The Tragedy of King Lear
William Shakespeare [Collins edition]
Part 3 out of 4
Both stile and gate, horseway and footpath. 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!
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 does not feel, feel your power quickly;
So distribution should undo excess,
And each man have enough.--Dost thou know Dover?
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.
Give me thy arm:
Poor Tom shall lead thee.
Scene II. Before the Duke of Albany's Palace.
[Enter Goneril and Edmund; Oswald meeting them.]
Welcome, my lord: I marvel our mild husband
Not met us on the way.--Now, where's your master?
Madam, within; but never man so chang'd.
I told him of the army that was landed;
He smil'd at it: I told him you were coming;
His answer was, 'The worse': Of Gloster'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.
[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. [Giving a favour.]
Wear this; spare speech;
Decline your head: this kiss, if it durst speak,
Would stretch thy spirits up into the air:--
Conceive, and fare thee well.
Yours in the ranks of death!
My most dear Gloster.
O, the difference of man and man!
To thee a woman's services are due:
My fool usurps my body.
Madam, here comes my lord.
I have been worth the whistle.
You are not worth the dust which the rude wind
Blows in your face! I fear your disposition:
That nature which contemns it origin
Cannot be bordered certain in itself;
She that herself will sliver and disbranch
From her material sap, perforce must wither
And come to deadly use.
No more; the text is foolish.
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.
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, sitt'st still, and criest
'Alack, why does he so?'
See thyself, devil!
Proper deformity seems not in the fiend
So horrid as in woman.
O vain fool!
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.
Marry, your manhood now!
[Enter a Messenger.]
O, my good lord, the Duke of Cornwall's dead;
Slain by his servant, going to put out
The other eye of Gloster.
A servant that he bred, thrill'd with remorse,
Oppos'd against the act, bending his sword
To his great master; who, thereat enrag'd,
Flew on him, and amongst them fell'd him dead;
But not without that harmful stroke which since
Hath pluck'd him after.
This shows you are above,
You justicers, that these our nether crimes
So speedily can venge!--But, O poor Gloster!
Lost he his other eye?
Both, both, my lord.--
This letter, madam, craves a speedy answer;
'Tis from your sister.
[Aside.] One way I like this well;
But being widow, and my Gloster 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.
Where was his son when they did take his eyes?
Come with my lady hither.
He is not here.
No, my good lord; I met him back again.
Knows he the wickedness?
Ay, my good lord. 'Twas he inform'd against him;
And quit the house on purpose, that their punishment
Might have the freer course.
Gloster, 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.
Scene III. The French camp near Dover.
[Enter Kent and a Gentleman.]
Why the king of France is so suddenly gone back know you the
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
Who hath he left behind him general?
The Mareschal of France, Monsieur La Far.
Did your letters pierce the queen to any demonstration of grief?
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.
O, then it mov'd her.
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 day: 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 belov'd, if all
Could so become it.
Made she no verbal question?
Faith, once or twice she heav'd 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 believ'd!'--There she shook
The holy water from her heavenly eyes,
And clamour moisten'd: then away she started
To deal with grief alone.
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?
Was this before the king return'd?
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.
Why, good sir?
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.
Alack, poor gentleman!
Of Albany's and Cornwall's powers you heard not?
'Tis so; they are a-foot.
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.
Scene IV. The French camp. A Tent.
[Enter Cordelia, Physician, and Soldiers.]
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 harlocks, 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.
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.
All bless'd 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.]
The British powers are marching hitherward.
'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 ag'd father's right:
Soon may I hear and see him!
Scene V. A Room in Gloster's Castle.
[Enter Regan and Oswald.]
But are my brother's powers set forth?
Himself in person there?
Madam, with much ado.
Your sister is the better soldier.
Lord Edmund spake not with your lord at home?
What might import my sister's letter to him?
I know not, lady.
Faith, he is posted hence on serious matter.
It was great ignorance, Gloster'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 despatch
His nighted life; moreover, to descry
The strength o' the enemy.
I must needs after him, madam, with my letter.
Our troops set forth to-morrow: stay with us;
The ways are dangerous.
