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Home > King Lear > ACT I - SCENE IV. A hall in the same.

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ACT I - SCENE IV. A hall in the same.
Enter KENT, disguised

KENT
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 razed 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 lovest,
7    Shall find thee full of labours.
KING LEAR
8    Let me not stay a jot for dinner; go get it ready.
Exit an Attendant
9    How now! what art thou?
KENT
10   A man, sir.
KING LEAR
11   What dost thou profess? what wouldst thou with us?
KENT
12   I do profess to be no less than I seem; to serve
13   him truly that will put me in trust: to love him
14   that is honest; to converse with him that is wise,
15   and says little; to fear judgment; to fight when I
16   cannot choose; and to eat no fish.
KING LEAR
17   What art thou?
KENT
18   A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the king.
KING LEAR
19   If thou be as poor for a subject as he is for a
20   king, thou art poor enough. What wouldst thou?
KENT
21   Service.
KING LEAR
22   Who wouldst thou serve?
KENT
23   You.
KING LEAR
24   Dost thou know me, fellow?
KENT
25   No, sir; but you have that in your countenance
26   which I would fain call master.
KING LEAR
27   What's that?
KENT
28   Authority.
KING LEAR
29   What services canst thou do?
KENT
30   I can keep honest counsel, ride, run, mar a curious
31   tale in telling it, and deliver a plain message
32   bluntly: that which ordinary men are fit for, I am
33   qualified in; and the best of me is diligence.
KING LEAR
34   How old art thou?
KENT
35   Not so young, sir, to love a woman for singing, nor
36   so old to dote on her for any thing: I have years
37   on my back forty eight.
KING LEAR
38   Follow me; thou shalt serve me: if I like thee no
39   worse after dinner, I will not part from thee yet.
40   Dinner, ho, dinner! Where's my knave? my fool?
41   Go you, and call my fool hither.
Exit an Attendant
Enter OSWALD
42   You, you, sirrah, where's my daughter?
OSWALD
43   So please you,--
Exit

KING LEAR
44   What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll back.
Exit a Knight
45   Where's my fool, ho? I think the world's asleep.
Re-enter Knight
46   How now! where's that mongrel?
Knight
47   He says, my lord, your daughter is not well.
KING LEAR
48   Why came not the slave back to me when I called him.
Knight
49   Sir, he answered me in the roundest manner, he would
50   not.
KING LEAR
51   He would not!
Knight
52   My lord, I know not what the matter is; but, to my
53   judgment, your highness is not entertained with that
54   ceremonious affection as you were wont; there's a
55   great abatement of kindness appears as well in the
56   general dependants as in the duke himself also and
57   your daughter.
KING LEAR
58   Ha! sayest thou so?
Knight
59   I beseech you, pardon me, my lord, if I be mistaken;
60   for my duty cannot be silent when I think your
61   highness wronged.
KING LEAR
62   Thou but rememberest me of mine own conception: I
63   have perceived a most faint neglect of late; which I
64   have rather blamed as mine own jealous curiosity
65   than as a very pretence and purpose of unkindness:
66   I will look further into't. But where's my fool? I
67   have not seen him this two days.
Knight
68   Since my young lady's going into France, sir, the
69   fool hath much pined away.
KING LEAR
70   No more of that; I have noted it well. Go you, and
71   tell my daughter I would speak with her.
Exit an Attendant
72   Go you, call hither my fool.
Exit an Attendant
Re-enter OSWALD
73   O, you sir, you, come you hither, sir: who am I,
74   sir?
OSWALD
75   My lady's father.
KING LEAR
76   'My lady's father'! my lord's knave: your
77   whoreson dog! you slave! you cur!
OSWALD
78   I am none of these, my lord; I beseech your pardon.
KING LEAR
79   Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?
Striking him

OSWALD
80   I'll not be struck, my lord.
KENT
81   Nor tripped neither, you base football player.
Tripping up his heels

KING LEAR
82   I thank thee, fellow; thou servest me, and I'll
83   love thee.
KENT
84   Come, sir, arise, away! I'll teach you differences:
85   away, away! if you will measure your lubber's
86   length again, tarry: but away! go to; have you
87   wisdom? so.
Pushes OSWALD out

