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The Tragedy of King Lear by William Shakespeare
Ludwig Devrient as King Lear, Galerie dramatique, 1769
Approximate dates of composition:
1605-06

Brief synopsis:
The aged king Lear sets out to divide his kingdom between his three daughters, according to their love for him. Goneril and Regan profess great love for their father, but Lear's youngest and favourite daughter, Cordelia, says nothing. Enraged, Lear banishes Cordelia and gives away her portion of the kingdom to her sisters. But with nothing left to gain from their father, Goneril and Regan no longer wish to care for him and turn him out to the cold. Meanwhile Edmund, the illegitimate son of the Earl of Gloucester, contrives an estrangement between his father and his half-brother Edgar and declares his love and allegiance to both Goneril and Regan. Cordelia raises an army in France to fight her sisters' powers, while Edgar, disguised, acts as shepherd to his broken Father. Both Lear and Gloucester realize too late that they have put their trust and themselves in the wrong care.
ACT I
SCENE I. King Lear's palace.

    Enter KENT, GLOUCESTER, and EDMUND

KENT

    I thought the king had more affected the Duke of
    Albany than Cornwall.

GLOUCESTER

    It did always seem so to us: but now, in the
    division of the kingdom, it appears not which of
    the dukes he values most; for equalities are so
    weighed, that curiosity in neither can make choice
    of either's moiety.

KENT

    Is not this your son, my lord?

GLOUCESTER

    His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge: I have
    so often blushed to acknowledge him, that now I am
    brazed to it.

KENT

    I cannot conceive you.

GLOUCESTER

    Sir, this young fellow's mother could: whereupon
    she grew round-wombed, and had, indeed, sir, a son
    for her cradle ere she had a husband for her bed.
    Do you smell a fault?

KENT

    I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it
    being so proper.

GLOUCESTER

    But I have, sir, a son by order of law, some year
    elder than this, who yet is no dearer in my account:
    though this knave came something saucily into the
    world before he was sent for, yet was his mother
    fair; there was good sport at his making, and the
    whoreson must be acknowledged. Do you know this
    noble gentleman, Edmund?

EDMUND

    No, my lord.

GLOUCESTER

    My lord of Kent: remember him hereafter as my
    honourable friend.

EDMUND

    My services to your lordship.

KENT

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

EDMUND

    Sir, I shall study deserving.

GLOUCESTER

    He hath been out nine years, and away he shall
    again. The king is coming.

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

KING LEAR

    Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloucester.

GLOUCESTER

    I shall, my liege.

    Exeunt GLOUCESTER and EDMUND

KING LEAR

    Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.
    Give me the map there. Know that we have divided
    In three our kingdom: and 'tis our fast intent
    To shake all cares and business from our age;
    Conferring them on younger strengths, while we
    Unburthen'd crawl toward death. Our son of Cornwall,
    And you, our no less loving son of Albany,
    We have this hour a constant will to publish
    Our daughters' several dowers, that future strife
    May be prevented now. The princes, France and Burgundy,
    Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,
    Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,
    And here are to be answer'd. Tell me, my daughters,--
    Since now we will divest us both of rule,
    Interest of territory, cares of state,--
    Which of you shall we say doth love us most?
    That we our largest bounty may extend
    Where nature doth with merit challenge. Goneril,
    Our eldest-born, speak first.

GONERIL

    Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;
    Dearer than eye-sight, space, and liberty;
    Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;
    No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour;
    As much as child e'er loved, or father found;
    A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable;
    Beyond all manner of so much I love you.

CORDELIA

    [Aside] What shall Cordelia do?
    Love, and be silent.

LEAR

    Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,
    With shadowy forests and with champains rich'd,
    With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads,
    We make thee lady: to thine and Albany's issue
    Be this perpetual. What says our second daughter,
    Our dearest Regan, wife to Cornwall? Speak.

REGAN

    Sir, I am made
    Of the self-same metal that my sister is,
    And prize me at her worth. In my true heart
    I find she names my very deed of love;
    Only she comes too short: that I profess
    Myself an enemy to all other joys,
    Which the most precious square of sense possesses;
    And find I am alone felicitate
    In your dear highness' love.

CORDELIA

    [Aside] Then poor Cordelia!
    And yet not so; since, I am sure, my love's
    More richer than my tongue.

KING LEAR

    To thee and thine hereditary ever
    Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom;
    No less in space, validity, and pleasure,
    Than that conferr'd on Goneril. Now, our joy,
    Although the last, not least; to whose young love
    The vines of France and milk of Burgundy
    Strive to be interess'd; what can you say to draw
    A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak.

CORDELIA

    Nothing, my lord.

KING LEAR

    Nothing!

CORDELIA

    Nothing.

KING LEAR

    Nothing will come of nothing: speak again.

CORDELIA

    Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
    My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty
    According to my bond; nor more nor less.

KING LEAR

    How, how, Cordelia! mend your speech a little,
    Lest it may mar your fortunes.

CORDELIA

    Good my lord,
    You have begot me, bred me, loved me: I
    Return those duties back as are right fit,
    Obey you, love you, and most honour you.
    Why have my sisters husbands, if they say
    They love you all? Haply, when I shall wed,
    That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry
    Half my love with him, half my care and duty:
    Sure, I shall never marry like my sisters,
    To love my father all.

KING LEAR

    But goes thy heart with this?

CORDELIA

    Ay, good my lord.

KING LEAR

    So young, and so untender?

CORDELIA

    So young, my lord, and true.

KING LEAR

    Let it be so; thy truth, then, be thy dower:
    For, by the sacred radiance of the sun,
    The mysteries of Hecate, and the night;
    By all the operation of the orbs
    From whom we do exist, and cease to be;
    Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
    Propinquity and property of blood,
    And as a stranger to my heart and me
    Hold thee, from this, for ever. The barbarous Scythian,
    Or he that makes his generation messes
    To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom
    Be as well neighbour'd, pitied, and relieved,
    As thou my sometime daughter.

KENT

    Good my liege,--

KING LEAR

    Peace, Kent!
    Come not between the dragon and his wrath.
    I loved her most, and thought to set my rest
    On her kind nursery. Hence, and avoid my sight!
    So be my grave my peace, as here I give
    Her father's heart from her! Call France; who stirs?
    Call Burgundy. Cornwall and Albany,
    With my two daughters' dowers digest this third:
    Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.
    I do invest you jointly with my power,
    Pre-eminence, and all the large effects
    That troop with majesty. Ourself, by monthly course,
    With reservation of an hundred knights,
    By you to be sustain'd, shall our abode
    Make with you by due turns. Only we still retain
    The name, and all the additions to a king;
    The sway, revenue, execution of the rest,
    Beloved sons, be yours: which to confirm,
    This coronet part betwixt you.

    Giving the crown

KENT

    Royal Lear,
    Whom I have ever honour'd as my king,
    Loved as my father, as my master follow'd,
    As my great patron thought on in my prayers,--

KING LEAR

    The bow is bent and drawn, make from the shaft.

KENT

    Let it fall rather, though the fork invade
    The region of my heart: be Kent unmannerly,
    When Lear is mad. What wilt thou do, old man?
    Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak,
    When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour's bound,
    When majesty stoops to folly. Reverse thy doom;
    And, in thy best consideration, cheque
    This hideous rashness: answer my life my judgment,
    Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least;
    Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sound
    Reverbs no hollowness.

KING LEAR

    Kent, on thy life, no more.

KENT

    My life I never held but as a pawn
    To wage against thy enemies; nor fear to lose it,
    Thy safety being the motive.

KING LEAR

    Out of my sight!

KENT

    See better, Lear; and let me still remain
    The true blank of thine eye.

KING LEAR

    Now, by Apollo,--

KENT

    Now, by Apollo, king,
    Thou swear'st thy gods in vain.

KING LEAR

    O, vassal! miscreant!

    Laying his hand on his sword

ALBANY CORNWALL

    Dear sir, forbear.

KENT

    Do:
    Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow
    Upon thy foul disease. Revoke thy doom;
    Or, whilst I can vent clamour from my throat,
    I'll tell thee thou dost evil.

KING LEAR

    Hear me, recreant!
    On thine allegiance, hear me!
    Since thou hast sought to make us break our vow,
    Which we durst never yet, and with strain'd pride
    To come between our sentence and our power,
    Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,
    Our potency made good, take thy reward.
    Five days we do allot thee, for provision
    To shield thee from diseases of the world;
    And on the sixth to turn thy hated back
    Upon our kingdom: if, on the tenth day following,
    Thy banish'd trunk be found in our dominions,
    The moment is thy death. Away! by Jupiter,
    This shall not be revoked.

KENT

    Fare thee well, king: sith thus thou wilt appear,
    Freedom lives hence, and banishment is here.

    To CORDELIA
    The gods to their dear shelter take thee, maid,
    That justly think'st, and hast most rightly said!

    To REGAN and GONERIL
    And your large speeches may your deeds approve,
    That good effects may spring from words of love.
    Thus Kent, O princes, bids you all adieu;
    He'll shape his old course in a country new.

    Exit

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

GLOUCESTER

    Here's France and Burgundy, my noble lord.

KING LEAR

    My lord of Burgundy.
    We first address towards you, who with this king
    Hath rivall'd for our daughter: what, in the least,
    Will you require in present dower with her,
    Or cease your quest of love?

BURGUNDY

    Most royal majesty,
    I crave no more than what your highness offer'd,
    Nor will you tender less.

KING LEAR

    Right noble Burgundy,
    When she was dear to us, we did hold her so;
    But now her price is fall'n. Sir, there she stands:
    If aught within that little seeming substance,
    Or all of it, with our displeasure pieced,
    And nothing more, may fitly like your grace,
    She's there, and she is yours.

BURGUNDY

    I know no answer.

KING LEAR

    Will you, with those infirmities she owes,
    Unfriended, new-adopted to our hate,
    Dower'd with our curse, and stranger'd with our oath,
    Take her, or leave her?

BURGUNDY

    Pardon me, royal sir;
    Election makes not up on such conditions.

KING LEAR

    Then leave her, sir; for, by the power that made me,
    I tell you all her wealth.

    To KING OF FRANCE
    For you, great king,
    I would not from your love make such a stray,
    To match you where I hate; therefore beseech you
    To avert your liking a more worthier way
    Than on a wretch whom nature is ashamed
    Almost to acknowledge hers.

KING OF FRANCE

    This is most strange,
    That she, that even but now was your best object,
    The argument of your praise, balm of your age,
    Most best, most dearest, should in this trice of time
    Commit a thing so monstrous, to dismantle
    So many folds of favour. Sure, her offence
    Must be of such unnatural degree,
    That monsters it, or your fore-vouch'd affection
    Fall'n into taint: which to believe of her,
    Must be a faith that reason without miracle
    Could never plant in me.

CORDELIA

    I yet beseech your majesty,--
    If for I want that glib and oily art,
    To speak and purpose not; since what I well intend,
    I'll do't before I speak,--that you make known
    It is no vicious blot, murder, or foulness,
    No unchaste action, or dishonour'd step,
    That hath deprived me of your grace and favour;
    But even for want of that for which I am richer,
    A still-soliciting eye, and such a tongue
    As I am glad I have not, though not to have it
    Hath lost me in your liking.

KING LEAR

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

KING OF FRANCE

    Is it but this,--a tardiness in nature
    Which often leaves the history unspoke
    That it intends to do? My lord of Burgundy,
    What say you to the lady? Love's not love
    When it is mingled with regards that stand
    Aloof from the entire point. Will you have her?
    She is herself a dowry.

BURGUNDY

    Royal Lear,
    Give but that portion which yourself proposed,
    And here I take Cordelia by the hand,
    Duchess of Burgundy.

KING LEAR

    Nothing: I have sworn; I am firm.

BURGUNDY

    I am sorry, then, you have so lost a father
    That you must lose a husband.

CORDELIA

    Peace be with Burgundy!
    Since that respects of fortune are his love,
    I shall not be his wife.

KING OF FRANCE

    Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor;
    Most choice, forsaken; and most loved, despised!
    Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon:
    Be it lawful I take up what's cast away.
    Gods, gods! 'tis strange that from their cold'st neglect
    My love should kindle to inflamed respect.
    Thy dowerless daughter, king, thrown to my chance,
    Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France:
    Not all the dukes of waterish Burgundy
    Can buy this unprized precious maid of me.
    Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind:
    Thou losest here, a better where to find.

KING LEAR

    Thou hast her, France: let her be thine; for we
    Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see
    That face of hers again. Therefore be gone
    Without our grace, our love, our benison.
    Come, noble Burgundy.

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

KING OF FRANCE

    Bid farewell to your sisters.

CORDELIA

    The jewels of our father, with wash'd eyes
    Cordelia leaves you: I know you what you are;
    And like a sister am most loath to call
    Your faults as they are named. Use well our father:
    To your professed bosoms I commit him
    But yet, alas, stood I within his grace,
    I would prefer him to a better place.
    So, farewell to you both.

REGAN

    Prescribe not us our duties.

GONERIL

    Let your study
    Be to content your lord, who hath received you
    At fortune's alms. You have obedience scanted,
    And well are worth the want that you have wanted.

CORDELIA

    Time shall unfold what plaited cunning hides:
    Who cover faults, at last shame them derides.
    Well may you prosper!

KING OF FRANCE

    Come, my fair Cordelia.

    Exeunt KING OF FRANCE and CORDELIA

GONERIL

    Sister, it is not a little I have to say of what
    most nearly appertains to us both. I think our
    father will hence to-night.

REGAN

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

GONERIL

    You see how full of changes his age is; the
    observation we have made of it hath not been
    little: he always loved our sister most; and
    with what poor judgment he hath now cast her off
    appears too grossly.

REGAN

    'Tis the infirmity of his age: yet he hath ever
    but slenderly known himself.

GONERIL

    The best and soundest of his time hath been but
    rash; then must we look to receive from his age,
    not alone the imperfections of long-engraffed
    condition, but therewithal the unruly waywardness
    that infirm and choleric years bring with them.

REGAN

    Such unconstant starts are we like to have from
    him as this of Kent's banishment.

GONERIL

    There is further compliment of leavetaking
    between France and him. Pray you, let's hit
    together: if our father carry authority with
    such dispositions as he bears, this last
    surrender of his will but offend us.

REGAN

    We shall further think on't.

GONERIL

    We must do something, and i' the heat.

    Exeunt

SCENE II. The Earl of Gloucester's castle.

    Enter EDMUND, with a letter

EDMUND

    Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law
    My services are bound. Wherefore should I
    Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
    The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
    For that I am some twelve or fourteen moon-shines
    Lag of a brother? Why bastard? wherefore base?
    When my dimensions are as well compact,
    My mind as generous, and my shape as true,
    As honest madam's issue? Why brand they us
    With base? with baseness? bastardy? base, base?
    Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, take
    More composition and fierce quality
    Than doth, within a dull, stale, tired bed,
    Go to the creating a whole tribe of fops,
    Got 'tween asleep and wake? Well, then,
    Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land:
    Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund
    As to the legitimate: fine word,--legitimate!
    Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed,
    And my invention thrive, Edmund the base
    Shall top the legitimate. I grow; I prosper:
    Now, gods, stand up for bastards!

    Enter GLOUCESTER

GLOUCESTER

    Kent banish'd thus! and France in choler parted!
    And the king gone to-night! subscribed his power!
    Confined to exhibition! All this done
    Upon the gad! Edmund, how now! what news?

EDMUND

    So please your lordship, none.

    Putting up the letter

GLOUCESTER

    Why so earnestly seek you to put up that letter?

EDMUND

    I know no news, my lord.

GLOUCESTER

    What paper were you reading?

EDMUND

    Nothing, my lord.

GLOUCESTER

    No? What needed, then, that terrible dispatch of
    it into your pocket? the quality of nothing hath
    not such need to hide itself. Let's see: come,
    if it be nothing, I shall not need spectacles.

EDMUND

    I beseech you, sir, pardon me: it is a letter
    from my brother, that I have not all o'er-read;
    and for so much as I have perused, I find it not
    fit for your o'er-looking.

GLOUCESTER

    Give me the letter, sir.

EDMUND

    I shall offend, either to detain or give it. The
    contents, as in part I understand them, are to blame.

GLOUCESTER

    Let's see, let's see.

EDMUND

    I hope, for my brother's justification, he wrote
    this but as an essay or taste of my virtue.

GLOUCESTER

    [Reads] 'This policy and reverence of age makes
    the world bitter to the best of our times; keeps
    our fortunes from us till our oldness cannot relish
    them. I begin to find an idle and fond bondage
    in the oppression of aged tyranny; who sways, not
    as it hath power, but as it is suffered. Come to
    me, that of this I may speak more. If our father
    would sleep till I waked him, you should half his
    revenue for ever, and live the beloved of your
    brother, EDGAR.'
    Hum--conspiracy!--'Sleep till I waked him,--you
    should enjoy half his revenue,'--My son Edgar!
    Had he a hand to write this? a heart and brain
    to breed it in?--When came this to you? who
    brought it?

EDMUND

    It was not brought me, my lord; there's the
    cunning of it; I found it thrown in at the
    casement of my closet.

GLOUCESTER

    You know the character to be your brother's?

EDMUND

    If the matter were good, my lord, I durst swear
    it were his; but, in respect of that, I would
    fain think it were not.

GLOUCESTER

    It is his.

EDMUND

    It is his hand, my lord; but I hope his heart is
    not in the contents.

GLOUCESTER

    Hath he never heretofore sounded you in this business?

EDMUND

    Never, my lord: but I have heard him oft
    maintain it to be fit, that, sons at perfect age,
    and fathers declining, the father should be as
    ward to the son, and the son manage his revenue.

GLOUCESTER

    O villain, villain! His very opinion in the
    letter! Abhorred villain! Unnatural, detested,
    brutish villain! worse than brutish! Go, sirrah,
    seek him; I'll apprehend him: abominable villain!
    Where is he?

EDMUND

    I do not well know, my lord. If it shall please
    you to suspend your indignation against my
    brother till you can derive from him better
    testimony of his intent, you shall run a certain
    course; where, if you violently proceed against
    him, mistaking his purpose, it would make a great
    gap in your own honour, and shake in pieces the
    heart of his obedience. I dare pawn down my life
    for him, that he hath wrote this to feel my
    affection to your honour, and to no further
    pretence of danger.

GLOUCESTER

    Think you so?

EDMUND

    If your honour judge it meet, I will place you
    where you shall hear us confer of this, and by an
    auricular assurance have your satisfaction; and
    that without any further delay than this very evening.

GLOUCESTER

    He cannot be such a monster--

EDMUND

    Nor is not, sure.

GLOUCESTER

    To his father, that so tenderly and entirely
    loves him. Heaven and earth! Edmund, seek him
    out: wind me into him, I pray you: frame the
    business after your own wisdom. I would unstate
    myself, to be in a due resolution.

