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SC. IV.]




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'Tis on such ground, and to such wholesome end,
As clears her from all blame.

Lear. My curses on her!

O sir, you are old ;
Nature in you stands on the very verge
Of her confine. You should be ruled, and led
By some discretion, that discerns your state
Better than you yourself. Therefore, I pray you,
That to our sister you do make return;
Say, you have wronged her, sir.'

Ask her forgiveness !
Do you but mark how this becomes the house.?
Dear daughter, I confess that I am old ;
Age is unnecessary;

3 on my knees I beg, [Kneeling. That you'll vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food.

Reg. Good sir, no more; these are unsightly tricks. Return you to my sister. Lear.

Never, Regan.
She hath ahated me of half my train ;
Looked black upon me; struck me with her tongue,
Most serpent-like, upon the very

All the stored vengeances of Heaven fall
On her ingrateful top! Strike her young bones,
You taking airs, with lameness !

Fie, fie, fie!
Lear. You nimble lightnings, dart your blinding

Into her scornful eyes! Infect her beauty,
You fen-sucked fogs, drawn by the powerful sun,
To fall 4 and blast her pride !

O the blest gods !
So will you wish on me, when the rash mood is on.

Lear. No, Regan, thou shalt never have my curse; Thy tender-hefted 5 nature shall not give

1 « Say," &c. This line and the following speech is omitted in the quartos.

2 i. e. the order of families, duties of relation.
3 Unnecessary is here used in the sense of necessitous.

4 Fall seems here to be used as an active verb, signifying to humble or pull down.

5 Tender-hefted may mean moved, or heaving with tenderness. The

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Thee o'er to harshness; her eyes are fierce, but thine
Do comfort, and not burn. 'Tis not in thee
To grudge my pleasures, to cut off my train,
To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes,
And, in conclusion, to oppose the bolt
Against my coming in. Thou better know'st
The offices of nature, bond of childhood,
Effects of courtesy, dues of gratitude;
Thy half o’ the kingdom hast thou not forgot,
Wherein I thee endowed.

Good sir, to the purpose.

[Trumpets within. Lear. Who put my man i’the stocks ? Corn.

What trumpet's that?

Enter Steward. Reg. I know't, my sister's; this approves her letter, That she would soon be here.--Is your lady come?

Lear. This is a slave, whose easy-borrowed pride Dwells in the fickle grace of her he follows.-Out, varlet, from my sight! Corn.

What means your grace? Lear. Who stocked my servant? Regan, I have

good hope Thou didst not know of't.-Who comes here?


Enter GONERIL. If you do love old men, if your sweet sway Allow 2 obedience, if yourselves are old, Make it your cause; send down, and take my part. Art not ashamed to look upon this beard ?

IT. GONERIL. O Regan, wilt thou take her by the hand ?

quartos read tender-hested, which may be right, and signify giving tender
hests or commands.

A size is a portion or allotment of food. The word and its origin
are explained in Minsheu's Guide to Tongues, 1617. The term sizer is
still used at Cambridge for one of the lowest rank of students, living on
a stated allowance.

2 To allow is to approve, in old phraseology.



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you !

Gon. Why not by the hand, sir ? How have I of

fended ?
All's not offence, that indiscretion finds,
And dotage terms so.

O sides, you are too tough!
Will you yet hold ? How came my man i’the stocks ?

Corn. I set him there, sir; but his own disorders
Deserved much less advancement.

You! did
Reg. I pray you, father, being weak, seem so.?
If, till the expiration of your month,
You will return and sojourn with my sister,
Dismissing half your train, come then to me;
I am now from home, and out of that provision
Which shall be needful for your entertainment.

Lear. Return to her, and fifty men dismissed ?
No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose
To wage 3 against the enmity o’the air;
To be a comrade with the wolf and owl,-
Necessity's sharp pinch !--Return with her ?
Why, the hot-blooded France, that dowerless took
Our youngest born, I could as well be brought
To knee his throne, and, squirelike, pension beg
To keep base life afoot.---Return with her ?
Persuade me rather to be slave and sumpter 4
To this detested groom.

