The History of King Lear icon

The History of King Lear



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Kent.

I can keep honest Counsel, marr a curious Tale in the telling, deliver a plain Message bluntly, that which ordinary Men are fit for I am qualify'd in, and the best of me is Diligence.

Lear.

Follow me, thou shalt serve me.

[Enter one of Gonerill's Gentlemen.]

Now Sir?

Gent.

Sir—

[Exit; Kent runs after him.]

Lear.

What says the fellow? Call the Clatpole back.

Att.

My Lord, I know not, but methinks your Highness is entertain'd with slender Ceremony.

Servant.

He says, my Lord, your Daughter is not well.

^ Lear.

Why came not the Slave back when I call'd him?

Serv.

My Lord, he answer'd me i'th' surliest manner,

That he wou'd not.

[Re-enter Gentleman brought in by Kent.]

Lear.

I hope our Daughter did not so instruct him:

Now, who am I Sir?

Gent.

My Ladies Father.

Lear.

My Lord's Knave—

[^ Strikes him.]

[Gonerill at the Entrance.]

Gent.

I'll not be struck my Lord.

Kent.

Nor tript neither, thou vile Civet-box.

[Strikes up his heels.]

Gon.

By Day and Night this is insufferable,

I will not bear it.

^ Lear.

Now, Daughter, why that frontlet on?

Speak, do's that Frown become our Presence?

Gon.

Sir, this licentious Insolence of your Servants

Is most unseemly, hourly they break out

In quarrels bred by their unbounded Riots,

I had fair hope by making this known to you

T'have had a quick Redress, but find too late

That you protect and countenance their out-rage;

And therefore, Sir, I take this freedom, which

Necessity makes Discreet.

^ Lear.

Are you our Daughter?

Gon.

Come, Sir, let me entreat you to make use

Of your discretion, and put off betimes

This Disposition that of late transforms you

From what you rightly are.

Lear.

Do's any here know me? why this is not Lear.

Do's Lear walk thus? speak thus? where are his Eyes?

Who is it that can tell me who I am?

Gon.

Come, Sir, this Admiration's much o'th' savour

Of other your new humours, I beseech you

To understand my purposes aright;

As you are old, you shou'd be staid and wise,

Here do you keep an hundred Knights and Squires,

Men so debaucht and bold that this our Palace

Shews like a riotous Inn, a Tavern, Brothel;

Be then advised by her that else will take

The she beggs, to lessen your Attendance,

Take half a way, and see that the remainder

Be such as may befit your Age, and know

Themselves and you.

Lear.

Darkness and Devils!

Saddle my Horses, call my Train together,

Degenerate Viper, I'll not stay with Thee;

I yet have left a Daughter — Serpent, Monster,

Lessen my Train, and call 'em riotous?

All men approv'd of choice and rarest Parts,

That each particular of duty know —

How small, Cordelia, was thy Fault? O ^ Lear,

Beat at this Gate that let thy Folly in,

And thy dear Judgment out; Go, go, my People.

[Going off meets Albany entring.]

Ingratefull Duke, was this your will?

Alb.

What Sir?

Lear.

Death! fifty of my Followers at a clap!

Alb.

The matter Madam?

Gon.

Never afflict your self to know the Cause,

But give his Dotage way.

Lear.

Blasts upon thee,

Th' untented woundings of a Father's Curse

Pierce ev'ry Sense about Thee; old fond Eyes [390]

Lament this Cause again, I'll pluck ye out

And cast ye with the Waters that ye lose

To temper Clay— No, ^ Gorgon, thou shalt find

That I'll resume the Shape which thou dost think

I have cast off for ever.

Gon.

Mark ye that.

Lear.

Hear Nature!

Dear Goddess hear, and if thou dost intend

To make that Creature fruitfull, change thy purpose;

Pronounce upon her Womb the barren Curse,

That from her blasted Body never spring

A Babe to honour her— but if she must bring forth,

Defeat her Joy with some distorted Birth,

Or monstrous Form, the Prodigy o'th' Time,

And so perverse of spirit, that it may Live

Her Torment as 'twas Born, to fret her Cheeks

With constant Tears, and wrinkle her young Brow.

Turn all her Mother's Pains to Shame and Scorn,

That she may curse her Crime too late, and feel

How sharper than a Serpent's Tooth it is

To have a Thankless Child! Away, away.

