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She'll flea thy wolfish visage. Thou shalt find,
That I'll resume the shape, which thou dost think
I have cast off for ever.
[Exeunt Lear, Kent, and Attendants."
This is certainly fine : no wonder that Lear says after it,
" O let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heavens," feeling its effects by anticipation : but fine as is this burst of rage and indignation at the first blow aimed at his hopes and expectations, it is nothing near so fine as what follows from his double disappointment, and his lingering efforts to see which of them he shall lean upon for support and find comfort in, when both his daughters turn against his age and weakness. It is with some difficulty that Lear gets to speak with his daughter Regan, and her husband, at Gloster's castle. In concert with Gonerill they have left their own home on purpose to avoid him. His apprehensions are first alarmed by this circumstance, and when Gloster, whose guests they are, urges the fiery temper of the Duke of Cornwall as an excuse for not importuning him a second time, Lear breaks out,
“Vengeance ! Plague ! Death! Confusion !
Fiery ? What fiery quality ? Why, Gloster,
I'd speak with the Duke of Cornwall and his wife."
Afterwards, feeling perhaps not well himself, he is inclined to admit their excuse from illness, but then recollecting that they have set his messenger (Kent) in the stocks, all his suspicions are roused again, and he insists on seeing them.
“ Enter CORNWALL, REGAN, GLOSTAR, and Servants. Lear. Good morrow to you both. Cornwall. Hail to your grace! (Kent is set at liberty.
Regan. I am glad to see your highness.
Lear. Regan, I think you are; I know what reason
I have to think so; if thou should'st not be glad,
I would divorce me from my mother's tomb,
Sepulch'ring an adultress. -0, are you free?
Some other time for that.-Beloved Regan,
Thy sister's naught: 0 Regan, she hath tied
Sharp-tooth'd unkindness, like a vulture, here-
(Points to his heart. I can scarce speak to thee; thou’lt not believe, Of how deprav'd a quality -O Regan !
Regan. I pray you, sir, take patience; I have hope
You less know how to value her desert,
Than she to scant her duty.
Lear. Say, how is that?
Regan. I cannot think my sister in the least
Would fail her obligation; if, sir, perchance,
She have restraiu'd the riots of your followers,
'Tis on such ground, and to such wholesome end,
As clears her from all blame.
Lear. My curses on her!
Regan. O, sir, you are old;
Nature in you stands on the very verge
Of her confine : you should be rul'd, and led
By soine discretion, that discerns your state
Better than you yourself : therefore, i pray you,
That to our sister you do make return;
Say, you have wrong'd her, sir.
Lear. Ask her forgiveness ?
Do you but mark how this becomes the use ?
Dear daughter, I confess thut I am old ;
Age is unnecessary; on my knees I beg,
That you'll vouchsufe me raiment, bed, and food.
Regan. Good sir, no more; these are unsightly tricks :
Return you to my sister.
Lear. Never, Regan :
She hath abated me of half my train;
Look'd blank upon me; struck me with her tongue,
Most serpent like, upon the very heart :-
All the stor'd vengeances of heaveu fall
On her ungrateful top ! Strike her young bones,
You taking airs, with lameness !
Cornwall. Fie, sir, fie!
Lear. You nimble lightnings, dart your blinding flames
Into her scornful eyes ! Infect her beauty,
You fen-suck'd foys, drawn by the powerful sun,
To fall, and blast her pride!
Regan. O the blest gods !
So will you wish on me, when the rash mood is op.
Lear. No, Regan, thou shalt never have my curse;
Thy tender-hefted nature shall not give
Thee o'er to harshness; her eyes are fierce, but thine
Do comfort, and not burn : 'T'is not in thee
To grudge my pleasures, to cut off my train,
To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes,
And, in conclusion, to oppose the bolt
Against my coining in : thou better know'st
The offices of nature, bond of childhood,
Effects of courtesy, dues of gratitude;
Thy half o' the kingdom thou hast not forgot,
Wherein 1 thee endow'd.
Regan. Good sir, to the purpose.
[Trumpets within. Lear. Who put my man i' the stocks ? Cornwall. What trumpet's that ?
Regan. I know't, my sister's : this approves her letter,
That she would soon be here.- Is your lady come?
Lear. This is a slave, whose easy borrow'd pride
Dwells in the fickle grace of her he follows ::
Out, varlet, from my sight!
Cornwall. Wbat means your grace?
Lear. Who stuck'd my servant? Regan, I have good hope Thou did'st not know on't. - Who comes here? O heavens,
If you do love old men, if your sweet sway
Allow obedience, if yourselves are old,
Make it your cause ; send down, and take my part !-
Art not asham'd to look upon this beard ? [To Gonerill.
O, Regan, wilt thou take her by the band ?
Gonerill. Why not by the hand, sir? How have I offended ?
All's not offence, that indiscretion fiods,
And dotage terms so.
Lear. O, sides, you are too tough!
Will you yet hold :-How came my man i' the stocks ?
Cornwall. I set him there, sir; but his own disorders
Deserv'd much less advancement.
Lear. You ! did you ?
Regan. I pray you, father, being weak, seem so.
If, till the expiration of your month,
You will return and sojoury with my sister,
Dismissing hall 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 be a comrade with the wolf and owl-
To wape against the enmity o' the air,
Necessity's sharp pincb!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. Gonerill. At your choice, sir.
Leur. Now, I prythee, daughter, do not make me mad;
I will not trouble thee, my child ; farewell :
We'll no more meet, no more see one another :-
But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, iny daughter ;
Or, rather, a disease that's in my flesh,
Which I must needs call mine : thou art a bile,
A plague-sore, an embossed carbuncle,
In my corrupted blood. But I'll not chide thee;
Let shame come when it will, I do not call it :
I did 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,
1, aod my hundred kuights.
Regin. 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 som
But she knows what she does.
Lear. Is this well spoken now ?
Regan. 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 comnjands,
Hold amity ? 'Tis hard; almost impossible.
Gonerill. Why might not you, my lord, receive attendance
From those that she calls servants, or from mine ?
Regan. Why not, my lord ? If then they chanc'd to slack
We would control them : if you will come to me
(For now I spy a danger) 1 entreat you
To bring but five and-twenty ; to no more
Will I give place, or notice.
Lear. I gave you all-
Regan. 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 ?
Regan. And speak it 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 sonje rank of praise : -I'll go with thee;
[To Gonerill. Thy fifty yet doth double five and twenty, And thou art twice her love.
Gonerill. 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?
Regan. What need one ?
Lear. O, reason not the need : our basest beggars
Are in the poorest thing superfluous :
Allow not pature more than nature needs,