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Home > King Lear > ACT II - SCENE II. Before Gloucester's castle.

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ACT II - SCENE II. Before Gloucester's castle.
Enter KENT and OSWALD, severally

OSWALD
1    Good dawning to thee, friend: art of this house?
KENT
2    Ay.
OSWALD
3    Where may we set our horses?
KENT
4    I' the mire.
OSWALD
5    Prithee, if thou lovest me, tell me.
KENT
6    I love thee not.
OSWALD
7    Why, then, I care not for thee.
KENT
8    If I had thee in Lipsbury pinfold, I would make thee
9    care for me.
OSWALD
10   Why dost thou use me thus? I know thee not.
KENT
11   Fellow, I know thee.
OSWALD
12   What dost thou know me for?
KENT
13   A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a
14   base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited,
15   hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a
16   lily-livered, action-taking knave, a whoreson,
17   glass-gazing, super-serviceable finical rogue;
18   one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a
19   bawd, in way of good service, and art nothing but
20   the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar,
21   and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch: one whom I
22   will beat into clamorous whining, if thou deniest
23   the least syllable of thy addition.
OSWALD
24   Why, what a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to rail
25   on one that is neither known of thee nor knows thee!
KENT
26   What a brazen-faced varlet art thou, to deny thou
27   knowest me! Is it two days ago since I tripped up
28   thy heels, and beat thee before the king? Draw, you
29   rogue: for, though it be night, yet the moon
30   shines; I'll make a sop o' the moonshine of you:
31   draw, you whoreson cullionly barber-monger, draw.
Drawing his sword

OSWALD
32   Away! I have nothing to do with thee.
KENT
33   Draw, you rascal: you come with letters against the
34   king; and take vanity the puppet's part against the
35   royalty of her father: draw, you rogue, or I'll so
36   carbonado your shanks: draw, you rascal; come your ways.
OSWALD
37   Help, ho! murder! help!
KENT
38   Strike, you slave; stand, rogue, stand; you neat
39   slave, strike.
Beating him

OSWALD
40   Help, ho! murder! murder!
EDMUND
41   How now! What's the matter?
KENT
42   With you, goodman boy, an you please: come, I'll
43   flesh ye; come on, young master.
GLOUCESTER
44   Weapons! arms! What 's the matter here?
CORNWALL
45   Keep peace, upon your lives:
46   He dies that strikes again. What is the matter?
REGAN
47   The messengers from our sister and the king.
CORNWALL
48   What is your difference? speak.
OSWALD
49   I am scarce in breath, my lord.
KENT
50   No marvel, you have so bestirred your valour. You
51   cowardly rascal, nature disclaims in thee: a
52   tailor made thee.
CORNWALL
53   Thou art a strange fellow: a tailor make a man?
KENT
54   Ay, a tailor, sir: a stone-cutter or painter could
55   not have made him so ill, though he had been but two
56   hours at the trade.
CORNWALL
57   Speak yet, how grew your quarrel?
OSWALD
58   This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spared
59   at suit of his gray beard,--
KENT
60   Thou whoreson zed! thou unnecessary letter! My
61   lord, if you will give me leave, I will tread this
62   unbolted villain into mortar, and daub the wall of
63   a jakes with him. Spare my gray beard, you wagtail?
CORNWALL
64   Peace, sirrah!
65   You beastly knave, know you no reverence?
KENT
66   Yes, sir; but anger hath a privilege.
CORNWALL
67   Why art thou angry?
KENT
68   That such a slave as this should wear a sword,
69   Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as these,
70   Like rats, oft bite the holy cords a-twain
71   Which are too intrinse t' unloose; smooth every passion
72   That in the natures of their lords rebel;
73   Bring oil to fire, snow to their colder moods;
74   Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks
75   With every gale and vary of their masters,
76   Knowing nought, like dogs, but following.
77   A plague upon your epileptic visage!
78   Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool?
79   Goose, if I had you upon Sarum plain,
80   I'ld drive ye cackling home to Camelot.
CORNWALL
81   Why, art thou mad, old fellow?
GLOUCESTER
82   How fell you out? say that.
KENT
83   No contraries hold more antipathy
84   Than I and such a knave.
CORNWALL
85   Why dost thou call him a knave? What's his offence?
KENT
86   His countenance likes me not.
CORNWALL
87   No more, perchance, does mine, nor his, nor hers.
KENT
88   Sir, 'tis my occupation to be plain:
89   I have seen better faces in my time
90   Than stands on any shoulder that I see
91   Before me at this instant.
CORNWALL
92   This is some fellow,
93   Who, having been praised for bluntness, doth affect
94   A saucy roughness, and constrains the garb
95   Quite from his nature: he cannot flatter, he,
96   An honest mind and plain, he must speak truth!
97   An they will take it, so; if not, he's plain.
98   These kind of knaves I know, which in this plainness
99   Harbour more craft and more corrupter ends
100  Than twenty silly ducking observants
101  That stretch their duties nicely.
KENT
102  Sir, in good sooth, in sincere verity,
103  Under the allowance of your great aspect,
104  Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire
105  On flickering Phoebus' front,--
CORNWALL
106  What mean'st by this?
KENT
107  To go out of my dialect, which you
108  discommend so much. I know, sir, I am no
109  flatterer: he that beguiled you in a plain
110  accent was a plain knave; which for my part
111  I will not be, though I should win your displeasure
112  to entreat me to 't.
CORNWALL
113  What was the offence you gave him?
OSWALD
114  I never gave him any:
115  It pleased the king his master very late
116  To strike at me, upon his misconstruction;
117  When he, conjunct and flattering his displeasure,
118  Tripp'd me behind; being down, insulted, rail'd,
119  And put upon him such a deal of man,
120  That worthied him, got praises of the king
121  For him attempting who was self-subdued;
122  And, in the fleshment of this dread exploit,
123  Drew on me here again.
KENT
124  None of these rogues and cowards
125  But Ajax is their fool.
CORNWALL
126  Fetch forth the stocks!
127  You stubborn ancient knave, you reverend braggart,
128  We'll teach you--
KENT
129  Sir, I am too old to learn:
130  Call not your stocks for me: I serve the king;
131  On whose employment I was sent to you:
132  You shall do small respect, show too bold malice
133  Against the grace and person of my master,
134  Stocking his messenger.
CORNWALL
135  Fetch forth the stocks! As I have life and honour,
136  There shall he sit till noon.
REGAN
137  Till noon! till night, my lord; and all night too.
KENT
138  Why, madam, if I were your father's dog,
139  You should not use me so.
REGAN
140  Sir, being his knave, I will.
CORNWALL
141  This is a fellow of the self-same colour
142  Our sister speaks of. Come, bring away the stocks!
Stocks brought out