KING LEAR
88   Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee: there's
89   earnest of thy service.
Giving KENT money

Enter Fool

Fool
90   Let me hire him too: here's my coxcomb.
Offering KENT his cap

KING LEAR
91   How now, my pretty knave! how dost thou?
Fool
92   Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb.
KENT
93   Why, fool?
Fool
94   Why, for taking one's part that's out of favour:
95   nay, an thou canst not smile as the wind sits,
96   thou'lt catch cold shortly: there, take my coxcomb:
97   why, this fellow has banished two on's daughters,
98   and did the third a blessing against his will; if
99   thou follow him, thou must needs wear my coxcomb.
100  How now, nuncle! Would I had two coxcombs and two daughters!
KING LEAR
101  Why, my boy?
Fool
102  If I gave them all my living, I'ld keep my coxcombs
103  myself. There's mine; beg another of thy daughters.
KING LEAR
104  Take heed, sirrah; the whip.
Fool
105  Truth's a dog must to kennel; he must be whipped
106  out, when Lady the brach may stand by the fire and stink.
KING LEAR
107  A pestilent gall to me!
Fool
108  Sirrah, I'll teach thee a speech.
KING LEAR
109  Do.
Fool
110  Mark it, nuncle:
111  Have more than thou showest,
112  Speak less than thou knowest,
113  Lend less than thou owest,
114  Ride more than thou goest,
115  Learn more than thou trowest,
116  Set less than thou throwest;
117  Leave thy drink and thy whore,
118  And keep in-a-door,
119  And thou shalt have more
120  Than two tens to a score.
KENT
121  This is nothing, fool.
Fool
122  Then 'tis like the breath of an unfee'd lawyer; you
123  gave me nothing for't. Can you make no use of
124  nothing, nuncle?
KING LEAR
125  Why, no, boy; nothing can be made out of nothing.
Fool
To KENT
126   Prithee, tell him, so much the rent of
127  his land comes to: he will not believe a fool.
KING LEAR
128  A bitter fool!
Fool
129  Dost thou know the difference, my boy, between a
130  bitter fool and a sweet fool?
KING LEAR
131  No, lad; teach me.
Fool
132  That lord that counsell'd thee
133  To give away thy land,
134  Come place him here by me,
135  Do thou for him stand:
136  The sweet and bitter fool
137  Will presently appear;
138  The one in motley here,
139  The other found out there.
KING LEAR
140  Dost thou call me fool, boy?
Fool
141  All thy other titles thou hast given away; that
142  thou wast born with.
KENT
143  This is not altogether fool, my lord.
Fool
144  No, faith, lords and great men will not let me; if
145  I had a monopoly out, they would have part on't:
146  and ladies too, they will not let me have all fool
147  to myself; they'll be snatching. Give me an egg,
148  nuncle, and I'll give thee two crowns.
KING LEAR
149  What two crowns shall they be?
Fool
150  Why, after I have cut the egg i' the middle, and eat
151  up the meat, the two crowns of the egg. When thou
152  clovest thy crown i' the middle, and gavest away
153  both parts, thou borest thy ass on thy back o'er
154  the dirt: thou hadst little wit in thy bald crown,
155  when thou gavest thy golden one away. If I speak
156  like myself in this, let him be whipped that first
157  finds it so.
Singing
158  Fools had ne'er less wit in a year;
159  For wise men are grown foppish,
160  They know not how their wits to wear,
161  Their manners are so apish.
KING LEAR
162  When were you wont to be so full of songs, sirrah?
Fool
163  I have used it, nuncle, ever since thou madest thy
164  daughters thy mothers: for when thou gavest them
165  the rod, and put'st down thine own breeches,
Singing
166  Then they for sudden joy did weep,
167  And I for sorrow sung,
168  That such a king should play bo-peep,
169  And go the fools among.
170  Prithee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach
171  thy fool to lie: I would fain learn to lie.
KING LEAR
172  An you lie, sirrah, we'll have you whipped.
Fool
173  I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are:
174  they'll have me whipped for speaking true, thou'lt
175  have me whipped for lying; and sometimes I am
176  whipped for holding my peace. I had rather be any
177  kind o' thing than a fool: and yet I would not be
178  thee, nuncle; thou hast pared thy wit o' both sides,
179  and left nothing i' the middle: here comes one o'
180  the parings.
Enter GONERIL

