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Reg. I never shall endure her.
Be not familiar with her.
Dear my lord,
Fear me not;
Enter ALBANY, GONERIL, and Soldier.
Gon. I had rather lose the battle, than that sister Should loosen him and me. [Aside.
Alb. Our very loving sister, well be met.Sir, this I hear,-The king is come to his daughter, With others, whom the rigor of our state Forced to cry out. [Where I could not be honest, I never yet was valiant. For this business, It toucheth us as France invades our land, Not bolds the king; with others, whom, I fear, More just and heavy causes make oppose. Edm. Sir, you speak nobly.]
Why is this reasoned? Gon. Combine together 'gainst the enemy: For these domestic and particular broils 2 Are not to question here.
Let us then determine
Reg. 'Tis most convenient; 'pray you, go with us. Gon. O, ho, I know the riddle. .[Aside.] I will go.
As they are going out, enter EDGar, disguised. Edg. If e'er your grace had speech with man so poor, Hear me one word.
"For these domestic doore particulars."
1 "This business (says Albany) touches us, as France invades our land, not as it emboldens or encourages the king to assert his former title." There are several examples of this use of the verb bold in old writers.
2 The quartos have it :
The folio reads in the subsequent line :
"Are not the question here."
3 This speech, and the lines above in brackets, are wanting in the folio.
I'll overtake you.-Speak. [Exeunt EDMUND, REGAN, GONERIL, Officers, Soldiers, and Attendants.
Edg. Before you fight the battle, ope this letter. If you have victory, let the trumpet sound For him that brought it; wretched though I seem, I can produce a champion, that will prove What is avouched there. If you miscarry, Your business of the world hath so an end, And machination ceases.1 Fortune love you! Alb. Stay till I have read the letter. Edg.
I was forbid it.
When time shall serve, let but the herald cry,
Edm. The enemy's in view; draw up your powers: Here is the guess of their true strength and forces By diligent discovery; 2-but your haste Is now urged on you.
Alb. We will greet the time.3 [Exit. Edm. To both these sisters have I sworn my love; Each jealous of the other, as the stung Are of the adder. Which of them shall I take? Both! one? or neither? Neither can be enjoyed, If both remain alive. To take the widow, Exasperates, makes mad her sister Goneril; And hardly shall I carry out my side,1 Her husband being alive. Now, then, we'll use His countenance for the battle; which being done, Let her, who would be rid of him, devise His speedy taking off. As for the mercy
1 i. e. all designs against your life will have an end. These words are not in the quartos.
2 i. e. the conjecture, or what we can gather by diligent espial, of their strength.
3 i. e. be ready to meet the occasion.
4 Hardly shall I be able to make my side (i. e. my party) good; to maintain the game. It was a phrase commonly used at cards.
Which he intends to Lear, and to Cordelia,-
SCENE II. A Field between the two Camps.
Alarum within. Enter, with drum and colors, LEAR, CORDELIA, and their Forces; and exeunt.
Enter EDGAR and GLOSTER.1
Edg. Here, father, take the shadow of this tree For your good host; pray that the right may thrive. If ever I return to you again, I'll bring you comfort.
Grace go with
Alarums; afterwards a retreat.
Edg. Away, old man, give me thy hand, away; King Lear hath lost, he and his daughter ta'en. Give me thy hand; come on.
Their going hence, even as their coming hither;
Glo. No further, sir; a man may rot even here. Edg. What, in ill thoughts again? Men must endure
And that's true too.
1 Those who are curious to know how far Shakspeare was indebted to the Arcadia, will find a chapter entitled "The Pitifull State and Storie of the Paphlagonian unkinde King, and his kinde Sonne; first related by the Sonne, then by the blinde Father," at p. 141, of the edition of 1590, 4to.
2 i. e. to be ready, prepared, is all.
SCENE III. The British Camp near Dover.
Enter, in conquest, with drum and colors, Edmund ; LEAR and CORDELIA, as prisoners; Officers, Soldiers, &c.
Edm. Some officers take them away; good guard; Until their greater pleasures first be known That are to censure1 them.
We are not the first, Who, with best meaning, have incurred the worst.2 For thee, oppressed king, am I cast down; Myself could else outfrown false fortune's frown. Shall we not see these daughters, and these sisters?
Lear. No, no, no, no! Come, let's away to prison: We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage. When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down, And ask of thee forgiveness. So we'll live, And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues Talk of court news; and we'll talk with them too, Who loses, and who wins; who's in, who's out ;And take upon us the mystery of things, As if we were God's spies. And we'll wear out, In a walled prison, packs and sects of great ones, That ebb and flow by the moon.
Take them away. Lear. Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia, The gods themselves throw incense. Have I caught thee?
He that parts us, shall bring a brand from heaven,
1 i. e. to pass sentence or judgment on them.
2 That is, "the worst that fortune can inflict."
3 "As if we were angels, endowed with the power of prying into the original motives of action, and the mysteries of conduct."
Packs and sects are combinations and parties.
5 Alluding to the old practice of smoking foxes out of their holes.
The goujeers shall devour them, flesh and fell,1 Ere they shall make us weep; we'll see them starve first.
[Exeunt LEAR and CORDELIA, guarded. Edm. Come hither, captain; hark.
Take thou this note; 2 [Giving a paper.] go, follow them to prison.
One step I have advanced thee; if thou dost
I'll do't, my lord.
Edm. About it; and write happy, when thou hast done.
Mark, I say instantly; and carry it So,
As I have set it down.
Off. I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried oats; If it be man's work, I will do it.
Flourish. Enter ALBANY, GONERIL, REGAN, Officers, and Attendants.
Alb. Sir, you have shown to-day your valiant strain, And fortune led you well. You have the captives, Who were the opposites of this day's strife. We do require them of you; so to use them, As we shall find their merits and our safety May equally determine.
Sir, I thought it fit
1 "The goujeers shall devour them, flesh and fell." The goujeers, i. e. morbus Gallicus. The quartos have good yeares, the common corruption in Shakspeare's time. Flesh and fell is flesh and skin.
2 This was a warrant signed by the bastard and Goneril, for the execution of Lear and Cordelia, referred to in a subsequent scene by Edmund. 3 i. e. admit of debate.