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2.59: King Lear

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    Act I

    Scene I. A Room of State in King Lear’s Palace



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


    It did always seem so to us; but now, in the division of the

    kingdom, it appears not which of the Dukes he values most, for

    equalities are so weighed that curiosity in neither can make

    choice of either’s moiety.


    Is not this your son, my lord?


    His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge: I have so often

    blush’d to acknowledge him that now I am braz’d to’t.


    I cannot conceive you.


    Sir, this young fellow’s mother could: whereupon she grew

    round-wombed, and had indeed, sir, a son for her cradle ere she

    had a husband for her bed. Do you smell a fault?


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


    But I have, sir, a son by order of law, some year elder than

    this, who yet is no dearer in my account: though this knave came

    something saucily into the world before he was sent for, yet was

    his mother fair; there was good sport at his making, and the

    whoreson must be acknowledged.—Do you know this noble gentleman,



    No, my lord.


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


    My services to your lordship.


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


    Sir, I shall study deserving.


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

    is coming.

    [Sennet within.]



    Attend the lords of France and Burgundy,



    I shall, my liege.

    [Exeunt GLOUCESTER and EDMUND.]


    Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.—

    Give me the map there.—Know that we have divided

    In three our kingdom: and ’tis our fast intent

    To shake all cares and business from our age;

    Conferring them on younger strengths, while we

    Unburden’d crawl toward death.—Our son of Cornwall,

    And you, our no less loving son of Albany,

    We have this hour a constant will to publish

    Our daughters’ several dowers, that future strife

    May be prevented now. The princes, France and Burgundy,

    Great rivals in our youngest daughter’s love,

    Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,

    And here are to be answer’d.—Tell me, my daughters,—

    Since now we will divest us both of rule,

    Interest of territory, cares of state,—

    Which of you shall we say doth love us most?

    That we our largest bounty may extend

    Where nature doth with merit challenge.—Goneril,

    Our eldest-born, speak first.


    Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;

    Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty;

    Beyond what can be valu’d, rich or rare;

    No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour;

    As much as child e’er lov’d, or father found;

    A love that makes breath poor and speech unable;

    Beyond all manner of so much I love you.


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


    Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,

    With shadowy forests and with champains rich’d,

    With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads,

    We make thee lady: to thine and Albany’s issue

    Be this perpetual.—What says our second daughter,

    Our dearest Regan, wife to Cornwall? Speak.


    Sir, I am made of the selfsame metal that my sister is,

    And prize me at her worth. In my true heart

    I find she names my very deed of love;

    Only she comes too short,—that I profess

    Myself an enemy to all other joys W

    hich the most precious square of sense possesses,

    And find I am alone felicitate

    In your dear highness’ love.


    [Aside.] Then poor Cordelia!

    And yet not so; since, I am sure, my love’s

    More richer than my tongue.


    To thee and thine hereditary ever

    Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom;

    No less in space, validity, and pleasure

    Than that conferr’d on Goneril.—Now, our joy,

    Although the last, not least; to whose young love

    The vines of France and milk of Burgundy

    Strive to be interess’d; what can you say to draw

    A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak.


    Nothing, my lord.






    Nothing can come of nothing: speak again.


    Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave

    My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty

    According to my bond; no more nor less.


    How, how, Cordelia! mend your speech a little,

    Lest you may mar your fortunes.


    Good my lord,

    You have begot me, bred me, lov’d me: I

    Return those duties back as are right fit,

    Obey you, love you, and most honour you.

    Why have my sisters husbands if they say

    They love you all? Haply, when I shall wed,

    That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry

    Half my love with him, half my care and duty:

    Sure I shall never marry like my sisters,

    To love my father all.


    But goes thy heart with this?


    Ay, good my lord.


    So young, and so untender?


    So young, my lord, and true.


    Let it be so,—thy truth then be thy dower:

    For, by the sacred radiance of the sun,

    The mysteries of Hecate, and the night;

    By all the operation of the orbs,

    From whom we do exist and cease to be;

    Here I disclaim all my paternal care,

    Propinquity, and property of blood,

    And as a stranger to my heart and me

    Hold thee, from this for ever.

    The barbarous Scythian,

    Or he that makes his generation messes

    To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom

    Be as well neighbour’d, pitied, and reliev’d,

    As thou my sometime daughter.


    Good my liege,—


    Peace, Kent!

    Come not between the dragon and his wrath.

    I lov’d her most, and thought to set my rest

    On her kind nursery.—Hence, and avoid my sight!—[To Cordelia.]

    So be my grave my peace, as here I give

    Her father’s heart from her!—Call France;—who stirs?

    Call Burgundy!—Cornwall and Albany,

    With my two daughters’ dowers digest this third:

    Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.

    I do invest you jointly in my power,

    Pre-eminence, and all the large effects

    That troop with majesty.—Ourself, by monthly course,

    With reservation of an hundred knights,

    By you to be sustain’d, shall our abode

    Make with you by due turns. Only we still retain

    The name, and all the additions to a king;

    The sway,

    Revenue, execution of the rest,

    Beloved sons, be yours; which to confirm,

    This coronet part betwixt you.

    [Giving the crown.]


    Royal Lear,

    Whom I have ever honour’d as my king,

    Lov’d as my father, as my master follow’d,

    As my great patron thought on in my prayers.—


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


    Let it fall rather, though the fork invade

    The region of my heart: be Kent unmannerly

    When Lear is mad. What wouldst thou do, old man?

    Think’st thou that duty shall have dread to speak

    When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour’s bound

    When majesty falls to folly. Reverse thy state;

    And in thy best consideration check

    This hideous rashness: answer my life my judgment,

    Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least;

    Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sound

    Reverbs no hollowness.


    Kent, on thy life, no more.


    My life I never held but as a pawn

    To wage against thine enemies; nor fear to lose it,

    Thy safety being the motive.


    Out of my sight!


    See better, Lear; and let me still remain

    The true blank of thine eye.


    Now, by Apollo,— KENT. Now by Apollo, king,

    Thou swear’st thy gods in vain.


    O vassal! miscreant!

    [Laying his hand on his sword.]

    ALB. and CORN.

    Dear sir, forbear!



    Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow

    Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy gift,

    Or, whilst I can vent clamour from my throat,

    I’ll tell thee thou dost evil.


    Hear me, recreant!

    On thine allegiance, hear me!—

    Since thou hast sought to make us break our vow,—

    Which we durst never yet,—and with strain’d pride

    To come between our sentence and our power,—

    Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,—

    Our potency made good, take thy reward.

    Five days we do allot thee for provision

    To shield thee from diseases of the world;

    And on the sixth to turn thy hated back

    Upon our kingdom: if, on the tenth day following,

    Thy banish’d trunk be found in our dominions,

    The moment is thy death. Away! by Jupiter,

    This shall not be revok’d.


    Fare thee well, king: sith thus thou wilt appear,

    Freedom lives hence, and banishment is here.—

    [To CORDELIA.] The gods to their dear shelter take thee, maid,

    That justly think’st and hast most rightly said!

    [To REGAN and GONERIL.]

    And your large speeches may your deeds approve,

    That good effects may spring from words of love.—

    Thus Kent, O princes, bids you all adieu;

    He’ll shape his old course in a country new.


    [Flourish. Re-enter GLOUCESTER, with FRANCE, BURGUNDY, and ATTENDANTS.]


    Here’s France and Burgundy, my noble lord.


    My Lord of Burgundy,

    We first address toward you, who with this king

    Hath rivall’d for our daughter: what in the least

    Will you require in present dower with her,

    Or cease your quest of love?


    Most royal majesty,

    I crave no more than hath your highness offer’d,

    Nor will you tender less.


    Right noble Burgundy,

    When she was dear to us, we did hold her so;

    But now her price is fall’n. Sir, there she stands:

    If aught within that little seeming substance,

    Or all of it, with our displeasure piec’d,

    And nothing more, may fitly like your grace,

    She’s there, and she is yours.


    I know no answer.


    Will you, with those infirmities she owes,

    Unfriended, new-adopted to our hate,

    Dower’d with our curse, and stranger’d with our oath,

    Take her, or leave her?


    Pardon me, royal sir;

    Election makes not up on such conditions.


    Then leave her, sir; for, by the power that made me,

    I tell you all her wealth.—[To France] For you, great king,

    I would not from your love make such a stray

    To match you where I hate; therefore beseech you

    To avert your liking a more worthier way

    Than on a wretch whom nature is asham’d

    Almost to acknowledge hers.


    This is most strange,

    That she, who even but now was your best object,

    The argument of your praise, balm of your age,

    Most best, most dearest, should in this trice of time

    Commit a thing so monstrous, to dismantle

    So many folds of favour. Sure her offence

    Must be of such unnatural degree

    That monsters it, or your fore-vouch’d affection

    Fall’n into taint; which to believe of her

    Must be a faith that reason without miracle

    Should never plant in me.


    I yet beseech your majesty,—

    If for I want that glib and oily art

    To speak and purpose not; since what I well intend,

    I’ll do’t before I speak,—that you make known

    It is no vicious blot, murder, or foulness,

    No unchaste action or dishonour’d step,

    That hath depriv’d me of your grace and favour;

    But even for want of that for which I am richer,—

    A still-soliciting eye, and such a tongue

    As I am glad I have not, though not to have it

    Hath lost me in your liking.


    Better thou

    Hadst not been born than not to have pleas’d me better.


    Is it but this,—a tardiness in nature

    Which often leaves the history unspoke

    That it intends to do?—My lord of Burgundy,

    What say you to the lady? Love’s not love

    When it is mingled with regards that stands

    Aloof from the entire point. Will you have her?

    She is herself a dowry.


    Royal king,

    Give but that portion which yourself propos’d,

    And here I take Cordelia by the hand,

    Duchess of Burgundy.


    Nothing: I have sworn; I am firm.


    I am sorry, then, you have so lost a father

    That you must lose a husband.


    Peace be with Burgundy!

    Since that respects of fortune are his love,

    I shall not be his wife.


    Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor;

    Most choice, forsaken; and most lov’d, despis’d!

    Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon:

    Be it lawful, I take up what’s cast away.

    Gods, gods! ’tis strange that from their cold’st neglect

    My love should kindle to inflam’d respect.—

    Thy dowerless daughter, king, thrown to my chance,

    Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France:

    Not all the dukes of waterish Burgundy

    Can buy this unpriz’d precious maid of me.—

    Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind:

    Thou losest here, a better where to find.


    Thou hast her, France: let her be thine; for we

    Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see

    That face of hers again.—Therefore be gone

    Without our grace, our love, our benison.—

    Come, noble Burgundy.



    Bid farewell to your sisters.


    The jewels of our father, with wash’d eyes

    Cordelia leaves you: I know you what you are;

    And, like a sister, am most loath to call

    Your faults as they are nam’d. Love well our father:

    To your professed bosoms I commit him:

    But yet, alas, stood I within his grace,

    I would prefer him to a better place.

    So, farewell to you both.


    Prescribe not us our duties.


    Let your study

    Be to content your lord, who hath receiv’d you

    At fortune’s alms. You have obedience scanted,

    And well are worth the want that you have wanted.


    Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides:

    Who cover faults, at last shame them derides.

    Well may you prosper!


    Come, my fair Cordelia.

    [Exeunt FRANCE and CORDELIA.]


    Sister, it is not little I have to say of what most nearly

    appertains to us both. I think our father will hence to-night.


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


    You see how full of changes his age is; the observation we

    have made of it hath not been little: he always loved our

    sister most; and with what poor judgment he hath now cast her

    off appears too grossly.


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


    The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash; then must

    we look to receive from his age, not alone the imperfections of

    long-ingraffed condition, but therewithal the unruly waywardness

    that infirm and choleric years bring with them.


    Such unconstant starts are we like to have from him as this of

    Kent’s banishment.


    There is further compliment of leave-taking between France and

    him. Pray you let us hit together: if our father carry authority

    with such dispositions as he bears, this last surrender of his

    will but offend us.


    We shall further think of it.


    We must do something, and i’ th’ heat.


    Scene II. A Hall in the Earl of Gloucester’s Castle.

    [Enter Edmund with a letter.]


    Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law

    My services are bound. Wherefore should I

    Stand in the plague of custom, and permit

    The curiosity of nations to deprive me,

    For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines

    Lag of a brother? Why bastard? wherefore base?

    When my dimensions are as well compact,

    My mind as generous, and my shape as true

    As honest madam’s issue? Why brand they us

    With base? with baseness? bastardy? base, base?

    Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, take

    More composition and fierce quality

    Than doth, within a dull, stale, tired bed,

    Go to the creating a whole tribe of fops

    Got ’tween asleep and wake?—Well then,

    Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land:

    Our father’s love is to the bastard Edmund

    As to the legitimate: fine word—legitimate!

    Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed,

    And my invention thrive, Edmund the base

    Shall top the legitimate. I grow; I prosper.—

    Now, gods, stand up for bastards!

    [Enter Gloucester.]


    Kent banish’d thus! and France in choler parted!

    And the king gone to-night! subscrib’d his pow’r!

    Confin’d to exhibition! All this done

    Upon the gad!—Edmund, how now! What news?


    So please your lordship, none. [Putting up the letter.]


    Why so earnestly seek you to put up that letter?


    I know no news, my lord.


    What paper were you reading?


    Nothing, my lord.


    No? What needed, then, that terrible dispatch of it into your

    pocket? the quality of nothing hath not such need to hide itself.

    Let’s see. Come, if it be nothing, I shall not need spectacles.


    I beseech you, sir, pardon me. It is a letter from my brother

    that I have not all o’er-read; and for so much as I have perus’d,

    I find it not fit for your o’erlooking.


    Give me the letter, sir.


    I shall offend, either to detain or give it. The contents, as in

    part I understand them, are to blame.


    Let’s see, let’s see!


    I hope, for my brother’s justification, he wrote this but as an

    essay or taste of my virtue.


    [Reads.] ‘This policy and reverence of age makes the world

    bitter to the best of our times; keeps our fortunes from us

    till our oldness cannot relish them. I begin to find an idle

    and fond bondage in the oppression of aged tyranny; who sways,

    not as it hath power, but as it is suffered. Come to me, that

    of this I may speak more. If our father would sleep till I

    waked him, you should enjoy half his revenue for ever, and live

    the beloved of your brother,


    Hum! Conspiracy?—‘Sleep till I waked him,—you should enjoy half

    his revenue.’—My son Edgar! Had he a hand to write this? a heart

    and brain to breed it in? When came this to you? who brought it?


