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The Tragedie of King Lear by William Shakespeare

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sound of the Trumpet: he is bold in his defence.

1 Trumpet.

Her. Againe.

2 Trumpet.

Her. Againe.

3 Trumpet.

Trumpet answers within.

Enter Edgar armed.

Alb. Aske him his purposes, why he appeares
Vpon this Call o'th' Trumpet

Her. What are you?
Your name, your quality, and why you answer
This present Summons?
Edg. Know my name is lost
By Treasons tooth: bare-gnawne, and Canker-bit,
Yet am I Noble as the Aduersary
I come to cope

Alb. Which is that Aduersary?
Edg. What's he that speakes for Edmund Earle of Gloster?
Bast. Himselfe, what saist thou to him?
Edg. Draw thy Sword,
That if my speech offend a Noble heart,
Thy arme may do thee Iustice, heere is mine:
Behold it is my priuiledge,
The priuiledge of mine Honours,
My oath, and my profession. I protest,
Maugre thy strength, place, youth, and eminence,
Despise thy victor-Sword, and fire new Fortune,
Thy valor, and thy heart, thou art a Traitor:
False to thy Gods, thy Brother, and thy Father,
Conspirant 'gainst this high illustrious Prince,
And from th' extremest vpward of thy head,
To the discent and dust below thy foote,
A most Toad-spotted Traitor. Say thou no,
This Sword, this arme, and my best spirits are bent
To proue vpon thy heart, where to I speake,
Thou lyest

Bast. In wisedome I should aske thy name,
But since thy out-side lookes so faire and Warlike,
And that thy tongue (some say) of breeding breathes,
What safe, and nicely I might well delay,
By rule of Knight-hood, I disdaine and spurne:
Backe do I tosse these Treasons to thy head,
With the hell-hated Lye, ore-whelme thy heart,
Which for they yet glance by, and scarcely bruise,
This Sword of mine shall giue them instant way,
Where they shall rest for euer. Trumpets speake

Alb. Saue him, saue him.

Alarums. Fights.

Gon. This is practise Gloster,
By th' law of Warre, thou wast not bound to answer
An vnknowne opposite: thou art not vanquish'd,
But cozend, and beguild

Alb. Shut your mouth Dame,
Or with this paper shall I stop it: hold Sir,
Thou worse then any name, reade thine owne euill:
No tearing Lady, I perceiue you know it

Gon. Say if I do, the Lawes are mine not thine,
Who can araigne me for't?

Alb. Most monstrous! O, know'st thou this paper?
Bast. Aske me not what I know

Alb. Go after her, she's desperate, gouerne her

Bast. What you haue charg'd me with,
That haue I done,
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'rt Noble,
I do forgiue thee

Edg. Let's exchange charity:
I am no lesse in blood then thou art Edmond,
If more, the more th'hast wrong'd me.
My name is Edgar and thy Fathers Sonne,
The Gods are iust, and of our pleasant vices
Make instruments to plague vs:
The darke and vitious place where thee he got,
Cost him his eyes

Bast. Th'hast spoken right, 'tis true,
The Wheele is come full circle, I am heere

Alb. Me thought thy very gate did prophesie
A Royall Noblenesse: I must embrace thee,
Let sorrow split my heart, if euer I
Did hate thee, or thy Father

Edg. Worthy Prince I know't

Alb. Where haue you hid your selfe?
How haue you knowne the miseries of your Father?
Edg. By nursing them my Lord. List a breefe tale,
And when 'tis told, O that my heart would burst.
The bloody proclamation to escape
That follow'd me so neere, (O our liues sweetnesse,
That we the paine of death would hourely dye,
Rather then die at once) taught me to shift
Into a mad-mans rags, t' assume a semblance
That very Dogges disdain'd: and in this habit
Met I my Father with his bleeding Rings,
Their precious Stones new lost: became his guide,
Led him, begg'd for him, sau'd him from dispaire.
Neuer (O fault) reueal'd my selfe vnto him,
Vntill some halfe houre past when I was arm'd,
Not sure, though hoping of this good successe,
I ask'd his blessing, and from first to last
Told him our pilgrimage. But his flaw'd heart
(Alacke too weake the conflict to support)
Twixt two extremes of passion, ioy and greefe,
Burst smilingly

Bast. This speech of yours hath mou'd me,
And shall perchance do good, but speake you on,
You looke as you had something more to say

Alb. If there be more, more wofull, hold it in,
For I am almost ready to dissolue,
Hearing of this.
Enter a Gentleman.

Gen. Helpe, helpe: O helpe

Edg. What kinde of helpe?
Alb. Speake man

Edg. What meanes this bloody Knife?
Gen. 'Tis hot, it smoakes, it came euen from the heart
of- O she's dead

Alb. Who dead? Speake man

Gen. Your Lady Sir, your Lady; and her Sister
By her is poyson'd: she confesses it

Bast. I was contracted to them both, all three
Now marry in an instant

Edg. Here comes Kent.
Enter Kent.