EDMUND

    I will seek him, sir, presently: convey the
    business as I shall find means and acquaint you withal.

GLOUCESTER

    These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend
    no good to us: though the wisdom of nature can
    reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself
    scourged by the sequent effects: love cools,
    friendship falls off, brothers divide: in
    cities, mutinies; in countries, discord; in
    palaces, treason; and the bond cracked 'twixt son
    and father. This villain of mine comes under the
    prediction; there's son against father: the king
    falls from bias of nature; there's father against
    child. We have seen the best of our time:
    machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all
    ruinous disorders, follow us disquietly to our
    graves. Find out this villain, Edmund; it shall
    lose thee nothing; do it carefully. And the
    noble and true-hearted Kent banished! his
    offence, honesty! 'Tis strange.

    Exit

EDMUND

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

    Enter EDGAR
    And pat he comes like the catastrophe of the old
    comedy: my cue is villanous melancholy, with a
    sigh like Tom o' Bedlam. O, these eclipses do
    portend these divisions! fa, sol, la, mi.

EDGAR

    How now, brother Edmund! what serious
    contemplation are you in?

EDMUND

    I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read
    this other day, what should follow these eclipses.

EDGAR

    Do you busy yourself about that?

EDMUND

    I promise you, the effects he writes of succeed
    unhappily; as of unnaturalness between the child
    and the parent; death, dearth, dissolutions of
    ancient amities; divisions in state, menaces and
    maledictions against king and nobles; needless
    diffidences, banishment of friends, dissipation
    of cohorts, nuptial breaches, and I know not what.

EDGAR

    How long have you been a sectary astronomical?

EDMUND

    Come, come; when saw you my father last?

EDGAR

    Why, the night gone by.

EDMUND

    Spake you with him?

EDGAR

    Ay, two hours together.

EDMUND

    Parted you in good terms? Found you no
    displeasure in him by word or countenance?

EDGAR

    None at all.

EDMUND

    Bethink yourself wherein you may have offended
    him: and at my entreaty forbear his presence
    till some little time hath qualified the heat of
    his displeasure; which at this instant so rageth
    in him, that with the mischief of your person it
    would scarcely allay.

EDGAR

    Some villain hath done me wrong.

EDMUND

    That's my fear. I pray you, have a continent
    forbearance till the spied of his rage goes
    slower; and, as I say, retire with me to my
    lodging, from whence I will fitly bring you to
    hear my lord speak: pray ye, go; there's my key:
    if you do stir abroad, go armed.

EDGAR

    Armed, brother!

EDMUND

    Brother, I advise you to the best; go armed: I
    am no honest man if there be any good meaning
    towards you: I have told you what I have seen
    and heard; but faintly, nothing like the image
    and horror of it: pray you, away.

EDGAR

    Shall I hear from you anon?

EDMUND

    I do serve you in this business.

    Exit EDGAR
    A credulous father! and a brother noble,
    Whose nature is so far from doing harms,
    That he suspects none: on whose foolish honesty
    My practises ride easy! I see the business.
    Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit:
    All with me's meet that I can fashion fit.

    Exit

SCENE III. The Duke of Albany's palace.

    Enter GONERIL, and OSWALD, her steward

GONERIL

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

OSWALD

    Yes, madam.

GONERIL

    By day and night he wrongs me; every hour
    He flashes into one gross crime or other,
    That sets us all at odds: I'll not endure it:
    His knights grow riotous, and himself upbraids us
    On every trifle. When he returns from hunting,
    I will not speak with him; say I am sick:
    If you come slack of former services,
    You shall do well; the fault of it I'll answer.

OSWALD

    He's coming, madam; I hear him.

    Horns within

GONERIL

    Put on what weary negligence you please,
    You and your fellows; I'll have it come to question:
    If he dislike it, let him to our sister,
    Whose mind and mine, I know, in that are one,
    Not to be over-ruled. Idle old man,
    That still would manage those authorities
    That he hath given away! Now, by my life,
    Old fools are babes again; and must be used
    With cheques as flatteries,--when they are seen abused.
    Remember what I tell you.

OSWALD

    Well, madam.

GONERIL

    And let his knights have colder looks among you;
    What grows of it, no matter; advise your fellows so:
    I would breed from hence occasions, and I shall,
    That I may speak: I'll write straight to my sister,
    To hold my very course. Prepare for dinner.

    Exeunt

SCENE IV. A hall in the same.

    Enter KENT, disguised

KENT

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

    Horns within. Enter KING LEAR, Knights, and Attendants

KING LEAR

    Let me not stay a jot for dinner; go get it ready.

    Exit an Attendant
    How now! what art thou?

KENT

    A man, sir.

KING LEAR

    What dost thou profess? what wouldst thou with us?

KENT

    I do profess to be no less than I seem; to serve
    him truly that will put me in trust: to love him
    that is honest; to converse with him that is wise,
    and says little; to fear judgment; to fight when I
    cannot choose; and to eat no fish.

KING LEAR

    What art thou?

KENT

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

KING LEAR

    If thou be as poor for a subject as he is for a
    king, thou art poor enough. What wouldst thou?

KENT

    Service.

KING LEAR

    Who wouldst thou serve?

KENT

    You.

KING LEAR

    Dost thou know me, fellow?

KENT

    No, sir; but you have that in your countenance
    which I would fain call master.

KING LEAR

    What's that?

KENT

    Authority.

KING LEAR

    What services canst thou do?

KENT

    I can keep honest counsel, ride, run, mar a curious
    tale in telling it, and deliver a plain message
    bluntly: that which ordinary men are fit for, I am
    qualified in; and the best of me is diligence.

KING LEAR

    How old art thou?

KENT

    Not so young, sir, to love a woman for singing, nor
    so old to dote on her for any thing: I have years
    on my back forty eight.

KING LEAR

    Follow me; thou shalt serve me: if I like thee no
    worse after dinner, I will not part from thee yet.
    Dinner, ho, dinner! Where's my knave? my fool?
    Go you, and call my fool hither.

    Exit an Attendant

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

OSWALD

    So please you,--

    Exit

KING LEAR

    What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll back.

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

    Re-enter Knight
    How now! where's that mongrel?

Knight

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

KING LEAR

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

Knight

    Sir, he answered me in the roundest manner, he would
    not.

KING LEAR

    He would not!

Knight

    My lord, I know not what the matter is; but, to my
    judgment, your highness is not entertained with that
    ceremonious affection as you were wont; there's a
    great abatement of kindness appears as well in the
    general dependants as in the duke himself also and
    your daughter.

KING LEAR

    Ha! sayest thou so?

Knight

    I beseech you, pardon me, my lord, if I be mistaken;
    for my duty cannot be silent when I think your
    highness wronged.

KING LEAR

    Thou but rememberest me of mine own conception: I
    have perceived a most faint neglect of late; which I
    have rather blamed as mine own jealous curiosity
    than as a very pretence and purpose of unkindness:
    I will look further into't. But where's my fool? I
    have not seen him this two days.

Knight

    Since my young lady's going into France, sir, the
    fool hath much pined away.

KING LEAR

    No more of that; I have noted it well. Go you, and
    tell my daughter I would speak with her.

    Exit an Attendant
    Go you, call hither my fool.

    Exit an Attendant

    Re-enter OSWALD
    O, you sir, you, come you hither, sir: who am I,
    sir?

OSWALD

    My lady's father.

KING LEAR

    'My lady's father'! my lord's knave: your
    whoreson dog! you slave! you cur!

OSWALD

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

KING LEAR

    Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?

    Striking him

OSWALD

    I'll not be struck, my lord.

KENT

    Nor tripped neither, you base football player.

    Tripping up his heels

KING LEAR

    I thank thee, fellow; thou servest me, and I'll
    love thee.

KENT

    Come, sir, arise, away! I'll teach you differences:
    away, away! if you will measure your lubber's
    length again, tarry: but away! go to; have you
    wisdom? so.

    Pushes OSWALD out

KING LEAR

    Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee: there's
    earnest of thy service.

    Giving KENT money

    Enter Fool

Fool

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

    Offering KENT his cap

KING LEAR

    How now, my pretty knave! how dost thou?

Fool

    Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb.

KENT

    Why, fool?

Fool

    Why, for taking one's part that's out of favour:
    nay, an thou canst not smile as the wind sits,
    thou'lt catch cold shortly: there, take my coxcomb:
    why, this fellow has banished two on's daughters,
    and did the third a blessing against his will; if
    thou follow him, thou must needs wear my coxcomb.
    How now, nuncle! Would I had two coxcombs and two daughters!

KING LEAR

    Why, my boy?

Fool

    If I gave them all my living, I'ld keep my coxcombs
    myself. There's mine; beg another of thy daughters.

KING LEAR

    Take heed, sirrah; the whip.

Fool

    Truth's a dog must to kennel; he must be whipped
    out, when Lady the brach may stand by the fire and stink.

KING LEAR

    A pestilent gall to me!

Fool

    Sirrah, I'll teach thee a speech.

KING LEAR

    Do.

Fool

    Mark it, nuncle:
    Have more than thou showest,
    Speak less than thou knowest,
    Lend less than thou owest,
    Ride more than thou goest,
    Learn more than thou trowest,
    Set less than thou throwest;
    Leave thy drink and thy whore,
    And keep in-a-door,
    And thou shalt have more
    Than two tens to a score.

KENT

    This is nothing, fool.

Fool

    Then 'tis like the breath of an unfee'd lawyer; you
    gave me nothing for't. Can you make no use of
    nothing, nuncle?

KING LEAR

    Why, no, boy; nothing can be made out of nothing.

Fool

    [To KENT] Prithee, tell him, so much the rent of
    his land comes to: he will not believe a fool.

KING LEAR

    A bitter fool!

Fool

    Dost thou know the difference, my boy, between a
    bitter fool and a sweet fool?

KING LEAR

    No, lad; teach me.

Fool

    That lord that counsell'd thee
    To give away thy land,
    Come place him here by me,
    Do thou for him stand:
    The sweet and bitter fool
    Will presently appear;
    The one in motley here,
    The other found out there.

KING LEAR

    Dost thou call me fool, boy?

Fool

    All thy other titles thou hast given away; that
    thou wast born with.

KENT

    This is not altogether fool, my lord.

Fool

    No, faith, lords and great men will not let me; if
    I had a monopoly out, they would have part on't:
    and ladies too, they will not let me have all fool
    to myself; they'll be snatching. Give me an egg,
    nuncle, and I'll give thee two crowns.

KING LEAR

    What two crowns shall they be?

Fool

    Why, after I have cut the egg i' the middle, and eat
    up the meat, the two crowns of the egg. When thou
    clovest thy crown i' the middle, and gavest away
    both parts, thou borest thy ass on thy back o'er
    the dirt: thou hadst little wit in thy bald crown,
    when thou gavest thy golden one away. If I speak
    like myself in this, let him be whipped that first
    finds it so.

    Singing
    Fools had ne'er less wit in a year;
    For wise men are grown foppish,
    They know not how their wits to wear,
    Their manners are so apish.

KING LEAR

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

Fool

    I have used it, nuncle, ever since thou madest thy
    daughters thy mothers: for when thou gavest them
    the rod, and put'st down thine own breeches,

    Singing
    Then they for sudden joy did weep,
    And I for sorrow sung,
    That such a king should play bo-peep,
    And go the fools among.
    Prithee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach
    thy fool to lie: I would fain learn to lie.

KING LEAR

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

Fool

    I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are:
    they'll have me whipped for speaking true, thou'lt
    have me whipped for lying; and sometimes I am
    whipped for holding my peace. I had rather be any
    kind o' thing than a fool: and yet I would not be
    thee, nuncle; thou hast pared thy wit o' both sides,
    and left nothing i' the middle: here comes one o'
    the parings.

    Enter GONERIL

KING LEAR

    How now, daughter! what makes that frontlet on?
    Methinks you are too much of late i' the frown.

Fool

    Thou wast a pretty fellow when thou hadst no need to
    care for her frowning; now thou art an O without a
    figure: I am better than thou art now; I am a fool,
    thou art nothing.

    To GONERIL
    Yes, forsooth, I will hold my tongue; so your face
    bids me, though you say nothing. Mum, mum,
    He that keeps nor crust nor crum,
    Weary of all, shall want some.

    Pointing to KING LEAR
    That's a shealed peascod.

GONERIL

    Not only, sir, this your all-licensed fool,
    But other of your insolent retinue
    Do hourly carp and quarrel; breaking forth
    In rank and not-to-be endured riots. Sir,
    I had thought, by making this well known unto you,
    To have found a safe redress; but now grow fearful,
    By what yourself too late have spoke and done.
    That you protect this course, and put it on
    By your allowance; which if you should, the fault
    Would not 'scape censure, nor the redresses sleep,
    Which, in the tender of a wholesome weal,
    Might in their working do you that offence,
    Which else were shame, that then necessity
    Will call discreet proceeding.

Fool

    For, you trow, nuncle,
    The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long,
    That it's had it head bit off by it young.
    So, out went the candle, and we were left darkling.

KING LEAR

    Are you our daughter?

GONERIL

    Come, sir,
    I would you would make use of that good wisdom,
    Whereof I know you are fraught; and put away
    These dispositions, that of late transform you
    From what you rightly are.

Fool

    May not an ass know when the cart
    draws the horse? Whoop, Jug! I love thee.

KING LEAR

    Doth any here know me? This is not Lear:
    Doth Lear walk thus? speak thus? Where are his eyes?
    Either his notion weakens, his discernings
    Are lethargied--Ha! waking? 'tis not so.
    Who is it that can tell me who I am?

Fool

    Lear's shadow.

KING LEAR

    I would learn that; for, by the
    marks of sovereignty, knowledge, and reason,
    I should be false persuaded I had daughters.

Fool

    Which they will make an obedient father.

KING LEAR

    Your name, fair gentlewoman?

GONERIL

    This admiration, sir, is much o' the savour
    Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you
    To understand my purposes aright:
    As you are old and reverend, you should be wise.
    Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires;
    Men so disorder'd, so debosh'd and bold,
    That this our court, infected with their manners,
    Shows like a riotous inn: epicurism and lust
    Make it more like a tavern or a brothel
    Than a graced palace. The shame itself doth speak
    For instant remedy: be then desired
    By her, that else will take the thing she begs,
    A little to disquantity your train;
    And the remainder, that shall still depend,
    To be such men as may besort your age,
    And know themselves and you.

KING LEAR

    Darkness and devils!
    Saddle my horses; call my train together:
    Degenerate bastard! I'll not trouble thee.
    Yet have I left a daughter.

GONERIL

    You strike my people; and your disorder'd rabble
    Make servants of their betters.

    Enter ALBANY

KING LEAR

    Woe, that too late repents,--

    To ALBANY
    O, sir, are you come?
    Is it your will? Speak, sir. Prepare my horses.
    Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend,
    More hideous when thou show'st thee in a child
    Than the sea-monster!

ALBANY

    Pray, sir, be patient.

KING LEAR

    [To GONERIL] Detested kite! thou liest.
    My train are men of choice and rarest parts,
    That all particulars of duty know,
    And in the most exact regard support
    The worships of their name. O most small fault,
    How ugly didst thou in Cordelia show!
    That, like an engine, wrench'd my frame of nature
    From the fix'd place; drew from heart all love,
    And added to the gall. O Lear, Lear, Lear!
    Beat at this gate, that let thy folly in,

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

ALBANY

    My lord, I am guiltless, as I am ignorant
    Of what hath moved you.

KING LEAR

    It may be so, my lord.
    Hear, nature, hear; dear goddess, hear!
    Suspend thy purpose, if thou didst intend
    To make this creature fruitful!
    Into her womb convey sterility!
    Dry up in her the organs of increase;
    And from her derogate body never spring
    A babe to honour her! If she must teem,
    Create her child of spleen; that it may live,
    And be a thwart disnatured torment to her!
    Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth;
    With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks;
    Turn all her mother's pains and benefits
    To laughter and contempt; that she may feel
    How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
    To have a thankless child! Away, away!

    Exit

ALBANY

    Now, gods that we adore, whereof comes this?

GONERIL

    Never afflict yourself to know the cause;
    But let his disposition have that scope
    That dotage gives it.

    Re-enter KING LEAR

KING LEAR

    What, fifty of my followers at a clap!
    Within a fortnight!

ALBANY

    What's the matter, sir?

KING LEAR

    I'll tell thee:

    To GONERIL
    Life and death! I am ashamed
    That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus;
    That these hot tears, which break from me perforce,
    Should make thee worth them. Blasts and fogs upon thee!
    The untented woundings of a father's curse
    Pierce every sense about thee! Old fond eyes,
    Beweep this cause again, I'll pluck ye out,
    And cast you, with the waters that you lose,
    To temper clay. Yea, it is come to this?
    Let is be so: yet have I left a daughter,
    Who, I am sure, is kind and comfortable:
    When she shall hear this of thee, with her nails
    She'll flay thy wolvish visage. Thou shalt find
    That I'll resume the shape which thou dost think
    I have cast off for ever: thou shalt,
    I warrant thee.

    Exeunt KING LEAR, KENT, and Attendants

GONERIL

    Do you mark that, my lord?

ALBANY

    I cannot be so partial, Goneril,
    To the great love I bear you,--

GONERIL

    Pray you, content. What, Oswald, ho!

    To the Fool
    You, sir, more knave than fool, after your master.

Fool

    Nuncle Lear, nuncle Lear, tarry and take the fool
    with thee.
    A fox, when one has caught her,
    And such a daughter,
    Should sure to the slaughter,
    If my cap would buy a halter:
    So the fool follows after.

    Exit

GONERIL

    This man hath had good counsel:--a hundred knights!
    'Tis politic and safe to let him keep
    At point a hundred knights: yes, that, on every dream,
    Each buzz, each fancy, each complaint, dislike,
    He may enguard his dotage with their powers,
    And hold our lives in mercy. Oswald, I say!

ALBANY

    Well, you may fear too far.

GONERIL

    Safer than trust too far:
    Let me still take away the harms I fear,
    Not fear still to be taken: I know his heart.
    What he hath utter'd I have writ my sister
    If she sustain him and his hundred knights
    When I have show'd the unfitness,--

    Re-enter OSWALD
    How now, Oswald!
    What, have you writ that letter to my sister?

OSWALD

    Yes, madam.

GONERIL

    Take you some company, and away to horse:
    Inform her full of my particular fear;
    And thereto add such reasons of your own
    As may compact it more. Get you gone;
    And hasten your return.

    Exit OSWALD
    No, no, my lord,
    This milky gentleness and course of yours
    Though I condemn not, yet, under pardon,
    You are much more attask'd for want of wisdom
    Than praised for harmful mildness.

