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He was a man
Of an unbounded stomach.

      — King Henry VIII, Act IV Scene 2


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The Tragedy of King Lear

Act II

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Scene 1. A court within the Castle of the Earl of Gloucester.

Scene 2. Before Gloucester’s Castle.

Scene 3. The open country.

Scene 4. Before Gloucester’s Castle; Kent in the stocks.


Act II, Scene 1

A court within the Castle of the Earl of Gloucester.

      next scene .

Enter [Edmund the] Bastard and Curan, meeting.

  • Curan. And you, sir. I have been with your father, and given him
    notice that the Duke of Cornwall and Regan his Duchess will be
    here with him this night. 930
  • Curan. Nay, I know not. You have heard of the news abroad- I mean the
    whisper'd ones, for they are yet but ear-kissing arguments?
  • Edmund. Not I. Pray you, what are they?
  • Curan. Have you heard of no likely wars toward 'twixt the two Dukes 935
    of Cornwall and Albany?
  • Curan. You may do, then, in time. Fare you well, sir. Exit.
  • Edmund. The Duke be here to-night? The better! best!
    This weaves itself perforce into my business. 940
    My father hath set guard to take my brother;
    And I have one thing, of a queasy question,
    Which I must act. Briefness and fortune, work!
    Brother, a word! Descend! Brother, I say!
    [Enter Edgar.] 945
    My father watches. O sir, fly this place!
    Intelligence is given where you are hid.
    You have now the good advantage of the night.
    Have you not spoken 'gainst the Duke of Cornwall?
    He's coming hither; now, i' th' night, i' th' haste, 950
    And Regan with him. Have you nothing said
    Upon his party 'gainst the Duke of Albany?
    Advise yourself.
  • Edgar. I am sure on't, not a word.
  • Edmund. I hear my father coming. Pardon me! 955
    In cunning I must draw my sword upon you.
    Draw, seem to defend yourself; now quit you well.-
    Yield! Come before my father. Light, ho, here!
    Fly, brother.- Torches, torches!- So farewell.
    [Exit Edgar.] 960
    Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion
    Of my more fierce endeavour. [Stabs his arm.] I have seen
    Do more than this in sport.- Father, father!-
    Stop, stop! No help? 965

Enter Gloucester, and Servants with torches.

  • Edmund. Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out,
    Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon
    To stand 's auspicious mistress. 970
  • Edmund. Fled this way, sir. When by no means he could-
  • Earl of Gloucester. Pursue him, ho! Go after. [Exeunt some Servants]. 975
    By no means what?
  • Edmund. Persuade me to the murther of your lordship;
    But that I told him the revenging gods
    'Gainst parricides did all their thunders bend;
    Spoke with how manifold and strong a bond 980
    The child was bound to th' father- sir, in fine,
    Seeing how loathly opposite I stood
    To his unnatural purpose, in fell motion
    With his prepared sword he charges home
    My unprovided body, lanch'd mine arm; 985
    But when he saw my best alarum'd spirits,
    Bold in the quarrel's right, rous'd to th' encounter,
    Or whether gasted by the noise I made,
    Full suddenly he fled.
  • Earl of Gloucester. Let him fly far. 990
    Not in this land shall he remain uncaught;
    And found- dispatch. The noble Duke my master,
    My worthy arch and patron, comes to-night.
    By his authority I will proclaim it
    That he which find, him shall deserve our thanks, 995
    Bringing the murderous caitiff to the stake;
    He that conceals him, death.
  • Edmund. When I dissuaded him from his intent
    And found him pight to do it, with curst speech
    I threaten'd to discover him. He replied, 1000
    'Thou unpossessing bastard, dost thou think,
    If I would stand against thee, would the reposal
    Of any trust, virtue, or worth in thee
    Make thy words faith'd? No. What I should deny
    (As this I would; ay, though thou didst produce 1005
    My very character), I'ld turn it all
    To thy suggestion, plot, and damned practice;
    And thou must make a dullard of the world,
    If they not thought the profits of my death
    Were very pregnant and potential spurs 1010
    To make thee seek it.'
  • Earl of Gloucester. Strong and fast'ned villain!
    Would he deny his letter? I never got him.
    [Tucket within.]
    Hark, the Duke's trumpets! I know not why he comes. 1015
    All ports I'll bar; the villain shall not scape;
    The Duke must grant me that. Besides, his picture
    I will send far and near, that all the kingdom
    May have due note of him, and of my land,
    Loyal and natural boy, I'll work the means 1020
    To make thee capable.

