« PreviousContinue »
In this fair third, Cordelia's forfeit dow'r.
Mark me, my lords, observe our last resolve;
Ourself, attended by an hundred knights,
Will make abode with you in monthly course;
The name alone of King remain with me,
Yours be the execution and revenues.
This is our final will; and, to confirm it,
This coronet part between you.
Kent. [Kneels.] Royal Lear,
Whom I have ever honour'd as my king,
Lov'd as my father, as my master follow'd,
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
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
Lear. Ha, traitor!
Kent. Do, kill thy physician, Lear;
Strike through my throat; yet, with my latest breath,
I'll thunder in thine ear my just complaint,
And tell thee to thy face, that thou dost ill.
Lear. Hear me, rash man; on thine allegiance
hear me: Since thou hast striven to make us break our vow, And press'd between our sentence and our pow'r, Which nor our nature, nor our place, can bear, We banish thee for ever from our sight And kingdom : If, when three days are expir'd, Thy hated trunk be found in our dominions, That moment is thy death.Away.
Kent. Why, fare thee well, King; since thou art
I take thee at thy word; I will not stay
To see thy fall. The gods protect thee, maid,
That truly think'st, and has most justly said.
Thus to old climates my old truth I bear;
Friendship lives hence, and banishment is here.
Lear. Now, Burgundy, you see her price is fall'n;
Yet, if the fondness of your passion still
Affect her as she stands, dow'rless, and lost
In our esteem, she's yours ; take her, or leave her.
Burg. Pardon me, royal Lear, I but demand The dow'r yourself propos'd, and here I take Cordelia by the hand, Duchess of Burgundy.
Lear. Then leave her, sir; for, by a father's rage, I tell you all her wealth.
[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
Or is it the raving of a sickly thought?
Could Burgundy forego so rich a prize,
And leave her to despairing Edgar's arms ?
Have I thy hand, Cordelia? Do I clasp it?
The hand that was this minute to have join'd
My hated rival's? Do I kneel before thee,
And offer at thy feet my panting heart?
Smile, princess, and convince me; for, as yet,
I doubt, and dare not trust the dazzling joy.
Cord. Some comfort yet, that 'twas no vicious blot
That has depriv'd me of a father's grace;
But merely want of that, that makes me rich
In wanting it; a smooth professing tongue.
O sisters! I am loath to call
As it deserves ; but use our father well,
And wrong'd Cordelia never shall repine.
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
With thy acceptance, at thy feet he lays them.
Ha! my Cordelia, dost thou turn away?
What have I done t' offend thee?
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,
I was the darling daughter of a king;
Nor can I now forget my royal birth,
And live dependent on my lover's fortune;
I cannot to so low a fate submit;
And therefore study to forget your passion,
And trouble me upon this theme no more.
Edg. Thus majesty takes most state in distress.
How are we tost on fortune's fickle flood!
The wave that, with surprising kindness, brought
The dear wreck to my arms, has snatch'd it back,
And left me mourning on the barren shore.
Cord. This baseness of the ignoble Burgundy
Draws just suspicion on the race of men;
His love was int'rest, so may Edgar's be,
And he but with more compliment dissemble ;
If so, I shall oblige him by denying;
But, if his love be fix'd, such constant flame
As warms my breast, if such I find his passion,
My heart as grateful to his truth shall be,
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
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
ness, To try how far my passion would pursue.
Edm. He hears me not; 'wake, 'wake, sir. Edg. Say you, brother? No tears, good Edmund; if thou bring'st me tidings To strike me dead, for charity delay not ; That present will befit so kind a hand.
Edm. Your danger, sir, comes on so fast,
That I want time t' inform you? but retire,
Whilst I take care to turn the pressing stream.
O gods! for Heaven's sake, sir,—
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.- Cordelia !
[Exit Edgar. Edm. Ha ! ha! Fond man! Such credulous ho
Lessens the glory of my artifice;
His nature is so far from doing wrongs,
That he suspects none: if this letter speed,
pass for Edgar's, as himself would own The counterfeit, but for the foul contents, Then my designs are perfect.--Here comes Gloster.
Enter 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,
Endeavour'd to conceal it from your sight.
Glost. This is Edgar's character.
[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. 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
Half his possessions !Edgar to write this
'Gainst his indulgent father! Death and hell!
Fly, Edmund, seek him out; wind me into him,
That I may bite the traitor's heart, and fold
His bleeding entrails on my vengeful arm.
Edm. Perhaps 'twas writ, my lord, to prove my
Glost. These late eclipses of the sun and moon
Can bode no less; love cools, and friendship fails;
In cities mutiny, in countries discord;
The bond of nature crack'd 'twixt son and father.-
Find out the villain, do it carefully,
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.