By nursing them, my lord. — List a brief tale; —
And when 'tis told, O that my heart would burst! —
The bloody proclamation to escape,
That follow'd me so near, — O, our lives' sweetness!
That with the pain of death we'd hourly die
Rather than die at once!) — taught me to shift
Into a madman's rags; to assume a semblance
That very dogs disdain'd; and in this habit
Met I my father with his bleeding rings,
Their precious stones new lost; became his guide,
Led him, begg'd for him, sav'd him from despair;
Never, — O fault! — reveal'd myself unto him
Until some half hour past, when I was arm'd;
Not sure, though hoping of this good success,
I ask'd his blessing, and from first to last
Told him my pilgrimage: but his flaw'd heart, —
Alack, too weak the conflict to support! —
'Twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief,
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.
If there be more, more woeful, hold it in;
For I am almost ready to dissolve,
Hearing of this.
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 fastened 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 trumpets sounded,
And there I left him tranc'd.
But who was this?
Kent, sir, the banish'd Kent; who in disguise
Follow'd his enemy king and did him service
Improper for a slave.
[Enter a Gentleman hastily, with a bloody knife.]
Help, help! O, help!
What kind of help?
What means that bloody knife?
'Tis hot, it smokes;
It came even from the heart of — O! she's dead!
Who dead? speak, man.
Your lady, sir, your lady: and her sister
By her is poisoned; she hath confess'd it.
I was contracted to them both: all three
Now marry in an instant.
Here comes Kent.
Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead: —
This judgement of the heavens, that makes us tremble
Touches us not with pity. [Exit Gentleman.]
O, is this he?
The time will not allow the compliment
That very manners urges.
I am come
To bid my king and master aye good night:
Is he not here?
Great thing of us forgot!
Speak, Edmund, where's the king? and where's Cordelia?
[The bodies of Goneril and Regan are brought in.]
Seest thou this object, Kent?
Alack, why thus?
Yet Edmund was belov'd.
The one the other poisoned for my sake,
And after slew herself.
Even so. — Cover their faces.
I pant for life: — some good I mean to do,
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.
Run, run, O, run!
To who, my lord? — Who has the office? send
Thy token of reprieve.
Well thought on: take my sword,
Give it the Captain.
Haste thee for thy life.
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 herself.
The gods defend her! — Bear him hence awhile.
[Edmund is borne off.]
[Re-enter Lear, with Cordelia dead in his arms; Edgar, Officer,
and others following.]
Howl, howl, howl, howl! — O, you are men of stone.
Had I your tongues and eyes, I'ld use them so
That heaven's vault should crack. — She's 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.