Philip Weller caricature
Philip and Weller hugging

Welcome to my web site, now under development for more than twenty years.   
-- Philip Weller, November 13, 1941 - February 1, 2021
Dr. Weller, an Eastern Washington University professor of English and Shakespearean scholar for more than 50 years.


King Lear : Act 5, Scene 3


Cordelia and Lear as prisoners

           Enter, in conquest, with Drum and
           Colours, EDMUND, LEAR and
           CORDELIA as prisoners, SOLDIERS,
           CAPTAIN.

      EDMUND
  1   Some officers take them away. Good guard,
1. Good guard: i.e., keep careful guard over them.

  2   Until their greater pleasures first be known
2-3. Until . . . them: i.e., until we know the pleasures of the great ones who are to pass judgment on them.

  3   That are to censure them.

      CORDELIA
                                                We are not the first
  4   Who, with best meaning, have incurr'd the worst.
4. with best meaning: with the best of intentions.

  5   For thee, oppressed king, am I cast down;
5. For thee . . . cast down: only for your sake am I unhappy.

  6   Myself could else out-frown false fortune's frown.
6. Myself . . . frown: i.e., For my part, I could be defiant in the face of bad fortune.

  7   Shall we not see these daughters and these sisters?
7. Shall . . . sisters: i.e., Aren't we going to be allowed to speak to Goneril and Regan? — I believe that Cordelia says this to Edmund, and that she would like to confront Goneril and Regan.


      KING LEAR
  8   No, no, no, no! Come, let's away to prison:
  9   We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage:
 10   When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down,
 11   And ask of thee forgiveness: so we'll live,
 12   And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
 13   At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
13. gilded butterflies: gaudy and ephemeral courtiers; trivial matters.

 14   Talk of court news; and we'll talk with them too,
 15   Who loses and who wins; who's in, who's out;
 16   And take upon's the mystery of things,
 17   As if we were God's spies: and we'll wear out,
17. God's spies: beings sent from heaven to watch men's doings; i.e., detached observers. wear out: outlast.

 18   In a wall'd prison, packs and sects of great ones,
 19   That ebb and flow by the moon.
18-19. packs . . . moon: followers and factions of important people whose position at court varies as the tides.


      EDMUND
                                                          Take them away.

      KING LEAR
 20   Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,
20. sacrifices: offerings to the gods.

 21   The gods themselves throw incense. Have I caught thee?
 22   He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven,
 23   And fire us hence like foxes. Wipe thine eyes;
22-23. He . . . foxes: it would take a torch from heaven to smoke us out of prison, as foxes are smoked out of their dens.

 24   The good-years shall devour them, flesh and fell,
 25   Ere they shall make us weep: we'll see 'em starve first.
24-25. The good-years: i.e., the passage of time. flesh and fell: meat and skin; entirely. Ere: Before.

 26   Come.

           Exit [KING LEAR and CORDELIA, guarded].

      EDMUND
                  Come hither, captain; hark.
 27   Take thou this note;

           [Giving a paper.]

                                          go follow them to prison:
 28   One step I have advanced thee; if thou dost
28. One step I have advanced thee: i.e., I have already given you one promotion.

 29   As this instructs thee, thou dost make thy way
 30   To noble fortunes: know thou this, that men
 31   Are as the time is: to be tender-minded
30-31. men / Are as the time is: i.e., men must adapt themselves to the times.

 32   Does not become a sword: thy great employment
32. become a sword: suit a warrior.

 33   Will not bear question; either say thou'lt do 't,
33. question: discussion.

 34   Or thrive by other means.
34. thrive by other means: i.e., get a different job.


      Captain
                                                  I'll do 't, my lord.

      EDMUND
 35   About it; and write happy when thou hast done.
35. About it: get going! write happy: consider youself lucky [to have been assigned this task].

 36   Mark, I say, instantly; and carry it so
 37   As I have set it down.
36-37. carry . . . down: i.e., follow my written instructions to the letter.


      Captain
 38   I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried oats;
38. I . . . oats.: i.e., I cannot do a horse's work.

 39   If it be man's work, I'll do 't.

           Exit Captain.

           Flourish. Enter ALBANY, GONERIL,
           REGAN, [another Captain,] Soldiers.

