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Gon. 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.

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

Edm. I hope, for my brother's justification, he wrote this but as an essays or taste of my virtue. Glo. [Reads.] This policy, and reverence of age,

Gon. The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash; then must we look to receive from his age, not alene the imperfections of long-engrafted condition, but therewithal, the unruly way-makes the world bitter to the best of our times; wardness that infirm and choleric years bring with keeps our fortunes from us, till our oldness canthem. not 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, Edgar.—Humph-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?

the cunning of it; I found it thrown in at the caseEdm. It was not brought me, my lord, there's ment of my closet.

Glo. You know the character to be your brother's?

Reg. Such unconstant starts are we like to have from him, as this of Kent's banishment.

Gon. There is further compliment of leavetaking 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.

Reg. We shall further think of it.

Gon. We must do something, and i'the heat.2

SCENE II-A hall in the Earl of Gloster's
castle. Enter Edmund, with a letter.
Edm. Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law
My services are bound: Wherefore should I
Stand in the plagues of custom; and permit
The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
For that I am some twelve or fourteen moon-shines
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; 1 prosper :-
Now, gods, stand up for bastards!

Enter Gloster.

for so much as I have perused, I find it not fit for your over-looking

Glo. Give me the letter, sir.

Edm. I shall offend, either to detain or give it. The contents, as in part I understand them, are to blame.

Glo. Let's see, let's see.

Glo. Kent banish'd thus! And France in choler

And the king gone to-night! subscrib'd his power
Confin'd to exhibition !6 All this done
Upon the gad!7-Edmund! How now? what news?
Edm. So please your lordship, none.
[Putting up the letter.
Glo. Why so earnestly seek you to put up that

Edm. I know no news, my lord.
Glo. What paper were you reading?
Edm. Nothing, my lord.

Glo. No? What needed then that terrible despatch 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.

Edm. I beseech you, sir, pardon me : it is a ter from my brother, that I have not all o'er-read;

(1) Qualities of mind.

(2) Strike while the iron is hot. (3) The injustice.

(4) The nicety of civil institution.

(5) Yielded, surrendered. (6) Allowance.

Edm. 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.

Edm. 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 shall run a certain course; where,10 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 pretence12 of danger. Glo. Think you so?

Edm. 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.

Glo. He cannot be such a monster.
Edm. Nor is not, sure.

Glo. 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 let-business after your own wisdom: I would unstate myself, to be in a due resolution.13

Glo. It is his.

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

Glo. Hath he never heretofore sounded you in this business?

Edm. Never, my lord: But I have often heard him maintain it to be fit, that, sons at perfect age, and fathers declining, the father should be as ward to the son, and the son manage his revenue.

Glo. 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?

(7) Suddenly. (8) Trial.

(9) Weak and foolish. (10) Whereas. (11) The usual address to a lord. (12) Design. (13) Give all that I am possessed of, to be certain of the truth.

in him, that with the mischief of your person it
would scarcely allay.

Edg. Some villain hath done me wrong.
Edm. That's my fear. I pray you, have a conti-

Glo. These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us : Though the wisdom of naturenent? forbearance, till the speed of his rage goes can reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself slower; and, as I say, retire with me to my lodging, scourged by the sequent2 effects: love cools, friend- from whence I will fitly bring you to hear my lord ship falls off, brothers divide: in cities, mutinies; in speak: Pray you, go; there's my key :-If you do countries, discord; in palaces, treason: and the stir abroad, go armed. bond cracked between son and father. This villain Edg. -Armed, brother? 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!-Strange! strange! [Exit.

Edm. Brother, I advise you to the best: go armed; I am no honest man, if there be any good meaning towards you: I have told you what I have seen and heard, but faintly; nothing like the image and horror of it: Pray you, away.

Edg. Shall I hear from you anon? Edm. I do serve you in this business.-[Exit Edgar. A credulous father, and a brother noble, Edm. This is the excellent foppery of the world! Whose nature is so far from doing harms, that, when we are sick in fortune (often the surfeit That he suspects none; on whose foolish honesty of our behaviour,) we make guilty of our disasters, My practices ride easy!--I see the business.-the sun, the moon, and the stars: as if we were vil-Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit: lains by necessity; fools, by heavenly compulsion; All with ine's meet, that I can fashion fit. [Exit. knaves, thieves, and treachers,3 by spherical pre- SCENE III.—A room in the Duke of Albany's 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 leche-He rous. Tut; I should have been that I am, had the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing. Edgar

palace. Enter Goneril and Steward.

Edm. I will seek him, sir, presently; convey the business as I shall find means, and acquaint you withal.

