King Lear By William Shakespeare Act I: Scene 4

Scene IV. A Hall in Albany's Palace.

[Enter Kent, disguised.]

KENT.
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.]

LEAR.
Let me not stay a jot for dinner; go get it ready.

[Exit an Attendant.]

How now! what art thou?

KENT.
A man, sir.

LEAR.
What dost thou profess? What wouldst thou with us?

KENT.
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.

LEAR.
What art thou?

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

LEAR.
If thou be'st as poor for a subject as he's for a king, thou art
poor enough. What wouldst thou?

KENT.
Service.

LEAR.
Who wouldst thou serve?

KENT.
You.

LEAR.
Dost thou know me, fellow?

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

LEAR.
What's that?

KENT.
Authority.

LEAR.
What services canst thou do?

KENT.
I can keep honest counsel, ride, run, mar a curious tale in
telling it and deliver a plain message bluntly. That which
ordinary men are fit for, I am qualified in, and the best of
me is diligence.

LEAR.
How old art thou?

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

LEAR.
Follow me; thou shalt serve me. If I like thee no worse after
dinner, I will not part from thee yet. — Dinner, ho, dinner! —
Where's my knave? my fool? — Go you and call my fool hither.

[Exit an attendant.]

[Enter Oswald.]

You, you, sirrah, where's my daughter?

OSWALD.
So please you, —

[Exit.]

LEAR.
What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll back. —

[Exit a Knight.]

Where's my fool, ho? — I think the world's asleep.

[Re-enter Knight.]

How now! where's that mongrel?

KNIGHT.
He says, my lord, your daughter is not well.

LEAR.
Why came not the slave back to me when I called him?

KNIGHT.
Sir, he answered me in the roundest manner, he would not.

LEAR.
He would not!

KNIGHT.
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
your daughter.

LEAR.
Ha! say'st thou so?

KNIGHT.
I beseech you pardon me, my lord, if I be mistaken; for my duty
cannot be silent when I think your highness wronged.

LEAR.
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.

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

LEAR.
No more of that; I have noted it well. — Go you and tell my
daughter I would speak with her. —

[Exit Attendant.]

Go you, call hither my fool.

[Exit another Attendant.]

[Re-enter Oswald.]

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

OSWALD.
My lady's father.

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

OSWALD.
I am none of these, my lord; I beseech your pardon.

LEAR.
Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal?
[Striking him.]

OSWALD.
I'll not be struck, my lord.

KENT.
Nor tripp'd neither, you base football player.
[Tripping up his heels.]

LEAR.
I thank thee, fellow; thou servest me, and I'll love thee.

KENT.
Come, sir, arise, away! I'll teach you differences: away, away!
If you will measure your lubber's length again, tarry; but away!
go to; have you wisdom? so.
[Pushes Oswald out.]

LEAR.
Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee: there's earnest of thy
service.
[Giving Kent money.]

[Enter Fool.]

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