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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,
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.
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'st thou so? Thou but remember'st me of mine own conception. Enter First Knight.
Why came not that slave back when I call'd him? 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.
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 dif
Gon. [Within.] By day and night! this is insuffer
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 your discretion, and put off betimes
This disposition that of late transforms you
From what you rightly are.
Lear. Does any here know me? Why, this is not Lear!
Does Lear walk thus? Speak thus? Where are his eyes?
Who is it that can tell me who I am?
Your name, fair gentlewoman?
Gon. Come, sir, this admiration's much o' th' sa
Of other your new humours; I beseech you
As you are old, you should be staid and wise:
Be such as may befit your age, and know
Lear. Darkness and devils!—
Saddle my horses, call my train together.
And thy dear judgment out!—Go, go, my people.
Enter Albany, attended.
Ingrateful duke!—Prepare my horses.—Was this your
[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
And cast ye, with the waters that ye lose,
To temper clay.No, Gorgon;—thou shalt find
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 AttendantsAlbany, Goneril, and their 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.—
My father watches for you, fly this place;