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Whose nature is so far from doing harms,
A Room in the Duke of Albany's Palace.
Enter GONERIL and Steward.
Gon. Did my father strike my gentleman for chiding of his fool?
Stew. Ay, madam.
Gon. By day and night! he wrongs me; every hour He flashes into one gross crime or other,
That set us all at odds: I'll not endure it:
His knights grow riotous, and himself upbraids us
If you come slack of former services,
Gon. Put on what weary negligence you please,
Whose mind and mine, I know, in that are one,
That still would manage those authorities,
5 Old fools are babes again; and must be us'd
With checks, as flatteries, — when they are seen abus'd.] i. e. When old fools will not yield to the appliances of persuasion,
Very well, madam.
Gon. And let his knights have colder looks among you;
What grows of it, no matter; advise your fellows so:
A Hall in the same.
Enter KENT, disguised.
Kent. If but as well I other accents borrow,
For which I raz'd my likeness. —Now, banish'd Kent,
Enter LEAR, Knights, and Attendants.
Lear. Let me not stay a jot for dinner; go, get it ready. [Exit an Attendant.] How now, what art thou? Kent. A man, sir.
Lear. What dost thou profess? What would'st thou with us?
Kent. I do profess to be no less than I seem; to serve him truly, that will put me in trust; to love him that is honest; to converse with him that is wise, and
harsh treatment must be employed to compel their submission. When flatteries are seen to be abus'd by them, checks must be used, as the only means left to subdue them.
6 That can my speech diffuse,] To diffuse speech, signifies to disorder it, and so to disguise it.
says little; to fear judgment; to fight, when I cannot choose; and to eat no fish.8
Lear. What art thou?
Kent. A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the king.
Lear. If thou be as poor for a subject, as he is for a king, thou art poor enough. What would'st thou ? Kent. Service.
Lear. Who would'st thou serve?
Lear. Dost thou know me, fellow?
Kent. No, sir; but you have that in your countenance, which I would fain call master.
Lear. What's that?
Lear. What services canst thou do?
Kent. I can keep honest counsel, ride, run, mar a curious tale in telling it, and deliver a plain message bluntly; that which ordinary men are fit for, I am qualify'd in; and the best of me is diligence.
Lear. How old art thou?
Kent. Not so young, sir, to love a woman for singing; nor so old, to dote on her for any thing: I have years on my back forty-eight.
Lear. Follow me; thou shalt serve me; if I like thee no worse after dinner, I will not part from thee yet. — Dinner, ho, dinner! — Where's my knave? my fool? Go you, and call my fool hither:
You, you, sirrah, where's my daughter?
7- - to converse with him that is wise, and says little;] To converse signifies immediately and properly to keep company, not to discourse or talk.
and to eat no fish.] In queen Elizabeth's time the Papists were esteemed, and with good reason, enemies to the government. Hence the proverbial phrase of, He's an honest man, and eats no fish; to signify he's a friend to the government and a Protestant.
Stew. So please you,—
Lear. What says the fellow there? Call the clotpoll back. Where's my fool, ho?-I think the world's asleep. How now? where's that mongrel?
Knight. He says, my lord, your daughter is not well. Lear. Why came not the slave back to me, when I call'd him?
Knight. Sir, he answer'd me in the roundest manner, he would not.
Lear. He would not!
Knight. My lord, I know not what the matter is; but, to my judgment, your highness is not entertain'd with that ceremonious affection as you were wont; there's a great abatement of kindness appears, as well in the general dependants, as in the duke himself also, and your daughter.
Lear. Ha! say'st thou so?
Knight. I beseech you, pardon me, my lord, if I be mistaken for my duty cannot be silent, when I think your highness is wrong'd.
Lear. Thou but remember'st me of mine own conception; I have perceived a most faint neglect of late; which I have rather blamed as mine own jealous curiosity, than as a very pretence1 and purpose of unkindness: I will look further into't. But where's my fool? I have not seen him this two days.
Knight. Since my young lady's going into France, sir, the fool hath much pined away.
Lear. No more of that; I have noted it well. — Go you, and tell my daughter I would speak with her. Go call hither you, fool.my
9- jealous curiosity,] Punctilious jealousy.
a very pretence-] Pretence in Shakspeare generally signifies design.
2 Since my young lady's going into France, sir, the fool hath much pined away.] This is an endearing circumstance in the fool's character, and creates such an interest in his favour, as his wit alone might have failed to procure for him. STEEVENS.
O, you sir, you sir, come you hither: Who am I, sir? Stew. My lady's father.
Lear. My lady's father! my lord's knave: you whoreson dog! you slave! you cur!
Stew. I am none of this, my lord; I beseech you, pardon me.
Lear. Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal? [Striking him.
Stew. I'll not be struck, my lord. Kent. Nor tripped neither; you base foot-ball player. [Tripping up his Heels. Lear. I thank thee, fellow; thou servest me, and I'll love thee.
Kent. Come, sir, arise, away; I'll teach you differences; away, away: If you will measure your lubber's length again, tarry: but away: go to; Have you wisdom? so. [Pushes the Steward out. Lear. Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee: there's earnest of thy service. [Giving KENT Money.
Fool. Let me hire him too; Here's my coxcomb. [Giving KENT his Cap. Lear. How now, my pretty knave? how dost thou? Fool. Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb. Kent. Why, fool?
Fool. Why? For taking one's part that is out of favour: Nay, an thou canst not smile as the wind sits, thou❜lt catch cold shortly: There, take my coxcomb: Why, this fellow has banish'd two of his daughters, and did the third a blessing against his will; if thou follow him, thou must needs wear my coxcomb. - How, now, nuncle? 'Would I had two coxcombs, and two daughters!
Lear. Why, my boy?