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

(1) Manage. (2) Following. (3) Traitors.
(4) Great Bear, the constellation so named.
(5) These sounds are unnatural and offensive in



Stew. Ay, madam.

Gon. By day and night! he wrongs me; every hour

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.
Stew. He's coming, madam; I hear him.
[Horns within.
Gon. Put on what weary negligence you please,
You and your fellows; I'd have it come to question;
If he dislike it, let him to my sister,
Whose mind and mine, I know, in that are one,
Not to be over-rul'd. 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

Enter Edgar.

and pat he comes, like the catastrophe of the old comedy: My cue is villanous melancholy, with a sigh like Tom o'Bedlam.-O, these eclipses do portend these divisions! fa, sol, la, mi.5

Edg. How now, brother Edmund? What serious contemplation are you in?

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

Remember what I have said.

Edg. Do you busy yourself with that? Edm. 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,6 nuptial breaches, and I know not what. Edg. How long have you been a sectary astro-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. [Exeunt. SCENE IV-A hall in the same. Enter Kent, disguised.

Very well, madam.
Gon. And let his knights have colder looks among


Edm. Come, come; when saw you my father last?

Edg. Why, the night gone by.
Edm. Spake you with him?
Edg. Ay, two hours together.
Edm. Parted you in good terms? Found you no
displeasure in him, by word or countenance?

Edg. None at all.

Edm. Bethink yourself, wherein you may have offended him and at my entreaty, forbear his presence, till some little time hath qualified the heat of his displeasure; which at this instant so rageth

Kent. If but as well I other accents borrow,
That can my speech diffuse,8 my good intent
May carry through itself to that full issue
For which I raz'd9 my likeness. Now, banish'd

thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemn'd may it come!) thy master, whom thou lov'st,


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Shall find thee full of labours.

Horns within. Enter Lear, Knights, and Attend


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

Kent. A man, sir.

Lear. What dost thou profess? What wouldest thou with us?

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

Lear. What art thou?

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

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


Kent. Service.

Lear. Who wouldest thou serve?

Kent. You.

Lear. Dost thou know me, fellow?

Kent. No, sir; but you have that in your tenance, which I would fain call master.

Lear. What's that?

Kent. Authority.

Lear. What services canst thou do?

Kent. 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. Lear. How old art thou?

Kent. Not so young, sir, to love a woman for singing; nor so old, to dote on her for any thing: I have years on my back forty-eight.

Lear. 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 :

Enter Steward.

You, you, sirrah, where's my daughter?
Stew. So please you,


Lear. What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll back-Where's my fool, ho?-I think the world's asleep.-How now? where's that mongrel? Knight. He says, my lord, your daughter is not well.

Stew. My lady's father.

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

Stew. I am none of this, my lord; I beseech you, pardon me.

Lear. Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal? [Striking him. Stew. I'll not be struck, my lord. Kent. Nor tripped neither; you base foot-ball player. [Tripping up his heels. Lear. I thank thee, fellow; thou servest me, and I'll love thee.

Kent. Come, sir, arise, away: I'll teach you differences; away, away: If you will measure your coun-lubber's length again, tarry: but away: go to Have you wisdom? so. [Pushes the Steward out. Lear. Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee: there's earnest of thy service.

[Giving Kent money. Enter Fool.

Fool. Let me hire him too;-Here's my coxcomb [Giving Kent his cap. Lear. How now, my pretty knave? how dost thou?

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But where's my fool? I have not seen him these two days.

(3) Design.

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

Lear. No more of that; I have noted it well.-
Go you, and tell my daughter, I would speak with
her.-Go you, call hither my fool.-
Re-enter Steward.

O, you sir, you sir, come you hither: Who am I, sir?

Fool. Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb.
Kent. Why, fool?

Fool. Why? For taking one's part that is out of
favour: Nay, an thou canst not smile as the wind
sits, thou'lt catch cold shortly: There, take my
coxcomb: Why, this fellow has banished two of
his 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!
Lear. Why, my boy?

Fool. If I gave them all my living,4 I'd keep my coxcombs myself: There's mine; beg another of thy daughters.

Lear. Take heed, sirrah; the whip.

Fool. Truth's a dog that must to kennel; he must be whipped out, when Lady, the brach,5 may stand by the fire, and stink.

Lear. A pestilent gall to me!

Fool. Sirrah, I'll teach thee a speech.
Lear. Do.

Fool. Mark it, nuncle :

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no need to care for her frowning; now thou art an 03 without a figure: I am better than thou art now; I am a fool, thou art nothing.-Yes, forsooth, I will hold my tongue; so your face [To Gon.] bids me, though you say nothing. Mum, mum,

He that keeps nor crust nor crumb,
Weary of all, shall want some.--
That's a sheal'd peascod.4 [Pointing to Lear.
Gon. 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,

Enter Goneril.

