2.13 WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
Shakespeare was born on April 23, and he died on April 23. He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, and he died in Stratford-upon-Avon. These facts frame many additional facts and many conjectures. He probably received an education in Latin studies at the town’s grammar school, as his father was a municipal officer (mayor and justice of the peace) so could send his son to the school for free. At the age of eighteen, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway (1556-1623), a woman who was eight years his senior and who lived in nearby Shottery. Their child Susanna (1583-1649) was born five months later. Two years after that, their twins Hamnet and Judith were born, with Hamnet dying at the age of eleven and Judith surviving to the age of seventy-seven. Anne outlived Shakespeare by seven years, receiving in his will his second-best bed and being buried next to him in the Church of the Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon.
Image 2.15 | William Shakespeare
Artist | John Taylor
Source | Wikimedia Commons
License | Public Domain
Seven years after the birth of the twins, Robert Greene (1558-1592) writes of Shakespeare as an actor and playwright in London, describing him in Greenes Groatsworth of Wit (1592) as “an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tiger’s heart wrapt in a player’s hide, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Johannes Factotum, is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country.” Green was a member of the “University Wits,” a group of Cambridge and Oxford young men—including Christopher Marlowe—that sought to bring their classical learning to the stage. Although Shakespeare attended neither Cambridge nor Oxford, his early plays echo Marlowe’s blank verse; indeed, Shakespeare’s Henry VI Parts I, II, and III, according to the Oxford University Press, may have been co-written by Marlowe, so Marlowe’s influence may have been direct. Shakespeare also demonstrated classical learning on the stage with his Plautean Comedy of Errors (performed in 1594) and his Senecan tragedy Titus Andronicus (performed in 1594).
He dedicated two classically-themed poems to his patron Henry Wriothesley, third earl of Southampton. Both Venus and Adonis (1593) and The Rape of Lucrece (1594) were published as quarto pamphlets, with Venus and Adonis running through eighteen editions and The Rape of Lucrece, eight editions by 1655. In 1594, Shakespeare was a partner in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a theater company from which he derived profits for such plays as Romeo and Juliet (performed around 1595-1596), The Merchant of Venice (performed around 15996-97), Henry IV Parts I and II (performed around 1597-1598), and Twelfth Night: Or, What You Will (performed around 1600-1602).
From 1595, he also probably worked on his sonnet sequence that was not published until 1609. These sonnets employ numerous conventions, such as the idealized and aloof woman. He also used the already-extant rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. Yet he used it so deftly and naturally that the form is now known as the Shakespearean sonnet. His sonnets reflect on the power of poetry and the matters of poetic art, such as romantic love, in language that compels belief in their truth and authenticity—even though their possibly autobiographical elements have not been proven. For example, they trace a friendship with a beautiful young man and a romance with a dark lady. The identity of either of these figures is unknown, though early conjectures identify the young man as Shakespeare’s patron Wriothesley and the dark lady as a sonnet convention along the lines of Petrarch’s Laura. When published, the sequence was dedicated to an unknown Mr. W. H., described as the sonnets’ only begetter.
In 1599, Shakespeare’s company built the Globe Theater, with Shakespeare being one of six shareholders; the others included the great actor Richard Burbage (1567-1619) and John Heminges (1566-1630) who, with Henry Condell (1576-1627), edited the First Folio (1623) collection of Shakespeare’s plays. In 1613, during a performance of Shakespeare’s Henry VIII, the Globe was destroyed by fire but was rebuilt the next year. Upon the accession of James I (1603), the Lord Chamberlain’s Men was renamed the King’s Men, and Shakespeare began writing his greatest tragedies, including Othello (performed around 1604), King Lear (performed around 1605-1606), and Macbeth (performed around 1606). With his profits, Shakespeare built New Place, the second largest house in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Image 2.16 | Cordelia and King Lear
Artist | William Shakespeare
Source | Wikimedia Commons
License | Public Domain
In 1606, the King’s Men acquired a private theater, Blackfriars, along with its playwrights Francis Beaumont (1584-1616) and John Fletcher (1579-1625), whose style may have influenced Shakespeare’s final romances, including Cymbeline (performed around 1609-1610), The Winter’s Tale (performed around 1610-1611), and The Tempest (performed in 1611). Shakespeare collaborated with Fletcher on Henry VIII (performed around 1612-1613), The Two Noble Kinsmen (performed around 1612-1613), and Cardenio (performed around 1612-1613). In 1613, Shakespeare retired to Stratford-upon-Avon. He died in 1616, a little over two months after his daughter Judith married Thomas Quiney (1589-1663).
Although these facts seem sparse, they are more in number than facts known about other playwrights of Shakespeare’s time. Yet, they still offer too little knowledge to those around the world who have loved Shakespeare’s works over the course of four hundred years—a man whose invented words enrich the English language; whose characters fill imaginations; and whose range of style, sheer beauty of expression, and depth and breadth of insight authenticate the most profound of human emotions.
The interpretation of Shakespeare over time provides a mirror to the history of interpretation itself. In 1693, Thomas Rymer attacked Othello as not a tragedy but a farce due to its offering, in his opinion, neither meaning nor moral. In 1699, James Drake similarly demonstrated the expectation for moral lessons in art when he admired the poetic justice of Hamlet (first performed around 1609). The eighteenth century evinced interest in the particularities of Shakespeare’s characters; for example, in 1777, Maurice Morgann wrote an essay on the character of Falstaff describing him as not a coward but a sensible man.
Shakespeare’s King Lear suggests a way to interpret or gain meaning from this play (and perhaps his others). This extraordinarily dynamic work, with wheels within wheels of meaning, depicts extreme betrayal, cruelty, and suffering of such intensity that an audience may wish to turn away from it. The character Edgar serves as a type of audience, as almost a pure observer of a painful scene between the mad King Lear and the blinded Duke of Gloucester, Edgar’s own father. But Edgar will not turn away, saying in an aside—presumably to the actual audience— that he would not take this scene from report. And he offers a possible explanation for the purpose and effect of art when he describes himself as one who has gained compassion through suffering, as one who “by the art of known and feeling sorrows,/ Am pregnant to good pity” (220-21).
2.13.1 Selected Sonnets
When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field,
Thy youth’s proud livery, so gaz’d on now,
Will be a tatter’d weed, of small worth held;
Then being ask’d where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days,
To say, within thine own deep-sunken eyes,
Were an all-eating shame and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserv’d thy beauty’s use,
If thou couldst answer ‘This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count, and make my old excuse,’
Proving his beauty by succession thine!
This were to be new made when thou art old,
And see thy blood warm when thou feel’st it cold.
When I do count the clock that tells the time,
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
When I behold the violet past prime,
And sable curls, all silvered o’er with white;
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves,
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves,
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,
Then of thy beauty do I question make,
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
And die as fast as they see others grow;
And nothing ’gainst Time’s scythe can make defence
Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence
O! that you were your self; but, love you are
No longer yours, than you your self here live:
Against this coming end you should prepare,
And your sweet semblance to some other give:
So should that beauty which you hold in lease
Find no determination; then you were
Yourself again, after yourself’s decease,
When your sweet issue your sweet form should bear.
Who lets so fair a house fall to decay,
Which husbandry in honour might uphold,
Against the stormy gusts of winter’s day
And barren rage of death’s eternal cold?
O! none but unthrifts. Dear my love, you know,
You had a father: let your son say so.
When I consider every thing that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment,
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment;
When I perceive that men as plants increase,
Cheered and checked even by the self-same sky,
Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,
And wear their brave state out of memory;
Then the conceit of this inconstant stay
Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,
Where wasteful Time debateth with decay
To change your day of youth to sullied night,
And all in war with Time for love of you,
As he takes from you, I engraft you new.
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimm’d:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st,
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
My glass shall not persuade me I am old,
So long as youth and thou are of one date;
But when in thee time’s furrows I behold,
Then look I death my days should expiate.
For all that beauty that doth cover thee,
Is but the seemly raiment of my heart,
Which in thy breast doth live, as thine in me:
How can I then be elder than thou art?
O! therefore love, be of thyself so wary
As I, not for myself, but for thee will;
Bearing thy heart, which I will keep so chary
As tender nurse her babe from faring ill.
Presume not on th’ heart when mine is slain,
Thou gav’st me thine not to give back again.
As an unperfect actor on the stage,
Who with his fear is put beside his part,
Or some fierce thing replete with too much rage,
Whose strength’s abundance weakens his own heart;
So I, for fear of trust, forget to say
The perfect ceremony of love’s rite,
And in mine own love’s strength seem to decay,
O’ercharg’d with burthen of mine own love’s might.
O! let my looks be then the eloquence
And dumb presagers of my speaking breast,
Who plead for love, and look for recompense,
More than that tongue that more hath more express’d.
O! learn to read what silent love hath writ:
To hear with eyes belongs to love’s fine wit.
When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur’d like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee,—and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
Take all my loves, my love, yea take them all;
What hast thou then more than thou hadst before?
No love, my love, that thou mayst true love call;
All mine was thine, before thou hadst this more.
Then if for my love thou my love receivest,
I cannot blame thee, for my love thou usest;
But yet be blam’d, if thou thyself deceivest
By wilful taste of what thyself refusest.
I do forgive thy robbery, gentle thief,
Although thou steal thee all my poverty;
And yet, love knows, it is a greater grief
To bear love’s wrong, than hate’s known injury.
Lascivious grace, in whom all ill well shows,
Kill me with spites, yet we must not be foes.
Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone, besmear’d with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword, nor war’s quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
’Gainst death, and all-oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.
No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world with vilest worms to dwell:
Nay, if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it, for I love you so,
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot,
If thinking on me then should make you woe.
O! if,—I say you look upon this verse,
When I perhaps compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse;
But let your love even with my life decay;
Lest the wise world should look into your moan,
And mock you with me after I am gone.
So oft have I invoked thee for my Muse,
And found such fair assistance in my verse
As every alien pen hath got my use
And under thee their poesy disperse.
Thine eyes, that taught the dumb on high to sing
And heavy ignorance aloft to fly,
Have added feathers to the learned’s wing
And given grace a double majesty.
Yet be most proud of that which I compile,
Whose influence is thine, and born of thee:
In others’ works thou dost but mend the style,
And arts with thy sweet graces graced be;
But thou art all my art, and dost advance
As high as learning, my rude ignorance.
Farewell! thou art too dear for my possessing,
And like enough thou know’st thy estimate,
The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing:
My bonds in thee are all determinate.
For how do I hold thee but by thy granting,
And for that riches where is my deserving?
The cause of this fair gift in me is wanting,
And so my patent back again is swerving.
Thy self thou gav’st, thy own worth then not knowing,
Or me to whom thou gav’st it, else mistaking,
So thy great gift, upon misprision growing,
Comes home again, on better judgement making.
Thus have I had thee as a dream doth flatter,
In sleep a King, but waking no such matter.
Some say thy fault is youth, some wantonness;
Some say thy grace is youth and gentle sport;
Both grace and faults are lov’d of more and less:
Thou mak’st faults graces that to thee resort.
As on the finger of a throned queen
The basest jewel will be well esteem’d,
So are those errors that in thee are seen
To truths translated, and for true things deem’d.
How many lambs might the stern wolf betray,
If like a lamb he could his looks translate!
How many gazers mightst thou lead away,
If thou wouldst use the strength of all thy state!
But do not so; I love thee in such sort,
As, thou being mine, mine is thy good report.
When in the chronicle of wasted time
I see descriptions of the fairest wights,
And beauty making beautiful old rime,
In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights,
Then, in the blazon of sweet beauty’s best,
Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow,
I see their antique pen would have express’d
Even such a beauty as you master now.
So all their praises are but prophecies
Of this our time, all you prefiguring;
And for they looked but with divining eyes,
They had not skill enough your worth to sing:
For we, which now behold these present days,
Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.
In the old age black was not counted fair,
Or if it were, it bore not beauty’s name;
But now is black beauty’s successive heir,
And beauty slander’d with a bastard shame:
For since each hand hath put on Nature’s power,
Fairing the foul with Art’s false borrowed face,
Sweet beauty hath no name, no holy bower,
But is profan’d, if not lives in disgrace.
Therefore my mistress’ eyes are raven black,
Her eyes so suited, and they mourners seem
At such who, not born fair, no beauty lack,
Sland’ring creation with a false esteem:
Yet so they mourn becoming of their woe,
That every tongue says beauty should look so.
My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red, than her lips red:
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound:
I grant I never saw a goddess go,—
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet by heaven, I think my love as rare,
As any she belied with false compare.
Whoever hath her wish, thou hast thy ‘Will,’
And ‘Will’ to boot, and ‘Will’ in over-plus;
More than enough am I that vex’d thee still,
To thy sweet will making addition thus.
Wilt thou, whose will is large and spacious,
Not once vouchsafe to hide my will in thine?
Shall will in others seem right gracious,
And in my will no fair acceptance shine?
The sea, all water, yet receives rain still,
And in abundance addeth to his store;
So thou, being rich in ‘Will,’ add to thy ‘Will’
One will of mine, to make thy large will more.
Let no unkind ‘No’ fair beseechers kill;
Think all but one, and me in that one ‘Will.’
When my love swears that she is made of truth,
I do believe her though I know she lies,
That she might think me some untutor’d youth,
Unlearned in the world’s false subtleties.
Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
Although she knows my days are past the best,
Simply I credit her false-speaking tongue;
On both sides thus is simple truth suppressed.
But wherefore says she not she is unjust?
And wherefore say not I that I am old?
O! love’s best habit is in seeming trust,
And age in love loves not to have years told:
Therefore I lie with her, and she with me,
And in our faults by lies we flatter’d be.
Two loves I have of comfort and despair,
Which like two spirits do suggest me still:
The better angel is a man right fair,
The worser spirit a woman colour’d ill.
To win me soon to hell, my female evil,
Tempteth my better angel from my side,
And would corrupt my saint to be a devil,
Wooing his purity with her foul pride.
And whether that my angel be turn’d fiend,
Suspect I may, yet not directly tell;
But being both from me, both to each friend,
I guess one angel in another’s hell:
Yet this shall I ne’er know, but live in doubt,
Till my bad angel fire my good one out.
2.13.2 Much Ado About Nothing
Scene I. Before LEONATO’S House.
[Enter LEONATO, HERO, BEATRICE and others, with a Messenger.]
I learn in this letter that Don Pedro of Arragon comes this night to Messina.
He is very near by this: he was not three leagues off when I left him.
How many gentlemen have you lost in this action?
But few of any sort, and none of name.
A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings home full numbers. I find here
that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine called Claudio.
Much deserved on his part, and equally remembered by Don Pedro. He hath borne
himself beyond the promise of his age, doing in the figure of a lamb the feats of a
lion: he hath indeed better bettered expectation than you must expect of me to tell
He hath an uncle here in Messina will be very much glad of it.
I have already delivered him letters, and there appears much joy in him; even so
much that joy could not show itself modest enough without a badge of bitterness.
Did he break out into tears?
In great measure.
A kind overflow of kindness. There are no faces truer than those that are so washed;
how much better is it to weep at joy than to joy at weeping!
I pray you, is Signior Mountanto returned from the wars or no?
I know none of that name, lady: there was none such in the army of any sort.
What is he that you ask for, niece?
My cousin means Signior Benedick of Padua.
O! he is returned, and as pleasant as ever he was.
He set up his bills here in Messina and challenged Cupid at the flight; and my
uncle’s fool, reading the challenge, subscribed for Cupid, and challenged him at the
bird-bolt. I pray you, how many hath he killed and eaten in these wars?
But how many hath he killed? for, indeed, I promised to eat all of his killing.
Faith, niece, you tax Signior Benedick too much; but he’ll be meet with you, I doubt
He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.
You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it; he is a very valiant trencher-man;
he hath an excellent stomach.
And a good soldier too, lady.
And a good soldier to a lady; but what is he to a lord?
A lord to a lord, a man to a man; stuffed with all honourable virtues.
It is so indeed; he is no less than a stuffed man; but for the stuffing,—well, we are
You must not, sir, mistake my niece. There is a kind of merry war betwixt Signior
Benedick and her; they never meet but there’s a skirmish of wit between them.
Alas! he gets nothing by that. In our last conflict four of his five wits went halting
off, and now is the whole man governed with one! so that if he have wit enough to
keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse;
for it is all the wealth that he hath left to be known a reasonable creature. Who is
his companion now? He hath every month a new sworn brother.
Very easily possible: he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat; it ever changes
with the next block.
I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.
No; an he were, I would burn my study. But, I pray you, who is his companion? Is
there no young squarer now that will make a voyage with him to the devil?
He is most in the company of the right noble Claudio.
O Lord, he will hang upon him like a disease: he is sooner caught than the pestilence,
and the taker runs presently mad. God help the noble Claudio! If he have caught
the Benedick, it will cost him a thousand pound ere a’ be cured.
I will hold friends with you, lady.
Do, good friend.
You will never run mad, niece.
No, not till a hot January.
Don Pedro is approached.
[Enter DON PEDRO, DON JOHN, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, BALTHAZAR, and
Good Signior Leonato, you are come to meet your trouble: the fashion of the world
is to avoid cost, and you encounter it.
Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of your Grace, for trouble being
gone, comfort should remain; but when you depart from me, sorrow abides and
happiness takes his leave.
You embrace your charge too willingly. I think this is your daughter.
Her mother hath many times told me so.
Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her?
Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.
You have it full, Benedick: we may guess by this what you are, being a man. Truly
the lady fathers herself. Be happy, lady, for you are like an honourable father.
If Signior Leonato be her father, she would not have his head on her shoulders for
all Messina, as like him as she is.
I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick: nobody marks you.
What! my dear Lady Disdain, are you yet living?
Is it possible Disdain should die while she hath such meet food to feed it as Signior
Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to disdain if you come in her presence.
Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I am loved of all ladies, only you
excepted; and I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart; for,
truly, I love none.
A dear happiness to women: they would else have been troubled with a pernicious
suitor. I thank God and my cold blood, I am of your humour for that. I had rather
hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.
God keep your ladyship still in that mind; so some gentleman or other shall ’scape
a predestinate scratched face.
Scratching could not make it worse, an ’twere such a face as yours were.
Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.
A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.
I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and so good a continuer. But keep
your way, i’ God’s name; I have done.
You always end with a jade’s trick: I know you of old.
That is the sum of all, Leonato: Signior Claudio, and Signior Benedick, my dear
friend Leonato hath invited you all. I tell him we shall stay here at the least a
month, and he heartly prays some occasion may detain us longer: I dare swear he
is no hypocrite, but prays from his heart.
If you swear, my lord, you shall not be forsworn. [To DON JOHN] Let me bid you
welcome, my lord: being reconciled to the prince your brother, I owe you all duty.
I thank you: I am not of many words, but I thank you.
Please it your Grace lead on?
Your hand, Leonato; we will go together.
[Exeunt all but BENEDICK and CLAUDIO.]
Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?
I noted her not; but I looked on her.
Is she not a modest young lady?
Do you question me, as an honest man should do, for my simple true judgment; or
would you have me speak after my custom, as being a professed tyrant to their sex?
No; I pray thee speak in sober judgment.
