King Lear, by William Shakespeare

Act II

Scene I. Gloucester’s castle.

Enter Edmund, and Curan meets him

Edmund Save thee, Curan.

Curan And you, sir. I have been with your father, and given him notice that the Duke of Cornwall and Regan his duchess will be here with him this night.

Edmund How comes that?

Curan Nay, I know not. You have heard of the news abroad; I mean the whispered ones, for they are yet but ear-kissing arguments?

Edmund Not I pray you, what are they?

Curan Have you heard of no likely wars toward, ’twixt the
Dukes of Cornwall and Albany?

Edmund Not a word.

Curan You may do, then, in time. Fare you well, sir.

Exit

Edmund The duke be here to-night? The better! best!
This weaves itself perforce into my business.
My father hath set guard to take my brother;
And I have one thing, of a queasy question,
Which I must act: briefness and fortune, work!
Brother, a word; descend: brother, I say!

Enter Edgar

My father watches: O sir, fly this place;
Intelligence is given where you are hid;
You have now the good advantage of the night:
Have you not spoken ’gainst the Duke of Cornwall?
He’s coming hither: now, i’ the night, i’ the haste,
And Regan with him: have you nothing said
Upon his party ’gainst the Duke of Albany?
Advise yourself.

Edgar   I am sure on’t, not a word.

Edmund I hear my father coming: pardon me:
In cunning I must draw my sword upon you
Draw; seem to defend yourself; now quit you well.
Yield: come before my father. Light, ho, here!
Fly, brother. Torches, torches! So, farewell.

Exit Edgar

Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion.

Wounds his arm

Of my more fierce endeavour: I have seen drunkards
Do more than this in sport. Father, father!
Stop, stop! No help?

Enter Gloucester, and Servants with torches

Gloucester Now, Edmund, where’s the villain?

Edmund Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out,
Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon
To stand auspicious mistress  —

Gloucester But where is he?

Edmund Look, sir, I bleed.

Gloucester Where is the villain, Edmund?

Edmund Fled this way, sir. When by no means he could  —

Gloucester Pursue him, ho! Go after.

Exeunt some Servants

By no means what?

Edmund Persuade me to the murder of your lordship;
But that I told him, the revenging gods
’Gainst parricides did all their thunders bend;
Spoke, with how manifold and strong a bond
The child was bound to the father; sir, in fine,
Seeing how loathly opposite I stood
To his unnatural purpose, in fell motion,
With his prepared sword, he charges home
My unprovided body, lanced mine arm:
But when he saw my best alarum’d spirits,
Bold in the quarrel’s right, roused to the encounter,
Or whether gasted by the noise I made,
Full suddenly he fled.

Gloucester Let him fly far:
Not in this land shall he remain uncaught;
And found — dispatch. The noble duke my master,
My worthy arch and patron, comes to-night:
By his authority I will proclaim it,
That he which finds him shall deserve our thanks,
Bringing the murderous coward to the stake;
He that conceals him, death.

Edmund When I dissuaded him from his intent,
And found him pight to do it, with curst speech
I threaten’d to discover him: he replied,
‘Thou unpossessing bastard! dost thou think,
If I would stand against thee, would the reposal
Of any trust, virtue, or worth in thee
Make thy words faith’d? No: what I should deny —
As this I would: ay, though thou didst produce
My very character — I’ld turn it all
To thy suggestion, plot, and damned practise:
And thou must make a dullard of the world,
If they not thought the profits of my death
Were very pregnant and potential spurs
To make thee seek it.’

Gloucester Strong and fasten’d villain
Would he deny his letter? I never got him.

Tucket within

Hark, the duke’s trumpets! I know not why he comes.
All ports I’ll bar; the villain shall not ’scape;
The duke must grant me that: besides, his picture
I will send far and near, that all the kingdom
May have the due note of him; and of my land,
Loyal and natural boy, I’ll work the means
To make thee capable.

Enter Cornwall, Regan, and Attendants

Cornwall How now, my noble friend! since I came hither,
Which I can call but now, I have heard strange news.

Regan If it be true, all vengeance comes too short
Which can pursue the offender. How dost, my lord?

Gloucester O, madam, my old heart is crack’d, it’s crack’d!

