Philip Weller caricature
Philip and Weller hugging

Welcome to my web site, now under development for more than twenty years.   
-- Philip Weller, November 13, 1941 - February 1, 2021
Dr. Weller, an Eastern Washington University professor of English and Shakespearean scholar for more than 50 years.


King Lear : Act 2, Scene 2



           Enter KENT [disguised as Caius]
           and Steward [OSWALD], severally.
severally : separately, from different directions. — They are at Gloucester's house. Oswald is bringing a letter from Goneril to Regan, and Kent is bringing a letter from King Lear to Regan.


      OSWALD
  1   Good dawning to thee, friend: art of this
1. art of this house? : are you a servant here?

  2   house?

      KENT
  3   Ay.

      OSWALD
  4   Where may we set our horses?

      KENT
  5   I' the mire.
5. mire: wet, soggy, muddy ground.


      OSWALD
  6   Prithee, if thou lovest me, tell me.
6. if thou lovest me: a conventional phrase equivalent to today's "my friend" when it's addressed to a stranger.


      KENT
  7   I love thee not.

      OSWALD
  8   Why, then, I care not for thee.

      KENT
  9   If I had thee in Lipsbury pinfold, I would
9. If I had thee in Lipsbury pinfold: i.e., If I had you in a place where you couldn't run away. >>>

 10   make thee care for me.

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

      KENT
 13   Fellow, I know thee.

      OSWALD
 14   What dost thou know me for?

      KENT
 15   A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a base,
15. broken meats: leftovers.

 16   proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-
16. three-suited: cheaply dressed. hundred-pound: >>>

 17   pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered,
17. worsted-stocking knave: lowly wearer of ugly socks. >>>

 18   action-taking knave, a whoreson, glass-gazing, super-
18. action-taking: filing lawsuits. glass-gazing: looking in a mirror.

 19   serviceable finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave;
19. finical: affectedly fastidious.

 20   one that wouldst be a bawd, in way of good service,
20. bawd . . . service: i.e., pimping in order to please.

 21   and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar,
21. composition: combination.

 22   coward, pandar, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch:
 23   one whom I will beat into clamorous whining, if thou
 24   deniest the least syllable of thy addition.
24. thy addition: the titles [of abuse] I have given you.


      OSWALD
 25   Why, what a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to
 26   rail on one that is neither known of thee nor knows
 27   thee!

      KENT
 28   What a brazen-faced varlet art thou, to deny thou
28. varlet: a rascally menial.

 29   knowest me! Is it two days ago since I tripped up
 30   thy heels, and beat thee before the king? Draw, you
30. Draw: i.e., Draw your sword.

 31   rogue: for, though it be night, yet the moon
 32   shines; I'll make a sop o' the moonshine of you:
32. I'll make a sop o' the moonshine of you: I'll put so many holes in you that you will soak up the moonlight. >>>

 33   draw, you whoreson cullionly barber-monger, draw.
33. cullionly barber-monger: rascally frequenter of barber-shops, fop.


           [Drawing his sword.]

      OSWALD
 34   Away! I have nothing to do with thee.

      KENT
 35   Draw, you rascal: you come with letters against
 36   the king; and take vanity the puppet's part against
36. vanity the puppet: the doll vanity; i.e., Goneril.

 37   the royalty of her father: draw, you rogue, or I'll so
 38   carbonado your shanks: draw, you rascal!
38. carbonado: hack.

 39   Come your ways.
39. Come your ways: i.e., Come on, fight!


      OSWALD
 40   Help, ho! murder! help!

      KENT
 41   Strike, you slave; stand, rogue, stand; you neat
41. stand: stand still; quit dodging. neat: foppish.

Illustrator: H.C. Selous

 42   slave, strike.

           [Beating him.]

      OSWALD
 43   Help, ho! murder! murder!

           Enter Bastard [EDMUND.]

      EDMUND
 44   How now! What's the matter? Part!
44. Part!: Back off! Stop fighting!


      KENT [To Edmund.]
 45   With you, goodman boy, an you please!
45. With . . . please!: i.e., I'll take you on, punk, if you like!

 46   Come, I'll flesh ye; come on, young master.
46. flesh: initiate you into sword fighting.


           [Enter] CORNWALL, REGAN, GLOUCESTER,
           and Servants.

      GLOUCESTER
 47   Weapons! arms! What 's the matter here?

      CORNWALL
 48   Keep peace, upon your lives:
 49   He dies that strikes again. What is the matter?

      REGAN
 50   The messengers from our sister and the king.

      CORNWALL
 51   What is your difference? speak.

      OSWALD
 52   I am scarce in breath, my lord.