[Looking on the Steward


your choice, sir.
Lear. I pr’ythee, daughter, do not make me mad:
I will not trouble thee, my child; farewell.
We'll no more meet, no more see one another.--
But yet thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter;
Or rather a disease that's in my flesh,
Which I must needs call mine; thou art a boil,

1 By less advancement, Cornwall means that Kent's disorders had entitled him to a post of even less honor than the stocks.

2 Since you are weak, be content to think yourself weak. 3. See p. 14, note 6, ante.

4 Sumpter is generally united with horse or mule, to signify one that carried provisions or other necessaries; from sumptus (Lat.). In the present instance horse seems to be understood,

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A plague-sore, an embossed' carbuncle,
In my corrupted blood. But I'll not chide thee;
Let shame come when it will, I do not call it.
I do not bid the thunder-bearer shoot,
Nor tell tales of thee to high-judging Jove.
Mend, when thou canst; be better at thy leisure.
I can be patient; I can stay with Regan,
I, and my hundred knights.

Not altogether so, sir ;
I looked not for you yet, nor am provided
For your fit welcome. Give ear, sir, to my sister;
For those that mingle reason with your passion,
Must be content to think you old, and so
But she knows what she does.

Is this well spoken, now?
Reg. I dare avouch it, sir. What, fifty followers ?
Is it not well? What should you need of more?
Yea, or so many ? sith that both charge and danger
Speak 'gainst so great a number? How, in one house,
Should many people, under two commands,
Hold amity ? 'Tis hard ; almost impossible.

Gon. Why might not you, my lord, receive attend

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From those that she calls servants, or from mine?
Reg. Why not, my

lord? If then they chanced to

slack you,

We could control them. If you will come to me,
(For now I spy a danger,) I entreat you
To bring but five-and-twenty; to no more
Will I give place or notice.

Lear. I gave you all

And in good time you gave it.
Lear. Made you my guardians, my depositaries;
But kept a reservation to be followed
With such a number. What, must I come to you
With five-and-twenty, Regan? said you so ?

Reg. And speak it again, my lord ; no more with


1 Embossed here means swelling, protuberant.


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Lear. Those wicked creatures yet do look well favored, When others are more wicked; not being the worst, Stands in some rank of praise : 1- I'll go

with thee;

[T. GONERIL. Thy fifty yet doth double five-and-twenty, And thon art twice her love.

Hear me, my lord ;
What need you five-and-twenty, ten, or five,
To follow in a house, where twice so many
Have a command to tend you ?

What need one?
Lear. O, reason not the need; our basest beggars
Are in the poorest thing superfluous;
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
Man's life is cheap as beast's. Thou art a lady;
If only to go warm were gorgeous,
Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear'st,
Which scarcely keeps thee warm.-But, for true need,
You Heavens give me that patience, patience I need!
You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,
As full of grief as age; wretched in both!
If it be you that stir these daughters' hearts
Against their father, fool me not so much
To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger!
0, let not women's weapons, water-drops,
Stain my man's cheeks !-No, you unnatural hags,
I will have such revenges on you both,
That all the world shall-I will do such things,--
What they are, yet I know not; but they shall be
The terrors of the earth. You think I'll weep;
No, I'll not weep.--
I have full cause of weeping; but this heart
Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws,
Or ere I'll weep.--O fool, I shall go mad!

[Exeunt LEAR, GLOSTER, KENT, and Fool.


1 i. e. to be not the worst deserves some praise.
2 As cheap here means as litlle worth.

3 Flaws anciently signified fragments, as well as mere cracks. Among the Saxons it certainly had that meaning. The word, as Bailey observes, was 6 especially applied to the breaking off shivers or thin pieces from precious stones."

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