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King Lear: Act 1, Scene 4

King Lear
Act 1, Scene 4

A hall in the Duke of Albany’s palace.

  1. Enter Kent disguised as Caius.

Kent

2 - 8
  1. If but as well I other accents borrow,
  2. That can my speech defuse, my good intent
  3. May carry through itself to that full issue
  4. For which I raz’d my likeness. Now, banish’d Kent,
  5. If thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemn’d,
  6. So may it come, thy master, whom thou lov’st,
  7. Shall find thee full of labors.
  1. Horns within. Enter Lear, Knights, and Attendants from
  2. hunting.

Lear

11 - 13
  1. Let me not stay a jot for dinner, go get it ready.
  2. Exit an Attendant.
  3. How now, what art thou?

Kent

14
  1. A man, sir.

Lear

15
  1. What dost thou profess? What wouldst thou with us?

Kent

16 - 19
  1. I do profess to be no less than I seem, to serve him truly
  2. that will put me in trust, to love him that is honest, to
  3. converse with him that is wise and says little, to fear
  4. judgment, to fight when I cannot choose, and to eat no fish.

Lear

20
  1. What art thou?

Kent

21
  1. A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the King.

Lear

22 - 23
  1. If thou be’st as poor for a subject as he’s for a king, th’
  2. art poor enough. What wouldst thou?

Kent

24
  1. Service.

Lear

25
  1. Who wouldst thou serve?

Kent

26
  1. You.

Lear

27
  1. Dost thou know me, fellow?

Kent

28 - 29
  1. No, sir, but you have that in your countenance which I would
  2. fain call master.

Lear

30
  1. What’s that?

Kent

31
  1. Authority.

Lear

32
  1. What services canst do?

Kent

33 - 36
  1. I can keep honest counsel, ride, run, mar a curious tale in
  2. telling it, and deliver a plain message bluntly. That which
  3. ordinary men are fit for, I am qualified in, and the best of
  4. me is diligence.

Lear

37
  1. How old art thou?

Kent

38 - 40
  1. Not so young, sir, to love a woman for singing, nor so old
  2. to dote on her for any thing. I have years on my back
  3. forty-eight.

Lear

41 - 47
  1. Follow me, thou shalt serve me. If I like thee no worse
  2. after dinner, I will not part from thee yet. Dinner, ho,
  3. dinner! Where’s my knave? My Fool? Go you and call my Fool
  4. hither.
  5. Exit an Attendant.
  6. Enter Steward Oswald.
  7. You, you, sirrah, where’s my daughter?

Oswald

48
  1. So please you
  1. Exit.

Lear

50 - 54
  1. What says the fellow there? Call the clotpole back.
  2. Exit a Knight.
  3. Where’s my Fool? Ho! I think the world’s asleep.
  4. Enter Knight.
  5. How now? Where’s that mongrel?

Knight

55
  1. He says, my lord, your daughter is not well.

Lear

56
  1. Why came not the slave back to me when I call’d him?

Knight

57
  1. Sir, he answer’d me in the roundest manner, he would not.

Lear

58
  1. He would not?

Knight

59 - 63
  1. My lord, I know not what the matter is, but to my judgment
  2. your Highness is not entertain’d with that ceremonious
  3. affection as you were wont. There’s a great abatement of
  4. kindness appears as well in the general dependents as in the
  5. Duke himself also, and your daughter.

Lear

64
  1. Ha? Say’st thou so?

Knight

65 - 66
  1. I beseech you pardon me, my lord, if I be mistaken, for my
  2. duty cannot be silent when I think your Highness wrong’d.

Lear

67 - 71
  1. Thou but rememb’rest me of mine own conception. I have
  2. perceiv’d a most faint neglect of late, which I have rather
  3. blam’d as mine own jealous curiosity than as a very pretense
  4. and purpose of unkindness. I will look further into’t. But
  5. where’s my Fool? I have not seen him this two days.

Knight

72 - 73
  1. Since my young lady’s going into France, sir, the Fool hath
  2. much pin’d away.

Lear

74 - 80
  1. No more of that, I have noted it well. Go you and tell my
  2. daughter I would speak with her.
  3. Exit an Attendant.
  4. Go you call hither my Fool.
  5. Exit another Attendant.
  6. Enter Steward Oswald.
  7. O, you, sir, you, come you hither, sir. Who am I, sir?

Oswald

81
  1. My lady’s father.

Lear

82 - 83
  1. My lady’s father”? My lord’s knave! You whoreson dog, you
  2. slave, you cur!

Oswald

84
  1. I am none of these, my lord, I beseech your pardon.

Lear

85
  1. Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?
  1. Striking him.

Oswald

87
  1. I’ll not be strucken, my lord.

