King Lear
Background on King Lear: King Leir the Play: Scene 27

A captain orders two watchmen to be vigilant, and leaves them to their duties.  As nothing has happened on their watch for 30 years, they decide to watch a pot of ale instead, making up a series of puns on beacon and fire to justify a story that they were doing their duty should the captain come back and find them missing.

Scene 26 . . . Directory . . . Scene 28

Scene 27

Enter a Captain of the watch, and two watchmen.

CAPTAIN: My honest friends, it is your turn tonight,
To watch in this place, near about the Beacon,
And vigilantly have regard,
If any fleet of ships pass hitherward:
Which if you do, your office is to fire
The Beacon presently, and raise the town.   Exit.

1 WATCH: Aye, aye, aye, fear nothing; we know our charge, I
warrant: I have been a watchman about this Beacon this xxx
year, and yet I ne’re see it stir, but stood as quietly as might be.

2 WATCH: Faith neighbor, and you’ll follow my vice, … [27.10]
instead of watching the Beacon, we’ll go to goodman
Gennings, & watch a pot of Ale and a rasher of Bacon: and
if we do not drink ourselves drunk, then so; I warrant, the
Beacon will see us when we come out again.

1 WATCH: Aye, but how if somebody excuse us to the Captain?

2 WATCH: Tis no matter, I’ll prove by good reason that we
watch the Beacon: ass for example.

1 WATCH: I hope you do not call me ass by craft, neighbor.

2 WATCH: No, no, but for example: Say here stands the pot
of ale, that’s the Beacon.

1 WATCH: ~~~ Aye, Aye, tis a very good Beacon. … [27.20]

2 WATCH: Well, say here stands your nose, that’s the fire.

1 WATCH: Indeed I must confess, tis somewhat red.

2 WATCH: I see come marching in a dish, half a score pieces
of salt Bacon.

1 WATCH: ~~~ I understand your meaning, that’s
as much to say, half a score ships.

2 WATCH: ~~~ True, you conster
right; presently, like a faithful watchman, I fire the
Beacon, and call up the town.

1 WATCH: Aye, that’s as much as to say, you set your nose to
the pot, and drink up the drink.

2 WATCH: ~~~ You are in the right;
come, let’s go fire the Beacon.    Exeunt. … [27.30]

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