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But, soft! methinks I scent the morning air;
Brief let me be. Sleeping within my orchard,
My custom always of the afternoon.

      — Hamlet, Act I Scene 5


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The Tragedy of King Lear


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Scene 1. A heath. Storm still.

Scene 2. Another part of the heath. Storm still.

Scene 3. Gloucester’s Castle.

Scene 4. The heath. Before a hovel. Storm still.

Scene 5. Gloucester’s Castle.

Scene 6. A farmhouse near Gloucester’s Castle.

Scene 7. Gloucester’s Castle.


Act III, Scene 1

A heath. Storm still.

      next scene .

Enter Kent and a Gentleman at several doors.

  • Gentleman. One minded like the weather, most unquietly.
  • Gentleman. Contending with the fretful elements;
    Bids the wind blow the earth into the sea,
    Or swell the curled waters 'bove the main,
    That things might change or cease; tears his white hair,
    Which the impetuous blasts, with eyeless rage, 1625
    Catch in their fury and make nothing of;
    Strives in his little world of man to outscorn
    The to-and-fro-conflicting wind and rain.
    This night, wherein the cub-drawn bear would couch,
    The lion and the belly-pinched wolf 1630
    Keep their fur dry, unbonneted he runs,
    And bids what will take all.
  • Gentleman. None but the fool, who labours to outjest
    His heart-struck injuries. 1635
  • Earl of Kent. Sir, I do know you,
    And dare upon the warrant of my note
    Commend a dear thing to you. There is division
    (Although as yet the face of it be cover'd
    With mutual cunning) 'twixt Albany and Cornwall; 1640
    Who have (as who have not, that their great stars
    Thron'd and set high?) servants, who seem no less,
    Which are to France the spies and speculations
    Intelligent of our state. What hath been seen,
    Either in snuffs and packings of the Dukes, 1645
    Or the hard rein which both of them have borne
    Against the old kind King, or something deeper,
    Whereof, perchance, these are but furnishings-
    But, true it is, from France there comes a power
    Into this scattered kingdom, who already, 1650
    Wise in our negligence, have secret feet
    In some of our best ports and are at point
    To show their open banner. Now to you:
    If on my credit you dare build so far
    To make your speed to Dover, you shall find 1655
    Some that will thank you, making just report
    Of how unnatural and bemadding sorrow
    The King hath cause to plain.
    I am a gentleman of blood and breeding,
    And from some knowledge and assurance offer 1660
    This office to you.
  • Earl of Kent. No, do not.
    For confirmation that I am much more
    Than my out-wall, open this purse and take 1665
    What it contains. If you shall see Cordelia
    (As fear not but you shall), show her this ring,
    And she will tell you who your fellow is
    That yet you do not know. Fie on this storm!
    I will go seek the King. 1670
  • Gentleman. Give me your hand. Have you no more to say?
  • Earl of Kent. Few words, but, to effect, more than all yet:
    That, when we have found the King (in which your pain
    That way, I'll this), he that first lights on him
    Holla the other. 1675

Exeunt [severally].

. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 2

Another part of the heath. Storm still.

      next scene .

Enter Lear and Fool.

  • 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! 1680
    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, 1685
    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.
  • Lear. Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! spout, rain! 1690
    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, 1695
    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! 1700
  • 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. 1705
    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 1710

Enter Kent.

  • Lear. No, I will be the pattern of all patience;
    I will say nothing.
  • Fool. Marry, here's grace and a codpiece; that's a wise man and a
  • Earl of Kent. Alas, sir, are you here? Things that love night
    Love not such nights as these. The wrathful skies
    Gallow the very wanderers of the dark 1720
    And make them keep their caves. Since I was man,
    Such sheets of fire, such bursts of horrid thunder,
    Such groans of roaring wind and rain, I never
    Remember to have heard. Man's nature cannot carry
    Th' affliction nor the fear. 1725
  • Lear. Let the great gods,
    That keep this dreadful pudder o'er our heads,
    Find out their enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch,
    That hast within thee undivulged crimes
    Unwhipp'd of justice. Hide thee, thou bloody hand; 1730
    Thou perjur'd, and thou simular man of virtue
    That art incestuous. Caitiff, in pieces shake
    That under covert and convenient seeming
    Hast practis'd on man's life. Close pent-up guilts,
    Rive your concealing continents, and cry 1735
    These dreadful summoners grace. I am a man
    More sinn'd against than sinning.
  • Earl of Kent. Alack, bareheaded?
    Gracious my lord, hard by here is a hovel;
    Some friendship will it lend you 'gainst the tempest. 1740
    Repose you there, whilst I to this hard house
    (More harder than the stones whereof 'tis rais'd,
    Which even but now, demanding after you,
    Denied me to come in) return, and force
    Their scanted courtesy. 1745
  • 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. 1750
    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- 1755
    Must make content with his fortunes fit,
    For the rain it raineth every day.
  • Lear. True, my good boy. Come, bring us to this hovel.

