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 IV.

Scene IV.—Before GLOUCESTER'S Castle.
KENT in the stocks.

Enter LEAR, Fool, and Gentleman.

Lear. 'Tis strange that they should so depart
from home,
And not send back my messenger.
Gent. As I learn'd,
The night before there was no purpose in them
Of this remove.
Kent. Hail to thee, noble master!
Lear. Ha!
Mak'st thou this shame thy pastime?
Kent. No, my lord.
Fool. Ha, ha! he wears cruel garters. Horses
are tied by the head, dogs and bears by the neck,
monkeys by the loins, and men by the legs: when
a man is over-lusty at legs, then he wears wooden
nether-stocks.
Lear. What's he that hath so much thy place
mistook
To set thee here?
Kent. It is both he and she,
Your son and daughter.
Lear. No.
Kent. Yes.
Lear. No, I say.
Kent. I say, yea.
Lear. No, no; they would not.
Kent. Yes, they have.
Lear. By Jupiter, I swear, no.
Kent. By Juno, I swear, ay.
Lear. They durst not do't;
They could not, would not do't; 'tis worse than
murder,
To do upon respect such violent outrage.
Resolve me, with all modest haste, which way
Thou mightst deserve, or they impose, this usage,
Coming from us.
Kent. My lord, when at their home
I did commend your highness' letters to them,
Ere I was risen from the place that show'd
My duty kneeling, there came a reeking post,
Stew'd in his haste, half breathless, panting forth
From Goneril his mistress salutations;
Deliver'd letters, spite of intermission,
Which presently they read: on whose contents
They summoned up their meiny, straight took
horse;
Commanded me to follow, and attend
The leisure of their answer; gave me cold looks:
And meeting here the other messenger,
Whose welcome, I perceiv'd, had poison'd mine,—
Being the very fellow which of late
Display'd so saucily against your highness,—
Having more man than wit about me,—drew:
He rais'd the house with loud and coward cries.
Your son and daughter found this trespass worth
The shame which here it suffers.
Fool. Winter's not gone yet, if the wild geese
fly that way.
Fathers that wear rags
Do make their children blind,
But fathers that bear bags
Shall see their children kind.
Fortune, that arrant whore,
Ne'er turns the key to the poor.
But for all this thou shalt have as many dolours
for thy daughters as thou canst tell in a year.
Lear. O! how this mother swells up toward
my heart;
Hysterica passio! down, thou climbing sorrow!
Thy element's below. Where is this daughter?
Kent. With the earl, sir: here within.
Lear. Follow me not; stay here. [Exit.
Gent. Made you no more offence than what
you speak of?
Kent. None.
How chance the king comes with so small a
number.
Fool. An thou hadst been set i' the stocks for
that question, thou hadst well deserved it.
Kent. Why, fool?
Fool. We'll set thee to school to an ant, to
teach thee there's no labouring i' the winter. All
that follow their noses are led by their eyes but
blind men; and there's not a nose among twenty
but can smell him that's stinking. Let go thy
hold when a great wheel runs down a hill, lest it
break thy neck with following it; but the great
one that goes up the hill, let him draw thee after.
When a wise man gives thee better counsel, give
me mine again: I would have none but knaves
follow it, since a fool gives it.
That sir which serves and seeks for gain,
And follows but for form,
Will pack when it begins to rain,
And leave thee in the storm.
But I will tarry; the fool will stay,
And let the wise man fly:
The knave turns fool that runs away;
The fool no knave, perdy.
Kent. Where learn'd you this, fool?
Fool. Not i' the stocks, fool.

Re-enter LEAR, with GLOUCESTER.
Lear. Deny to speak with me! They are sick!
they are weary,
They have travell'd hard to-night! Mere fetches,
The images of revolt and flying off.
Fetch me a better answer.
Glo. My dear lord,
You know the fiery quality of the duke;
How unremovable and fix'd he is
In his own course.
Lear. Vengeance! plague! death! confusion!
Fiery! what quality? Why, Gloucester, Glou-
cester,
I'd speak with the Duke of Cornwall and his
wife.
Glo. Well, my good lord, I have inform'd
them so.
Lear. Inform'd them! Dost thou understand
me, man?
Glo. Ay, my good lord.
Lear. The king would speak with Cornwall;
the dear father
Would with his daughter speak, commands her
service:
Are they inform'd of this? My breath and blood!
Fiery! the fiery duke! Tell the hot duke that—
No, but not yet; may be he is not well:
Infirmity doth still neglect all office
Whereto our health is bound; we are riot our-
selves
When nature, being oppress'd, commands the
mind
To suffer with the body. I'll forbear;
And am fallen out with my more headier will,
To take the indispos'd and sickly fit
For the sound man. Death on my state! [Look-
ing on KENT.] Wherefore
Should he sit here? This act persuades me
That this remotion of the duke and her
Is practice only. Give me my servant forth.
Go, tell the duke and's wife I'd speak with them,
Now, presently: bid them come forth and hear
me,
Or at their chamber-door I'll beat the drum
Till it cry sleep to death.
Glo. I would have all well betwixt you.
[Exit.
Lear. O, me! my heart, my rising heart! but,
down!
Fool. Cry to it, nuncle, as the cockney did to
the eels when she put 'em i' the paste alive; she
knapped 'em o' the coxcombs with a stick, and
cried, 'Down, wantons, down!' 'Twas her brother
that, in pure kindness to his horse, butter'd his
hay.

