directory
home contact

King Lear

Please see the bottom of this page for helpful resources.
ACT II 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.
GentlemanAs I learn'd,
The night before there was no purpose in them
Of this remove.5
KENTHail to thee, noble master!
KING LEARHa!
Makest thou this shame thy pastime?
KENTNo, my lord.
FoolHa, ha! he wears cruel garters. Horses are tied10
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 LEARWhat's he that hath so much thy place mistook15
To set thee here?
KENTIt is both he and she;
Your son and daughter.
KING LEARNo.
KENTYes.20
KING LEARNo, I say.
KENTI say, yea.
KING LEARNo, no, they would not.
KENTYes, they have.
KING LEARBy Jupiter, I swear, no.25
KENTBy Juno, I swear, ay.
KING LEARThey 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 way30
Thou mightst deserve, or they impose, this usage,
Coming from us.
KENTMy lord, when at their home
I did commend your highness' letters to them,
Ere I was risen from the place that show'd35
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,40
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,--45
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 worth50
The shame which here it suffers.
FoolWinter's not gone yet, if the wild-geese fly that way.
Fathers that wear rags
Do make their children blind;
But fathers that bear bags55
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.60
KING LEARO, how this mother swells up toward my heart!
Hysterica passio, down, thou climbing sorrow,
Thy element's below! Where is this daughter?
KENTWith the earl, sir, here within.
KING LEARFollow me not;65
Stay here.
[Exit]
GentlemanMade you no more offence but what you speak of?
KENTNone.
How chance the king comes with so small a train?
FoolAnd thou hadst been set i' the stocks for that70
question, thou hadst well deserved it.
KENTWhy, fool?
FoolWe'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; and75
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 man80
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,85
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.90
KENTWhere learned you this, fool?
FoolNot i' the stocks, fool.
[Re-enter KING LEAR with GLOUCESTER]
KING LEARDeny 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.95
Fetch me a better answer.
GLOUCESTERMy dear lord,
You know the fiery quality of the duke;
How unremoveable and fix'd he is
In his own course.100
KING LEARVengeance! plague! death! confusion!
Fiery? what quality? Why, Gloucester, Gloucester,
I'ld speak with the Duke of Cornwall and his wife.
GLOUCESTERWell, my good lord, I have inform'd them so.
KING LEARInform'd them! Dost thou understand me, man?105
GLOUCESTERAy, my good lord.
KING LEARThe 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--110
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;115
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 her120
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.125
GLOUCESTERI would have all well betwixt you.
[Exit]
KING LEARO me, my heart, my rising heart! but, down!
FoolCry 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,130
wantons, down!' 'Twas her brother that, in pure
kindness to his horse, buttered his hay.
[Enter CORNWALL, REGAN, GLOUCESTER, and Servants]
KING LEARGood morrow to you both.
CORNWALLHail to your grace!
[KENT is set at liberty]
REGANI am glad to see your highness.135
KING LEARRegan, 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?140
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!145
REGANI pray you, sir, take patience: I have hope.
You less know how to value her desert
Than she to scant her duty.
KING LEARSay, how is that?
REGANI cannot think my sister in the least150
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 LEARMy curses on her!155
REGANO, 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,160
That to our sister you do make return;
Say you have wrong'd her, sir.
KING LEARAsk her forgiveness?
Do you but mark how this becomes the house:
'Dear daughter, I confess that I am old;165
[Kneeling]
Age is unnecessary: on my knees I beg
That you'll vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food.'
REGANGood sir, no more; these are unsightly tricks:
Return you to my sister.
KING LEAR[Rising] Never, Regan: 170
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,175
You taking airs, with lameness!
CORNWALLFie, sir, fie!
KING LEARYou nimble lightnings, dart your blinding flames
Into her scornful eyes! Infect her beauty,
You fen-suck'd fogs, drawn by the powerful sun,180
To fall and blast her pride!
REGANO the blest gods! so will you wish on me,
When the rash mood is on.
KING LEARNo, Regan, thou shalt never have my curse:
Thy tender-hefted nature shall not give185
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 bolt190
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.195
REGANGood sir, to the purpose.
KING LEARWho put my man i' the stocks?
[Tucket within]
CORNWALLWhat trumpet's that?
REGANI know't, my sister's: this approves her letter,
That she would soon be here.200
[Enter OSWALD]
Is your lady come?
KING LEARThis is a slave, whose easy-borrow'd pride
Dwells in the fickle grace of her he follows.
Out, varlet, from my sight!
CORNWALLWhat means your grace?205
KING LEARWho 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!210
[To GONERIL]
Art not ashamed to look upon this beard?
O Regan, wilt thou take her by the hand?
GONERILWhy not by the hand, sir? How have I offended?
All's not offence that indiscretion finds
And dotage terms so.215
KING LEARO sides, you are too tough;
Will you yet hold? How came my man i' the stocks?
CORNWALLI set him there, sir: but his own disorders
Deserved much less advancement.
KING LEARYou! did you?220
REGANI 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 provision225
Which shall be needful for your entertainment.
KING LEARReturn 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,--230
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?235
Persuade me rather to be slave and sumpter
To this detested groom.
[Pointing at OSWALD]
GONERILAt your choice, sir.
KING LEARI prithee, daughter, do not make me mad:
I will not trouble thee, my child; farewell:240
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,245
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:250
I can be patient; I can stay with Regan,
I and my hundred knights.
REGANNot altogether so:
I look'd not for you yet, nor am provided
For your fit welcome. Give ear, sir, to my sister;255
For those that mingle reason with your passion
Must be content to think you old, and so--
But she knows what she does.
KING LEARIs this well spoken?
REGANI dare avouch it, sir: what, fifty followers?260
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.265
GONERILWhy might not you, my lord, receive attendance
From those that she calls servants or from mine?
REGANWhy 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 you270
To bring but five and twenty: to no more
Will I give place or notice.
KING LEARI gave you all--
REGANAnd in good time you gave it.
KING LEARMade you my guardians, my depositaries;275
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?
REGANAnd speak't again, my lord; no more with me.
KING LEARThose wicked creatures yet do look well-favour'd,280
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.285
GONERILHear 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?
REGANWhat need one?290
KING LEARO, 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,295
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!300
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,305
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:310
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]
CORNWALLLet us withdraw; 'twill be a storm.
REGANThis house is little: the old man and his people315
Cannot be well bestow'd.
GONERIL'Tis his own blame; hath put himself from rest,
And must needs taste his folly.
REGANFor his particular, I'll receive him gladly,
But not one follower.320
GONERILSo am I purposed.
Where is my lord of Gloucester?
CORNWALLFollow'd the old man forth: he is return'd.
[Re-enter GLOUCESTER]
GLOUCESTERThe king is in high rage.
CORNWALLWhither is he going?325
GLOUCESTERHe calls to horse; but will I know not whither.
CORNWALL'Tis best to give him way; he leads himself.
GONERILMy lord, entreat him by no means to stay.
GLOUCESTERAlack, the night comes on, and the bleak winds
Do sorely ruffle; for many miles about330
There's scarce a bush.
REGANO, 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;335
And what they may incense him to, being apt
To have his ear abused, wisdom bids fear.
CORNWALLShut up your doors, my lord; 'tis a wild night:
My Regan counsels well; come out o' the storm.
[Exeunt]


King Lear, Act 3, Scene 1
___________

Related Articles

 King Lear Overview
 King Lear: Analysis by Act and Scene
 Blank Verse in King Lear
 King Lear Lecture Notes and Study Topics
 Difficult Passages in King Lear

 King Lear Summary
 King Lear Character Introduction
 King Lear Study Questions
 Sources for King Lear

 Representations of Nature in Shakespeare’s King Lear
 King Lear: FAQ
 Famous Quotations from King Lear
 Pronouncing Shakespearean Names

 Shakespeare's Language
 Shakespeare's Metaphors and Similes

 Shakespeare's Reputation in Elizabethan England
 Shakespeare's Impact on Other Writers
 Why Study Shakespeare?