Why, i’ faith, methinks she’s too low for a high praise, too brown for a fair praise,
and too little for a great praise; only this commendation I can afford her, that were
she other than she is, she were unhandsome, and being no other but as she is, I do
not like her.
Thou thinkest I am in sport: I pray thee tell me truly how thou likest her.
Would you buy her, that you enquire after her?
Can the world buy such a jewel?
Yea, and a case to put it into. But speak you this with a sad brow, or do you play the
flouting Jack, to tell us Cupid is a good hare-finder, and Vulcan a rare carpenter?
Come, in what key shall a man take you, to go in the song?
In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked on.
I can see yet without spectacles and I see no such matter: there’s her cousin an she
were not possessed with a fury, exceeds her as much in beauty as the first of May
doth the last of December. But I hope you have no intent to turn husband, have you?
I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn to the contrary, if Hero would be
Is’t come to this, i’ faith? Hath not the world one man but he will wear his cap with
suspicion? Shall I never see a bachelor of threescore again? Go to, i’ faith; an thou
wilt needs thrust thy neck into a yoke, wear the print of it and sigh away Sundays.
Look! Don Pedro is returned to seek you.
[Re-enter DON PEDRO.]
What secret hath held you here, that you followed not to Leonato’s?
I would your Grace would constrain me to tell.
I charge thee on thy allegiance.
You hear, Count Claudio: I can be secret as a dumb man; I would have you think
so; but on my allegiance mark you this, on my allegiance: he is in love. With who?
now that is your Grace’s part. Mark how short his answer is: with Hero, Leonato’s
If this were so, so were it uttered.
Like the old tale, my lord: ‘it is not so, nor ’twas not so; but indeed, God forbid it
should be so.’
If my passion change not shortly. God forbid it should be otherwise.
Amen, if you love her; for the lady is very well worthy.
You speak this to fetch me in, my lord.
By my troth, I speak my thought.
And in faith, my lord, I spoke mine.
And by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke mine.
That I love her, I feel.
That she is worthy, I know.
That I neither feel how she should be loved nor know how she should be worthy, is
the opinion that fire cannot melt out of me: I will die in it at the stake.
Thou wast ever an obstinate heretic in the despite of beauty.
And never could maintain his part but in the force of his will.
That a woman conceived me, I thank her; that she brought me up, I likewise give
her most humble thanks; but that I will have a recheat winded in my forehead, or
hang my bugle in an invisible baldrick, all women shall pardon me. Because I will
not do them the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself the right to trust none; and
the fine is,—for the which I may go the finer,—I will live a bachelor.
I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.
With anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my lord; not with love: prove that ever
I lose more blood with love than I will get again with drinking, pick out mine eyes
with a ballad-maker’s pen and hang me up at the door of a brothel-house for the
sign of blind Cupid.
Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou wilt prove a notable argument.
If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat and shoot at me; and he that hits me, let him
be clapped on the shoulder and called Adam.
Well, as time shall try: ‘In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke.’
The savage bull may; but if ever the sensible Benedick bear it, pluck off the bull’s
horns and set them in my forehead; and let me be vilely painted, and in such great
letters as they write, ‘Here is good horse to hire,’ let them signify under my sign
‘Here you may see Benedick the married man.’
If this should ever happen, thou wouldst be horn-mad.
Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in Venice, thou wilt quake for this shortly.
I look for an earthquake too then.
Well, you will temporize with the hours. In the meantime, good Signior Benedick,
repair to Leonato’s: commend me to him and tell him I will not fail him at supper;
for indeed he hath made great preparation.
I have almost matter enough in me for such an embassage; and so I commit you—
To the tuition of God: from my house, if I had it,—
The sixth of July: your loving friend, Benedick.
Nay, mock not, mock not. The body of your discourse is sometime guarded with
fragments, and the guards are but slightly basted on neither: ere you flout old ends
any further, examine your conscience: and so I leave you.
My liege, your highness now may do me good.
My love is thine to teach: teach it but how,
And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn
hard lesson that may do thee good.
Hath Leonato any son, my lord?
No child but Hero’s he’s his only heir.
Dost thou affect her, Claudio?
O! my lord,
When you went onward on this ended action,
I looked upon her with a soldier’s eye,
That lik’d, but had a rougher task in hand
Than to drive liking to the name of love;
But now I am return’d, and that war-thoughts
Have left their places vacant, in their rooms
Come thronging soft and delicate desires,
All prompting me how fair young Hero is,
Saying, I lik’d her ere I went to wars.
Thou wilt be like a lover presently,
And tire the hearer with a book of words.
If thou dost love fair Hero, cherish it,
And I will break with her, and with her father,
And thou shalt have her. Was’t not to this end
That thou began’st to twist so fine a story?
How sweetly you do minister to love,
That know love’s grief by his complexion!
But lest my liking might too sudden seem,
I would have salv’d it with a longer treatise.
What need the bridge much broader than the flood?
The fairest grant is the necessity.
Look, what will serve is fit: ’tis once, thou lov’st,
And I will fit thee with the remedy.
I know we shall have revelling to-night:
I will assume thy part in some disguise,
And tell fair Hero I am Claudio;
And in her bosom I’ll unclasp my heart,
And take her hearing prisoner with the force
And strong encounter of my amorous tale:
Then, after to her father will I break;
And the conclusion is, she shall be thine.
In practice let us put it presently.
Scene II. A room in LEONATO’S house.
[Enter LEONATO and ANTONIO, meeting.]
How now, brother! Where is my cousin your son? Hath he provided this music?
He is very busy about it. But, brother, I can tell you strange news that you yet
dreamt not of.
Are they good?
As the event stamps them: but they have a good cover; they show well outward.
The prince and Count Claudio, walking in a thick-pleached alley in my orchard,
were thus much overheard by a man of mine: the prince discovered to Claudio that
he loved my niece your daughter and meant to acknowledge it this night in a dance;
and if he found her accordant, he meant to take the present time by the top and
instantly break with you of it.
Hath the fellow any wit that told you this?
A good sharp fellow: I will send for him; and question him yourself.
No, no; we will hold it as a dream till it appear itself: but I will acquaint my daughter
withal, that she may be the better prepared for an answer, if peradventure this be
true. Go you, and tell her of it.
[Several persons cross the stage.]
Cousins, you know what you have to do. O!I cry you mercy, friend; go you with me,
and I will use your skill. Good cousin, have a care this busy time.
Scene III. Another room in LEONATO’S house.
[Enter DON JOHN and CONRADE.]
What the good-year, my lord! why are you thus out of measure sad?
There is no measure in the occasion that breeds; therefore the sadness is without
You should hear reason.
And when I have heard it, what blessings brings it?
If not a present remedy, at least a patient sufferance.
I wonder that thou, being,—as thou say’st thou art,—born under Saturn, goest
about to apply a moral medicine to a mortifying mischief. I cannot hide what I
am: I must be sad when I have cause, and smile at no man’s jests; eat when I have
stomach, and wait for no man’s leisure; sleep when I am drowsy, and tend on no
man’s business; laugh when I am merry, and claw no man in his humour.
Yea; but you must not make the full show of this till you may do it without
controlment. You have of late stood out against your brother, and he hath ta’en
you newly into his grace; where it is impossible you should take true root but by
the fair weather that you make yourself: it is needful that you frame the season for
your own harvest.
I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in his grace; and it better fits
my blood to be disdained of all than to fashion a carriage to rob love from any: in this,
though I cannot be said to be a flattering honest man, it must not be denied but I
am a plain-dealing villain. I am trusted with a muzzle and enfranchised with a clog;
therefore I have decreed not to sing in my cage. If I had my mouth, I would bite; if
I had my liberty, I would do my liking: in the meantime, let me be that I am, and
seek not to alter me.
Can you make no use of your discontent?
I make all use of it, for I use it only. Who comes here?
What news, Borachio?
I came yonder from a great supper: the prince your brother is royally entertained
by Leonato; and I can give you intelligence of an intended marriage.
Will it serve for any model to build mischief on? What is he for a fool that betroths
himself to unquietness?
Marry, it is your brother’s right hand.
Who? the most exquisite Claudio?
A proper squire! And who, and who? which way looks he?
Marry, on Hero, the daughter and heir of Leonato.
A very forward March-chick! How came you to this?
Being entertained for a perfumer, as I was smoking a musty room, comes me the
prince and Claudio, hand in hand, in sad conference: I whipt me behind the arras,
and there heard it agreed upon that the prince should woo Hero for himself, and
having obtained her, give her to Count Claudio.
Come, come; let us thither: this may prove food to my displeasure. That young
start-up hath all the glory of my overthrow: if I can cross him any way, I bless
myself every way. You are both sure, and will assist me?
To the death, my lord.
Let us to the great supper: their cheer is the greater that I am subdued. Would the
cook were of my mind! Shall we go to prove what’s to be done?
We’ll wait upon your lordship.
Scene I. A hall in LEONATO’S house.
[Enter LEONATO, ANTONIO, HERO, BEATRICE, and Others.]
Was not Count John here at supper?
I saw him not.
How tartly that gentleman looks! I never can see him but I am heart-burned an
He is of a very melancholy disposition.
He were an excellent man that were made just in the mid-way between him and
Benedick: the one is too like an image, and says nothing; and the other too like my
lady’s eldest son, evermore tattling.
Then half Signior Benedick’s tongue in Count John’s mouth, and half Count John’s
melancholy in Signior Benedick’s face,—
With a good leg and a good foot, uncle, and money enough in his purse, such a man
would win any woman in the world if he could get her good will.
By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a husband, if thou be so shrewd of thy
In faith, she’s too curst.
Too curst is more than curst: I shall lessen God’s sending that way; for it is said,
‘God sends a curst cow short horns;’ but to a cow too curst he sends none.
So, by being too curst, God will send you no horns?
Just, if he send me no husband; for the which blessing I am at him upon my knees
every morning and evening. Lord! I could not endure a husband with a beard on
his face: I had rather lie in the woollen.
You may light on a husband that hath no beard.
What should I do with him? dress him in my apparel and make him my waiting-
gentlewoman? He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no
beard is less than a man; and he that is more than a youth is not for me; and he that
is less than a man, I am not for him: therefore I will even take sixpence in earnest
of the bear-ward, and lead his apes into hell.
Well then, go you into hell?
No; but to the gate; and there will the devil meet me, like an old cuckold, with
horns on his head, and say, ‘Get you to heaven, Beatrice, get you to heaven; here’s
no place for you maids.’ So deliver I up my apes, and away to Saint Peter for the
heavens; he shows me where the bachelors sit, and there live we as merry as the
day is long.
[To Hero.] Well, niece, I trust you will be ruled by your father.
Yes, faith; it is my cousin’s duty to make curtsy, and say, ‘Father, as it please you:’—
but yet for all that, cousin, let him be a handsome fellow, or else make another
curtsy, and say, ‘Father, as it please me.’
Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband.
Not till God make men of some other metal than earth. Would it not grieve a
woman to be over-mastered with a piece of valiant dust? to make an account of her
life to a clod of wayward marl? No, uncle, I’ll none: Adam’s sons are my brethren;
and truly, I hold it a sin to match in my kinred.
Daughter, remember what I told you: if the prince do solicit you in that kind, you
know your answer.
The fault will be in the music, cousin, if you be not wooed in good time: if the
prince be too important, tell him there is measure in everything, and so dance out
the answer. For, hear me, Hero: wooing, wedding, and repenting is as a Scotch jig,
a measure, and a cinque-pace: the first suit is hot and hasty, like a Scotch jig, and
full as fantastical; the wedding, mannerly-modest, as a measure, full of state and
ancientry; and then comes Repentance, and with his bad legs, falls into the cinque-
pace faster and faster, till he sink into his grave.
Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly.
I have a good eye, uncle: I can see a church by daylight.
The revellers are entering, brother: make good room.
[Enter, DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, BALTHASAR, DON JOHN,
BORACHIO, MARGARET, URSULA, and Others, masked.]
Lady, will you walk about with your friend?
So you walk softly and look sweetly and say nothing, I am yours for the walk; and
especially when I walk away.
With me in your company?
I may say so, when I please.
And when please you to say so?
When I like your favour; for God defend the lute should be like the case!
My visor is Philemon’s roof; within the house is Jove.
Why, then, your visor should be thatch’d.
Speak low, if you speak love. [Takes her aside.]
Well, I would you did like me.
So would not I, for your own sake; for I have many ill qualities.
Which is one?
I say my prayers aloud.
I love you the better; the hearers may cry Amen.
God match me with a good dancer!
And God keep him out of my sight when the dance is done! Answer, clerk.
No more words: the clerk is answered.
I know you well enough: you are Signior Antonio.
At a word, I am not.
I know you by the waggling of your head.
To tell you true, I counterfeit him.
You could never do him so ill-well, unless you were the very man.
Here’s his dry hand up and down: you are he, you are he.
At a word, I am not.
Come, come; do you think I do not know you by your excellent wit?
Can virtue hide itself? Go to, mum, you are he: graces will appear, and there’s an
Will you not tell me who told you so?
No, you shall pardon me.
Nor will you not tell me who you are?
That I was disdainful, and that I had my good wit out of the ‘Hundred Merry Tales.’
Well, this was Signior Benedick that said so.
I am sure you know him well enough.
Not I, believe me.
Did he never make you laugh?
I pray you, what is he?
Why, he is the prince’s jester: a very dull fool; only his gift is in devising impossible
slanders: none but libertines delight in him; and the commendation is not in his
wit, but in his villany; for he both pleases men and angers them, and then they
laugh at him and beat him. I am sure he is in the fleet: I would he had boarded me!
When I know the gentleman, I’ll tell him what you say.
Do, do: he’ll but break a comparison or two on me; which, peradventure not marked
or not laughed at, strikes him into melancholy; and then there’s a partridge wing
saved, for the fool will eat no supper that night. [Music within.] We must follow
In every good thing.
Nay, if they lead to any ill, I will leave them at the next turning.
[Dance. Then exeunt all but DON JOHN, BORACHIO, and CLAUDIO.]
Sure my brother is amorous on Hero, and hath withdrawn her father to break with
him about it. The ladies follow her and but one visor remains.
And that is Claudio: I know him by his bearing.
Are you not Signior Benedick?
You know me well; I am he.
Signior, you are very near my brother in his love: he is enamoured on Hero; I pray
you, dissuade him from her; she is no equal for his birth: you may do the part of an
honest man in it.
How know you he loves her?
I heard him swear his affection.
So did I too; and he swore he would marry her to-night.
Come, let us to the banquet.
[Exeunt DON JOHN and BORACHIO.]
Thus answer I in name of Benedick,
But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio.
’Tis certain so; the prince wooes for himself.
Friendship is constant in all other things
Save in the office and affairs of love:
herefore all hearts in love use their own tongues;
Let every eye negotiate for itself
And trust no agent; for beauty is a witch
Against whose charms faith melteth into blood.
This is an accident of hourly proof,
Which I mistrusted not. Farewell, therefore, Hero!
Yea, the same.
Come, will you go with me?
Even to the next willow, about your own business, count. What fashion will you
wear the garland of? About your neck, like a usurer’s chain? or under your arm,
like a lieutenant’s scarf? You must wear it one way, for the prince hath got your
I wish him joy of her.
Why, that’s spoken like an honest drovier: so they sell bullocks. But did you think
the prince would have served you thus?
I pray you, leave me.
Ho! now you strike like the blind man: ’twas the boy that stole your meat, and
you’ll beat the post.
If it will not be, I’ll leave you.
Alas! poor hurt fowl. Now will he creep into sedges. But, that my Lady Beatrice
should know me, and not know me! The prince’s fool! Ha! it may be I go under
that title because I am merry. Yea, but so I am apt to do myself wrong; I am not so
reputed: it is the base though bitter disposition of Beatrice that puts the world into
her person, and so gives me out. Well, I’ll be revenged as I may.
[Re-enter Don Pedro.]
Now, signior, where’s the count? Did you see him?
Troth, my lord, I have played the part of Lady Fame. I found him here as melancholy
as a lodge in a warren. I told him, and I think I told him true, that your Grace had
got the good will of this young lady; and I offered him my company to a willow tree,
either to make him a garland, as being forsaken, or to bind him up a rod, as being
worthy to be whipped.
To be whipped! What’s his fault?
The flat transgression of a school-boy, who, being overjoy’d with finding a bird’s
nest, shows it his companion, and he steals it.
Wilt thou make a trust a transgression? The transgression is in the stealer.
Yet it had not been amiss the rod had been made, and the
garland too; for the garland he might have worn himself, and the rod he might have bestowed on you,
who, as I take it, have stolen his bird’s nest.
I will but teach them to sing, and restore them to the owner.
If their singing answer your saying, by my faith, you say honestly.
The Lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you: the gentleman that danced with her told
her she is much wronged by you.
O! she misused me past the endurance of a block: an oak but with one green leaf
on it, would have answered her: my very visor began to assume life and scold with
her. She told me, not thinking I had been myself, that I was the prince’s jester,
that I was duller than a great thaw; huddling jest upon jest with such impossible
conveyance upon me, that I stood like a man at a mark, with a whole army shooting
at me. She speaks poniards, and every word stabs: if her breath were as terrible as
her terminations, there were no living near her; she would infect to the north star.
I would not marry her, though she were endowed with all that Adam had left him
before he transgressed: she would have made Hercules have turned spit, yea, and
have cleft his club to make the fire too. Come, talk not of her; you shall find her the
infernal Ate in good apparel. I would to God some scholar would conjure her, for
certainly, while she is here, a man may live as quiet in hell as in a sanctuary; and
people sin upon purpose because they would go thither; so indeed, all disquiet,
horror and perturbation follow her.
[Re-enter CLAUDIO, BEATRICE, HERO, and LEONATO.]
Look! here she comes.
Will your Grace command me any service to the world’s end? I will go on the
slightest errand now to the Antipodes that you can devise to send me on; I will
fetch you a toothpicker now from the furthest inch of Asia; bring you the length
of Prester John’s foot; fetch you a hair off the Great Cham’s beard; do you any
embassage to the Pygmies, rather than hold three words’ conference with this
harpy. You have no employment for me?
None, but to desire your good company.
O God, sir, here’s a dish I love not: I cannot endure my Lady Tongue.
Come, lady, come; you have lost the heart of Signior Benedick.
Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile; and I gave him use for it, a double heart for a
single one: marry, once before he won it of me with false dice, therefore your Grace
may well say I have lost it.
You have put him down, lady, you have put him down.
So I would not he should do me, my lord, lest I should prove the mother of fools. I
have brought Count Claudio, whom you sent me to seek.
Why, how now, count! wherefore are you sad?
Not sad, my lord.
How then? Sick?
Neither, my lord.
The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor well; but civil count, civil as an
orange, and something of that jealous complexion.
I’ faith, lady, I think your blazon to be true; though, I’ll be sworn, if he be so, his
conceit is false. Here, Claudio, I have wooed in thy name, and fair Hero is won; I
have broke with her father, and, his good will obtained; name the day of marriage,
and God give thee joy!
Count, take of me my daughter, and with her my fortunes: his Grace hath made the
match, and all grace say Amen to it!
Speak, Count, ’tis your cue.