      ALBANY
 40   Sir, you have shown today your valiant strain,
40. your valiant strain: the valiant part of your character.

 41   And fortune led you well: you have the captives
41. fortune led you well: i.e., you have had very good luck.

 42   That were the opposites of this day's strife:
42. opposites: opponents.

 43   We do require them of you, so to use them
43. require them of you: demand that you hand them over to me.  use: treat.

 44   As we shall find their merits and our safety
 45   May equally determine.

      EDMUND
                                                Sir, I thought it fit
 46   To send the old and miserable king
 47   To some retention and appointed guard;
47. retention: confinement.

 48   Whose age has charms in it, whose title more,
 49   To pluck the common bosom on his side,
49. common bosom: sympathy of the populace.

 50   And turn our impress'd lances in our eyes
50. turn . . . eyes: turn our draftee soldiers against us.

 51   Which do command them. With him I sent the queen;
51. the queen: i.e., Cordelia.

 52   My reason all the same; and they are ready
 53   Tomorrow, or at further space, to appear
53. at further space: at a future point.

 54   Where you shall hold your session. At this time
54. session: court of judgment.

 55   We sweat and bleed: the friend hath lost his friend;
 56   And the best quarrels, in the heat, are cursed
 57   By those that feel their sharpness:
56-57. the best . . . sharpness: i.e., even when soldiers feel they are fighting for a good cause, they curse the cause in the heat of battle.

 58   The question of Cordelia and her father
 59   Requires a fitter place.
58-59. The . . . place: i.e., the question of what to do about Cordelia and Lear should be decided someplace better than here and now.


      ALBANY
                                            Sir, by your patience,
59. by your patience: i.e., if you please to listen to reason.

 60   I hold you but a subject of this war,
 61   Not as a brother.
60-61. subject: i.e., one who carries out orders.
brother: i.e., my equal.


      REGAN
                                  That's as we list to grace him.
61. as we list to grace him: i.e., as I please to grant him power and position.

 62   Methinks our pleasure might have been demanded,
62. our pleasure: my wishes. demanded: asked for.

 63   Ere you had spoke so far. He led our powers;
63. Ere: before. powers: armies.

 64   Bore the commission of my place and person;
 65   The which immediacy may well stand up,
 66   And call itself your brother.
65-66. The which immediacy . . . brother: i.e., his excellent performance in the immediate emergency entitles him to be your equal.


      GONERIL
                                                      Not so hot:
66. Not so hot: Not so fast.

 67   In his own grace he doth exalt himself,
67. In his own grace: by his own merit.

 68   More than in your addition.
68. your addition: the honors you have conferred on him.


      REGAN
 68                                                   In my rights,
 69   By me invested, he compeers the best.
68-69. In my rights . . . compeers the best: i.e., by my rights [as the Duchess of Cornwall], by me invested, he is the equal of the best [in all the land].


      GONERIL
 70   That were the most, if he should husband you.
70. That were . . . you: Your investiture of him would be complete if he happened to marry you.


      REGAN
 71   Jesters do oft prove prophets.
71. Jesters do oft prove prophets: Jokers often turn out to be prophets; i.e., you're joking, but he and I could be married soon.


      GONERIL
 71                                                   Holla, holla!
 72   That eye that told you so look'd but a-squint.
72. That eye . . . a-squint: The only reason you think that is because you are jealous. — Squinting was a proverbial effect of jealousy, because of the tendency to look suspiciously on potential rivals.


      REGAN
 73   Lady, I am not well; else I should answer
 74   From a full-flowing stomach.
74. stomach: anger.


           [To EDMUND.]

                                                      General,
 75   Take thou my soldiers, prisoners, patrimony;
75. patrimony: i.e., everything I inherited from my father..

 76   Dispose of them, of me; the walls are thine:
76. the walls: i.e., the fortress of my heart.

 77   Witness the world, that I create thee here
 78   My lord and master.
78. Witness . . . master: Let the world be witness to my making you my lord and master.


      GONERIL
 78                                     Mean you to enjoy him?
Mean you to enjoy him?: Do you mean to enjoy him [right here and now]?


