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  • Title: King Lear (Quarto 2, 1619)
  • Editor: Pervez Rizvi
  • Coordinating editor: Michael Best
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-463-9

    Copyright Michael Best. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Pervez Rizvi
    Not Peer Reviewed

    King Lear (Quarto 2, 1619)

    Enter Edmund, with Lear and Cordelia prisoners.
    2940Bast. Some officers take them away, good guard,
    Vntill their greater pleasures best be knowne
    That are to censure them.
    Cor. We are not the first,
    Who with best meaning haue incurr'd the worst:
    2945For thee oppressed King am I cast downe,
    My selfe could else out-frowne false fortunes frowne.
    Shall we not see these daughters, and these sisters?
    Lear. No, no, come let's away to prison,
    We two alone will sing like birds i'th cage:
    2950When thou dost aske me blessing, Ile kneele downe
    And aske of thee forgiuenesse: so weell liue,
    And pray, and tell old tales, and laugh
    At gilded Butterflies, and heare poore Rogues
    Talke of Court newes, and weel talke with them too,
    2955Who looses, and who wins; whose in, whose out;
    And take vpon's the mystery of things,
    As if we were Gods spies: and weel weare out
    In a walld prison, packes and sects of great ones,
    That ebbe and flow by the Moone.
    2960Bast. Take them away.
    Lear. Vpon such sacrifices my Cordelia
    The gods themselues throw incense. Haue I caught thee?
    He that parts vs shall bring a brand from heauen,
    2965And fire vs hence like Foxes, wipe thine eyes,
    The good shall deuoure em, fleach and fell,
    Ere they shall make vs weepe? Weele see em starue first. Exit
    Bast. Come hither Captaine, hearke.
    Take thou this note, go follow them to prison,
    One step I haue aduancst 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,
    2975Thy great employment will not beare question,
    Either say thout do't, or thriue by other meanes.
    Cap. Ile doot my Lord.
    Bast. About it, and write happy when thou hast done,
    2980Marke I say instantly, and carry it so
    As I haue set it downe.
    2981.1Cap. I cannot draw a Cart, nor eate dryed oates,
    It it be mans worke, Ile doo't.
    Enter the Duke, the two Ladies, and others.
    Alb. Sir you haue shewne to day your valiant straine,
    And Fortune led you well: you haue the Captiues
    2985That were the opposites of this dayes strife:
    We do require then of you so to vse them,
    As we shall finde their merits, and our safety
    May equally determine.
    Bast. Sir I thought it fit,
    2990To send the olde and miserable King
    To some retention, and appointed guard,
    Whose age has charmes in it, whose Title more,
    To plucke the common blossomes of his side,
    And turne our imprest Launces in our eyes
    Which do commend them. With him I sent the Queene:
    2995My reason all the same, and they are ready to morrow,
    Or at a further space, to appeare where you shall hold
    Your Session at this time: we sweate and bleed,
    2997.1The friend hath lost his friend, and the best quarrels
    In the heate are curst by those that feele their sharpenesse.
    The question of Cordelia and her father
    Requires a fitter place,
    Alb. Sir by your patience,
    I hold you but a subiect of this warre, not as a brother.
    Reg. That's as we list to grace him.
    Methinkes our pleasure should haue beene demanded
    Ere you had spoke so farre. He led our powers,
    Bore the Commission of my place and person,
    3005The which immediate may well stand vp,
    And call it selfe your brother.
    Gon. Not so hot: in his owne grace he doth exalt himselfe,
    More then in your aduancement.
    3010Reg. In my right by me inuested, he compeers the best.
    Gon. That were the most, if he should husband you.
    Reg. Iesters do oft proue Prophets.
    Gon. Hola, hola, that eye that told you so, lookt but a squint.
    Reg. Lady I am not well, else I should answer
    From a full flowing stomacke. Generall,
    Take thou my soldiers, prisoners, patrimony,
    3020Witnesse the world, that I create thee heere
    My Lord and master.
    Gon. Meane you to enioy him then?
    Alb. The let alone lies not in your good will.
    Bast. Nor in thine Lord.