ALBANY

    How far your eyes may pierce I can not tell:
    Striving to better, oft we mar what's well.

GONERIL

    Nay, then--

ALBANY

    Well, well; the event.

    Exeunt

SCENE V. Court before the same.

    Enter KING LEAR, KENT, and Fool

KING LEAR

    Go you before to Gloucester with these letters.
    Acquaint my daughter no further with any thing you
    know than comes from her demand out of the letter.
    If your diligence be not speedy, I shall be there afore you.

KENT

    I will not sleep, my lord, till I have delivered
    your letter.

    Exit

Fool

    If a man's brains were in's heels, were't not in
    danger of kibes?

KING LEAR

    Ay, boy.

Fool

    Then, I prithee, be merry; thy wit shall ne'er go
    slip-shod.

KING LEAR

    Ha, ha, ha!

Fool

    Shalt see thy other daughter will use thee kindly;
    for though she's as like this as a crab's like an
    apple, yet I can tell what I can tell.

KING LEAR

    Why, what canst thou tell, my boy?

Fool

    She will taste as like this as a crab does to a
    crab. Thou canst tell why one's nose stands i'
    the middle on's face?

KING LEAR

    No.

Fool

    Why, to keep one's eyes of either side's nose; that
    what a man cannot smell out, he may spy into.

KING LEAR

    I did her wrong--

Fool

    Canst tell how an oyster makes his shell?

KING LEAR

    No.

Fool

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

KING LEAR

    Why?

Fool

    Why, to put his head in; not to give it away to his
    daughters, and leave his horns without a case.

KING LEAR

    I will forget my nature. So kind a father! Be my
    horses ready?

Fool

    Thy asses are gone about 'em. The reason why the
    seven stars are no more than seven is a pretty reason.

KING LEAR

    Because they are not eight?

Fool

    Yes, indeed: thou wouldst make a good fool.

KING LEAR

    To take 't again perforce! Monster ingratitude!

Fool

    If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I'ld have thee beaten
    for being old before thy time.

KING LEAR

    How's that?

Fool

    Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst
    been wise.

KING LEAR

    O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven
    Keep me in temper: I would not be mad!

    Enter Gentleman
    How now! are the horses ready?

Gentleman

    Ready, my lord.

KING LEAR

    Come, boy.

Fool

    She that's a maid now, and laughs at my departure,
    Shall not be a maid long, unless things be cut shorter.

    Exeunt

ACT II
SCENE I. GLOUCESTER's castle.

    Enter EDMUND, and CURAN meets him

EDMUND

    Save thee, Curan.

CURAN

    And you, sir. I have been with your father, and
    given him notice that the Duke of Cornwall and Regan
    his duchess will be here with him this night.

EDMUND

    How comes that?

CURAN

    Nay, I know not. You have heard of the news abroad;
    I mean the whispered ones, for they are yet but
    ear-kissing arguments?

EDMUND

    Not I pray you, what are they?

CURAN

    Have you heard of no likely wars toward, 'twixt the
    Dukes of Cornwall and Albany?

EDMUND

    Not a word.

CURAN

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

    Exit

EDMUND

    The duke be here to-night? The better! best!
    This weaves itself perforce into my business.
    My father hath set guard to take my brother;
    And I have one thing, of a queasy question,
    Which I must act: briefness and fortune, work!
    Brother, a word; descend: brother, I say!

    Enter EDGAR
    My father watches: O sir, fly this place;
    Intelligence is given where you are hid;
    You have now the good advantage of the night:
    Have you not spoken 'gainst the Duke of Cornwall?
    He's coming hither: now, i' the night, i' the haste,
    And Regan with him: have you nothing said
    Upon his party 'gainst the Duke of Albany?
    Advise yourself.

EDGAR

    I am sure on't, not a word.

EDMUND

    I hear my father coming: pardon me:
    In cunning I must draw my sword upon you
    Draw; seem to defend yourself; now quit you well.
    Yield: come before my father. Light, ho, here!
    Fly, brother. Torches, torches! So, farewell.

    Exit EDGAR
    Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion.

    Wounds his arm
    Of my more fierce endeavour: I have seen drunkards
    Do more than this in sport. Father, father!
    Stop, stop! No help?

    Enter GLOUCESTER, and Servants with torches

GLOUCESTER

    Now, Edmund, where's the villain?

EDMUND

    Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out,
    Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon
    To stand auspicious mistress,--

GLOUCESTER

    But where is he?

EDMUND

    Look, sir, I bleed.

GLOUCESTER

    Where is the villain, Edmund?

EDMUND

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

GLOUCESTER

    Pursue him, ho! Go after.

    Exeunt some Servants
    By no means what?

EDMUND

    Persuade me to the murder of your lordship;
    But that I told him, the revenging gods
    'Gainst parricides did all their thunders bend;
    Spoke, with how manifold and strong a bond
    The child was bound to the father; sir, in fine,
    Seeing how loathly opposite I stood
    To his unnatural purpose, in fell motion,
    With his prepared sword, he charges home
    My unprovided body, lanced mine arm:
    But when he saw my best alarum'd spirits,
    Bold in the quarrel's right, roused to the encounter,
    Or whether gasted by the noise I made,
    Full suddenly he fled.

GLOUCESTER

    Let him fly far:
    Not in this land shall he remain uncaught;
    And found--dispatch. The noble duke my master,
    My worthy arch and patron, comes to-night:
    By his authority I will proclaim it,
    That he which finds him shall deserve our thanks,
    Bringing the murderous coward to the stake;
    He that conceals him, death.

EDMUND

    When I dissuaded him from his intent,
    And found him pight to do it, with curst speech
    I threaten'd to discover him: he replied,
    'Thou unpossessing bastard! dost thou think,
    If I would stand against thee, would the reposal
    Of any trust, virtue, or worth in thee
    Make thy words faith'd? No: what I should deny,--
    As this I would: ay, though thou didst produce
    My very character,--I'ld turn it all
    To thy suggestion, plot, and damned practise:
    And thou must make a dullard of the world,
    If they not thought the profits of my death
    Were very pregnant and potential spurs
    To make thee seek it.'

GLOUCESTER

    Strong and fasten'd villain
    Would he deny his letter? I never got him.

    Tucket within
    Hark, the duke's trumpets! I know not why he comes.
    All ports I'll bar; the villain shall not 'scape;
    The duke must grant me that: besides, his picture
    I will send far and near, that all the kingdom
    May have the due note of him; and of my land,
    Loyal and natural boy, I'll work the means
    To make thee capable.

    Enter CORNWALL, REGAN, and Attendants

CORNWALL

    How now, my noble friend! since I came hither,
    Which I can call but now, I have heard strange news.

REGAN

    If it be true, all vengeance comes too short
    Which can pursue the offender. How dost, my lord?

GLOUCESTER

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

REGAN

    What, did my father's godson seek your life?
    He whom my father named? your Edgar?

GLOUCESTER

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

REGAN

    Was he not companion with the riotous knights
    That tend upon my father?

GLOUCESTER

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

EDMUND

    Yes, madam, he was of that consort.

REGAN

    No marvel, then, though he were ill affected:
    'Tis they have put him on the old man's death,
    To have the expense and waste of his revenues.
    I have this present evening from my sister
    Been well inform'd of them; and with such cautions,
    That if they come to sojourn at my house,
    I'll not be there.

CORNWALL

    Nor I, assure thee, Regan.
    Edmund, I hear that you have shown your father
    A child-like office.

EDMUND

    'Twas my duty, sir.

GLOUCESTER

    He did bewray his practise; and received
    This hurt you see, striving to apprehend him.

CORNWALL

    Is he pursued?

GLOUCESTER

    Ay, my good lord.

CORNWALL

    If he be taken, he shall never more
    Be fear'd of doing harm: make your own purpose,
    How in my strength you please. For you, Edmund,
    Whose virtue and obedience doth this instant
    So much commend itself, you shall be ours:
    Natures of such deep trust we shall much need;
    You we first seize on.

EDMUND

    I shall serve you, sir,
    Truly, however else.

GLOUCESTER

    For him I thank your grace.

CORNWALL

    You know not why we came to visit you,--

REGAN

    Thus out of season, threading dark-eyed night:
    Occasions, noble Gloucester, of some poise,
    Wherein we must have use of your advice:
    Our father he hath writ, so hath our sister,
    Of differences, which I least thought it fit
    To answer from our home; the several messengers
    From hence attend dispatch. Our good old friend,
    Lay comforts to your bosom; and bestow
    Your needful counsel to our business,
    Which craves the instant use.

GLOUCESTER

    I serve you, madam:
    Your graces are right welcome.

    Exeunt

SCENE II. Before Gloucester's castle.

    Enter KENT and OSWALD, severally

OSWALD

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

KENT

    Ay.

OSWALD

    Where may we set our horses?

KENT

    I' the mire.

OSWALD

    Prithee, if thou lovest me, tell me.

KENT

    I love thee not.

OSWALD

    Why, then, I care not for thee.

KENT

    If I had thee in Lipsbury pinfold, I would make thee
    care for me.

OSWALD

    Why dost thou use me thus? I know thee not.

KENT

    Fellow, I know thee.

OSWALD

    What dost thou know me for?

KENT

    A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a
    base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited,
    hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a
    lily-livered, action-taking knave, a whoreson,
    glass-gazing, super-serviceable finical rogue;
    one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a
    bawd, in way of good service, and art nothing but
    the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar,
    and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch: one whom I
    will beat into clamorous whining, if thou deniest
    the least syllable of thy addition.

OSWALD

    Why, what a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to rail
    on one that is neither known of thee nor knows thee!

KENT

    What a brazen-faced varlet art thou, to deny thou
    knowest me! Is it two days ago since I tripped up
    thy heels, and beat thee before the king? Draw, you
    rogue: for, though it be night, yet the moon
    shines; I'll make a sop o' the moonshine of you:
    draw, you whoreson cullionly barber-monger, draw.

    Drawing his sword

OSWALD

    Away! I have nothing to do with thee.

KENT

    Draw, you rascal: you come with letters against the
    king; and take vanity the puppet's part against the
    royalty of her father: draw, you rogue, or I'll so
    carbonado your shanks: draw, you rascal; come your ways.

OSWALD

    Help, ho! murder! help!

KENT

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

    Beating him

OSWALD

    Help, ho! murder! murder!

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

EDMUND

    How now! What's the matter?

KENT

    With you, goodman boy, an you please: come, I'll
    flesh ye; come on, young master.

GLOUCESTER

    Weapons! arms! What 's the matter here?

CORNWALL

    Keep peace, upon your lives:
    He dies that strikes again. What is the matter?

REGAN

    The messengers from our sister and the king.

CORNWALL

    What is your difference? speak.

OSWALD

    I am scarce in breath, my lord.

KENT

    No marvel, you have so bestirred your valour. You
    cowardly rascal, nature disclaims in thee: a
    tailor made thee.

CORNWALL

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

KENT

    Ay, a tailor, sir: a stone-cutter or painter could
    not have made him so ill, though he had been but two
    hours at the trade.

CORNWALL

    Speak yet, how grew your quarrel?

OSWALD

    This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spared
    at suit of his gray beard,--

KENT

    Thou whoreson zed! thou unnecessary letter! My
    lord, if you will give me leave, I will tread this
    unbolted villain into mortar, and daub the wall of
    a jakes with him. Spare my gray beard, you wagtail?

CORNWALL

    Peace, sirrah!
    You beastly knave, know you no reverence?

KENT

    Yes, sir; but anger hath a privilege.

CORNWALL

    Why art thou angry?

KENT

    That such a slave as this should wear a sword,
    Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as these,
    Like rats, oft bite the holy cords a-twain
    Which are too intrinse t' unloose; smooth every passion
    That in the natures of their lords rebel;
    Bring oil to fire, snow to their colder moods;
    Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks
    With every gale and vary of their masters,
    Knowing nought, like dogs, but following.
    A plague upon your epileptic visage!
    Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool?
    Goose, if I had you upon Sarum plain,
    I'ld drive ye cackling home to Camelot.

CORNWALL

    Why, art thou mad, old fellow?

GLOUCESTER

    How fell you out? say that.

KENT

    No contraries hold more antipathy
    Than I and such a knave.

CORNWALL

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

KENT

    His countenance likes me not.

CORNWALL

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

KENT

    Sir, 'tis my occupation to be plain:
    I have seen better faces in my time
    Than stands on any shoulder that I see
    Before me at this instant.

CORNWALL

    This is some fellow,
    Who, having been praised for bluntness, doth affect
    A saucy roughness, and constrains the garb
    Quite from his nature: he cannot flatter, he,
    An honest mind and plain, he must speak truth!
    An they will take it, so; if not, he's plain.
    These kind of knaves I know, which in this plainness
    Harbour more craft and more corrupter ends
    Than twenty silly ducking observants
    That stretch their duties nicely.

KENT

    Sir, in good sooth, in sincere verity,
    Under the allowance of your great aspect,
    Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire
    On flickering Phoebus' front,--

CORNWALL

    What mean'st by this?

KENT

    To go out of my dialect, which you
    discommend so much. I know, sir, I am no
    flatterer: he that beguiled you in a plain
    accent was a plain knave; which for my part
    I will not be, though I should win your displeasure
    to entreat me to 't.

CORNWALL

    What was the offence you gave him?

OSWALD

    I never gave him any:
    It pleased the king his master very late
    To strike at me, upon his misconstruction;
    When he, conjunct and flattering his displeasure,
    Tripp'd me behind; being down, insulted, rail'd,
    And put upon him such a deal of man,
    That worthied him, got praises of the king
    For him attempting who was self-subdued;
    And, in the fleshment of this dread exploit,
    Drew on me here again.

KENT

    None of these rogues and cowards
    But Ajax is their fool.

CORNWALL

    Fetch forth the stocks!
    You stubborn ancient knave, you reverend braggart,
    We'll teach you--

KENT

    Sir, I am too old to learn:
    Call not your stocks for me: I serve the king;
    On whose employment I was sent to you:
    You shall do small respect, show too bold malice
    Against the grace and person of my master,
    Stocking his messenger.

CORNWALL

    Fetch forth the stocks! As I have life and honour,
    There shall he sit till noon.

REGAN

    Till noon! till night, my lord; and all night too.

KENT

    Why, madam, if I were your father's dog,
    You should not use me so.

REGAN

    Sir, being his knave, I will.

CORNWALL

    This is a fellow of the self-same colour
    Our sister speaks of. Come, bring away the stocks!

    Stocks brought out

GLOUCESTER

    Let me beseech your grace not to do so:
    His fault is much, and the good king his master
    Will cheque him for 't: your purposed low correction
    Is such as basest and contemned'st wretches
    For pilferings and most common trespasses
    Are punish'd with: the king must take it ill,
    That he's so slightly valued in his messenger,
    Should have him thus restrain'd.

CORNWALL

    I'll answer that.

REGAN

    My sister may receive it much more worse,
    To have her gentleman abused, assaulted,
    For following her affairs. Put in his legs.

    KENT is put in the stocks
    Come, my good lord, away.

    Exeunt all but GLOUCESTER and KENT

GLOUCESTER

    I am sorry for thee, friend; 'tis the duke's pleasure,
    Whose disposition, all the world well knows,
    Will not be rubb'd nor stopp'd: I'll entreat for thee.

KENT

    Pray, do not, sir: I have watched and travell'd hard;
    Some time I shall sleep out, the rest I'll whistle.
    A good man's fortune may grow out at heels:
    Give you good morrow!

GLOUCESTER

    The duke's to blame in this; 'twill be ill taken.

    Exit

KENT

    Good king, that must approve the common saw,
    Thou out of heaven's benediction comest
    To the warm sun!
    Approach, thou beacon to this under globe,
    That by thy comfortable beams I may
    Peruse this letter! Nothing almost sees miracles
    But misery: I know 'tis from Cordelia,
    Who hath most fortunately been inform'd
    Of my obscured course; and shall find time
    From this enormous state, seeking to give
    Losses their remedies. All weary and o'erwatch'd,
    Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold
    This shameful lodging.
    Fortune, good night: smile once more: turn thy wheel!

    Sleeps

SCENE III. A wood.

    Enter EDGAR

EDGAR

    I heard myself proclaim'd;
    And by the happy hollow of a tree
    Escaped the hunt. No port is free; no place,
    That guard, and most unusual vigilance,
    Does not attend my taking. Whiles I may 'scape,
    I will preserve myself: and am bethought
    To take the basest and most poorest shape
    That ever penury, in contempt of man,
    Brought near to beast: my face I'll grime with filth;
    Blanket my loins: elf all my hair in knots;
    And with presented nakedness out-face
    The winds and persecutions of the sky.
    The country gives me proof and precedent
    Of Bedlam beggars, who, with roaring voices,
    Strike in their numb'd and mortified bare arms
    Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary;
    And with this horrible object, from low farms,
    Poor pelting villages, sheep-cotes, and mills,
    Sometime with lunatic bans, sometime with prayers,
    Enforce their charity. Poor Turlygod! poor Tom!
    That's something yet: Edgar I nothing am.

    Exit

SCENE IV. Before GLOUCESTER's castle. KENT in the stocks.

    Enter KING LEAR, Fool, and Gentleman

KING LEAR

    'Tis strange that they should so depart from home,
    And not send back my messenger.

Gentleman

    As I learn'd,
    The night before there was no purpose in them
    Of this remove.

KENT

    Hail to thee, noble master!

KING LEAR

    Ha!
    Makest thou this shame thy pastime?

KENT

    No, my lord.

Fool

    Ha, ha! he wears cruel garters. Horses are tied
    by the heads, dogs and bears by the neck, monkeys by
    the loins, and men by the legs: when a man's
    over-lusty at legs, then he wears wooden
    nether-stocks.

KING LEAR

    What's he that hath so much thy place mistook
    To set thee here?

KENT

    It is both he and she;
    Your son and daughter.

KING LEAR

    No.

KENT

    Yes.

KING LEAR

    No, I say.

KENT

    I say, yea.

KING LEAR

    No, no, they would not.

KENT

    Yes, they have.

KING LEAR

    By Jupiter, I swear, no.

KENT

    By Juno, I swear, ay.

KING LEAR

    They durst not do 't;
    They could not, would not do 't; 'tis worse than murder,
    To do upon respect such violent outrage:
    Resolve me, with all modest haste, which way
    Thou mightst deserve, or they impose, this usage,
    Coming from us.

