Lest his ungovera'd rage dissolve the life
That wants the means to lead it.1

Enter a Messenger.

Messenger. News, Madam:

The British powers are marching hitherward.

Cordelia. 'T is known before; our preparation stands In expectation of them. — O dear father! It is thy business that I go about, Therefore great France

My mourning, and important2 tears, hath pitied.

No blown ambition3 doth our arms incite,

But love, dear love, and our ag'd father's right.

Soon may I hear, and see him! [Exeunt.


A Room in Gloster's Castle.


Megan. But are my brother's powers set forth?

Oswald. Ay, Madam.

Regan. Himself in person there?

Osw. Madam, with much ado:

Your sister is the better soldier.

Reg. Lord Edmund spake not with your lord at home?
Osw. No, Madam.

Reg. What might import my sister's letter to him?
Osw. I know not, lady.

Reg. 'Faith, he is posted hence on serious matter.
It was great ignorance, Gloster's eyes being out,
To let him live: where he arrives he moves
All hearts against us. Edmund, I think, is gone,
In pity of his misery, to despatch
His nighted life;4 moreover, to descry
The strength o' the enemy.

Osw. I must needs after him, Madam, with my letter.

Reg. Our troops set forth to-morrow: stay with us; The ways are dangerous.

1. i. e. wants the ability to guide itself.

2. Important, for importunate.

3. No inflated, no swelling pride.

4. i. e. to put an end to bis life, made dark as night by the extinction of his eyes.

Oswald. . I may not, Madam;

My lady charg'd my duty in this business.

Regan. Why should she write to Edmund? Might not you Transport her purposes by word? Belike, Something — I know not what. — I 'll love thee much; Let me unseal the letter.

Osw. Madam, I had rather —

Reg. I know your lady does not love her husband,
I am sure of that; and, at her late being here,
She gave strange oeiliads,1 and most speaking looks
To noble Edmund. I know, you are of her bosom.2

Osw. I, Madam?

Reg. I speak in understanding: you are, I know it;
Therefore, I do advise you, take this note:
My lord is dead; Edmund and I have talk'd,
And more convenient is he for my hand,
Than for your lady's. — You may gather3 more.
If you do find him, pray you, give him this;
And when your mistress hears thus much from you,
I pray, desire her call her wisdom to her:
So, fare you well.

If you do chance to hear of that blind traitor,
Preferment falls on him that cuts him off.

Osw. Would I could meet him, Madam: I would show What party I do follow.

Reg. Fare thee well. [Exeunt.

The Country near Dover.
Enter GLOSTER, and EDGAR dressed like a Peasant.

Gloster. When shall I come to the top of that same hill?

Edgar. You do climb up it now: look, how we labour.

Glos. Methinks, the ground is even.

Edg. Horrible steep:

Hark! do you hear the sea?

Glos. No, truly.

Edg. Why, then your other senses grow imperfect. By your eyes' anguish.

1. (Eiliads, from the French oeillade, I 2. i. e. in her confidence, an ogle, or amorous glance. | 3. To gather, to infer.

GJoster. So may it be, indeed.

Methinks, thy voice is alter'd; and thou speak'st la better phrase, and matter,1 than thou didst.

Edgar. Y' are much deceiv'd: in nothing am I chang'd, But in my garments.

Glos( Methinks, you are better spoken.2

Edg. Come on, Sir; here 's the place: stand still. —-

How fearful,

And dizzy 't is to cast one's eyes so low!
The crows, and choughs, that wing the midway air,
Show scarce so gross as beetles: half way down
Hangs one that gathers samphire3; dreadful trade!
Methinks, he seems no bigger than his head.
The fishermen, that walk upon the beach,
Appear like mice; and yond' tall anchoring bark,
Diminish'd to her cock4; her cock, a buoy
Almost too small for sight. The murmuring surge,
That on th' unnumber'd idle pebbles chafes,
Cannot be heard so high. — I 'll look no more;
Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight5
Topple down headlong.

Glos. Set me where you stand.

Edg. Give me your hand; yOu are now within a foot Of th' extreme verge: for all beneath the moon Would I not leap upright.6

Glos. Let go my hand.

Here, friend, is another purse; in it, a jewel
Well worth a poor man's taking: fairies and gods
Prosper it with thee! Go thou farther off;
Bid me farewell, and let me hear thee going.

Edg. Now fare you well, good Sir.

Glos. With all my heart.

Edg. Why I do trifle thus with his despair, Is done to cure it.

Glos. O, you mighty gods!

