William Shakespeare's King Lear teaches the lesson to never believe everything you hear.
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King Lear

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Act II. Scene II.

Scene II.—Before GLOUCESTER'S Castle.

Enter KENT and OSWALD, severally.

Osw. Good dawning to thee, friend: art of
this house?
Kent. Ay.
Osw. Where may we set our horses?
Kent. I' the mire.
Osw. Prithee, if thou lovest me, tell me.
Kent. I love thee not.
Osw. Why, then I care not for thee.
Kent. If I had thee in Lipsbury pinfold, I
would make thee care for me.
Osw. Why dost thou use me thus? I know
thee not.
Kent. Fellow, I know thee.
Osw. What dost thou know me for?
Kent. A knave, a rascal, an eater of broken
meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-
suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking
knave; a lily-liver'd, action-taking knave; a
whoreson, glass-gazing, superserviceable, finical
rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that
wouldst be a bawd, in way of good service,
and art nothing but the composition of a
knave, beggar, coward, pandar, and the son
and heir of a mongrel bitch: one whom I will
beat into clamorous whining if thou deniest
the least syllable of thy addition.
Osw. Why, what a monstrous fellow art thou,
thus to rail on one that is neither known of
thee nor knows thee!
Kent. What a brazen-faced varlet art thou,
to deny thou knowest me! Is it two days since
I tripped up thy heels and beat thee before
the king? Draw, you rogue; for, though it be
night, yet the moon shines: I'll make a sop o'
the moonshine of you. [Drawing his sword.]
Draw, you whoreson, cullionly, barber-monger,
draw.
Osw. Away! I have nothing to do with thee.
Kent. Draw, you rascal; you come with let-
ters against the king, and take vanity the pup-
pet's part against the royalty of her father.
Draw, you rogue, or I'll so carbonado your
shanks: draw, you rascal; come your ways.
Osw. Help, ho! murder! help!
Kent. Strike, you slave; stand, rogue, stand;
you neat slave, strike. [Beating him.
Osw. Help, oh! murder! murder!

Enter EDMUND with his rapier drawn.
Edm. How now! What's the matter?
[Parting them.
Kent. With you, goodman boy, if you please:
come,I'll flesh ye; come on, young master.

Enter CORNWALL, REGAN, GLOUCESTER, and
Servants.
Glo. Weapons! arms! What's the matter
here?
Corn. Keep peace, upon your lives:
He dies that strikes again. What is the matter?
Reg. The messengers from our sister and the
king.
Corn. What is your difference? speak.
Osw. I am scarce in breath, my lord.
Kent. No marvel, you have so bestirred your
valour. You cowardly rascal, nature disclaims
in thee; a tailor made thee.
Corn. Thou art a strange fellow; a tailor
make a man?
Kent. Ay, a tailor, sir: a stone-cutter or a
painter could not have made him so ill, though
they had been but two hours o' the trade.
Corn. Speak yet, how grew your quarrel?
Osw. This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I
have spar'd at suit of his grey beard,—
Kent. Thou whoreson zed! thou unnecessary
letter! My lord, if you will give me leave, I will
tread this unbolted villain into mortar, and daub
the wall of a jakes with him. Spare my grey
beard, you wagtail?
Corn. Peace, sirrah!
You beastly knave, know you no reverence?
Kent. Yes, sir; but anger hath a privilege.
Corn. Why art thou angry?
Kent. That such a slave as this should wear
a sword,
Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as
these,
Like rats, oft bite the holy cords a-twain
Which are too intrinse t' unloose; smooth every
passion
That in the natures of their lords rebel;
Bring oil to fire, snow to their colder moods;
Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks
With every gale and vary of their masters,
Knowing nought, like dogs, but following.
A plague upon your epileptic visage!
Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool?
Goose, if I had you upon Sarum plain,
I'd drive ye cackling home to Camelot.
Corn. What! art thou mad, old fellow?
Glo. How fell you out? say that.
Kent. No contraries hold more antipathy
Than I and such a knave.
Corn. Why dost thou call him knave? What
is his fault?
Kent. His countenance likes me not.
Corn. No more, perchance, does mine, nor
his, nor hers.
Kent. Sir, 'tis my occupation to be plain:
I have seen better faces in my time
Than stands on any shoulder that I see
Before me at this instant.
Corn. This is some fellow,
Who, having been prais'd for bluntness, doth
affect
A saucy roughness, and constrains the garb
Quite from his nature: he cannot flatter, he,
An honest mind and plain, he must speak truth:
An they will take it, so; if not, he's plain.
These kind of knaves I know, which in this
plainness
Harbour more craft and more corrupter ends
Than twenty silly-ducking observants,
That stretch their duties nicely.
Kent. Sir, in good sooth, in sincere verity,
Under the allowance of your grand aspect,
Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire
On flickering Phœbus' front,—
Corn. What mean'st by this?
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 en-
treat me to't
Corn. What was the offence you gave him?
Osw. I never gave him any:
It pleas'd the king his master very late
To strike at me, upon his misconstruction;
When he, conjunct, and flattering his displea-
sure,
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.
Corn. Fetch forth the stocks!
You stubborn ancient knave, you reverend brag-
gart,
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.
Corn. Fetch forth the stocks [As I have life
and honour,
There shall he sit till noon.
Reg. 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.
Reg. Sir, being his knave, I will.
Corn. This is a fellow of the self-same colour
Our sister speaks of. Come, bring away the
stocks. [Stocks brought out.
Glo. 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 cor-
rection
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.
Corn. I'll answer that.
Reg. 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.
Glo. 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!
Glo. 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 comest
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'er-
watched,
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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