Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Michael Best
Not Peer Reviewed

King Lear (Modern, Quarto)

2347.1[Scene 17]
Enter Kent [disguised] and a Gentleman.
Why the king of France is so suddenly gone back, know you no reason?
2 Gentleman
Something he left imperfect in the state, which since his 2347.5coming forth is thought of; which imports to the kingdom so much fear and danger that his personal return was most required and necessary.
Who hath he left behind him general?
2 Gentleman
The Marshal of France, Monsieur la Far.
Did your letters pierce the queen to any demonstration of grief?
2 Gentleman
I say she took them, read them in my presence,
And now and then an ample tear trilled down
Her delicate cheek. It seemed she was a queen
Over her passion, who, most rebel-like,
Sought to be king o'er her.
Oh, then it moved her.
2 Gentleman
Not to a rage; patience and sorrow strove
Who should express her goodliest. You have seen
Sunshine and rain at once; her smiles and tears
Were like a better way. Those happy smilets
2347.20That played on her ripe lip seemed not to know
What guests were in her eyes, which parted thence
As pearls from diamonds dropped. In brief,
Sorrow would be a rarity most beloved
If all could so become it.
Made she no verbal question?
2 Gentleman
Faith, once or twice she heaved the name of "father"
Pantingly forth, as if it pressed her heart;
Cried "Sisters, sisters, shame of ladies! Sisters?
Kent, father, sisters? What, i'th'storm, i'th'night?
2347.30Let pity not be believed." There she shook
The holy water from her heavenly eyes,
And clamor-moistened her. Then away she started,
To deal with grief alone.
It is the stars,
The stars above us govern our conditions,
2347.35Else one self mate and make could not beget
Such different issues. You spoke not with her since?
2 Gentleman
Was this before the King returned?
2 Gentleman
No, since.
Well, sir, the poor distressèd Lear's i'th'town,
2347.40Who sometime in his better tune remembers
What we are come about, and by no means
Will yield to see his daughter.
2 Gentleman
Why, good sir?
A sovereign shame so elbows him. His own unkindness
That stripped her from his benediction, turned her
2347.45To foreign casualties, gave her dear rights
To his dog-hearted daughters; these things sting
His mind so venomously that burning
Shame detains him from Cordelia.
2 Gentleman
Alack, poor gentleman.
Of Albany's and Cornwall's powers you heard not?
2347.502 Gentleman
'Tis so. They are afoot.
Well, sir, I'll bring you to our master Lear,
And leave you to attend him. Some dear cause
Will in concealment wrap me up awhile.
When I am known aright you shall not grieve,
2347.55Lending me this acquaintance. I pray you, go
Along with me.