KENT

    My lord, when at their home
    I did commend your highness' letters to them,
    Ere I was risen from the place that show'd
    My duty kneeling, came there a reeking post,
    Stew'd in his haste, half breathless, panting forth
    From Goneril his mistress salutations;
    Deliver'd letters, spite of intermission,
    Which presently they read: on whose contents,
    They summon'd up their meiny, straight took horse;
    Commanded me to follow, and attend
    The leisure of their answer; gave me cold looks:
    And meeting here the other messenger,
    Whose welcome, I perceived, had poison'd mine,--
    Being the very fellow that of late
    Display'd so saucily against your highness,--
    Having more man than wit about me, drew:
    He raised the house with loud and coward cries.
    Your son and daughter found this trespass worth
    The shame which here it suffers.

Fool

    Winter's not gone yet, if the wild-geese fly that way.
    Fathers that wear rags
    Do make their children blind;
    But fathers that bear bags
    Shall see their children kind.
    Fortune, that arrant whore,
    Ne'er turns the key to the poor.
    But, for all this, thou shalt have as many dolours
    for thy daughters as thou canst tell in a year.

KING LEAR

    O, how this mother swells up toward my heart!
    Hysterica passio, down, thou climbing sorrow,
    Thy element's below! Where is this daughter?

KENT

    With the earl, sir, here within.

KING LEAR

    Follow me not;
    Stay here.

    Exit

Gentleman

    Made you no more offence but what you speak of?

KENT

    None.
    How chance the king comes with so small a train?

Fool

    And thou hadst been set i' the stocks for that
    question, thou hadst well deserved it.

KENT

    Why, fool?

Fool

    We'll set thee to school to an ant, to teach thee
    there's no labouring i' the winter. All that follow
    their noses are led by their eyes but blind men; and
    there's not a nose among twenty but can smell him
    that's stinking. Let go thy hold when a great wheel
    runs down a hill, lest it break thy neck with
    following it: but the great one that goes up the
    hill, let him draw thee after. When a wise man
    gives thee better counsel, give me mine again: I
    would have none but knaves follow it, since a fool gives it.
    That sir which serves and seeks for gain,
    And follows but for form,
    Will pack when it begins to rain,
    And leave thee in the storm,
    But I will tarry; the fool will stay,
    And let the wise man fly:
    The knave turns fool that runs away;
    The fool no knave, perdy.

KENT

    Where learned you this, fool?

Fool

    Not i' the stocks, fool.

    Re-enter KING LEAR with GLOUCESTER

KING LEAR

    Deny to speak with me? They are sick? they are weary?
    They have travell'd all the night? Mere fetches;
    The images of revolt and flying off.
    Fetch me a better answer.

GLOUCESTER

    My dear lord,
    You know the fiery quality of the duke;
    How unremoveable and fix'd he is
    In his own course.

KING LEAR

    Vengeance! plague! death! confusion!
    Fiery? what quality? Why, Gloucester, Gloucester,
    I'ld speak with the Duke of Cornwall and his wife.

GLOUCESTER

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

KING LEAR

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

GLOUCESTER

    Ay, my good lord.

KING LEAR

    The king would speak with Cornwall; the dear father
    Would with his daughter speak, commands her service:
    Are they inform'd of this? My breath and blood!
    Fiery? the fiery duke? Tell the hot duke that--
    No, but not yet: may be he is not well:
    Infirmity doth still neglect all office
    Whereto our health is bound; we are not ourselves
    When nature, being oppress'd, commands the mind
    To suffer with the body: I'll forbear;
    And am fall'n out with my more headier will,
    To take the indisposed and sickly fit
    For the sound man. Death on my state! wherefore

    Looking on KENT
    Should he sit here? This act persuades me
    That this remotion of the duke and her
    Is practise only. Give me my servant forth.
    Go tell the duke and 's wife I'ld speak with them,
    Now, presently: bid them come forth and hear me,
    Or at their chamber-door I'll beat the drum
    Till it cry sleep to death.

GLOUCESTER

    I would have all well betwixt you.

    Exit

KING LEAR

    O me, my heart, my rising heart! but, down!

Fool

    Cry to it, nuncle, as the cockney did to the eels
    when she put 'em i' the paste alive; she knapped 'em
    o' the coxcombs with a stick, and cried 'Down,
    wantons, down!' 'Twas her brother that, in pure
    kindness to his horse, buttered his hay.

    Enter CORNWALL, REGAN, GLOUCESTER, and Servants

KING LEAR

    Good morrow to you both.

CORNWALL

    Hail to your grace!

    KENT is set at liberty

REGAN

    I am glad to see your highness.

KING LEAR

    Regan, I think you are; I know what reason
    I have to think so: if thou shouldst not be glad,
    I would divorce me from thy mother's tomb,
    Sepulchring an adultress.

    To KENT
    O, are you free?
    Some other time for that. Beloved Regan,
    Thy sister's naught: O Regan, she hath tied
    Sharp-tooth'd unkindness, like a vulture, here:

    Points to his heart
    I can scarce speak to thee; thou'lt not believe
    With how depraved a quality--O Regan!

REGAN

    I pray you, sir, take patience: I have hope.
    You less know how to value her desert
    Than she to scant her duty.

KING LEAR

    Say, how is that?

REGAN

    I cannot think my sister in the least
    Would fail her obligation: if, sir, perchance
    She have restrain'd the riots of your followers,
    'Tis on such ground, and to such wholesome end,
    As clears her from all blame.

KING LEAR

    My curses on her!

REGAN

    O, sir, you are old.
    Nature in you stands on the very verge
    Of her confine: you should be ruled and led
    By some discretion, that discerns your state
    Better than you yourself. Therefore, I pray you,
    That to our sister you do make return;
    Say you have wrong'd her, sir.

KING LEAR

    Ask her forgiveness?
    Do you but mark how this becomes the house:
    'Dear daughter, I confess that I am old;

    Kneeling
    Age is unnecessary: on my knees I beg
    That you'll vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food.'

REGAN

    Good sir, no more; these are unsightly tricks:
    Return you to my sister.

KING LEAR

    [Rising] Never, Regan:
    She hath abated me of half my train;
    Look'd black upon me; struck me with her tongue,
    Most serpent-like, upon the very heart:
    All the stored vengeances of heaven fall
    On her ingrateful top! Strike her young bones,
    You taking airs, with lameness!

CORNWALL

    Fie, sir, fie!

KING LEAR

    You nimble lightnings, dart your blinding flames
    Into her scornful eyes! Infect her beauty,
    You fen-suck'd fogs, drawn by the powerful sun,
    To fall and blast her pride!

REGAN

    O the blest gods! so will you wish on me,
    When the rash mood is on.

KING LEAR

    No, Regan, thou shalt never have my curse:
    Thy tender-hefted nature shall not give
    Thee o'er to harshness: her eyes are fierce; but thine
    Do comfort and not burn. 'Tis not in thee
    To grudge my pleasures, to cut off my train,
    To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes,
    And in conclusion to oppose the bolt
    Against my coming in: thou better know'st
    The offices of nature, bond of childhood,
    Effects of courtesy, dues of gratitude;
    Thy half o' the kingdom hast thou not forgot,
    Wherein I thee endow'd.

REGAN

    Good sir, to the purpose.

KING LEAR

    Who put my man i' the stocks?

    Tucket within

CORNWALL

    What trumpet's that?

REGAN

    I know't, my sister's: this approves her letter,
    That she would soon be here.

    Enter OSWALD
    Is your lady come?

KING LEAR

    This is a slave, whose easy-borrow'd pride
    Dwells in the fickle grace of her he follows.
    Out, varlet, from my sight!

CORNWALL

    What means your grace?

KING LEAR

    Who stock'd my servant? Regan, I have good hope
    Thou didst not know on't. Who comes here? O heavens,

    Enter GONERIL
    If you do love old men, if your sweet sway
    Allow obedience, if yourselves are old,
    Make it your cause; send down, and take my part!

    To GONERIL
    Art not ashamed to look upon this beard?
    O Regan, wilt thou take her by the hand?

GONERIL

    Why not by the hand, sir? How have I offended?
    All's not offence that indiscretion finds
    And dotage terms so.

KING LEAR

    O sides, you are too tough;
    Will you yet hold? How came my man i' the stocks?

CORNWALL

    I set him there, sir: but his own disorders
    Deserved much less advancement.

KING LEAR

    You! did you?

REGAN

    I pray you, father, being weak, seem so.
    If, till the expiration of your month,
    You will return and sojourn with my sister,
    Dismissing half your train, come then to me:
    I am now from home, and out of that provision
    Which shall be needful for your entertainment.

KING LEAR

    Return to her, and fifty men dismiss'd?
    No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose
    To wage against the enmity o' the air;
    To be a comrade with the wolf and owl,--
    Necessity's sharp pinch! Return with her?
    Why, the hot-blooded France, that dowerless took
    Our youngest born, I could as well be brought
    To knee his throne, and, squire-like; pension beg
    To keep base life afoot. Return with her?
    Persuade me rather to be slave and sumpter
    To this detested groom.

    Pointing at OSWALD

GONERIL

    At your choice, sir.

KING LEAR

    I prithee, daughter, do not make me mad:
    I will not trouble thee, my child; farewell:
    We'll no more meet, no more see one another:
    But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter;
    Or rather a disease that's in my flesh,
    Which I must needs call mine: thou art a boil,
    A plague-sore, an embossed carbuncle,
    In my corrupted blood. But I'll not chide thee;
    Let shame come when it will, I do not call it:
    I do not bid the thunder-bearer shoot,
    Nor tell tales of thee to high-judging Jove:
    Mend when thou canst; be better at thy leisure:
    I can be patient; I can stay with Regan,
    I and my hundred knights.

REGAN

    Not altogether so:
    I look'd not for you yet, nor am provided
    For your fit welcome. Give ear, sir, to my sister;
    For those that mingle reason with your passion
    Must be content to think you old, and so--
    But she knows what she does.

KING LEAR

    Is this well spoken?

REGAN

    I dare avouch it, sir: what, fifty followers?
    Is it not well? What should you need of more?
    Yea, or so many, sith that both charge and danger
    Speak 'gainst so great a number? How, in one house,
    Should many people, under two commands,
    Hold amity? 'Tis hard; almost impossible.

GONERIL

    Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance
    From those that she calls servants or from mine?

REGAN

    Why not, my lord? If then they chanced to slack you,
    We could control them. If you will come to me,--
    For now I spy a danger,--I entreat you
    To bring but five and twenty: to no more
    Will I give place or notice.

KING LEAR

    I gave you all--

REGAN

    And in good time you gave it.

KING LEAR

    Made you my guardians, my depositaries;
    But kept a reservation to be follow'd
    With such a number. What, must I come to you
    With five and twenty, Regan? said you so?

REGAN

    And speak't again, my lord; no more with me.

KING LEAR

    Those wicked creatures yet do look well-favour'd,
    When others are more wicked: not being the worst
    Stands in some rank of praise.

    To GONERIL
    I'll go with thee:
    Thy fifty yet doth double five and twenty,
    And thou art twice her love.

GONERIL

    Hear me, my lord;
    What need you five and twenty, ten, or five,
    To follow in a house where twice so many
    Have a command to tend you?

REGAN

    What need one?

KING LEAR

    O, reason not the need: our basest beggars
    Are in the poorest thing superfluous:
    Allow not nature more than nature needs,
    Man's life's as cheap as beast's: thou art a lady;
    If only to go warm were gorgeous,
    Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear'st,
    Which scarcely keeps thee warm. But, for true need,--
    You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need!
    You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,
    As full of grief as age; wretched in both!
    If it be you that stir these daughters' hearts
    Against their father, fool me not so much
    To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger,
    And let not women's weapons, water-drops,
    Stain my man's cheeks! No, you unnatural hags,
    I will have such revenges on you both,
    That all the world shall--I will do such things,--
    What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be
    The terrors of the earth. You think I'll weep
    No, I'll not weep:
    I have full cause of weeping; but this heart
    Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws,
    Or ere I'll weep. O fool, I shall go mad!

    Exeunt KING LEAR, GLOUCESTER, KENT, and Fool

    Storm and tempest

CORNWALL

    Let us withdraw; 'twill be a storm.

REGAN

    This house is little: the old man and his people
    Cannot be well bestow'd.

GONERIL

    'Tis his own blame; hath put himself from rest,
    And must needs taste his folly.

REGAN

    For his particular, I'll receive him gladly,
    But not one follower.

GONERIL

    So am I purposed.
    Where is my lord of Gloucester?

CORNWALL

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

    Re-enter GLOUCESTER

GLOUCESTER

    The king is in high rage.

CORNWALL

    Whither is he going?

GLOUCESTER

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

CORNWALL

    'Tis best to give him way; he leads himself.

GONERIL

    My lord, entreat him by no means to stay.

GLOUCESTER

    Alack, the night comes on, and the bleak winds
    Do sorely ruffle; for many miles a bout
    There's scarce a bush.

REGAN

    O, sir, to wilful men,
    The injuries that they themselves procure
    Must be their schoolmasters. Shut up your doors:
    He is attended with a desperate train;
    And what they may incense him to, being apt
    To have his ear abused, wisdom bids fear.

CORNWALL

    Shut up your doors, my lord; 'tis a wild night:
    My Regan counsels well; come out o' the storm.

    Exeunt

ACT III
SCENE I. A heath.

    Storm still. Enter KENT and a Gentleman, meeting

KENT

    Who's there, besides foul weather?

Gentleman

    One minded like the weather, most unquietly.

KENT

    I know you. Where's the king?

Gentleman

    Contending with the fretful element:
    Bids the winds blow the earth into the sea,
    Or swell the curled water 'bove the main,
    That things might change or cease; tears his white hair,
    Which the impetuous blasts, with eyeless rage,
    Catch in their fury, and make nothing of;
    Strives in his little world of man to out-scorn
    The to-and-fro-conflicting wind and rain.
    This night, wherein the cub-drawn bear would couch,
    The lion and the belly-pinched wolf
    Keep their fur dry, unbonneted he runs,
    And bids what will take all.

KENT

    But who is with him?

Gentleman

    None but the fool; who labours to out-jest
    His heart-struck injuries.

KENT

    Sir, I do know you;
    And dare, upon the warrant of my note,
    Commend a dear thing to you. There is division,
    Although as yet the face of it be cover'd
    With mutual cunning, 'twixt Albany and Cornwall;
    Who have--as who have not, that their great stars
    Throned and set high?--servants, who seem no less,
    Which are to France the spies and speculations
    Intelligent of our state; what hath been seen,
    Either in snuffs and packings of the dukes,
    Or the hard rein which both of them have borne
    Against the old kind king; or something deeper,
    Whereof perchance these are but furnishings;
    But, true it is, from France there comes a power
    Into this scatter'd kingdom; who already,
    Wise in our negligence, have secret feet
    In some of our best ports, and are at point
    To show their open banner. Now to you:
    If on my credit you dare build so far
    To make your speed to Dover, you shall find
    Some that will thank you, making just report
    Of how unnatural and bemadding sorrow
    The king hath cause to plain.
    I am a gentleman of blood and breeding;
    And, from some knowledge and assurance, offer
    This office to you.

Gentleman

    I will talk further with you.

KENT

    No, do not.
    For confirmation that I am much more
    Than my out-wall, open this purse, and take
    What it contains. If you shall see Cordelia,--
    As fear not but you shall,--show her this ring;
    And she will tell you who your fellow is
    That yet you do not know. Fie on this storm!
    I will go seek the king.

Gentleman

    Give me your hand: have you no more to say?

KENT

    Few words, but, to effect, more than all yet;
    That, when we have found the king,--in which your pain
    That way, I'll this,--he that first lights on him
    Holla the other.

    Exeunt severally

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

    Enter KING LEAR and Fool

KING LEAR

    Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
    You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
    Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks!
    You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
    Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
    Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
    Smite flat the thick rotundity o' the world!
    Crack nature's moulds, an germens spill at once,
    That make ingrateful man!

Fool

    O nuncle, court holy-water in a dry
    house is better than this rain-water out o' door.
    Good nuncle, in, and ask thy daughters' blessing:
    here's a night pities neither wise man nor fool.

KING LEAR

    Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! spout, rain!
    Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters:
    I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness;
    I never gave you kingdom, call'd you children,
    You owe me no subscription: then let fall
    Your horrible pleasure: here I stand, your slave,
    A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man:
    But yet I call you servile ministers,
    That have with two pernicious daughters join'd
    Your high engender'd battles 'gainst a head
    So old and white as this. O! O! 'tis foul!

Fool

    He that has a house to put's head in has a good
    head-piece.
    The cod-piece that will house
    Before the head has any,
    The head and he shall louse;
    So beggars marry many.
    The man that makes his toe
    What he his heart should make
    Shall of a corn cry woe,
    And turn his sleep to wake.
    For there was never yet fair woman but she made
    mouths in a glass.

KING LEAR

    No, I will be the pattern of all patience;
    I will say nothing.

    Enter KENT

KENT

    Who's there?

Fool

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

KENT

    Alas, sir, are you here? things that love night
    Love not such nights as these; the wrathful skies
    Gallow the very wanderers of the dark,
    And make them keep their caves: since I was man,
    Such sheets of fire, such bursts of horrid thunder,
    Such groans of roaring wind and rain, I never
    Remember to have heard: man's nature cannot carry
    The affliction nor the fear.

KING LEAR

    Let the great gods,
    That keep this dreadful pother o'er our heads,
    Find out their enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch,
    That hast within thee undivulged crimes,
    Unwhipp'd of justice: hide thee, thou bloody hand;
    Thou perjured, and thou simular man of virtue
    That art incestuous: caitiff, to pieces shake,
    That under covert and convenient seeming
    Hast practised on man's life: close pent-up guilts,
    Rive your concealing continents, and cry
    These dreadful summoners grace. I am a man
    More sinn'd against than sinning.

KENT

    Alack, bare-headed!
    Gracious my lord, hard by here is a hovel;
    Some friendship will it lend you 'gainst the tempest:
    Repose you there; while I to this hard house--
    More harder than the stones whereof 'tis raised;
    Which even but now, demanding after you,
    Denied me to come in--return, and force
    Their scanted courtesy.

KING LEAR

    My wits begin to turn.
    Come on, my boy: how dost, my boy? art cold?
    I am cold myself. Where is this straw, my fellow?
    The art of our necessities is strange,
    That can make vile things precious. Come,
    your hovel.
    Poor fool and knave, I have one part in my heart
    That's sorry yet for thee.

Fool

    [Singing]
    He that has and a little tiny wit--
    With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,--
    Must make content with his fortunes fit,
    For the rain it raineth every day.

KING LEAR

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

    Exeunt KING LEAR and KENT

Fool

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

    Exit

SCENE III. Gloucester's castle.

    Enter GLOUCESTER and EDMUND

GLOUCESTER

    Alack, alack, Edmund, I like not this unnatural
    dealing. When I desire their leave that I might
    pity him, they took from me the use of mine own
    house; charged me, on pain of their perpetual
    displeasure, neither to speak of him, entreat for
    him, nor any way sustain him.

