Speeches (Lines) for Fool
in "King Lear"

Total: 58

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# Act, Scene, Line
(Click to see in context)
Speech text

1

I,4,625

(stage directions). Enter Fool.

Fool. Let me hire him too. Here's my coxcomb.


2

I,4,628

Lear. How now, my pretty knave? How dost thou?

Fool. Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb.


3

I,4,630

Earl of Kent. Why, fool?

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!


4

I,4,637

Lear. Why, my boy?

Fool. If I gave them all my living, I'ld keep my coxcombs myself.
There's mine! beg another of thy daughters.


5

I,4,640

Lear. Take heed, sirrah- the whip.

Fool. Truth's a dog must to kennel; he must be whipp'd out, when
Lady the brach may stand by th' fire and stink.


6

I,4,643

Lear. A pestilent gall to me!

Fool. Sirrah, I'll teach thee a speech.


7

I,4,645

Lear. Do.

Fool. 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.


8

I,4,657

Earl of Kent. This is nothing, fool.

Fool. Then 'tis like the breath of an unfeed lawyer- you gave me
nothing for't. Can you make no use of nothing, nuncle?


9

I,4,660

Lear. Why, no, boy. Nothing can be made out of nothing.

Fool. [to Kent] Prithee tell him, so much the rent of his land
comes to. He will not believe a fool.


10

I,4,663

Lear. A bitter fool!

Fool. Dost thou know the difference, my boy, between a bitter
fool and a sweet fool?


11

I,4,666

Lear. No, lad; teach me.

Fool. 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.


12

I,4,675

Lear. Dost thou call me fool, boy?

Fool. All thy other titles thou hast given away; that thou wast
born with.


13

I,4,678

Earl of Kent. This is not altogether fool, my lord.

Fool. No, faith; lords and great men will not let me. If I had a
monopoly out, they would have part on't. And ladies too, they
will not let me have all the fool to myself; they'll be
snatching. Give me an egg, nuncle, and I'll give thee two
crowns.


14

I,4,684

Lear. What two crowns shall they be?

Fool. Why, after I have cut the egg i' th' middle and eat up the
meat, the two crowns of the egg. When thou clovest thy crown i'
th' middle and gav'st away both parts, thou bor'st thine ass on
thy back o'er the dirt. Thou hadst little wit in thy bald crown
when thou gav'st thy golden one away. If I speak like myself in
this, let him be whipp'd that first finds it so.
[Sings] Fools had ne'er less grace in a year,
For wise men are grown foppish;
They know not how their wits to wear,
Their manners are so apish.


15

I,4,695

Lear. When were you wont to be so full of songs, sirrah?

Fool. I have us'd it, nuncle, ever since thou mad'st thy daughters
thy mother; for when thou gav'st them the rod, and put'st down
thine own breeches,
[Sings] 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.
Prithee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach thy fool to
lie. I would fain learn to lie.


16

I,4,705

Lear. An you lie, sirrah, we'll have you whipp'd.

Fool. I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are. They'll have me
whipp'd for speaking true; thou'lt have me whipp'd for lying;
and sometimes I am whipp'd 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' th' middle. Here comes one o' the parings.


17

I,4,714

Lear. How now, daughter? What makes that frontlet on? Methinks you
are too much o' late i' th' frown.

Fool. 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 now: I am a fool, thou art nothing.
[To Goneril] Yes, forsooth, I will hold my tongue. So your face
bids me, though you say nothing. Mum, mum!
He that keeps nor crust nor crum,
Weary of all, shall want some.-
[Points at Lear] That's a sheal'd peascod.


18

I,4,736

Goneril. 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
Must call discreet proceeding.

Fool. 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.


19

I,4,746

Goneril. Come, sir,
I would you would make use of that good wisdom
Whereof I know you are fraught, and put away
These dispositions that of late transform you
From what you rightly are.

Fool. May not an ass know when the cart draws the horse?
Whoop, Jug, I love thee!


20

I,4,753

Lear. Doth any here know me? This is not Lear.
Doth Lear walk thus? speak thus? Where are his eyes?
Either his notion weakens, his discernings
Are lethargied- Ha! waking? 'Tis not so!
Who is it that can tell me who I am?

Fool. Lear's shadow.


21

I,4,757

Lear. I would learn that; for, by the marks of sovereignty,
Knowledge, and reason, I should be false persuaded
I had daughters.

Fool. Which they will make an obedient father.


22

I,4,846

Goneril. Pray you, content.- What, Oswald, ho!
[To the Fool] You, sir, more knave than fool, after your master!

Fool. Nuncle Lear, nuncle Lear, tarry! Take the fool with thee.
A fox when one has caught her,
And such a daughter,
Should sure to the slaughter,
If my cap would buy a halter.
So the fool follows after. Exit.


