The Tragedy of King Lear (1610)

Title Variant: King Lear and his Three Daughters
Date variant: 1605-8 / 1605-6 : The Quarto Text / 1610 : The Folio Text
Online Critical Edition in Progress - Version 1.b.
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Act II, Scene 2

Before Gloucester's Castle.

Good dawning to thee, friend. Art of this house?

Where may we set our horses?

Earl of Kent
I' th' mire.

Prithee, if thou lov'st me, tell me.

Earl of Kent
I love thee not.

Why then, I care not for thee.

Earl of Kent
If I had thee in Lipsbury Pinfold, I would make thee care for

Why dost thou use me thus? I know thee not.

Earl of Kent
Fellow, I know thee.

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;
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.

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
it be night, yet the moon shines. I'll make a sop o' th'
moonshine o' you. Draw, you whoreson cullionly barbermonger!

Away! I have nothing to do with thee.

Earl of Kent
Draw, you rascal! You come with letters against the King, and
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!

Help, ho! murther! help!

Earl of Kent
Strike, you slave! Stand, rogue! Stand, you neat slave!
Strike! [Beats him.]

Help, ho! murther! murther!

How now? What's the matter? Parts [them].

Earl of Kent
With you, goodman boy, an you please! Come, I'll flesh ye!
Come on, young master!

Earl of Gloucester
Weapons? arms? What's the matter here?

Duke of Cornwall
Keep peace, upon your lives!
He dies that strikes again. What is the matter?

The messengers from our sister and the King

Duke of Cornwall
What is your difference? Speak.

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.

Duke of Cornwall
Thou art a strange fellow. A tailor make a man?

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.

Duke of Cornwall
Speak yet, how grew your quarrel?

This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spar'd
At suit of his grey beard-

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?

Duke of Cornwall
Peace, sirrah!
You beastly knave, know you no reverence?

Earl of Kent
Yes, sir, but anger hath a privilege.

Duke of Cornwall
Why art thou angry?

Earl of Kent
That such a slave as this should wear a sword,
Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as these,
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
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,
I'ld drive ye cackling home to Camelot.

Duke of Cornwall
What, art thou mad, old fellow?

Earl of Gloucester
How fell you out? Say that.

Earl of Kent
No contraries hold more antipathy
Than I and such a knave.

Duke of Cornwall
Why dost thou call him knave? What is his fault?

Earl of Kent
His countenance likes me not.

Duke of Cornwall
No more perchance does mine, or his, or hers.

Earl of Kent
Sir, 'tis my occupation to be plain.
I have seen better faces in my time
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
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
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
On flickering Phoebus' front-

Duke of Cornwall
What mean'st by this?

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,
though I should win your displeasure to entreat me to't.

Duke of Cornwall
What was th' offence you gave him?

I never gave him any.
It pleas'd the King his master very late
To strike at me, upon his misconstruction;
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;
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!
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.
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.

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.

Sir, being his knave, I will.

Duke of Cornwall
This is a fellow of the selfsame colour
Our sister speaks of. Come, bring away the stocks!

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
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.

Duke of Cornwall
I'll answer that.

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.]
Come, my good lord, away.

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.

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 Gloucester
The Duke 's to blame in this; 'twill be ill taken. Exit.

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
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
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.


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