EDMUND

    Most savage and unnatural!

GLOUCESTER

    Go to; say you nothing. There's a division betwixt
    the dukes; and a worse matter than that: I have
    received a letter this night; 'tis dangerous to be
    spoken; I have locked the letter in my closet:
    these injuries the king now bears will be revenged
    home; there's part of a power already footed: we
    must incline to the king. I will seek him, and
    privily relieve him: go you and maintain talk with
    the duke, that my charity be not of him perceived:
    if he ask for me. I am ill, and gone to bed.
    Though I die for it, as no less is threatened me,
    the king my old master must be relieved. There is
    some strange thing toward, Edmund; pray you, be careful.

    Exit

EDMUND

    This courtesy, forbid thee, shall the duke
    Instantly know; and of that letter too:
    This seems a fair deserving, and must draw me
    That which my father loses; no less than all:
    The younger rises when the old doth fall.

    Exit

SCENE IV. The heath. Before a hovel.

    Enter KING LEAR, KENT, and Fool

KENT

    Here is the place, my lord; good my lord, enter:
    The tyranny of the open night's too rough
    For nature to endure.

    Storm still

KING LEAR

    Let me alone.

KENT

    Good my lord, enter here.

KING LEAR

    Wilt break my heart?

KENT

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

KING LEAR

    Thou think'st 'tis much that this contentious storm
    Invades us to the skin: so 'tis to thee;
    But where the greater malady is fix'd,
    The lesser is scarce felt. Thou'ldst shun a bear;
    But if thy flight lay toward the raging sea,
    Thou'ldst meet the bear i' the mouth. When the
    mind's free,
    The body's delicate: the tempest in my mind
    Doth from my senses take all feeling else
    Save what beats there. Filial ingratitude!
    Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand
    For lifting food to't? But I will punish home:
    No, I will weep no more. In such a night
    To shut me out! Pour on; I will endure.
    In such a night as this! O Regan, Goneril!
    Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all,--
    O, that way madness lies; let me shun that;
    No more of that.

KENT

    Good my lord, enter here.

KING LEAR

    Prithee, go in thyself: seek thine own ease:
    This tempest will not give me leave to ponder
    On things would hurt me more. But I'll go in.

    To the Fool
    In, boy; go first. You houseless poverty,--
    Nay, get thee in. I'll pray, and then I'll sleep.

    Fool goes in
    Poor naked wretches, whereso'er you are,
    That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
    How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
    Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you
    From seasons such as these? O, I have ta'en
    Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp;
    Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
    That thou mayst shake the superflux to them,
    And show the heavens more just.

EDGAR

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

    The Fool runs out from the hovel

Fool

    Come not in here, nuncle, here's a spirit
    Help me, help me!

KENT

    Give me thy hand. Who's there?

Fool

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

KENT

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

    Enter EDGAR disguised as a mad man

EDGAR

    Away! the foul fiend follows me!
    Through the sharp hawthorn blows the cold wind.
    Hum! go to thy cold bed, and warm thee.

KING LEAR

    Hast thou given all to thy two daughters?
    And art thou come to this?

EDGAR

    Who gives any thing to poor Tom? whom the foul
    fiend hath led through fire and through flame, and
    through ford and whirlipool e'er bog and quagmire;
    that hath laid knives under his pillow, and halters
    in his pew; set ratsbane by his porridge; made film
    proud of heart, to ride on a bay trotting-horse over
    four-inched bridges, to course his own shadow for a
    traitor. Bless thy five wits! Tom's a-cold,--O, do
    de, do de, do de. Bless thee from whirlwinds,
    star-blasting, and taking! Do poor Tom some
    charity, whom the foul fiend vexes: there could I
    have him now,--and there,--and there again, and there.

    Storm still

KING LEAR

    What, have his daughters brought him to this pass?
    Couldst thou save nothing? Didst thou give them all?

Fool

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

KING LEAR

    Now, all the plagues that in the pendulous air
    Hang fated o'er men's faults light on thy daughters!

KENT

    He hath no daughters, sir.

KING LEAR

    Death, traitor! nothing could have subdued nature
    To such a lowness but his unkind daughters.
    Is it the fashion, that discarded fathers
    Should have thus little mercy on their flesh?
    Judicious punishment! 'twas this flesh begot
    Those pelican daughters.

EDGAR

    Pillicock sat on Pillicock-hill:
    Halloo, halloo, loo, loo!

Fool

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

EDGAR

    Take heed o' the foul fiend: obey thy parents;
    keep thy word justly; swear not; commit not with
    man's sworn spouse; set not thy sweet heart on proud
    array. Tom's a-cold.

KING LEAR

    What hast thou been?

EDGAR

    A serving-man, proud in heart and mind; that curled
    my hair; wore gloves in my cap; served the lust of
    my mistress' heart, and did the act of darkness with
    her; swore as many oaths as I spake words, and
    broke them in the sweet face of heaven: one that
    slept in the contriving of lust, and waked to do it:
    wine loved I deeply, dice dearly: and in woman
    out-paramoured the Turk: false of heart, light of
    ear, bloody of hand; hog in sloth, fox in stealth,
    wolf in greediness, dog in madness, lion in prey.
    Let not the creaking of shoes nor the rustling of
    silks betray thy poor heart to woman: keep thy foot
    out of brothels, thy hand out of plackets, thy pen
    from lenders' books, and defy the foul fiend.
    Still through the hawthorn blows the cold wind:
    Says suum, mun, ha, no, nonny.
    Dolphin my boy, my boy, sessa! let him trot by.

    Storm still

KING LEAR

    Why, thou wert better in thy grave than to answer
    with thy uncovered body this extremity of the skies.
    Is man no more than this? Consider him well. Thou
    owest the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep
    no wool, the cat no perfume. Ha! here's three on
    's are sophisticated! Thou art the thing itself:
    unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor bare,
    forked animal as thou art. Off, off, you lendings!
    come unbutton here.

    Tearing off his clothes

Fool

    Prithee, nuncle, be contented; 'tis a naughty night
    to swim in. Now a little fire in a wild field were
    like an old lecher's heart; a small spark, all the
    rest on's body cold. Look, here comes a walking fire.

    Enter GLOUCESTER, with a torch

EDGAR

    This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet: he begins
    at curfew, and walks till the first cock; he gives
    the web and the pin, squints the eye, and makes the
    hare-lip; mildews the white wheat, and hurts the
    poor creature of earth.
    S. Withold footed thrice the old;
    He met the night-mare, and her nine-fold;
    Bid her alight,
    And her troth plight,
    And, aroint thee, witch, aroint thee!

KENT

    How fares your grace?

KING LEAR

    What's he?

KENT

    Who's there? What is't you seek?

GLOUCESTER

    What are you there? Your names?

EDGAR

    Poor Tom; that eats the swimming frog, the toad,
    the tadpole, the wall-newt and the water; that in
    the fury of his heart, when the foul fiend rages,
    eats cow-dung for sallets; swallows the old rat and
    the ditch-dog; drinks the green mantle of the
    standing pool; who is whipped from tithing to
    tithing, and stock- punished, and imprisoned; who
    hath had three suits to his back, six shirts to his
    body, horse to ride, and weapon to wear;
    But mice and rats, and such small deer,
    Have been Tom's food for seven long year.
    Beware my follower. Peace, Smulkin; peace, thou fiend!

GLOUCESTER

    What, hath your grace no better company?

EDGAR

    The prince of darkness is a gentleman:
    Modo he's call'd, and Mahu.

GLOUCESTER

    Our flesh and blood is grown so vile, my lord,
    That it doth hate what gets it.

EDGAR

    Poor Tom's a-cold.

GLOUCESTER

    Go in with me: my duty cannot suffer
    To obey in all your daughters' hard commands:
    Though their injunction be to bar my doors,
    And let this tyrannous night take hold upon you,
    Yet have I ventured to come seek you out,
    And bring you where both fire and food is ready.

KING LEAR

    First let me talk with this philosopher.
    What is the cause of thunder?

KENT

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

KING LEAR

    I'll talk a word with this same learned Theban.
    What is your study?

EDGAR

    How to prevent the fiend, and to kill vermin.

KING LEAR

    Let me ask you one word in private.

KENT

    Importune him once more to go, my lord;
    His wits begin to unsettle.

GLOUCESTER

    Canst thou blame him?

    Storm still
    His daughters seek his death: ah, that good Kent!
    He said it would be thus, poor banish'd man!
    Thou say'st the king grows mad; I'll tell thee, friend,
    I am almost mad myself: I had a son,
    Now outlaw'd from my blood; he sought my life,
    But lately, very late: I loved him, friend;
    No father his son dearer: truth to tell thee,
    The grief hath crazed my wits. What a night's this!
    I do beseech your grace,--

KING LEAR

    O, cry your mercy, sir.
    Noble philosopher, your company.

EDGAR

    Tom's a-cold.

GLOUCESTER

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

KING LEAR

    Come let's in all.

KENT

    This way, my lord.

KING LEAR

    With him;
    I will keep still with my philosopher.

KENT

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

GLOUCESTER

    Take him you on.

KENT

    Sirrah, come on; go along with us.

KING LEAR

    Come, good Athenian.

GLOUCESTER

    No words, no words: hush.

EDGAR

    Child Rowland to the dark tower came,
    His word was still,--Fie, foh, and fum,
    I smell the blood of a British man.

    Exeunt

SCENE V. Gloucester's castle.

    Enter CORNWALL and EDMUND

CORNWALL

    I will have my revenge ere I depart his house.

EDMUND

    How, my lord, I may be censured, that nature thus
    gives way to loyalty, something fears me to think
    of.

CORNWALL

    I now perceive, it was not altogether your
    brother's evil disposition made him seek his death;
    but a provoking merit, set a-work by a reprovable
    badness in himself.

EDMUND

    How malicious is my fortune, that I must repent to
    be just! This is the letter he spoke of, which
    approves him an intelligent party to the advantages
    of France: O heavens! that this treason were not,
    or not I the detector!

CORNWALL

    o with me to the duchess.

EDMUND

    If the matter of this paper be certain, you have
    mighty business in hand.

CORNWALL

    True or false, it hath made thee earl of
    Gloucester. Seek out where thy father is, that he
    may be ready for our apprehension.

EDMUND

    [Aside] If I find him comforting the king, it will
    stuff his suspicion more fully.--I will persevere in
    my course of loyalty, though the conflict be sore
    between that and my blood.

CORNWALL

    I will lay trust upon thee; and thou shalt find a
    dearer father in my love.

    Exeunt

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

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

GLOUCESTER

    Here is better than the open air; take it
    thankfully. I will piece out the comfort with what
    addition I can: I will not be long from you.

KENT

    All the power of his wits have given way to his
    impatience: the gods reward your kindness!

    Exit GLOUCESTER

EDGAR

    Frateretto calls me; and tells me
    Nero is an angler in the lake of darkness.
    Pray, innocent, and beware the foul fiend.

Fool

    Prithee, nuncle, tell me whether a madman be a
    gentleman or a yeoman?

KING LEAR

    A king, a king!

Fool

    No, he's a yeoman that has a gentleman to his son;
    for he's a mad yeoman that sees his son a gentleman
    before him.

KING LEAR

    To have a thousand with red burning spits
    Come hissing in upon 'em,--

EDGAR

    The foul fiend bites my back.

Fool

    He's mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf, a
    horse's health, a boy's love, or a whore's oath.

KING LEAR

    It shall be done; I will arraign them straight.

    To EDGAR
    Come, sit thou here, most learned justicer;

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

EDGAR

    Look, where he stands and glares!
    Wantest thou eyes at trial, madam?
    Come o'er the bourn, Bessy, to me,--

Fool

    Her boat hath a leak,
    And she must not speak
    Why she dares not come over to thee.

EDGAR

    The foul fiend haunts poor Tom in the voice of a
    nightingale. Hopdance cries in Tom's belly for two
    white herring. Croak not, black angel; I have no
    food for thee.

KENT

    How do you, sir? Stand you not so amazed:
    Will you lie down and rest upon the cushions?

KING LEAR

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

    To EDGAR
    Thou robed man of justice, take thy place;

    To the Fool
    And thou, his yoke-fellow of equity,
    Bench by his side:

    To KENT
    you are o' the commission,
    Sit you too.

EDGAR

    Let us deal justly.
    Sleepest or wakest thou, jolly shepherd?
    Thy sheep be in the corn;
    And for one blast of thy minikin mouth,
    Thy sheep shall take no harm.
    Pur! the cat is gray.

KING LEAR

    Arraign her first; 'tis Goneril. I here take my
    oath before this honourable assembly, she kicked the
    poor king her father.

Fool

    Come hither, mistress. Is your name Goneril?

KING LEAR

    She cannot deny it.

Fool

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

KING LEAR

    And here's another, whose warp'd looks proclaim
    What store her heart is made on. Stop her there!
    Arms, arms, sword, fire! Corruption in the place!
    False justicer, why hast thou let her 'scape?

EDGAR

    Bless thy five wits!

KENT

    O pity! Sir, where is the patience now,
    That thou so oft have boasted to retain?

EDGAR

    [Aside] My tears begin to take his part so much,
    They'll mar my counterfeiting.

KING LEAR

    The little dogs and all, Tray, Blanch, and
    Sweet-heart, see, they bark at me.

EDGAR

    Tom will throw his head at them. Avaunt, you curs!
    Be thy mouth or black or white,
    Tooth that poisons if it bite;
    Mastiff, grey-hound, mongrel grim,
    Hound or spaniel, brach or lym,
    Or bobtail tike or trundle-tail,
    Tom will make them weep and wail:
    For, with throwing thus my head,
    Dogs leap the hatch, and all are fled.
    Do de, de, de. Sessa! Come, march to wakes and
    fairs and market-towns. Poor Tom, thy horn is dry.

KING LEAR

    Then let them anatomize Regan; see what breeds
    about her heart. Is there any cause in nature that
    makes these hard hearts?

    To EDGAR
    You, sir, I entertain for one of my hundred; only I
    do not like the fashion of your garments: you will
    say they are Persian attire: but let them be changed.

KENT

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

KING LEAR

    Make no noise, make no noise; draw the curtains:
    so, so, so. We'll go to supper i' he morning. So, so, so.

Fool

    And I'll go to bed at noon.

    Re-enter GLOUCESTER

GLOUCESTER

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

KENT

    Here, sir; but trouble him not, his wits are gone.

GLOUCESTER

    Good friend, I prithee, take him in thy arms;
    I have o'erheard a plot of death upon him:
    There is a litter ready; lay him in 't,
    And drive towards Dover, friend, where thou shalt meet
    Both welcome and protection. Take up thy master:
    If thou shouldst dally half an hour, his life,
    With thine, and all that offer to defend him,
    Stand in assured loss: take up, take up;
    And follow me, that will to some provision
    Give thee quick conduct.

KENT

    Oppressed nature sleeps:
    This rest might yet have balm'd thy broken senses,
    Which, if convenience will not allow,
    Stand in hard cure.

    To the Fool
    Come, help to bear thy master;
    Thou must not stay behind.

GLOUCESTER

    Come, come, away.

    Exeunt all but EDGAR

EDGAR

    When we our betters see bearing our woes,
    We scarcely think our miseries our foes.
    Who alone suffers suffers most i' the mind,
    Leaving free things and happy shows behind:
    But then the mind much sufferance doth o'er skip,
    When grief hath mates, and bearing fellowship.
    How light and portable my pain seems now,
    When that which makes me bend makes the king bow,
    He childed as I father'd! Tom, away!
    Mark the high noises; and thyself bewray,
    When false opinion, whose wrong thought defiles thee,
    In thy just proof, repeals and reconciles thee.
    What will hap more to-night, safe 'scape the king!
    Lurk, lurk.

    Exit

SCENE VII. Gloucester's castle.

    Enter CORNWALL, REGAN, GONERIL, EDMUND, and Servants

CORNWALL

    Post speedily to my lord your husband; show him
    this letter: the army of France is landed. Seek
    out the villain Gloucester.

    Exeunt some of the Servants

REGAN

    Hang him instantly.

GONERIL

    Pluck out his eyes.

CORNWALL

    Leave him to my displeasure. Edmund, keep you our
    sister company: the revenges we are bound to take
    upon your traitorous father are not fit for your
    beholding. Advise the duke, where you are going, to
    a most festinate preparation: we are bound to the
    like. Our posts shall be swift and intelligent
    betwixt us. Farewell, dear sister: farewell, my
    lord of Gloucester.

    Enter OSWALD
    How now! where's the king?

OSWALD

    My lord of Gloucester hath convey'd him hence:
    Some five or six and thirty of his knights,
    Hot questrists after him, met him at gate;
    Who, with some other of the lords dependants,
    Are gone with him towards Dover; where they boast
    To have well-armed friends.

CORNWALL

    Get horses for your mistress.

GONERIL

    Farewell, sweet lord, and sister.

CORNWALL

    Edmund, farewell.

    Exeunt GONERIL, EDMUND, and OSWALD
    Go seek the traitor Gloucester,
    Pinion him like a thief, bring him before us.

    Exeunt other Servants
    Though well we may not pass upon his life
    Without the form of justice, yet our power
    Shall do a courtesy to our wrath, which men
    May blame, but not control. Who's there? the traitor?

    Enter GLOUCESTER, brought in by two or three

REGAN

    Ingrateful fox! 'tis he.

CORNWALL

    Bind fast his corky arms.

GLOUCESTER

    What mean your graces? Good my friends, consider
    You are my guests: do me no foul play, friends.

CORNWALL

    Bind him, I say.

    Servants bind him

REGAN

    Hard, hard. O filthy traitor!

GLOUCESTER

    Unmerciful lady as you are, I'm none.

CORNWALL

    To this chair bind him. Villain, thou shalt find--

    REGAN plucks his beard

GLOUCESTER

    By the kind gods, 'tis most ignobly done
    To pluck me by the beard.

REGAN

    So white, and such a traitor!

GLOUCESTER

    Naughty lady,
    These hairs, which thou dost ravish from my chin,
    Will quicken, and accuse thee: I am your host:
    With robbers' hands my hospitable favours
    You should not ruffle thus. What will you do?

CORNWALL

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

REGAN

    Be simple answerer, for we know the truth.

CORNWALL

    And what confederacy have you with the traitors
    Late footed in the kingdom?

REGAN

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

GLOUCESTER

    I have a letter guessingly set down,
    Which came from one that's of a neutral heart,
    And not from one opposed.

CORNWALL

    Cunning.

REGAN

    And false.

CORNWALL

    Where hast thou sent the king?

GLOUCESTER

    To Dover.

REGAN

    Wherefore to Dover? Wast thou not charged at peril--

CORNWALL

    Wherefore to Dover? Let him first answer that.

