The History of King Lear icon

The History of King Lear



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Pulling out a Picture drops a Note.]

Lodge in that Breast where all his Treasure lies.

[Exit.]

Reg.

To this brave Youth a Womans blooming beauties

Are due: my Fool usurps my Bed— What's here?

Confusion on my Eyes.

[^ Reads.]

Where Merit is so Transparent, not to behold it were Blindness, and not to reward it, Ingratitude.

Gonerill.

Vexatious Accident! yet Fortunate too,

My Jealousie's confirm'd, and I am taught

To cast for my Defence—

[^ Enter an Officer.]

Now, what mean those Shouts? and what thy hasty Entrance?

Off.

A most surprizing and a sudden Change,

The Peasants are all up in Mutiny,

And only want a Chief to lead 'em on

To Storm your Palace.

^ Reg.

On what Provocation?

Off.

At last day's publick Festival, to which

The Yeomen from all Quarters had repair'd,

Old Gloster, whom you late depriv'd of Sight,

(His Veins yet Streaming fresh) presents himself,

Proclaims your Cruelty, and their Oppression,

With the King's Injuries; which so enrag'd 'em,

That now that Mutiny which long had crept

Takes Wing, and threatens your Best Pow'rs.

^ Reg.

White-liver'd Slave!

Our Forces rais'd and led by Valiant Edmund,

Shall drive this Monster of Rebellion back

To her dark Cell; young Gloster's Arm allays

The Storm, his Father's feeble Breath did Raise.

[^ Exit.]

The Field SCENE

[Enter Edgar.]

Edg.

The lowest and most abject Thing of Fortune

Stands still in Hope, and is secure from Fear,

The lamentable Change is from the Best,

The Worst returns to Better— who comes here

[^ Enter Gloster, led by an old Man.]

My Father poorly led? depriv'd of Sight,

The precious Stones torn from their bleeding Rings!

Some-thing I heard of this inhumane Deed

But disbeliev'd it, as an Act too horrid

For the hot Hell of a curst Woman's fury,

When will the measure of my woes be full?

Glost.

Revenge, thou art afoot, Success attend Thee.

Well have I sold my Eyes, if the Event

Prove happy for the injur'd King.

^ Old M.

O, my good Lord, I have been your Tenant, and your Father's Tenant these Fourscore years.

Glost.

Away, get thee Away, good Friend, be gone,

Thy Comforts can do me no good at All,

Thee they may hurt.

Old M.

You cannot see your Way.

Glost.

I have no Way, and therefore want no Eyes,

I stumbled when I saw: O dear Son Edgar,

The Food of thy abused Father's Wrath,

Might I but live to see thee in my Touch

I'd say, I had Eyes agen.

Edg.

Alas, he's sensible that I was wrong'd,

And shou'd I own my Self, his tender Heart

Would break betwixt th' extreams of Grief and Joy.

^ Old M.

How now, who's There?

Edg.

A Charity for poor Tom. Play fair, and defie the foul Fiend.

O Gods! and must I still persue this Trade,

[Aside.]

Trifling beneath such Loads of Misery?

Old M.

'Tis poor mad Tom.

Glost.

In the late Storm I such a Fellow saw,

Which made me think a Man a Worm,

Where is the Lunatick?

^ Old M.

Here, my Lord.

Glost.

Get thee now away, if for my sake

Thou wilt o're-take us hence a Mile or Two

I' th' way tow'rd Dover, do't for ancient Love,

And bring some cov'ring for this naked Wretch

Whom I'll intreat to lead me.

^ Old M.

Alack, my Lord, He's Mad.

Glost.

'Tis the Time's Plague when Mad-men lead the Blind.

Do as I bid thee.

Old M.

I'll bring him the best 'Parrel that I have

Come on't what will.

[Exit.]

Glost.

Sirrah, naked Fellow.

Edg.

Poor Tom's a cold;— I cannot fool it longer,

And yet I must— bless thy sweet Eyes they Bleed,

Believe't poor ^ Tom ev'n weeps his Blind to see 'em.

Glost.

Know'st thou the way to Dover?

Edg.

Both Stile and Gate, Horse-way and Foot-path, poor Tom has been scar'd out of his good Wits; bless every true Man's Son from the foul Fiend.

Glost.

Here, take this Purse, that I am wretched

Makes thee the Happier, Heav'n deal so still.

Thus let the griping Userers Hoard be Scatter'd,

So Distribution shall undo Excess,

And each Man have enough. Dost thou know ^ Dover?