    It was not brought me, my lord, there’s the cunning of it; I

    found it thrown in at the casement of my closet.


    You know the character to be your brother’s?


    If the matter were good, my lord, I durst swear it were his; but

    in respect of that, I would fain think it were not.


    It is his.


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



    Hath he never before sounded you in this business?


    Never, my lord: but I have heard him oft maintain it to be fit

    that, sons at perfect age, and fathers declined, the father

    should be as ward to the son, and the son manage his revenue.


    O villain, villain!—His very opinion in the letter! Abhorred

    villain!—Unnatural, detested, brutish villain! worse than

    brutish!—Go, sirrah, seek him; I’ll apprehend him. Abominable

    villain!—Where is he?


    I do not well know, my lord. If it shall please you to suspend

    your indignation against my brother till you can derive from him

    better testimony of his intent, you should run a certain course;

    where, if you violently proceed against him, mistaking his

    purpose, it would make a great gap in your own honour, and shake

    in pieces the heart of his obedience. I dare pawn down my life

    for him that he hath writ this to feel my affection to your

    honour, and to no other pretence of danger.


    Think you so?


    If your honour judge it meet, I will place you where you shall

    hear us confer of this, and by an auricular assurance have your

    satisfaction; and that without any further delay than this very evening.


    He cannot be such a monster.


    Nor is not, sure.


    To his father, that so tenderly and entirely loves him.—Heaven

    and earth!—Edmund, seek him out; wind me into him, I pray you:

    frame the business after your own wisdom. I would unstate myself

    to be in a due resolution.


    I will seek him, sir, presently; convey the business as I shall

    find means, and acquaint you withal.


    These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us:

    though the wisdom of nature can reason it thus and thus, yet

    nature finds itself scourged by the sequent effects: love cools,

    friendship falls off, brothers divide: in cities, mutinies; in

    countries, discord; in palaces, treason; and the bond cracked

    ’twixt son and father. This villain of mine comes under the

    prediction; there’s son against father: the king falls from

    bias of nature; there’s father against child. We have seen the

    best of our time: machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all

    ruinous disorders follow us disquietly to our graves.—Find out

    this villain, Edmund; it shall lose thee nothing; do it

    carefully.—And the noble and true-hearted Kent banished! his

    offence, honesty!—’Tis strange.



    This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are

    sick in fortune,—often the surfeit of our own behaviour,—we

    make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars; as

    if we were villains on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion;

    knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical pre-dominance;

    drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced obedience of

    planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine

    thrusting on: an admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his

    goatish disposition to the charge of a star! My father compounded

    with my mother under the dragon’s tail, and my nativity was under

    ursa major; so that it follows I am rough and lecherous.—Tut! I

    should have been that I am, had the maidenliest star in the

    firmament twinkled on my bastardizing.

    [Enter Edgar.]

    Pat!—he comes, like the catastrophe of the old comedy: my cue

    is villainous melancholy, with a sigh like Tom o’ Bedlam.—O,

    these eclipses do portend these divisions! fa, sol, la, mi.


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


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


    Do you busy yourself with that?


    I promise you, the effects he writes of succeed unhappily: as of

    unnaturalness between the child and the parent; death, dearth,

    dissolutions of ancient amities; divisions in state, menaces and

    maledictions against king and nobles; needless diffidences,

    banishment of friends, dissipation of cohorts, nuptial breaches,

    and I know not what.


    How long have you been a sectary astronomical?


    Come, come! when saw you my father last?


    The night gone by.


    Spake you with him?


    Ay, two hours together.


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

    or countenance?


    None at all.


    Bethink yourself wherein you may have offended him: and at my

    entreaty forbear his presence until some little time hath

    qualified the heat of his displeasure; which at this instant so

    rageth in him that with the mischief of your person it would

    scarcely allay.


    Some villain hath done me wrong.


    That’s my fear. I pray you have a continent forbearance till the

    speed of his rage goes slower; and, as I say, retire with me to

    my lodging, from whence I will fitly bring you to hear my lord

    speak: pray you, go; there’s my key.—If you do stir abroad, go



    Armed, brother!


    Brother, I advise you to the best; I am no honest man

    if there be any good meaning toward you: I have told you what I

    have seen and heard but faintly; nothing like the image and

    horror of it: pray you, away!


    Shall I hear from you anon?


    I do serve you in this business.

    [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 practices ride easy!—I see the business.

    Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit:

    All with me’s meet that I can fashion fit.


    Scene III. A Room in the Duke of Albany’s Palace.

    [Enter Goneril and Oswald.]


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


    Ay, madam.


    By day and night, he wrongs me; every hour

    He flashes into one gross crime or other,

    That sets us all at odds; I’ll not endure it:

    His knights grow riotous, and himself upbraids us

    On every trifle.—When he returns from hunting,

    I will not speak with him; say I am sick.—

    If you come slack of former services,

    You shall do well; the fault of it I’ll answer.


    He’s coming, madam; I hear him.

    [Horns within.]


    Put on what weary negligence you please,

    You and your fellows; I’d have it come to question:

    If he distaste it, let him to our sister,

    Whose mind and mine, I know, in that are one,

    Not to be overruled. Idle old man,

    That still would manage those authorities

    That he hath given away!—Now, by my life,

    Old fools are babes again; and must be us’d

    With checks as flatteries,—when they are seen abus’d.

    Remember what I have said.


    Very well, madam.


    And let his knights have colder looks among you;

    What grows of it, no matter; advise your fellows so;

    I would breed from hence occasions, and I shall,

    That I may speak.—I’ll write straight to my sister

    To hold my very course.—Prepare for dinner.


    Scene IV. A Hall in Albany’s Palace.

    [Enter Kent, disguised.]


    If but as well I other accents borrow,

    That can my speech defuse, my good intent

    May carry through itself to that full issue

    For which I rais’d my likeness.—Now, banish’d Kent,

    If thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemn’d,

    So may it come, thy master, whom thou lov’st,

    Shall find thee full of labours.

    [Horns within. Enter King Lear, Knights, and Attendants.]


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

    [Exit an Attendant.]

    How now! what art thou?


    A man, sir.


    What dost thou profess? What wouldst thou with us?


    I do profess to be no less than I seem; to serve him truly that

    will put me in trust; to love him that is honest; to converse

    with him that is wise and says little; to fear judgment; to fight

    when I cannot choose; and to eat no fish.


    What art thou?


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


    If thou be’st as poor for a subject as he’s for a king, thou art

    poor enough. What wouldst thou?




    Who wouldst thou serve?




    Dost thou know me, fellow?


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

    call master.


    What’s that?




    What services canst thou do?


    I can keep honest counsel, ride, run, mar a curious tale in

    telling it and deliver a plain message bluntly. That which

    ordinary men are fit for, I am qualified in, and the best of

    me is diligence.


    How old art thou?


    Not so young, sir, to love a woman for singing; nor so old to

    dote on her for anything: I have years on my back forty-eight.


    Follow me; thou shalt serve me. If I like thee no worse after

    dinner, I will not part from thee yet.—Dinner, ho, dinner!—

    Where’s my knave? my fool?—Go you and call my fool hither.

    [Exit an attendant.]

    [Enter Oswald.]

    You, you, sirrah, where’s my daughter?


    So please you,—



    What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll back.—

    [Exit a KNIGHT.]

    Where’s my fool, ho?—I think the world’s asleep.

    [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.


    He would not!


    My lord, I know not what the matter is; but to my judgment your

    highness is not entertained with that ceremonious affection as

    you were wont; there’s a great abatement of kindness appears as

    well in the general dependants as in the duke himself also and

    your daughter.


    Ha! say’st thou so?


    I beseech you pardon me, my lord, if I be mistaken; for my duty

    cannot be silent when I think your highness wronged.


    Thou but rememberest me of mine own conception: I have perceived

    a most faint neglect of late; which I have rather blamed as mine

    own jealous curiosity than as a very pretence and purpose of

    unkindness: I will look further into’t.—But where’s my fool? I

    have not seen him this two days.


    Since my young lady’s going into France, sir, the fool hath much

    pined away.


    No more of that; I have noted it well.—Go you and tell my

    daughter I would speak with her.—

    [Exit Attendant.]

    Go you, call hither my fool.

    [Exit another 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 cur!


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


    Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?

    [Striking him.]


    I’ll not be struck, my lord.


    Nor tripp’d neither, you base football player.

    [Tripping up his heels.]


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


    Come, sir, arise, away! I’ll teach you differences: away, away!

    If you will measure your lubber’s length again, tarry; but away!

    go to; have you wisdom? so.

    [Pushes Oswald out.]


    Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee: there’s earnest of thy


    [Giving Kent money.]

    [Enter FOOL.]


    Let me hire him too; here’s my coxcomb.

    [Giving Kent his cap.]


    How now, my pretty knave! how dost thou?


    Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb.


    Why, fool?


    Why, for taking one’s part that’s out of favour. Nay, an thou

    canst not smile as the wind sits, thou’lt catch cold shortly:

    there, take my coxcomb: why, this fellow hath banish’d two on’s

    daughters, and did the third a blessing against his will; if

    thou follow him, thou must needs wear my coxcomb.—How now,

    nuncle! Would I had two coxcombs and two daughters!


    Why, my boy?


    If I gave them all my living, I’d keep my coxcombs myself.

    There’s mine; beg another of thy daughters.


    Take heed, sirrah,—the whip.


    Truth’s a dog must to kennel; he must be whipped out, when

    the lady brach may stand by the fire and stink.


    A pestilent gall to me!


    Sirrah, I’ll teach thee a speech.




    Mark it, nuncle:—

    Have more than thou showest,

    Speak less than thou knowest,

    Lend less than thou owest,

    Ride more than thou goest,

    Learn more than thou trowest,

    Set less than thou throwest;

    Leave thy drink and thy whore,

    And keep in-a-door,

    And thou shalt have more

    Than two tens to a score.


    This is nothing, fool.


    Then ’tis like the breath of an unfee’d lawyer,—you gave me

    nothing for’t.—Can you make no use of nothing, nuncle?


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


    [to Kent] Pr’ythee tell him, so much the rent of his land

    comes to: he will not believe a fool.


    A bitter fool!


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

    a sweet one?


    No, lad; teach me.


    That lord that counsell’d thee

    To give away thy land,

    Come place him here by me,—

    Do thou for him stand:

    The sweet and bitter fool

    Will presently appear;

    The one in motley here,

    The other found out there.


    Dost thou call me fool, boy?


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



    This is not altogether fool, my lord.


    No, faith; lords and great men will not let me: if I had a

    monopoly out, they would have part on’t and loads too: they

    will not let me have all the fool to myself; they’ll be

    snatching.—Nuncle, give me an egg, and I’ll give thee two



    What two crowns shall they be?


    Why, after I have cut the egg i’ the middle and eat up the

    meat, the two crowns of the egg. When thou clovest thy crown i’

    the middle and gav’st away both parts, thou borest thine ass on

    thy back o’er the dirt: thou hadst little wit in thy bald crown

    when thou gavest thy golden one away. If I speak like myself in

    this, let him be whipped that first finds it so.


    Fools had ne’er less wit in a year;

    For wise men are grown foppish,

    And know not how their wits to wear,

    Their manners are so apish.


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


    I have used it, nuncle, e’er since thou mad’st thy daughters thy

    mothers; for when thou gav’st them the rod, and puttest down

    thine own breeches,


    Then they for sudden joy did weep,

    And I for sorrow sung,

    That such a king should play bo-peep

    And go the fools among.

    Pr’ythee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach thy fool to

    lie; I would fain learn to lie.


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


    I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are: they’ll have me

    whipped for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipped for lying;

    and sometimes I am whipped for holding my peace. I had rather be

    any kind o’ thing than a fool: and yet I would not be thee,

    nuncle: thou hast pared thy wit o’ both sides, and left nothing

    i’ the middle:—here comes one o’ the parings.

    [Enter Goneril.]


    How now, daughter? What makes that frontlet on? Methinks you

    are too much of late i’ the frown.


    Thou wast a pretty fellow when thou hadst no need to care for

    her frowning. Now thou art an O without a figure: I am better

    than thou art; I am a fool, thou art nothing.—Yes, forsooth, I

    will hold my tongue. So your face [To Goneril.] bids me, though

    you say nothing. Mum, mum,

    He that keeps nor crust nor crum,

    Weary of all, shall want some.—

    [Pointing to LEAR.] That’s a shealed peascod.


    Not only, sir, this your all-licens’d fool,

    But other of your insolent retinue

    Do hourly carp and quarrel; breaking forth

    In rank and not-to-be-endured riots. Sir,

    I had thought, by making this well known unto you,

    To have found a safe redress; but now grow fearful,

    By what yourself too late have spoke and done,

    That you protect this course, and put it on

    By your allowance; which if you should, the fault

    Would not scape censure, nor the redresses sleep,

    Which, in the tender of a wholesome weal,

    Might in their working do you that offence

    Which else were shame, that then necessity

    Will call discreet proceeding.


    For you know, nuncle,

    The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long

    That it had it head bit off by it young.

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


    Are you our daughter?


    Come, sir,

    I would you would make use of that good wisdom,

    Whereof I know you are fraught; and put away

    These dispositions, that of late transform you

    From what you rightly are.


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

    love thee!


    Doth any here know me?—This is not Lear;

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

    Either his notion weakens, his discernings

    Are lethargied.—Ha! waking? ’Tis not so!—

    Who is it that can tell me who I am?


    Lear’s shadow.


    I would learn that; for, by the marks of sovereignty,

    Knowledge, and reason,

    I should be false persuaded I had daughters.


    Which they will make an obedient father.


    Your name, fair gentlewoman?


    This admiration, sir, is much o’ the favour

    Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you

    To understand my purposes aright:

    As you are old and reverend, you should be wise.

    Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires;

    Men so disorder’d, so debosh’d, and bold

    That this our court, infected with their manners,

    Shows like a riotous inn: epicurism and lust

    Make it more like a tavern or a brothel

    Than a grac’d palace. The shame itself doth speak

    For instant remedy: be, then, desir’d

    By her that else will take the thing she begs

    A little to disquantity your train;

    And the remainder, that shall still depend,

    To be such men as may besort your age,

    Which know themselves, and you.


    Darkness and devils!—

    Saddle my horses; call my train together.—

    Degenerate bastard! I’ll not trouble thee:

    Yet have I left a daughter.


