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Led him, begg'd for him, sav'd him from despair;
Never (O fault!) reveal’d myself unto him,
Until some half hour past, when I was arm’d,
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,
Burst smilingly,

Edm. This speech of yours hath mov'd me, And shall, perchance, do good: but speak you on; l'ou look as you had something more to say.

Alb. If there be more, more woful, hold it in;
For I am almost ready to dissolve,
Hearing of this.

Edg. This would have seem'd a period
To such as love not sorrow; but another,
To amplify too-mach, would make much more,
And top extremity: 3


? [Eds.] The lines between crotchets are not in the folio. Jolinsov.

This would have seein'd a period
To such as love not sorrow; but another,
To amplify too much, would make much more,

Am top extremity.] The reader easily sees that this reflection refers to the Bastard's desiring to hear more; and to Albany's thinking he had said enough. But it is corrupted into miserable nonsense. We should read it thus:

“ This would have seem'd a period. But such
As love to amplify another's sorrow
To much, would make much more,

and top extremity. i. e. This to a common humanity would have been thought the ut. most of my suflerings; buc such as love cruelty are always for addmg more to much, till they reach the extremity of misery.

Warburton. The sense may probably be this: 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. So, in King Richard II:

“ I play the torturer, by small and small,

“ 'To lengthen out the worst." Stecoens.
This would have seein'd a period
To such as love not sorrow; but another,
To amplify too-much, would make much more,
ind top extremity.] So, in Venus and Adonis:

« Devise extremes beyond extremity.”

Whilst I was big in clamour, came there a man,
Who having seen me in my worst estate,
Shunn'd my abhorr'd society; but then, finding
Who 'twas that so endur'd, with his strong arms
He fusten'd on my neck, and bellow'd out
As he'd burst heaven; threw him on my father :4

Too-much is here used as a substantive. A period is an end or conclusion. So, in King Richard III:

“0, let me make the period to my curse.” This reflection perhaps refers, as Dr. Warburton has observed, to the Bastard's desiring to hear more, and to Albany's thinking that enough had been said. This, says Edgar, would have seenied the utmost completion of woe, to such as do not delight in sorrow; but another, of a different disposition, to amplify inisery, would "give more strength to that which hath too much."

Edgar's words, however, may have no ref rence to what Edinund has said; and he may only allude to the relation he is about to give of Kent's adding a new sorrow to what Edgar already suffered, by recounting the miseries which the old king and his faithful follower had endured. Mr. Steevens points thus :

but another ;-
To amplify too much, would make much more,

And top extremity: But if such a punctuation be adopted, what shall we do with the word would, which is thus left without a nominative case ? A preceding editor, who introduced the above punctuation, to obtain some sense, reads and points :

but another:-
(To amplify too-much, to make much more,
And top extremity,)

Whilst I was big &c. and indeed without that alteration, the words thus pointed afford, in niy apprehension, no sense. Malone.

Mr. Malone's explanation may be just; and yet it is probable that we are struggling with a passage, the obscurity of which is derived from its corruption. Steevens.

threw him on my father;] The quartos read:

threw me on my father. The modern editors have corrected the passage, as it is now printed, and as I suppose it to have been originally written. There is tragick propriety in Kent's throwing himself on the body of a deceased friend; but this propriety is lost in the act of clumsily tumbling a son over the lifeless remains of his father. Steevens.

-threw me on my father;] Thus both the quartos, where alone 'this speech is found. Mr. Theobald, and the subsequent editors, read -threw him on my father. This is a new and distinct idea; but I do not think myself warranted to adoptit; the text being intelligible, and it being very improbable that the word me should have been printed


Told the most piteous tale of Lear and him,
That ever ear receiv’d: which in recounting,
His grief grew puissant, and the strings of life
Began to crack: Twice then the trumpet sounded,
And there I left him tranc'd.

But who was this?
Edg. 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 hastily, with a bloody Knife.
Gent. Help! help! O help!

What kind of help?

Speak, man. Edy. What means that bloody knife? Gent.

'Tis hot, it smokes; It came even from the heart of 6 Alb.

Who, man? speak.? Gent. Your lady, sir, your lady: and her sister By her is poison’d; she confesses it.8

Edm. I was contracted to them both; all three Now marry in an instant..