    3025Alb. Halfe blooded fellow, yes.
    Bast. Let the drum strike, and proue my title good.
    Alb. Stay yet, heare reason: Edmund, I arrest thee
    On capitall treason; and in thine attaint,
    This gilded Serpent: for your claime faire sister,
    3030I bare it in the interestof my wife,
    Tis she is subcontracted to her Lord,
    And I her husband contradict the banes,
    If you will marry, make your loue to me,
    My Lady is bespoke. Thou art arm'd Gloster.
    If none appeare to proue vpon thy head,
    Thy hainous, manifest, and many treasons,
    3040There is my pledge, Ile proue it on thy heart
    Ere I tast bread, thou art in nothing lesse
    Then I haue heere proclaim'd thee.
    Reg. Sicke, ô sicke.
    Gon. If not, Ile nere trust poyson.
    3045Bast. Ther's my exchange, what in the world he is,
    That names me traitor, villain-like he lyes,
    Call by thy Trumpet, he that dares approach
    On him, on you, who not, I will maintaine
    My truth and honor firmely.
    Alb. A Herald ho.
    3051.1Bast. A herald ho, a herald.
    Alb. Trust to thy single vertue, for thy soldiers
    All leuied in my name, haue in my name tooke their discharge.
    3055Reg. This sicknesse growes vpon me.
    Alb. She is not well, conuey her to my tent,
    Come hither Herald, let the Trumpet sound, and read our this.
    3057.1Cap. Sound Trumpet.
    3060Her. If any man of quality or degree, in the hoast of the Ar-
    my, will maintaine vpon Edmund, supposed Earle of Glocester,
    that he's a manifold traitor, let him appeare at the thirde sound
    of the Trumpet: he is bold in his defence.
    Bast. Sound. Againe.
    Enter Edgar at the third sound, with a trumpet before him.
    Alb. Aske him his purposes, why he appeares
    Vpon this call o'th trumpet?
    3070Her. What are you? your name and quality?
    And why you answer this present summons?
    Edg. O know my name is lost by Treasons tooth:
    Bare-gnawne and canker-bit,
    3075Where is the aduersary I come to cope withall?
    Alb. What is that aduersary?
    Edg. What's he that speakes for Edmund Earle of Gloster?
    Bast. Himselfe, what sayst thou to him?
    3080Edg. Draw thy sword,
    That if my speech offend a noble heart, thy arme
    May do thee iustice, heere is mine:
    Behold it is the priuiledge of my tongue,
    3085My oath and profession. I protest,
    Maugre thy strength, youth, place and eminence,
    Despight thy victor, sword, and fire new fortun'd,
    Thy valor, and thy heart, thou art a traitor:
    False to the gods, thy brother, and thy father,
    3090Conspicuate gainst this high illustrious Prince,
    And from th'extremest vpward of thy head,
    To the descent and dust beneath thy feet,
    A most toad-spotted traitor: say thou no;
    This sword, this arme, and my best spirits,
    Is bent to proue vpon thy heart, whereto I speake thou lyest.
    Bast. In wisedome I should aske thy name,
    But since thy outside lookes so faire and warlike,
    And that thy being some say of breeding breathes,
    By right of knight-hood I disdaine and spurne,
    With the hell hatedly ore-turn'd thy heart,
    Which for they yet glance by, and scarsely bruise,
    3105This sword of mine shall giue them instant way,
    Where they shall rest for euer, Trumpets speake.
    Alb. Saue him, saue him.
    Gon. This is meere practice Gloster, by the law of Armes
    Thou art not bound to offer an vnknowne opposite,
    3110Thou art not vanquisht, but cousned and beguild.
    Alb. Stop your mouth Dame, or with this paper shall I stop
    it: thou worse then any thing, reade thine owne euill. Nay, no
    3115tearing Lady, I perceiue you know't.
    Gon. Say if do, the lawes are mine not thine, who shal araign
    me for it.
    Alb. Monster, knowst thou this paper?
    Gon. Aske me not what I know. Exit Gonorill.
    3120Alb. Go after her, she's desperate, gouerne her.
