ACT 5, SCENE 3: The British camp near Dover.

Enter, in conquest, with drum and colours, EDMUND;
LEAR and CORDELIA, prisoners; Captain, Soldiers, &c.

EDMUND: Some officers take them away: good guard,
Until their greater pleasure first be known
That are to censure them.

CORDELIA:                           We are not the first
Who, with best meaning, have incurr'd the worst.
For thee, oppressed king, am I cast down;                                            [5]
Myself could else out-frown false fortune's frown.
Shall we not see these daughters and these sisters?

KING 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,                            [10]
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;                                 [15]
And take upon's 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.

EDMUND:                           Take them away.

KING LEAR: Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,                                           [20]
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 good-years shall devour them, flesh and fell,
Ere they shall make us weep: we'll see 'em starve first.                   [25]
Come.

[Exeunt LEAR and CORDELIA, guarded.]

EDMUND: 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                                  [30]
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.                                                                        [35]

Captain:                           I'll do't, my lord.

EDMUND: About it; and write happy when thou hast done.
Mark, I say, instantly; and carry it so
As I have set it down.

Captain: I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried oats;
If it be man's work, I'll do it.                                                                    [40]
[Exit.]

Flourish. Enter ALBANY, GONERIL, REGAN,
another Captain, and Soldiers.

ALBANY: Sir, you have shown to-day your valiant strain,
And fortune led you well: you have the captives
That 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                                        [45]
May equally determine.

EDMUND:                           Sir, I thought it fit
To send the old and miserable king
To some retention and appointed guard;
Whose age has charms in it, whose title more,
To pluck the common bosom on his side,                                           [50]
An turn our impress'd lances in our eyes
Which do command them. With him I sent the queen;
My reason all the same; and they are ready
To-morrow, or at further space, to appear
Where you shall hold your session. At this time                              [55]
We sweat and bleed: the friend hath lost his friend;
And the best quarrels, in the heat are cursed
By those that feel their sharpness:
The question of Cordelia and her father
Requires a fitter place.                                                                               [60]

ALBANY:                           Sir, by your patience,
I hold you but a subject of this war,
Not as a brother.

REGAN:                           That's as we list to grace him.
Methinks our pleasure might have been demanded,
Ere you had spoke so far. He led our powers;
Bore the commission of my place and person;                                   [65]
The which immediacy may well stand up,
And call itself your brother.

GONERIL:                           Not so hot:
In his own grace he doth exalt himself,
More than in your addition.

REGAN:                           In my rights,
By me invested, he compeers the best.                                                  [70]

GONERIL: That were the most, if he should husband you.

REGAN: Jesters do oft prove prophets.

GONERIL:                           Holla, holla!
That eye that told you so look'd but a-squint.

REGAN: Lady, I am not well; else I should answer
From a full-flowing stomach. General,                                                [75]
Take thou my soldiers, prisoners, patrimony;
Dispose of them, of me; the walls are thine:
Witness the world, that I create thee here
My lord and master.

GONERIL:                           Mean you to enjoy him?

ALBANY: The let-alone lies not in your good will.                                      [80]

EDMUND: Nor in thine, lord.

ALBANY:                           Half-blooded fellow, yes.

REGAN: [To EDMUND] Let the drum strike, and prove my title thine.

ALBANY: Stay yet; hear reason. Edmund, I arrest thee
On capital treason; and, in thine attaint,
This gilded serpent.                                                                                   [85]
[Pointing to Goneril]
                           For your claim, fair sister,
I bar it in the interest of my wife:
'Tis she is sub-contracted to this lord,
And I, her husband, contradict your bans.
If you will marry, make your loves to me,
My lady is bespoke.                                                                                    [90]

GONERIL:                           An interlude!

ALBANY: Thou art arm'd, Gloucester: let the trumpet sound:
If none appear to prove upon thy head
Thy heinous, manifest, and many treasons,
There is my pledge;
[throwing down a glove]
                           I'll prove it on thy heart,
Ere I taste bread, thou art in nothing less                                             [95]
Than I have here proclaim'd thee.

REGAN:                           Sick, O, sick!

GONERIL: [Aside] If not, I'll ne'er trust medicine.

EDMUND: There's my exchange:
[Throwing down a glove]
                           what in the world he is
That names me traitor, villain-like he lies:
Call by thy trumpet: he that dares approach,                                      [100]
On him, on you, who not? I will maintain
My truth and honour firmly.

ALBANY: A herald, ho!

EDMUND:                           A herald, ho, a herald!

ALBANY: Trust to thy single virtue; for thy soldiers,
All levied in my name, have in my name                                          [105]
Took their discharge.

REGAN:                           My sickness grows upon me.

ALBANY: She is not well; convey her to my tent.
[Exit Regan, led.]
Enter a Herald.
Come hither, herald,--Let the trumpet sound,
And read out this.

Captain: Sound, trumpet!                                                                                    [110]

[A trumpet sounds.]

