King Lear :  Act 2, Scene 4



           Enter KING LEAR, Fool, and Gentleman.
           [KENT (disguised as Caius) is in the stocks.]

      KING LEAR
they Regan, King Lear's second daughter, and her husband, the Duke of Cornwall my messenger Caius (Kent in disguise)
  1   'Tis strange that they should so depart from home,
  2   And not send back my messenger.

      Gentleman
  2                                                               As I learn'd,
there was no ... this remove i.e., they had no intention of leaving their residence and coming to stay with Gloucester
  3   The night before there was no purpose in them
  4   Of this remove.

      KENT
  4                                 Hail to thee, noble master!

      KING LEAR
  5   Ha!?
Mak'st thou this shame thy pastime? Are you undergoing this humiliation for a joke?
  6   Mak'st thou this shame thy pastime?

Stocks
      KENT
  6                                                                     No, my lord.

      Fool
  7   Ha, ha! he wears cruel garters. Horses are tied
  8   by the heads, dogs and bears by the neck, monkeys
  9   by the loins, and men by the legs when a man's
 10   over-lusty at legs, then he wears wooden
 11   nether-stocks.

      KING LEAR
What's Who is | place (important) position (as the King's messenger)
 12   What's he that hath so much thy place mistook
 13   To set thee here?

      KENT
 13                                   It is both he and she;
Your son i.e., your son-in-law, the Duke of Cornwall
 14   Your son and daughter.

      KING LEAR
 15   No.

      KENT
 16   Yes.

      KING LEAR
 17   No, I say.

      KENT
 18   I say, yea.

      KING LEAR
 19   No, no, they would not.

      KENT
 20   Yes, they have.

      KING LEAR
 21   By Jupiter, I swear, no.

      KENT
 22   By Juno, I swear, ay.

      KING LEAR
 22                                         They durst not do 't;
 23   They could not, would not do 't; 'tis worse than murder,
upon respect against the respect due a king
 24   To do upon respect such violent outrage:
Resolve inform | modest reasonable
 25   Resolve me, with all modest haste, which way
 26   Thou mightst deserve, or they impose, this usage,
Coming from us i.e., seeing that they knew you to be a messenger from me
 27   Coming from us.

      KENT
 27                               My lord, when at their home
commend deliver; recommend (as coming from the king)
 28   I did commend your highness' letters to them,
 29   Ere I was risen from the place that show'd
reeking post stinking (deliverer of the) post
 30   My duty kneeling, came there a reeking post,
 31   Stew'd in his haste, half breathless, panting forth
 32   From Goneril his mistress salutations;
spite of intermission careless of interrupting me presently immediately | on whose contents in consequence of the contents
meiny household servants; retinue | straight straightaway
 33   Deliver'd letters, spite of intermission,
 34   Which presently they read: on whose contents,
 35   They summon'd up their meiny, straight took horse;
 36   Commanded me to follow, and attend
 37   The leisure of their answer; gave me cold looks:
 38   And meeting here the other messenger,
 39   Whose welcome, I perceived, had poison'd mine,—
 40   Being the very fellow that of late
Display'd so saucily showed himself (to be) so insolent Having more man than wit i.e., having more indignation than prudence
 41   Display'd so saucily against your highness,—
 42   Having more man than wit about me, drew:
 43   He raised the house with loud and coward cries.
 44   Your son and daughter found this trespass worth
 45   The shame which here it suffers.

      Fool
 46   Winter's not gone yet, if the wild-geese fly that
 47   way.
 48           Fathers that wear rags
blind i.e., blind to their fathers' needs
bags money bags
 49             Do make their children blind;
 50           But fathers that bear bags
 51             Shall see their children kind.
 52           Fortune, that arrant whore,
turns the key unlocks the door
 53           Ne'er turns the key to the poor.
dolours sorrows (with a pun on "dollars")
for because of | tell count
 54   But, for all this, thou shalt have as many dolours
 55   for thy daughters as thou canst tell in a year.

      KING LEAR
mother hysteria
Hysterica passio
 56   O, how this mother swells up toward my heart!
 57   Hysterica passio, down, thou climbing sorrow,
element's below natural place is below
 58   Thy element's below! — Where is this daughter?

      KENT
 59   With the earl, sir, here within.

      KING LEAR
 59                                                         Follow me not;
 60   Stay here.

           Exit.

