King Lear, by William Shakespeare

Act IV

Scene I. The heath.

Enter Edgar

Edgar

Yet better thus, and known to be contemn’d,
Than still contemn’d and flatter’d. To be worst,
The lowest and most dejected thing of fortune,
Stands still in esperance, lives not in fear:
The lamentable change is from the best;
The worst returns to laughter. Welcome, then,
Thou unsubstantial air that I embrace!
The wretch that thou hast blown unto the worst
Owes nothing to thy blasts. But who comes here?

Enter Gloucester, led by an Old Man

My father, poorly led? World, world, O world!
But that thy strange mutations make us hate thee,
Lie would not yield to age.

Old Man

O, my good lord, I have been your tenant, and your father’s tenant, these fourscore years.

Gloucester

Away, get thee away; good friend, be gone:
Thy comforts can do me no good at all;
Thee they may hurt.

Old Man

Alack, sir, you cannot see your way.

Gloucester

I have no way, and therefore want no eyes;
I stumbled when I saw: full oft ’tis seen,
Our means secure us, and our mere defects
Prove our commodities. O dear son Edgar,
The food of thy abused father’s wrath!
Might I but live to see thee in my touch,
I’ld say I had eyes again!

Old Man

How now! Who’s there?

Edgar

[Aside] O gods! Who is’t can say ‘I am at the worst’? I am worse than e’er I was.

Old Man

’Tis poor mad Tom.

Edgar

[Aside] And worse I may be yet: the worst is not
So long as we can say ‘This is the worst.’

Old Man

Fellow, where goest?

Gloucester

Is it a beggar-man?

Old Man

Madman and beggar too.

Gloucester

He has some reason, else he could not beg.
I’ the last night’s storm I such a fellow saw;
Which made me think a man a worm: my son
Came then into my mind; and yet my mind
Was then scarce friends with him: I have heard more since.
As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods.
They kill us for their sport.

Edgar

[Aside] How should this be?
Bad is the trade that must play fool to sorrow,
Angering itself and others. — Bless thee, master!

Gloucester

Is that the naked fellow?

Old Man

Ay, my lord.

Gloucester

Then, prithee, get thee gone: if, for my sake,
Thou wilt o’ertake us, hence a mile or twain,
I’ the way toward Dover, do it for ancient love;
And bring some covering for this naked soul,
Who I’ll entreat to lead me.

Old Man

Alack, sir, he is mad.

Gloucester

’Tis the times’ plague, when madmen lead the blind.
Do as I bid thee, or rather do thy pleasure;
Above the rest, be gone.

Old Man

I’ll bring him the best ’parel that I have,
Come on’t what will.

Exit

Gloucester

Sirrah, naked fellow —

Edgar

Poor Tom’s a-cold.

Aside

I cannot daub it further.

Gloucester

Come hither, fellow.

Edgar

[Aside] And yet I must. — Bless thy sweet eyes, they bleed.

Gloucester

Know’st thou the way to Dover?

Edgar

Both stile and gate, horse-way and foot-path. Poor Tom hath been scared out of his good wits: bless thee, good man’s son, from the foul fiend! five fiends have been in poor Tom at once; of lust, as Obidicut; Hobbididence, prince of dumbness; Mahu, of stealing; Modo, of murder; Flibbertigibbet, of mopping and mowing, who since possesses chambermaids and waiting-women. So, bless thee, master!

Gloucester

Here, take this purse, thou whom the heavens’ plagues
Have humbled to all strokes: that I am wretched
Makes thee the happier: heavens, deal so still!
Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man,
That slaves your ordinance, that will not see
Because he doth not feel, feel your power quickly;
So distribution should undo excess,
And each man have enough. Dost thou know Dover?

Edgar

Ay, master.

Gloucester

There is a cliff, whose high and bending head
Looks fearfully in the confined deep:
Bring me but to the very brim of it,
And I’ll repair the misery thou dost bear
With something rich about me: from that place
I shall no leading need.

Edgar

Give me thy arm:
Poor Tom shall lead thee.

Exeunt

Scene II. Before Albany’s palace.