Enter Cornwall, Regan, and Attendants.

  • Duke of Cornwall. How now, my noble friend? Since I came hither
    (Which I can call but now) I have heard strange news.
  • Regan. If it be true, all vengeance comes too short 1025
    Which can pursue th' offender. How dost, my lord?
  • Regan. What, did my father's godson seek your life?
    He whom my father nam'd? Your Edgar?
  • Regan. Was he not companion with the riotous knights
    That tend upon my father?
  • Edmund. Yes, madam, he was of that consort.
  • Regan. No marvel then though he were ill affected. 1035
    'Tis they have put him on the old man's death,
    To have th' expense and waste of his revenues.
    I have this present evening from my sister
    Been well inform'd of them, and with such cautions
    That, if they come to sojourn at my house, 1040
    I'll not be there.
  • Duke of Cornwall. Nor I, assure thee, Regan.
    Edmund, I hear that you have shown your father
    A childlike office.
  • Edmund. 'Twas my duty, sir. 1045
  • Earl of Gloucester. He did bewray his practice, and receiv'd
    This hurt you see, striving to apprehend him.
  • Duke of Cornwall. If he be taken, he shall never more 1050
    Be fear'd of doing harm. Make your own purpose,
    How in my strength you please. For you, Edmund,
    Whose virtue and obedience doth this instant
    So much commend itself, you shall be ours.
    Natures of such deep trust we shall much need; 1055
    You we first seize on.
  • Edmund. I shall serve you, sir,
    Truly, however else.
  • Regan. Thus out of season, threading dark-ey'd night.
    Occasions, noble Gloucester, of some poise,
    Wherein we must have use of your advice.
    Our father he hath writ, so hath our sister,
    Of differences, which I best thought it fit 1065
    To answer from our home. The several messengers
    From hence attend dispatch. Our good old friend,
    Lay comforts to your bosom, and bestow
    Your needful counsel to our business,
    Which craves the instant use. 1070

Exeunt. Flourish.

. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 2

Before Gloucester’s Castle.

      next scene .

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
  • 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!
  • 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.


. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 3

The open country.

      next scene .

Enter Edgar.

  • Edgar. I heard myself proclaim'd,
    And by the happy hollow of a tree
    Escap'd the hunt. No port is free, no place
    That guard and most unusual vigilance 1255
    Does not attend my taking. Whiles I may scape,
    I will preserve myself; and am bethought
    To take the basest and most poorest shape
    That ever penury, in contempt of man,
    Brought near to beast. My face I'll grime with filth, 1260
    Blanket my loins, elf all my hair in knots,
    And with presented nakedness outface
    The winds and persecutions of the sky.
    The country gives me proof and precedent
    Of Bedlam beggars, who, with roaring voices, 1265
    Strike in their numb'd and mortified bare arms
    Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary;
    And with this horrible object, from low farms,
    Poor pelting villages, sheepcotes, and mills,
    Sometime with lunatic bans, sometime with prayers, 1270
    Enforce their charity. 'Poor Turlygod! poor Tom!'
    That's something yet! Edgar I nothing am. Exit.
. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 4

Before Gloucester’s Castle; Kent in the stocks.


Enter Lear, Fool, and Gentleman.