      Gentleman
 61   Made you no more offence but what you speak of?

      KENT
 62   None.
chance chances it
 63   How chance the king comes with so small a train?

      Fool
An if
 64   An thou hadst been set i' the stocks for that
 65   question, thou hadst well deserved it.

      KENT
 66   Why, Fool?

      Fool
 67   We'll set thee to school to an ant, to teach thee
All that follow / ... smell him that's stinking: i.e., if they couldn't see that Lear was out of Fortune's favor, they would be able to smell him (as his fortunes decay).
 68   there's no labouring i' the winter. All that follow
 69   their noses are led by their eyes but blind men;
 70   and there's not a nose among twenty but can
 71   smell him that's stinking. Let go thy hold when
 72   a great wheel runs down a hill, lest it break thy
 73   neck with following; but the great one that goes
 74   up the hill, let him draw thee after. When a wise
 75   man gives thee better counsel, give me mine again:
knaves rascals, cheats
 76   I would have none but knaves follow it, since a fool
 77   gives it.
 78           That sir which serves and seeks for gain,
 79             And follows but for form,
pack pack up and be off
 80           Will pack when it begins to rain,
 81             And leave thee in the storm,
 82           But I will tarry; the fool will stay,
 83             And let the wise man fly:
The knave turns fool —Because he shows he has false values?
perdy i.e., so help me God
 84           The knave turns fool that runs away;
 85             The fool no knave, perdy.

      KENT
 86   Where learned you this, Fool?

      Fool
 87   Not i' the stocks, fool.

           Enter KING LEAR and GLOUCESTER.

      KING LEAR
 88   Deny to speak with me? They are sick? they are weary?
fetches pretexts
 89   They have travell'd all the night? Mere fetches;
images signs of | flying off desertion
 90   The images of revolt and flying off.
 91   Fetch me a better answer.

      GLOUCESTER
 91                                                 My dear lord,
quality nature
 92   You know the fiery quality of the duke;
 93   How unremoveable and fix'd he is
 94   In his own course.

      KING LEAR
confusion destruction
 95   Vengeance! plague! death! confusion!
 96   Fiery? what quality? Why, Gloucester, Gloucester,
 97   I'ld speak with the Earl of Cornwall and his wife.

      GLOUCESTER
 98   Well, my good lord, I have inform'd them so.

      KING LEAR
 99   Inform'd them! Dost thou understand me, man?

      GLOUCESTER
100   Ay, my good lord.

      KING LEAR
101   The king would speak with Cornwall; the dear father
102   Would with his daughter speak, commands her service:
103   Are they inform'd of this? My breath and blood!
104   Fiery? the fiery Duke? Tell the hot Duke that—
105   No, but not yet: may be he is not well:
all office all duties
106   Infirmity doth still neglect all office
bound involved
107   Whereto our health is bound; we are not ourselves
108   When nature, being oppress'd, commands the mind
109   To suffer with the body: I'll forbear —
am fall'n out with my more headier will have become an enemy of my impetuous disposition
take i.e., mistake
110   And am fall'n out with my more headier will —
111   To take the indisposed and sickly fit
112   For the sound man.

           [Looking on KENT.]

my state i.e., my state of mind, my emotional state.
remotion aloofness
practise trickery
112                                 Death on my state! wherefore
113   Should he sit here? This act persuades me
114   That this remotion of the duke and her
115   Is practise only. Give me my servant forth.
116   Go tell the duke and 's wife I'ld speak with them,
presently immediately
117   Now, presently: bid them come forth and hear me,
118   Or at their chamber-door I'll beat the drum
Till it cry sleep to death i.e., until the din of the drum makes sleep impossible
119   Till it cry sleep to death.

      GLOUCESTER
120   I would have all well betwixt you.

           Exit.

      KING LEAR
121   O me, my heart, my rising heart! But, down!

      Fool
it i.e., your heart | cockney milksop
paste meat pie | alive Yes, they did that.
knapped knocked
o' th' coxcombs on their fools' heads
'Down, wantons, down!' 'down with you, you skittish critters!'
122   Cry to it, nuncle, as the cockney did to the eels
123   when she put 'em i' the paste alive; she knapped 'em
124   o' th' coxcombs with a stick, and cried 'Down,
125   wantons, down!' 'Twas her brother that, in pure
126   kindness to his horse, butter'd his hay.

