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Thou hast no weapon, and perforce must suf

fer. Oth. Look in upon me they and speak with

Or, naked as I am, I will assault thee

Re-enter GRATIANO.
Gra. What is the matter ?

Behold, I have a weapon ; A better never did itself sustain

260 Upon a soldier's thigh : have seen the day, That, with this little arm and this good sword, I have made my way through more impedi

ments Than twenty times your stop: but, 0 vain

boast ! Who can control his fate ? 'tis not so now. Be not afraid, though you do see me weap

on'd; Here is my journey's end, here is my butt, And very sea-mark of my utniost sail. Do you go back dismay'd ? 'tis a lost fear ; Man but a rush against Othello's breast, 270 And he retires. Where should Othello go ? Now, how dost thou look now? O ill-starr'd

wench ! Pale as thy smock ! when we shall meet at

compt, This look of thine will hurl my soul from

heaven, And fiends will snatch at it. Cold, cold, my

girl ! Even like thy chastity. O cursed slave! Whip me, ye devils, From the possession of this heavenly sight! Blow me about in winds ! roast me in sul

phur! Wash me in steep-down gulfs of liquid fire ! O Desdemona ! Desdemona ! dead ! 281 Oh! Oh! Oh! Enter LODOVICO, MONTANO, Cassio carried in

a chair, and Officers with Tago, prisoner. Lod. Where is this rash and most unfor

tunate man ? Oth. That's he that was Othello : here I

am. Lod. Where is that viper ? bring the villain

forth. Oth. I look down towards his feet; but that's

a fable. If that thou be'st a devil, I cannot kill thee.

(Wounds Iago. Lod. Wrench his sword from him. Iago.

I bleed, sir ; but not kill'd. oth. I am not sorry neither: l’ld have thee

live; For, in my sense, 'tis happiness to die. 290 Lod. Othou Othello, thou wert once so

Falln in the practice of a damned slave,
What shall be said to thee?

Why, any thing :
An honorable murderer, if you will ;
For nought I did in late, but all in honor.

Lod. This wretch hath part confess'd l'is

villany :
Did you and he consent in Cassio's death ?

Oth. Ay.
Cas. Dear general, I never gave you canse

Oth. I do believe it, and I ask your pardon. Will you, I pray, demand that demi-devil 301 Why he hath thus ensnared my soul and

body? Iago. Demand me nothing: what you know,

you know: From this time forth I nerer will speak word.

Lod. What, not to pray ?

Torments will ope your lips.
Oth. Well, thou dost best.
Lod. Sir, you shall understand what hath

befallin, Which, as I think, you know not. Here is a

letter Found in the pocket of the slain Roderigo ; And here another : the one of them imports The death of Cassio to be undertook 311 By Roderigo. Oth. ( villain ! Cus. Most heathenish and most gross ! Lod. Now here's another discontented

paper, Found in his pocket too ; and this, it seems, Roderigo meant to have sent this damned vil.

lain ;
But that belike lago in the interim
Came in and satisfied him.

O the pernicious caitisf ! How came you, Cassio, by that handkerchief That was my wife's ?

Cas. I found it in my chamber : 320 And he himself confess'd but even now That there he dropp'd it for a special purpose Which wrought to his desire. Oth.

O fool! fool ! fool! Cas. There is besides in Roderigo's letter, How he upbraids lago, that he made him Brave me upon the watch ; whereon it came That I was cast : and even but now he spake, After long seeming dead, lago hurt him, lago set him on. Lod. You must forsake this room, and go with us :

330 Your power and your command is taken off, And Cassio rules in Cyprus. For this slave, If there be any cunning cruelty That can torment him much and hold him

long, It shall be his. You shall close prisoner rest, Till that the nature of your fault be known To the Venetian state. Come, bring him

away. Oth. Soft you ; a word or two before you

go. I have done the state some service, and they

know't. No more of that. I pray you, in your letters, When you shall these unlucky deeds relate, Speak of me as I am ; nothing extenuate, Nor get down aught in malice : then must you speak

Of one that loved not wisely but too well;
Of one not easily jealous, but being wrought
Perplex'd in the extreme; of one whose

hand, Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away Richer than all his tribe ; of one whose sub

dued eyes, Albeit unused to the melting mood, Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees 350 Their medicinal guun. Set you down this ; And say besides, that in Aleppo ouce, Where a malignant and a turban'd Turk Beat a Venetian and traduced the state, I took by the throat the circumcised dog And smote him, thus.

