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For I am almost ready to dissolve,

Hearing of this.


This would have seem'd a period
To such as love not sorrow; but another,

To amplify too-much, would make much more,
And top 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 fasten'd on my neck, and bellow'd out
As he'd burst heaven; threw him on my father;
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 trumpets 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.

"Tis hot, it smokes;

Edg. What means that bloody knife?


It came even from the heart of — O, she's dead!
Alb. Who dead? speak, man.

Gent. Your lady, sir, your lady: and her sister

By her is poisoned; she hath confess'd it.

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


Here comes Kent.

Alb. Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead: This judgment of the heavens, that makes us tremble, Touches us not with pity.

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[Exit Gentleman.

Enter KENT.

O, is this he?

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 Cordelia? [The bodies of Goneril and Regan are brought in.

See'st thou this object, Kent?

Kent. Alack, why thus?


Yet Edmund was belov'd:

The one the other poison'd for my sake,
And after slew herself.

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some good I mean to do,
Quickly send

Edm. I pant for life:

Despite of mine own nature.

Be brief in it to the castle; for my writ

Is on the life of Lear and on Cordelia:

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Edg. To who, my lord? Who has the office? send

Thy token of reprieve.

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Edm. Well thought on: take my sword;

Give it the captain.


Haste thee, for thy life.

[Exit Edgar.

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.

Alb. The gods defend her! Bear him hence awhile.

[Edmund is borne off. Re-enter LEAR, with CORDELIA dead in his arms; EDGAR, Officer, and others following.

Lear. Howl, howl, howl, howl!


O, you are men of

Had I your tongues and eyes, I'd use them so


That heaven's vault should crack. — She's gone for ever! -
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.


Is this the promis'd end?

Edg. Or image of that horror?


Fall, and cease! Lear. This feather stirs; she lives! if it be so, It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows

That ever I have felt.


O my good master!

Lear. Prithee, away.



"Tis noble Kent, your friend.
Lear. A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all!
I might have sav'd her; now she's gone for ever!
Cordelia, Cordelia! stay a little. Ha!

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What is't thou say'st? Her voice was ever soft,
Gentle, and low, an excellent thing in woman.
I kill'd the slave that was a-hanging thee.

Off. 'Tis true, my lords, he did.

Did I not, fellow?
I've seen the day, with my good biting falchion
I would have made them skip: I am old now,
And these same crosses spoil me. Who are you?
Mine eyes are not o' the best: - - I'll tell you straight.

Kent. If fortune brag of two she lov'd and hated,
One of them we behold.

Lear. This is a dull sight. Are you not Kent?

Your servant Kent.

The same.

Where is your servant Caius? Lear. He's a good fellow, I can tell you that; He'll strike, and quickly too:

he 's dead and rotten.

Kent. No, my good lord; I am the very man,
Lear. I'll see that straight.

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Kent. That, from your first of difference and decay, Have follow'd your sad steps.

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Your eldest daughters have fordone themselves,
And desperately are dead.


Ay, so I think.

Alb. He knows not what he says; and vain is it That we present us to him.


Very bootless.

Enter an Officer.

That's but a trifle here.

Off. Edmund is dead, my lord.
You lords and noble friends, know our intent.
What comfort to this great decay may come
Shall be applied: for us, we will resign,
During the life of this old majesty,
To him our absolute power:

your rights;

[To Edgar and Kent] you, to

With boot, and such addition as your honours
Have more than merited. - All friends shall taste
The wages of their virtue, and all foes

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O, see, see!

no life!

Lear. And my poor fool is hang'd! No, no,
Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life,
And thou no breath at all? Thou'lt come no more,
Never, never, never, never, never!
Pray you, undo this button:

Do you see this? Look on her,
Look there, look there! -


thank you, sir. look,

her lips,


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Look up, my lord.

Kent. Break, heart; I prithee, break!


Kent. Vex not his ghost: O, let him pass! he hates him

That would upon the rack of this tough world
Stretch him out longer.


He is gone indeed.

Kent. The wonder is, he hath endur'd so long: He but usurp'd his life.

Alb. Bear them from hence.

Is general woe.

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Our present business

-[To Kent and Edgar] Friends of my soul, you twain

Rule in this realm, and the gor'd state sustain.
Kent. I have a journey, sir, shortly to go;
My master calls me, I must not say no.


The weight of this sad time we must obey;
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest hath borne most: we that are young
Shall never see so much, nor live so long.

[Exeunt, with a dead march.


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