ACT III SCENE VII

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King Lear

ACT III SCENE VII Gloucester’s castle.
[Enter CORNWALL, REGAN, GONERIL, EDMUND, and Servants]
CORNWALL Post speedily to my lord your husband; show him
this letter: the army of France is landed. Seek
out the villain Gloucester.
[Exeunt some of the Servants]
REGAN Hang him instantly.
GONERIL Pluck out his eyes. 5
CORNWALL Leave him to my displeasure. Edmund, keep you our
sister company: the revenges we are bound to take
upon your traitorous father are not fit for your
beholding. Advise the duke, where you are going, to
a most festinate preparation: we are bound to the 10
like. Our posts shall be swift and intelligent
betwixt us. Farewell, dear sister: farewell, my
lord of Gloucester.
[Enter OSWALD]
How now! where’s the king?
OSWALD My lord of Gloucester hath convey’d him hence: 15
Some five or six and thirty of his knights,
Hot questrists after him, met him at gate;
Who, with some other of the lords dependants,
Are gone with him towards Dover; where they boast
To have well-armed friends. 20
CORNWALL Get horses for your mistress.
GONERIL Farewell, sweet lord, and sister.
CORNWALL Edmund, farewell.
[Exeunt GONERIL, EDMUND, and OSWALD]
Go seek the traitor Gloucester,
Pinion him like a thief, bring him before us. 25
[Exeunt other Servants]
Though well we may not pass upon his life
Without the form of justice, yet our power
Shall do a courtesy to our wrath, which men
May blame, but not control. Who’s there? the traitor?
[Enter GLOUCESTER, brought in by two or three]
REGAN Ingrateful fox! ’tis he. 30
CORNWALL Bind fast his corky arms.
GLOUCESTER What mean your graces? Good my friends, consider
You are my guests: do me no foul play, friends.
CORNWALL Bind him, I say.
[Servants bind him]
REGAN Hard, hard. O filthy traitor! 35
GLOUCESTER Unmerciful lady as you are, I’m none.
CORNWALL To this chair bind him. Villain, thou shalt find–
[REGAN plucks his beard]
GLOUCESTER By the kind gods, ’tis most ignobly done
To pluck me by the beard.
REGAN So white, and such a traitor! 40
GLOUCESTER Naughty lady,
These hairs, which thou dost ravish from my chin,
Will quicken, and accuse thee: I am your host:
With robbers’ hands my hospitable favours
You should not ruffle thus. What will you do? 45
CORNWALL Come, sir, what letters had you late from France?
REGAN Be simple answerer, for we know the truth.
CORNWALL And what confederacy have you with the traitors
Late footed in the kingdom?
REGAN To whose hands have you sent the lunatic king? Speak. 50
GLOUCESTER I have a letter guessingly set down,
Which came from one that’s of a neutral heart,
And not from one opposed.
CORNWALL Cunning.
REGAN And false. 55
CORNWALL Where hast thou sent the king?
GLOUCESTER To Dover.
REGAN Wherefore to Dover? Wast thou not charged at peril–
CORNWALL Wherefore to Dover? Let him first answer that.
GLOUCESTER I am tied to the stake, and I must stand the course. 60
REGAN Wherefore to Dover, sir?
GLOUCESTER Because I would not see thy cruel nails
Pluck out his poor old eyes; nor thy fierce sister
In his anointed flesh stick boarish fangs.
The sea, with such a storm as his bare head 65
In hell-black night endured, would have buoy’d up,
And quench’d the stelled fires:
Yet, poor old heart, he holp the heavens to rain.
If wolves had at thy gate howl’d that stern time,
Thou shouldst have said ‘Good porter, turn the key,’ 70
All cruels else subscribed: but I shall see
The winged vengeance overtake such children.
CORNWALL See’t shalt thou never. Fellows, hold the chair.
Upon these eyes of thine I’ll set my foot.
GLOUCESTER He that will think to live till he be old, 75
Give me some help! O cruel! O you gods!
REGAN One side will mock another; the other too.
CORNWALL If you see vengeance,–
First Servant Hold your hand, my lord:
I have served you ever since I was a child; 80
But better service have I never done you
Than now to bid you hold.
REGAN How now, you dog!
First Servant If you did wear a beard upon your chin,
I’d shake it on this quarrel. What do you mean? 85
CORNWALL My villain!
[They draw and fight]
First Servant Nay, then, come on, and take the chance of anger.
REGAN Give me thy sword. A peasant stand up thus!
[Takes a sword, and runs at him behind]
First Servant O, I am slain! My lord, you have one eye left
To see some mischief on him. O! 90
[Dies]
CORNWALL Lest it see more, prevent it. Out, vile jelly!
Where is thy lustre now?
GLOUCESTER All dark and comfortless. Where’s my son Edmund?
Edmund, enkindle all the sparks of nature,
To quit this horrid act. 95
REGAN Out, treacherous villain!
Thou call’st on him that hates thee: it was he
That made the overture of thy treasons to us;
Who is too good to pity thee.
GLOUCESTER O my follies! then Edgar was abused. 100
Kind gods, forgive me that, and prosper him!
REGAN Go thrust him out at gates, and let him smell
His way to Dover.
[Exit one with GLOUCESTER]
How is’t, my lord? how look you?
CORNWALL I have received a hurt: follow me, lady. 105
Turn out that eyeless villain; throw this slave
Upon the dunghill. Regan, I bleed apace:
Untimely comes this hurt: give me your arm.
[Exit CORNWALL, led by REGAN]
Second Servant I’ll never care what wickedness I do,
If this man come to good. 110
Third Servant If she live long,
And in the end meet the old course of death,
Women will all turn monsters.
Second Servant Let’s follow the old earl, and get the Bedlam
To lead him where he would: his roguish madness 115
Allows itself to any thing.
Third Servant Go thou: I’ll fetch some flax and whites of eggs
To apply to his bleeding face. Now, heaven help him!
[Exeunt severally]

King Lear, Act 4, Scene 1