Enter Goneril and Edmund

Goneril

Welcome, my lord: I marvel our mild husband
Not met us on the way.

Enter Oswald

Now, where’s your master’?

Oswald

Madam, within; but never man so changed.
I told him of the army that was landed;
He smiled at it: I told him you were coming:
His answer was ‘The worse:’ of Gloucester’s treachery,
And of the loyal service of his son,
When I inform’d him, then he call’d me sot,
And told me I had turn’d the wrong side out:
What most he should dislike seems pleasant to him;
What like, offensive.

Goneril

[To Edmund] Then shall you go no further.
It is the cowish terror of his spirit,
That dares not undertake: he’ll not feel wrongs
Which tie him to an answer. Our wishes on the way
May prove effects. Back, Edmund, to my brother;
Hasten his musters and conduct his powers:
I must change arms at home, and give the distaff
Into my husband’s hands. This trusty servant
Shall pass between us: ere long you are like to hear,
If you dare venture in your own behalf,
A mistress’s command. Wear this; spare speech;

Giving a favour

Decline your head: this kiss, if it durst speak,
Would stretch thy spirits up into the air:
Conceive, and fare thee well.

Edmund

Yours in the ranks of death.

Goneril

My most dear Gloucester!

Exit Edmund

O, the difference of man and man!
To thee a woman’s services are due:
My fool usurps my body.

Oswald

Madam, here comes my lord.

Exit

Enter Albany

Goneril

I have been worth the whistle.

Albany

O Goneril!
You are not worth the dust which the rude wind
Blows in your face. I fear your disposition:
That nature, which contemns its origin,
Cannot be border’d certain in itself;
She that herself will sliver and disbranch
From her material sap, perforce must wither
And come to deadly use.

Goneril

No more; the text is foolish.

Albany

Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile:
Filths savour but themselves. What have you done?
Tigers, not daughters, what have you perform’d?
A father, and a gracious aged man,
Whose reverence even the head-lugg’d bear would lick,
Most barbarous, most degenerate! have you madded.
Could my good brother suffer you to do it?
A man, a prince, by him so benefited!
If that the heavens do not their visible spirits
Send quickly down to tame these vile offences,
It will come,
Humanity must perforce prey on itself,
Like monsters of the deep.

Goneril

Milk-liver’d man!
That bear’st a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs;
Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning
Thine honour from thy suffering; that not know’st
Fools do those villains pity who are punish’d
Ere they have done their mischief. Where’s thy drum?
France spreads his banners in our noiseless land;
With plumed helm thy slayer begins threats;
Whiles thou, a moral fool, sit’st still, and criest
‘Alack, why does he so?’

Albany

See thyself, devil!
Proper deformity seems not in the fiend
So horrid as in woman.

Goneril

O vain fool!

Albany

Thou changed and self-cover’d thing, for shame,
Be-monster not thy feature. Were’t my fitness
To let these hands obey my blood,
They are apt enough to dislocate and tear
Thy flesh and bones: howe’er thou art a fiend,
A woman’s shape doth shield thee.

Goneril

Marry, your manhood now —

Enter a Messenger

Albany

What news?

Messenger

O, my good lord, the Duke of Cornwall’s dead:
Slain by his servant, going to put out
The other eye of Gloucester.

Albany

Gloucester’s eye!

Messenger

A servant that he bred, thrill’d with remorse,
Opposed against the act, bending his sword
To his great master; who, thereat enraged,
Flew on him, and amongst them fell’d him dead;
But not without that harmful stroke, which since
Hath pluck’d him after.

Albany

This shows you are above,
You justicers, that these our nether crimes
So speedily can venge! But, O poor Gloucester!
Lost he his other eye?

Messenger

Both, both, my lord.
This letter, madam, craves a speedy answer;
’Tis from your sister.

Goneril

[Aside] One way I like this well;
But being widow, and my Gloucester with her,
May all the building in my fancy pluck
Upon my hateful life: another way,
The news is not so tart. — I’ll read, and answer.

Exit

Albany

Where was his son when they did take his eyes?

Messenger

Come with my lady hither.