Alb. Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead! This judgment of the heavens, that makes us tremble;



instead of him.-Kent in his transport of joy, at meeting Edgar, embraced him with such violence, as to throw him on the dead body of Gloster. Malone.

the trumpet sounded,] The quartos, where alone this speech is found, read trumpets; but it was certainly a misprint, for one truin. pet only had sounded. Dr. Johnson made the correction. Malone.

from the heart of ] Here the folio, in defiance of metre and propriety, adds

O she's dead. Steevens. 7 Who, man? speak.] The folio reads, Who dead? Speak man.

Steevens. she confesses it.] Thus the first and second folio. The quar. tos-she has [and hath] confess’d it. As these readings are equally proper, I have chosen the more metrical of the two. Steevens.

9 Now marry in an instant.] In the folio, after these words, we kave Edg. Here comes Kent.

Enter Kent. and the words—0, is this he, are spoken by Albany, immediately after touches us not with pity: I have followed the quartos. Malone.

This judgment &c.] If Shakspeare had studied Aristotle all his


Touches us not with pity.

Exit Gent.
Enter KENT.

Here comes Kent, sir.2
Alb. 0! it is he.3
The time will not allow the compliment,
Which very manners urges.

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

Great thing of us forgot!
Speak, Edmund, where's the king ? and where's Cor-

delia ? See'st thou this object, Kent?

[The Bodies of Gon. and Reg. are brought in. Kent. Alack, why thus? Edu.

Yet Edmund was belov’d:4 The one the other poison’d 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 send-
Be brief in it to the castle ; for my writ
Is on the life of Lear, and on Cordelia :-
Vay, send in time.

Run, run, (), run
Eds. To who, my lord ?--Who has the office? send

life, lie would not perhaps have been able to mark with more precision the distinct operations of terror and pity. Tyrwhitt.

This is the reading of the folio. The quartos have-This justice &c. Malone.

2 Here comes Kent, sir.] The manner in which Edgar here mentions Kent, seems to require the lines which are inserted from the first edition in the foregoing scene. Johnson.

30! it is he.] Thus the quartos. Folio: 0, is this he? Malone.

4 Yet Edmund was belov’d:] Rowe's dying Rake suggests to him. seif a similar consolation, arising from the remembrance of success. ful gallantry:

6 let, let not this advantage swell thy pride ;

I conquer'd in my turn, in love I triumph’d.Dryden's Don Sebastian felicitates himself on the same circum: stance. Thus also in The Double Marriage hy Fletcher:

this happiness yet stays with me: “ You have been mine.Steevens.

Thy token of reprieve.

Edm. Well thought on; take my sword,
Give it the captain."

Haste thee, for thy life.. [Exit EDG,
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 fordid herself.7
Alb. The gods defend her! Bear him hence awhile.

[EDM. is borne of Enter LEAR, with CORDELIA dead in his Arms;8 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 That heaven's vault should crack:-0, she is gone for


5 Give it the captain.] The quartos read:

“Take my sword, the captain, “Give it the captain. Steevens. Alb. Haste thee, for thy life.] Thus the quartos. In the folio this speech is improperly assigned to Edgar, who had the moment before received the token of reprieve, which Edmund enjoined him to give the officer, in whose custody Lear was. Malone.

7 That she fordid herself.) To fordo, signifies to destroy. It is used again in Hamlet, Act V:

did, with desperate hand, - Fordo its own life.” Steevens. Here the folio and quarto B unnecessarily add—That she fordid herself, i. e. destroyed herself. I have followed the quarto A.

Malone. Cordelia dead in his arms;] This princess, according to the old historians, retired with victory from the battle which she con. ducted 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 Goneril and Regan, she was taken, and died miserably in prison. The poet found this in history, and was there. fore willing to precipitate her death, which he knew had happened but a few years after. The dramatick writers of this age suffered as small a number of their heroes and heroines to escape as possible ; nor could the filial piety of this lady, any more than the innocence of Ophelia, prevail on Shakspeare to extend her life beyond her misfor. tunes. Steevens.

Geoffrey of Monmouth, the original relater of this story, says, that Cordelia was thrown by her nephews into prison, “where, for grief at the loss of her kingdom, she killed herselfMalone.


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