skip to Main Content
King Lear

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


[ Act 4 Scene 3

The French camp near Dover
Enter KENT and a Gentleman

Why the King of France is so suddenly gone back
know you the reason?

Something he left imperfect in the
state, which since his coming forth is thought
of; which imports to the kingdom so much
fear and danger, that his personal return was
most required and necessary.

Who hath he left behind him general?

The Marshal of France, Monsieur La Far.

Did your letters pierce the queen to any
demonstration of grief?

Ay, sir; she took them, read them in my presence,
And now and then an ample tear trill’d down
Her delicate cheek. It seemed she was a queen
Over her passion, who most rebel-like
Sought to be king o’er her.

O, then it moved her.

Not to a rage; patience and sorrow strove
Who should express her goodliest. You have seen
Sunshine and rain at once: her smiles and tears
Were like, a better way: those happy smilets,
That played on her ripe lip, seemed not to know
What guests were in her eyes; which parted thence,
As pearls from diamonds dropped. In brief,
Sorrow would be a rarity most beloved,
If all could so become it.

Made she no verbal question?

‘Faith, once or twice she heaved the name of ‘father’
Pantingly forth, as if it pressed her heart:
Cried ‘Sisters! sisters! Shame of ladies! sisters!
Kent! father! sisters! What, i’ the storm? i’ the night?
Let pity not be believed!’ There she shook
The holy water from her heavenly eyes,
And clamour moistened: then away she started
To deal with grief alone.

It is the stars,
The stars above us, govern our conditions;
Else one self mate and mate could not beget
Such different issues. You spoke not with her since?


Was this before the king returned?

No, since.

Well, sir, the poor distressed Lear’s i’ the town;
Who sometime, in his better tune, remembers
What we are come about, and by no means
Will yield to see his daughter.

Why, good sir?

A sovereign shame so elbows him: his own unkindness,
That stripped her from his benediction, turned her
To foreign casualties, gave her dear rights
To his dog-hearted daughters, these things sting
His mind so venomously, that burning shame
Detains him from Cordelia.

Alack, poor gentleman!

Of Albany’s and Cornwall’s powers you heard not?

‘Tis so, they are afoot.

Well, sir, I’ll bring you to our master Lear,
And leave you to attend him: some dear cause
Will in concealment wrap me up awhile;
When I am known aright, you shall not grieve
Lending me this acquaintance. I pray you, go
Along with me.

    Exit ]


gone back: returned to France; he does not appear again in the play.

pierce: move

queen: she ruled over her emotions, which sought to rule her

goodliest: most becomingly

clamour moistened: mixed her outcries with tears

one self mate and mate: the same parents could not give birth to such dissimilar children, thus our different natures must be up to the stars.

better tune: better frame of mind

elbows: nudges him (to remind him)

benediction: blessing

Back To Top