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We will greet the time.1 [Exit. Edm. To both these sisters have I sworn my
love; Each jealous of the other, as the stung Are of the adder. Which of them shall I take? Both, one, or neither? Neither can be enjoy'd, If both remain alive : to take the widow, Exasperates, makes mad her sister Goneril ; And hardly shall I carry out my side,2 Her husband being alive. Now then, we'll use His countenance for the battle ; which being done, Let her, who would be rid of him, devise His speedy taking off. As for the mercy Which he intends to Lear and to Cordelia, The battle done, and they within our power, Shall never see his pardon : for my state Stands on me to defend, not to debate.
A field between the two camps. Alarums within. Enter, with drum and colors, LEAR, CORDELIA, and their forces ; and exeunt.
Enter EDGAR and GLOSTER. Edg. Here, father, take the shadow of this tree For your good host; pray that the right may
i Be ready to meet the occasion.
If ever I return to you again,
with you, sir!
Alarums ; afterwards a retreat. Re-enter EDGAR.
Edg. Away, old man; give me thy hand; away: King Lear hath lost, he and his daughter ta'en : Give me thy hand; come on.
Glos. No farther, sir ; a man may rot even here.
And that's true too.
The British camp, near Dover. Enter, in conquest, with drum and colors, EDMUND;
LEAR and CORDELIA as prisoners; Officers, Soldiers, &c. Edm. Some officers take them away: good
guard; Until their greater pleasures first be known That are to censure them.”
1 i. e. to be ready, prepared.
We are not the first, Who, with best meaning, have incurr'd the worst. For thee, oppressed king, am I cast down; Myself could else outfrown false Fortune's frown.Shall we not see these daughters and these sisters ? Lear. No, no, no, no! Come, let 's away to
prison. We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage. When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down, And ask of thee forgiveness : so we 'll live, And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues Talk of court news; and we'll talk with them
too,Who loses, and who wins; who 's in, who's out;And take upon us the mystery of things, As if we were God's spies : and we'll wear out, In a wall’d prison, packs and sects of great ones, That ebb and flow by the moon. Edm.
Take them away. Lear. Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia, The gods themselves throw incense. Have I caught
thee? He, that parts us, shall bring a brand from heaven, And fire us hence, like foxes. Wipe thine eyes : The goujeers shall devour them, flesh and fell, Ere they shall make us weep : we'll see them starve
[Exeunt Lear and Cordelia, guarded. Edm. Come hither, captain; hark. Take thou this note; (giving a paper.] go, follow
them to prison. One step I have advanced thee; if thou dost As this instructs thee, thou dost make thy way To noble fortunes. Know thou this ;-that men Are as the time is : to be tender-minded Does not become a sword: thy great employment Will not bear question ; either say, thou ’lt do't, Or thrive by other means. Off.
I'll do 't, my lord. Edm. About it; and write happy, when thou
hast done. Mark, --I say, instantly; and carry it so, As I have set it down.
Off. I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried oats : If it be man's work, I will do it. [Exit Officer.
Florish. Enter ALBANY, GONERIL, BEGAN, Officers,
Alb. Sir, you have shown to-day your valiant
strain, And Fortune led you well : you have the captives Who were the opposites of this day's strife : We do require them of you; so to use them, As we shall find their merits and our safety May equally determine. Edm.
Sir, I thought it fit To send the old and miserable king
To some retention, and appointed guard ;
Sir, by your patience,
That's as we list to grace him.
Not so hot:
In my rights,
1 Plenary delegation of authority.