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We are not the first,
Who, with best meaning, have incurr'd the worst.
For thee, oppressed king, am I cast down;
Myself could else out-frown false fortune's frown.-
Shall we not see these daughters, and these sisters?
Lear. No, no, no, no! Come, let's away to prison:
We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage:
When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down,
And ask of thee forgiveness: So we'll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news; and we'll talk with them too,-
Who loses, and who wins; who's in, who's out:-
And take upon us the mystery of things,
As if we were Heaven's spies: And we'll wear out,
In a wall'd prison, packs and sects of great ones,
That ebb and flow by the moon.
Take them away.
Lear. Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,
The gods themselves throw incense. Have I caught thee?
He that parts us, shall bring a brand from heaven,
And fire us hence, like foxes. Wipe thine eyes;
They shall not make us weep: we'll see them starve first.
[Exeunt LEAR, and CORDELIA, guarded.
Lear and his daughter are conveyed to Prison, and orders are given by Albany to hang Cordelia.
Punishment now overtakes the guilty Regan and Goneril. In pursuing thei. un!awful love towards Edmund, Regan, through jealousy, poisons her sister, and then dies by her own hand.
Edmund receives the reward of his crimes from Edgar, who challenges him to single combat and slays him. Gloster is reconciled to his son, and the Play ends with the death of Lear.
Enter LEAR, with CORDELIA dead in his arms; EDGAR, Officer, and others.
Lear. Howl, howl, howl, howl!-, you are men of stones;
Had I your tongues and eyes, I'd use them so
That heaven's vault should crack :-, she is gone for ever !—
I know when one is dead, and when one lives;
She's dead as earth :-Lend me a looking-glass;
If that her breath will mist or stain the stone,
Why, then she lives.
Is this the promis'd end?
Edg. Or image of that horror?
Lear. This feather stirs ; she lives! if it be so,
It is a chance that does redeem all sorrows
That ever I have felt.
my good master!
Lear. Pr'ythee, away.
'Tis noble Kent, your friend.
Lear. A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all!
I might have sav'd her; now she's gone for ever!—
Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little. Ha!
What is't thou say'st?—Her voice was ever soft,
Gentle, and low: an excellent thing in woman :-
I kill'd the slave that was a hanging thee.
Off. 'Tis true, my lords, he did.
Did I not, fellow ?
I have seen the day, with my good biting falchion
I would have made them skip: I am old now,
And these same crosses spoil me.--Who are you?
Mine eyes are none o' the best :-I'll tell you straight.
Kent. If fortune brag of two she lov'd and hated,
One of them we behold.
Lear. This is a dull sight: Are you not Kent?
Your servant Kent: Where is your servant Caius ?
Lear. He's a good fellow, I can tell you that;
He'll strike, and quickly too: He's dead and rotten.
Kent. No, my good lord; I am the very man ;—
Lear. I'll see that straight.
Kent. That, from your first of difference and decay, Have follow'd your sad steps.
Lear. You are welcome hither.
Kent. Nor no man else; all's cheerless, dark, and dead.y.-
Your eldest daughters have fore-doom'd themselves,
And desperately are dead.
Lear. And my poor fool is hang'd! No, no, no life:
Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life,
And thou no breath at all? O, thou wilt come no raore.
Never, never, never, never, never!—
Pray you, undo this button: Thank you, sir
Do you see this? Look on her,-look,—her lips,-
Look there, look there!—
This Play is considered by the critics to have "all the merit of entire originality of plot and incident." The traditions of all Europe and the East, furnished the leading dea of fairy character, while classical and mythological history has been drawn upon for he heroical personages.
Our selections from this brilliant poetical composition, are confined to the action of the Drama, as connected with the " princely loves" of Theseus and Hippolyta, and the Athenian Lovers. The humorous under-plots we are unwillingly compelled to omit from want of space.
HIPPOLYTA, Queen of the Amazons, betrothed to Theseus.
