Fiction > Harvard Classics > William Shakespeare > King Lear
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Tragedy of King Lear.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Scene I
[The open country near Gloucester’s castle]
Storm still. Enter KENT and a Gentleman, severally

  Kent.  Who’s there, besides foul weather?
  Gent.  One minded like the weather, most unquietly.
  Kent.  I know you. Where’s the King?
  Gent.  Contending with the fretful elements;        4
Bids the wind blow the earth into the sea,
Or swell the curled waters ’bove the main, 1
That things might change or cease; [tears his white hair,
Which the impetuous blasts, with eyeless rage,        8
Catch in their fury, and make nothing of;
Strives in his little world of man to out-scorn
The to-and-fro-conflicting wind and rain.
This night, wherein the cub-drawn 2 bear would couch,        12
The lion and the belly-pinched wolf
Keep their fur dry, unbonneted he runs,
And bids what will take all.]
  Kent.        But who is with him?        16
  Gent.  None but the Fool; who labours to outjest
His heart-struck injuries.
  Kent.        Sir, I do know you;
And dare, upon the warrant of my note, 3        20
Commend a dear 4 thing to you. There is division,
Although as yet the face of it is cover’d
With mutual cunning, ’twixt Albany and Cornwall;
Who have—as who have not, that their great stars 5        24
Thron’d and set high?—servants, who seem no less,
Which are to France the spies and speculations 6
Intelligent of our state; what hath been seen,
Either in snuffs 7 and packings 8 of the Dukes,        28
Or the hard rein which both of them have borne
Against the old kind king, or something deeper,
Whereof perchance these are but furnishings; 9
[But, true it is, from France there comes a power 10        32
Into this scattered 11 kingdom; who already,
Wise in our negligence, have secret feet
In some of our best ports, and are at point 12
To show their open banner. Now to you:        36
If on my credit you dare build so far
To make your speed to Dover, you shall find
Some that will thank you, making just report
Of how unnatural and bemadding 13 sorrow        40
The King hath cause to plain.
I am a gentleman of blood and breeding;
And, from some knowledge and assurance, offer
This office to you.]        44
  Gent.  I will talk further with you.
  Kent.        No, do not.
For confirmation that I am much more
Than my out-wall, 14 open this purse, and take        48
What it contains. If you shall see Cordelia,—
As fear not but you shall,—show her this ring;
And she will tell you who that fellow is
That yet you do not know. Fie on this storm!        52
I will go seek the King.
  Gent.  Give me your hand. Have you no more to say?
  Kent.  Few words, but, to effect, 15 more than all yet;
That, when we have found the King,—in which your pain 16        56
That way, I’ll this,—he that first lights on him
Holla the other.  Exeunt [severally].
Note 1. Land. [back]
Note 2. Sucked dry, and so fierce. [back]
Note 3. Observation. [back]
Note 4. Important. [back]
Note 5. Fortunes. [back]
Note 6. Observers. [back]
Note 7. Offence-takings. [back]
Note 8. Plots. [back]
Note 9. Externals. [back]
Note 10. Army. [back]
Note 11. Divided. [back]
Note 12. Ready. [back]
Note 13. Maddening. [back]
Note 14. Exterior. [back]
Note 15. Important. [back]
Note 16. Take you pains to search. [back]


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