           Enter CORNWALL, REGAN, GLOUCESTER,
           and Servants.

      KING LEAR
127   Good morrow to you both.

      CORNWALL
127                                                   Hail to your grace!

           Kent here set at liberty.

      REGAN
128   I am glad to see your highness.

      KING LEAR
129   Regan, I think you are; I know what reason
130   I have to think so: if thou shouldst not be glad,
I would divorce me from thy mother's tomb, Sepulchring an adultress Lear tells Regan that if she weren't glad to see him, he would refuse to be buried next to her mother on the grounds that her mother must have committed adultery, making Regan a bastard.
131   I would divorce me from thy mother's tomb,
132   Sepulchring an adultress.

           [To Kent.]
132                                                   O, are you free?
133   Some other time for that.

           [Exit Kent.]
133                                           Beloved Regan,
naught wicked
134   Thy sister's naught: O Regan, she hath tied
135   Sharp-tooth'd unkindness, like a vulture, here:

           [Points to his heart.]

136   I can scarce speak to thee; thou'lt not believe
137   With how depraved a quality—O Regan!

      REGAN
take patience control yourself
138   I pray you, sir, take patience: I have hope.
desert deservingness; good qualities
139   You less know how to value her desert
scant neglect
140   Than she to scant her duty.

      KING LEAR
140                                                   Say, how is that?

      REGAN
141   I cannot think my sister in the least
142   Would fail her obligation. If, sir, perchance
143   She have restrain'd the riots of your followers,
144   'Tis on such ground, and to such wholesome end,
145   As clears her from all blame.

      KING LEAR
146   My curses on her!

      REGAN
146                                   O, sir, you are old.
nature life
147   Nature in you stands on the very verge
of her confine nature's extreme limit
148   Of her confine. You should be rul'd and led
149   By some discretion that discerns your state
150   Better than you yourself. Therefore, I pray you,
151   That to our sister you do make return;
152   Say you have wrong'd her, sir.

      KING LEAR
152                                                 Ask her forgiveness?
how this becomes the house befits family honor
153   Do you but mark how this becomes the house:
154   'Dear daughter, I confess that I am old;
           [Kneeling.]
Age is unnecessary old people are useless
155   Age is unnecessary. On my knees I beg
156   That you'll vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food.'

      REGAN
157   Good sir, no more; these are unsightly tricks:
158   Return you to my sister.

      KING LEAR [Rising.]
158                                       Never, Regan:
159   She hath abated me of half my train;
160   Look'd black upon me; struck me with her tongue,
161   Most serpent-like, upon the very heart:
162   All the stor'd vengeances of heaven fall
her ingrateful top ungrateful head
163   On her ingrateful top! Strike her young bones,
164   You taking airs, with lameness!

      CORNWALL
164                                                           Fie, sir, fie!

      KING LEAR
165   You nimble lightnings, dart your blinding flames
Infect  . . .  blister! Lear calls upon Nature to infect Goneril with swamp-born fogs (thought to cause disease) and the sun to force the vapors to strike and blister her.
166   Into her scornful eyes! Infect her beauty,
167   You fen-suck'd fogs, drawn by the pow'rful sun,
168   To fall and blister!

      REGAN
168                                     O the blest gods! so
169   Will you wish on me, when the rash mood is on.

      KING LEAR
170   No, Regan, thou shalt never have my curse:
tender-hefted moved by a tender nature, lovingly inclined
171   Thy tender-hefted nature shall not give
172   Thee o'er to harshness. Her eyes are fierce, but thine
173   Do comfort and not burn. 'Tis not in thee
174   To grudge my pleasures, to cut off my train,
to scant my sizes reduce my allowances
175   To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes,
oppose the bolt lock the door
176   And in conclusion to oppose the bolt
177   Against my coming in. Thou better know'st
offices of nature natural duties
178   The offices of nature, bond of childhood,
Effects of courtesy courteous actions
179   Effects of courtesy, dues of gratitude;
180   Thy half o' th' kingdom hast thou not forgot,
181   Wherein I thee endow'd.

      REGAN
to the purpose get to the point
181                                           Good sir, to the purpose.

      KING LEAR
182   Who put my man i' the stocks?

           Tucket within.

      CORNWALL
182                                                   What trumpet's that?

      REGAN
approves confirms
183   I know't, my sister's: this approves her letter,
184   That she would soon be here.

           Enter Steward [OSWALD].