KING LEAR
181  How now, daughter! what makes that frontlet on?
182  Methinks you are too much of late i' the frown.
Fool
183  Thou wast a pretty fellow when thou hadst no need to
184  care for her frowning; now thou art an O without a
185  figure: I am better than thou art now; I am a fool,
186  thou art nothing.
To GONERIL
187  Yes, forsooth, I will hold my tongue; so your face
188  bids me, though you say nothing. Mum, mum,
189  He that keeps nor crust nor crum,
190  Weary of all, shall want some.
Pointing to KING LEAR
191  That's a shealed peascod.
GONERIL
192  Not only, sir, this your all-licensed fool,
193  But other of your insolent retinue
194  Do hourly carp and quarrel; breaking forth
195  In rank and not-to-be endured riots. Sir,
196  I had thought, by making this well known unto you,
197  To have found a safe redress; but now grow fearful,
198  By what yourself too late have spoke and done.
199  That you protect this course, and put it on
200  By your allowance; which if you should, the fault
201  Would not 'scape censure, nor the redresses sleep,
202  Which, in the tender of a wholesome weal,
203  Might in their working do you that offence,
204  Which else were shame, that then necessity
205  Will call discreet proceeding.
Fool
206  For, you trow, nuncle,
207  The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long,
208  That it's had it head bit off by it young.
209  So, out went the candle, and we were left darkling.
KING LEAR
210  Are you our daughter?
GONERIL
211  Come, sir,
212  I would you would make use of that good wisdom,
213  Whereof I know you are fraught; and put away
214  These dispositions, that of late transform you
215  From what you rightly are.
Fool
216  May not an ass know when the cart
217  draws the horse? Whoop, Jug! I love thee.
KING LEAR
218  Doth any here know me? This is not Lear:
219  Doth Lear walk thus? speak thus? Where are his eyes?
220  Either his notion weakens, his discernings
221  Are lethargied--Ha! waking? 'tis not so.
222  Who is it that can tell me who I am?
Fool
223  Lear's shadow.
KING LEAR
224  I would learn that; for, by the
225  marks of sovereignty, knowledge, and reason,
226  I should be false persuaded I had daughters.
Fool
227  Which they will make an obedient father.
KING LEAR
228  Your name, fair gentlewoman?
GONERIL
229  This admiration, sir, is much o' the savour
230  Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you
231  To understand my purposes aright:
232  As you are old and reverend, you should be wise.
233  Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires;
234  Men so disorder'd, so debosh'd and bold,
235  That this our court, infected with their manners,
236  Shows like a riotous inn: epicurism and lust
237  Make it more like a tavern or a brothel
238  Than a graced palace. The shame itself doth speak
239  For instant remedy: be then desired
240  By her, that else will take the thing she begs,
241  A little to disquantity your train;
242  And the remainder, that shall still depend,
243  To be such men as may besort your age,
244  And know themselves and you.
KING LEAR
245  Darkness and devils!
246  Saddle my horses; call my train together:
247  Degenerate bastard! I'll not trouble thee.
248  Yet have I left a daughter.
GONERIL
249  You strike my people; and your disorder'd rabble
250  Make servants of their betters.
Enter ALBANY

KING LEAR
251  Woe, that too late repents,--
To ALBANY
252  O, sir, are you come?
253  Is it your will? Speak, sir. Prepare my horses.
254  Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend,
255  More hideous when thou show'st thee in a child
256  Than the sea-monster!
ALBANY
257  Pray, sir, be patient.
KING LEAR
To GONERIL
258   Detested kite! thou liest.
259  My train are men of choice and rarest parts,
260  That all particulars of duty know,
261  And in the most exact regard support
262  The worships of their name. O most small fault,
263  How ugly didst thou in Cordelia show!
264  That, like an engine, wrench'd my frame of nature
265  From the fix'd place; drew from heart all love,
266  And added to the gall. O Lear, Lear, Lear!
267  Beat at this gate, that let thy folly in,
Striking his head
268  And thy dear judgment out! Go, go, my people.
ALBANY
269  My lord, I am guiltless, as I am ignorant
270  Of what hath moved you.
KING LEAR
271  It may be so, my lord.
272  Hear, nature, hear; dear goddess, hear!
273  Suspend thy purpose, if thou didst intend
274  To make this creature fruitful!
275  Into her womb convey sterility!
276  Dry up in her the organs of increase;
277  And from her derogate body never spring
278  A babe to honour her! If she must teem,
279  Create her child of spleen; that it may live,
280  And be a thwart disnatured torment to her!
281  Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth;
282  With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks;
283  Turn all her mother's pains and benefits
284  To laughter and contempt; that she may feel
285  How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
286  To have a thankless child! Away, away!
Exit

