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We must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

      — Julius Caesar, Act IV Scene 3

The Tragedy of King Lear

Act IV

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Scene 1. The heath.

Scene 2. Before the Duke of Albany’s Palace.

Scene 3. The French camp near Dover.

Scene 4. The French camp.

Scene 5. Gloucester’s Castle.

Scene 6. The country near Dover.

Scene 7. A tent in the French camp.

---
       

Act IV, Scene 1

The heath.

      next scene .
---

Enter Edgar.

  • Edgar. Yet better thus, and known to be contemn'd,
    Than still contemn'd and flatter'd. To be worst,
    The lowest and most dejected thing of fortune,
    Stands still in esperance, lives not in fear. 2250
    The lamentable change is from the best;
    The worst returns to laughter. Welcome then,
    Thou unsubstantial air that I embrace!
    The wretch that thou hast blown unto the worst
    Owes nothing to thy blasts. 2255
    [Enter Gloucester, led by an Old Man.]
    But who comes here?
    My father, poorly led? World, world, O world!
    But that thy strange mutations make us hate thee,
    Life would not yield to age. 2260
  • Old Man. O my good lord,
    I have been your tenant, and your father's tenant,
    These fourscore years.
  • Earl of Gloucester. Away, get thee away! Good friend, be gone.
    Thy comforts can do me no good at all; 2265
    Thee they may hurt.
  • Earl of Gloucester. I have no way, and therefore want no eyes;
    I stumbled when I saw. Full oft 'tis seen
    Our means secure us, and our mere defects 2270
    Prove our commodities. Ah dear son Edgar,
    The food of thy abused father's wrath!
    Might I but live to see thee in my touch,
    I'ld say I had eyes again!
  • Old Man. How now? Who's there? 2275
  • Edgar. [aside] O gods! Who is't can say 'I am at the worst'?
    I am worse than e'er I was.
  • Edgar. [aside] And worse I may be yet. The worst is not
    So long as we can say 'This is the worst.' 2280
  • Earl of Gloucester. He has some reason, else he could not beg.
    I' th' last night's storm I such a fellow saw, 2285
    Which made me think a man a worm. My son
    Came then into my mind, and yet my mind
    Was then scarce friends with him. I have heard more since.
    As flies to wanton boys are we to th' gods.
    They kill us for their sport. 2290
  • Edgar. [aside] How should this be?
    Bad is the trade that must play fool to sorrow,
    Ang'ring itself and others.- Bless thee, master!
  • Earl of Gloucester. Then prithee get thee gone. If for my sake
    Thou wilt o'ertake us hence a mile or twain
    I' th' way toward Dover, do it for ancient love;
    And bring some covering for this naked soul,
    Who I'll entreat to lead me. 2300
  • Earl of Gloucester. 'Tis the time's plague when madmen lead the blind.
    Do as I bid thee, or rather do thy pleasure.
    Above the rest, be gone.
  • Old Man. I'll bring him the best 'parel that I have, 2305
    Come on't what will. Exit.
  • Edgar. Poor Tom's acold. [Aside] I cannot daub it further.
  • Edgar. [aside] And yet I must.- Bless thy sweet eyes, they bleed. 2310
  • Edgar. Both stile and gate, horseway and footpath. Poor Tom hath been
    scar'd out of his good wits. Bless thee, good man's son, from
    the foul fiend! Five fiends have been in poor Tom at once: of
    lust, as Obidicut; Hobbididence, prince of dumbness; Mahu, of 2315
    stealing; Modo, of murder; Flibbertigibbet, of mopping and
    mowing, who since possesses chambermaids and waiting women. So,
    bless thee, master!
  • Earl of Gloucester. Here, take this purse, thou whom the heavens' plagues
    Have humbled to all strokes. That I am wretched 2320
    Makes thee the happier. Heavens, deal so still!
    Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man,
    That slaves your ordinance, that will not see
    Because he does not feel, feel your pow'r quickly;
    So distribution should undo excess, 2325
    And each man have enough. Dost thou know Dover?
  • Earl of Gloucester. There is a cliff, whose high and bending head
    Looks fearfully in the confined deep.
    Bring me but to the very brim of it, 2330
    And I'll repair the misery thou dost bear
    With something rich about me. From that place
    I shall no leading need.
  • Edgar. Give me thy arm.
    Poor Tom shall lead thee. 2335

Exeunt.

