King Lear

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Original text
Act V, Scene I
Enter with Drumme and Colours, Edmund, Regan.
Gentlemen, and Souldiers.

Bast.

Know of the Duke if his last purpose hold,
Or whether since he is aduis'd by ought
To change the course, he's full of alteration,
And selfe reprouing, bring his constant pleasure.


Reg.
Our Sisters man is certainely miscarried.

Bast.
'Tis to be doubted Madam.

Reg.
Now sweet Lord,
You know the goodnesse I intend vpon you:
Tell me but truly, but then speake the truth,
Do you not loue my Sister?

Bast.
In honour'd Loue.

Reg.
But haue you neuer found my Brothers way,
To the fore-fended place?

Bast.
No by mine honour, Madam.

Reg.
I neuer shall endure her, deere my Lord
Be not familiar with her.

Bast.
Feare not,
she and the Duke her husband.
Enter with Drum and Colours, Albany, Gonerill,
Soldiers.

Alb.
Our very louing Sister, well be-met:
Sir, this I heard, the King is come to his Daughter
With others, whom the rigour of our State
Forc'd to cry out.

Regan.
Why is this reasond?

Gone.
Combine together 'gainst the Enemie:
For these domesticke and particurlar broiles,
Are not the question heere.

Alb.
Let's then determine
with th'ancient of warre / On our proceeding.

Reg.
Sister you'le go with vs?

Gon.
No.

Reg.
'Tis most conuenient, pray go with vs.

Gon.
Oh ho, I know the Riddle, I will goe.
Exeunt both the Armies.
Enter Edgar.

Edg.
If ere your Grace had speech with man so poore,
Heare me one word.

Alb.
Ile ouertake you,
speake.

Edg.
Before you fight the Battaile, ope this Letter:
If you haue victory, let the Trumpet sound
For him that brought it: wretched though I seeme,
I can produce a Champion, that will proue
What is auouched there. If you miscarry,
Your businesse of the world hath so an end,
And machination ceases. Fortune loues you.

Alb.
Stay till I haue read the Letter.

Edg.
I was forbid it:
When time shall serue, let but the Herald cry,
And Ile appeare againe.
Exit.

Alb.
Why farethee well, I will o're-looke thy paper.
Enter Edmund.

Bast.
The Enemy's in view, draw vp your powers,
Heere is the guesse of their true strength and Forces,
By dilligent discouerie, but your hast
Is now vrg'd on you.

Alb.
We will greet the time.
Exit.

Bast.
To both these Sisters haue I sworne my loue:
Each iealous of the other, as the stung
Are of the Adder. Which of them shall I take?
Both? One? Or neither? Neither can be enioy'd
If both remaine aliue: To take the Widdow,
Exasperates, makes mad her Sister Gonerill,
And hardly shall I carry out my side,
Her husband being aliue. Now then, wee'l vse
His countenance for the Battaile, which being done,
Let her who would be rid of him, deuise
His speedy taking off. As for the mercie
Which he intends to Lear and to Cordelia,
The Battaile done, and they within our power,
Shall neuer see his pardon: for my state,
Stands on me to defend, not to debate.
Exit.
Original text
Act V, Scene II
Alarum within. Enter with Drumme and Colours, Lear,
Cordelia, and Souldiers, ouer the
Stage, and Exeunt.
Enter Edgar, and Gloster.

Edg.
Heere Father, take the shadow of this Tree
For your good hoast: pray that the right may thriue:
If euer I returne to you againe,
Ile bring you comfort.

Glo.
Grace go with you Sir.
Exit.
Alarum and Retreat within. Enter Edgar.

Egdar.
Away old man, giue me thy hand, away:
King Lear hath lost, he and his Daughter tane,
Giue me thy hand: Come on.

Glo.
No further Sir, a man may rot euen heere.

Edg.
What in ill thoughts againe? / Men must endure
Their going hence, euen as their comming hither,
Ripenesse is all come on.

Glo.
And that's true too.
Exeunt.
Original text
Act V, Scene III
Enter in conquest with Drum and Colours, Edmund,
Lear, and Cordelia, as prisoners, Souldiers, Captaine.

Bast.
Some Officers take them away: good guard,
Vntill their greater pleasures first be knowne
That are to censure them.

Cor.
We are not the first,
Who with best meaning haue incurr'd the worst:
For thee oppressed King I am cast downe,
My selfe could else out-frowne false Fortunes frowne.
Shall we not see these Daughters, and these Sisters?

