King Lear - Act 1, scene 4
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Act 1, scene 4
The earl of Kent returns in disguise, offers his services to Lear, and is accepted as one of Lear’s followers. Goneril rebukes Lear for his knights’ rowdiness and demands he dismiss half of them. After attacking her verbally for her ingratitude, he prepares to leave for Regan’s.Enter Kent ⌜in disguise.⌝
0577 If but as ⟨well⟩ I other accents borrow
0578 That can my speech diffuse, my good intent
0579 May carry through itself to that full issue
0580 For which I razed my likeness. Now, banished Kent,
0581 5 If thou canst serve where thou dost stand
0583 So may it come thy master, whom thou lov’st,
0584 Shall find thee full of labors.
Horns within. Enter Lear, ⌜Knights,⌝ and Attendants.
LEAR 0585 Let me not stay a jot for dinner. Go get it ready.
⌜An Attendant exits.⌝
0586 10 How now, what art thou?
KENT 0587 A man, sir.
LEAR 0588 What dost thou profess? What wouldst thou with
KENT 0590 I do profess to be no less than I seem, to serve
0591 15 him truly that will put me in trust, to love him that
0592 is honest, to converse with him that is wise and says
0593 little, to fear judgment, to fight when I cannot
0594 choose, and to eat no fish.
LEAR 0595 What art thou?
KENT 0596 20A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the
LEAR 0598 If thou be’st as poor for a subject as he’s for a
0599 king, thou art poor enough. What wouldst thou?
KENT 0600 Service.
LEAR 0601 25Who wouldst thou serve?
KENT 0602 You.
LEAR 0603 Dost thou know me, fellow?
KENT 0604 No, sir, but you have that in your countenance
0605 which I would fain call master.
KENT 0607 Authority.
LEAR 0608 What services canst do?
KENT 0609 I can keep honest counsel, ride, run, mar a
0610 curious tale in telling it, and deliver a plain message
0611 35 bluntly. That which ordinary men are fit for I
0612 am qualified in, and the best of me is diligence.
LEAR 0613 How old art thou?
KENT 0614 Not so young, sir, to love a woman for singing,
0615 nor so old to dote on her for anything. I have years
0616 40 on my back forty-eight.
LEAR 0617 Follow me. Thou shalt serve me—if I like thee
0618 no worse after dinner. I will not part from thee
0619 yet.—Dinner, ho, dinner!—Where’s my knave, my
0620 Fool? Go you and call my Fool hither.
⌜An Attendant exits.⌝
Enter ⌜Oswald, the⌝ Steward.
0621 45 You, you, sirrah, where’s my daughter?
OSWALD 0622 So please you—He exits.
LEAR 0623 What says the fellow there? Call the clotpole
0624 back. ⌜A Knight exits.⌝ Where’s my Fool? Ho! I think
0625 the world’s asleep.
⌜Enter Knight again.⌝
0626 50 How now? Where’s that mongrel?
KNIGHT 0627 He says, my lord, your ⟨daughter⟩ is not well.
LEAR 0628 Why came not the slave back to me when I
0629 called him?
KNIGHT 0630 Sir, he answered me in the roundest manner,
0631 55 he would not.
LEAR 0632 He would not?
KNIGHT 0633 My lord, I know not what the matter is, but to
0634 my judgment your Highness is not entertained
0635 with that ceremonious affection as you were wont.
0636 60 There’s a great abatement of kindness appears as
0638 himself also, and your daughter.
LEAR 0639 Ha? Sayst thou so?
KNIGHT 0640 I beseech you pardon me, my lord, if I be
0641 65 mistaken, for my duty cannot be silent when I think
0642 your Highness wronged.
LEAR 0643 Thou but remembrest me of mine own conception.
0644 I have perceived a most faint neglect of late,
0645 which I have rather blamed as mine own jealous
0646 70 curiosity than as a very pretense and purpose of
0647 unkindness. I will look further into ’t. But where’s
0648 my Fool? I have not seen him this two days.
KNIGHT 0649 Since my young lady’s going into France, sir,
0650 the Fool hath much pined away.
LEAR 0651 75No more of that. I have noted it well.—Go you
0652 and tell my daughter I would speak with her. ⌜An
Attendant exits.⌝ 0653 Go you call hither my Fool.
Enter ⌜Oswald, the⌝ Steward.
0654 O you, sir, you, come you hither, sir. Who am I, sir?
OSWALD 0655 My lady’s father.