      KENT
 53   No marvel, you have so bestirr'd your valour.
 54   You cowardly rascal, nature disclaims in thee:
54. nature disclaims in thee: nature denies that she had any hand in creating you.

 55   a tailor made thee.

      CORNWALL
 56   Thou art a strange fellow: a tailor make a man?

      KENT
 58   Ay, a tailor, sir: a stone-cutter or painter could
 59   not have made him so ill, though he had been
 60   but two hours at the trade.

      CORNWALL
 61   Speak yet, how grew your quarrel?

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

      KENT
 64   Thou whoreson zed! thou unnecessary letter! My
64. zed: the letter z, unnecessary because its sound could usually be represented by s.

 65   lord, if you will give me leave, I will tread this
 66   unbolted villain into mortar, and daub the wall of
66. unbolted: coarse, like unsifted ["unbolted"] flour.

 67   a jakes with him. Spare my gray beard, you wagtail?
67. jakes: outhouse.


      CORNWALL
 68   Peace, sirrah!
 69   You beastly knave, know you no reverence?

      KENT
 70   Yes, sir; but anger hath a privilege.

      CORNWALL
 71   Why art thou angry?

      KENT
 72   That such a slave as this should wear a sword,
 73   Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as these,
73. honesty: honorable character.

 74   Like rats, oft bite the holy cords a-twain
74. holy cords: i.e., bonds of natural affection.

 75   Which are t' intrinse t' unloose; smooth every passion
75. t' intrinse: too intricately knotted. smooth: humor, flatter.

 76   That in the natures of their lords rebel;
 77   Bring oil to fire, snow to their colder moods;
 78   Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks
78. halcyon beaks: i.e., agreeable faces. >>>

 79   With every gale and vary of their masters,
79. vary: i.e., shift in mood.

 80   Knowing nought, like dogs, but following.
 81   A plague upon your epileptic visage!
81. epileptic: grimacing face; frozen smile.

 82   Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool?
82. Smile . . . fool?: Do you smile at my words as if I were a fool?

 83   Goose, if I had you upon Sarum plain,
83. Sarum plain: Salisbury plain. — Stonehenge is on Salisbury plain, and according to some accounts, so was Camelot. I have no idea what the geese have to do with Salisbury Plain or Camelot.

 84   I'ld drive ye cackling home to Camelot.

      CORNWALL
 85   Why, art thou mad, old fellow?

      GLOUCESTER
 86   How fell you out? say that.
86. How fell you out?: How did the quarrel start?


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

      CORNWALL
 89   Why dost thou call him a knave? What is his fault?

      KENT
 90   His countenance likes me not.
90. likes: pleases.


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

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

      CORNWALL
 95                                               This is some fellow,
 96   Who, having been praised for bluntness, doth affect
 97   A saucy roughness, and constrains the garb
 98   Quite from his nature: he cannot flatter, he,
97-98. constrains the garb / Quite from his nature: i.e., wears the garb of a truth-teller in an over-the-top manner.

 99   An honest mind and plain, he must speak truth!
100   An they will take it, so; if not, he's plain.
100. An . . . plain: i.e., If those who hear him take his truth-telling to heart, good; if they don't, it shows that they can't stand the plain truth.

101   These kind of knaves I know, which in this plainness
102   Harbour more craft and more corrupter ends
103   Than twenty silly ducking observants
103. silly ducking observants: obsequious, groveling attendants.

104   That stretch their duties nicely.
104. nicely: with excessive concern for detail.


      KENT
105   Sir, in good sooth, in sincere verity,
105-108. — In this speech Kent ironically uses elaborately flattering language.

106   Under the allowance of your great aspect,
106. aspect: countenance.

107   Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire
108   On flickering Phoebus' front —
108. Phoebus' front: the sun-god's forehead.


      CORNWALL
                                                          What mean'st by this?

      KENT
109   To go out of my dialect, which you discommend
109. dialect: i.e., usual manner of speech.

110   so much. I know, sir, I am no flatterer: he that
111   beguiled you in a plain accent was a plain knave;
112   which for my part I will not be, though I should
113   win your displeasure to entreat me to 't.
112-113. though I should win your displeasure to entreat me to 't: i.e., even though it would be tempting to make you angry by being a plain knave.


      CORNWALL
114   What was the offence you gave him?

      OSWALD
115   I never gave him any:
116   It pleas'd the king his master very late
116. very late: recently.

117   To strike at me, upon his misconstruction;
117. upon his misconstruction: because he misunderstood me.

118   When he, compact, and flattering his displeasure,
118. compact: leagued [with the King].

119   Tripp'd me behind; being down, insulted, rail'd,
120   And put upon him such a deal of man
120. put . . . man: struck such macho attitudes.