Edg.

I, Master.

Glost.

There is a Cliff, whose high and bending Head

Looks dreadfully down on the roaring Deep.

Bring me but to the very Brink of it,

And I'll repair the Poverty thou bearst

With something Rich about me, from that Place

I shall no leading need.

Edg.

Give me thy Arm: poor Tom shall guid thee.

Glost.

Soft, for I hear the Tread of Passengers.

[Enter Kent and Cordelia.]

Cord.

Ah me! your Fear's too true, it was the King;

I spoke but now with some that met him

As Mad as the vext Sea, Singing aloud,

Crown'd with rank Femiter and furrow Weeds,

With Berries, Burdocks, Violets, Dazies, Poppies,

And all the idle Flow'rs that grow

In our sustaining Corn, conduct me to him

To prove my last Endeavours to restore him,

And Heav'n so prosper thee.

^ Kent.

I will, good Lady.

Ha, Gloster here! — turn, poor dark Man, and hear

A Friend's Condolement, who at Sight of thine

Forgets his own Distress, thy old true Kent.

Glost.

How, Kent? from whence return'd?

Kent.

I have not since my Banishment been absent,

But in Disguise follow'd the abandon'd King;

'Twas me thou saw'st with him in the late Storm.

Glost.

Let me embrace thee, had I Eyes I now

Should weep for Joy, but let this trickling Blood

Suffice instead of Tears.

Cord.

O misery!

To whom shall I complain, or in what Language?

Forgive, O wretched Man, the Piety

That brought thee to this pass, 'twas I that caus'd it,

I cast me at thy Feet, and beg of thee

To crush these weeping Eyes to equal Darkness,

If that will give thee any Recompence.

^ Edg.

[Aside] Was ever Season so distrest as This?

Glost.

I think Cordelia's Voice! rise, pious Princess,

And take a dark Man's Blessing.

Cord.

O, my Edgar,

My Vertue's now grown Guilty, works the Bane

Of those that do befriend me, Heav'n forsakes me,

And when you look that Way, it is but Just

That you shou'd hate me too.

^ Edg.

O wave this cutting Speech, and spare to wound

A Heart that's on the Rack.

Glost.

No longer cloud thee, Kent, in that Disguise,

There's business for thee and of noblest weight;

Our injur'd Country is at length in Arms,

Urg'd by the King's inhumane Wrongs and Mine,

And only want a Chief to lead 'em on.

That Task be Thine.

^ Edg.

[Aside] Brave Britains then there's Life in 't yet.

Kent. Then have we one cast for our Fortune yet. Come, Princess, I'll bestow you with the King, Then on the Spur to Head these Forces. Farewell, good Gloster, to our Conduct trust.

Glost.

And be your Cause as Prosp'rous as tis Just.

[^ Exeunt.]


Gonerill's Palace.

[Enter Gonerill, Attendants.]

Gon.

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 to his Misery to dispatch him.

Gent.

No, Madam, he's return'd on speedy Summons

Back to your Sister.

^ Gon.

Ha! I like not That,

Such speed must have the Wings of Love; where's Albany.

Gent.

Madam, within, but never Man so chang'd;

I told him of the uproar of the Peasants,

He smil'd at it, when I inform'd him

Of ^ Gloster's Treason—

Gon.

Trouble him no further,

It is his coward Spirit, back to our Sister,

Hasten her Musters, and let her know

I have giv'n the Distaff into my Husband's Hands.

That done, with special Care deliver these Dispatches

In private to young ^ Gloster.

[Enter a Messenger.]

Mess.

O Madam, most unseasonable News,

The Duke of Cornwall's Dead of his late Wound,

Whose loss your Sister has in part supply'd,

Making brave Edmund General of her Forces.

Gon.

One way I like this well;

But being Widow and my Gloster with her

May blast the promis'd Harvest of our Love.

A word more, Sir,— add Speed to your Journey,

And if you chance to meet with that blind Traytor,

Preferment falls on him that cuts him off.

[Exeunt.]


Field SCENE

[Gloster and Edgar.]

Glost.

When shall we come to th' Top of that same Hill?

Edg.

We climb it now, mark how we Labour.

Glost.

Methinks the Ground is even.

Edg.

Horrible Steep; heark, do you hear the Sea?

^ Glost.

No truly.

Edg.

Why then your other Senses grow imperfect,

By your Eyes Anguish.

Glost.

So may it be indeed.

Methinks thy Voice is alter'd, and thou speak'st

In better Phrase and Matter than thou did'st.

