Home  »  The Oxford Shakespeare  »  King Lear

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

Act V. Scene I.

King Lear

The British Camp near Dover.

Enter, with drum and colours, EDMUND, REGAN, Officers, Soldiers, and Others.

Edm.Know of the duke if his last purpose hold,

Or whether since he is advis’d by aught

To change the course; he’s full of alteration

And self-reproving; bring his constant pleasure.[To an Officer, who goes out.

Reg.Our sister’s man is certainly miscarried.

Edm.’Tis to be doubted, madam.

Reg.Now, sweet lord,

You know the goodness I intend upon you:

Tell me, but truly, but then speak the truth,

Do you not love my sister?

Edm.In honour’d love.

Reg.But have you never found my brother’s way

To the forefended place?

Edm.That thought abuses you.

Reg.I am doubtful that you have been conjunct

And bosom’d with her, as far as we call hers.

Edm.No, by mine honour, madam.

Reg.I never shall endure her: dear my lord,

Be not familiar with her.

Edm.Fear me not.

She and the duke her husband!

Enter with drums and colours, ALBANY, GONERIL, and Soldiers.

Gon.[Aside.]I had rather lose the battle than that sister

Should loosen him and me.

Alb.Our very loving sister, well be-met.

Sir, this I heard, the king is come to his daughter,

With others; whom the rigour of our state

Forc’d to cry out. Where I could not be honest

I never yet was valiant: for this business,

It toucheth us, as France invades our land,

Not bolds the king, with others, whom, I fear,

Most just and heavy causes make oppose.

Edm.Sir, you speak nobly.

Reg.Why is this reason’d?

Gon.Combine together ’gainst the enemy;

For these domestic and particular broils

Are not the question here.

Alb.Let’s then determine

With the ancient of war on our proceeding.

Edm.I shall attend you presently at your tent.

Reg.Sister, you’ll go with us?


Reg.’Tis most convenient; pray you, go with us.

Gon.[Aside.]O, ho! I know the riddle.[Aloud.]I will go.

Enter EDGAR, disguised.

Edg.If e’er your Grace had speech with man so poor,

Hear me one word.

Alb.I’ll overtake you. Speak.[Exeunt EDMUND, REGAN, GONERIL, Officers, Soldiers, and Attendants.

Edg.Before you fight the battle, ope this letter.

If you have victory, let the trumpet sound

For him that brought it: wretched though I seem,

I can produce a champion that will prove

What is avouched there. If you miscarry,

Your business of the world hath so an end,

And machination ceases. Fortune love you!

Alb.Stay till I have read the letter.

Edg.I was forbid it.

When time shall serve, let but the herald cry,

And I’ll appear again.

Alb.Why, fare thee well: I will o’erlook thy paper.[Exit EDGAR.

Re-enter EDMUND.

Edm.The enemy’s in view; draw up your powers.

Here is the guess of their true strength and forces

By diligent discovery; but your haste

Is now urg’d on you.

Alb.We will greet the time.[Exit.

Edm.To both these sisters have I sworn my love;

Each jealous of the other, as the stung

Are of the adder. Which of them shall I take?

Both? one? or neither? Neither can be enjoy’d

If both remain alive: to take the widow

Exasperates, makes mad her sister Goneril;

And hardly shall I carry out my side,

Her husband being alive. Now then, we’ll use

His countenance for the battle; which being done

Let her who would be rid of him devise

His speedy taking off. As for the mercy

Which he intends to Lear, and to Cordelia,

The battle done, and they within our power,

Shall never see his pardon; for my state

Stands on me to defend, not to debate.[Exit.