King Lear
Play Summary and Full Text: Full Text with Clips: Act IV Scene 6d

Oswald enters and sees Gloucester, the traitor. Almost gleeful (he has beat Edmund to it), he draws to kill him, but Edgar intervenes and kills Oswald instead. Before dying, Oswald asks Edgar to deliver a letter from Goneril to Edmund in which she declares herself for him as future wife as soon as Albany had been disposed of. Outraged he promises to himself to advise Albany of the plot (rather as Edmund has used a similar captured letter to undo Gloucester). He drags the body offstage, returns as Gloucester meditates on his own sorrows, and, as drums sound in the background, takes his father to a safer place.

Act IV Scene 6c . . . Act IV Scene 7

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Enter Steward

A proclaimed prize. Most happy.
That eyeless head of thine was first framed flesh     [245]
To raise my fortunes.
Thou old unhappy traitor,
Briefly thyself remember. The sword is out
That must destroy thee.

GLOUCESTER                  Now let thy friendly hand
Put strength enough to’t.   [Edgar interposes] [250]

OSWALD                          Wherefore, bold peasant,
Darest thou support a published traitor? Hence,
Lest that th’infection of his fortune take
Like hold on thee. Let go his arm.

EDGAR   Ch’ill not let go, zir, without vurther ‘casion.    [255]

OSWALD    Let go, slave, or thou diest!

Good gentleman, go your gate, and let poor volk
pass. An chud ha’ bin zwaggered out of my life,
‘twould not ha’ bin zo long as ’tis by a vortnight.

Nay, come not near th’old man. Keep out, che vor    [260]
ye, or Ise try whether your costard or my ballow be
the harder. Ch’ill be plain with you.

OSWALD   Out, dunghill

Ch’ill pick your teeth, zir. Come, no matter vor
your foins.  [They fight, Oswald falls.] [265]

Slave, thou hast slain me. Villain, take my purse.
If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body,
And give the letters which thou find’st about me
To Edmund, Earl of Gloucester. Seek him out
Upon the English party.
O, untimely death, death.   [dies] [270]

I know thee well—a serviceable villain,
As duteous to the vices of thy mistress
As badness would desire.

GLOUCESTER   What, is he dead?

Sit you down, father; rest you.     [275]
Let’s see these pocket. The letters that he speaks of
May be my friends.
He’s dead. I am only sorry
He had no other deathsman. Let us see.
Leave, gentle wax, and manners blame us not.
To know our enemies’ minds, we rip their hearts.    [280]
Their papers is more lawful.
Reads the letter

“Let our reciprocal vows be remembered. You have
many opportunities to cut him off. If your will
want not, time and place will be fruitfully offered.

There is nothing done if he return the conqueror;    [285]
then am I the prisoner, and his bed my goal. From
the loathed warmth whereof deliver me, and supply
the place for your labor. Your (wife, so I would say)
affectionate servant, Goneril.”

O undistinguished space of woman’s will.    [290]
A plot upon her virtuous husband’s life,
And the exchange my brother. Here in the sands
Thee I’ll rake up, the post unsanctified
Of murderous lechers, and in the mature time
With this ungracious paper strike the sight     [295]
Of the death-practiced Duke. For him ’tis well
That of thy death and business I can tell.

The King is mad. How stiff is my vile sense,
That I stand up and have ingenious feeling
Of my huge sorrows? Better I were distract,    [300]
So should my thoughts be severed from my griefs,
And woes by wrong imaginations lose
The knowledge of themselves.

EDGAR                      Give me your hand.   Drum afar off
Far off, methinks, I hear the beaten drum.    [305]
Come, father, I’ll bestow you with a friend.


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