  • Lear. 'Tis strange that they should so depart from home,
    And not send back my messenger. 1275
  • Gentleman. As I learn'd,
    The night before there was no purpose in them
    Of this remove.
  • Lear. Ha! 1280
    Mak'st thou this shame thy pastime?
  • 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 1285
    wooden nether-stocks.
  • Lear. What's he that hath so much thy place mistook
    To set thee here?
  • Earl of Kent. It is both he and she-
    Your son and daughter. 1290
  • Lear. No, no, they would not! 1295
  • Lear. By Jupiter, I swear no!
  • Lear. They durst not do't;
    They would not, could not do't. 'Tis worse than murther 1300
    To do upon respect such violent outrage.
    Resolve me with all modest haste which way
    Thou mightst deserve or they impose this usage,
    Coming from us.
  • Earl of Kent. My lord, when at their home 1305
    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; 1310
    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, 1315
    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. 1320
    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 1325
    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. 1330
    But for all this, thou shalt have as many dolours for thy
    daughters as thou canst tell in a year.
  • Lear. O, how this mother swells up toward my heart!
    Hysterica passio! Down, thou climbing sorrow!
    Thy element's below! Where is this daughter? 1335
  • Lear. Follow me not;
    Stay here. Exit.
  • Gentleman. Made you no more offence but what you speak of?
  • Earl of Kent. None. 1340
    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.
  • Fool. We'll set thee to school to an ant, to teach thee there's no 1345
    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. 1350
    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 1355
    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. 1360
  • Fool. Not i' th' stocks, fool.
    Enter Lear and Gloucester
  • Lear. Deny to speak with me? They are sick? they are weary?
    They have travell'd all the night? Mere fetches- 1365
    The images of revolt and flying off!
    Fetch me a better answer.
  • Earl of Gloucester. My dear lord,
    You know the fiery quality of the Duke,
    How unremovable and fix'd he is 1370
    In his own course.
  • Lear. Vengeance! plague! death! confusion!
    Fiery? What quality? Why, Gloucester, Gloucester,
    I'ld speak with the Duke of Cornwall and his wife.
  • Lear. Inform'd them? Dost thou understand me, man?
  • Lear. The King would speak with Cornwall; the dear father
    Would with his daughter speak, commands her service.
    Are they inform'd of this? My breath and blood! 1380
    Fiery? the fiery Duke? Tell the hot Duke that-
    No, but not yet! May be he is not well.
    Infirmity doth still neglect all office
    Whereto our health is bound. We are not ourselves
    When nature, being oppress'd, commands the mind 1385
    To suffer with the body. I'll forbear;
    And am fallen out with my more headier will,
    To take the indispos'd and sickly fit
    For the sound man.- Death on my state! Wherefore
    Should he sit here? This act persuades me 1390
    That this remotion of the Duke and her
    Is practice only. Give me my servant forth.
    Go tell the Duke and 's wife I'ld speak with them-
    Now, presently. Bid them come forth and hear me,
    Or at their chamber door I'll beat the drum 1395
    Till it cry sleep to death.
  • 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 1400
    a stick and cried 'Down, wantons, down!' 'Twas her brother that,
    in pure kindness to his horse, buttered his hay.

Enter Cornwall, Regan, Gloucester, Servants.

  • Lear. Good morrow to you both.

Kent here set at liberty.

