Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: King Lear (Adapted by Nahum Tate) (Modern)
  • Author: Nahum Tate
  • Editor: Lynne Bradley

  • Copyright Internet Shakespeare Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-proift purposes; for all other uses contact the Coordinating Editor.
    Author: Nahum Tate
    Editor: Lynne Bradley
    Not Peer Reviewed

    King Lear (Adapted by Nahum Tate) (Modern)

    The Epistle Dedicatory
    0.1To My Esteemed Friend Thomas Boteler, Esq;
    You have a natural right to this piece, since, by your advice, I attempted the revival of it with alterations. Nothing but the power of your persuasion, and my zeal for all the remains of Shakespeare, could have wrought me to so bold an undertaking. I found that the new-modeling of this story would force me sometimes on the difficult task of making the chiefest persons speak something like their character, on matter whereof I had no ground in my author. Lear's real, and Edgar's pretended madness have so much of extravagant Nature (I know not how else to express it) as could never have started but from our Shakespeare's creating fancy. The images and language are so odd and surprising, and yet so agreeable and proper, that whilst we grant that none but Shakespeare could have formed such conceptions, yet we are satisfied that they were the only things in the world that ought to be said on those occasions. I found the whole to answer your account of it, a heap of jewels, unstrung and unpolished; yet so dazzling in their disorder, that I soon perceived I had seized a treasure. 'Twas my good fortune to light on one expedient to rectify what was wanting in the regularity and probability of the tale, which was to run through the whole a love betwixt Edgar and Cordelia, that never changed word with each other in the original. This renders Cordelia's indifference and her father's passion in the first scene probable. It likewise gives countenance to Edgar's disguise, making that a generous design that was before a poor shift to save his life. The distress of the story is evidently heightened by it; and it particularly gave occasion of a new scene or two, of more success (perhaps) than merit. This method necessarily threw me on making the tale conclude in a success to the innocent distressed persons: otherwise I must have encumbered the stage with dead bodies, which conduct makes many tragedies conclude with unseasonable jests. Yet was I racked with no small fears for so bold a change, till I found it well-received by my audience; and if this will not satisfy the reader, I can produce an authority that questionless will. "Neither is it of so trivial an undertaking to make a tragedy end happily, for 'tis more difficult to save than 'tis to kill: the dagger and cup of poison are always in readiness; but to bring the action to the last extremity, and then by probable means to recover all, will require the art and judgment of a writer, and cost him many a pang in the performance."
    I have one thing more to apologize for, which is that I have used less quaintness of expression even in the newest parts of this play. I confess 'twas design in me, partly to comply with my author's style to make the scenes of a piece, and partly to give it some resemblance of the time and persons here represented. This, sir, I submit wholly to you, who are both a judge and master of style. Nature had exempted you before you went abroad from the morose saturnine humor of our country, and you brought home the refinedness of travel without the affectation. Many faults I see in the following pages, and question not but you will discover more; yet I will presume so far on your friendship, as to make the whole a present to you, and subscribe my self
    0.5Your obliged friend and humble servant,
    N. Tate.
    Since by mistakes your best delights are made,
    5(For ev'n your wives can please in masquerade)
    'Twere worth our while t'have drawn you in this day
    By a new name to our old honest play.
    But he that did this evening's treat prepare
    Bluntly resolved before-hand to declare
    10Your entertainment should be most old fare.
    Yet hopes, since in rich Shakespeare's soil it grew,
    'Twill relish yet with those whose tastes are true,
    And his ambition is to please a few.
    If then this heap of flowers shall chance to wear
    15Fresh beauty in the order they now bear,
    Ev'n this Shakespeare's praise. Each rustic knows
    'Mongst plenteous flowers a garland to compose,
    Which strung by his course hand may fairer show,
    But 'twas a power divine first made 'em grow.
    20Why should these scenes lie hid, in which we find
    What may at once divert and teach the mind?
    Morals were always proper for the stage,
    But are even necessary in this age.
    Poets must take the churches teaching trade,
    25Since priests their province of intrigue invade.
    But we the worst in this exchange have got,
    In vain our poets preach, whilst church-men plot.
    ACT I
    Enter Bastard alone.
    Thou, Nature, art my goddess; to thy law
    30My services are bound. Why am I then
    Depriv'd of a son's right because I came not
    In the dull road that custom has prescribed?
    Why bastard, wherefore base, when I can boast
    A mind as generous and a shape as true
    35As honest madam's issue? Why are we
    Held base, who in the lusty stealth of nature
    Take fiercer qualities than what compound
    The scanted births of the stale marriage-bed?
    Well then, legitimate Edgar, to thy right
    40Of law I will oppose a bastard's cunning.
    Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund
    As to legitimate Edgar. With success
    I've practiced yet on both their easy natures.
    Here comes the old man chafed with the information
    45Which last I forged against my brother Edgar:
    A tale so plausible, so boldly uttered
    And heightened by such lucky accidents
    That now the slightest circumstance confirms him,
    And base-born Edmund spite of law inherits.
    50Enter Kent and Gloster.
    Nay, good my lord, your charity
    O'reshoots itself to plead in his behalf.
    You are yourself a father, and may feel
    The sting of disobedience from a son
    55First-born and best beloved. Oh, villain Edgar!
    Be not too rash, all may be forgery,
    And time yet clear the duty of your son.
    Plead with the seas, and reason down the winds,
    Yet shalt thou never convince me. I have seen
    60His foul designs through all a father's fondness.
    But be this light and thou my witnesses
    That I discard him here from my possessions,
    Divorce him from my heart, my blood and name.
    It works as I could wish. I'll show myself.
    Ha Edmund! Welcome, boy. O Kent, see here
    Inverted nature, Gloster's shame and glory.
    This by-born, the wild sally of my youth,
    Pursues me with all filial offices,
    Whilst Edgar, begged of heaven and born in honor,
    70Draws plagues on my white head that urge me still
    To curse in age the pleasure of my youth.
    Nay weep not, Edmund, for thy brother's crimes.
    O generous boy, thou shar'st but half his blood,
    Yet lov'st beyond the kindness of a brother.
    75But I'll reward thy virtue. Follow me.
    My Lord, you wait the king who comes resolved
    To quit the toils of empire, and divide
    His realms amongst his daughters. Heaven succeed it,
    But much I fear the change.
    I grieve to see him
    With such wild starts of passion hourly seized,
    As renders majesty beneath itself.
    Alas! 'Tis the infirmity of his age.
    Yet has his temper ever been unfixed,
    85Choleric and sudden. Hark, they approach.
    Exeunt Gloster and Bastard.
    Flourish. Enter Lear, Cornwall, Albany, Burgundy, Edgar, Gonerill, Regan, Cordelia. Edgar speaking to Cordelia at entrance.
    Cordelia, royal fair, turn yet once more,
    And ere successful Burgundy receive
    90The treasure of thy beauties from the king,
    Ere happy Burgundy forever fold thee,
    Cast back one pitying look on wretched Edgar.
    Alas, what would the wretched Edgar with
    The more unfortunate Cordelia
    95Who in obedience to a father's will
    Flies from her Edgar's arms to Burgundy's?
    Attend my lords of Albany and Cornwall
    With princely Burgundy.
    We do, my liege.
    Give me the map. Know, lords, we have divided
    In three our kingdom, having now resolved
    To disengage from our long toil of state,
    Conferring all upon your younger years.
    You, Burgundy, Cornwall and Albany,
    105Long in our court have made your amorous sojourn
    And now are to be answered. Tell me, my daughters,
    Which of you loves us most, that we may place
    Our largest bounty with the largest merit.
    Gonerill, our eldest-born, speak first.
    Sir, I do love you more than words can utter,
    Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;
    Nor liberty, nor sight, health, fame, or beauty
    Are half so dear; my life for you were vile;
    As much as child can love the best of fathers.
    Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,
    With shady forests and wide-skirted meads,
    We make thee lady. To thine and Albany's issue
    Be this perpetual. What says our second daughter?
    My sister, sir, in part expressed my love,
    120For such as hers, is mine, though more extended.
    Sense has no other joy that I can relish;
    I have my all in my dear liege's love!
    Therefore to thee and thine hereditary
    Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom.
    Now comes my trial. How am I distressed,
    That must with cold speech tempt the choleric king
    Rather to leave me dowerless, than condemn me
    To loathed embraces!
    Speak now our last, not least in our dear love--
    So ends my task of state--Cordelia speak.
    What canst thou say to win a richer third
    Than what thy sisters gained?
    Now must my love in words fall short of theirs
    135As much as it exceeds in truth. Nothing, my lord.
    Nothing can come of nothing; speak again.
    Unhappy am I that I can't dissemble,
    Sir, as I ought, I love your majesty;
    No more nor less.
    Take heed, Cordelia,
    Thy fortunes are at stake. Think better on it
    And mend thy speech a little.
    O my liege,
    You gave me being, bred me, dearly love me,
    145And I return my duty as I ought:
    Obey you, love you, and most honor you!
    Why have my sisters husbands, if they love you all?
    Haply when I shall wed, the lord whose hand
    Shall take my plight will carry half my love;
    150For I shall never marry, like my sisters,
    To love my father all.
    And goes thy heart with this?
    'Tis said that I am choleric. Judge me, gods,
    Is there not cause? Now, minion, I perceive
    155The truth of what has been suggested to us,
    Thy fondness for the rebel son of Gloster,
    False to his father, as thou art to my hopes.
    And, oh take heed, rash girl, lest we comply
    With thy fond wishes, which thou wilt too late
    160Repent, for know our nature cannot brook
    A child so young and so ungentle.
    So young, my lord, and true.
    Thy truth then be thy dower,
    For by the sacred sun and solemn night
    165I here disclaim all my paternal care,
    And from this minute hold thee as a stranger
    Both to my blood and favor.
    This is frenzy.
    Consider, good my liege --
    Peace, Kent.
    Come not between a dragon and his rage.
    I loved her most, and in her tender trust
    Designed to have bestowed my age at ease!
    So be my grave my peace as here I give
    175My heart from her, and with it all my wealth.
    My lords of Cornwall and of Albany,
    I do invest you jointly with full right
    In this fair third, Cordelia's forfeit dower.
    Mark me, my lords, observe our last resolve:
    180Our self attended with an hundred knights,
    Will make abode with you in monthly course.
    The name alone of King remain with me,
    Yours be the execution and revenues.
    This is our final will, and to confirm it
    185This coronet part between you.
    Royal Lear,
    Whom I have ever honored as my king,
    Loved as my father, as my master followed,
    And as my patron thought on in my prayers --
    Away, the bow is bent, make from the shaft.
    No, let it fall and drench within my heart.
    Be Kent unmannerly when Lear is mad.
    Thy youngest daughter --
    On thy life, no more.
    What wilt thou do, old man?
    Out of my sight!
    See better first.
    Now by the gods --
    Now by the gods, rash king, thou swear'st in vain.
    Ha, traitor --
    Do, kill thy physician, Lear.
    Strike through my throat, yet with my latest breath
    I'll thunder in thine ear my just complaint,
    And tell thee to thy face that thou dost ill.
    Hear me, rash man, on thy allegiance hear me.
    Since thou hast striven to make us break our vow
    And pressed between our sentence and our power,
    Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,
    We banish thee forever from our sight
    210And kingdom. If when three days are expired
    Thy hated trunk be found in our dominions,
    That moment is thy death. Away.
    Why fare thee well, king. Since thou art resolved,
    I take thee at thy word, and will not stay
    215To see thy fall. The gods protect the maid
    That truly thinks and has most justly said.
    Thus to new climates my old truth I bear.
    Friendship lives hence, and banishment is here.
    Now Burgundy, you see her price is fallen,
    Yet if the fondness of your passion still
    Affects her as she stands, dowerless and lost
    In our esteem, she's yours; take her or leave her.
    Pardon me, royal Lear, I but demand
    225The dower yourself proposed, and here I take
    Cordelia by the hand, Duchess of Burgundy.
    Then leave her, sir, for by a father's rage
    I tell you all her wealth. Away.
    Then sir be pleased to charge the breach
    230Of our alliance on your own will
    Not my inconstancy.
    Exeunt. Edgar and Cordelia remain.
    Has heaven then weighed the merit of my love,
    Or is it the raving of my sickly thought?
    235Could Burgundy forgo so rich a prize
    And leave her to despairing Edgar's arms?
    Have I thy hand, Cordelia, do I clasp it,
    The hand that was this minute to have joined
    My hated rival's? Do I kneel before thee
    240And offer at thy feet my panting heart?
    Smile, princess, and convince me, for as yet
    I doubt, and dare not trust the dazzling joy.
    Some comfort yet that 'twas no vicious blot
    That has deprived me of a father's grace,
    245But merely want of that that makes me rich
    In wanting it, a smooth professing tongue.
    O sisters, I am loath to call your fault
    As it deserves; but use our father well,
    And wronged Cordelia never shall repine.