Silence is the perfectest herald of joy: I were but little happy, if I could say how
much. Lady, as you are mine, I am yours: I give away myself for you and dote upon
Speak, cousin; or, if you cannot, stop his mouth with a kiss, and let not him speak
In faith, lady, you have a merry heart.
Yea, my lord; I thank it, poor fool, it keeps on the windy side of care. My cousin tells
him in his ear that he is in her heart.
And so she doth, cousin.
Good Lord, for alliance! Thus goes every one to the world but I, and I am sunburnt.
I may sit in a corner and cry heigh-ho for a husband!
Lady Beatrice, I will get you one.
I would rather have one of your father’s getting. Hath your Grace ne’er a brother
like you? Your father got excellent husbands, if a maid could come by them.
Will you have me, lady?
No, my lord, unless I might have another for working days: your Grace is too costly
to wear every day. But, I beseech your Grace, pardon me; I was born to speak all
mirth and no matter.
Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best becomes you; for out of
question, you were born in a merry hour.
No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there was a star danced, and under
that was I born. Cousins, God give you joy!
Niece, will you look to those things I told you of?
I cry you mercy, uncle. By your Grace’s pardon.
By my troth, a pleasant spirited lady.
There’s little of the melancholy element in her, my lord: she is never sad but when
she sleeps; and not ever sad then, for I have heard my daughter say, she hath often
dreamed of unhappiness and waked herself with laughing.
She cannot endure to hear tell of a husband.
O! by no means: she mocks all her wooers out of suit.
She were an excellent wife for Benedick.
O Lord! my lord, if they were but a week married, they would talk themselves mad.
Count Claudio, when mean you to go to church?
To-morrow, my lord. Time goes on crutches till love have all his rites.
Not till Monday, my dear son, which is hence a just seven-night; and a time too
brief too, to have all things answer my mind.
Come, you shake the head at so long a breathing; but, I warrant thee, Claudio,
the time shall not go dully by us. I will in the interim undertake one of Hercules’
labours, which is, to bring Signior Benedick and the Lady Beatrice into a mountain
of affection the one with the other. I would fain have it a match; and I doubt not
but to fashion it, if you three will but minister such assistance as I shall give you
My lord, I am for you, though it cost me ten nights’ watchings.
And I, my lord.
And you too, gentle Hero?
I will do any modest office, my lord, to help my cousin to a good husband.
And Benedick is not the unhopefullest husband that I know. Thus far can I praise
him; he is of a noble strain, of approved valour, and confirmed honesty. I will teach
you how to humour your cousin, that she shall fall in love with Benedick; and I,
with your two helps, will so practise on Benedick that, in despite of his quick wit
and his queasy stomach, he shall fall in love with Beatrice. If we can do this, Cupid
is no longer an archer: his glory shall be ours, for we are the only love-gods. Go in
with me, and I will tell you my drift.
Scene II. Another room in LEONATO’S house.
[Enter DON JOHN and BORACHIO.]
It is so; the Count Claudio shall marry the daughter of Leonato.
Yea, my lord; but I can cross it.
Any bar, any cross, any impediment will be medicinable to me: I am sick in
displeasure to him, and whatsoever comes athwart his affection ranges evenly with
mine. How canst thou cross this marriage?
Not honestly, my lord; but so covertly that no dishonesty shall appear in me.
Show me briefly how.
I think I told your lordship, a year since, how much I am in the favour of Margaret,
the waiting-gentlewoman to Hero.
I can, at any unseasonable instant of the night, appoint her to look out at her lady’s
What life is in that, to be the death of this marriage?
The poison of that lies in you to temper. Go you to the prince your brother; spare not
to tell him, that he hath wronged his honour in marrying the renowned Claudio,—
whose estimation do you mightily hold up,—to a contaminated stale, such a one as
What proof shall I make of that?
Proof enough to misuse the prince, to vex Claudio, to undo Hero, and kill
Look you for any other issue?
Only to despite them, I will endeavour anything.
Go then; find me a meet hour to draw Don Pedro and the Count Claudio alone: tell
them that you know that Hero loves me; intend a kind of zeal both to the prince and
Claudio, as—in love of your brother’s honour, who hath made this match, and his
friend’s reputation, who is thus like to be cozened with the semblance of a maid,—
that you have discovered thus. They will scarcely believe this without trial: offer
them instances, which shall bear no less likelihood than to see me at her chamber-
window, hear me call Margaret Hero, hear Margaret term me Claudio; and bring
them to see this the very night before the intended wedding: for in the meantime
I will so fashion the matter that Hero shall be absent; and there shall appear such
seeming truth of Hero’s disloyalty, that jealousy shall be called assurance, and all
the preparation overthrown.
Grow this to what adverse issue it can, I will put it in practice. Be cunning in the
working this, and thy fee is a thousand ducats.
Be you constant in the accusation, and my cunning shall not shame me.
I will presently go learn their day of marriage.
Scene III. LEONATO’S Garden.
[Enter a Boy.]
In my chamber-window lies a book; bring it hither to me in the orchard.
I am here already, sir.
I know that; but I would have thee hence, and here again. [Exit Boy.] I do much
wonder that one man, seeing how much another man is a fool when he dedicates
his behaviours to love, will, after he hath laughed at such shallow follies in others,
become the argument of his own scorn by falling in love: and such a man is Claudio.
I have known, when there was no music with him but the drum and the fife; and
now had he rather hear the tabor and the pipe: I have known when he would
have walked ten mile afoot to see a good armour; and now will he lie ten nights
awake, carving the fashion of a new doublet. He was wont to speak plain and to
the purpose, like an honest man and a soldier; and now is he turned orthography;
his words are a very fantastical banquet, just so many strange dishes. May I be so
converted, and see with these eyes? I cannot tell; I think not: I will not be sworn but
love may transform me to an oyster; but I’ll take my oath on it, till he have made an
oyster of me, he shall never make me such a fool. One woman is fair, yet I am well;
another is wise, yet I am well; another virtuous, yet I am well; but till all graces be
in one woman, one woman shall not come in my grace. Rich she shall be, that’s
certain; wise, or I’ll none; virtuous, or I’ll never cheapen her; fair, or I’ll never look
on her; mild, or come not near me; noble, or not I for an angel; of good discourse,
an excellent musician, and her hair shall be of what colour it please God. Ha! the
prince and Monsieur Love! I will hide me in the arbour.
[Enter DON PEDRO, LEONATO, and CLAUDIO, followed by BALTHAZAR and
Come, shall we hear this music?
Yea, my good lord. How still the evening is, As hush’d on purpose to grace harmony!
See you where Benedick hath hid himself?
O! very well, my lord: the music ended, We’ll fit the kid-fox with a penny-worth.
Come, Balthazar, we’ll hear that song again.
O! good my lord, tax not so bad a voice To slander music any more than once.
It is the witness still of excellency, To put a strange face on his own perfection. I
pray thee, sing, and let me woo no more.
Because you talk of wooing, I will sing; Since many a wooer doth commence his
suit To her he thinks not worthy; yet he wooes; Yet will he swear he loves.
Nay, pray thee come; Or if thou wilt hold longer argument, Do it in notes.
Note this before my notes; There’s not a note of mine that’s worth the noting.
Why these are very crotchets that he speaks; Notes, notes, forsooth, and nothing!
Now, divine air! now is his soul ravished! Is it not strange that sheep’s guts should
hale souls out of men’s bodies? Well, a horn for my money, when all’s done.
Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever;
One foot in sea, and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.
Then sigh not so, But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.
Sing no more ditties, sing no mo
Of dumps so dull and heavy;
The fraud of men was ever so,
Since summer first was leavy.
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.
By my troth, a good song.
And an ill singer, my lord.
Ha, no, no, faith; thou singest well enough for a shift.
[Aside.] An he had been a dog that should have howled thus, they would have
hanged him; and I pray God his bad voice bode no mischief. I had as lief have heard
the night-raven, come what plague could have come after it.
Yea, marry; dost thou hear, Balthazar? I pray thee, get us some excellent music, for
to-morrow night we would have it at the Lady Hero’s chamber-window.
The best I can, my lord.
Do so: farewell.
[Exeunt BALTHAZAR and Musicians.]
Come hither, Leonato: what was it you told me of to-day, that your niece Beatrice
was in love with Signior Benedick?
O! ay:— [Aside to DON PEDRO] Stalk on, stalk on; the fowl sits. I did never think
that lady would have loved any man.
No, nor I neither; but most wonderful that she should so dote on Signior Benedick,
whom she hath in all outward behaviours seemed ever to abhor.
[Aside.] Is’t possible? Sits the wind in that corner?
By my troth, my lord, I cannot tell what to think of it but that she loves him with an
enraged affection: it is past the infinite of thought.
May be she doth but counterfeit.
Faith, like enough.
O God! counterfeit! There was never counterfeit of passion came so near the life of
passion as she discovers it.
Why, what effects of passion shows she?
[Aside.] Bait the hook well: this fish will bite.
What effects, my lord? She will sit you; [To Claudio.] You heard my daughter tell
She did, indeed.
How, how, I pray you? You amaze me: I would have thought her spirit had been
invincible against all assaults of affection.
I would have sworn it had, my lord; especially against Benedick.
[Aside] I should think this a gull, but that the white-bearded fellow speaks it:
knavery cannot, sure, hide itself in such reverence.
[Aside.] He hath ta’en the infection: hold it up.
Hath she made her affection known to Benedick?
No; and swears she never will: that’s her torment.
Tis true, indeed;so your daughter says: ‘Shall I,’ says she, ‘that have so oft
encountered him with scorn, write to him that I love him?’
This says she now when she is beginning to write to him; for she’ll be up twenty
times a night, and there will she sit in her smock till she have writ a sheet of paper:
my daughter tells us all.
Now you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember a pretty jest your daughter told us of.
O! when she had writ it, and was reading it over, she found Benedick and Beatrice
between the sheet?
O! she tore the letter into a thousand halfpence; railed at herself, that she should
be so immodest to write to one that she knew would flout her: ‘I measure him,’ says
she, ‘by my own spirit; for I should flout him, if he writ to me; yea, though I love
him, I should.’
Then down upon her knees she falls, weeps, sobs, beats her heart, tears her hair,
prays, curses; ‘O sweet Benedick! God give me patience!’
She doth indeed; my daughter says so; and the ecstasy hath so much overborne her,
that my daughter is sometimes afeard she will do a desperate outrage to herself.
It is very true.
It were good that Benedick knew of it by some other, if she will not discover it.
To what end? he would make but a sport of it and torment the poor lady worse.
An he should, it were an alms to hang him. She’s an excellent sweet lady, and, out
of all suspicion, she is virtuous.
And she is exceeding wise.
In everything but in loving Benedick.
O! my lord, wisdom and blood combating in so tender a body, we have ten proofs
to one that blood hath the victory. I am sorry for her, as I have just cause, being her
uncle and her guardian.
I would she had bestowed this dotage on me; I would have daffed all other respects
and made her half myself. I pray you, tell Benedick of it, and hear what a’ will say.
Were it good, think you?
Hero thinks surely she will die; for she says she will die if he love her not, and she
will die ere she make her love known, and she will die if he woo her, rather than she
will bate one breath of her accustomed crossness.
She doth well: if she should make tender of her love, ’tis very possible he’ll scorn it;
for the man,—as you know all,—hath a contemptible spirit.
He is a very proper man.
He hath indeed a good outward happiness.
Fore God, and in my mind, very wise.
He doth indeed show some sparks that are like wit.
And I take him to be valiant.
As Hector, I assure you: and in the managing of quarrels you may say he is wise;
for either he avoids them with great discretion, or undertakes them with a most
If he do fear God, a’ must necessarily keep peace: if he break the peace, he ought to
enter into a quarrel with fear and trembling.
And so will he do; for the man doth fear God, howsoever it seems not in him by
some large jests he will make. Well, I am sorry for your niece. Shall we go seek
Benedick and tell him of her love?
Never tell him, my lord: let her wear it out with good counsel.
Nay, that’s impossible: she may wear her heart out first.
Well, we will hear further of it by your daughter: let it cool the while. I love Benedick
well, and I could wish he would modestly examine himself, to see how much he is
unworthy so good a lady.
My lord, will you walk? dinner is ready.
[Aside.] If he do not dote on her upon this, I will never trust my expectation.
[Aside.] Let there be the same net spread for her; and that must your daughter
and her gentle-woman carry. The sport will be, when they hold one an opinion of
another’s dotage, and no such matter: that’s the scene that I would see, which will
be merely a dumb-show. Let us send her to call him in to dinner.
[Exeunt DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, and LEONATO.]
[Advancing from the arbour.] This can be no trick: the conference was sadly borne.
They have the truth of this from Hero. They seem to pity the lady: it seems her
affections have their full bent. Love me! why, it must be requited. I hear how I
am censured: they say I will bear myself proudly, if I perceive the love come from
her;they say too that she will rather die than give any sign of affection. I did never
think to marry: I must not seem proud: happy are they that hear their detractions,
and can put them to mending. They say the lady is fair: ’tis a truth, I can bear them
witness; and virtuous: ’tis so, I cannot reprove it; and wise, but for loving me: by
my troth, it is no addition to her wit, nor no great argument of her folly, for I will
be horribly in love with her. I may chance have some odd quirks and remnants of
wit broken on me, because I have railed so long against marriage; but doth not the
appetite alter? A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age.
Shall quips and sentences and these paper bullets of the brain awe a man from the
career of his humour? No; the world must be peopled. When I said I would die a
bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married. Here comes Beatrice. By
this day! she’s a fair lady: I do spy some marks of love in her.
Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner.
Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains.
I took no more pains for those thanks than you take pains to thank me: if it had
been painful, I would not have come.
You take pleasure then in the message?
Yea, just so much as you may take upon a knife’s point, and choke a daw withal.
You have no stomach, signior: fare you well.
Ha! ‘Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner,’ there’s a double
meaning in that. ‘I took no more pains for those thanks than you took pains to
thank me,’ that’s as much as to say, Any pains that I take for you is as easy as
thanks. If I do not take pity of her, I am a villain; if I do not love her, I am a Jew. I
will go get her picture.
Scene I. Leonato’s Garden
[Enter HERO, MARGARET, and URSULA.]
Good Margaret, run thee to the parlour;
There shalt thou find my cousin Beatrice
Proposing with the prince and Claudio:
Whisper her ear, and tell her, I and Ursala
Walk in the orchard, and our whole discourse
Is all of her; say that thou overheard’st us,
And bid her steal into the pleached bower,
Where honey-suckles, ripen’d by the sun,
Forbid the sun to enter; like favourites,
Made proud by princes, that advance their pride
Against that power that bred it. There will she hide her,
To listen our propose. This is thy office;
Bear thee well in it and leave us alone.
I’ll make her come, I warrant you, presently.
Now, Ursula, when Beatrice doth come,
As we do trace this alley up and down,
Our talk must only be of Benedick:
When I do name him, let it be thy part
To praise him more than ever man did merit.
My talk to thee must be how Benedick
Is sick in love with Beatrice: of this matter
Is little Cupid’s crafty arrow made,
That only wounds by hearsay.
[Enter BEATRICE, behind.]
Now begin; For look where Beatrice, like a lapwing, runs
Close by the ground, to hear our conference.
The pleasant’st angling is to see the fish
Cut with her golden oars the silver stream,
And greedily devour the treacherous bait:
So angle we for Beatrice; who even now
Is couched in the woodbine coverture.
Fear you not my part of the dialogue.
Then go we near her, that her ear lose nothing
Of the false sweet bait that we lay for it.
[They advance to the bower.]
No, truly, Ursula, she is too disdainful;
I know her spirits are as coy and wild
As haggards of the rock.
But are you sure
That Benedick loves Beatrice so entirely?
So says the prince, and my new-trothed lord.
And did they bid you tell her of it, madam?
They did entreat me to acquaint her of it;
But I persuaded them, if they lov’d Benedick,
To wish him wrestle with affection,
And never to let Beatrice know of it.
Why did you so? Doth not the gentleman
Deserve as full as fortunate a bed
As ever Beatrice shall couch upon?
O god of love! I know he doth deserve
As much as may be yielded to a man;
But nature never fram’d a woman’s heart
Of prouder stuff than that of Beatrice;
Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes,
Misprising what they look on, and her wit
Values itself so highly, that to her
All matter else seems weak. She cannot love,
Nor take no shape nor project of affection,
She is so self-endear’d.
Sure I think so; And therefore certainly it were not good
She knew his love, lest she make sport at it.
Why, you speak truth. I never yet saw man,
How wise, how noble, young, how rarely featur’d,
But she would spell him backward: if fair-fac’d,
She would swear the gentleman should be her sister;
If black, why, Nature, drawing of an antick,
Made a foul blot; if tall, a lance ill-headed;
If low, an agate very vilely cut;
If speaking, why, a vane blown with all winds;
If silent, why, a block moved with none.
So turns she every man the wrong side out,
And never gives to truth and virtue that
Which simpleness and merit purchaseth.
Sure, sure, such carping is not commendable.
No; not to be so odd, and from all fashions,
As Beatrice is, cannot be commendable.
But who dare tell her so? If I should speak,
She would mock me into air: O! she would laugh me
Out of myself, press me to death with wit.
Therefore let Benedick, like cover’d fire,
Consume away in sighs, waste inwardly:
It were a better death than die with mocks,
Which is as bad as die with tickling.
Yet tell her of it: hear what she will say.
No; rather I will go to Benedick,
And counsel him to fight against his passion.
And, truly, I’ll devise some honest slanders
To stain my cousin with. One doth not know
How much an ill word may empoison liking.
O! do not do your cousin such a wrong.
She cannot be so much without true judgment,—
Having so swift and excellent a wit
As she is priz’d to have,—as to refuse
So rare a gentleman as Signior Benedick.
He is the only man of Italy,
Always excepted my dear Claudio.
I pray you, be not angry with me, madam,
Speaking my fancy: Signior Benedick,
For shape, for bearing, argument and valour,
Goes foremost in report through Italy.
Indeed, he hath an excellent good name.
His excellence did earn it, ere he had it.
When are you married, madam?
Why, every day, to-morrow. Come, go in:
I’ll show thee some attires, and have thy counsel
Which is the best to furnish me to-morrow.
She’s lim’d, I warrant you: we have caught her, madam.
If it prove so, then loving goes by haps:
Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.
[Exeunt HERO and URSULA.]
[Advancing.] What fire is in mine ears? Can this be true?
Stand I condemn’d for pride and scorn so much?
Contempt, farewell! and maiden pride, adieu!
No glory lives behind the back of such.
And, Benedick, love on; I will requite thee,
Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand:
If thou dost love, my kindness shall incite thee
To bind our loves up in a holy band;
For others say thou dost deserve, and I
Believe it better than reportingly.
Scene II. A Room in LEONATO’S House
[Enter DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, and LEONATO.]
I do but stay till your marriage be consummate, and then go I toward Arragon.
I’ll bring you thither, my lord, if you’ll vouchsafe me.
Nay, that would be as great a soil in the new gloss of your marriage, as to show a
child his new coat and forbid him to wear it. I will only be bold with Benedick for
his company; for, from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot, he is all mirth;
he hath twice or thrice cut Cupid’s bowstring, and the little hangman dare not
shoot at him. He hath a heart as sound as a bell, and his tongue is the clapper; for
what his heart thinks his tongue speaks.