    You strike my people; and your disorder’d rabble

    Make servants of their betters.

    [Enter Albany.]


    Woe that too late repents!—

    [To Albany.] O, sir, are you come?

    Is it your will? Speak, sir.—Prepare my horses.—

    Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend,

    More hideous when thou show’st thee in a child

    Than the sea-monster!


    Pray, sir, be patient.


    [to Goneril] Detested kite, thou liest!:

    My train are men of choice and rarest parts,

    That all particulars of duty know;

    And in the most exact regard support

    The worships of their name.—O most small fault,

    How ugly didst thou in Cordelia show!

    Which, like an engine, wrench’d my frame of nature

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

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

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

    And thy dear judgment out!—Go, go, my people.


    My lord, I am guiltless, as I am ignorant

    Of what hath mov’d you.


    It may be so, my lord.

    Hear, nature, hear; dear goddess, hear

    Suspend thy purpose, if thou didst intend

    To make this creature fruitful!

    Into her womb convey sterility!

    Dry up in her the organs of increase;

    And from her derogate body never spring

    A babe to honour her! If she must teem,

    Create her child of spleen, that it may live

    And be a thwart disnatur’d torment to her!

    Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth;

    With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks;

    Turn all her mother’s pains and benefits

    To laughter and contempt; that she may feel

    How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is

    To have a thankless child!—Away, away!



    Now, gods that we adore, whereof comes this?


    Never afflict yourself to know more of it;

    But let his disposition have that scope

    That dotage gives it.

    [Re-enter LEAR.]


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


    What’s the matter, sir?


    I’ll tell thee.—Life and death!—[To Goneril] I am asham’d

    That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus;

    That these hot tears, which break from me perforce,

    Should make thee worth them.—Blasts and fogs upon thee!

    Th’ untented woundings of a father’s curse

    Pierce every sense about thee!—Old fond eyes,

    Beweep this cause again, I’ll pluck you out,

    And cast you, with the waters that you lose, To temper clay. Ha!

    Let it be so: I have another daughter,

    Who, I am sure, is kind and comfortable:

    When she shall hear this of thee, with her nails

    She’ll flay thy wolvish visage. Thou shalt find

    That I’ll resume the shape which thou dost think

    I have cast off for ever.

    [Exeunt Lear, Kent, and Attendants.]


    Do you mark that?


    I cannot be so partial, Goneril,

    To the great love I bear you,—


    Pray you, content.—What, Oswald, ho!

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


    Nuncle Lear, nuncle Lear, tarry,—take the fool with thee.—

    A fox when one has caught her,

    And such a daughter,

    Should sure to the slaughter,

    If my cap would buy a halter;

    So the fool follows after.



    This man hath had good counsel.—A hundred knights!

    ’Tis politic and safe to let him keep

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

    Each buzz, each fancy, each complaint, dislike,

    He may enguard his dotage with their powers,

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


    Well, you may fear too far.


    Safer than trust too far:

    Let me still take away the harms I fear,

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

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

    If she sustain him and his hundred knights,

    When I have show’d th’ unfitness,—

    [Re-enter Oswald.]

    How now, Oswald!

    What, have you writ that letter to my sister?


    Ay, madam.


    Take you some company, and away to horse:

    Inform her full of my particular fear;

    And thereto add such reasons of your own

    As may compact it more. Get you gone;

    And hasten your return.

    [Exit Oswald.]

    No, no, my lord!

    This milky gentleness and course of yours,

    Though I condemn it not, yet, under pardon,

    You are much more attask’d for want of wisdom

    Than prais’d for harmful mildness.


    How far your eyes may pierce I cannot tell:

    Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well.


    Nay then,—


    Well, well; the event.


    Scene V. Court before the Duke of Albany’s Palace.

    [Enter Lear, Kent, and FOOL.]


    Go you before to Gloucester with these letters: acquaint my

    daughter no further with anything you know than comes from her

    demand out of the letter. If your diligence be not speedy, I

    shall be there afore you.


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



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


    Ay, boy.


    Then I pr’ythee be merry; thy wit shall not go slipshod.


    Ha, ha, ha!


    Shalt see thy other daughter will use thee kindly; for though

    she’s as like this as a crab’s like an apple, yet I can tell

    what I can tell.


    What canst tell, boy?


    She’ll taste as like this as a crab does to a crab. Thou

    canst tell why one’s nose stands i’ the middle on’s face?




    Why, to keep one’s eyes of either side’s nose, that what a man

    cannot smell out, he may spy into.


    I did her wrong,—


    Canst tell how an oyster makes his shell?




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




    Why, to put’s head in; not to give it away to his daughters, and

    leave his horns without a case.


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


    Thy asses are gone about ’em. The reason why the seven stars are

    no more than seven is a pretty reason.


    Because they are not eight?


    Yes indeed: thou wouldst make a good fool.


    To tak’t again perforce!—Monster ingratitude!


    If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I’ld have thee beaten for being

    old before thy time.


    How’s that?


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


    O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven!

    Keep me in temper; I would not be mad!—

    [Enter Gentleman.]

    How now? are the horses ready?


    Ready, my lord. LEAR. Come, boy.


    She that’s a maid now, and laughs at my departure,

    Shall not be a maid long, unless things be cut shorter.


    Act II

    Scene I. A court within the Castle of the Earl of Gloucester.

    [Enter Edmund and Curan, meeting.]


    Save thee, Curan.


    And you, sir. I have been with your father, and given him

    notice that the Duke of Cornwall and Regan his duchess will be

    here with him this night.


    How comes that?


    Nay, I know not.—You have heard of the news abroad; I mean the

    whispered ones, for they are yet but ear-kissing arguments?


    Not I: pray you, what are they?


    Have you heard of no likely wars toward, ’twixt the two dukes

    of Cornwall and Albany?


    Not a word.


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



    The Duke be here to-night? The better! best!

    This weaves itself perforce into my business.

    My father hath set guard to take my brother;

    And I have one thing, of a queasy question,

    Which I must act:—briefness and fortune work!—

    Brother, a word!—descend:—brother, I say!

    [Enter Edgar.]

    My father watches:—sir, fly this place;

    Intelligence is given where you are hid;

    You have now the good advantage of the night.—

    Have you not spoken ’gainst the Duke of Cornwall?

    He’s coming hither; now, i’ the night, i’ the haste,

    And Regan with him: have you nothing said

    Upon his party ’gainst the Duke of Albany?

    Advise yourself.


    I am sure on’t, not a word.


    I hear my father coming:—pardon me;

    In cunning I must draw my sword upon you:—

    Draw: seem to defend yourself: now quit you well.—

    Yield:—come before my father.—Light, ho, here!

    Fly, brother.—Torches, torches!—So farewell.

    [Exit Edgar.]

    Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion

    Of my more fierce endeavour: [Wounds his arm.]

    I have seen drunkards

    Do more than this in sport.—Father, father!

    Stop, stop! No help?

    [Enter Gloucester, and Servants with torches.]


    Now, Edmund, where’s the villain?


    Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out,

    Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon

    To stand auspicious mistress,—


    But where is he?


    Look, sir, I bleed.


    Where is the villain, Edmund?


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


    Pursue him, ho!—Go after.

    [Exeunt Servants.]

    —By no means what?


    Persuade me to the murder of your lordship;

    But that I told him the revenging gods

    ’Gainst parricides did all their thunders bend;

    Spoke with how manifold and strong a bond

    The child was bound to the father;—sir, in fine,

    Seeing how loathly opposite I stood

    To his unnatural purpose, in fell motion

    With his prepared sword, he charges home

    My unprovided body, lanc’d mine arm;

    But when he saw my best alarum’d spirits,

    Bold in the quarrel’s right, rous’d to the encounter,

    Or whether gasted by the noise I made,

    Full suddenly he fled.


    Let him fly far;

    Not in this land shall he remain uncaught;

    And found—dispatch’d.—The noble duke my master,

    My worthy arch and patron, comes to-night:

    By his authority I will proclaim it,

    That he which finds him shall deserve our thanks,

    Bringing the murderous coward to the stake;

    He that conceals him, death.


    When I dissuaded him from his intent,

    And found him pight to do it, with curst speech

    I threaten’d to discover him: he replied,

    ‘Thou unpossessing bastard! dost thou think,

    If I would stand against thee, would the reposal

    Of any trust, virtue, or worth in thee

    Make thy words faith’d? No: what I should deny

    As this I would; ay, though thou didst produce

    My very character, I’d turn it all

    To thy suggestion, plot, and damned practice:

    And thou must make a dullard of the world,

    If they not thought the profits of my death

    Were very pregnant and potential spurs

    To make thee seek it.’


    Strong and fast’ned villain!

    Would he deny his letter?—I never got him.

    [Trumpets 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 due note of him; and of my land,

    Loyal and natural boy, I’ll work the means

    To make thee capable.

    [Enter Cornwall, Regan, and Attendants.]


    How now, my noble friend! since I came hither,—

    Which I can call but now,—I have heard strange news.


    If it be true, all vengeance comes too short

    Which can pursue the offender. How dost, my lord?


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


    What, did my father’s godson seek your life?

    He whom my father nam’d? your Edgar?


    O lady, lady, shame would have it hid!


    Was he not companion with the riotous knights

    That tend upon my father?


    I know not, madam:—

    It is too bad, too bad.


    Yes, madam, he was of that consort.


    No marvel then though he were ill affected:

    ’Tis they have put him on the old man’s death,

    To have the expense and waste of his revenues.

    I have this present evening from my sister

    Been well inform’d of them; and with such cautions

    That if they come to sojourn at my house,

    I’ll not be there.


    Nor I, assure thee, Regan.—

    Edmund, I hear that you have shown your father

    A childlike office.


    ’Twas my duty, sir.


    He did bewray his practice; and receiv’d

    This hurt you see, striving to apprehend him.


    Is he pursu’d?


    Ay, my good lord.


    If he be taken, he shall never more

    Be fear’d of doing harm: make your own purpose,

    How in my strength you please.—For you, Edmund,

    Whose virtue and obedience doth this instant

    So much commend itself, you shall be ours:

    Natures of such deep trust we shall much need;

    You we first seize on.


    I shall serve you, sir,

    Truly, however else.


    For him I thank your grace.


    You know not why we came to visit you,—


    Thus out of season, threading dark-ey’d night:

    Occasions, noble Gloucester, of some poise,

    Wherein we must have use of your advice:—

    Our father he hath writ, so hath our sister,

    Of differences, which I best thought it fit

    To answer from our home; the several messengers

    From hence attend despatch. Our good old friend,

    Lay comforts to your bosom; and bestow

    Your needful counsel to our business,

    Which craves the instant use.


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


    Scene II. Before Gloucester’s Castle.

    [Enter Kent and Oswald, severally.]


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




    Where may we set our horses?


    I’ the mire.


    Pr’ythee, if thou lov’st me, tell me.


    I love thee not.


    Why then, I care not for thee.


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


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


    Fellow, I know thee.


    What dost thou know me for?


    A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a base, proud,

    shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy,

    worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking, whoreson,

    glass-gazing, superserviceable, finical rogue;

    one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of

    good service, and art nothing but the composition of a

    knave, beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel

    bitch: one whom I will beat into clamorous whining, if thou

    denyest the least syllable of thy addition.


    Why, what a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to rail on one that’s

    neither known of thee nor knows thee?


    What a brazen-faced varlet art thou, to deny thou knowest me! Is

    it two days ago since I beat thee and tripped up thy heels before

    the king? Draw, you rogue: for, though it be night, yet the moon

    shines; I’ll make a sop o’ the moonshine of you: draw, you

    whoreson cullionly barbermonger, draw!

    [Drawing his sword.]


    Away! I have nothing to do with thee.


    Draw, you rascal: you come with letters against the king; and

    take vanity the puppet’s part against the royalty of her father:

    draw, you rogue, or I’ll so carbonado your shanks:—

    draw, you rascal; come your ways!


    Help, ho! murder! help!


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

    [Beating him.]


    Help, ho! murder! murder!

    [Enter Edmund, Cornwall, Regan, Gloucester, and Servants.]


    How now! What’s the matter?


    With you, goodman boy, an you please: come, I’ll flesh you; come

    on, young master.


    Weapons! arms! What’s the matter here?


    Keep peace, upon your lives;

    He dies that strikes again. What is the matter?


    The messengers from our sister and the king.


    What is your difference? speak.


    I am scarce in breath, my lord.


    No marvel, you have so bestirr’d your valour. You cowardly

    rascal, nature disclaims in thee; a tailor made thee.


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


    Ay, a tailor, sir: a stonecutter or a painter could not have

    made him so ill, though he had been but two hours at the trade.


    Speak yet, how grew your quarrel?


    This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spared at suit of

    his grey beard,—


    Thou whoreson zed! thou unnecessary letter!—My lord, if you’ll

    give me leave, I will tread this unbolted villain into mortar and

    daub the walls of a jakes with him.—Spare my grey beard, you



    Peace, sirrah!

    You beastly knave, know you no reverence?


    Yes, sir; but anger hath a privilege.


    Why art thou angry?


    That such a slave as this should wear a sword,

    Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as these,

    Like rats, oft bite the holy cords a-twain

    Which are too intrinse t’ unloose; smooth every passion

    That in the natures of their lords rebel;

    Bring oil to fire, snow to their colder moods;

    Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks

    With every gale and vary of their masters,

    Knowing naught, like dogs, but following.—

    A plague upon your epileptic visage!

    Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool?

    Goose, an I had you upon Sarum plain,

    I’d drive ye cackling home to Camelot.


    What, art thou mad, old fellow?


    How fell you out?

    Say that.


    No contraries hold more antipathy

    Than I and such a knave.


    Why dost thou call him knave? What is his fault?


    His countenance likes me not.


    No more perchance does mine, or his, or hers.


    Sir, ’tis my occupation to be plain:

    I have seen better faces in my time

    Than stands on any shoulder that I see

    Before me at this instant.


    This is some fellow

    Who, having been prais’d for bluntness, doth affect

    A saucy roughness, and constrains the garb

    Quite from his nature: he cannot flatter, he,—

    An honest mind and plain,—he must speak truth!

    An they will take it, so; if not, he’s plain.

    These kind of knaves I know which in this plainness

    Harbour more craft and more corrupter ends

    Than twenty silly-ducking observants

    That stretch their duties nicely.


