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whether your costard or my ballow be the harder.1 Ch'ill
be plain with you.
Oswald. Out, dunghill! <
vor your foins.2 [They fight; and Edgar knocks him down. Oswald. Slave, thou hast" slain me. — Villain, take
If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body;
And give the letters which thou find'st about me
To Edmund earl of Gloster: seek him out
Upon the English party: — O, untimely death! [Dies.
Edg. I know thee well: a serviceable villain;
Gloster. What! is he dead?
Edg. Sit you down, father; rest you. —
[Reads.'] "Let our reciprocal vows be remembered. You have many opportunities to cut him off: if your will want not, time and place will be fruitfully offered.5 There is nothing done, if he return the conqueror; then, am I the prisoner, and his bed my gaol, from the loathed warmth whereof deliver me, and supply the place for your labour.
"Your (wife, so I would say)
0, undistinguish'd space of woman's will!6
A plot upon her virtuous husband's life;
And the exchange, my brother! — Here, in the sands,
1. I warn you, or else try whether your head or my cudgel be the harder.
2. Foins, thrusts, i. e. I care nothing for your fencing.
3. Meaning, he is sorry that he did not die by the hands of the common hangman, as he deserved.
4. i. c. fo rip their papers, &c.
5. If you be not wanting in the will, time and place will be abundantly offered.
6. 0, undistinguishing licentiousness of a woman's inclinations!
Thee I 'll rake up, the post unsanctified1
Of murderous lechers; and in the mature time,2
With this ungracious paper strike the sight
Of the death-practis'd duke.3 For him 't is well,
That of thy death and business I can tell.
Gloster. The king is mad: how stiff is my vile sense, That I stand up, and have ingenious feeling Of my huge sorrows!4 Better I were distract; So should my thoughts be sever'd from my griefs, And woes, by wrong imaginations, lose # The knowledge of themselves. [Drum afar off.
Edgar. Give me your hand:
Far off, methinks, I hear the beaten drum.
A Tent in the French Camp. LEAR on a Bed, asleep; Doctor, Gentleman, and Others, attending: Enter CORDELIA and KENT.
Cordelia. 0 thou good Kent! how shall I live and work
Kent. To be acknowledg'd, Madam, is o'er-paid.
Cor. Be better suited:1
These weeds are memories of those worser hours.8
1. Thee I'll rake up, thee I'll cover, or bury. In Staffordshire, to rake the fire is to cover it with fuel for the night. — The post is the messenger. — Unsanctified refers to his want of burial in consecrated ground.
2. i. e. when the time is ripe, when the proper time arrives.
3. i. e. the duke whose life has been sought (by Goneril). See notes 1, page 33, and 4, page 44.
4. How inflexible and base is my soul, that I still retain my bodily powers, and have a poignant sense of my great misfortunes, at a time when the king is mad.
5. And every standard by which I can measure my gratitude to you will be too small.
6- All my reports agree exactly with the truth; they are neither exaggerated nor curtailed, but according to the truth. Modest, moderate, within a mean.
7. i. e. Be better dressed, get thyself better clothes.
8. These garments are remembrancers of that unfortunate time. Weed is an old word, signifying a garment, clothes; now in use only in the expression widow's weeds, the mourning dress of a widow.
Kent. Pardon me, dear Madam; ,
Yet to be known shortens my made intent:1
Cordelia. Then be 't so, my good lord. — How does the
king? [To the Physician.
Doctor. Madam, sleeps still.
Cor. O, you kind gods, 1
Doct. So please your majesty,
That we may wake the king? he hath slept long.
Cor Be govern'd by your knowledge, and proceed I' the sway of your own will. Is he array'd?
Gent. Ay, Madam; in the heaviness of his sleep, We put fresh garments on him.
Doctor. Be by, good Madam, when we do awake him; I doubt not of his temperance.
Cor. Very well. [Music.
Doct. Please you, draw near. — Louder the music there.
Cor. O my dear father! Restoration, hang Thy medicine on my hps; and let this kiss Repair those violent harms, that my two sisters Have in thy reverence made!
