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

Act IV. Scene VII.

King Lear

A Tent in the French Camp.

Enter CORDELIA, KENT, Doctor, and Gentleman.

Cor.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.

Cor.Be better suited:

These weeds are memories of those worser hours:

I prithee, put them off.

Kent.Pardon me, 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.

Cor.Then be ’t so, my good lord.—[To the Doctor.]How does the king?

Doc.Madam, sleeps still.

Cor.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!

Doc.So please your majesty

That we may wake the king? he hath slept long.

Cor.Be govern’d by your knowledge, and proceed

I’ the sway of your own will. Is he array’d?

Enter LEAR in his chair, carried by Servants.

Gent.Ay, madam; in the heaviness of sleep,

We put fresh garments on him.

Doc.Be by, good madam, when we do awake him;

I doubt not of his temperance.

Cor.Very well.[Music.

Doc.Please you, draw near. Louder the music there.

Cor.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!

Cor.Had you not been their father, these white flakes

Had challeng’d pity of them. Was this a face

To be expos’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.

Doc.Madam, do you; ’tis fittest.

Cor.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.

Cor.Sir, do you know me?

Lear.You are a spirit, I know; when did you die?

Cor.Still, still, far wide.

Doc.He’s scarce awake; let him alone a-while.

Lear.Where have I been? Where am I? Fair day-light?

I am mightily abus’d. I should even 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!

Cor.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 or 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.

Cor.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.

Cor.No cause, no cause.

Lear.Am I in France?

Kent.In your own kingdom, sir.

Lear.Do not abuse me.

Doc.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.

Cor.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, Doctor, and Attendants.

Gent.Holds it true, sir, that the Duke of

Cornwall was so slain?

Kent.Most certain, sir.

Gent.Who is conductor of his people?

Kent.As ’tis said, the bastard son of Gloucester.

Gent.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.

Gent.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.