Exeunt [Lear and Kent].

  • Fool. This is a brave night to cool a courtesan. I'll speak a 1760
    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; 1765
    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, 1770
    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. 1775
    This prophecy Merlin shall make, for I live before his time. Exit.
. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 3

Gloucester’s Castle.

      next scene .

Enter Gloucester and Edmund.

  • Earl of Gloucester. Alack, alack, Edmund, I like not this unnatural dealing! When
    I desir'd their leave that I might pity him, they took from me
    the use of mine own house, charg'd me on pain of perpetual 1780
    displeasure neither to speak of him, entreat for him, nor any
    way sustain him.
  • Edmund. Most savage and unnatural!
  • Earl of Gloucester. Go to; say you nothing. There is division betwixt the Dukes,
    and a worse matter than that. I have received a letter this 1785
    night- 'tis dangerous to be spoken- I have lock'd the letter in
    my closet. These injuries the King now bears will be revenged
    home; there's part of a power already footed; we must incline to
    the King. I will seek him and privily relieve him. Go you and
    maintain talk with the Duke, that my charity be not of him 1790
    perceived. If he ask for me, I am ill and gone to bed. Though I
    die for't, as no less is threat'ned me, the King my old master
    must be relieved. There is some strange thing toward, Edmund.
    Pray you be careful. Exit.
  • Edmund. This courtesy, forbid thee, shall the Duke 1795
    Instantly know, and of that letter too.
    This seems a fair deserving, and must draw me
    That which my father loses- no less than all.
    The younger rises when the old doth fall. Exit.
. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 4

The heath. Before a hovel. Storm still.

      next scene .

Enter Lear, Kent, and Fool.

  • Earl of Kent. Here is the place, my lord. Good my lord, enter.
    The tyranny of the open night 's too rough
    For nature to endure.
  • Lear. Let me alone.
  • Lear. Wilt break my heart?
  • Earl of Kent. I had rather break mine own. Good my lord, enter.
  • Lear. Thou think'st 'tis much that this contentious storm
    Invades us to the skin. So 'tis to thee;
    But where the greater malady is fix'd, 1810
    The lesser is scarce felt. Thou'dst shun a bear;
    But if thy flight lay toward the raging sea,
    Thou'dst meet the bear i' th' mouth. When the mind's free,
    The body's delicate. The tempest in my mind
    Doth from my senses take all feeling else 1815
    Save what beats there. Filial ingratitude!
    Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand
    For lifting food to't? But I will punish home!
    No, I will weep no more. In such a night
    To shut me out! Pour on; I will endure. 1820
    In such a night as this! O Regan, Goneril!
    Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all!
    O, that way madness lies; let me shun that!
    No more of that.
  • Lear. Prithee go in thyself; seek thine own ease.
    This tempest will not give me leave to ponder
    On things would hurt me more. But I'll go in.
    [To the Fool] In, boy; go first.- You houseless poverty-
    Nay, get thee in. I'll pray, and then I'll sleep. [Exit Fool] 1830
    Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are,
    That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
    How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
    Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you
    From seasons such as these? O, I have ta'en 1835
    Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp;
    Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
    That thou mayst shake the superflux to them
    And show the heavens more just.
  • Edgar. [within] Fathom and half, fathom and half! Poor Tom! 1840

Enter Fool [from the hovel].

  • Fool. Come not in here, nuncle, here's a spirit. Help me, help me!
  • Fool. A spirit, a spirit! He says his name's poor Tom.
  • Earl of Kent. What art thou that dost grumble there i' th' straw? 1845
    Come forth.

