King Lear
Play Summary and Full Text: Full Text with Clips: Act III Scene 1

Kent still in disguise meets Lear’s knight (who seems to have left Lear on the moors with only the Fool for company). The knight reports Lear’s raging against the storm, now in progress. Without disclosing his actual identity, Kent tells the knight that Albany and Cornwall are moving toward mutual war, that spies from France know this, and that he should take himself to Dover with a message and a ring (to identify Kent) to Cordelia, who is likely there waiting. Kent then goes after Lear.

Act II Scene 2e . . . Act III Scene 2

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ACT III. SCENE I. On heath, in storm.
[This scene includes some significant segments from the Quarto, shown in brackets, without which the scene makes little sense.]

Storm still. Enter Kent and a Gentleman, severally

KENT   Who’s there, besides foul weather?

Gentleman    One minded like the weather, most unquietly.

KENT    I know you. Where’s the King?

Gentleman
Contending with the fretful elements.
Bids the winds blow the earth into the sea,   [5]
Or swell the curled water ‘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   [10]
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.]   [15]

KENT                                 But who is with him?

Gentleman
None but the fool, who labors to out jest
His heart-struck injuries.

KENT                              Sir, I do know you,
And dare upon the warrant of my note   [20]
Commend a dear thing to you. There is division,
Although as yet the face of it be covered
With mutual cunning, ‘twixt Albany and Cornwall,
Who have—as who have not that their great stars
Throned and set high?—
servants who seem no less,   [25]
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 have borne
Against the old kind King, or something deeper,   [30]
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   [35]
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   [40]
The King hath cause to make plain.
I am a gentleman of blood and breeding,
And, from some knowledge and assurance, offer
This office to you.]

Gentleman    I will talk further with you.   [45]

KENT                                 No, do not.
For confirmation that I am much more
Than my outwall, open this purse and take
What it contains.
If you shall see Cordelia—
As fear not but you shall—show her this ring,   [50]
And she will tell you who your fellow is
That yet you do not know. Fie on this storm.
I will go seek the King.

Gentleman                  Give me your hand.
Have you no more to say?   [55]

KENT

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.

Exeunt

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