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The Court before the Duke Of Albany's Palace.
Enter Kent, disguised.
Kent. Now, banish'd Kent, if thou canst pay thy duty. In this disguise, where thou dost stand condemn'd, Thy master Lear shall find thee full of labours.
Enter King Lear, attended by his Knights.
Lear. In there, and tell our daughter we are here.
[Exit First Knight. Now, what art thou?
Kent. A man, sir.
Lear. What dost thou profess, or wouldst with us?
Kent. I do profess to be no less than I seem, to serve him truly that puts me in trust, to love him that's honest, to converse with him that's wise and speaks little, to fight when I can't chuse, and to eat no fish.
Lear. I say, what art thou?
Kent. A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the king.
Lear. If thou be as poor for a subject, as he is for a king, thou art poor enough.—Dost thou know me, fellow?
Kent. No, sir; but you have that in your countenance, which I would fain call master.
Lear. What's that ?
Lear. What services canst thou do ?
Kent. I can keep honest counsel, mar a curious tale in the telling, deliver a plain message bluntly; that, which ordinary men are fit for, I am qualified in; and the best of me is diligence.
Lear. How old art thou?
Kent. Not so young, sir, to love a woman for singing; nor so old, to dote on her for any thing: I have years on my back, forty-eight.
Lear. Thy name?
Lear. Follow me; thou shalt serve me.
Enter Oswald singing, and passing King Lear
carelessly. Now, sir?
Osw. Sir.—Tol de rol, &c. [Exit singing.
Lear. What says the fellow ? call the clodpole back. [Exeunt Kent and Second Knight.
3 Knight. My lord, I know not; but, methinks, your highness is entertained with slender ceremony.
Lear. Say'stthou so?
Enter First Knight.
1 Knight. My lord, he answered, i'th'surliest manner, that he would not.
Lear. I hope our daughter did not so instruct him.
Oswald brought in by Kent and Second Knight. Now, who am I, sir? Osw. My lady's father. Lear. My lady's father! My lord's knave.
[Strikes him. Osw. I'll not be struck, my lord. Kent. Nor tripp'd neither, you vile civet-box.
[Trips up his Heels. Lear. I thank thee, fellow, thou serv'st me. Kent. Come, sir, arise, away; I'll teach you differences. [Exit Oswald.
Gon. [Within.] By day and night! this is insufferable; I will not bear it.
Enter Goneril, attended.
Lear. Now, daughter, why that frontlet on? Speak, does that frown become our presence.'
Gon. Sir, this licentious insolence of your servants Is most unseemly; hourly they break out In quarrels, bred by their unbounded riots; I had fair hope, by making this known to you, To have had a quick redress; but find, too late, That you protect and countenance their outrage; And therefore, I take this freedom, which Necessity makes discreet.
Lear. Are you our daughter?
Gon. Come, sir, let me entreat you to make use
Lear. Does any here know me? Why, this is not
eyes? Who is it that can tell me who I am? Your name, fair gentlewoman?
Gon. Come, sir, this admiration's much o'th' savour Of other your new humours; I beseech you To understand my purposes aright; As you are old, you should be staid and wise: Here do you keep an hundred knights and squires, Men so debauch'd and bold, that this our palace Shows like a riotous inn, a tavern, brothel: Be then advis'd by her, that else will take That which she begs, to lessen your attendants; Take half away, and see that the remainder
Be such as may befit your age, and know
Lear. Darkness and devils!—
That each particular of duty know.
How small, Cordelia, was thy fault!—O Lear,
Beat at this gate that let thy folly in,
And thy dear judgment out!—Go, go, my people.
Enter Albany, attended.
Ingrateful duke!—Prepare my horses.—Was this your
will? Who stirs? [Exit Fourth Knight.
Alb. What, sir?
Lear. Death! fifty of my followers at a clap?
Alb. The matter, madam?
Gon. Never afflict yourself to know the cause, But give his dotage way.
Lear. Blasts upon thee! Th' untented woundings of a father's curse Pierce every sense about thee !—Old fond eyes, Beweep this cause again, I'll pluck ye out, And cast ye, with the waters that ye lose, To temper clay. No, Gorgon;—thou shalt find That I'll resume the shape, which thou dost think I have cast off for ever.
Gon. Mark ye that?
Alb. I'm ignorant
Lear. It may be so, my lord.—Hear, nature, hear; Dear goddess, hear! Suspend thy purpose, if Thou didst intend to make this creature fruitful! Into her womb convey sterility! Dry up in her the organs of increase; That from her derogate body never spring
A babe to honour her!—If she must teem,
[Exeunt King Lear and his Attendants-
ACT THE SECOND.
The Earl Of Gloster's Castle.
Edm. The duke comes here to-night; I'll take advantage Of his arrival to complete my project.— Brother, a word; come forth! 'tis I, your friend.
My father watches for you, fly this place;