Page images

Oh, undistinguish'd space of woman's will! (52)
A plot upon her virtuous husband's life,
And the exchange my brother. Here, i'th' sands
Thee I'll rake up, the post unsanctified
Of murd'rous letchers: and in the mature time,
With this ungracious paper strike the fight
Of the death practis'd Duke: for him 'tis well,
That of thy death and business I can tell.

Glo. The King is mad; how ftiff is my vile sense,
That I stand up, and have ingenious feeling
Of my huge sorrows! better I were distract,
So should my thoughts be fever'd from my griefs ;

[Drum afar off And woes, by wrong imaginations, lose The knowledge of themselves.

Edg. Give me your hand : Far off, methinks, I hear the beaten drum. Come, father, I'll bestow you with a friend. [Exeunt.

SCENE changes to a Chamber.

Enter Cordelia, Kent, and Physician. Cor. O, thou good Kent, how shall I live and work To match thy goodness ? life will be too short, And ev'ry measure fail me.

(52) Ob, undistinguish'd space of woman's will!] This is the reading of the first Folio, which Mr. Pope very unhapı ily degrades, and substitutes, wit, the mistaken reading of the ift Quarto. What idea ke form’d to himself of the undistinguish'd space of a woman's wit, I can't tell; I am quite at a loss to understand any meaning in it. But the other reading gives us, as Mr. Warburton observes to me, a most elegant expression, and most satirical thought: and more delicate than the---Varium & mutabile femper fæmina---of VIRGIL. 'Tis not the extravagance, but the mutability, of a woman's will that is here satiriz’d. The change of which (our author would be understood to say,) is so speedy, that there is no space of time, no distance, between the present will and the next; but it is an undistinguish'd space. This sentiment may not be ill explain'd further from what honest Sancho, in Don Quixote, with infinite humour says upon the subject. Entre el Si y el No de la muger, no me atreveria yo a poner una funta do alfiler. Betwixt a woman's yea, and no, I would not undertake to thrust a pin's point.


E 2

Kent. To be acknowledg'd, madam, is o’erpaid;
All my reports go with the modelt truth,
Nor more, nor clipt, but so.

Cor. Be better suited ;
These weeds are memories of those worser hours :
I pr’ythee, put them off.

Kent. Pardon, dear madam,
Yet to be known, shortens my made intent;
My boon I make it, that you know me not,
'Till time and I think meet.

Cor. Then be it so,
My Lord.—How does the King? [To the Physician.

Phy. Madam, sleeps still,

Cor. O you kind gods !
Cure this great breach in his abused nature;
Th’untun’d and jarring senses, O, wind up
Of this child-changed father,

Phys. Please your Majesty,
That we may wake the King, he hath slept long?

Cor. Be govern'd by your knowledge, and proceed l'th'sway of your own will: is he array'd ?

Enter Lear in a chair, carried by fervants. Phys. Ay, madam; in the heaviness of sleep, We put fresh

garments on him. Be by, good madam, when we do awake him ; I doubt not of his temperance.

Cor. O my dear father! restoration, hang Thy medicine on my lips; and let this kiss Repair those violent harms, that my two fifters Have in thy reverence made !

Kent. Kind and deareft Princess!

Cor. Had you not been their father, these white flakes Did challenge pity of them. Was this a face, To be expos'd againit the warring winds ? To stand againit the deep, dread-bolted thunder? 153) In the most terrible and nimble stroke

(53) To fand against the deep,] The following three lines and an hall, in no wise unworthy of our author, I have restor’d from the

old 4to.


Of quick, cross lightning? To watch poor Perdue!

With this thin helm? – My very enemy's dog,
Though he had bit me, nou'd have stood that night
Against my fire: And wait thou fain, poor father,
To hovel thee with swine and rogues forlorn,
In fort and musty straw? alack, alack !
'Tis wonder, that thy life and wits, at once,
Had not concluded all.-He wakes ; speak to him.

Phys. Madam, do you; 'tis fitteit.
Cor. How does my royal Lord ? how fares yourMajesty?
Lear. You do me wrong to take me out o'th' grave;
Thou art a foul in bliss, but I am bound
Upon a wheel of fire; that mine own tears
Do scald like molten lead.

