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[1 Trumpet. Herald. Again!
[2 Trumpet. Herald. Again!
[Trumpet answers within.
Enter EDGAR, armed, and preceded by a trumpet.
Alb. 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.
Alb. Which is that adversary?
Edg. What's he that speaks for Edmund Earl of Gloster?
Edm. 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 below 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,
Edm. 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 these 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 for ever rest.-
[Alarums. They fight. EDMUND falls. Alb. Save him, save him!
This is 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.
Gon. Say, if I do,—the laws are mine, not thine:
Who can arraign me for't?
Most monstrous !
Know'st thou this paper?
Ask me not what I know. [Exit. Alb. Go after her: she's desperate; govern her,
[To an Officer, who goes out. Edm. 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. Edg.
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.
Alb. 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!
Edg. Worthy prince, I know't.
Al). Where have you hid yourself?
How have you known the miseries of your father?
Edg. By nursing them, my lord.—List a brief tale ;-
And when 'tis told, 0, that my heart would burst!-
The bloody proclamation to escape,
That follow'd me so near,—0, 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,-0 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,
Edm. 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..
Alb. If there be more, more woeful, hold it in;
For I am almost ready to dissolve,
Hearing of this.
Edg. 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,
Shunnd my abhorr'd society; but then, finding
Who 'twas that so endur'd, with his strong arms
He fasten’d 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 receivid: which in recounting
His grief grew puissant, and the strings of life
Began to crack: twice then the trumpet sounded,
And there I left him tranc'd.
But who was this?
Edg. 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.
Gent. Help, help, 0, help!
What kind of help?
Speak, man. Edg. What means that bloody knife? Gent.
'Tis hot, it smokes; It came even from the heart of-0, she's dead ! Alb.
Who dead? speak, man.
Gent. Your lady, sir, your lady: and her sister
By her is poison'd; she hath confess'd it.
Edm. I was contracted to them both: all three
Now marry in an instant.
Here comes Kent.
Alb. Produce the bodies, be they alive or dead :-
This judgment of the heavens, that makes us tremble,
Touches us not with pity.
0, is this he?
The time will not allow the compliment
Which very manners urges.
I am come
To bid my king and master aye good-night:
Is he not here?
Alb. Great thing of us forgot!
Speak, Edmund, where's the king? and where's Cordelia ?
[The bodies of Gon. and REG. are brought in. See'st thou this object, Kent?
Kent. Alack, why thus?
Yet Edmund was belov'd :
The one the other poison’d for my sake,
And after slew herself.
Alb. Even so.-Cover their faces.
Edm. 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, 0, run!
Edg. To who, my lord ?—Who has the office? send
Thy token of reprieve.
Ēdm. Well thought on: take my sword,
Give it the captain.
Haste thee, for thy life. [Exit EDGAR.
Edm. 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.
Alb. 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. Lear. Howl, howl, howl, howl!-0, you are men of stones : VOL. VI.
Had I your tongues and eyes, I'd 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?
Edg. Or image of that horror?
Fall, and cease!
Lear. 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.
Lear. Prythee, away.
'Tis noble Kent, your friend.
Lear. A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all!
I might have sav'd her; now she's gone for ever!—
Cordelia, Cordelia! stay a little.
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.
Off. '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.
Kent. If fortune brag of two she lov'd and hated,
One of them we behold.
Lear. This is a dull sight. Are you not Kent?
Your servant Kent. —Where is your servant Caius?
Lear. He's a good fellow, I can tell you that;
He'll strike, and quickly too :-he's dead and rotten.
Kent. No, my good lord; I am the very man,
Lear. I'll see that straight.
Kent. That from your first of difference and decay
Have follow'd your sad steps.
You are welcome hither.
Kent. Nornoman else:all's cheerless, dark, and deadly.-
Your eldest daughters have fordone themselves,
And desperately are dead.
Ay, so I think.
Alb. He knows not what he says; and vain is it
That we present us to him.