    Bast. What you haue charg'd me with, that haue 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
    3125me? If thou beest noble, I do forgiue thee.
    Edg. Let's exchange charity,
    I am no lesse in blood then thou art Edmund,
    If more, the more thou hast wrongd me.
    3130My name is Edgar, and thy fathers sonne,
    The Gods are iust, and of our pleasant vertues
    Make instruments to scourge vs: the darke and vitious place
    Where he thee got, cost him his eyes.
    3135Bast. Thou hast spoken truth,
    The wheele is come full circkled, I am heere.
    Alb. Me thought thy very gate did prophesie
    A royall noblenesse, I must embrace thee,
    Let sorow split my heart if I did euer hate thee or thy father.
    Edg. Worthy Prince I know it.
    Alb. Where haue you hid your selfe?
    How haue you knowne the miseries of your father?
    Edg. By nursing them my Lord,
    3145List a breefe tale, and when tis told,
    3145.1O that my heart would burst. The bloody proclamation
    To escape that followed me so neere,
    (O our liues sweetnesse, that with the paine of death
    Would hourely dye, rather then dye at once)
    Taught me to shift into a mad-mans rags,
    3150To assume a semblance that very dogges disdain'd:
    And in this habit met I my father with his bleeding rings,
    The precious stones new lost; Became his guide,
    Led him, begd for him, sau'd him from dispaire.
    3155Neuer (O Father) reueald my selfe vnto him,
    Vntill some halfe houre past when I was arm'd,
    Not sure, though hoping of this good successe,
    I askt his blessing, and from first to last
    Told him my pilgrimage: but his flawd heart
    3160Alacke too weake the conflict to support,
    Twixt two extremes of passion, ioy and greefe,
    Burst smilingly.
    Bast. This speech of yours hath mooued me,
    And shall perchance do good, but speake you on,
    3165You looke as you had something more to say.
    Alb. If there be any more more wofull, hold it in.
    For I am almost readie to dissolue.
    3168.1Edg. This would haue seem'd a period to such
    As loue not sorrow, but another to amplifie too much,
    Would make much more, and top extremity.
    Whilst I was big in clamor, came there in a man,
    3168.5Who hauing seene me in my worst estate,
    Shund my abhord society: but then finding
    Who twas that so indur'd, with his strong armes
    He fastened on my necke, and bellowd out
    As hee'd burst heauen, threw me on my father,
    3168.10And told the pitteous tale of Lear and him,
    That euer eare receiued, which in recounting
    His greefe grew puisant, and the strings of life
    Began to cracke twice, then the trumpets sounded,
    And there I left him traunst.
    3168.15Alb. But who was this?
    Edg. Kent sir, the banisht Kent, who in disguise,
    Followed his enemy king, and did him seruice
    Improper for a slaue.
    Enter one with a bloody knife.
    3170Gent. Helpe, helpe.
    Alb. What kinde of helpe? what meanes that bloody knife?
    Gent. Its hot, it smokes, it came euen from the heart of -----
    Alb. Who man? speake.
    Gent. Your Lady sir, your Lady; and her sister
    By her is poyson'd: she has confest it.
    Bast. I was contracted to them both, all three
    3180Now marry in an instant.
    Alb. Produce theie bodies be they aliue or dead:
    3185This iustice of the heauens that makes vs tremble,
    Touches not with pity. Enter Kent
    3186.1Edg. Here comes Kent sir.
    Alb. O tis he, the time will not allow
    The complement that very manners vrges.
    Kent. I am come to bid my King and master aye good night,
    Is he not heere?
    Alb. Great things of vs forgot. Speake Edmund, where's the
    king, and wher's Cordelia? Seest thou this obiect Kent?
    The bodies of Gonorill & Regan are brought in.
    3195Kent. Alacke, why thus.
    Bast. Yet Edmund was belou'd: the one the other poisond for
    my sake, and after slew her selfe.
    Alb. Euen so, couer their faces.
    3200Bast. I pant for life: some good I meane to do despight of my
    owne nature. Quickly send, bee briefe, into the Castle for my
    Writ, tis on the life of Lear, & on Cordelia: nay, send in time.