^ Edg.

You are much deceiv'd, in nothing am I Alter'd

But in my Garments.

Glost.

Methinks y'are better Spoken.

Edg.

Come on, Sir, here's the Place, how fearfull

And dizy 'tis to cast one's Eyes so Low.

The Crows and Choughs that wing the Mid-way Air

Shew scarce so big as Beetles, half way down

Hangs one that gathers Sampire, dreadfull Trade!

The Fisher-men that walk upon the Beach

Appear like Mice, and yon tall Anch'ring Barque

Seems lessen'd to her Cock, her Cock a Buoy

Almost too small for Sight; the murmuring Surge

Cannot be heard so high, I'll look no more

Lest my Brain turn, and the disorder make me

Tumble down head long.

^ Glost.

Set me where you stand.

Edg.

You are now within a Foot of th'extream Verge.

For all beneath the Moon I wou'd not now

Leap forward.

Glost.

Let go my Hand,

Here, Friend, is another Purse, in it a Jewel

Well worth a poor Man's taking; get thee further,

Bid me Farewell, and let me hear thee going.

Edg.

Fare you well, Sir,— that I do Trifle thus

With this his Despair is with Design to cure it.

Glost.

Thus, mighty Gods, this World I do renounce,

And in your Sight shake my Afflictions off;

If I cou'd bear'em longer and not fall

To quarrel with your great opposeless Wills,

My Snuff and feebler Part of Nature shou'd

Burn it self out; if ^ Edgar Live, O Bless him.

Now, Fellow, fare thee well.

Edg.

Gone, Sir! Farewell.

And yet I know not how Conceit may rob

The Treasury of Life, had he been where he thought,

By this had Thought been past— Alive, or Dead?

Hoa Sir, Friend; hear you, Sir, speak—

Thus might he pass indeed— yet he revives.

What are you, Sir?

^ Glost.

Away, and let me Die.

Edg.

Hadst thou been ought but Gosmore, Feathers, Air,

Falling so many Fathom down

Thou hadst Shiver'd like an Egg; but thou dost breath

Hast heavy Substance, bleedst not, speak'st, art sound;

Thy Live's a Miracle.

^ Glost. But have I faln or no?

Edg.

From the dread Summet of this chalky Bourn:

Look up an Height, the Shrill-tun'd Lark so high

Cannot be seen, or heard; do but look up.

Glost.

Alack, I have no Eyes.

Is wretchedness depriv'd that Benefit

To End it self by Death?

Edg.

Give me your Arm.

Up, so, how is't? feel you your Legs? you stand.

^ Glost.

Too well, too well.

Edg.

Upon the Crow o'th' Cliff, what Thing was that

Which parted from you?

Glost.

A poor unfortunate Begger.

Edg.

As I stood here below, me-thought his Eyes

Were two Full Moons, wide Nostrils breathing Fire.

It was some Fiend, therefore thou happy Father,

Think that th'all-powerfull Gods who make them Honours

Of Mens Impossibilities have preserv'd thee.

Glost.

'Tis wonderfull; henceforth I'll bear Affliction

Till it expire; the Goblin which you speak of,

I took it for a Man: oft-times 'twould say,

The Fiend, the Fiend: He led me to that Place.

^ Edg.

Bear free and patient Thoughts: but who comes here?

[Enter Lear, a Coronet of Flowers on his Head. Wreaths and Garlands about him.]

Lear.

No, no, they cannot touch me for Coyning, I am the King Himself.

Edg.

O piercing Sight.

Lear.

Nature's above Art in that Respect; There's your Press-money: that Fellow handles his Bow like a Cow-keeper, — draw me a Clothier's yard. A Mouse, a Mouse; peace hoa: there's my Gauntlet, I'll prove it on a Giant: bring up the brown Bills: O well flown Bird; i' th' White, i' th' White — Hewgh! give the Word.

^ Edg.

Sweet Marjorum.

Lear.

Pass.

Glost.

I know that Voice.

Lear.

Ha! Gonerill with a white Beard! they flatter'd me like a Dog, and told me I had white Hairs on my Chin, before the Black ones were there; to say I and No to every thing that I said, I and No too was no good Divinity. When the Rain came once to wet me, and the Winds to make me Chatter; when the Thunder wou'd not Peace at my Bidding. There I found 'em, there I smelt 'em out; go too, they are not men of their words, They told me I was a King, 'tis a Lie, I am not Argue proof.

^ Glost.

That Voice I well remember, is't not the King's?

