The Tragedy of King Lear

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Act II, Scene 2

Before Gloucester’s Castle.

       
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Enter Kent and [Oswald the] Steward, severally.

  • Oswald. Good dawning to thee, friend. Art of this house? 1075
  • Oswald. Where may we set our horses?
  • Oswald. Prithee, if thou lov'st me, tell me.
  • Oswald. Why then, I care not for thee.
  • Earl of Kent. If I had thee in Lipsbury Pinfold, I would make thee care for
    me.
  • Oswald. Why dost thou use me thus? I know thee not.
  • Oswald. What dost thou know me for?
  • Earl of Kent. A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a base, proud,
    shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy,
    worsted-stocking knave; a lily-liver'd, action-taking, whoreson,
    glass-gazing, superserviceable, finical rogue; 1090
    one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of
    good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave,
    beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch;
    one whom I will beat into clamorous whining, if thou deny the
    least syllable of thy addition. 1095
  • Oswald. Why, what a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to rail on one
    that's neither known of thee nor knows thee!
  • Earl of Kent. What a brazen-fac'd varlet art thou, to deny thou knowest me!
    Is it two days ago since I beat thee and tripp'd up thy heels
    before the King? [Draws his sword.] Draw, you rogue! for, though 1100
    it be night, yet the moon shines. I'll make a sop o' th'
    moonshine o' you. Draw, you whoreson cullionly barbermonger!
    draw!
  • Oswald. Away! I have nothing to do with thee.
  • Earl of Kent. Draw, you rascal! You come with letters against the King, and 1105
    take Vanity the puppet's part against the royalty of her father.
    Draw, you rogue, or I'll so carbonado your shanks! Draw, you
    rascal! Come your ways!
  • Oswald. Help, ho! murther! help!
  • Earl of Kent. Strike, you slave! Stand, rogue! Stand, you neat slave! 1110
    Strike! [Beats him.]
  • Oswald. Help, ho! murther! murther!

Enter Edmund, with his rapier drawn, Gloucester, Cornwall, Regan, Servants.