    Sir, in good faith, in sincere verity,

    Under the allowance of your great aspect,

    Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire

    On flickering Phoebus’ front,—


    What mean’st by this?


    To go out of my dialect, which you discommend so much. I know,

    sir, I am no flatterer: he that beguiled you in a plain accent

    was a plain knave; which, for my part, I will not be, though I

    should win your displeasure to entreat me to’t.


    What was the offence you gave him?


    I never gave him any:

    It pleas’d the king his master very late

    To strike at me, upon his misconstruction;

    When he, compact, and flattering his displeasure,

    Tripp’d me behind; being down, insulted, rail’d

    And put upon him such a deal of man,

    That worthied him, got praises of the king

    For him attempting who was self-subdu’d;

    And, in the fleshment of this dread exploit,

    Drew on me here again.


    None of these rogues and cowards

    But Ajax is their fool.


    Fetch forth the stocks!—

    You stubborn ancient knave, you reverent braggart,

    We’ll teach you,—


    Sir, I am too old to learn:

    Call not your stocks for me: I serve the king;

    On whose employment I was sent to you:

    You shall do small respect, show too bold malice

    Against the grace and person of my master,

    Stocking his messenger.


    Fetch forth the stocks!—As I have life and honour,

    there shall he sit till noon.


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


    Why, madam, if I were your father’s dog,

    You should not use me so.


    Sir, being his knave, I will.


    This is a fellow of the self-same colour

    Our sister speaks of.—Come, bring away the stocks!

    [Stocks brought out.]


    Let me beseech your grace not to do so:

    His fault is much, and the good king his master

    Will check him for’t: your purpos’d low correction

    Is such as basest and contemned’st wretches

    For pilferings and most common trespasses,

    Are punish’d with: the king must take it ill

    That he, so slightly valu’d in his messenger,

    Should have him thus restrain’d.


    I’ll answer that.


    My sister may receive it much more worse,

    To have her gentleman abus’d, assaulted,

    For following her affairs.—Put in his legs.—

    [Kent is put in the stocks.]

    Come, my good lord, away.

    [Exeunt all but Gloucester and KENT.]


    I am sorry for thee, friend; ’tis the duke’s pleasure,

    Whose disposition, all the world well knows,

    Will not be rubb’d nor stopp’d; I’ll entreat for thee.


    Pray do not, sir: I have watch’d, and travell’d hard;

    Some time I shall sleep out, the rest I’ll whistle.

    A good man’s fortune may grow out at heels:

    Give you good morrow!


    The duke’s to blame in this: ’twill be ill taken.



    Good king, that must approve the common saw,—

    Thou out of heaven’s benediction com’st

    To the warm sun!

    Approach, thou beacon to this under globe,

    That by thy comfortable beams I may

    Peruse this letter.—Nothing almost sees miracles

    But misery:—I know ’tis from Cordelia,

    Who hath most fortunately been inform’d

    Of my obscured course; and shall find time

    From this enormous state,—seeking to give

    Losses their remedies,—All weary and o’erwatch’d,

    Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold

    This shameful lodging.

    Fortune, good night: smile once more, turn thy wheel!

    [He sleeps.]

    Scene III. The open Country.

    [Enter Edgar.]


    I heard myself proclaim’d;

    And by the happy hollow of a tree

    Escap’d the hunt. No port is free; no place

    That guard and most unusual vigilance

    Does not attend my taking. While I may scape,

    I will preserve myself: and am bethought

    To take the basest and most poorest shape

    That ever penury, in contempt of man,

    Brought near to beast: my face I’ll grime with filth;

    Blanket my loins; elf all my hair in knots;

    And with presented nakedness outface

    The winds and persecutions of the sky.

    The country gives me proof and precedent

    Of Bedlam beggars, who, with roaring voices,

    Strike in their numb’d and mortified bare arms

    Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary;

    And with this horrible object, from low farms,

    Poor pelting villages, sheep-cotes, and mills,

    Sometime with lunatic bans, sometime with prayers,

    Enforce their charity.—Poor Turlygod! poor Tom!

    That’s something yet:—Edgar I nothing am.


    Scene IV. Before Gloucester’s Castle; Kent in the stocks.

    [Enter Lear, Fool, and Gentleman.]


    ’Tis strange that they should so depart from home,

    And not send back my messenger.


    As I learn’d,

    The night before there was no purpose in them

    Of this remove.


    Hail to thee, noble master!


    Ha! Mak’st thou this shame thy pastime?


    No, my lord.


    Ha, ha! he wears cruel garters. Horses are tied by the

    head; dogs and bears by the neck, monkeys by the loins, and

    men by the legs: when a man is over-lusty at legs, then he

    wears wooden nether-stocks.


    What’s he that hath so much thy place mistook

    To set thee here?


    It is both he and she,

    Your son and daughter.






    No, I say.


    I say, yea.


    By Jupiter, I swear no.


    By Juno, I swear ay.


    They durst not do’t.

    They would not, could not do’t; ‘tis worse than murder,

    To do upon respect such violent outrage:

    Resolve me, with all modest haste, which way

    Thou mightst deserve or they impose this usage,

    Coming from us.


    My lord, when at their home

    I did commend your highness’ letters to them,

    Ere I was risen from the place that show’d

    My duty kneeling, came there a reeking post,

    Stew’d in his haste, half breathless, panting forth

    From Goneril his mistress salutations;

    Deliver’d letters, spite of intermission,

    Which presently they read: on whose contents,

    They summon’d up their meiny, straight took horse;

    Commanded me to follow and attend

    The leisure of their answer; gave me cold looks:

    And meeting here the other messenger,

    Whose welcome I perceiv’d had poison’d mine,—

    Being the very fellow which of late

    Display’d so saucily against your highness,—

    Having more man than wit about me, drew:

    He rais’d the house with loud and coward cries.

    Your son and daughter found this trespass worth

    The shame which here it suffers.


    Winter’s not gone yet, if the wild geese fly that way.

    Fathers that wear rags

    Do make their children blind;

    But fathers that bear bags

    Shall see their children kind.

    Fortune, that arrant whore,

    Ne’er turns the key to th’ poor.

    But for all this, thou shalt have as many dolours for thy

    daughters as thou canst tell in a year.


    O, how this mother swells up toward my heart!

    Hysterica passio,—down, thou climbing sorrow,

    Thy element’s below!—Where is this daughter?


    With the earl, sir, here within.


    Follow me not; Stay here.



    Made you no more offence but what you speak of?


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


    An thou hadst been set i’ the stocks for that question, thou hadst well deserved it.


    Why, fool?


    We’ll set thee to school to an ant, to teach thee there’s no

    labouring in the winter. All that follow their noses are led by

    their eyes but blind men; and there’s not a nose among twenty

    but can smell him that’s stinking. Let go thy hold when a great

    wheel runs down a hill, lest it break thy neck with following

    it; but the great one that goes up the hill, let him draw thee


    When a wise man gives thee better counsel, give me mine again: I

    would have none but knaves follow it, since a fool gives it.

    That sir which serves and seeks for gain,

    And follows but for form,

    Will pack when it begins to rain,

    And leave thee in the storm.

    But I will tarry; the fool will stay,

    And let the wise man fly:

    The knave turns fool that runs away;

    The fool no knave, perdy.


    Where learn’d you this, fool?


    Not i’ the stocks, fool.

    [Re-enter Lear, with Gloucester.]


    Deny to speak with me? They are sick? they are weary?

    They have travell’d all the night? Mere fetches;

    The images of revolt and flying off.

    Fetch me a better answer.


    My dear lord,

    You know the fiery quality of the duke;

    How unremovable and fix’d he is

    In his own course.


    Vengeance! plague! death! confusion!—

    Fiery? What quality? why, Gloucester, Gloucester,

    I’d speak with the Duke of Cornwall and his wife.


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


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


    Ay, my good lord.


    The King would speak with Cornwall; the dear father

    Would with his daughter speak, commands her service:

    Are they inform’d of this?—My breath and blood!—

    Fiery? the fiery duke?—Tell the hot duke that—

    No, but not yet: may be he is not well:

    Infirmity doth still neglect all office

    Whereto our health is bound: we are not ourselves

    When nature, being oppress’d, commands the mind

    To suffer with the body: I’ll forbear;

    And am fallen out with my more headier will,

    To take the indispos’d and sickly fit

    For the sound man.—Death on my state! Wherefore

    [Looking on KENT.]

    Should he sit here? This act persuades me

    That this remotion of the duke and her

    Is practice only. Give me my servant forth.

    Go tell the duke and’s wife I’d speak with them,

    Now, presently: bid them come forth and hear me,

    Or at their chamber door I’ll beat the drum

    Till it cry ‘Sleep to death.’


    I would have all well betwixt you.



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


    Cry to it, nuncle, as the cockney did to the eels when she

    put ’em i’ the paste alive; she knapped ’em o’ the coxcombs with

    a stick and cried ‘Down, wantons, down!’ ’Twas her brother that,

    in pure kindness to his horse, buttered his hay.

    [Enter Cornwall, Regan, Gloucester, and Servants.]


    Good-morrow to you both.


    Hail to your grace!

    [Kent is set at liberty.]


    I am glad to see your highness.


    Regan, I think you are; I know what reason

    I have to think so: if thou shouldst not be glad,

    I would divorce me from thy mother’s tomb,

    Sepulchring an adultress.—[To Kent] O, are you free?

    Some other time for that.—Beloved Regan,

    Thy sister’s naught: O Regan, she hath tied

    Sharp-tooth’d unkindness, like a vulture, here,—

    [Points to his heart.]

    I can scarce speak to thee; thou’lt not believe

    With how deprav’d a quality—O Regan!


    I pray you, sir, take patience: I have hope

    You less know how to value her desert

    Than she to scant her duty.


    Say, how is that?


    I cannot think my sister in the least

    Would fail her obligation: if, sir, perchance

    She have restrain’d the riots of your followers,

    ’Tis on such ground, and to such wholesome end,

    As clears her from all blame.


    My curses on her!


    O, sir, you are old;

    Nature in you stands on the very verge

    Of her confine: you should be rul’d and led

    By some discretion, that discerns your state

    Better than you yourself. Therefore, I pray you,

    That to our sister you do make return;

    Say you have wrong’d her, sir.


    Ask her forgiveness?

    Do you but mark how this becomes the house:

    ‘Dear daughter, I confess that I am old;


    Age is unnecessary: on my knees I beg

    That you’ll vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food.’


    Good sir, no more! These are unsightly tricks:

    Return you to my sister.


    [Rising.] Never, Regan:

    She hath abated me of half my train;

    Look’d black upon me; struck me with her tongue,

    Most serpent-like, upon the very heart:—

    All the stor’d vengeances of heaven fall

    On her ingrateful top! Strike her young bones,

    You taking airs, with lameness!


    Fie, sir, fie!


    You nimble lightnings, dart your blinding flames

    Into her scornful eyes! Infect her beauty,

    You fen-suck’d fogs, drawn by the powerful sun,

    To fall and blast her pride!


    O the blest gods!

    So will you wish on me when the rash mood is on.


    No, Regan, thou shalt never have my curse:

    Thy tender-hefted nature shall not give

    Thee o’er to harshness: her eyes are fierce; but thine

    Do comfort, and not burn. ’Tis not in thee

    To grudge my pleasures, to cut off my train,

    To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes,

    And, in conclusion, to oppose the bolt

    Against my coming in: thou better know’st

    The offices of nature, bond of childhood,

    Effects of courtesy, dues of gratitude;

    Thy half o’ the kingdom hast thou not forgot,

    Wherein I thee endow’d.


    Good sir, to the purpose.


    Who put my man i’ the stocks?

    [Tucket within.]


    What trumpet’s that?


    I know’t—my sister’s: this approves her letter,

    That she would soon be here.

    [Enter Oswald.]

    Is your lady come?


    This is a slave, whose easy-borrowed pride

    Dwells in the fickle grace of her he follows.—

    Out, varlet, from my sight!


    What means your grace?


    Who stock’d my servant? Regan, I have good hope

    Thou didst not know on’t.—Who comes here? O heavens!

    [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 asham’d to look upon this beard?—

    O Regan, wilt thou take her by the hand?


    Why not by the hand, sir? How have I offended?

    All’s not offence that indiscretion finds

    And dotage terms so.


    O sides, you are too tough!

    Will you yet hold?—How came my man i’ the stocks?


    I set him there, sir: but his own disorders

    Deserv’d much less advancement.


    You? did you?


    I pray you, father, being weak, seem so.

    If, till the expiration of your month,

    You will return and sojourn with my sister,

    Dismissing half your train, come then to me:

    I am now from home, and out of that provision

    Which shall be needful for your entertainment.


    Return to her, and fifty men dismiss’d?

    No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose

    To wage against the enmity o’ the air;

    To be a comrade with the wolf and owl,—

    Necessity’s sharp pinch!—Return with her?

    Why, the hot-blooded France, that dowerless took

    Our youngest born, I could as well be brought

    To knee his throne, and, squire-like, pension beg

    To keep base life afoot.—Return with her?

    Persuade me rather to be slave and sumpter

    To this detested groom.

    [Pointing to Oswald.]


    At your choice, sir.


    I pr’ythee, daughter, do not make me mad:

    I will not trouble thee, my child; farewell:

    We’ll no more meet, no more see one another:—

    But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter;

    Or rather a disease that’s in my flesh,

    Which I must needs call mine: thou art a boil,

    A plague sore, an embossed carbuncle

    In my corrupted blood. But I’ll not chide thee;

    Let shame come when it will, I do not call it:

    I do not bid the thunder-bearer shoot

    Nor tell tales of thee to high-judging Jove:

    Mend when thou canst; be better at thy leisure:

    I can be patient; I can stay with Regan,

    I and my hundred knights.


    Not altogether so:

    I look’d not for you yet, nor am provided

    For your fit welcome. Give ear, sir, to my sister;

    For those that mingle reason with your passion

    Must be content to think you old, and so—

    But she knows what she does.


    Is this well spoken?


    I dare avouch it, sir: what, fifty followers?

    Is it not well? What should you need of more?

    Yea, or so many, sith that both charge and danger

    Speak ’gainst so great a number? How in one house

    Should many people, under two commands,

    Hold amity? ’Tis hard; almost impossible.


    Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance

    From those that she calls servants, or from mine?


    Why not, my lord? If then they chanc’d to slack you,

    We could control them. If you will come to me,—

    For now I spy a danger,—I entreat you

    To bring but five-and-twenty: to no more

    Will I give place or notice.