Gallants, I am not as I have been.
So say I: methinks you are sadder.
I hope he be in love.
Hang him, truant! there’s no true drop of blood in him, to be truly touched with
love. If he be sad, he wants money.
I have the tooth-ache.
You must hang it first, and draw it afterwards.
What! sigh for the tooth-ache?
Where is but a humour or a worm?
Well, every one can master a grief but he that has it.
Yet say I, he is in love.
There is no appearance of fancy in him, unless it be a fancy that he hath to strange
disguises; as to be a Dutchman to-day, a Frenchman to-morrow; or in the shape
of two countries at once, as a German from the waist downward, all slops, and a
Spaniard from the hip upward, no doublet. Unless he have a fancy to this foolery,
as it appears he hath, he is no fool for fancy, as you would have it appear he is.
If he be not in love with some woman, there is no believing old signs: a’ brushes
his hat a mornings; what should that bode?
Hath any man seen him at the barber’s?
No, but the barber’s man hath been seen with him; and the old ornament of his
cheek hath already stuffed tennis-balls.
Indeed he looks younger than he did, by the loss of a beard.
Nay, a’ rubs himself with civet: can you smell him out by that?
That’s as much as to say the sweet youth’s in love.
The greatest note of it is his melancholy.
And when was he wont to wash his face?
Yea, or to paint himself? for the which, I hear what they say of him.
Nay, but his jesting spirit; which is now crept into a lute-string, and new-governed
Indeed, that tells a heavy tale for him. Conclude, conclude he is in love.
Nay, but I know who loves him.
That would I know too: I warrant, one that knows him not.
Yes, and his ill conditions; and in despite of all, dies for him.
She shall be buried with her face upwards.
Yet is this no charm for the tooth-ache. Old signior, walk aside with me: I have
studied eight or nine wise words to speak to you, which these hobby-horses must
[Exeunt BENEDICK and LEONATO.]
For my life, to break with him about Beatrice.
’Tis even so. Hero and Margaret have by this played their parts with Beatrice, and
then the two bears will not bite one another when they meet.
[Enter DON JOHN.]
My lord and brother, God save you!
Good den, brother.
If your leisure served, I would speak with you.
If it please you; yet Count Claudio may hear, for what I would speak of concerns
What’s the matter?
[To CLAUDIO.] Means your lordship to be married to-morrow?
You know he does.
I know not that, when he knows what I know.
If there be any impediment, I pray you discover it.
You may think I love you not: let that appear hereafter, and aim better at me by
that I now will manifest. For my brother, I think he holds you well, and in dearness
of heart hath holp to effect your ensuing marriage; surely suit ill-spent and labour
Why, what’s the matter?
I came hither to tell you; and circumstances shortened,—for she has been too long
a talking of,—the lady is disloyal.
Even she: Leonato’s Hero, your Hero, every man’s Hero.
The word’s too good to paint out her wickedness; I could say, she were worse:
think you of a worse title, and I will fit her to it. Wonder not till further warrant: go
but with me to-night, you shall see her chamber-window entered, even the night
before her wedding-day: if you love her then, to-morrow wed her; but it would
better fit your honour to change your mind.
May this be so?
I will not think it.
If you dare not trust that you see, confess not that you know. If you will follow me,
I will show you enough; and when you have seen more and heard more, proceed
If I see anything to-night why I should not marry her to-morrow, in the congre-
gation, where I should wed, there will I shame her.
And, as I wooed for thee to obtain her, I will join with thee to disgrace her.
I will disparage her no farther till you are my witnesses: bear it coldly but till
midnight, and let the issue show itself.
O day untowardly turned!
O mischief strangely thwarting!
O plague right well prevented! So will you say when you have seen the sequel.
Scene III. A Street
[Enter DOGBERRY and VERGES, with the Watch.]
Are you good men and true?
Yea, or else it were pity but they should suffer salvation, body and soul.
Nay, that were a punishment too good for them, if they should have any allegiance
in them, being chosen for the prince’s watch.
Well, give them their charge, neighbour Dogberry.
First, who think you the most desartless man to be constable?
Hugh Oatcake, sir, or George Seacoal; for they can write and read.
Come hither, neighbour Seacoal. God hath blessed you with a good name: to be
a well-favoured man is the gift of fortune; but to write and read comes by nature.
Both which, Master Constable,—
You have: I knew it would be your answer. Well, for your favour, sir, why, give God
thanks, and make no boast of it; and for your writing and reading, let that appear
when there is no need of such vanity. You are thought here to be the most senseless
and fit man for the constable of the watch; therefore bear you the lanthorn. This is
your charge: you shall comprehend all vagrom men; you are to bid any man stand,
in the prince’s name.
How, if a’ will not stand?
Why, then, take no note of him, but let him go; and presently call the rest of the
watch together, and thank God you are rid of a knave.
If he will not stand when he is bidden, he is none of the prince’s subjects.
True, and they are to meddle with none but the prince’s subjects. You shall also
make no noise in the streets: for, for the watch to babble and to talk is most tolerable
and not to be endured.
We will rather sleep than talk: we know what belongs to a watch.
Why, you speak like an ancient and most quiet watchman, for I cannot see how
sleeping should offend; only have a care that your bills be not stolen. Well, you are
to call at all the alehouses, and bid those that are drunk get them to bed.
How if they will not?
Why then, let them alone till they are sober: if they make you not then the better
answer, you may say they are not the men you took them for.
If you meet a thief, you may suspect him, by virtue of your office, to be no true man;
and, for such kind of men, the less you meddle or make with them, why, the more
is for your honesty.
If we know him to be a thief, shall we not lay hands on him?
Truly, by your office, you may; but I think they that touch pitch will be defiled. The
most peaceable way for you, if you do take a thief, is to let him show himself what
he is and steal out of your company.
You have been always called a merciful man, partner.
Truly, I would not hang a dog by my will, much more a man who hath any honesty
If you hear a child cry in the night, you must call to the nurse and bid her still it.
How if the nurse be asleep and will not hear us?
Why then, depart in peace, and let the child wake her with crying; for the ewe that
will not hear her lamb when it baes, will never answer a calf when he bleats.
’Tis very true.
This is the end of the charge. You constable, are to present the prince’s own person:
if you meet the prince in the night, you may stay him.
Nay, by’r lady, that I think, a’ cannot.
Five shillings to one on’t, with any man that knows the statutes, he may stay him:
marry, not without the prince be willing; for, indeed, the watch ought to offend no
man, and it is an offence to stay a man against his will.
By’r lady, I think it be so.
Ha, ah, ha! Well, masters, good night: an there be any matter of weight chances,
call up me: keep your fellows’ counsels and your own, and good night. Come,
Well, masters, we hear our charge: let us go sit here upon the church-bench till
two, and then all to bed.
One word more, honest neighbours. I pray you, watch about Signior Leonato’s
door; for the wedding being there to-morrow, there is a great coil to-night. Adieu;
be vigitant, I beseech you.
[Exeunt DOGBERRY and VERGES.]
[Enter BORACHIO and CONRADE.]
[Aside.] Peace! stir not.
Conrade, I say!
Here, man. I am at thy elbow.
Mass, and my elbow itched; I thought there would a scab follow.
I will owe thee an answer for that; and now forward with thy tale.
Stand thee close then under this penthouse, for it drizzles rain, and I will, like a
true drunkard, utter all to thee.
[Aside.] Some treason, masters; yet stand close.
Therefore know, I have earned of Don John a thousand ducats.
Is it possible that any villany should be so dear?
Thou shouldst rather ask if it were possible any villany should be so rich; for when
rich villains have need of poor ones, poor ones may make what price they will.
I wonder at it.
That shows thou art unconfirmed. Thou knowest that the fashion of a doublet, or a
hat, or a cloak, is nothing to a man.
Yes, it is apparel.
I mean, the fashion.
Yes, the fashion is the fashion.
Tush! I may as well say the fool’s the fool. But seest thou not what a deformed thief
this fashion is?
[Aside.] I know that Deformed; a’ has been a vile thief this seven years; a’ goes up
and down like a gentleman: I remember his name.
Didst thou not hear somebody?
No: ’twas the vane on the house.
Seest thou not, I say, what a deformed thief this fashion is? how giddily he turns
about all the hot bloods between fourteen and five-and-thirty? sometime fashioning
them like Pharaoh’s soldiers in the reechy painting; sometime like god Bel’s priests
in the old church-window; sometime like the shaven Hercules in the smirched
worm-eaten tapestry, where his codpiece seems as massy as his club?
All this I see, and I see that the fashion wears out more apparel than the man. But
art not thou thyself giddy with the fashion too, that thou hast shifted out of thy tale
into telling me of the fashion?
Not so neither; but know, that I have to-night wooed Margaret, the Lady Hero’s
gentlewoman, by the name of Hero: she leans me out at her mistress’ chamber-
window, bids me a thousand times good night,—I tell this tale vilely:—I should first
tell thee how the prince, Claudio, and my master, planted and placed and possessed
by my master Don John, saw afar off in the orchard this amiable encounter.
And thought they Margaret was Hero?
Two of them did, the prince and Claudio; but the devil my master, knew she was
Margaret; and partly by his oaths, which first possessed them, partly by the dark
night, which did deceive them, but chiefly by my villany, which did confirm any
slander that Don John had made, away went Claudio enraged; swore he would
meet her, as he was appointed, next morning at the temple, and there, before the
whole congregation, shame her with what he saw o’er night, and send her home
again without a husband.
We charge you in the prince’s name, stand!
Call up the right Master Constable. We have here recovered the most dangerous
piece of lechery that ever was known in the commonwealth.
And one Deformed is one of them: I know him, a’ wears a lock.
You’ll be made bring Deformed forth, I warrant you.
Never speak: we charge you let us obey you to go with us.
We are like to prove a goodly commodity, being taken up of these men’s bills.
A commodity in question, I warrant you. Come, we’ll obey you.
Scene IV. A Room in LEONATO’S House.
[Enter HERO, MARGARET, and URSULA.]
Good Ursula, wake my cousin Beatrice, and desire her to rise.
I will, lady.
And bid her come hither.
Troth, I think your other rabato were better.
No, pray thee, good Meg, I’ll wear this.
By my troth’s not so good; and I warrant your cousin will say so.
My cousin’s a fool, and thou art another: I’ll wear none but this.
I like the new tire within excellently, if the hair were a thought browner; and your
gown’s a most rare fashion, i’ faith. I saw the Duchess of Milan’s gown that they
O! that exceeds, they say.
By my troth’s but a night-gown in respect of yours: cloth o’ gold, and cuts, and
laced with silver, set with pearls, down sleeves, side sleeves, and skirts round,
underborne with a blush tinsel; but for a fine, quaint, graceful, and excellent
fashion, yours is worth ten on’t.
God give me joy to wear it! for my heart is exceeding heavy.
’Twill be heavier soon by the weight of a man.
Fie upon thee! art not ashamed?
Of what, lady? of speaking honourably? is not marriage honourable in a beggar?
Is not your lord honourable without marriage? I think you would have me say,
‘saving your reverence, a husband.’ An bad thinking do not wrest true speaking, I’ll
offend nobody. Is there any harm in ‘the heavier for a husband’? None, I think, an
it be the right husband and the right wife; otherwise ’tis light, and not heavy: ask
my Lady Beatrice else; here she comes.
Good morrow, coz.
Good morrow, sweet Hero.
Why, how now? do you speak in the sick tune?
I am out of all other tune, methinks.
Clap’s into ‘Light o’ love’; that goes without a burden: do you sing it, and I’ll dance
Ye, light o’ love with your heels! then, if your husband have stables enough, you’ll
see he shall lack no barnes.
O illegitimate construction! I scorn that with my heels.
’Tis almost five o’clock, cousin; ’tis time you were ready. By my troth, I am exceeding
For a hawk, a horse, or a husband?
For the letter that begins them all, H.
Well, an you be not turned Turk, there’s no more sailing by the star.
What means the fool, trow?
Nothing I; but God send every one their heart’s desire!
These gloves the Count sent me; they are an excellent perfume.
I am stuffed, cousin, I cannot smell.
A maid, and stuffed! there’s goodly catching of cold.
O, God help me! God help me! how long have you professed apprehension?
Ever since you left it. Doth not my wit become me rarely!
It is not seen enough, you should wear it in your cap. By my troth, I am sick.
Get you some of this distilled Carduus Benedictus, and lay it to your heart: it is the
only thing for a qualm.
There thou prick’st her with a thistle.
Benedictus! why benedictus? you have some moral in this Benedictus.
Moral! no, by my troth, I have no moral meaning; I meant, plain holy-thistle. You
may think, perchance, that I think you are in love: nay, by’r lady, I am not such
a fool to think what I list; nor I list not to think what I can; nor, indeed, I cannot
think, if I would think my heart out of thinking, that you are in love, or that you
will be in love, or that you can be in love. Yet Benedick was such another, and now
is he become a man: he swore he would never marry; and yet now, in despite of his
heart, he eats his meat without grudging: and how you may be converted, I know
not; but methinks you look with your eyes as other women do.
What pace is this that thy tongue keeps?
Not a false gallop.
Madam, withdraw: the prince, the count, Signior Benedick, Don John, and all the
gallants of the town, are come to fetch you to church.
Help to dress me, good coz, good Meg, good Ursula.
Scene V. Another Room in LEONATO’S House
[Enter LEONATO and DOGBERRY and VERGES.]
What would you with me, honest neighbour?
Marry, sir, I would have some confidence with you, that decerns you nearly.
Brief, I pray you; for you see it is a busy time with me.
Marry, this it is, sir.
Yes, in truth it is, sir.
What is it, my good friends?
Goodman Verges, sir, speaks a little off the matter: an old man, sir, and his wits are
not so blunt as, God help, I would desire they were; but, in faith, honest as the skin
between his brows.
Yes, I thank God, I am as honest as any man living, that is an old man and no
honester than I.
Comparisons are odorous: palabras, neighbour Verges.
Neighbours, you are tedious.
It pleases your worship to say so, but we are the poor duke’s officers; but truly, for
mine own part, if I were as tedious as a king, I could find in my heart to bestow it
all of your worship.
All thy tediousness on me! ha?
Yea, an’t were a thousand pound more than ’tis; for I hear as good exclamation on
your worship, as of any man in the city, and though I be but a poor man, I am glad
to hear it.
And so am I.
I would fain know what you have to say.
Marry, sir, our watch to-night, excepting your worship’s presence, ha’ ta’en a
couple of as arrant knaves as any in Messina.
A good old man, sir; he will be talking; as they say, ‘when the age is in, the wit is out.’
God help us! it is a world to see! Well said, i’ faith, neighbour Verges: well, God’s
a good man; an two men ride of a horse, one must ride behind. An honest soul, i’
faith, sir; by my troth he is, as ever broke bread; but God is to be worshipped: all
men are not alike; alas! good neighbour.
Indeed, neighbour, he comes too short of you.
Gifts that God gives.
I must leave you.
One word, sir: our watch, sir, hath indeed comprehended two aspicious persons,
and we would have them this morning examined before your worship.
Take their examination yourself, and bring it me: I am now in great haste, as may
appear unto you.
It shall be suffigance.
Drink some wine ere you go: fare you well.
[Enter a Messenger.]
My lord, they stay for you to give your daughter to her husband.
I’ll wait upon them: I am ready.
[Exeunt LEONATO and Messenger.]
Go, good partner, go, get you to Francis Seacoal; bid him bring his pen and inkhorn
to the gaol: we are now to examination these men.
And we must do it wisely.
We will spare for no wit, I warrant you; here’s that shall drive some of them to a
non-come: only get the learned writer to set down our excommunication, and meet
me at the gaol.
Scene I. The Inside of a Church.
[Enter DON PEDRO, DON JOHN, LEONATO, FRIAR FRANCIS, CLAUDIO,
BENEDICK, HERO, BEATRICE, &c.]
Come, Friar Francis, be brief: only to the plain form of marriage, and you shall
recount their particular duties afterwards.
You come hither, my lord, to marry this lady?
To be married to her, friar; you come to marry her.
Lady, you come hither to be married to this count?
If either of you know any inward impediment, why you should not be conjoined, I
charge you, on your souls, to utter it.
Know you any, Hero?
None, my lord.
Know you any, count?
I dare make his answer; none.
O! what men dare do! what men may do! what men daily do, not knowing what
How now! Interjections? Why then, some be of laughing, as ah! ha! he!
Stand thee by, friar. Father, by your leave: Will you with free and unconstrained
soul Give me this maid, your daughter?
As freely, son, as God did give her me.
And what have I to give you back whose worth
May counterpoise this rich and precious gift?
Nothing, unless you render her again.
Sweet prince, you learn me noble thankfulness.
There, Leonato, take her back again:
Give not this rotten orange to your friend;
She’s but the sign and semblance of her honour.
Behold! how like a maid she blushes here.
O! what authority and show of truth
Can cunning sin cover itself withal.
Comes not that blood as modest evidence
To witness simple virtue? Would you not swear,
All you that see her, that she were a maid,
By these exterior shows? But she is none:
She knows the heat of a luxurious bed;
Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty.
What do you mean, my lord?
Not to be married,
Not to knit my soul to an approved wanton.
Dear my lord, if you, in your own proof,
Have vanquish’d the resistance of her youth,
And made defeat of her virginity,—
I know what you would say: if I have known her,
You’ll say she did embrace me as a husband,
And so extenuate the ’forehand sin: No, Leonato,
I never tempted her with word too large;
But, as a brother to his sister, show’d
Bashful sincerity and comely love.
And seem’d I ever otherwise to you?
Out on thee! Seeming! I will write against it:
You seem to me as Dian in her orb,
As chaste as is the bud ere it be blown;
But you are more intemperate in your blood
Than Venus, or those pamper’d animals
That rage in savage sensuality.
Is my lord well, that he doth speak so wide?
Sweet prince, why speak not you?
What should I speak?
I stand dishonour’d, that have gone about
To link my dear friend to a common stale.
Are these things spoken, or do I but dream?
Sir, they are spoken, and these things are true.
This looks not like a nuptial.
True! O God!
Leonato, stand I here? Is this the prince?
Is this the prince’s brother?
Is this face Hero’s? Are our eyes our own?
All this is so; but what of this, my lord?
Let me but move one question to your daughter,
And by that fatherly and kindly power
That you have in her, bid her answer truly.
I charge thee do so, as thou art my child.
O, God defend me! how am I beset!
What kind of catechizing call you this?
To make you answer truly to your name.
Is it not Hero? Who can blot that name
With any just reproach?
Marry, that can Hero:
Hero itself can blot out Hero’s virtue.
What man was he talk’d with you yesternight
Out at your window, betwixt twelve and one?
Now, if you are a maid, answer to this.
I talk’d with no man at that hour, my lord.
Why, then are you no maiden.
Leonato, I am sorry you must hear: upon my honour,
Myself, my brother, and this grieved count,
Did see her, hear her, at that hour last night,
Talk with a ruffian at her chamber-window;
Who hath indeed, most like a liberal villain,
Confess’d the vile encounters they have had
A thousand times in secret.
Fie, fie! they are not to be nam’d, my lord,
Not to be spoke of;
There is not chastity enough in language
Without offence to utter them. Thus, pretty lady,
I am sorry for thy much misgovernment.