Kent

88
  1. Nor tripp’d neither, you base football player.
  1. Tripping up his heels.

Lear

90
  1. I thank thee, fellow. Thou serv’st me, and I’ll love thee.

Kent

91 - 93
  1. Come, sir, arise, away! I’ll teach you differences. Away,
  2. away! If you will measure your lubber’s length again, tarry;
  3. but away! Go to, have you wisdom? So.
  1. Pushes Oswald out.

Lear

95 - 96
  1. Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee, there’s earnest of thy
  2. service.
  1. Giving Kent money.
  1. Enter Fool.

Fool

99
  1. Let me hire him too, here’s my coxcomb.
  1. Offering Kent his cap.

Lear

101
  1. How now, my pretty knave, how dost thou?

Fool

102
  1. Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb.

Kent

103
  1. Why, Fool?

Fool

104 - 110
  1. Why? For taking one’s part that’s out of favor. Nay, and
  2. thou canst not smile as the wind sits, thou’lt catch cold
  3. shortly. There, take my coxcomb. Why, this fellow has
  4. banish’d two on ’s daughters, and did the third a blessing
  5. against his will; if thou follow him, thou must needs wear
  6. my coxcomb.—How now, nuncle? Would I had two coxcombs and
  7. two daughters!

Lear

111
  1. Why, my boy?

Fool

112 - 113
  1. If I gave them all my living, I’ld keep my coxcombs myself.
  2. There’s mine, beg another of thy daughters.

Lear

114
  1. Take heed, sirrahthe whip.

Fool

115 - 116
  1. Truth’s a dog must to kennel, he must be whipt out, when the
  2. Lady Brach may stand by th’ fire and stink.

Lear

117
  1. A pestilent gall to me!

Fool

118
  1. Sirrah, I’ll teach thee a speech.

Lear

119
  1. Do.

Fool

120 - 130
  1. Mark it, nuncle:
  2. Have more than thou showest,
  3. Speak less than thou knowest,
  4. Lend less than thou owest,
  5. Ride more than thou goest,
  6. Learn more than thou trowest,
  7. Set less than thou throwest;
  8. Leave thy drink and thy whore,
  9. And keep in a’ door,
  10. And thou shalt have more
  11. Than two tens to a score.

Kent

131
  1. This is nothing, Fool.

Fool

132 - 133
  1. Then ’tis like the breath of an unfee’d lawyer, you gave me
  2. nothing for’t. Can you make no use of nothing, nuncle?

Lear

134
  1. Why, no, boy, nothing can be made out of nothing.

Fool

135 - 137
  1. To Kent.
  2. Prithee tell him, so much the rent of his land comes to. He
  3. will not believe a fool.

Lear

138
  1. A bitter fool!

Fool

139 - 140
  1. Dost thou know the difference, my boy, between a bitter fool
  2. and a sweet one?

Lear

141
  1. No, lad, teach me.

Fool

142 - 149
  1. That lord that counsell’d thee
  2.                                To give away thy land,
  3. Come place him here by me,
  4.                            Do thou for him stand.
  5. The sweet and bitter fool
  6.                           Will presently appear:
  7. The one in motley here,
  8.                         The other found out there.

Lear

150
  1. Dost thou call me fool, boy?

Fool

151 - 152
  1. All thy other titles thou hast given away, that thou wast
  2. born with.

Kent

153
  1. This is not altogether fool, my lord.

Fool

154 - 158
  1. No, faith, lords and great men will not let me; if I had a
  2. monopoly out, they would have part an’t. And ladies too,
  3. they will not let me have all the fool to myself, they’ll be
  4. snatching. Nuncle, give me an egg, and I’ll give thee two
  5. crowns.

Lear

159
  1. What two crowns shall they be?

Fool

160 - 171
  1. Why, after I have cut the egg i’ th’ middle and eat up the
  2. meat, the two crowns of the egg. When thou clovest thy crown
  3. i’ th’ middle and gav’st away both parts, thou bor’st thine
  4. ass on thy back o’er the dirt. Thou hadst little wit in thy
  5. bald crown when thou gav’st thy golden one away. If I speak
  6. like myself in this, let him be whipt that first finds it
  7. so.
  8. Sings.
  9. Fools had ne’er less grace in a year,
  10. For wise men are grown foppish,
  11. And know not how their wits to wear,
  12. Their manners are so apish.”

Lear

172
  1. When were you wont to be so full of songs, sirrah?

Fool

173 - 181
  1. I have us’d it, nuncle, e’er since thou mad’st thy daughters
  2. thy mothers, for when thou gav’st them the rod, and put’st
  3. down thine own breeches,
  4. Sings.
  5. Then they for sudden joy did weep,
  6. And I for sorrow sung,
  7. That such a king should play bo-peep,
  8. And go the fools among.”
  9. Prithee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach thy Fool to lieI would fain learn to lie.