    I gave you all,—


    And in good time you gave it.


    Made you my guardians, my depositaries;

    But kept a reservation to be follow’d

    With such a number. What, must I come to you

    With five-and-twenty, Regan? said you so?


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


    Those wicked creatures yet do look well-favour’d When others are more wicked; not being the worst Stands in some rank of praise.— [To Goneril.] I’ll go with thee: Thy fifty yet doth double five-and-twenty, And thou art twice her love.


    Hear, me, my lord:

    What need you five-and-twenty, ten, or five,

    To follow in a house where twice so many

    Have a command to tend you?


    What need one?


    O, reason not the need: our basest beggars

    Are in the poorest thing superfluous:

    Allow not nature more than nature needs,

    Man’s life is cheap as beast’s: thou art a lady;

    If only to go warm were gorgeous,

    Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear’st

    Which scarcely keeps thee warm.—But, for true need,—

    You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need!

    You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,

    As full of grief as age; wretched in both!

    If it be you that stirs these daughters’ hearts

    Against their father, fool me not so much

    To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger,

    And let not women’s weapons, water-drops,

    Stain my man’s cheeks!—No, you unnatural hags,

    I will have such revenges on you both

    That all the world shall,—I will do such things,—

    What they are yet, I know not; but they shall be

    The terrors of the earth. You think I’ll weep;

    No, I’ll not weep:—

    I have full cause of weeping; but this heart

    Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws

    Or ere I’ll weep.—O fool, I shall go mad!

    [Exeunt Lear, Gloucester, Kent, and FOOL. Storm heard at a distance.]


    Let us withdraw; ’twill be a storm.


    This house is little: the old man and his people

    Cannot be well bestow’d.


    ’Tis his own blame; hath put himself from rest

    And must needs taste his folly.


    For his particular, I’ll receive him gladly,

    But not one follower.


    So am I purpos’d.

    Where is my lord of Gloucester?


    Followed the old man forth:—he is return’d.

    [Re-enter Gloucester.]


    The king is in high rage.


    Whither is he going?


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


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


    My lord, entreat him by no means to stay.


    Alack, the night comes on, and the high winds

    Do sorely ruffle; for many miles about

    There’s scarce a bush.


    O, sir, to wilful men

    The injuries that they themselves procure

    Must be their schoolmasters. Shut up your doors:

    He is attended with a desperate train;

    And what they may incense him to, being apt

    To have his ear abus’d, wisdom bids fear.


    Shut up your doors, my lord; ’tis a wild night:

    My Regan counsels well: come out o’ the storm.


    Act III

    Scene I. A Heath.

    [A storm with thunder and lightning. Enter Kent and a Gentleman, meeting.]


    Who’s there, besides foul weather?


    One minded like the weather, most unquietly.


    I know you. Where’s the king?


    Contending with the fretful elements;

    Bids the wind blow the earth into the sea,

    Or swell the curled waters ’bove the main,

    That things might change or cease; tears his white hair,

    Which the impetuous blasts, with eyeless rage,

    Catch in their fury and make nothing of;

    Strives in his little world of man to outscorn

    The to-and-fro-conflicting wind and rain.

    This night, wherein the cub-drawn bear would couch,

    The lion and the belly-pinched wolf Keep their fur dry, unbonneted he runs,

    And bids what will take all.


    But who is with him?


    None but the fool, who labours to out-jest

    His heart-struck injuries.


    Sir, I do know you;

    And dare, upon the warrant of my note,

    Commend a dear thing to you. There is division,

    Although as yet the face of it be cover’d

    With mutual cunning, ’twixt Albany and Cornwall;

    Who have,—as who have not, that their great stars

    Throne and set high?—servants, who seem no less,

    Which are to France the spies and speculations

    Intelligent of our state; what hath been seen,

    Either in snuffs and packings of the dukes;

    Or the hard rein which both of them have borne

    Against the old kind king; or something deeper,

    Whereof, perchance, these are but furnishings;—

    But, true it is, from France there comes a power

    Into this scatter’d kingdom; who already,

    Wise in our negligence, have secret feet

    In some of our best ports, and are at point

    To show their open banner.—Now to you:

    If on my credit you dare build so far

    To make your speed to Dover, you shall find

    Some that will thank you making just report

    Of how unnatural and bemadding sorrow

    The king hath cause to plain.

    I am a gentleman of blood and breeding;

    And from some knowledge and assurance offer

    This office to you.


    I will talk further with you.


    No, do not.

    For confirmation that I am much more

    Than my out wall, open this purse, and take

    What it contains. If you shall see Cordelia,—

    As fear not but you shall,—show her this ring;

    And she will tell you who your fellow is

    That yet you do not know. Fie on this storm!

    I will go seek the king.


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


    Few words, but, to effect, more than all yet,—

    That, when we have found the king,—in which your pain

    That way, I’ll this,—he that first lights on him

    Holla the other.

    [Exeunt severally.]

    Scene II. Another part of the heath. Storm continues.

    [Enter Lear and FOOL.]


    Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!

    You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout

    Till you have drench’d our steeples, drown’d the cocks!

    You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,

    Vaunt couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,

    Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,

    Strike flat the thick rotundity o’ the world!

    Crack nature’s moulds, all germens spill at once,

    That make ingrateful man!


    O nuncle, court holy water in a dry house is better than this

    rain water out o’ door. Good nuncle, in; and ask thy daughters

    blessing: here’s a night pities nether wise men nor fools.


    Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! spout, rain!

    Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire are my daughters:

    I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness;

    I never gave you kingdom, call’d you children;

    You owe me no subscription: then let fall

    Your horrible pleasure; here I stand, your slave,

    A poor, infirm, weak, and despis’d old man:—

    But yet I call you servile ministers,

    That will with two pernicious daughters join

    Your high-engender’d battles ’gainst a head

    So old and white as this! O! O! ’tis foul!


    He that has a house to put’s head in has a good head-piece.

    The codpiece that will house Before the head has any,

    The head and he shall louse:

    So beggars marry many.

    The man that makes his toe

    What he his heart should make

    Shall of a corn cry woe,

    And turn his sleep to wake.

    —for there was never yet fair woman but she made mouths in a



    No, I will be the pattern of all patience;

    I will say nothing.

    [Enter KENT.]


    Who’s there?


    Marry, here’s grace and a codpiece; that’s a wise man and a fool.


    Alas, sir, are you here? Things that love night

    Love not such nights as these; the wrathful skies

    Gallow the very wanderers of the dark,

    And make them keep their caves; since I was man,

    Such sheets of fire, such bursts of horrid thunder,

    Such groans of roaring wind and rain I never

    Remember to have heard: man’s nature cannot carry

    Th’ affliction nor the fear.


    Let the great gods,

    That keep this dreadful pother o’er our heads,

    Find out their enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch,

    That hast within thee undivulged crimes

    Unwhipp’d of justice: hide thee, thou bloody hand;

    Thou perjur’d, and thou simular man of virtue

    That art incestuous: caitiff, to pieces shake

    That under covert and convenient seeming

    Hast practis’d on man’s life: close pent-up guilts,

    Rive your concealing continents, and cry

    These dreadful summoners grace.—I am a man

    More sinn’d against than sinning.


    Alack, bareheaded!

    Gracious my lord, hard by here is a hovel;

    Some friendship will it lend you ’gainst the tempest:

    Repose you there, whilst I to this hard house,—

    More harder than the stones whereof ’tis rais’d;

    Which even but now, demanding after you,

    Denied me to come in,—return, and force

    Their scanted courtesy.


    My wits begin to turn.—

    Come on, my boy. how dost, my boy? art cold?

    I am cold myself.—Where is this straw, my fellow?

    The art of our necessities is strange,

    That can make vile things precious. Come, your hovel.—

    Poor fool and knave, I have one part in my heart

    That’s sorry yet for thee.



    He that has and a little tiny wit—

    With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,—

    Must make content with his fortunes fit,

    For the rain it raineth every day.


    True, boy.—Come, bring us to this hovel.

    [Exeunt Lear and KENT.]


    This is a brave night to cool a courtezan.—

    I’ll speak a prophecy ere I go:—

    When priests are more in word than matter;

    When brewers mar their malt with water;

    When nobles are their tailors’ tutors;

    No heretics burn’d, but wenches’ suitors;

    When every case in law is right;

    No squire in debt nor no poor knight;

    When slanders do not live in tongues;

    Nor cutpurses come not to throngs;

    When usurers tell their gold i’ the field;

    And bawds and whores do churches build;—

    Then shall the realm of Albion

    Come to great confusion:

    Then comes the time, who lives to see’t,

    That going shall be us’d with feet.

    This prophecy Merlin shall make; for I live before his time.


    Scene III. A Room in Gloucester’s Castle.

    [Enter Gloucester and Edmund.]


    Alack, alack, Edmund, I like not this unnatural dealing. When I

    desired their leave that I might pity him, they took from me the

    use of mine own house; charged me on pain of perpetual displeasure,

    neither to speak of him, entreat for him, nor any way sustain him.


    Most savage and unnatural!


    Go to; say you nothing. There is division betwixt the dukes,

    and a worse matter than that: I have received a letter this

    night;—’tis dangerous to be spoken;—I have locked the letter in

    my closet: these injuries the king now bears will be revenged

    home; there’s part of a power already footed: we must incline to

    the king. I will seek him, and privily relieve him: go you and

    maintain talk with the duke, that my charity be not of him

    perceived: if he ask for me, I am ill, and gone to bed. If I

    die for it, as no less is threatened me, the king my old master

    must be relieved. There is some strange thing toward, Edmund;

    pray you be careful.



    This courtesy, forbid thee, shall the duke

    Instantly know; and of that letter too:—

    This seems a fair deserving, and must draw me

    That which my father loses,—no less than all:

    The younger rises when the old doth fall.


    Scene IV. A part of the Heath with a Hovel. Storm continues.

    [Enter Lear, Kent, and FOOL.]


    Here is the place, my lord; good my lord, enter:

    The tyranny of the open night’s too rough

    For nature to endure.


    Let me alone.


    Good my lord, enter here.


    Wilt break my heart?


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


    Thou think’st ’tis much that this contentious storm

    Invades us to the skin: so ’tis to thee

    But where the greater malady is fix’d,

    The lesser is scarce felt. Thou’dst shun a bear;

    But if thy flight lay toward the raging sea,

    Thou’dst meet the bear i’ the mouth. When the mind’s free,

    The body’s delicate: the tempest in my mind

    Doth from my senses take all feeling else

    Save what beats there.—Filial ingratitude!

    Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand

    For lifting food to’t?—But I will punish home:—

    No, I will weep no more.—In such a night

    To shut me out!—Pour on; I will endure:—

    In such a night as this! O Regan, Goneril!—

    Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all,—

    O, that way madness lies; let me shun that;

    No more of that.


    Good my lord, enter here.


    Pr’ythee go in thyself; seek thine own ease:

    This tempest will not give me leave to ponder

    On things would hurt me more.—But I’ll go in.—

    [To the FOOL.] In, boy; go first.—You houseless poverty,—

    Nay, get thee in. I’ll pray, and then I’ll sleep.—

    [Fool goes in.]

    Poor naked wretches, wheresoe’er you are,

    That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,

    How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,

    Your loop’d and window’d raggedness, defend you

    From seasons such as these? O, I have ta’en

    Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp;

    Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,

    That thou mayst shake the superflux to them

    And show the heavens more just.


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

    [The Fool runs out from the hovel.]


    Come not in here, nuncle, here’s a spirit.

    Help me, help me!


    Give me thy hand.—Who’s there?


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


    What art thou that dost grumble there i’ the straw?

    Come forth.

    [Enter Edgar, disguised as a madman.]


    Away! the foul fiend follows me!—

    Through the sharp hawthorn blows the cold wind.—

    Hum! go to thy cold bed, and warm thee.


    Didst thou give all to thy two daughters?

    And art thou come to this?


    Who gives anything to poor Tom? whom the foul fiend hath led through fire and

    through flame, through ford and whirlpool, o’er

    bog and quagmire; that hath laid knives under his pillow and

    halters in his pew, set ratsbane by his porridge; made him proud

    of heart, to ride on a bay trotting horse over four-inched

    bridges, to course his own shadow for a traitor.—Bless thy five

    wits!—Tom’s a-cold.—O, do de, do de, do de.—Bless thee from

    whirlwinds, star-blasting, and taking! Do poor Tom some charity,

    whom the foul fiend vexes:—there could I have him now,—and

    there,—and there again, and there.

    [Storm continues.]


    What, have his daughters brought him to this pass?—

    Couldst thou save nothing? Didst thou give ’em all?


    Nay, he reserv’d a blanket, else we had been all shamed.


    Now all the plagues that in the pendulous air

    Hang fated o’er men’s faults light on thy daughters!


    He hath no daughters, sir.


    Death, traitor! nothing could have subdu’d nature

    To such a lowness but his unkind daughters.—

    Is it the fashion that discarded fathers

    Should have thus little mercy on their flesh?

    Judicious punishment! ’twas this flesh begot

    Those pelican daughters.


    Pillicock sat on Pillicock-hill:—

    Halloo, halloo, loo loo!


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


    Take heed o’ th’ foul fiend: obey thy parents; keep thy word

    justly; swear not; commit not with man’s sworn spouse; set not

    thy sweet heart on proud array. Tom’s a-cold.


    What hast thou been?


    A serving-man, proud in heart and mind; that curled my hair;

    wore gloves in my cap; served the lust of my mistress’ heart, and

    did the act of darkness with her; swore as many oaths as I spake

    words, and broke them in the sweet face of heaven: one that

    slept in the contriving of lust, and waked to do it: wine loved

    I deeply, dice dearly; and in woman out-paramour’d the Turk;

    false of heart, light of ear, bloody of hand; hog in sloth, fox

    in stealth, wolf in greediness, dog in madness, lion in prey.

    Let not the creaking of shoes nor the rustling of silks betray

    thy poor heart to woman: keep thy foot out of brothel, thy hand

    out of placket, thy pen from lender’s book, and defy the foul

    fiend.—Still through the hawthorn blows the cold wind: says

    suum, mun, nonny. Dolphin my boy, boy, sessa! let him trot by.

    [Storm still continues.]


    Why, thou wert better in thy grave than to answer with thy

    uncovered body this extremity of the skies.—Is man no more than

    this? Consider him well. Thou owest the worm no silk, the beast

    no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfume.—Ha! here’s three

    on’s are sophisticated! Thou art the thing itself:

    unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked

    animal as thou art.—Off, off, you lendings!—Come, unbutton


    [Tears off his clothes.]