I may not, madam:
My lady charg'd my duty in this business.
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.
Madam, I had rather,--
I know your lady does not love her husband;
I am sure of that: and at her late being here
She gave strange eyeliads and most speaking looks
To noble Edmund. I know you are of her bosom.
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.
Would I could meet him, madam! I should show
What party I do follow.
Fare thee well.
Scene VI. The country near Dover.
[Enter Gloster, and Edgar dressed like a peasant.]
When shall I come to the top of that same hill?
You do climb up it now: look, how we labour.
Methinks the ground is even.
Hark, do you hear the sea?
Why, then, your other senses grow imperfect
By your eyes' anguish.
So may it be indeed:
Methinks thy voice is alter'd; and thou speak'st
In better phrase and matter than thou didst.
You are much deceiv'd: in nothing am I chang'd
But in my garments.
Methinks you're better spoken.
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 pebble chafes
Cannot be heard so high.--I'll look no more;
Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight
Topple down headlong.
Set me where you stand.
Give me your hand:--you are now within a foot
Of th' extreme verge: for all beneath the moon
Would I not leap upright.
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 further off;
Bid me farewell, and let me hear thee going.
Now fare ye well, good sir.
[Seems to go.]
With all my heart.
[Aside.] Why I do trifle thus with his despair
Is done to cure it.
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.
[Gloster leaps, and falls along.]
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?
Away, and let me die.
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 is a miracle.--Speak yet again.
But have I fall'n, or no?
From the dread summit of this chalky bourn.
Look up a-height;--the shrill-gorg'd lark so far
Cannot be seen or heard: do but look up.
Alack, I have no eyes.--
Is wretchedness depriv'd that benefit
To end itself by death? 'Twas yet some comfort
When misery could beguile the tyrant's rage
And frustrate his proud will.
Give me your arm:
Up:--so.--How is't? Feel you your legs? You stand.
Too well, too well.
This is above all strangeness.
Upon the crown o' the cliff what thing was that
Which parted from you?
A poor unfortunate beggar.
As I stood here below, methought his eyes
Were two full moons; he had a thousand noses,
Horns whelk'd and wav'd like the enridged sea:
It was some fiend; therefore, thou happy father,
Think that the clearest gods, who make them honours
Of men's impossibility, have preserv'd thee.
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.
Bear free and patient thoughts.--But who comes here?
[Enter Lear, fantastically dressed up with flowers.]
The safer sense will ne'er accommodate
His master thus.
No, they cannot touch me for coining;
I am the king himself.
O thou side-piercing sight!
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.
I know that voice.
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 everything 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 everything; 'tis a
lie--I am not ague-proof.
The trick of that voice I do well remember:
Is't not the king?
Ay, every inch a king:
When I do stare, see how the subject quakes.
I pardon that man's life.--What was thy cause?--
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 Gloster'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 fiend's; there's hell, there's darkness,
There is 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.
O, let me kiss that hand!
Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality.
O ruin'd piece of nature! This great world
Shall so wear out to naught.--Dost thou know me?
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.
Were all the letters suns, I could not see one.
I would not take this from report;--it is,
And my heart breaks at it.
What, with the case of eyes?
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.
I see it feelingly.
What, art mad? A man may see how the 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?
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 pygmy'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.
O, matter and impertinency mix'd!
Reason, in madness!
If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes.
I know thee well enough; thy name is Gloster:
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.
Alack, alack the day!
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].
O, here he is: lay hand upon him.--Sir,
Your most dear daughter,--
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.
You shall have anything.
No seconds? all myself?
Why, this would make a man a man of salt,
To use his eyes for garden water-pots,
Ay, and for laying Autumn's dust.
I will die bravely, like a smug bridegroom. What!
I will be jovial: come, come, I am a king,
My masters, know you that.
You are a royal one, and we obey you.
Then there's life in't. Nay, an you get it, you shall get it
by running. Sa, sa, sa, sa!
[Exit running. Attendants follow.]
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.
Hail, gentle sir.
Sir, speed you. What's your will?
Do you hear aught, sir, of a battle toward?
Most sure and vulgar: every one hears that
Which can distinguish sound.