      ALBANY
 79   The let-alone lies not in your good will.
79. let-alone: veto; power of preventing it.


      EDMUND
 80   Nor in thine, lord.

      ALBANY
                                    Half-blooded fellow, yes.
80. Half-blooded fellow: bastard.


      REGAN [To EDMUND.]
 81   Let the drum strike, and prove my title thine.
81. Let the drum strike: — Regan is urging Edmund to prove his rights (conferred by her) in trial by combat against anyone who dares challenge him.


      ALBANY
 82   Stay yet; hear reason. Edmund, I arrest thee
 83   On capital treason; and, in thine attaint,
83. in thine attaint: as accessory to your treason.

 84   This gilded serpent
84. gilded: i.e., masked by wealth and prestige.


           [Pointing to Goneril.]

           [Speaking to Regan.]

                                      For your claim, fair sister,
claim: claim to Edmund.  sister: sister-in-law [Regan].

 85   I bar it in the interest of my wife:
 86   'Tis she is sub-contracted to this lord,
 87   And I, her husband, contradict your banes.
87. banes: banns [announcement] of marriage.

 88   If you will marry, make your loves to me,
 89   My lady is bespoke.
88-89. make . . . bespoke: Woo me, because my wife is already spoken for. Of course Albany is being sarcastic.


      GONERIL
 89                                     An enterlude!
89. enterlude: farce.


      ALBANY
 90   Thou art arm'd, Gloucester: let the trumpet sound:
 91   If none appear to prove upon thy head
 92   Thy heinous, manifest, and many treasons,
 93   There is my pledge;

           [Throwing down a gauntlet.]

                                        I'll make it on thy heart,
93. make: prove.

 94   Ere I taste bread, thou art in nothing less
94. Ere: Before. in nothing less: in no way less.

 95   Than I have here proclaim'd thee.

      REGAN
 95                                                             Sick, O, sick!

      GONERIL [Aside.]
 96   If not, I'll ne'er trust medicine.
96. If not, I'll ne'er trust medicine: i.e., If she is not sick, I will never again trust poison to do its work.


      EDMUND
 97   There's my exchange:
97. exchange: counter pledge.


           [Throwing down a gauntlet.]

                                          What in the world he is
What: Whoever.

 98   That names me traitor, villain-like he lies:
 99   Call by thy trumpet: he that dares approach,
100   On him, on you, who not? I will maintain
100. On him, on you, who not?: against him, against you, against whoever.

101   My truth and honour firmly.

      ALBANY
102   A herald, ho!

      EDMUND
                             A herald, ho, a herald!

      ALBANY
103   Trust to thy single virtue; for thy soldiers,
103. thy single virtue: your unassisted power. — No one is going to answer Edmund's call for a herald, because all of the soldiers that were under his command have been discharged and are on their way to their homes.

104   All levied in my name, have in my name
105   Took their discharge.

      REGAN
105                                       My sickness grows upon me.

      ALBANY
106   She is not well; convey her to my tent.

           [Exit Regan, led.]

           Enter a HERALD.

107   Come hither, herald,—Let the trumpet sound,
108   And read out this.

      Captain
109   Sound, trumpet!

           A trumpet sounds.

      Herald [Reads.]
110   'If any man of quality or degree within
111   the lists of the army will maintain upon Edmund,
112   supposed Earl of Gloucester, that he is a manifold
113   traitor, let him appear by the third sound of the
114   trumpet: he is bold in his defence.'

      EDMUND
115   Sound!

           First trumpet.

      Herald
116   Again!

           Second trumpet.

      Herald
117   Again!

           Third trumpet.

           Trumpet answers within.

           Enter EDGAR, armed.

      ALBANY
118   Ask him his purposes, why he appears
119   Upon this call o' the trumpet.

      Herald
                                                      What are you?
119. What: Who.

120   Your name, your quality? and why you answer
120. quality: degree; rank.

121   This present summons?

      EDGAR
                                              Know, my name is lost;
122   By treason's tooth bare-gnawn and canker-bit:
122. canker-bit: worm-eaten.

123   Yet am I noble as the adversary
124   I come to cope.
124. cope: encounter.


      ALBANY
124                             Which is that adversary?

      EDGAR
125   What's he that speaks for Edmund Earl of Gloucester?

