William Shakespeare: King Lear, Act II, Scene II
Enter Kent and Oswald, severally
A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking knave, a whoreson, glass-gazing, super-serviceable finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd, in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch: one whom I will beat into clamorous whining, if thou deniest the least syllable of thy addition.
Why, what a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to rail on one that is neither known of thee nor knows thee!
What a brazen-faced varlet art thou, to deny thou knowest me! Is it two days ago since I tripped up thy heels, and beat thee before the king? Draw, you rogue: for, though it be night, yet the moon shines; I'll make a sop o' the moonshine of you: draw, you whoreson cullionly barber-monger, draw.
Drawing his sword
Draw, you rascal: you come with letters against the king; and take vanity the puppet's part against the royalty of her father: draw, you rogue, or I'll so carbonado your shanks: draw, you rascal; come your ways.
Enter Edmund, with his rapier drawn, Cornwall, Regan, Gloucester, and Servants
No marvel, you have so bestirred your valour. You cowardly rascal, nature disclaims in thee: a tailor made thee.
Ay, a tailor, sir: a stone-cutter or painter could not have made him so ill, though he had been but two hours at the trade.
Thou whoreson zed! thou unnecessary letter! My lord, if you will give me leave, I will tread this unbolted villain into mortar, and daub the wall of a jakes with him. Spare my gray beard, you wagtail?
That such a slave as this should wear a sword, Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as these, Like rats, oft bite the holy cords a-twain Which are too intrinse t' unloose; smooth every passion That in the natures of their lords rebel; Bring oil to fire, snow to their colder moods; Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks With every gale and vary of their masters, Knowing nought, like dogs, but following. A plague upon your epileptic visage! Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool? Goose, if I had you upon Sarum plain, I'ld drive ye cackling home to Camelot.
Sir, 'tis my occupation to be plain: I have seen better faces in my time Than stands on any shoulder that I see Before me at this instant.
This is some fellow, Who, having been praised for bluntness, doth affect A saucy roughness, and constrains the garb Quite from his nature: he cannot flatter, he, An honest mind and plain, he must speak truth! An they will take it, so; if not, he's plain. These kind of knaves I know, which in this plainness Harbour more craft and more corrupter ends Than twenty silly ducking observants That stretch their duties nicely.
Sir, in good sooth, in sincere verity, Under the allowance of your great aspect, Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire On flickering Phoebus' front,—
To go out of my dialect, which you discommend so much. I know, sir, I am no flatterer: he that beguiled you in a plain accent was a plain knave; which for my part I will not be, though I should win your displeasure to entreat me to 't.
I never gave him any: It pleased the king his master very late To strike at me, upon his misconstruction; When he, conjunct and flattering his displeasure, Tripp'd me behind; being down, insulted, rail'd, And put upon him such a deal of man, That worthied him, got praises of the king For him attempting who was self-subdued; And, in the fleshment of this dread exploit, Drew on me here again.
Sir, I am too old to learn: Call not your stocks for me: I serve the king; On whose employment I was sent to you: You shall do small respect, show too bold malice Against the grace and person of my master, Stocking his messenger.
Stocks brought out
Let me beseech your grace not to do so: His fault is much, and the good king his master Will cheque him for 't: your purposed low correction Is such as basest and contemned'st wretches For pilferings and most common trespasses Are punish'd with: the king must take it ill, That he's so slightly valued in his messenger, Should have him thus restrain'd.
My sister may receive it much more worse, To have her gentleman abused, assaulted, For following her affairs. Put in his legs.
Kent is put in the stocks
Come, my good lord, away.
Exeunt all but Gloucester and Kent
I am sorry for thee, friend; 'tis the duke's pleasure, Whose disposition, all the world well knows, Will not be rubb'd nor stopp'd: I'll entreat for thee.
Pray, do not, sir: I have watched and travell'd hard; Some time I shall sleep out, the rest I'll whistle. A good man's fortune may grow out at heels: Give you good morrow!
Good king, that must approve the common saw, Thou out of heaven's benediction comest To the warm sun! Approach, thou beacon to this under globe, That by thy comfortable beams I may Peruse this letter! Nothing almost sees miracles But misery: I know 'tis from Cordelia, Who hath most fortunately been inform'd Of my obscured course; and shall find time From this enormous state, seeking to give Losses their remedies. All weary and o'erwatch'd, Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold This shameful lodging. Fortune, good night: smile once more: turn thy wheel!