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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, Captain, and others following

Lear. Howl, howl, howl, howl!

O, you are men of



Had I your tongues and eyes, I'ld 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 promised 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.

Kent. [Kneeling] O my good master!
Lear. Prithee, away.

'Tis noble Kent, your friend.
Lear. A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all!
I might have saved her; now she's gone for ever!
Cordelia, Cordelia! stay a little. Ha!
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.
Capt. 'Tis true, my lords, he did.




Did I not, fellow?
I have 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 loved and hated,
One of them we behold.


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

The same,

Your servant Kent.

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.

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


Ay, so I think.

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



You are welcome hither. Kent. Nor no man else: all's cheerless, dark, and deadly. Your eldest daughters have fordone themselves, And desperately are dead.



Very bootless.

Enter a Captain Capt. Edmund is dead, my lord. Alb. That's but a trifle here. 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: [To Edgar and Kent] you, to your rights;


With boot, and such addition as your honours

Have more than merited. All friends shall taste

The wages of their virtue, and all foes

The cup of their deservings. O, see, see!

Lear. And my poor fool is hang'd! No, no, no life! 305 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: thank you, sir. Do you see this? Look on her, look, her lips, Look there, look there!

3IC [Dies

He faints! My lord, my lord!
Kent. Break, heart; I prithee, break!


Look up, my lord.

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

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


He is gone, indeed.

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

soul, you twain

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

Edg. 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.


Alb. Bear them from hence. Our present business Is general woe. [To Kent and Edgar] Friends of my



[Exeunt, with a dead march



Abbott's Shakespearian Grammar.

Kellner's Historical Outlines of English Syntax.
Old English (Anglo-Saxon).

O. E....

M. E.........Middle English.

E. E......... Elizabethan English.
Mod. E.......Modern English.

Dramatis Personæ. This list is not in the Quartos (1608) or Folios (1623, &c.). It was first given by Rowe (1709). The division into acts and scenes is not marked in the Quartos.

Act I-Scene 1

The first scene of King Lear is of unusual importance. It both enacts the events on which the whole play is founded and brings out prominently the characters of all the principal actors. As a general rule the first scene is confined to giving information necessary for the understanding of the story; or it may, as in Macbeth, symbolize the drama. But in King Lear we are introduced at once, without any preparation, to the circumstance on which the story turns. The play as a whole is the representation of the effects of its opening incidents. Goethe considered this scene "irrational" in its want of preparation.

1. affected, had affection for, favoured: the common meaning in Shakespeare. Cf. Twelfth Night, ii. 5. 28, "Maria once told me she did affect me".

5. equalities are so weighed, &c.; their shares are SO balanced that close scrutiny will not show one to be better than the other. For curiosity see Glossary.

10. brazed, hardened. Cf. 'brazen-faced'.

12. proper, handsome: as frequently in E. E.

13. some year, a year or so, about a year. See i. 2. 5.

24. deserving, i.e. to be better known by you.

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