Lear.
No, no, no, no: come let's away to prison,
We two alone will sing like Birds i'th'Cage:
When thou dost aske me blessing, Ile kneele downe
And aske of thee forgiuenesse: So wee'l liue,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded Butterflies: and heere (poore Rogues)
Talke of Court newes, and wee'l talke with them too,
Who looses, and who wins; who's in, who's out;
And take vpon's the mystery of things,
As if we were Gods spies: And wee'l weare out
In a wall'd prison, packs and sects of great ones,
That ebbe and flow by th'Moone.

Bast.
Take them away.

Lear.
Vpon such sacrifices my Cordelia,
The Gods themselues throw Incense. / Haue I caught thee?
He that parts vs, shall bring a Brand from Heauen,
And fire vs hence, like Foxes: wipe thine eyes,
The good yeares shall deuoure them, flesh and fell,
Ere they shall make vs weepe? / Weele seee'm staru'd first:
come.
Exit.

Bast.
Come hither Captaine, hearke.
Take thou this note, go follow them to prison,
One step I haue aduanc'd thee, if thou do'st
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
Do's not become a Sword, thy great imployment
Will not beare question: either say thou'lt do't,
Or thriue by other meanes.

Capt.
Ile do't my Lord.

Bast.
About it, and write happy, when th'hast done,
Marke I say instantly, and carry it so
As I haue set it downe.
Exit Captaine.
Flourish. Enter Albany, Gonerill, Regan,
Soldiers.

Alb.
Sir, you haue shew'd to day your valiant straine
And Fortune led you well: you haue the Captiues
Who were the opposites of this dayes strife:
I do require them of you so to vse them,
As we shall find their merites, and our safety
May equally determine.

Bast.
Sir, I thought it fit,
To send the old and miserable King
to some retention,
Whose age had Charmes in it,whose Title more,
To plucke the common bosome on his side,
And turne our imprest Launces in our eies
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, t'appeare
Where you shall hold your Session.

Alb.
Sir, by your patience,
I hold you but a subiect of this Warre,
Not as a Brother.

Reg.
That's as we list to grace him.
Methinkes our pleasure might haue bin demanded
Ere you had spoke so farre. He led our Powers,
Bore the Commission of my place and person,
The which immediacie may well stand vp,
And call it selfe your Brother.

Gon.
Not so hot:
In his owne grace he doth exalt himselfe,
More then in your addition.

Reg.
In my rights,
By me inuested, he compeeres the best.

Alb.
That were the most, if he should husband you.

Reg.
Iesters do oft proue Prophets.

Gon.
Hola, hola,
That eye that told you so, look'd but a squint.

Rega.
Lady I am not well, else I should answere
From a full flowing stomack. Generall,
Take thou my Souldiers, prisoners, patrimony,
Dispose of them, of me, the walls is thine:
Witnesse the world, that I create thee heere
My Lord, and Master.

Gon.
Meane you to enioy him?

Alb.
The let alone lies not in your good will.

Bast.
Nor in thine Lord.

Alb.
Halfe-blooded fellow, yes.

Reg.

Let the Drum strike, and proue my title thine.

Alb.
Stay yet,heare reason: Edmund, I arrest thee
On capitall Treason; and in thy arrest,

This guilded Serpent: for your claime faire Sisters,
I bare it in the interest of my wife,
'Tis she is sub-contracted to this Lord,
And I her husband contradict your Banes.
If you will marry, make your loues to me,
My Lady is bespoke.

Gon.
An enterlude.

Alb.
Thou art armed Gloster, / Let the Trmpet sound:
If none appeare to proue vpon thy person,
Thy heynous, manifest, and many Treasons,
There is my pledge:
Ile make it on thy heart
Ere I taste bread, thou art in nothing lesse
Then I haue heere proclaim'd thee.

Reg.
Sicke, O sicke.

Gon.

If not, Ile nere trust medicine.

Bast.
There's my exchange, what in the world hes
That names me Traitor, villain-like he lies,
Call by the Trumpet: he that dares approach;
On him, on you, who not, I will maintaine
My truth and honor firmely.

Alb.
A Herald, ho.
Enter a Herald.
Trust to thy single vertue, for thy Souldiers
All leuied in my name, haue in my name
Tooke their discharge.

Regan.
My sicknesse growes vpon me.

Alb.
She is not well, conuey her to my Tent.
Come hither Herald, let the Trumper sound,
And read out this.
A Tumpet sounds.

Herald
reads.
If any man of qualitie or degree, within the
lists of the Army, will maintaine vpon Edmund, supposed
Earle of Gloster, that he is a manifold Traitor, let him
appeare by the third sound of the Trumpet: he is bold in his
defence.
1 Trumpet.
Her. Againe.
2 Trumpet.
Her. Againe.
3 Trumpet.
Trumpet answers within. Enter Edgar armed.

Alb.
Aske him his purposes, why he appeares
Vpon this Call o'th'Trumpet.