Regan What, did my father’s godson seek your life?
He whom my father named? your Edgar?

Gloucester O, lady, lady, shame would have it hid!

Regan Was he not companion with the riotous knights
That tend upon my father?

Gloucester I know not, madam: ’tis too bad, too bad.

Edmund Yes, madam, he was of that consort.

Regan No marvel, then, though he were ill affected:
’Tis they have put him on the old man’s death,
To have the expense and waste of his revenues.
I have this present evening from my sister
Been well inform’d of them; and with such cautions,
That if they come to sojourn at my house,
I’ll not be there.

Cornwall Nor I, assure thee, Regan.
Edmund, I hear that you have shown your father
A child-like office.

Edmund ’Twas my duty, sir.

Gloucester He did bewray his practise; and received
This hurt you see, striving to apprehend him.

Cornwall Is he pursued?

Gloucester   Ay, my good lord.

Cornwall If he be taken, he shall never more
Be fear’d of doing harm: make your own purpose,
How in my strength you please. For you, Edmund,
Whose virtue and obedience doth this instant
So much commend itself, you shall be ours:
Natures of such deep trust we shall much need;
You we first seize on.

Edmund I shall serve you, sir,
Truly, however else.

Gloucester For him I thank your grace.

Cornwall You know not why we came to visit you  —

Regan Thus out of season, threading dark-eyed night:
Occasions, noble Gloucester, of some poise,
Wherein we must have use of your advice:
Our father he hath writ, so hath our sister,
Of differences, which I least thought it fit
To answer from our home; the several messengers
From hence attend dispatch. Our good old friend,
Lay comforts to your bosom; and bestow
Your needful counsel to our business,
Which craves the instant use.

Gloucester I serve you, madam:
Your graces are right welcome.

Exeunt

Scene II. Before Gloucester’s castle.

Enter Kent and Oswald, severally

Oswald Good dawning to thee, friend: art of this house?

Kent Ay.

Oswald Where may we set our horses?

Kent I’ the mire.

Oswald Prithee, if thou lovest me, tell me.

Kent I love thee not.

Oswald Why, then, I care not for thee.

Kent If I had thee in Lipsbury pinfold, I would make thee care for me.

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

Kent Fellow, I know thee.

Oswald What dost thou know me for?

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-livered, action-taking knave, a whoreson, glass-gazing, super-serviceable 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, pandar, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch: one whom I will beat into clamorous whining, if thou deniest the least syllable of thy addition.

Oswald Why, what a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to rail on one that is neither known of thee nor knows thee!

Kent What a brazen-faced varlet art thou, to deny thou knowest me! Is it two days ago since I tripped up thy heels, and beat thee before the king? Draw, you rogue: for, though it be night, yet the moon shines; I’ll make a sop o’ the moonshine of you: draw, you whoreson cullionly barber-monger, draw.

Drawing his sword

Oswald Away! I have nothing to do with thee.

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.

Oswald Help, ho! murder! help!

Kent Strike, you slave; stand, rogue, stand; you neat slave, strike.

Beating him

Oswald Help, ho! murder! murder!

Enter Edmund, with his rapier drawn, Cornwall, Regan, Gloucester, and Servants

Edmund How now! What’s the matter?

Kent With you, goodman boy, an you please: come, I’ll flesh ye; come on, young master.

Gloucester Weapons! arms! What ’s the matter here?

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

Regan The messengers from our sister and the king.

Cornwall What is your difference? speak.

Oswald I am scarce in breath, my lord.

Kent No marvel, you have so bestirred your valour. You cowardly rascal, nature disclaims in thee: a tailor made thee.

Cornwall Thou art a strange fellow: a tailor make a man?

Kent Ay, a tailor, sir: a stone-cutter or painter could not have made him so ill, though he had been but two hours at the trade.

Cornwall Speak yet, how grew your quarrel?

Oswald This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spared at suit of his gray beard  —

Kent Thou whoreson zed! thou unnecessary letter! My lord, if you will give me leave, I will tread this unbolted villain into mortar, and daub the wall of a jakes with him. Spare my gray beard, you wagtail?

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

Kent Yes, sir; but anger hath a privilege.

Cornwall Why art thou angry?

