King Lear

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 4

page Act 1 Scene 4 Page 15

Original Text

Modern Text

ALBANY

Well, you may fear too far.

ALBANY

You may be exaggerating the risks.

GONERIL

325Safer than trust too far.
Let me still take away the harms I fear,
Not fear still to be taken. I know his heart.
What he hath uttered I have writ my sister.
If she sustain him and his hundred knights
330When I have showed th' unfitness—

GONERIL

That’s better than exaggerating our trust. It’s always better to get rid of what you’re scared of than to be afraid. I know how his mind works. I’ve written to my sister telling her everything he’s said. If she welcomes him and his hundred knights after I’ve shown how inappropriately he’s behaved—
Enter OSWALD the steward
OSWALD enters.

OSWALD

Here, madam.

OSWALD

Here, ma'am.

GONERIL

How now, Oswald?
What, have you writ that letter to my sister?

GONERIL

Well, Oswald? Have you written that letter to my sister yet?

OSWALD

Ay, madam.

OSWALD

Yes, ma'am.

GONERIL

335Take you some company, and away to horse.
Inform her full of my particular fear,
And thereto add such reasons of your own
As may compact it more. Get you gone
And hasten your return.

GONERIL

Take some men and horses and go to her. Tell her everything that worries me. Add details of your own to back up what I’m saying. Now go, and hurry back.
Exit OSWALD
OSWALD exits.
   No, no, my lord,
340Though I condemn not, yet under pardon
You are much more attasked for want of wisdom
Than praised for harmful mildness.
No, no, my husband, I’m not angry that you urge me to deal more gently with my father. But you’re showing a lack of wisdom that that is much more noticeable than your tenderness toward him.

ALBANY

How far your eyes may pierce I cannot tell.
Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well.

ALBANY

Maybe you know more than I do. But people often screw things up trying to make them better.