Her.
What are you?
Your name, your quality, and why you answer
This present Summons?

Edg.
Know my name is lost
By Treasons tooth: bare-gnawne, and Canker-bit,
Yet am I Noble as the Aduersary
I come to cope.

Alb.
Which is that Aduersary?

Edg.
What's he that speakes for Edmund Earle of Gloster?

Bast.
Himselfe, what saist thou to him?

Edg.
Draw thy Sword,
That if my speech offend a Noble heart,
Thy arme may do thee Iustice, heere is mine:

Behold it is my priuiledge, / The priuiledge of mine Honours,
My oath, and my profession. I protest,
Maugre thy strength, place, youth, and eminence,
Despise thy victor-Sword, and fire new Fortune,
Thy valor, and thy heart, thou art a Traitor:
False to thy Gods, thy Brother, and thy Father,
Conspirant 'gainst this high illustirous Prince,
And from th'extremest vpward of thy head,
To the discent and dust below thy foote,
A most Toad-spotted Traitor. Say thou no,
This Sword, this arme, and my best spirits are bent
To proue vpon thy heart, whereto I speake,
Thou lyest.

Bast.
In wisedome I should aske thy name,
But since thy out-side lookes so faire and Warlike,
And that thy tongue (some say) of breeding breathes,
What safe, and nicely I might well delay,
By rule of Knight-hood, I disdaine and spurne:
Backe do I tosse these Treasons to thy head,
With the hell-hated Lye, ore-whelme thy heart,
Which for they yet glance by, and scarely bruise,
This Sword of mine shall giue them instant way,
Where they shall rest for euer. Trumpets speake.
Alarums. Fights.

Alb.
Saue him, saue him.

Gon.
This is practise Gloster,
By th'law of Warre, thou wast not bound to answer
An vnknowne opposite: thou art not vanquish'd,
But cozend, and beguild.

Alb.
Shut your mouth Dame,
Or with this paper shall I stop it: hold Sir,
Thou worse then any name, reade thine owne euill:
No tearing Lady, I perceiue you know it.

Gon.
Say if I do, the Lawes are mine not thine,
Who can araigne me for't?

Alb.
Most monstrous! O,
know'st thou this paper?

Bast.
Aske me not what I know.
Exit.

Alb.
Go after her, she's desperate, gouerne her.

Bast.
What you haue charg'd me with, / That haue I done,
And more, much more, the time will bring it out.
'Tis past, and so am I: But what art thou
That hast this Fortune on me? If thou'rt Noble,
I do forgiue thee.

Edg.
Let's exchange charity:
I am no lesse in blood then thou art Edmond,
If more, the more th'hast wrong'd me.
My name is Edgar and thy Fathers Sonne,
The Gods are iust, and of our pleasant vices
Make instruments to plague vs:
The darke and vitious place where thee he got,
Cost him his eyes.

Bast.
Th'hast spoken right, 'tis true,
The Wheele is come full circle, I am heere.

Alb.
Me thought thy very gate did prophesie
A Royall Noblenesse: I must embrace thee,
Let sorrow split my heart, if euer I
Did hate thee, or thy father.

Edg.
Worthy Prince
I know't.

Alb.
Where haue you hid your selfe?
How haue you knowne the miseries of your Father?

Edg.
By nursing them my Lord. List a breefe tale,
And when 'tis told, O that my heart would burst.
The bloody proclamation to escape
That follow'd me so neere, (O our liues sweetnesse,
That we the paine of death would hourely dye,
Rather then die at once) taught me to shift
Into a mad-mans rags, t'assume a semblance
That very Dogges disdain'd: 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, sau'd him from dispaire.
Neuer (O fault) reueal'd my selfe vnto him,
Vntill some halfe houre past when I was arm'd,
Not sure, though hoping of this good successe,
I ask'd his blessing, and from first to last
Told him our pilgrimage. But his flaw'd heart
(Alacke too weake the conflict to support)
Twixt two extremes of passion, ioy and greefe,
Burst smilingly.

Bast.
This speech of yours hath mou'd me,
And shall perchance do good, but speake you on,
You looke as you had something more to say.

Alb.
If there be more, more wofull, hold it in,
For I am almost ready to dissolue,
Hearing of this.
Enter a Gentleman.

Gen.
Helpe, helpe: O helpe.

Edg.
What kinde of helpe?

Alb.
Speake man.

Edg.
What meanes this bloody Knife?

Gen.
'Tis hot, it smoakes,
it came euen from the heart of----O she's dead.

Alb.
Who dead? Speake man.

Gen.
Your Lady Sir, your Lady; and her Sister
By her is poyson'd: she confesses it.

Bast.
I was contracted to them both, all three
Now marry in an instant.