  • Regan. I am glad to see your Highness.
  • Lear. Regan, I think you are; I know what reason
    I have to think so. If thou shouldst not be glad,
    I would divorce me from thy mother's tomb, 1410
    Sepulchring an adultress. [To Kent] O, are you free?
    Some other time for that.- Beloved Regan,
    Thy sister's naught. O Regan, she hath tied
    Sharp-tooth'd unkindness, like a vulture, here!
    [Lays his hand on his heart.] 1415
    I can scarce speak to thee. Thou'lt not believe
    With how deprav'd a quality- O Regan!
  • Regan. I pray you, sir, take patience. I have hope
    You less know how to value her desert
    Than she to scant her duty. 1420
  • Lear. Say, how is that?
  • Regan. I cannot think my sister in the least
    Would fail her obligation. If, sir, perchance
    She have restrain'd the riots of your followers,
    'Tis on such ground, and to such wholesome end, 1425
    As clears her from all blame.
  • Lear. My curses on her!
  • Regan. O, sir, you are old!
    Nature in you stands on the very verge
    Of her confine. You should be rul'd, and led 1430
    By some discretion that discerns your state
    Better than you yourself. Therefore I pray you
    That to our sister you do make return;
    Say you have wrong'd her, sir.
  • Lear. Ask her forgiveness? 1435
    Do you but mark how this becomes the house:
    'Dear daughter, I confess that I am old. [Kneels.]
    Age is unnecessary. On my knees I beg
    That you'll vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food.'
  • Regan. Good sir, no more! These are unsightly tricks. 1440
    Return you to my sister.
  • Lear. [rises] Never, Regan!
    She hath abated me of half my train;
    Look'd black upon me; struck me with her tongue,
    Most serpent-like, upon the very heart. 1445
    All the stor'd vengeances of heaven fall
    On her ingrateful top! Strike her young bones,
    You taking airs, with lameness!
  • Lear. You nimble lightnings, dart your blinding flames 1450
    Into her scornful eyes! Infect her beauty,
    You fen-suck'd fogs, drawn by the pow'rful sun,
    To fall and blast her pride!
  • Regan. O the blest gods! so will you wish on me
    When the rash mood is on. 1455
  • Lear. No, Regan, thou shalt never have my curse.
    Thy tender-hefted nature shall not give
    Thee o'er to harshness. Her eyes are fierce; but thine
    Do comfort, and not burn. 'Tis not in thee
    To grudge my pleasures, to cut off my train, 1460
    To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes,
    And, in conclusion, to oppose the bolt
    Against my coming in. Thou better know'st
    The offices of nature, bond of childhood,
    Effects of courtesy, dues of gratitude. 1465
    Thy half o' th' kingdom hast thou not forgot,
    Wherein I thee endow'd.
  • Regan. Good sir, to th' purpose.

Tucket within.

  • Lear. Who put my man i' th' stocks? 1470
  • Regan. I know't- my sister's. This approves her letter,
    That she would soon be here.
    [Enter [Oswald the] Steward.]
    Is your lady come? 1475
  • Lear. This is a slave, whose easy-borrowed pride
    Dwells in the fickle grace of her he follows.
    Out, varlet, from my sight!

Enter Goneril.

