ACT 2, SCENE 2: Before Gloucester's castle.

Enter KENT and OSWALD, severally.

OSWALD: Good dawning to thee, friend: art of this


OSWALD: Where may we set our horses?

KENT: I' the mire.                                                                                                  [5]

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.                                                                                         [10]

OSWALD: Why dost thou use me thus? I know thee

KENT: Fellow, I know thee.

OSWALD: What dost thou know me for?

KENT: A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats;                                      [15]
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                             [20]
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.                                                                                                       [25]

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                    [30]
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.                                       [35]

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.                                                                                         [40]

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?                                                     [45]

KENT: With you, goodman boy, and you please:
come, I'll flesh ye; come on, young master.

GLOUCESTER: Weapons! arms! What's the matter

CORNWALL: Keep peace, upon your lives: He dies                                     [50]
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.                                [55]
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                                [60]
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,--                                                           [65]

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!                                                                                [70]
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,                   [75]
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                                     [80]
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,                                                 [85]
I'd 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.                                                                         [90]

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                                                        [95]
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,                                      [100]
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                                                  [105]
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 Ph¦bus' front,--                                                               [110]

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.                                                                                           [115]

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,                            [120]
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,                                        [125]
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;                                     [130]
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,             [135]
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                                  [140]
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 check him for 't: your purposed low correction
Is such as basest and contemned'st wretches                                       [145]
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.                                                          [150]

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,             [155]
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:                                    [160]
Give you good morrow!

GLOUCESTER: The duke's to blame in this; 'twill be ill taken.

KENT: Good king, that must approve the common saw,
Thou out of heaven's benediction comest
To the warm sun!                                                                                      [165]
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                                         [170]
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.                                                                             [175]
Fortune, good night: smile once more: turn thy wheel!


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