---
. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 2

Before the Duke of Albany’s Palace.

      next scene .
---

Enter Goneril and [Edmund the] Bastard.

  • Goneril. Welcome, my lord. I marvel our mild husband
    Not met us on the way. [Enter Oswald the Steward.]
    Now, where's your master? 2340
  • Oswald. Madam, within, but never man so chang'd.
    I told him of the army that was landed:
    He smil'd at it. I told him you were coming:
    His answer was, 'The worse.' Of Gloucester's treachery
    And of the loyal service of his son 2345
    When I inform'd him, then he call'd me sot
    And told me I had turn'd the wrong side out.
    What most he should dislike seems pleasant to him;
    What like, offensive.
  • Goneril. [to Edmund] Then shall you go no further. 2350
    It is the cowish terror of his spirit,
    That dares not undertake. He'll not feel wrongs
    Which tie him to an answer. Our wishes on the way
    May prove effects. Back, Edmund, to my brother.
    Hasten his musters and conduct his pow'rs. 2355
    I must change arms at home and give the distaff
    Into my husband's hands. This trusty servant
    Shall pass between us. Ere long you are like to hear
    (If you dare venture in your own behalf)
    A mistress's command. Wear this. [Gives a favour.] 2360
    Spare speech.
    Decline your head. This kiss, if it durst speak,
    Would stretch thy spirits up into the air.
    Conceive, and fare thee well.
  • Edmund. Yours in the ranks of death! Exit. 2365
  • Goneril. My most dear Gloucester!
    O, the difference of man and man!
    To thee a woman's services are due;
    My fool usurps my body.
  • Oswald. Madam, here comes my lord. Exit. 2370

Enter Albany.

  • Goneril. I have been worth the whistle.
  • Duke of Albany. O Goneril,
    You are not worth the dust which the rude wind
    Blows in your face! I fear your disposition. 2375
    That nature which contemns it origin
    Cannot be bordered certain in itself.
    She that herself will sliver and disbranch
    From her material sap, perforce must wither
    And come to deadly use. 2380
  • Goneril. No more! The text is foolish.
  • Duke of Albany. Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile;
    Filths savour but themselves. What have you done?
    Tigers, not daughters, what have you perform'd?
    A father, and a gracious aged man, 2385
    Whose reverence even the head-lugg'd bear would lick,
    Most barbarous, most degenerate, have you madded.
    Could my good brother suffer you to do it?
    A man, a prince, by him so benefited!
    If that the heavens do not their visible spirits 2390
    Send quickly down to tame these vile offences,
    It will come,
    Humanity must perforce prey on itself,
    Like monsters of the deep.
  • Goneril. Milk-liver'd man! 2395
    That bear'st a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs;
    Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning
    Thine honour from thy suffering; that not know'st
    Fools do those villains pity who are punish'd
    Ere they have done their mischief. Where's thy drum? 2400
    France spreads his banners in our noiseless land,
    With plumed helm thy state begins to threat,
    Whiles thou, a moral fool, sit'st still, and criest
    'Alack, why does he so?'
  • Duke of Albany. See thyself, devil! 2405
    Proper deformity seems not in the fiend
    So horrid as in woman.
  • Duke of Albany. Thou changed and self-cover'd thing, for shame!
    Bemonster not thy feature! Were't my fitness 2410
    To let these hands obey my blood,
    They are apt enough to dislocate and tear
    Thy flesh and bones. Howe'er thou art a fiend,
    A woman's shape doth shield thee.
  • Goneril. Marry, your manhood mew! 2415

Enter a Gentleman.