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 a-twain
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 nought, like dogs, but following.
A plague upon your epileptic visage!
Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool?
Goose, if I had you upon Sarum plain,
I’ld drive ye cackling home to Camelot.

Cornwall Why, art thou mad, old fellow?

Gloucester How fell you out? say that.

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

Cornwall Why dost thou call him a knave? What’s his offence?

Kent His countenance likes me not.

Cornwall No more, perchance, does mine, nor his, nor hers.

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.

Cornwall This is some fellow,
Who, having been praised 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.

Kent Sir, in good sooth, in sincere verity,
Under the allowance of your great aspect,
Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire
On flickering Phoebus’ front  —

Cornwall What mean’st by this?

Kent To go out of my dialect, which you discommend so much. I know, sir, I am no flatterer: he that beguiled 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.

Cornwall What was the offence you gave him?

Oswald I never gave him any:
It pleased 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-subdued;
And, in the fleshment of this dread exploit,
Drew on me here again.

Kent None of these rogues and cowards
But Ajax is their fool.

Cornwall Fetch forth the stocks!
You stubborn ancient knave, you reverend braggart,
We’ll teach you  —

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.

Cornwall Fetch forth the stocks! As I have life and honour,
There shall he sit till noon.

Regan Till noon! till night, my lord; and all night too.

Kent Why, madam, if I were your father’s dog,
You should not use me so.

Regan Sir, being his knave, I will.

Cornwall This is a fellow of the self-same colour
Our sister speaks of. Come, bring away the stocks!

Stocks brought out

Gloucester Let me beseech your grace not to do so:
His fault is much, and the good king his master
Will cheque him for ’t: your purposed low correction
Is such as basest and contemned’st wretches
For pilferings and most common trespasses
Are punish’d with: the king must take it ill,
That he’s so slightly valued in his messenger,
Should have him thus restrain’d.

Cornwall I’ll answer that.

Regan My sister may receive it much more worse,
To have her gentleman abused, assaulted,
For following her affairs. Put in his legs.

Kent is put in the stocks

Come, my good lord, away.

Exeunt all but Gloucester and Kent

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.

Kent Pray, do not, sir: I have watched 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!

Gloucester The duke’s to blame in this; ’twill be ill taken.

Exit

Kent Good king, that must approve the common saw,
Thou out of heaven’s benediction comest
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 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!

Sleeps

Scene III. A wood.

Enter Edgar

Edgar I heard myself proclaim’d;
And by the happy hollow of a tree
Escaped the hunt. No port is free; no place,
That guard, and most unusual vigilance,
Does not attend my taking. Whiles I may ’scape,
I will preserve myself: and am bethought
To take the basest and most poorest shape
That ever penury, in contempt of man,
Brought near to beast: my face I’ll grime with filth;
Blanket my loins: elf all my hair in knots;
And with presented nakedness out-face
The winds and persecutions of the sky.
The country gives me proof and precedent
Of Bedlam beggars, who, with roaring voices,
Strike in their numb’d and mortified bare arms
Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary;
And with this horrible object, from low farms,
Poor pelting villages, sheep-cotes, and mills,
Sometime with lunatic bans, sometime with prayers,
Enforce their charity. Poor Turlygod! poor Tom!
That’s something yet: Edgar I nothing am.

Exit

Scene IV. Before Gloucester’s castle. Kent in the stocks.

Enter King Lear, Fool, and Gentleman

King Lear ’Tis strange that they should so depart from home,
And not send back my messenger.

Gentleman As I learn’d,
The night before there was no purpose in them
Of this remove.

Kent   Hail to thee, noble master!

King Lear Ha!
Makest thou this shame thy pastime?

Kent No, my lord.

Fool Ha, ha! he wears cruel garters. Horses are tied by the heads, dogs and bears by the neck, monkeys by the loins, and men by the legs: when a man’s over-lusty at legs, then he wears wooden nether-stocks.

King Lear What’s he that hath so much thy place mistook
To set thee here?

Kent   It is both he and she;
Your son and daughter.

King Lear No.

Kent Yes.

King Lear No, I say.

Kent I say, yea.

King Lear No, no, they would not.

Kent Yes, they have.

King Lear By Jupiter, I swear, no.