ALBANY
287  Now, gods that we adore, whereof comes this?
GONERIL
288  Never afflict yourself to know the cause;
289  But let his disposition have that scope
290  That dotage gives it.
Re-enter KING LEAR

KING LEAR
291  What, fifty of my followers at a clap!
292  Within a fortnight!
ALBANY
293  What's the matter, sir?
KING LEAR
294  I'll tell thee:
To GONERIL
295  Life and death! I am ashamed
296  That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus;
297  That these hot tears, which break from me perforce,
298  Should make thee worth them. Blasts and fogs upon thee!
299  The untented woundings of a father's curse
300  Pierce every sense about thee! Old fond eyes,
301  Beweep this cause again, I'll pluck ye out,
302  And cast you, with the waters that you lose,
303  To temper clay. Yea, it is come to this?
304  Let is be so: yet have I left a daughter,
305  Who, I am sure, is kind and comfortable:
306  When she shall hear this of thee, with her nails
307  She'll flay thy wolvish visage. Thou shalt find
308  That I'll resume the shape which thou dost think
309  I have cast off for ever: thou shalt,
310  I warrant thee.
Exeunt KING LEAR, KENT, and Attendants

GONERIL
311  Do you mark that, my lord?
ALBANY
312  I cannot be so partial, Goneril,
313  To the great love I bear you,--
GONERIL
314  Pray you, content. What, Oswald, ho!
To the Fool
315  You, sir, more knave than fool, after your master.
Fool
316  Nuncle Lear, nuncle Lear, tarry and take the fool
317  with thee.
318  A fox, when one has caught her,
319  And such a daughter,
320  Should sure to the slaughter,
321  If my cap would buy a halter:
322  So the fool follows after.
Exit

GONERIL
323  This man hath had good counsel:--a hundred knights!
324  'Tis politic and safe to let him keep
325  At point a hundred knights: yes, that, on every dream,
326  Each buzz, each fancy, each complaint, dislike,
327  He may enguard his dotage with their powers,
328  And hold our lives in mercy. Oswald, I say!
ALBANY
329  Well, you may fear too far.
GONERIL
330  Safer than trust too far:
331  Let me still take away the harms I fear,
332  Not fear still to be taken: I know his heart.
333  What he hath utter'd I have writ my sister
334  If she sustain him and his hundred knights
335  When I have show'd the unfitness,--
Re-enter OSWALD
336  How now, Oswald!
337  What, have you writ that letter to my sister?
OSWALD
338  Yes, madam.
GONERIL
339  Take you some company, and away to horse:
340  Inform her full of my particular fear;
341  And thereto add such reasons of your own
342  As may compact it more. Get you gone;
343  And hasten your return.
Exit OSWALD
344  No, no, my lord,
345  This milky gentleness and course of yours
346  Though I condemn not, yet, under pardon,
347  You are much more attask'd for want of wisdom
348  Than praised for harmful mildness.
ALBANY
349  How far your eyes may pierce I can not tell:
350  Striving to better, oft we mar what's well.
GONERIL
351  Nay, then--
ALBANY
352  Well, well; the event.
Exeunt

< (Previous) ACT I, SCENE IIIACT I, SCENE V (Next) >
Scene Index
ACT I
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV
  • SCENE V


  • ACT II
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV


  • ACT III
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV
  • SCENE V
  • SCENE VI
  • SCENE VII


  • ACT IV
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV
  • SCENE V
  • SCENE VI
  • SCENE VII


  • ACT V
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III

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