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Whilst I was big in clamour, came there a man, Who having seen me in my worst estate, Shunn'd my abhorr'd society; but then, finding

"I play the torturer, by small and small,
"To lengthen out the worst."

This would have seem'd a period


To such as love not sorrow; but another,
To amplify too-much, would make much more,
And top extremity.] So, in Venus and Adonis:
"Devise extremes beyond extremity."

Too-much is here used as a substantive. A period is an end or conclusion. So, in King Richard III:

"O, let me make the period to my curse."

This reflection perhaps refers, as Dr. Warburton has observed, to the Bastard's desiring to hear more, and to Albany's thinking that enough had been said. This, says Edgar, would have seemed the utmost completion of woe, to such as do not delight in sorrow; but another, of a different disposition, to amplify misery, would “ give more strength to that which hath too


Edgar's words, however, may have no reference to what Edmund has said; and he may only allude to the relation he is about to give of Kent's adding a new sorrow to what Edgar already suffered, by recounting the miseries which the old king and his faithful follower had endured.

Mr. Steevens points thus:

but another;

To amplify too much, would make much more,
And top extremity:-

But if such a punctuation be adopted, what shall we do with the word would, which is thus left without a nominative case? A preceding editor, who introduced the above punctuation, to obtain some sense, reads and points :

-but another:

(To amplify too-much, to make much more,
And top extremity,)

Whilst I was big &c.

and indeed without that alteration, the words thus pointed afford, in my apprehension, no sense. MALONE.

Mr. Malone's explanation may be just; and yet it is probable that we are struggling with a passage, the obscurity of which is derived from its corruption. STEEVENS.

Who 'twas that so endur'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 most piteous tale of Lear and him,
That ever ear receiv'd: which in recounting
His grief grew puissant, and the strings of life
Began to crack: Twice then the trumpet sounded,'
And there I left him tranc'd.


But who was this?

EDG. Kent, sir, the banish'd Kent; who in dis


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!

-threw him on my father:] The quartos read:
threw me on my father.

The modern editors have corrected the passage, as it is now printed, and as I suppose it to have been originally written. There is tragick propriety in Kent's throwing himself on the body of a deceased friend; but this propriety is lost in the act of clumsily tumbling a son over the lifeless remains of his father. STEEVENS.

-threw me on my father;] Thus both the quartos, where alone this speech is found. Mr. Theobald, and the subsequent editors, read-threw him on my father. This is a new and distinct idea; but I do not think myself warranted to adopt it; the text being intelligible, and it being very improbable that the word me should have been printed 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.


9 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.

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GENT. Your lady, sir, your lady: and her sister By her is poison'd; she confesses it.3

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EDM. I was contracted to them both; all three Now marry in an instant.*

ALB. Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead!

This judgment of the heavens, that makes us


Touches us not with pity.

[Exit Gentleman.

-from the heart of-] Here the folio, in defiance of metre and propriety, adds


-O she's dead! STEEVENS.

Who, man? speak.] The folio reads, Who dead? Speak

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.

Now marry in an instant.] In the folio, after these words, we have

Edg. Here comes Kent.

Enter Kent.

and the words-0, is this he, are spoken by Albany, immediately after touches us not with pity. I have followed the quartos. MALONE.

This judgment &c.] If Shakspeare had studied Aristotle all his 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.

Enter KENT.

Here comes Kent, sir."


ALB. O! it is he."

The time will not allow the compliment,

Which very manners urges.


I am come

To bid my king and master aye good night;
Is he not here?


Great thing of us forgot!Speak, Edmund, where's the king? and where's Cordelia ?

See'st thou this object, Kent?

[The Bodies of GONERIL and REGAN are brought in.

KENT. Alack, why thus?


Yet Edmund was belov'd:3

The one the other poison'd for my sake,

And after slew herself.

ALB. Even so.-Cover their faces.

• 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.

70! it is he.] Thus the quartos. Folio: O, is this he?


Yet Edmund was belov'd:] Rowe's dying Rake suggests to himself a similar consolation, arising from the remembrance of successful 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 circumstance.

Thus also in The Double Marriage by Fletcher:


-this happiness yet stays with me: "You have been mine." STEEVENS.

EDM. I pant for life :-Some good I mean to do, Despite of mine own nature. Quickly send,Be brief in it,-to the castle; for my writ Is on the life of Lear, and on Cordelia :Nay, send in time.


Run, run, O, run

EDG. To who, my lord?-Who has the office?


Thy token of reprieve.

EDM. Well thought on; take my sword, Give it the captain.9

ALB. Haste thee, for thy life.' [Exit EDGAR. 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.2

ALB. The gods defend her! Bear him hence


[EDMUND is borne off.

Give it the captain.] The quartos read:

"Take my sword, the captain,

"Give it the captain.


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.


That she fordid herself.] To fordo, signifies to destroy. It is used again in Hamlet, Act V:

"did, with desperate hand,

"Fordo its own life."


Here the folio and quarto B unnecessarily add-That she fordid herself, i. e. destroyed herself. I have followed the quarto A.


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