      EDMUND
126   Himself: what say'st thou to him?

      EDGAR
                                                              Draw thy sword,
127   That, if my speech offend a noble heart,
127. That: So that.

128   Thy arm may do thee justice: here is mine:
128. mine: my sword.

129   Behold, it is my privilege,
128. privilege: Only knights and other nobles were privileged to engage in trial by combat.

130   The privilege of mine honours,
130. mine honours: my status as a noble.

131   My oath, and my profession: I protest,
131. profession: i.e., knighthood. protest: solemnly declare.

132   Maugre thy strength, youth, place, and eminence,
132. Maugre: Despite.

133   Despite thy victor sword and fire-new fortune,
133. fire-new: newly minted.

134   Thy valour and thy heart, thou art a traitor;
134. heart: courage.

135   False to thy gods, thy brother, and thy father;
136   Conspirant 'gainst this high-illustrious prince;
136. this high-illustrious prince: i.e., Albany.

137   And, from the extremest upward of thy head
137. upward: top.

138   To the descent and dust below thy foot,
138. descent: sole.

139   A most toad-spotted traitor. Say thou 'No,'
139. toad-spotted: i.e., stained with infamy.

140   This sword, this arm, and my best spirits, are bent
140. bent: ready.

141   To prove upon thy heart, whereto I speak,
142   Thou liest.

      EDMUND
                          In wisdom I should ask thy name;
143   But, since thy outside looks so fair and warlike,
144   And that thy tongue some say of breeding breathes,
144. that . . . breathes: i.e., since your manner of speech has some trace of good breeding.

145   What safe and nicely I might well delay
146   By rule of knighthood, I disdain and spurn:
145-146. What . . . spurn: What I have a right to know and what would be prudent to ask, I disdain to inquire about.

147   Back do I toss these treasons to thy head;
148   With the hell-hated lie o'erwhelm thy heart;
148. hell-hated: hated as much as hell.

149   Which, for they yet glance by and scarcely bruise,
150   This sword of mine shall give them instant way,
151   Where they shall rest for ever. Trumpets, speak!
149-151. for yet they . . . for ever: because your accusations of treason [which I throw back at you] now bounce off you without bruising you, this sword of mine will instantly make a way through your armor so that the accusations will live with you [not me] forever.


           Alarums. [Fight. EDMUND falls.]

      ALBANY [To Edgar.]
152   Save him, save him!
152. Save him: spare his life. — Albany doesn't want Edmund dead just yet.


      GONERIL
                                      This is practise, Gloucester:
practise: trickery.

153   By the law of arms thou wast not bound to answer
154   An unknown opposite; thou art not vanquish'd,
154. opposite: opponent.

155   But cozen'd and beguil'd.
155. cozen'd and beguil'd: cheated and deceived.


      ALBANY
                                                  Shut your mouth, dame,
156   Or with this paper shall I stopple it. Hold, sir.—
156. stopple: plug.

157   Thou worse than any name, read thine own evil.

           [Shows the letter to EDMUND.
letter: —The letter from Goneril to Edmund plotting her husband's murder. The dying messenger Oswald entrusted the letter to Edgar in Act 4, Scene 6 Lines 262-270.

           Goneril snatches at it.]

158   No tearing, lady: I perceive you know it.

      GONERIL
159   Say, if I do, the laws are mine, not thine:
160   Who can arraign me for't?
160. arraign: prosecute.


      ALBANY
                                                  Most monstrous! oh!
161   Know'st thou this paper?

      GONERIL
                                              Ask me not what I know.

           Exit.

      ALBANY
162   Go after her: she's desperate; govern her.
162. desperate: suicidal. govern: restrain.


           [A gentleman chases after Goneril.]

      EDMUND
163   What you have charged me with, that have I done;
164   And more, much more; the time will bring it out:
165   'Tis past, and so am I. But what art thou
165. so am I: i.e., I'm good as dead.

166   That hast this fortune on me? If thou'rt noble,
166. fortune on: fortunate victory over.

167   I do forgive thee.

      EDGAR
                                    Let's exchange charity.
167. charity: forgiveness.