But, by your favour,
How near's the other army?
Near and on speedy foot; the main descry
Stands on the hourly thought.
I thank you sir: that's all.
Though that the queen on special cause is here,
Her army is mov'd on.
I thank you, sir.
You ever-gentle gods, take my breath from me;
Let not my worser spirit tempt me again
To die before you please!
Well pray you, father.
Now, good sir, what are you?
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.
The bounty and the benison of heaven
To boot, and boot!
A proclaim'd prize! Most happy!
That eyeless head of thine was first fram'd flesh
To raise my fortunes.--Thou old unhappy traitor,
Briefly thyself remember:--the sword is out
That must destroy thee.
Now let thy friendly hand
Put strength enough to it.
Wherefore, bold peasant,
Dar'st thou support a publish'd traitor? Hence;
Lest that the infection of his fortune take
Like hold on thee. Let go his arm.
Chill not let go, zir, without vurther 'casion.
Let go, slave, or thou diest!
Good gentleman, go your gait, and let poor voke 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 the old man; keep out,
che vore ye, or ise try whether your costard or my bat be the
harder: chill be plain with you.
Chill pick your teeth, zir. Come! No matter vor your foins.
[They fight, and Edgar knocks him down.]
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 Gloster; seek him out
Upon the British party: O, untimely death!
I know thee well: a serviceable villain;
As duteous to the vices of thy mistress
As badness would desire.
What, is he dead?
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'd 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
gaol; from the loathed warmth whereof deliver me, and supply the
place for your labour.
'Your (wife, so I would say) affectionate servant,
O indistinguish'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-practis'd duke: for him 'tis well
That of thy death and business I can tell.
[Exit Edgar, dragging out the body.]
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.
Give me your hand:
[A drum afar off.]
Far off methinks I hear the beaten drum:
Come, father, I'll bestow you with a friend.
Scene VII. A Tent in the French Camp. Lear on a bed, asleep, soft
music playing; Physician, Gentleman, and others attending.
[Enter Cordelia, and Kent.]
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.
To be acknowledg'd, madam, is o'erpaid.
All my reports go with the modest truth;
Nor more nor clipp'd, but so.
Be better suited:
These weeds are memories of those worser hours:
I pr'ythee, put them off.
Pardon, 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.
Then be't so, my good lord. [To the Physician.] How, does the
Madam, sleeps still.
O you kind gods,
Cure this great breach in his abused nature!
The untun'd and jarring senses, O, wind up
Of this child-changed father!
So please your majesty
That we may wake the king: he hath slept long.
Be govern'd by your knowledge, and proceed
I' the sway of your own will. Is he array'd?
Ay, madam. In the heaviness of sleep
We put fresh garments on him.
Be by, good madam, when we do awake him;
I doubt not of his temperance.
Please you draw near.--Louder the music there!
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!
Kind and dear princess!
Had you not been their father, these white flakes
Had challeng'd pity of them. Was this a face
To be oppos'd 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.
Madam, do you; 'tis fittest.
How does my royal lord? How fares your majesty?
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 molten lead.
Sir, do you know me?
You are a spirit, I know: when did you die?
Still, still, far wide!
He's scarce awake: let him alone awhile.
Where have I been? Where am I?--Fair daylight,--
I am mightily abus'd.--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 assur'd
Of my condition!
O, look upon me, sir,
And hold your hands in benediction o'er me.--
No, sir, you must not kneel.
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.
And so I am. I am.
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.
No cause, no cause.
Am I in France?
In your own kingdom, sir.
Do not abuse me.
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.
Will't please your highness walk?
You must bear with me:
Pray you now, forget and forgive: I am old and foolish.
[Exeunt Lear, Cordelia, Physician, and Attendants.]
Holds it true, sir, that the Duke of Cornwall was so slain?
Most certain, sir.
Who is conductor of his people?
As 'tis said, the bastard son of Gloster.
They say Edgar, his banished son, is with the Earl of Kent
Report is changeable. 'Tis time to look about; the powers of
the kingdom approach apace.
The arbitrement is like to be bloody.
Fare you well, sir.