Edg.
Here comes Kent.
Enter Kent.

Alb.
Produce the bodies, be they aliue or dead;
This iudgement of the Heauens that makes vs tremble.
Touches vs not with pitty: O, is this he?
The time will not allow the complement
Which very manners vrges.

Kent.
I am come
To bid my King and Master aye good night.
Is he not here?

Alb.
Great thing of vs forgot,
Speake Edmund, where's the King? and where's Cordelia?
Gonerill and Regans bodies brought out.
Seest thou this obiect Kent?

Kent.
Alacke, why thus?

Bast.
Yet Edmund was belou'd:
The one the other poison'd for my sake,
And after slew herselfe.

Alb.
Euen so: couer their faces.

Bast.
I pant for life: some good I meane to do
Despight of mine owne Nature. Quickly send,
(Be briefe in it) to'th'Castle, for my Writ
Is on the life of Lear, and on Cordelia:
Nay, send in time.

Alb.
Run, run, O run.

Edg.
To who my Lord? Who ha's the Office?
Send thy token of repreeue.

Bast.
Well thought on, take my Sword,
Giue it the Captaine.

Edg.
Hast thee for thy life.

Bast.
He hath Commission from thy Wife and me,
To hang Cordelia in the prison, and
To lay the blame vpon her owne dispaire,
That she for-did her selfe.

Alb.
The Gods defend her, beare him hence awhile.
Enter Lear with Cordelia in his armes.

Lear.
Howle, howle, howle: O your are men of stones,
Had I your tongues and eyes, Il'd vse them so,
That Heauens vault should crack: she's gone for euer.
I know when one is dead, and when one liues,
She's dead as earth: Lend me a Looking-glasse,
If that her breath will mist or staine the stone,
Why then she liues.

Kent.
Is this the promis'd end?

Edg.
Or image of that horror.

Alb.
Fall and cease.

Lear.
This feather stirs, she liues: if it be so,
It is a chance which do's redeeme all sorrowes
That euer I haue felt.

Kent.
O my good Master.

Lear.
Prythee away.

Edg.
'Tis Noble Kent your Friend.

Lear.
A plague vpon you Murderors, Traitors all,
I might haue sau'd her, now she's gone for euer:
Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little. Ha:
What is't thou saist? Her voice was euer soft,
Gentle, and low, an excellent thing in woman.
I kill'd the Slaue that was a hanging thee.

Gent.
'Tis true (my Lords) he did.

Lear.
Did I not fellow?
I haue seene the day, with my good biting Faulchion
I would haue made him skip: I am old now,
And these same crosses spoile me. Who are you?
Mine eyes are not o'th'best, Ile tell you straight.

Kent.
If Fortune brag of two, she lou'd and hated,
One of them we behold.

Lear.
This is a dull sight, are you not Kent?

Kent.
The same:
your Seruant Kent, / Where is yourSeruant Caius?

Lear.
He's a good fellow, I can tell you that,
He'le strike and quickly too, he's dead and rotten.

Kent.
No my good Lord, I am the very man.

Lear.
Ile see that straight.

Kent.
That from your first of difference and decay,
Haue follow'd your sad steps.

Lear.
Your are welcome hither.

Kent.
Nor no man else: / All's cheerlesse, darke, and deadly,
Your eldest Daughters haue fore-done themselues,
And desperately are dead

Lear.
I so I thinke.

Alb.
He knowes not what he saies, and vaine is it
That we present vs to him.

Edg.
Very bootlesse.
Enter a Messenger.

Mess.
Edmund is dead my Lord.

Alb.
That's but a trifle heere:
You Lords and Noble Friends, know our intent,
What comfort to this great decay may come,
Shall be appli'd. For vs we will resigne,
During the life of this old Maiesty
To him our absolute power,
you to your rights,
With boote, and such addition as your Honours
Haue more then merited. All Friends shall
Taste the wages of their vertue,and all Foes
The cup of their deseruings: O see, see.

Lear.
And my poore Foole is hang'd: no, no, no life?
Why should a Dog, a Horse, a Rat haue life,
And thou no breath at all? Thou'lt come no more,
Neuer, neuer, neuer, neuer, neuer.
Pray you vndo this Button. Thanke you Sir,
Do you see this? Looke on her? Looke her lips,
Looke there, looke there.
He dies.

Edg.
He faints, my Lord, my Lord.

Kent.
Breake heart, I prythee breake.

Edg.
Looke vp my Lord.

Kent.
Vex not his ghost, O let him passe, he hates him,
That would vpon the wracke of this tough world
Stretch him out longer.

Edg.
He is gon indeed.

Kent.
The wonder is, he hath endur'd so long,
He but vsurpt his life.