[Exit cum suis.]

Gon.

Presuming thus upon his numerous Train

He thinks to play the Tyrant here, and hold

Our Lives at will.

Alb.

Well, you may bear too far.

[Ex.]


Act II


SCENE, Gloster’s House.


[Enter Bastard.]

Bast.

The Duke comes here to night, I’ll take advantage

Of his Arrival to compleat my project,

Brother a Word, come forth, ‘tis I your Friend,

[Enter Edgar.]

My Father watches for you, fly this place,

Intelligence is giv’n where you are hid,

Take the advantage of the Night, bethink ye

Have not spoke against the Duke of Cornwall

Something might shew you a favourer of

Duke ^ Albany’s Party?

Edg.

Nothing, why ask you?

Bast.

Because he’s coming here to Night in haste

And Regan with him— heark! The Guards, Away.

Ed.

Let ‘em come on, I’ll stay and clear my self.

Bast.

Your Innocence at leisure may be heard,

But Gloster’s storming Rage as yet is deaf,

And you may perish e’re allow’d the hearing.

[^ Ex. Edgar.]

Gloster comes yonder: now to my feign’d scuffle—

Yield, come before my Father! Lights here, Lights!

Some Blood drawn on me wou’d beget opinion

[Stabs his Arm.’]

Of our more fierce Encounter— I have seen

Drunkards do more than this in sport.

[^ Enter Gloster and Servants.]

Glost.

Now, Edmund, where’s the Traytour?

Bast.

That Name, Sir,

Strikes Horrour through me, but my Brother, Sir,

Stood here I’th’ Dark.

Glost.

Thou bleed’st, pursue the Villain

And bring him piece-meal to me.

^ Bast.

Sir, he’s fled.

Glost.

Let him fly far, this Kingdom shall not hide him:

The noble Duke, my Patron, comes to Night,

By his Authority I will proclaim

Rewards for him that brings him to the Stake,

And Death for the Concealer.

Then of my Lands, loyal and natural Boy,

I’ll work the means to make thee capable.

[^ Exeunt.]

[Enter Kent (disguis’d still) and Goneril’s Gentleman, severally.]

Gent.

Good morrow Friend, belong’st thou to this House?

Kent.

Ask them will answer thee.

Gent.

Where may we set our Horses?

^ Kent.

I’th’ Mire.

Gent.

I am in haste, prethee an’ thou lov’st me, tell me.

Kent.

I love thee not.

Gent.

Why then I care not for Thee.

Kent.

An’ I had thee in Lipsbury Pinfold, I’d make thee care for me.

^ Gent.

What dost thou mean? I know thee not.

Kent.

But, Minion, I know Thee.

Gent.

What dost thou know me for?

Kent.

For a base, proud, beggarly, white-liver’d, Glass-gazing, superserviceable finical Rogue; one that wou’d be a Pimp in way of good Service, and art nothing but a composition of Knave, Beggar, Coward, Pandar—.

^ Gent.

What a monstrous Fellow art thou to rail at one that is neither known of thee nor knows thee?

Kent.

Impudent Slave, not know me, who but two days since tript up thy heels before the King: draw, Miscreant, or I’ll make the Moon shine through thee.

^ Gent.

What means the Fellow?— Why prethee, prethee; I tell thee I have nothing to do with thee.

Kent.

I know your Rogueship’s Office, you come with Letters against the King, taking my young Lady Vanity’s part against her royal Father; draw Rascal.

Gent.

Murther, murther, help Ho!

Kent.

Dost thou scream Peacock, strike Puppet, stand dappar Slave.

^ Gent.

Help Hea’! Murther, help.

[Exit. Kent after him.]

[Flourish. Enter Duke of Cornwal, Regan, attended, Gloster, Bastard.]

Glost.

All Welcome to your Graces, you do me honour.

Duke.

Gloster w’ave heard with sorrow that your Life

Has been attempted by your impious Son,

But Edmund here has paid you strictest Duty.

^ Glost.

He did betray his Practice, and receiv’d

The Hurt you see, striving to apprehend him.

Duke.

Is He pursu’d?

Glost.

He is, my Lord.

Reg.