Enter CORNWALL, REGAN, GLOUCESTER,
and Servants.
Lear. Good morrow to you both.
Corn. Hail to your Grace!
[KENT is set at liberty.
Reg. I am glad to see your highness.
Lear. Regan, I think you are; I know what
reason
I have to think so: if thou shouldst not be glad,
I would divorce me from thy mother's tomb,
Sepulchring an adult'ress.—[To KENT.] O! are
you free?
Some other time for that. Beloved Regan,
Thy sister's naught: O Regan! she hath tied
Sharp-tooth'd unkindness, like a vulture, here:
[Points to his heart.
I can scarce speak to thee; thou'lt not believe
With how deprav'd a quality—O Regan!
Reg. I pray you, sir, take patience. I have
hope
You less know how to value her desert
Than she to scant her duty.
Lear. Say, how is that?
Reg. I cannot think my sister in the least
Would fail her obligation: if, sir, perchance
She have restrain'd the riots of your followers,
'Tis on such ground, and to such wholesome end,
As clears her from all blame.
Lear. My curses on her!
Reg. O, sir! you are old;
Nature in you stands on the very verge
Of her confine: you should be rul'd and led
By some discretion that discerns your state
Better than you yourself. Therefore I pray you
That to our sister you do make return;
Say, you have wrong'd her, sir.
Lear. Ask her forgiveness.
Do you but mark how this becomes the house:
'Dear daughter, I confess that I am old;
Age is unnecessary: on my knees I beg
[Kneeling.
That you'll vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and
food.'
Reg. Good sir, no more; these are unsightly
tricks:
Return you to my sister.
Lear. [Rising.] Never, Regan.
She hath abated me of half my train;
Look'd black upon me; struck me with her
tongue,
Most serpent-like, upon the very heart.
All the stor'd vengeances of heaven fall
On her ingrateful top! Strike her young bones,
You taking airs, with lameness!
Corn. Fie, sir, fie!
Lear. You nimble lightnings, dart your blind-
ing flames
Into her scornful eyes! Infect her beauty,
You fen-suck'd fogs, drawn by the powerful sun,
To fall and blast her pride!
Reg. O the blest gods! So will you wish
on me,
When the rash mood is on.
Lear. No, Regan, thou shalt never have my
curse:
Thy tender-hefted nature shall not give
Thee o'er to harshness: her eyes are fierce, but
thine
Do comfort and not burn. 'Tis not in thee
To grudge my pleasures, to cut off my train,
To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes,
And, in conclusion, to oppose the bolt
Against my coming in: thou better know'st
The offices of nature, bond of childhood,
Effects of courtesy, dues of gratitude;
Thy half o' the kingdom hast thou not forgot,
Wherein I thee endow'd.
Reg. Good sir, to the purpose.
Lear. Who put my man i' the stocks?
[Tucket within.
Corn. What trumpet's that?
Reg. I know't, my sister's; this approves her
letter,
That she would soon be here. Is your lady
come?

Enter OSWALD.
Lear. This is a slave, whose easy-borrow'd
pride
Dwells in the fickle grace of her he follows.
Out, varlet, from my sight!
Corn. What means your Grace?
Lear. Who stock'd my servant? Regan, I
have good hope
Thou didst not know on't. Who comes here?
O heavens,

