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Ere they shall make us weep: we'll see them starve first.
[Exeunt LEAR and CORDELIA, guarded.
Edm. Come hither, captain ; hark.
Take thou this note (Giving a paper]: go, follow them to prison :
One step I have advanced thee: if thou
As this instructs thee, thou dost make thy way
To noble fortunes: Know thou this,-that men
Are as the time is: to be tender-minded
Does not become a sword:-Thy great employment
Will not bear question ;* either say, thou'lt do't,
Or thrive by other means.
Off. I'll do’t, my lord.
Edm. About it; and write happy, when thou hast done.
Mark,-I say, instantly; and carry it so,
As I have set it down.
Off. I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried oats;
If it be man's work, I will do it.
[Exit OFFICER. Flourish. Enter ALBANY, GONERIL, REGAN, Officers, and
Alb. Sir, you have shown to-day your valiant strain,
And fortune led you well: You have the captives
Who were the opposites of this day's strife:
We do require them of you ; so to use them,
As we shall find their merits and our safety
May equally determine.
Edm. Sir, I thought it fit
To send the old and miserable king
To some retention, and appointed guard;
Whose age has charms in it, whose title more,
To pluck the common bosom on his side,
And turn our impress'd lances in our eyes
Which do command them. With him I sent the queen;
My reason all the same; and they are ready
To-morrow, or at further space,
Where you shall hold your session. At this time,
We sweat and bleed: the friend hath lost his friend;
And the best quarrels, in the heat, are cursed
By those that feel their sharpness :-
The question of Cordelia, and her father,
Requires a fitter place.
Alb. Sir, by your patience,
I hold you but a subject of this war,
Not as a brother.
Reg. That's as we list to grace him.
Methinks, our pleasure might have been demanded,
Ere you had spoke so far. He led our powers;
Bore the commission of my place and person;
The which immediacy + may well stand up,
And call itself your brother.
Gon. Not so hot:
+ Immediately delegated authority
In his own grace he doth exalt himself,
More than in your advancement.
Reg. In my rights,
By me invested, he compeers the best.
Gon. That were the most, if he should husband you.
Reg. Jesters do oft prove prophets.
Gon. Holloa, holloa !
That eye, that told you so, look'd but a squint.
Reg. Lady, I am not well; else I should answer
From a full-flowing stomach.—General,
Take thou my soldiers, prisoners, patrimony ;
Dispose of them, of me; the walls are thine :
Witness the world, that I create thee here
My lord and master.
Gon. Mean you to enjoy him?
Alb. The let-alone* lies not in your good will.
Edm. Nor in thine, lord.
Alb, Half-blooded fellow, yes.
Reg. Let the drum strike, and prove my title thine.
Alb. Stay yet; hear reason :-Edmund, I arrest thee
On capital treason; and, in thy arrest,
This gilded serpent (Pointing to Gon.] :—for your claim, fair
sister, I bar it in the interest of my wife; 'Tis she is sub-contracted to this lord, And I, her husband, contradict your banns. If you will marry, make your love to me, My lady is bespoke.
Gon. An interlude! Alb. Thou art arm’d, Gloster :-Let the trumpet sound: If none appear to prove upon thy person, Thy heinous, manifest, and many treasons, There is my pledge [T'hrowing down a glove]; I'll prove it on thy
Ere I taste bread, thou art in nothing less
Than I have here proclaim’d thee.
Reg. Sick, 0, sick!
Gon. If not, I'll ne'er trust poison.
[Aside. Edm. There's my exchange [Throwing down a glove] : what in
the world he is
That names me traitor, villain-like he lies:
Call by thy trumpet: he that dares approach,
On him, on you, (who not?) I will maintain
My truth and honour firmly.
Alb. A herald, ho!
Edm. A herald, ho, a herald!
Alb. Trust to thy single virtue;t for thy soldiers,
All levied in my name, have in my name
Took their discharge.
Reg. This sickness grows upon me.
* The hinderance.
† 1. e. valour.
Enter a HERALD.
Alb. She is not well; convey her to my tent.
[Exit REGAN, led.
Come hither, herald, -Let the trumpet sound, --
And read out this.
Off. Sound, trumpet.
[A trumpet sounds.
HERALD reads. If any man of quality, or degree, within the lists of the army, will maintain upon Edmund, supposed earl of Gloster, that he is a manifold traitor, let him appear at the third sound of the trumpet : He is bold in his defence. Edi. Sound.
[1 Trumpet. Her. Again.
[2 Trumpet. Her. Again.
[Trumpet answers within.
Enter EDGAR, armed, preceded by a Trumpet.
Alb. Ask him his purposes, why he appears
Upon this call o’the trumpet.
Her. What are you?
Your name, your quality ? and why you answer
This present summons ?
Edg. Know, my name is lost;
By treason's tooth bare-gnawn, and canker-bit:
Yet am I noble, as the adversary
I come to cope withal.
Alb. Which is that adversary ? ;
Edg. What's he, that speaks for Edmund, earl of Gloster ?
