Alb. and Corn.
Dear sir, forbear!
Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow
Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy gift,
Or, whilst I can vent clamour from my throat,
I'll tell thee thou dost evil.
Hear me, recreant!
On thine allegiance, hear me!--
Since thou hast sought to make us break our vow,--
Which we durst never yet,--and with strain'd pride
To come between our sentence and our power,--
Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,--
Our potency made good, take thy reward.
Five days we do allot thee for provision
To shield thee from diseases of the world;
And on the sixth to turn thy hated back
Upon our kingdom: if, on the tenth day following,
Thy banish'd trunk be found in our dominions,
The moment is thy death. Away! by Jupiter,
This shall not be revok'd.
Fare thee well, king: sith thus thou wilt appear,
Freedom lives hence, and banishment is here.--
(To Cordelia.) The gods to their dear shelter take thee, maid,
That justly think'st and hast most rightly said!
(To Regan and Goneril.)
And your large speeches may your deeds approve,
That good effects may spring from words of love.--
Thus Kent, O princes, bids you all adieu;
He'll shape his old course in a country new.
(Flourish. Re-enter Gloster, with France, Burgundy, and
Here's France and Burgundy, my noble lord.
My Lord of Burgundy,
We first address toward you, who with this king
Hath rivall'd for our daughter: what in the least
Will you require in present dower with her,
Or cease your quest of love?
Most royal majesty,
I crave no more than hath your highness offer'd,
Nor will you tender less.
Right noble Burgundy,
When she was dear to us, we did hold her so;
But now her price is fall'n. Sir, there she stands:
If aught within that little seeming substance,
Or all of it, with our displeasure piec'd,
And nothing more, may fitly like your grace,
She's there, and she is yours.
I know no answer.
Will you, with those infirmities she owes,
Unfriended, new-adopted to our hate,
Dower'd with our curse, and stranger'd with our oath,
Take her, or leave her?
Pardon me, royal sir;
Election makes not up on such conditions.
Then leave her, sir; for, by the power that made me,
I tell you all her wealth.--(To France) For you, great king,
I would not from your love make such a stray
To match you where I hate; therefore beseech you
To avert your liking a more worthier way
Than on a wretch whom nature is asham'd
Almost to acknowledge hers.
This is most strange,
That she, who even but now was your best object,
The argument of your praise, balm of your age,
Most best, most dearest, should in this trice of time
Commit a thing so monstrous, to dismantle
So many folds of favour. Sure her offence
Must be of such unnatural degree
That monsters it, or your fore-vouch'd affection
Fall'n into taint; which to believe of her
Must be a faith that reason without miracle
Should never plant in me.
I yet beseech your majesty,--
If for I want that glib and oily art
To speak and purpose not; since what I well intend,
I'll do't before I speak,--that you make known
It is no vicious blot, murder, or foulness,
No unchaste action or dishonour'd step,
That hath depriv'd me of your grace and favour;
But even for want of that for which I am richer,--
A still-soliciting eye, and such a tongue
As I am glad I have not, though not to have it
Hath lost me in your liking.
Hadst not been born than not to have pleas'd me better.
Is it but this,--a tardiness in nature
Which often leaves the history unspoke
That it intends to do?--My lord of Burgundy,
What say you to the lady? Love's not love
When it is mingled with regards that stands
Aloof from the entire point. Will you have her?
She is herself a dowry.
Give but that portion which yourself propos'd,
And here I take Cordelia by the hand,
Duchess of Burgundy.
Nothing: I have sworn; I am firm.
I am sorry, then, you have so lost a father
That you must lose a husband.
Peace be with Burgundy!
Since that respects of fortune are his love,
I shall not be his wife.
Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor;
Most choice, forsaken; and most lov'd, despis'd!
Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon:
Be it lawful, I take up what's cast away.
Gods, gods! 'tis strange that from their cold'st neglect
My love should kindle to inflam'd respect.--
Thy dowerless daughter, king, thrown to my chance,
Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France:
Not all the dukes of waterish Burgundy
Can buy this unpriz'd precious maid of me.--
Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind:
Thou losest here, a better where to find.
Thou hast her, France: let her be thine; for we
Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see
That face of hers again.--Therefore be gone
Without our grace, our love, our benison.--
Come, noble Burgundy.
(Flourish. Exeunt Lear, Burgundy, Cornwall, Albany, Gloster,
Bid farewell to your sisters.
The jewels of our father, with wash'd eyes
Cordelia leaves you: I know you what you are;
And, like a sister, am most loath to call
Your faults as they are nam'd. Love well our father:
To your professed bosoms I commit him:
But yet, alas, stood I within his grace,
I would prefer him to a better place.
So, farewell to you both.
Prescribe not us our duties.
Let your study
Be to content your lord, who hath receiv'd you
At fortune's alms. You have obedience scanted,
And well are worth the want that you have wanted.
Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides:
Who cover faults, at last shame them derides.
Well may you prosper!
Come, my fair Cordelia.
(Exeunt France and Cordelia.)
Sister, it is not little I have to say of what most nearly
appertains to us both. I think our father will hence to-night.
That's most certain, and with you; next month with us.
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.