(Stabs himselj. Lod. O bloody period ! Gra.

All that's spoke is marr'd. Oth. I kiss'd thee ere I kill'd thee : no way

buit this;

Killing myself, to die upon a kiss.

(Falls on the bed, and dies. Cas. This did I fear, but thought he had no weapon ;

360 For he was great of heart. Lod.

[To Iago) o Spartan dog, More fell than anguish, hunger, or the sea ! Look on the tragic loading of this bed ; This is thy work : the object poisons sight; Let it be hid. Gratiano, keep the house, And seize upon the fortunes of the Moor, For they succeed on you. To you, lord gover

nor, Remains the censure of this hellish villain ; The time, the place, the torture : 0, enforce

it! Myself will straight aboard : and to the state This heavy act with heavy heart relate. 371





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Among the tragedies of passion King Lear is the one in which passions assume the largest pro. portions, act upon the widest theatre, and attain their absolute extremes. The story of Lear and his daughters was found by Shakespeare in Holinshed, and he may have taken a few hints from an old p.ay, The True Chronicle History of king Lvir: In both Molinshed's version aud that of the True Chronicle, the army of Lear ard his French allies is victorious ; Lear is reinstated in his king dor ; bat Holinshed relates how, after Lear's death, her sister's sons warred aga Cordelia and took her prisoner, when “ being a woman of a manly courage and despairing to recover liberty,” she slew herself. With the story of Lear Shakespeare comeets that of Gloucester and his two sons. An episode in Sir Philip Siilney's Arcalia supplied characters and incidents for this portion of the play, Sidney's blind king of Paphlagonia corresponding to the Gloucester of Shakespeare. But here, too, the story had in the dramatist's original a happy ending : the Paphlagonian king is restored to his throne, and the brothers are reconciled. The date of the play is probably 1605 or 1606. It was entered on the Stationers' register, Nov. 26, 1607, and the entry states that it had been acted “upon St. Stephen's day at Christmas last,"' i.e. Dec, 26, 1606. It was printed in quarto in 1608. Shakespeare cares little to give the opening incidents of his play a look of prosaic, historical probability. The spectator or reader is asked, as it were, to grant the dramatist certain data, and then to observe what the imagination can make of them. Good and evil in this play are clearly severed from one another-more so than in Macbeth or in Othello)-and at the last, goodness, if we judge merely by external fortune, would seem to be, if not defeated, at least not triumphant. Shakespeare las dared, while paying little regard to mere historical verisimilitude, to represent the most solemn and awful mysteries of life as they actually are, without attempting to offer a ready-made explanation of them. Cordelia dies strangled in prison; yet we know that her devotion of love was not misspent. Lear expires in an agony of grief; but he has been delivered from his pride and passionate wilfulness : he las found that instead of being a master, at whose nod all things must bow, he is weak and helpless, a sport even of the wind and the rain ; his ignorance of true love, and pleasare in false professions of love, have given place to an agonized clinging to the love which is real, deep, and tranquil because of its fulness. Lear is the greatest sufferer in Shakespeare's plays; though so old, he has sirength which makes him a subject for prolonged and vast agony; and patience is 11known to bim. The elements seem to have conspired against him with his unnatural daughters; the upheaval of the moral world, and the rage of tempest in the air seem to be parts of the same gigantic convulsion. In the midst of this tempest wanders unhoused the white-haired Lear; while his fool-most pathetic of all the minor characters of Shakespeare-jesty half-wildly, half-coberently, half-bitterly, half-tenderly, and always with a sad reinembrance of the happier past. The poor boy's heart has been sore ever since his “ young mistress went to France, if Cordelia is pure love, tender and faithful, and Kent is unmingled loyalty, the monsters Goneril and Regan are corgons rather than women, such as Shakespeare has nowhere else conceived. The aspect of (oneril can almost turn to stone; in Regan's tongue there is a viperous hiss. The story of Gloucester erle larges the basis of the tragedy. Lear's affliction is no mere private incident; there is a breaking of the bonds of nature and society all around 118. But Gloucester is suffering for a former sin of selfindulgence, Lear is "more sinned against than sin ning." Yet Gloucester is granted a death which is half joyful. His affliction serves as a measure of the longer afflictior of the king. Edgar and Edmund are a contrasted pair-both are men of penetration, energy, and skill, one on the side of evil, the other on the side of good. Everywhere throughout the play Shakespeare's imaginative daring impresses us. Nothing in poetry is bolder or more wonderful than the scene on the night of the tempest in the hovel where the king, whose intellect has now given way, is in company with Edgar, assuming madness, the Fool, with his forced pathetic mirth, and Kent.