Alb.
Beare them from hence, our present businesse
Is generall woe:
Friends of my soule, you twaine,
Rule in this Realme, and the gor'd state sustaine.

Kent.
I haue a iourney Sir, shortly to go,
My Master calls me, I must not say no.

Edg.
The waight of this sad time we must obey,
Speake what we feele, not what we ought to say:
The oldest hath borne most, we that are yong,
Shall neuer see so much, nor liue so long.
Exeunt with a dead March.
Modern text
Act V, Scene I
Enter, with drum and colours, Edmund, Regan,
gentlemen, and soldiers.

EDMUND
(to a gentleman)
Know of the Duke if his last purpose hold
Or whether since he is advised by aught
To change the course. (To Regan) He's full of alteration
And self-reproving. (To gentleman) Bring his constant pleasure.
Exit gentleman

REGAN
Our sister's man is certainly miscarried.

EDMUND
'Tis to be doubted, madam.

REGAN
Now, sweet lord,
You know the goodness I intend upon you.
Tell me but truly – but then speak the truth –
Do you not love my sister?

EDMUND
In honoured love.

REGAN
But have you never found my brother's way
To the forfended place?

EDMUND
That thought abuses you.

REGAN
I am doubtful that you have been conjunct
And bosomed with her, as far as we call hers.

EDMUND
No, by mine honour, madam.

REGAN
I never shall endure her; dear my lord,
Be not familiar with her.

EDMUND
Fear not.
She and the Duke her husband!
Enter, with drum and colours, Albany, Gonerill, and
soldiers

GONERILL
(aside)
I had rather lose the battle than that sister
Should loosen him and me.

ALBANY
Our very loving sister, well be-met.
Sir, this I heard; the King is come to his daughter,
With others whom the rigour of our state
Forced to cry out. Where I could not be honest,
I never yet was valiant. For this business,
It touches us as France invades our land,
Not bolds the King, with others – whom, I fear,
Most just and heavy causes make oppose.

EDMUND
Sir, you speak nobly.

REGAN
Why is this reasoned?

GONERILL
Combine together 'gainst the enemy.
For these domestic and particular broils
Are not the question here.

ALBANY
Let's then determine
With th' ancient of war on our proceeding.

EDMUND
I shall attend you presently at your tent.

REGAN
Sister, you'll go with us?

GONERILL
No.

REGAN
'Tis most convenient. Pray go with us.

GONERILL
(aside)
O, ho, I know the riddle. (Aloud) I will go.
Exeunt both the armies
As Albany is going out, enter Edgar

EDGAR
If e'er your grace had speech with man so poor,
Hear me one word.

ALBANY
(to his captains)
I'll overtake you.
(To Edgar)
Speak.

EDGAR
Before you fight the battle, ope this letter.
If you have victory, let the trumpet sound
For him that brought it. Wretched though I seem,
I can produce a champion that will prove
What is avouched there. If you miscarry,
Your business of the world hath so an end,
And machination ceases. Fortune love you.

ALBANY
Stay till I have read the letter.

EDGAR
I was forbid it.
When time shall serve, let but the herald cry
And I'll appear again.
Exit

ALBANY
Why, fare thee well. I will o'erlook thy paper.
Enter Edmund

EDMUND
The enemy's in view; draw up your powers.
Here is the guess of their true strength and forces
By diligent discovery; but your haste
Is now urged on you.

ALBANY
We will greet the time.
Exit

EDMUND
To both these sisters have I sworn my love;
Each jealous of the other as the stung
Are of the adder. Which of them shall I take?
Both? One? Or neither? Neither can be enjoyed
If both remain alive. To take the widow
Exasperates, makes mad, her sister Gonerill,
And hardly shall I carry out my side,
Her husband being alive. Now then, we'll use
His countenance for the battle, which being done,
Let her who would be rid of him devise
His speedy taking off. As for the mercy
Which he intends to Lear and to Cordelia,
The battle done and they within our power,
Shall never see his pardon; for my state
Stands on me to defend, not to debate.
Exit
Modern text
Act V, Scene II
Alarum within. Enter, with drum and colours, Lear,
Cordelia holding his hand, and soldiers, over the
stage, and exeunt
Enter Edgar and Gloucester

EDGAR
Here, father, take 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.

GLOUCESTER
Grace go with you, sir!
Exit Edgar
Alarum and retreat within. Enter Edgar

EDGAR
Away, old man! Give me thy hand; away!
King Lear hath lost; he and his daughter ta'en.
Give me thy hand; come on.

GLOUCESTER
No further, sir; a man may rot even here.

EDGAR
What, in ill thoughts again? Men must endure
Their going hence even as their coming hither;
Ripeness is all. Come on.