HERMIA, daughter to Egeus, in love with Lysander.
HELENA, in love with Demetrius.
OBERON, king of the fairies.
TITANIA, queen of the fairies.
PUCK, or Robin-goodfellow, a fairy.
PEAS-BLOSSOM, COBWEB, MOTH, MUSTARD-SEED, fairies.
Pyramus, Thisbe, Wall, Moonshine, Lion, characters in the In-
terlude performed by the Clowns.
Other Fairies attending their King and Queen.
Attendants on Theseus and Hippolyta.
SCENE,--ATHENS, and a Wood not far from it.
SCENE I.—Athens. A Room in the Palace of Theseus.
Enter THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, PHILOSTRATE, and Attendants.
The. Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour
Draws on apace; four happy days bring in
Another moon; but, oh, methinks, how slow
This old moon wanes! she lingers my desires,
Like to a step-dame, or a dowager,
Long withering out a young man's revenue.
Hip. Four days will quickly steep themselves in nights;
Four nights will quickly dream away the time;
And then the moon, like to a silver bow
Now bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Of our solemnities.
Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments;
Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth;
Turn melancholy forth to funerals,
The pale companion is not for our pomp.—
Hippolyta, I woo'd thee with my sword,
And won thy love, doing thee injuries;
But I will wed thee in another key,
With pomp, with triumph, and with revelling.
Enter EGEUS, HERMIA, LYSANDER, and DEMETRIUS.
Ege. Happy be Theseus, our renowned duke!
The. Thanks, good Egeus: What's the news with thee?
Ege. Full of vexation come I, with complaint
Against my child, my daughter Hermia.—
Stand forth, Demetrius ;-My noble lord,
This man hath my consent to marry her :-
Stand forth, Lysander;-and, my gracious duke,
This hath bewitch'd the bosom of my child:
Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes,
And interchang'd love-tokens with my child:
Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung,
With feigning voice, verses of feigning love;
And stol'n the impression of her fantasy
With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gawds, conceits,
Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats; messengers
Of strong prevailment in unharden'd youth:
With cunning hast thou filch'd my daughter's heart,
Turn'd her obedience, which is due to me,
To stubborn harshness :-And, my gracious duke,
Be it so she will not here before your grace
Consent to marry with Demetrius,
I beg the ancient privilege of Athens;
As she is mine, I may dispose of her :
Which shall be either to this gentleman,
Or to her death; according to our law,
Immediately provided in that case.
The. What say you, Hermia? be advis'd, fair maid:
To you your father should be as a god;
One that compos'd your beauties; yea, and one
To whom you are but as a form in wax,
By him imprinted, and within his power
To leave the figure, or disfigure it.
Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.
Her. So is Lysander.
In himself he is: But, in this kind, wanting your father's voice, The other must be held the worthier.
Her. I would, my father look'd but with my eyes.
The. Rather your eyes must with his judgment look. Her. I do entreat your grace to pardon me.
I know not by what power I am made bold;
Nor how it may concern my modesty,
In such a presence here to plead my thoughts:
But I beseech your grace that I may know
The worst that may befal me in this case,
If I refuse to wed Demetrius.
The. Either to die the death, or to abjure
For ever the society of men.
Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires,
Know of your youth, examine well your blood,
Whether, if you yield not to your father's choice,
You can endure the livery of a nun;
For aye to be in shady cloister mew'd,
Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon.
Thrice blessed they, that master so their blood,
To undergo such maiden pilgrimage:
But earthlier happy is the rose distill'd,
Than that, which, withering on the virgin thorn,
Grows, lives, and dies, in single blessedness.
Her. So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord.
The. Take time to pause; and, by the next ne
(The sealing-day betwixt my love and me,
For everlasting bond of fellowship,)
Upon that day either prepare to die,
For disobedience to your father's will;
Or else, to wed Demetrius, as he would:
Or on Diana's altar to protest,
For aye, austerity and single life.