    O heavenly maid that art thyself thy dower,
    Richer in virtue than the stars in light,
    If Edgar's humble fortunes may be graced
    With thy acceptance, at thy feet he lays them.
    Ha, my Cordelia! Dost thou turn away?
    255What have I done to offend thee?
    Talked of love.
    Then I've offended oft. Cordelia too
    Has oft permitted me so to offend.
    When, Edgar, I permitted your addresses,
    260I was the darling daughter of a king.
    Nor can I now forget my royal birth,
    And live dependent on my lover's fortune.
    I cannot to so low a fate submit.
    And therefore study to forget your passion,
    265And trouble me upon this theme no more.
    Thus majesty takes most state in distress!
    How are we tossed on fortune's fickle flood!
    The wave that with surprising kindness brought
    The dear wreck to my arms, has snatched it back,
    270And left me mourning on the barren shore.
    This baseness of the ignoble Burgundy
    Draws just suspicion on the race of men.
    His love was interest, so may Edgar's be,
    275And he but with more compliment dissemble.
    If so, I shall oblige him by denying.
    But if his love be fixed, such constant flame
    As warms our breasts: if such I find his passion,
    My heart as grateful to his truth shall be,
    280And cold Cordelia prove as kind as he.
    Enter Bastard hastily.
    Brother, I've found you in a lucky minute.
    Fly and be safe, some villain has incensed
    285Our father against your life.
    Distressed Cordelia! But, oh! More cruel!
    Hear me sir, your life, your life's in danger.
    A resolve so sudden
    And of such black importance!
    'Twas not sudden,
    Some villain has of long time laid the train.
    And yet perhaps 'twas but pretended coldness,
    To try how far my passion would pursue.
    He hears me not. Wake, wake sir.
    Say ye, brother? --
    No tears, good Edmund. If thou bring'st me tidings
    To strike me dead, for charity delay not.
    That present will befit so kind a hand.
    Your danger, sir, comes on so fast
    300That I want time to inform you; but retire
    Whilst I take care to turn the pressing stream.
    O gods! For heaven's sake, sir.
    Pardon me, sir, a serious thought
    Had seized me, but I think you talked of danger
    305And wished me to retire. Must all our vows
    End thus! —- Friend, I obey you -— Oh, Cordelia!
    Ha! ha! Fond man, such credulous honesty
    Lessens the glory of my artifice.
    310His nature is so far from doing wrongs
    That he suspects none. If this letter speed
    And pass for Edgar's, as himself would own
    The counterfeit but for the foul contents,
    Then my designs are perfect--Here comes Gloster.
    315Enter Gloster.
    Stay Edmund, turn, what paper were you reading?
    A trifle, sir.
    What needed then that terrible dispatch of it
    Into your pocket? Come, produce it sir.
    A letter from my brother, sir, I had
    Just broke the seal but knew not the contents.
    Yet fearing they might prove to blame
    Endeavored to conceal it from your sight.
    'Tis Edgar's character.
    "This policy of fathers is intolerable, that keeps our
    fortunes from us till age will not suffer us to enjoy them. I am
    weary of the tyranny. Come to me that of this I may speak more.
    If our father would sleep till I waked him, you should enjoy half
    330his possessions, and live beloved of your brother
    "Slept till I waked him, you should enjoy
    Half his possessions" -- Edgar to write this
    Against his indulgent father! Death and hell!
    335Fly, Edmund, seek him out, wind me into him
    That I may bite the traitor's heart, and fold
    His bleeding entrails on my vengeful arm.
    Perhaps 'twas writ, my lord, to prove my virtue.
    These late eclipses of the sun and moon
    340Can bode no less: love cools, and friendship fails,
    In cities mutiny, in countries discord,
    The bond of nature cracked 'twixt son and father.
    Find out the villain, do it carefully
    And it shall lose thee nothing.
    So, now my project's firm, but to make sure
    I'll throw in one proof more and that a bold one:
    I'll place old Gloster where he shall overhear us
    Confer of this design, whilst to his thinking,
    350Deluded Edgar shall accuse himself.
    Be honesty my interest and I can
    Be honest too, and what saint so divine
    That will successful villainy decline!
    355Enter Kent disguised.
    Now banished Kent, if thou canst pay thy duty
    In this disguise where thou dost stand condemned,
    Thy master Lear shall find thee full of labors.
    Enter Lear attended.
    In there, and tell our daughter we are here.
    Now, what art thou?
    A man, sir.
    What dost thou profess, or wouldst with us?
    I do profess to be no less than I seem, to serve him truly that
    365puts me in trust, to love him that's honest, to converse with him
    that's wise and speaks little, to fight when I can't choose; and
    to eat no fish.
    I say, what art thou?
    A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the king.
    Then art thou poor indeed. What canst thou do?
    I can keep honest counsel, mar a curious tale in the telling,
    deliver a plain message bluntly. That which ordinary men are fit
    for I am qualified in, and the best of me is diligence.
    Follow me, thou shalt serve me.
    375Enter Gonerill's Gentleman.
    Now sir?
    Sir --
    Exit. Kent runs after him.
    What says the fellow? Call the clatpole back.
    My Lord, I know not, but methinks Your Highness is entertained
    with slender ceremony.
    He says, my lord, your daughter is not well.
    Why came not the slave back when I called him?
    My lord, he answered me in the surliest manner,
    385That he would not.
    Re-enter Gentleman, brought in by Kent.
    I hope our daughter did not so instruct him.
    Now, who am I sir?
    My lady's father.
    My lord's knave --
    Strikes him.
    Gonerill at the entrance.
    I'll not be struck, my lord.
    Nor tripped neither, thou vile civet-box.
    395Strikes up his heels.
    By day and night, this is insufferable.
    I will not bear it.
    Now, daughter, why that frontlet on?
    Speak, does that frown become our presence?
    Sir, this licentious insolence of your servants
    Is most unseemly. Hourly they break out
    In quarrels bred by their unbounded riots.
    I had fair hope by making this known to you
    To have had a quick redress, but find too late
    405That you protect and countenance their outrage.
    And therefore, sir, I take this freedom, which
    Necessity makes discreet.
    Are you our daughter?
    Come, sir, let me entreat you to make use
    410Of your discretion, and put off betimes
    This disposition that of late transforms you
    From what you rightly are.
    Does any here know me? Why, this is not Lear.
    Does Lear walk thus? Speak thus? Where are his eyes?
    415Who is it that can tell me who I am?
    Come, sir, this admiration's much of the savor
    Of other your new humors. I beseech you
    To understand my purposes aright.
    As you are old, you should be staid and wise.
    420Here do you keep an hundred knights and squires,
    Men so debauched and bold that this our palace
    Shows like a riotous inn, a tavern, brothel.
    Be then advised by her that else will take
    The thing she begs, to lessen your attendance.
    425Take half away, and see that the remainder
    Be such as may befit your age, and know
    Themselves and you.
    Darkness and devils!
    Saddle my horses, call my train together.
    430Degenerate viper, I'll not stay with thee;
    I yet have left a daughter -- Serpent, monster.
    Lessen my train, and call 'em riotous?
    All men approved of choice and rarest parts,
    That each particular of duty know --
    435How small, Cordelia, was thy fault? Oh, Lear,
    Beat at this gate that let thy folly in,
    And thy dear judgment out. Go, go, my people.
    Going off meets Albany entering.
    Ingrateful Duke, was this your will?
    What, sir?
    Death! Fifty of my followers at a clap!
    The matter, madam?
    Never afflict yourself to know the cause,
    But give his dotage way.
    Blasts upon thee,
    The untented woundings of a father's curse
    Pierce every sense about thee. Old fond eyes
    Lament this cause again, I'll pluck ye out
    And cast ye with the waters that ye lose
    450To temper clay -- No, gorgon, thou shalt find
    That I'll resume the shape which thou dost think
    I have cast off forever.
    Mark ye that.
    Hear, Nature,
    455Dear goddess, hear. And if thou dost intend
    To make that creature fruitful, change thy purpose.
    Pronounce upon her womb the barren curse,
    That from her blasted body never spring
    A babe to honor her. But if she must bring forth,
    460Defeat her joy with some distorted birth
    Or monstrous form, the prodigy o'th'time,
    And so perverse of spirit, that it may live
    Her torment as 'twas born, to fret her cheeks
    With constant tears, and wrinkle her young brow.
    465Turn all her mother's pains to shame and scorn,
    That she may curse her crime too late, and feel
    How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
    To have a thankless child! Away, away.
    Exit with his followers.
    Presuming thus upon his numerous train
    He thinks to play the tyrant here, and hold
    Our lives at will.
    Well, you may bear too far.
    ACT II
    475Gloster's house.
    Enter Bastard.
    The duke comes here tonight, I'll take advantage
    Of his arrival to complete my project.
    Brother, a word. Come forth; 'tis I, your friend,
    480Enter Edgar.
    My father watches for you, fly this place.
    Intelligence is given where you are hid.
    Take the advantage of the night. Bethink ye,
    Have you not spoke against the Duke of Cornwall
    485Something might show you a favorer of
    Duke Albany's party?
    Nothing, why ask you?
    Because he's coming here tonight in haste
    And Regan with him -- Hark! The guards, away.
    Let 'em come on, I'll stay and clear myself.
    Your innocence at leisure may be heard,
    But Gloster's storming rage as yet is deaf,
    And you may perish ere allowed the hearing.
    Exit Edgar.
    495Gloster comes yonder. Now to my feigned scuffle
    Yield, come before my father! Lights here, lights!
    Some blood drawn on me would beget opinion
    Stabs his arm.
    500Of our more fierce encounter -- I have seen
    Drunkards do more than this in sport.
    Enter Gloster and servants.
    Now, Edmund, where's the traitor?
    That name, sir,
    505Strikes horror through me, but my brother, sir,
    Stood here in the dark.
    Thou bleed'st. Pursue the villain
    And bring him piecemeal to me.
    Sir, he's fled.
    Let him fly far, this kingdom shall not hide him.
    The noble duke, my patron, comes tonight.
    By his authority I will proclaim
    Rewards for him that brings him to the stake,
    And death for the concealer.
    515Then of my lands, loyal and natural boy,
    I'll work the means to make thee capable.
    Enter Kent (disguised still) and Gonerill's Gentleman, severally.
    Good morrow friend, belong'st thou to this house?
    Ask them will answer thee.
    Where may we set our horses?
    In the mire.
    I am in haste, prithee an thou lov'st me, tell me.
    I love thee not.
    Why then I care not for thee.
    An I had thee in Lipsbury Pinfold, I'd make thee care for
    What dost thou mean? I know thee not.
    But, minion, I know thee.
    What dost thou know me for?
    For a base, proud, beggarly, white-livered, glass-gazing,
    superserviceable finical rogue; one that would be a pimp in way
    of good service, and art nothing but a composition of knave,
    beggar, coward, pander --.
    What a monstrous fellow art thou to rail at one that is neither
    known of thee nor knows thee?
    Impudent slave, not know me, who but two days since tripped up thy
    heels before the king! Draw, miscreant, or I'll make the moon
    shine through thee.
    What means the fellow? Why prithee, prithee; I tell thee
    I have nothing to do with thee.
    I know your rogueship's office. You come with letters against the
    king, taking my young Lady Vanity's part against her royal
    father. Draw rascal.
    Murder, murder, help ho!
    Dost thou scream, peacock? Strike, puppet. Stand, dapper slave.
    Help here! Murder, help.
    Exit. Kent after him.
    Flourish. Enter Duke of Cornwall, Regan, attended. To them, Gloster, Bastard.
    All welcome to your graces, you do me honor.
    Gloster, we've heard with sorrow that your life
    Has been attempted by your impious son,
    But Edmund here has paid you strictest duty.
    He did betray his practice, and received
    555The hurt you see, striving to apprehend him.
    Is he pursued?
    He is, my lord.
    Use our authority to apprehend
    The traitor and do justice on his head.
    560For you, Edmund, that have so signalized
    Your virtue, you from henceforth shall be ours.
    Natures of such firm trust we much shall need.
    A charming youth and worth my further thought.
    Lay comforts, noble Gloster, to your breast,
    As we to ours. This night be spent in revels.
    We choose you, Gloster, for our host tonight,
    A troublesome expression of our love.
    On, to the sports before us -- Who are these?
    570Enter the Gentleman pursued by Kent
    Now, what's the matter?
    Keep peace upon your lives, he dies that strikes.
    Whence and what are ye?
    Sir, they are messengers, the one from your sister
    575The other from the king.
    Your difference? Speak.
    I'm scarce in breath, my lord.
    No marvel, you have so bestirred your valor.
    Nature disclaims the dastard, a tailor made him.
    Speak yet, how grew your quarrel?
    Sir this old ruffian here, whose life I spared
    In pity to his beard --
    Thou essence bottle!
    In pity to my beard? Your leave, my lord,
    585And I will tread the muss-cat into mortar.