O Hero! what a Hero hadst thou been,
If half thy outward graces had been plac’d
About thy thoughts and counsels of thy heart!
But fare thee well, most foul, most fair! farewell,
Thou pure impiety, and impious purity!
For thee I’ll lock up all the gates of love,
And on my eyelids shall conjecture hang,
To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm,
And never shall it more be gracious.
Hath no man’s dagger here a point for me?
Why, how now, cousin! wherefore sink you down?
Come, let us go. These things, come thus to light,
Smother her spirits up.
[Exeunt DON PEDRO, DON JOHN and CLAUDIO.]
How doth the lady?
Dead, I think! help, uncle! Hero! why, Hero! Uncle! Signior Benedick! Friar!
O Fate! take not away thy heavy hand:
Death is the fairest cover for her shame
That may be wish’d for.
How now, cousin Hero?
Have comfort, lady.
Dost thou look up?
Yea; wherefore should she not?
Wherefore! Why, doth not every earthly thing
Cry shame upon her? Could she here deny
The story that is printed in her blood?
Do not live, Hero; do not ope thine eyes;
For, did I think thou wouldst not quickly die,
Thought I thy spirits were stronger than thy shames,
Myself would, on the rearward of reproaches,
Strike at thy life. Griev’d I, I had but one?
Chid I for that at frugal nature’s frame?
O! one too much by thee. Why had I one?
Why ever wast thou lovely in mine eyes?
Why had I not with charitable hand
Took up a beggar’s issue at my gates,
Who smirched thus, and mir’d with infamy,
I might have said, ‘No part of it is mine;
This shame derives itself from unknown loins?’
But mine, and mine I lov’d, and mine I prais’d,
And mine that I was proud on, mine so much
That I myself was to myself not mine,
Valuing of her; why, she—O! she is fallen
Into a pit of ink, that the wide sea
Hath drops too few to wash her clean again,
And salt too little which may season give
To her foul-tainted flesh.
Sir, sir, be patient.
For my part, I am so attir’d in wonder,
I know not what to say.
O! on my soul, my cousin is belied!
Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?
No, truly, not; although, until last night I have this twelvemonth been her bedfellow.
Confirm’d, confirm’d! O! that is stronger made,
Which was before barr’d up with ribs of iron.
Would the two princes lie? and Claudio lie,
Who lov’d her so, that, speaking of her foulness,
Wash’d it with tears? Hence from her! let her die.
Hear me a little;
For I have only been silent so long,
And given way unto this course of fortune,
By noting of the lady: I have mark’d
A thousand blushing apparitions
To start into her face; a thousand innocent shames
In angel whiteness bear away those blushes;
And in her eye there hath appear’d a fire,
To burn the errors that these princes hold
Against her maiden truth. Call me a fool;
Trust not my reading nor my observations,
Which with experimental seal doth warrant
The tenure of my book; trust not my age,
My reverence, calling, nor divinity,
If this sweet lady lie not guiltless here
Under some biting error.
Friar, it cannot be.
Thou seest that all the grace that she hath left
Is that she will not add to her damnation
A sin of perjury: she not denies it.
Why seek’st thou then to cover with excuse
That which appears in proper nakedness?
Lady, what man is he you are accus’d of?
They know that do accuse me, I know none;
If I know more of any man alive
Than that which maiden modesty doth warrant,
Let all my sins lack mercy! O, my father!
Prove you that any man with me convers’d
At hours unmeet, or that I yesternight
Maintain’d the change of words with any creature,
Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death.
There is some strange misprision in the princes.
Two of them have the very bent of honour;
And if their wisdoms be misled in this,
The practice of it lives in John the bastard,
Whose spirits toil in frame of villanies.
I know not. If they speak but truth of her,
These hands shall tear her;if they wrong her honour,
The proudest of them shall well hear of it.
Time hath not yet so dried this blood of mine,
Nor age so eat up my invention,
Nor fortune made such havoc of my means,
Nor my bad life reft me so much of friends,
But they shall find, awak’d in such a kind,
Both strength of limb and policy of mind,
Ability in means and choice of friends,
To quit me of them throughly.
Pause awhile, And let my counsel sway you in this case.
Your daughter here the princes left for dead;
Let her awhile be secretly kept in,
And publish it that she is dead indeed:
Maintain a mourning ostentation;
And on your family’s old monument
Hang mournful epitaphs and do all rites
That appertain unto a burial.
What shall become of this? What will this do?
Marry, this well carried shall on her behalf
Change slander to remorse; that is some good.
But not for that dream I on this strange course,
But on this travail look for greater birth.
She dying, as it must be so maintain’d,
Upon the instant that she was accus’d,
Shall be lamented, pitied and excus’d
Of every hearer; for it so falls out
That what we have we prize not to the worth
Whiles we enjoy it, but being lack’d and lost,
Why, then we rack the value, then we find
The virtue that possession would not show us
Whiles it was ours. So will it fare with Claudio:
When he shall hear she died upon his words,
The idea of her life shall sweetly creep
Into his study of imagination,
And every lovely organ of her life
Shall come apparell’d in more precious habit,
More moving-delicate, and full of life
Into the eye and prospect of his soul,
Than when she liv’d indeed: then shall he mourn,—
If ever love had interest in his liver,—
And wish he had not so accused her,
No, though be thought his accusation true.
Let this be so, and doubt not but success
Will fashion the event in better shape
Than I can lay it down in likelihood.
But if all aim but this be levell’d false,
The supposition of the lady’s death
Will quench the wonder of her infamy:
And if it sort not well, you may conceal her,—
As best befits her wounded reputation,—
In some reclusive and religious life,
Out of all eyes, tongues, minds, and injuries.
Signior Leonato, let the friar advise you:
And though you know my inwardness and love
Is very much unto the prince and Claudio,
Yet, by mine honour, I will deal in this
As secretly and justly as your soul
Should with your body.
Being that I flow in grief, The smallest twine may lead me.
’Tis well consented: presently away;
For to strange sores strangely they strain the cure.
Come, lady, die to live: this wedding day
Perhaps is but prolong’d: have patience and endure.
[Exeunt FRIAR, HERO, and LEONATO.]
Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while?
Yea, and I will weep a while longer.
I will not desire that.
You have no reason; I do it freely.
Surely I do believe your fair cousin is wronged.
Ah! how much might the man deserve of me that would right her.
Is there any way to show such friendship?
A very even way, but no such friend.
May a man do it?
It is a man’s office, but not yours.
I do love nothing in the world so well as you: is not that strange?
As strange as the thing I know not. It were as possible for me to say
I loved nothing so well as you; but believe me not, and yet I lie not;
I confess nothing, nor I deny nothing. I am sorry for my cousin.
By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me.
Do not swear by it, and eat it.
I will swear by it that you love me; and I will make him eat it that says I love not
Will you not eat your word?
With no sauce that can be devised to it. I protest I love thee.
Why then, God forgive me!
What offence, sweet Beatrice?
You have stayed me in a happy hour: I was about to protest I loved you.
And do it with all thy heart.
I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest.
Come, bid me do anything for thee.
Ha! not for the wide world.
You kill me to deny it. Farewell.
Tarry, sweet Beatrice.
I am gone, though I am here: there is no love in you: nay, I pray you, let me go.
In faith, I will go.
We’ll be friends first.
You dare easier be friends with me than fight with mine enemy.
Is Claudio thine enemy?
Is he not approved in the height a villain, that hath slandered, scorned, dishonoured
my kinswoman? O! that I were a man. What! bear her in hand until they come
to take hands, and then, with public accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated
rancour,—O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the market-place.
Hear me, Beatrice,—
Talk with a man out at a window! a proper saying!
Nay, but Beatrice,—
Sweet Hero! she is wronged, she is slandered, she is undone.
Princes and counties! Surely, a princely testimony, a goodly Count Comfect; a
sweet gallant, surely! O! that I were a man for his sake, or that I had any friend
would be a man for my sake! But manhood is melted into cursies, valour into
compliment, and men are only turned into tongue, and trim ones too: he is now
as valiant as Hercules, that only tells a lie and swears it. I cannot be a man with
wishing, therefore I will die a woman with grieving.
Tarry, good Beatrice. By this hand, I love thee.
Use it for my love some other way than swearing by it.
Think you in your soul the Count Claudio hath wronged Hero?
Yea, as sure is I have a thought or a soul.
Enough! I am engaged, I will challenge him. I will kiss your hand, and so leave you.
By this hand, Claudio shall render me a dear account. As you hear of me, so think
of me. Go, comfort your cousin: I must say she is dead; and so, farewell.
Scene II. A Prison
[Enter DOGBERRY, VERGES, and SEXTON, in gowns; and the Watch, with
CONRADE and BORACHIO.]
Is our whole dissembly appeared?
O! a stool and a cushion for the sexton.
Which be the malefactors?
Marry, that am I and my partner.
Nay, that’s certain: we have the exhibition to examine.
But which are the offenders that are to be examined? let them come before Master
Yea, marry, let them come before me. What is your name, friend?
Pray write down Borachio. Yours, sirrah?
I am a gentleman, sir, and my name is Conrade.
Write down Master gentleman Conrade. Masters, do you serve God?
Yea, sir, we hope.
Write down that they hope they serve God: and write God first; for God defend but
God should go before such villains! Masters, it is proved already that you are little
better than false knaves, and it will go near to be thought so shortly. How answer
you for yourselves?
Marry, sir, we say we are none.
A marvellous witty fellow, I assure you; but I will go about with him. Come you
hither, sirrah; a word in your ear: sir, I say to you, it is thought you are false knaves.
Sir, I say to you we are none.
Well, stand aside. Fore God, they are both in a tale. Have you writ down, that they
Master constable, you go not the way to examine: you must call forth the watch
that are their accusers.
Yea, marry, that’s the eftest way. Let the watch come forth. Masters, I charge you,
in the prince’s name, accuse these men.
This man said, sir, that Don John, the prince’s brother, was a villain.
Write down Prince John a villain. Why, this is flat perjury, to call a prince’s brother
Pray thee, fellow, peace: I do not like thy look, I promise thee.
What heard you him say else?
Marry, that he had received a thousand ducats of Don John for accusing the Lady
Flat burglary as ever was committed.
Yea, by the mass, that it is.
What else, fellow?
And that Count Claudio did mean, upon his words, to disgrace Hero before the
whole assembly, and not marry her.
O villain! thou wilt be condemned into everlasting redemption for this.
This is all.
And this is more, masters, than you can deny. Prince John is this morning secretly
stolen away: Hero was in this manner accused, in this manner refused, and, upon
the grief of this, suddenly died. Master Constable, let these men be bound, and
brought to Leonato’s: I will go before and show him their examination.
Come, let them be opinioned.
Let them be in the hands—
God’s my life! where’s the sexton? let him write down the prince’s officer coxcomb.
Come, bind them. Thou naughty varlet!
Away! you are an ass; you are an ass.
Dost thou not suspect my place? Dost thou not suspect my years? O that he were
here to write me down an ass! but, masters, remember that I am an ass; though
it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass. No, thou villain, thou art
full of piety, as shall be proved upon thee by good witness. I am a wise fellow; and,
which is more, an officer; and, which is more, a householder; and, which is more,
as pretty a piece of flesh as any in Messina; and one that knows the law, go to; and
a rich fellow enough, go to; and a fellow that hath had losses; and one that hath two
gowns, and everything handsome about him. Bring him away. O that I had been
writ down an ass!
Scene I. Before LEONATO’S House.
[Enter LEONATO and ANTONIO.]
If you go on thus, you will kill yourself
And ’tis not wisdom thus to second grief
I pray thee, cease thy counsel,
Which falls into mine ears as profitless
As water in a sieve: give not me counsel;
Nor let no comforter delight mine ear
But such a one whose wrongs do suit with mine:
Bring me a father that so lov’d his child,
Whose joy of her is overwhelm’d like mine,
And bid him speak to me of patience;
Measure his woe the length and breadth of mine,
And let it answer every strain for strain,
As thus for thus and such a grief for such,
In every lineament, branch, shape, and form:
If such a one will smile, and stroke his beard;
Bid sorrow wag, cry ‘hem’ when he should groan,
Patch grief with proverbs; make misfortune drunk
With candle-wasters; bring him yet to me,
And I of him will gather patience.
But there is no such man; for, brother, men
Can counsel and speak comfort to that grief
Which they themselves not feel; but, tasting it,
Their counsel turns to passion, which before
Would give preceptial medicine to rage,
Fetter strong madness in a silken thread,
Charm ache with air and agony with words.
No, no; ’tis all men’s office to speak patience
To those that wring under the load of sorrow,
But no man’s virtue nor sufficiency
To be so moral when he shall endure
The like himself. Therefore give me no counsel:
My griefs cry louder than advertisement.
Therein do men from children nothing differ.
I pray thee peace! I will be flesh and blood;
For there was never yet philosopher
That could endure the toothache patiently,
However they have writ the style of gods
And made a push at chance and sufferance.
Yet bend not all the harm upon yourself;
Make those that do offend you suffer too.
There thou speak’st reason: nay, I will do so.
My soul doth tell me Hero is belied;
And that shall Claudio know; so shall the prince,
And all of them that thus dishonour her.
Here comes the prince and Claudio hastily.
[Enter DON PEDRO and CLAUDIO.]
Good den, good den.
Good day to both of you.
Hear you, my lords,—
We have some haste, Leonato.
Some haste, my lord! well, fare you well, my lord:
Are you so hasty now?—well, all is one.
Nay, do not quarrel with us, good old man.
If he could right himself with quarrelling,
Some of us would lie low.
Who wrongs him?
Marry, thou dost wrong me; thou dissembler, thou.
Nay, never lay thy hand upon thy sword; I fear thee not.
Marry, beshrew my hand,
If it should give your age such cause of fear.
In faith, my hand meant nothing to my sword.
Tush, tush, man! never fleer and jest at me:
I speak not like a dotard nor a fool,
As, under privilege of age, to brag
What I have done being young, or what would do,
Were I not old. Know, Claudio, to thy head,
Thou hast so wrong’d mine innocent child and me
That I am forc’d to lay my reverence by,
And, with grey hairs and bruise of many days,
Do challenge thee to trial of a man.
I say thou hast belied mine innocent child:
Thy slander hath gone through and through her heart,
And she lied buried with her ancestors;
O! in a tomb where never scandal slept,
Save this of hers, fram’d by thy villany!
Thine, Claudio; thine, I say.
You say not right, old man,
My lord, my lord,
I’ll prove it on his body, if he dare,
Despite his nice fence and his active practice,
His May of youth and bloom of lustihood.
Away! I will not have to do with you.
Canst thou so daff me? Thou hast kill’d my child;
If thou kill’st me, boy, thou shalt kill a man.
He shall kill two of us, and men indeed:
But that’s no matter; let him kill one first:
Win me and wear me; let him answer me.
Come, follow me, boy; come, sir boy, come, follow me.
Sir boy, I’ll whip you from your foining fence;
Nay, as I am a gentleman, I will.
Content yourself. God knows I lov’d my niece;
And she is dead, slander’d to death by villains,
That dare as well answer a man indeed
As I dare take a serpent by the tongue.
Boys, apes, braggarts, Jacks, milksops!
Hold your content. What, man! I know them, yea,
And what they weigh, even to the utmost scruple,
Scambling, out-facing, fashion-monging boys,
That lie and cog and flout, deprave and slander,
Go antickly, show outward hideousness,
And speak off half a dozen dangerous words,
How they might hurt their enemies, if they durst;
And this is all!
But, brother Antony,—
Come, ’tis no matter:
Do not you meddle, let me deal in this.
Gentlemen both, we will not wake your patience.
My heart is sorry for your daughter’s death;
But, on my honour, she was charg’d with nothing
But what was true and very full of proof.
My lord, my lord—
I will not hear you.
No? Come, brother, away. I will be heard.—
And shall, or some of us will smart for it.
[Exeunt LEONATO and ANTONIO.]
See, see; here comes the man we went to seek.
Now, signior, what news?
Good day, my lord.
Welcome, signior: you are almost come to part almost a fray.
We had like to have had our two noses snapped off with two old men without teeth.
Leonato and his brother. What think’st thou? Had we fought, I doubt we should
have been too young for them.
In a false quarrel there is no true valour. I came to seek you both.
We have been up and down to seek thee; for we are high-proof melancholy, and
would fain have it beaten away. Wilt thou use thy wit?
It is in my scabbard; shall I draw it?
Dost thou wear thy wit by thy side?
Never any did so, though very many have been beside their wit. I will bid thee
draw, as we do the minstrels; draw, to pleasure us.
As I am an honest man, he looks pale. Art thou sick, or angry?
What, courage, man! What though care killed a cat, thou hast mettle enough in
thee to kill care.
Sir, I shall meet your wit in the career, an you charge it against me. I pray you
choose another subject.
Nay then, give him another staff: this last was broke cross.
By this light, he changes more and more: I think he be angry indeed.
If he be, he knows how to turn his girdle.
Shall I speak a word in your ear?
God bless me from a challenge!
[Aside to CLAUDIO.]
You are a villain, I jest not: I will make it good how you dare, with what you dare,
and when you dare. Do me right, or I will protest your cowardice. You have killed a
sweet lady, and her death shall fall heavy on you. Let me hear from you.
Well I will meet you, so I may have good cheer.
What, a feast, a feast?
I’ faith, I thank him; he hath bid me to a calf’s-head and a capon, the which if I do
not carve most curiously, say my knife’s naught. Shall I not find a woodcock too?
Sir, your wit ambles well; it goes easily.
I’ll tell thee how Beatrice praised thy wit the other day. I said, thou hadst a fine wit.
‘True,’ says she, ‘a fine little one.’
‘No,’ said I, ‘a great wit.’
‘Right,’ said she, ‘a great gross one.’
‘Nay,’ said I, ‘a good wit.’
‘Just,’ said she, ‘it hurts nobody.’
‘Nay,’ said I, ‘the gentleman is wise.’
‘Certain,’ said she,a wise gentleman.’
‘Nay,’ said I, ‘he hath the tongues.’
‘That I believe’ said she, ‘for he swore a thing to me on Monday
night, which he forswore on Tuesday morning: there’s a double tongue;
there’s two tongues.’
Thus did she, an hour together, trans-shape thy particular virtues;
yet at last she concluded with a sigh, thou wast the properest man in Italy.
For the which she wept heartily and said she cared not.
Yea, that she did; but yet, for all that, an if she did not hate him deadly, she would
love him dearly. The old man’s daughter told us all.
All, all; and moreover, God saw him when he was hid in the garden.
But when shall we set the savage bull’s horns on the sensible Benedick’s head?
Yea, and text underneath, ‘Here dwells Benedick the married man!’
Fare you well, boy: you know my mind. I will leave you now to your gossip-like
humour; you break jests as braggarts do their blades, which, God be thanked,
hurt not. My lord, for your many courtesies I thank you: I must discontinue your
company. Your brother the bastard is fled from Messina: you have, among you,
killed a sweet and innocent lady. For my Lord Lack-beard there, he and I shall
meet; and till then, peace be with him.
He is in earnest.
In most profound earnest; and, I’ll warrant you, for the love of Beatrice.