  • Edmund. How now? What's the matter? Parts [them].
  • Earl of Kent. With you, goodman boy, an you please! Come, I'll flesh ye! 1115
    Come on, young master!
  • Duke of Cornwall. Keep peace, upon your lives!
    He dies that strikes again. What is the matter?
  • Regan. The messengers from our sister and the King 1120
  • Oswald. I am scarce in breath, my lord.
  • Earl of Kent. No marvel, you have so bestirr'd your valour. You cowardly
    rascal, nature disclaims in thee; a tailor made thee.
  • Earl of Kent. Ay, a tailor, sir. A stonecutter or a painter could not have
    made him so ill, though he had been but two hours at the trade.
  • Oswald. This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spar'd
    At suit of his grey beard- 1130
  • Earl of Kent. Thou whoreson zed! thou unnecessary letter! My lord, if
    you'll give me leave, I will tread this unbolted villain into
    mortar and daub the walls of a jakes with him. 'Spare my grey
    beard,' you wagtail?
  • Earl of Kent. That such a slave as this should wear a sword,
    Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as these, 1140
    Like rats, oft bite the holy cords atwain
    Which are too intrinse t' unloose; smooth every passion
    That in the natures of their lords rebel,
    Bring oil to fire, snow to their colder moods;
    Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks 1145
    With every gale and vary of their masters,
    Knowing naught (like dogs) but following.
    A plague upon your epileptic visage!
    Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool?
    Goose, an I had you upon Sarum Plain, 1150
    I'ld drive ye cackling home to Camelot.
  • Earl of Kent. No contraries hold more antipathy
    Than I and such a knave. 1155
  • Earl of Kent. Sir, 'tis my occupation to be plain.
    I have seen better faces in my time 1160
    Than stands on any shoulder that I see
    Before me at this instant.
  • Duke of Cornwall. This is some fellow
    Who, having been prais'd for bluntness, doth affect
    A saucy roughness, and constrains the garb 1165
    Quite from his nature. He cannot flatter, he!
    An honest mind and plain- he must speak truth!
    An they will take it, so; if not, he's plain.
    These kind of knaves I know which in this plainness
    Harbour more craft and more corrupter ends 1170
    Than twenty silly-ducking observants
    That stretch their duties nicely.
  • Earl of Kent. Sir, in good faith, in sincere verity,
    Under th' allowance of your great aspect,
    Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire 1175
    On flickering Phoebus' front-
  • Earl of Kent. To go out of my dialect, which you discommend so much. I
    know, sir, I am no flatterer. He that beguil'd you in a plain
    accent was a plain knave, which, for my part, I will not be, 1180
    though I should win your displeasure to entreat me to't.
  • Oswald. I never gave him any.
    It pleas'd the King his master very late
    To strike at me, upon his misconstruction; 1185
    When he, conjunct, and flattering his displeasure,
    Tripp'd me behind; being down, insulted, rail'd
    And put upon him such a deal of man
    That worthied him, got praises of the King
    For him attempting who was self-subdu'd; 1190
    And, in the fleshment of this dread exploit,
    Drew on me here again.
  • Earl of Kent. None of these rogues and cowards
    But Ajax is their fool.
  • Duke of Cornwall. Fetch forth the stocks! 1195
    You stubborn ancient knave, you reverent braggart,
    We'll teach you-
  • Earl of Kent. Sir, I am too old to learn.
    Call not your stocks for me. I serve the King;
    On whose employment I was sent to you. 1200
    You shall do small respect, show too bold malice
    Against the grace and person of my master,
    Stocking his messenger.
  • Duke of Cornwall. Fetch forth the stocks! As I have life and honour,
    There shall he sit till noon. 1205
  • Regan. Till noon? Till night, my lord, and all night too!
  • Earl of Kent. Why, madam, if I were your father's dog,
    You should not use me so.
  • Regan. Sir, being his knave, I will.
  • Duke of Cornwall. This is a fellow of the selfsame colour 1210
    Our sister speaks of. Come, bring away the stocks!

Stocks brought out.

  • Earl of Gloucester. Let me beseech your Grace not to do so.
    His fault is much, and the good King his master
    Will check him for't. Your purpos'd low correction 1215
    Is such as basest and contemn'dest wretches
    For pilf'rings and most common trespasses
    Are punish'd with. The King must take it ill
    That he, so slightly valued in his messenger,
    Should have him thus restrain'd. 1220
  • Regan. My sister may receive it much more worse,
    To have her gentleman abus'd, assaulted,
    For following her affairs. Put in his legs.-
    [Kent is put in the stocks.] 1225
    Come, my good lord, away.

Exeunt [all but Gloucester and Kent].

  • Earl of Gloucester. I am sorry for thee, friend. 'Tis the Duke's pleasure,
    Whose disposition, all the world well knows,
    Will not be rubb'd nor stopp'd. I'll entreat for thee. 1230
  • Earl of Kent. Pray do not, sir. I have watch'd and travell'd hard.
    Some time I shall sleep out, the rest I'll whistle.
    A good man's fortune may grow out at heels.
    Give you good morrow!
  • Earl of Kent. Good King, that must approve the common saw,
    Thou out of heaven's benediction com'st
    To the warm sun!
    Approach, thou beacon to this under globe,
    That by thy comfortable beams I may 1240
    Peruse this letter. Nothing almost sees miracles
    But misery. I know 'tis from Cordelia,
    Who hath most fortunately been inform'd
    Of my obscured course- and [reads] 'shall find time
    From this enormous state, seeking to give 1245
    Losses their remedies'- All weary and o'erwatch'd,
    Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold
    This shameful lodging.
    Fortune, good night; smile once more, turn thy wheel.

Sleeps.

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