This world I do renounce, and in your sights

1. Matter, contents, i. e. in better form, and with more sense.'

2. i. e. you are better of speech, or, you speak in better terms.

3. Samphire is a herb growing on the sea - shore and on cliffs, of which

in old times a pickle was made in England.

4. i. e. to the size of her cock-boat.

5. t. e. and I, being deficient iu sight, &e.

6. t. e. upwards.

Shake patiently my great affliction off;

If I could bear it longer, and not fall1

To quarrel with your great opposeless wills,

My snuff, and loathed part of nature,2 should

Burn itself out. If Edgar live, ,0, bless him! —

Now, fellow, fare thee well.

Edgar. Gone, Sir: farewell. —

[gloster leaps, and falls along. And yet I know not how conceit may rob The treasury of life, when life itself Yelds to the theft:3 had he been where he thought, By this had thought been past. — Alive, or dead? Ho, you Sir! friend! — Hear you, Sir? — speak! Thus might he pass indeed ;4 — yet he revives. What are you, Sir?

Oloster. Away, and let me die.

Edgar. Hadst thou been aught but gossamer, feathers, air, So many fathom down precipitating, Thou 'dst shiver'd like an egg: but thou dost breathe; Hast heavy substance; bleed'st not; speak'st; art sound. Ten masts at each5 make not the altitude, Which thou hast perpendicularly fell: Thy life 's a miracle. Speak yet again.

Glos. But have I fallen, or no?

Edg. From the dread summit of this chalky bourn.*
Look up a-height; the shrill-gorg'd lark so far
Cannot be seen or heard: do but look up.

Glos. Alack! I have no epes. —
Is wretchedness depriv'd that benefit,
To end itself by death? 'T was yet some comfort,
When misery could beguile the tyrant's rage,
And frustrate his proud will.

Edg. Give me your arm:

Up: — so; — how is 't? Feel you your legs? You stand.

Glos. Too well, too well.

Edg. ;This is above all strangeness.

1. To fall to, to apply oneself to.

2. i. e. the snuff, or wick, of the loathed remainder of my life.

3. And yet I know not how imagination can be said to rob, in destroying life, when life itself is willing to be destroyed.

4. Thus might he die in reality.

5. i. e. Ten masts joined together.

6. Another meaning of bourn (see note 3, page 65) is boundary: England's clilfs are the boundary towards France.

Upon the crown o' the cliff, what thing was that
Which parted from you?

Gloster, A poor unfortunate beggar.

Edgar. As I stood here below, methought, his eyes
Were two full moons; he had a thousand noses,
Horns whelk'd,1 and waVd like the enridged sea:
It was some fiend; therefore, thou happy father,
Think that the clearest2 gods, who make them honours
Of men's impossibilities,3 have preserv'd thee.

Glos. I do remember now: henceforth I 'll bear
Affliction, till it do cry out itself

"Enough, enough!" and die. That thing you speak of,

I took it for a man; often 't would say,

"The fiend, the fiend:" he led me to that place.

Edg. Bear free and patient thoughts. — But who

comes here?

Enter LEAR, fantastically dressed with wild Flowers.

The safer 4 sense will ne'er accommodate
His master thus.

Lear.. No, they cannot touch me for coining; I am the king himself.

Edg. 0, thou side-piercing sight!

Lear. Nature 's above art in that respect. — There 's our press-money.5 That fellow handles his bow like a croweeper:6 draw me a clothier's yard.1 — Look, look! a mouse. Peace, peace! — this piece of toasted cheese will do 't. — There 's my gauntlet; I 'll prove it on a giant. — Bring up the brown bills.8 — 0, well flown, bird! — i' the clout, i' the clout: hewgh!9 — Give the word.10

1. Welk'd, set with protuberances, twisted, convolved.

2. Clearest, purest, most free from evil.

3. i. e. who prepare themselves honour in performing what appears impossible to men.

4. Safer, sounder.

5. Press-money" is money paid to soldiers when they enlist. Lear imagines himself engaging men to avenge his wrongs.

6. Crow-keeper, scare-crow, a figure set up to frighten away birds.

7. Arrows are frequently mentioned as having been a cloth-yard long.

8. A bill, the old weapon of the English infantry, was a sort of battleaxe with a long handle: and brown bills are occasionally mentioned by writers of Shakspeare's age, — perhaps meaning the bearers.

9. Lear is here raving of archery; by bird he means arrow; the clout is the white mark in the centre of the target, which we now call the bull'seye, possibly so called from the clout, or pin, by which the target was suspended.

10. i. e. the pass-word, as demanded by a sentinel on duty.

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