Albany

He is not here.

Messenger

No, my good lord; I met him back again.

Albany

Knows he the wickedness?

Messenger

Ay, my good lord; ’twas he inform’d against him;
And quit the house on purpose, that their punishment
Might have the freer course.

Albany

Gloucester, I live
To thank thee for the love thou show’dst the king,
And to revenge thine eyes. Come hither, friend:
Tell me what more thou know’st.

Exeunt

Scene III. The French camp near Dover.

Enter Kent and a Gentleman

Kent

Why the King of France is so suddenly gone back know you the reason?

Gentleman

Something he left imperfect in the state, which since his coming forth is thought of; which imports to the kingdom so much fear and danger, that his personal return was most required and necessary.

Kent

Who hath he left behind him general?

Gentleman

The Marshal of France, Monsieur La Far.

Kent

Did your letters pierce the queen to any demonstration of grief?

Gentleman

Ay, sir; she took them, read them in my presence;
And now and then an ample tear trill’d down
Her delicate cheek: it seem’d she was a queen
Over her passion; who, most rebel-like,
Sought to be king o’er her.

Kent

O, then it moved her.

Gentleman

Not to a rage: patience and sorrow strove
Who should express her goodliest. You have seen
Sunshine and rain at once: her smiles and tears
Were like a better way: those happy smilets,
That play’d on her ripe lip, seem’d not to know
What guests were in her eyes; which parted thence,
As pearls from diamonds dropp’d. In brief,
Sorrow would be a rarity most beloved,
If all could so become it.

Kent

Made she no verbal question?

Gentleman

’Faith, once or twice she heaved the name of ‘father’
Pantingly forth, as if it press’d her heart:
Cried ‘sisters! sisters! Shame of ladies! sisters!
Kent! father! sisters! What, i’ the storm? i’ the night?
Let pity not be believed!’ There she shook
The holy water from her heavenly eyes,
And clamour moisten’d: then away she started
To deal with grief alone.

Kent

It is the stars,
The stars above us, govern our conditions;
Else one self mate and mate could not beget
Such different issues. You spoke not with her since?

Gentleman

No.

Kent

Was this before the king return’d?

Gentleman

No, since.

Kent

Well, sir, the poor distressed Lear’s i’ the town;
Who sometime, in his better tune, remembers
What we are come about, and by no means
Will yield to see his daughter.

Gentleman

Why, good sir?

Kent

A sovereign shame so elbows him: his own unkindness,
That stripp’d her from his benediction, turn’d her
To foreign casualties, gave her dear rights
To his dog-hearted daughters, these things sting
His mind so venomously, that burning shame
Detains him from Cordelia.

Gentleman

Alack, poor gentleman!

Kent

Of Albany’s and Cornwall’s powers you heard not?

Gentleman

’Tis so, they are afoot.

Kent

Well, sir, I’ll bring you to our master Lear,
And leave you to attend him: some dear cause
Will in concealment wrap me up awhile;
When I am known aright, you shall not grieve
Lending me this acquaintance. I pray you, go
Along with me.

Exeunt

Scene IV. The same. A tent.

Enter, with drum and colours, Cordelia, Doctor, and Soldiers

Cordelia

Alack, ’tis he: why, he was met even now
As mad as the vex’d sea; singing aloud;
Crown’d with rank fumiter and furrow-weeds,
With bur-docks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo-flowers,
Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow
In our sustaining corn. A century send forth;
Search every acre in the high-grown field,
And bring him to our eye.

Exit an Officer

What can man’s wisdom
In the restoring his bereaved sense?
He that helps him take all my outward worth.

Doctor

There is means, madam:
Our foster-nurse of nature is repose,
The which he lacks; that to provoke in him,
Are many simples operative, whose power
Will close the eye of anguish.

Cordelia

All blest secrets,
All you unpublish’d virtues of the earth,
Spring with my tears! be aidant and remediate
In the good man’s distress! Seek, seek for him;
Lest his ungovern’d rage dissolve the life
That wants the means to lead it.

Enter a Messenger

Messenger

News, madam;
The British powers are marching hitherward.