GLOUCESTER

    I am tied to the stake, and I must stand the course.

REGAN

    Wherefore to Dover, sir?

GLOUCESTER

    Because I would not see thy cruel nails
    Pluck out his poor old eyes; nor thy fierce sister
    In his anointed flesh stick boarish fangs.
    The sea, with such a storm as his bare head
    In hell-black night endured, would have buoy'd up,
    And quench'd the stelled fires:
    Yet, poor old heart, he holp the heavens to rain.
    If wolves had at thy gate howl'd that stern time,
    Thou shouldst have said 'Good porter, turn the key,'
    All cruels else subscribed: but I shall see
    The winged vengeance overtake such children.

CORNWALL

    See't shalt thou never. Fellows, hold the chair.
    Upon these eyes of thine I'll set my foot.

GLOUCESTER

    He that will think to live till he be old,
    Give me some help! O cruel! O you gods!

REGAN

    One side will mock another; the other too.

CORNWALL

    If you see vengeance,--

First Servant

    Hold your hand, my lord:
    I have served you ever since I was a child;
    But better service have I never done you
    Than now to bid you hold.

REGAN

    How now, you dog!

First Servant

    If you did wear a beard upon your chin,
    I'd shake it on this quarrel. What do you mean?

CORNWALL

    My villain!

    They draw and fight

First Servant

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

REGAN

    Give me thy sword. A peasant stand up thus!

    Takes a sword, and runs at him behind

First Servant

    O, I am slain! My lord, you have one eye left
    To see some mischief on him. O!

    Dies

CORNWALL

    Lest it see more, prevent it. Out, vile jelly!
    Where is thy lustre now?

GLOUCESTER

    All dark and comfortless. Where's my son Edmund?
    Edmund, enkindle all the sparks of nature,
    To quit this horrid act.

REGAN

    Out, treacherous villain!
    Thou call'st on him that hates thee: it was he
    That made the overture of thy treasons to us;
    Who is too good to pity thee.

GLOUCESTER

    O my follies! then Edgar was abused.
    Kind gods, forgive me that, and prosper him!

REGAN

    Go thrust him out at gates, and let him smell
    His way to Dover.

    Exit one with GLOUCESTER
    How is't, my lord? how look you?

CORNWALL

    I have received a hurt: follow me, lady.
    Turn out that eyeless villain; throw this slave
    Upon the dunghill. Regan, I bleed apace:
    Untimely comes this hurt: give me your arm.

    Exit CORNWALL, led by REGAN

Second Servant

    I'll never care what wickedness I do,
    If this man come to good.

Third Servant

    If she live long,
    And in the end meet the old course of death,
    Women will all turn monsters.

Second Servant

    Let's follow the old earl, and get the Bedlam
    To lead him where he would: his roguish madness
    Allows itself to any thing.

Third Servant

    Go thou: I'll fetch some flax and whites of eggs
    To apply to his bleeding face. Now, heaven help him!

    Exeunt severally

ACT IV
SCENE I. The heath.

    Enter EDGAR

EDGAR

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

    Enter GLOUCESTER, led by an Old Man
    My father, poorly led? World, world, O world!
    But that thy strange mutations make us hate thee,
    Lie would not yield to age.

Old Man

    O, my good lord, I have been your tenant, and
    your father's tenant, these fourscore years.

GLOUCESTER

    Away, get thee away; good friend, be gone:
    Thy comforts can do me no good at all;
    Thee they may hurt.

Old Man

    Alack, sir, you cannot see your way.

GLOUCESTER

    I have no way, and therefore want no eyes;
    I stumbled when I saw: full oft 'tis seen,
    Our means secure us, and our mere defects
    Prove our commodities. O dear son Edgar,
    The food of thy abused father's wrath!
    Might I but live to see thee in my touch,
    I'ld say I had eyes again!

Old Man

    How now! Who's there?

EDGAR

    [Aside] O gods! Who is't can say 'I am at
    the worst'?
    I am worse than e'er I was.

Old Man

    'Tis poor mad Tom.

EDGAR

    [Aside] And worse I may be yet: the worst is not
    So long as we can say 'This is the worst.'

Old Man

    Fellow, where goest?

GLOUCESTER

    Is it a beggar-man?

Old Man

    Madman and beggar too.

GLOUCESTER

    He has some reason, else he could not beg.
    I' the last night's storm I such a fellow saw;
    Which made me think a man a worm: my son
    Came then into my mind; and yet my mind
    Was then scarce friends with him: I have heard
    more since.
    As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods.
    They kill us for their sport.

EDGAR

    [Aside] How should this be?
    Bad is the trade that must play fool to sorrow,
    Angering itself and others.--Bless thee, master!

GLOUCESTER

    Is that the naked fellow?

Old Man

    Ay, my lord.

GLOUCESTER

    Then, prithee, get thee gone: if, for my sake,
    Thou wilt o'ertake us, hence a mile or twain,
    I' the way toward Dover, do it for ancient love;
    And bring some covering for this naked soul,
    Who I'll entreat to lead me.

Old Man

    Alack, sir, he is mad.

GLOUCESTER

    'Tis the times' plague, when madmen lead the blind.
    Do as I bid thee, or rather do thy pleasure;
    Above the rest, be gone.

Old Man

    I'll bring him the best 'parel that I have,
    Come on't what will.

    Exit

GLOUCESTER

    Sirrah, naked fellow,--

EDGAR

    Poor Tom's a-cold.

    Aside
    I cannot daub it further.

GLOUCESTER

    Come hither, fellow.

EDGAR

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

GLOUCESTER

    Know'st thou the way to Dover?

EDGAR

    Both stile and gate, horse-way and foot-path. Poor
    Tom hath been scared out of his good wits: bless
    thee, good man's son, from the foul fiend! five
    fiends have been in poor Tom at once; of lust, as
    Obidicut; Hobbididence, prince of dumbness; Mahu, of
    stealing; Modo, of murder; Flibbertigibbet, of
    mopping and mowing, who since possesses chambermaids
    and waiting-women. So, bless thee, master!

GLOUCESTER

    Here, take this purse, thou whom the heavens' plagues
    Have humbled to all strokes: that I am wretched
    Makes thee the happier: heavens, deal so still!
    Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man,
    That slaves your ordinance, that will not see
    Because he doth not feel, feel your power quickly;
    So distribution should undo excess,
    And each man have enough. Dost thou know Dover?

EDGAR

    Ay, master.

GLOUCESTER

    There is a cliff, whose high and bending head
    Looks fearfully in the confined deep:
    Bring me but to the very brim of it,
    And I'll repair the misery thou dost bear
    With something rich about me: from that place
    I shall no leading need.

EDGAR

    Give me thy arm:
    Poor Tom shall lead thee.

    Exeunt

SCENE II. Before ALBANY's palace.

    Enter GONERIL and EDMUND

GONERIL

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

    Enter OSWALD
    Now, where's your master'?

OSWALD

    Madam, within; but never man so changed.
    I told him of the army that was landed;
    He smiled at it: I told him you were coming:
    His answer was 'The worse:' of Gloucester's treachery,
    And of the loyal service of his son,
    When I inform'd him, then he call'd me sot,
    And told me I had turn'd the wrong side out:
    What most he should dislike seems pleasant to him;
    What like, offensive.

GONERIL

    [To EDMUND] Then shall you go no further.
    It is the cowish terror of his spirit,
    That dares not undertake: he'll not feel wrongs
    Which tie him to an answer. Our wishes on the way
    May prove effects. Back, Edmund, to my brother;
    Hasten his musters and conduct his powers:
    I must change arms at home, and give the distaff
    Into my husband's hands. This trusty servant
    Shall pass between us: ere long you are like to hear,
    If you dare venture in your own behalf,
    A mistress's command. Wear this; spare speech;

    Giving a favour
    Decline your head: this kiss, if it durst speak,
    Would stretch thy spirits up into the air:
    Conceive, and fare thee well.

EDMUND

    Yours in the ranks of death.

GONERIL

    My most dear Gloucester!

    Exit EDMUND
    O, the difference of man and man!
    To thee a woman's services are due:
    My fool usurps my body.

OSWALD

    Madam, here comes my lord.

    Exit

    Enter ALBANY

GONERIL

    I have been worth the whistle.

ALBANY

    O Goneril!
    You are not worth the dust which the rude wind
    Blows in your face. I fear your disposition:
    That nature, which contemns its origin,
    Cannot be border'd certain in itself;
    She that herself will sliver and disbranch
    From her material sap, perforce must wither
    And come to deadly use.

GONERIL

    No more; the text is foolish.

ALBANY

    Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile:
    Filths savour but themselves. What have you done?
    Tigers, not daughters, what have you perform'd?
    A father, and a gracious aged man,
    Whose reverence even the head-lugg'd bear would lick,
    Most barbarous, most degenerate! have you madded.
    Could my good brother suffer you to do it?
    A man, a prince, by him so benefited!
    If that the heavens do not their visible spirits
    Send quickly down to tame these vile offences,
    It will come,
    Humanity must perforce prey on itself,
    Like monsters of the deep.

GONERIL

    Milk-liver'd man!
    That bear'st a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs;
    Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning
    Thine honour from thy suffering; that not know'st
    Fools do those villains pity who are punish'd
    Ere they have done their mischief. Where's thy drum?
    France spreads his banners in our noiseless land;
    With plumed helm thy slayer begins threats;
    Whiles thou, a moral fool, sit'st still, and criest
    'Alack, why does he so?'

ALBANY

    See thyself, devil!
    Proper deformity seems not in the fiend
    So horrid as in woman.

GONERIL

    O vain fool!

ALBANY

    Thou changed and self-cover'd thing, for shame,
    Be-monster not thy feature. Were't my fitness
    To let these hands obey my blood,
    They are apt enough to dislocate and tear
    Thy flesh and bones: howe'er thou art a fiend,
    A woman's shape doth shield thee.

GONERIL

    Marry, your manhood now--

    Enter a Messenger

ALBANY

    What news?

Messenger

    O, my good lord, the Duke of Cornwall's dead:
    Slain by his servant, going to put out
    The other eye of Gloucester.

ALBANY

    Gloucester's eye!

Messenger

    A servant that he bred, thrill'd with remorse,
    Opposed against the act, bending his sword
    To his great master; who, thereat enraged,
    Flew on him, and amongst them fell'd him dead;
    But not without that harmful stroke, which since
    Hath pluck'd him after.

ALBANY

    This shows you are above,
    You justicers, that these our nether crimes
    So speedily can venge! But, O poor Gloucester!
    Lost he his other eye?

Messenger

    Both, both, my lord.
    This letter, madam, craves a speedy answer;
    'Tis from your sister.

GONERIL

    [Aside] One way I like this well;
    But being widow, and my Gloucester with her,
    May all the building in my fancy pluck
    Upon my hateful life: another way,
    The news is not so tart.--I'll read, and answer.

    Exit

ALBANY

    Where was his son when they did take his eyes?

Messenger

    Come with my lady hither.

ALBANY

    He is not here.

Messenger

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

ALBANY

    Knows he the wickedness?

Messenger

    Ay, my good lord; 'twas he inform'd against him;
    And quit the house on purpose, that their punishment
    Might have the freer course.

ALBANY

    Gloucester, I live
    To thank thee for the love thou show'dst the king,
    And to revenge thine eyes. Come hither, friend:
    Tell me what more thou know'st.

    Exeunt

SCENE III. The French camp near Dover.

    Enter KENT and a Gentleman

KENT

    Why the King of France is so suddenly gone back
    know you the reason?

Gentleman

    Something he left imperfect in the
    state, which since his coming forth is thought
    of; which imports to the kingdom so much
    fear and danger, that his personal return was
    most required and necessary.

KENT

    Who hath he left behind him general?

Gentleman

    The Marshal of France, Monsieur La Far.

KENT

    Did your letters pierce the queen to any
    demonstration of grief?

Gentleman

    Ay, sir; she took them, read them in my presence;
    And now and then an ample tear trill'd down
    Her delicate cheek: it seem'd she was a queen
    Over her passion; who, most rebel-like,
    Sought to be king o'er her.

KENT

    O, then it moved her.

Gentleman

    Not to a rage: patience and sorrow strove
    Who should express her goodliest. You have seen
    Sunshine and rain at once: her smiles and tears
    Were like a better way: those happy smilets,
    That play'd on her ripe lip, seem'd not to know
    What guests were in her eyes; which parted thence,
    As pearls from diamonds dropp'd. In brief,
    Sorrow would be a rarity most beloved,
    If all could so become it.

KENT

    Made she no verbal question?

Gentleman

    'Faith, once or twice she heaved the name of 'father'
    Pantingly forth, as if it press'd her heart:
    Cried 'Sisters! sisters! Shame of ladies! sisters!
    Kent! father! sisters! What, i' the storm? i' the night?
    Let pity not be believed!' There she shook
    The holy water from her heavenly eyes,
    And clamour moisten'd: then away she started
    To deal with grief alone.

KENT

    It is the stars,
    The stars above us, govern our conditions;
    Else one self mate and mate could not beget
    Such different issues. You spoke not with her since?

Gentleman

    No.

KENT

    Was this before the king return'd?

Gentleman

    No, since.

KENT

    Well, sir, the poor distressed Lear's i' the town;
    Who sometime, in his better tune, remembers
    What we are come about, and by no means
    Will yield to see his daughter.

Gentleman

    Why, good sir?

KENT

    A sovereign shame so elbows him: his own unkindness,
    That stripp'd her from his benediction, turn'd her
    To foreign casualties, gave her dear rights
    To his dog-hearted daughters, these things sting
    His mind so venomously, that burning shame
    Detains him from Cordelia.

Gentleman

    Alack, poor gentleman!

KENT

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

Gentleman

    'Tis so, they are afoot.

KENT

    Well, sir, I'll bring you to our master Lear,
    And leave you to attend him: some dear cause
    Will in concealment wrap me up awhile;
    When I am known aright, you shall not grieve
    Lending me this acquaintance. I pray you, go
    Along with me.

    Exeunt

SCENE IV. The same. A tent.

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

CORDELIA

    Alack, 'tis he: why, he was met even now
    As mad as the vex'd sea; singing aloud;
    Crown'd with rank fumiter and furrow-weeds,
    With bur-docks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo-flowers,
    Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow
    In our sustaining corn. A century send forth;
    Search every acre in the high-grown field,
    And bring him to our eye.

    Exit an Officer
    What can man's wisdom
    In the restoring his bereaved sense?
    He that helps him take all my outward worth.

Doctor

    There is means, madam:
    Our foster-nurse of nature is repose,
    The which he lacks; that to provoke in him,
    Are many simples operative, whose power
    Will close the eye of anguish.

CORDELIA

    All blest secrets,
    All you unpublish'd virtues of the earth,
    Spring with my tears! be aidant and remediate
    In the good man's distress! Seek, seek for him;
    Lest his ungovern'd rage dissolve the life
    That wants the means to lead it.

    Enter a Messenger

Messenger

    News, madam;
    The British powers are marching hitherward.

CORDELIA

    'Tis known before; our preparation stands
    In expectation of them. O dear father,
    It is thy business that I go about;
    Therefore great France
    My mourning and important tears hath pitied.
    No blown ambition doth our arms incite,
    But love, dear love, and our aged father's right:
    Soon may I hear and see him!

    Exeunt

SCENE V. Gloucester's castle.

    Enter REGAN and OSWALD

REGAN

    But are my brother's powers set forth?

OSWALD

    Ay, madam.

REGAN

    Himself in person there?

OSWALD

    Madam, with much ado:
    Your sister is the better soldier.

REGAN

    Lord Edmund spake not with your lord at home?

OSWALD

    No, madam.

REGAN

    What might import my sister's letter to him?

OSWALD

    I know not, lady.

REGAN

    'Faith, he is posted hence on serious matter.
    It was great ignorance, Gloucester's eyes being out,
    To let him live: where he arrives he moves
    All hearts against us: Edmund, I think, is gone,
    In pity of his misery, to dispatch
    His nighted life: moreover, to descry
    The strength o' the enemy.

OSWALD

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

REGAN

    Our troops set forth to-morrow: stay with us;
    The ways are dangerous.

OSWALD

    I may not, madam:
    My lady charged my duty in this business.

REGAN

    Why should she write to Edmund? Might not you
    Transport her purposes by word? Belike,
    Something--I know not what: I'll love thee much,
    Let me unseal the letter.

OSWALD

    Madam, I had rather--

REGAN

    I know your lady does not love her husband;
    I am sure of that: and at her late being here
    She gave strange oeillades and most speaking looks
    To noble Edmund. I know you are of her bosom.

OSWALD

    I, madam?

REGAN

    I speak in understanding; you are; I know't:
    Therefore I do advise you, take this note:
    My lord is dead; Edmund and I have talk'd;
    And more convenient is he for my hand
    Than for your lady's: you may gather more.
    If you do find him, pray you, give him this;
    And when your mistress hears thus much from you,
    I pray, desire her call her wisdom to her.
    So, fare you well.
    If you do chance to hear of that blind traitor,
    Preferment falls on him that cuts him off.

OSWALD

    Would I could meet him, madam! I should show
    What party I do follow.

REGAN

    Fare thee well.

    Exeunt

SCENE VI. Fields near Dover.

    Enter GLOUCESTER, and EDGAR dressed like a peasant

GLOUCESTER

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

EDGAR

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

GLOUCESTER

    Methinks the ground is even.

EDGAR

    Horrible steep.
    Hark, do you hear the sea?

GLOUCESTER

    No, truly.

EDGAR

    Why, then, your other senses grow imperfect
    By your eyes' anguish.

GLOUCESTER

    So may it be, indeed:
    Methinks thy voice is alter'd; and thou speak'st
    In better phrase and matter than thou didst.

EDGAR

    You're much deceived: in nothing am I changed
    But in my garments.

GLOUCESTER

    Methinks you're better spoken.

EDGAR

    Come on, sir; here's the place: stand still. How fearful
    And dizzy 'tis, to cast one's eyes so low!
    The crows and choughs that wing the midway air
    Show scarce so gross as beetles: half way down
    Hangs one that gathers samphire, dreadful trade!
    Methinks he seems no bigger than his head:
    The fishermen, that walk upon the beach,
    Appear like mice; and yond tall anchoring bark,
    Diminish'd to her cock; her cock, a buoy
    Almost too small for sight: the murmuring surge,
    That on the unnumber'd idle pebbles chafes,
    Cannot be heard so high. I'll look no more;
    Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight
    Topple down headlong.

GLOUCESTER

    Set me where you stand.

EDGAR

    Give me your hand: you are now within a foot
    Of the extreme verge: for all beneath the moon
    Would I not leap upright.

