Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Michael Best
Not Peer Reviewed

King Lear (Modern, Quarto)

[Scene 16]
Enter Goneril and [the] Bastard.
Welcome, my lord. I marvel our mild husband
Not met us on the way.
2269.1Enter [Oswald the] steward.
Now, where's your master?
Madam, within, but never man so changed.
I told him of the army that was landed;
He smiled at it. I told him you were coming;
His answer was "The worse." Of Gloucester's treachery
And of the loyal service of his son,
2275When I informed him, then he called me sot
And told me I had turned the wrong side out.
What he should most defy seems pleasant to him,
What like, offensive.
[To the Bastard] Then shall you go no further.
2280It is the cowish terror of his spirit
That dares not undertake. He'll not feel wrongs
Which tie him to an answer. Our wishes on the way
May prove effects. Back, Edmund, to my brother;
Hasten his musters, and conduct his powers.
2285I must change arms at home and give the distaff
Into my husband's hands. This trusty servant
Shall pass between us. Ere long you are like to hear,
If you dare venture in your own behalf,
A mistress's command. Wear this--spare speech.
[Gives him a favor of some kind.]
2290Decline your head.
[She kisses him.]
This kiss, if it durst speak,
Would stretch thy spirits up into the air.
Conceive--and fare you well.
Yours in the ranks of death.
My most dear Gloucester.
To thee a woman's services are due--
A fool usurps my bed.
Madam, here comes my lord.
Exit [Oswald the] steward.
[Enter Albany.]
I have been worth the whistling.
O Goneril,
You are not worth the dust which the rude wind
Blows in your face. I fear your disposition.
2303.1That nature which contemns its origin
Cannot be bordered certain in itself.
She that herself will sliver and disbranch
From her material sap, perforce must wither
2303.5And come to deadly use.
No more, the text is foolish.
Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile.
Filths savor but themselves. What have you done?
Tigers, not daughters, what have you performed?
2303.10A father, and a gracious agèd man,
Whose reverence even the head-lugged bear would lick,
Most barbarous, most degenerate have you madded.
Could my good brother suffer you to do it?
A man, a prince, by him so benefited?
2303.15If that the heavens do not their visible spirits
Send quickly down to tame these vile offences,
It will come. Humanity must perforce prey on itself
Like monsters of the deep.
Milk-livered man,
2305That bearest a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs;
Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning
Thine honor from thy suffering; that not know'st
Fools do those villains pity 2307.1who are punished
Ere they have done their mischief. Where's thy drum?
France spreads his banners in our noiseless land,
With plumèd helm, thy flaxen biggin threats,
Whilst thou, a moral fool, sits still and cries
2307.5"Alack, why does he so?"
See thyself, devil.
Proper deformity shows not in the fiend
2310So horrid as in woman.
O vain fool!
Thou changèd, and self-covered thing, for shame,
Bemonster not thy feature. Wer't my fitness
To let these hands obey my blood,
They are apt enough to dislocate and tear
2311.5Thy flesh and bones. Howe'er thou art a fiend,
A woman's shape doth shield thee.
Marry, your manhood?--mew!
Enter a Gentleman.
What news?
1 Gentleman
O my good lord, the Duke of Cornwall's dead,
Slain by his servant, going to put out
2315The other eye of Gloucester.
Gloucester's eyes?
1 Gentleman
A servant that he bred, thralled with remorse,
Opposed against the act, bending his sword
To his great master; who thereat enraged,
2320Flew on him, and amongst them felled him dead;
But not without that harmful stroke which since
Hath plucked him after.
This shows you are above, you justicers,
That these our nether crimes 2325so speedily can venge.
But oh, poor Gloucester, lost he his other eye?
1 Gentleman
Both, both, my lord. [To Goneril] This letter, madam, craves
A speedy answer. 'Tis from your sister.
[Aside] One way I like this well;
But being widow, and my Gloucester with her,
May all the building on my fancy pluck
Upon my hateful life. Another way
The news is not so took. [Aloud] I'll read and answer.
Exit [Goneril].
Where was his son when they did take his eyes?
1 Gentleman
Come with my lady hither.
He is not here?
1 Gentleman
No, my good lord, I met him back again.
Knows he the wickedness?
1 Gentleman
Ay, my good lord, 'twas he informed against him,
And quit the house on purpose that their punishment
Might have the freer course.
Gloucester, I live
2345To thank thee for the love thou showed'st the king,
And to revenge thy eyes.--Come hither, friend,
Tell me what more thou knowest.