    Know'st thou our presence?
    Yes, sir, but anger has a privilege.
    Why art thou angry?
    That such a slave as this should wear a sword
    590And have no courage, office and no honesty.
    Not frost and fire hold more antipathy
    Than I and such a knave.
    Why dost thou call him knave?
    His countenance likes me not.
    No more perhaps does mine, nor his or hers.
    Plain-dealing is my trade, and to be plain, sir,
    I have seen better faces in my time
    Than stands on any shoulders now before me.
    This is some fellow that having once been praised
    600For bluntness, since affects a saucy rudeness.
    But I have known one of these surly knaves
    That in his plainness harbored more design
    Than twenty cringing complementing minions.
    What's the offence you gave him?
    Never any, sir.
    It pleased the king his master lately
    To strike me on a slender misconstruction;
    Whilst watching his advantage, this old lurcher
    Tripped me behind, for which the king extolled him;
    610And, flushed with the honor of this bold exploit,
    Drew on me here again.
    Bring forth the stocks. We'll teach you.
    Sir, I'm too old to learn.
    Call not the stocks for me, I serve the king,
    615On whose employment I was sent to you.
    You'll show too small respect, and too bold malice
    Against the person of my royal master,
    Stocking his messenger.
    Bring forth the stocks, as I have life and honor,
    620There shall he sit till noon.
    Till noon, my lord? Till night, and all night too.
    Why, madam, if I were your father's dog
    You would not use me so.
    Sir, being his knave, I will.
    Let me beseech your graces to forbear him.
    His fault is much, and the good king his master
    Will check him for it, but needs must take it ill
    To be thus slighted in his messenger.
    We'll answer that;
    630Our sister may receive it worse to have
    Her gentleman assaulted. To our business lead.
    Exeunt all but Gloster and Kent.
    I am sorry for thee, friend. 'Tis the duke's pleasure
    Whose disposition will not be controlled.
    635But I'll entreat for thee.
    Pray do not, sir.
    I have watched and traveled hard.
    Some time I shall sleep out, the rest I'll whistle.
    Farewell t'ye, sir.
    640Exit Gloster
    All weary and o'er-watched,
    I feel the drowsy guest steal on me. Take
    Advantage, heavy eyes, of this kind slumber,
    Not to behold this vile and shameful lodging.
    Enter Edgar
    I heard myself proclaimed,
    And by the friendly hollow of a tree
    Escaped the hunt. No port is free, no place
    650Where guards and most unusual vigilance
    Do not attend to take me. How easy now
    'Twere to defeat the malice of my trail,
    And leave my griefs on my sword's reeking point.
    But love detains me from death's peaceful cell,
    655Still whispering me Cordelia's in distress.
    Unkind as she is I cannot see her wretched,
    But must be near to wait upon her fortune.
    Who knows but the white minute yet may come
    When Edgar may do service to Cordelia.
    660That charming hope still ties me to the oar
    Of painful life, and makes me, too, submit
    To the humblest shifts to keep that life afoot.
    My face I will besmear and knit my locks.
    The country gives me proof and precedent
    665Of bedlam beggars, who with roaring voices
    Strike in their numbed and mortified bare arms
    Pins, iron spikes, thorns, sprigs of rosemary;
    And thus from sheep-cotes, villages and mills,
    Sometimes with prayers, sometimes with lunatic bans
    670Enforce their charity. Poor Tyrligod, poor Tom!
    That's something yet; Edgar I am no more.
    Kent in the stocks still. Enter Lear
    'Tis strange that they should so depart from home
    And not send back our messenger.
    Hail, noble master.
    How? Mak'st thou this shame thy pastime?
    What's he that has so much mistook thy place
    680To set thee here?
    It is both he and she, sir, your son and daughter.
    No, I say.
    I say, yea.
    By Jupiter, I swear no.
    By Juno I swear, I swear aye.
    They durst not do it,
    They could not, would not do it; 'tis worse then murder
    690To do upon respect such violent outrage.
    Resolve me with all modest haste which way
    Thou mayst deserve, or they impose this usage?
    My Lord, when at their home
    I did commend Your Highness' letters to them,
    695Ere I was risen, arrived another post
    Steered in his haste, breathless and panting forth
    From Gonerill, his mistress, salutations.
    Whose message being delivered, they took horse,
    Commanding me to follow and attend
    700The leisure of their answer, which I did.
    But meeting that other messenger
    Whose welcome I perceived had poisoned mine,
    Being the very fellow that of late
    Had shown such rudeness to Your Highness, I
    705Having more man than wit about me, drew,
    On which he raised the house with coward cries.
    This was the trespass which your son and daughter
    Thought worth the shame you see it suffer here.
    Oh! How this spleen swells upward to my heart
    710And heaves for passage. Down thou climbing rage,
    Thy element's below. Where is this daughter?
    Within, sir, at a masque.
    Enter Gloster.
    Now Gloster? -- Ha!
    715Deny to speak with me? They're sick, they're weary,
    They have traveled hard tonight -- mere fetches!
    Bring me a better answer.
    My dear lord,
    You know the fiery quality of the duke --
    Vengeance! Death, plague, confusion!
    Fiery? What quality? Why Gloster, Gloster,
    I'd speak with the Duke of Cornwall and his wife.
    I have informed them so.
    Inform'd them! Dost thou understand me, man?
    725I tell thee, Gloster --
    Ay, my good lord.
    The king would speak with Cornwall, the dear father
    Would with his daughter speak, commands her service.
    Are they informed of this? My breath and blood!
    730Fiery! The fiery duke! Tell the hot duke --
    No, but not yet, maybe he is not well:
    Infirmity does still neglect all office.
    I beg his pardon, and I'll chide my rashness
    That took the indisposed and sickly fit
    735For the sound man. But wherefore sits he there?
    Death on my state, this act convinces me
    That this retiredness of the duke and her
    Is plain contempt. Give me my servant forth,
    Go tell the duke and his wife I'd speak with them.
    740Now, instantly, bid them come forth and hear me,
    Or at their chamber door I'll beat the drum
    Till it cry sleep to death --
    Enter Cornwall and Regan.
    Oh! Are ye come?
    Health to the king.
    I am glad to see Your Highness.
    Regan, I think you are, I know what cause
    I have to think so; shouldst thou not be glad
    I would divorce me from thy mother's tomb.
    750Beloved Regan, thou wilt shake to hear
    What I shall utter: thou couldst never have thought it.
    Thy sister's naught, O Regan. She has tied
    Ingratitude, like a keen vulture, here.
    Kent here set at liberty.
    755I scarce can speak to thee.
    I pray you, sir, take patience. I have hope
    That you know less to value her desert,
    Then she to slack her duty.
    Ha! How's that?
    I cannot think my sister in the least
    Would fail in her respects, but if perchance
    She has restrained the riots of your followers
    'Tis on such grounds and to such wholesome ends
    As clears her from all blame.
    My curses on her.
    O sir, you are old
    And should content you to be ruled and led
    By some discretion that discerns your state
    Better than you yourself. Therefore, sir,
    770Return to our sister, and say you have wronged her.
    Ha! Ask her forgiveness?
    No, no, 'twas my mistake; thou didst not mean so.
    Dear daughter, I confess that I am old;
    Age is unnecessary. But thou art good,
    775And wilt dispense with my infirmity.
    Good sir, no more of these unsightly passions,
    Return back to our sister.
    Never, Regan.
    She has abated me of half of my train,
    780Looked black upon me, stabbed me with her tongue.
    All the stored vengeances of heaven fall
    On her ingrateful head! Strike her young bones,
    Ye taking airs, with lameness.
    O the blest gods! Thus will you wish on me
    785When the rash mood --
    No, Regan, thou shalt never have my curse,
    Thy tender nature cannot give thee over
    To such impiety. Thou better know'st
    The offices of nature, bond of childhood,
    790And dues of gratitude. Thou bear'st in mind
    The half of the kingdom which our love conferred
    On thee and thine.
    Good sir, to the purpose.
    Who put my man in the stocks?
    What trumpet's that?
    I know it, my sister's, this confirms her letters.
    Sir, is your lady come?
    Enter Gonerill's Gentleman.
    More torture still?
    800This is a slave whose easy-borrowed pride
    Dwells in the fickle grace of her he follows;
    A fashion-fop that spends the day in dressing,
    And all to bear his lady's flattering message;
    That can deliver with a grace her lie,
    805And with as bold a face bring back a greater.
    Out, varlet, from my sight.
    What means your grace?
    Who stocked my servant? Regan, I have hope
    Thou didst not know it.
    810Enter Gonerill.
    Who comes here? Oh heavens!
    If you do love old men, if your sweet sway
    Allow obedience, if yourselves are old,
    Make it your cause, send down and take my part.
    815Why, gorgon, dost thou come to haunt me here?
    Art not ashamed to look upon this beard?
    Darkness upon my eyes, they play me false.
    O Regan, wilt thou take her by the hand?
    Why not by the hand, sir, how have I offended?
    820All's not offence that indiscretion finds,
    And dotage terms so.
    Heart thou art too tough.
    I pray you, sir, being old, confess you are so.
    If till the expiration of your month
    825You will return and sojourn with our sister,
    Dismissing half your train, come then to me.
    I am now from home, and out of that provision
    That shall be needful for your entertainment.
    Return with her and fifty knights dismissed?
    830No, rather I'll forswear all roofs, and choose
    To be companion to the midnight wolf,
    My naked head exposed to the merciless air,
    Then have my smallest wants supplied by her.
    At your choice, sir.
    Now I prithee, daughter, do not make me mad.
    I will not trouble thee, my child. Farewell.
    We'll meet no more, no more see one another.
    Let shame come when it will, I do not call it.
    I do not bid the thunder-bearer strike,
    840Nor tell tales of thee to avenging heaven.
    Mend when thou canst, be better at thy leisure,
    I can be patient, I can stay with Regan,
    I, and my hundred knights.
    Your pardon, sir.
    845I looked not for you yet, nor am provided
    For your fit welcome.
    Is this well spoken now?
    My sister treats you fair; what, fifty followers!
    Is it not well? What should you need of more?
    Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance
    From those whom she calls servants, or from mine?
    Why not, my lord? If then they chance to slack you
    We could control them. If you come to me,
    For now I see the danger, I entreat you
    855To bring but five and twenty; to no more
    Will I give place.
    Hold now my temper, stand this bolt unmoved
    And I am thunder-proof.
    The wicked when compared with the more wicked
    860Seem beautiful, and not to be the worst
    Stands in some rank of praise. Now, Gonerill,
    Thou art innocent again, I'll go with thee.
    Thy fifty yet does double five and twenty,
    And thou art twice her love.
    Hear me, my lord,
    What need you five and twenty, ten, or five,
    To follow in a house where twice so many
    Have a command to attend you?
    What need one?
    Blood, fire! Hear -- leprosies and bluest plagues!
    Room, room for hell to belch her horrors up
    And drench the Circes in a stream of fire!
    Hark how the infernals echo to my rage
    Their whips and snakes --
    How lewd a thing is passion!
    So old and stomachful.
    Lightning and thunder.
    Heavens, drop your patience down.
    You see me here, ye gods, a poor old man
    880As full of griefs as age, wretched in both --
    I'll bear no more! No, you unnatural hags,
    I will have such revenges on you both,
    That all the world shall -- I will do such things
    What they are yet I know not, but they shall be
    885The terrors of the earth. You think I'll weep.
    Thunder again.
    This heart shall break into a thousand pieces
    Before I'll weep -- O gods! I shall go mad.
    Exit, followed by Kent.
    'Tis a wild night, come out of the storm.
    A desert heath.
    Enter Lear and Kent in the storm.
    Blow, winds, and burst your cheeks. Rage louder yet!
    895Fantastic lightning singe, singe my white head.
    Spout cataracts, and hurricanos fall
    Till you have drowned the towns and palaces
    Of proud, ingrateful man.
    Not all my best entreaties can persuade him
    900Into some needful shelter, or to 'bide
    This poor slight covering on his aged head,
    Exposed to this wild war of earth and heaven.
    Rumble thy fill. Fight whirlwind, rain and fire!
    Not fire, wind, rain or thunder are my daughters.
    905I tax not you, ye elements, with unkindness.
    I never gave you kingdoms, called you children,
    You owe me no obedience. Then let fall
    Your horrible pleasure. Here I stand your slave,
    A poor, infirm, weak and despised old man.
    910Yet I will call you servile ministers,
    That have with two pernicious daughters joined
    Their high-engendered battle against a head
    So old and white as mine. Oh! Oh! 'Tis foul.
    Hard by, sir, is a hovel that will lend
    915Some shelter from this tempest.
    I will forget my nature. What? So kind a father.
    Ay, there's the point.
