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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't. 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,

1

That followed me so near, (O, our lives' sweetness!
That we the pain of death would hourly die,1
Rather than die at once!) taught me to shift
Into a madman's rags; to 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.

1 The quartos read :—

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 woful, hold it in;
For I am almost ready to dissolve,
Hearing of this.
2[Edg.

This would have seemed a period
To such as love not sorrow; but another,
To amplify too much, would make much more,

"That with the pain of death would hourly die.”

2 The lines within crotchets are not in the folio.

And top extremity.1
Whilst I was big in clamor, came there 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 trumpet sounded,

2

And there I left him tranced.

Alb.

But who was this? Edg. Kent, sir, the banished Kent; who in disguise Followed 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.
Alb.

Edg.
Gent.

What means that bloody

It came even from the heart of

Alb.

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What kind of help?
Speak, man.

knife?

'Tis hot, it smokes ;

Who, man? speak.

1 Of this difficult passage, which is probably corrupt, Steevens gives the following explanation:-" This would have seemed a period to such as love not sorrow, but-another, i. e. but I must add another, i. e. another period, another kind of conclusion to my story, such as will increase the horrors of what has been already told." It will be necessary, if we admit this interpretation, to point the passage thus:—

but another:

(To amplify too much, would make much more,
And top extremity,)
Whilst I was big," &c.

Malone's explanation is:-"This would have seemed the utmost completion of woe, to such as do not delight in sorrow; but another, of a different disposition, to amplify misery' would give more strength to that which hath too much;"" referring to the bastard's desiring to hear more, and to Albany's thinking that enough had been said.

2 The quartos read, "threw me on my father." The reading in the text is certainly more likely to be correct.

Gent. Your lady, sir, your lady; and her sister By her is poisoned; she hath confessed it.1

Edm. I was contracted to them both; all three Now marry in an instant.

Edg.

Alb. O! it is he.

Alb. Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead!— This judgment of the Heavens, that makes us tremble, Touches us not with pity. [Exit Gentleman.

Enter KENT.

Here comes Kent, sir.

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?

Alb.

Great thing of us forgot!Speak, Edmund, where's the king? and where's Cordelia ?

Seest thou this object, Kent?

Kent. Alack, why thus?
Edm.

[The bodies of GONERIL and REGAN are brought in.

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

Alb. Even so.-Cover their faces.

Edm. I pant for life :-Some good I mean to do, Despite of mine own nature. Quickly sendBe brief in it-to the castle, for my writ Is on the life of Lear, and on Cordelia.Nay, send in time.

Alb.

Run, run, O, run—

Edg. To whom, my lord?-Who has the office? send Thy token of reprieve.

Edm. Well thought on; take my sword,

Give it the captain.

1 Thus the quarto. The folio reads " she confesses it.”
VOL. VII.
17

Alb.

Haste thee, for thy life.

[Exit EDGAR. Edm. 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 fordid1 herself.

Alb. The gods defend her! Bear him hence awhile. [EDMUND is borne off.

Enter LEAR, with CORDELIA dead in his arms;2 EDGAR, Officer, and others.

Lear. Howl, 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.-O, she is 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?3
Edg. Or image of that horror?
Alb.

Fall, and cease! 4 Lear. This feather stirs; she lives! if it be so, It is a chance that does redeem all sorrows That ever I have felt.

my good master! [Kneeling.

Kent.
O
Lear. 'Pr'ythee, away.
Edg.
'Tis noble Kent, your friend.
Lear. A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all!

1 To fordo signifies to destroy. It is used again in Hamlet.

2 The old historians say that Cordelia retired with victory from the battle, which she conducted in her father's cause, and thereby replaced him on the throne; but in a subsequent one fought against her (after the death of the old king), by the sons of Regan and Goneril, she was taken, and died miserably in prison. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the original relater of the story, says that she killed herself.

3 Kent, in contemplating the scene before him, recollects those passages of St. Mark's Gospel, in which Christ foretells to his disciples the end of the world; and hence his question. To which Edgar adds, Or only a representation or resemblance of that horror.

4 To cease is to die. "Rather fall, and cease to be at once, than continue in existence only to be wretched."

I might have saved her; now she's gone forever!
Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little. Ha!
What is't thou say'st?-Her voice was ever soft,
Gentle, and low; an excellent thing in woman.—
I killed the slave that was a-hanging thee.

Off. '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 them skip; I am old now.And these same crosses spoil me.-Who are you? Mine eyes are none o' the best.-I'll tell you straight.

Kent. If Fortune brag of two she loved and hated, One of them we behold.1

Lear. This is a dull sight:2 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.

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Lear.

You are welcome hither. Kent. Nor no man else; all's cheerless, dark, and deadly.

Your eldest daughters have fore-doomed3 themselves, And desperately are dead.

Lear.
Ay, so I think.
Alb. He knows not what he sees;
That we present us to him.

Edg.

Very bootless.

and vain it is

1 "If Fortune, to display the plenitude of her power, should brag of two persons, one of whom she had highly elevated, and the other she had wofully depressed, we now behold the latter." The quarto reads, “She loved or hated," which confirms this sense.

2 Lear means that his eyesight was bedimmed either by excess of grief, or, as is usual, by the approach of death.

3 Thus the quartos: the folio reads foredone, which is probably right. See note 1, on page 130.

4 The quarto reads says.

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