  • Gentleman. O, my good lord, the Duke of Cornwall 's dead,
    Slain by his servant, going to put out
    The other eye of Gloucester. 2420
  • Gentleman. A servant that he bred, thrill'd with remorse,
    Oppos'd against the act, bending his sword
    To his great master; who, thereat enrag'd,
    Flew on him, and amongst them fell'd him dead; 2425
    But not without that harmful stroke which since
    Hath pluck'd him after.
  • Duke of Albany. This shows you are above,
    You justicers, that these our nether crimes
    So speedily can venge! But O poor Gloucester! 2430
    Lost he his other eye?
  • Gentleman. Both, both, my lord.
    This letter, madam, craves a speedy answer.
    'Tis from your sister.
  • Goneril. [aside] One way I like this well; 2435
    But being widow, and my Gloucester with her,
    May all the building in my fancy pluck
    Upon my hateful life. Another way
    The news is not so tart.- I'll read, and answer. Exit.
  • Gentleman. No, my good lord; I met him back again.
  • Gentleman. Ay, my good lord. 'Twas he inform'd against him, 2445
    And quit the house on purpose, that their punishment
    Might have the freer course.
  • Duke of Albany. Gloucester, I live
    To thank thee for the love thou show'dst the King,
    And to revenge thine eyes. Come hither, friend. 2450
    Tell me what more thou know'st.

Exeunt.

---
. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 3

The French camp near Dover.

      next scene .
---

Enter Kent and a Gentleman.

  • Earl of Kent. Why the King of France is so suddenly gone back know you the
    reason? 2455
  • Gentleman. Something he left imperfect in the state, which since his
    coming forth is thought of, which imports to the kingdom so much
    fear and danger that his personal return was most required and
    necessary.
  • Gentleman. The Marshal of France, Monsieur La Far.
  • Earl of Kent. Did your letters pierce the Queen to any demonstration of
    grief?
  • Gentleman. Ay, sir. She took them, read them in my presence,
    And now and then an ample tear trill'd down 2465
    Her delicate cheek. It seem'd she was a queen
    Over her passion, who, most rebel-like,
    Sought to be king o'er her.
  • Gentleman. Not to a rage. Patience and sorrow strove 2470
    Who should express her goodliest. You have seen
    Sunshine and rain at once: her smiles and tears
    Were like, a better way. Those happy smilets
    That play'd on her ripe lip seem'd not to know
    What guests were in her eyes, which parted thence 2475
    As pearls from diamonds dropp'd. In brief,
    Sorrow would be a rarity most belov'd,
    If all could so become it.
  • Gentleman. Faith, once or twice she heav'd the name of father 2480
    Pantingly forth, as if it press'd her heart;
    Cried 'Sisters, sisters! Shame of ladies! Sisters!
    Kent! father! sisters! What, i' th' storm? i' th' night?
    Let pity not be believ'd!' There she shook
    The holy water from her heavenly eyes, 2485
    And clamour moisten'd. Then away she started
    To deal with grief alone.
  • Earl of Kent. It is the stars,
    The stars above us, govern our conditions;
    Else one self mate and mate could not beget 2490
    Such different issues. You spoke not with her since?
  • Earl of Kent. Well, sir, the poor distressed Lear's i' th' town; 2495
    Who sometime, in his better tune, remembers
    What we are come about, and by no means
    Will yield to see his daughter.
  • Earl of Kent. A sovereign shame so elbows him; his own unkindness, 2500
    That stripp'd her from his benediction, turn'd her
    To foreign casualties, gave her dear rights
    To his dog-hearted daughters- these things sting
    His mind so venomously that burning shame
    Detains him from Cordelia. 2505
  • Earl of Kent. Of Albany's and Cornwall's powers you heard not?
  • Earl of Kent. Well, sir, I'll bring you to our master Lear
    And leave you to attend him. Some dear cause 2510
    Will in concealment wrap me up awhile.
    When I am known aright, you shall not grieve
    Lending me this acquaintance. I pray you go
    Along with me. Exeunt.
---
. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 4

The French camp.

      next scene .
---

Enter, with Drum and Colours, Cordelia, Doctor, and Soldiers.

  • Cordelia. Alack, 'tis he! Why, he was met even now
    As mad as the vex'd sea, singing aloud,
    Crown'd with rank fumiter and furrow weeds,
    With harlocks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo flow'rs,
    Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow 2520
    In our sustaining corn. A century send forth.
    Search every acre in the high-grown field
    And bring him to our eye. [Exit an Officer.] What can man's
    wisdom
    In the restoring his bereaved sense? 2525
    He that helps him take all my outward worth.
  • Doctor. There is means, madam.
    Our foster nurse of nature is repose,
    The which he lacks. That to provoke in him
    Are many simples operative, whose power 2530
    Will close the eye of anguish.
  • Cordelia. All blest secrets,
    All you unpublish'd virtues of the earth,
    Spring with my tears! be aidant and remediate
    In the good man's distress! Seek, seek for him! 2535
    Lest his ungovern'd rage dissolve the life
    That wants the means to lead it.