    Consider, good my liege, things that love night
    Love not such nights as this. These wrathful skies
    920Frighten the very wanderers of the dark,
    And make them keep their caves. Such drenching rain,
    Such sheets of fire, such claps of horrid thunder,
    Such groans of roaring winds have never been known.
    Let the great gods
    925That keep this dreadful pudder over our heads
    Find out their enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch,
    That hast within thee undiscovered crimes.
    Hide, thou bloody hand,
    Thou perjured villain, holy, holy hypocrite,
    930That drinks the widow's tears, sigh now and cry
    These dreadful summoners grace. I am a man
    More sinned against than sinning.
    Good sir, to the hovel.
    My wit begins to burn.
    935Come on, my boy, how dost my boy? Art cold?
    I'm cold myself. Show me this straw, my fellow.
    The art of our necessity is strange,
    And can make vile things precious. My poor knave,
    Cold as I am at heart, I've one place there
    940Loud storm.
    That's sorry yet for thee.
    Gloster's palace. Enter Bastard.
    The storm is in our louder revelings drowned.
    945Thus would I reign could I but mount a throne.
    The riots of these proud imperial sisters
    Already have imposed the galling yoke
    Of taxes and hard impositions on
    The drudging peasants' neck, who bellow out
    950Their loud complaints in vain. Triumphant queens!
    With what assurance do they tread the crowd.
    Oh for a taste of such majestic beauty,
    Which none but my hot veins are fit to engage!
    Nor are my wishes desperate, for even now
    955During the banquet I observed their glances
    Shot thick at me; and as they left the room
    Each cast by stealth a kind inviting smile,
    The happy earnest -- ha!
    Two servants from several entrances deliver him each a letter, and exeunt.
    "Where merit is so transparent, not to behold it
    were blindness, and not to reward it ingratitude.
    Enough! Blind and ingrateful should I be
    965Not to obey the summons of this oracle.
    Now for a second letter.
    Opens the other.
    "If modesty be not your enemy, doubt not to
    find me your friend.
    Excellent sybil! Oh, my glowing blood!
    I am already sick of expectation,
    And pant for the possession -- here Gloster comes
    With business on his brow. Be hushed my joys.
    I come to seek thee, Edmund, to impart a business of
    Importance. I know thy loyal heart is touched to see the cruelty
    of these ingrateful daughters against our royal master.
    Most savage and unnatural.
    This change in the state sits uneasy. The commons repine aloud
    980at their female tyrants. Already they cry out for the
    reinstallment of their good old king, whose injuries I fear will
    inflame them into mutiny.
    'Tis to be hoped, not feared.
    Thou hast it, boy, 'tis to be hoped indeed.
    985On me they cast their eyes, and hourly court me
    To lead them on, and whilst this head is mine
    I am theirs. A little covert craft, my boy,
    And then for open action. 'Twill be employment
    Worthy such honest daring souls as thine.
    990Thou, Edmund, art my trusty emissary.
    Haste on the spur at the first break of day
    With these dispatches to the Duke of Cambrai.
    Gives him letters.
    You know what mortal feuds have always flamed
    995Between this Duke of Cornwall's family and his.
    Full twenty thousand mountaineers
    The inveterate prince will send to our assistance.
    Dispatch. Commend us to His Grace, and prosper.
    Yes, credulous old man,
    I will commend you to His Grace,
    His Grace the Duke of Cornwall -- instantly
    To show him these contents in thy own character
    And sealed with thy own signet. Then forthwith
    1005The choleric duke gives sentence on thy life,
    And to my hand thy vast revenues fall
    To glut my pleasure that till now has starved.
    Gloster going off is met by Cordelia entering, attended by Arante. Bastard observing at a distance.
    Turn, Gloster, turn, by all the sacred powers
    1010I do conjure you give my griefs a hearing.
    You must, you shall, nay I am sure you will,
    For you were always styled the just and good.
    What wouldst thou, princess? Rise and speak thy griefs.
    Nay, you shall promise to redress them too,
    1015Or here I'll kneel forever. I entreat
    Thy succor for a father and a king,
    An injured father and an injured king.
    Oh, charming sorrow! How her tears adorn her
    Like dew on flowers. But she is virtuous,
    1020And I must quench this hopeless fire in the kindling.
    Consider, princess,
    For whom thou begg'st, 'tis for the king that wronged thee.
    Oh, name not that. He did not, could not wrong me.
    Nay muse not, Gloster, for it is too likely
    1025This injured king ere this is past your aid,
    And gone distracted with his savage wrongs.
    I'll gaze no more -- and yet my eyes are charmed.
    Or what if it be worse? Can there be worse?
    As 'tis too probable this furious night
    1030Has pierced his tender body, the bleak winds
    And cold rain chilled, or lightning struck him dead.
    If it be so, your promise is discharged,
    And I have only one poor boon to beg,
    That you'd convey me to his breathless trunk,
    1035With my torn robes to wrap his hoary head,
    With my torn hair to bind his hands and feet,
    Then with a shower of tears
    To wash his clay-smeared cheeks, and die beside him.
    Rise, fair Cordelia, thou hast piety
    1040Enough to atone for both thy sisters' crimes.
    I have already plotted to restore
    My injured master, and thy virtue tells me
    We shall succeed, and suddenly.
    Dispatch, Arante,
    Provide me a disguise. We'll instantly
    Go seek the king, and bring him some relief.
    How, madam? Are you ignorant
    Of what your impious sisters have decreed?
    1050Immediate death for any that relieve him.
    I cannot dread the furies in this case.
    In such a night as this? Consider, madam,
    For many miles about there's scarce a bush
    To shelter in.
    Therefore no shelter for the king,
    And more our charity to find him out.
    What have not women dared for vicious love?
    And we'll be shining proofs that they can dare
    For piety as much. Blow winds, and lightnings fall.
    1060Bold in my virgin innocence, I'll fly
    My royal father to relieve, or die.
    Exeunt Cordelia and Arante.
    "Provide me a disguise, we'll instantly
    Go seek the king" -- Ha! Ha! A lucky change.
    1065That virtue which I feared would be my hindrance
    Has proved the bond to my design.
    I'll bribe two ruffians that shall at a distance follow,
    And seize them in some desert place, and there
    Whilst one retains her the other shall return
    1070To inform me where she's lodged. I'll be disguised too.
    Whilst they are poaching for me I'll to the duke
    With these dispatches. Then to the field
    Where like the vigorous Jove I will enjoy
    This Semele in a storm. 'Twill deaf her cries
    1075Like drums in battle, lest her groans should pierce
    My pitying ear, and make the amorous fight less fierce.
    Storm still. The field scene. Enter Lear and Kent.
    Here is the place, my lord. Good my lord, enter.
    1080The tyranny of this open night's too rough
    For nature to endure.
    Let me alone.
    Good my lord, enter.
    Wilt break my heart?
    Beseech you, sir.
    Thou think'st 'tis much that this contentious storm
    Invades us to the skin; so 'tis to thee.
    But where the greater malady is fixed
    The lesser is scarce felt. The tempest in my mind
    1090Does from my senses take all feeling else
    Save what beats there: filial ingratitude!
    Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand
    For lifting food to it? But I'll punish home.
    No, I will weep no more. In such a night
    1095To shut me out -- Pour on, I will endure
    In such a night as this. O Regan, Gonerill,
    Your old kind father whose frank heart gave all--
    Oh that way madness lies, let me shun that,
    No more of that.
    See, my lord, here's the entrance.
    Well, I'll go in
    And pass it all. I'll pray and then I'll sleep.
    Poor naked wretches wheresoe'er you are,
    That abide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
    1105How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides
    Sustain this shock, your raggedness defend you
    From seasons such as these?
    Oh, I have taken too little care of this.
    Take physic, pomp.
    1110Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
    That thou mayst cast the superflux to them,
    And show the heavens more just.
    Edgar in the hovel.
    Five fathom and a half, poor Tom!
    What art thou that dost grumble there in the straw?
    Come forth.
    Away! The foul fiend follows me -- through the sharp
    Hawthorn blows the cold wind -- Mum! Go to thy bed and warm
    Thee. -- Ha! What do I see? By all my griefs, the poor old
    1120king beheaded,
    And drenched in this foul storm. Professing siren,
    Are all your protestations come to this?
    Tell me, fellow, didst thou give all to thy daughters?
    Who gives anything to Poor Tom, whom the foul fiend has
    led through fire and through flame, through bushes and bogs,
    that has laid knives under his pillow, and halters in his pew,
    that has made him proud of heart to ride on a bay-trotting horse
    over four inched bridges, to course his own shadow for a traitor?
    1130-- Bless thy five wits, Tom's a-cold.
    Shivers. Bless thee from whirlwinds,
    Star-blasting and taking. Do poor Tom some charity, whom
    the foul fiend vexes. -- Sa, sa, there I could have him now,
    and there, and there again.
    Have his daughters brought him to this pass?
    Couldst thou save nothing? Didst thou give them all?
    He has no daughters, sir.
    Death, traitor, nothing could have subdued nature
    To such a lowness but his unkind daughters.
    Pillicock sat upon Pillicock Hill; Hallo, hallo, hallo.
    Is it the fashion that discarded fathers
    Should have such little mercy on their flesh?
    Judicious punishment, 'twas this flesh begot
    Those pelican daughters.
    Take heed of the foul fiend, obey thy parents, keep thy word
    justly, swear not, commit not with man's sworn spouse, set not
    thy sweetheart on proud array. Tom's a-cold.
    What hast thou been?
    A servingman, proud of heart, that curled my hair, used perfume
    1150and washes; that served the lust of my mistress's heart, and did
    the act of darkness with her. Swore as many oaths as I spoke
    words, and broke them all in the sweet face of heaven. Let not the
    paint, nor the patch, nor the rushing of silks betray thy poor
    heart to woman. Keep thy foot out of brothels, thy hand out of
    1155plackets, thy pen from creditors' books, and defy the foul fiend
    -- still through the hawthorn blows the cold wind --
    Sess, suum, mun, nonny, dolphin my boy -- hist! The boy,
    sesey! Soft, let him trot by.
    Death! Thou wert better in thy grave, than thus to answer with
    1160thy uncovered body this extremity of the sky. And yet consider
    him well, and man's no more than this. Thou art indebted to the
    worm for no silk, to the beast for no hide, to the cat for no
    perfume -- Ha! Here's two of us are sophisticated; thou art
    the thing itself. Unaccommodated man is no more than such a poor
    1165bare, forked animal as thou art.
    Off, off, ye vain disguises, empty lendings.
    I'll be my original self. Quick, quick, uncase me.
    Defend his wits, good heaven!
    One point I had forgot; what's your name?
    Poor Tom that eats the swimming frog, the walnut, and
    the water-nut; that in the fury of his heart, when the foul fiend
    rages, eats cow-dung for salads, swallows the old rat and the
    ditch-dog, that drinks the green mantle of the standing pool;
    that's whipped from tithing to tithing; that has three suits to his
    1175back, six shirts to his body,
    Horse to ride, and weapon to wear;
    But rats and mice, and such small deer
    Have been Tom's food for seven long year.
    Beware, my follower. Peace, Smulkin, peace, thou foul fiend.
    One word more, but be sure true counsel. Tell me, is a madman a
    gentleman or a yeoman?
    I feared it would come to this, his wits are gone.
    Fraterreto calls me, and tells me Nero is an
    angler in the lake of darkness. Pray, innocent, and beware the
    1185foul fiend.
    Right, ha! Ha! Was it not pleasant to have a thousand with red
    hot spits come hizzing in upon them?
    My tears begin to take his part so much
    They mar my counterfeiting.
    The little dogs and all, Trey, Blanch and Sweetheart, see they
    bark at me.
    Tom will throw his head at 'em. Avaunt, ye curs.
    Be thy mouth or black or white,
    Tooth that poisons if it bite,
    1195Mastiff, greyhound, mongrel, grim,
    Hound or spaniel, brach or hym,
    Bobtail, tight, or trundle-tail,
    Tom will make them weep and wail.
    For with throwing thus my head
    1200Dogs leap the hatch, and all are fled.
    Ud, de, de, de. Se, se, se. Come march to wakes and fairs and
    market towns -- Poor Tom, thy horn is dry.
    You sir, I entertain you for one of my hundred, only I do not
    like the fashion of your garments. You'll say they're
    1205Persian, but no matter, let them be changed.
    Enter Gloster.
    This is the foul Flibbertigibbet. He begins at curfew and
    walks at first cock; he gives the web and the pin, knits the
    elflock, squints the eye, and makes the harelip, mildews the
    1210white wheat, and hurts the poor creature of the earth.
    Swithin footed thrice the cold,
    He met the nightmare and her nine-fold,
    'Twas there he did appoint her;
    He bid her alight and her troth plight,
    1215And aroint the witch, aroint her.
    What, has your grace no better company?
    The prince of darkness is a gentleman; Modo he is called,
    and Mahu.
    Go with me, sir, hard by I have a tenant.
