King Lear By William Shakespeare Act I: Scene 4

FOOL. 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, fool?

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 grace 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.

[Enter Goneril.]

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?

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