My point and period will be throughly wrought,
Or well or ill, as this day's battle's fought.
Scene I. The Camp of the British Forces near Dover.
[Enter, with drum and colours, Edmund, Regan, Officers, Soldiers,
Know of the duke if his last purpose hold,
Or whether since he is advis'd by aught
To change the course: he's full of alteration
And self-reproving:--bring his constant pleasure.
[To an Officer, who goes out.]
Our sister's man is certainly miscarried.
Tis to be doubted, madam.
Now, sweet lord,
You know the goodness I intend upon you:
Tell me,--but truly,--but then speak the truth,
Do you not love my sister?
In honour'd love.
But have you never found my brother's way
To the forfended place?
That thought abuses you.
I am doubtful that you have been conjunct
And bosom'd with her, as far as we call hers.
No, by mine honour, madam.
I never shall endure her: dear my lord,
Be not familiar with her.
Fear me not:--
She and the duke her husband!
[Enter, with drum and colours, Albany, Goneril, and Soldiers.]
[Aside.] I had rather lose the battle than that sister
Should loosen him and me.
Our very loving sister, well be-met.--
Sir, this I heard,--the king is come to his daughter,
With others whom the rigour of our state
Forc'd to cry out. Where I could not be honest,
I never yet was valiant: for this business,
It toucheth us, as France invades our land,
Not bolds the king, with others whom, I fear,
Most just and heavy causes make oppose.
Sir, you speak nobly.
Why is this reason'd?
Combine together 'gainst the enemy;
For these domestic and particular broils
Are not the question here.
Let's, then, determine
With the ancient of war on our proceeding.
I shall attend you presently at your tent.
Sister, you'll go with us?
'Tis most convenient; pray you, go with us.
[Aside.] O, ho, I know the riddle.--I will go.
[As they are going out, enter Edgar disguised.]
If e'er your grace had speech with man so poor,
Hear me one word.
I'll overtake you.--Speak.
[Exeunt Edmund, Regan, Goneril, Officers, Soldiers, and
Before you fight the battle, ope this letter.
If you have victory, let the trumpet sound
For him that brought it: wretched though I seem,
I can produce a champion that will prove
What is avouched there. If you miscarry,
Your business of the world hath so an end,
And machination ceases. Fortune love you!
Stay till I have read the letter.
I was forbid it.
When time shall serve, let but the herald cry,
And I'll appear again.
Why, fare thee well: I will o'erlook thy paper.
The enemy's in view; draw up your powers.
Here is the guess of their true strength and forces
By diligent discovery;--but your haste
Is now urg'd on you.
We will greet the time.
To both these sisters have I sworn my love;
Each jealous of the other, as the stung
Are of the adder. Which of them shall I take?
Both? one? or neither? Neither can be enjoy'd,
If both remain alive: to take the widow
Exasperates, makes mad her sister Goneril;
And hardly shall I carry out my side,
Her husband being alive. Now, then, we'll use
His countenance for the battle; which being done,
Let her who would be rid of him devise
His speedy taking off. As for the mercy
Which he intends to Lear and to Cordelia,--
The battle done, and they within our power,
Shall never see his pardon: for my state
Stands on me to defend, not to debate.
Scene II. A field between the two Camps.
[Alarum within. Enter, with drum and colours, Lear, Cordelia, and
their Forces, and exeunt.]
[Enter Edgar and Gloster.]
Here, father, take the shadow of this tree
For your good host; pray that the right may thrive:
If ever I return to you again,
I'll bring you comfort.
Grace go with you, sir!
[Alarum and retreat within. R-enter Edgar.]
Away, old man,--give me thy hand,--away!
King Lear hath lost, he and his daughter ta'en:
Give me thy hand; come on!
No further, sir; a man may rot even here.
What, in ill thoughts again? Men must endure
Their going hence, even as their coming hither;
Ripeness is all:--come on.
And that's true too.
Scene III. The British Camp near Dover.
[Enter, in conquest, with drum and colours, Edmund; Lear and
Cordelia prisoners; Officers, Soldiers, &c.]
Some officers take them away: good guard
Until their greater pleasures first be known
That are to censure them.