Lear.

I, every Inch a King, when I do Stare

See how the Subject quakes.

I pardon that Man's Life, what was the Cause?

Adultery? Thou shalt not Die. Die for Adultery!

The Wren goes to't, and the small gilded Flie

Engenders in my Sight: Let Copulation thrive,

For Gloster's Bastard Son was kinder to his Father

Than were my Daughters got i'th' lawfull Bed.

To't Luxury, pell mell, for I lack Souldiers.

^ Glost.

Not all my Sorrows past so deep have toucht me,

As the sad Accents: Sight were now a Torment—

Lear.

Behold that simp'ring Lady, she that starts

At Pleasure's Name, and thinks her Ear profan'd

With the least wanton Word, wou'd you believe it,

The Fitcher nor the pamper'd Steed goes to't

With such a riotous Appetite: down from the Wast they are Centaurs, tho Women all Above; but to the Girdle do the Gods inherit, beneath is all the Fiends; There's Hell, there's Darkness, the Sulphurous unfathom'd — Fie! fie! pah! — an Ounce of Civet, good Apothecary, to sweeten my Imagination— There's Money for thee.

^ Glost.

Let me kiss that Hand.

Lear.

Let me wipe it first; it smells of Mortality.

Glost.

Speak, Sir; do you know me?

Lear.

I remember thy Eyes well enough: Nay, do thy worst, blind Cupid, I'll not Love — read me this Challenge, mark but the penning of it.

^ Glost.

Were all the Letters Suns I cou'd not see.

Edg.

I wou'd not take this from Report: wretched Cordelia,

What will thy Vertue do when thou shalt find

This fresh Affliction added to the Tale

Of thy unparrallel'd Griefs.

^ Lear.

Read.

Glost.

What with this Case of eyes?

Lear.

O ho! are you there with me? no Eyes in your Head, and no money in your Purse? yet you see how this World goes.

Glost.

I see it Feelingly.

Lear.

What? art Mad? a Man may see how this World goes with no Eyes. Look with thy Ears, see how yon Justice rails on that simple Thief; shake'em together, and the first that drops, be it Thief or Justice, is a Villain. — Thou hast seen a Farmer's Dog bark at a Beggar.

^ Glost.

I, Sir.

Lear.

And the Man ran from the Curr; there thou mightst behold the great Image of Authority, a Dog's obey'd in Office. Thou Rascal, Beadle, hold thy bloody Hand, why dost thou Lash that Strumpet? thou hotly Lust'st to enjoy her in that kind for which thou whipst her, do, do, the Judge that sentenc'd her has been before-hand with thee.

^ Glost.

How stiff is my vile Sense that yields not yet?

Lear.

I tell thee the Usurer hangs the Couz'ner, through tatter'd Robes small Vices do appear, Robes and Fur-gowns hide All: Place Sins with Gold, why there 'tis for thee, my Friend, make much of it, it has the Pow'r to seal the Accuser's Lips. Get thee glass Eyes, and like a scurvy Politician, seem to see the Things thou dost not. Pull, pull off my Boots, hard, harder, so, so.

^ Glost.

O Matter and Impertinency mixt

Reason in Madness.

Lear.

If thou wilt weep my Fortunes take my Eyes,

I know thee well enough, thy Name is Gloster.

Thou must be patient, we came Crying hither

Thou knowst, the first time that We tast the Air

We Wail and Cry— I'll preach to thee, Mark.

^ Edg.

Break lab'ring Heart.

Lear.

When we are Born we Cry that we are come

To this great Stage of Fools.—

[Enter Two or Three Gentlemen.]

Gent.

O here he is, lay hand upon him, Sir,

Your dearest Daughter sends—

Lear.

No Rescue? what, a Prisoner? I am even the natural Fool of Fortune: Use me well, you shall have Ransome— let me have Surgeons, Oh I am cut to th' Brains.

^ Gent.

You shall have any Thing.

Lear.

No Second's? all my Self? I will Die bravely like a smug Bridegroom, flusht and pamper'd as a Priest's Whore. I am a King, my Masters, know ye that?

Gent.

You are a Royal one, and we Obey you.

Lear.

It were an excellent Stratagem to Shoe a Troop of Horse with Felt, I'll put in proof — no Noise, no Noise— now will we steal upon these Sons in Law, and then —Kill, kill, kill, kill! [^ Ex. Running.]

Glost.

A Sight most moving in the meanest Wretch,

Past speaking in a King. Now, good Sir, what are you?

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