Enter Kent in disguise
If but as well I other accents borrow
That can my speech diffuse, my good intent
May carry through itself to that full issue
For which I razed my likeness. Now, banished Kent,
If thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemned,
So may it come thy master whom thou lovest
Shall find thee full of labours.
Horns within. Enter Lear and Knights
Let me not stay a jot for dinner! Go, get it ready!
Exit First Knight
How now? What art thou?
A man, sir.
What dost thou profess? What wouldst thou with
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
judgement, to fight when I cannot choose, and to eat no
What art thou?
A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the
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 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
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 Second Knight
You! You, sirrah! Where's my daughter?
So please you –
What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll back.
Exit Third Knight
Where's my Fool? Ho, I think the world's asleep.
Enter Third Knight
How now? Where's that mongrel?
He says, my lord, your daughter is not
Why came not the slave back to me when I called
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 judgement 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! Sayest 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
scrupulousness, fastidiousness, painstaking attention to detail
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 Third Knight
Go you, call hither my Fool.
Exit another Knight
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
Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?
He strikes him
I'll not be strucken, my lord.
Nor tripped neither, you base football-player.
He trips him
I thank thee, fellow. Thou servest me and I'll love
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
He pushes Oswald out
Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee. There's
earnest of thy service.
pledge, instalment, deposit, payment in advance
He gives him money
Enter the Fool
Let me hire him too. Here's my coxcomb.
How now, my pretty knave! How dost thou?
Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb.
Why? For taking one's part that's out of favour.
Nay, and thou canst not smile as the wind sits, thou'lt
catch cold shortly. There, take my coxcomb! Why, this
fellow has banished 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!
child-like shortening of ‘mine uncle’; guardian, master
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
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,
Why, no, boy. Nothing can be made out of nothing.
Prithee tell him; so much the rent of his
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 fool?
No, lad; teach me.
serving-man, man of low birth [not necessarily young]
That lord that counselled 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 with.
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
ladies 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 crowns.
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 gavest 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 grace in a year,
For wise men are grown foppish
And know not how their wits to wear,
wits, also five wits
faculties of the mind (common wit, imagination, fantasy, estimation, memory) or body (the five senses)
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 madest thy
use (v.) 3
make use of, engage [in], practise [with]
daughters thy mothers; for when thou gavest 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
peep-bo, peek-a-boo [a game played with babies]
And go the fools among.
Prithee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach thy
fool to lie; I would fain learn to lie.
And 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.
How now, daughter! What makes that frontlet on?
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 0 without a
figure. I am better than thou art now; I am a fool; thou
art nothing. (To Gonerill) Yes, forsooth, I will hold my
tongue. So your face bids me, though you say nothing.
He that keeps nor crust nor crumb,
Weary of all, shall want some.
He points to Lear
That's a shelled peascod.
Not only, sir, this your all-licensed 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
state, community, commonwealth
Might in their working do you that offence
Which else were shame, that then necessity
Will call discreet proceeding.
The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long
That it's had it head bit off by it young.
So out went the candle and we were left darkling.
Are you our daughter?
I would you would make use of your good wisdom,
Whereof I know you are fraught, and put away
These dispositions which of late transform you
From what you rightly are.
May not an ass know when the cart draws the
Whoop, Jug, I love thee!
pet-name for Joan; sweetheart, mistress
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?
I would learn that; for by the marks of sovereignty,
knowledge, and reason, I should be false persuaded I
Which they will make an obedient father.
Your name, fair gentlewoman?
This admiration, sir, is much o'the savour
Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you
To understand my purposes aright:
As you are old and reverend, should be wise.
Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires,
squire (n.) 1
gentleman below a knight in rank, attendant on a knight or nobleman
Men so disordered, so deboshed 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 graced 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 remainders 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 disordered rabble
Make servants of their betters.
Woe that too late repents! – O, sir, are you come?
Is it your will? Speak, sir! – Prepare my horses.
Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend,
More hideous when thou showest thee in a child
Than the sea-monster!
Pray, sir, be patient.
bird of prey; thieving bird [of ill omen; also, strong term of abuse]
Detested kite, thou liest!
My train are men of choice and rarest parts,
part (n.) 1
quality, attribute, gift, accomplishment [of mind or body]
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, wrenched my frame of nature
From the fixed place, drew from heart all love,
And added to the gall. O Lear, Lear, Lear!
Beat at this gate that let thy folly in
(he strikes his head)
And thy dear judgement out! Go, go, my people.
Exeunt Kent and Knights
My lord, I am guiltless as I am ignorant
Of what hath moved you.
It may be so, my lord.
nature (n.) 6
natural order, ungoverned state, way of the world [often personified]
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 disnatured torment to her.
Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth,
brow (n.) 4
forehead [often plural, referring to the two prominences of the forehead]
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
As dotage gives it.
What, fifty of my followers at a clap!
Within a fortnight?
What's the matter, sir?
I'll tell thee – (to Gonerill) life and death! I am ashamed
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 ye out
And cast you with the waters that you loose
To temper clay. Yea, is't come to this?
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.
Do you mark that?
I cannot be so partial, Gonerill,
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
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 uttered I have writ my sister;
If she sustain him and his hundred knights
When I have showed th' unfitness –
How now, Oswald!
What, have you writ that letter to my sister?
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.
No, no, my lord,
This milky gentleness and course of yours,
Though I condemn not, yet, under pardon,
You are much more a-taxed for want of wisdom
tax (v.) 1
censure, blame, take to task, disparage
Than praised 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 – th' event!