And hath challenged thee?
What a pretty thing man is when he goes in his doublet and hose and leaves off his
He is then a giant to an ape; but then is an ape a doctor to such a man.
But, soft you; let me be: pluck up, my heart, and be sad! Did he not say my brother
[Enter DOGBERRY, VERGES, and the Watch, with CONRADE and BORACHIO.]
Come you, sir: if justice cannot tame you, she shall ne’er weigh more reasons in her
balance. Nay, an you be a cursing hypocrite once, you must be looked to.
How now! two of my brother’s men bound! Borachio, one!
Hearken after their offence, my lord.
Officers, what offence have these men done?
Marry, sir, they have committed false report; moreover, they have spoken untruths;
secondarily, they are slanders; sixth and lastly, they have belied a lady; thirdly,
they have verified unjust things; and to conclude, they are lying knaves.
First, I ask thee what they have done; thirdly, I ask thee what’s their offence; sixth
and lastly, why they are committed; and, to conclude, what you lay to their charge?
Rightly reasoned, and in his own division; and, by my troth, there’s one meaning
Who have you offended, masters, that you are thus bound to your answer? this
learned constable is too cunning to be understood. What’s your offence?
Sweet prince, let me go no further to mine answer: do you hear me, and let this
count kill me. I have deceived even your very eyes: what your wisdoms could not
discover, these shallow fools have brought to light; who, in the night overheard
me confessing to this man how Don John your brother incensed me to slander the
Lady Hero; how you were brought into the orchard and saw me court Margaret in
Hero’s garments; how you disgraced her, when you should marry her. My villany
they have upon record; which I had rather seal with my death than repeat over
to my shame. The lady is dead upon mine and my master’s false accusation; and,
briefly, I desire nothing but the reward of a villain.
Runs not this speech like iron through your blood?
I have drunk poison whiles he utter’d it.
But did my brother set thee on to this?
Yea; and paid me richly for the practice of it.
He is compos’d and fram’d of treachery: And fled he is upon this villany.
Sweet Hero! now thy image doth appear In the rare semblance that I lov’d it first.
Come, bring away the plaintiffs: by this time our sexton hath reformed Signior
Leonato of the matter. And masters, do not forget to specify, when time and place
shall serve, that I am an ass.
Here, here comes Master Signior Leonato, and the sexton too.
[Re-enter LEONATO, ANTONIO, and the Sexton.]
Which is the villain? Let me see his eyes,
That, when I note another man like him,
I may avoid him. Which of these is he?
If you would know your wronger, look on me.
Art thou the slave that with thy breath hast kill’d
Mine innocent child?
Yea, even I alone.
No, not so, villain; thou beliest thyself:
Here stand a pair of honourable men;
A third is fled, that had a hand in it.
I thank you, princes, for my daughter’s death:
Record it with your high and worthy deeds.
’Twas bravely done, if you bethink you of it.
I know not how to pray your patience;
Yet I must speak. Choose your revenge yourself;
Impose me to what penance your invention
Can lay upon my sin: yet sinn’d I not
But in mistaking.
By my soul, nor I:
And yet, to satisfy this good old man,
I would bend under any heavy weight
That he’ll enjoin me to.
I cannot bid you bid my daughter live;
That were impossible; but, I pray you both,
Possess the people in Messina here
How innocent she died; and if your love
Can labour aught in sad invention,
Hang her an epitaph upon her tomb,
And sing it to her bones: sing it to-night.
To-morrow morning come you to my house,
And since you could not be my son-in-law,
Be yet my nephew. My brother hath a daughter,
Almost the copy of my child that’s dead,
And she alone is heir to both of us:
Give her the right you should have given her cousin,
And so dies my revenge.
O noble sir,
Your over-kindness doth wring tears from me!
I do embrace your offer; and dispose
For henceforth of poor Claudio.
To-morrow then I will expect your coming;
To-night I take my leave. This naughty man
Shall face to face be brought to Margaret,
Who, I believe, was pack’d in all this wrong,
Hir’d to it by your brother.
No, by my soul she was not;
Nor knew not what she did when she spoke to me;
But always hath been just and virtuous
In anything that I do know by her.
Moreover, sir,—which, indeed, is not under white and black,— this plaintiff here,
the offender, did call me ass: I beseech you, let it be remembered in his punishment.
And also, the watch heard them talk of one Deformed: they say he wears a key in
his ear and a lock hanging by it, and borrows money in God’s name, the which he
hath used so long and never paid, that now men grow hard-hearted, and will lend
nothing for God’s sake. Pray you, examine him upon that point.
I thank thee for thy care and honest pains.
Your worship speaks like a most thankful and reverent youth, and I praise God for
There’s for thy pains.
God save the foundation!
Go, I discharge thee of thy prisoner, and I thank thee.
I leave an arrant knave with your worship; which I beseech your worship to correct
yourself, for the example of others. God keep your worship! I wish your worship
well; God restore you to health! I humbly give you leave to depart, and if a merry
meeting may be wished, God prohibit it! Come, neighbour.
[Exeunt DOGBERRY and VERGES.]
Until to-morrow morning, lords, farewell.
Farewell, my lords: we look for you to-morrow.
We will not fail.
To-night I’ll mourn with Hero.
[Exeunt DON PEDRO and CLAUDIO.]
[To the Watch.] Bring you these fellows on. We’ll talk with Margaret, How her
acquaintance grew with this lewd fellow.
Scene 2. LEONATO’S Garden
[Enter BENEDICK and MARGARET, meeting.]
Pray thee, sweet Mistress Margaret, deserve well at my hands by helping me to the
speech of Beatrice.
Will you then write me a sonnet in praise of my beauty?
In so high a style, Margaret, that no man living shall come over it; for, in most
comely truth, thou deservest it.
To have no man come over me! why, shall I always keep below stairs?
Thy wit is as quick as the greyhound’s mouth; it catches.
And yours as blunt as the fencer’s foils, which hit, but hurt not.
A most manly wit, Margaret; it will not hurt a woman: and so, I pray thee, call
Beatrice. I give thee the bucklers.
Give us the swords, we have bucklers of our own.
If you use them, Margaret, you must put in the pikes with a vice; and they are
dangerous weapons for maids.
Well, I will call Beatrice to you, who I think hath legs.
And therefore will come.
The god of love,
That sits above,
And knows me, and knows me,
How pitiful I deserve,—
I mean, in singing: but in loving, Leander the good swimmer, Troilus the first
employer of panders, and a whole book full of these quondam carpet-mongers,
whose names yet run smoothly in the even road of a blank verse, why, they were
never so truly turned over and over as my poor self in love. Marry, I cannot show it
in rime; I have tried: I can find out no rime to ‘lady’ but ‘baby’, an innocent rhyme;
for ‘scorn,’ ‘horn’, a hard rime; for ‘school’, ‘fool’, a babbling rhyme; very ominous
endings: no, I was not born under a riming planet, nor I cannot woo in festival
Sweet Beatrice, wouldst thou come when I called thee?
Yea, signior; and depart when you bid me.
O, stay but till then!
‘Then’ is spoken; fare you well now: and yet, ere I go, let me go with that I came for;
which is, with knowing what hath passed between you and Claudio.
Only foul words; and thereupon I will kiss thee.
Foul words is but foul wind, and foul wind is but foul breath, and foul breath is
noisome; therefore I will depart unkissed.
Thou hast frighted the word out of his right sense, so forcible is thy wit. But I must
tell thee plainly, Claudio undergoes my challenge, and either I must shortly hear
from him, or I will subscribe him a coward. And, I pray thee now, tell me, for which
of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?
For them all together; which maintained so politic a state of evil that they will not
admit any good part to intermingle with them. But for which of my good parts did
you first suffer love for me?
‘Suffer love,’ a good epithet! I do suffer love indeed, for I love thee against my will.
In spite of your heart, I think. Alas, poor heart! If you spite it for my sake, I will
spite it for yours; for I will never love that which my friend hates.
Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.
It appears not in this confession: there’s not one wise man among twenty that will
An old, an old instance, Beatrice, that lived in the time of good neighbours. If a
man do not erect in this age his own tomb ere he dies, he shall live no longer in
monument than the bell rings and the widow weeps.
And how long is that think you?
Question: why, an hour in clamour and a quarter in rheum: therefore is it most
expedient for the wise,—if Don Worm, his conscience, find no impediment to the
contrary,—to be the trumpet of his own virtues, as I am to myself. So much for
praising myself, who, I myself will bear witness, is praiseworthy. And now tell me,
how doth your cousin?
And how do you?
Very ill too.
Serve God, love me, and mend. There will I leave you too, for here comes one in
Madam, you must come to your uncle. Yonder’s old coil at home: it is proved, my
Lady Hero hath been falsely accused, the prince and Claudio mightily abused; and
Don John is the author of all, who is fled and gone. Will you come presently?
Will you go hear this news, signior?
I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be buried in thy eyes; and moreover I will
go with thee to thy uncle’s.
Scene III. The Inside of a Church
[Enter DON PEDRO, CLAUDIO, and Attendants, with music and tapers]
Is this the monument of Leonato?
It is, my lord.
[Reads from a scroll.]
Done to death by slanderous tongues
Was the Hero that here lies:
Death, in guerdon of her wrongs,
Gives her fame which never dies.
So the life that died with shame
Lives in death with glorious fame.
Hang thou there upon the tomb,
Praising her when I am dumb.
Now, music, sound, and sing your solemn hymn.
Pardon, goddess of the night,
Those that slew thy virgin knight;
For the which, with songs of woe,
Round about her tomb they go.
Midnight, assist our moan;
Help us to sigh and groan,
Graves, yawn and yield your dead,
Till death be uttered,
Now, unto thy bones good night!
Yearly will I do this rite.
Good morrow, masters: put your torches out.
The wolves have prey’d; and look, the gentle day,
Before the wheels of Phoebus, round about
Dapples the drowsy east with spots of grey.
Thanks to you all, and leave us: fare you well.
Good morrow, masters: each his several way.
Come, let us hence, and put on other weeds; And then to Leonato’s we will go.
And Hymen now with luckier issue speed’s,
Than this for whom we rend’red up this woe!
Scene IV. A Room in LEONATO’S House.
[Enter LEONATO, ANTONIO, BENEDICK, BEATRICE, MARGARET, URSULA,
FRIAR FRANCIS, and HERO.]
Did I not tell you she was innocent?
So are the prince and Claudio, who accus’d her
Upon the error that you heard debated:
But Margaret was in some fault for this,
Although against her will, as it appears
In the true course of all the question.
Well, I am glad that all things sort so well.
And so am I, being else by faith enforc’d
To call young Claudio to a reckoning for it.
Well, daughter, and you gentlewomen all,
Withdraw into a chamber by yourselves,
And when I send for you, come hither mask’d:
The prince and Claudio promis’d by this hour
To visit me.
You know your office, brother;
You must be father to your brother’s daughter,
And give her to young Claudio.
Which I will do with confirm’d countenance.
Friar, I must entreat your pains, I think.
To do what, signior?
To bind me, or undo me; one of them.
Signior Leonato, truth it is, good signior,
Your niece regards me with an eye of favour.
That eye my daughter lent her: ’tis most true.
And I do with an eye of love requite her.
The sight whereof I think, you had from me,
From Claudio, and the prince. But what’s your will?
Your answer, sir, is enigmatical:
But, for my will, my will is your good will
May stand with ours, this day to be conjoin’d
In the state of honourable marriage:
In which, good friar, I shall desire your help.
My heart is with your liking.
And my help. Here comes the prince and Claudio.
[Enter DON PEDRO and CLAUDIO, with Attendants.]
Good morrow to this fair assembly.
Good morrow, prince; good morrow, Claudio:
We here attend you. Are you yet determin’d
To-day to marry with my brother’s daughter?
I’ll hold my mind, were she an Ethiope.
Call her forth, brother: here’s the friar ready.
Good morrow, Benedick. Why, what’s the matter,
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?
I think he thinks upon the savage bull.
Tush! fear not, man, we’ll tip thy horns with gold,
And all Europa shall rejoice at thee,
As once Europa did at lusty Jove,
When he would play the noble beast in love.
Bull Jove, sir, had an amiable low:
And some such strange bull leap’d your father’s cow,
And got a calf in that same noble feat,
Much like to you, for you have just his bleat.
For this I owe you: here comes other reckonings.
[Re-enter ANTONIO, with the ladies masked.]
Which is the lady I must seize upon?
This same is she, and I do give you her.
Why then, she’s mine. Sweet, let me see your face.
No, that you shall not, till you take her hand
Before this friar, and swear to marry her.
Give me your hand: before this holy friar,
I am your husband, if you like of me.
And when I liv’d, I was your other wife:
[Unmasking.] And when you lov’d, you were my other husband.
One Hero died defil’d, but I do live,
And surely as I live, I am a maid.
The former Hero! Hero that is dead!
She died, my lord, but whiles her slander liv’d.
All this amazement can I qualify:
When after that the holy rites are ended,
I’ll tell you largely of fair Hero’s death:
Meantime, let wonder seem familiar,
And to the chapel let us presently.
Soft and fair, friar. Which is Beatrice?
[Unmasking.] I answer to that name. What is your will?
Do not you love me?
Why, no; no more than reason.
Why, then, your uncle and the prince and Claudio
Have been deceived; for they swore you did.
Do not you love me?
Troth, no; no more than reason.
Why, then my cousin, Margaret, and Ursula,
Are much deceiv’d; for they did swear you did.
They swore that you were almost sick for me.
They swore that you were well-nigh dead for me.
Tis no such matter. Then you do not love me?
No, truly, but in friendly recompense.
Come, cousin, I am sure you love the gentleman.
And I’ll be sworn upon’t that he loves her;
For here’s a paper written in his hand,
A halting sonnet of his own pure brain,
Fashion’d to Beatrice.
And here’s another,
Writ in my cousin’s hand, stolen from her pocket,
Containing her affection unto Benedick.
A miracle! here’s our own hands against our hearts. Come, I will have thee; but, by
this light, I take thee for pity.
I would not deny you; but, by this good day, I yield upon great persuasion, and
partly to save your life, for I was told you were in a consumption.
Peace! I will stop your mouth. [Kisses her.]
How dost thou, Benedick, the married man?
I’ll tell thee what, prince; a college of witcrackers cannout flout me out of my
humour. Dost thou think I care for a satire or an epigram? No; if man will be beaten
with brains, a’ shall wear nothing handsome about him. In brief, since I do purpose
to marry, I will think nothing to any purpose that the world can say against it; and
therefore never flout at me for what I have said against it, for man is a giddy thing,
and this is my conclusion. For thy part, Claudio, I did think to have beaten thee;
but, in that thou art like to be my kinsman, live unbruised, and love my cousin.
I had well hoped thou wouldst have denied Beatrice, that I might have cudgelled
thee out of thy single life, to make thee a double-dealer; which, out of question,
thou wilt be, if my cousin do not look exceeding narrowly to thee.
Come, come, we are friends. Let’s have a dance ere we are married, that we may
lighten our own hearts and our wives’ heels.
We’ll have dancing afterward.
First, of my word; therefore play, music! Prince, thou art sad; get thee a wife, get
thee a wife: there is no staff more reverent than one tipped with horn.
My lord, your brother John is ta’en in flight, And brought with armed men back to
Think not on him till to-morrow: I’ll devise thee brave punishments for him. Strike
12.13.3 King Lear
Scene I. A Room of State in King Lear’s Palace
[Enter KENT, GLOUCESTER, and EDMUND]
I thought the King had more affected the Duke of Albany than
It did always seem so to us; but now, in the division of the
kingdom, it appears not which of the Dukes he values most, for
equalities are so weighed that curiosity in neither can make
choice of either’s moiety.
Is not this your son, my lord?
His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge: I have so often
blush’d to acknowledge him that now I am braz’d to’t.
I cannot conceive you.
Sir, this young fellow’s mother could: whereupon she grew
round-wombed, and had indeed, sir, a son for her cradle ere she
had a husband for her bed. Do you smell a fault?
I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper.
But I have, sir, a son by order of law, some year elder than
this, who yet is no dearer in my account: though this knave came
something saucily into the world before he was sent for, yet was
his mother fair; there was good sport at his making, and the
whoreson must be acknowledged.—Do you know this noble gentleman,
No, my lord.
My Lord of Kent: remember him hereafter as my honourable friend.
My services to your lordship.
I must love you, and sue to know you better.
Sir, I shall study deserving.
He hath been out nine years, and away he shall again.—The king
[Enter LEAR, CORNWALL, ALBANY, GONERIL, REGAN, CORDELIA, and
Attend the lords of France and Burgundy,
I shall, my liege.
[Exeunt GLOUCESTER and EDMUND.]
Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.—
Give me the map there.—Know that we have divided
In three our kingdom: and ’tis our fast intent
To shake all cares and business from our age;
Conferring them on younger strengths, while we
Unburden’d crawl toward death.—Our son of Cornwall,
And you, our no less loving son of Albany,
We have this hour a constant will to publish
Our daughters’ several dowers, that future strife
May be prevented now. The princes, France and Burgundy,
Great rivals in our youngest daughter’s love,
Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,
And here are to be answer’d.—Tell me, my daughters,—
Since now we will divest us both of rule,
Interest of territory, cares of state,—
Which of you shall we say doth love us most?
That we our largest bounty may extend
Where nature doth with merit challenge.—Goneril,
Our eldest-born, speak first.
Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;
Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty;
Beyond what can be valu’d, rich or rare;
No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour;
As much as child e’er lov’d, or father found;
A love that makes breath poor and speech unable;
Beyond all manner of so much I love you.
[Aside.] What shall Cordelia speak? Love, and be silent.
Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,
With shadowy forests and with champains rich’d,
With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads,
We make thee lady: to thine and Albany’s issue
Be this perpetual.—What says our second daughter,
Our dearest Regan, wife to Cornwall? Speak.
Sir, I am made of the selfsame metal that my sister is,
And prize me at her worth. In my true heart
I find she names my very deed of love;
Only she comes too short,—that I profess
Myself an enemy to all other joys
Which the most precious square of sense possesses,
And find I am alone felicitate
In your dear highness’ love.
[Aside.] Then poor Cordelia!
And yet not so; since, I am sure, my love’s
More richer than my tongue.
To thee and thine hereditary ever
Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom;
No less in space, validity, and pleasure
Than that conferr’d on Goneril.—Now, our joy,
Although the last, not least; to whose young love
The vines of France and milk of Burgundy
Strive to be interess’d; what can you say to draw
A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak.
Nothing, my lord.
Nothing can come of nothing: speak again.
Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty
According to my bond; no more nor less.
How, how, Cordelia! mend your speech a little,
Lest you may mar your fortunes.
Good my lord,
You have begot me, bred me, lov’d me: I
Return those duties back as are right fit,
Obey you, love you, and most honour you.
Why have my sisters husbands if they say
They love you all? Haply, when I shall wed,
That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry
Half my love with him, half my care and duty:
Sure I shall never marry like my sisters,
To love my father all.
But goes thy heart with this?
Ay, good my lord.
So young, and so untender?
So young, my lord, and true.