Kent By Juno, I swear, ay.

King Lear They durst not do ’t;
They could not, would not do ’t; ’tis worse than murder,
To do upon respect such violent outrage:
Resolve me, with all modest haste, which way
Thou mightst deserve, or they impose, this usage,
Coming from us.

Kent   My lord, when at their home
I did commend your highness’ letters to them,
Ere I was risen from the place that show’d
My duty kneeling, came there a reeking post,
Stew’d in his haste, half breathless, panting forth
From Goneril his mistress salutations;
Deliver’d letters, spite of intermission,
Which presently they read: on whose contents,
They summon’d up their meiny, straight took horse;
Commanded me to follow, and attend
The leisure of their answer; gave me cold looks:
And meeting here the other messenger,
Whose welcome, I perceived, had poison’d mine —
Being the very fellow that of late
Display’d so saucily against your highness —
Having more man than wit about me, drew:
He raised the house with loud and coward cries.
Your son and daughter found this trespass worth
The shame which here it suffers.

Fool Winter’s not gone yet, if the wild-geese fly that way.
Fathers that wear rags
Do make their children blind;
But fathers that bear bags
Shall see their children kind.
Fortune, that arrant whore,
Ne’er turns the key to the poor.
But, for all this, thou shalt have as many dolours for thy daughters as thou canst tell in a year.

King Lear O, how this mother swells up toward my heart!
Hysterica passio, down, thou climbing sorrow,
Thy element’s below! Where is this daughter?

Kent With the earl, sir, here within.

King Lear Follow me not;
Stay here.

Exit

Gentleman Made you no more offence but what you speak of?

Kent None.
How chance the king comes with so small a train?

Fool And thou hadst been set i’ the stocks for that question, thou hadst well deserved it.

Kent Why, fool?

Fool We’ll set thee to school to an ant, to teach thee there’s no labouring i’ the winter. All that follow their noses are led by their eyes but blind men; and there’s not a nose among twenty but can smell him that’s stinking. Let go thy hold when a great wheel runs down a hill, lest it break thy neck with following it: but the great one that goes up the hill, let him draw thee after. When a wise man gives thee better counsel, give me mine again: I would have none but knaves follow it, since a fool gives it.
That sir which serves and seeks for gain,
And follows but for form,
Will pack when it begins to rain,
And leave thee in the storm,
But I will tarry; the fool will stay,
And let the wise man fly:
The knave turns fool that runs away;
The fool no knave, perdy.

Kent Where learned you this, fool?

Fool Not i’ the stocks, fool.

Re-enter King Lear with Gloucester

King Lear Deny to speak with me? They are sick? they are weary?
They have travell’d all the night? Mere fetches;
The images of revolt and flying off.
Fetch me a better answer.

Gloucester My dear lord,
You know the fiery quality of the duke;
How unremoveable and fix’d he is
In his own course.

King Lear Vengeance! plague! death! confusion!
Fiery? what quality? Why, Gloucester, Gloucester,
I’ld speak with the Duke of Cornwall and his wife.

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

King Lear Inform’d them! Dost thou understand me, man?

Gloucester Ay, my good lord.

King Lear The king would speak with Cornwall; the dear father
Would with his daughter speak, commands her service:
Are they inform’d of this? My breath and blood!
Fiery? the fiery duke? Tell the hot duke that —
No, but not yet: may be he is not well:
Infirmity doth still neglect all office
Whereto our health is bound; we are not ourselves
When nature, being oppress’d, commands the mind
To suffer with the body: I’ll forbear;
And am fall’n out with my more headier will,
To take the indisposed and sickly fit
For the sound man. Death on my state! wherefore

Looking on Kent

Should he sit here? This act persuades me
That this remotion of the duke and her
Is practise only. Give me my servant forth.
Go tell the duke and ’s wife I’ld speak with them,
Now, presently: bid them come forth and hear me,
Or at their chamber-door I’ll beat the drum
Till it cry sleep to death.

Gloucester I would have all well betwixt you.

Exit

King Lear O me, my heart, my rising heart! but, down!

Fool Cry to it, nuncle, as the cockney did to the eels when she put ’em i’ the paste alive; she knapped ’em o’ the coxcombs with a stick, and cried ‘Down, wantons, down!’ ’Twas her brother that, in pure kindness to his horse, buttered his hay.