  • Lear. Who stock'd my servant? Regan, I have good hope
    Thou didst not know on't.- Who comes here? O heavens!
    If you do love old men, if your sweet sway
    Allow obedience- if yourselves are old,
    Make it your cause! Send down, and take my part! 1485
    [To Goneril] Art not asham'd to look upon this beard?-
    O Regan, wilt thou take her by the hand?
  • Goneril. Why not by th' hand, sir? How have I offended?
    All's not offence that indiscretion finds
    And dotage terms so. 1490
  • Lear. O sides, you are too tough!
    Will you yet hold? How came my man i' th' stocks?
  • Duke of Cornwall. I set him there, sir; but his own disorders
    Deserv'd much less advancement.
  • Lear. You? Did you? 1495
  • Regan. I pray you, father, being weak, seem so.
    If, till the expiration of your month,
    You will return and sojourn with my sister,
    Dismissing half your train, come then to me.
    I am now from home, and out of that provision 1500
    Which shall be needful for your entertainment.
  • Lear. Return to her, and fifty men dismiss'd?
    No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose
    To wage against the enmity o' th' air,
    To be a comrade with the wolf and owl- 1505
    Necessity's sharp pinch! Return with her?
    Why, the hot-blooded France, that dowerless took
    Our youngest born, I could as well be brought
    To knee his throne, and, squire-like, pension beg
    To keep base life afoot. Return with her? 1510
    Persuade me rather to be slave and sumpter
    To this detested groom. [Points at Oswald.]
  • Lear. I prithee, daughter, do not make me mad.
    I will not trouble thee, my child; farewell. 1515
    We'll no more meet, no more see one another.
    But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter;
    Or rather a disease that's in my flesh,
    Which I must needs call mine. Thou art a boil,
    A plague sore, an embossed carbuncle 1520
    In my corrupted blood. But I'll not chide thee.
    Let shame come when it will, I do not call it.
    I do not bid the Thunder-bearer shoot
    Nor tell tales of thee to high-judging Jove.
    Mend when thou canst; be better at thy leisure; 1525
    I can be patient, I can stay with Regan,
    I and my hundred knights.
  • Regan. Not altogether so.
    I look'd not for you yet, nor am provided
    For your fit welcome. Give ear, sir, to my sister; 1530
    For those that mingle reason with your passion
    Must be content to think you old, and so-
    But she knows what she does.
  • Lear. Is this well spoken?
  • Regan. I dare avouch it, sir. What, fifty followers? 1535
    Is it not well? What should you need of more?
    Yea, or so many, sith that both charge and danger
    Speak 'gainst so great a number? How in one house
    Should many people, under two commands,
    Hold amity? 'Tis hard; almost impossible. 1540
  • Goneril. Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance
    From those that she calls servants, or from mine?
  • Regan. Why not, my lord? If then they chanc'd to slack ye,
    We could control them. If you will come to me
    (For now I spy a danger), I entreat you 1545
    To bring but five-and-twenty. To no more
    Will I give place or notice.
  • Lear. I gave you all-
  • Regan. And in good time you gave it!
  • Lear. Made you my guardians, my depositaries; 1550
    But kept a reservation to be followed
    With such a number. What, must I come to you
    With five-and-twenty, Regan? Said you so?
  • Regan. And speak't again my lord. No more with me.
  • Lear. Those wicked creatures yet do look well-favour'd 1555
    When others are more wicked; not being the worst
    Stands in some rank of praise. [To Goneril] I'll go with thee.
    Thy fifty yet doth double five-and-twenty,
    And thou art twice her love.
  • Goneril. Hear, me, my lord. 1560
    What need you five-and-twenty, ten, or five,
    To follow in a house where twice so many
    Have a command to tend you?
  • Lear. O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars 1565
    Are in the poorest thing superfluous.
    Allow not nature more than nature needs,
    Man's life is cheap as beast's. Thou art a lady:
    If only to go warm were gorgeous,
    Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear'st 1570
    Which scarcely keeps thee warm. But, for true need-
    You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need!
    You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,
    As full of grief as age; wretched in both.
    If it be you that stirs these daughters' hearts 1575
    Against their father, fool me not so much
    To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger,
    And let not women's weapons, water drops,
    Stain my man's cheeks! No, you unnatural hags!
    I will have such revenges on you both 1580
    That all the world shall- I will do such things-
    What they are yet, I know not; but they shall be
    The terrors of the earth! You think I'll weep.
    No, I'll not weep.
    I have full cause of weeping, but this heart 1585
    Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws
    Or ere I'll weep. O fool, I shall go mad!

Exeunt Lear, Gloucester, Kent, and Fool. Storm and tempest.

  • Regan. This house is little; the old man and 's people 1590
    Cannot be well bestow'd.
  • Goneril. 'Tis his own blame; hath put himself from rest
    And must needs taste his folly.
  • Regan. For his particular, I'll receive him gladly,
    But not one follower. 1595
  • Goneril. So am I purpos'd.
    Where is my Lord of Gloucester?
  • Duke of Cornwall. Followed the old man forth.
    [Enter Gloucester.]
    He is return'd. 1600
  • Goneril. My lord, entreat him by no means to stay. 1605
  • Earl of Gloucester. Alack, the night comes on, and the bleak winds
    Do sorely ruffle. For many miles about
    There's scarce a bush.
  • Regan. O, sir, to wilful men
    The injuries that they themselves procure 1610
    Must be their schoolmasters. Shut up your doors.
    He is attended with a desperate train,
    And what they may incense him to, being apt
    To have his ear abus'd, wisdom bids fear.
  • Duke of Cornwall. Shut up your doors, my lord: 'tis a wild night. 1615
    My Regan counsels well. Come out o' th' storm. [Exeunt.]