    1220My duty cannot suffer me to obey in all your daughters' hard
    commands, who have enjoined me to make fast my doors, and let
    this tyrannous night take hold upon you. Yet have I ventured to
    come seek you out, and bring you where both fire and food is
    Good my lord, take his offer.
    First let me talk with this philosopher.
    Say, Stagirite, what is the cause of thunder?
    Beseech you, sir, go with me.
    I'll talk a word with this same learned Theban.
    1230What is your study?
    How to prevent the fiend, and to kill vermin.
    Let me ask you a word in private.
    His wits are quite unsettled. Good sir, let's force him hence.
    Canst blame him? His daughters seek his death. This bedlam but
    1235disturbs him the more. Fellow, be gone.
    Child Rowland to the dark tower came,
    His word was still "Fie, fo and fum,
    I smell the blood of a British man." -- Oh torture!
    Now, I prithee, friend, let's take him in our arms, and carry him
    where he shall meet both welcome and protection. Good sir, along
    with us.
    You say right, let them anatomize Regan, see what breeds
    about her heart. Is there any cause in nature for these hard
    Beseech your grace.
    Hist! -- Make no noise, make no noise -- So so; we'll
    to supper in the morning.
    1250Enter Cordelia and Arante.
    Dear madam, rest ye here, our search is vain.
    Look here's a shed. Beseech ye, enter here.
    Prithee go in thyself, seek thy own ease.
    Where the mind's free, the body's delicate.
    1255This tempest but diverts me from the thought
    Of what would hurt me more.
    Enter two Ruffians.
    1 Ruffian
    We have dogged them far enough, this place is private.
    I'll keep them prisoners here within this hovel,
    1260Whilst you return and bring Lord Edmund hither.
    But help me first to house them.
    2 Ruffian
    Nothing but this dear devil
    Shows gold.
    Should have drawn me through all this tempest.
    1265But to our work.
    They seize Cordelia and Arante, who shriek out.
    Soft, madam, we are friends. Dispatch, I say!
    Help, murder, help! Gods! Some kind thunderbolt
    To strike me dead.
    1270Enter Edgar.
    What cry was that? Ha, women seized by ruffians?
    Is this a place and time for villainy?
    Avaunt, ye bloodhounds.
    Drives them with his quarter-staff.
    12751 Ruffian and 2 Ruffian
    The devil, the devil!
    Run off.
    O speak, what are ye that appear to be
    Of the tender sex, and yet unguarded wander
    Through the dead mazes of this dreadful night,
    1280Where (though at full) the clouded moon scarce darts
    Imperfect glimmerings?
    First say what art thou.
    Our guardian angel, that wert pleased to assume
    That horrid shape to fright the ravishers?
    1285We'll kneel to thee.
    O my tumultuous blood!
    By all my trembling veins, Cordelia's voice!
    'Tis she herself! My senses sure conform
    To my wild garb, and I am mad indeed.
    Whatever thou art, befriend a wretched virgin,
    And if thou canst, direct our weary search.
    Who relieves Poor Tom, that sleeps on the nettle, with the
    hedge-pig for his pillow?
    Whilst Smug plied the bellows
    1295She trucked with her fellows,
    The freckle-faced Mab
    Was a blouze and a drab,
    Yet Swithin made Oberon jealous--Oh!
    Alack, madam, a poor wandering lunatic.
    And yet his language seemed but now well-tempered.
    Speak, friend, to one more wretched than thyself,
    And if thou hast one interval of sense,
    Inform us if thou canst, where we may find
    1305A poor old man, who through this heath has strayed
    The tedious night. Speak, saw'st thou such a one?
    The king, her father, whom she's come to seek
    Through all the terrors of this night. O gods!
    1310That such amazing piety, such tenderness
    Should yet to me be cruel --
    Yes, fair one, such a one was lately here,
    And is conveyed by some that came to seek him
    To a neighboring cottage; but distinctly where,
    1315I know not.
    Blessings on them.
    Let's find him out, Arante, for thou seest
    We are in heaven's protection.
    Going off.
    O Cordelia!
    Ha! -- Thou know'st my name.
    As you did once know Edgar's.
    The poor remains of Edgar, what your scorn
    1325Has left him.
    Do we wake, Arante?
    My father seeks my life, which I preserved
    In hopes of some blest minute to oblige
    Distressed Cordelia, and the gods have given it.
    1330That thought alone prevailed with me to take
    This frantic dress, to make the earth my bed,
    With these bare limbs all change of seasons 'bide,
    Noon's scorching heat, and midnight's piercing cold,
    To feed on offals, and to drink with herds,
    1335To combat with the winds, and be the sport
    Of clowns, or what's more wretched yet, their pity.
    Was ever tale so full of misery!
    But such a fall as this I grant was due
    To my aspiring love, for 'twas presumptuous,
    1340Though not presumptuously pursued;
    For well you know I wore my flames concealed,
    And silent as the lamps that burn in tombs,
    'Till you perceived my grief, with modest grace
    Drew forth the secret, and then sealed my pardon.
    You had your pardon, nor can you challenge more.
    What do I challenge more?
    Such vanity agrees not with these rags.
    When in my prosperous state rich Gloster's heir,
    You silenced my pretences, and enjoined me
    1350To trouble you upon that theme no more,
    Then what reception must love's language find
    From these bare limbs and beggar's humble weeds?
    Such as the voice of pardon to a wretch condemned;
    Such as the shouts
    1355Of succoring forces to a town besieged.
    Ah! What new method now of cruelty?
    Come to my arms, thou dearest, best of men,
    And take the kindest vows that ever were spoke
    By a protesting maid.
    Is it possible?
    By the dear vital stream that bathes my heart,
    These hallowed rags of thine, and naked virtue,
    These abject tassels, these fantastic shreds,
    (Ridiculous even to the meanest clown)
    1365To me are dearer than the richest pomp
    Of purple monarchs.
    Generous charming maid,
    The gods alone that made, can rate thy worth!
    This most amazing excellence shall be
    1370Fame's triumph in succeeding ages, when
    Thy bright example shall adorn the scene,
    And teach the world perfection.
    Cold and weary,
    We'll rest a while, Arante, on that straw,
    1375Then forward to find out the poor old king.
    Look, I have flint and steel, the implements
    Of wandering lunatics. I'll strike a light,
    And make a fire beneath this shed, to dry
    Thy storm-drenched garments, ere thou lie to rest thee.
    1380Then fierce and wakeful as the Hesperian dragon,
    I'll watch beside thee to protect thy sleep.
    Meanwhile, the stars shall dart their kindest beams,
    And angels visit my Cordelia's dreams.
    1385The palace.
    Enter Cornwall, Regan, Bastard, servants. Cornwall with Gloster's letters.
    I will have my revenge ere I depart his house.
    Regan, see here, a plot upon our state.
    'Tis Gloster's character, that has betrayed
    1390His double trust of subject and of host.
    Then double be our vengeance. This confirms
    The intelligence that we now received,
    That he has been this night to seek the king.
    But who, sir, was the kind discoverer?
    Our eagle, quick to spy, and fierce to seize,
    Our trusty Edmund.
    'Twas a noble service.
    Oh, Cornwall, take him to thy deepest trust,
    And wear him as a jewel at thy heart.
    Think, sir, how hard a fortune I sustain,
    That makes me thus repent of serving you!
    O that this treason had not been, or I
    Not the discoverer.
    Edmund, thou shalt find
    A father in our love, and from this minute
    We call thee Earl of Gloster. But there yet
    Remains another justice to be done,
    And that's to punish this discarded traitor.
    1410But lest thy tender nature should relent
    At his just sufferings, nor brook the sight,
    We wish thee to withdraw.
    The grotto, sir, within the lower grove,
    To Edmund aside
    1415Has privacy to suit a mourner's thought.
    And there I may expect a comforter,
    Ha, madam?
    What may happen, sir, I know not.
    But 'twas a friend's advice.
    1420Exit Bastard.
    Bring in the traitor.
    Gloster brought in.
    Bind fast his arms.
    What mean your graces?
    1425You are my guests, pray do me no foul play.
    Bind him, I say. Hard, harder yet.
    Now, traitor, thou shalt find --
    Speak, rebel, where hast thou sent the king?
    Whom spite of our decree thou saw'st last night.
    I'm tied to the stake, and I must stand the course.
    Say where and why thou hast concealed him.
    Because I would not see thy cruel hands
    Tear out his poor old eyes, nor thy fierce sister
    Carve his anointed flesh. But I shall see
    1435The swift-winged vengeance overtake such children.
    See't shalt thou never. Slaves, perform your work.
    Out with those treacherous eyes. Dispatch, I say,
    If thou seest vengeance --
    He that will think to live 'till he be old,
    1440Give me some help – Oh, cruel! Oh! Ye gods.
    They put out his eyes.
    Hold, hold, my lord, I bar your cruelty.
    I cannot love your safety and give way
    To such a barbarous practice.
    Ha, my villain.
    I have been your servant from my infancy,
    But better service have I never done you
    Then with this boldness --
    Take thy death, slave.
    Nay, then revenge whilst yet my blood is warm.
    Help here -- are you not hurt, my lord?
    Edmund, enkindle all the sparks of nature
    To quit this horrid act.
    Out, treacherous villain,
    Thou call'st on him that hates thee. It was he
    That broached thy treason, showed us thy dispatches.
    There -- read, and save the Cambrian prince a
    1460If thy eyes fail thee call for spectacles.
    O my folly!
    Than Edgar was abused. Kind gods forgive me that.
    How is it, my lord?
    Turn out that eyeless villain, let him smell
    1465His way to Cambrai. Throw this slave upon a dunghill.
    I bleed apace, give me your arm.
    All dark and comfortless!
    1470Where are those various objects that but now
    Employed my busy eyes? Where those eyes?
    Dead are their piercing rays that lately shot
    Over flowery vales to distant sunny hills,
    And drew with joy the vast horizon in.
    1475These groping hands are now my only guides,
    And feeling all my sight.
    O misery! What words can sound my grief?
    Shut from the living whilst among the living.
    Dark as the grave amidst the bustling world.
    1480At once from business and from pleasure barred.
    No more to view the beauty of the spring,
    Nor see the face of kindred, or of friend.
    Yet still one way the extremest fate affords,
    And even the blind can find the way to death.
    1485Must I then tamely die, and unrevenged?
    So Lear may fall. No, with these bleeding rings
    I will present me to the pitying crowd,
    And with the rhetoric of these dropping veins
    Enflame them to revenge their king and me.
    1490Then when the glorious mischief is on wing,
    This lumber from some precipice I'll throw,
    And dash it on the ragged flint below.
    Whence my freed soul to her bright sphere shall fly,
    Through boundless orbs, eternal regions spy,
    1495And like the sun, be all one glorious eye.
    ACT IV
    A grotto.
    Edmund and Regan amorously seated,
    listening to music.
    Why were those beauties made another's right
    Which none can prize like me? Charming queen,
    Take all my blooming youth, forever fold me
    In those soft arms, lull me in endless sleep
    That I may dream of pleasures too transporting
    1505For life to bear.
    Live, live, my Gloster,
    And feel no death but that of swooning joy.
    I yield thee blisses on no harder terms
    Than that thou continue to be happy.
    This jealousy is yet more kind. Is it possible
    That I should wander from a paradise
    To feed on sickly weeds? Such sweets live here
    That constancy will be no virtue in me.
    And yet must I forthwith go meet her sister,
    To whom I must protest as much.
    Suppose it be the same; why, best of all,
    And I have then my lesson ready conned.
    Wear this remembrance of me. I dare now
    1520Gives him a ring.
    Absent myself no longer from the duke
    Whose wound grows dangerous -- I hope mortal.
    And let this happy image of your Gloster,
    Pulling out a picture drops a note.
    1525Lodge in that breast where all his treasure lies.
    To this brave youth a woman's blooming beauties
    Are due; my fool usurps my bed. What's here?
    Confusion on my eyes.
    "Where merit is so transparent, not to behold it were
    blindness, and not to reward it, ingratitude.
    Vexatious accident! Yet fortunate, too.
    1535My jealousy's confirmed, and I am taught
    To cast for my defense --
    Enter an Officer.
    Now, what mean those shouts? And what thy hasty entrance?
    A most surprising and a sudden change.
    1540The peasants are all up in mutiny,
    And only want a chief to lead them on
    To storm your palace.
    On what provocation?
    At last day's public festival, to which
    1545The yeomen from all quarters had repaired,
    Old Gloster, whom you late deprived of sight,
    (His veins yet streaming fresh) presents himself,
    Proclaims your cruelty and their oppression,
    With the king's injuries. Which so enraged them,
    1550That now that mutiny which long had crept,
    Takes wing and threatens your best powers.
    White-livered slave!
    Our forces raised and led by valiant Edmund
    Shall drive this monster of rebellion back
    1555To her dark cell. Young Gloster's arm allays
    The storm his father's feeble breath did raise.