Let it be so,—thy truth then be thy dower:
For, by the sacred radiance of the sun,
The mysteries of Hecate, and the night;
By all the operation of the orbs,
From whom we do exist and cease to be;
Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
Propinquity, and property of blood,
And as a stranger to my heart and me
Hold thee, from this for ever. The barbarous Scythian,
Or he that makes his generation messes
To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom
Be as well neighbour’d, pitied, and reliev’d,
As thou my sometime daughter.
Good my liege,—
Come not between the dragon and his wrath.
I lov’d her most, and thought to set my rest
On her kind nursery.—Hence, and avoid my sight!—[To Cordelia.]
So be my grave my peace, as here I give
Her father’s heart from her!—Call France;—who stirs?
Call Burgundy!—Cornwall and Albany,
With my two daughters’ dowers digest this third:
Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.
I do invest you jointly in my power,
Pre-eminence, and all the large effects
That troop with majesty.—Ourself, by monthly course,
With reservation of an hundred knights,
By you to be sustain’d, shall our abode
Make with you by due turns. Only we still retain
The name, and all the additions to a king;
Revenue, execution of the rest,
Beloved sons, be yours; which to confirm,
This coronet part betwixt you.
[Giving the crown.]
Whom I have ever honour’d as my king,
Lov’d as my father, as my master follow’d,
As my great patron thought on in my prayers.—
The bow is bent and drawn; make from the shaft.
Let it fall rather, though the fork invade
The region of my heart: be Kent unmannerly
When Lear is mad. What wouldst thou do, old man?
Think’st thou that duty shall have dread to speak
When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour’s bound
When majesty falls to folly. Reverse thy state;
And in thy best consideration check
This hideous rashness: answer my life my judgment,
Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least;
Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sound
Reverbs no hollowness.
Kent, on thy life, no more.
My life I never held but as a pawn
To wage against thine enemies; nor fear to lose it,
Thy safety being the motive.
Out of my sight!
See better, Lear; and let me still remain
The true blank of thine eye.
Now, by Apollo,—
Now by Apollo, king,
Thou swear’st thy gods in vain.
O vassal! miscreant!
[Laying his hand on his sword.]
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. [Exit.]
[Flourish. Re-enter GLOUCESTER, 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, GLOUCESTER,
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 Gloucester’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
satisfaction; 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?
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.
[Horns within. Enter King Lear, Knights, and Attendants.]
Let me not stay a jot for dinner; go get it ready.
[Exit an Attendant.]
How now! what art thou?
A man, sir.
What dost thou profess? What wouldst thou with us?
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 judgment; to fight
when I cannot choose; and to eat no fish.
What art thou?
A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the king.
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
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 back forty-eight.
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 an attendant.]
You, you, sirrah, where’s my daughter?
So please you,—
What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll back.—
[Exit a KNIGHT.]
Where’s my fool, ho?—I think the world’s asleep.
How now! where’s that mongrel?
He says, my lord, your daughter is not well.
Why came not the slave back to me when I called him?
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 judgment 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
Ha! say’st 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
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
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.
[Exit another Attendant.]
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!
I am none of these, my lord; I beseech your pardon.
Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?
I’ll not be struck, my lord.
Nor tripp’d neither, you base football player.
[Tripping up his heels.]
I thank thee, fellow; thou servest me, and I’ll love thee.
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 wisdom? so.
[Pushes Oswald out.]
Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee: there’s earnest of thy
[Giving Kent money.]
Let me hire him too; here’s my coxcomb.
[Giving Kent his cap.]
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, an thou
canst not smile as the wind sits, thou’lt catch cold shortly:
there, take my coxcomb: why, this fellow hath banish’d 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! 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 stink.
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, nuncle?
Why, no, boy; nothing can be made out of nothing.
[to Kent] Pr’ythee tell him, so much the rent of 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 one?
No, lad; teach me.
That lord that counsell’d 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
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 loads 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
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 gav’st 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 wit in a year;
For wise men are grown foppish,
And know not how their wits to wear,
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 mad’st thy daughters thy
mothers; for when thou gav’st 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
And go the fools among.
Pr’ythee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach thy fool to
lie; I would fain learn to lie.
An 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? Methinks 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 O without a figure: I am better
than thou art; I am a fool, thou art nothing.—Yes, forsooth, I
will hold my tongue. So your face [To Goneril.] bids me, though
you say nothing. Mum, mum,
He that keeps nor crust nor crum,
Weary of all, shall want some.—
[Pointing to LEAR.] That’s a shealed peascod.
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,
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,
Might in their working do you that offence
Which else were shame, that then necessity
Will call discreet proceeding.
For you know, nuncle,
The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long
That it 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 that good wisdom,
Whereof I know you are fraught; and put away
These dispositions, that of late transform you
From what you rightly are.
May not an ass know when the cart draws the horse?—Whoop, Jug! I
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 had daughters.
Which they will make an obedient father.
Your name, fair gentlewoman?
This admiration, sir, is much o’ the favour
Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you
To understand my purposes aright:
As you are old and reverend, you should be wise.
Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires;
Men so disorder’d, so debosh’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, desir’d
By her that else will take the thing she begs
A little to disquantity your train;
And the remainder, 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 disorder’d rabble
Make servants of their betters.
Woe that too late repents!—
[To Albany.] O, sir, are you come?
Is it your will? Speak, sir.—Prepare my horses.—
Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend,
More hideous when thou show’st thee in a child
Than the sea-monster!
Pray, sir, be patient.
[to Goneril] Detested kite, thou liest!:
My train are men of choice and rarest parts,
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, wrench’d my frame of nature
From the fix’d place; drew from my heart all love,
And 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.
My lord, I am guiltless, as I am ignorant
Of what hath mov’d you.
It may be so, my lord.
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 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!
Now, gods that we adore, whereof comes this?
Never afflict yourself to know more of it;
But let his disposition have that scope
That dotage gives it.
What, fifty of my followers at a clap! Within a fortnight!
What’s the matter, sir?
I’ll tell thee.—Life and death!—[To Goneril] I am asham’d
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 you out,
And cast you, with the waters that you lose,
To temper clay. Ha!
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.
[Exeunt Lear, Kent, and Attendants.]
Do you mark that?
I cannot be so partial, Goneril,
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 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.
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 utter’d I have writ my sister:
If she sustain him and his hundred knights,
When I have show’d 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 it not, yet, under pardon,
You are much more attask’d for want of wisdom
Than prais’d for harmful mildness.
How far your eyes may pierce I cannot tell:
Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well.
Well, well; the event.
Scene V. Court before the Duke of Albany’s Palace.
[Enter Lear, Kent, and FOOL.]
Go you before to Gloucester with these letters: acquaint my
daughter no further with anything you know than comes from her
demand out of the letter. If your diligence be not speedy, I
shall be there afore you.
I will not sleep, my lord, till I have delivered your letter.
If a man’s brains were in’s heels, were’t not in danger of kibes?
Then I pr’ythee be merry; thy wit shall not go slipshod.
Ha, ha, ha!
Shalt see thy other daughter will use thee kindly; for though
she’s as like this as a crab’s like an apple, yet I can tell
what I can tell.
What canst tell, boy?
She’ll taste as like this as a crab does to a crab. Thou
canst tell why one’s nose stands i’ the middle on’s face?
Why, to keep one’s eyes of either side’s nose, that what a man
cannot smell out, he may spy into.
I did her wrong,—
Canst tell how an oyster makes his shell?
Nor I neither; but I can tell why a snail has a house.
Why, to put’s head in; not to give it away to his daughters, and
leave his horns without a case.
I will forget my nature. So kind a father!—Be my horses ready?
Thy asses are gone about ’em. The reason why the seven stars are
no more than seven is a pretty reason.
Because they are not eight?
Yes indeed: thou wouldst make a good fool.
To tak’t again perforce!—Monster ingratitude!
If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I’ld have thee beaten for being
old before thy time.
Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise.
O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven!
Keep me in temper; I would not be mad!—
How now? are the horses ready?
Ready, my lord.
She that’s a maid now, and laughs at my departure,
Shall not be a maid long, unless things be cut shorter.
Scene I. A court within the Castle of the Earl of Gloucester.
[Enter Edmund and Curan, meeting.]
Save thee, Curan.
And you, sir. I have been with your father, and given him
notice that the Duke of Cornwall and Regan his duchess will be
here with him this night.
How comes that?
Nay, I know not.—You have heard of the news abroad; I mean the
whispered ones, for they are yet but ear-kissing arguments?
Not I: pray you, what are they?
Have you heard of no likely wars toward, ’twixt the two dukes
of Cornwall and Albany?
Not a word.
You may do, then, in time. Fare you well, sir.
The Duke be here to-night? The better! best!
This weaves itself perforce into my business.
My father hath set guard to take my brother;
And I have one thing, of a queasy question,
Which I must act:—briefness and fortune work!—
Brother, a word!—descend:—brother, I say!
My father watches:—sir, fly this place;
Intelligence is given where you are hid;
You have now the good advantage of the night.—
Have you not spoken ’gainst the Duke of Cornwall?
He’s coming hither; now, i’ the night, i’ the haste,
And Regan with him: have you nothing said
Upon his party ’gainst the Duke of Albany?
I am sure on’t, not a word.
I hear my father coming:—pardon me;
In cunning I must draw my sword upon you:—
Draw: seem to defend yourself: now quit you well.—
Yield:—come before my father.—Light, ho, here!
Fly, brother.—Torches, torches!—So farewell.
Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion
Of my more fierce endeavour: [Wounds his arm.]
I have seen drunkards
Do more than this in sport.—Father, father!
Stop, stop! No help?
[Enter Gloucester, and Servants with torches.]
Now, Edmund, where’s the villain?
Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out,
Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon
To stand auspicious mistress,—
But where is he?
Look, sir, I bleed.
Where is the villain, Edmund?
Fled this way, sir. When by no means he could,—
Pursue him, ho!—Go after.
—By no means what?
Persuade me to the murder of your lordship;
But that I told him the revenging gods
’Gainst parricides did all their thunders bend;
Spoke with how manifold and strong a bond
The child was bound to the father;—sir, in fine,
Seeing how loathly opposite I stood
To his unnatural purpose, in fell motion
With his prepared sword, he charges home
My unprovided body, lanc’d mine arm;
But when he saw my best alarum’d spirits,
Bold in the quarrel’s right, rous’d to the encounter,
Or whether gasted by the noise I made,
Full suddenly he fled.
Let him fly far;
Not in this land shall he remain uncaught;
And found—dispatch’d.—The noble duke my master,
My worthy arch and patron, comes to-night:
By his authority I will proclaim it,
That he which finds him shall deserve our thanks,
Bringing the murderous coward to the stake;
He that conceals him, death.
When I dissuaded him from his intent,
And found him pight to do it, with curst speech
I threaten’d to discover him: he replied,
‘Thou unpossessing bastard! dost thou think,
If I would stand against thee, would the reposal
Of any trust, virtue, or worth in thee
Make thy words faith’d? No: what I should deny
As this I would; ay, though thou didst produce
My very character, I’d turn it all
To thy suggestion, plot, and damned practice:
And thou must make a dullard of the world,
If they not thought the profits of my death
Were very pregnant and potential spurs
To make thee seek it.’
Strong and fast’ned villain!
Would he deny his letter?—I never got him.
Hark, the duke’s trumpets! I know not why he comes.—
All ports I’ll bar; the villain shall not scape;
The duke must grant me that: besides, his picture
I will send far and near, that all the kingdom
May have due note of him; and of my land,
Loyal and natural boy, I’ll work the means
To make thee capable.
[Enter Cornwall, Regan, and Attendants.]
How now, my noble friend! since I came hither,—
Which I can call but now,—I have heard strange news.
If it be true, all vengeance comes too short
Which can pursue the offender. How dost, my lord?
O madam, my old heart is crack’d,—it’s crack’d!
What, did my father’s godson seek your life?
He whom my father nam’d? your Edgar?
O lady, lady, shame would have it hid!
Was he not companion with the riotous knights
That tend upon my father?
I know not, madam:—
It is too bad, too bad.
Yes, madam, he was of that consort.
No marvel then though he were ill affected:
’Tis they have put him on the old man’s death,
To have the expense and waste of his revenues.
I have this present evening from my sister
Been well inform’d of them; and with such cautions
That if they come to sojourn at my house,
I’ll not be there.
Nor I, assure thee, Regan.—
Edmund, I hear that you have shown your father
A childlike office.
’Twas my duty, sir.
He did bewray his practice; and receiv’d
This hurt you see, striving to apprehend him.
Is he pursu’d?
Ay, my good lord.
If he be taken, he shall never more
Be fear’d of doing harm: make your own purpose,
How in my strength you please.—For you, Edmund,
Whose virtue and obedience doth this instant
So much commend itself, you shall be ours:
Natures of such deep trust we shall much need;
You we first seize on.
I shall serve you, sir,
Truly, however else.
For him I thank your grace.
You know not why we came to visit you,—
Thus out of season, threading dark-ey’d night:
Occasions, noble Gloucester, of some poise,
Wherein we must have use of your advice:—
Our father he hath writ, so hath our sister,
Of differences, which I best thought it fit
To answer from our home; the several messengers
From hence attend despatch. Our good old friend,
Lay comforts to your bosom; and bestow
Your needful counsel to our business,
Which craves the instant use.
I serve you, madam:
Your graces are right welcome.
Scene II. Before Gloucester’s Castle.
[Enter Kent and Oswald, severally.]
Good dawning to thee, friend: art of this house?
Where may we set our horses?
I’ the mire.
Pr’ythee, if thou lov’st me, tell me.
I love thee not.
Why then, I care not for thee.
If I had thee in Lipsbury pinfold, I would make thee care for me.
Why dost thou use me thus? I know thee not.
Fellow, I know thee.
What dost thou know me for?
A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a base, proud,
shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy,
worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking, whoreson,
glass-gazing, superserviceable, finical rogue;
one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of
good service, and art nothing but the composition of a
knave, beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel
bitch: one whom I will beat into clamorous whining, if thou
denyest the least syllable of thy addition.
Why, what a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to rail on one that’s
neither known of thee nor knows thee?
What a brazen-faced varlet art thou, to deny thou knowest me! Is
it two days ago since I beat thee and tripped up thy heels before
the king? Draw, you rogue: for, though it be night, yet the moon
shines; I’ll make a sop o’ the moonshine of you: draw, you
whoreson cullionly barbermonger, draw!
[Drawing his sword.]
Away! I have nothing to do with thee.
Draw, you rascal: you come with letters against the king; and
take vanity the puppet’s part against the royalty of her father:
draw, you rogue, or I’ll so carbonado your shanks:—
draw, you rascal; come your ways!
Help, ho! murder! help!
Strike, you slave; stand, rogue, stand; you neat slave, strike!
Help, ho! murder! murder!
[Enter Edmund, Cornwall, Regan, Gloucester, and Servants.]
How now! What’s the matter?
With you, goodman boy, an you please: come, I’ll flesh you; come
on, young master.
Weapons! arms! What’s the matter here?
Keep peace, upon your lives;
He dies that strikes again. What is the matter?
The messengers from our sister and the king.
What is your difference? speak.
I am scarce in breath, my lord.
No marvel, you have so bestirr’d your valour. You cowardly
rascal, nature disclaims in thee; a tailor made thee.
Thou art a strange fellow: a tailor make a man?
Ay, a tailor, sir: a stonecutter or a painter could not have
made him so ill, though he had been but two hours at the trade.
Speak yet, how grew your quarrel?
This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spared at suit of
his grey beard,—
Thou whoreson zed! thou unnecessary letter!—My lord, if you’ll
give me leave, I will tread this unbolted villain into mortar and
daub the walls of a jakes with him.—Spare my grey beard, you
You beastly knave, know you no reverence?
Yes, sir; but anger hath a privilege.
Why art thou angry?
That such a slave as this should wear a sword,
Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as these,
Like rats, oft bite the holy cords a-twain
Which are too intrinse t’ unloose; smooth every passion
That in the natures of their lords rebel;
Bring oil to fire, snow to their colder moods;
Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks
With every gale and vary of their masters,
Knowing naught, like dogs, but following.—
A plague upon your epileptic visage!
Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool?
Goose, an I had you upon Sarum plain,
I’d drive ye cackling home to Camelot.
What, art thou mad, old fellow?
How fell you out?
No contraries hold more antipathy
Than I and such a knave.
Why dost thou call him knave? What is his fault?
His countenance likes me not.
No more perchance does mine, or his, or hers.
Sir, ’tis my occupation to be plain:
I have seen better faces in my time
Than stands on any shoulder that I see
Before me at this instant.
This is some fellow
Who, having been prais’d for bluntness, doth affect
A saucy roughness, and constrains the garb
Quite from his nature: he cannot flatter, he,—
An honest mind and plain,—he must speak truth!
An they will take it, so; if not, he’s plain.
These kind of knaves I know which in this plainness
Harbour more craft and more corrupter ends
Than twenty silly-ducking observants
That stretch their duties nicely.
Sir, in good faith, in sincere verity,
Under the allowance of your great aspect,
Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire
On flickering Phoebus’ front,—
What mean’st by this?
To go out of my dialect, which you discommend so much. I know,
sir, I am no flatterer: he that beguiled you in a plain accent
was a plain knave; which, for my part, I will not be, though I
should win your displeasure to entreat me to’t.
What was the offence you gave him?
I never gave him any:
It pleas’d the king his master very late
To strike at me, upon his misconstruction;
When he, compact, and flattering his displeasure,
Tripp’d me behind; being down, insulted, rail’d
And put upon him such a deal of man,
That worthied him, got praises of the king
For him attempting who was self-subdu’d;
And, in the fleshment of this dread exploit,
Drew on me here again.
None of these rogues and cowards
But Ajax is their fool.
Fetch forth the stocks!—
You stubborn ancient knave, you reverent braggart,
We’ll teach you,—
Sir, I am too old to learn:
Call not your stocks for me: I serve the king;
On whose employment I was sent to you:
You shall do small respect, show too bold malice
Against the grace and person of my master,
Stocking his messenger.
Fetch forth the stocks!—As I have life and honour,
there shall he sit till noon.
Till noon! Till night, my lord; and all night too!
Why, madam, if I were your father’s dog,
You should not use me so.
Sir, being his knave, I will.
This is a fellow of the self-same colour
Our sister speaks of.—Come, bring away the stocks!
[Stocks brought out.]
Let me beseech your grace not to do so:
His fault is much, and the good king his master
Will check him for’t: your purpos’d low correction
Is such as basest and contemned’st wretches
For pilferings and most common trespasses,
Are punish’d with: the king must take it ill
That he, so slightly valu’d in his messenger,
Should have him thus restrain’d.
I’ll answer that.
My sister may receive it much more worse,
To have her gentleman abus’d, assaulted,
For following her affairs.—Put in his legs.—
[Kent is put in the stocks.]
Come, my good lord, away.
[Exeunt all but Gloucester and KENT.]
I am sorry for thee, friend; ’tis the duke’s pleasure,
Whose disposition, all the world well knows,
Will not be rubb’d nor stopp’d; I’ll entreat for thee.
Pray do not, sir: I have watch’d, and travell’d hard;
Some time I shall sleep out, the rest I’ll whistle.
A good man’s fortune may grow out at heels:
Give you good morrow!
The duke’s to blame in this: ’twill be ill taken.
