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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Tragedy of King Lear.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
Act IV
 
Scene V
 
 
[Gloucester’s castle]
Enter REGAN and Steward [OSWALD]

  Reg.  But are my brother’s powers set forth?
  Osw.        Ay, madam.
  Reg.  Himself in person there?
  Osw.        Madam, with much ado. 1        4
Your sister is the better soldier.
  Reg.  Lord Edmund spake not with your lord at home?
  Osw.  No, madam.
  Reg.  What might import my sister’s letter to him?        8
  Osw.  I know not, lady.
  Reg.  Faith, he is posted hence on serious matter.
It was great ignorance, 2 Gloucester’s eyes being out,
To let him live; where he arrives he moves        12
All hearts against us. Edmund, I think, is gone,
In pity of his misery, to dispatch
His nighted 3 life; moreover, to descry
The strength o’ the enemy.        16
  Osw.  I must needs after him, madam, with my letter.
  Reg.  Our troops set forth to-morrow, stay with us;
The ways are dangerous.
  Osw.        I may not, madam:        20
My lady charg’d my duty in this business.
  Reg.  Why should she write to Edmund? Might not you
Transport her purposes by word? Belike
Some things—I know not what. I’ll love thee much,        24
Let me unseal the letter.
  Osw.        Madam, I had rather—
  Reg.  I know your lady does not love her husband;
I am sure of that; and at her late being here        28
She gave strange œillades 4 and most speaking looks
To noble Edmund. I know you are of her bosom. 5
  Osw.  I, madam?
  Reg.  I speak in understanding; y’ are, I know ’t.        32
Therefore I do advise you, take this note:
My lord is dead; Edmund and I have talk’d;
And more convenient is he for my hand
Than for your lady’s. You may gather more.        36
If you do find him, pray you, give him this;
And when your mistress hears thus much from you,
I pray, desire her call her wisdom to her.
So, fare you well.        40
If you do chance to hear of that blind traitor,
Preferment falls on him that cuts him off.
  Osw.  Would I could meet him, madam! I should show What party I do follow.
  Reg.        Fare thee well.  [Exeunt.        44
 
Note 1. Induced with much difficulty. [back]
Note 2. Folly. [back]
Note 3. Blinded. [back]
Note 4. Amorous glances. [back]
Note 5. In her confidence. [back]
 

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