King Lear By William Shakespeare Act III: Scene 7

Scene VII. A Room in Gloucester's Castle.

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

CORNWALL.
Post speedily to my lord your husband, show him this letter: —
the army of France is landed. — Seek out the traitor Gloucester.

[Exeunt some of the Servants.]

REGAN.
Hang him instantly.

GONERIL.
Pluck out his eyes.

CORNWALL.
Leave him to my displeasure. — Edmund, keep you our sister
company: the revenges we are bound to take upon your traitorous
father are not fit for your beholding. Advise the duke where you
are going, to a most festinate preparation: we are bound to the
like. Our posts shall be swift and intelligent betwixt us.
Farewell, dear sister: — farewell, my lord of Gloucester.

[Enter Oswald.]

How now! Where's the king?

OSWALD.
My lord of Gloucester hath convey'd him hence:
Some five or six and thirty of his knights,
Hot questrists after him, met him at gate;
Who, with some other of the lord's dependants,
Are gone with him towards Dover: where they boast
To have well-armed friends.

CORNWALL.
Get horses for your mistress.

GONERIL.
Farewell, sweet lord, and sister.

CORNWALL.
Edmund, farewell.

[Exeunt Goneril, Edmund, and Oswald.]

Go seek the traitor Gloucester,
Pinion him like a thief, bring him before us.

[Exeunt other Servants.]

Though well we may not pass upon his life
Without the form of justice, yet our power
Shall do a courtesy to our wrath, which men
May blame, but not control. — Who's there? the traitor?

[Re-enter servants, with Gloucester.]

REGAN.
Ingrateful fox! 'tis he.

CORNWALL.
Bind fast his corky arms.

GLOUCESTER.
What mean your graces? — Good my friends, consider
You are my guests: do me no foul play, friends.

CORNWALL.
Bind him, I say.

[Servants bind him.]

REGAN.
Hard, hard. — O filthy traitor!

GLOUCESTER.
Unmerciful lady as you are, I'm none.

CORNWALL.
To this chair bind him. — Villain, thou shalt find, —

[Regan plucks his beard.]

GLOUCESTER.
By the kind gods, 'tis most ignobly done
To pluck me by the beard.

REGAN.
So white, and such a traitor!

GLOUCESTER.
Naughty lady,
These hairs which thou dost ravish from my chin
Will quicken, and accuse thee: I am your host:
With robber's hands my hospitable favours
You should not ruffle thus. What will you do?

CORNWALL.
Come, sir, what letters had you late from France?

REGAN.
Be simple-answer'd, for we know the truth.

CORNWALL.
And what confederacy have you with the traitors
Late footed in the kingdom?

REGAN.
To whose hands have you sent the lunatic king?
Speak.

GLOUCESTER.
I have a letter guessingly set down,
Which came from one that's of a neutral heart,
And not from one oppos'd.

CORNWALL.
Cunning.

REGAN.
And false.

CORNWALL.
Where hast thou sent the king?

GLOUCESTER.
To Dover.

REGAN.
Wherefore to Dover? Wast thou not charg'd at peril, —

CORNWALL.
Wherefore to Dover? Let him first answer that.

GLOUCESTER.
I am tied to the stake, and I must stand the course.

REGAN.
Wherefore to Dover, sir?

GLOUCESTER.
Because I would not see thy cruel nails
Pluck out his poor old eyes; nor thy fierce sister
In his anointed flesh stick boarish fangs.
The sea, with such a storm as his bare head
In hell-black night endur'd, would have buoy'd up,
And quench'd the stelled fires; yet, poor old heart,
He holp the heavens to rain.
If wolves had at thy gate howl'd that stern time,
Thou shouldst have said, 'Good porter, turn the key.'
All cruels else subscrib'd: — but I shall see
The winged vengeance overtake such children.

CORNWALL.
See't shalt thou never. — Fellows, hold the chair.
Upon these eyes of thine I'll set my foot.

[Gloucester is held down in his chair, while Cornwall plucks out one
of his eyes and sets his foot on it.]

GLOUCESTER.
He that will think to live till he be old,
Give me some help! — O cruel! — O ye gods!

REGAN.
One side will mock another; the other too!

CORNWALL.
If you see vengeance, —

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