchèd there. If you miscarry,
 Your business of the world hath so an end,
 And machination ceases. Fortune love you.
ALBANY Stay till I have read the letter.
EDGAR I was forbid it.
55 When time shall serve, let but the herald cry
 And I’ll appear again.He exits.
ALBANY 
 Why, fare thee well. I will o’erlook thy paper.

Enter Edmund.

EDMUND 
 The enemy’s in view. Draw up your powers.
Giving him a paper.
 Here is the guess of their true strength and forces
60 By diligent discovery. But your haste
 Is now urged on you.
ALBANY  We will greet the time.
He exits.
EDMUND 
 To both these sisters have I sworn my love,
 Each jealous of the other as the stung
65 Are of the adder. Which of them shall I take?

233
King Lear
ACT 5. SC. 2

 Both? One? Or neither? Neither can be enjoyed
 If both remain alive. To take the widow
 Exasperates, makes mad her sister Goneril,
 And hardly shall I carry out my side,
70 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,
75 The battle done and they within our power,
 Shall never see his pardon, for my state
 Stands on me to defend, not to debate.
He exits.


Scene 2
Alarum within. Enter, with Drum and Colors, Lear,
Cordelia, and Soldiers, over the stage, and exit.

Enter Edgar and Gloucester.


EDGAR 
 Here, father, take the shadow of this tree
 For your good host. Pray that the right may thrive.
 If ever I return to you again,
 I’ll bring you comfort.
GLOUCESTER 5 Grace go with you, sir.
Edgar exits.
Alarum and Retreat within.

Enter Edgar.

EDGAR 
 Away, old man. Give me thy hand. Away.
 King Lear hath lost, he and his daughter ta’en.
 Give me thy hand. Come on.
GLOUCESTER 
 No further, sir. A man may rot even here.

235
King Lear
ACT 5. SC. 3

EDGAR 
10 What, in ill thoughts again? Men must endure
 Their going hence even as their coming hither.
 Ripeness is all. Come on.
[GLOUCESTER  And that’s true too.]
They exit.


Scene 3
Enter in conquest, with Drum and Colors, Edmund;
Lear and Cordelia as prisoners; Soldiers, Captain.


EDMUND 
 Some officers take them away. Good guard
 Until their greater pleasures first be known
 That are to censure them.
CORDELIA, to Lear  We are not the first
5 Who with best meaning have incurred the worst.
 For thee, oppressèd king, I am cast down.
 Myself could else outfrown false Fortune’s frown.
 Shall we not see these daughters and these sisters?
LEAR 
 No, no, no, no. Come, let’s away to prison.
10 We two alone will sing like birds i’ th’ 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
15 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 walled prison, packs and sects of great ones
20 That ebb and flow by th’ moon.
EDMUND  Take them away.
LEAR 
 Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,

237
King Lear
ACT 5. SC. 3

 The gods themselves throw incense. Have I caught
 thee?
25 He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven
 And fire us hence like foxes. Wipe thine eyes.
 The good years shall devour them, flesh and fell,
 Ere they shall make us weep. We’ll see ’em starved
 first.
30 Come.
Lear and Cordelia exit, with Soldiers.
EDMUND Come hither, captain. Hark.
Handing him a paper.
 Take thou this note. Go follow them to prison.
 One step I have advanced thee. If thou dost
 As this instructs thee, thou dost make thy way
35 To noble fortunes. Know thou this: that men
 Are as the time is; to be tender-minded
 Does not become a sword. Thy great employment
 Will not bear question. Either say thou ’lt do ’t,
 Or thrive by other means.
CAPTAIN 40 I’ll do ’t, my lord.
EDMUND 
 About it, and write “happy” when th’ hast done.
 Mark, I say, instantly, and carry it so
 As I have set it down.
CAPTAIN 
 I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried oats.
45 If it be man’s work, I’ll do ’t.Captain exits.