Enter Edgar [disguised as a madman].

  • Edgar. Away! the foul fiend follows me! Through the sharp hawthorn
    blows the cold wind. Humh! go to thy cold bed, and warm thee.
  • Lear. Hast thou given all to thy two daughters, and art thou come 1850
    to this?
  • Edgar. Who gives anything to poor Tom? whom the foul fiend hath led
    through fire and through flame, through ford and whirlpool, o'er
    bog and quagmire; that hath laid knives under his pillow and
    halters in his pew, set ratsbane by his porridge, made him proud 1855
    of heart, to ride on a bay trotting horse over four-inch'd
    bridges, to course his own shadow for a traitor. Bless thy five
    wits! Tom 's acold. O, do de, do de, do de. Bless thee from
    whirlwinds, star-blasting, and taking! Do poor Tom some charity,
    whom the foul fiend vexes. There could I have him now- and there- 1860
    and there again- and there!

Storm still.

  • 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. 1865
  • Lear. Now all the plagues that in the pendulous air
    Hang fated o'er men's faults light on thy daughters!
  • Lear. Death, traitor! nothing could have subdu'd nature
    To such a lowness but his unkind daughters. 1870
    Is it the fashion that discarded fathers
    Should have thus little mercy on their flesh?
    Judicious punishment! 'Twas this flesh begot
    Those pelican daughters.
  • Edgar. Pillicock sat on Pillicock's Hill. 'Allow, 'allow, loo, loo! 1875
  • Fool. This cold night will turn us all to fools and madmen.
  • Edgar. Take heed o' th' foul fiend; obey thy parents: keep thy word
    justly; swear not; commit not with man's sworn spouse; set not
    thy sweet heart on proud array. Tom 's acold.
  • Lear. What hast thou been? 1880
  • Edgar. A servingman, proud in heart and mind; that curl'd my hair,
    wore gloves in my cap; serv'd the lust of my mistress' heart and
    did the act of darkness with her; swore as many oaths as I spake
    words, and broke them in the sweet face of heaven; one that
    slept in the contriving of lust, and wak'd to do it. Wine lov'd 1885
    I deeply, dice dearly; and in woman out-paramour'd the Turk.
    False of heart, light of ear, bloody of hand; hog in sloth, fox
    in stealth, wolf in greediness, dog in madness, lion in prey.
    Let not the creaking of shoes nor the rustling of silks betray
    thy poor heart to woman. Keep thy foot out of brothel, thy hand 1890
    out of placket, thy pen from lender's book, and defy the foul
    fiend. Still through the hawthorn blows the cold wind; says
    suum, mun, hey, no, nonny. Dolphin my boy, my boy, sessa! let
    him trot by.

Storm still.

  • Lear. Why, thou wert better in thy grave than to answer with thy
    uncover'd body this extremity of the skies. Is man no more than
    this? Consider him well. Thou ow'st the worm no silk, the beast
    no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfume. Ha! Here's three
    on's are sophisticated! Thou art the thing itself; 1900
    unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked
    animal as thou art. Off, off, you lendings! Come, unbutton

[Tears at his clothes.]

  • Fool. Prithee, nuncle, be contented! 'Tis a naughty night to swim 1905
    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.

Enter Gloucester with a torch.