We are not the first
Who with best meaning have incurr'd the worst.
For thee, oppressed king, am I cast down;
Myself could else out-frown false fortune's frown.--
Shall we not see these daughters and these sisters?
No, no, no, no! Come, let's away to prison:
We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage:
When thou dost ask me blessing I'll kneel down
And ask of thee forgiveness: so we'll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news; and we'll talk with them too,--
Who loses and who wins; who's in, who's out;--
And take upon's the mystery of things,
As if we were God's spies: and we'll wear out,
In a wall'd prison, packs and sects of great ones
That ebb and flow by the moon.
Take them away.
Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,
The gods themselves throw incense. Have I caught thee?
He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven
And fire us hence like foxes. Wipe thine eyes;
The goodyears shall devour them, flesh and fell,
Ere they shall make us weep: we'll see 'em starve first.
[Exeunt Lear and Cordelia, guarded.]
Come hither, captain; hark.
Take thou this note [giving a paper]; go follow them to prison:
One step I have advanc'd thee; if thou dost
As this instructs thee, thou dost make thy way
To noble fortunes: know thou this,--that men
Are as the time is: to be tender-minded
Does not become a sword:--thy great employment
Will not bear question; either say thou'lt do't,
Or thrive by other means.
I'll do't, my lord.
About it; and write happy when thou hast done.
Mark,--I say, instantly; and carry it so
As I have set it down.
I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried oats;
If it be man's work, I'll do't.
[Flourish. Enter Albany, Goneril, Regan, Officers, and
Sir, you have show'd to-day your valiant strain,
And fortune led you well: you have the captives
Who were the opposites of this day's strife:
We do require them of you, so to use them
As we shall find their merits and our safety
May equally determine.
Sir, I thought it fit
To send the old and miserable king
To some retention and appointed guard;
Whose age has charms in it, whose title more,
To pluck the common bosom on his side,
And turn our impress'd lances in our eyes
Which do command them. With him I sent the queen;
My reason all the same; and they are ready
To-morrow, or at further space, to appear
Where you shall hold your session. At this time
We sweat and bleed: the friend hath lost his friend;
And the best quarrels, in the heat, are curs'd
By those that feel their sharpness:--
The question of Cordelia and her father
Requires a fitter place.
Sir, by your patience,
I hold you but a subject of this war,
Not as a brother.
That's as we list to grace him.
Methinks our pleasure might have been demanded
Ere you had spoke so far. He led our powers;
Bore the commission of my place and person;
The which immediacy may well stand up
And call itself your brother.
Not so hot:
In his own grace he doth exalt himself,
More than in your addition.
In my rights
By me invested, he compeers the best.
That were the most if he should husband you.
Jesters do oft prove prophets.
That eye that told you so look'd but asquint.
Lady, I am not well; else I should answer
From a full-flowing stomach.--General,
Take thou my soldiers, prisoners, patrimony;
Dispose of them, of me; the walls are thine:
Witness the world that I create thee here
My lord and master.
Mean you to enjoy him?
The let-alone lies not in your good will.
Nor in thine, lord.
Half-blooded fellow, yes.
[To Edmund.] Let the drum strike, and prove my title thine.
Stay yet; hear reason.--Edmund, I arrest thee
On capital treason; and, in thine arrest,
This gilded serpent [pointing to Goneril.],--For your claim, fair
I bar it in the interest of my wife;
'Tis she is subcontracted to this lord,
And I, her husband, contradict your bans.
If you will marry, make your loves to me,--
My lady is bespoke.
Thou art arm'd, Gloster:--let the trumpet sound:
If none appear to prove upon thy person
Thy heinous, manifest, and many treasons,
There is my pledge [throwing down a glove]; I'll prove it on thy
Ere I taste bread, thou art in nothing less
Than I have here proclaim'd thee.
Sick, O, sick!
[Aside.] If not, I'll ne'er trust medicine.
There's my exchange [throwing down a glove]: what in the world he
That names me traitor, villain-like he lies:
Call by thy trumpet: he that dares approach,
On him, on you, who not? I will maintain
My truth and honour firmly.