Enter GONERIL.
If you do love old men, if your sweet sway
Allow obedience, if yourselves are old,
Make it your cause; send down and take my
part!
[To GONERIL.] Art not asham'd to look upon
this beard?
O Regan! wilt thou take her by the hand?
Gon. Why not by the hand, sir? How have
I offended?
All's not offence that indiscretion finds
And dotage terms so.
Lear. O sides! you are too tough;
Will you yet hold? How came my man i' the
stocks?
Corn. I set him there, sir: but his own dis-
orders
Deserv'd much less advancement.
Lear. You! did you?
Reg. I pray you, father, being weak, seem so.
If, till the expiration of your month,
You will return and sojourn with my sister,
Dismissing half your train, come then to me:
I am now from home, and out of that provision
Which shall be needful for your entertainment.
Lear. Return to her? and fifty men dis-
miss'd!
No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose
To wage against the enmity o' the air;
To be a comrade with the wolf and owl,
Necessity's sharp pinch! Return with her!
Why, the hot-blooded France, that dowerless
took
Our youngest born, I could as well be brought
To knee his throne, and, squire-like, pension beg
To keep base life afoot. Return with her!
Persuade me rather to be slave and sumpter
To this detested groom. [Pointing at OSWALD.
Gon. At your choice, sir.
Lear. I prithee, daughter, do not make me
mad:
I will not trouble thee, my child; farewell.
We'll no more meet, no more see one another;
But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my
daughter;
Or rather a disease that's in my flesh,
Which I must needs call mine: thou art a boil,
A plague-sore, an embossed carbuncle,
In my corrupted blood. But I'll not chide
thee;
Let shame come when it will, I do not call it:
I do not bid the thunder-bearer shoot,
Nor tell tales of thee to high-judging Jove.
Mend when thou canst; be better at thy
leisure:
I can be patient; I can stay with Regan,
I and my hundred knights.
Reg. Not altogether so:
I look'd not for you yet, nor am provided
For your fit welcome. Give ear, sir, to my
sister;
For those that mingle reason with your passion
Must be content to think you old, and so—
But she knows what she does.
Lear. Is this well spoken?
Reg. I dare avouch it, sir: what! fifty
followers!
Is it not well? What should you need of
more?
Yea, or so many, sith that both charge and
danger
Speak 'gainst so great a number? How, in one
house,
Should many people, under two commands,
Hold amity? 'Tis hard; almost impossible.
Gon. Why might not you, my lord, receive
attendance
From those that she calls servants, or from
mine?
Reg. Why not, my lord? If then they
chanc'd to slack you
We could control them. If you will come to
me,—
For now I spy a danger,—I entreat you
To bring but five-and-twenty; to no more
Will I give place or notice.
Lear. I gave you all—
Reg. And in good time you gave it.
Lear. Made you my guardians, my deposit-
aries,
But kept a reservation to be follow'd
With such a number. What! must I come to
you
With five-and-twenty? Regan, said you so?
Reg. And speak't again, my lord; no more
with me.
Lear. Those wicked creatures yet do look
well-favour'd,
When others are more wicked; not being the
worst
Stands in some rank of praise. [To GONERIL.]
I'll go with thee:
Thy fifty yet doth double five-and-twenty,
And thou art twice her love.
Gon. Hear me, my lord.
What need you five-and-twenty, ten, or five,
To follow in a house, where twice so many
Have a command to tend you?
Reg. What need one?
Lear, O! reason not the need; our basest
beggars
Are in the poorest thing superfluous:
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
Man's life is cheap as beast's. Thou art a lady;
If only to go warm were gorgeous,
Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous
wear'st,
Which scarcely keeps thee warm. But, for true
need,—
You heavens, give me that patience, patience
need!
You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,
As full of grief as age; wretched in both!
If it be you that stir these daughters' hearts
Against their father, fool me not so much
To bear it tamely; touch me with noble
anger,
And let not women's weapons, water-drops,
Stain my man's cheeks! No, you unnatural
hags,
I will have such revenges on yon both
That all the world shall—I will do such things—
What they are yet I know not,—but they
shall be
The terrors of the earth. You think I'll weep;
No, I'll not weep:
I have full cause of weeping, but this heart
Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws
Or ere I'll weep. O fool! I shall go mad.
[Exeunt LEAR, GLOUCESTER, KENT, and Fool.
Corn. Let us withdraw; 'twill be a storm.
[Storm heard at a distance.
Reg. This house is little: the old man and his
people
Cannot be well bestow'd.
Gon. 'Tis his own blame; hath put himself
from rest,
And must needs taste his folly.
Reg. For his particular, I'll receive him
gladly,
But not one follower.
Gon. So am I purpos'd.
Where is my Lord of Gloucester?
Corn. Follow'd the old man forth. He is
return'd.

Re-enter GLOUCESTER.
Glo. The king is in high rage.
Corn. Whither is he going?
Glo. He calls to horse; but will I know not
whither.
Corn. 'Tis best to give him way; he leads
himself.
Gon. My lord, entreat him by no means to
stay.
Glo. Alack! the night comes on, and the
bleak winds
Do sorely ruffle; for many miles about
There's scarce a bush.
Reg. O! sir, to wilful men,
The injuries that they themselves procure
Must be their schoolmasters. Shut up your
doors;
He is attended with a desperate train,
And what they may incense him to, being apt
To have his ear abus'd, wisdom bids fear.
Corn. Shut up your doors, my lord; 'tis a
wild night:
My Regan counsels well: come out o' the storm.
[Exeunt.
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