King Lear By William Shakespeare Act II: Scene 2

Scene II. Before Gloucester's Castle.

[Enter Kent and Oswald, severally.]

OSWALD.
Good dawning to thee, friend: art of this house?

KENT.
Ay.

OSWALD.
Where may we set our horses?

KENT.
I' the mire.

OSWALD.
Pr'ythee, 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 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 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 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
denyest the least syllable of thy addition.

OSWALD.
Why, what a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to rail on one that's
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 beat thee and tripped up thy heels 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 barbermonger, draw!

[Drawing his sword.]

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 your ways!

OSWALD.
Help, ho! murder! help!

KENT.
Strike, you slave; stand, rogue, stand; you neat slave, strike!

[Beating him.]

OSWALD.
Help, ho! murder! murder!

[Enter Edmund, Cornwall, Regan, Gloucester, and Servants.]

EDMUND.
How now! What's the matter?

KENT.
With you, goodman boy, an you please: come, I'll flesh you; come
on, young master.

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

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

REGAN.
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 bestirr'd your valour. You cowardly
rascal, nature disclaims in thee; a tailor made thee.

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

KENT.
Ay, a tailor, sir: a stonecutter or a painter could not have
made him so ill, though he had been but two hours at the trade.

CORNWALL.
Speak yet, how grew your quarrel?

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

KENT.
Thou whoreson zed! thou unnecessary letter! — My lord, if you'll
give me leave, I will tread this unbolted villain into mortar and
daub the walls of a jakes with him. — Spare my grey beard, you
wagtail?

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

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

CORNWALL.
Why art thou angry?

KENT.
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;
Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks
With every gale and vary of their masters,
Knowing naught, like dogs, but following. —
A plague upon your epileptic visage!
Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool?
Goose, an I had you upon Sarum plain,
I'd drive ye cackling home to Camelot.

CORNWALL.
What, art thou mad, old fellow?

GLOUCESTER.
How fell you out?
Say that.

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

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

KENT.
His countenance likes me not.

CORNWALL.
No more perchance does mine, or his, or hers.

KENT.
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.

CORNWALL.
This is some fellow
Who, having been prais'd 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!
An 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.

KENT.
Sir, in good faith, in sincere verity,
Under the allowance of your great aspect,
Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire
On flickering Phoebus' front, —

CORNWALL.
What mean'st by this?

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