Edm. Himself;—What say'st thou to him:
Edg. Draw thy sword;
That, if my speech offend a noble heart,
Thy arm may do thee justice: here is mine.
Behold, it is the privilege of mine honours,
My oath and my profession :*I protest, —-
Maugre thy strength, youth, place, and
Despite thy victor sword, and fire-new fortune,
Thy valour, and thy heart,-thou art a traitor:
False to thy gods, thy brother, and thy father;
Conspirant 'gainst this high illustrious prince;
And, from the extremest upward of thy head,
To the descent and dust beneath thy feet,
A most toad-spotted traitor. Say thom, No,
This sword, this arm, and my best spirits, are bent
To prove upon thy heart, whereto I speak,
Edm. In wisdom I should ask thy name;ť.
But, since thy outside looks so fair and warlike,
And that thy tongue some 'say I of breeding breathes,
What safe and nicely I might well delay
By rule of knighthood, I disdain and spurn:
* As a knight. 1 Because, if his adversary was not of equal rank, Edmund might have declined the combat.
Back do I toss these treasons to thy head;
With the hell hated lie o'erwhelm thy heart;
Which (for they yet glance by, and scarcely bruise),
This sword of mine shall give them instant way,
Where they shall rest for ever.- Trumpets, speak.
[Alarums.-They fight.-EDMUND falls.
Alb. O save him, save him !
Gon. This is mere practice, * Gloster:
By the law of arms, thou wast not bound to answer
An unknown opposite; thou art not vanquish'd,
But cozen'd and beguiled.
Alb. Shut your mouth, dame,
Or with this paper shall Í stop it:-Hold, Sir :-
Thou worse than any name, read thine own evil:-
No tearing lady; I perceive, you know it.
[Gives the letter to EDMUND. Gon. Say, if I do; the laws are mine, not thine: Who shall arraign me fort ?
Alb. Most monstrous !
Know'st thou this paper ?
Gon. Ask me not what I know.
[Exit GONERIL. Alb. Go after her: she's desperate; govern her.
[To an OFFICER, who goes out. Edm. What you have charged me with, that have I done; And more, much more: the time will bring it out; 'Tis past, and so am I: But what art thou, That hast this fortune on me? If thou art noble, I do forgive thee.
Edg. Let's exchange charity.
I am no less in blood than thou art, Edmund;
If more, the more thou hast wrongd me.
My name is Edgar, and thy father's son.
The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices
Make instruments to scourge us :
The dark and vicious place where thee he got,
Cost him his eyes.
Edm. Thou hast spoken right, 'tis true;
The wheel is come full circle; I am here.
Alb. Methought, thy very gait did prophesy
A royal nobleness : -I must embrace thee;
Let sorrow split my heart, if ever I
Did hate thee, or thy father!
Edg. Worthy prince,
I know it well.
Alb. Where have you hid yourself?
How have you known the miseries of your father ?
Edg. By nursing them, my lord.-List a brief tale ;-
And, when 'tis told, O, that my heart would burst !
The bloody proclamation to escape,
That follow'd me so near, (O our lives' sweetness !
That with the pain of death we'd hourly die,
Rather than die at once !) taught me to shift
Into a madman's rags; to assume a semblance
That very dogs disdaind: and in this habit
Met I my father with his bleeding rings,
Their precious stones new lost; became his guide,
Led him, begg'd for him, saved him from despair;
Never (Ó fault !) reveal'd myself unto him,
Until some half-hour past, when I was arm’d,
Not sure, though hoping, of this good success,
I ask'd his blessing, and from first to last
Told him my pilgrimage: But his flaw'd heart,
(Alack, too weak the conflict to support!)
Twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief,
Edm. This speech of yours hath moved me,
And shall, perchance, do good: but speak you on;
You look as you had something more to say:
Alb. If there be more, more woeful, hold it in;
For I am almost ready to dissolve,
Hearing of this.
Edg. This would have seem'd a period
To such as love not sorrow; but another,
To amplify too much, would make much more,
And top extremity. *
Whilst I was big in clamour, came there a man,
Who having seen me in my worst estate,
Shunn'd my abhorr'd society; but then, finding
Who 'twas that so endured, with his strong arms
He fasten’d on my neck, and bellow'd out
As he'd burst heaven; threw him on my father;
Told the most piteous tale of Lear and him,
That ever ear received; which in recounting
His grief grew puissant, and the strings of life
Began to crack: Twice then the trumpet sounded,
And there I left him tranced.
Alb. But who was this? .
Edg. Kent, Sir, the banish'd Kent; who in disguise Follow'd his enemy king, and did him service Improper for a slave.
Enter a GENTLEMAN hastily, with a bloody knife.
Gent. Help! help! O help!
Edg. What kind of help?
Alb. Speak, man.
Edg. What means that bloody knife ?
Gent. 'Tis hot, it smokes ;
It came even from the heart of
Alb. Who, man ? speak.
Gent. Your lady, Sir, your lady: and her sister
By her is poison'd; she confesses it.
Edm. I was contracted to them both; all three
Now marry in an instant.
Alb. Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead!
1. e. pile Ossa on Pel