168   I am no less in blood than thou art, Edmund;
169   If more, the more thou hast wrong'd me.
170   My name is Edgar, and thy father's son.
171   The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices
171. pleasant: pleasurable.

172   Make instruments to plague us:
173   The dark and vicious place where thee he got
173. where thee he got: where he begot you.

174   Cost him his eyes.

      EDMUND
                                  Thou hast spoken right, 'tis true;
175. wheel: wheel of fortune. here: i.e., at the bottom of the wheel of fortune. Fortuna's Wheel of Fortune The wheel belongs to the goddess Fortuna, who spins it at random, changing the positions of those on the wheel—some suffer great misfortune, others gain windfalls.
175   The wheel is come full circle: I am here.

      ALBANY [To EDGAR.]
176   Methought thy very gait did prophesy
177   A royal nobleness: I must embrace thee:
178   Let sorrow split my heart, if ever I
179   Did hate thee or thy father!

      EDGAR
                                                  Worthy prince, I know't.

      ALBANY
180   Where have you hid yourself?
181   How have you known the miseries of your father?

      EDGAR
182   By nursing them, my lord. List a brief tale;
182. List: Listen to.

183   And when 'tis told, O, that my heart would burst!
184   The bloody proclamation to escape,
184. bloody proclamation: death sentence passed on him by his father. See Act 2, Scene 1, lines 56-63.

185   That follow'd me so near,—O, our lives' sweetness!
186   That we the pain of death would hourly die
187   Rather than die at once!—taught me to shift
185-187. our . . . once: how sweet must life be that we prefer the constant pain of dying to death itself.

188   Into a madman's rags; to assume a semblance
189   That very dogs disdain'd: and in this habit
189. very: even.

190   Met I my father with his bleeding rings,
190. rings: eye sockets.

191   Their precious stones new lost: became his guide,
191. stones: eyes.

192   Led him, begg'd for him, saved him from despair;
193   Never,—O fault!—reveal'd myself unto him,
194   Until some half-hour past, when I was arm'd:
195   Not sure, though hoping, of this good success,
195. this good success: i.e., this successful outcome of my plan to prove Edmund's treachery.

196   I ask'd his blessing, and from first to last
197   Told him my pilgrimage: but his flaw'd heart,
197. flaw'd heart: cracked heart.

198   Alack, too weak the conflict to support!
199   'Twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief,
200   Burst smilingly.

      EDMUND
                            This speech of yours hath moved me,
201   And shall perchance do good: but speak you on;
202   You look as you had something more to say.

      ALBANY
203   If there be more, more woeful, hold it in;
204   For I am almost ready to dissolve,
204. dissolve: melt into tears.

205   Hearing of this.

      EDGAR
                                This would have seem'd a period
206   To such as love not sorrow; but another,
205-206. This . . . sorrow: i.e., this would seem as much as could be borne by anyone not in love with sorrow.

207   To amplify too much, would make much more,
208   And top extremity.
206-208. but another . . . extremity: just one more sorrow, on top of what was already too much, would pass all limits.

209   Whilst I was big in clamour came there in a man,
209. big in clamour: loud in lamentation.

210   Who, having seen me in my worst estate,
210. my worse estate: i.e., when I was disguised as Poor Tom, the madman.

211   Shunn'd my abhorr'd society; but then, finding
212   Who 'twas that so endured, with his strong arms
213   He fastened on my neck, and bellow'd out
214   As he'ld burst heaven; threw him on my father;
215   Told the most piteous tale of Lear and him
216   That ever ear received: which in recounting
217   His grief grew puissant and the strings of life
217. puissant: extremely strong. strings of life: heart-strings.

218   Began to crack: twice then the trumpets sounded,
219   And there I left him tranc'd.
219. tranc'd: in a trance.


      ALBANY
                                                    But who was this?

      EDGAR
220   Kent, sir, the banish'd Kent; who in disguise
221   Follow'd his enemy king, and did him service
221. enemy: hostile.

222   Improper for a slave.
222. Improper: too menial.


           Enter a Gentleman [with a bloody knife].

      Gentleman
223   Help, help! O, help!

      EDGAR
                                      What kind of help?

      ALBANY
                                                                    Speak, man.

      EDGAR
224   What means that bloody knife?