    3205Alb. Run, run, O run.
    Edg. To who my Lord? who hath the office?
    Send thy token of repreeue.
    Bast. Well thought on, take my sword, giue it the Captaine.
    3210Alb. Hast thee for thy life.
    Bast. He hath commission from thy wife & me, to hang Cor
    delia in the prison, and to lay the blame vpon her own despaire,
    3215Alb. The Gods defend her, beare him hence a while.
    Enter Lear with Cordelia in his armes.
    Lear. Howle, howle, howle, howle: O you are men of stones,
    Had I your tongues and eyes, I would vse them so,
    That heauens vault should cracke: O, she is gone for euer.
    3220I know when one is dead, and when one liues,
    Shees dead as earth: Lend me a looking-glasse,
    If that her breath will mist and staine the stone, she then liues.
    Kent. Is this the promist end!
    3225Edg. Or image of that horror? Alb. Fall and cease.
    Lear. This feather stirs, she liues, if it be so, it is a chance that
    do's redeeme all sorrowes that euer I haue felt.
    3230Kent. A my good master.
    Lear. Prethee away.
    Edg. Tis Noble Kent your friend.
    Lear. A plague vpon you murdrous traitors all, I might haue
    saued her, now shees gone for euer: Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a li-
    3235tle. What ist thou sayst? her voice was euer soft, gentle & low,
    an excellent thing in woman. I kild the slaue that was a hanging
    thee. Cap. Tis true my Lords hee did.
    3240Lear. Did I not fellow? I ha seene the day, that with my bi-
    ting Fauchion I would haue made them skip: I am old now, and
    these same crosses spoile me. Who are you? Mine eyes are none
    o'th best, Ile tell you straight.
    3245Kent. If Fortune bragd of two she loued or hated,
    One of them we behold.
    Lear. Are not you Kent?
    Kent. The same your seruant Kent, wher is your seruãt Caius?
    3250Lear. Hees a good fellow, I can tell that,
    Heel strike and quickly too, hees dead and rotten.
    Kent. No my good Lord, I am the very man.
    Lear. Ile see that straight.
    Kent. That from your life of difference and decay,
    3255Haue followed your sad steps.
    Lear. You are welcome hether.
    Kent. Nor no man else: All's cheerelesse, darke, and deadly,
    Your eldest daughters haue fore-doom'd themselues,
    3260And desperately are dead. Lear. So I thinke too.
    Alb. He knowes not what he sees, and vaine it is
    That we present vs to him.
    3265Edgar Very bootlesse. Enter Captaine
    Cap: Edmund is dead my Lord.
    Alb: Thats but a trifle heere: you Lords and Noble friends,
    know our intent, what comfort to this decay may come, shalbe
    3270applied: for vs we will resigne during the life of this old maiesty
    to him our absolute power, you to your rights with boote, and
    such addition as your honors haue more then merited, al friends
    shall taste the wages of their vertue, and all foes the cup of their
    deseruings: O see, see.
    Lear. And my poore foole is hangd: no, no life, why should
    a dog, a horse, a rat haue life, and thou no breath at all? O thou
    wilt come no more, neuer, neuer, neuer: pray vndo this button;
    thanke you sir, O, o, o, o, o.
    Edg, He faints, my Lord, my Lord.
    3285Lear: Breake heart, I prethe breake.
    Edg: Looke vp my Lord.
    Kent: Vex not his ghost, O let him passe,
    he hates him much, that would vpon the wracke
    Of this tough world stretch him out longer.
    3290Edg: O he is gone indeed.
    Kent: The wonder is, he hath endured so long,
    He but vsurpt his life.
    Duke: Beare them from hence, our present businesse
    Is to generall woe: friends of my soule, you twaine
    3295Rule in this kingdome, and the good state sustaine.
    Kent: I haue a iourney sir, shortly to go,
    My master cals, and I must not say no.
    Duke The waight of this sad time we must obay,
    Speake what we feele, not what we ought to say:
    3300The oldest haue borne most, we that are yong,
    Shall neuer see so much, nor liue so long.
    FINIS.