Lear

182
  1. And you lie, sirrah, we’ll have you whipt.

Fool

183 - 188
  1. I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are. They’ll have
  2. me whipt for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipt for lying;
  3. and sometimes I am whipt for holding my peace. I had rather
  4. be any kind o’ thing than a Fool, and yet I would not be
  5. thee, nuncle: thou hast par’d thy wit o’ both sides, and
  6. left nothing i’ th’ middle. Here comes one o’ the parings.
  1. Enter Goneril.

Lear

190 - 191
  1. How now, daughter? What makes that frontlet on? You are too
  2. much of late i’ th’ frown.

Fool

192 - 202
  1. Thou wast a pretty fellow when thou hadst no need to care
  2. for her frowning, now thou art an O without a figure. I am
  3. better than thou art now, I am a Fool, thou art nothing.
  4. To Goneril.
  5. Yes, forsooth, I will hold my tongue; so your face bids me,
  6. though you say nothing.
  7.                         Mum, mum:
  8.           He that keeps nor crust nor crumb,
  9.                                    Weary of all, shall want some.
  10. Pointing to Lear.
  11.                                That’s a sheal’d peascod.

Goneril

203 - 216
  1. Not only, sir, this your all-licens’d Fool,
  2. But other of your insolent retinue
  3. Do hourly carp and quarrel, breaking forth
  4. In rank and not-to-be-endur’d riots. Sir,
  5. I had thought, by making this well known unto you,
  6. To have found a safe redress, but now grow fearful,
  7. By what yourself too late have spoke and done,
  8. That you protect this course and put it on
  9. By your allowance; which if you should, the fault
  10. Would not scape censure, nor the redresses sleep,
  11. Which, in the tender of a wholesome weal,
  12. Might in their working do you that offense,
  13. Which else were shame, that then necessity
  14. Will call discreet proceeding.

Fool

217 - 220
  1.                                For you know, nuncle,
  2. The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long,
  3. That it had it head bit off by it young.”
  4. So out went the candle, and we were left darkling.

Lear

221
  1. Are you our daughter?

Goneril

222 - 225
  1. I would you would make use of your good wisdom
  2. (Whereof I know you are fraught) and put away
  3. These dispositions which of late transport you
  4. From what you rightly are.

Fool

226 - 228
  1. May not an ass know when the cart draws the horse?
  2. Sings.
  3. Whoop, Jug! I love thee.”

Lear

229 - 233
  1. Does any here know me? This is not Lear.
  2. Does Lear walk thus? Speak thus? Where are his eyes?
  3. Either his notion weakens, his discernings
  4. Are lethargiedHa! Waking? ’Tis not so.
  5. Who is it that can tell me who I am?

Fool

234
  1. Lear’s shadow.

Lear

235 - 237
  1. I would learn that, for by the marks of sovereignty,
  2. Knowledge, and reason, I should be false persuaded
  3. I had daughters.

Fool

238
  1. Which they will make an obedient father.

Lear

239
  1. Your name, fair gentlewoman?

Goneril

240 - 255
  1. This admiration, sir, is much o’ th’ savor
  2. Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you
  3. To understand my purposes aright,
  4. As you are old and reverend, should be wise.
  5. Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires,
  6. Men so disorder’d, so debosh’d and bold,
  7. That this our court, infected with their manners,
  8. Shows like a riotous inn. Epicurism and lust
  9. Makes it more like a tavern or a brothel
  10. Than a grac’d palace. The shame itself doth speak
  11. For instant remedy. Be then desir’d
  12. By her, that else will take the thing she begs,
  13. A little to disquantity your train,
  14. And the remainders that shall still depend,
  15. To be such men as may besort your age,
  16. Which know themselves and you.

Lear

256 - 259
  1.                                Darkness and devils!
  2. Saddle my horses; call my train together!
  3. Degenerate bastard, I’ll not trouble thee;
  4. Yet have I left a daughter.

Goneril

260 - 261
  1. You strike my people,
  2. And your disorder’d rabble make servants of their betters.
  1. Enter Albany.

Lear

263 - 267
  1. Woe, that too late repents!—O, sir, are you come?
  2. Is it your will? Speak, sir.—Prepare my horses.—
  3. Ingratitude! Thou marble-hearted fiend,
  4. More hideous when thou show’st thee in a child
  5. Than the sea-monster.

Albany

268
  1.                       Pray, sir, be patient.

