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KING LEAR asleep, with his Head on CORDELIA'S
Lap. Cord. What toils, thou wretched king, hast thou
endur'd, To make thee draw, in chains, a sleep so sound ! Thy better angel charm thy ravish'd mind With fancied freedom! Peace is us'd to lodge On cottage straw; thou hast the beggar's bed; Therefore shouldst have the beggar's careless
thought.And now, my Edgar, I remember thee: What fate has seiz'd thee in this general wreck I know not, but I know thou must be wretched, Because Cordelia holds thee dear. O gods! a sudden gloom o’erwhelms me, and the
image Of death o'erspreads the place.—Ha! who are these? Enter CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD, another OFFICER,
and SOLDIERS with Cords. Capt. Now, sirs, despatch; already you are paid In part, the best of your reward's to come. Lear. Charge, charge upon their fank; their left
wing halts; Push, push the battle, and the day's our own; Their ranks are broken; down, down with Albany. Who holds my hands 1-0, thou deceiving sleep, I was this very minute on the chase, And now a pris'ner here!—What mean the slaves ? You will not murder me?
Cord. Help, earth and heaven! For your soul's sake, dear sir, and for the gods',Offi. No tears, good lady; no pleading against gold
and preferment. Come, sirs, make ready your cords.
Cord. You, sir, I'll seize, You have a human form; and, if no prayers Can touch your soul to spare a poor king's life, If there be any thing that you hold dear, By that I beg you to despatch me first. Capt. Comply with her request; despatch ber first. Lear. Off, hell-hounds! by the gods I charge you,
'Tis my Cordelia, my true pious daughter ;No pity ? -Nay, then take an old man's vengeance.
[KING LEAR snatches a Sword from the OF
FICER, and strikes down the Two SOLDIERS who had seized CORDELIA.
Enter EDGAR, the DUKE OF ALBANY, and King
Alb. Guards, seize those instruments of cruelty. Cord. Oh, my Edgar!
Edg. My dear Cordelia! Lucky was the minute Of our approach ; the gods have weigh'd our suff'rings; We've pass’d the fire, and now must shine to ages. Knight. Look here, my lord; see, where the gene
Lear. Did I not, fellow?
Alb. Bring in old Kent [Exit a Knight.] and,
Edgar, guide you hither
Enter Kent and the KNIGHT.
Alb. Thou injur'd majesty,
Lear. Com’st thou, inhuman lord, to sooth us back
Alb. I have a tale t' unfold, so full of wonder,
Kent. What would your highness?
Alb. Know, the noble Edgar Impeach'd Lord Edmund, since the fight, of treason, And dard him for the proof to single combat, In which the gods confirm'd his charge by conquest; I left e'en now the traitor wounded mortally.
Lear. And whither tends this story?
Alb. Ere they fought, Lord Edgar gave
hands this paper, A blacker scroll of treason and of lust Than can be found in the records of hell: There, sacred sir, behold the character
Of Goneril, the worst of daughters, but
Cord. Could there be yet addition to their guilt?
Alb. Since then my injuries, Lear, fall in with thine,
Kent. What says my lord?
Alb. The troops, by Edmund rais’d, I have disbanded:
Lear. Is't possible?
Kent. Here, my liege.
Lear. Why, I have news, that will recall thy youth;
Enter EDGAR, with GLOSTER.
Leading his eyeless father. O, my liege,
to hail His second birth of empire: My dear Edgar Has, with himself, reveal'd the king's blest restoration.
Lear. My poor dark Gloster!
eyes. Lear. I wrong’d him too; but here's the fair amends. Edg. Your leave, my liege, for an unwelcome mes
sage : Edmund, but that's a trifle, is expir'd. What more will touch you, your imperious daughters, Goneril and haughty Regan, both are dead, Each by the other poison'd at a banquet: This, dying, they confess’d.
Cord. O, fatal period of ill govern'd life!
Lear. Ingrateful as they were, my heart feels yet A pang
of nature for their wretched fall.But, Edgar, 1 defer thy joys too long: Thou serv'dst distress'd Cordelia; take her crown'd, Th' imperial grace fresh blooming on her brow: Nay, Gloster, thou hast here a father's right; Thy helping hand to heap blessings on their heads.
Kent. old Kent throws in his hearty wishes too.
Edg. The gods and you too largely recompense What I have done; the gift strikes merit dumb.
Cord. Nor do I blush to own myself o’erpaid For all my suff'rings past.
Edg. Divine Cordelia, all the gods can witness How much thy love to empire I prefer.