Page images
PDF
EPUB

*

*

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.

Scene between Lear and Cordelia.

Cord. How does my royal Lord ? how fares your

Majesty ?
Lear. You do me wrong to take me out o'th'grave.
Ha! is this too a world of cruelty ?
I know my privilege : think not that I will
Be us'd like a wretched mortal? No,
No more of that.

Cord. Speak to me, fir; who am I?

Lear. You are a soul in bliss: but I am bound
Upon a wheel of fire, which my own tears
Do scald like molten lead.
Cord. Sir,

do
you

know me?
Lear. You are a spirit, I know : where did you

die? Cord. Still, ftill, far wide. Phys. Madam, he's scarce awake; he'll foon grow

more compos'd.
Lear. Where have I been? where am I? Fair daye

light!
I am mightily abus’d, I should even die with pity
To see another thus. I will not swear
These are my hands.

Cord. O look upon me, Sir,
And hold your hands in blessing over me; nay
You must kneel.

Lear. Pray do not inock mea
I am a very foolish fond old man;
Fourscore and upward : and to deal plainly with you,
I fear I am not in my perfect mind.

Cor. Nay, then farewel to patience: witness for meg
Ye mighty pow'rs, I ne'er complain’d till now!

Lear,

[ocr errors]

Lear. 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
Remember not these garments; nor do I know
Where I did sleep last night--Pray do not mock me,
For, as I am a man, I think that lady
To be

my

child Cordelia.
Cor. O my dear, dear father!
Lear. Be your tears wet? yes

faith?
pray

do not
weep,
I know I have giv'n thee cause, and am so humbled
With crosses since, that I cou'd alk
Forgiveness of thee, were it poffible
That thou cou'dít grant it; but I'ın well assur'd
Thou can'ît not; therefore I do stand thy justice :
If thou hast poison for me I will drink it,
Bless thee and die.

Cor. O pity, fir, a bleeding heart, and cease
This killing language.

Lear. Tell me, friends, Where am I?
Gent. In your own kingdom, fir.
Lear. Do not abuse me.

Gent. Be comforted, good madam, for the violence
Of his distemper's past: we'll lead him in,
Nor trouble him, till he is better settled.
Wilt please you, fir, walk into freer air?

Lcar. You must bear with me, I am old and foolish.

[ocr errors]

Астү.

SCENE V.

Lear to Cordelia, when taken Prisoners)

No, no, no, no; come, let's away to prison, We two alone will sing like birds i'th'cage : When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down, And alk of thee forgiveness : so we'll live,

And

And pray, and fing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilted butterflies; (25) and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news, and we'll talk with them too,
Who loses, and who wins: who's in, who's out:
And také upon's the mystery of things,
As if we were God's spies. And we'll wear out,
In a wall'd prison, packs and sects of great ones,
That ebb and flow. by th’moon.

Edm. Take them away.

Lear. Upon fuch facrifices, my Cordelia, The gods themselves throw incense.

SCENE VIII. The Justice of the Gods.

(26) The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices Makes instruments to scourge us.

Edgar's

(25) And, &c.] 'Tis a catalogue

Of all the gamesters of the court and city:
Which lord lies with that lady, and what gallant
Sports with that merchant's wife: and does relate
Who sells her honour for a diamond,
Who for a tissue robe : whose husband's jealous,
And who so kind, that, to share with his wife,
Will make the match himself: harmless conceits,
Tho' fools say they are dangerous.

The False One, Act i. Sc. I. The word fpies in the text, is taken in the sense of spies upon any one, to inspect their conduct, not fpies enployed by a person.

(26) Tbe, &c.] This retorting of punishments, and making the means by which we offended the scourge of our offence, is very common amongst the ancients, and perhaps had its rise from the Jewish people. An cyo for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, &c. Callimachus, in his hymn to Pallas, tells us, that goddess depriv'd the young hunter of his eyes, because they had offended, having seen her in the bath. See the Hymn, p. 75. And in Sophocless at the end of Electra, Orefics cries out to Ægistus;

Peace, and attend me to that place wlere thou
Didst murder my poor father, that even there
I too may murder thee.

Edgar's Account of his discovering himself to his

Father, &c.

List a brief tale,
And when 'tis told, O, that my heart would burst!
The bloody proclamation to escape,
That follow'd me fo near (0, our lives sweetness !
That we the pain of death would hourly bear,
Rather than die at once) taught me to shift
Into a inadman's rags ; t'allume a semblance,
The very dogs disdain'd; and in this habit,
Met I my father with his bleeding rings,
Their precious gems new loft; becaine his guide,
Led hiin, begg'd for him, fav’d him from despair ;
Never (0, fault !) reveal'd myself unto him,
Until some half hour past, when I was arın'd,
Not sure, tho' hoping of this good success,
I ask'd his blefling, 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,
Burst smilingly:

Baft. This speech of yours hath mov'd me,
And fhall, perchance, do good; but speak you on,
You look, as you had something more to fay.

Alb. If there be more, more woeful, hold it in,
For I am almoft ready to diffolve,
Hearing of this.

Edg(27). This would have seem'd a period
To such as love not sorrow: but another,

To

(27) This, &c.] The bastard, whose favage nature is well displayed by it, desires to hear more: the gentle Albany, touch'd at the sad tale, begs him no more to melt_his heart : upon which, Edgar observes, sensibly affected by Edmund's inhumanity, “ One should have imagined, this would have seemd a

period,

To amplify too much, would make much more,
And top extremity!
Whilft I was big in clamour, there came a man,
Who having seen me in my worser state,
Shunn'd my abhorrd fociety; but now finding
Who'twas had fo indur'd, with his strong arms
He fasten'd on my neck; and bellow'd out,
As he'd burst heaven; threw him on my

father;
Told the moft piteous tale of Lear and him,
That ever ear receivids which in recounting
His grief grew puifant, and the strings of life
Began to crack--Twice then the trumpets founded.
And there I left him tranc'd..

SCENE XII. Lear on the Death of Cordelia.

Howl, howl, howl, howl!.. you are men of fone; Had I your tongues and eyes,

I'd use thein so That Heav'ns vault shou'd crack; she's

gone

for ever! I know when one's 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.

This

period, a sufficient end of woe, to such as love not forrow, who are not pleased to hear of the distresses of others : but another (a person of another and more cruel temper) to amplify too much, (to augment and aggravate that which is already too great) would Itill make much more (would still increase it) and top extremity itself; that is, even go beyond that which is already at the utmost limit." Nothing can be plainer than this, which Mr. Warburton condemning as miserable nonsense, reads thus, and admïts into his text!

This wou'd have seem'd a period; but fuch
As love to amplify anothers forrow,

Too much, wou'd make much more and top extremity! 'Tis remarkable, this fine speech, (and indeed many others) are omitted in the Oxford edition,

« PreviousContinue »