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A hall in the same.
Enter KENT, disguised.

If but as well I other accents borrow,

That can my speech defuse, my good intent

May carry through itself to that full issue

For which I 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 LEAR, Knights, and Attendants.

Let me not stay a jot for dinner; go
get it ready. [Exit an Attendant.] How now! (10)
what art thou?

A man, sir.

What dost thou profess? what
wouldst thou with us?

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

What art thou?

A very honest-hearted fellow, and as (21)
poor as the king.

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


Who wouldst thou serve?


Dost thou know me, fellow?

No, sir; but you have that in your (30)
countenance which I would fain call master. (31)

What's that?


What services canst thou do?

I can keep honest counsel, ride, run,
mar a curious tale in telling it, and deliver a
plain message bluntly: that which ordinary
men are fit for, I am qualified in; and the best
of me is diligence. (39)

How old art thou?

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.

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?

So please you,-- [Exit.

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?

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

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

Sir, he answered me in the roundest
manner, he would not. (60)

He would not!

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

Ha! sayest thou so?

I beseech you, pardon me, my
lord, if I be mistaken; for my duty cannot be (71)
silent when I think your highness wronged.

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

Since my young lady's going into (80)
France, sir, the fool hath much pined away.

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

My lady's father.

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

I am none of these, my lord; I beseech (91)
your pardon.

Do you bandy looks with me, you
rascal? [Striking him.

I'll not be struck, my lord.

Nor tripped neither, you base football
player. [Tripping up his heels.

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

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

Now, my friendly knave, I thank
thee: there's earnest of thy service. [Giving Kent money. Enter Fool.

Let me hire him too: here's my coxcomb. [Offering Kent his cap.

How now, my pretty knave! how
dost thou?

Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb.

Why, fool?

Why, for taking one's part that's out
of favour: nay, an thou canst not smile as the
wind sits, thou'lt catch cold shortly: there,
take my coxcomb: why, this fellow 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! (119)

Why, my boy?

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

Take heed, sirrah; the whip.

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

A pestilent gall to me!

Sirrah, I'll teach thee a speech.

Do. (130)

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 (140)

Than two tens to a score.

This is nothing, fool.

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

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

[To Kent]

Prithee, tell him, so much
the rent of his land comes to: he will not believe
a fool. (150)

A bitter fool!

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

No, lad; teach me.

That lord that counsell'd thee

To give away thy land,

Come place him here by me,

Do thou for him stand:

The sweet and bitter fool

Will presently appear; (160)

The one in motley here,

The other found out there.

Dost thou call me fool, boy?

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

This is not altogether fool, my lord.

No, faith, lords and great men will
not let me; if I had a monopoly out, they
would have part on't: and ladies too, they
will not let me have all fool to myself; they'll
be snatching. Give me an egg, nuncle, and I'll (171)
give thee two crowns.

What two crowns shall they be?

Why, after I have cut the egg i' the
middle, and eat up the meat, the two crowns
of the egg. When thou clovest thy crown i'
the middle, and 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 (180)
finds it so.

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.

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

I have used it, nuncle, ever since
thou madest thy daughters thy mother: for
when thou gavest them the rod, and put'st (190)
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.

An you lie, sirrah, we'll have you

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.

How now, daughter! what makes
that frontlet on? Methinks you are too much (209)
of late i' the frown.

Thou wast a pretty fellow when thou
hadst no need to care for her frowning; now
thou art an O without a figure: I am better
than thou art now; I am a fool, thou art
nothing. [To Gon.] 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 Lear] That's a shealed peascod. (220)

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 youself too late have spoke and done,

That you protect this course, and put it on

By your allowance; which if you should, the fault

Would not 'scape censure, nor the redresses sleep,

Which, in the tender of a wholesome weal,

Might in their working do you that offence,

Which else were shame, that then necessity

Will call discreet proceeding.

For, you know, nuncle,

The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long,

That it had it head bit off by it young.

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

Are you our daughter?

Come, sir. (240)

I would you would make use of that good wisdom,

Whereof I know you are fraught; and put away

These dispositions, that of late transform you

From what you rightly are.

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

Doth any here know me? This is not Lear:

Doth Lear walk thus? speak thus? Where are his eyes?

Either his notion weakens, his discernings

Are lethargied--Ha! waking? 'tis not so. (250)

Who is it that can tell me who I am?

Lear's shadow.

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

Which they will make an obedient

Your name, fair gentlewoman?

This admiration, sir, is much o' the savor

Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you (260)

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, (270)

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.

Darkness and devils!

Saddle my horses; call my train together.

Degenerate bastard! I'll not trouble thee:

Yet have I left a daughter.

You strike my people; and your disorder'd rabble

Make servants of their betters. Enter ALBANY.

Woe, that too late repents,--[To
O, sir, are you come?

Is it your will? Speak, sir. Prepare my horses. (281)

Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend,

More hideous when thou show'st thee in a child

Than the sea-monster!

Pray, sir, be patient.

[To Gon.]

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! (290)

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

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

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

Beat at this gate, that let thy folly in, [Striking his head.

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

My lord, I am guiltless, as I am ignorant

Of what hath moved you.

It may be so, my lord.

Hear, nature, hear; dear goddess, hear!

Suspend thy purpose, if thou didst intend

To make this creature fruitful! (300)

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 (310)

How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is

To have a thankless child! Away, away! [Exit.

Now, gods that we adore, whereof comes this?

Never afflict yourself to know the cause;

But let this disposition have that scope

That dotage gives it. Re-enter LEAR.

What, fifty of my followers at a clap!

Within a fortnight!

What's the matter, sir?

I'll tell thee: [To Gon.]
Life and death! I am ashamed

That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus; (320)

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, is it come to this?

Let it 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 (329)

She'll flay thy wolvish visage. Thou shalt find (331)

That I'll resume the shape which thou dost think

I have cast off for ever: thou shalt, I warrant thee. [Exeunt Lear, Kent, and Attendants.

Do you mark that, my lord?

I cannot be so partial, Goneril.

To the great love I bear you,--

Pray you, content. What, Oswald, ho! [To the Fool]

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

Nuncle Lear, nuncle Lear, tarry and (340)
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.

This man hath had good counsel:-- a hundred knights!

'Tis politic and safe to let him keep

At point a hundred knights: yes, that, on every dream,

Each buzz, each fancy, each complaint, dislike,

He may enguard his dotage with their powers,

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

Well, you may fear too far.

Safer than trust too far:

Let me still take away the harms I fear,

Not fear still to be taken: I know his heart.

What he hath utter'd I have writ my sister:

If she sustain him and his hundred knights,

When I have show'd the unfitness,-- Re-enter OSWALD.

How now, Oswald!

What, have you writ that letter to my sister?

Yes, madam.

Take you some company, and away to horse: (360)

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.

How far your eyes may pierce I cannot tell:

Striving to better, oft we mar what's well. (370)

Nay, then--

Well, well; the event. [Exeunt.

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