Alb. Produce the bodies, be they aliue or dead;

Gonerill and Regans bodies brought out.

This iudgement of the Heauens that makes vs tremble.
Touches vs not with pitty: O, is this he?
The time will not allow the complement
Which very manners vrges

Kent. I am come
To bid my King and Master aye good night.
Is he not here?
Alb. Great thing of vs forgot,
Speake Edmund, where's the King? and where's Cordelia?
Seest thou this obiect Kent?
Kent. Alacke, why thus?
Bast. Yet Edmund was belou'd:
The one the other poison'd for my sake,
And after slew herselfe

Alb. Euen so: couer their faces

Bast. I pant for life: some good I meane to do
Despight of mine owne Nature. Quickly send,
(Be briefe in it) to'th' Castle, for my Writ
Is on the life of Lear, and on Cordelia:
Nay, send in time

Alb. Run, run, O run

Edg. To who my Lord? Who ha's the Office?
Send thy token of repreeue

Bast. Well thought on, take my Sword,
Giue it the Captaine

Edg. Hast thee for thy life

Bast. He hath Commission from thy Wife and me,
To hang Cordelia in the prison, and
To lay the blame vpon her owne dispaire,
That she for-did her selfe

Alb. The Gods defend her, beare him hence awhile.
Enter Lear with Cordelia in his armes.

Lear. Howle, howle, howle: O you are men of stones,
Had I your tongues and eyes, Il'd vse them so,
That Heauens vault should crack: she's gone for euer.
I know when one is dead, and when one liues,
She's dead as earth: Lend me a Looking-glasse,
If that her breath will mist or staine the stone,
Why then she liues

Kent. Is this the promis'd end?
Edg. Or image of that horror

Alb. Fall and cease

Lear. This feather stirs, she liues: if it be so,
It is a chance which do's redeeme all sorrowes
That euer I haue felt

Kent. O my good Master

Lear. Prythee away

Edg. 'Tis Noble Kent your Friend

Lear. A plague vpon you Murderors, Traitors all,
I might haue sau'd her, now she's gone for euer:
Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little. Ha:
What is't thou saist? Her voice was euer soft,
Gentle, and low, an excellent thing in woman.
I kill'd the Slaue that was a hanging thee

Gent. 'Tis true (my Lords) he did

Lear. Did I not fellow?
I haue seene the day, with my good biting Faulchion
I would haue made him skip: I am old now,
And these same crosses spoile me. Who are you?
Mine eyes are not o'th' best, Ile tell you straight

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

Lear. This is a dull sight, are you not Kent?
Kent. The same: your Seruant Kent,
Where is your Seruant Caius?
Lear. He's a good fellow, I can tell you that,
He'le strike and quickly too, he's dead and rotten

Kent. No my good Lord, I am the very man

Lear. Ile see that straight

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

Lear. You are welcome hither

Kent. Nor no man else:
All's cheerlesse, darke, and deadly,
Your eldest Daughters haue fore-done themselues,
And desperately are dead
Lear. I so I thinke

Alb. He knowes not what he saies, and vaine is it
That we present vs to him.
Enter a Messenger.

Edg. Very bootlesse

Mess. Edmund is dead my Lord

Alb. That's but a trifle heere:
You Lords and Noble Friends, know our intent,
What comfort to this great decay may come,
Shall be appli'd. For vs we will resigne,
During the life of this old Maiesty
To him our absolute power, you to your rights,
With boote, and such addition as your Honours
Haue more then merited. All Friends shall
Taste the wages of their vertue, and all Foes
The cup of their deseruings: O see, see

Lear. And my poore Foole is hang'd: no, no, no life?
Why should a Dog, a Horse, a Rat haue life,
And thou no breath at all? Thou'lt come no more,
Neuer, neuer, neuer, neuer, neuer.
Pray you vndo this Button. Thanke you Sir,
Do you see this? Looke on her? Looke her lips,
Looke there, looke there.

He dies.

Edg. He faints, my Lord, my Lord

Kent. Breake heart, I prythee breake

Edg. Looke vp my Lord

Kent. Vex not his ghost, O let him passe, he hates him,
That would vpon the wracke of this tough world
Stretch him out longer

Edg. He is gon indeed

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

Alb. Beare them from hence, our present businesse
Is generall woe: Friends of my soule, you twaine,
Rule in this Realme, and the gor'd state sustaine

Kent. I haue a iourney Sir, shortly to go,
My Master calls me, I must not say no

Edg. The waight of this sad time we must obey,
Speake what we feele, not what we ought to say:
The oldest hath borne most, we that are yong,
Shall neuer see so much, nor liue so long.

Exeunt. with a dead March.


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