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In this fair third, Cordelia's forfeit dow'r.
Whom I have ever honour'd as my king,
And, as my patron, thought on in my pray'rs,
Lear. Away! the bow is bent, make from the shaft. Kent. [Rises.] No, let it fall, and drench within my heart:
Be Kent unmannerly when Lear is mad;
Thy youngest daughter
Lear. On thy life, no more.
Kent What wilt thou do, old man?
Lear. Out of my sight.
Kent. See better first.
Lear. Now, by the gods
Kent. Now, by the gods, rash king, thou swear'st in vain.
Lear. Ha, traitor!
Kent. Do, kill thy physician, Lear;
Strike through my throat; yet, with my latest breath,
And tell thee to thy face, that thou dost ill.
Lear. Hear me, rash man; on thine allegiance
Since thou hast striven to make us break our vow,
Kent. Why, fare thee well, King; since thou art resolv'd,
I take thee at thy word; I will not stay
Affect her as she stands, dow'rless, and lost
[cordelia throws herself at Lear's Feet. Away! Away! Away! [Flourish of Trumpets, &c. [Exeunt all but Cordelia.
Edg. Has Heav'n then weigh'd the merit of my love,
Or is it the raving of a sickly thought?
Cord. Some comfort yet, that 'twas no vicious blot
That has depriv'd me of a father's grace;
As it deserves; but use our father well,
Edg. O heav'nly maid! that art thyself thy dow'r, Richer in virtue than the stars in light;
If Edgar's humble fortunes may be grac'd
Cord. Talk'd of love.
Edg. Then I've offended oft; Cordelia too Has oft permitted me so to offend.
Cord. When, Edgar, I permitted your addresses,
And therefore study to forget your passion,
Edg. Thus majesty takes most state in distress.
Cord. This baseness of the ignoble Burgundy
But, if his love be fix'd, such constant flame
And cold Cordelia prove as kind as he.
Enter Edmund, hastily.
Edm. Brother, I've found you in a lucky minute
Fly, and be safe; some villain has incens'd
Our father against your life.
Edg. Distress'd Cordelia !—but oh, more cruel! Edm. Hear me, sir; your life, your life's in danger. Edg. And yet, perhaps, 'twas but pretended cold
To try how far my passion would pursue.
Edm. He hears me not; 'wake, 'wake, sir.
No tears, good Edmund; if thou bring'st me tidings
Edm. Your danger, sir, comes on so fast,
Edg. Pardon me, sir, a serious thought
Had seiz'd me; but I think you talk'd of danger, And wish'd me to retire.—Must all our vows End thus ?—Friend, I obey you.—O Cordelia! [Exit Edgar. Edm. Ha! ha! Fond man! Such credulous ho nesty
Lessens the glory of my artifice;
His nature is so far from doing wrongs,
Then my designs are perfect.Here comes Gloster.
Glost. Stay, Edmund, turn; what paper were you reading?
Edm. A trifle, sir.
Glost. What needed then that terrible despatch of it
Into your pocket? Come, produce it, sir.
Edm. A letter from my brother, sir: I had just broke the seal, but knew not the contents;
Yet, fearing they might prove to blame,
[Reads.] 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 his possessions, and live beloved of your brother.
Sleep till I wak'd him, you should enjoy
Edm. Perhaps 'twas writ, my lord, to prove my
Glost. These late eclipses of the sun and moon
The bond of nature crack'd 'twixt son and father.—
And it shall lose thee nothing.
[Exit Gloster. Edm. 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 o'erhear us Confer of this design; whilst, to his thinking, Deluded Edgar shall accuse himself.
Be honesty my int'rest, and I can
Be honest too; and what saint so divine,
That will successful villany decline? [Exit EDMUND.