GLOUCESTER

    Let go my hand.
    Here, friend, 's another purse; in it a jewel
    Well worth a poor man's taking: fairies and gods
    Prosper it with thee! Go thou farther off;
    Bid me farewell, and let me hear thee going.

EDGAR

    Now fare you well, good sir.

GLOUCESTER

    With all my heart.

EDGAR

    Why I do trifle thus with his despair
    Is done to cure it.

GLOUCESTER

    [Kneeling] O you mighty gods!
    This world I do renounce, and, in your sights,
    Shake patiently my great affliction off:
    If I could bear it longer, and not fall
    To quarrel with your great opposeless wills,
    My snuff and loathed part of nature should
    Burn itself out. If Edgar live, O, bless him!
    Now, fellow, fare thee well.

    He falls forward

EDGAR

    Gone, sir: farewell.
    And yet I know not how conceit may rob
    The treasury of life, when life itself
    Yields to the theft: had he been where he thought,
    By this, had thought been past. Alive or dead?
    Ho, you sir! friend! Hear you, sir! speak!
    Thus might he pass indeed: yet he revives.
    What are you, sir?

GLOUCESTER

    Away, and let me die.

EDGAR

    Hadst thou been aught but gossamer, feathers, air,
    So many fathom down precipitating,
    Thou'dst shiver'd like an egg: but thou dost breathe;
    Hast heavy substance; bleed'st not; speak'st; art sound.
    Ten masts at each make not the altitude
    Which thou hast perpendicularly fell:
    Thy life's a miracle. Speak yet again.

GLOUCESTER

    But have I fall'n, or no?

EDGAR

    From the dread summit of this chalky bourn.
    Look up a-height; the shrill-gorged lark so far
    Cannot be seen or heard: do but look up.

GLOUCESTER

    Alack, I have no eyes.
    Is wretchedness deprived that benefit,
    To end itself by death? 'Twas yet some comfort,
    When misery could beguile the tyrant's rage,
    And frustrate his proud will.

EDGAR

    Give me your arm:
    Up: so. How is 't? Feel you your legs? You stand.

GLOUCESTER

    Too well, too well.

EDGAR

    This is above all strangeness.
    Upon the crown o' the cliff, what thing was that
    Which parted from you?

GLOUCESTER

    A poor unfortunate beggar.

EDGAR

    As I stood here below, methought his eyes
    Were two full moons; he had a thousand noses,
    Horns whelk'd and waved like the enridged sea:
    It was some fiend; therefore, thou happy father,
    Think that the clearest gods, who make them honours
    Of men's impossibilities, have preserved thee.

GLOUCESTER

    I do remember now: henceforth I'll bear
    Affliction till it do cry out itself
    'Enough, enough,' and die. That thing you speak of,
    I took it for a man; often 'twould say
    'The fiend, the fiend:' he led me to that place.

EDGAR

    Bear free and patient thoughts. But who comes here?

    Enter KING LEAR, fantastically dressed with wild flowers
    The safer sense will ne'er accommodate
    His master thus.

KING LEAR

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

EDGAR

    O thou side-piercing sight!

KING LEAR

    Nature's above art in that respect. There's your
    press-money. That fellow handles his bow like a
    crow-keeper: draw me a clothier's yard. Look,
    look, a mouse! Peace, peace; this piece of toasted
    cheese will do 't. There's my gauntlet; I'll prove
    it on a giant. Bring up the brown bills. O, well
    flown, bird! i' the clout, i' the clout: hewgh!
    Give the word.

EDGAR

    Sweet marjoram.

KING LEAR

    Pass.

GLOUCESTER

    I know that voice.

KING LEAR

    Ha! Goneril, with a white beard! They flattered
    me like a dog; and told me I had white hairs in my
    beard ere the black ones were there. To say 'ay'
    and 'no' to every thing that I said!--'Ay' and 'no'
    too was no good divinity. When the rain came to
    wet me once, and the wind to make me chatter; when
    the thunder would not peace at my bidding; there I
    found 'em, there I smelt 'em out. Go to, they are
    not men o' their words: they told me I was every
    thing; 'tis a lie, I am not ague-proof.

GLOUCESTER

    The trick of that voice I do well remember:
    Is 't not the king?

KING LEAR

    Ay, every inch a king:
    When I do stare, see how the subject quakes.
    I pardon that man's life. What was thy cause? Adultery?
    Thou shalt not die: die for adultery! No:
    The wren goes to 't, and the small gilded fly
    Does lecher in my sight.
    Let copulation thrive; for Gloucester's bastard son
    Was kinder to his father than my daughters
    Got 'tween the lawful sheets.
    To 't, luxury, pell-mell! for I lack soldiers.
    Behold yond simpering dame,
    Whose face between her forks presages snow;
    That minces virtue, and does shake the head
    To hear of pleasure's name;
    The fitchew, nor the soiled horse, goes to 't
    With a more riotous appetite.
    Down from the waist they are Centaurs,
    Though women all above:
    But to the girdle do the gods inherit,
    Beneath is all the fiends';
    There's hell, there's darkness, there's the
    sulphurous pit,
    Burning, scalding, stench, consumption; fie,
    fie, fie! pah, pah! Give me an ounce of civet,
    good apothecary, to sweeten my imagination:
    there's money for thee.

GLOUCESTER

    O, let me kiss that hand!

KING LEAR

    Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality.

GLOUCESTER

    O ruin'd piece of nature! This great world
    Shall so wear out to nought. Dost thou know me?

KING LEAR

    I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost thou squiny
    at me? No, do thy worst, blind Cupid! I'll not
    love. Read thou this challenge; mark but the
    penning of it.

GLOUCESTER

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

EDGAR

    I would not take this from report; it is,
    And my heart breaks at it.

KING LEAR

    Read.

GLOUCESTER

    What, with the case of eyes?

KING LEAR

    O, ho, are you there with me? No eyes in your
    head, nor no money in your purse? Your eyes are in
    a heavy case, your purse in a light; yet you see how
    this world goes.

GLOUCESTER

    I see it feelingly.

KING LEAR

    What, art mad? A man may see how this world goes
    with no eyes. Look with thine ears: see how yond
    justice rails upon yond simple thief. Hark, in
    thine ear: change places; and, handy-dandy, which
    is the justice, which is the thief? Thou hast seen
    a farmer's dog bark at a beggar?

GLOUCESTER

    Ay, sir.

KING LEAR

    And the creature run from the cur? There thou
    mightst behold the great image of authority: a
    dog's obeyed in office.
    Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand!
    Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thine own back;
    Thou hotly lust'st to use her in that kind
    For which thou whipp'st her. The usurer hangs the cozener.
    Through tatter'd clothes small vices do appear;
    Robes and furr'd gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold,
    And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks:
    Arm it in rags, a pigmy's straw does pierce it.
    None does offend, none, I say, none; I'll able 'em:
    Take that of me, my friend, who have the power
    To seal the accuser's lips. Get thee glass eyes;
    And like a scurvy politician, seem
    To see the things thou dost not. Now, now, now, now:
    Pull off my boots: harder, harder: so.

EDGAR

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

KING LEAR

    If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes.
    I know thee well enough; thy name is Gloucester:
    Thou must be patient; we came crying hither:
    Thou know'st, the first time that we smell the air,
    We wawl and cry. I will preach to thee: mark.

GLOUCESTER

    Alack, alack the day!

KING LEAR

    When we are born, we cry that we are come
    To this great stage of fools: this a good block;
    It were a delicate stratagem, to shoe
    A troop of horse with felt: I'll put 't in proof;
    And when I have stol'n upon these sons-in-law,
    Then, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!

    Enter a Gentleman, with Attendants

Gentleman

    O, here he is: lay hand upon him. Sir,
    Your most dear daughter--

KING LEAR

    No rescue? What, a prisoner? I am even
    The natural fool of fortune. Use me well;
    You shall have ransom. Let me have surgeons;
    I am cut to the brains.

Gentleman

    You shall have any thing.

KING LEAR

    No seconds? all myself?
    Why, this would make a man a man of salt,
    To use his eyes for garden water-pots,
    Ay, and laying autumn's dust.

Gentleman

    Good sir,--

KING LEAR

    I will die bravely, like a bridegroom. What!
    I will be jovial: come, come; I am a king,
    My masters, know you that.

Gentleman

    You are a royal one, and we obey you.

KING LEAR

    Then there's life in't. Nay, if you get it, you
    shall get it with running. Sa, sa, sa, sa.

    Exit running; Attendants follow

Gentleman

    A sight most pitiful in the meanest wretch,
    Past speaking of in a king! Thou hast one daughter,
    Who redeems nature from the general curse
    Which twain have brought her to.

EDGAR

    Hail, gentle sir.

Gentleman

    Sir, speed you: what's your will?

EDGAR

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

Gentleman

    Most sure and vulgar: every one hears that,
    Which can distinguish sound.

EDGAR

    But, by your favour,
    How near's the other army?

Gentleman

    Near and on speedy foot; the main descry
    Stands on the hourly thought.

EDGAR

    I thank you, sir: that's all.

Gentleman

    Though that the queen on special cause is here,
    Her army is moved on.

EDGAR

    I thank you, sir.

    Exit Gentleman

GLOUCESTER

    You ever-gentle gods, take my breath from me:
    Let not my worser spirit tempt me again
    To die before you please!

EDGAR

    Well pray you, father.

GLOUCESTER

    Now, good sir, what are you?

EDGAR

    A most poor man, made tame to fortune's blows;
    Who, by the art of known and feeling sorrows,
    Am pregnant to good pity. Give me your hand,
    I'll lead you to some biding.

GLOUCESTER

    Hearty thanks:
    The bounty and the benison of heaven
    To boot, and boot!

    Enter OSWALD

OSWALD

    A proclaim'd prize! Most happy!
    That eyeless head of thine was first framed flesh
    To raise my fortunes. Thou old unhappy traitor,
    Briefly thyself remember: the sword is out
    That must destroy thee.

GLOUCESTER

    Now let thy friendly hand
    Put strength enough to't.

    EDGAR interposes

OSWALD

    Wherefore, bold peasant,
    Darest thou support a publish'd traitor? Hence;
    Lest that the infection of his fortune take
    Like hold on thee. Let go his arm.

EDGAR

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

OSWALD

    Let go, slave, or thou diest!

EDGAR

    Good gentleman, go your gait, and let poor volk
    pass. An chud ha' bin zwaggered out of my life,
    'twould not ha' bin zo long as 'tis by a vortnight.
    Nay, come not near th' old man; keep out, che vor
    ye, or ise try whether your costard or my ballow be
    the harder: ch'ill be plain with you.

OSWALD

    Out, dunghill!

EDGAR

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

    They fight, and EDGAR knocks him down

OSWALD

    Slave, thou hast slain me: villain, take my purse:
    If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body;
    And give the letters which thou find'st about me
    To Edmund earl of Gloucester; seek him out
    Upon the British party: O, untimely death!

    Dies

EDGAR

    I know thee well: a serviceable villain;
    As duteous to the vices of thy mistress
    As badness would desire.

GLOUCESTER

    What, is he dead?

EDGAR

    Sit you down, father; rest you
    Let's see these pockets: the letters that he speaks of
    May be my friends. He's dead; I am only sorry
    He had no other death's-man. Let us see:
    Leave, gentle wax; and, manners, blame us not:
    To know our enemies' minds, we'ld rip their hearts;
    Their papers, is more lawful.

    Reads
    'Let our reciprocal vows be remembered. You have
    many opportunities to cut him off: if your will
    want not, time and place will be fruitfully offered.
    There is nothing done, if he return the conqueror:
    then am I the prisoner, and his bed my goal; from
    the loathed warmth whereof deliver me, and supply
    the place for your labour.
    'Your--wife, so I would say--
    'Affectionate servant,
    'GONERIL.'
    O undistinguish'd space of woman's will!
    A plot upon her virtuous husband's life;
    And the exchange my brother! Here, in the sands,
    Thee I'll rake up, the post unsanctified
    Of murderous lechers: and in the mature time
    With this ungracious paper strike the sight
    Of the death practised duke: for him 'tis well
    That of thy death and business I can tell.

GLOUCESTER

    The king is mad: how stiff is my vile sense,
    That I stand up, and have ingenious feeling
    Of my huge sorrows! Better I were distract:
    So should my thoughts be sever'd from my griefs,
    And woes by wrong imaginations lose
    The knowledge of themselves.

EDGAR

    Give me your hand:

    Drum afar off
    Far off, methinks, I hear the beaten drum:
    Come, father, I'll bestow you with a friend.

    Exeunt

SCENE VII. A tent in the French camp. LEAR on a bed asleep,

    soft music playing; Gentleman, and others attending.

    Enter CORDELIA, KENT, and Doctor

CORDELIA

    O thou good Kent, how shall I live and work,
    To match thy goodness? My life will be too short,
    And every measure fail me.

KENT

    To be acknowledged, madam, is o'erpaid.
    All my reports go with the modest truth;
    Nor more nor clipp'd, but so.

CORDELIA

    Be better suited:
    These weeds are memories of those worser hours:
    I prithee, put them off.

KENT

    Pardon me, dear madam;
    Yet to be known shortens my made intent:
    My boon I make it, that you know me not
    Till time and I think meet.

CORDELIA

    Then be't so, my good lord.

    To the Doctor
    How does the king?

Doctor

    Madam, sleeps still.

CORDELIA

    O you kind gods,
    Cure this great breach in his abused nature!
    The untuned and jarring senses, O, wind up
    Of this child-changed father!

Doctor

    So please your majesty
    That we may wake the king: he hath slept long.

CORDELIA

    Be govern'd by your knowledge, and proceed
    I' the sway of your own will. Is he array'd?

Gentleman

    Ay, madam; in the heaviness of his sleep
    We put fresh garments on him.

Doctor

    Be by, good madam, when we do awake him;
    I doubt not of his temperance.

CORDELIA

    Very well.

Doctor

    Please you, draw near. Louder the music there!

CORDELIA

    O my dear father! Restoration hang
    Thy medicine on my lips; and let this kiss
    Repair those violent harms that my two sisters
    Have in thy reverence made!

KENT

    Kind and dear princess!

CORDELIA

    Had you not been their father, these white flakes
    Had challenged pity of them. Was this a face
    To be opposed against the warring winds?
    To stand against the deep dread-bolted thunder?
    In the most terrible and nimble stroke
    Of quick, cross lightning? to watch--poor perdu!--
    With this thin helm? Mine enemy's dog,
    Though he had bit me, should have stood that night
    Against my fire; and wast thou fain, poor father,
    To hovel thee with swine, and rogues forlorn,
    In short and musty straw? Alack, alack!
    'Tis wonder that thy life and wits at once
    Had not concluded all. He wakes; speak to him.

Doctor

    Madam, do you; 'tis fittest.

CORDELIA

    How does my royal lord? How fares your majesty?

KING LEAR

    You do me wrong to take me out o' the grave:
    Thou art a soul in bliss; but I am bound
    Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears
    Do scald like moulten lead.

CORDELIA

    Sir, do you know me?

KING LEAR

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

CORDELIA

    Still, still, far wide!

Doctor

    He's scarce awake: let him alone awhile.

KING LEAR

    Where have I been? Where am I? Fair daylight?
    I am mightily abused. I should e'en die with pity,
    To see another thus. I know not what to say.
    I will not swear these are my hands: let's see;
    I feel this pin prick. Would I were assured
    Of my condition!

CORDELIA

    O, look upon me, sir,
    And hold your hands in benediction o'er me:
    No, sir, you must not kneel.

KING LEAR

    Pray, do not mock me:
    I am a very foolish fond old man,
    Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less;
    And, to deal plainly,
    I fear I am not in my perfect mind.
    Methinks I should know you, and know this man;
    Yet I am doubtful for I am mainly ignorant
    What place this is; and all the skill I have
    Remembers not these garments; nor I know not
    Where I did lodge last night. Do not laugh at me;
    For, as I am a man, I think this lady
    To be my child Cordelia.

CORDELIA

    And so I am, I am.

KING LEAR

    Be your tears wet? yes, 'faith. I pray, weep not:
    If you have poison for me, I will drink it.
    I know you do not love me; for your sisters
    Have, as I do remember, done me wrong:
    You have some cause, they have not.

CORDELIA

    No cause, no cause.

KING LEAR

    Am I in France?

KENT

    In your own kingdom, sir.

KING LEAR

    Do not abuse me.

Doctor

    Be comforted, good madam: the great rage,
    You see, is kill'd in him: and yet it is danger
    To make him even o'er the time he has lost.
    Desire him to go in; trouble him no more
    Till further settling.

CORDELIA

    Will't please your highness walk?

KING LEAR

    You must bear with me:
    Pray you now, forget and forgive: I am old and foolish.

    Exeunt all but KENT and Gentleman

Gentleman

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

KENT

    Most certain, sir.

Gentleman

    Who is conductor of his people?

KENT

    As 'tis said, the bastard son of Gloucester.

Gentleman

    They say Edgar, his banished son, is with the Earl
    of Kent in Germany.

KENT

    Report is changeable. 'Tis time to look about; the
    powers of the kingdom approach apace.

Gentleman

    The arbitrement is like to be bloody. Fare you
    well, sir.

    Exit

KENT

    My point and period will be throughly wrought,
    Or well or ill, as this day's battle's fought.

    Exit

ACT V
SCENE I. The British camp, near Dover.

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

EDMUND

    Know of the duke if his last purpose hold,
    Or whether since he is advised by aught
    To change the course: he's full of alteration
    And self-reproving: bring his constant pleasure.

    To a Gentleman, who goes out

REGAN

    Our sister's man is certainly miscarried.

EDMUND

    'Tis to be doubted, madam.

REGAN

    Now, sweet lord,
    You know the goodness I intend upon you:
    Tell me--but truly--but then speak the truth,
    Do you not love my sister?

EDMUND

    In honour'd love.

REGAN

    But have you never found my brother's way
    To the forfended place?

EDMUND

    That thought abuses you.

REGAN

    I am doubtful that you have been conjunct
    And bosom'd with her, as far as we call hers.

EDMUND

    No, by mine honour, madam.

REGAN

    I never shall endure her: dear my lord,
    Be not familiar with her.

EDMUND

    Fear me not:
    She and the duke her husband!

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

GONERIL

    [Aside] I had rather lose the battle than that sister
    Should loosen him and me.

ALBANY

    Our very loving sister, well be-met.
    Sir, this I hear; the king is come to his daughter,
    With others whom the rigor of our state
    Forced to cry out. Where I could not be honest,
    I never yet was valiant: for this business,
    It toucheth us, as France invades our land,
    Not bolds the king, with others, whom, I fear,
    Most just and heavy causes make oppose.

EDMUND

    Sir, you speak nobly.

REGAN

    Why is this reason'd?

GONERIL

    Combine together 'gainst the enemy;
    For these domestic and particular broils
    Are not the question here.