Enter Messenger.

  • Messenger. News, madam.
    The British pow'rs are marching hitherward. 2540
  • Cordelia. 'Tis known before. Our preparation stands
    In expectation of them. O dear father,
    It is thy business that I go about.
    Therefore great France
    My mourning and important tears hath pitied. 2545
    No blown ambition doth our arms incite,
    But love, dear love, and our ag'd father's right.
    Soon may I hear and see him!

Exeunt.

---
. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 5

Gloucester’s Castle.

      next scene .
---

Enter Regan and [Oswald the] Steward.

  • Regan. But are my brother's pow'rs set forth?
  • Regan. Himself in person there?
  • Oswald. Madam, with much ado.
    Your sister is the better soldier. 2555
  • Regan. Lord Edmund spake not with your lord at home?
  • Regan. What might import my sister's letter to him?
  • Regan. Faith, he is posted hence on serious matter. 2560
    It was great ignorance, Gloucester's eyes being out,
    To let him live. Where he arrives he moves
    All hearts against us. Edmund, I think, is gone,
    In pity of his misery, to dispatch
    His nighted life; moreover, to descry 2565
    The strength o' th' enemy.
  • Oswald. I must needs after him, madam, with my letter.
  • Regan. Our troops set forth to-morrow. Stay with us.
    The ways are dangerous.
  • Oswald. I may not, madam. 2570
    My lady charg'd my duty in this business.
  • Regan. Why should she write to Edmund? Might not you
    Transport her purposes by word? Belike,
    Something- I know not what- I'll love thee much-
    Let me unseal the letter. 2575
  • Regan. I know your lady does not love her husband;
    I am sure of that; and at her late being here
    She gave strange eyeliads and most speaking looks
    To noble Edmund. I know you are of her bosom. 2580
  • Regan. I speak in understanding. Y'are! I know't.
    Therefore I do advise you take this note.
    My lord is dead; Edmund and I have talk'd,
    And more convenient is he for my hand 2585
    Than for your lady's. You may gather more.
    If you do find him, pray you give him this;
    And when your mistress hears thus much from you,
    I pray desire her call her wisdom to her.
    So farewell. 2590
    If you do chance to hear of that blind traitor,
    Preferment falls on him that cuts him off.
  • Oswald. Would I could meet him, madam! I should show
    What party I do follow.
  • Regan. Fare thee well. Exeunt. 2595
---
. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 6

The country near Dover.

      next scene .
---

Enter Gloucester, and Edgar [like a Peasant].