Good king, that must approve the common saw,—
Thou out of heaven’s benediction com’st
To the warm sun!
Approach, thou beacon to this under globe,
That by thy comfortable beams I may
Peruse this letter.—Nothing almost sees miracles
But misery:—I know ’tis from Cordelia,
Who hath most fortunately been inform’d
Of my obscured course; and shall find time
From this enormous state,—seeking to give
Losses their remedies,—All weary and o’erwatch’d,
Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold
This shameful lodging.
Fortune, good night: smile once more, turn thy wheel!
Scene III. The open Country.
I heard myself proclaim’d;
And by the happy hollow of a tree
Escap’d the hunt. No port is free; no place
That guard and most unusual vigilance
Does not attend my taking. While I may scape,
I will preserve myself: and am bethought
To take the basest and most poorest shape
That ever penury, in contempt of man,
Brought near to beast: my face I’ll grime with filth;
Blanket my loins; elf all my hair in knots;
And with presented nakedness outface
The winds and persecutions of the sky.
The country gives me proof and precedent
Of Bedlam beggars, who, with roaring voices,
Strike in their numb’d and mortified bare arms
Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary;
And with this horrible object, from low farms,
Poor pelting villages, sheep-cotes, and mills,
Sometime with lunatic bans, sometime with prayers,
Enforce their charity.—Poor Turlygod! poor Tom!
That’s something yet:—Edgar I nothing am.
Scene IV. Before Gloucester’s Castle; Kent in the stocks.
[Enter Lear, Fool, and Gentleman.]
’Tis strange that they should so depart from home,
And not send back my messenger.
As I learn’d,
The night before there was no purpose in them
Of this remove.
Hail to thee, noble master!
Mak’st thou this shame thy pastime?
No, my lord.
Ha, ha! he wears cruel garters. Horses are tied by the
head; dogs and bears by the neck, monkeys by the loins, and
men by the legs: when a man is over-lusty at legs, then he
wears wooden nether-stocks.
What’s he that hath so much thy place mistook
To set thee here?
It is both he and she,
Your son and daughter.
No, I say.
I say, yea.
By Jupiter, I swear no.
By Juno, I swear ay.
They durst not do’t.
They would not, could not do’t; ‘tis worse than murder,
To do upon respect such violent outrage:
Resolve me, with all modest haste, which way
Thou mightst deserve or they impose this usage,
Coming from us.
My lord, when at their home
I did commend your highness’ letters to them,
Ere I was risen from the place that show’d
My duty kneeling, came there a reeking post,
Stew’d in his haste, half breathless, panting forth
From Goneril his mistress salutations;
Deliver’d letters, spite of intermission,
Which presently they read: on whose contents,
They summon’d up their meiny, straight took horse;
Commanded me to follow and attend
The leisure of their answer; gave me cold looks: A
nd meeting here the other messenger,
Whose welcome I perceiv’d had poison’d mine,—
Being the very fellow which of late
Display’d so saucily against your highness,—
Having more man than wit about me, drew:
He rais’d the house with loud and coward cries.
Your son and daughter found this trespass worth
The shame which here it suffers.
Winter’s not gone yet, if the wild geese fly that way.
Fathers that wear rags
Do make their children blind;
But fathers that bear bags
Shall see their children kind.
Fortune, that arrant whore,
Ne’er turns the key to th’ poor.
But for all this, thou shalt have as many dolours for thy
daughters as thou canst tell in a year.
O, how this mother swells up toward my heart!
Hysterica passio,—down, thou climbing sorrow,
Thy element’s below!—Where is this daughter?
With the earl, sir, here within.
Follow me not;
Made you no more offence but what you speak of?
How chance the king comes with so small a number?
An thou hadst been set i’ the stocks for that question,
thou hadst well deserved it.
We’ll set thee to school to an ant, to teach thee there’s no
labouring in the winter. All that follow their noses are led by
their eyes but blind men; and there’s not a nose among twenty
but can smell him that’s stinking. Let go thy hold when a great
wheel runs down a hill, lest it break thy neck with following
it; but the great one that goes up the hill, let him draw thee
When a wise man gives thee better counsel, give me mine again: I
would have none but knaves follow it, since a fool gives it.
That sir which serves and seeks for gain,
And follows but for form,
Will pack when it begins to rain,
And leave thee in the storm.
But I will tarry; the fool will stay,
And let the wise man fly:
The knave turns fool that runs away;
The fool no knave, perdy.
Where learn’d you this, fool?
Not i’ the stocks, fool.
[Re-enter Lear, with Gloucester.]
Deny to speak with me? They are sick? they are weary?
They have travell’d all the night? Mere fetches;
The images of revolt and flying off.
Fetch me a better answer.
My dear lord,
You know the fiery quality of the duke;
How unremovable and fix’d he is
In his own course.
Vengeance! plague! death! confusion!—
Fiery? What quality? why, Gloucester, Gloucester,
I’d speak with the Duke of Cornwall and his wife.
Well, my good lord, I have inform’d them so.
Inform’d them! Dost thou understand me, man?
Ay, my good lord.
The King would speak with Cornwall; 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 that—
No, but not yet: may be he is not well:
Infirmity doth still neglect all office
Whereto our health is bound: we are not ourselves
When nature, being oppress’d, commands the mind
To suffer with the body: I’ll forbear;
And am fallen out with my more headier will,
To take the indispos’d and sickly fit
For the sound man.—Death on my state! Wherefore
[Looking on KENT.]
Should he sit here? This act persuades me
That this remotion of the duke and her
Is practice only. Give me my servant forth.
Go tell the duke and’s wife I’d speak with them,
Now, presently: bid them come forth and hear me,
Or at their chamber door I’ll beat the drum
Till it cry ‘Sleep to death.’
I would have all well betwixt you.
O me, my heart, my rising heart!—but down!
Cry to it, nuncle, as the cockney did to the eels when she
put ’em i’ the paste alive; she knapped ’em o’ the coxcombs with
a stick and cried ‘Down, wantons, down!’ ’Twas her brother that,
in pure kindness to his horse, buttered his hay.
[Enter Cornwall, Regan, Gloucester, and Servants.]
Good-morrow to you both.
Hail to your grace!
[Kent is set at liberty.]
I am glad to see your highness.
Regan, I think you are; I know what reason
I have to think so: if thou shouldst not be glad,
I would divorce me from thy mother’s tomb,
Sepulchring an adultress.—[To Kent] O, are you free?
Some other time for that.—Beloved Regan,
Thy sister’s naught: O Regan, she hath tied
Sharp-tooth’d unkindness, like a vulture, here,—
[Points to his heart.]
I can scarce speak to thee; thou’lt not believe
With how deprav’d a quality—O Regan!
I pray you, sir, take patience: I have hope
You less know how to value her desert
Than she to scant her duty.
Say, how is that?
I cannot think my sister in the least
Would fail her obligation: if, sir, perchance
She have restrain’d the riots of your followers,
’Tis on such ground, and to such wholesome end,
As clears her from all blame.
My curses on her!
O, sir, you are old;
Nature in you stands on the very verge
Of her confine: you should be rul’d and led
By some discretion, that discerns your state
Better than you yourself. Therefore, I pray you,
That to our sister you do make return;
Say you have wrong’d her, sir.
Ask her forgiveness?
Do you but mark how this becomes the house:
‘Dear daughter, I confess that I am old;
Age is unnecessary: on my knees I beg
That you’ll vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food.’
Good sir, no more! These are unsightly tricks:
Return you to my sister.
[Rising.] Never, Regan:
She hath abated me of half my train;
Look’d black upon me; struck me with her tongue,
Most serpent-like, upon the very heart:—
All the stor’d vengeances of heaven fall
On her ingrateful top! Strike her young bones,
You taking airs, with lameness!
Fie, sir, fie!
You nimble lightnings, dart your blinding flames
Into her scornful eyes! Infect her beauty,
You fen-suck’d fogs, drawn by the powerful sun,
To fall and blast her pride!
O the blest gods!
So will you wish on me when the rash mood is on.
No, Regan, thou shalt never have my curse:
Thy tender-hefted nature shall not give
Thee o’er to harshness: her eyes are fierce; but thine
Do comfort, and not burn. ’Tis not in thee
To grudge my pleasures, to cut off my train,
To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes,
And, in conclusion, to oppose the bolt
Against my coming in: thou better know’st
The offices of nature, bond of childhood,
Effects of courtesy, dues of gratitude;
Thy half o’ the kingdom hast thou not forgot,
Wherein I thee endow’d.
Good sir, to the purpose.
Who put my man i’ the stocks?
What trumpet’s that?
I know’t—my sister’s: this approves her letter,
That she would soon be here.
Is your lady come?
This is a slave, whose easy-borrowed pride
Dwells in the fickle grace of her he follows.—
Out, varlet, from my sight!
What means your grace?
Who stock’d my servant? Regan, I have good hope
Thou didst not know on’t.—Who comes here? O heavens!
If you do love old men, if your sweet sway
Allow obedience, if yourselves are old,
Make it your cause; send down, and take my part!—
[To Goneril.] Art not asham’d to look upon this beard?—
O Regan, wilt thou take her by the hand?
Why not by the hand, sir? How have I offended?
All’s not offence that indiscretion finds
And dotage terms so.
O sides, you are too tough!
Will you yet hold?—How came my man i’ the stocks?
I set him there, sir: but his own disorders
Deserv’d much less advancement.
You? did you?
I pray you, father, being weak, seem so.
If, till the expiration of your month,
You will return and sojourn with my sister,
Dismissing half your train, come then to me:
I am now from home, and out of that provision
Which shall be needful for your entertainment.
Return to her, and fifty men dismiss’d?
No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose
To wage against the enmity o’ the air;
To be a comrade with the wolf and owl,—
Necessity’s sharp pinch!—Return with her?
Why, the hot-blooded France, that dowerless took
Our youngest born, I could as well be brought
To knee his throne, and, squire-like, pension beg
To keep base life afoot.—Return with her?
Persuade me rather to be slave and sumpter
To this detested groom.
[Pointing to Oswald.]
At your choice, sir.
I pr’ythee, daughter, do not make me mad:
I will not trouble thee, my child; farewell:
We’ll no more meet, no more see one another:—
But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter;
Or rather a disease that’s in my flesh,
Which I must needs call mine: thou art a boil,
A plague sore, an embossed carbuncle
In my corrupted blood. But I’ll not chide thee;
Let shame come when it will, I do not call it:
I do not bid the thunder-bearer shoot
Nor tell tales of thee to high-judging Jove:
Mend when thou canst; be better at thy leisure:
I can be patient; I can stay with Regan,
I and my hundred knights.
Not altogether so:
I look’d not for you yet, nor am provided
For your fit welcome. Give ear, sir, to my sister;
For those that mingle reason with your passion
Must be content to think you old, and so—
But she knows what she does.
Is this well spoken?
I dare avouch it, sir: what, fifty followers?
Is it not well? What should you need of more?
Yea, or so many, sith that both charge and danger
Speak ’gainst so great a number? How in one house
Should many people, under two commands,
Hold amity? ’Tis hard; almost impossible.
Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance
From those that she calls servants, or from mine?
Why not, my lord? If then they chanc’d to slack you,
We could control them. If you will come to me,—
For now I spy a danger,—I entreat you
To bring but five-and-twenty: to no more
Will I give place or notice.
I gave you all,—
And in good time you gave it.
Made you my guardians, my depositaries;
But kept a reservation to be follow’d
With such a number. What, must I come to you
With five-and-twenty, Regan? said you so?
And speak’t again my lord; no more with me.
Those wicked creatures yet do look well-favour’d
When others are more wicked; not being the worst
Stands in some rank of praise.—
[To Goneril.] I’ll go with thee:
Thy fifty yet doth double five-and-twenty,
And thou art twice her love.
Hear, me, my lord:
What need you five-and-twenty, ten, or five,
To follow in a house where twice so many
Have a command to tend you?
What need one?
O, reason not the need: our basest beggars
Are in the poorest thing superfluous:
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
Man’s life is cheap as beast’s: thou art a lady;
If only to go warm were gorgeous,
Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear’st
Which scarcely keeps thee warm.—But, for true need,—
You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need!
You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,
As full of grief as age; wretched in both!
If it be you that stirs these daughters’ hearts
Against their father, fool me not so much
To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger,
And let not women’s weapons, water-drops,
Stain my man’s cheeks!—No, you unnatural hags,
I will have such revenges on you both
That all the world shall,—I will do such things,—
What they are yet, I know not; but they shall be
The terrors of the earth. You think I’ll weep;
No, I’ll not weep:—
I have full cause of weeping; but this heart
Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws
Or ere I’ll weep.—O fool, I shall go mad!
[Exeunt Lear, Gloucester, Kent, and FOOL. Storm heard at a distance.]
Let us withdraw; ’twill be a storm.
This house is little: the old man and his people
Cannot be well bestow’d.
’Tis his own blame; hath put himself from rest
And must needs taste his folly.
For his particular, I’ll receive him gladly,
But not one follower.
So am I purpos’d.
Where is my lord of Gloucester?
Followed the old man forth:—he is return’d.
The king is in high rage.
Whither is he going?
He calls to horse; but will I know not whither.
’Tis best to give him way; he leads himself.
My lord, entreat him by no means to stay.
Alack, the night comes on, and the high winds
Do sorely ruffle; for many miles about
There’s scarce a bush.
O, sir, to wilful men
The injuries that they themselves procure
Must be their schoolmasters. Shut up your doors:
He is attended with a desperate train;
And what they may incense him to, being apt
To have his ear abus’d, wisdom bids fear.
Shut up your doors, my lord; ’tis a wild night:
My Regan counsels well: come out o’ the storm.
Scene I. A Heath.
[A storm with thunder and lightning. Enter Kent and a Gentleman,
Who’s there, besides foul weather?
One minded like the weather, most unquietly.
I know you. Where’s the king?
Contending with the fretful elements;
Bids the wind blow the earth into the sea,
Or swell the curled waters ’bove the main,
That things might change or cease; tears his white hair,
Which the impetuous blasts, with eyeless rage,
Catch in their fury and make nothing of;
Strives in his little world of man to outscorn
The to-and-fro-conflicting wind and rain.
This night, wherein the cub-drawn bear would couch,
The lion and the belly-pinched wolf
Keep their fur dry, unbonneted he runs,
And bids what will take all.
But who is with him?
None but the fool, who labours to out-jest
His heart-struck injuries.
Sir, I do know you;
And dare, upon the warrant of my note,
Commend a dear thing to you. There is division,
Although as yet the face of it be cover’d
With mutual cunning, ’twixt Albany and Cornwall;
Who have,—as who have not, that their great stars
Throne and set high?—servants, who seem no less,
Which are to France the spies and speculations
Intelligent of our state; what hath been seen,
Either in snuffs and packings of the dukes;
Or the hard rein which both of them have borne
Against the old kind king; or something deeper,
Whereof, perchance, these are but furnishings;—
But, true it is, from France there comes a power
Into this scatter’d kingdom; who already,
Wise in our negligence, have secret feet
In some of our best ports, and are at point
To show their open banner.—Now to you:
If on my credit you dare build so far
To make your speed to Dover, you shall find
Some that will thank you making just report
Of how unnatural and bemadding sorrow
The king hath cause to plain.
I am a gentleman of blood and breeding;
And from some knowledge and assurance offer
This office to you.
I will talk further with you.
No, do not.
For confirmation that I am much more
Than my out wall, open this purse, and take
What it contains. If you shall see Cordelia,—
As fear not but you shall,—show her this ring;
And she will tell you who your fellow is
That yet you do not know. Fie on this storm!
I will go seek the king.
Give me your hand: have you no more to say?
Few words, but, to effect, more than all yet,—
That, when we have found the king,—in which your pain
That way, I’ll this,—he that first lights on him
Holla the other.
Scene II. Another part of the heath. Storm continues.
[Enter Lear and FOOL.]
Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench’d our steeples, drown’d the cocks!
You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Strike flat the thick rotundity o’ the world!
Crack nature’s moulds, all germens spill at once,
That make ingrateful man!
O nuncle, court holy water in a dry house is better than this
rain water out o’ door. Good nuncle, in; and ask thy daughters
blessing: here’s a night pities nether wise men nor fools.
Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! spout, rain!
Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire are my daughters:
I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness;
I never gave you kingdom, call’d you children;
You owe me no subscription: then let fall
Your horrible pleasure; here I stand, your slave,
A poor, infirm, weak, and despis’d old man:—
But yet I call you servile ministers,
That will with two pernicious daughters join
Your high-engender’d battles ’gainst a head
So old and white as this! O! O! ’tis foul!
He that has a house to put’s head in has a good head-piece.
The codpiece that will house
Before the head has any,
The head and he shall louse:
So beggars marry many.
The man that makes his toe
What he his heart should make
Shall of a corn cry woe,
And turn his sleep to wake.
—for there was never yet fair woman but she made mouths in a
No, I will be the pattern of all patience;
I will say nothing.
Marry, here’s grace and a codpiece; that’s a wise man and a fool.
Alas, sir, are you here? Things that love night
Love not such nights as these; the wrathful skies
Gallow the very wanderers of the dark,
And make them keep their caves; since I was man,
Such sheets of fire, such bursts of horrid thunder,
Such groans of roaring wind and rain I never
Remember to have heard: man’s nature cannot carry
Th’ affliction nor the fear.
Let the great gods,
That keep this dreadful pother o’er our heads,
Find out their enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch,
That hast within thee undivulged crimes
Unwhipp’d of justice: hide thee, thou bloody hand;
Thou perjur’d, and thou simular man of virtue
That art incestuous: caitiff, to pieces shake
That under covert and convenient seeming
Hast practis’d on man’s life: close pent-up guilts,
Rive your concealing continents, and cry
These dreadful summoners grace.—I am a man
More sinn’d against than sinning.
Gracious my lord, hard by here is a hovel;
Some friendship will it lend you ’gainst the tempest:
Repose you there, whilst I to this hard house,—
More harder than the stones whereof ’tis rais’d;
Which even but now, demanding after you,
Denied me to come in,—return, and force
Their scanted courtesy.
My wits begin to turn.—
Come on, my boy. how dost, my boy? art cold?
I am cold myself.—Where is this straw, my fellow?
The art of our necessities is strange,
That can make vile things precious. Come, your hovel.—
Poor fool and knave, I have one part in my heart
That’s sorry yet for thee.
He that has and a little tiny wit—
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,—
Must make content with his fortunes fit,
For the rain it raineth every day.
True, boy.—Come, bring us to this hovel.
[Exeunt Lear and KENT.]
This is a brave night to cool a courtezan.—
I’ll speak a prophecy ere I go:—
When priests are more in word than matter;
When brewers mar their malt with water;
When nobles are their tailors’ tutors;
No heretics burn’d, but wenches’ suitors;
When every case in law is right;
No squire in debt nor no poor knight;
When slanders do not live in tongues;
Nor cutpurses come not to throngs;
When usurers tell their gold i’ the field;
And bawds and whores do churches build;—
Then shall the realm of Albion
Come to great confusion:
Then comes the time, who lives to see’t,
That going shall be us’d with feet.
This prophecy Merlin shall make; for I live before his time.
Scene III. A Room in Gloucester’s Castle.