ALBANY

    Let's then determine
    With the ancient of war on our proceedings.

EDMUND

    I shall attend you presently at your tent.

REGAN

    Sister, you'll go with us?

GONERIL

    No.

REGAN

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

GONERIL

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

    As they are going out, enter EDGAR disguised

EDGAR

    If e'er your grace had speech with man so poor,
    Hear me one word.

ALBANY

    I'll overtake you. Speak.

    Exeunt all but ALBANY and EDGAR

EDGAR

    Before you fight the battle, ope this letter.
    If you have victory, let the trumpet sound
    For him that brought it: wretched though I seem,
    I can produce a champion that will prove
    What is avouched there. If you miscarry,
    Your business of the world hath so an end,
    And machination ceases. Fortune love you.

ALBANY

    Stay till I have read the letter.

EDGAR

    I was forbid it.
    When time shall serve, let but the herald cry,
    And I'll appear again.

ALBANY

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

    Exit EDGAR

    Re-enter EDMUND

EDMUND

    The enemy's in view; draw up your powers.
    Here is the guess of their true strength and forces
    By diligent discovery; but your haste
    Is now urged on you.

ALBANY

    We will greet the time.

    Exit

EDMUND

    To both these sisters have I sworn my love;
    Each jealous of the other, as the stung
    Are of the adder. Which of them shall I take?
    Both? one? or neither? Neither can be enjoy'd,
    If both remain alive: to take the widow
    Exasperates, makes mad her sister Goneril;
    And hardly shall I carry out my side,
    Her husband being alive. Now then we'll use
    His countenance for the battle; which being done,
    Let her who would be rid of him devise
    His speedy taking off. As for the mercy
    Which he intends to Lear and to Cordelia,
    The battle done, and they within our power,
    Shall never see his pardon; for my state
    Stands on me to defend, not to debate.

    Exit

SCENE II. A field between the two camps.

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

    Enter EDGAR and GLOUCESTER

EDGAR

    Here, father, take the shadow of this tree
    For your good host; pray that the right may thrive:
    If ever I return to you again,
    I'll bring you comfort.

GLOUCESTER

    Grace go with you, sir!

    Exit EDGAR

    Alarum and retreat within. Re-enter EDGAR

EDGAR

    Away, old man; give me thy hand; away!
    King Lear hath lost, he and his daughter ta'en:
    Give me thy hand; come on.

GLOUCESTER

    No farther, sir; a man may rot even here.

EDGAR

    What, in ill thoughts again? Men must endure
    Their going hence, even as their coming hither;
    Ripeness is all: come on.

GLOUCESTER

    And that's true too.

    Exeunt

SCENE III. The British camp near Dover.

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

EDMUND

    Some officers take them away: good guard,
    Until their greater pleasures first be known
    That are to censure them.

CORDELIA

    We are not the first
    Who, with best meaning, have incurr'd the worst.
    For thee, oppressed king, am I cast down;
    Myself could else out-frown false fortune's frown.
    Shall we not see these daughters and these sisters?

KING LEAR

    No, no, no, no! Come, let's away to prison:
    We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage:
    When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down,
    And ask of thee forgiveness: so we'll live,
    And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
    At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
    Talk of court news; and we'll talk with them too,
    Who loses and who wins; who's in, who's out;
    And take upon's the mystery of things,
    As if we were God's spies: and we'll wear out,
    In a wall'd prison, packs and sects of great ones,
    That ebb and flow by the moon.

EDMUND

    Take them away.

KING LEAR

    Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,
    The gods themselves throw incense. Have I caught thee?
    He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven,
    And fire us hence like foxes. Wipe thine eyes;
    The good-years shall devour them, flesh and fell,
    Ere they shall make us weep: we'll see 'em starve
    first. Come.

    Exeunt KING LEAR and CORDELIA, guarded

EDMUND

    Come hither, captain; hark.
    Take thou this note;

    Giving a paper
    go follow them to prison:
    One step I have advanced thee; if thou dost
    As this instructs thee, thou dost make thy way
    To noble fortunes: know thou this, that men
    Are as the time is: to be tender-minded
    Does not become a sword: thy great employment
    Will not bear question; either say thou'lt do 't,
    Or thrive by other means.

Captain

    I'll do 't, my lord.

EDMUND

    About it; and write happy when thou hast done.
    Mark, I say, instantly; and carry it so
    As I have set it down.

Captain

    I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried oats;
    If it be man's work, I'll do 't.

    Exit

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

ALBANY

    Sir, you have shown to-day your valiant strain,
    And fortune led you well: you have the captives
    That were the opposites of this day's strife:
    We do require them of you, so to use them
    As we shall find their merits and our safety
    May equally determine.

EDMUND

    Sir, I thought it fit
    To send the old and miserable king
    To some retention and appointed guard;
    Whose age has charms in it, whose title more,
    To pluck the common bosom on his side,
    An turn our impress'd lances in our eyes
    Which do command them. With him I sent the queen;
    My reason all the same; and they are ready
    To-morrow, or at further space, to appear
    Where you shall hold your session. At this time
    We sweat and bleed: the friend hath lost his friend;
    And the best quarrels, in the heat, are cursed
    By those that feel their sharpness:
    The question of Cordelia and her father
    Requires a fitter place.

ALBANY

    Sir, by your patience,
    I hold you but a subject of this war,
    Not as a brother.

REGAN

    That's as we list to grace him.
    Methinks our pleasure might have been demanded,
    Ere you had spoke so far. He led our powers;
    Bore the commission of my place and person;
    The which immediacy may well stand up,
    And call itself your brother.

GONERIL

    Not so hot:
    In his own grace he doth exalt himself,
    More than in your addition.

REGAN

    In my rights,
    By me invested, he compeers the best.

GONERIL

    That were the most, if he should husband you.

REGAN

    Jesters do oft prove prophets.

GONERIL

    Holla, holla!
    That eye that told you so look'd but a-squint.

REGAN

    Lady, I am not well; else I should answer
    From a full-flowing stomach. General,
    Take thou my soldiers, prisoners, patrimony;
    Dispose of them, of me; the walls are thine:
    Witness the world, that I create thee here
    My lord and master.

GONERIL

    Mean you to enjoy him?

ALBANY

    The let-alone lies not in your good will.

EDMUND

    Nor in thine, lord.

ALBANY

    Half-blooded fellow, yes.

REGAN

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

ALBANY

    Stay yet; hear reason. Edmund, I arrest thee
    On capital treason; and, in thine attaint,
    This gilded serpent

    Pointing to Goneril
    For your claim, fair sister,
    I bar it in the interest of my wife:
    'Tis she is sub-contracted to this lord,
    And I, her husband, contradict your bans.
    If you will marry, make your loves to me,
    My lady is bespoke.

GONERIL

    An interlude!

ALBANY

    Thou art arm'd, Gloucester: let the trumpet sound:
    If none appear to prove upon thy head
    Thy heinous, manifest, and many treasons,
    There is my pledge;

    Throwing down a glove
    I'll prove it on thy heart,
    Ere I taste bread, thou art in nothing less
    Than I have here proclaim'd thee.

REGAN

    Sick, O, sick!

GONERIL

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

EDMUND

    There's my exchange:

    Throwing down a glove
    what in the world he is
    That names me traitor, villain-like he lies:
    Call by thy trumpet: he that dares approach,
    On him, on you, who not? I will maintain
    My truth and honour firmly.

ALBANY

    A herald, ho!

EDMUND

    A herald, ho, a herald!

ALBANY

    Trust to thy single virtue; for thy soldiers,
    All levied in my name, have in my name
    Took their discharge.

REGAN

    My sickness grows upon me.

ALBANY

    She is not well; convey her to my tent.

    Exit Regan, led

    Enter a Herald
    Come hither, herald,--Let the trumpet sound,
    And read out this.

Captain

    Sound, trumpet!

    A trumpet sounds

Herald

    [Reads] 'If any man of quality or degree within
    the lists of the army will maintain upon Edmund,
    supposed Earl of Gloucester, that he is a manifold
    traitor, let him appear by the third sound of the
    trumpet: he is bold in his defence.'

EDMUND

    Sound!

    First trumpet

Herald

    Again!

    Second trumpet

Herald

    Again!

    Third trumpet

    Trumpet answers within

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

ALBANY

    Ask him his purposes, why he appears
    Upon this call o' the trumpet.

Herald

    What are you?
    Your name, your quality? and why you answer
    This present summons?

EDGAR

    Know, my name is lost;
    By treason's tooth bare-gnawn and canker-bit:
    Yet am I noble as the adversary
    I come to cope.

ALBANY

    Which is that adversary?

EDGAR

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

EDMUND

    Himself: what say'st thou to him?

EDGAR

    Draw thy sword,
    That, if my speech offend a noble heart,
    Thy arm may do thee justice: here is mine.
    Behold, it is the privilege of mine honours,
    My oath, and my profession: I protest,
    Maugre thy strength, youth, place, and eminence,
    Despite thy victor sword and fire-new fortune,
    Thy valour and thy heart, thou art a traitor;
    False to thy gods, thy brother, and thy father;
    Conspirant 'gainst this high-illustrious prince;
    And, from the extremest upward of thy head
    To the descent and dust below thy foot,
    A most toad-spotted traitor. Say thou 'No,'
    This sword, this arm, and my best spirits, are bent
    To prove upon thy heart, whereto I speak,
    Thou liest.

EDMUND

    In wisdom I should ask thy name;
    But, since thy outside looks so fair and warlike,
    And that thy tongue some say of breeding breathes,
    What safe and nicely I might well delay
    By rule of knighthood, I disdain and spurn:
    Back do I toss these treasons to thy head;
    With the hell-hated lie o'erwhelm thy heart;
    Which, for they yet glance by and scarcely bruise,
    This sword of mine shall give them instant way,
    Where they shall rest for ever. Trumpets, speak!

    Alarums. They fight. EDMUND falls

ALBANY

    Save him, save him!

GONERIL

    This is practise, Gloucester:
    By the law of arms thou wast not bound to answer
    An unknown opposite; thou art not vanquish'd,
    But cozen'd and beguiled.

ALBANY

    Shut your mouth, dame,
    Or with this paper shall I stop it: Hold, sir:
    Thou worse than any name, read thine own evil:
    No tearing, lady: I perceive you know it.

    Gives the letter to EDMUND

GONERIL

    Say, if I do, the laws are mine, not thine:
    Who can arraign me for't.

ALBANY

    Most monstrous! oh!
    Know'st thou this paper?

GONERIL

    Ask me not what I know.

    Exit

ALBANY

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

EDMUND

    What you have charged me with, that have I done;
    And more, much more; the time will bring it out:
    'Tis past, and so am I. But what art thou
    That hast this fortune on me? If thou'rt noble,
    I do forgive thee.

EDGAR

    Let's exchange charity.
    I am no less in blood than thou art, Edmund;
    If more, the more thou hast wrong'd me.
    My name is Edgar, and thy father's son.
    The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices
    Make instruments to plague us:
    The dark and vicious place where thee he got
    Cost him his eyes.

EDMUND

    Thou hast spoken right, 'tis true;
    The wheel is come full circle: I am here.

ALBANY

    Methought thy very gait did prophesy
    A royal nobleness: I must embrace thee:
    Let sorrow split my heart, if ever I
    Did hate thee or thy father!

EDGAR

    Worthy prince, I know't.

ALBANY

    Where have you hid yourself?
    How have you known the miseries of your father?

EDGAR

    By nursing them, my lord. List a brief tale;
    And when 'tis told, O, that my heart would burst!
    The bloody proclamation to escape,
    That follow'd me so near,--O, our lives' sweetness!
    That we the pain of death would hourly die
    Rather than die at once!--taught me to shift
    Into a madman's rags; to assume a semblance
    That very dogs disdain'd: and in this habit
    Met I my father with his bleeding rings,
    Their precious stones new lost: became his guide,
    Led him, begg'd for him, saved him from despair;
    Never,--O fault!--reveal'd myself unto him,
    Until some half-hour past, when I was arm'd:
    Not sure, though hoping, of this good success,
    I ask'd his blessing, and from first to last
    Told him my pilgrimage: but his flaw'd heart,
    Alack, too weak the conflict to support!
    'Twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief,
    Burst smilingly.

EDMUND

    This speech of yours hath moved me,
    And shall perchance do good: but speak you on;
    You look as you had something more to say.

ALBANY

    If there be more, more woeful, hold it in;
    For I am almost ready to dissolve,
    Hearing of this.

EDGAR

    This would have seem'd a period
    To such as love not sorrow; but another,
    To amplify too much, would make much more,
    And top extremity.
    Whilst I was big in clamour came there in a man,
    Who, having seen me in my worst estate,
    Shunn'd my abhorr'd society; but then, finding
    Who 'twas that so endured, with his strong arms
    He fastened on my neck, and bellow'd out
    As he'ld burst heaven; threw him on my father;
    Told the most piteous tale of Lear and him
    That ever ear received: which in recounting
    His grief grew puissant and the strings of life
    Began to crack: twice then the trumpets sounded,
    And there I left him tranced.

ALBANY

    But who was this?

EDGAR

    Kent, sir, the banish'd Kent; who in disguise
    Follow'd his enemy king, and did him service
    Improper for a slave.

    Enter a Gentleman, with a bloody knife

Gentleman

    Help, help, O, help!

EDGAR

    What kind of help?

ALBANY

    Speak, man.

EDGAR

    What means that bloody knife?

Gentleman

    'Tis hot, it smokes;
    It came even from the heart of--O, she's dead!

ALBANY

    Who dead? speak, man.

Gentleman

    Your lady, sir, your lady: and her sister
    By her is poisoned; she hath confess'd it.

EDMUND

    I was contracted to them both: all three
    Now marry in an instant.

EDGAR

    Here comes Kent.

ALBANY

    Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead:
    This judgment of the heavens, that makes us tremble,
    Touches us not with pity.

    Exit Gentleman

    Enter KENT
    O, is this he?
    The time will not allow the compliment
    Which very manners urges.

KENT

    I am come
    To bid my king and master aye good night:
    Is he not here?

ALBANY

    Great thing of us forgot!
    Speak, Edmund, where's the king? and where's Cordelia?
    See'st thou this object, Kent?

    The bodies of GONERIL and REGAN are brought in

KENT

    Alack, why thus?

EDMUND

    Yet Edmund was beloved:
    The one the other poison'd for my sake,
    And after slew herself.

ALBANY

    Even so. Cover their faces.

EDMUND

    I pant for life: some good I mean to do,
    Despite of mine own nature. Quickly send,
    Be brief in it, to the castle; for my writ
    Is on the life of Lear and on Cordelia:
    Nay, send in time.

ALBANY

    Run, run, O, run!

EDGAR

    To who, my lord? Who hath the office? send
    Thy token of reprieve.

EDMUND

    Well thought on: take my sword,
    Give it the captain.

ALBANY

    Haste thee, for thy life.

    Exit EDGAR

EDMUND

    He hath commission from thy wife and me
    To hang Cordelia in the prison, and
    To lay the blame upon her own despair,
    That she fordid herself.

ALBANY

    The gods defend her! Bear him hence awhile.

    EDMUND is borne off

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

KING LEAR

    Howl, howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stones:
    Had I your tongues and eyes, I'ld use them so
    That heaven's vault should crack. She's gone for ever!
    I know when one is dead, and when one lives;
    She's dead as earth. Lend me a looking-glass;
    If that her breath will mist or stain the stone,
    Why, then she lives.

KENT

    Is this the promised end

EDGAR

    Or image of that horror?

ALBANY

    Fall, and cease!

KING LEAR

    This feather stirs; she lives! if it be so,
    It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows
    That ever I have felt.

KENT

    [Kneeling] O my good master!

KING LEAR

    Prithee, away.

EDGAR

    'Tis noble Kent, your friend.

KING LEAR

    A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all!
    I might have saved her; now she's gone for ever!
    Cordelia, Cordelia! stay a little. Ha!
    What is't thou say'st? Her voice was ever soft,
    Gentle, and low, an excellent thing in woman.
    I kill'd the slave that was a-hanging thee.

Captain

    'Tis true, my lords, he did.

KING LEAR

    Did I not, fellow?
    I have seen the day, with my good biting falchion
    I would have made them skip: I am old now,
    And these same crosses spoil me. Who are you?
    Mine eyes are not o' the best: I'll tell you straight.

KENT

    If fortune brag of two she loved and hated,
    One of them we behold.

KING LEAR

    This is a dull sight. Are you not Kent?

KENT

    The same,
    Your servant Kent: Where is your servant Caius?

KING LEAR

    He's a good fellow, I can tell you that;
    He'll strike, and quickly too: he's dead and rotten.

KENT

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

KING LEAR

    I'll see that straight.

KENT

    That, from your first of difference and decay,
    Have follow'd your sad steps.

KING LEAR

    You are welcome hither.

KENT

    Nor no man else: all's cheerless, dark, and deadly.
    Your eldest daughters have fordone them selves,
    And desperately are dead.

KING LEAR

    Ay, so I think.

ALBANY

    He knows not what he says: and vain it is
    That we present us to him.

EDGAR

    Very bootless.

    Enter a Captain

Captain

    Edmund is dead, my lord.

ALBANY

    That's but a trifle here.
    You lords and noble friends, know our intent.
    What comfort to this great decay may come
    Shall be applied: for us we will resign,
    During the life of this old majesty,
    To him our absolute power:

    To EDGAR and KENT
    you, to your rights:
    With boot, and such addition as your honours
    Have more than merited. All friends shall taste
    The wages of their virtue, and all foes
    The cup of their deservings. O, see, see!

KING LEAR

    And my poor fool is hang'd! No, no, no life!
    Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life,
    And thou no breath at all? Thou'lt come no more,
    Never, never, never, never, never!
    Pray you, undo this button: thank you, sir.
    Do you see this? Look on her, look, her lips,
    Look there, look there!

    Dies

EDGAR

    He faints! My lord, my lord!

KENT

    Break, heart; I prithee, break!

EDGAR

    Look up, my lord.

KENT

    Vex not his ghost: O, let him pass! he hates him much
    That would upon the rack of this tough world
    Stretch him out longer.

EDGAR

    He is gone, indeed.

KENT

    The wonder is, he hath endured so long:
    He but usurp'd his life.

ALBANY

    Bear them from hence. Our present business
    Is general woe.

    To KENT and EDGAR
    Friends of my soul, you twain
    Rule in this realm, and the gored state sustain.

KENT

    I have a journey, sir, shortly to go;
    My master calls me, I must not say no.

ALBANY

    The weight of this sad time we must obey;
    Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
    The oldest hath borne most: we that are young
    Shall never see so much, nor live so long.

    Exeunt, with a dead march




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