Kent Kind and dear princess!
Cor. Had you not been their father, these white flakes Had challeng'd pity of them. Was this a face To be oppos'd against the warring winds? To stand against the deep dread-bolted thunder?4 In the most terrible and nimble stroke Of quick, cross lightning? to watch (poor perdu!) With this thin helm?5 Mine enemy's dog, Though he had bit me, should have stood that night
1. To be recognized already would frustrate the plan which I have formed.
2. 0, wind up the untuned and jarring senses: thinking of the manner in which the strings of a musical instrument are wound up when out of tune and jarring.
3. i. e. Of this father, changed to a child by his years and wrongs; or, changed from what he was, by the conduct of his children.
4. i. e. the deep-toned thunder, armed with dreadful thunder-bolts.
5. The allusion is to the advanced posts of an army, or what are called the forlorn hope, the expression perdu being borrowed from the French. — With this thin helm means, with his head covered with nothing but his scanty hair.
Against my fire; and wast thou fain, poor father,
To hovel thee with swine, and rogues forlorn,
In short and musty straw? Alack, alack!
'T is wonder, that thy life and wits at once
Had not concluded all.1 — He wakes; speak to him.
Doctor. Madam, do you; 't is fittest.
Cordelia. How does my royal lord? Howfares your majesty?
Lear. You do me wrong, to take me out'o' the grave. — Thou art a soul in bliss, but I am bound Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears Do scald like molten lead.
Cor. Sir, do you know me?
Lear. You are a spirit, I know. When did you die?
Cor. Still, still, far wide. 2
Doct. He 's scarce awake: let him alone awhile.
I am mightily abus'd. — I should even die with pity
Cor. O! look upon me, Sir,
And hold your hands in benediction o'er me. —
Lear. , Pray, do not mock me.:
I am a very foolish fond3 old man,
1. i. e. Had not altogether ended.
2. i. e. wandering; or as we should now say abroad, in allusion to the senses; wide is still sometimes used in this sense, as, — he is wide of the point,
meaning, he is wandering from the real subject under discussion.
3. Fond silly. See notes 2, page 12, and 2, page 26.
i. Skill, knowledge, understanding.
Cordelia. And so I am, I am.
Lear. Be your tears wet? Yes, 'faith. I pray, weep not: If you have poison for me, I will drink it. I know, you do not love me; for your sisters Have, as I do remember, done me wrong: You have some cause, they have not.
Cor. No cause, nd cause.
Lear. Am I in France?
Kent. In your own kingdom, Sir.
Lear. Do not abuse me.1 ,
Doctor. Be comforted, good Madam: the great rage, You see, is kill'd in him; and yet it is danger To make him even o'er the time he has lost.2 Desire him to go in: trouble him no more, Till farther settling.3
Cor. Will 't please your highness walk?
Lear. You must bear with me:4
Pray you now forget and forgive: I am old and foolish. [Exeunt Lear, Cordelia, Doctor, and Attendants.
Gentleman. Holds it true,5 Sir, that the duke of Cornwall was so slain?
Kent. Most certain, Sir.
Gent. Who is conductor of his people?
Kent. As 't is said, the bastard son of Gloster.
Gent. They say Edgar, his banished son, is with the earl of. Kent in Germany.
Kent. Report is changeable. 'T is time to look about; the powers o' the kingdom approach apace.
Gent. The arbitrement is like to be bloody.6 Fare you well, Sir. , [Exit.
Kent. My point and period will be throughly 1 wrought, Or well, or ill, as this day's battle 's fought. [Exit.
1. i. e. Do not deceive me.
2. i. e. it would be dangerous to make clear to his apprehension the time he has lost.
3. i.e. Till his mind is more settled.
4. To bear with, to have patience with.
5. i. e. Is it confirmed.
6. Is like to be, is likely to be, will probably be. In this sense the word like is still popularly usrd, as, — he bad like to have been drowned, meaning, he was near being drowned.
7. Now commonly written thoroughly.