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King Lear: Act 2, Scene 4

King Lear
Act 2, Scene 4

Before Gloucester’s castle.

  1. Enter Lear, Fool, and First Gentleman. Kent, disguised as
  2. Caius, in the stocks.

Lear

3 - 4
  1. ’Tis strange that they should so depart from home,
  2. And not send back my messenger.

First Gentleman

5 - 7
  1.                                 As I learn’d,
  2. The night before there was no purpose in them
  3. Of this remove.

Kent

8
  1.                 Hail to thee, noble master!

Lear

9 - 10
  1. Ha?
  2. Mak’st thou this shame thy pastime?

Kent

11
  1.                                     No, my lord.

Fool

12 - 15
  1. Hah, ha, he wears cruel garters. Horses are tied by the
  2. heads, dogs and bears by th’ neck, monkeys by th’ loins, and
  3. men by th’ legs. When a man’s overlusty at legs, then he
  4. wears wooden nether-stocks.

Lear

16 - 17
  1. What’s he that hath so much thy place mistook
  2. To set thee here?

Kent

18 - 19
  1.                   It is both he and she,
  2. Your son and daughter.

Lear

20
  1. No.

Kent

21
  1. Yes.

Lear

22
  1. No, I say.

Kent

23
  1. I say yea.

Lear

24
  1. No, no, they would not.

Kent

25
  1. Yes, they have.

Lear

26
  1. By Jupiter, I swear no.

Kent

27
  1. By Juno, I swear ay.

Lear

28 - 33
  1.                      They durst not do’t;
  2. They could not, would not do’t. ’Tis worse than murder
  3. To do upon respect such violent outrage.
  4. Resolve me with all modest haste which way
  5. Thou mightst deserve, or they impose, this usage,
  6. Coming from us.

Kent

34 - 52
  1.                 My lord, when at their home
  2. I did commend your Highness’ letters to them,
  3. Ere I was risen from the place that showed
  4. My duty kneeling, came there a reeking post,
  5. Stew’d in his haste, half breathless, panting forth
  6. From Goneril his mistress salutations;
  7. Deliver’d letters, spite of intermission,
  8. Which presently they read; on those contents
  9. They summon’d up their meiny, straight took horse,
  10. Commanded me to follow, and attend
  11. The leisure of their answer, gave me cold looks:
  12. And meeting here the other messenger,
  13. Whose welcome I perceiv’d had poison’d mine
  14. Being the very fellow which of late
  15. Display’d so saucily against your Highness
  16. Having more man than wit about me, drew.
  17. He rais’d the house with loud and coward cries.
  18. Your son and daughter found this trespass worth
  19. The shame which here it suffers.

Fool

53 - 61
  1. Winter’s not gone yet, if the wild geese fly that way.
  2. Fathers that wear rags
  3.                        Do make their children blind,
  4. But fathers that bear bags
  5.                            Shall see their children kind.
  6. Fortune, that arrant whore,
  7.                             Ne’er turns the key to th’ poor.
  8. But for all this, thou shalt have as many dolors for thy
  9. daughters as thou canst tell in a year.

Lear

62 - 64
  1. O how this mother swells up toward my heart!
  2. Hysterica passio, down, thou climbing sorrow,
  3. Thy element’s below.—Where is this daughter?

Kent

65
  1. With the Earl, sir, here within.

Lear

66 - 67
  1.                                  Follow me not,
  2. Stay here.
  1. Exit.

First Gentleman

69
  1. Made you no more offense but what you speak of?

Kent

70 - 71
  1. None.
  2. How chance the King comes with so small a number?

Fool

72 - 73
  1. And thou hadst been set i’ th’ stocks for that question,
  2. thou’dst well deserv’d it.

Kent

74
  1. Why, Fool?

Fool

75 - 91
  1. We’ll set thee to school to an ant, to teach thee there’s no
  2. laboring i’ th’ winter. All that follow their noses are led
  3. by their eyes but blind men, and there’s not a nose among
  4. twenty but can smell him that’s stinking. Let go thy hold
  5. when a great wheel runs down a hill, lest it break thy neck
  6. with following; but the great one that goes upward, let him
  7. draw thee after. When a wise man gives thee better counsel,
  8. give me mine again, I would have none but knaves follow it,
  9. since a fool gives it.
  10. That sir which serves and seeks for gain,
  11. And follows but for form,
  12. Will pack when it begins to rain,
  13. And leave thee in the storm.
  14. But I will tarry, the Fool will stay,
  15. And let the wise man fly.
  16. The knave turns fool that runs away,
  17. The Fool no knave, perdie.

