King Lear By William Shakespeare Act IV: Scene 7

Scene VII. A Tent in the French Camp. Lear on a bed, asleep, soft
music playing; Physician, Gentleman, and others attending.

[Enter Cordelia, and Kent.]

CORDELIA.
O thou good Kent, how shall I live and work
To match thy goodness? My life will be too short
And every measure fail me.

KENT.
To be acknowledg'd, madam, is o'erpaid.
All my reports go with the modest truth;
Nor more nor clipp'd, but so.

CORDELIA.
Be better suited:
These weeds are memories of those worser hours:
I pr'ythee, put them off.

KENT.
Pardon, dear madam;
Yet to be known shortens my made intent:
My boon I make it that you know me not
Till time and I think meet.

CORDELIA.
Then be't so, my good lord. [To the Physician.] How, does the
king?

PHYSICIAN.
Madam, sleeps still.

CORDELIA.
O you kind gods,
Cure this great breach in his abused nature!
The untun'd and jarring senses, O, wind up
Of this child-changed father!

PHYSICIAN.
So please your majesty
That we may wake the king: he hath slept long.

CORDELIA.
Be govern'd by your knowledge, and proceed
I' the sway of your own will. Is he array'd?

GENTLEMAN.
Ay, madam. In the heaviness of sleep
We put fresh garments on him.

PHYSICIAN.
Be by, good madam, when we do awake him;
I doubt not of his temperance.

CORDELIA.
Very well.

PHYSICIAN.
Please you draw near. — Louder the music there!

CORDELIA.
O my dear father! Restoration hang
Thy medicine on my lips; and let this kiss
Repair those violent harms that my two sisters
Have in thy reverence made!

KENT.
Kind and dear princess!

CORDELIA.
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?
In the most terrible and nimble stroke
Of quick cross lightning? to watch — ,poor perdu! —
With this thin helm? Mine enemy's dog,
Though he had bit me, should have stood that night
Against my fire; and wast thou fain, poor father,
To hovel thee with swine and rogues forlorn,
In short and musty straw? Alack, alack!
'Tis wonder that thy life and wits at once
Had not concluded all. — He wakes; speak to him.

PHYSICIAN.
Madam, do you; 'tis fittest.

CORDELIA.
How does my royal lord? How fares 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.

CORDELIA.
Sir, do you know me?

LEAR.
You are a spirit, I know: when did you die?

CORDELIA.
Still, still, far wide!

PHYSICIAN.
He's scarce awake: let him alone awhile.

LEAR.
Where have I been? Where am I? — Fair daylight, —
I am mightily abus'd. — I should e'en die with pity,
To see another thus. — I know not what to say. —
I will not swear these are my hands: — let's see;
I feel this pin prick. Would I were assur'd
Of my condition!

CORDELIA.
O, look upon me, sir,
And hold your hands in benediction o'er me. —
No, sir, you must not kneel.

LEAR.
Pray, do not mock me:
I am a very foolish fond old man,
Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less;
And, to deal plainly,
I fear I am not in my perfect mind.
Methinks I should know you, and know this man;
Yet I am doubtful: for I am mainly ignorant
What place this is; and all the skill I have
Remembers not these garments; nor I know not
Where I did lodge last night. Do not laugh at me;
For, as I am a man, I think this lady
To be my child Cordelia.

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.

CORDELIA.
No cause, no cause.

LEAR.
Am I in France?

KENT.
In your own kingdom, sir.

LEAR.
Do not abuse me.

PHYSICIAN.
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.
Desire him to go in; trouble him no more
Till further settling.

CORDELIA.
Will't please your highness walk?

LEAR.
You must bear with me:
Pray you now, forget and forgive: I am old and foolish.

[Exeunt Lear, Cordelia, Physician, and Attendants.]

GENTLEMAN.
Holds it true, sir, that the Duke of Cornwall was so slain?

KENT.
Most certain, sir.

GENTLEMAN.
Who is conductor of his people?

KENT.
As 'tis said, the bastard son of Gloucester.

GENTLEMAN.
They say Edgar, his banished son, is with the Earl of Kent
in Germany.

KENT.
Report is changeable. 'Tis time to look about; the powers of
the kingdom approach apace.

GENTLEMAN.
The arbitrement is like to be bloody.
Fare you well, sir.

[Exit.]

KENT.
My point and period will be throughly wrought,
Or well or ill, as this day's battle's fought.

[Exit.]

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