Use our Authority to apprehend

The Traytour and do Justice on his Head;

For you, Edmund, that have so signaliz’d

Your Vertue, you from henceforth shall be ours;

Natures of such firm Trust we much shall need.

[^ Aside] A charming Youth and worth my further Thought.

Duke.

Lay comforts, noble Gloster, to your Breast,

As we to ours, This Night be spent in Revels,

We choose you, Gloster, for our Host to Night,

A troublesome expression of our Love.

On, to the Sports before us — who are These?

[^ Enter the Gentleman pursu’d by Kent.]

Glost.

Now, what’s the matter?

Duke.

Keep peace upon your Lives, he dies that strikes.

Whence and what are ye?

Att.

Sir, they are Messengers, the one from your Sister,

The other from the King.

^ Duke.

Your Difference? Speak.

Gent.

I’m scarce in breath, my Lord.

Kent.

No marvel, you have so bestirr’d your Valour.

Nature disclaims the Dastard, a Taylor made him.

Duke.

Speak yet, how grew your Quarrel?

Gent.

Sir this old Ruffian here, whose Life I spar’d

In pity to his Beard—

Kent.

Thou Essence Bottle!

In pity to my Beard? — Your leave, my Lord,

And I will tread the Muss cat into Mortar.

^ Duke.

Know’st thou our Presence?

Kent.

Yes, Sir, but Anger has a Privilege.

Duke.

Why art thou angry?

Kent.

That such a Slave as this shou’d wear a Sword

And have no Courage, Office and no Honesty.

Not Frost and Fire hold more Antipathy

Than I and such a Knave.

^ Glost.

Why dost thou call him Knave?

Kent.

His Countenance likes me not.

Duke.

No more perhaps does Mine, nor His or Hers.

Kent.

Plain-dealing is my Trade, and to be plain, Sir,

I have seen better Faces in my time

Than stands on any Shoulders now before me.

Reg.

This is some Fellow that having once been prais’d,

For Bluntness, since affects a sawcy Rudeness,

But I have known one of these surly Knaves

That in his Plainness harbour’d more Design

Than twenty cringing complementing Minions.

^ Duke.

What’s the offence you gave him?

Gent.

Never any, Sir.

It pleas’d the King his Master lately

To strike me on a slender misconstruction,

Whilst watching his Advantage this old Lurcher

Tript me behind, for which the King extold him;

And, flusht with th’ honour of this bold exploit,

Drew on me here agen.

^ Duke.

Bring forth the Stocks, we’ll teach you.

Kent.

Sir I’m too old to learn;

Call not the Stocks for me, I serve the King,

On whose Employment I was sent to you,

You’ll shew too small Respect, and too bold Malice

Against the Person of my royal Master,

Stocking his Messenger.

^ Duke.

Bring forth the Stocks, as I have Life and Honour,

There shall he sit till Noon.

Reg.

Till Noon, my Lord? Till Night, and all Night too.

Kent.

Why, Madam, if I were your Father’s Dog

You wou’d not use me so.

Reg.

Sir, being his Knave I will.

Glost.

Let me beseech your Graces to forbear him,

His fault is much, and the good King his Master

Will check him for’t, but needs must take it ill

To be thus slighted in his Messenger.

Duke.

Wee’l answer that;

Our Sister may receive it worse to have

Her Gentleman assaulted: to our business lead.

[^ Exit.]

Glost.

I am sorry for thee, Friend, ‘tis the Duke’s pleasure

Whose Disposition will not be controll’d,

But I’ll entreat for thee.

Kent. Pray do not, Sir—

I have watcht and travell’d hard,

Some time I shall sleep out, the rest I’ll whistle:

Fare-well t’ye, Sir.

[Ex. Glost.]

All weary and o’re-watcht,

I feel the drowzy Guest steal on me; take

Advantage heavy Eyes of this kind Slumber,

Not to behold this vile and shamefull Lodging.

[^ Sleeps.]

[Enter Edgar.]

Edg.

I heard my self proclaim’d,

And by the friendly Hollow of a Tree

Escapt the Hunt, no Port is free, no place

Where Guards and most unusual Vigilance

Do not attend to take me— how easie now

‘Twere to defeat the malice of my Trale,

And leave my Griefs on my Sword’s reeking point;

But Love detains me from Death’s peacefull Cell,

Still whispering me Cordelia’s in distress;

Unkinde as she is I cannot see her wretched,

But must be neer to wait upon her Fortune.

