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King Lear

(Line differences from Q1 are in brackets, lines in F1 only are in italics)


Act 2 Scene 2

Outside Gloucester’s residence

Good dawning [even] to thee, friend. Art of this house?


Where may we set our horses?

I’ th’ mire.

Prithee, if thou lovest me, tell me.

I love thee not.

Why, then, I care not for thee.

If I had thee in Lipsbury pinfold, I would make thee
care for me.

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

Fellow, I know thee.

What dost thou know me for?

A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a
base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited,
hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a
lily-liveredaction-taking knave, a whoreson,
glass-gazingsuper-serviceable finical rogue;
one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a
bawd, in way of good 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 deniest
the least syllable of thy addition.

Why, what a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to rail
on one that is neither known of thee nor knows thee.

What a brazen-faced varlet art thou, to deny thou
knowest me! Is it two days [ago] since I tripped up
thy heels,  and beat thee  before the king? Draw, you
rogue: for, though it be night, yet the moon
shines. I’ll make a sop o’ the moonshine of you.
Draw, you whoreson cullionly barber-monger, draw!

Away! I have nothing to do with thee.

Draw, you rascal! You  come with  [bring] 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 your ways.

Help, ho! Murder! Help!

Strike, you slave! Stand, rogue, stand; you neat slave, strike!

Help, ho! murder! murder!


How now! What’s the matter?  Part! (comes between them)

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

Weapons! Arms! What ‘s the matter here?

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

The messengers from our sister and the king.

What is your difference? Speak.

I am scarce in breath, my lord.

No marvel, you have so bestirred your valour, you
cowardly rascal. Nature disclaims in thee: a
tailor made thee.

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

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

Speak yet, how grew your quarrel?

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

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
jakes with him. Spare my gray beard, you wagtail?

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

Yes, sir; but anger hath a privilege.

Why art thou angry?

That such a slave as this should wear a sword,
Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as these
Like rats oft bite the holy cords a-twain
Which are too intrinse t’ unloose; smooth every passion
That in the natures of their lords rebel;
Bring oil to fire, snow to their colder moods;
Revenge [Renege], affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks
With every gall [gale] and vary of their masters,
Knowing naught, like dogs [days], but following.
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 [send] ye cackling home to Camelot.

What, art thou mad, old fellow?

How fell you out? Say that.

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

Why dost thou call him a knave? What’s his fault [offence]?

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.

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!
If they will take it, so; if not, he’s plain.
These kind of knaves I know, which in this plainness
Harbour more craft and more corrupter ends
Than twenty silly ducking observants
That stretch their duties nicely.

Sir, in good sooth, in sincere verity,
Under the allowance of your great aspect,
Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire
On flickering Phoebus‘ front–

What mean’st by this?

To go out of my dialect [dialogue], 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 win your displeasure
to entreat me to ‘t.

What was the offence you gave him?

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

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

Fetch forth the stocks.
You stubborn ancient [miscreant] knave, you reverend braggart,
We’ll teach you.

Sir, I am too old to learn.
Call not your stocks for me: I serve the king,
On whose employment I was sent to you.
You shall do small respect, show too bold malice
Against the grace and person of my master,
Stocking [stopping] his messenger.

Fetch forth the stocks! As I have life and honour,
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.

Sir, being his knave, I will.

This is a fellow of the self-same colour [nature]
Our sister speaks of. Come, bring away the stocks!

Let me beseech your grace not to do so.
[His fault is much, and the good king his master
Will check him for ‘t. Your purposed low correction
Is such as basest and condemned wretches
For pilferings and most common trespasses
Are punish’d with.]
The king  his master  must take it ill,
That he’s so slightly valued in his messenger,
Should have him thus restrained.

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.]

Come, my lord, away.

 Exit all but GLOUCESTER and KENT

I am sorry for thee, friend; ’tis the duke’s pleasure,
Whose disposition, all the world well knows,
Will not be rubbed nor stopp’d. 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.


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



mire : mud

Lipsbury pinfold : pinned between my teeth (lips)

broken meats : scraps

three-suited : the wardrobe of a servant, allowed three suits a year

hundred-pound : too well paid

worsted-stocking : worn by common servants

lily-livered : cowardly

action-taking : a coward who refuses to fight but takes people to court

glass-gazing : conceited (always looking in the mirror)

super-serviceable : all too eager to serve others for personal gain

finical : overly concerned about how he looks

one-trunk-inheriting : possessing only one trunkful of belongings

bawd : pimp

clamorous: loud crying

addition : titles which Kent has given him

brazen-faced : bold

sop : with so many holes in him, Oswald will soak up the moonshine; similar to “make mincemeat of you”

cullionly barber-monger : always going to the hairdressers, effeminate, sissy

Vanity the puppet : Goneril is compared to a character in morality plays and puppet shows

carbonado your shanks : chop up his calves as he would prepare meat to be cooked

goodman boy : I’ll fight with you, cocky young man

disclaims : claims no part of

at suit of : out of pity for

zed : British for the letter z, the last letter

unbolted : unsifted (as in flour), hence coarse

jakes : outhouse

holy cords : bonds between parents and children, husband and wife

intrinse : entwined

smooth : indulge (every desire)

halcyon beaks : a kingfisher bird, hung up like a weather vane, which turns whichever way the wind blows; a man of no principle

epileptic : Oswald twitching in fear

no contraries hold more antipathy : no opposites could be farther apart

countenance : I don’t like his looks

occupation : nature

constrains the garb : Kent cloaks himself in honesty, but strains its meaning beyond bounds, calling rudeness a virtue

silly duckling observants : servants who follow the master around like little ducks (whom Kent accuses Oswald of being)

sooth : truth; also “verity”

allowance of your great aspect : approval of your high position (aspect describes the position of the heavenly bodies)

Phoebus : the Sun-god; Kent mocks Cornwall by speaking in high language like a court flatterer

dialect : customary manner of speaking; he usually doesn’t flatter people

misconstruction : misunderstanding

compact : in league with the king

deal of man : appearance of manliness

worthied : gained him recognition with the king

attempting : attacking

self-subdued : Kent attacked me even though I chose not to fight but backed down

fleshment : bloodthirstiness of his first conquest (fleshing refers to the first taste of blood in a hunt)

Ajax : Greek warrior at Troy, who was stubborn and arrogant, but these men outdo him in their bragging

reverend : aged

messenger : one should treat the messenger of the king like you would the king himself (in this case, foreshadowing how they will badly treat Lear when he arrives)

colour : character

check : rebuke

pilferings : petty theft

rubbed : deflected (bowling term)

saw : proverb “Out of God’s blessing into the hot sun” that is, fortune goes from better to worse.

Nothing … misery : nothing can make us appreciate miracles better than bad times

obscured : disguised

From this … remedies : Cordelia, being away from the terrible conditions in this land, seeks ways to remedy the trouble

vantage : advantage; eyes, take advantage of sleep and don’t look upon my shameful condition in the stocks

turn thy wheel : so that Kent, now at the bottom of the wheel, will be raised up

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