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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 as poor for a subject as he is for a king, thou art poor enough. What wouldst thou?
Kent. No, sir; but you have that in your countenance, which I would fain call master.
Lear. What's that ?
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 any thing : 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.
You, you, sirrah, where's my daughter?
[Exit. Lear. What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll back.- Where's my fool, ho?-I think the world's asleep. 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 dependents, as in the duke himself also and your daughter.
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 is 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 2 and purpose of unkindness. I will look farther 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.-Go you, call hither my fool.
Who am I, sir ?
Stew. My lady's father.
Lear. My lady's father! my lord's knave! you whoreson dog! you slave! you cur !
Stew. I am none of this, my lord; I beseech you, pardon me. Lear. Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal ?
[striking him. Stew. I'll not be struck, my lord.
Kent. Nor tripped 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 the Steward out,
1 Punctilious jealousy.
Lear. Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee: there's earnest of thy service. [giving Kent money.
Fool. Let me hire him too :-here's my coxcomb.
(giving Kent his cap. Lear. How now, my pretty knave? how dost thou ?
Fool. Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb.
Fool. Why? For taking one's part that is out of favor. Nay, an thou canst not smile as the wind sits, thou 'lt catch cold shortly. There, take my coxcomb:
: why, this fellow has banished two of his 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 !
Lear. Why, my boy?
Fool. If I gave them all my living, I'd keep my coxcombs myself: there's mine; beg another of thy daughters.
Lear. Take heed, sirrah; the whip.
Fool. Truth's a dog that must to kennel ; he must be whipped out, when lady, the brach, may stand by the fire and stink.
1 Bitch hound.
Lear. A pestilent gall to me!
• Have more than thou showest,
Than two tens to a score.'
Fool. Then 'tis like the breath of an unfeed lawyer; you gave me nothing for 't: can you make no use of nothing, nuncle?
Lear. Why, no, boy; nothing can be made out of nothing
Fool. Pr’ythee, tell him, so much the rent of his land comes to ; he will not believe a fool. [to Kent.
Lear. A bitter fool!
Fool. Dost thou know the difference, my boy, between a bitter fool and a sweet fool ?
Lear. No, lad ; teach me.
To give away thy land,
1 Ownest, possessest.