GLOUCESTER
And that's true too.
Exeunt
Modern text
Act V, Scene III
Enter in conquest with drum and colours Edmund;
Lear and Cordelia as prisoners; soldiers, Captain

EDMUND
Some officers take them away. Good guard,
Until their greater pleasures first be known
That are to censure them.

CORDELIA
We are not the first
Who with best meaning have incurred the worst.
For thee, oppressed King, I am cast down;
Myself could else outfrown false Fortune's frown.
(To Edmund)
Shall we not see these daughters and these sisters?

LEAR
No, no, no, no! Come, let's away to prison.
We two alone will sing like birds i'the cage;
When thou dost ask me blessing I'll kneel down
And ask of thee forgiveness; so we'll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
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's the mystery of things
As if we were God's spies; and we'll wear out,
In a walled prison, packs and sects of great ones
That ebb and flow by the moon.

EDMUND
Take them away.

LEAR
Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,
The gods themselves throw incense. Have I caught thee?
(He embraces her)
He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven
And fire us hence like foxes. Wipe thine eyes;
The good-years shall devour them, flesh and fell,
Ere they shall make us weep. We'll see 'em starved first.
Come.
Exeunt Lear and Cordelia, guarded

EDMUND
Come hither, captain. Hark.
Take thou this note; go follow them to prison.
One step I have advanced thee; if thou dost
As this instructs thee, thou dost make thy way
To noble fortunes. Know thou this, that men
Are as the time is; to be tender-minded
Does not become a sword; thy great employment
Will not bear question; either say thou'lt do't,
Or thrive by other means.

CAPTAIN
I'll do't, my lord.

EDMUND
About it; and write happy when th' hast done.
Mark, I say ‘ instantly;’ and carry it so
As I have set it down.

CAPTAIN
I cannot draw a cart nor eat dried oats;
If it be man's work, I'll do't.
Exit
Flourish. Enter Albany, Gonerill, Regan, and
officers

ALBANY
Sir, you have showed today your valiant strain,
And Fortune led you well. You have the captives
That were the opposites of this day's strife;
I do require them of you, so to use them
As we shall find their merits and our safety
May equally determine.

EDMUND
Sir, I thought it fit
To send the old and miserable King
To some retention and appointed guard;
Whose age had charms in it, whose title more,
To pluck the common bosom on his side
And turn our impressed lances in our eyes
Which do command them. With him I sent the Queen,
My reason all the same; and they are ready
Tomorrow or at further space t' appear
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.

ALBANY
Sir, by your patience,
I hold you but a subject of this war,
Not as a brother.

REGAN
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.

GONERILL
Not so hot!
In his own grace he doth exalt himself
More than in your addition.

REGAN
In my rights,
By me invested, he compeers the best.

GONERILL
That were the most if he should husband you.

REGAN
Jesters do oft prove prophets.

GONERILL
Holla, holla!
That eye that told you so looked but asquint.

REGAN
Lady, I am not well; else I should answer
From a full-flowing stomach. (To Edmund) General,
Take thou my soldiers, prisoners, patrimony,
Dispose of them, of me; the walls is thine.
Witness the world that I create thee here
My lord and master.

GONERILL
Mean you to enjoy him?

ALBANY
The let-alone lies not in your good will.

EDMUND
Nor in thine, lord.

ALBANY
Half-blooded fellow, yes.

REGAN
(to Edmund)
Let the drum strike and prove my title thine.

ALBANY
Stay yet; hear reason. Edmund, I arrest thee
On capital treason, and, in thy attaint,
(he points to Gonerill)
This gilded serpent. 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 loves to me;
My lady is bespoke.

GONERILL
An interlude!

ALBANY
Thou art armed, Gloucester; let the trumpet sound.
If none appear to prove upon thy person
Thy heinous, manifest, and many treasons,
There is my pledge.
He throws down his glove
I'll make it on thy heart,
Ere I taste bread, thou art in nothing less
Than I have here proclaimed thee.

REGAN
Sick, O sick!

GONERILL
(aside)
If not, I'll ne'er trust medicine.

EDMUND
(throwing down his glove)
There's my exchange. What in the world he is
That names me traitor, villain-like he lies.
Call by the trumpet. He that dares approach,
On him, on you – who not? – I will maintain
My truth and honour firmly.

ALBANY
A herald, ho!
Enter a Herald
Trust to thy single virtue; for thy soldiers,
All levied in my name, have in my name
Took their discharge.

REGAN
My sickness grows upon me.