Herald: [Reads] 'If any man of quality or degree
within the lists of the army will maintain upon Ed-
mund, supposed Earl of Gloucester, that he is a mani-
fold traitor, let him appear by the third sound of the
trumpet: he is bold in his defence.'                                                        [115]

EDMUND: Sound!

[First trumpet.]

Herald: Again!

[Second trumpet.]

Herald: Again!

[Third trumpet.]

[Trumpet answers within.]

Enter EDGAR, at the third sound, armed, with a trumpet before him.

ALBANY: Ask him his purposes, why he appears
Upon this call o' the trumpet.                                                                 [120]

Herald:                           What are you?
Your name, your quality? and why you answer
This present summons?

EDGAR:                           Know, my name is lost;
By treason's tooth bare-gnawn and canker-bit:
Yet am I noble as the adversary
I come to cope.                                                                                            [125]

ALBANY:                           Which is that adversary?

EDGAR: What's he that speaks for Edmund Earl of Gloucester?

EDMUND: Himself: what say'st thou to him?

EDGAR:                           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                                                                         [130]
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;                                       [135]
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 below thy foot,
A most toad-spotted traitor. Say thou 'No,'                                        [140]
This sword, this arm, and my best spirits, are bent
To prove upon thy heart, whereto I speak,
Thou liest.

EDMUND:              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,                         [145]
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,                              [150]
This sword of mine shall give them instant way,
Where they shall rest for ever. Trumpets, speak!

[Alarums. They fight. EDMUND falls.]

ALBANY: Save him, save him!

GONERIL:                           This is practice, Gloucester:
By the law of arms thou wast not bound to answer
An unknown opposite; thou art not vanquish'd,                              [155]
But cozen'd and beguiled.

ALBANY:                           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.]

GONERIL: Say, if I do, the laws are mine, not thine:                                     [160]
Who can arraign me for't?

ALBANY:                           Most monstrous! oh!
Know'st thou this paper?

GONERIL:                           Ask me not what I know.
[Exit.]

ALBANY: Go after her: she's desperate; govern her.

EDMUND: What you have charged me with, that have I done;
And more, much more; the time will bring it out:                            [165]
'Tis past, and so am I. But what art thou
That hast this fortune on me? If thou'rt noble,
I do forgive thee.

EDGAR:                           Let's exchange charity.
I am no less in blood than thou art, Edmund;
If more, the more thou hast wrong'd me.                                            [170]
My name is Edgar, and thy father's son.
The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices
Make instruments to plague us:
The dark and vicious place where thee he got
Cost him his eyes.                                                                                      [175]

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

ALBANY: Methought thy very gait did prophesy
A royal nobleness: I must embrace thee:
Let sorrow split my heart, if ever I
Did hate thee or thy father!                                                                      [180]

EDGAR:                           Worthy prince, I know't.

ALBANY: Where have you hid yourself?
How have you known the miseries of your father?

EDGAR: By nursing them, my lord. List a brief tale;
And when 'tis told, O, that my heart would burst!
The bloody proclamation to escape,                                                       [185]
That follow'd me so near,--O, our lives' sweetness!
That we the pain of death would 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                                         [190]
Met I my father with his bleeding rings,
Their precious stones new lost: became his guide,
Led him, begg'd for him, saved him from despair;
Never,--O fault!--reveal'd myself unto him,
Until some half-hour past, when I was arm'd:                                   [195]
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,                                     [200]
Burst smilingly.

EDMUND:              This speech of yours hath moved me,
And shall perchance do good: but speak you on;
You look as you had something more to say.

ALBANY: If there be more, more woeful, hold it in;
For I am almost ready to dissolve,                                                         [205]
Hearing of this.

EDGAR:                           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 in a man,                            [210]
Who, having seen me in my worst estate,
Shunn'd my abhorr'd society; but then, finding
Who 'twas that so endured, with his strong arms
He fastened on my neck, and bellow'd out
As he'd burst heaven; threw him on my father;                                [215]
Told the most piteous tale of Lear and him
That ever ear received: which in recounting
His grief grew puissant, and the strings of life
Began to crack: twice then the trumpets sounded,
And there I left him tranced.                                                                   [220]

ALBANY:                           But who was this?

EDGAR: Kent, sir, the banish'd Kent; who in disguise
Follow'd his enemy king, and did him service
Improper for a slave.

Enter a Gentleman, with a bloody knife.

Gentleman: Help, help, O, help!

EDGAR:                           What kind of help?

ALBANY:                           Speak, man.

EDGAR: What means that bloody knife?                                                         [225]

Gentleman:                           'Tis hot, it smokes;
It came even from the heart of--O, she's dead!

ALBANY: Who dead? speak, man.

Gentleman: Your lady, sir, your lady: and her sister
By her is poisoned; she hath confess'd it.

EDMUND: I was contracted to them both: all three                                      [230]
Now marry in an instant.

EDGAR:                           Here comes Kent.