Kent

92
  1. Where learn’d you this, Fool?

Fool

93
  1. Not i’ th’ stocks, fool.
  1. Enter Lear and Gloucester.

Lear

95 - 98
  1. Deny to speak with me? They are sick? They are weary?
  2. They have travel’d all the night? Mere fetches,
  3. The images of revolt and flying off.
  4. Fetch me a better answer.

Gloucester

99 - 102
  1.                           My dear lord,
  2. You know the fiery quality of the Duke,
  3. How unremovable and fix’d he is
  4. In his own course.

Lear

103 - 105
  1. Vengeance! Plague! Death! Confusion!
  2. Fiery? What quality? Why, Gloucester, Gloucester,
  3. I’ld speak with the Duke of Cornwall and his wife.

Gloucester

106
  1. Well, my good lord, I have inform’d them so.

Lear

107
  1. Inform’d them? Dost thou understand me, man?

Gloucester

108
  1. Ay, my good lord.

Lear

109 - 129
  1. The King would speak with Cornwall, the dear father
  2. Would with his daughter speak, commands, tends service.
  3. Are they inform’d of this? My breath and blood!
  4. Fiery? The fiery Duke? Tell the hot Duke that
  5. No, but not yet, may be he is not well:
  6. Infirmity doth still neglect all office
  7. Whereto our health is bound; we are not ourselves
  8. When nature, being oppress’d, commands the mind
  9. To suffer with the body. I’ll forbear,
  10. And am fallen out with my more headier will,
  11. To take the indispos’d and sickly fit
  12. For the sound man.
  13. Looking on Kent.
  14.                    Death on my state! Wherefore
  15. Should he sit here? This act persuades me
  16. That this remotion of the Duke and her
  17. Is practice only. Give me my servant forth.
  18. Go tell the Duke, and ’s wife, I’ld speak with them
  19. Now, presently. Bid them come forth and hear me,
  20. Or at their chamber-door I’ll beat the drum
  21. Till it cry sleep to death.

Gloucester

130
  1. I would have all well betwixt you.
  1. Exit.

Lear

132
  1. O me, my heart! My rising heart! But down!

Fool

133 - 137
  1. Cry to it, nuncle, as the cockney did to the eels when she
  2. put ’em i’ th’ paste alive; she knapp’d ’em o’ th’ coxcombs
  3. with a stick, and cried, Down, wantons, down!” ’Twas her
  4. brother that, in pure kindness to his horse, butter’d his
  5. hay.
  1. Enter Cornwall, Regan, Gloucester, Servants.

Lear

139
  1. Good morrow to you both.

Cornwall

140
  1.                          Hail to your Grace!
  1. Kent here set at liberty.

Regan

142
  1. I am glad to see your Highness.

Lear

143 - 156
  1. Regan, I think you are; I know what reason
  2. I have to think so. If thou shouldst not be glad,
  3. I would divorce me from thy mother’s tomb,
  4. Sepulchring an adult’ress.
  5. To Kent.
  6.                            O, are you free?
  7. Some other time for that.
  8. Exit Kent.
  9.                           Beloved Regan,
  10. Thy sister’s naught. O Regan, she hath tied
  11. Sharp-tooth’d unkindness, like a vulture, here.
  12. Points to his heart.
  13. I can scarce speak to thee; thou’lt not believe
  14. With how deprav’d a qualityO Regan!

Regan

157 - 159
  1. I pray you, sir, take patience. I have hope
  2. You less know how to value her desert
  3. Than she to scant her duty.

Lear

160
  1.                             Say? How is that?

Regan

161 - 165
  1. I cannot think my sister in the least
  2. Would fail her obligation. If, sir, perchance
  3. She have restrain’d the riots of your followers,
  4. ’Tis on such ground and to such wholesome end
  5. As clears her from all blame.

Lear

166
  1. My curses on her!

Regan

167 - 173
  1.                   O sir, you are old,
  2. Nature in you stands on the very verge
  3. Of his confine. You should be rul’d and led
  4. By some discretion that discerns your state
  5. Better than you yourself. Therefore I pray you
  6. That to our sister you do make return.
  7. Say you have wrong’d her.

Lear

174 - 179
  1.                           Ask her forgiveness?
  2. Do you but mark how this becomes the house!
  3. Dear daughter, I confess that I am old;
  4. Kneeling.
  5. Age is unnecessary. On my knees I beg
  6. That you’ll vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food.”

Regan

180 - 181
  1. Good sir, no more; these are unsightly tricks.
  2. Return you to my sister.