23

I,5,886

Earl of Kent. I will not sleep, my lord, till I have delivered your letter. Exit.

Fool. If a man's brains were in's heels, were't not in danger of
kibes?


24

I,5,889

Lear. Ay, boy.

Fool. Then I prithee be merry. Thy wit shall ne'er go slip-shod.


25

I,5,891

Lear. Ha, ha, ha!

Fool. Shalt see thy other daughter will use thee kindly; for though
she's as like this as a crab's like an apple, yet I can tell
what I can tell.


26

I,5,895

Lear. What canst tell, boy?

Fool. She'll taste as like this as a crab does to a crab. Thou
canst tell why one's nose stands i' th' middle on's face?


27

I,5,898

Lear. No.

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


28

I,5,901

Lear. I did her wrong.

Fool. Canst tell how an oyster makes his shell?


29

I,5,903

Lear. No.

Fool. Nor I neither; but I can tell why a snail has a house.


30

I,5,905

Lear. Why?

Fool. Why, to put's head in; not to give it away to his daughters,
and leave his horns without a case.


31

I,5,909

Lear. I will forget my nature. So kind a father!- Be my horses
ready?

Fool. Thy asses are gone about 'em. The reason why the seven stars
are no moe than seven is a pretty reason.


32

I,5,912

Lear. Because they are not eight?

Fool. Yes indeed. Thou wouldst make a good fool.


33

I,5,914

Lear. To tak't again perforce! Monster ingratitude!

Fool. If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I'ld have thee beaten for being
old before thy time.


34

I,5,917

Lear. How's that?

Fool. Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise.


35

I,5,923

Lear. Come, boy.

Fool. She that's a maid now, and laughs at my departure,
Shall not be a maid long, unless things be cut shorter


36

II,4,1283

Earl of Kent. No, my lord.

Fool. Ha, ha! look! he wears cruel garters. Horses are tied by the
head, dogs and bears by th' neck, monkeys by th' loins, and men
by th' legs. When a man's over-lusty at legs, then he wears
wooden nether-stocks.


37

II,4,1324

Earl of Kent. My lord, when at their home
I did commend your Highness' letters to them,
Ere I was risen from the place that show'd
My duty kneeling, came there a reeking post,
Stew'd in his haste, half breathless, panting forth
From Goneril his mistress salutations;
Deliver'd letters, spite of intermission,
Which presently they read; on whose contents,
They summon'd up their meiny, straight took horse,
Commanded me to follow and attend
The leisure of their answer, gave me cold looks,
And meeting here the other messenger,
Whose welcome I perceiv'd had poison'd mine-
Being the very fellow which of late
Display'd so saucily against your Highness-
Having more man than wit about me, drew.
He rais'd the house with loud and coward cries.
Your son and daughter found this trespass worth
The shame which here it suffers.

Fool. Winter's not gone yet, if the wild geese fly that way.
Fathers that wear rags
Do make their children blind;
But fathers that bear bags
Shall see their children kind.
Fortune, that arrant whore,
Ne'er turns the key to th' poor.
But for all this, thou shalt have as many dolours for thy
daughters as thou canst tell in a year.


38

II,4,1342

Earl of Kent. None.
How chance the King comes with so small a number?

Fool. An thou hadst been set i' th' stocks for that question,
thou'dst well deserv'd it.


39

II,4,1345

Earl of Kent. Why, fool?

Fool. We'll set thee to school to an ant, to teach thee there's no
labouring i' th' winter. All that follow their noses are led by
their eyes but blind men, and there's not a nose among twenty
but can smell him that's stinking. Let go thy hold when a great
wheel runs down a hill, lest it break thy neck with following
it; but the great one that goes upward, let him draw thee after.
When a wise man gives thee better counsel, give me mine again. I
would have none but knaves follow it, since a fool gives it.
That sir which serves and seeks for gain,
And follows but for form,
Will pack when it begins to rain
And leave thee in the storm.
But I will tarry; the fool will stay,
And let the wise man fly.
The knave turns fool that runs away;
The fool no knave, perdy.


40

II,4,1362

Earl of Kent. Where learn'd you this, fool?

Fool. Not i' th' stocks, fool.
Enter Lear and Gloucester


41

II,4,1399

Lear. O me, my heart, my rising heart! But down!

Fool. Cry to it, nuncle, as the cockney did to the eels when she
put 'em i' th' paste alive. She knapp'd 'em o' th' coxcombs with
a stick and cried 'Down, wantons, down!' 'Twas her brother that,
in pure kindness to his horse, buttered his hay.


