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SCENE V. Court before the same.
Lear. Go you before to Gloucester with these letters. Acquaint my daughter no further with any thing you know than comes from her demand out of the letter. If your diligence be not speedy, I shall be there afore you.
Kent. I will not sleep, my lord, till I have delivered your letter. [Exit. Fool. If a man's brains were in's heels, were't not in danger of kibes ?
Lear. Ay, boy.
Fool. Then, I prithee, be merry; thy wit shall ne'er go slip-shod.
Lear. Ha, ha, ha!
Fool. Shalt see thy other daughter will use thee kindly; for though she's as like this as a crab's like an apple, yet I can tell what I can tell.
Fool. Thy asses are gone about 'em. The reason why the seven stars are no more than seven is a pretty reason.
Lear. Because they are not eight? Fool. Yes, indeed: thou wouldst make a good fool. [ingratitude! Lear. To take 't again perforce! Monster Fool. If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I'ld have thee beaten for being old before thy time. Lear. How's that?
Fool. Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise.
Lear. O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven 50
Keep me in temper: I would not be mad!
Enter Gentleman. How now! are the horses ready?
Gent. Ready, my lord.
Fool. She that's a maid now, and laughs at my departure,
Shall not be a maid long, unless things be cut shorter. [Exeunt.
SCENE I. The Earl of Gloucester's castle. Enter EDMUND, and CURAN meets him. Edm. Save thee, Curan. Cur. And you, sir. I have been with your father, and given him notice that the Duke of Cornwall and Regan his duchess will be here with him this night.
Edm. How comes that ?
Cur. Nay, I know not. You have heard of the news abroad; I mean the whispered ones, for they are yet but ear-kissing arguments?
Edm. Not I: pray you, what are they? 10 Cur. Have you heard of no likely wars toward, 'twixt the Dukes of Cornwall and Albany?
Edm. Not a word.
Cur. You may do, then, in time. Fare you well, sir. [Exit. Edm. The duke be here to-night? The better best!
Edm. Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out, 40 Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the
To stand auspicious mistress,—
But where is he?
Edm. Look, sir, I bleed.
Glou Pursue him, ho! Go after. [Exeunt some Servants.] By no means what? Edm. Persuade me to the murder of your lordship;
But that I told him, the revenging gods
Loyal and natural boy, I'll work the means To make thee capable.
Glou. Strong and fasten'd villain ! Would he deny his letter? I never got him. [Tucket within. 81 Hark, the duke's trumpets! I know not why he comes.
All ports I'll bar; the villain shall not 'scape; The duke must grant me that: besides, his picture
I will send far and near, that all the kingdom May have the due note of him; and of my land,
How in my strength you please. For you, Edmund,
I shall serve you, sir,
Whose virtue and obedience doth this instant
Occasions, noble Gloucester, of some poise,
Kent. A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a lil-livered, actiontaking knave, a whoreson, glass-gazing, superserviceable, finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd, in way of good service, and art nothing but the coniposition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch: one whom I will beat into clamorous whining, if thou deniest the least syllable of thy addition.
Osw. Why, what a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to rail on one that is neither known of thee nor knows thee !
Kent. What a brazen-faced varlet art thou, to deny thou knowest me! Is it two days ago since I tripped up thy heels, and beat thee before the king? Draw, you rogue: for, though it be night, yet the moon shines; I'll make a sop o' the moonshine of you: draw, you whore son cullionly barber-monger, draw. [Drawing his sword.
Osw. Away! I have nothing to do with thee
Kent. Draw, you rascal: you come with etters against the king, and take vanity the puppet's part against the royalty of her father: draw, you rogue, or I'll so carbonado your shanks: draw, you rascal; come your ways
Osw. Help, ho! murder! help!
Kent. Strike, you slave; stand, rogue, stand; yon neat slave, strike. [Beating him Osw. Help, ho! murder! murder ! Enter EDMUND, with his rapier drawn, CORNWALL, REGAN, GLOUCESTER, and Servants.