Cordelia

’Tis known before; our preparation stands
In expectation of them. O dear father,
It is thy business that I go about;
Therefore great France
My mourning and important tears hath pitied.
No blown ambition doth our arms incite,
But love, dear love, and our aged father’s right:
Soon may I hear and see him!

Exeunt

Scene V. Gloucester’s castle.

Enter Regan and Oswald

Regan

But are my brother’s powers set forth?

Oswald

Ay, madam.

Regan

Himself in person there?

Oswald

Madam, with much ado:
Your sister is the better soldier.

Regan

Lord Edmund spake not with your lord at home?

Oswald

No, madam.

Regan

What might import my sister’s letter to him?

Oswald

I know not, lady.

Regan

’Faith, he is posted hence on serious matter.
It was great ignorance, Gloucester’s eyes being out,
To let him live: where he arrives he moves
All hearts against us: Edmund, I think, is gone,
In pity of his misery, to dispatch
His nighted life: moreover, to descry
The strength o’ the enemy.

Oswald

I must needs after him, madam, with my letter.

Regan

Our troops set forth to-morrow: stay with us;
The ways are dangerous.

Oswald

I may not, madam:
My lady charged my duty in this business.

Regan

Why should she write to Edmund? Might not you
Transport her purposes by word? Belike,
Something — I know not what: I’ll love thee much,
Let me unseal the letter.

Oswald

Madam, I had rather —

Regan

I know your lady does not love her husband;
I am sure of that: and at her late being here
She gave strange oeillades and most speaking looks
To noble Edmund. I know you are of her bosom.

Oswald

I, madam?

Regan

I speak in understanding; you are; I know’t:
Therefore I do advise you, take this note:
My lord is dead; Edmund and I have talk’d;
And more convenient is he for my hand
Than for your lady’s: you may gather more.
If you do find him, pray you, give him this;
And when your mistress hears thus much from you,
I pray, desire her call her wisdom to her.
So, fare you well.
If you do chance to hear of that blind traitor,
Preferment falls on him that cuts him off.

Oswald

Would I could meet him, madam! I should show
What party I do follow.

Regan

Fare thee well.

Exeunt

Scene Vi. Fields near Dover.

Enter Gloucester, and Edgar dressed like a peasant

Gloucester

When shall we come to the top of that same hill?

Edgar

You do climb up it now: look, how we labour.

Gloucester

Methinks the ground is even.

Edgar

Horrible steep.
Hark, do you hear the sea?

Gloucester

No, truly.

Edgar

Why, then, your other senses grow imperfect
By your eyes’ anguish.

Gloucester

So may it be, indeed:
Methinks thy voice is alter’d; and thou speak’st
In better phrase and matter than thou didst.

Edgar

You’re much deceived: in nothing am I changed
But in my garments.

Gloucester

Methinks you’re better spoken.

Edgar

Come on, sir; here’s the place: stand still. How fearful
And dizzy ’tis, to cast one’s eyes so low!
The crows and choughs that wing the midway air
Show scarce so gross as beetles: half way down
Hangs one that gathers samphire, dreadful trade!
Methinks he seems no bigger than his head:
The fishermen, that walk upon the beach,
Appear like mice; and yond tall anchoring bark,
Diminish’d to her cock; her cock, a buoy
Almost too small for sight: the murmuring surge,
That on the unnumber’d idle pebbles chafes,
Cannot be heard so high. I’ll look no more;
Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight
Topple down headlong.

Gloucester

Set me where you stand.

Edgar

Give me your hand: you are now within a foot
Of the extreme verge: for all beneath the moon
Would I not leap upright.

Gloucester

Let go my hand.
Here, friend, ’s another purse; in it a jewel
Well worth a poor man’s taking: fairies and gods
Prosper it with thee! Go thou farther off;
Bid me farewell, and let me hear thee going.

Edgar

Now fare you well, good sir.

Gloucester

With all my heart.

Edgar

Why I do trifle thus with his despair
Is done to cure it.

