ACT 2, SCENE 4: Before GLOUCESTER's castle. KENT in the stocks.

Enter 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!                                                                                                    [5]
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.                                      [10]

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.


KENT: Yes.                                                                                                               [15]

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.                                                                 [20]

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 might'st deserve, or they impose, this usage,                           [25]
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                              [30]
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                                                 [35]
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,--                                     [40]
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                                   [45]
Fathers that wear rags
Do make their children blind;
But fathers that bear bags
Shall see their children kind.                                                               [50]
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!                   [55]
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.

Gentleman: Made you no more offence but what you speak of?                [60]

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?                                                                                                 [65]

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                           [70]
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.                                                                               [75]
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,                                                           [80]
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.                                                                                 [85]

Re-enter 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;                                               [90]
How unremoveable and fix'd he is
In his own course.

KING LEAR:              Vengeance! plague! death! confusion!
Fiery? what quality? Why, Gloucester, Gloucester,
I'll speak with the Duke of Cornwall and his wife.

GLOUCESTER: Well, my good lord, I have inform'd them so.                  [95]

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!                              [100]
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                       [105]
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                                         [110]
That this remotion of the duke and her
Is practice only. Give me my servant forth.
Go tell the duke and's wife I'd speak with them,
Now, presently: bid them come forth and hear me,
Or at their chamber-door I'll beat the drum                                         [115]
Till it cry sleep to death.

GLOUCESTER: I would have all well betwixt you.

KING LEAR: O me, my heart, my rising heart! but, down!

Fool: Cry to it, uncle, as the cockney did to the
eels when she put 'em i' the paste alive; she knapped                      [120]
'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.


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.                                                          [125]

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,                                          [130]
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.                                     [135]
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,                                  [140]
'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                                      [145]
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:                                  [150]
'Dear daughter, I confess that I am old;
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.                                                                           [155]

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,                                 [160]
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!                                                                       [165]

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                                          [170]
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,                                             [175]
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,                               [180]
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             [185]
Thou didst not know on't. Who comes here? O heavens,
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!
Art not ashamed to look upon this beard?                                          [190]
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?                      [195]

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,                                       [200]
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                                               [205]
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                                    [210]
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:                              [215]
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,                                  [220]
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:                                          [225]
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;                               [230]
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?                                [235]
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                     [240]
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                                           [245]
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                              [250]
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.                                                                [255]
[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?                                                               [260]

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,                                                         [265]
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!                                               [270]
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,                             [275]
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:                                                                                        [280]
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!


[Storm and tempest.]

CORNWALL: Let us withdraw; 'twill be a storm.

REGAN: This house is little: the old man and his people                          [285]
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.                                                                                [290]

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

CORNWALL: Follow'd the old man forth: he is return'd.


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.                          [295]

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 about
There's scarce a bush.

REGAN:                           O, sir, to wilful men,
The injuries that they themselves procure                                          [300]
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:                    [305]
My Regan counsels well; come out o' the storm.


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