King Lear By William Shakespeare Act II: Scene 2

KENT.
To go out of my dialect, 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.

CORNWALL.
What was the offence you gave him?

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

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

CORNWALL.
Fetch forth the stocks! —
You stubborn ancient knave, you reverent braggart,
We'll teach you, —

KENT.
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 his messenger.

CORNWALL.
Fetch forth the stocks! — As I have life and honour,
there shall he sit till noon.

REGAN.
Till noon! Till night, my lord; and all night too!

KENT.
Why, madam, if I were your father's dog,
You should not use me so.

REGAN.
Sir, being his knave, I will.

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

[Stocks brought out.]

GLOUCESTER.
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 purpos'd low correction
Is such as basest and contemned'st wretches
For pilferings and most common trespasses,
Are punish'd with: the king must take it ill
That he, so slightly valu'd in his messenger,
Should have him thus restrain'd.

CORNWALL.
I'll answer that.

REGAN.
My sister may receive it much more worse,
To have her gentleman abus'd, assaulted,
For following her affairs. — Put in his legs. —

[Kent is put in the stocks.]

Come, my good lord, away.

[Exeunt all but Gloucester and Kent.]

GLOUCESTER.
I am sorry for thee, friend; 'tis the duke's pleasure,
Whose disposition, all the world well knows,
Will not be rubb'd nor stopp'd; I'll entreat for thee.

KENT.
Pray do not, sir: I have watch'd, and travell'd 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!

GLOUCESTER.
The duke's to blame in this: 'twill be ill taken.

[Exit.]

KENT.
Good king, that must approve the common saw, —
Thou out of heaven's benediction com'st
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
But misery: — I know 'tis from Cordelia,
Who hath most fortunately been inform'd
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!

[He sleeps.]

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