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Told the most piteous tale of Lear and him,
But who was this?
Edg. Kent, sir, the banish'd Kent; who in disguise Follow'd his enemy king, and did him service Improper for a slave.]
Enter a Gentleman hastily, with a bloody Knife. Gent. Help! help! O help!
What kind of help?
'Tis hot, it smokes;
Edg. What means that bloody knife?
It came even from the heart of
Gent. Your lady, sir, your lady:
Who, man? speak.7
and her sister
By her is poison'd; she confesses it.8
Edm. I was contracted to them both; all three Now marry in an instant.9
Alb. Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead!— This judgment of the heavens, that makes us tremble,
instead of him.-Kent in his transport of joy, at meeting Edgar, embraced him with such violence, as to throw him on the dead body of Gloster. Malone..
the trumpet sounded,] The quartos, where alone this speech is found, read trumpets, but it was certainly a misprint, for one trumpet only had sounded. Dr. Johnson made the correction. Malone.
- from the heart of-] Here the folio, in defiance of metre and propriety, adds—
O she's dead.
7 Who, man? speak.] The folio reads, Who dead? Speak man.
she confesses it.] Thus the first and second folio. The quartos-she has [and hath] confess'd it. As these readings are equally proper. I have chosen the more metrical of the two. Steevens.
9 Now marry in an instant.] In the folio, after these words, we have
Edg. Here comes Kent.
and the words-O, is this he, are spoken by Albany, immediately after touches us not with pity: I have followed the quartos. Malone. 1 This judgment &c.] If Shakspeare had studied Aristotle all his
The time will not allow the compliment,
Which very manners urges.
I am come
To bid my king and master aye good night;
Great thing of us forgot!
Speak, Edmund, where 's the king? and where's Cor
See'st thou this object, Kent?
[The Bodies of GON. and REG. are brought in.
Kent. Alack, why thus?
Yet Edmund was belov'd:4
The one the other poison'd for my sake,
And after slew herself.
Edm. I pant for life:-Some good I mean to do,
Run, run, O, run —
Edg. To who, my lord?--Who has the office? send
life, he would not perhaps have been able to mark with more precision the distinct operations of terror and pity. Tyrwhitt.
This is the reading of the folio. The quartos have-This justice &c. Malone.
2 Here comes Kent, sir.] The manner in which Edgar here mentions Kent, seems to require the lines which are inserted from the first edition in the foregoing scene. Johnson.
3 O! it is he.] Thus the quartos. Folio: O, is this he? Malone. 4 Yet Edmund was belov'd:] Rowe's dying Rake suggests to him. self a similar consolation, arising from the remembrance of success. ful gallantry:
"Yet, let not this advantage swell thy pride;
"I conquer'd in my turn, in love I triumph'd." Dryden's Don Sebastian felicitates himself on the same circum
Thus also in The Double Marriage by Fletcher:
this happiness yet stays with me:
"You have been mine." Steevens.
Thy token of reprieve.
Edm. Well thought on; take my sword, Give it the captain.5
Haste thee, for thy life.6 [Exit Ede.
Edm. He hath commission from thy wife and me To hang Cordelia in the prison, and
To lay the blame upon her own despair,
That she fordid herself."
Alb. The gods defend her! Bear him hence awhile."
[EDM. is borne off. Enter LEAR, with CORDELIA dead in his Arms;s EDGAR, Officer, and Others.
Lear. Howl, howl, howl, howl!-O, you are men of
Had I your tongues and eyes, I'd use them so That heaven's vault should crack:-O, she is gone for ever!
6 Alb. Haste thee, for thy life.] Thus the quartos. In the folio this speech is improperly assigned to Edgar, who had the moment before received the token of reprieve, which Edmund enjoined him to give the officer, in whose custody Lear was. Malone.
7 That she fordid herself.] To fordo, signifies to destroy. It is used again in Hamlet, Act V:
Here the folio and quarto B unnecessarily add-That she fordid herself, i. e. destroyed herself. I have followed the quarto A.
Cordelia dead in his arms;] This princess, according to the old historians, retired with victory from the battle which she conducted in her father's cause, and thereby replaced him on the throne: but in a subsequent one fought against her (after the death of the old king) by the sons of Goneril and Regan, she was taken, and died miserably in prison The poet found this in history, and was therefore willing to precipitate her death, which he knew had happened but a few years after. The dramatick writers of this age suffered as small a number of their heroes and heroines to escape as possible; nor could the filial piety of this lady, any more than the innocence of Ophelia, prevail on Shakspeare to extend her life beyond her misfortunes. Steevens.
Geoffrey of Monmouth, the original relater of this story, says, that Cordelia was thrown by her nephews into prison, "where, for grief at the loss of her kingdom, she killed herself." Malone.
I know when one is dead, and when one lives;
Is this the promis'd end? Edg. Or image of that horror?9
Fall, and cease!1
Lear. This feather stirs ; she lives! if it be so,
"Now let the general trumpet blow his blast,
There is no trace of these lines in the old play on which The Second Part of King Henry VI was formed.
Image is again used for delineation or representation, in King Henry IV, P. 1: "No counterfeit, but the true and perfect image of life indeed."
Again, in Hamlet: "The play is the image of a murder done in Vienna."
Mr. M. Mason has not done justice to his ingenious explanation of these words, by not quoting the whole of the passage in Macbeth! 66 up, up, and see
"The great doom's image! Malcolm! Banquo!
"As from your graves rise up, and walk like sprights,
Here we find disjecti membra poeta; the second and fourth line, taken together, furnishing us with the very expression of the text. Malone.
1 Fall, and cease] Albany, is looking with attention on the pains employed by Lear to recover his child, and knows to what miseries he must survive, when he finds them to be ineffectual. Having these images present to his eyes and imagination, he cries out, Rather fall, and cease to be, at once, than continue in existence only to be wretched. So, in All's Well, &c. to cease is used for to die: and in Hamlet, the death of majesty is called "the cease of majesty."
Again, in All's Well that Ends Well:
"Or, ere they meet, in me, O nature, cease!
"And both shall cease, without your remedy." Steevens.
The word is used nearly in the same sense in a former scene in this
"Bids the wind blow the earth into the sea,
"Or swell the curled waters 'bove the main,
I doubt, however, whether Albany's speech is addressed to Lear.
To whom then is it addressed? Steevens.
There is a passage in The Double Marriage of Fletcher, which supports Steevens's conjecture: Juliana says to Virolet
"Be what you please, this happiness yet stays with me,
Jul. It cannot yet; I must live
"Till I see this man blest in his new love,
"And then -" M. Mason.
2 This feather stirs;] So, in The White Devil, or Vittoria Corom.