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(Alack, too weak the conflict to support!)
'Twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief,
Burst smilingly.

Edm.

This speech of yours hath mov'd 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; For I am almost ready to dissolve,

Hearing of this.

Edg.

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 trumpet sounded,
And there I left him tranc'd.

Alb.

But who was this?

Edg. Kent, sir, the banish'd Kent; who in dis

guise

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!

Edg.

What kind of help?

Alb.

Speak, man.

Edg. What means that bloody knife?

Gent.

'Tis hot, it smokes;

It came even from the heart of —

Alb.

Who, man? speak.

Gent. Your lady, sir, your lady: and her sister By her is poison'd: she confesses it.

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

Alb. Produce their bodies, be they alive or

dead!

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Alb. O! it is he.

The time will not allow the compliment,
Which very manners urges.

Kent.

I am come

To bid my king and master aye 6 good night;
Is he not here?

Alb.

Great thing of us forgot! Speak, Edmund, where's the king? and where's

Cordelia?

See'st thou this object, Kent?

[The Bodies of GONERIL and REGAN are

brought in.

Kent. Alack, why thus?

Edm.

Yet Edmund was belov'd.

The one the other poison'd for my sake,

And after slew herself.

Alb. Even so,

Cover their faces.

Edm. I pant for life: - Some good I mean to do,

6 For ever.

Despite of mine own nature. Quickly send,-
Be brief in it,- to the castle; for my writ

Is on the life of Lear, and on Cordelia :
Nay, send in time.

Alb.

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Run, run, O, run —

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

send

Thy token of reprieve.

Edm. Well thought on; take my sword, Give it the captain.

Alb. 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 7 herself.

Alb. The gods defend her! Bear him hence [EDMUND is borne off.

awhile.

Enter LEAR, with CORDELIA dead in his Arms; EDGAR, Officer, and Others.

Lear. Howl, howl, howl, howl!-O, you are men of stones :

Had I your tongues and eyes, I'd use them so That heaven's vault should crack :- O, she is 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.

Kent.

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

7 Destroyed herself.

8 The end of the world, or the horrible circumstances

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Alb.

Fall, and cease! 9

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

That ever I have felt.

Kent.

O my good master! [Kneeling.

Lear. Pr'ythee, away.

Edg.

'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!

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.

Lear. Did I not, fellow? I have seen the day, with my good biting faulchion I would have made them skip: I am old now, And these same crosses spoil me. Who are you? Mine eyes are none 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? 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.

9 i. e. Die; Albany speaks to Lear.

Lear.

You are welcome hither.

Kent. Nor no man else; all's cheerless, dark,

and deadly.

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Your eldest daughters have fore-doom'd themselves, And desperately are dead.

Lear.

Ay, so I think.

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

Edg.

Very bootless.

Enter an Officer.

Off. 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 2 may come,
Shall be applied: for us, we will resign,
During the life of this old majesty,

To him our absolute power: -You, to your rights;
[To EDGAR and KENT.
With boot 3, and such addition 4 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 5 is hang'd! No, no, no

life:

Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life
And thou no breath at all? O, thou wilt come no

more,

Never, never, never, never, never!

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Pray you, undo this button: Thank you, sir.

1 Useless.

9 Benefit.

2 i. e. Lear.

* Titles.

5 Poor fool, in the time of Shakspeare was an expression

of endearment.

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