Page images

Reg. Now, traitor, thou shalt find-

Corn. Speak, rebel, where hast thou sent the king? Whom, spite of our decree, thou saved'st last night.

Glost. I'm tied to th' stake, and I must stand the


Reg. Say where, and why, thou hast concealed

him? Glost. Because I would not see thy cruel hands Tear out his poor old eyes, nor thy fierce sister Carve his anointed flesh; but I shall see The swift-wing'd vengeance overtake such children. Corn. See't thou shalt never : slaves, perform your

work; [The Servants take Gloster out. Out with those treacherous eyes; despatch, I say. Glost. [Within.] He, that will think to live till he

be old,
Give me some help.---0, cruel! oh, ye gods!

Edw. Hold, hold, my lord, I bar your cruelty ;
I cannot love your safety, and give way
To such inhuman practice.

Corn. Ah, my villain!

Edw. I have been your servant from my infancy; But better service have I never done you, Than with this boldness.

Corn. Take thy death, slave. [Stabs Edward. Edw. Nay, then revenge, whilst yet my blood is

warm ! [Draws his Sword, runs Cornwall through the

Body, and is carried off, dying. Reg. Help here, are you not hurt, my lord ? Glost. [Within.] Edmund, enkindle all the sparks

of nature, To quit this horrid act.

Reg. Out, treacherous villain, Thou call'st on him that hates thee; it was he That broach'd thy treason, show'd us thy despatches; There—read, and save the Cambrian prince the labour.

[Throws the Letters out to him.

Glost. [Within.] O my folly! Then Edgar was abus'd; kind gods, forgive me that!

Reg. How is't, my lord ?

Corn. Turn out that eyeless villain, let him smell His way to Cambray; throw this slave upon a dung

hill. Regan, I bleed apace; give me your arm. [Exeunt Regan and Cornwall, supported by

his Servants.


The open Country.

Enter Edgar, in disguise. Edg. The lowest and most abject thing of fortune Stands still in hope, and is secure from fear. The lamentable change is from the best, The worst returns to better. Who comes here?

Enter Gloster, led by an Old Man. My father poorly led! depriv'd of sight! The precious stones torn from their bleeding rings! When will the measure of my woes be full?

Old M. O, my good lord! I have been your tenant, And your

father's tenant, these fourscore years. Glost. Away, get thee away; good friend, be gone; Thy comforts can do me no good at all, Thee they may hurt.

Old M. You cannot see your way.

Glost. I have no way, and therefore want no eyes ; I stumbled when I saw :- O, dear son, Edgar, The food of thy abused father's wrath,

Might I but live to see thee in


touch, I'd say I had eyes again.

Edg. Alas! he's sensible that I was wronged,
And, should I own myself, his tender heart
Would break betwixt th’extremes of grief and joy.

Old M. How now! who's there?

Edg. A charity for poor Tom.—Play fair, and defy the foul fiend. O gods! And must I still pursue this trade, Trifling beneath such loads of misery? Old M. 'Tis


mad Tom.
Glost. In the late storm I such a fellow saw,
Which made me think a man a worm.
Where is the lunatic?

Old M. Here, my lord.

Glost. Get thee now away: if for my sake
Thou wilt o'ertake us hence a mile or two,
I'th' way to Dover, do't for ancient love,
And bring some cov'ring for this naked wretch,
Whom I'll intreat to lead me.

Old M. Alack, my lord, he's mad.
Glost. 'Tis the time's plague, when madmen lead

the blind. Do as I bid thee.

Old M. I'll bring him the best 'parel that I have, Come on't what will.

[Exit Old Man. Glost. Sirrah ! naked fellow !

Edg. Poor Tom's a cold.—I cannot fool it longer, And yet I must- - Bless thy sweet eyes, they bleed; Believ't, poor Tom ev'n weeps his blind to see 'em.

Glost. Know'st thou the way to Dover ?

Edg. Both stile and gate, horse-way and foot-path. Poor Tom has been scared out of his good wits. Bless every true man's son from the foul fiend !

Glost. Here, take this purse; that I am wretched, Makes thee the happier. Heav'n deal so still ; Thus let the griping usurer', hoard be scatter'd, So distribution shall undo excess,

And each man have enough. Dost thou know

Edg. Ay, master.
Glost. There is a cliff, whose high and bending

Looks dreadfully down on the roaring deep;
Bring me but to the very brink of it,
And I'll repair the poverty thou bear'st
With something rich about me.—From that place
I shall no leading need.

Edg. Give me thy arm; poor Tom shall guide thee.
Glost. Soft! for I hear the tread of passengers.

Enter Kent and Cordelia.
Cord. Ah me! Your fear's too true, it was the

I spoke but even now with some that met him,
As mad as the vex'd sea, singing aloud
Crown'd with rank fumiter, and furrow weeds,
With berries, burdocks, violets, daisies, poppies,
And all the idle flowers that

In our sustaining corn: Conduct me to him,
To prove my last endeavours to restore him,
And Heav'n so prosper

Kent. I will, good lady.
Ha! Gloster here !—Turn, poor dark man, and hear
A friend's condolement, who, at sight of thine,
Forgets his own distress; thy old true Kent.

Glost. How! Kent? From whence return'd?

Kent. I have not since my banishment been absent,
But in disguise follow'd th' abandon'd king:
'Twas me thou saw'st with him in the late storm.
Glost. Let me embrace thee; had I.


I now
Should weep for joy; but let this trickling blood
Suffice instead of tears.

Cord. O, misery!
To whom shall I complain, or in what language?
Forgive, O, wretched man, the piety

[ocr errors]

That brought thee to this pass; 'twas I that caus'd it;
I cast thee at my feet, and beg of thee
To crush these weeping eyes to equal darkness,
If that will give thee any recompense.

Edg. Was ever season so distrest as this? [Aside.

Glost. I think Cordelia's voice; rise, pious princess, And take a dark man's blessing.

Cord. O, my Edgar !
My virtue's now grown guilty, works the bane
Of those that do befriend me : Heaven forsakes me;
And, when

look that


it is but just That you

should hate me to. Edg. O, wave this cutting speech, and spare to

wound A heart that's on the rack.

Glost. No longer cloud thee, Kent, in that disguise; There's business for thee, and of noblest weight; Our injur'd country is at length in arms, Urg'd by the king's inhuman wrongs and mine, And only want a chief to lead them on; That task be thine. Edg: Brave Britons! then there's life in't yet.

[Aside. Kent. Then have we one cast for our fortune still. Come, princess, I'll bestow you with the king, Then on the spur to head these forces. Farewell, good Gloster; to our conduct trust. Glost. And be your course as prosp'rous, as 'tis just.


[ocr errors]


Goneril's Palace.

Enter Goneril, and Oswald. Gon. It was great ignorance, Gloster's eyes being out, To let him live; where he arrives, he moves

« PreviousContinue »