Page images
PDF

Edg. What's he, that speaks for Edmund earl of
Gloster?

Edm. Himself;-What say'st thou to him

Edg. Draw thy sword; That, if my speech offend a noble heart, Thy arm may do thee justice: here is mine. Behold, it is the privilege of mine honours, My oath, and my profession: I protest,Maugre thy strength, youth, place, and eminence, Despite thy victor sword, and fire-new fortune, Thy valour, and thy heart, thou art a traitor: False to thy gods, thy brother, and thy father; Conspirant 'gainst this high illustrious prince; And, from the extremest upward of thy head, To the descent and dust beneath thy feet, A most toad-spotted traitor. Say thou, No, This sword, this arm, and my best spirits, are bent To prove upon thy heart, whereto I speak, Thou liest.

Edm. In wisdom, I should ask thy name; But, since thy outside looks so fair and warlike, And that thy tongue some 'say of breeding breathes, What safe and nicely I might well delay By rule of knighthood, I disdain and spurn: Back do I toss these treasons to thy head; With the hell-hated lie o'erwhelm thy heart; Which, (for they yet glance by, and scarcely bruise) This sword of mine shall give them instant way, Where they shall rest for ever.—Trumpets, speak.

[Alarums. They fight. Edmund falls.

Alb. O save him, save him!

Gon. This is mere practice, Gloster: By the law of arms, thou wast not bound to answer An unknown opposite; thou art not vanquish'd, But cozen'd and beguil'd,

Alb. Shut your mouth, dame, Or with this paper shall I stop it:—Hold, sir:Thou worse than any name, read thine own evil:— No tearing, lady; I perceive, you know it.

[Gives the letter to Edmund.

Gon. Say, if I do; the laws are mine, not thine:

Who shall arraign me for't;

Alb. - Most monstrous ! Know'st thou this paper? Gon. Ask me not what I know.

[Erit Goneril. Alb. Go after her: she's desperate; govern her. [To an Officer, who goes out. Edm. What you have charg'd me with, that have I done; And more, much more: the time will bring it out; 'Tis past, and so am I: But what art thou, That hast this fortune on me? If thou art noble, I do forgive thee. Edg. Let's exchange charity. I am no less in blood than thou art, Edmund; If more, the more thou hast wrong'd me. My name is Edgar, and thy father's son. The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices Make instruments to scourge us:

The dark and vicious place where thee he got,
Cost him his eyes.

Edm. Thou hast spoken right, 'tis true; The wheel is come full circle; I am here.

Alb. Methought, thy very gate did prophecy
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 it well.
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,
That follow'd me so near, (O our lives' sweetness!
That with the pain of death we'd hourly die,
Rather than die at once!) taught me to shift
Into a madman's rags; to assume a semblance
That very dogs disdain'd: and in this habit
Met I my father with his bleeding rings,
Their precious stones new lost; became his guide,
Led him, begg'd for him, sav'd him from despair;
Never (O fault') reveal'd myself unto him,
Until some half hour past, when I was arm’d,
Not sure, though hoping, of this good success,
I ask'd his blessing, and from first to last
Told him my pilgrimage: But his flaw'd heart, .
(Alack, too weak the conflict to support!)

Twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief,
Burst smilingly.

Edm. This speech of yours hath mov'd 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.

[Edg. *This would have seem'd a period
To such as love not sorrow; but another,
To amplify too-much, would make much more,
And top extremity.
Whilst I was big in clamour, came there a man,
Who having seen me in my worst estate,
Shunn'd my abhorr'd society; but then, finding
Who 'twas that so endur'd, with his strong arms
He fasten’d on my neck, and bellow'd out
As he'd burst heaven; threw him on my father:
Told the most piteous tale of Lear and him,
That ever ear receiv'd: which in recounting,
His grief grew puissant, and the strings of life
Began to crack: Twice then the trumpet sounded,
And there I left him tranc'd.

Alb. But who was this?

Edg. Kent, sir, the banish'd Kent; who in dis

guise

Follow'd his enemy king, and did him service
Improper for a slave.]

[ocr errors]

Enter a Gentleman hastily, with a bloody knife.

Gent. Help! help! O help!

Edg. What kind of help?

Alb. Speak, man.

Edg. What means that bloody knife?

Gent. 'Tis hot, it smokes; It came even from the heart of

Alb. Who, man? speak.

Gent. Your lady, sir, your lady: and her sister By her is poison'd; she confesses it.

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

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

Enter KENT.

Edg. Here comes Kent, sir. . Alb. O! it is he. 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?—

See'st thou this object, Kent?
[The bodies of Goneril and Regan are brought in.

« PreviousContinue »