Lear

182 - 189
  1. Rising.
  2.                          Never, Regan:
  3. She hath abated me of half my train;
  4. Look’d black upon me, struck me with her tongue,
  5. Most serpent-like, upon the very heart.
  6. All the stor’d vengeances of heaven fall
  7. On her ingrateful top! Strike her young bones,
  8. You taking airs, with lameness!

Cornwall

190
  1.                                 Fie, sir, fie!

Lear

191 - 194
  1. You nimble lightnings, dart your blinding flames
  2. Into her scornful eyes! Infect her beauty,
  3. You fen-suck’d fogs, drawn by the pow’rful sun,
  4. To fall and blister!

Regan

195 - 196
  1.                      O the blest gods! So
  2. Will you wish on me, when the rash mood is on.

Lear

197 - 208
  1. No, Regan, thou shalt never have my curse.
  2. Thy tender-hefted nature shall not give
  3. Thee o’er to harshness. Her eyes are fierce, but thine
  4. Do comfort, and not burn. ’Tis not in thee
  5. To grudge my pleasures, to cut off my train,
  6. To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes,
  7. And in conclusion to oppose the bolt
  8. Against my coming in. Thou better know’st
  9. The offices of nature, bond of childhood,
  10. Effects of courtesy, dues of gratitude:
  11. Thy half o’ th’ kingdom hast thou not forgot,
  12. Wherein I thee endow’d.

Regan

209
  1.                         Good sir, to th’ purpose.

Lear

210
  1. Who put my man i’ th’ stocks?
  1. Tucket within.
  1. Enter Steward Oswald.

Cornwall

213
  1.                               What trumpet’s that?

Regan

214 - 217
  1. I know’t, my sister’s. This approves her letter,
  2. That she would soon be here.
  3. To Oswald.
  4.                              Is your lady come?

Lear

218 - 220
  1. This is a slave whose easy-borrowed pride
  2. Dwells in the fickle grace of her he follows.
  3. Out, varlet, from my sight!

Cornwall

221
  1.                             What means your Grace?
  1. Enter Goneril.

Lear

223 - 230
  1. Who stock’d my servant? Regan, I have good hope
  2. Thou didst not know on’t. Who comes here? O heavens!
  3. If you do love old men, if your sweet sway
  4. Allow obedience, if you yourselves are old,
  5. Make it your cause; send down, and take my part.
  6. To Goneril.
  7. Art not asham’d to look upon this beard?
  8. O Regan, will you take her by the hand?

Goneril

231 - 233
  1. Why not by th’ hand, sir? How have I offended?
  2. All’s not offense that indiscretion finds
  3. And dotage terms so.

Lear

234 - 235
  1.                      O sides, you are too tough!
  2. Will you yet hold? How came my man i’ th’ stocks?

Cornwall

236 - 237
  1. I set him there, sir; but his own disorders
  2. Deserv’d much less advancement.

Lear

238
  1.                                 You? Did you?

Regan

239 - 244
  1. I pray you, father, being weak, seem so.
  2. If till the expiration of your month
  3. You will return and sojourn with my sister,
  4. Dismissing half your train, come then to me.
  5. I am now from home, and out of that provision
  6. Which shall be needful for your entertainment.

Lear

245 - 255
  1. Return to her? And fifty men dismiss’d?
  2. No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose
  3. To wage against the enmity o’ th’ air,
  4. To be a comrade with the wolf and owl
  5. Necessity’s sharp pinch. Return with her?
  6. Why, the hot-bloodied France, that dowerless took
  7. Our youngest born, I could as well be brought
  8. To knee his throne, and squire-like, pension beg
  9. To keep base life afoot. Return with her?
  10. Persuade me rather to be slave and sumpter
  11. To this detested groom.
  1. Pointing at Oswald.

Goneril

257
  1.                         At your choice, sir.

Lear

258 - 271
  1. I prithee, daughter, do not make me mad.
  2. I will not trouble thee, my child; farewell:
  3. We’ll no more meet, no more see one another.
  4. But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter
  5. Or rather a disease that’s in my flesh,
  6. Which I must needs call mine. Thou art a bile,
  7. A plague-sore, or embossed carbuncle,
  8. In my corrupted blood. But I’ll not chide thee,
  9. Let shame come when it will, I do not call it.
  10. I do not bid the thunder-bearer shoot,
  11. Nor tell tales of thee to high-judging Jove.
  12. Mend when thou canst, be better at thy leisure,
  13. I can be patient, I can stay with Regan,
  14. I and my hundred knights.