Flourish. Enter Albany, Goneril, Regan, Soldiers and a
Captain.


ALBANY, to Edmund 
 Sir, you have showed today 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, so to use them
50 As we shall find their merits and our safety
 May equally determine.

239
King Lear
ACT 5. SC. 3

EDMUND Sir, I thought it fit
 To send the old and miserable king
 To some retention and appointed guard,
55 Whose age had charms in it, whose title more,
 To pluck the common bosom on his side
 And turn our impressed lances in our eyes,
 Which do command them. With him I sent the
 Queen,
60 My reason all the same, and they are ready
 Tomorrow, or at further space, t’ appear
 Where you shall hold your session. At this time
 We sweat and bleed. The friend hath lost his friend,
 And the best quarrels in the heat are cursed
65 By those that feel their sharpness.
 The question of Cordelia and her father
 Requires a fitter place.
ALBANY  Sir, by your patience,
 I hold you but a subject of this war,
70 Not as a brother.
REGAN  That’s as we list to grace him.
 Methinks our pleasure might have been demanded
 Ere you had spoke so far. He led our powers,
 Bore the commission of my place and person,
75 The which immediacy may well stand up
 And call itself your brother.
GONERIL  Not so hot.
 In his own grace he doth exalt himself
 More than in your addition.
REGAN 80 In my rights,
 By me invested, he compeers the best.
GONERIL 
 That were the most if he should husband you.
REGAN 
 Jesters do oft prove prophets.
GONERIL  Holla, holla!
85 That eye that told you so looked but asquint.

241
King Lear
ACT 5. SC. 3

REGAN 
 Lady, I am not well, else I should answer
 From a full-flowing stomach. To Edmund.
 General,
 Take thou my soldiers, prisoners, patrimony.
90 [Dispose of them, of me; the walls is thine.]
 Witness the world that I create thee here
 My lord and master.
GONERIL  Mean you to enjoy him?
ALBANY 
 The let-alone lies not in your goodwill.
EDMUND 
95 Nor in thine, lord.
ALBANY  Half-blooded fellow, yes.
REGAN, to Edmund 
 Let the drum strike, and prove my title thine.
ALBANY 
 Stay yet, hear reason.—Edmund, I arrest thee
 On capital treason; and, in thine attaint,
100 This gilded serpent.—For your claim, fair
 sister,
 I bar it in the interest of my wife.
 ’Tis she is subcontracted to this lord,
 And I, her husband, contradict your banns.
105 If you will marry, make your loves to me.
 My lady is bespoke.
[GONERIL  An interlude!]
ALBANY 
 Thou art armed, Gloucester. Let the trumpet sound.
 If none appear to prove upon thy person
110 Thy heinous, manifest, and many treasons,
 There is my pledge.He throws down a glove.
 I’ll make it on thy heart,
 Ere I taste bread, thou art in nothing less
 Than I have here proclaimed thee.

243
King Lear
ACT 5. SC. 3

REGAN 115Sick, O, sick!
GONERIL, aside If not, I’ll ne’er trust medicine.
EDMUND 
 There’s my exchange.He throws down a glove.
 What in the world he is
 That names me traitor, villain-like he lies.
120 Call by the trumpet. He that dares approach,
 On him, on you, who not, I will maintain
 My truth and honor firmly.
ALBANY 
 A herald, ho!
EDMUND  A herald, ho, a herald!
ALBANY 
125 Trust to thy single virtue, for thy soldiers,
 All levied in my name, have in my name
 Took their discharge.
REGAN  My sickness grows upon me.
ALBANY 
 She is not well. Convey her to my tent.
Regan is helped to exit.

Enter a Herald.