ALBANY: Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead:
This judgment of the heavens, that makes us tremble,
Touches us not with pity.
[Exit Gentleman.]
Enter KENT.
                           O, is this he?
The time will not allow the compliment                                             [235]
Which very manners urges.

KENT:                           I am come
To bid my king and master aye good night:
Is he not here?

ALBANY:                           Great thing of us forgot!
Speak, Edmund, where's the king? and where's Cordelia?
See'st thou this object, Kent?                                                                   [240]

[The bodies of GONERIL and REGAN are brought in.]

KENT: Alack, why thus?

EDMUND:                           Yet Edmund was beloved:
The one the other poison'd for my sake,
And after slew herself.

ALBANY: Even so. Cover their faces.

EDMUND: I pant for life: some good I mean to do,                                      [245]
Despite of mine own nature. Quickly send,
Be brief in it, to the castle; for my writ
Is on the life of Lear and on Cordelia:
Nay, send in time.

ALBANY:                           Run, run, O, run!

EDGAR: To who, my lord? Who hath the office? send                              [250]
Thy token of reprieve.

EDMUND: Well thought on: take my sword,
Give it the captain.

ALBANY:                           Haste thee, for thy life.

[Exit EDGAR.]

EDMUND: He hath commission from thy wife and me
To hang Cordelia in the prison, and                                                      [255]
To lay the blame upon her own despair,
That she fordid herself.

ALBANY: The gods defend her! Bear him hence awhile.

[EDMUND is borne off.]

Re-enter LEAR, with CORDELIA dead in his arms;
EDGAR, Captain, and others following.

KING LEAR: Howl, howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stones:
Had I your tongues and eyes, I'd use them so                                      [260]
That heaven's vault should crack. She's gone for ever!
I know when one is dead, and when one lives;
She's dead as earth. Lend me a looking-glass;
If that her breath will mist or stain the stone,
Why, then she lives.                                                                                 [265]

KENT:                           Is this the promised end?

EDGAR: Or image of that horror?

ALBANY:                           Fall, and cease!

KING LEAR: This feather stirs; she lives! if it be so,
It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows
That ever I have felt.

KENT:              [Kneeling] O my good master!

KING LEAR: Prithee, away.                                                                                 [270]

EDGAR:                           'Tis noble Kent, your friend.

KING LEAR: A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all!
I might have saved her; now she's gone for ever!
Cordelia, Cordelia! stay a little. Ha!
What is't thou say'st? Her voice was ever soft,
Gentle, and low, an excellent thing in woman.                                  [275]
I kill'd the slave that was a-hanging thee.

Captain: 'Tis true, my lords, he did.

KING LEAR:                           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?                              [280]
Mine eyes are not o' the best: I'll tell you straight.

KENT: If fortune brag of two she loved and hated,
One of them we behold.

KING LEAR: This is a dull sight. Are you not Kent?

KENT:                           The same,
Your servant Kent: Where is your servant Caius?                           [285]

KING 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,--

KING LEAR: I'll see that straight.

KENT: That, from your first of difference and decay,                                    [290]
Have follow'd your sad steps.

KING LEAR:                           You are welcome hither.

KENT: Nor no man else: all's cheerless, dark, and deadly.
Your eldest daughters have fordone themselves,
And desperately are dead.

KING LEAR:                           Ay, so I think.

ALBANY: He knows not what he says: and vain it is                                  [295]
That we present us to him.

EDGAR:                           Very bootless.

Enter a Captain.

Captain: Edmund is dead, my lord.

ALBANY:                           That's but a trifle here.
You lords and noble friends, know our intent.
What comfort to this great decay may come
Shall be applied: for us we will resign,                                                 [300]
During the life of this old majesty,
To him our absolute power:
[To EDGAR and KENT.]
                           you, to your rights;
With boot, and such addition as your honours
Have more than merited. All friends shall taste
The wages of their virtue, and all foes                                                  [305]
The cup of their deservings. O, see, see!

KING LEAR: And my poor fool is hang'd! No, no, no life!
Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life,
And thou no breath at all? Thou'lt come no more,
Never, never, never, never, never!                                                      [310]
Pray you, undo this button: thank you, sir.
Do you see this? Look on her, look, her lips,
Look there, look there!
[Dies.]

EDGAR:                           He faints! My lord, my lord!

KENT: Break, heart; I prithee, break!

EDGAR:                           Look up, my lord.

KENT: Vex not his ghost: O, let him pass! he hates him much                [315]
That would upon the rack of this tough world
Stretch him out longer.

EDGAR:                           He is gone, indeed.

KENT: The wonder is, he hath endured so long:
He but usurp'd his life.

ALBANY: Bear them from hence. Our present business                            [320]
Is general woe.
[To KENT and EDGAR.]
                           Friends of my soul, you twain
Rule in this realm, and the gored state sustain.

KENT: I have a journey, sir, shortly to go;
My master calls me, I must not say no.

ALBANY: The weight of this sad time we must obey;                                  [325]
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest hath borne most: we that are young
Shall never see so much, nor live so long.

[Exeunt, with a dead march.]


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