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Alb. Methought thy very gait did prophesy
Worthy prince, I know't. 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!
That followed me so near, (O, our lives' sweetness!
1 The quartos read :—
Alb. If there be more, more woful, hold it in;
This would have seemed a period
"That with the pain of death would hourly die.”
2 The lines within crotchets are not in the folio.
And top extremity.1
And there I left him tranced.
But who was this? Edg. Kent, sir, the banished Kent; who in disguise Followed his enemy king, and did him service Improper for a slave.]
Enter a Gentleman, hastily, with a bloody knife.
What means that bloody
It came even from the heart of
What kind of help?
'Tis hot, it smokes ;
Who, man? speak.
1 Of this difficult passage, which is probably corrupt, Steevens gives the following explanation:-" This would have seemed a period to such as love not sorrow, but-another, i. e. but I must add another, i. e. another period, another kind of conclusion to my story, such as will increase the horrors of what has been already told." It will be necessary, if we admit this interpretation, to point the passage thus:—
(To amplify too much, would make much more,
Malone's explanation is:-"This would have seemed the utmost completion of woe, to such as do not delight in sorrow; but another, of a different disposition, to amplify misery' would give more strength to that which hath too much;"" referring to the bastard's desiring to hear more, and to Albany's thinking that enough had been said.
2 The quartos read, "threw me on my father." The reading in the text is certainly more likely to be correct.
Gent. Your lady, sir, your lady; and her sister By her is poisoned; she hath confessed it.1
Edm. I was contracted to them both; all three Now marry in an instant.
Alb. O! it is he.
Alb. Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead!— This judgment of the Heavens, that makes us tremble, Touches us not with pity. [Exit Gentleman.
Here comes Kent, sir.
The time will not allow the compliment,
I am come
Great thing of us forgot!Speak, Edmund, where's the king? and where's Cordelia ?
Seest thou this object, Kent?
Kent. Alack, why thus?
[The bodies of GONERIL and REGAN are brought in.
Yet Edmund was beloved. The one the other poisoned for my sake, And after slew herself.
Alb. Even so.-Cover their faces.
Edm. I pant for life :-Some good I mean to do, Despite of mine own nature. Quickly sendBe brief in it-to the castle, for my writ Is on the life of Lear, and on Cordelia.Nay, send in time.
Run, run, O, run—
Edg. To whom, my lord?-Who has the office? send Thy token of reprieve.
Edm. Well thought on; take my sword,
Give it the captain.
1 Thus the quarto. The folio reads " she confesses it.”
Haste thee, for thy life.
[Exit EDGAR. Edm. He hath commission from thy wife and me To hang Cordelia in the prison, and To lay the blame upon her own despair,
That she fordid1 herself.
Alb. The gods defend her! Bear him hence awhile. [EDMUND is borne off.
Enter LEAR, with CORDELIA dead in his arms;2 EDGAR, Officer, and others.
Lear. Howl, howl, howl, howl!-O, you are men of stones;
Had I your tongues and eyes, I'd use them so
I know when one is dead, and when one lives;
Fall, and cease! 4 Lear. This feather stirs; she lives! if it be so, It is a chance that does redeem all sorrows That ever I have felt.
my good master! [Kneeling.
1 To fordo signifies to destroy. It is used again in Hamlet.
2 The old historians say that Cordelia retired with victory from the battle, which she conducted in her father's cause, and thereby replaced him on the throne; but in a subsequent one fought against her (after the death of the old king), by the sons of Regan and Goneril, she was taken, and died miserably in prison. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the original relater of the story, says that she killed herself.
3 Kent, in contemplating the scene before him, recollects those passages of St. Mark's Gospel, in which Christ foretells to his disciples the end of the world; and hence his question. To which Edgar adds, Or only a representation or resemblance of that horror.
4 To cease is to die. "Rather fall, and cease to be at once, than continue in existence only to be wretched."
I might have saved her; now she's gone forever!
Off. 'Tis true, my lords, he did.
Did I not, fellow? I have seen the day, with my good biting falchion, I would have made them skip; I am old now.And these same crosses spoil me.-Who are you? Mine eyes are none o' the best.-I'll tell you straight.
Kent. If Fortune brag of two she loved and hated, One of them we behold.1
Lear. This is a dull sight:2 Are you not Kent? Kent. The same; Your servant Kent. Where is your servant Caius? Lear. He's a good fellow, I can tell you that; He'll strike, and quickly too. He's dead and rotten. Kent. No, my good lord, I am the very man ;Lear. I'll see that straight.
Kent. That, from your first of difference and decay, Have followed your sad steps.
You are welcome hither. Kent. Nor no man else; all's cheerless, dark, and deadly.
Your eldest daughters have fore-doomed3 themselves, And desperately are dead.
and vain it is
1 "If Fortune, to display the plenitude of her power, should brag of two persons, one of whom she had highly elevated, and the other she had wofully depressed, we now behold the latter." The quarto reads, “She loved or hated," which confirms this sense.
2 Lear means that his eyesight was bedimmed either by excess of grief, or, as is usual, by the approach of death.
3 Thus the quartos: the folio reads foredone, which is probably right. See note 1, on page 130.
4 The quarto reads says.