130 Come hither, herald. Let the trumpet sound,
 And read out this.He hands the Herald a paper.
CAPTAIN Sound, trumpet!
A trumpet sounds.
HERALD reads. 
 If any man of quality or degree, within the lists of the
 army, will maintain upon Edmund, supposed Earl of
135 Gloucester, that he is a manifold traitor, let him
 appear by the third sound of the trumpet. He is bold in
 his defense.
[First trumpet sounds.
HERALD Again!Second trumpet sounds.
HERALD Again!Third trumpet sounds.
Trumpet answers within.]

Enter Edgar armed.


245
King Lear
ACT 5. SC. 3

ALBANY, to Herald 
140 Ask him his purposes, why he appears
 Upon this call o’ th’ trumpet.
HERALD  What are you?
 Your name, your quality, and why you answer
 This present summons?
EDGAR 145 Know my name is lost,
 By treason’s tooth bare-gnawn and canker-bit.
 Yet am I noble as the adversary
 I come to cope.
ALBANY  Which is that adversary?
EDGAR 
150 What’s he that speaks for Edmund, Earl of
 Gloucester?
EDMUND 
 Himself. What sayest thou to him?
EDGAR  Draw thy sword,
 That if my speech offend a noble heart,
155 Thy arm may do thee justice. Here is mine.
He draws his sword.
 Behold, it is my privilege, the privilege of mine
 honors,
 My oath, and my profession. I protest,
 Maugre thy strength, place, youth, and eminence,
160 Despite thy victor-sword and fire-new fortune,
 Thy valor, and thy heart, thou art a traitor,
 False to thy gods, thy brother, and thy father,
 Conspirant ’gainst this high illustrious prince,
 And from th’ extremest upward of thy head
165 To the descent and dust below thy foot,
 A most toad-spotted traitor. Say thou “no,”
 This sword, this arm, and my best spirits are bent
 To prove upon thy heart, whereto I speak,
 Thou liest.
EDMUND 170 In wisdom I should ask thy name,
 But since thy outside looks so fair and warlike,

247
King Lear
ACT 5. SC. 3

 And that thy tongue some say of breeding breathes,
 [What safe and nicely I might well delay]
 By rule of knighthood, I disdain and spurn.
175 Back do I toss these treasons to thy head,
 With the hell-hated lie o’erwhelm thy heart,
 Which, for they yet glance by and scarcely bruise,
 This sword of mine shall give them instant way,
 Where they shall rest forever. Trumpets, speak!
He draws his sword. Alarums. Fights.
Edmund falls, wounded.
ALBANY, to Edgar 
180 Save him, save him!
GONERIL  This is practice, Gloucester.
 By th’ law of war, thou wast not bound to answer
 An unknown opposite. Thou art not vanquished,
 But cozened and beguiled.
ALBANY 185 Shut your mouth, dame,
 Or with this paper shall I stopple it.—Hold, sir.—
 Thou worse than any name, read thine own evil.
 No tearing, lady. I perceive you know it.
GONERIL 
 Say if I do; the laws are mine, not thine.
190 Who can arraign me for ’t?
ALBANY  Most monstrous! O!
 Know’st thou this paper?
GONERIL  Ask me not what I know.
She exits.
ALBANY 
 Go after her, she’s desperate. Govern her.
A Soldier exits.
EDMUND, to Edgar 
195 What you have charged me with, that have I done,
 And more, much more. The time will bring it out.
 ’Tis past, and so am I. But what art thou
 That hast this fortune on me? If thou ’rt noble,
 I do forgive thee.

