Open Source Shakespeare

The Tragedy of King Lear

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Act IV, Scene 3

The French camp near Dover.


Enter Kent and a Gentleman.

  • Earl of Kent. Why the King of France is so suddenly gone back know you the
    reason? 2455
  • Gentleman. Something he left imperfect in the state, which since his
    coming forth is thought of, which imports to the kingdom so much
    fear and danger that his personal return was most required and
  • Earl of Kent. Who hath he left behind him general? 2460
  • Gentleman. The Marshal of France, Monsieur La Far.
  • Earl of Kent. Did your letters pierce the Queen to any demonstration of
  • Gentleman. Ay, sir. She took them, read them in my presence,
    And now and then an ample tear trill'd down 2465
    Her delicate cheek. It seem'd she was a queen
    Over her passion, who, most rebel-like,
    Sought to be king o'er her.
  • Earl of Kent. O, then it mov'd her?
  • Gentleman. Not to a rage. Patience and sorrow strove 2470
    Who should express her goodliest. You have seen
    Sunshine and rain at once: her smiles and tears
    Were like, a better way. Those happy smilets
    That play'd on her ripe lip seem'd not to know
    What guests were in her eyes, which parted thence 2475
    As pearls from diamonds dropp'd. In brief,
    Sorrow would be a rarity most belov'd,
    If all could so become it.
  • Earl of Kent. Made she no verbal question?
  • Gentleman. Faith, once or twice she heav'd the name of father 2480
    Pantingly forth, as if it press'd her heart;
    Cried 'Sisters, sisters! Shame of ladies! Sisters!
    Kent! father! sisters! What, i' th' storm? i' th' night?
    Let pity not be believ'd!' There she shook
    The holy water from her heavenly eyes, 2485
    And clamour moisten'd. Then away she started
    To deal with grief alone.
  • Earl of Kent. It is the stars,
    The stars above us, govern our conditions;
    Else one self mate and mate could not beget 2490
    Such different issues. You spoke not with her since?
  • Gentleman. No.
  • Earl of Kent. Was this before the King return'd?
  • Gentleman. No, since.
  • Earl of Kent. Well, sir, the poor distressed Lear's i' th' town; 2495
    Who sometime, in his better tune, remembers
    What we are come about, and by no means
    Will yield to see his daughter.
  • Gentleman. Why, good sir?
  • Earl of Kent. A sovereign shame so elbows him; his own unkindness, 2500
    That stripp'd her from his benediction, turn'd her
    To foreign casualties, gave her dear rights
    To his dog-hearted daughters- these things sting
    His mind so venomously that burning shame
    Detains him from Cordelia. 2505
  • Gentleman. Alack, poor gentleman!
  • Earl of Kent. Of Albany's and Cornwall's powers you heard not?
  • Gentleman. 'Tis so; they are afoot.
  • Earl of Kent. Well, sir, I'll bring you to our master Lear
    And leave you to attend him. Some dear cause 2510
    Will in concealment wrap me up awhile.
    When I am known aright, you shall not grieve
    Lending me this acquaintance. I pray you go
    Along with me. Exeunt.