  • Edgar. This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet. He begins at curfew, 1910
    and walks till the first cock. He gives the web and the pin,
    squints the eye, and makes the harelip; mildews the white wheat,
    and hurts the poor creature of earth.
    Saint Withold footed thrice the 'old;
    He met the nightmare, and her nine fold; 1915
    Bid her alight
    And her troth plight,
    And aroint thee, witch, aroint thee!
  • Lear. What's he? 1920
  • Edgar. Poor Tom, that eats the swimming frog, the toad, the todpole,
    the wall-newt and the water; that in the fury of his heart, when
    the foul fiend rages, eats cow-dung for sallets, swallows the 1925
    old rat and the ditch-dog, drinks the green mantle of the
    standing pool; who is whipp'd from tithing to tithing, and
    stock-punish'd and imprison'd; who hath had three suits to his
    back, six shirts to his body, horse to ride, and weapons to
    wear; 1930
    But mice and rats, and such small deer,
    Have been Tom's food for seven long year.
    Beware my follower. Peace, Smulkin! peace, thou fiend!
  • Edgar. The prince of darkness is a gentleman! 1935
    Modo he's call'd, and Mahu.
  • Earl of Gloucester. Our flesh and blood is grown so vile, my lord,
    That it doth hate what gets it.
  • Edgar. Poor Tom 's acold.
  • Earl of Gloucester. Go in with me. My duty cannot suffer 1940
    T' obey in all your daughters' hard commands.
    Though their injunction be to bar my doors
    And let this tyrannous night take hold upon you,
    Yet have I ventur'd to come seek you out
    And bring you where both fire and food is ready. 1945
  • Lear. First let me talk with this philosopher.
    What is the cause of thunder?
  • Earl of Kent. Good my lord, take his offer; go into th' house.
  • Lear. I'll talk a word with this same learned Theban.
    What is your study? 1950
  • Edgar. How to prevent the fiend and to kill vermin.
  • Lear. Let me ask you one word in private.
  • Earl of Kent. Importune him once more to go, my lord.
    His wits begin t' unsettle.
  • Earl of Gloucester. Canst thou blame him? [Storm still.] 1955
    His daughters seek his death. Ah, that good Kent!
    He said it would be thus- poor banish'd man!
    Thou say'st the King grows mad: I'll tell thee, friend,
    I am almost mad myself. I had a son,
    Now outlaw'd from my blood. He sought my life 1960
    But lately, very late. I lov'd him, friend-
    No father his son dearer. True to tell thee,
    The grief hath craz'd my wits. What a night 's this!
    I do beseech your Grace-
  • Lear. O, cry you mercy, sir. 1965
    Noble philosopher, your company.
  • Lear. Come, let's in all.
  • Lear. With him!
    I will keep still with my philosopher.
  • Earl of Kent. Good my lord, soothe him; let him take the fellow.
  • Lear. Come, good Athenian.
  • Edgar. Child Rowland to the dark tower came;
    His word was still
    Fie, foh, and fum! 1980
    I smell the blood of a British man.


. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 5

Gloucester’s Castle.

      next scene .

Enter Cornwall and Edmund.

  • Edmund. How, my lord, I may be censured, that nature thus gives way to 1985
    loyalty, something fears me to think of.
  • Duke of Cornwall. I now perceive it was not altogether your brother's evil
    disposition made him seek his death; but a provoking merit, set
    awork by a reproveable badness in himself.
  • Edmund. How malicious is my fortune that I must repent to be just! 1990
    This is the letter he spoke of, which approves him an
    intelligent party to the advantages of France. O heavens! that
    this treason were not- or not I the detector!
  • Edmund. If the matter of this paper be certain, you have mighty 1995
    business in hand.
  • Duke of Cornwall. True or false, it hath made thee Earl of Gloucester.
    Seek out where thy father is, that he may be ready for our
  • Edmund. [aside] If I find him comforting the King, it will stuff his 2000
    suspicion more fully.- I will persever in my course of loyalty,
    though the conflict be sore between that and my blood.
  • Duke of Cornwall. I will lay trust upon thee, and thou shalt find a dearer
    father in my love.


. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 6

A farmhouse near Gloucester’s Castle.

      next scene .

Enter Gloucester, Lear, Kent, Fool, and Edgar.

  • Earl of Gloucester. Here is better than the open air; take it thankfully. I will
    piece out the comfort with what addition I can. I will not be
    long from you.
  • Earl of Kent. All the power of his wits have given way to his impatience. 2010
    The gods reward your kindness!

Exit [Gloucester].