    Pr’ythee, nuncle, be contented; ’tis a naughty night to swim

    in.—Now a little fire in a wild field were like an old lecher’s

    heart,—a small spark, all the rest on’s body cold.—Look, here

    comes a walking fire.


    This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet: he begins at curfew,

    and walks till the first cock; he gives the web and the pin,

    squints the eye, and makes the harelip; mildews the white wheat,

    and hurts the poor creature of earth.

    Swithold footed thrice the old;

    He met the nightmare,

    and her nine-fold;

    Bid her alight

    And her troth plight,

    And aroint thee, witch, aroint thee!


    How fares your grace?

    [Enter Gloucester with a torch.]


    What’s he?


    Who’s there? What is’t you seek?


    What are you there? Your names?


    Poor Tom; that eats the swimming frog, the toad, the todpole, the

    wall-newt and the water; that in the fury of his heart, when the

    foul fiend rages, eats cow-dung for sallets; swallows the old rat

    and the ditch-dog; drinks the green mantle of the standing pool;

    who is whipped from tithing to tithing, and stocked, punished,

    and imprisoned; who hath had three suits to his back, six shirts

    to his body, horse to ride, and weapons to wear;—

    But mice and rats, and such small deer,

    Have been Tom’s food for seven long year.

    Beware my follower.—Peace, Smulkin; peace, thou fiend!


    What, hath your grace no better company?


    The prince of darkness is a gentleman:

    Modo he’s call’d, and Mahu.


    Our flesh and blood, my lord, is grown so vile

    That it doth hate what gets it.


    Poor Tom’s a-cold.


    Go in with me: my duty cannot suffer

    To obey in all your daughters’ hard commands;

    Though their injunction be to bar my doors,

    And let this tyrannous night take hold upon you,

    Yet have I ventur’d to come seek you out

    And bring you where both fire and food is ready.


    First let me talk with this philosopher.—

    What is the cause of thunder?


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


    I’ll talk a word with this same learned Theban.—

    What is your study?


    How to prevent the fiend and to kill vermin.


    Let me ask you one word in private.


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


    Canst thou blame him?

    His daughters seek his death:—ah, that good Kent!—

    He said it would be thus,—poor banish’d man!—

    Thou say’st the king grows mad; I’ll tell thee, friend,

    I am almost mad myself: I had a son,

    Now outlaw’d from my blood; he sought my life

    But lately, very late: I lov’d him, friend,—

    No father his son dearer: true to tell thee,

    [Storm continues.]

    The grief hath craz’d my wits.—What a night’s this!—

    I do beseech your grace,—


    O, cry you mercy, sir.—

    Noble philosopher, your company.


    Tom’s a-cold.


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


    Come, let’s in all.


    This way, my lord.


    With him;

    I will keep still with my philosopher.


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


    Take him you on.


    Sirrah, come on; go along with us.


    Come, good Athenian.


    No words, no words: hush.


    Child Rowland to the dark tower came,

    His word was still—Fie, foh, and fum,

    I smell the blood of a British man.


    Scene V. A Room in Gloucester’s Castle.

    [Enter Cornwall and Edmund.]


    I will have my revenge ere I depart his house.


    How, my lord, I may be censured, that nature thus gives way to

    loyalty, something fears me to think of.


    I now perceive it was not altogether your brother’s evil

    disposition made him seek his death; but a provoking merit, set

    a-work by a reproveable badness in himself.


    How malicious is my fortune, that I must repent to be just! This

    is the letter he spoke of, which approves him an intelligent

    party to the advantages of France. O heavens! that this treason

    were not—or not I the detector!


    Go with me to the duchess.


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

    in hand.


    True or false, it hath made thee earl of Gloucester. Seek out

    where thy father is, that he may be ready for our apprehension.


    [Aside.] If I find him comforting the king, it will stuff his

    suspicion more fully.—I will persever in my course of loyalty,

    though the conflict be sore between that and my blood.


    I will lay trust upon thee; and thou shalt find a dearer father

    in my love.


    Scene VI. A Chamber in a Farmhouse adjoining the Castle.

    [Enter Gloucester, Lear, Kent, Fool, and Edgar.]


    Here is better than the open air; take it thankfully. I will

    piece out the comfort with what addition I can: I will not be

    long from you.


    All the power of his wits have given way to his impatience:—

    the gods reward your kindness!

    [Exit Gloucester.]


    Frateretto calls me; and tells me Nero is an angler in the lake

    of darkness.—Pray, innocent, and beware the foul fiend.


    Pr’ythee, nuncle, tell me whether a madman be a gentleman or a



    A king, a king!


    No, he’s a yeoman that has a gentleman to his son; for he’s a mad

    yeoman that sees his son a gentleman before him.


    To have a thousand with red burning spits Come hissing in upon ’em,—


    The foul fiend bites my back.


    He’s mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf, a horse’s health,

    a boy’s love, or a whore’s oath.


    It shall be done; I will arraign them straight.—

    [To Edgar.] Come, sit thou here, most learned justicer—

    [To the FOOL.] Thou, sapient sir, sit here. Now, you she-foxes!—


    Look, where he stands and glares!—Want’st thou eyes at trial,


    Come o’er the bourn, Bessy, to me,—


    Her boat hath a leak,

    And she must not speak

    Why she dares not come over to thee.


    The foul fiend haunts poor Tom in the voice of a nightingale.

    Hoppedance cries in Tom’s belly for two white herring. Croak not,

    black angel; I have no food for thee.


    How do you, sir? Stand you not so amaz’d;

    Will you lie down and rest upon the cushions?


    I’ll see their trial first.—Bring in their evidence.

    [To Edgar.] Thou, robed man of justice, take thy place;—

    [To the FOOL.] And thou, his yokefellow of equity,

    Bench by his side:—[To KENT.] you are o’ the commission,

    Sit you too.


    Let us deal justly.

    Sleepest or wakest thou, jolly shepherd?

    Thy sheep be in the corn;

    And for one blast of thy minikin mouth

    Thy sheep shall take no harm.

    Purr! the cat is gray.


    Arraign her first; ’tis Goneril. I here take my oath before

    this honourable assembly, she kicked the poor king her father.


    Come hither, mistress. Is your name Goneril?


    She cannot deny it.


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


    And here’s another, whose warp’d looks proclaim

    What store her heart is made on.—Stop her there!

    Arms, arms! sword! fire!—Corruption in the place!—

    False justicer, why hast thou let her ’scape?


    Bless thy five wits!


    O pity!—Sir, where is the patience now

    That you so oft have boasted to retain?


    [Aside.] My tears begin to take his part so much

    They’ll mar my counterfeiting.


    The little dogs and all,

    Tray, Blanch, and Sweetheart, see, they bark at me.


    Tom will throw his head at them.—Avaunt, you curs!

    Be thy mouth or black or white,

    Tooth that poisons if it bite;

    Mastiff, greyhound, mongrel grim,

    Hound or spaniel, brach or lym,

    Or bobtail tike or trundle-tail,—

    Tom will make them weep and wail;

    For, with throwing thus my head,

    Dogs leap the hatch, and all are fled.

    Do de, de, de. Sessa! Come, march to wakes and fairs and market

    towns. Poor Tom, thy horn is dry.


    Then let them anatomize Regan; see what breeds about her

    heart. Is there any cause in nature that makes these hard

    hearts?—[To Edgar.] You, sir, I entertain you for one of my

    hundred; only I do not like the fashion of your garments: you’ll

    say they are Persian; but let them be changed.


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


    Make no noise, make no noise; draw the curtains:

    So, so. We’ll go to supper i’ the morning.


    And I’ll go to bed at noon.

    [Re-enter Gloucester.]


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


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


    Good friend, I pr’ythee, take him in thy arms;

    I have o’erheard a plot of death upon him;

    There is a litter ready; lay him in’t

    And drive towards Dover, friend, where thou shalt meet

    Both welcome and protection. Take up thy master;

    If thou shouldst dally half an hour, his life,

    With thine, and all that offer to defend him,

    Stand in assured loss: take up, take up;

    And follow me, that will to some provision

    Give thee quick conduct.


    Oppressed nature sleeps:—

    This rest might yet have balm’d thy broken sinews,

    Which, if convenience will not allow,

    Stand in hard cure.—Come, help to bear thy master;

    [To the FOOL.] Thou must not stay behind.


    Come, come, away!

    [Exeunt Kent, Gloucester, and the Fool, bearing off LEAR.]


    When we our betters see bearing our woes,

    We scarcely think our miseries our foes.

    Who alone suffers suffers most i’ the mind,

    Leaving free things and happy shows behind:

    But then the mind much sufferance doth o’erskip

    When grief hath mates, and bearing fellowship.

    How light and portable my pain seems now,

    When that which makes me bend makes the king bow;

    He childed as I fathered!—Tom, away!

    Mark the high noises; and thyself bewray,

    When false opinion, whose wrong thought defiles thee,

    In thy just proof repeals and reconciles thee.

    What will hap more to-night, safe ’scape the king!

    Lurk, lurk.


    Scene VII. A Room in Gloucester’s Castle.

    [Enter Cornwall, Regan, Goneril, Edmund, and Servants.]


    Post speedily to my lord your husband, show him this letter:—

    the army of France is landed.—Seek out the traitor Gloucester.

    [Exeunt some of the Servants.]


    Hang him instantly.


    Pluck out his eyes.


    Leave him to my displeasure.—Edmund, keep you our sister

    company: the revenges we are bound to take upon your traitorous

    father are not fit for your beholding. Advise the duke where you

    are going, to a most festinate preparation: we are bound to the

    like. Our posts shall be swift and intelligent betwixt us.

    Farewell, dear sister:—farewell, my lord of Gloucester.

    [Enter Oswald.]

    How now! Where’s the king?


    My lord of Gloucester hath convey’d him hence:

    Some five or six and thirty of his knights,

    Hot questrists after him, met him at gate;

    Who, with some other of the lord’s dependants,

    Are gone with him towards Dover: where they boast

    To have well-armed friends.


    Get horses for your mistress.


    Farewell, sweet lord, and sister.


    Edmund, farewell.

    [Exeunt Goneril, Edmund, and Oswald.]

    Go seek the traitor Gloucester,

    Pinion him like a thief, bring him before us.

    [Exeunt other Servants.]

    Though well we may not pass upon his life

    Without the form of justice, yet our power

    Shall do a courtesy to our wrath, which men

    May blame, but not control.—Who’s there? the traitor?

    [Re-enter servants, with Gloucester.]


    Ingrateful fox! ’tis he.


    Bind fast his corky arms.


    What mean your graces?—Good my friends, consider

    You are my guests: do me no foul play, friends.


    Bind him, I say.

    [Servants bind him.]


    Hard, hard.—O filthy traitor!


    Unmerciful lady as you are, I’m none.


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

    [Regan plucks his beard.]


    By the kind gods, ’tis most ignobly done

    To pluck me by the beard.


    So white, and such a traitor!


    Naughty lady,

    These hairs which thou dost ravish from my chin

    Will quicken, and accuse thee: I am your host:

    With robber’s hands my hospitable favours

    You should not ruffle thus. What will you do?


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


    Be simple-answer’d, for we know the truth.


    And what confederacy have you with the traitors

    Late footed in the kingdom?


    To whose hands have you sent the lunatic king?



    I have a letter guessingly set down,

    Which came from one that’s of a neutral heart,

    And not from one oppos’d.




    And false.


    Where hast thou sent the king?


    To Dover.


    Wherefore to Dover? Wast thou not charg’d at peril,—


    Wherefore to Dover? Let him first answer that.


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


    Wherefore to Dover, sir?


    Because I would not see thy cruel nails

    Pluck out his poor old eyes; nor thy fierce sister

    In his anointed flesh stick boarish fangs.

    The sea, with such a storm as his bare head

    In hell-black night endur’d, would have buoy’d up,

    And quench’d the stelled fires; yet, poor old heart,

    He holp the heavens to rain.

    If wolves had at thy gate howl’d that stern time,

    Thou shouldst have said, ‘Good porter, turn the key.’

    All cruels else subscrib’d:—but I shall see

    The winged vengeance overtake such children.


    See’t shalt thou never.—Fellows, hold the chair.

    Upon these eyes of thine I’ll set my foot.

    [Gloucester is held down in his chair, while Cornwall plucks out one

    of his eyes and sets his foot on it.]


    He that will think to live till he be old,

    Give me some help!—O cruel!—O ye gods!


    One side will mock another; the other too!


    If you see vengeance,—


    Hold your hand, my lord:

    I have serv’d you ever since I was a child;

    But better service have I never done you

    Than now to bid you hold.


    How now, you dog!


    If you did wear a beard upon your chin,

    I’d shake it on this quarrel. What do you mean?


    My villain! [Draws, and runs at him.]


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

    [Draws. They fight. Cornwall is wounded.]


    Give me thy sword [to another servant.]—A peasant stand up thus?

    [Snatches a sword, comes behind, and stabs him.]


    O, I am slain!—My lord, you have one eye left

    To see some mischief on thim. O!



    Lest it see more, prevent it.—Out, vile jelly!

    Where is thy lustre now?

    [Tears out Gloucester’s other eye and throws it on the ground.]


    All dark and comfortless.—Where’s my son Edmund?

    Edmund, enkindle all the sparks of nature

    To quit this horrid act.


    Out, treacherous villain!

    Thou call’st on him that hates thee: it was he

    That made the overture of thy treasons to us;

    Who is too good to pity thee.


    O my follies! Then Edgar was abus’d.—

    Kind gods, forgive me that, and prosper him!


    Go thrust him out at gates, and let him smell

    His way to Dover.—How is’t, my lord? How look you?


    I have receiv’d a hurt:—follow me, lady.—

    Turn out that eyeless villain;—throw this slave

    Upon the dunghill.—Regan, I bleed apace:

    Untimely comes this hurt: give me your arm.

    [Exit Cornwall, led by Regan; Servants unbind Gloucester and lead

    him out.]


    I’ll never care what wickedness I do,

    If this man come to good.


    If she live long,

    And in the end meet the old course of death,

    Women will all turn monsters.


    Let’s follow the old earl, and get the Bedlam

    To lead him where he would: his roguish madness

    Allows itself to anything.


    Go thou: I’ll fetch some flax and whites of eggs

    To apply to his bleeding face. Now heaven help him!