Enter Cornwall, Regan, Gloucester, and Servants

King Lear Good morrow to you both.

Cornwall Hail to your grace!

Kent is set at liberty

Regan I am glad to see your highness.

King Lear Regan, I think you are; I know what reason
I have to think so: if thou shouldst not be glad,
I would divorce me from thy mother’s tomb,
Sepulchring an adultress.

To Kent

O, are you free?
Some other time for that. Beloved Regan,
Thy sister’s naught: O Regan, she hath tied
Sharp-tooth’d unkindness, like a vulture, here:

Points to his heart

I can scarce speak to thee; thou’lt not believe
With how depraved a quality — O Regan!

Regan I pray you, sir, take patience: I have hope.
You less know how to value her desert
Than she to scant her duty.

King Lear Say, how is that?

Regan I cannot think my sister in the least
Would fail her obligation: if, sir, perchance
She have restrain’d the riots of your followers,
’Tis on such ground, and to such wholesome end,
As clears her from all blame.

King Lear My curses on her!

Regan   O, sir, you are old.
Nature in you stands on the very verge
Of her confine: you should be ruled and led
By some discretion, that discerns your state
Better than you yourself. Therefore, I pray you,
That to our sister you do make return;
Say you have wrong’d her, sir.

King Lear Ask her forgiveness?
Do you but mark how this becomes the house:
‘Dear daughter, I confess that I am old;

Kneeling

Age is unnecessary: on my knees I beg
That you’ll vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food.’

Regan Good sir, no more; these are unsightly tricks:
Return you to my sister.

King Lear [Rising] Never, Regan:
She hath abated me of half my train;
Look’d black upon me; struck me with her tongue,
Most serpent-like, upon the very heart:
All the stored vengeances of heaven fall
On her ingrateful top! Strike her young bones,
You taking airs, with lameness!

Cornwall Fie, sir, fie!

King Lear You nimble lightnings, dart your blinding flames
Into her scornful eyes! Infect her beauty,
You fen-suck’d fogs, drawn by the powerful sun,
To fall and blast her pride!

Regan O the blest gods! so will you wish on me,
When the rash mood is on.

King Lear No, Regan, thou shalt never have my curse:
Thy tender-hefted nature shall not give
Thee o’er to harshness: her eyes are fierce; but thine
Do comfort and not burn. ’Tis not in thee
To grudge my pleasures, to cut off my train,
To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes,
And in conclusion to oppose the bolt
Against my coming in: thou better know’st
The offices of nature, bond of childhood,
Effects of courtesy, dues of gratitude;
Thy half o’ the kingdom hast thou not forgot,
Wherein I thee endow’d.

Regan Good sir, to the purpose.

King Lear Who put my man i’ the stocks?

Tucket within

Cornwall What trumpet’s that?

Regan I know’t, my sister’s: this approves her letter,
That she would soon be here.

Enter Oswald

Is your lady come?

King Lear This is a slave, whose easy-borrow’d pride
Dwells in the fickle grace of her he follows.
Out, varlet, from my sight!

Cornwall What means your grace?

King Lear Who stock’d my servant? Regan, I have good hope
Thou didst not know on’t. Who comes here? O heavens,

Enter Goneril

If you do love old men, if your sweet sway
Allow obedience, if yourselves are old,
Make it your cause; send down, and take my part!

To Goneril

Art not ashamed to look upon this beard?
O Regan, wilt thou take her by the hand?

Goneril Why not by the hand, sir? How have I offended?
All’s not offence that indiscretion finds
And dotage terms so.

King Lear O sides, you are too tough;
Will you yet hold? How came my man i’ the stocks?

Cornwall I set him there, sir: but his own disorders
Deserved much less advancement.

King Lear You! did you?

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

King Lear Return to her, and fifty men dismiss’d?
No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose
To wage against the enmity o’ the air;
To be a comrade with the wolf and owl —
Necessity’s sharp pinch! Return with her?
Why, the hot-blooded France, that dowerless took
Our youngest born, I could as well be brought
To knee his throne, and, squire-like; pension beg
To keep base life afoot. Return with her?
Persuade me rather to be slave and sumpter
To this detested groom.