ALBANY
She is not well. Convey her to my tent.
Exit Regan, supported
Come hither, herald; let the trumpet sound,
And read out this.
A trumpet sounds

HERALD
(reading)
If any man of quality or degree within the
lists of the army will maintain upon Edmund, supposed
Earl of Gloucester, that he is a manifold traitor, let him
appear by the third sound of the trumpet. He is bold in his
defence.
(First trumpet)
Again!
(Second trumpet)
Again!
(Third trumpet)
Trumpet answers within. Enter Edgar armed, a
trumpet before him

ALBANY
Ask him his purposes, why he appears
Upon this call o'the trumpet.

HERALD
What are you?
Your name, your quality, and why you answer
This present summons?

EDGAR
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.

ALBANY
Which is that adversary?

EDGAR
What's he that speaks for Edmund, Earl of Gloucester?

EDMUND
Himself. What sayest thou to him?

EDGAR
Draw thy sword,
That if my speech offend a noble heart
Thy arm may do thee justice. Here is mine.
He draws his sword
Behold; it is the privilege of mine honours,
My oath, and my profession. I protest,
Maugre thy strength, place, youth, and eminence,
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 th' extremest upward of thy head
To the descent and dust below thy foot,
A most toad-spotted traitor. Say thou ‘ no,’
This sword, this arm, and my best spirits are bent
To prove upon thy heart, whereto I speak,
Thou liest.

EDMUND
In wisdom I should ask thy name;
But since thy outside looks so fair and warlike
And that thy tongue some 'say of breeding breathes,
What safe and nicely I might well delay
By rule of knighthood, I disdain and spurn.
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. Fights. Edmund falls

ALBANY
(to Edgar, about to kill Edmund)
Save him, save him!

GONERILL
This is practice, Gloucester:
By the law of war thou wast not bound to answer
An unknown opposite. Thou art not vanquished,
But cozened and beguiled.

ALBANY
Shut your mouth, dame,
Or with this paper shall I stop it – Hold, sir!
(To Gonerill)
Thou worse than any name, read thine own evil.
No tearing, lady! I perceive you know it.

GONERILL
Say if I do; the laws are mine, not thine.
Who can arraign me for't?

ALBANY
Most monstrous! O!
(To Edmund)
Knowest thou this paper?

EDMUND
Ask me not what I know.
Exit Gonerill

ALBANY
Go after her. She's desperate. Govern her.
Exit First Officer

EDMUND
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'rt noble,
I do forgive thee.

EDGAR
Let's exchange charity.
I am no less in blood than thou art, Edmund;
If more, the more th' hast wronged me.
My name is Edgar, and thy father's son.
The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices
Make instruments to plague us:
The dark and vicious place where thee he got
Cost him his eyes.

EDMUND
Th' hast spoken right. 'Tis true;
The wheel is come full circle; I am here.

ALBANY
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.

EDGAR
Worthy prince,
I know't.

ALBANY
Where have you hid yourself?
How have you known the miseries of your father?

EDGAR
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 followed me so near – O, our life's sweetness,
That we the pain of death would hourly die
Rather than die at once – taught me to shift
Into a madman's rags, t' assume a semblance
That very dogs disdained; and in this habit
Met I my father with his bleeding rings,
Their precious stones new lost; became his guide,
Led him, begged for him, saved him from despair,
Never – O fault! – revealed myself unto him
Until some half-hour past, when I was armed,
Not sure, though hoping, of this good success,
I asked his blessing, and from first to last
Told him my pilgrimage; but his flawed heart –
Alack, too weak the conflict to support –
'Twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief,
Burst smilingly.

EDMUND
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.

ALBANY
If there be more, more woeful, hold it in;
For I am almost ready to dissolve,
Hearing of this.

EDGAR
This would have seemed 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 in a man,
Who, having seen me in my worst estate,
Shunned my abhorred society; but then finding
Who 'twas that so endured, with his strong arms
He fastened on my neck and bellowed 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 trumpets sounded,
And there I left him tranced.

ALBANY
But who was this?

EDGAR
Kent, sir, the banished Kent, who, in disguise,
Followed his enemy king and did him service
Improper for a slave.
Enter a Gentleman with a bloody knife

GENTLEMAN
Help, help! O, help!

EDGAR
What kind of help?

ALBANY
Speak, man.

EDGAR
What means this bloody knife?

GENTLEMAN
'Tis hot; it smokes!
It came even from the heart of – O, she's dead!

ALBANY
Who dead? Speak, man.

GENTLEMAN
Your lady, sir; your lady! And her sister
By her is poisoned; she confesses it.

EDMUND
I was contracted to them both. All three
Now marry in an instant.

EDGAR
Here comes Kent.
Enter Kent

ALBANY
Produce the bodies, be they alive or dead.
Exit Gentleman
This judgement of the heavens that makes us tremble
Touches us not with pity. (To Kent) O, is this he?
The time will not allow the compliment
Which very manners urges.