'Tis the infirmity of his age: yet he hath ever but slenderly
The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash; then must
we look to receive from his age, not alone the imperfections of
long-ingraffed condition, but therewithal the unruly waywardness
that infirm and choleric years bring with them.
Such unconstant starts are we like to have from him as this of
There is further compliment of leave-taking 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.
We shall further think of it.
We must do something, and i' th' heat.
Scene II. A Hall in the Earl of Gloster's Castle.
(Enter Edmund with a letter.)
Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law
My services are bound. Wherefore should I
Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines
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; I prosper.--
Now, gods, stand up for bastards!
Kent banish'd thus! and France in choler parted!
And the king gone to-night! subscrib'd his pow'r!
Confin'd to exhibition! All this done
Upon the gad!--Edmund, how now! What news?
So please your lordship, none.
(Putting up the letter.)
Why so earnestly seek you to put up that letter?
I know no news, my lord.
What paper were you reading?
Nothing, my lord.
No? What needed, then, that terrible dispatch of it into your
pocket? the quality of nothing hath not such need to hide itself.
Come, if it be nothing, I shall not need spectacles.
I beseech you, sir, pardon me. It is a letter from my brother
that I have not all o'er-read; and for so much as I have perus'd,
I find it not fit for your o'erlooking.
Give me the letter, sir.
I shall offend, either to detain or give it. The contents, as in
part I understand them, are to blame.
Let's see, let's see!
I hope, for my brother's justification, he wrote this but as an
essay or taste of my virtue.
(Reads.) 'This policy and reverence of age makes the world
bitter to the best of our times; keeps our fortunes from us
till our oldness cannot 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,
Hum! 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?
It was not brought me, my lord, there's the cunning of it; I
found it thrown in at the casement of my closet.
You know the character to be your brother's?
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.
It is his.
It is his hand, my lord; but I hope his heart is not in the
Hath he never before sounded you in this business?
Never, my lord: but I have heard him oft maintain it to be fit
that, sons at perfect age, and fathers declined, the father
should be as ward to the son, and the son manage his revenue.
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?
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 should run a certain course;
where, 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 pretence of danger.
Think you so?
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
and that without any further delay than this very evening.
He cannot be such a monster.
Nor is not, sure.
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 business after your own wisdom. I would unstate myself
to be in a due resolution.
I will seek him, sir, presently; convey the business as I shall
find means, and acquaint you withal.
These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us:
though the wisdom of nature can reason it thus and thus, yet
nature finds itself scourged by the sequent effects: love cools,
friendship falls off, brothers divide: in cities, mutinies; in
countries, discord; in palaces, treason; and the bond cracked
'twixt son and father. This villain 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!--'Tis strange.
This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are
sick in fortune,--often the surfeit of our own behaviour,--we
make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars; as
if we were villains on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion;
knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical pre-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 lecherous.--Tut! I
should have been that I am, had the maidenliest star in the
firmament twinkled on my bastardizing.
Pat!--he comes, like the catastrophe of the old comedy: my cue
is villainous melancholy, with a sigh like Tom o' Bedlam.--O,
these eclipses do portend these divisions! fa, sol, la, mi.
How now, brother Edmund! what serious contemplation are you in?
I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read this other day,
what should follow these eclipses.
Do you busy yourself with that?
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, nuptial breaches,
and I know not what.
How long have you been a sectary astronomical?
Come, come! when saw you my father last?
The night gone by.
Spake you with him?
Ay, two hours together.
Parted you in good terms? Found you no displeasure in him by word
None at all.
Bethink yourself wherein you may have offended him: and at my
entreaty forbear his presence until some little time hath
qualified the heat of his displeasure; which at this instant so
rageth in him that with the mischief of your person it would
Some villain hath done me wrong.
That's my fear. I pray you have a continent forbearance till the
speed of his rage goes slower; and, as I say, retire with me to
my lodging, from whence I will fitly bring you to hear my lord
speak: pray you, go; there's my key.--If you do stir abroad, go
Brother, I advise you to the best; I am no honest man
if there be any good meaning toward you: I have told you what I
have seen and heard but faintly; nothing like the image and
horror of it: pray you, away!
Shall I hear from you anon?
I do serve you in this business.
A credulous father! and a brother noble,
Whose nature is so far from doing harms
That he suspects none; on whose foolish honesty
My practices ride easy!--I see the business.
Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit:
All with me's meet that I can fashion fit.
Scene III. A Room in the Duke of Albany's Palace.
(Enter Goneril and Oswald.)
Did my father strike my gentleman for chiding of his fool?
Osw. Ay, madam.
By day and night, he wrongs me; every hour
He 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.
He's coming, madam; I hear him.
Put on what weary negligence you please,
You and your fellows; I'd have it come to question:
If he distaste it, let him to our sister,
Whose mind and mine, I know, in that are one,
Not to be overruled. 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 abus'd.
Remember what I have said.
Very well, madam.
And let his knights have colder looks among you;
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.
Scene IV. A Hall in Albany's Palace.
(Enter Kent, disguised.)
If but as well I other accents borrow,
That can my speech defuse, my good intent
May carry through itself to that full issue
For which I rais'd my likeness.--Now, banish'd Kent,
If thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemn'd,
So may it come, thy master, whom thou lov'st,
Shall find thee full of labours.