    [Exeunt severally.]

    Act IV

    Scene I. The heath.

    [Enter 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,

    Life would not yield to age.

    Old Man.

    O my good lord,

    I have been your tenant, and your father’s tenant,

    These fourscore years.


    Away, get thee away; good friend, be gone:

    Thy comforts can do me no good at all;

    Thee they may hurt.

    Old Man.

    You cannot see your way.


    I have no way, and therefore want no eyes;

    I stumbled when I saw: full oft ’tis seen

    Our means secure us, and our mere defects

    Prove our commodities.—O dear son Edgar,

    The food of thy abused father’s wrath!

    Might I but live to see thee in my touch,

    I’d say I had eyes again!

    Old Man.

    How now! Who’s there?


    [Aside.] O gods! Who is’t can say ‘I am at the worst?’

    I am worse than e’er I was.

    Old Man.

    ’Tis poor mad Tom.


    [Aside.] And worse I may be yet. The worst is not

    So long as we can say ‘This is the worst.’

    Old Man.

    Fellow, where goest?


    Is it a beggar-man?

    Old Man.

    Madman and beggar too.


    He has some reason, else he could not beg.

    I’ the last night’s storm I such a fellow saw;

    Which made me think a man a worm: my son

    Came then into my mind, and yet my mind

    Was then scarce friends with him: I have heard more since.

    As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods,—

    They kill us for their sport.


    [Aside.] How should this be?—

    Bad is the trade that must play fool to sorrow,

    Angering itself and others.—Bless thee, master!


    Is that the naked fellow?

    Old Man.

    Ay, my lord.


    Then pr’ythee get thee gone: if for my sake

    Thou wilt o’ertake us, hence a mile or twain,

    I’ the way toward Dover, do it for ancient love;

    And bring some covering for this naked soul,

    Which I’ll entreat to lead me.

    Old Man.

    Alack, sir, he is mad.


    ’Tis the time’s plague when madmen lead the blind.

    Do as I bid thee, or rather do thy pleasure;

    Above the rest, be gone.

    Old Man.

    I’ll bring him the best ’parel that I have,

    Come on’t what will.



    Sirrah naked fellow,—


    Poor Tom’s a-cold. [Aside.]

    I cannot daub it further.


    Come hither, fellow.


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


    Know’st thou the way to Dover?


    Both stile and gate, horseway and footpath. Poor Tom hath been

    scared out of his good wits:—bless thee, good man’s son, from

    the foul fiend! Five fiends have been in poor Tom at once; of

    lust, as Obidicut; Hobbididence, prince of dumbness; Mahu, of

    stealing; Modo, of murder; Flibbertigibbet, of mopping and

    mowing,—who since possesses chambermaids and waiting women. So,

    bless thee, master!


    Here, take this purse, thou whom the heavens’ plagues

    Have humbled to all strokes: that I am wretched

    Makes thee the happier;—heavens, deal so still!

    Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man,

    That slaves your ordinance, that will not see

    Because he does not feel, feel your power quickly;

    So distribution should undo excess,

    And each man have enough.—Dost thou know Dover?


    Ay, master.


    There is a cliff, whose high and bending head

    Looks fearfully in the confined deep:

    Bring me but to the very brim of it,

    And I’ll repair the misery thou dost bear

    With something rich about me: from that place

    I shall no leading need.


    Give me thy arm:

    Poor Tom shall lead thee.


    Scene II. Before the Duke of Albany’s Palace.

    Enter Goneril and Edmund; Oswald meeting them.]


    Welcome, my lord: I marvel our mild husband

    Not met us on the way.—Now, where’s your master?


    Madam, within; but never man so chang’d.

    I told him of the army that was landed;

    He smil’d at it: I told him you were coming;

    His answer was, ‘The worse.’ Of Gloucester’s treachery

    And of the loyal service of his son

    When I inform’d him, then he call’d me sot

    And told me I had turn’d the wrong side out:—

    What most he should dislike seems pleasant to him;

    What like, offensive.


    [To Edmund.] Then shall you go no further.

    It is the cowish terror of his spirit,

    That dares not undertake: he’ll not feel wrongs

    Which tie him to an answer. Our wishes on the way

    May prove effects. Back, Edmund, to my brother;

    Hasten his musters and conduct his powers:

    I must change arms at home, and give the distaff

    Into my husband’s hands. This trusty servant

    Shall pass between us; ere long you are like to hear,

    If you dare venture in your own behalf,

    A mistress’s command. [Giving a favour.]

    Wear this; spare speech;

    Decline your head: this kiss, if it durst speak,

    Would stretch thy spirits up into the air:—

    Conceive, and fare thee well.


    Yours in the ranks of death!

    [Exit Edmund.]


    My most dear Gloucester.

    O, the difference of man and man!

    To thee a woman’s services are due:

    My fool usurps my body.


    Madam, here comes my lord.


    [Enter Albany.]


    I have been worth the whistle.


    O Goneril!

    You are not worth the dust which the rude wind

    Blows in your face! I fear your disposition:

    That nature which contemns it origin

    Cannot be bordered certain in itself;

    She that herself will sliver and disbranch

    From her material sap, perforce must wither

    And come to deadly use.


    No more; the text is foolish.


    Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile:

    Filths savour but themselves. What have you done?

    Tigers, not daughters, what have you perform’d?

    A father, and a gracious aged man,

    Whose reverence even the head-lugg’d bear would lick,

    Most barbarous, most degenerate, have you madded.

    Could my good brother suffer you to do it?

    A man, a prince, by him so benefited!

    If that the heavens do not their visible spirits

    Send quickly down to tame these vile offences,

    It will come,

    Humanity must perforce prey on itself,

    Like monsters of the deep.


    Milk-liver’d man!

    That bear’st a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs;

    Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning

    Thine honour from thy suffering; that not know’st

    Fools do those villains pity who are punish’d

    Ere they have done their mischief. Where’s thy drum?

    France spreads his banners in our noiseless land;

    With plumed helm thy slayer begins threats;

    Whiles thou, a moral fool, sitt’st still, and criest

    ‘Alack, why does he so?’


    See thyself, devil!

    Proper deformity seems not in the fiend

    So horrid as in woman.


    O vain fool!


    Thou changed and self-cover’d thing, for shame!

    Be-monster not thy feature! Were’t my fitness

    To let these hands obey my blood.

    They are apt enough to dislocate and tear

    Thy flesh and bones:—howe’er thou art a fiend,

    A woman’s shape doth shield thee.


    Marry, your manhood now!

    [Enter a Messenger.]


    What news?


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


    Gloucester’s eyes!


    A servant that he bred, thrill’d with remorse,

    Oppos’d against the act, bending his sword

    To his great master; who, thereat enrag’d,

    Flew on him, and amongst them fell’d him dead;

    But not without that harmful stroke which since

    Hath pluck’d him after.


    This shows you are above,

    You justicers, that these our nether crimes

    So speedily can venge!—

    But, O poor Gloucester!

    Lost he his other eye?


    Both, both, my lord.—

    This letter, madam, craves a speedy answer;

    ’Tis from your sister.


    [Aside.] One way I like this well;

    But being widow, and my Gloucester with her,

    May all the building in my fancy pluck

    Upon my hateful life: another way

    The news is not so tart.—I’ll read, and answer.



    Where was his son when they did take his eyes?


    Come with my lady hither.


    He is not here.


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


    Knows he the wickedness?


    Ay, my good lord. ’Twas he inform’d against him;

    And quit the house on purpose, that their punishment

    Might have the freer course.


    Gloucester, I live

    To thank thee for the love thou show’dst the king,

    And to revenge thine eyes.—Come hither, friend:

    Tell me what more thou know’st.


    Scene III. The French camp near Dover.

    [Enter Kent and a Gentleman.]


    Why the king of France is so suddenly gone back know you the



    Something he left imperfect in the state, which since his coming

    forth is thought of, which imports to the kingdom so much fear

    and danger that his personal return was most required and



    Who hath he left behind him general?


    The Mareschal of France, Monsieur La Far.


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


    Ay, sir; she took them, read them in my presence;

    And now and then an ample tear trill’d down

    Her delicate cheek: it seem’d she was a queen

    Over her passion; who, most rebel-like,

    Sought to be king o’er her.


    O, then it mov’d her.


    Not to a rage: patience and sorrow strove

    Who should express her goodliest. You have seen

    Sunshine and rain at once: her smiles and tears

    Were like, a better day: those happy smilets

    That play’d on her ripe lip seem’d not to know

    What guests were in her eyes; which parted thence

    As pearls from diamonds dropp’d.—In brief, sorrow

    Would be a rarity most belov’d, if all

    Could so become it.


    Made she no verbal question?


    Faith, once or twice she heav’d the name of ‘father’

    Pantingly forth, as if it press’d her heart;

    Cried ‘Sisters, sisters!—Shame of ladies! sisters!

    Kent! father! sisters! What, i’ the storm? i’ the night?

    Let pity not be believ’d!’—There she shook

    The holy water from her heavenly eyes,

    And clamour moisten’d: then away she started

    To deal with grief alone.


    It is the stars,

    The stars above us, govern our conditions;

    Else one self mate and mate could not beget

    Such different issues. You spoke not with her since?




    Was this before the king return’d?


    No, since.


    Well, sir, the poor distressed Lear’s i’ the town;

    Who sometime, in his better tune, remembers

    What we are come about, and by no means

    Will yield to see his daughter.


    Why, good sir?


    A sovereign shame so elbows him: his own unkindness,

    That stripp’d her from his benediction, turn’d her

    To foreign casualties, gave her dear rights

    To his dog-hearted daughters,—these things sting

    His mind so venomously that burning shame

    Detains him from Cordelia.


    Alack, poor gentleman!


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


    ’Tis so; they are a-foot.


    Well, sir, I’ll bring you to our master Lear

    And leave you to attend him: some dear cause

    Will in concealment wrap me up awhile;

    When I am known aright, you shall not grieve

    Lending me this acquaintance. I pray you go

    Along with me. [Exeunt.]

    Scene IV. The French camp. A Tent.

    [Enter Cordelia, Physician, and Soldiers.]


    Alack, ’tis he: why, he was met even now

    As mad as the vex’d sea; singing aloud;

    Crown’d with rank fumiter and furrow weeds,

    With harlocks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo-flowers,

    Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow

    In our sustaining corn.—A century send forth;

    Search every acre in the high-grown field,

    And bring him to our eye.

    [Exit an


    What can man’s wisdom

    In the restoring his bereaved sense?

    He that helps him take all my outward worth.


    There is means, madam:

    Our foster nurse of nature is repose,

    The which he lacks; that to provoke in him

    Are many simples operative, whose power

    Will close the eye of anguish.


    All bless’d secrets,

    All you unpublish’d virtues of the earth,

    Spring with my tears! be aidant and remediate

    In the good man’s distress!—Seek, seek for him;

    Lest his ungovern’d rage dissolve the life

    That wants the means to lead it.

    [Enter a Messenger.]


    News, madam;

    The British powers are marching hitherward.


    ’Tis known before; our preparation stands

    In expectation of them.—O dear father,

    It is thy business that I go about;

    Therefore great France

    My mourning and important tears hath pitied.

    No blown ambition doth our arms incite,

    But love, dear love, and our ag’d father’s right:

    Soon may I hear and see him!


    Scene V. A Room in Gloucester’s Castle.

    [Enter Regan and Oswald.]


    But are my brother’s powers set forth?


    Ay, madam.


    Himself in person there?


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


    Lord Edmund spake not with your lord at home?


    No, madam.


    What might import my sister’s letter to him?


    I know not, lady.


    Faith, he is posted hence on serious matter.

    It was great ignorance, Gloucester’s eyes being out,

    To let him live: where he arrives he moves

    All hearts against us: Edmund, I think, is gone,

    In pity of his misery, to despatch

    His nighted life; moreover, to descry

    The strength o’ the enemy.


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


    Our troops set forth to-morrow: stay with us;

    The ways are dangerous.


    I may not, madam:

    My lady charg’d my duty in this business.


    Why should she write to Edmund? Might not you

    Transport her purposes by word? Belike,

    Something,—I know not what:—I’ll love thee much—

    Let me unseal the letter.


    Madam, I had rather,—


    I know your lady does not love her husband;

    I am sure of that: and at her late being here

    She gave strange eyeliads and most speaking looks

    To noble Edmund. I know you are of her bosom.


    I, madam?


    I speak in understanding; you are, I know’t:

    Therefore I do advise you, take this note:

    My lord is dead; Edmund and I have talk’d;

    And more convenient is he for my hand

    Than for your lady’s.—You may gather more.

    If you do find him, pray you give him this;

    And when your mistress hears thus much from you,

    I pray desire her call her wisdom to her

    So, fare you well. If you do chance to hear of that blind traitor,

    Preferment falls on him that cuts him off.


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


    Fare thee well.


    Scene VI. The country near Dover.

    [Enter Gloucester, and Edgar dressed like a peasant.]


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


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


    Methinks the ground is even.


    Horrible steep. Hark, do you hear the sea?


    No, truly.


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


    So may it be indeed:

    Methinks thy voice is alter’d; and thou speak’st

    In better phrase and matter than thou didst.


    You are much deceiv’d: in nothing am I chang’d

    But in my garments.


    Methinks you’re better spoken.


    Come on, sir; here’s the place:—stand still.—How fearful

    And dizzy ’tis to cast one’s eyes so low!

    The crows and choughs that wing the midway air

    Show scarce so gross as beetles: half way down

    Hangs one that gathers samphire—dreadful trade!

    Methinks he seems no bigger than his head:

    The fishermen that walk upon the beach

    Appear like mice; and yond tall anchoring bark,

    Diminish’d to her cock; her cock a buoy

    Almost too small for sight: the murmuring surge

    That on the unnumber’d idle pebble chafes

    Cannot be heard so high.—I’ll look no more;

    Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight

    Topple down headlong.


    Set me where you stand.


    Give me your hand:—you are now within a foot

    Of th’ extreme verge: for all beneath the moon

    Would I not leap upright.


    Let go my hand.

    Here, friend, ’s another purse; in it a jewel

    Well worth a poor man’s taking: fairies and gods

    Prosper it with thee! Go thou further off;

    Bid me farewell, and let me hear thee going.


    Now fare ye well, good sir.

    [Seems to go.]


    With all my heart.


    [Aside.] Why I do trifle thus with his despair

    Is done to cure it.


