Imatges de pÓgina
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SCEXE V.

A Prison,

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?

H

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,

spare her;

'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

LEAR'S KNIGHTS.
Edg. Death! hell! ye vultures, hold your impious

hands,
Or take a speedier death than you would give.

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

rous king
Has slain two of them.

Lear. Did I not, fellow?
I've seen the day, with iny good biting falchion
I could have made them skip;-I am old now,
And these vile crosses spoil me; out of breath,
Fie, oh! quite out of breath, and spent.

Alb. Bring in old Kent [Exit a Knight.] and,

Edgar, guide you hither
Your father, who, you said, was near. [Exit EDGAR.

Enter Kent and the KNIGHT.
Lear. Who are you?
My eyes are none o' th’best, I'll tell you straight:
Oh, Albany! Well, sir, we are your captives,
And you are come to see death pass upon us.
Why this delay?-Or is't your highness' pleasure
To give us first the torture? Say you so ?
Why, here's old Kent, and I, as tough a pair
As e'er bore tyrant stroke;—but my Cordelia,
My poor Cordelia here, O pity-

Alb. Thou injur'd majesty,
The wheel of fortune now has made her circle,
And blessings yet stand 'twixt thy grave and thee.

Lear. Com’st thou, inhuman lord, to sooth us back
To a fool's paradise of hope, to make
Our doom more wretched? Go to; we are too well
Acquainted with misfortune, to be gulld
With lying hope; no, we will hope no more.

Alb. I have a tale t' unfold, so full of wonder,
As cannot meet an easy faith;
But, by that royal injur'd head, 'tis true.

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

into my

Kent.

my liege!

Of Goneril, the worst of daughters, but
More vicious wife.

Cord. Could there be yet addition to their guilt?
What will not they, that wrong a father, do?

Alb. Since then my injuries, Lear, fall in with thine,
I have resolv'd the same redress for both.

Kent. What says my lord?
Cord. Speak; for methought I heard
The charming voice of a descending god.

Alb. The troops, by Edmund rais’d, I have disbanded:
Those, that remain, are under my command.
What comfort may be brought to cheer your age,
And heal your savage wrongs, shall be apply'd ;
For to your majesty we do resign
Your kingdom, save what part yourself conferr'd
On us in marriage.

Hear
you

that,
Cord. Then there are gods, and virtue is their care.

Lear. Is't possible?
Let the spheres stop their course, the sun make halt,
The winds be hush'd, the seas and fountains rest,
All nature pause, and listen to the change!
Where is my Kent, my Caius?

Kent. Here, my liege.

Lear. Why, I have news, that will recall thy youth;
Ha! didst thou heart?- -or did th' inspiring gods
Whisper to me alone-Old Lear shall be
A king again?
Kent. The prince, that like a god has pow'r, has

said it.
Lear. Cordelia then shall be a queen, mark that;
Cordelia shall be queen; winds catch the sound,
And bear it on your rosy wings to heav'n,
Cordelia is a queen.

Enter EDGAR, with GLOSTER.
Alb. Look, sir, where pious Edgar comes,

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Leading his eyeless father. O, my liege,
His wondrous story well deserves your leisure;
What he has done and suffer'd for your sake,
What for the fair Cordelia's.
Glost. Where's my liege ? Conduct me to his knees,

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!
Glost. O, let me kiss once more that scepter'd hand!
Lear. Hold, thou mistak'st the majesty; kneel

here;
Cordelia has our pow'r, Cordelia's queen.
Speak, is not that the noble, suff'ring, Edgar?
Glost. My pious son, more dear than my

lost

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.

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