Cor. Sir, do you know me ?
Lear. You are a spirit, I know; when did you die?
Cor. Still, still, far wide-
Phys. He's scarce awake, let him alone awhile.,

Lear. Where have I been? where am I? fair day-lighet
I'm mightily abus'd; I should even die with piry,
To see another thus. I know not what to say ;
I will not swear, these are my hands: let's see,
I feel this pin prick: would,' I were affur’d
Of my condition.

Cor. O look upon me, Sir,
And hold your hand in benediction o’er me.
No, Sir, you must not kneel.

Lear. Pray, do not mock me ;
I am a very foolish fond old man,
Fourfcore and upward; and to deal plainly,
I fear, I am not in my perfect mind.
Methinks, I should know you, and know this man ;
Yet I am doubtful: for I'm mainly ignorant,
What place this is; and all the skill ì have,
Remembers not these garments; nay, I know not
Where I did lodge last night. Do not laugh at me,
Por, as I am a man, I think, this Lady
To be my child Cordelia.

Cor. And so I am ; I am..
Lear. Be your tears wet? yes, faith; I pray you, weep not.
If you have poison for me, I will drink it;
I know, you do not love me;


fitters Have, as I do remember, done me wrong. You have some cause, they have not.

Cer. No cause, no caule.
Lear. Am I in France ?
Kent. In your own kingdom, Sir.
Lear. Do not abuse me.

Phys. Be comforted, good madam; the great rage,
You fee, is cur'd in him :--and, yet, 'twere danger
To make him even o'er the time, h’as lost.
Desire him to go in; trouble him no more,
Till further settling.

Cor. Will't please your Highness walk?

Lear. You must bear with me; Pray you now, forget and forgive; I am old and foolith.

(Exeunt Lear, Cord, Phyf. and Attendants.

Manent Kent and Gentleman. Gent. Holds it true, Sir, that the Duke of Cornwall was fo lain? (54)

Kent. Most certain, Sir.
Gent. Who is conductor of his people?
Kent. As 'tis said, the bastard ion of Glo'fer.

Gent. They fay, Edgar, his banish'd Son, 'is with the Earl of Kent in Germany.

Kent. Report is changeable; 'Tis time to look about: the powers of the Kingdom approach apace.

Gent. The arbitrement is like to be bloody.--Fare you well, Sir.

[Exit Gent. Kent. My point and period will be throughly wrought, Or well, or ill, as this day's battle's fought.

[Exit Kent. (54) Gent. Holds it true, Sir?] This short dialogue, which was retrench'd by the players in their edition, I have restor’d from the old 410. The matter of it is natural and easy; and tho' the language be not pompous, it is to the subject: and the uncertainty of common report, with regari to Kent and Edgar, must be very pleasing to the audience, who knew how rumour was mistaken in representing them to be abroad


[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Exter Edmund, Regan, Gentlemen, and Soldiers,


Now of the Duke, if his last purpose hold;

Or whether since he is advis'd by aught,
To change the course? he's full of alteration,
And felf-reproving: bring his conitant pleasure. (55)

Reg. Our fifter's man is certainly miscarry'd.
Edm. 'Tis to be doubted, madam.

Reg. Now, sweet Lord,
You know the goodness I intend upon you:
Tell me bat truly, but then speak the truth,

you not love my ffer
Edm. In honour'd love.
Reg. But have you never found my brother's way
To the fore-fended place?
Edm. No, by mine honour, madam.

Reg. I never shall endure her ; dear my Lord,
Be not familiar with her.
Edm. Fear not; the, and the Duke her husband

Enter Albany, Gonerill, and Soldiers.
Gon. I'd rather lose the battle, than that filter (56)
Should loosen him and me.-

[clide. -be's full of a'teration, And self-reproving brings his confiant pleasure.] Thus in the imp:eions by Mr. Pope is this paisage moft nonsensically read, and pointed. But fome better copies have allifted to set it right.

(56) Gon. I'd rather loose the battle, --] This I have restor*d from the old 460; and, considering the jealouly of the Princ fies on each fide, it comes very naturally from Generill, upon her leeing Regan and Edmund together; as well as helps to mark the business going on, to

E 4



the reader,

« PreviousContinue »