KENT
I am come
To bid my King and master aye good night:.
Is he not here?

ALBANY
Great thing of us forgot.
Speak, Edmund, where's the King? and where's Cordelia?
Gonerill's and Regan's bodies are brought out
See'st thou this object, Kent?

KENT
Alack, why thus?

EDMUND
Yet Edmund was beloved.
The one the other poisoned for my sake
And after slew herself.

ALBANY
Even so. Cover their faces.

EDMUND
I pant for life; some good I mean to do
Despite of mine own nature. Quickly send –
Be brief in it – to the castle, for my writ
Is on the life of Lear and on Cordelia.
Nay, send in time!

ALBANY
Run, run, O run!

EDGAR
To who, my lord? Who has the office? Send
Thy token of reprieve.

EDMUND
Well thought on. (To Second Officer) Take my sword,
Give it the captain.

ALBANY
Haste thee for thy life.
Exit Second Officer

EDMUND
He hath commission from thy wife and me
To hang Cordelia in the prison, and
To lay the blame upon her own despair,
That she fordid herself.

ALBANY
The gods defend her. Bear him hence awhile.
Edmund is borne off
Enter Lear with Cordelia in his arms, followed by
Second Officer and others –

LEAR
Howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stones!
Had I your tongues and eyes I'd use them so
That heaven's vault should crack. She's gone for ever.
I know when one is dead and when one lives;
She's dead as earth. Lend me a looking-glass;
If that her breath will mist or stain the stone,
Why, then she lives.

KENT
Is this the promised end?

EDGAR
Or image of that horror?

ALBANY
Fall and cease!

LEAR
This feather stirs – she lives! If it be so,
It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows
That ever I have felt.

KENT
O my good master!

LEAR
Prithee away.

EDGAR
'Tis noble Kent, your friend.

LEAR
A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all!
I might have saved her; now she's gone for ever.
Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little. Ha!
What is't thou sayest? Her voice was ever soft,
Gentle and low – an excellent thing in woman.
I killed the slave that was a-hanging thee.

SECOND OFFICER
'Tis true, my lords; he did.

LEAR
Did I not, fellow?
I have seen the day, with my good biting falchion
I would have made him skip. I am old now
And these same crosses spoil me. – Who are you?
Mine eyes are not o'the best, I'll tell you straight.

KENT
If Fortune brag of two she loved and hated
One of them we behold.

LEAR
This is a dull sight. Are you not Kent?

KENT
The same –
Your servant Kent: Where is your servant Caius?

LEAR
He's a good fellow, I can tell you that;
He'll strike, and quickly too. He's dead and rotten.

KENT
No, my good lord; I am the very man –

LEAR
I'll see that straight.

KENT
That from your first of difference and decay,
Have followed your sad steps –

LEAR
You are welcome hither.

KENT
Nor no man else. All's cheerless, dark, and deadly.
Your eldest daughters have fordone themselves,
And desperately are dead.

LEAR
Ay, so I think.

ALBANY
He knows not what he sees, and vain is it
That we present us to him.

EDGAR
Very bootless.
Enter a Messenger

MESSENGER
Edmund is dead, my lord.

ALBANY
That's but a trifle here.
You lords and noble friends, know our intent:
What comfort to this great decay may come
Shall be applied. For us we will resign
During the life of this old majesty
To him our absolute power.
(To Edgar and Kent)
You, to your rights
With boot, and such addition as your honours
Have more than merited. All friends shall taste
The wages of their virtue, and all foes
The cup of their deservings. – O, see, see!

LEAR
And my poor fool is hanged! No, no, no life!
Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life,
And thou no breath at all? Thou'lt come no more;
Never, never, never, never, never.
Pray you undo this button. Thank you, sir.
Do you see this? Look on her! Look, her lips!,
Look there! Look there!
He dies

EDGAR
He faints. My lord, my lord!

KENT
Break, heart; I prithee break.

EDGAR
Look up, my lord.

KENT
Vex not his ghost. O, let him pass. He hates him
That would upon the rack of this tough world
Stretch him out longer.

EDGAR
He is gone indeed.

KENT
The wonder is he hath endured so long.
He but usurped his life.

ALBANY
Bear them from hence. Our present business
Is general woe.
(To Kent and Edgar)
Friends of my soul, you twain,
Rule in this realm, and the gored state sustain.

KENT
I have a journey, sir, shortly to go.
My master calls me, I must not say no.

ALBANY
The weight of this sad time we must obey;
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest hath borne most; we that are young
Shall never see so much nor live so long.
Exeunt with a dead march
SHAKESPEARE'S WORDS © 2020 DAVID CRYSTAL & BEN CRYSTAL