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 IV, Scene 3

The French camp near Dover.

Earl of Kent
Why the King of France is so suddenly gone back know you the

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?

The Marshal of France, Monsieur La Far.

Earl of Kent
Did your letters pierce the Queen to any demonstration of

Ay, sir. She took them, read them in my presence,
And now and then an ample tear trill'd down
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?

Not to a rage. Patience and sorrow strove
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
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?

Faith, once or twice she heav'd the name of father
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,
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
Such different issues. You spoke not with her since?

Earl of Kent
Was this before the King return'd?

No, since.

Earl of Kent
Well, sir, the poor distressed Lear's i' th' town;
Who sometime, in his better tune, remembers
What we are come about, and by no means
Will yield to see his daughter.

Why, good sir?

Earl of Kent
A sovereign shame so elbows him; his own unkindness,
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.

Alack, poor gentleman!

Earl of Kent
Of Albany's and Cornwall's powers you heard not?

'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
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.


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