Glou. Weapons! arms! What's the matter here ?
Edm. How now! What's the matter? Kent. With you, goodman boy, an you please come, Pil flesh ye; come on. young
Corn. Speak yet, how grew your quarrel? Osw. This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spared at suit of his gray beard,
Kent. Thou whoreson zed! thou unnecessary letter! My lord, if you will give me leave, I will tread this unbolted villain into mortar, and au the wall of a jakes with him. Spare my gray beard, you wagtail? Corn. Peace, sirrah!
You beastly knave, know you no reverence ? Kent. Yes, sir; but anger hath a privilege. Corn. Why art thou angry?
Kent. That such a slave as this should wear a sword, [as these, Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues Like rats, oft bite the holy cords a-twain 80 Which are too intrinse t' unloose; smooth every passion
That in the natures of their lords rebel;
Corn. What, art thou mad, old fellow?
Corn. Why dost thou call him knave? What's his offence?
Kent. His countenance likes me not.
Corn. No more, perchance, does mine, nor his, nor hers.
Kent. Sir, 'tis my occupation to be plain: I have seen better faces in my time Than stands on any shoulder that I see 100 Before me at this instant.
Harbor more craft and more corrupter ends
Kent. Sir, in good sooth, in sincere verity, Under the allowance of your great aspect, Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire On flickering Phoebus' front,
What mean'st by this? Kent. To go out of my dialect, which you discommend so much. I know, sir, I am no flatterer he that beguiled you in a plain accent was a plain knave; which for my part I will not be, though I should win your displeasure to entreat me to 't. 120
Corn. What was the offence you gave him? Osw. I never gave him any :
It pleased the king his master very late
To strike at me, upon his misconstruction; When he, conjunct, and flattering his displeasure, Tripp'd me behind; being down, insulted, rail'd,
And put upon him such a deal of man,
131 Kent. None of these rogues and cowards But Ajax is their fool. Corn. Fetch forth the stocks! You stubborn ancient knave, you reverend braggart,
We'll teach you
Kent. Sir, I am too old to learn: Call not your stocks for me: I serve the king; On whose employment I was sent to you: You shall do small respect, show too bold
Against the grace and person of my master, Stocking his messenger.
Corn. Fetch forth the stocks! As I have life and honor, 140 There shall he sit till noon. Reg. Till noon! till night, my lord; and all night too. Kent. Why, madam. if I were your father's dog,
You should not use me so.
His fault is much, and the good king his
Will check him for 't: your purposed low cor
Is such as basest and contemned'st wretches For pilferings and most common trespasses Are punish'd with the king must take it ill, That he's so slightly valued in his messenger, Should have him thus restrain'd.
To have her gentleman abused, assaulted, For following her affairs. Put in his legs. [Kent is put in the stocks Come, my good lord, away. [Exeunt all but Gloucester and Kent Glou. I am sorry for thee, friend; 'tis the duke's pleasure,
Whose disposition, all the world well knows, Will not be rubb'd nor stopp'd: I'll entreat for thee. 161 Kent. Pray, do not, sir: I have watched and travell'd hard ;.
Some time I shall sleep out, the rest I'll whistle A good man's fortune may grow out at heels: Give you good morrow!
Glou. The duke 's to blame in this; 'twill be ill taken. [Exit. Kent. Good king, that must approve the
Edg. I heard myself proclaim'd;
I will preserve myself: and am bethought
Blanket my loins: elf all my hair in knots;
Enforce their charity. Poor Turly god! poor
Tor 20 That's something yet: Edgar I nothing am. Exit.
Lear. No, I say.
Kent. I say, yea.
Lear. No, no, they would not.
Lear. By Jupiter, I swear, no.
To do upon respect such violent outrage:
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
The fool no knave, perdy.
Kent. Where learned you this, fool? Fool. Not i' the stocks, fool.
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 laboring 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 leave thee in the storm.