    The field.
    Enter Edgar.
    The lowest and most abject thing of fortune
    Stands still in hope, and is secure from fear.
    The lamentable change is from the best;
    The worst returns to better. Who comes here?
    Enter Gloster, led by an Old Man.
    1565My father poorly led? Deprived of sight?
    The precious stones torn from their bleeding rings!
    Something I heard of this inhuman deed
    But disbelieved it, as an act too horrid
    For the hot hell of a cursed woman's fury.
    1570When will the measure of my woes be full?
    Revenge, thou art afoot, success attend thee.
    Well have I sold my eyes, if the event
    Prove happy for the injured king.
    Old Man
    O, my good lord, I have been your tenant and your father's
    1575Tenant these fourscore years.
    Away, get thee away, good friend, be gone.
    Thy comforts can do me no good at all,
    Thee they may hurt.
    Old Man
    You cannot see your way.
    I have no way, and therefore want no eyes.
    I stumbled when I saw. O dear son Edgar,
    The food of thy abused father's wrath,
    Might I but live to see thee in my touch
    I'd say I had eyes again.
    Alas, he's sensible that I was wronged,
    And should I own myself, his tender heart
    Would break betwixt the extremes of grief and joy.
    Old Man
    How now, who's there?
    A charity for poor Tom. Play fair, and defy the foul
    O gods! And must I still pursue this trade,
    Trifling beneath such loads of misery?
    Old Man
    'Tis poor mad Tom.
    In the late storm I such a fellow saw,
    Which made me think a man a worm.
    Where is the lunatic?
    Old Man
    Here, my lord.
    Get thee now away. If for my sake
    1600Thou wilt overtake us hence a mile or two
    In the way toward Dover, do it for ancient love,
    And bring some covering for this naked wretch
    Whom I'll entreat to lead me.
    Old Man
    Alack, my lord, he's mad.
    'Tis the time's plague when madmen lead the blind.
    Do as I bid thee.
    Old Man
    I'll bring him the best apparel that I have
    Come on it what will.
    Sirrah, naked fellow.
    Poor Tom's a cold -- I cannot fool it longer,
    And yet I must -- bless thy sweet eyes, they bleed.
    Believe it Poor Tom even weeps his blind to see them.
    Know'st thou the way to Dover?
    Both stile and gate, horseway and footpath. Poor Tom has
    been scared out of his good wits. Bless every true man's son from
    the foul fiend.
    Here, take this purse; that I am wretched
    Makes thee the happier, heaven deal so still.
    1620Thus let the griping usurer's hoard be scattered,
    So distribution shall undo excess,
    And each man have enough. Dost thou know Dover?
    Ay, master.
    There is a cliff, whose high and bending head
    1625Looks dreadfully down on the roaring deep.
    Bring me but to the very brink of it,
    And I'll repair the poverty thou bear'st
    With something rich about me. From that place
    I shall no leading need.
    Give me thy arm. Poor Tom shall guide thee.
    Soft, for I hear the tread of passengers.
    Enter Kent and Cordelia.
    Ah me! Your fear's too true, it was the king.
    I spoke but now with some that met him
    1635As mad as the vexed sea, singing aloud,
    Crowned with rank fumiter and furrow weeds,
    With berries, burdocks, violets, daisies, poppies,
    And all the idle flowers that grow
    In our sustaining corn. Conduct me to him
    1640To prove my last endeavors to restore him,
    And heaven so prosper thee.
    I will, good lady.
    Ha, Gloster here! -- Turn, poor dark man, and
    1645A friend's condolement, who at sight of thine
    Forgets his own distress, thy old true Kent.
    How, Kent? From whence returned?
    I have not since my banishment been absent,
    But in disguise followed the abandoned king.
    1650'Twas me thou saw'st with him in the late storm.
    Let me embrace thee. Had I eyes I now
    Should weep for joy, but let this trickling blood
    Suffice instead of tears.
    O misery!
    1655To whom shall I complain, or in what language?
    Forgive, O wretched man, the piety
    That brought thee to this pass, 'twas I that caused it.
    I cast me at thy feet, and beg of thee
    To crush these weeping eyes to equal darkness,
    1660If that will give thee any recompense.
    Was ever season so distressed as this?
    I think Cordelia's voice! Easy, pious princess,
    And take a dark man's blessing.
    Oh, my Edgar,
    My virtue's now grown guilty, works the bane
    Of those that do befriend me. Heaven forsakes me,
    And when you look that way, it is but just
    That you should hate me too.
    O waive this cutting speech, and spare to wound
    A heart that's on the rack.
    No longer cloud thee, Kent, in that disguise.
    There's business for thee and of noblest weight.
    Our injured country is at length in arms,
    1675Urged by the king's inhuman wrongs and mine,
    And only want a chief to lead them on.
    That task be thine.
    Brave Britons, then there's life in it yet.
    Then have we one cast for our fortune yet.
    Come, princess, I'll bestow you with the king,
    Then on the spur to head these forces.
    Farewell, good Gloster, to our conduct trust.
    And be your cause as prosperous as 'tis just.
    Gonerill's palace. Enter Gonerill, [her Gentleman,] attendants.
    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,
    1690In pity to his misery, to dispatch him.
    No, madam, he's returned on speedy summons
    Back to your sister.
    Ha! I like not that.
    Such speed must have the wings of love. Where's Albany?
    Madam, within, but never man so changed.
    I told him of the uproar of the peasants,
    He smiled at it. When I informed him
    Of Gloster's treason --
    Trouble him no further,
    1700It is his coward spirit. Back to our sister,
    Hasten her musters, and let her know
    I have given the distaff into my husband's hands.
    That done, with special care deliver these dispatches
    In private to young Gloster.
    1705Enter a Messenger.
    O madam, most unseasonable news.
    The Duke of Cornwall's dead of his late wound,
    Whose loss your sister has in part supplied,
    Making brave Edmund general of her forces.
    One way I like this well;
    But being widow and my Gloster with her
    May blast the promised harvest of our love.
    A word more, sir: add speed to your journey,
    And if you chance to meet with that blind traitor,
    1715Preferment falls on him that cuts him off.
    Field. [Enter] Gloster and Edgar.
    When shall we come to the top of that same hill?
    We climb it now, mark how we labor.
    Methinks the ground is even.
    Horrible steep. Hark, do you hear the sea?
    No, truly.
    Why then your other senses grow imperfect
    By your eyes' anguish.
    So may it be indeed.
    Methinks thy voice is altered, and thou speak'st
    In better phrase and matter than thou didst.
    You are much deceived. In nothing am I altered
    But in my garments.
    Methinks you are better spoken.
    Come on, sir, here's the place. How fearful
    And dizzy 'tis to cast one's eyes so low.
    The crows and choughs that wing the midway air
    Show scarce so big as beetles. Halfway down
    1735Hangs one that gathers samphire, dreadful trade!
    The fishermen that walk upon the beach
    Appear like mice, and yon tall anchoring bark
    Almost too small for sight. The murmuring surge
    1740Cannot be heard so high. I'll look no more
    Lest my brain turn, and the disorder make me
    Tumble down headlong.
    Set me where you stand.
    You are now within a foot of the extreme verge.
    1745For all beneath the moon I would not now
    Leap forward.
    Let go my hand.
    Here, friend, is another purse, in it a jewel
    Well worth a poor man's taking; get thee further,
    1750Bid me farewell, and let me hear thee going.
    Fare you well, sir. -- That I do trifle thus
    With this his despair is with design to cure it.
    Thus, mighty gods, this world I do renounce,
    And in your sight shake my afflictions off.
    1755If I could bear them longer and not fall
    To quarrel with your great opposeless wills,
    My snuff and feebler part of nature should
    Burn itself out. If Edgar live, oh bless him.
    Now, fellow, fare thee well.
    Gone, sir! Farewell.
    And yet I know not how conceit may rob
    The treasury of life. Had he been where he thought,
    By this had thought been past -- Alive, or dead?
    Hoa sir, friend; hear you, sir, speak --
    1765Thus might he pass indeed -- yet he revives.
    What are you, sir?
    Away, and let me die.
    Hadst thou been ought but gossamer, feathers, air,
    Falling so many fathom down
    1770Thou hadst shivered like an egg. But thou dost breathe,
    Hast heavy substance, bleed'st not, speak'st, art sound.
    Thy life's a miracle.
    But have I fallen or no?
    From the dread summit of this chalky bourn.
    1775Look up a-height, the shrill-tuned lark so high
    Cannot be seen or heard; do but look up.
    Alack, I have no eyes.
    Is wretchedness deprived that benefit
    To end itself by death?
    Give me your arm.
    Up, so, how is it? Feel you your legs? You stand.
    Too well, too well.
    Upon the crown of 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, wide nostrils breathing fire.
    It was some fiend. Therefore, thou happy father,
    Think that the all-powerful gods, who make them honors
    1790Of men's impossibilities, have preserved thee.
    'Tis wonderful. Henceforth I'll bear affliction
    Till it expire. The goblin which you speak of,
    I took it for a man. Oft-times it would say,
    "The fiend, the fiend." He led me to that place.
    Bear free and patient thoughts -- but who comes here?
    Enter Lear, a coronet of flowers on his head. Wreaths and garlands about him.
    No, no, they cannot touch me for coining. I am the king himself.
    Oh, piercing sight.
    Nature's above art in that respect. There's your press-money.
    1800That fellow handles his bow like a cow-keeper -- draw me a
    clothier's yard. A mouse, a mouse! Peace hoa. There's my
    gauntlet, I'll prove it on a giant. Bring up the brown bills. O
    well flown, bird. In the white, in the white -- Hewgh! Give
    the word.
    Sweet marjoram.
    I know that voice.
    Ha! Gonerill with a white beard! They flattered me like a
    dog, and told me I had white hairs on my chin before the black
    1810ones were there. To say "Aye" and "No" to everything that I said "Aye"
    and "No" to was no good divinity. When the rain came once to wet
    me, and the winds to make me chatter; when the thunder would not
    peace at my bidding, there I found them, there I smelt them out. Go
    too, they are not men of their words. They told me I was a king;
    1815'tis a lie, I am not ague-proof.
    That voice I well remember, is it not the king's?
    Aye, every inch a king. When I do stare,
    See how the subject quakes.
    I pardon that man's life. What was the cause?
    1820Adultery? Thou shalt not die. Die for adultery!
    The wren goes to it, and the small gilded fly
    Engenders in my sight. Let copulation thrive,
    For Gloster's bastard son was kinder to his father
    Than were my daughters got in the lawful bed.
    1825To it, luxury, pell-mell, for I lack soldiers.
    Not all my sorrows past so deep have touched me,
    As these sad accents. Sight were now a torment --
    Behold that simpering lady, she that starts
    At pleasure's name, and thinks her ear profaned
    1830With the least wanton word. Would you believe it?
    The fitcher nor the pampered steed goes to it
    With such a 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 fiends: there's hell, there's
    1835darkness, the sulphurous unfathomed -- fie! Fie! Pah!
    -- an ounce of civet, good apothecary, to sweeten my
    imagination -- there's money for thee.
    Let me kiss that hand.
    Let me wipe it first, it smells of mortality.
    Speak, sir. Do you know me?
    I remember thy eyes well enough. Nay, do thy worst, blind
    Cupid, I'll not love. Read me this challenge, mark
    but the penning of it.
    Were all the letters suns, I could not see.
    I would not take this from report. Wretched Cordelia,
    What will thy virtue do when thou shalt find
    This fresh affliction added to the tale
    Of thy unparalleled griefs?
    What, with this case of eyes?
    Oh ho! Are you there with me? No eyes in your head, and no money
    in your purse? Yet you see how this world goes.
    I see it feelingly.
    What? Art mad? A man may see how this world goes with no eyes.
    1855Look with thy ears, see how yon justice rails on that simple
    thief. Shake them together, and the first that drops, be it thief
    or justice, is a villain. Thou hast seen a farmer's dog
    bark at a beggar?
    Aye, sir.
    And the man ran from the cur. There thou might'st behold the
    great image of authority: a dog's obeyed in office. Thou, rascal
    beadle, hold thy bloody hand; why dost thou lash that strumpet?
    Thou hotly lust'st to enjoy her in that kind for which thou
    whip'st her. Do, do, the judge that sentenced her has been
    1865beforehand with thee.
    How stiff is my vile sense that yields not yet?
    I tell thee the usurer hangs the cozener. Through tattered robes
    small vices do appear, robes and fur gowns hide all. Place sins
    with gold -- why there it is for thee, my friend, make much of it.
    1870It has 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. Pull, pull off my boots, hard, harder, so, so.
    O matter and impertinency mixed,
    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 taste the air
    We wail and cry -- I'll preach to thee, mark.
    Break, laboring heart.
    When we are born, we cry that we are come
    To this great stage of fools.
    Enter two or three Gentlemen.