LEAR 0656 80“My lady’s father”? My lord’s knave! You whoreson
0657 dog, you slave, you cur!
OSWALD 0658 I am none of these, my lord, I beseech your
LEAR 0660 Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?
⌜Lear strikes him.⌝
OSWALD 0661 85I’ll not be strucken, my lord.
KENT, ⌜tripping him⌝ 0662 Nor tripped neither, you base
0663 football player?
LEAR 0664 I thank thee, fellow. Thou serv’st me, and I’ll
0665 love thee.
KENT, ⌜to Oswald⌝ 0666 90Come, sir, arise. Away. I’ll teach you
0667 differences. Away, away. If you will measure your
0668 lubber’s length again, tarry. But away. Go to. Have
0669 you wisdom? So.⌜Oswald exits.⌝
0671 95 earnest of thy service.⌜He gives Kent a purse.⌝
FOOL 0672 Let me hire him too. ⌜To Kent.⌝ Here’s my
0673 coxcomb.⌜He offers Kent his cap.⌝
LEAR 0674 How now, my pretty knave, how dost thou?
FOOL, ⌜to Kent⌝ 0675 Sirrah, you were best take my
0676 100 coxcomb.
LEAR 0677 Why, my boy?
FOOL 0678 Why? For taking one’s part that’s out of favor.
0679 ⌜To Kent.⌝ Nay, an thou canst not smile as the
0680 wind sits, thou ’lt catch cold shortly. There, take my
0681 105 coxcomb. Why, this fellow has banished two on ’s
0682 daughters and did the third a blessing against his
0683 will. If thou follow him, thou must needs wear my
0684 coxcomb.—How now, nuncle? Would I had two
0685 coxcombs and two daughters.
LEAR 0686 110Why, my boy?
FOOL 0687 If I gave them all my living, I’d keep my coxcombs
0688 myself. There’s mine. Beg another of thy
LEAR 0690 Take heed, sirrah—the whip.
FOOL 0691 115Truth’s a dog must to kennel; he must be
0692 whipped out, when the Lady Brach may stand by th’
0693 fire and stink.
LEAR 0694 A pestilent gall to me!
FOOL 0695 Sirrah, I’ll teach thee a speech.
LEAR 0696 120Do.
FOOL 0697 Mark it, nuncle:
0698 Have more than thou showest.
0699 Speak less than thou knowest,
0700 Lend less than thou owest,
0701 125 Ride more than thou goest,
0702 Learn more than thou trowest,
0703 Set less than thou throwest;
0705 And keep in-a-door,
0706 130 And thou shalt have more
0707 Than two tens to a score.
KENT 0708 This is nothing, Fool.
FOOL 0709 Then ’tis like the breath of an unfee’d lawyer.
0710 You gave me nothing for ’t.—Can you make no use
0711 135 of nothing, nuncle?
LEAR 0712 Why no, boy. Nothing can be made out of
FOOL, ⌜to Kent⌝ 0714 Prithee tell him, so much the rent of his
0715 land comes to. He will not believe a Fool.
LEAR 0716 140A bitter Fool!
FOOL 0717 Dost know the difference, my boy, between a
0718 bitter fool and a sweet one?
LEAR 0719 No, lad, teach me.
FOOL 0720 ⟨That lord that counseled thee
0721 145 To give away thy land,
0722 Come place him here by me;
0723 Do thou for him stand.
0724 The sweet and bitter fool
0725 Will presently appear:
0726 150 The one in motley here,
0727 The other found out there.
LEAR 0728 Dost thou call me “fool,” boy?
FOOL 0729 All thy other titles thou hast given away. That
0730 thou wast born with.
KENT 0731 155This is not altogether fool, my lord.
FOOL 0732 No, faith, lords and great men will not let me. If
0733 I had a monopoly out, they would have part on ’t.
0734 And ladies too, they will not let me have all the fool
0735 to myself; they’ll be snatching.⟩—Nuncle, give me
0736 160 an egg, and I’ll give thee two crowns.
LEAR 0737 What two crowns shall they be?
FOOL 0738 Why, after I have cut the egg i’ th’ middle and eat
0739 up the meat, the two crowns of the egg. When thou
0741 165 both parts, thou bor’st thine ass on thy back o’er
0742 the dirt. Thou hadst little wit in thy bald crown
0743 when thou gav’st thy golden one away. If I speak
0744 like myself in this, let him be whipped that first
0745 finds it so. ⌜Sings.⌝
0746 170 Fools had ne’er less grace in a year,
0747 For wise men are grown foppish
0748 And know not how their wits to wear,
0749 Their manners are so apish.
LEAR 0750 When were you wont to be so full of songs,
0751 175 sirrah?
