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

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

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


KING LEAR

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


GLOUCESTER

Well, my good lord, I have inform'd them so.


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!
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
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
That this remotion of the duke and her
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.


GLOUCESTER

I would have all well betwixt you.

[Exit]


KING LEAR

O me, my heart, my rising heart! but, down!


Fool

Cry 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,
wantons, down!' 'Twas her brother that, in pure
kindness to his horse, buttered his hay.

[Enter CORNWALL, REGAN, GLOUCESTER, and Servants]


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.


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,
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.
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,
'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
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.


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