Act 2 Scene 2

Scene 2

[Enter Kent in disguise and Oswald, the Steward,

OSWALD  Good dawning to thee, friend. Art of this


OSWALD  Where may we set our horses?

[5]KENT  I’ th’ mire.

OSWALD  Prithee, if thou lov’st me, tell me.

KENT  I love thee not.

OSWALD  Why then, I care not for thee.

KENT  If I had thee in Lipsbury pinfold, I would make
[10]  thee care for me.

OSWALD  Why dost thou use me thus? I know thee not.

KENT  Fellow, I know thee.

OSWALD  What dost thou know me for?

KENT  A knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats; a
[15]  base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound,
 filthy worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered,
 action-taking, whoreson, glass-gazing, superserviceable,
 finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting

 slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of good
[20]  service, and art nothing but the composition of a
 knave, beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir
 of a mongrel bitch; one whom I will beat into
 clamorous whining if thou deny’st the least syllable
 of thy addition.

[25]OSWALD  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
[30]  thy heels and beat thee before the King?  [He draws
 his sword.] 
Draw, you rogue, for though it be night,
 yet the moon shines. I’ll make a sop o’ th’ moonshine
 of you, you whoreson, cullionly barbermonger.

[35]OSWALD  Away! I have nothing to do with thee.

KENT  Draw, you rascal! You come with letters 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
[40]  your ways.

OSWALD  Help, ho! Murder! Help!

KENT  Strike, you slave! Stand, rogue! Stand, you neat
 slave! Strike! [He beats Oswald.]

OSWALD  Help, ho! Murder, murder!

[Enter Bastard Edmund, with his rapier drawn,
Cornwall, Regan, Gloucester, Servants.]

[45]EDMUND  How now, what’s the matter? Part!

KENT  With you, goodman boy, if you please. Come, I’ll
 flesh you. Come on, young master.

 Weapons? Arms? What’s the matter here?

CORNWALL  Keep peace, upon your lives! He dies that
[50]  strikes again. What is the matter?

 The messengers from our sister and the King.

CORNWALL  What is your difference? Speak.

OSWALD  I am scarce in breath, my lord.

KENT  No marvel, you have so bestirred your valor.
[55]  You cowardly rascal, nature disclaims in thee; a
 tailor made thee.

CORNWALL  Thou art a strange fellow. A tailor make a

KENT  A tailor, sir. A stonecutter or a painter could not
[60]  have made him so ill, though they had been but two
 years o’ th’ trade.

CORNWALL  Speak yet, how grew your quarrel?

OSWALD  This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have
 spared at suit of his gray beard—

[65]KENT  Thou whoreson zed, thou unnecessary letter!
 —My lord, if you will give me leave, I will tread
 this unbolted villain into mortar and daub the wall
 of a jakes with him.—Spare my gray beard, you

[70]CORNWALL  Peace, sirrah!
 You beastly knave, know you no reverence?

 Yes, sir, but anger hath a privilege.

CORNWALL  Why art thou angry?

 That such a slave as this should wear a sword,
[75]  Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as
 Like rats, oft bite the holy cords atwain
 Which are too intrinse t’ unloose;
smooth every
[80]  That in the natures of their lords rebel—
 Being oil to fire, snow to the colder moods—
 Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks
 With every gale and vary of their masters,

 Knowing naught, like dogs, but following.—
[85]  A plague upon your epileptic visage!
 Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool?
 Goose, if I had you upon Sarum plain,
 I’d drive you cackling home to Camelot.

CORNWALL  What, art thou mad, old fellow?

[90]GLOUCESTER  How fell you out? Say that.

 No contraries hold more antipathy
 Than I and such a knave.

 Why dost thou call him “knave”? What is his fault?

KENT  His countenance likes me not.

 No more, perchance, does mine, nor his, nor hers.

 Sir, ’tis my occupation to be plain:
 I have seen better faces in my time
 Than stands on any shoulder that I see
 Before me at this instant.

[100]CORNWALL   This is some fellow
 Who, having been praised for bluntness, doth affect
 A saucy roughness and constrains the garb
 Quite from his nature. He cannot flatter, he.
 An honest mind and plain, he must speak truth!
[105]  An they will take it, so; if not, he’s plain.
 These kind of knaves I know, which in this
 Harbor more craft and more corrupter ends
 Than twenty silly-ducking observants
[110]  That stretch their duties nicely.

 Sir, in good faith, in sincere verity,
 Under th’ allowance of your great aspect,
 Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire
 On flick’ring Phoebus’ front—

[115]CORNWALL   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
[120]  win your displeasure to entreat me to ’t.

CORNWALL , [to Oswald]  What was th’ offense you gave

OSWALD  I never gave him any.
 It pleased the King his master very late
[125]  To strike at me, upon his misconstruction;
 When he, compact, and flattering his displeasure,
 Tripped me behind; being down, insulted, railed,
 And put upon him such a deal of man
 That worthied him, got praises of the King
[130]  For him attempting who was self-subdued;
 And in the fleshment of this dread exploit,
 Drew on me here again.

KENT  None of these rogues and cowards
 But Ajax is their fool.

[135]CORNWALL   Fetch forth the stocks.—
 You stubborn ancient knave, you reverent braggart,
 We’ll teach you.

KENT   Sir, I am too old to learn.
 Call not your stocks for me. I serve the King,
[140]  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.

 Fetch forth the stocks.—As I have life and honor,
 There shall he sit till noon.

 Till noon? Till night, my lord, and all night, too.

 Why, madam, if I were your father’s dog,
 You should not use me so.

[150]REGAN  Sir, being his knave, I will.

 This is a fellow of the selfsame color
 Our sister speaks of.—Come, bring away the stocks.
[Stocks brought out.]

 Let me beseech your Grace not to do so.
 His fault is much, and the good king his master
[155]  Will check him for ’t. Your purposed low correction
 Is such as basest and contemned’st wretches
 For pilf’rings and most common trespasses
 Are punished with. The King must take it ill
 That he, so slightly valued in his messenger,
[160]  Should have him thus restrained.

CORNWALL   I’ll answer that.

 My sister may receive it much more worse
 To have her gentleman abused, assaulted
 For following her affairs.—Put in his legs.
[Kent is put in the stocks.]

[165]CORNWALL  Come, my good lord, away.
[All but Gloucester and Kent exit.]

 I am sorry for thee, friend. ’Tis the Duke’s
 Whose disposition all the world well knows
 Will not be rubbed nor stopped. I’ll entreat for thee.

 Pray, do not, sir. I have watched and traveled 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.

 The Duke’s to blame in this. ’Twill be ill taken.
[He exits.]

 Good king, that must approve the common saw,
 Thou out of heaven’s benediction com’st
 To the warm sun. [He takes out a paper.]
 Approach, thou beacon to this under globe,
 That by thy comfortable beams I may
[180]  Peruse this letter. Nothing almost sees miracles
 But misery. I know ’tis from Cordelia,
 Who hath most fortunately been informed
 Of my obscurèd course, and shall find time
 From this enormous state, seeking to give
[185]  Losses their remedies. All weary and o’erwatched,
 Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold
 This shameful lodging.
 Fortune, good night. Smile once more; turn thy

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