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Alb. O, save him, save him! 1
This is mere practice, Gloster
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 Gon. Say, if I do; the laws are mine, not thine. Who shall arraign me for't? Alb.
Most monstrous ! Know'st thou this paper ? ?
Ask me not what I know.
[Exit GONERIL. Alb. Go after her; she's desperate ; govern her.
[To an Officer, who goes out, Edm. What you have charged me with, that have I. And more, much more. The time will bring it out; 'Tis past, and so am I. But what art thou, That hast this fortune on me? If thou art noble, I do forgive thee. Edg.
Let's exchange charity.
Thou hast spoken right; 'tis true; The wheel is come full circle: I am here.
1 Albany desires that Edmund's life may be spared at present, only tu obtain his confession, and to convict him openly by his own letter.
2 “ Knowest thou these letters ? ” says Leir to Regan, in the old anonymous play, when he shows her both her own and her sister's letters, which were written to procure his death; upon which she snatches the letters and tears them.
3 The folio reads“ to plague us.”
Alb. Methought thy very gait did prophesy
Worthy prince, I know't
Edg. By nursing them, my lord. -List a brief And, when 'tis told, O that my heart would burst ! The bloody proclamation to escape, That followed me so near, (0, 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 disdained; and in this habit Met I my father with his bleeding rings, Their precious stones new lost ; became his guide, Led him, begged for him, saved him from despair ; Never, (O fault!) revealed myself unto him, Until, some half-hour past, when I was armed, Not sure, though hoping, of this good success, I asked his blessing, and, from first to last, Told him my pilgrimage. But his flawed heart, (Alack, too weak the conflict to support!) 'Twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief, Burst smilingly. Edm.
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:
Alb. If there be more, more woful, hold it in ;
? [Edg. This would have seemed a period
1 The quartos read :
“That with the pain of death would hourly die." 2 The lines within crotchets are not in the folio.
And top extremity.?
But who was this?
Enter a Gentleman, hastily, with a bloody knife.
What kind of help? Alb.
Speak, man. Edg. What means that bloody knife ? Gent.
'Tis hot, it smokes ; It came even from the heart ofAlb.
Who, man? speak.
1 Of this difficult passage, which is probably corrupt, Steevens gives the following explanation :-“ 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.” It will be necessary, if we admit this interpretation, to point the passage thus :
Whilst I was big,” &c. Malone's explanation is :-“ This would have seemed the utmost completion of woe, to such as do not delight in sorrow; but another, of a different disposition, to amplify misery “would give more strength to that which hath too much ;'" referring to the bastard's desiring to hear more, and to Albany's thinking that enough had been said.
2 The quartos read, “ threw me on my father.” The reading in the text is certainly more likely to be correct.
Gent. Your lady, sir, your lady; and her sister By her is poisoned; she hath confessed it.
Edm. I was contracted to them both; a three Now marry in an instant.
Alb. Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead ! This judgment of the Heavens, that makes us tremble, Touches us not with pity.
Here comes Kent, sir.
I am come
Great thing of us forgot !-
delia ?Seest thou this object, Kent? [The bodies of GONERIL and Regan are
brought in. Kent. Alack, why thus ? Edm.
Yet Edmund was beloved. The one the other poisoned 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 sendBe brief in it-to the castle, for my writ Is on the life of Lear, and on Cordelia.Nay, send in time. Alb.
Run, run, 0, runEdg. To whom, my lord?—Who has the office? send Thy token of reprieve.
Edm. Well thought on; take my sword, Give it the captain.
1 Thus the quarto. The folio reads " she confesses it.” VOL. VII.
Alb. Haste thee, for thy life. [Exit Edgar.
Edm. He hath commission from thy wise and me To hang Cordelia in the prison, and To lay the blame upon her own despair, That she fordid herself. Alb. The gods defend her! Bear him hence awhile.
[Edmund is borne off:
Enter LEAR, with Cordelia dead in his arms;? Edgar,
Officer, and others. Lear. Howl, howl, howl, howl !-0, 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
forever! 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. Kent.
Is this the promised end ? 3
Fall, and cease! 4
O my good master! [Kneeling. Lear. 'Pr’ythee, away. Edg.
'Tis noble Kent, your friend. Lear. A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all !
1 To fordo signifies to destroy. It is used again in Hamlet.
2 The old historians say that Cordelia retired with victory from the battle, which she conducted 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 Regan and Goneril, she was taken, and died miserably in prison. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the origina] relater of the story, says that she killed herself,
3 Kent, in contemplating the scene before him, recollects those passages of St. Mark's Gospel, in which Christ foretells to his disciples the end of the world ; and hence his question. To which Edgar adds, Or only a representation or resemblance of that horror.
4 To cease is to die. “Rather fall, and cease to be at once, than con tinue in existence only to be wretched.”