Lear. How now, daughter? what makes that frontlet2 on? Methinks, you are too much of late i'the frown.

Fool. Thou wast a pretty fellow, when thou hadst (1) Favour.

(2) Part of a woman's head-dress, to which Lear compares her frowning brow.

(3) A cypher.

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 ;5 which if you should, the fault
Would not 'scape censure, nor the redresses sleep:
Which, in the tender of a wholesome weal,6
Might in their working do you that offence,
Which else were shame, that then necessity
Will call discreet proceeding.
Fool. For you trow, nuncle,

The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long, That it had its head bit off by his young.

So out went the candle, and we were left darkling. Lear. Are you our daughter?

Gon. Come, sir, I would, you would make use of that good wisdom whereof I know you are fraught ;7 and put away these dispositions, which of late transform you from what you rightly are.

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

Lear. Does any here know me?-Why this is not Lear: does Lear walk thus? speak thus? Where are his eyes? Either his notion weakens, or his discernings are lethargied.-Sleeping or waking? -Ha! sure '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 daugh


Fool. Which they will make an obedient father.
Lear. Your name, fair gentlewoman?
Gon. Come, sir;

This admiration is much o'the favours
To understand my purposes aright:
Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you

As you are old and reverend, you should be wise:
Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires;
Men so disorder'd, so debauch'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 desired
By her, that else will take the thing she begs,
A little to disquantity your train ;
And the remainder, that shall still depend,9
To be such men as may besort your age,
And know themselves and you.

Lear. Darkness and devils!Saddle my horses; call my train together.Degenerate bastard! I'll not trouble thee; Yet have I left a daughter.

Gon. You strike my people; and your rabble Make servants of their betters.

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(4) A mere husk which contains nothing. (5) Approbation. (6) Well governed state.


(8) Complexion.

(9) Continue in service.

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From the fix'd place; drew from my heart all love, Aud 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. Alb. My lord, I am guiltless, as I am ignorant Of what hath mov'd you.

Lear. It inay be so, my lord.-Hear, nature, hear; Dear goddess, bear! 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 derogate2 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! [Exit. Alb. Now, gods, that we adore, whereof comes this?

Gon. Never afflict yourself to know the cause; But let his disposition have that scope That dotage gives it.

Re-enter Lear.

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


What's the matter, sir! Lear. I'll tell thee;-Life and death! I am asham'd

That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus: [To Goneril. That these hot tears, which break from me perforce, Should make thee worth them.-Blasts and fogs upon thee!

The untented4 woundings of a father's curs
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! is it come to this?
Let it be so :-Yet have I left a daughter,
Who, I am sure, is kind and comfortable;
When she shall hear this of thee, with her nails
She'll flay thy wolfish visage. Thou shalt find,
That I'll resume the shape which thou dost think
I have cast off for ever; thou shalt, I warrant thee.
[Exeunt Lear, Kent, and Attendants.
Gon. Do you mark that, my lord?
Alb. I cannot be so partial, Goneril,
To the great love I bear you,-

(1) The rack. (2) Degraded. (3) Falling. (4) Undressed.

Gon. Pray you, content.-What, Oswald, ho! You, sir, more knave than fool, after your master. [To the Fool. Fool. Nuncle Lear, nuncle Lear, tarry, and take the fool with thee.

A fox, when one has caught her,
And such a daughter,
Should sure to the slaughter,

If my cap would buy a halter;
So the fool follows after.

[Exit. Gon. This man hath had good counsel :-A hundred knights!

'Tis politic, and safe, to let him keep At point,5 a hundred knights. Yes, that on every


Each buzz, each fancy, each complaint, dislike,
He may enguard his dotage with their powers,
And hold our lives in mercy.-Oswald, I say!—
Alb. Well, you may fear too far.

Safer than trust:
Let me still take away the harms I fear,
Not fear still to be taken. I know his heart:
What he hath utter'd, I have writ my sister;
If she sustain him and his hundred knights,
When I have show'd the unfitness,-How now,

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Lear. Go you before to Gloster with these letters: acquaint my daughter no further with any thing you know, than comes from her demand out of the letter: If your diligence be not speedy, I shall be there before you.

Kent. I will not sleep, my lord, till I have de, livered your letter. [Exit. Fool. If a man's brains were in his heels, were't not in danger of kibes?

Lear. Ay, boy.

Fool. Then, I pr'ythee, be merry; thy wit shall not go slip-shod.

Lear. Ha, ha, ha!

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