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A Room in Gloster's Castle.

Enter Edmund.

Edm. The storm is in our louder rev❜lings drown'd. Thus would I reign, could I but mount a throne. The riots of these proud imperial sisters Already have impos'd the galling yoke

Of taxes, and hard impositions, on

The drudging peasant's neck, who bellows out
His loud complaints in vain.—Triumphant queens!
With what assurance do they tread the crowd!
Oh! for a taste of such majestic beauty,
Which none but my hot veins are fit t'engage;
Nor are my wishes desp'rate; for ev'n now,
During the banquet, I observ'd their glances
Shot thick at me; and, as they left the room,
Each cast, by stealth, a kind inviting smile,
The happy earnest- -ha!

Two Pages, from several Entrances, deliver him each a
Letter, and exeunt.

[Reads.] Where merit is so transparent, not to behold it uere blindness, and not to reward it, ingratitude.

Enough! blind and ungrateful should I be,
Not to obey the summons of this oracle.
Now for the second letter.


[Reads.] If modesty be not your enemy, doubt not to find

me your friend.



Excellent sybil! O my glowing blood!
I am already sick of expectatation,
And pant for the possession.-

Here Gloster comes,

With business on his brow; be hush'd, my joys.

Enter Gloster.

Glost. I come to seek thee, Edmund, to impart a business of importance. I know thy loyal heart is touched to see the cruelty of these ungrateful daughters against our royal master.

Edm. Most savage and unnatural!

Glost. This change in the state sits uneasy. The commons repine aloud at their female tyrants; already they cry out for the re-instalment of their good old king, whose injuries, I fear, will inflame them into mutiny.

Edm. 'Tis to be hop'd, not fear'd.

Glost. Thou hast it, boy; tis to be hop'd indeed.
On me they cast their eyes, and hourly court me
To lead them on; and, whilst this head is mine,
I'm theirs. A little covert craft, my boy,
And then for open action; 'twill be employment
Worthy such honest daring souls as thine.
Thou, Edmund, art my trusty emissary.
Haste on the spur, at the first break of day,
With these dispatches to the duke of Cambray.
[Gives him Letters.

You know what mortal feuds have always flam'd
Between this Duke of Cornwall's family, and his;
Full twenty thousand mountaineers

Th' inveterate prince will send to our assistance.
Despatch; commend us to his grace, and prosper.

Edm. Yes, credulous old man, I will commend you to his grace,


His grace the Duke of Cornwall: instantly,
I'll show him these contents in thy own character,
And scal'd with thy own signet; then forthwith

The chol'ric duke gives sentence on thy life;
And to my hand thy vast revenues fall,
To glut my pleasures, that till now have starv'd.


Gloster returns, followed by Cordelia and AranThe, poorly dressed ;—Edmund observing at a distance.

Cord. Turn, Gloster, turn; by all the sacred pow'rs,

I do conjure you give my griefs a hearing: [Kneels.
You must, you shall, nay, I am sure you will;
For you were always styl'd the just and good.

Glost. What wouldst thou, princess? Rise, and speak thy griefs.

Cord. Nay, you shall promise to redress them too, Or here I'll kneel for ever. I entreat

Thy succour for a father, and a king,

An injur'd father, and an injur'd king.

Edm. O charming sorrow! How her tears adorn


Glost. Consider, princess,

[Raises her. For whom thou begg'st, 'tis for the king that wrong'd


Cord. O name not that; he did not, could not, wrong me.

Nay, muse not, Gloster; for it is too likely

This injur'd king ere this is past your aid,
And distracted with his savage wrongs.


Edm. I'll gaze no more ;- --and yet my eyes are charm'd.

Cord. Or, what if it be worse?—Can there be worse?

Ah, 'tis too probable, this furious night

Has pierc'd his tender body; the bleak winds

And cold rain chill'd, or lightning struck, him dead; If it be so, your promise is discharg'd,

And I have only one poor boon to beg;

That you'd convey me to his breathless trunk,
With my torn robes to wrap his hoary head,
With my torn hair to bind his hands and feet,
Then with a show'r of tears

To wash his clay-smear'd cheeks, and die beside him.
Glost. Oh, fair Cordelia, thou hast piety
Enough t'atone for both thy sisters' crimes;
I have already plotted to restore


My injur'd master, and thy virtue tells me
We shall succeed, and suddenly.
Cord. Despatch, Aranthe;
For in this disguise, we'll instantly
Go seek the king, and bring him some relief.
Aran. How, madam! are you ignorant
That your most impious sisters have decreed
Immediate death for any that relieve him?

Cord. I cannot dread the furies in this case.
Aran. In such a night as this! Consider, madam,
For many miles about there's scarce a bush
To shelter in.

Cord. Therefore no shelter for the king,
And more our charity to find him out.

What have not women dar'd for vicious love!
And we'll be shining proofs that they can dare
For piety as much.

Blow winds, and lightnings fall;

Bold in my virgin innocence I'll fly,

My royal father to relieve, or die.


[Exeunt Cordelia and Aranthe.

Edm. In this disguise, we'll instantly

Go seek the king! Ha! ha! a lucky change:

That virtue, which I fear'd would be my hind'rance,

Has prov'd the bawd to my design.

I'll bribe two ruffians shall at distance follow,

And seize them in some desert place; and there
Whilst one retains her, t'other shall return

T'inform me where she's lodg'd: I'll be disguis'd too.
Whilst they are poaching for me, I'll to the duke

With these dispatches: then to the field,
Where, like the vig'rous Jove, I will enjoy
This Semele in a storm; 'twill deaf her cries,
Like drums in battle, lest her groans should pierce
My pitying ear, and make the am'rous fight less fierce.


Another Part of the Heath.—Rain—Thunder—Light


Enter King Lear and Kent.

Kent. Here is the place, my lord; good, my lord,


The tyranny of this open night's too rough

For nature to endure.

Lear. Let me alone.

Kent. Good my lord, enter.

Lear. Wilt break my heart?

Kent. I'd rather break mine own.

Lear. Thou think'st 'tis much that this contentious

Invades us to the skin; so 'tis to thee;
But where the greater malady is fix'd,
The lesser is scarce felt: The tempest in my mind
Does from my senses take all feeling else,
Save what beats there. Filial ingratitude!

Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand

For lifting food to't?

-But I'll punish home!

No, I will weep no more. [Rain-Thunder—Lightning.

In such a night

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