      Gentleman
                                                      'Tis hot, it smokes;
225   It came even from the heart of—O, she's dead!

      ALBANY
226   Who dead? speak, man.

      Gentleman
227   Your lady, sir, your lady: and her sister
228   By her is poisoned; she hath confess'd it.

      EDMUND
229   I was contracted to them both: all three
230   Now marry in an instant.

      EDGAR
                                              Here comes Kent.

      ALBANY
231   Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead:
232   This judgment of the heavens, that makes us tremble,
233   Touches us not with pity.

           [Exit Gentleman.]

           Enter KENT.

                                             O, is this he?
234   The time will not allow the compliment
235   Which very manners urges.
235. the compliment / Which very manners urges: the ceremony which everyone always expects.


      KENT
                                                 I am come
236   To bid my king and master aye good night:
236. aye: forever.

237   Is he not here?

      ALBANY
                              Great thing of us forgot!
237. of us: by me.

238   Speak, Edmund, where's the king? and where's Cordelia?

           Goneril's and Regan's bodies brought out.

239   See'st thou this object, Kent?
239. object: sight; i.e. the bodies of Goneril and Regan.


      KENT
240   Alack, why thus?

      EDMUND
                                  Yet Edmund was belov'd:
240. Yet: Despite all.


241   The one the other poison'd for my sake,
242   And after slew herself.

      ALBANY
243   Even so. Cover their faces.

      EDMUND
244   I pant for life: some good I mean to do,
245   Despite of mine own nature. Quickly send,
246   Be brief in it, to the castle; for my writ
246. brief: speedy. writ: order of execution.

247   Is on the life of Lear and on Cordelia:
248   Nay, send in time.

      ALBANY
                                    Run, run, O, run!

      EDGAR
249   To who, my lord? Who hath the office? send
249. office: commission [to execute Cordelia and Lear].

250   Thy token of reprieve.
250. token of reprieve: i.e., a tangible representation of the decision to save the lives of Lear and Cordelia.


      EDMUND
251   Well thought on: take my sword,
252   Give it the captain.

      ALBANY
                                        Haste thee, for thy life.

           [Exit EDGAR.]

      EDMUND
253   He hath commission from thy wife and me
254   To hang Cordelia in the prison, and
255   To lay the blame upon her own despair,
256   That she fordid herself.
256. fordid herself: committed suicide.


King Lear carrying dead Cordelia
Ted van Griethuysen as Lear; Monique Holt as Cordelia
Shakespeare Theatre Company, 1999
      ALBANY
257   The gods defend her! Bear him hence awhile.

           [EDMUND is borne off.]

           Enter LEAR, with Cordelia in his arms;
           [EDGAR, Captain, and others following.]

      KING LEAR
258   Howl, howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stones:
259   Had I your tongues and eyes, I'ld use them so
260   That heaven's vault should crack. She's gone for ever!
261   I know when one is dead, and when one lives;
262   She's dead as earth. Lend me a looking-glass;
263   If that her breath will mist or stain the stone,
263. stone: mirror of polished stone.

264   Why, then she lives.

      KENT
                                        Is this the promised end
264. promised end: Doomsday.


      EDGAR
265   Or image of that horror?

      ALBANY
                                              Fall, and cease!
265. Fall, and cease!: Let the world collapse and end!


           [Lear holds the mirror up to Cordelia's
            face, then puts it aside, finds a feather,
           and holds it up to her face.]

      KING LEAR
266   This feather stirs; she lives! if it be so,
267   It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows
268   That ever I have felt.

      KENT [Kneeling.]
                                          O my good master!

      KING LEAR
269   Prithee, away.

      EDGAR
                                'Tis noble Kent, your friend.

      KING LEAR
270   A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all!
271   I might have saved her; now she's gone for ever!
272   Cordelia, Cordelia! stay a little. Ha!
273   What is't thou say'st? Her voice was ever soft,
274   Gentle, and low, an excellent thing in woman.
275   I kill'd the slave that was a-hanging thee.

      Captain
276   'Tis true, my lords, he did.

      KING LEAR
                                                Did I not, fellow?
277   I have seen the day, with my good biting falchion
277. falchion: light sword.