FOOL 0752 I have used it, nuncle, e’er since thou mad’st thy
0753 daughters thy mothers. For when thou gav’st them
0754 the rod and put’st down thine own breeches,
0755 Then they for sudden joy did weep,
0756 180 And I for sorrow sung,
0757 That such a king should play bo-peep
0758 And go the ⟨fools⟩ among.
0759 Prithee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach
0760 thy Fool to lie. I would fain learn to lie.
LEAR 0761 185An you lie, sirrah, we’ll have you whipped.
FOOL 0762 I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are.
0763 They’ll have me whipped for speaking true, thou ’lt
0764 have me whipped for lying, and sometimes I am
0765 whipped for holding my peace. I had rather be any
0766 190 kind o’ thing than a Fool. And yet I would not be
0767 thee, nuncle. Thou hast pared thy wit o’ both sides
0768 and left nothing i’ th’ middle. Here comes one o’ the
0770 How now, daughter? What makes that frontlet on?
0771 195 ⟨Methinks⟩ you are too much of late i’ th’ frown.
0773 need to care for her frowning. Now thou art an O
0774 without a figure. I am better than thou art now. I
0775 am a Fool. Thou art nothing. ⌜To Goneril.⌝ Yes,
0776 200 forsooth, I will hold my tongue. So your face bids
0777 me, though you say nothing.
0778 Mum, mum,
0779 He that keeps nor crust ⟨nor⟩ crumb,
0780 Weary of all, shall want some.
⌜He points at Lear.⌝
0781 205 That’s a shelled peascod.
0782 Not only, sir, this your all-licensed Fool,
0783 But other of your insolent retinue
0784 Do hourly carp and quarrel, breaking forth
0785 In rank and not-to-be-endurèd riots. Sir,
0786 210 I had thought by making this well known unto you
0787 To have found a safe redress, but now grow fearful,
0788 By what yourself too late have spoke and done,
0789 That you protect this course and put it on
0790 By your allowance; which if you should, the fault
0791 215 Would not ’scape censure, nor the redresses sleep
0792 Which in the tender of a wholesome weal
0793 Might in their working do you that offense,
0794 Which else were shame, that then necessity
0795 Will call discreet proceeding.
FOOL 0796 220For you know, nuncle,
0797 The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long,
0798 That it’s had it head bit off by it young.
0799 So out went the candle, and we were left darkling.
LEAR 0800 Are you our daughter?
0801 225 I would you would make use of your good wisdom,
0802 Whereof I know you are fraught, and put away
0803 These dispositions which of late transport you
0804 From what you rightly are.
0806 230 horse? Whoop, Jug, I love thee!
0807 Does any here know me? This is not Lear.
0808 Does Lear walk thus, speak thus? Where are his
0810 Either his notion weakens, his discernings
0811 235 Are lethargied—Ha! Waking? ’Tis not so.
0812 Who is it that can tell me who I am?
FOOL 0813 Lear’s shadow.
0814 I would learn that, for, by the marks of
0816 240 Knowledge, and reason, I should be false persuaded
0817 I had daughters.
FOOL 0818 Which they will make an obedient father.⟩
LEAR 0819 Your name, fair gentlewoman?
0820 This admiration, sir, is much o’ th’ savor
0821 245 Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you
0822 To understand my purposes aright.
0823 As you are old and reverend, should be wise.
0824 Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires,
0825 Men so disordered, so debauched and bold,
0826 250 That this our court, infected with their manners,
0827 Shows like a riotous inn. Epicurism and lust
0828 Makes it more like a tavern or a brothel
0829 Than a graced palace. The shame itself doth speak
0830 For instant remedy. Be then desired,
0831 255 By her that else will take the thing she begs,
0832 A little to disquantity your train,
0833 And the remainders that shall still depend
0834 To be such men as may besort your age,
0835 Which know themselves and you.
LEAR 0836 260 Darkness and
0838 Saddle my horses. Call my train together.
0840 Yet have I left a daughter.
0841 265 You strike my people, and your disordered rabble
0842 Make servants of their betters.
0843 Woe that too late repents!—⟨O, sir, are you
0845 Is it your will? Speak, sir.—Prepare my horses.
0846 270 Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend,
0847 More hideous when thou show’st thee in a child
0848 Than the sea monster!
[ALBANY 0849 Pray, sir, be patient.]