GLOUCESTER
143  Let me beseech your grace not to do so:
144  His fault is much, and the good king his master
145  Will cheque him for 't: your purposed low correction
146  Is such as basest and contemned'st wretches
147  For pilferings and most common trespasses
148  Are punish'd with: the king must take it ill,
149  That he's so slightly valued in his messenger,
150  Should have him thus restrain'd.
CORNWALL
151  I'll answer that.
REGAN
152  My sister may receive it much more worse,
153  To have her gentleman abused, assaulted,
154  For following her affairs. Put in his legs.
KENT is put in the stocks
155  Come, my good lord, away.
Exeunt all but GLOUCESTER and KENT

GLOUCESTER
156  I am sorry for thee, friend; 'tis the duke's pleasure,
157  Whose disposition, all the world well knows,
158  Will not be rubb'd nor stopp'd: I'll entreat for thee.
KENT
159  Pray, do not, sir: I have watched and travell'd hard;
160  Some time I shall sleep out, the rest I'll whistle.
161  A good man's fortune may grow out at heels:
162  Give you good morrow!
GLOUCESTER
163  The duke's to blame in this; 'twill be ill taken.
Exit

KENT
164  Good king, that must approve the common saw,
165  Thou out of heaven's benediction comest
166  To the warm sun!
167  Approach, thou beacon to this under globe,
168  That by thy comfortable beams I may
169  Peruse this letter! Nothing almost sees miracles
170  But misery: I know 'tis from Cordelia,
171  Who hath most fortunately been inform'd
172  Of my obscured course; and shall find time
173  From this enormous state, seeking to give
174  Losses their remedies. All weary and o'erwatch'd,
175  Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold
176  This shameful lodging.
177  Fortune, good night: smile once more: turn thy wheel!
Sleeps

< (Previous) ACT II, SCENE IACT II, SCENE III (Next) >
Scene Index
ACT I
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV
  • SCENE V


  • ACT II
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV


  • ACT III
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV
  • SCENE V
  • SCENE VI
  • SCENE VII


  • ACT IV
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV
  • SCENE V
  • SCENE VI
  • SCENE VII


  • ACT V
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III

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