278   I would have made them skip: I am old now,
279   And these same crosses spoil me. Who are you?
279. crosses: adversities. spoil me: wear me down.

280   Mine eyes are not o' the best: I'll tell you straight.
280. tell you straight: recognize you straightaway [in a moment].


      KENT
281   If fortune brag of two she loved and hated,
282   One of them we behold.

      KING LEAR
283   This is a dull sight. Are you not Kent?
283. This is a dull sight: this is a sad sight [?]; my vision is failing [?].


      KENT
                                                                    The same,
284   Your servant Kent: Where is your servant Caius?
284. Caius: Kent's pseudonym when he was in disguise.


      KING LEAR
285   He's a good fellow, I can tell you that;
286   He'll strike, and quickly too: he's dead and rotten.

      KENT
287   No, my good lord; I am the very man,—

      KING LEAR
288   I'll see that straight.
288. I'll see that straight: I'll see to that matter shortly.


      KENT
289   That, from your first of difference and decay,
289. That, from your first of difference and decay: Who, from the beginning of your alteration and deterioration.

290   Have follow'd your sad steps—

      KING LEAR
                                                        You are welcome hither.

      KENT
291   Nor no man else: all's cheerless, dark, and deadly.
291. Nor no man else: No, neither I nor anyone else is welcome [because this is not a welcoming sight].

292   Your eldest daughters have fordone themselves,
292. fordone: destroyed.

293   And desperately are dead.
293. desperately: out of despair.


      KING LEAR
                                                  Ay, so I think.

      ALBANY
294   He knows not what he says: and vain is it
294. vain: in vain.

295   That we present us to him.
295. That we present us to him: That we try to remind him of who we are.


      EDGAR
                                                  Very bootless.
295. bootless: futile.


           Enter a Messenger.

      Messenger
296   Edmund is dead, my lord.

      ALBANY
                                              That's but a trifle here.
297   You lords and noble friends, know our intent.
298   What comfort to this great decay may come
298. decay: destruction, ruin.

299   Shall be applied: for us we will resign,
300   During the life of this old majesty,
301   To him our absolute power.

           [To EDGAR and KENT.]

                                              You, to your rights:
301. your rights: your rightful places in society as Duke of Gloucester (for Edgar) and Duke of Kent.

302   With boot, and such addition as your honours
302. boot: reward. addition: additional titles of honor.

303   Have more than merited. All friends shall taste
304   The wages of their virtue, and all foes
305   The cup of their deservings. O, see, see!

      KING LEAR
306   And my poor fool is hang'd! No, no, no life!
306. poor fool: This is a term of endearment, here used for Cordelia. The Fool, Lear's jester, was last seen in Act 3, Scene 6, helping to carry the sleeping Lear to a litter that would convey him to Dover.

307   Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life,
308   And thou no breath at all? Thou'lt come no more,
309   Never, never, never, never, never!
310   Pray you, undo this button: thank you, sir.
311   Do you see this? Look on her, look, her lips,
312   Look there, look there!

           He dies.

      EDGAR
                                              He faints! My lord, my lord!

      KENT
313   Break, heart; I prithee, break!

      EDGAR
                                                          Look up, my lord.

      KENT
314   Vex not his ghost: O, let him pass! he hates him much
314. Vex not his ghost: Do not disturb his departing soul.

315   That would upon the rack of this tough world
315. rack: instrument of torture, which inflicts pain by stretching someone tied at the hands and feet.

316   Stretch him out longer.

      EDGAR
                                              He is gone, indeed.

      KENT
317   The wonder is, he hath endured so long:
318   He but usurp'd his life.
318. He but usurp'd his life: i.e., he only stole his life from death, which already had a claim on it.


      ALBANY
319   Bear them from hence. Our present business
320   Is general woe.

           [To Kent and Edgar.]

                                Friends of my soul, you twain
321   Rule in this realm, and the gored state sustain.
321. gored: wounded; bloody.


      KENT
322   I have a journey, sir, shortly to go;
323   My master calls me, I must not say no.

      ALBANY
324   The weight of this sad time we must obey;
325   Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
326   The oldest hath borne most: we that are young
327   Shall never see so much, nor live so long.

           Exeunt with a dead march.