184                                                     Is your lady come?

      KING LEAR
easy-borrowed pride i.e., cheap pride, borrowed from his position as steward to a powerful person her he follows Goneril
varlet wretch
185   This is a slave, whose easy-borrow'd pride
186   Dwells in the fickle grace of her he follows.
187   Out, varlet, from my sight!

      CORNWALL
187                                                 What means your grace?

      KING LEAR
188   Who stock'd my servant? Regan, I have good hope
on't of it
189   Thou didst not know on't. Who comes here? O heavens,

           Enter GONERIL.

190   If you do love old men, if your sweet sway
Allow obedience i.e., approve of the obedience of children to their parents
send down i.e., hurl a lightening bolt
191   Allow obedience, if yourselves are old,
192   Make it your cause; send down, and take my part!

           [To GONERIL.]

193   Art not ashamed to look upon this beard?
194   O Regan, wilt thou take her by the hand?

      GONERIL
195   Why not by the hand, sir? How have I offended?
196   All's not offence that indiscretion finds
197   And dotage terms so.

      KING LEAR
197                                           O sides, you are too tough;
198   Will you yet hold? How came my man i' the stocks?

      CORNWALL
disorders disorderly behavior
199   I set him there, sir: but his own disorders
Deserved much less advancement i.e., deserved far worse treatment
200   Deserved much less advancement.

      KING LEAR
200                                                                 You! did you?

      REGAN
seem so do not pretend to be otherwise
201   I pray you, father, being weak, seem so.
202   If, till the expiration of your month,
203   You will return and sojourn with my sister,
204   Dismissing half your train, come then to me:
205   I am now from home, and out of that provision
206   Which shall be needful for your entertainment.

      KING LEAR
207   Return to her, and fifty men dismiss'd?
abjure renounce
wage contend
208   No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose
209   To wage against the enmity o' th' air,
210   To be a comrade with the wolf and owl,—
211   Necessity's sharp pinch! Return with her?
dowerless without a dowery
212   Why, the hot-blooded France, that dowerless took
213   Our youngest born, I could as well be brought
knee kneel to
214   To knee his throne, and, squire-like; pension beg
215   To keep base life afoot. Return with her?
sumpter drudge, pack-horse
216   Persuade me rather to be slave and sumpter
217   To this detested groom.

           [Pointing at Oswald.]

      GONERIL
217                                                 At your choice, sir.

      KING LEAR
218   I prithee, daughter, do not make me mad:
219   I will not trouble thee, my child; farewell:

embossed swollen, risen to a head
carbuncle a group of coalescing boils
220   We'll no more meet, no more see one another:
221   But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter —
222   Or rather a disease that's in my flesh,
223   Which I must needs call mine: thou art a boil,
224   A plague-sore, an embossed carbuncle,
225   In my corrupted blood. But I'll not chide thee;
226   Let shame come when it will, I do not call it:
thunder-bearer Jove
227   I do not bid the thunder-bearer shoot,
high-judging judging from on high
228   Nor tell tales of thee to high-judging Jove:
Mend Make amends
229   Mend when thou canst; be better at thy leisure:
230   I can be patient; I can stay with Regan,
231   I and my hundred knights.

      REGAN
231                                                     Not altogether so:
look'd not for you did not expect you
232   I look'd not for you yet, nor am provided
233   For your fit welcome. Give ear, sir, to my sister;
mingle reason with your passion bring reason to the consideration of your passion
234   For those that mingle reason with your passion
235   Must be content to think you old, and so—
236   But she knows what she does.

      KING LEAR
well spoken earnestly spoken
236                                                           Is this well spoken?

      REGAN
avouch vouch for; acknowledge
237   I dare avouch it, sir: what, fifty followers?
238   Is it not well? What should you need of more?
sith since | charge the expense
239   Yea, or so many, sith that both charge and danger
240   Speak 'gainst so great a number? How, in one house,
241   Should many people, under two commands,
Hold amity maintain friendship
242   Hold amity? 'Tis hard; almost impossible.

      GONERIL
243   Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance
244   From those that she calls servants or from mine?

      REGAN
to slack ye to be careless in their attendance on you
245   Why not, my lord? If then they chanced to slack ye,
246   We could control them. If you will come to me,—
247   For now I spy a danger,—I entreat you
248   To bring but five and twenty: to no more
give place or notice countenance; acknowledge
249   Will I give place or notice.

