Act 4 Scene 2

Scene 2

[Enter Goneril and Edmund, the Bastard.]


GONERIL 
 Welcome, my lord. I marvel our mild husband
 Not met us on the way.


[Enter Oswald, the Steward.]


 Now, where’s your master?

OSWALD 
 Madam, within, but never man so changed.
[5]  I told him of the army that was landed;
 He smiled at it. I told him you were coming;
 His answer was “The worse.” Of Gloucester’s
 treachery
 And of the loyal service of his son
[10]  When I informed him, then he called me “sot”
 And told me I had turned the wrong side out.
 What most he should dislike seems pleasant to him;
 What like, offensive.

GONERIL , [to Edmund]   Then shall you go no further.


[15]  It is the cowish terror of his spirit,
 That dares not
undertake. He’ll not feel wrongs
 Which tie him to an answer. Our wishes on the way
 May prove effects. Back, Edmund, to my brother.
 Hasten his musters and conduct his powers.
[20]  I must change names at home and give the distaff
 Into my husband’s hands. This trusty servant
 Shall pass between us. Ere long you are like to
 hear—
 If you dare venture in your own behalf—
[25]  A mistress’s command. Wear this; spare speech.
[She gives him a favor.]
 Decline your head.  [She kisses him.] This kiss, if it
 durst speak,
 Would stretch thy spirits up into the air.
 Conceive, and fare thee well.

[30]EDMUND 
 Yours in the ranks of death. [He exits.]

GONERIL   My most dear
 Gloucester!
 O, the difference of man and man!
 To thee a woman’s services are due;
[35]  My fool usurps my body.

OSWALD  Madam, here comes my lord. [He exits.]


[Enter Albany.]


GONERIL 
 I have been worth the whistle.

ALBANY   O Goneril,
 You are not worth the dust which the rude wind
[40]  Blows in your face. I fear your disposition.
 That nature which contemns its origin
 Cannot be bordered certain in itself.
 She that herself will sliver and disbranch
 From her material sap perforce must wither
[45]  And come to deadly use.

GONERIL  No more. The text is foolish.


ALBANY 
 Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile.
 Filths savor but themselves. What have you done?
 Tigers, not daughters, what have you performed?
[50]  A father, and a gracious agèd man,
 Whose reverence even the head-lugged bear would
 lick,
 Most barbarous, most degenerate, have you
 madded.
[55]  Could my good brother suffer you to do it?
 A man, a prince, by him so benefited!
 If that the heavens do not their visible spirits
 Send quickly down to tame these vile offenses,
 It will come:
[60]  Humanity must perforce prey on itself,
 Like monsters of the deep.

GONERIL   Milk-livered man,
 That bear’st a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs;
 Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning
[65]  Thine honor from thy suffering; that not know’st
 Fools do those villains pity who are punished
 Ere they have done their mischief. Where’s thy
 drum?
 France spreads his banners in our noiseless land,
[70]  With plumèd helm thy state begins to threat,
 Whilst thou, a moral fool, sits still and cries
 “Alack, why does he so?”

ALBANY   See thyself, devil!
 Proper deformity shows not in the fiend
[75]  So horrid as in woman.

GONERIL   O vain fool!

ALBANY 
 Thou changèd and self-covered thing, for shame
 Bemonster not thy feature. Were ’t my fitness
 To let these hands obey my blood,
[80]  They are apt enough to dislocate and tear


 Thy flesh and bones. Howe’er thou art a fiend,
 A woman’s shape doth shield thee.

GONERIL   Marry, your manhood, mew—


[Enter a Messenger.]


ALBANY  What news?

[85]MESSENGER 
 O, my good lord, the Duke of Cornwall’s dead,
 Slain by his servant, going to put out
 The other eye of Gloucester.

ALBANY   Gloucester’s eyes?

MESSENGER 
 A servant that he bred, thrilled with remorse,
[90]  Opposed against the act, bending his sword
 To his great master, who, thereat enraged,
 Flew on him and amongst them felled him dead,
 But not without that harmful stroke which since
 Hath plucked him after.

[95]ALBANY   This shows you are above,
 You justicers, that these our nether crimes
 So speedily can venge. But, O poor Gloucester,
 Lost he his other eye?

MESSENGER   Both, both, my lord.—
[100]  This letter, madam, craves a speedy answer.
[Giving her a paper.]
 ’Tis from your sister.

GONERIL , [aside]   One way I like this well.
 But being widow and my Gloucester with her
 May all the building in my fancy pluck
[105]  Upon my hateful life. Another way
 The news is not so tart.—I’ll read, and answer.
[She exits.]

ALBANY 
 Where was his son when they did take his eyes?

MESSENGER 
 Come with my lady hither.


ALBANY   He is not here.

[110]MESSENGER 
 No, my good lord. I met him back again.

ALBANY  Knows he the wickedness?

MESSENGER 
 Ay, my good lord. ’Twas he informed against him
 And quit the house on purpose, that their punishment
 Might have the freer course.

[115]ALBANY   Gloucester, I live
 To thank thee for the love thou show’d’st the King,
 And to revenge thine eyes.—Come hither, friend.
 Tell me what more thou know’st.
[They exit.]



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