Gloucester

[Kneeling] O you mighty gods!
This world I do renounce, and, in your sights,
Shake patiently my great affliction off:
If I could bear it longer, and not fall
To quarrel with your great opposeless wills,
My snuff and loathed part of nature should
Burn itself out. If Edgar live, O, bless him!
Now, fellow, fare thee well.

He falls forward

Edgar

Gone, sir: farewell.
And yet I know not how conceit may rob
The treasury of life, when life itself
Yields to the theft: had he been where he thought,
By this, had thought been past. Alive or dead?
Ho, you sir! friend! Hear you, sir! speak!
Thus might he pass indeed: yet he revives.
What are you, sir?

Gloucester

  Away, and let me die.

Edgar

Hadst thou been aught but gossamer, feathers, air,
So many fathom down precipitating,
Thou’dst shiver’d like an egg: but thou dost breathe;
Hast heavy substance; bleed’st not; speak’st; art sound.
Ten masts at each make not the altitude
Which thou hast perpendicularly fell:
Thy life’s a miracle. Speak yet again.

Gloucester

But have I fall’n, or no?

Edgar

From the dread summit of this chalky bourn.
Look up a-height; the shrill-gorged lark so far
Cannot be seen or heard: do but look up.

Gloucester

Alack, I have no eyes.
Is wretchedness deprived that benefit,
To end itself by death? ’Twas yet some comfort,
When misery could beguile the tyrant’s rage,
And frustrate his proud will.

Edgar

Give me your arm:
Up: so. How is ’t? Feel you your legs? You stand.

Gloucester

Too well, too well.

Edgar

This is above all strangeness.
Upon the crown o’ the cliff, what thing was that
Which parted from you?

Gloucester

A poor unfortunate beggar.

Edgar

As I stood here below, methought his eyes
Were two full moons; he had a thousand noses,
Horns whelk’d and waved like the enridged sea:
It was some fiend; therefore, thou happy father,
Think that the clearest gods, who make them honours
Of men’s impossibilities, have preserved thee.

Gloucester

I do remember now: henceforth I’ll bear
Affliction till it do cry out itself
‘Enough, enough,’ and die. That thing you speak of,
I took it for a man; often ’twould say
‘The fiend, the fiend:’ he led me to that place.

Edgar

Bear free and patient thoughts. But who comes here?

Enter King Lear, fantastically dressed with wild flowers

The safer sense will ne’er accommodate
His master thus.

King Lear

No, they cannot touch me for coining; I am the king himself.

Edgar

O thou side-piercing sight!

King Lear

Nature’s above art in that respect. There’s your press-money. That fellow handles his bow like a crow-keeper: draw me a clothier’s yard. Look, look, a mouse! Peace, peace; this piece of toasted cheese will do ’t. There’s my gauntlet; I’ll prove it on a giant. Bring up the brown bills. O, well flown, bird! i’ the clout, i’ the clout: hewgh! Give the word.

Edgar

Sweet marjoram.

King Lear

Pass.

Gloucester

I know that voice.

King Lear

Ha! Goneril, with a white beard! They flattered me like a dog; and told me I had white hairs in my beard ere the black ones were there. To say ‘ay’ and ‘no’ to every thing that I said! —‘Ay’ and ‘no’ too was no good divinity. When the rain came to wet me once, and the wind to make me chatter; when the thunder would not peace at my bidding; there I found ’em, there I smelt ’em out. Go to, they are not men o’ their words: they told me I was every thing; ’tis a lie, I am not ague-proof.

Gloucester

The trick of that voice I do well remember:
Is ’t not the king?

King Lear

Ay, every inch a king:
When I do stare, see how the subject quakes.
I pardon that man’s life. What was thy cause? Adultery?
Thou shalt not die: die for adultery! No:
The wren goes to ’t, and the small gilded fly
Does lecher in my sight.
Let copulation thrive; for Gloucester’s bastard son
Was kinder to his father than my daughters
Got ’tween the lawful sheets.
To ’t, luxury, pell-mell! for I lack soldiers.
Behold yond simpering dame,
Whose face between her forks presages snow;
That minces virtue, and does shake the head
To hear of pleasure’s name;
The fitchew, nor the soiled horse, goes to ’t
With a more riotous appetite.
Down from the waist they are Centaurs,
Though women all above:
But to the girdle do the gods inherit,
Beneath is all the fiends’;
There’s hell, there’s darkness, there’s the sulphurous pit,
Burning, scalding, stench, consumption; fie, fie, fie! pah, pah! Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, to sweeten my imagination: there’s money for thee.