  • Edgar. You do climb up it now. Look how we labour.
  • Edgar. Horrible steep. 2600
    Hark, do you hear the sea?
  • Edgar. Why, then, your other senses grow imperfect
    By your eyes' anguish.
  • Earl of Gloucester. So may it be indeed. 2605
    Methinks thy voice is alter'd, and thou speak'st
    In better phrase and matter than thou didst.
  • Edgar. Y'are much deceiv'd. In nothing am I chang'd
    But in my garments.
  • Edgar. Come on, sir; here's the place. Stand still. How fearful
    And dizzy 'tis to cast one's eyes so low!
    The crows and choughs that wing the midway air
    Show scarce so gross as beetles. Halfway down
    Hangs one that gathers sampire- dreadful trade! 2615
    Methinks he seems no bigger than his head.
    The fishermen that walk upon the beach
    Appear like mice; and yond tall anchoring bark,
    Diminish'd to her cock; her cock, a buoy
    Almost too small for sight. The murmuring surge 2620
    That on th' unnumb'red idle pebble chafes
    Cannot be heard so high. I'll look no more,
    Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight
    Topple down headlong.
  • Edgar. Give me your hand. You are now within a foot
    Of th' extreme verge. For all beneath the moon
    Would I not leap upright.
  • Earl of Gloucester. Let go my hand.
    Here, friend, is another purse; in it a jewel 2630
    Well worth a poor man's taking. Fairies and gods
    Prosper it with thee! Go thou further off;
    Bid me farewell, and let me hear thee going.
  • Edgar. Now fare ye well, good sir.
  • Edgar. [aside]. Why I do trifle thus with his despair
    Is done to cure it.
  • Earl of Gloucester. O you mighty gods! He kneels.
    This world I do renounce, and, in your sights,
    Shake patiently my great affliction off. 2640
    If I could bear it longer and not fall
    To quarrel with your great opposeless wills,
    My snuff and loathed part of nature should
    Burn itself out. If Edgar live, O, bless him!
    Now, fellow, fare thee well. 2645
    He falls [forward and swoons].
  • Edgar. Gone, sir, farewell.-
    And yet I know not how conceit may rob
    The treasury of life when life itself
    Yields to the theft. Had he been where he thought, 2650
    By this had thought been past.- Alive or dead?
    Ho you, sir! friend! Hear you, sir? Speak!-
    Thus might he pass indeed. Yet he revives.
    What are you, sir?
  • Edgar. Hadst thou been aught but gossamer, feathers, air,
    So many fadom down precipitating,
    Thou'dst shiver'd like an egg; but thou dost breathe;
    Hast heavy substance; bleed'st not; speak'st; art sound.
    Ten masts at each make not the altitude 2660
    Which thou hast perpendicularly fell.
    Thy life is a miracle. Speak yet again.
  • Edgar. From the dread summit of this chalky bourn.
    Look up a-height. The shrill-gorg'd lark so far 2665
    Cannot be seen or heard. Do but look up.
  • Earl of Gloucester. Alack, I have no eyes!
    Is wretchedness depriv'd that benefit
    To end itself by death? 'Twas yet some comfort
    When misery could beguile the tyrant's rage 2670
    And frustrate his proud will.
  • Edgar. Give me your arm.
    Up- so. How is't? Feel you your legs? You stand.
  • Edgar. This is above all strangeness. 2675
    Upon the crown o' th' cliff what thing was that
    Which parted from you?
  • Edgar. As I stood here below, methought his eyes
    Were two full moons; he had a thousand noses,Horns whelk'd and wav'd like the enridged sea. 2680
    It was some fiend. Therefore, thou happy father,
    Think that the clearest gods, who make them honours
    Of men's impossibility, have preserv'd thee.
  • Earl of Gloucester. I do remember now. Henceforth I'll bear
    Affliction till it do cry out itself 2685
    'Enough, enough,' and die. That thing you speak of,
    I took it for a man. Often 'twould say
    'The fiend, the fiend'- he led me to that place.
  • Edgar. Bear free and patient thoughts.
    Enter Lear, mad, [fantastically dressed with weeds]. 2690
    But who comes here?
    The safer sense will ne'er accommodate
    His master thus.
  • Lear. No, they cannot touch me for coming;
    I am the King himself. 2695
  • Edgar. O thou side-piercing sight!
  • Lear. Nature 's above art in that respect. There's your press
    money. That fellow handles his bow like a crow-keeper. Draw me
    a clothier's yard. Look, look, a mouse! Peace, peace; this piece
    of toasted cheese will do't. There's my gauntlet; I'll prove it 2700
    on a giant. Bring up the brown bills. O, well flown, bird! i'
    th' clout, i' th' clout! Hewgh! Give the word.
  • Lear. Ha! Goneril with a white beard? They flatter'd me like a dog,
    and told me I had white hairs in my beard ere the black ones
    were there. To say 'ay' and 'no' to everything I said! 'Ay' and
    'no' too was no good divinity. When the rain came to wet me
    once, and the wind to make me chatter; when the thunder would 2710
    not peace at my bidding; there I found 'em, there I smelt 'em
    out. Go to, they are not men o' their words! They told me I was
    everything. 'Tis a lie- I am not ague-proof.
  • Lear. Ay, every inch a king!
    When I do stare, see how the subject quakes.
    I pardon that man's life. What was thy cause?
    Adultery?
    Thou shalt not die. Die for adultery? No. 2720
    The wren goes to't, and the small gilded fly
    Does lecher in my sight.
    Let copulation thrive; for Gloucester's bastard son
    Was kinder to his father than my daughters
    Got 'tween the lawful sheets. 2725
    To't, luxury, pell-mell! for I lack soldiers.
    Behold yond simp'ring dame,
    Whose face between her forks presageth snow,
    That minces virtue, and does shake the head
    To hear of pleasure's name. 2730
    The fitchew nor the soiled horse goes to't
    With a more riotous appetite.
    Down from the waist they are Centaurs,
    Though women all above.
    But to the girdle do the gods inherit, 2735
    Beneath is all the fiend's.
    There's hell, there's darkness, there's the sulphurous pit;
    burning, scalding, stench, consumption. Fie, fie, fie! pah, pah!
    Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, to sweeten my
    imagination. There's money for thee. 2740
  • Lear. Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality.
  • Earl of Gloucester. O ruin'd piece of nature! This great world
    Shall so wear out to naught. Dost thou know me?
  • Lear. I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost thou squiny at me? 2745
    No, do thy worst, blind Cupid! I'll not love. Read thou this
    challenge; mark but the penning of it.
  • Edgar. [aside] I would not take this from report. It is,
    And my heart breaks at it. 2750
  • Lear. O, ho, are you there with me? No eyes in your head, nor no
    money in your purse? Your eyes are in a heavy case, your purse
    in a light. Yet you see how this world goes. 2755
  • Lear. What, art mad? A man may see how the world goes with no eyes.
    Look with thine ears. See how yond justice rails upon yond
    simple thief. Hark in thine ear. Change places and, handy-dandy,
    which is the justice, which is the thief? Thou hast seen a 2760
    farmer's dog bark at a beggar?
  • Lear. And the creature run from the cur? There thou mightst behold
    the great image of authority: a dog's obeyed in office.
    Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand! 2765
    Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thine own back.
    Thou hotly lusts to use her in that kind
    For which thou whip'st her. The usurer hangs the cozener.
    Through tatter'd clothes small vices do appear;
    Robes and furr'd gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold, 2770
    And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks;
    Arm it in rags, a pygmy's straw does pierce it.
    None does offend, none- I say none! I'll able 'em.
    Take that of me, my friend, who have the power
    To seal th' accuser's lips. Get thee glass eyes 2775
    And, like a scurvy politician, seem
    To see the things thou dost not. Now, now, now, now!
    Pull off my boots. Harder, harder! So.
  • Edgar. O, matter and impertinency mix'd!
    Reason, in madness! 2780
  • Lear. If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes.
    I know thee well enough; thy name is Gloucester.
    Thou must be patient. We came crying hither;
    Thou know'st, the first time that we smell the air
    We wawl and cry. I will preach to thee. Mark. 2785
  • Lear. When we are born, we cry that we are come
    To this great stage of fools. This' a good block.
    It were a delicate stratagem to shoe
    A troop of horse with felt. I'll put't in proof, 2790
    And when I have stol'n upon these sons-in-law,
    Then kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!

