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The Tragedy of King Lear

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Act III, Scene 7

Gloucester’s Castle.


Enter Cornwall, Regan, Goneril, [Edmund the] Bastard, and Servants.

  • Duke of Cornwall. [to Goneril] Post speedily to my lord your husband, show him
    this letter. The army of France is landed.- Seek out the traitor

[Exeunt some of the Servants.]

  • Regan. Hang him instantly. 2125
  • Duke of Cornwall. Leave him to my displeasure. Edmund, keep you our sister
    company. The revenges we are bound to take upon your traitorous
    father are not fit for your beholding. Advise the Duke where you
    are going, to a most festinate preparation. We are bound to the 2130
    like. Our posts shall be swift and intelligent betwixt us.
    Farewell, dear sister; farewell, my Lord of Gloucester. [Enter Oswald the Steward.]
    How now? Where's the King?
  • Oswald. My Lord of Gloucester hath convey'd him hence.
    Some five or six and thirty of his knights, 2135
    Hot questrists after him, met him at gate;
    Who, with some other of the lord's dependants,
    Are gone with him towards Dover, where they boast
    To have well-armed friends.
  • Goneril. Farewell, sweet lord, and sister.
  • Duke of Cornwall. Edmund, farewell. [Exeunt Goneril, Edmund, and Oswald.]
    Go seek the traitor Gloucester,
    Pinion him like a thief, bring him before us. [Exeunt other Servants.]
    Though well we may not pass upon his life 2145
    Without the form of justice, yet our power
    Shall do a court'sy to our wrath, which men
    May blame, but not control. [Enter Gloucester, brought in by two or three.]
    Who's there? the traitor?
  • Regan. Ingrateful fox! 'tis he. 2150
  • Earl of Gloucester. What mean, your Graces? Good my friends, consider
    You are my guests. Do me no foul play, friends.

[Servants bind him.]

  • Regan. Hard, hard. O filthy traitor!

[Regan plucks his beard.]

  • Earl of Gloucester. By the kind gods, 'tis most ignobly done 2160
    To pluck me by the beard.
  • Regan. So white, and such a traitor!
  • Earl of Gloucester. Naughty lady,
    These hairs which thou dost ravish from my chin
    Will quicken, and accuse thee. I am your host. 2165
    With robber's hands my hospitable favours
    You should not ruffle thus. What will you do?
  • Regan. Be simple-answer'd, for we know the truth.
  • Duke of Cornwall. And what confederacy have you with the traitors 2170
    Late footed in the kingdom?
  • Regan. To whose hands have you sent the lunatic King?
  • Earl of Gloucester. I have a letter guessingly set down,
    Which came from one that's of a neutral heart, 2175
    And not from one oppos'd.
  • Regan. Wherefore to Dover? Wast thou not charg'd at peril-
  • Regan. Wherefore to Dover, sir?
  • Earl of Gloucester. Because I would not see thy cruel nails 2185
    Pluck out his poor old eyes; nor thy fierce sister
    In his anointed flesh stick boarish fangs.
    The sea, with such a storm as his bare head
    In hell-black night endur'd, would have buoy'd up
    And quench'd the steeled fires. 2190
    Yet, poor old heart, he holp the heavens to rain.
    If wolves had at thy gate howl'd that stern time,
    Thou shouldst have said, 'Good porter, turn the key.'
    All cruels else subscrib'd. But I shall see
    The winged vengeance overtake such children. 2195
  • Duke of Cornwall. See't shalt thou never. Fellows, hold the chair.
    Upon these eyes of thine I'll set my foot.
  • Earl of Gloucester. He that will think to live till he be old,
    Give me some help!- O cruel! O ye gods!
  • Regan. One side will mock another. Th' other too! 2200
  • Servant 1. Hold your hand, my lord!
    I have serv'd you ever since I was a child;
    But better service have I never done you
    Than now to bid you hold. 2205
  • Regan. How now, you dog?
  • Servant 1. If you did wear a beard upon your chin,
    I'ld shake it on this quarrel.
  • Regan. What do you mean?
  • Servant 1. Nay, then, come on, and take the chance of anger.
  • Regan. Give me thy sword. A peasant stand up thus?
    She takes a sword and runs at him behind.
  • Servant 1. O, I am slain! My lord, you have one eye left
    To see some mischief on him. O! He dies. 2215
  • Duke of Cornwall. Lest it see more, prevent it. Out, vile jelly!
    Where is thy lustre now?
  • Earl of Gloucester. All dark and comfortless! Where's my son Edmund?
    Edmund, enkindle all the sparks of nature
    To quit this horrid act. 2220
  • Regan. Out, treacherous villain!
    Thou call'st on him that hates thee. It was he
    That made the overture of thy treasons to us;
    Who is too good to pity thee.
  • Earl of Gloucester. O my follies! Then Edgar was abus'd. 2225
    Kind gods, forgive me that, and prosper him!
  • Regan. Go thrust him out at gates, and let him smell
    His way to Dover. [Exit one with Gloucester.]
    How is't, my lord? How look you?
  • Duke of Cornwall. I have receiv'd a hurt. Follow me, lady. 2230
    Turn out that eyeless villain. Throw this slave
    Upon the dunghill. Regan, I bleed apace.
    Untimely comes this hurt. Give me your arm.

Exit [Cornwall, led by Regan].

  • Servant 2. I'll never care what wickedness I do, 2235
    If this man come to good.
  • Servant 3. If she live long,
    And in the end meet the old course of death,
    Women will all turn monsters.
  • Servant 2. Let's follow the old Earl, and get the bedlam 2240
    To lead him where he would. His roguish madness
    Allows itself to anything.
  • Servant 3. Go thou. I'll fetch some flax and whites of eggs
    To apply to his bleeding face. Now heaven help him!