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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act IV. Scene V.

King Lear

A Room in GLOUCESTER’S Castle.


Reg.But are my brother’s powers set forth?

Osw.Ay, madam.

Reg.Himself in person there?

Osw.Madam, with much ado:

Your sister is the better soldier.

Reg.Lord Edmund spake not with your lord at home?

Osw.No, madam.

Reg.What might import my sister’s letter to him?

Osw.I know not, lady.

Reg.Faith, he is posted hence on serious matter.

It was great ignorance, Gloucester’s eyes being out,

To let him live; where he arrives he moves

All hearts against us. Edmund, I think, is gone,

In pity of his misery, to dispatch

His nighted life; moreover, to descry

The strength o’ the enemy.

Osw.I must needs after him, madam, with my letter.

Reg.Our troops set forth to-morrow; stay with us,

The ways are dangerous.

Osw.I may not, madam;

My lady charg’d my duty in this business.

Reg.Why should she write to Edmund? Might not you

Transport her purposes by word? Belike,

Something—I know not what. I’ll love thee much,

Let me unseal the letter.

Osw.Madam, I had rather—

Reg.I know your lady does not love her husband;

I am sure of that: and at her late being here

She gave strange œilliades and most speaking looks

To noble Edmund. I know you are of her bosom.

Osw.I, madam!

Reg.I speak in understanding; you are, I know ’t:

Therefore I do advise you, take this note:

My lord is dead; Edmund and I have talk’d,

And more convenient is he for my hand

Than for your lady’s. You may gather more.

If you do find him, pray you, give him this,

And when your mistress hears thus much from you,

I pray desire her call her wisdom to her:

So, fare you well.

If you do chance to hear of that blind traitor,

Preferment falls on him that cuts him off.

Osw.Would I could meet him, madam: I would show

What party I do follow.

Reg.Fare thee well.[Exeunt.