    O you mighty gods!

    This world I do renounce, and, in your sights,

    Shake patiently my great affliction off:

    If I could bear it longer, and not fall

    To quarrel with your great opposeless wills,

    My snuff and loathed part of nature should

    Burn itself out. If Edgar live, O, bless him!—

    Now, fellow, fare thee well.


    Gone, sir:—farewell.—

    [Gloucester leaps, and falls along.]

    And yet I know not how conceit may rob

    The treasury of life when life itself

    Yields to the theft: had he been where he thought,

    By this had thought been past.—Alive or dead?

    Ho you, sir! friend! Hear you, sir?—speak!—

    Thus might he pass indeed:—yet he revives.—

    What are you, sir?


    Away, and let me die.


    Hadst thou been aught but gossamer, feathers, air,

    So many fathom down precipitating,

    Thou’dst shiver’d like an egg: but thou dost breathe;

    Hast heavy substance; bleed’st not; speak’st; art sound.

    Ten masts at each make not the altitude

    Which thou hast perpendicularly fell:

    Thy life is a miracle.—Speak yet again.


    But have I fall’n, or no?


    From the dread summit of this chalky bourn.

    Look up a-height;—the shrill-gorg’d lark so far

    Cannot be seen or heard: do but look up.


    Alack, I have no eyes.—

    Is wretchedness depriv’d that benefit

    To end itself by death? ’Twas yet some comfort

    When misery could beguile the tyrant’s rage

    And frustrate his proud will.


    Give me your arm:

    Up:—so.—How is’t? Feel you your legs? You stand.


    Too well, too well.


    This is above all strangeness.

    Upon the crown o’ the cliff what thing was that

    Which parted from you?


    A poor unfortunate beggar.


    As I stood here below, methought his eyes

    Were two full moons; he had a thousand noses,

    Horns whelk’d and wav’d like the enridged sea:

    It was some fiend; therefore, thou happy father,

    Think that the clearest gods, who make them honours

    Of men’s impossibility, have preserv’d thee.


    I do remember now: henceforth I’ll bear

    Affliction till it do cry out itself,

    ‘Enough, enough,’ and die. That thing you speak of,

    I took it for a man; often ’twould say,

    ‘The fiend, the fiend:’—he led me to that place.


    Bear free and patient thoughts.—But who comes here?

    [Enter Lear, fantastically dressed up with flowers.]

    The safer sense will ne’er accommodate

    His master thus.


    No, they cannot touch me for coining;

    I am the king himself.


    O thou side-piercing sight!


    Nature’s above art in that respect.—There’s your press money.

    That fellow handles his bow like a crow-keeper: draw me a

    clothier’s yard.—Look, look, a mouse! Peace, peace;—this piece

    of toasted cheese will do’t. There’s my gauntlet; I’ll prove it

    on a giant.—Bring up the brown bills. O, well flown, bird!—i’

    the clout, i’ the clout: hewgh!—Give the word.


    Sweet marjoram.




    I know that voice.


    Ha! Goneril with a white beard!—They flattered me like a dog;

    and told me I had white hairs in my beard ere the black ones were

    there. To say ‘ay’ and ‘no’ to everything I said!—‘Ay’ and ‘no’,

    too, was no good divinity. When the rain came to wet me once, and

    the wind to make me chatter; when the thunder would not peace at

    my bidding; there I found ’em, there I smelt ’em out. Go to, they

    are not men o’ their words: they told me I was everything; ’tis a

    lie—I am not ague-proof.


    The trick of that voice I do well remember:

    Is’t not the king?


    Ay, every inch a king:

    When I do stare, see how the subject quakes.

    I pardon that man’s life.—What was thy cause?—


    Thou shalt not die: die for adultery! No:

    The wren goes to’t, and the small gilded fly

    Does lecher in my sight.

    Let copulation thrive; for Gloucester’s bastard son

    Was kinder to his father than my daughters

    Got ’tween the lawful sheets.

    To’t, luxury, pell-mell! for I lack soldiers.—

    Behold yond simpering dame,

    Whose face between her forks presages snow;

    That minces virtue, and does shake the head

    To hear of pleasure’s name;—

    The fitchew nor the soiled horse goes to’t

    With a more riotous appetite.

    Down from the waist they are centaurs, Though women all above:

    But to the girdle do the gods inherit,

    Beneath is all the fiend’s; there’s hell, there’s darkness,

    There is the sulphurous pit; burning, scalding, stench,

    consumption; fie, fie, fie! pah, pah!

    Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, to sweeten my

    imagination: there’s money for thee.


    O, let me kiss that hand!


    Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality.


    O ruin’d piece of nature! This great world

    Shall so wear out to naught.—Dost thou know me?


    I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost thou squiny at me?

    No, do thy worst, blind Cupid; I’ll not love.—Read thou this

    challenge; mark but the penning of it.


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


    I would not take this from report;—it is,

    And my heart breaks at it.




    What, with the case of eyes?


    O, ho, are you there with me? No eyes in your head, nor no money

    in your purse? Your eyes are in a heavy case, your purse in a

    light: yet you see how this world goes.


    I see it feelingly.


    What, art mad? A man may see how the world goes with no eyes.

    Look with thine ears: see how yond justice rails upon yond simple

    thief. Hark, in thine ear: change places; and, handy-dandy, which

    is the justice, which is the thief?—Thou hast seen a farmer’s

    dog bark at a beggar?


    Ay, sir.


    And the creature run from the cur? There thou mightst behold

    the great image of authority: a dog’s obeyed in office.—

    Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand!

    Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thine own back;

    Thou hotly lust’st to use her in that kind

    For which thou whipp’st her. The usurer hangs the cozener.

    Through tatter’d clothes small vices do appear;

    Robes and furr’d gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold,

    And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks;

    Arm it in rags, a pygmy’s straw does pierce it.

    None does offend, none.—I say none; I’ll able ’em:

    Take that of me, my friend, who have the power

    To seal the accuser’s lips. Get thee glass eyes;

    And, like a scurvy politician, seem

    To see the things thou dost not.—Now, now, now, now:

    Pull off my boots: harder, harder:—so.


    O, matter and impertinency mix’d!

    Reason, in madness!


    If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes.

    I know thee well enough; thy name is Gloucester:

    Thou must be patient; we came crying hither:

    Thou know’st, the first time that we smell the air

    We wawl and cry.—I will preach to thee: mark.


    Alack, alack the day!


    When we are born, we cry that we are come

    To this great stage of fools—This a good block:—

    It were a delicate stratagem to shoe

    A troop of horse with felt: I’ll put’t in proof;

    And when I have stol’n upon these sons-in-law,

    Then kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill! [Enter a Gentleman, with Attendants].


    O, here he is: lay hand upon him.—Sir,

    Your most dear daughter,—


    No rescue? What, a prisoner? I am even

    The natural fool of fortune.—Use me well; You shall have ransom.

    Let me have surgeons; I am cut to the brains.


    You shall have anything.


    No seconds? all myself?

    Why, this would make a man a man of salt,

    To use his eyes for garden water-pots,

    Ay, and for laying Autumn’s dust.


    Good sir,—


    I will die bravely, like a smug bridegroom. What!

    I will be jovial: come, come, I am a king,

    My masters, know you that.


    You are a royal one, and we obey you.


    Then there’s life in’t. Nay, an you get it, you shall get it

    by running. Sa, sa, sa, sa!

    [Exit running. Attendants follow.]


    A sight most pitiful in the meanest wretch,

    Past speaking of in a king!—Thou hast one daughter

    Who redeems nature from the general curse

    Which twain have brought her to.


    Hail, gentle sir.


    Sir, speed you. What’s your will?


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


    Most sure and vulgar: every one hears that

    Which can distinguish sound.


    But, by your favour,

    How near’s the other army?


    Near and on speedy foot; the main descry

    Stands on the hourly thought.


    I thank you sir: that’s all.


    Though that the queen on special cause is here,

    Her army is mov’d on.


    I thank you, sir. [Exit Gentleman.]


    You ever-gentle gods, take my breath from me;

    Let not my worser spirit tempt me again

    To die before you please!


    Well pray you, father.


    Now, good sir, what are you?


    A most poor man, made tame to fortune’s blows;

    Who, by the art of known and feeling sorrows,

    Am pregnant to good pity. Give me your hand,

    I’ll lead you to some biding.


    Hearty thanks:

    The bounty and the benison of heaven

    To boot, and boot!

    [Enter Oswald.]


    A proclaim’d prize! Most happy!

    That eyeless head of thine was first fram’d flesh

    To raise my fortunes.—Thou old unhappy traitor,

    Briefly thyself remember:—the sword is out

    That must destroy thee.


    Now let thy friendly hand

    Put strength enough to it.

    [Edgar interposes.]


    Wherefore, bold peasant,

    Dar’st thou support a publish’d traitor? Hence;

    Lest that the infection of his fortune take

    Like hold on thee. Let go his arm.


    Chill not let go, zir, without vurther ’casion.


    Let go, slave, or thou diest!


    Good gentleman, go your gait, and let poor voke pass. An chud

    ha’ bin zwaggered out of my life, ’twould not ha’ bin zo long as

    ’tis by a vortnight. Nay, come not near the old man; keep out,

    che vore ye, or ise try whether your costard or my bat be the

    harder: chill be plain with you.


    Out, dunghill!


    Chill pick your teeth, zir. Come! No matter vor your foins.

    [They fight, and Edgar knocks him down.]


    Slave, thou hast slain me:—villain, take my purse:

    If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body;

    And give the letters which thou find’st about me

    To Edmund Earl of Gloucester; seek him out

    Upon the British party: O, untimely death!



    I know thee well: a serviceable villain;

    As duteous to the vices of thy mistress

    As badness would desire.


    What, is he dead?


    Sit you down, father; rest you.—

    Let’s see these pockets; the letters that he speaks of

    May be my friends.—He’s dead; I am only sorry

    He had no other death’s-man. Let us see:—

    Leave, gentle wax; and, manners, blame us not:

    To know our enemies’ minds, we’d rip their hearts;

    Their papers is more lawful.

    [Reads.] ‘Let our reciprocal vows be remembered. You have many

    opportunities to cut him off: if your will want not, time and

    place will be fruitfully offered. There is nothing done if he

    return the conqueror: then am I the prisoner, and his bed my

    gaol; from the loathed warmth whereof deliver me, and supply the

    place for your labour.

    Your (wife, so I would say) affectionate servant,


    O indistinguish’d space of woman’s will!

    A plot upon her virtuous husband’s life;

    And the exchange my brother!—Here in the sands

    Thee I’ll rake up, the post unsanctified

    Of murderous lechers: and in the mature time

    With this ungracious paper strike the sight

    Of the death-practis’d duke: for him ’tis well

    That of thy death and business I can tell.

    [Exit Edgar, dragging out the body.]


    The king is mad: how stiff is my vile sense,

    That I stand up, and have ingenious feeling

    Of my huge sorrows! Better I were distract:

    So should my thoughts be sever’d from my griefs,

    And woes by wrong imaginations lose

    The knowledge of themselves.


    Give me your hand:

    [A drum afar off.]

    Far off methinks I hear the beaten drum:

    Come, father, I’ll bestow you with a friend.


    Scene VII. A Tent in the French Camp.

    [Lear on a bed, asleep, soft music playing; Physician, Gentleman, and others attending.]

    [Enter Cordelia, and KENT.]


    O thou good Kent, how shall I live and work

    To match thy goodness? My life will be too short

    And every measure fail me.


    To be acknowledg’d, madam, is o’erpaid.

    All my reports go with the modest truth;

    Nor more nor clipp’d, but so.


    Be better suited:

    These weeds are memories of those worser hours:

    I pr’ythee, put them off.


    Pardon, dear madam;

    Yet to be known shortens my made intent:

    My boon I make it that you know me not

    Till time and I think meet.


    Then be’t so, my good lord. [To the Physician.] How, does the



    Madam, sleeps still.


    O you kind gods,

    Cure this great breach in his abused nature!

    The untun’d and jarring senses, O, wind up

    Of this child-changed father!


    So please your majesty

    That we may wake the king: he hath slept long.


    Be govern’d by your knowledge, and proceed

    I’ the sway of your own will. Is he array’d?


    Ay, madam. In the heaviness of sleep

    We put fresh garments on him.


    Be by, good madam, when we do awake him;

    I doubt not of his temperance.


    Very well.


    Please you draw near.—Louder the music there!


    O my dear father! Restoration hang

    Thy medicine on my lips; and let this kiss

    Repair those violent harms that my two sisters

    Have in thy reverence made!


    Kind and dear princess!


    Had you not been their father, these white flakes

    Had challeng’d pity of them. Was this a face

    To be oppos’d against the warring winds?

    To stand against the deep dread-bolted thunder?

    In the most terrible and nimble stroke

    Of quick cross lightning? to watch—,poor perdu!—

    With this thin helm? Mine enemy’s dog,

    Though he had bit me, should have stood that night

    Against my fire; and wast thou fain, poor father,

    To hovel thee with swine and rogues forlorn,

    In short and musty straw? Alack, alack!

    ’Tis wonder that thy life and wits at once

    Had not concluded all.—He wakes; speak to him.


    Madam, do you; ’tis fittest.


    How does my royal lord? How fares your majesty?


    You do me wrong to take me out o’ the grave:—

    Thou art a soul in bliss; but I am bound

    Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears

    Do scald like molten lead.


    Sir, do you know me?


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


    Still, still, far wide!


    He’s scarce awake: let him alone awhile.


    Where have I been? Where am I?—Fair daylight,—

    I am mightily abus’d.—I should e’en die with pity,

    To see another thus.—I know not what to say.—

    I will not swear these are my hands:—let’s see;

    I feel this pin prick. Would I were assur’d

    Of my condition!


    O, look upon me, sir,

    And hold your hands in benediction o’er me.—

    No, sir, you must not kneel.


    Pray, do not mock me:

    I am a very foolish fond old man,

    Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less;

    And, to deal plainly,

    I fear I am not in my perfect mind.

    Methinks I should know you, and know this man;

    Yet I am doubtful: for I am mainly ignorant

    What place this is; and all the skill I have

    Remembers not these garments; nor I know not

    Where I did lodge last night. Do not laugh at me;

    For, as I am a man, I think this lady

    To be my child Cordelia.

    This page titled 2.59: King Lear is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Bonnie J. Robinson & Laura Getty (University of North Georgia Press) .

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