Enter a Gentleman [with Attendants].

  • Gentleman. O, here he is! Lay hand upon him.- Sir,
    Your most dear daughter- 2795
  • Lear. No rescue? What, a prisoner? I am even
    The natural fool of fortune. Use me well;
    You shall have ransom. Let me have a surgeon;
    I am cut to th' brains.
  • Lear. No seconds? All myself?
    Why, this would make a man a man of salt,
    To use his eyes for garden waterpots,
    Ay, and laying autumn's dust.
  • Lear. I will die bravely, like a smug bridegroom. What!
    I will be jovial. Come, come, I am a king;
    My masters, know you that?
  • Gentleman. You are a royal one, and we obey you.
  • Lear. Then there's life in't. Nay, an you get it, you shall get it 2810
    by running. Sa, sa, sa, sa!

Exit running. [Attendants follow.]

  • Gentleman. A sight most pitiful in the meanest wretch,
    Past speaking of in a king! Thou hast one daughter
    Who redeems nature from the general curse 2815
    Which twain have brought her to.
  • Edgar. Hail, gentle sir.
  • Gentleman. Sir, speed you. What's your will?
  • Edgar. Do you hear aught, sir, of a battle toward?
  • Gentleman. Most sure and vulgar. Every one hears that 2820
    Which can distinguish sound.
  • Edgar. But, by your favour,
    How near's the other army?
  • Gentleman. Near and on speedy foot. The main descry
    Stands on the hourly thought. 2825
  • Edgar. I thank you sir. That's all.
  • Gentleman. Though that the Queen on special cause is here,
    Her army is mov'd on.