Gloucester

O, let me kiss that hand!

King Lear

Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality.

Gloucester

O ruin’d piece of nature! This great world
Shall so wear out to nought. Dost thou know me?

King Lear

I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost thou squiny at me? No, do thy worst, blind Cupid! I’ll not love. Read thou this challenge; mark but the penning of it.

Gloucester

Were all the letters suns, I could not see one.

Edgar

I would not take this from report; it is,
And my heart breaks at it.

King Lear

Read.

Gloucester

What, with the case of eyes?

King Lear

O, ho, are you there with me? No eyes in your head, nor no money in your purse? Your eyes are in a heavy case, your purse in a light; yet you see how this world goes.

Gloucester

I see it feelingly.

King Lear

What, art mad? A man may see how this world goes with no eyes. Look with thine ears: see how yond justice rails upon yond simple thief. Hark, in thine ear: change places; and, handy-dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief? Thou hast seen a farmer’s dog bark at a beggar?

Gloucester

Ay, sir.

King Lear

And the creature run from the cur? There thou mightst behold the great image of authority: a dog’s obeyed in office.
Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand!
Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thine own back;
Thou hotly lust’st to use her in that kind
For which thou whipp’st her. The usurer hangs the cozener.
Through tatter’d clothes small vices do appear;
Robes and furr’d gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold,
And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks:
Arm it in rags, a pigmy’s straw does pierce it.
None does offend, none, I say, none; I’ll able ’em:
Take that of me, my friend, who have the power
To seal the accuser’s lips. Get thee glass eyes;
And like a scurvy politician, seem
To see the things thou dost not. Now, now, now, now:
Pull off my boots: harder, harder: so.

Edgar

O, matter and impertinency mix’d! Reason in madness!

King Lear

If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes.
I know thee well enough; thy name is Gloucester:
Thou must be patient; we came crying hither:
Thou know’st, the first time that we smell the air,
We wawl and cry. I will preach to thee: mark.

Gloucester

Alack, alack the day!

King Lear

When we are born, we cry that we are come
To this great stage of fools: this a good block;
It were a delicate stratagem, to shoe
A troop of horse with felt: I’ll put ’t in proof;
And when I have stol’n upon these sons-in-law,
Then, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!

Enter a Gentleman, with Attendants

Gentleman

O, here he is: lay hand upon him. Sir,
Your most dear daughter —

King Lear

No rescue? What, a prisoner? I am even
The natural fool of fortune. Use me well;
You shall have ransom. Let me have surgeons;
I am cut to the brains.

Gentleman

You shall have any thing.

King Lear

No seconds? all myself?
Why, this would make a man a man of salt,
To use his eyes for garden water-pots,
Ay, and laying autumn’s dust.

Gentleman

Good sir —

King Lear

I will die bravely, like a bridegroom. What!
I will be jovial: come, come; I am a king,
My masters, know you that.

Gentleman

You are a royal one, and we obey you.

King Lear

Then there’s life in’t. Nay, if you get it, you shall get it with running. Sa, sa, sa, sa.

Exit running; Attendants follow

Gentleman

A sight most pitiful in the meanest wretch,
Past speaking of in a king! Thou hast one daughter,
Who redeems nature from the general curse
Which twain have brought her to.

Edgar

Hail, gentle sir.

Gentleman

  Sir, speed you: what’s your will?

Edgar

Do you hear aught, sir, of a battle toward?

Gentleman

Most sure and vulgar: every one hears that,
Which can distinguish sound.

Edgar

But, by your favour,
How near’s the other army?

Gentleman

Near and on speedy foot; the main descry
Stands on the hourly thought.

Edgar

I thank you, sir: that’s all.