  • 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 2015
  • 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.
  • Lear. To have a thousand with red burning spits 2020
    Come hizzing in upon 'em-
  • 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.
  • Lear. It shall be done; I will arraign them straight. 2025
    [To Edgar] Come, sit thou here, most learned justicer.
    [To the Fool] Thou, sapient sir, sit here. Now, you she-foxes!
  • Edgar. Look, where he stands and glares! Want'st thou eyes at trial,
    Come o'er the bourn, Bessy, to me. 2030
  • Fool. Her boat hath a leak,
    And she must not speak
    Why she dares not come over to thee.
  • Edgar. The foul fiend haunts poor Tom in the voice of a nightingale.
    Hoppedance cries in Tom's belly for two white herring. Croak 2035
    not, black angel; I have no food for thee.
  • Earl of Kent. How do you, sir? Stand you not so amaz'd.
    Will you lie down and rest upon the cushions?
  • Lear. I'll see their trial first. Bring in their evidence.
    [To Edgar] Thou, robed man of justice, take thy place. 2040
    [To the Fool] And thou, his yokefellow of equity,
    Bench by his side. [To Kent] You are o' th' commission,
    Sit you too.
  • Edgar. Let us deal justly.
    Sleepest or wakest thou, jolly shepherd? 2045
    Thy sheep be in the corn;
    And for one blast of thy minikin mouth
    Thy sheep shall take no harm.
    Purr! the cat is gray.
  • Lear. Arraign her first. 'Tis Goneril. I here take my oath before 2050
    this honourable assembly, she kicked the poor King her father.
  • Fool. Come hither, mistress. Is your name Goneril?
  • Lear. She cannot deny it.
  • Fool. Cry you mercy, I took you for a joint-stool.
  • Lear. And here's another, whose warp'd looks proclaim 2055
    What store her heart is made on. Stop her there!
    Arms, arms! sword! fire! Corruption in the place!
    False justicer, why hast thou let her scape?
  • Edgar. Bless thy five wits!
  • Earl of Kent. O pity! Sir, where is the patience now 2060
    That you so oft have boasted to retain?
  • Edgar. [aside] My tears begin to take his part so much
    They'll mar my counterfeiting.
  • Lear. The little dogs and all,
    Tray, Blanch, and Sweetheart, see, they bark at me. 2065
  • Edgar. Tom will throw his head at them. Avaunt, you curs!
    Be thy mouth or black or white,
    Tooth that poisons if it bite;
    Mastiff, greyhound, mongrel grim,
    Hound or spaniel, brach or lym, 2070
    Bobtail tyke or trundle-tail-
    Tom will make them weep and wail;
    For, with throwing thus my head,
    Dogs leap the hatch, and all are fled.
    Do de, de, de. Sessa! Come, march to wakes and fairs and market 2075
    towns. Poor Tom, thy horn is dry.
  • Lear. Then let them anatomize Regan. See what breeds about her
    heart. Is there any cause in nature that makes these hard
    hearts? [To Edgar] You, sir- I entertain you for one of my
    hundred; only I do not like the fashion of your garments. You'll 2080
    say they are Persian attire; but let them be chang'd.
  • 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. 2085

Enter Gloucester.

  • Earl of Kent. Here, sir; but trouble him not; his wits are gone.
  • Earl of Gloucester. Good friend, I prithee take him in thy arms.
    I have o'erheard a plot of death upon him. 2090
    There is a litter ready; lay him in't
    And drive towards Dover, friend, where thou shalt meet
    Both welcome and protection. Take up thy master.
    If thou shouldst dally half an hour, his life,
    With thine, and all that offer to defend him, 2095
    Stand in assured loss. Take up, take up!
    And follow me, that will to some provision
    Give thee quick conduct.
  • Earl of Kent. Oppressed nature sleeps.
    This rest might yet have balm'd thy broken senses, 2100
    Which, if convenience will not allow,
    Stand in hard cure. [To the Fool] Come, help to bear thy master.
    Thou must not stay behind.

Exeunt [all but Edgar].

  • Edgar. When we our betters see bearing our woes,
    We scarcely think our miseries our foes.
    Who alone suffers suffers most i' th' mind,
    Leaving free things and happy shows behind;
    But then the mind much sufferance doth o'erskip 2110
    When grief hath mates, and bearing fellowship.
    How light and portable my pain seems now,
    When that which makes me bend makes the King bow,
    He childed as I fathered! Tom, away!
    Mark the high noises, and thyself bewray 2115
    When false opinion, whose wrong thought defiles thee,
    In thy just proof repeals and reconciles thee.
    What will hap more to-night, safe scape the King!
    Lurk, lurk. [Exit.]
. previous scene      

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!