A herald, ho!
A herald, ho, a herald!
Trust to thy single virtue; for thy soldiers,
All levied in my name, have in my name
Took their discharge.
My sickness grows upon me.
She is not well. Convey her to my tent.
[Exit Regan, led.]
[Enter a Herald.]
Come hither, herald.--Let the trumpet sound,--
And read out this.
[A trumpet sounds.]
[Reads.] 'If any man of quality or degree within the lists of
the army will maintain upon Edmund, supposed Earl of Gloster,
that he is a manifold traitor, let him appear by the third sound
of the trumpet. He is bold in his defence.'
[Third trumpet. Trumpet answers within. Enter Edgar, armed,
preceded by a trumpet.]
Ask him his purposes, why he appears
Upon this call o' the trumpet.
What are you?
Your name, your quality? and why you answer
This present summons?
Know, my name is lost;
By treason's tooth bare-gnawn and canker-bit.
Yet am I noble as the adversary
I come to cope.
Which is that adversary?
What's he that speaks for Edmund Earl of Gloster?
Himself:--what say'st thou to him?
Draw thy sword,
That, if my speech offend a noble heart,
Thy arm may do thee justice: here is mine.
Behold, it is the privilege of mine honours,
My oath, and my profession: I protest,--
Maugre thy strength, youth, place, and eminence,
Despite thy victor sword and fire-new fortune,
Thy valour and thy heart,--thou art a traitor;
False to thy gods, thy brother, and thy father;
Conspirant 'gainst this high illustrious prince;
And, from the extremest upward of thy head
To the descent and dust beneath thy foot,
A most toad-spotted traitor. Say thou 'No,'
This sword, this arm, and my best spirits are bent
To prove upon thy heart, whereto I speak,
In wisdom I should ask thy name;
But since thy outside looks so fair and warlike,
And that thy tongue some say of breeding breathes,
What safe and nicely I might well delay
By rule of knighthood, I disdain and spurn:
Back do I toss those treasons to thy head;
With the hell-hated lie o'erwhelm thy heart;
Which,--for they yet glance by and scarcely bruise,--
This sword of mine shall give them instant way,
Where they shall rest for ever.--Trumpets, speak!
[Alarums. They fight. Edmund falls.]
Save him, save him!
This is mere practice, Gloster:
By the law of arms thou wast not bound to answer
An unknown opposite; thou art not vanquish'd,
But cozen'd and beguil'd.
Shut your mouth, dame,
Or with this paper shall I stop it:--Hold, sir;
Thou worse than any name, read thine own evil:--
No tearing, lady; I perceive you know it.
[Gives the letter to Edmund.]
Say if I do,--the laws are mine, not thine:
Who can arraign me for't?
Know'st thou this paper?
Ask me not what I know.
Go after her: she's desperate; govern her.
[To an Officer, who goes out.]
What, you have charg'd me with, that have I done;
And more, much more; the time will bring it out:
'Tis past, and so am I.--But what art thou
That hast this fortune on me? If thou'rt noble,
I do forgive thee.
Let's exchange charity.
I am no less in blood than thou art, Edmund;
If more, the more thou hast wrong'd me.
My name is Edgar, and thy father's son.
The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices
Make instruments to plague us:
The dark and vicious place where thee he got
Cost him his eyes.
Thou hast spoken right; 'tis true;
The wheel is come full circle; I am here.
Methought thy very gait did prophesy
A royal nobleness:--I must embrace thee:
Let sorrow split my heart if ever I
Did hate thee or thy father!
Worthy prince, I know't.
Where have you hid yourself?
How have you known the miseries of your father?
By nursing them, my lord.--List a brief tale;--
And when 'tis told, O that my heart would burst!--
The bloody proclamation to escape,
That follow'd me so near,--O, our lives' sweetness!
