King Lear
Background on King Lear: King Leir the Play: Scene 22

Cambria wonders at the whereabouts of Leir, now missing two days.  He organizes a search party and sends an envoy to Cornwall on the chance that Leir migrated there.  Ragan feigns acute distress, and opines that some foul adventure befell her father at the hands of Cordella, whose eyes she would scratch out if she could be found.

Cambria, rather, appeals to the justice of heaven, but Ragan renews her verbal assault on Cordella.  Cambria comes around, but the Gallian ambassador arrives.  He again refuses to give up his letter for Leir, which refusal Ragan uses to once again blame Cordella, to the point of suggesting that the ambassador has actually killed Leir to service Cordella’s hatred.  Indeed, only scruples derived from international law bars violence to the ambassador himself.  The ambassador defends himself, and appeals to Cambria, who decides to withhold judgment until more is known, although he confesses suspicions in support of his wife.  The ambassador intimates that Ragan herself may be implicated in Leir’s absence, for which he is struck by her highness.  He makes a hasty exit.  Ragan pours forth abuse, and Cambria now catches the same cold, buying her argument that Leir will return with the Gallian King and Cordella to claim her due portion of the kingdom.

Cambria vows revenge before the need.

Scene 21 . . . Directory . . . Scene 23

Scene 22

Enter Cambria and Ragan with Nobles.

What strange mischance or unexpected hap
Hath thus deprived us of our father’s presence?
Can no man tell us what’s become of him,
With whom we did converse not two days since?
My Lords, let everywhere light-horse be sent,
To scour about through all our Regiment.
Dispatch a Post immediately to Cornwall,’
To see if any news be of him there;
Myself will make a strict inquiry here,
And all about our Cities near at hand, … [22.10]
Till certain news of his abode be brought.

RAGAN: All sorrow is but counterfeit to mine,
Whose lips are almost sealed up with grief:
Mine is the substance, whilst they do but seem
To weep the loss, which tears cannot redeem.
O, ne’re was heard so strange a misadventure,
A thing so far beyond the reach of sense,
Since no man’s reason in the cause can enter.
What hath removed my father thus from hence?
O, I do fear some charm or invocation … [22.20]
Of wicked spirits, or infernal fiends,
Stirred by Cordella, moves this innovation,
And brings my father timeless to his end.
But might I know, that the detested Witch
Were certain cause of this uncertain ill,
Myself to France would go in some disguise,
And with these nails scratch out her hateful eyes:
For since I am deprived of my father,
I loath my life, and with my death the rather.

CAMBRIA: The heavens are just, and hate impiety, … [22.30]
And will (no doubt) reveal such heinous crimes:
Censure not any, till you know the right:
Let him be Judge, that bringeth truth to light.

RAGAN: O, but my grief, like to a swelling tide,
Exceeds the bounds of common patience:
Nor can I moderate my tongue so much,
To conceal them, whom I hold in suspect.

CAMBRIA: This matter shall be sifted: if it be she,
A thousand Frances shall not harbor her.

Enter the Gallian Ambassador.

AMB: All happiness unto the Cambrian King. … [22.40]

CAMBRIA: Welcome, my friend, from whence is thy Ambassage?

AMB: I came from Gallia, unto Cornwall sent,
With letters to your honorable father,
Whom there not finding, as I did expect,
I was directed hither to repair.

RAGAN: Frenchman, what is thy message to my father?

AMB: My letters, Madam, will import the same,
Which my Commission is for to deliver.

RAGAN: In his absence you may trust us with your letters.

AMB: I must perform my charge in such a manner, … [22.50]
As I have strict commandment from the King.

RAGAN: There is good packing twixt your King and you:
You need not hither come to ask for him,
You know where he is better than ourselves.

AMB: Madam, I hope, not far off.

RAGAN: Hath the young murd’ress, your outrageous Queen,
No means to color her detested deeds,
In finishing my guiltless father’s days,
(Because he gave her nothing of a dower)
But by the color of a feigned Ambassage, … [22.60]
To send him letters hither to our Court?
Go carry them to them that sent them hither,
And bid them keep their scrolls unto themselves:
They cannot blind us with such slight excuse,
To smother up so monstrous vild abuse.
And were it not, it is ‘gainst law of Arms,
To offer violence to a Messenger,
We would inflict such torments on thyself,
As should enforce thee to reveal the truth.

AMB: Madam, your threats no whit appall my mind, … [22.70]
I know my conscience guiltless of this act;
My King and Queen, I dare be sworn, are free
From any thought of such impiety:
And therefore, Madam, you have done them wrong,
And ill beseeming with a sisters love,
Who in mere duty tender him as much,
As ever you respected him for dower.
The King your husband will not say as much.

CAMBRIA: I suspend my judgment for a time,
Till more apparance give us further light: … [22.80]
Yet to be plain, your coming doth enforce
A great suspicion to our doubtful mind,
And that you do resemble, to be brief,
Him that first robs, and then cries, Stop the thief.

AMB: Pray God some near you have not done the like.

RAGAN: Hence, saucy mate, reply no more to us    She strikes him.
For law of Arms shall not protect thy tongue.

AMB: Ne’re was I offered such discourtesy;
God and my King, I trust, ere it be long,
Will find a mean to remedy this wrong.    Exit Amb. … [22.90]

RAGAN: How shall I live, to suffer this disgrace,
At every base and vulgar peasants hands?
It ill befitteth my imperial state,
To be thus used, and no man to take my part.   She weeps.

CAMBRIA: What should I do? infringe the law of Arms,
Were to my everlasting obloquy:
But I will take revenge upon his master,
Which sent him hither, to delude us thus.

RAGAN: Nay, if you put up with this, be sure, ere long,
Now that my father is thus made away, … [22.100]
She’ll come & claim a third part of your Crown,
As due unto her by inheritance.

CAMBRIA: But I will prove her title to be nought
But shame, and the reward of Parricide,
And make her an example to the world,
For after-ages to admire her penance.
This will I do, as I am Cambria’s King,
Or lose my life, to prosecute revenge.
Come, first let’s learn what news is of our father,
And then proceed, as best occasion fits.    Exeunt. … [22.110]

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