249
King Lear
ACT 5. SC. 3

EDGAR 200 Let’s exchange charity.
 I am no less in blood than thou art, Edmund;
 If more, the more th’ hast wronged me.
 My name is Edgar and thy father’s son.
 The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices
205 Make instruments to plague us.
 The dark and vicious place where thee he got
 Cost him his eyes.
EDMUND  Th’ hast spoken right. ’Tis true.
 The wheel is come full circle; I am here.
ALBANY, to Edgar 
210 Methought thy very gait did prophesy
 A royal nobleness. I must embrace thee.
 Let sorrow split my heart if ever I
 Did hate thee or thy father!
EDGAR Worthy prince, I know ’t.
ALBANY 215Where have you hid yourself?
 How have you known the miseries of your father?
EDGAR 
 By nursing them, my lord. List a brief tale,
 And when ’tis told, O, that my heart would burst!
 The bloody proclamation to escape
220 That followed me so near—O, our lives’ sweetness,
 That we the pain of death would hourly die
 Rather than die at once!—taught me to shift
 Into a madman’s rags, t’ assume a semblance
 That very dogs disdained, and in this habit
225 Met I my father with his bleeding rings,
 Their precious stones new lost; became his guide,
 Led him, begged for him, saved him from despair.
 Never—O fault!—revealed myself unto him
 Until some half hour past, when I was armed.
230 Not sure, though hoping of this good success,
 I asked his blessing, and from first to last
 Told him our pilgrimage. But his flawed heart
 (Alack, too weak the conflict to support)

251
King Lear
ACT 5. SC. 3

 ’Twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief,
235 Burst smilingly.
EDMUND  This speech of yours hath moved me,
 And shall perchance do good. But speak you on.
 You look as you had something more to say.
ALBANY 
 If there be more, more woeful, hold it in,
240 For I am almost ready to dissolve,
 Hearing of this.
EDGAR  This would have seemed a period
 To such as love not sorrow; but another,
 To amplify too much, would make much more
245 And top extremity. Whilst I
 Was big in clamor, came there in a man
 Who, having seen me in my worst estate,
 Shunned my abhorred society; but then, finding
 Who ’twas that so endured, with his strong arms
250 He fastened on my neck and bellowed out
 As he’d burst heaven, threw him on my father,
 Told the most piteous tale of Lear and him
 That ever ear received, which, in recounting,
 His grief grew puissant, and the strings of life
255 Began to crack. Twice then the trumpets sounded,
 And there I left him tranced.
ALBANY  But who was this?
EDGAR 
 Kent, sir, the banished Kent, who in disguise
 Followed his enemy king and did him service
260 Improper for a slave.

Enter a Gentleman with a bloody knife.

GENTLEMAN 
 Help, help, O, help!
EDGAR  What kind of help?
[ALBANY, to Gentleman  Speak, man!]
EDGAR What means this bloody knife?

253
King Lear
ACT 5. SC. 3

GENTLEMAN 
265 ’Tis hot, it smokes! It came even from the heart
 Of—O, she’s dead!
ALBANY Who dead? Speak, man.
GENTLEMAN 
 Your lady, sir, your lady. And her sister
 By her is poisoned. She confesses it.
EDMUND 
270 I was contracted to them both. All three
 Now marry in an instant.
[EDGAR  Here comes Kent.

Enter Kent.]

ALBANY, to the Gentleman 
 Produce the bodies, be they alive or dead.
Gentleman exits.
 This judgment of the heavens, that makes us
275 tremble,
 Touches us not with pity. O, is this he?
 To Kent. The time will not allow the compliment
 Which very manners urges.
KENT  I am come
280 To bid my king and master aye goodnight.
 Is he not here?
ALBANY  Great thing of us forgot!
 Speak, Edmund, where’s the King? And where’s
 Cordelia?
Goneril and Regan’s bodies brought out.
285 Seest thou this object, Kent?
KENT Alack, why thus?
EDMUND Yet Edmund was beloved.
 The one the other poisoned for my sake,
 And after slew herself.
ALBANY 290Even so.—Cover their faces.
EDMUND 
 I pant for life. Some good I mean to do

255
King Lear
ACT 5. SC. 3

 Despite of mine own nature. Quickly send—
 Be brief in it—to th’ castle, for my writ
 Is on the life of Lear, and on Cordelia.
295 Nay, send in time.
ALBANY  Run, run, O, run!
EDGAR 
 To who, my lord? To Edmund. Who has the office?
 Send
 Thy token of reprieve.
EDMUND 
300 Well thought on. Take my sword. Give it the
 Captain.
EDGAR, to a Soldier Haste thee for thy life.
The Soldier exits with Edmund’s sword.
EDMUND, to Albany 
 He hath commission from thy wife and me
 To hang Cordelia in the prison, and
305 To lay the blame upon her own despair,
 That she fordid herself.
ALBANY 
 The gods defend her!—Bear him hence awhile.
Edmund is carried off.