That with the pain of death we'd hourly die
Rather than die at once!)--taught me to shift
Into a madman's rags; to assume a semblance
That very dogs disdain'd; and in this habit
Met I my father with his bleeding rings,
Their precious stones new lost; became his guide,
Led him, begg'd for him, sav'd him from despair;
Never,--O fault!--reveal'd myself unto him
Until some half hour past, when I was arm'd;
Not sure, though hoping of this good success,
I ask'd his blessing, and from first to last
Told him my pilgrimage: but his flaw'd heart,--
Alack, too weak the conflict to support!--
'Twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief,
This speech of yours hath mov'd me,
And shall perchance do good: but speak you on;
You look as you had something more to say.
If there be more, more woeful, hold it in;
For I am almost ready to dissolve,
Hearing of this.
This would have seem'd a period
To such as love not sorrow; but another,
To amplify too much, would make much more,
And top extremity.
Whilst I was big in clamour, came there a man
Who, having seen me in my worst estate,
Shunn'd my abhorr'd society; but then, finding
Who 'twas that so endur'd, with his strong arms
He fastened on my neck, and bellow'd out
As he'd burst heaven; threw him on my father;
Told the most piteous tale of Lear and him
That ever ear receiv'd: which in recounting
His grief grew puissant, and the strings of life
Began to crack: twice then the trumpets sounded,
And there I left him tranc'd.
But who was this?
Kent, sir, the banish'd Kent; who in disguise
Follow'd his enemy king and did him service
Improper for a slave.
[Enter a Gentleman hastily, with a bloody knife.]
Help, help! O, help!
What kind of help?
What means that bloody knife?
'Tis hot, it smokes;
It came even from the heart of--O! she's dead!
Who dead? speak, man.
Your lady, sir, your lady: and her sister
By her is poisoned; she hath confess'd it.
I was contracted to them both: all three
Now marry in an instant.
Here comes Kent.
Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead:--
This judgement of the heavens, that makes us tremble
Touches us not with pity. [Exit Gentleman.]
O, is this he?
The time will not allow the compliment
That very manners urges.
I am come
To bid my king and master aye good night:
Is he not here?
Great thing of us forgot!
Speak, Edmund, where's the king? and where's Cordelia?
[The bodies of Goneril and Regan are brought in.]
Seest thou this object, Kent?
Alack, why thus?
Yet Edmund was belov'd.
The one the other poisoned for my sake,
And after slew herself.
Even so.--Cover their faces.
I pant for life:--some good I mean to do,
Despite of mine own nature. Quickly send,--
Be brief in it,--to the castle; for my writ
Is on the life of Lear and on Cordelia:--
Nay, send in time.
Run, run, O, run!
To who, my lord?--Who has the office? send
Thy token of reprieve.
Well thought on: take my sword,
Give it the Captain.
Haste thee for thy life.
He hath commission from thy wife and me
To hang Cordelia in the prison, and
To lay the blame upon her own despair,
That she fordid herself.
The gods defend her!--Bear him hence awhile.
[Edmund is borne off.]
[Re-enter Lear, with Cordelia dead in his arms; Edgar, Officer,
and others following.]
Howl, howl, howl, howl!--O, you are men of stone.
Had I your tongues and eyes, I'ld use them so
That heaven's vault should crack.--She's gone for ever!--
I know when one is dead, and when one lives;
She's dead as earth.--Lend me a looking glass;
If that her breath will mist or stain the stone,
Why, then she lives.
Is this the promis'd end?
Or image of that horror?
Fall, and cease!
This feather stirs; she lives! If it be so,
It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows
That ever I have felt.
O my good master! [Kneeling.]
'Tis noble Kent, your friend.
A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all!
I might have sav'd her; now she's gone for ever!--
Cordelia, Cordelia! stay a little. Ha!
What is't thou say'st?--Her voice was ever soft,
Gentle, and low,--an excellent thing in woman.--
I kill'd the slave that was a-hanging thee.
'Tis true, my lords, he did.
Did I not, fellow?
I have seen the day, with my good biting falchion
I would have made them skip: I am old now,
And these same crosses spoil me.--Who are you?
Mine eyes are not o' the best:--I'll tell you straight.
If fortune brag of two she lov'd and hated,
One of them we behold.
This is a dull sight. Are you not Kent?
Your servant Kent.--Where is your servant Caius?
He's a good fellow, I can tell you that;
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