Exit [Gentleman].

  • Earl of Gloucester. You ever-gentle gods, take my breath from me;
    Let not my worser spirit tempt me again
    To die before you please!
  • Edgar. Well pray you, father.
  • Edgar. A most poor man, made tame to fortune's blows,
    Who, by the art of known and feeling sorrows,
    Am pregnant to good pity. Give me your hand;
    I'll lead you to some biding.
  • Earl of Gloucester. Hearty thanks. 2840
    The bounty and the benison of heaven
    To boot, and boot!

Enter [Oswald the] Steward.

  • Oswald. A proclaim'd prize! Most happy!
    That eyeless head of thine was first fram'd flesh 2845
    To raise my fortunes. Thou old unhappy traitor,
    Briefly thyself remember. The sword is out
    That must destroy thee.

[Edgar interposes.]

  • Oswald. Wherefore, bold peasant,
    Dar'st thou support a publish'd traitor? Hence!
    Lest that th' infection of his fortune take
    Like hold on thee. Let go his arm. 2855
  • Edgar. Chill not let go, zir, without vurther 'cagion.
  • Oswald. Let go, slave, or thou diest!
  • Edgar. Good gentleman, go your gait, and let poor voke pass. An chud
    ha' bin zwagger'd out of my life, 'twould not ha' bin zo long as
    'tis by a vortnight. Nay, come not near th' old man. Keep out, 2860
    che vore ye, or Ise try whether your costard or my ballow be the
    harder. Chill be plain with you.

They fight.

  • Edgar. Chill pick your teeth, zir. Come! No matter vor your foins. 2865

[Oswald falls.]

  • Oswald. Slave, thou hast slain me. Villain, take my purse.
    If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body,
    And give the letters which thou find'st about me
    To Edmund Earl of Gloucester. Seek him out 2870
    Upon the British party. O, untimely death! Death!

He dies.

  • Edgar. I know thee well. A serviceable villain,
    As duteous to the vices of thy mistress
    As badness would desire. 2875
  • Edgar. Sit you down, father; rest you.
    Let's see his pockets; these letters that he speaks of
    May be my friends. He's dead. I am only sorry
    He had no other deathsman. Let us see. 2880
    Leave, gentle wax; and, manners, blame us not.
    To know our enemies' minds, we'ld rip their hearts;
    Their papers, is more lawful. Reads the letter.
    'Let our reciprocal vows be rememb'red. You have many
    opportunities to cut him off. If your will want not, time and 2885
    place will be fruitfully offer'd. There is nothing done, if he
    return the conqueror. Then am I the prisoner, and his bed my
    jail; from the loathed warmth whereof deliver me, and supply the
    place for your labour.
    'Your (wife, so I would say) affectionate servant, 'Goneril.' 2890
    O indistinguish'd space of woman's will!
    A plot upon her virtuous husband's life,
    And the exchange my brother! Here in the sands
    Thee I'll rake up, the post unsanctified
    Of murtherous lechers; and in the mature time 2895
    With this ungracious paper strike the sight
    Of the death-practis'd Duke, For him 'tis well
    That of thy death and business I can tell.
  • Earl of Gloucester. The King is mad. How stiff is my vile sense,
    That I stand up, and have ingenious feeling 2900
    Of my huge sorrows! Better I were distract.
    So should my thoughts be sever'd from my griefs,
    And woes by wrong imaginations lose
    The knowledge of themselves.

A drum afar off.

  • Edgar. Give me your hand.
    Far off methinks I hear the beaten drum.
    Come, father, I'll bestow you with a friend. Exeunt.
---
. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 7

A tent in the French camp.

       
---

Enter Cordelia, Kent, Doctor, and Gentleman.

