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 III, Scene 7

Gloucester's Castle.

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

Hang him instantly.

Pluck out his eyes.

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
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?

My Lord of Gloucester hath convey'd him hence.
Some five or six and thirty of his knights,
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.

Duke of Cornwall
Get horses for your mistress.

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
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?

Ingrateful fox! 'tis he.

Duke of Cornwall
Bind fast his corky arms.

Earl of Gloucester
What mean, your Graces? Good my friends, consider
You are my guests. Do me no foul play, friends.

Duke of Cornwall
Bind him, I say.

Hard, hard. O filthy traitor!

Earl of Gloucester
Unmerciful lady as you are, I am none.

Duke of Cornwall
To this chair bind him. Villain, thou shalt find-

Earl of Gloucester
By the kind gods, 'tis most ignobly done
To pluck me by the beard.

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.
With robber's hands my hospitable favours
You should not ruffle thus. What will you do?

Duke of Cornwall
Come, sir, what letters had you late from France?

Be simple-answer'd, for we know the truth.

Duke of Cornwall
And what confederacy have you with the traitors
Late footed in the kingdom?

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,
And not from one oppos'd.

And false.

Duke of Cornwall
Where hast thou sent the King?

Wherefore to Dover? Wast thou not charg'd at peril-

Duke of Cornwall
Wherefore to Dover? Let him first answer that.

Earl of Gloucester
I am tied to th' stake, and I must stand the course.

Wherefore to Dover, sir?

Earl of Gloucester
Because I would not see thy cruel nails
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.
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.

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!

One side will mock another. Th' other too!

Duke of Cornwall
If you see vengeance-

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.

How now, you dog?

Servant 1
If you did wear a beard upon your chin,
I'ld shake it on this quarrel.

What do you mean?

Duke of Cornwall
My villain! Draw and fight.

Servant 1
Nay, then, come on, and take the chance of anger.

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.

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.

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.
Kind gods, forgive me that, and prosper him!

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.
Turn out that eyeless villain. Throw this slave
Upon the dunghill. Regan, I bleed apace.
Untimely comes this hurt. Give me your arm.

Servant 2
I'll never care what wickedness I do,
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
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!


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