King Lear By William Shakespeare Act II: Scene 1

CORNWALL.
How now, my noble friend! since I came hither, —
Which I can call but now, — I have heard strange news.

REGAN.
If it be true, all vengeance comes too short
Which can pursue the offender. How dost, my lord?

GLOUCESTER.
O madam, my old heart is crack'd, — it's crack'd!

REGAN.
What, did my father's godson seek your life?
He whom my father nam'd? your Edgar?

GLOUCESTER.
O lady, lady, shame would have it hid!

REGAN.
Was he not companion with the riotous knights
That tend upon my father?

GLOUCESTER.
I know not, madam: —
It is too bad, too bad.

EDMUND.
Yes, madam, he was of that consort.

REGAN.
No marvel then though he were ill affected:
'Tis they have put him on the old man's death,
To have the expense and waste of his revenues.
I have this present evening from my sister
Been well inform'd of them; and with such cautions
That if they come to sojourn at my house,
I'll not be there.

CORNWALL.
Nor I, assure thee, Regan. —
Edmund, I hear that you have shown your father
A childlike office.

EDMUND.
'Twas my duty, sir.

GLOUCESTER.
He did bewray his practice; and receiv'd
This hurt you see, striving to apprehend him.

CORNWALL.
Is he pursu'd?

GLOUCESTER.
Ay, my good lord.

CORNWALL.
If he be taken, he shall never more
Be fear'd of doing harm: make your own purpose,
How in my strength you please. — For you, Edmund,
Whose virtue and obedience doth this instant
So much commend itself, you shall be ours:
Natures of such deep trust we shall much need;
You we first seize on.

EDMUND.
I shall serve you, sir,
Truly, however else.

GLOUCESTER.
For him I thank your grace.

CORNWALL.
You know not why we came to visit you, —

REGAN.
Thus out of season, threading dark-ey'd night:
Occasions, noble Gloucester, of some poise,
Wherein we must have use of your advice: —
Our father he hath writ, so hath our sister,
Of differences, which I best thought it fit
To answer from our home; the several messengers
From hence attend despatch. Our good old friend,
Lay comforts to your bosom; and bestow
Your needful counsel to our business,
Which craves the instant use.

GLOUCESTER.
I serve you, madam:
Your graces are right welcome.

[Exeunt.]

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

How did the original audience respond to the ending of King Lear?




Quiz