42

III,2,1687

Lear. Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks!
You sulph'rous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Strike flat the thick rotundity o' th' world,
Crack Nature's moulds, all germains spill at once,
That makes ingrateful man!

Fool. O nuncle, court holy water in a dry house is better than this
rain water out o' door. Good nuncle, in, and ask thy daughters
blessing! Here's a night pities nether wise men nor fools.


43

III,2,1701

Lear. Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! spout, rain!
Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire are my daughters.
I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness.
I never gave you kingdom, call'd you children,
You owe me no subscription. Then let fall
Your horrible pleasure. Here I stand your slave,
A poor, infirm, weak, and despis'd old man.
But yet I call you servile ministers,
That will with two pernicious daughters join
Your high-engender'd battles 'gainst a head
So old and white as this! O! O! 'tis foul!

Fool. He that has a house to put 's head in has a good head-piece.
The codpiece that will house
Before the head has any,
The head and he shall louse:
So beggars marry many.
The man that makes his toe
What he his heart should make
Shall of a corn cry woe,
And turn his sleep to wake.
For there was never yet fair woman but she made mouths in a
glass.


44

III,2,1716

Earl of Kent. Who's there?

Fool. Marry, here's grace and a codpiece; that's a wise man and a
fool.


45

III,2,1753

Lear. My wits begin to turn.
Come on, my boy. How dost, my boy? Art cold?
I am cold myself. Where is this straw, my fellow?
The art of our necessities is strange,
That can make vile things precious. Come, your hovel.
Poor fool and knave, I have one part in my heart
That's sorry yet for thee.

Fool. [sings]
He that has and a little tiny wit-
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain-
Must make content with his fortunes fit,
For the rain it raineth every day.


46

III,2,1760

(stage directions). Exeunt [Lear and Kent].

Fool. This is a brave night to cool a courtesan. I'll speak a
prophecy ere I go:
When priests are more in word than matter;
When brewers mar their malt with water;
When nobles are their tailors' tutors,
No heretics burn'd, but wenches' suitors;
When every case in law is right,
No squire in debt nor no poor knight;
When slanders do not live in tongues,
Nor cutpurses come not to throngs;
When usurers tell their gold i' th' field,
And bawds and whores do churches build:
Then shall the realm of Albion
Come to great confusion.
Then comes the time, who lives to see't,
That going shall be us'd with feet.
This prophecy Merlin shall make, for I live before his time. Exit.


47

III,4,1842

(stage directions). Enter Fool [from the hovel].

Fool. Come not in here, nuncle, here's a spirit. Help me, help me!


48

III,4,1844

Earl of Kent. Give me thy hand. Who's there?

Fool. A spirit, a spirit! He says his name's poor Tom.


49

III,4,1865

Lear. What, have his daughters brought him to this pass?
Couldst thou save nothing? Didst thou give 'em all?

Fool. Nay, he reserv'd a blanket, else we had been all sham'd.


50

III,4,1876

Edgar. Pillicock sat on Pillicock's Hill. 'Allow, 'allow, loo, loo!

Fool. This cold night will turn us all to fools and madmen.


51

III,4,1905

(stage directions). [Tears at his clothes.]

Fool. Prithee, nuncle, be contented! 'Tis a naughty night to swim
in. Now a little fire in a wild field were like an old lecher's
heart- a small spark, all the rest on's body cold. Look, here
comes a walking fire.


52

III,6,2015

Edgar. Frateretto calls me, and tells me Nero is an angler in the
lake of darkness. Pray, innocent, and beware the foul fiend.

Fool. Prithee, nuncle, tell me whether a madman be a gentleman or a
yeoman.


53

III,6,2018

Lear. A king, a king!

Fool. No, he's a yeoman that has a gentleman to his son; for he's a
mad yeoman that sees his son a gentleman before him.


54

III,6,2023

Edgar. The foul fiend bites my back.

Fool. He's mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf, a horse's
health, a boy's love, or a whore's oath.


55

III,6,2031

Edgar. Look, where he stands and glares! Want'st thou eyes at trial,
madam?
Come o'er the bourn, Bessy, to me.

Fool. Her boat hath a leak,
And she must not speak
Why she dares not come over to thee.


56

III,6,2052

Lear. Arraign her first. 'Tis Goneril. I here take my oath before
this honourable assembly, she kicked the poor King her father.

Fool. Come hither, mistress. Is your name Goneril?


57

III,6,2054

Lear. She cannot deny it.

Fool. Cry you mercy, I took you for a joint-stool.


58

III,6,2085

Lear. Make no noise, make no noise; draw the curtains.
So, so, so. We'll go to supper i' th' morning. So, so, so.

Fool. And I'll go to bed at noon.


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