Enter Lear with Cordelia in his arms,
followed by a Gentleman.


LEAR 
 Howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stones!
 Had I your tongues and eyes, I’d use them so
310 That heaven’s vault should crack. She’s gone
 forever.
 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,
315 Why, then she lives.
KENT  Is this the promised end?
EDGAR 
 Or image of that horror?

257
King Lear
ACT 5. SC. 3

ALBANY  Fall and cease.
LEAR 
 This feather stirs. She lives. If it be so,
320 It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows
 That ever I have felt.
KENT  O, my good master—
LEAR 
 Prithee, away.
EDGAR  ’Tis noble Kent, your friend.
LEAR 
325 A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all!
 I might have saved her. Now she’s gone forever.—
 Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little. Ha!
 What is ’t thou sayst?—Her voice was ever soft,
 Gentle, and low, an excellent thing in woman.
330 I killed the slave that was a-hanging thee.
GENTLEMAN 
 ’Tis true, my lords, he did.
LEAR  Did I not, fellow?
 I have seen the day, with my good biting falchion
 I would have made him skip. I am old now,
335 And these same crosses spoil me. To Kent. Who
 are you?
 Mine eyes are not o’ th’ best. I’ll tell you straight.
KENT 
 If Fortune brag of two she loved and hated,
 One of them we behold.
LEAR 
340 This is a dull sight. Are you not Kent?
KENT  The same,
 Your servant Kent. Where is your servant Caius?
LEAR 
 He’s a good fellow, I can tell you that.
 He’ll strike and quickly too. He’s dead and rotten.
KENT 
345 No, my good lord, I am the very man—

259
King Lear
ACT 5. SC. 3

LEAR I’ll see that straight.
KENT 
 That from your first of difference and decay
 Have followed your sad steps.
LEAR  You are welcome
350 hither.
KENT 
 Nor no man else. All’s cheerless, dark, and deadly.
 Your eldest daughters have fordone themselves,
 And desperately are dead.
LEAR  Ay, so I think.
ALBANY 
355 He knows not what he says, and vain is it
 That we present us to him.
EDGAR  Very bootless.

Enter a Messenger.

MESSENGER Edmund is dead, my lord.
ALBANY That’s but a trifle here.—
360 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; you to your rights,
365 With boot and such addition as your Honors
 Have more than merited. All friends shall taste
 The wages of their virtue, and all foes
 The cup of their deservings. O, see, see!
LEAR 
 And my poor fool is hanged. No, no, no life?
370 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,
375 Look there, look there!He dies.]

261
King Lear
ACT 5. SC. 3

EDGAR  He faints. To Lear. My lord,
 my lord!
KENT 
 Break, heart, I prithee, break!
EDGAR  Look up, my lord.
KENT 
380 Vex not his ghost. O, let him pass! He hates him
 That would upon the rack of this tough world
 Stretch him out longer.
EDGAR  He is gone indeed.
KENT 
 The wonder is he hath endured so long.
385 He but usurped his life.
ALBANY 
 Bear them from hence. Our present business
 Is general woe. To Edgar and Kent. Friends of my
 soul, you twain
 Rule in this realm, and the gored state sustain.
KENT 
390 I have a journey, sir, shortly to go;
 My master calls me. I must not say no.
EDGAR 
 The weight of this sad time we must obey,
 Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
 The oldest hath borne most; we that are young
395 Shall never see so much nor live so long.
They exit with a dead march.