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A Room in Gloster's Castle.
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
Two Pages, from several Entrances, deliver him each a
[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,
[Reads.] If modesty be not your enemy, doubt not to find
me your friend.
Excellent sybil! O my glowing blood!
Here Gloster comes,
With business on his brow; be hush'd, my joys.
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.
You know what mortal feuds have always flam'd
Th' inveterate prince will send to our assistance.
Edm. Yes, credulous old man, I will commend you to his grace,
His grace the Duke of Cornwall: instantly,
The chol'ric duke gives sentence on thy life;
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.
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,
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,
To wash his clay-smear'd cheeks, and die beside him.
My injur'd master, and thy virtue tells me
Cord. I cannot dread the furies in this case.
Cord. Therefore no shelter for the king,
What have not women dar'd for vicious love!
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
T'inform me where she's lodg'd: I'll be disguis'd too.
With these dispatches: then to the field,
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;
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