      KING LEAR
250   I gave you all—

      REGAN
in good time i.e., it was about time


Made  . . .  depositaries made you (Regan and Goneril) my protectors and the trustees of my kingdom kept  . . .  number reserved the right to maintain a retinue of such a number (one hundred)
250                               And in good time you gave it.

      KING LEAR
251   Made you my guardians, my depositaries;
252   But kept a reservation to be follow'd
253   With such a number. What, must I come to you
254   With five and twenty, Regan? said you so?

      REGAN
255   And speak't again, my lord; no more with me.

      KING LEAR
Those wicked creatures yet do look well-favour'd, / When others are more wicked i.e., Those creatures I already know are wicked (like Goneril) look attractive when others (like Regan) are more wicked.
256   Those wicked creatures yet do look well-favour'd,
257   When others are more wicked: not being the worst
258   Stands in some rank of praise.

           [To Goneril.]

258                                                             I'll go with thee:
259   Thy fifty yet doth double five and twenty,
260   And thou art twice her love.

      GONERIL
260                                                       Hear me, my lord;
261   What need you five and twenty, ten, or five,
262   To follow in a house where twice so many
263   Have a command to tend you?

      REGAN
263                                                         What need one?

      KING LEAR
basest beggars ... superfluous i.e., even the poorest beggar has some little thing that he doesn't need to stay alive Allow  . . . beast's i.e., if you don't allow more than nature needs (to maintain the body), man's life becomes as cheap as a beast's
264   O, reason not the need! our basest beggars
265   Are in the poorest thing superfluous.
266   Allow not nature more than nature needs,
267   Man's life's as cheap as beast's. Thou art a lady;
268   If only to go warm were gorgeous,
269   Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear'st,
270   Which scarcely keeps thee warm. But, for true need,—
patience endurance, fortitude, self-control
271   You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need!
272   You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,
273   As full of grief as age; wretched in both!
274   If it be you that stir these daughters' hearts
fool me not so much / To bear it tamely: i.e., do not make me such a fool of me (and ask me) to bear it without (wild, not tame) protest.
275   Against their father, fool me not so much
276   To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger,
277   And let not women's weapons, water-drops,
278   Stain my man's cheeks! No, you unnatural hags,
279   I will have such revenges on you both
280   That all the world shall—I will do such things,—
281   What they are, yet I know not, but they shall be
282   The terrors of the earth! You think I'll weep:
283   No, I'll not weep.
284   I have full cause of weeping; but this heart

           Storm and tempest.

flaws fragments
Or ere before
285   Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws,
286   Or ere I'll weep. O Fool, I shall go mad!

           Exeunt [Lear, Gloucester, Gentleman, and Fool].

      CORNWALL
287   Let us withdraw; 'twill be a storm.

      REGAN
288   This house is little: the old man and 's people
bestow'd lodged
289   Cannot be well bestow'd.

      GONERIL
hath put himself from rest has deprived himself of rest And must needs taste his folly and he needs to experience the consequences of his folly

For his particular for his single self
290   'Tis his own blame hath put himself from rest,
291   And must needs taste his folly.

      REGAN
292   For his particular, I'll receive him gladly,
293   But not one follower.

      GONERIL
293                                           So am I purposed.
294   Where is my lord of Gloucester?

      CORNWALL
295   Follow'd the old man forth.

           Enter GLOUCESTER.

295                                                     He is return'd.

      GLOUCESTER
296   The king is in high rage.

      CORNWALL
296                                                 Whither is he going?

      GLOUCESTER
297   He calls to horse, but will I know not whither.

      CORNWALL
298   'Tis best to give him way; he leads himself.

      GONERIL
299   My lord, entreat him by no means to stay.

      GLOUCESTER
300   Alack, the night comes on, and the bleak winds
ruffle bluster; blow
301   Do sorely ruffle; for many miles about
302   There's scarce a bush.

      REGAN
302                                           O, sir, to wilful men,
303   The injuries that they themselves procure
304   Must be their schoolmasters. Shut up your doors:
desperate train violent following

abused deceived
305   He is attended with a desperate train;
306   And what they may incense him to, being apt
307   To have his ear abused, wisdom bids fear.

      CORNWALL
308   Shut up your doors, my lord; 'tis a wild night:
309   My Regan counsels well; come out o' th' storm.

           Exeunt.