Gentleman

Though that the queen on special cause is here,
Her army is moved on.

Edgar

I thank you, sir.

Exit Gentleman

Gloucester

You ever-gentle gods, take my breath from me:
Let not my worser spirit tempt me again
To die before you please!

Edgar

Well pray you, father.

Gloucester

Now, good sir, what are you?

Edgar

A most poor man, made tame to fortune’s blows;
Who, by the art of known and feeling sorrows,
Am pregnant to good pity. Give me your hand,
I’ll lead you to some biding.

Gloucester

Hearty thanks:
The bounty and the benison of heaven
To boot, and boot!

Enter Oswald

Oswald

A proclaim’d prize! Most happy!
That eyeless head of thine was first framed flesh
To raise my fortunes. Thou old unhappy traitor,
Briefly thyself remember: the sword is out
That must destroy thee.

Gloucester

Now let thy friendly hand
Put strength enough to’t.

Edgar interposes

Oswald

Wherefore, bold peasant,
Darest thou support a publish’d traitor? Hence;
Lest that the infection of his fortune take
Like hold on thee. Let go his arm.

Edgar

Ch’ill not let go, zir, without vurther ’casion.

Oswald

Let go, slave, or thou diest!

Edgar

Good gentleman, go your gait, and let poor volk pass. An chud ha’ bin zwaggered out of my life, ’twould not ha’ bin zo long as ’tis by a vortnight. Nay, come not near th’ old man; keep out, che vor ye, or ise try whether your costard or my ballow be the harder: ch’ill be plain with you.

Oswald

Out, dunghill!

Edgar

Ch’ill pick your teeth, zir: come; no matter vor your foins.

They fight, and Edgar knocks him down

Oswald

Slave, thou hast slain me: villain, take my purse:
If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body;
And give the letters which thou find’st about me
To Edmund earl of Gloucester; seek him out
Upon the British party: O, untimely death!

Dies

Edgar

I know thee well: a serviceable villain;
As duteous to the vices of thy mistress
As badness would desire.

Gloucester

What, is he dead?

Edgar

Sit you down, father; rest you
Let’s see these pockets: the letters that he speaks of
May be my friends. He’s dead; I am only sorry
He had no other death’s-man. Let us see:
Leave, gentle wax; and, manners, blame us not:
To know our enemies’ minds, we’ld rip their hearts;
Their papers, is more lawful.

[Reads] ‘Let our reciprocal vows be remembered. You have many opportunities to cut him off: if your will want not, time and place will be fruitfully offered. There is nothing done, if he return the conqueror: then am I the prisoner, and his bed my goal; from the loathed warmth whereof deliver me, and supply the place for your labour.
‘Your — wife, so I would say —
‘Affectionate servant,
‘Goneril.’

O undistinguish’d space of woman’s will!
A plot upon her virtuous husband’s life;
And the exchange my brother! Here, in the sands,
Thee I’ll rake up, the post unsanctified
Of murderous lechers: and in the mature time
With this ungracious paper strike the sight
Of the death practised duke: for him ’tis well
That of thy death and business I can tell.

Gloucester

The king is mad: how stiff is my vile sense,
That I stand up, and have ingenious feeling
Of my huge sorrows! Better I were distract:
So should my thoughts be sever’d from my griefs,
And woes by wrong imaginations lose
The knowledge of themselves.

Edgar

Give me your hand:

Drum afar off

Far off, methinks, I hear the beaten drum:
Come, father, I’ll bestow you with a friend.

Exeunt

Scene Vii. A tent in the French camp. Lear on a bed asleep,

soft music playing; Gentleman, and others attending.

Enter Cordelia, Kent, and Doctor

Cordelia

O thou good Kent, how shall I live and work,
To match thy goodness? My life will be too short,
And every measure fail me.

Kent

To be acknowledged, madam, is o’erpaid.
All my reports go with the modest truth;
Nor more nor clipp’d, but so.

Cordelia

Be better suited:
These weeds are memories of those worser hours:
I prithee, put them off.

Kent

Pardon me, dear madam;
Yet to be known shortens my made intent:
My boon I make it, that you know me not
Till time and I think meet.