LEAR, ⌜to Goneril⌝ 0850 Detested kite, thou liest.
0851 275 My train are men of choice and rarest parts,
0852 That all particulars of duty know
0853 And in the most exact regard support
0854 The worships of their name. O most small fault,
0855 How ugly didst thou in Cordelia show,
0856 280 Which, like an engine, wrenched my frame of
0858 From the fixed place, drew from my heart all love
0859 And added to the gall! O Lear, Lear, Lear!
⌜He strikes his head.⌝
0860 Beat at this gate that let thy folly in
0861 285 And thy dear judgment out. Go, go, my people.
0862 My lord, I am guiltless as I am ignorant
0863 [Of what hath moved you.]
LEAR 0864 It may be so, my lord.—
0865 Hear, Nature, hear, dear goddess, hear!
0866 290 Suspend thy purpose if thou didst intend
0868 Into her womb convey sterility.
0869 Dry up in her the organs of increase,
0870 And from her derogate body never spring
0871 295 A babe to honor her. If she must teem,
0872 Create her child of spleen, that it may live
0873 And be a thwart disnatured torment to her.
0874 Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth,
0875 With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks,
0876 300 Turn all her mother’s pains and benefits
0877 To laughter and contempt, that she may feel
0878 How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is
0879 To have a thankless child.—Away, away!
⌜Lear and the rest of his train⌝ exit.
0880 Now, gods that we adore, whereof comes this?
0881 305 Never afflict yourself to know more of it,
0882 But let his disposition have that scope
0883 As dotage gives it.
Enter Lear ⌜and the Fool.⌝
0884 What, fifty of my followers at a clap?
0885 Within a fortnight?
ALBANY 0886 310 What’s the matter, sir?
0887 I’ll tell thee. ⌜To Goneril.⌝ Life and death! I am
0889 That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus,
0890 That these hot tears, which break from me perforce,
0891 315 Should make thee worth them. Blasts and fogs upon
0893 Th’ untented woundings of a father’s curse
0894 Pierce every sense about thee! Old fond eyes,
0895 Beweep this cause again, I’ll pluck you out
0897 To temper clay. ⟨Yea, is ’t come to this?⟩
0898 Ha! Let it be so. I have another daughter
0899 Who, I am sure, is kind and comfortable.
0900 When she shall hear this of thee, with her nails
0901 325 She’ll flay thy wolvish visage. Thou shalt find
0902 That I’ll resume the shape which thou dost think
0903 I have cast off forever.He exits.
GONERIL 0904 Do you mark that?
0905 I cannot be so partial, Goneril,
0906 330 To the great love I bear you—
GONERIL 0907 Pray you, content.—What, Oswald, ho!—
0908 You, sir, more knave than Fool, after your master.
FOOL 0909 Nuncle Lear, Nuncle Lear, tarry. Take the Fool
0910 with thee.
0911 335 A fox, when one has caught her,
0912 And such a daughter,
0913 Should sure to the slaughter,
0914 If my cap would buy a halter.
0915 So the Fool follows after.He exits.
0916 340 This man hath had good counsel. A hundred
0918 ’Tis politic and safe to let him keep
0919 At point a hundred knights! Yes, that on every
0921 345 Each buzz, each fancy, each complaint, dislike,
0922 He may enguard his dotage with their powers
0923 And hold our lives in mercy.—Oswald, I say!
ALBANY 0924 Well, you may fear too far.
GONERIL 0925 Safer than trust too far.
0926 350 Let me still take away the harms I fear,
0927 Not fear still to be taken. I know his heart.
0928 What he hath uttered I have writ my sister.
0929 If she sustain him and his hundred knights
0930 When I have showed th’ unfitness—
0931 355 How now, Oswald?]
0932 What, have you writ that letter to my sister?
OSWALD 0933 Ay, madam.
0934 Take you some company and away to horse.
0935 Inform her full of my particular fear,
0936 360 And thereto add such reasons of your own
0937 As may compact it more. Get you gone,
0938 And hasten your return. ⌜Oswald exits.⌝ No, no, my
0940 This milky gentleness and course of yours,
0941 365 Though I condemn not, yet, under pardon,
0942 ⌜You⌝ are much more at task for want of wisdom
0943 Than praised for harmful mildness.
0944 How far your eyes may pierce I cannot tell.
0945 Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well.
GONERIL 0946 370Nay, then—
ALBANY 0947 Well, well, th’ event.