Fiction > Harvard Classics > William Shakespeare > King Lear
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Tragedy of King Lear.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act V
Scene I
[The British camp, near Dover]
Enter, with drum and colours, EDMUND, REGAN, Gentlemen, and Soldiers

  Edm.  Know of the Duke if his last purpose hold,
Or whether since he is advis’d 1 by aught
To change the course. He’s full of alteration
And self-reproving; bring his constant pleasure. 2  [To a Gentleman, who goes out.]        4
  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.        8
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        12
To the forfended 3 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.] 4        16
  Edm.  No, by mine honour, madam.
  Reg.  I never shall endure her. Dear my lord,
Be not familiar with her.
  Edm.        Fear me not.        20
She and the Duke her husband!
Enter, with drum 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.        24
Sir, this I heard: the King is come to his daughter,
With others whom the rigour of our state 5
Forc’d to cry out. [Where I could not be honest,
I never yet was valiant. For this business,        28
It toucheth us, as France invades our land,
Not bolds 6 the King, with others, whom, I fear,
Most just and heavy causes make oppose.
  Edm.  Sir, you speak nobly.]        32
  Reg.        Why is this reason’d? 7
  Gon.  Combine together ’gainst the enemy;
For these domestic and particular broils
Are not the question here.        36
  Alb.        Let’s then determine.
With the ancient 8 of war on our proceeding.
  [Edm.  I shall attend you presently at your tent.]
  Reg.  Sister, you’ll go with us?        40
  Gon.  No.
  Reg.  ’Tis most convenient; pray you, go with us.
  Gon.  [Aside.]  O, ho, I know the riddle.—I will go.  Exeunt both the armies.
[As they are going out,] enter EDGAR [disguised. ALBANY remains]

  Edg.  If e’er your Grace had speech with man so poor,
Hear me one word.
  Alb.        I’ll overtake you.—Speak.
  Edg.  Before you fight the battle, ope this letter.
If you have victory, let the trumpet sound        48
For him that brought it. Wretched though I seem,
I can produce a champion that will prove
What is avouched 9 there. If you miscarry,
Your business of the world hath so an end,        52
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,        56
And I’ll appear again.  Exit.
  Alb.  Why, fare thee well; I will o’erlook 10 thy paper.
Re-enter EDMUND

  Edm.  The enemy’s in view; draw up your powers.
Here is the guess of their true strength and forces        60
By diligent discovery; 11 but your haste
Is now urg’d on you.
  Alb.        We will greet the time. 12  Exit.
  Edm.  To both these sisters have I sworn my love;        64
Each jealous 13 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        68
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,        72
Let her who would be rid of him devise
His speedy taking off. 14 As for the mercy
Which he intends to Lear and to Cordelia,
The battle done, and they within our power,        76
Shall never see his pardon; for my state
Stands on me to defend, not to debate. 15  Exit.
Note 1. Induced. [back]
Note 2. Fixed resolve. [back]
Note 3. Forbidden. [back]
Note 4. Intimate with her, to the utmost extent. [back]
Note 5. Government. [back]
Note 6. Not because it emboldens. [back]
Note 7. Discussed. [back]
Note 8. Veterans. [back]
Note 9. Asserted. [back]
Note 10. Read. [back]
Note 11. Scouting. [back]
Note 12. Face the emergency. [back]
Note 13. Suspicious. [back]
Note 14. Murder. [back]
Note 15. It concerns me to defend my position, not discuss it. [back]


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