Kent in disguise and Oswald come on stage together. Oswald attempts a pleasant greeting, but Kent reviles and abuses him, finally drawing his sword to fight him. Oswald’s screams for help bring Edmund, Cornwall, Regan, and Gloucester to his rescue. Kent continues his tirade, Oswald explains as best he can that Kent was in the service of Lear and had tripped him two days before. Cornwall attempts to calm him down, but Kent then turns his abuse to Cornwall. With some justice, Cornwall orders the stocks brought out, and, over Gloucester’s objection that Kent serves the King, places Kent in them. After everyone else leaves, Gloucester consoles Kent and promises to intervene on his behalf, a gesture Kent refuses. When alone, Kent takes out a letter from Cordelia, who according to Kent knows of his present state of disguise and service. The play does not reveal its contents. Content, Kent sleeps after saying, “Fortune, good night: smile once more; turn they wheel.”
ACT II. SCENE II. SEGMENT A. Before Gloucester’s house.
Enter Kent and Steward severally
OSWALD Good dawning to thee, friend.
Art of this house?
OSWALD Where may we set our horses?
KENT I’th’mire. 
OSWALD Prithee, if thou lov’st me, tell me.
KENT I love thee not.
OSWALD Why then, I care not for thee.
KENT If I had thee in Lipsbury pinfold, I would make thee
care for me. 
OSWALD Why dost thou use me thus? I know thee not.
KENT Fellow, I know thee.
OSWALD What dost thou know me for?
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.
OSWALD Away. I have nothing to do with thee.
KENT 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.
OSWALD Help, ho! Murder! Help!
Strike, you slave. Stand, rogue, stand, you neat
slave, strike. [Beats him] 
OSWALD Help, ho! Murder! Murder!
Enter Bastard [Edmund], Cornwall, Regan, Gloucester, Servants.
EDMUND How now! What’s the matter?
With you goodman boy. If you please, come, I’ll
flesh ye; come on, young master.
GLOUCESTER Weapons? Arms? What ’s the matter here? 
Keep peace, upon your lives. He dies that strikes again.
What is the matter?
REGAN The messengers from our sister and the king.
CORNWALL What is your difference? Speak.
OSWALD I am scarce in breath, my lord. 
No marvel, you have so bestirred your valor, you
cowardly rascal. Nature disclaims in thee—a
tailor made thee.
CORNWALL Thou art a strange fellow—a tailor make a man?
Ay, a tailor, sir. A stonecutter or painter could 
not have made him so ill though he had been but two
hours at the trade.
CORNWALL Speak yet. How grew your quarrel?
This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spared
at suit of his gray beard— 
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. [to Oswald] Spare my gray beard, you wagtail?
CORNWALL Peace, sirrah! 
You beastly knave, know you no reverence?
KENT Yes, sir, but anger hath a privilege.
CORNWALL Why art thou angry?
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 atwain
Which are too intrince 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 gall and vary of their masters,
Knowing nought, like dogs, but following. [to Oswald]
A plague upon your epileptic visage.
Smile you my speeches as I were a fool?
Goose, if I had you upon Sarum plain, 
I’d drive ye cackling home to Camelot.
CORNWALL Why, art thou mad, old fellow?
GLOUCESTER How fell you out? Say that.
No contraries hold more antipathy
Than I and such a knave. 
CORNWALL Why dost thou call him a knave? What is his fault?
KENT His countenance likes me not.
CORNWALL No more perchance does mine, nor his, nor hers.
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.
CORNWALL 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
Harbor more craft and more corrupter ends 
Than twenty silly-ducking observants
That stretch their duties nicely.
Sir, in good faith, in sincere verity,
Under th’allowance of your great aspect,
Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire 
On flickering Phoebus’ front—
CORNWALL What mean’st by this?
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.
CORNWALL [to Oswald] What was th’offence you gave him?
I never gave him any. 
It pleased the King his master very late
To strike at me upon his misconstruction,
When he, conpact and flattering his displeasure,
Tripped me behind. Being down, insulted, railed,
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.
None of these rogues and cowards 
But Ajax is their fool.
Fetch forth the stocks. [exeunt servants]
You stubborn, ancient knave, you reverend braggart,
We’ll teach you.
KENT 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. 
CORNWALL Fetch forth the stocks!
As I have life and honor, there shall he sit till noon.
REGAN Till noon? Till night, my lord, and all night too.
Why, madam, if I were your father’s dog,
You should not use me so. 
REGAN Sir, being his knave, I will. Stocks brought on
This is a fellow of the selfsame color
Our sister speaks of. Come, bring away the stocks!
Let me beseech your grace not to do so.
[His fault is much, and the good King his master 
Will check him for ‘t. Your purposed low correction
Is such as basest and contemnedst wretches
For pilferings and most common trespasses
Are punished with.]
The King his master needs must take it ill, 
That he’s so slightly valued in his messenger,
Should have him thus restrained.
CORNWALL I’ll answer that.
My sister may receive it much more worse
To have her gentleman abused, assaulted, 
[For following her affairs. Put in his legs.]
CORNWALL Come, my good lord, away.
Exit [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 rubbed nor stopped. I’ll entreat for thee. 
Pray, do not, sir. I have watched and traveled 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!
The duke’s to blame in this. ‘Twill be ill taken. Exit 
Good king, that must approve the common saw,
Thou out of heaven’s benediction com’st
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 informed
Of my obscured course, [reading letter] and “shall find time
From this enormous state, seeking to give 
Losses their remedies.” All weary and o’erwatched,
Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold
This shameful lodging.
Fortune, good night. Smile once more. Turn thy wheel. [Sleeps]