Page images

sweet sway

Enter GONERIL. If you do love old men, if

your Allow obedience, if you yourselves are old, Make it your cause ; send down, and take my part ! Art not asham'd to look upon this beard ?- [To GONERIL. 0, Regan, wilt thou take her by the hand ?

Gon. Why not by the hand, sir ? How have I offended ?
All 's not offence that indiscretion fiuds,
And dotage terms so.

O, sides, you are too tough!
Will you yet hold ?—How came my man i' the stocks ?

CORN. I set him there, sir : but his own disorders
Deserv'd much less advancement.

You ! did you ?
REG. I pray you, father, being weak, seem so.
If, till the expiration of your month,
You will return and sojourn with my sister,
Dismissing half your train, come then to me;
I am now from home, and out of that provision
Which shall be needful for your entertainment.

LEAR. Return to her, and fifty men dismiss'd ?
No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose
To wage against the enmity o'the air ;
To be a comrade with the wolf and owl,—
Necessity's sharp pinch !—Return with her ?
Why, the hot-blooded France, that dowerless took
Our youngest born, I could as well be brought
To knee his throne, and, squire-like, pension beg
To keep base life afoot :-Return with her ?
Persuade me rather to be slave and sumpter
To this detested groom.

(Looking on the Steward. Gon.

At your choice, sir.
LEAR. I prithee, daughter, do not make me mad;
I will not trouble thee, my farewell;
We'll no more meet, no more see one another :-
But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter;
Or, rather, a disease that 's in my flesh,
Which I must needs call mine ; thou art a boil,
A plague-sore, or embossed carbuncle,

child ;

In my corrupted blood. But I'll not chide thee;
Let shame come when it will, I do not call it :
I do not bid the thunder-bearer shoot,
Nor tell tales of thee to high-judging Jove:
Mend, when thou canst; be better, at thy leisure :
I can be patient; I can stay with Regan,
I, and my hundred knights.

Not altogether so ;
I look'd not for you yet, nor am provided
For your fit welcome : Give ear, sir, to my sister ;
For those that mingle reason with your passion,
Must be content to think you old, and so
But she knows what she does.

Is this well spoken ?
REG. I dare avouch it, sir : What, fifty followers ?
Is it not well ? What should you need of more ?
Yea, or so many ? sith that both charge and danger
Speak 'gainst so great a number ? How, in one house,
Should many people, under two commands,
Hold amity? 'T is hard ; almost impossible.

Gon. Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance
From those that she calls servants, or from mine ?
REG. Why not, my lord ? If then they chanc'd to slac

We could control them: If you will come to me,
(For now I spy a danger,) I entreat you
To bring but five-and-twenty ; to no more
Will I give place, or notice.

LEAR. I gave you all-

And in good time you gave it.
LEAR. Made you my guardians, my depositaries;
But kept a reservation to be follow'd
With such a number : What, must I come to you
With five-and-twenty, Regan ? said you so ?

Reg. And speak 't again, my lord ; no more with me.

LEAR. Those wicked creatures yet do look well-favour'd ! When others are more wicked, not being the worst Stands in some rank of praise :-I 'll go with thee;

[To GONERIL. Thy fifty yet doth double five-and-twenty,

And thou art twice her love.

Hear me, my lord ;
What need you five-and-twenty, ten, or five,
To follow in a house, where twice so many
Have a command to tend you ?

What need one ?
LEAR. O, reason not the need : our basest beggars
Are in the poorest thing superfluous :
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
Man's life is cheap as beast's : thou art a lady;
If only to go warm were gorgeous,
Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear'st,
Which scarcely keeps thee warm. -But, for true need,
You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need !
You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,
As full of grief as age ; wretched in both !
If it be you that stir these daughters' hearts
Against their father, fool me not so much
To bear it tamely: touch me with noble anger !
And let not women's weapons, water-drops,

my man's cheeks !—No, you unnatural hags,
I will have such revenges on you both,
That all the world shall—I will do such things
What they are yet I know not; but they shall be
The terrors of the earth. You think I 'll weep;
No, I'll not weep :-
I have full cause of weeping; but this heart
Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws,
Or ere I 'll weep:-0, fool, I shall go mad!

[Exeunt LEAR, GLOSTER, KENT, and Fool. CORN. Let us withdraw, 't will be a storm.

[Storm heard at a distance, REG. This house is little ; the old man and his people Cannot be well bestow'd.

Gon. ’T is his own blame; hath put himself from rest, And must needs taste his folly.

REG. For his particular, I 'll receive him gladly,
But not one follower.

purpos’d. Where is my lord of Gloster ?

So am

Re-enter GLOSTER.
CORN. Follow'd the old man forth :-he is return'd.
Glo. The king is in high rage.

Whither is he going ?
Glo. He calls to horse ; but will I know not whither.
CORN. 'Tis best to give him way; he leads himself.
Gon. My lord, entreat him by no means to stay.

Glo. Alack, the night comes on, and the high winds
Do sorely ruffle ; for many miles about
There 's scarce a bush.

O, sir, to wilful

The injuries that they themselves procure
Must be their schoolmasters : Shut up your doors ;
He is attended with a desperate train ;
And what they may incense him to, being apt
To have his ear abus'd, wisdom bids fear.

CORN. Shut up your doors, my lord ; 't is a wild night : My Regan counsels well: come out o' the storm, [Exeunt.


SCENE I.-A Heath.

A storm is heard, with thunder and lightning. Enter KENT

and a Gentleman, meeting.
KENT. Who's there, besides foul weather ?
GENT. One minded like the weather, most unquietly.
KENT. I know you. Where's the king ?

GENT. Contending with the fretful elements;
Bids the wind blow the earth into the sea,
Or swell the curled waters 'bove the main,
That things might change, or cease: tears his white hair ;
Which the impetuous blasts, with eyeless rage,
Catch in their fury, and make nothing of:

Strives in his little world of man to out-scorn
The to-and-fro-conflicting wind and rain.
This night, wherein the cub-drawn bear would couch,
The lion and the belly-pinched wolf
Keep their fur dry, unbopneted he runs,
And bids what will take all.

But who is with him?
GENT. None but the fool ; who labours to out-jest
His heart-strook injuries.

Sir, I do know you;
And dare, upon the warrant of my note,
Commend a dear thing to you. There is division,
Although as yet the face of it be cover'd
With mutual cunning, 'twixt Albany and Cornwall ;
Who have (as who have not, that their great stars
Throu'd and set high ?) servants, who seem no less ;
Which are to France the spies and speculations
Intelligent of our state; what hath been seen,
Either in spuffs and packings of the dukes ;
Or the hard rein which both of them have borne
Against the old kind king; or something deeper,
Whereof, perchance, these are but furnishings ;
But, true it is, from France there comes a power
Into this scatter'd kingdom; who already,
Wise in our negligence, have secret feet
In some of our best ports, and are at point
To show their opeu banner.—Now to you :
If on my credit you dare build so far
To make your speed to Dover, you shall find
Some that will thank you, making just report
Of how unnatural and bemadding sorrow
The king bath cause to plain.
I am a gentleman of blood and breeding ;
And, from some knowledge and assurance, offer
This office to you.

GENT. I will talk further with you.

No, do not.
For confirmation that I am much more
Than my out wall, open this purse, and take
What it contains : If you shall see Cordelia,

« PreviousContinue »