Lear

269 - 282
  1. To Goneril.
  2. Detested kite, thou liest.
  3. My train are men of choice and rarest parts,
  4. That all particulars of duty know,
  5. And in the most exact regard support
  6. The worships of their name. O most small fault,
  7. How ugly didst thou in Cordelia show!
  8. Which, like an engine, wrench’d my frame of nature
  9. From the fix’d place; drew from my heart all love,
  10. And added to the gall. O Lear, Lear, Lear!
  11. Beat at this gate, that let thy folly in
  12. Striking his head.
  13. And thy dear judgment out! Go, go, my people.
  14. Exeunt Knights and Kent.

Albany

283 - 284
  1. My lord, I am guiltless as I am ignorant
  2. Of what hath moved you.

Lear

285 - 300
  1.                         It may be so, my lord.
  2. Hear, Nature, hear, dear goddess, hear!
  3. Suspend thy purpose, if thou didst intend
  4. To make this creature fruitful.
  5. Into her womb convey sterility,
  6. Dry up in her the organs of increase,
  7. And from her derogate body never spring
  8. A babe to honor her! If she must teem,
  9. Create her child of spleen, that it may live
  10. And be a thwart disnatur’d torment to her.
  11. Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth,
  12. With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks,
  13. Turn all her mother’s pains and benefits
  14. To laughter and contempt, that she may feel
  15. How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is
  16. To have a thankless child!—Away, away!
  1. Exit.

Albany

302
  1. Now, gods that we adore, whereof comes this?

Goneril

303 - 305
  1. Never afflict yourself to know more of it,
  2. But let his disposition have that scope
  3. As dotage gives it.
  1. Enter Lear.

Lear

307 - 308
  1. What, fifty of my followers at a clap?
  2. Within a fortnight?

Albany

309
  1.                     What’s the matter, sir?

Lear

310 - 326
  1. I’ll tell thee.
  2. To Goneril.
  3. Life and death! I am asham’d
  4. That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus,
  5. That these hot tears, which break from me perforce,
  6. Should make thee worth them. Blasts and fogs upon thee!
  7. Th’ untented woundings of a father’s curse
  8. Pierce every sense about thee! Old fond eyes,
  9. Beweep this cause again, I’ll pluck ye out,
  10. And cast you, with the waters that you loose,
  11. To temper clay. Yea, is’t come to this?
  12. Ha? Let it be so: I have another daughter,
  13. Who I am sure is kind and comfortable.
  14. When she shall hear this of thee, with her nails
  15. She’ll flea thy wolvish visage. Thou shalt find
  16. That I’ll resume the shape which thou dost think
  17. I have cast off forever.
  1. Exit.

Goneril

328
  1.                          Do you mark that?

Albany

329 - 330
  1. I cannot be so partial, Goneril,
  2. To the great love I bear you

Goneril

331 - 333
  1. Pray you, content.—What, Oswald, ho!
  2. To the Fool.
  3. You, sir, more knave than fool, after your master.

Fool

334 - 339
  1. Nuncle Lear, nuncle Lear, tarry, take the Fool with thee.
  2. A fox, when one has caught her,
  3. And such a daughter,
  4. Should sure to the slaughter,
  5. If my cap would buy a halter,
  6. So the Fool follows after.
  1. Exit.

Goneril

341 - 346
  1. This man hath had good counsela hundred knights!
  2. ’Tis politic and safe to let him keep
  3. At point a hundred knights; yes, that on every dream,
  4. Each buzz, each fancy, each complaint, dislike,
  5. He may enguard his dotage with their pow’rs,
  6. And hold our lives in mercy.—Oswald, I say!

Albany

347
  1. Well, you may fear too far.

Goneril

348 - 356
  1.                             Safer than trust too far.
  2. Let me still take away the harms I fear,
  3. Not fear still to be taken. I know his heart.
  4. What he hath utter’d I have writ my sister;
  5. If she sustain him and his hundred knights,
  6. When I have show’d th’ unfitness
  7. Enter Steward Oswald.
  8.                                   How now, Oswald?
  9. What, have you writ that letter to my sister?

Oswald

357
  1. Ay, madam.

Goneril

358 - 368
  1. Take you some company, and away to horse.
  2. Inform her full of my particular fear,
  3. And thereto add such reasons of your own
  4. As may compact it more. Get you gone,
  5. And hasten your return.
  6. Exit Oswald.
  7.                         No, no, my lord,
  8. This milky gentleness and course of yours
  9. Though I condemn not, yet, under pardon,
  10. You are much more attax’d for want of wisdom
  11. Than prais’d for harmful mildness.

Albany

369 - 370
  1. How far your eyes may pierce I cannot tell:
  2. Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well.

Goneril

371
  1. Nay then

Albany

372
  1. Well, well, th’ event.
  1. Exeunt.
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