121   That worthied him, got praises of the King
121. worthied him: made him appear worthy [to the King].

122   For him attempting who was self-subdued,
122. For . . . self-subdued: for assaulting one who restrained himself from fighting back.

123   And, in the fleshment of this dread exploit,
123. fleshment of: wild excitement produced by.

124   Drew on me here again.

      KENT
                                None of these rogues and cowards
125   But Ajax is their fool.
124-125. None . . . fool: All such rogues and cowards boast that Ajax is nothing to them. — In the Illiad Ajax is portrayed as a fearsome warrior.


      CORNWALL
                                        Fetch forth the stocks!
125. Stocks the stocks: a device to imprison an offender in public. >>>

126   You stubborn ancient knave, you reverend braggart,
127   We'll teach you —

      KENT
127                             Sir, I am too old to learn:
128   Call not your stocks for me: I serve the king;
129   On whose employment I was sent to you:
130   You shall do small respect, show too bold malice
131   Against the grace and person of my master,
131. grace and person: royal and personal honor.

132   Stocking his messenger.

      CORNWALL
133   Fetch forth the stocks! As I have life and honour,
134   There shall he sit till noon.

      REGAN
135   Till noon! till night, my lord; and all night too.

      KENT
136   Why, madam, if I were your father's dog,
137   You should not use me so.

      REGAN
                                            Sir, being his knave, I will.

      CORNWALL
138   This is a fellow of the self-same colour
138. of the self-same colour: with exactly the same character.

139   Our sister speaks of. Come, bring away the stocks!
139. sister: i.e., sister-in-law, Goneril. bring away: bring out.


           Stocks brought out.

      GLOUCESTER
140   Let me beseech your Grace not to do so:
141   His fault is much, and the good king his master
142   Will check him for't. Your purpos'd low correction
142. check: rebuke.

143   Is such as basest and contemned'st wretches
144   For pilf'rings and most common trespasses
145   Are punish'd with. The King must take it ill,
146   That he, so slightly valued in his messenger,
147   Should have him thus restrain'd.

      CORNWALL
                                                          I'll answer that.
147. answer that: answer for that.


      REGAN
148   My sister may receive it much more worse,
149   To have her gentleman abused, assaulted,
150   For following her affairs. Put in his legs.
150. For following her affairs: i.e., for carrying out his duties on her behalf.


           [KENT is put in the stocks.]

151   Come, my good lord, away.

           Exit [with all but GLOUCESTER and KENT.]

      GLOUCESTER
152   I am sorry for thee, friend; 'tis the Duke's pleasure,
153   Whose disposition, all the world well knows,
154   Will not be rubb'd nor stopp'd: I'll entreat for thee.
154. Will not be rubb'd nor stopp'd: i.e, will not allow the slightest opposition.


      KENT
155   Pray, do not, sir: I have watched and travell'd hard;
155. watched: i.e., stayed awake and alert.

156   Some time I shall sleep out, the rest I'll whistle.
156. sleep out: sleep through.

157   A good man's fortune may grow out at heels:
157. A good man's fortune may grow out at heels: i.e., a good man's good luck may wear out, just like his shoes or socks.

158   Give you good morrow!

      GLOUCESTER
159   The duke's to blame in this; 'twill be ill taken.

           Exit.

      KENT
160   Good King, that must approve the common saw,
160. approve the common saw: prove the saying to be true. — The saying is "To run out of God's blessing to the warm sun," meaning "to go from better to worse."

161   Thou out of heaven's benediction com'st
162   To the warm sun!
163   Approach, thou beacon to this under globe,
163. beacon to this under globe: i.e., the moon.

164   That by thy comfortable beams I may
164. comfortable: aiding.

165   Peruse this letter.

           [Takes out letter.]

                                    Nothing almost sees miracles
166   But misery. I know 'tis from Cordelia,
165-166. Nothing . . . misery: It's almost always true that only those who suffer misery are granted miracles.

167   Who hath most fortunately been inform'd
168   Of my obscured course; and shall find time
168. obscured course: i.e., my attempts to look after Lear in this disguise. enormous state: monstrous state of affairs.

169   From this enormous state, seeking to give
170   Losses their remedies.

           [Puts away letter.]

170                                           All weary and o'er-watch'd,
171   Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold
171. Take vantage: take advantage [of sleep].

172   This shameful lodging.
172. This shameful lodging: i.e., the stocks.

173   Fortune, good night: smile once more; turn thy wheel!
173. turn thy wheel: i.e., give me some good luck. >>>


           [Sleeps.]





Illustrator: Sir John Gilbert