Regan

272 - 277
  1.                           Not altogether so,
  2. I look’d not for you yet, nor am provided
  3. For your fit welcome. Give ear, sir, to my sister,
  4. For those that mingle reason with your passion
  5. Must be content to think you old, and so
  6. But she knows what she does.

Lear

278
  1.                              Is this well spoken?

Regan

279 - 284
  1. I dare avouch it, sir. What, fifty followers?
  2. Is it not well? What should you need of more?
  3. Yea, or so many? Sith that both charge and danger
  4. Speak ’gainst so great a number? How in one house
  5. Should many people under two commands
  6. Hold amity? ’Tis hard, almost impossible.

Goneril

285 - 286
  1. Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance
  2. From those that she calls servants or from mine?

Regan

287 - 291
  1. Why not, my lord? If then they chanc’d to slack ye,
  2. We could control them. If you will come to me
  3. (For now I spy a danger), I entreat you
  4. To bring but five and twenty; to no more
  5. Will I give place or notice.

Lear

292
  1. I gave you all

Regan

293
  1.                 And in good time you gave it.

Lear

294 - 297
  1. Made you my guardians, my depositaries,
  2. But kept a reservation to be followed
  3. With such a number. What, must I come to you
  4. With five and twenty? Regan, said you so?

Regan

298
  1. And speak’t again, my lord, no more with me.

Lear

299 - 305
  1. Those wicked creatures yet do look well-favor’d
  2. When others are more wicked; not being the worst
  3. Stands in some rank of praise.
  4. To Goneril.
  5.                                I’ll go with thee,
  6. Thy fifty yet doth double five and twenty,
  7. And thou art twice her love.

Goneril

306 - 309
  1.                              Hear me, my lord:
  2. What need you five and twenty? Ten? Or five?
  3. To follow in a house where twice so many
  4. Have a command to tend you?

Regan

310
  1.                             What need one?

Lear

311 - 334
  1. O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars
  2. Are in the poorest thing superfluous.
  3. Allow not nature more than nature needs,
  4. Man’s life is cheap as beast’s. Thou art a lady;
  5. If only to go warm were gorgeous,
  6. Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear’st,
  7. Which scarcely keeps thee warm. But for true need
  8. You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need!
  9. You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,
  10. As full of grief as age, wretched in both.
  11. If it be you that stirs these daughters’ hearts
  12. Against their father, fool me not so much
  13. To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger,
  14. And let not women’s weapons, water-drops,
  15. Stain my man’s cheeks! No, you unnatural hags,
  16. I will have such revenges on you both
  17. That all the world shallI will do such things
  18. What they are yet I know not, but they shall be
  19. The terrors of the earth! You think I’ll weep:
  20. No, I’ll not weep.
  21. I have full cause of weeping, but this heart
  22. Storm and tempest.
  23. Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws
  24. Or ere I’ll weep. O Fool, I shall go mad!
  1. Exeunt Lear, Gloucester, First Gentleman, and Fool.

Cornwall

336
  1. Let us withdraw, ’twill be a storm.

Regan

337 - 338
  1. This house is little, the old man and ’s people
  2. Cannot be well bestow’d.

Goneril

339 - 340
  1. ’Tis his own blame hath put himself from rest,
  2. And must needs taste his folly.

Regan

341 - 342
  1. For his particular, I’ll receive him gladly,
  2. But not one follower.

Goneril

343 - 344
  1.                       So am I purpos’d.
  2. Where is my Lord of Gloucester?

Cornwall

345 - 347
  1. Followed the old man forth.
  2. Enter Gloucester.
  3.                             He is return’d.

Gloucester

348
  1. The King is in high rage.

Cornwall

349
  1.                           Whither is he going?

Gloucester

350
  1. He calls to horse, but will I know not whither.

Cornwall

351
  1. ’Tis best to give him way, he leads himself.

Goneril

352
  1. My lord, entreat him by no means to stay.

Gloucester

353 - 355
  1. Alack, the night comes on, and the bleak winds
  2. Do sorely ruffle; for many miles about
  3. There’s scarce a bush.

Regan

356 - 361
  1.                        O sir, to willful men,
  2. The injuries that they themselves procure
  3. Must be their schoolmasters. Shut up your doors.
  4. He is attended with a desperate train,
  5. And what they may incense him to, being apt
  6. To have his ear abus’d, wisdom bids fear.

Cornwall

362 - 363
  1. Shut up your doors, my lord, ’tis a wild night,
  2. My Regan counsels well. Come out o’ th’ storm.
  1. Exeunt.
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