Who knows but the white minute yet may come

When ^ Edgar may do service to Cordelia,

That charming Hope still ties me to the Oar

Of painfull Life, and makes me too, submit

To th’ humblest shifts to keep that Life a foot;

My Face I will besmear and knit my Locks,

The Country gives me proof and president

Of Bedlam Beggars, who with roaring Voices

Strike in their numm’d and mortify’d bare Arms

Pins, Iron-spikes, Thorns, sprigs of Rosemary,

And thus from Sheep-coats Villages and Mills,

Sometimes with Prayers, sometimes with Lunatick Banns

Enforce their Charity, poor Tyrligod, poor Tom

That’s something yet, Edgar I am no more.

[Exit]

[Kent in the Stocks still; Enter Lear attended.]

Lear.

‘Tis strange that they shou’d so depart from home

And not send back our Messenger.

Kent.

Hail, noble Master.

Lear.

How? Mak’st thou this Shame thy Pastime?

What’s he that has so much mistook thy Place

To set thee here?

^ Kent.

It is both He and She, Sir, your Son and Daughter.

Lear.

No.

Kent.

Yes:

Lear.

No I say.

Kent.

I say yea:

Lear.

By Jupiter I swear no.

Kent.

By Juno I swear, I swear I.

Lear.

They durst not do’t

They cou’d not, wou’d not do’t, ‘tis worse then Murder

To doe upon Respect such violent out-rage.

Resolve me with all modest haste which way

Thou mayst deserve, or they impose this usage?

Kent.

My Lord, when at their Home

I did commend your Highness Letters to them,

E’er I was Ris’n, arriv’d another Post

Steer’d in his haste, breathless and panting forth

From Gonerill his Mistress Salutations,

Whose Message being deliver’d, they took Horse,

Commanding me to follow and attend

The leisure of their Answer; which I did,

But meeting that other Messenger

Whose welcome I perceiv’d had poison’d mine,

Being the very Fellow that of late

Had shew’n such rudeness to your Highness, I

Having more Man than Wit about me, Drew,

On which he rais’d the House with Coward cries:

This was the Trespass which your Son and Daughter

Thought worth the shame you see it suffer here.

Lear.

Oh! How this Spleen swells upward to my Heart

And heaves for passage — down thou climing Rage

Thy Element’s below; where is this Daughter?

^ Kent.

Within, Sir, at a Masque.

[Enter Gloster.]

Lear.

Now Gloster?— ha!

Deny to speak with me? Th’are sick, th’are weary,

They have travell’d hard to Night — meer fetches;

Bring me a better Answer.

^ Glost.

My dear Lord,

You know the fiery Quality of the Duke—

Lear.

Vengeance! Death, Plague, Confusion,

Fiery? What Quality — why Gloster, Gloster,

I’d speak with the Duke of Cornwal and his Wife.

Glost.

I have inform’d ‘em so.

Lear.

Inform’d ‘em! Dost thou understand me, Man,

I tell thee Gloster

Glost.

I, my good Lord.

Lear.

The King wou’d speak with Cornwal, the dear Father

Would with his Daughter speak, commands her Service.

Are they inform’d of this? My Breath and Blood!

Fiery! The fiery Duke! Tell the hot Duke —

No, but not yet, may be he is not well:

Infirmity do’s still neglect all Office;

I beg his Pardon, and I’ll chide my Rashness

That took the indispos’d and sickly Fit

For the sound Man— but wherefore sits he there?

Death on my State, this Act convinces me

That this Retiredness of the Duke and her

Is plain Contempt; give me my Servant forth,

Go tell the Duke and’s Wife I’d speak with ‘em.

Now, instantly, bid ‘em come forth and hear me,

Or at their Chamber door I’ll beat the Drum

Till it cry sleep to Death—

[^ Enter Cornwall and Regan.]

Oh! Are ye come?

Duke.

Health to the King.

Reg.

I am glad to see your Highness.

Lear.

Regan, I think you are, I know what cause

I have to think so; should’st thou not be glad

I wou’d divorce me from thy Mother’s Tomb?

Beloved Regan, thou wilt shake to hear

What I shall utter: Thou coud’st ne’r ha’ thought it,

Thy Sister’s naught, O
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