This page contains the original text of Act 2, Scene 1 of King Lear. Shakespeare’s original King Lear text is extremely long, so we’ve split the text into one Scene per page. All Acts and Scenes are listed and linked to from the bottom of this page, along with a simple, modern English translation of King Lear.
ACT 2. SCENE 1. GLOUCESTER’s castle.
Enter EDMUND, and CURAN meets him
Save thee, Curan.
And you, sir. I have been with your father, and
given him notice that the Duke of Cornwall and Regan
his duchess will be here with him this night.
How comes that?
Nay, I know not. You have heard of the news abroad;
I mean the whispered ones, for they are yet but
Not I pray you, what are they?
Have you heard of no likely wars toward, ‘twixt the
Dukes of Cornwall and Albany?
Not a word.
You may do, then, in time. Fare you well, sir.
The duke be here to-night? The better! best!
This weaves itself perforce into my business.
My father hath set guard to take my brother;
And I have one thing, of a queasy question,
Which I must act: briefness and fortune, work!
Brother, a word; descend: brother, I say!
My father watches: O sir, fly this place;
Intelligence is given where you are hid;
You have now the good advantage of the night:
Have you not spoken ‘gainst the Duke of Cornwall?
He’s coming hither: now, i’ the night, i’ the haste,
And Regan with him: have you nothing said
Upon his party ‘gainst the Duke of Albany?
I am sure on’t, not a word.
I hear my father coming: pardon me:
In cunning I must draw my sword upon you
Draw; seem to defend yourself; now quit you well.
Yield: come before my father. Light, ho, here!
Fly, brother. Torches, torches! So, farewell.
Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion.
Wounds his arm
Of my more fierce endeavour: I have seen drunkards
Do more than this in sport. Father, father!
Stop, stop! No help?
Enter GLOUCESTER, and Servants with torches
Now, Edmund, where’s the villain?
Here stood he in the dark, his sharp sword out,
Mumbling of wicked charms, conjuring the moon
To stand auspicious mistress,–
But where is he?
Look, sir, I bleed.
Where is the villain, Edmund?
Fled this way, sir. When by no means he could–
Pursue him, ho! Go after.
Exeunt some Servants
By no means what?
Persuade me to the murder of your lordship;
But that I told him, the revenging gods
‘Gainst parricides did all their thunders bend;
Spoke, with how manifold and strong a bond
The child was bound to the father; sir, in fine,
Seeing how loathly opposite I stood
To his unnatural purpose, in fell motion,
With his prepared sword, he charges home
My unprovided body, lanced mine arm:
But when he saw my best alarum’d spirits,
Bold in the quarrel’s right, roused to the encounter,
Or whether gasted by the noise I made,
Full suddenly he fled.
Let him fly far:
Not in this land shall he remain uncaught;
And found–dispatch. The noble duke my master,
My worthy arch and patron, comes to-night:
By his authority I will proclaim it,
That he which finds him shall deserve our thanks,
Bringing the murderous coward to the stake;
He that conceals him, death.
When I dissuaded him from his intent,
And found him pight to do it, with curst speech
I threaten’d to discover him: he replied,
‘Thou unpossessing bastard! dost thou think,
If I would stand against thee, would the reposal
Of any trust, virtue, or worth in thee
Make thy words faith’d? No: what I should deny,–
As this I would: ay, though thou didst produce
My very character,–I’ld turn it all
To thy suggestion, plot, and damned practise:
And thou must make a dullard of the world,
If they not thought the profits of my death
Were very pregnant and potential spurs
To make thee seek it.’
Strong and fasten’d villain
Would he deny his letter? I never got him.
Hark, the duke’s trumpets! I know not why he comes.
All ports I’ll bar; the villain shall not ‘scape;
The duke must grant me that: besides, his picture
I will send far and near, that all the kingdom
May have the due note of him; and of my land,
Loyal and natural boy, I’ll work the means
To make thee capable.
Enter CORNWALL, REGAN, and Attendants
How now, my noble friend! since I came hither,
Which I can call but now, I have heard strange news.
If it be true, all vengeance comes too short
Which can pursue the offender. How dost, my lord?
O, madam, my old heart is crack’d, it’s crack’d!
What, did my father’s godson seek your life?
He whom my father named? your Edgar?
O, lady, lady, shame would have it hid!
Was he not companion with the riotous knights
That tend upon my father?
I know not, madam: ’tis too bad, too bad.
Yes, madam, he was of that consort.
No marvel, then, though he were ill affected:
‘Tis they have put him on the old man’s death,
To have the expense and waste of his revenues.
I have this present evening from my sister
Been well inform’d of them; and with such cautions,
That if they come to sojourn at my house,
I’ll not be there.
Nor I, assure thee, Regan.
Edmund, I hear that you have shown your father
A child-like office.
‘Twas my duty, sir.
He did bewray his practise; and received
This hurt you see, striving to apprehend him.
Is he pursued?
Ay, my good lord.
If he be taken, he shall never more
Be fear’d of doing harm: make your own purpose,
How in my strength you please. For you, Edmund,
Whose virtue and obedience doth this instant
So much commend itself, you shall be ours:
Natures of such deep trust we shall much need;
You we first seize on.
I shall serve you, sir,
Truly, however else.
For him I thank your grace.
You know not why we came to visit you,–
Thus out of season, threading dark-eyed night:
Occasions, noble Gloucester, of some poise,
Wherein we must have use of your advice:
Our father he hath writ, so hath our sister,
Of differences, which I least thought it fit
To answer from our home; the several messengers
From hence attend dispatch. Our good old friend,
Lay comforts to your bosom; and bestow
Your needful counsel to our business,
Which craves the instant use.
I serve you, madam:
Your graces are right welcome.
Read more scenes from King Lear:
A guide to Shakespeare’s stage directions
Read all of Shakespeare’s plays translated to modern English >>
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