Pointing at Oswald

Goneril At your choice, sir.

King Lear I prithee, daughter, do not make me mad:
I will not trouble thee, my child; farewell:
We’ll no more meet, no more see one another:
But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter;
Or rather a disease that’s in my flesh,
Which I must needs call mine: thou art a boil,
A plague-sore, an embossed carbuncle,
In my corrupted blood. But I’ll not chide thee;
Let shame come when it will, I do not call it:
I do not bid the thunder-bearer shoot,
Nor tell tales of thee to high-judging Jove:
Mend when thou canst; be better at thy leisure:
I can be patient; I can stay with Regan,
I and my hundred knights.

Regan Not altogether so:
I look’d not for you yet, nor am provided
For your fit welcome. Give ear, sir, to my sister;
For those that mingle reason with your passion
Must be content to think you old, and so —
But she knows what she does.

King Lear Is this well spoken?

Regan I dare avouch it, sir: what, fifty followers?
Is it not well? What should you need of more?
Yea, or so many, sith that both charge and danger
Speak ’gainst so great a number? How, in one house,
Should many people, under two commands,
Hold amity? ’Tis hard; almost impossible.

Goneril Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance
From those that she calls servants or from mine?

Regan Why not, my lord? If then they chanced to slack you,
We could control them. If you will come to me —
For now I spy a danger — I entreat you
To bring but five and twenty: to no more
Will I give place or notice.

King Lear I gave you all  —

Regan   And in good time you gave it.

King Lear Made you my guardians, my depositaries;
But kept a reservation to be follow’d
With such a number. What, must I come to you
With five and twenty, Regan? said you so?

Regan And speak’t again, my lord; no more with me.

King Lear Those wicked creatures yet do look well-favour’d,
When others are more wicked: not being the worst
Stands in some rank of praise.

To Goneril

I’ll go with thee:
Thy fifty yet doth double five and twenty,
And thou art twice her love.

Goneril Hear me, my lord;
What need you five and twenty, ten, or five,
To follow in a house where twice so many
Have a command to tend you?

Regan What need one?

King Lear O, reason not the need: our basest beggars
Are in the poorest thing superfluous:
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
Man’s life’s as cheap as beast’s: thou art a lady;
If only to go warm were gorgeous,
Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear’st,
Which scarcely keeps thee warm. But, for true need —
You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need!
You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,
As full of grief as age; wretched in both!
If it be you that stir these daughters’ hearts
Against their father, fool me not so much
To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger,
And let not women’s weapons, water-drops,
Stain my man’s cheeks! No, you unnatural hags,
I will have such revenges on you both,
That all the world shall — I will do such things —
What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be
The terrors of the earth. You think I’ll weep
No, I’ll not weep:
I have full cause of weeping; but this heart
Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws,
Or ere I’ll weep. O fool, I shall go mad!

Exeunt King Lear, Gloucester, Kent, and Fool

Storm and tempest

Cornwall Let us withdraw; ’twill be a storm.

Regan This house is little: the old man and his people
Cannot be well bestow’d.

Goneril ’Tis his own blame; hath put himself from rest,
And must needs taste his folly.

Regan For his particular, I’ll receive him gladly,
But not one follower.

Goneril So am I purposed.
Where is my lord of Gloucester?

Cornwall Follow’d the old man forth: he is return’d.

Re-enter Gloucester

Gloucester The king is in high rage.

Cornwall Whither is he going?

Gloucester He calls to horse; but will I know not whither.

Cornwall ’Tis best to give him way; he leads himself.

Goneril My lord, entreat him by no means to stay.

Gloucester Alack, the night comes on, and the bleak winds
Do sorely ruffle; for many miles a bout
There’s scarce a bush.

Regan O, sir, to wilful men,
The injuries that they themselves procure
Must be their schoolmasters. Shut up your doors:
He is attended with a desperate train;
And what they may incense him to, being apt
To have his ear abused, wisdom bids fear.

Cornwall Shut up your doors, my lord; ’tis a wild night:
My Regan counsels well; come out o’ the storm.

Exeunt

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/shakespeare/william/lear/act2.html

Last updated Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 19:25