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'King Lear' Act 2, Scene 4 (Part 1)

The Complete Text to 'King Lear' Act 2, Scene 4 (Part 1)

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[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.

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