  • Cordelia. O thou good Kent, how shall I live and work 2910
    To match thy goodness? My life will be too short
    And every measure fail me.
  • Earl of Kent. To be acknowledg'd, madam, is o'erpaid.
    All my reports go with the modest truth;
    Nor more nor clipp'd, but so. 2915
  • Cordelia. Be better suited.
    These weeds are memories of those worser hours.
    I prithee put them off.
  • Earl of Kent. Pardon, dear madam.
    Yet to be known shortens my made intent. 2920
    My boon I make it that you know me not
    Till time and I think meet.
  • Cordelia. Then be't so, my good lord. [To the Doctor] How, does the King?
  • Cordelia. O you kind gods, 2925
    Cure this great breach in his abused nature!
    Th' untun'd and jarring senses, O, wind up
    Of this child-changed father!
  • Doctor. So please your Majesty
    That we may wake the King? He hath slept long. 2930
  • Cordelia. Be govern'd by your knowledge, and proceed
    I' th' sway of your own will. Is he array'd?

Enter Lear in a chair carried by Servants.

  • Gentleman. Ay, madam. In the heaviness of sleep
    We put fresh garments on him. 2935
  • Doctor. Be by, good madam, when we do awake him.
    I doubt not of his temperance.

Music.

  • Doctor. Please you draw near. Louder the music there! 2940
  • Cordelia. O my dear father, restoration hang
    Thy medicine on my lips, and let this kiss
    Repair those violent harms that my two sisters
    Have in thy reverence made!
  • Cordelia. Had you not been their father, these white flakes
    Had challeng'd pity of them. Was this a face
    To be oppos'd against the warring winds?
    To stand against the deep dread-bolted thunder?
    In the most terrible and nimble stroke 2950
    Of quick cross lightning? to watch- poor perdu!-
    With this thin helm? Mine enemy's dog,
    Though he had bit me, should have stood that night
    Against my fire; and wast thou fain, poor father,
    To hovel thee with swine and rogues forlorn, 2955
    In short and musty straw? Alack, alack!
    'Tis wonder that thy life and wits at once
    Had not concluded all.- He wakes. Speak to him.
  • Doctor. Madam, do you; 'tis fittest.
  • Cordelia. How does my royal lord? How fares your Majesty? 2960
  • Lear. You do me wrong to take me out o' th' grave.
    Thou art a soul in bliss; but I am bound
    Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears
    Do scald like molten lead.
  • Lear. You are a spirit, I know. When did you die?
  • Doctor. He's scarce awake. Let him alone awhile.
  • Lear. Where have I been? Where am I? Fair daylight,
    I am mightily abus'd. I should e'en die with pity, 2970
    To see another thus. I know not what to say.
    I will not swear these are my hands. Let's see.
    I feel this pin prick. Would I were assur'd
    Of my condition!
  • Cordelia. O, look upon me, sir, 2975
    And hold your hands in benediction o'er me.
    No, sir, you must not kneel.
  • Lear. Pray, do not mock me.
    I am a very foolish fond old man,
    Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less; 2980
    And, to deal plainly,
    I fear I am not in my perfect mind.
    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 2985
    Remembers not these garments; nor I know not
    Where I did lodge last night. Do not laugh at me;
    For (as I am a man) I think this lady
    To be my child Cordelia.
  • Lear. Be your tears wet? Yes, faith. I pray weep not.
    If you have poison for me, I will drink it.
    I know you do not love me; for your sisters
    Have, as I do remember, done me wrong.
    You have some cause, they have not. 2995
  • Lear. Am I in France?
  • Lear. Do not abuse me.
  • Doctor. Be comforted, good madam. The great rage 3000
    You see is kill'd in him; and yet it is danger
    To make him even o'er the time he has lost.
    Desire him to go in. Trouble him no more
    Till further settling.
  • Cordelia. Will't please your Highness walk? 3005
  • Lear. You must bear with me.
    Pray you now, forget and forgive. I am old and foolish.

Exeunt. Manent Kent and Gentleman.

  • Gentleman. Holds it true, sir, that the Duke of Cornwall was so slain?
  • Gentleman. They say Edgar, his banish'd son, is with the Earl of Kent
    in Germany.
  • Earl of Kent. Report is changeable. 'Tis time to look about; the powers of 3015
    the kingdom approach apace.
  • Gentleman. The arbitrement is like to be bloody.
    Fare you well, sir. [Exit.]
  • Earl of Kent. My point and period will be throughly wrought,
    Or well or ill, as this day's battle's fought. Exit. 3020

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