    Oh, here he is, lay hand upon him. Sir,
    1885Your dearest daughter sends --
    No rescue? What, a prisoner? I am even the natural fool of
    Fortune. Use me well, you shall have ransom. Let me have
    surgeons, oh I am cut to the brains.
    You shall have anything.
    No seconds? All myself? I will die bravely like a smug
    bridegroom, flushed and pampered as a priest's whore. I am a king,
    my masters, know ye that?
    You are a royal one, and we obey you.
    It were an excellent stratagem to shoe a troop of horse with
    1895felt. I'll put in proof -- no noise, no noise -- now
    will we steal upon these sons-in-law, and then -- kill,
    kill, kill, kill!
    Exit running.
    A sight most moving in the meanest wretch,
    1900Past speaking in a king. Now, good sir, what are you?
    A most poor man made tame to fortune's strokes,
    And prone to pity by experienced sorrows. Give me your hand.
    You ever-gentle gods, take my breath from me,
    And let not my ill genius tempt me more
    1905To die before you please.
    Enter Gonerill's Gentleman.
    A proclaimed prize! Oh, most happily met.
    That eyeless head of thine was first framed flesh
    To raise my fortunes. Thou old, unhappy traitor,
    1910The 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 published traitor? Hence,
    Lest I destroy thee too. 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 volk pass. And 'chu'd
    ha' bin zwaggered out of my life, it would not a bin zo long as
    'tis by a vortnight. Nay, an' thou com'st near th' old
    1920man, I'ce try whether your costard or my ballow be th' harder.
    Out, dunghill.
    'Chill pick your teeth, zir. Come, no matter vor your voines.
    Slave, thou hast slain me. Oh, untimely death.
    I know thee well; a serviceable villain,
    1925As duteous to the vices of thy mistress
    As lust could wish.
    What, is he dead?
    Sit you, sir, and rest you.
    This is a letter carrier, and may have
    1930Some papers of intelligence that may stand
    Our party in good stead to know. What's here?
    Takes a letter out of his pocket, opens and
    "To Edmund, Earl of Gloster.
    1935Let our mutual loves be remembered. You have many opportunities
    to cut him off. If he return the conqueror then I am still a
    prisoner, and his bed my jail, from the loathed warmth of which
    deliver me, and supply the place for your labor.
    1940A plot upon her husband's life,
    And the exchange my brother. Here in the sands
    I'll rake thee up, thou messenger of lust,
    Grieved only that thou hadst no other deathsman.
    In time and place convenient, I'll produce
    1945These letters to the sight of the injured duke
    As best shall serve our purpose. Come, your hand.
    Far off methinks I hear the beaten drum.
    Come, sir, I will bestow you with a friend.
    1950A chamber. Lear asleep on a couch. Cordelia, [Physician] and attendants standing by him.
    His sleep is sound, and may have good effect
    To cure his jarring senses, and repair
    This breach of nature.
    We have employed the utmost power of art,
    1955And this deep rest will perfect our design.
    O Regan, Gonerill, inhuman sisters,
    Had he not been your father, these white hairs
    Had challenged sure some pity. Was this a face
    To be exposed against the jarring winds?
    1960My enemy's dog, though he had bit me, should
    Have stood that night against my fire. He wakes, speak to
    Madam, do you, 'tis fittest.
    How does my royal lord? How fares Your Majesty?
    You do me wrong to take me out of the grave.
    Ha! Is this too a world of cruelty?
    I know my privilege; think not that I will
    Be used still like a wretched mortal. No, no,
    No more of that.
    Speak to me, sir, who am I?
    You are a soul in bliss, but I am bound
    Upon a wheel of fire, which my own tears
    Do scald like molten lead.
    Sir, do you know me?
    You are a spirit, I know. Where did you die?
    Still, still, far wide.
    Madam, he's scarce awake. He'll soon grow more composed.
    Where have I been? Where am I? Fair daylight!
    I am mightily abused. I should even die with pity
    1980To see another thus. I will not swear
    These are my hands.
    Oh, look upon me, sir,
    And hold your hands in blessing over me. Nay,
    You must not kneel.
    Pray do not mock me.
    I am a very foolish, fond old man,
    Fourscore and upward, and to deal plainly with you,
    I fear I am not in my perfect mind.
    Nay, then farewell to patience. Witness for me
    1990Ye mighty powers, I never complained till now!
    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 do I know
    1995Where I did sleep last night. Pray do not mock me
    For, as I am a man, I think that lady
    To be my child Cordelia.
    Oh, my dear, dear father!
    Be your tears wet? Yes faith. Pray do not weep.
    I know I have given thee cause, and am so humbled
    With crosses since, that I could ask
    Forgiveness of thee were it possible
    That thou couldst grant it; but I'm well assured
    2005Thou canst not. Therefore I do stand thy justice.
    If thou hast poison for me, I will drink it,
    Bless thee and die.
    Oh pity, sir, a bleeding heart, and cease
    This killing language.
    Tell me, friends, where am I?
    In your own kingdom, sir.
    Do not abuse me.
    Be comforted, good madam, for the violence
    Of his distemper's past. We'll lead him in
    2015Nor trouble him, till he is better settled.
    Wilt please you, sir, walk into freer air?
    You must bear with me, I am old and foolish.
    They lead him off.
    The gods restore you. Hark, I hear afar
    2020The beaten drum; old Kent's a man of his word.
    Oh for an arm
    Like the fierce thunderer's, when the earth-born sons
    Stormed heaven, to fight this injured father's battle.
    That I could shift my sex, and dye me deep
    2025In his opposer's blood. But as I may
    With women's weapons, piety and prayers,
    I'll aid his cause. You never-erring gods
    Fight on his side, and thunder on his foes
    Such tempest as his poor aged head sustained.
    2030Your image suffers when a monarch bleeds.
    'Tis your own cause; for that your succors bring.
    Revenge yourselves, and right an injured king.
    ACT V
    A camp.
    Enter Gonerill and Attendants.
    Our sister's powers already are arrived,
    And she herself has promised to prevent
    The night with her approach. Have you provided
    The banquet I bespoke for her reception
    At my tent?
    So, please your grace, we have.
    But thou, my poisoner, must prepare the bowl
    That crowns this banquet. When our mirth is high,
    The trumpets sounding and the flutes replying,
    Then is the time to give this fatal draught
    2045To this imperious sister. If then our arms succeed,
    Edmund, more dear than victory, is mine.
    But if defeat or death itself attend me,
    'Twill charm my ghost to think I've left behind me
    2050No happy rival. Hark, she comes.
    Enter Bastard in his tent.
    To both these sisters have I sworn my love,
    Each jealous of the other as the stung
    2055Are of the adder. Neither can be held
    If both remain alive. Where shall I fix?
    Cornwall is dead, and Regan's empty bed
    Seems cast by fortune for me, but already
    I have enjoyed her, and bright Gonerill
    2060With equal charms brings dear variety,
    And yet untasted beauty. I will use
    Her husband's countenance for the battle, then
    Usurp at once his bed and throne.
    Enter Officers.
    2065My trusty scouts, you are well returned. Have ye descried
    The strength and posture of the enemy?
    We have, and were surprised to find
    The banished Kent returned, and at their head;
    Your brother Edgar on the rear; old Gloster
    2070(a moving spectacle) led through their ranks,
    Whose powerful tongue and more prevailing wrongs
    Have so enraged their rustic spirits that with
    The approaching dawn we must expect their battle.
    You bring a welcome hearing. Each to his charge.
    2075Line well your ranks and stand on your award.
    Tonight repose you, and in the morn we'll give
    The sun a sight that shall be worth his rising.
    A valley near the camp.
    2080Enter Edgar and Gloster.
    Here, sir, take you 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.
    Thanks, friendly sir.
    The fortune your good cause deserves betide you.
    An alarum, after which Gloster speaks.
    The fight grows hot. The whole war's now at work,
    2090And the gored battle bleeds in every vein,
    Whilst drums and trumpets drown loud slaughter's roar.
    Where's Gloster now that used to head the fray,
    And scour the ranks where deadliest danger lay?
    Here like a shepherd in a lonely shade,
    2095Idle, unarmed, and listening to the fight.
    Yet the disabled courser, maimed and blind,
    When to his stall he hears the rattling war,
    Foaming with rage tears up the battered ground
    And tugs for liberty.
    2100No more of shelter, thou blind worm, but forth
    To the open field. The war may come this way
    And crush thee into rest. Here lay thee down
    And tear the earth, that work befits a mole.
    O dark despair! When, Edgar, wilt thou come
    2105To pardon and dismiss me to the grave!
    A retreat sounded.
    Hark! A retreat. The king has lost or won.
    Re-enter Edgar, bloody.
    Away, old man, give me your hand, away!
    2110King Lear has lost, he and his daughter taken,
    And this, ye gods, is all that I can save
    Of this most precious wreck! Give me your hand.
    No farther, sir, a man may rot even here.
    What? In ill thoughts again? Men must endure
    2115Their going hence even as their coming hither.
    And that's true, too.
    Flourish. Enter in conquest, Albany, Gonerill, Regan, Bastard. Lear, Kent, Cordelia prisoners.
    It is enough to have conquered, cruelty
    2120Should never survive the fight. Captain of the guards,
    Treat well your royal prisoners till you have
    Our further orders, as you hold our pleasure.
    Hark, sir, not as you hold our husband's pleasure
    To the Captain aside
    2125But as you hold your life, dispatch your prisoners.
    Our empire can have no sure settlement
    But in their death; the earth that covers them
    Binds fast our throne. Let me hear they are dead.
    I shall obey your orders.
    Sir, I approve it safest to pronounce
    Sentence of death upon this wretched king,
    Whose age has charms in it, his title more,
    To draw the commons once more to his side.
    'Twere best prevent --
    Sir, by your favor,
    I hold you but a subject of this war,
    Not as a brother.
    That's as we list to grace him.
    Have you forgot that he did lead our powers?
    2140Bore the commission of our place and person?
    And that authority may well stand up
    And call itself your brother.
    Not so hot.
    In his own merits he exalts himself
    2145More than in your addition.
    Enter Edgar, disguised.
    What art thou?
    Pardon me, sir, that I presume to stop
    A prince and conqueror, yet ere you triumph,
    2150Give ear to what a stranger can deliver
    Of what concerns you more than triumph can.
    I do impeach your general there of treason,
    Lord Edmund, that usurps the name of Gloster,
    Of foulest practice against your life and honor.
    2155This charge is true, and wretched though I seem
    I can produce a champion that will prove
    In single combat what I do avouch,
    If Edmund dares but trust his cause and sword.
    What will not Edmund dare! My lord, I beg
    2160The favor that you'd instantly appoint
    The place where I may meet this challenger,
    Whom I will sacrifice to my wronged fame.
    Remember, sir, that injured honor's nice
    And cannot brook delay.
    Anon, before our tent, in the army's view,
    There let the herald cry.
    I thank your highness in my champion's name.
    He'll wait your trumpet's call.
    Lear, Kent, Cordelia remain, guarded.
    Oh, Kent, Cordelia!
    You are the only pair that I ere wronged,
    And the just gods have made you witnesses
    2175Of my disgrace, the very shame of fortune,
    To see me chained and shackled at these years!
    Yet were you but spectators of my woes,
    Not fellow sufferers, all were well!
    This language, sir, adds yet to our affliction.
    Thou, Kent, didst head the troops that fought my
    Exposed thy life and fortunes for a master
    That had (as I remember) banished thee.
    Pardon me, sir, that once I broke your orders.
    2185Banished by you, I kept me here disguised
    To watch your fortunes, and protect your person.
    You know you entertained a rough blunt fellow,
    One Cajus, and you thought he did you service.
    My trusty Cajus, I have lost him too!
    'Twas a rough honesty.
    I was that Cajus,
    Disguised in that coarse dress to follow you.
    My Cajus too! Wert thou my trusty Cajus?
    2195Enough, enough --
    Ah me, he faints! His blood forsakes his cheek,
    Help, Kent --
    No, no, they shall not see us weep.
    We'll see them rot first. Guards lead away to prison.
    2200Come, Kent. Cordelia, come,
    We two will sit alone, like birds in the cage.
    When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down
    And ask of thee forgiveness. Thus we'll live,
    And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
    2205At gilded butterflies, hear sycophants
    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 us the mystery of things
    As if we were heaven's spies.
    Upon such sacrifices
    The gods themselves throw incense.
    Have I caught ye?
    He that parts us must bring a brand from heaven.
    Together we'll out-toil the spite of hell,
    2215And die the wonders of the world. Away.
    Exeunt, guarded.
    Flourish. Enter before the tents Albany, Gonerill, Regan, guards and attendants. Gonerill speaking apart to the Captain of the Guards entering.
    Here's gold for thee. Thou know'st our late command
    Upon your prisoners' lives; about it straight, and at
    2220Our evening banquet let it raise our mirth
    To hear that they are dead.
