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The beaten, routed Edgar, brave his conqueror?
From all thy troops and thee I forc'd the field;
Thou hast lost the gen'ral stake, and art thou now
Come with thy petty single stock to play
Edg. Half blooded man,
Thy father's sin first, then his punishment,
From thy licentious mother
Thou draw'st thy villany; but, for thy part
Of Gloster's blood, I hold thee worth my sword.
Edm. Thou bear'st thee on thy mother's piety,
Which I despise; thy mother being chaste,
Thou art assur'd thou art but Gloster's son;
But mine, disdaining constancy, leaves me
To hope that I am sprung from nobler blood,
And possibly a king might be my sire:
But be my birth's uncertain chance as 'twill,
Who 'twas that had the hit to father me
I know not; 'tis enough that I am I;
Of this one thing I'm certain, that I have
A daring soul, and so have at thy heart,
[Trumpet sounds;—they fight;—Edmund falls. Tis past,—and so am I.
Edg. As thou art my father's son, Exchange we charity on thy repentance.
Edm. Thy sword has prov'd thy truth.—Forgive me, Edgar.— Oh! ere life leaves me, let me do some good, Despight of my own nature:—Quickly send, Be brief, into the castle; for my order Is on the life of Lear, and of Cordelia.
Edg. O, let us fly, my lord, to save their lives!
Jib. The heav'ns defend them!—Bear him hence a while. [Exeunt the Duke Of Albany and Edgar, with a Part of the Soldiers, and the other Part bear Edmund away.
King Lear asleep, with his Head on Cordelia's Lap.
Cord. What toils, thou wretched king, hast thou
To make thee draw, in chains, a sleep so sound!
Thy better angel charm thy ravish'd mind
With fancied freedom! Peace is us'd to lodge
On cottage straw; thou hast the beggar's bed;
Therefore shouldst have the beggar's careless
And now, my Edgar, I remember thee:
What fate has seized thee in this general wreck
I know not, but I know thou must be wretched,
Because Cordelia holds thee dear.—
O gods! a sudden gloom o'erwhelms me, and the
image Of death o'erspreads the place.—Ha! who are these?
Enter Captain Of The Guard, another Officer, and Soldiers, with Cords.
Capt. Now, sirs, despatch ; already you are paid In part, the best of your reward's to come.
Lear. Charge, charge upon their flank; their left wing halts; Push, push the battle, and the day's our own; Their ranks are broken; down, down with Albany.— Who holds my hands ?—O, thou deceiving sleep,
I was this very minute on the chase,
And now a pris'ner here!—What mean the slaves ? You will not murder me r
Cord. Help, earth and heaven!
For your soul's sake, dear sir, and for the gods',—
Offi. No tears, good lady; no pleading against gold
Come, sirs, make ready your cords.
Cord. You, sir, I'll seize,
You have a human form; and, if no prayers
Can touch your soul to spare a poor king's life,
If there be any thing that you hold dear,
By that I beg you to despatch me first.
Capt. Comply with her request; despatch her first.
Lear. Off, hell-hounds! by the gods I charge you,
Tis my Cordelia, my true pious daughter;—
No pity ?—Nay, then take an old man's vengeance.
[king Lear snatches a Sword from the OfFicer, and strikes down the Two Soldiers, who had seized Cordelia.
Enter Edgar, the Duke Of Albany, and King Lear's Knights.
Edg. Death! hell! ye vultures, hold your impious hands, Or take a speedier death than you would give.
Alb. Guards, seize those instruments of cruelty.
Cord. Oh, my Edgar!
Edg. My dear Cordelia! lucky was the minute Of our approach ; the gods have weigh'doursuff'rings; We've passed the fire, and now must shine to ages.
Knight. Look here, my lord; see, where the generous king Has slain two of them.
Lear. Did I not, fellow?
I've seen the day, with my good biting falchion
I could have made them skip; I am old now,
And these vile crosses spoil me; out of breath,
Tie, oh! quite out of breath, and spent.
Alb. Bring in old Kent [Exit a Knight.] and, Edgar, guide you hither Your father, who, you said, was near. [Exit Edgar.
Enter Kent and the Knight.
Lear. Who are you?
My eyes are none o' th' best, I'll tell you straight:
Oh, Albany! Well, sir, we are your captives,
And you are come to see death pass upon us.
Why this delay ?—Or is't your highness' pleasure
To give us first the torture? Say you so?
Why, here's old Kent, and I, as tough a pair
As e'er bore tyrant's stroke;—but my Cordelia,
My poor Cordelia here, O pity
Alb. Thou injur'd majesty,
The wheel of fortune now has made her circle,
And blessings yet stand 'twixt thy grave and thee.
Lear. Com'st thou, inhuman lord, to sooth us back
To a fool's paradise of hope, to make
Our doom more wretched? Go to; we are too well
Acquainted with misfortune, to be gull'd
With lying hope; no, we will hope no more.
Alb. I have a tale t' unfold, so full of wonder,
As cannot meet an easy faith;
But, by that royal injur'd head, 'tis true.
Kent. What would your highness ?
Alb. Know, the noble Edgar Impeach'd Lord Edmund, since the fight, of treason, And dar'd him for the proof to single combat, In which the gods confirm'd his charge by conquest; I left e'en now the traitor wounded mortally.
Lear. And whither tends this story?
Alb. Ere they fought,
Lord Edgar gave into my hands this paper,
A blacker scroll of treason and of lust
Than can be found in the records of hell:
There, sacred sir, behold the character
Of Goneril, the worst of daughters, but
More vicious wife.
Cord. Could there be yet addition to their guilt ?
What will not they, that wrong a father, do?
Alb. Since then my injuries, Lear, fall in with thine,
I have resolved the same redress for both.
Kent. What says my lord? -
Card. Speak; for methought I heard
The charming voice of a descending god.
Alb. The troops, by Edmund rais'd, I have disbanded:
Those, that remain, are under my command.
What comfort may be brought to cheer your age,
And heal your savage wrongs, shall be apply'd;
For to your majesty we do resign
Your kingdom, save what part yourself confer;-’d
On us in marriage.
Kent. Hear you that, my liege?
Cord. Then there are gods, and virtue is their care.
Lear. Is't possible?
Let the spheres stop their course, the sun make halt,
The winds be hush'd, the seas and fountains rest,
All nature pause, and listen to the change!
Where is my Kent, my Caius?
Kent. Here, my liege.
Lear. Why, I have news, that will recall thy youth ;
Ha ! didst thou hear't?—or did th' inspiring gods
Whisper to me alone—Old Lear shall be
A king again?
Kent. The prince, that like a god has pow'r, has
Lear. Cordelia then shall be a queen, mark that;
Cordelia shall be queen; winds catch the sound,
And bear it on your rosy wings to heav'n,
Cordelia is a queen.
Enter Edgar, with Gloster. Alb. Look, sir, where pious Edgar comes,