Act 1 Scene 5

Scene 5

[Enter Lear, Kent in disguise, Gentleman, and Fool.]

LEAR , [to Kent]  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
[5]  there afore you.

KENT  I will not sleep, my lord, till I have delivered
 your letter. [He exits.]

FOOL  If a man’s brains were in ’s heels, were ’t not in
 danger of kibes?

[10]LEAR  Ay, boy.

FOOL  Then, I prithee, be merry; thy wit shall not go

LEAR  Ha, ha, ha!

FOOL  Shalt see thy other daughter will use thee kindly,
[15]  for, though she’s as like this as a crab’s like an
 apple, yet I can tell what I can tell.

LEAR  What canst tell, boy?

FOOL  She will taste as like this as a crab does to a crab.
 Thou canst tell why one’s nose stands i’ th’ middle
[20]  on ’s face?


FOOL  Why, to keep one’s eyes of either side ’s nose,
 that what a man cannot smell out he may spy into.

LEAR  I did her wrong.

[25]FOOL  Canst tell how an oyster makes his shell?


FOOL  Nor I neither. But I can tell why a snail has a

LEAR  Why?

[30]FOOL  Why, to put ’s head in, not to give it away to his
 daughters and leave his horns without a case.

LEAR  I will forget my nature. So kind a father!—Be
 my horses ready? [Gentleman exits.]

FOOL  Thy asses are gone about ’em. The reason why
[35]  the seven stars are no more than seven is a pretty

LEAR  Because they are not eight.

FOOL  Yes, indeed. Thou wouldst make a good Fool.

LEAR  To take ’t again perforce! Monster ingratitude!

[40]FOOL  If thou wert my Fool, nuncle, I’d have thee
 beaten for being old before thy time.

LEAR  How’s that?

FOOL  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!

[Enter Gentleman.]

 How now, are the horses ready?

GENTLEMAN  Ready, my lord.

LEAR  Come, boy.

 She that’s a maid now and laughs at my departure,
 Shall not be a maid long, unless things be cut
[They exit.]

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