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King Lear Act 1, Scene 4 (Part 1)

The Complete Text to King Lear Act 1, Scene 4 (Part 1)

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[A hall in the same.]

[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 razed my likeness. Now, banish'd Kent,
If thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemn'd,
So may it come, thy master, whom thou lovest,
Shall find thee full of labours.

[Horns within. Enter KING LEAR, Knights, and Attendants]


KING 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.


KING 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.


KING LEAR

What art thou?


KENT

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


KING LEAR

If thou be as poor for a subject as he is for a
king, thou art poor enough. What wouldst thou?


KENT

Service.


KING LEAR

Who wouldst thou serve?


KENT

You.


KING LEAR

Dost thou know me, fellow?


KENT

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


KING LEAR

What's that?


KENT

Authority.


KING 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.


KING LEAR

How old art thou?


KENT

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


KING 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]


KING 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.


KING 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.


KING 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.


KING LEAR

Ha! sayest 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.


KING 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.


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