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Download King Lear
Last updated: Thu, Apr 21, 2016
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Navigate this workKing Lear
Act 4, scene 3
In the French camp Kent and a Gentleman discuss Cordelia’s love of Lear, which has brought her back to Britain at the head of the French army; they say that Lear is in the town of Dover, and that, though he is sometimes sane, his shame at his earlier action makes him refuse to see Cordelia.⟨Enter Kent ⌜in disguise⌝ and a Gentleman.
KENT 2590 Why the King of France is so suddenly gone
2591 back know you no reason?
GENTLEMAN 2592 Something he left imperfect in the state,
2593 which since his coming forth is thought of, which
2594 5 imports to the kingdom so much fear and danger
2595 that his personal return was most required and
KENT 2597 Who hath he left behind him general?
GENTLEMAN 2598 The Marshal of France, Monsieur La Far.
KENT 2599 10Did your letters pierce the Queen to any demonstration
2600 of grief?
2601 Ay, ⌜sir,⌝ she took them, read them in my
2603 And now and then an ample tear trilled down
2604 15 Her delicate cheek. It seemed she was a queen
2605 Over her passion, who, most rebel-like,
2606 Fought to be king o’er her.
KENT 2607 O, then it moved her.
2608 Not to a rage. Patience and sorrow ⌜strove⌝
2609 20 Who should express her goodliest. You have seen
2610 Sunshine and rain at once; her smiles and tears
2611 Were like a better way. Those happy smilets
2612 That played on her ripe lip ⌜seemed⌝ not to know
2613 What guests were in her eyes, which parted thence
2614 25 As pearls from diamonds dropped. In brief,
2615 Sorrow would be a rarity most beloved
2616 If all could so become it.
KENT 2617 Made she no verbal question?
2618 Faith, once or twice she heaved the name of
2619 30 “father”
2620 Pantingly forth, as if it pressed her heart;
2621 Cried “Sisters, sisters, shame of ladies, sisters!
2622 Kent, father, sisters! What, i’ th’ storm, i’ th’ night?
2623 Let pity not be believed!” There she shook
2624 35 The holy water from her heavenly eyes,
2625 And clamor moistened. Then away she started,
2626 To deal with grief alone.
KENT 2627 It is the stars.
2628 The stars above us govern our conditions,
2629 40 Else one self mate and make could not beget
2630 Such different issues. You spoke not with her
GENTLEMAN 2632 No.
2633 Was this before the King returned?
GENTLEMAN 2634 45 No, since.
2635 Well, sir, the poor distressèd Lear’s i’ th’ town,
2636 Who sometime in his better tune remembers
2637 What we are come about, and by no means
2638 Will yield to see his daughter.
GENTLEMAN 2639 50 Why, good sir?
2640 A sovereign shame so elbows him—his own
2642 That stripped her from his benediction, turned her
2643 To foreign casualties, gave her dear rights
2644 55 To his dog-hearted daughters—these things sting
2645 His mind so venomously that burning shame
2646 Detains him from Cordelia.
GENTLEMAN 2647 Alack, poor gentleman!
2648 Of Albany’s and Cornwall’s powers you heard not?
GENTLEMAN 2649 60’Tis so. They are afoot.
2650 Well, sir, I’ll bring you to our master Lear
2651 And leave you to attend him. Some dear cause
2652 Will in concealment wrap me up awhile.
2653 When I am known aright, you shall not grieve
2654 65 Lending me this acquaintance. I pray you, go
2655 Along with me.