LEAR, king of Britain,

EDGAR, son to Gloucester.
EDMUND, bastard son to Gloucester.
CURAN, a courtier.
Old man, tenant to Gloucester.

OSWALD, steward to Gonerfl
A Captain employed by Edmand.
Gentleman attendant on Cordelia.
A Herald.
Servants to Cornwall.


daughter to Lear. CORDELIA, Knights of Lear's train, Captains, Messengers,

Soldiers, sod Attendants.

SCENE : Britain

SCENE I. King Lear's palace.

Kent. I thought the king had more affected the Duke of Albany than Cornwall.

Glou. It did always seem so to us: but now, in the division of the kingdom, it appears not which of the dukes he values most ; for equalities are so weighed, that curiosity in neither can make choice of either's moiety.

kent. Is not this your son, my lord ?

Glou. Ilis breeding, sir, hath been at my charge: I have so often blushed to acknowledge him, that now I am brazed to it. 11

Kent. I cannot conceive you. Glou. Sir, this young fellow's mother could: whereupon she grew round-wombed, and had, indeed, sir, a son for her cradle ere she had a husband for her bed. Do you smell a fault ?

Kent. I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper.

Glou. But I have, sir, a son by order of law, some year elder than this, who yet is no dearer in my account: though this knare came something saucily into the world before he was sent for, yet was his mother fair ; there was good sport at his making, and the whoreson must be acknowledged. Do you know this noble gentleman, Edmund ?

Erim. No, my lord.

Glou. My lord of Kent: remember him hereafter as my honorable friend.

Eilm. My services to your lordship.

Kent. I must love you, and sue to know you better.

31 Edm. Sir, I shall study deserving.

Gloul. He hath been out nine years, and away he shall again. The king is coming. Sennet. Enter KING LEAR, CORNWALL, AL

Lear. Attend the lords of France and Bur-

gundy, Gloucester. Glou. I shall, my liege.

(Eseuni Gloucester and Edmund. Lear. Meantime we shall express our darker

purpose. Give me the map there. Know that we have

divided In three our kingdom: and 'tis our fast intent To shake all cares and business from our age; Conferring them on younger strengths, while

Unburthen'd crawl toward death. Our son of

Cornwall, And you, our no less loving son of Albany, We have this hour a constant will to publish Our daughters' several dowers, that future

strife May be prevented now. The princes, France

and Burgundy, Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love, Long in our court have made their amorous

sojourn, And here are to be auswer'd. Tell me, my

daughters, Since now we will divest us, both of rule, 50 Interest of territory, cares of state,Which of you shall we say doth love us most ? That we our largest bounty may extend Where nature doth with merit challenge.

Goneril, Our eldest-born, speak first, Gon. Sir, I love you more than words can

wield the matter; Dearer than eye-sight, space, and liberty; Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare ; No less than life, with grace, health, beauty,

honor; As much as child e'er loved, or father found ; A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable ;

61 Beyond all manner of so much I love you. Cor. [Aside] What shall Cordelia do? Love,

and be silent. Lear. Of all these bounds, even from this

line to this, With shadowy forests and with champains

rich'd, With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads, We make thee lady: to thine and Albany's

issue Be this perpetual. What says our second

daughter, Our dearest Regan, wife to Cornwall ? Speak. Reg. Sir, I am made

Of the self-same metal that my sister is,
And prize me at her worth. In my true heart
I find she names my very deed of love ;
Only she comes too short: that I profess
Myself an enemy to all other joys,
Which the most precious square of sense pose

sesses ;
And find I am alone felicitate
In your dear highness' love

(Aside] Then poor Cordelia ! And yet not so; since, I am sure, my love's More richer than my tongue