Cordelia

Then be’t so, my good lord.

To the Doctor

How does the king?

Doctor

Madam, sleeps still.

Cordelia

O you kind gods,
Cure this great breach in his abused nature!
The untuned and jarring senses, O, wind up
Of this child-changed father!

Doctor

So please your majesty
That we may wake the king: he hath slept long.

Cordelia

Be govern’d by your knowledge, and proceed
I’ the sway of your own will. Is he array’d?

Gentleman

Ay, madam; in the heaviness of his sleep
We put fresh garments on him.

Doctor

Be by, good madam, when we do awake him;
I doubt not of his temperance.

Cordelia

Very well.

Doctor

Please you, draw near. Louder the music there!

Cordelia

O my dear father! Restoration hang
Thy medicine on my lips; and let this kiss
Repair those violent harms that my two sisters
Have in thy reverence made!

Kent

Kind and dear princess!

Cordelia

Had you not been their father, these white flakes
Had challenged pity of them. Was this a face
To be opposed against the warring winds?
To stand against the deep dread-bolted thunder?
In the most terrible and nimble stroke
Of quick, cross lightning? to watch — poor perdu! —
With this thin helm? Mine enemy’s dog,
Though he had bit me, should have stood that night
Against my fire; and wast thou fain, poor father,
To hovel thee with swine, and rogues forlorn,
In short and musty straw? Alack, alack!
’Tis wonder that thy life and wits at once
Had not concluded all. He wakes; speak to him.

Doctor

Madam, do you; ’tis fittest.

Cordelia

How does my royal lord? How fares your majesty?

King Lear

You do me wrong to take me out o’ the grave:
Thou art a soul in bliss; but I am bound
Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears
Do scald like moulten lead.

Cordelia

Sir, do you know me?

King Lear

You are a spirit, I know: when did you die?

Cordelia

Still, still, far wide!

Doctor

He’s scarce awake: let him alone awhile.

King Lear

Where have I been? Where am I? Fair daylight?
I am mightily abused. I should e’en die with pity,
To see another thus. I know not what to say.
I will not swear these are my hands: let’s see;
I feel this pin prick. Would I were assured
Of my condition!

Cordelia

  O, look upon me, sir,
And hold your hands in benediction o’er me:
No, sir, you must not kneel.

King Lear

Pray, do not mock me:
I am a very foolish fond old man,
Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less;
And, to deal plainly,
I fear I am not in my perfect mind.
Methinks I should know you, and know this man;
Yet I am doubtful for I am mainly ignorant
What place this is; and all the skill I have
Remembers not these garments; nor I know not
Where I did lodge last night. Do not laugh at me;
For, as I am a man, I think this lady
To be my child Cordelia.

Cordelia

And so I am, I am.

King Lear

Be your tears wet? yes, ’faith. I pray, weep not:
If you have poison for me, I will drink it.
I know you do not love me; for your sisters
Have, as I do remember, done me wrong:
You have some cause, they have not.

Cordelia

No cause, no cause.

King Lear

Am I in France?

Kent

  In your own kingdom, sir.

King Lear

Do not abuse me.

Doctor

Be comforted, good madam: the great rage,
You see, is kill’d in him: and yet it is danger
To make him even o’er the time he has lost.
Desire him to go in; trouble him no more
Till further settling.

Cordelia

Will’t please your highness walk?

King Lear

You must bear with me:
Pray you now, forget and forgive: I am old and foolish.

Exeunt all but Kent and Gentleman

Gentleman

Holds it true, sir, that the Duke of Cornwall was so slain?

Kent

Most certain, sir.

Gentleman

Who is conductor of his people?

Kent

As ’tis said, the bastard son of Gloucester.

Gentleman

They say Edgar, his banished son, is with the Earl of Kent in Germany.

Kent

Report is changeable. ’Tis time to look about; the powers of the kingdom approach apace.

Gentleman

The arbitrement is like to be bloody. Fare you well, sir.

Exit

Kent

My point and period will be throughly wrought,
Or well or ill, as this day’s battle’s fought.

Exit

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Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:30