    I shall not fail your orders.
    Albany, Gonerill, Regan take their seats.
    Now, Gloster, trust to thy single virtue, for thy
    All levied in my name, have in my name
    Took their discharge. Now let our trumpets speak,
    And herald read out this.
    2230Herald reads.
    "If any man of quality, 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 defense." Again. Again.
    2235Trumpet answers from within.
    Enter Edgar, armed.
    Lord Edgar!
    Ha! My brother!
    This is the only combatant that I could fear;
    2240For in my breast guilt duels on his side.
    But, conscience, what have I to do with thee?
    Awe thou thy dull legitimate slaves, but I
    Was born a libertine, and so I keep me.
    My noble prince, a word. Ere we engage,
    2245Into Your Highness's hands I give this paper.
    It will the truth of my impeachment prove
    Whatever be my fortune in the fight.
    We shall peruse it.
    Now, Edmund, draw thy sword,
    2250That if my speech has wronged a noble heart,
    Thy arm may do thee justice. Here in the presence
    Of this high prince, these queens, and this crowned list,
    I brand thee with the spotted name of traitor;
    False to thy gods, thy father and thy brother;
    2255And what is more, thy friend, false to this prince.
    If then thou shar'st a spark of Gloster's virtue,
    Acquit thyself, or if thou shar'st his courage,
    Meet this defiance bravely.
    And dares Edgar,
    2260The beaten, routed Edgar, brave his conqueror?
    From all thy troops and thee, I forced the field.
    Thou hast lost the general stake, and art thou now
    Come with thy petty single stock to play
    This after-game?
    Half-blooded man,
    Thy father's sin first, then his punishment.
    The dark and vicious place where he begot thee
    Cost him his eyes. From thy licentious mother
    Thou draw'st thy villany; but for thy part
    2270Of Gloster's blood, I hold thee worth my sword.
    Thou bear'st thee on thy mother's piety,
    Which I despise. Thy mother being chaste
    Thou art assured thou art but Gloster's son.
    But mine, disdaining constancy, leaves me
    2275To hope that I am sprung from nobler blood,
    And possibly a king might be my sire.
    But be my birth's uncertain chance as 'twill,
    Who 'twas that had the hit to father me
    I know not; 'tis enough that I am I.
    2280Of this one thing I'm certain -- that I have
    A daring soul. And so, have at thy heart.
    Sound, trumpet.
    Fight, Bastard falls.
    Gonerill and Regan
    Save him, save him.
    This was practice, Gloster.
    Thou won'st the field, and wast not bound to fight
    A vanquished enemy. Thou art not conquered
    But cozened and betrayed.
    Shut your mouth, lady,
    2290Or with this paper I shall stop it. Hold, sir,
    Thou worse than any name, read thy own evil.
    No tearing, lady, I perceive you know it.
    Say if I do, who shall arraign me for it?
    The laws are mine, not thine.
    Most monstrous! Ha, thou know'st it too.
    Ask me not what I know,
    I have not breath to answer idle questions.
    I have resolved. Your right, brave sir, has conquered.
    To Edgar.
    2300Along with me, I must consult your father.
    Exeunt Albany and Edgar.
    Help every hand to save a noble life.
    My half of the kingdom for a man of skill
    To stop this precious stream.
    Away, ye emperics,
    Torment me not with your vain offices.
    The sword has pierced too far. Legitimacy
    At last has got it.
    The pride of nature dies.
    Away, the minutes are too precious.
    Disturb us not with thy impertinent sorrow.
    Art thou my rival then professed?
    Why, was our love a secret? Could there be
    Beauty like mine, and gallantry like his
    2315And not a mutual love? Just nature then
    Had erred. Behold that copy of perfection,
    That youth whose story will have no foul page
    But where it says he stooped to Regan's arms,
    Which yet was but compliance, not affection;
    2320A charity to begging, ruined beauty!
    Who begged when Gonerill writ that? Expose it
    Throws her a letter.
    And let it be your army's mirth, as 'twas
    This charming youth's and mine, when in the bower
    2325He breathed the warmest ecstasies of love.
    Then, panting on my breast, cried "Matchless Regan,
    That Gonerill and thou should ever be kin!"
    Die, Circe, for thy charms are at an end.
    Expire before my face, and let me see
    2330How well that boasted beauty will become
    Congealing blood and death's convulsive pangs.
    Die and be hushed, for at my tent last night
    Thou drank'st thy bane amidst thy reveling bowls.
    Ha! Dost thou smile? Is then thy death thy sport,
    2335Or has the trusty potion made thee mad?
    Thou com'st as short of me in thy revenge
    As in my Gloster's love. My jealousy
    Inspired me to prevent thy feeble malice
    And poison thee at thy own banquet.
    No more, my queens, of this untimely strife.
    You both deserved my love and both possessed it --
    Come, soldiers, bear me in -- and let
    Your royal presence grace my last minutes.
    2345Now, Edgar, thy proud conquest I forgive.
    Who would not choose, like me, to yield his breath
    To have rival queens contend for him in death?
    A prison.
    2350Lear asleep, with his head on Cordelia's lap.
    What toils, thou wretched king, hast thou endured
    To make thee draw, in chains, a sleep so sound?
    Thy better angel charm thy ravished mind
    With fancied freedom. Peace is used to lodge
    2355On 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 seized thee in this general wreck
    I know not, but I know thou must be wretched
    2360Because Cordelia holds thee dear.
    O gods! Sudden gloom overwhelms me, and the image
    Of death overspreads the place. Ha! Who are these?
    Enter Captain and officers with cords.
    Now, sirs, dispatch. Already you are paid
    2365In part, the best of your reward's to come.
    Charge, charge upon their flank, their last wing halts.
    Push, push the battle, and the day's our own.
    Their ranks are broke. Down, down with Albany.
    Who holds my hands? – Oh, thou deceiving sleep,
    2370I was this very minute on the chase.
    And now a prisoner here. What mean the slaves?
    You will not murder me?
    Help earth and heaven!
    For your souls' sakes, dear sirs, and for the gods'.
    No tears, good lady, no pleading against gold and preferment.
    Come, sirs, make ready your cords.
    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,
    2380If there be anything that you hold dear,
    By that I beg you to dispatch me first.
    Comply with her request, dispatch her first.
    Off hell-hounds, by the gods I charge you spare her.
    'Tis my Cordelia, my true pious daughter.
    2385No pity? Nay then, take an old man's vengeance.
    Snatches a partisan, and strikes down two of them. The rest quit Cordelia, and turn upon him. Enter Edgar and Albany.
    Death! Hell! Ye vultures hold your impious hands,
    Or take a speedier death than you would give.
    By whose command?
    Behold the duke, your lord.
    Guards, seize those instruments of cruelty.
    My Edgar, oh!
    My dear Cordelia, lucky was the minute
    Of our approach. The gods have weighed our sufferings;
    2395We are past the fire, and now must shine to ages.
    Look here, my lord, see where the generous king
    Has slain two of them.
    Did I not, fellow?
    I've seen the day, with my good biting falchion
    2400I 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.
    Bring in old Kent, and, Edgar, guide you hither
    Your father, whom you said was near.
    2405Exit Edgar.
    He may be an ear-witness at the least
    Of our proceedings.
    Kent brought in here.
    Who are you?
    2410My eyes are none of the 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 it Your Highness' pleasure
    To give us first the torture? Say ye so?
    2415Why here's old Kent and I, as tough a pair
    As ever bore tyrant's stroke. But my Cordelia,
    My poor Cordelia here, oh pity!
    Take off their chains. Thou injured majesty,
    The wheel of fortune now has made her circle,
    2420And blessings yet stand betwixt thy grave and thee.
    Com'st thou, inhuman lord, to soothe 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 gulled
    2425With lying hope. No, we will hope no more.
    I have a tale to unfold so full of wonder
    As cannot meet an easy faith,
    But by that royal injured head 'tis true.
    What would Your Highness?
    Know the noble Edgar
    Impeached Lord Edmund since the fight, of treason,
    And dared him for the proof to single combat,
    In which the gods confirmed his charge by conquest.
    I left even now the traitor wounded mortally.
    And whither tends this story?
    Ere they fought,
    Lord Edgar gave into my hands this paper,
    A blacker scroll of treason and of lust
    Than can be found in the records of hell.
    2440There, sacred sir, behold the character
    Of Gonerill, the worst of daughters, but
    More vicious wife.
    Could there be yet addition to their guilt?
    What will not they that wrong a father do?
    Since then my injuries, Lear, fall in with thine.
    I have resolved the same redress for both.
    What says my lord?
    Speak, for me thought I heard
    The charming voice of a descending god.
    The troops by Edmund raised, 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 applied,
    For to your majesty we do resign
    2455Your kingdom, save what part yourself conferred
    On us in marriage.
    Hear you that, my liege?
    Then there are gods, and virtue is their care.
    Is it possible?
    2460Let the spheres stop their course, the sun make halt,
    The winds be hushed, the seas and fountains rest;
    All nature pause, and listen to the change.
    Where is my Kent, my Cajus?
    Here, my liege.
    Why, I have news that will recall thy youth.
    Ha! Didst thou hear it, or did the inspiring gods
    Whisper to me alone? Old Lear shall be
    A king again.
    The prince, that like a god has power, has said it.
    Cordelia then shall be a queen, mark that;
    Cordelia shall be queen. Winds catch the sound
    And bear it on your rosy wings to heaven.
    Cordelia is a queen.
    Re-enter Edgar with Gloster.
    Look, sir, where pious Edgar comes
    Leading his eyeless father. O my liege!
    His wondrous story will deserve your leisure,
    What he has done and suffered for your sake,
    What for the fair Cordelia's.
    Where is my liege? Conduct me to his knees to hail
    His second birth of empire. My dear Edgar
    Has, with himself, revealed the king's blest restoration.
    My poor, dark Gloster.
    O let me kiss that once-more sceptered hand!
    Hold, thou mistak'st the majesty, kneel here.
    Cordelia has our power, Cordelia's queen.
    Speak, is not that the noble suffering Edgar?
    My pious son, more dear than my lost eyes.
    I wronged him too, but here's the fair amends.
    Your leave, my liege, for an unwelcome message.
    Edmund (but that's a trifle) is expired.
    What more will touch you: your imperious daughters
    Gonerill and haughty Regan, both are dead,
    Each by the other poisoned at a banquet.
    2495This, dying, they confessed.
    O fatal period of ill-governed life!
    Ingrateful as they were, my heart feels yet
    A pang of nature for their wretched fall.
    But, Edgar, I defer thy joys too long.
    2500Thou served'st distressed Cordelia; take her crowned,
    The imperial grace fresh blooming on her brow.
    Nay, Gloster, thou hast here a father's right.
    Thy helping hand to heap blessings on their head.
    Old Kent throws in his hearty wishes too.
    The gods and you too largely recompense
    What I have done. The gift strikes merit dumb.
    Nor do I blush to own myself overpaid
    For all my sufferings past.
    Now, gentle gods, give Gloster his discharge.
    No, Gloster, thou hast business yet for life.
    Thou, Kent and I, retired to some cool cell,
    Will gently pass our short reserves of time
    In calm reflections on our fortunes past,
    Cheered with relation of the prosperous reign
    2515Of this celestial pair. Thus our remains
    Shall in an even course of thought be passed.
    Enjoy the present hour, nor fear the last.
    Our drooping country now erects her head,
    Peace spreads her balmy wings, and plenty blooms.
    It was important to Tate's politics that his play end with the restoration of peace. See more. [[ Document Tate_footnotes does not exist ]]
    2520Divine Cordelia, all the gods can witness
    How much thy love to empire I prefer!
    Thy bright example shall convince the world
    (Whatever storms of fortune are decreed)
    That truth and virtue shall at last succeed.
    2525Exeunt all.
    Inconstancy, the reigning sin of the age,
    Will scarce endure true lovers on the stage.
    You hardly even in plays with such dispense,
    And poets kill them in their own defense.
    2530Yet one bold proof I was resolved to give,
    That I could three hours' constancy outlive.
    You fear, perhaps, whilst on the stage we are made
    Such saints, we shall indeed take up the trade.
    Sometimes we threaten -- but our virtue may
    2535For truth I fear with your pit-valor weigh.
    For (not to flatter either) I much doubt
    When we are off the stage, and you are out,
    We are not quite so coy, nor you so stout.
    We talk of nunneries -- but to be sincere,
    2540Whoever lives to see us cloistered there,
    May hope to meet our critics at Tangier.
    For shame, give over this inglorious trade
    Of worrying poets, and go maul the Alcade.
    Well -- since you are all for blustering in the pit,
    2545This play's reviver humbly does admit
    Your absolute power to damn his part of it.
    But still so many master-touches shine
    Of that vast hand that first laid this design,
    That in great Shakespeare's right, he's bold to say
    2550If you like nothing you have seen today
    The play your judgment damns, not you the play.