Lear. To thee and thine hereditary ever I do invest you jointly with my power, Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom ; Pre-eminence, and all the large effects No less in space, validity, and pleasure, That troop with majesty. Ourself, by monthly Than that conferr'd on Goneril. Now, our

course, joy,

With reservation of an hundred knights, Although the last, not least ; to whose young By you to be sustain'd, shall our abode love

Make with you by due turns. Only we still The vines of France and milk of Burgundy

retain Strive to be interess'd ; what can you say to The name, and all the additions to a king ; draw

The sway, revenue, execution of the rest, A third more opulent than your sisters ? Speak. Beloved sons, be yours: which to confirm, 140 Cor. Nothing, my lord.

This coronet part betwixt you.. Lear. Nothing !


[Giving the crown. Cor. Nothing


Royal Lear, Lear. Nothing will come of nothing: speak Whom I have ever honor'd as my king, again.

Loved as my father, as my master follow'd, Cor. Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave As my great patron thought on in my prayMy heart into my mouth : I love your majesty

ers, According to my boud ; nor more nor less. Lear. The bow is bent and drawn, make Lear. How, how, Cordelia ! mend your

from the shaft. speech a little,

Kent. Let it fall rather, though the fork Lest it may mar your fortunes,

invade Cor.

Good my lord, The region of my heart: be Kent unmannerly, You have begot me, bred me, loved me : I When Lear is mad. What wilt thou do, oid Return those duties back as are right fit,

man ? Obey you, love you, and most honor you. 100 Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to Why have my sisters husbands, if they say

speak, They love you all ? Haply, when I sliall wed, When power to flattery bows ? To plainness That lord whose hand must take my plight honor's bound,

150 shall carry

When majesty stoops to folly. Reverse thy Half my love with him, half my care and duty:

doom ; Sure, I shall never marry like my sisters, And, in thy best consideration, check To love my father all.

This hideous rashness : answer my life my Lear. But goes thy heart with this ?

judgment, Cor.

Ay, good my lord. Thy youngest daughter does not love thee Lear. So young, and so untender ?

least; Cor. So young, my lord, and true.

Nor are those empty-liearted whose low sound Lear. Let it be so ; thy truth, then, be thy Reverbs no hollowness. dower :

110 Lear.

Kent, on thy life, no more. For, by the sacred radiance of the sun,

Kent. My life I never hield but as a pawn The mysteries of Hecate, and the night ; To wage against thy enemies ; nor fear to By all the operation of the orbs

lose it, From whom we do exist, and cease to be ; Thy safety being the motive. Here I disclaim all my paternal care,


Out of my sight ! Propinquity and property of blood,

Kent. See better, Lear; and let me still reAnd as a stranger to my heart and me


160 Hold thee, from this, for ever. The barbar- The true blank of thine eye. ous Scythian,

Lear. Now, by Apollo,

Or he that makes his generation messes


Now, by Apollo, king, To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom 120 Thou swear'st thy gods in vain. Be as well neighbor'd, pitied, and relieved, Lear.

O, vassal! miscreant ! As thou my sometime daughter.

(Laying his hand on his sword. Kent.

Good my liege,- Alb. Lear Peace, Kent !


Dear sir, forbear. Come not between the dragon and his wrath. Kent.

Do : I loved her most, and thought to set my rest Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow On her kind nursery. Hence, and avoid my Upon thy foul disease. Revoke thy doom ; sight!

Or, whilst I can vent clamor from my throat, So be my grave my peace, as here I give I'll tell thee thou dost evil. Her father's heart from her ! Call France; Lear.

Hear me, recreant ! who stirs ? On thine allegiance, hear me !

170 Call Burgundy. Cornwall and Albany,

Since thou hast sought to make us break our With my two daughters' dowers digest this

vow, third :

130 Which we durst never yet, and with strain'd Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry pride her.

To come between our sentence and our powes,


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