(Kent; First Gentleman)
Kent meets a gentleman of the king’s court, who informs him of Lear’s wild, grief-stricken ravings, and that the King is accompanied now only by the Fool. Kent in turn tells him that the French have set foot on Britain’s shores, and asks him to go to Dover to tell Cordelia just how Lear has been treated. (58 lines)
Storm still. Enter Kent disguised as Caius and First Gentleman severally.
Who’s there, besides foul weather?
One minded like the weather, most unquietly.
I know you. Where’s the King?
Contending with the fretful elements;
Bids the wind blow the earth into the sea,
Or swell the curled waters ’bove the main,
That things might change or cease, tears his white hair,
Which the impetuous blasts with eyeless rage
Catch in their fury, and make nothing of,
Strives in his little world of man to outscorn
The to-and-fro-conflicting wind and rain.
This night, wherein the cub-drawn bear would couch,
The lion and the belly-pinched wolf
Keep their fur dry, unbonneted he runs,
And bids what will take all.
But who is with him?
None but the Fool, who labors to outjest
His heart-struck injuries.
Sir, I do know you,
And dare upon the warrant of my note
Commend a dear 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
Thron’d and set high?—servants, who seem no less,
Which are to France the spies and speculations
Intelligent of our state. What hath been seen,
Either in snuffs and packings of the Dukes,
Or the hard rein which both of them hath borne
Against the old kind King; or something deeper,
Whereof (perchance) these are but furnishings—
But true it is, from France there comes a power
Into this scattered kingdom, who already
Wise in our negligence, have secret feet
In some of our best ports, and are at point
To show their open banner. Now to you:
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 sorrow
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.
I will talk further with you.
No, do not.
For confirmation that I am much more
Than my out-wall, open this purse and take
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!
I will go seek the King.
Give me your hand. Have you no more to say?
Few words, but to effect, more than all yet:
That when we have found the King—in which your pain
That way, I’ll this—he that first lights on him
Holla the other.