Imatges de pÓgina
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SCENE 1. A Room of State in King Lear's Palace.


Kent. I THOUGHT the king had more affected the duke of Albany, than Cornwall.

Glo. It did always seem so to us; but now, in the division of the kingdom,1 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.3

Kent. Is not this your son, my lord?

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Glo. His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge. I have so often blushed to acknowledge him, that now I am brazed to it.

Kent. I cannot conceive you.

Glo. Sir, this young fellow's mother could: where-
upon she grew round-wombed; and had, indeed, sir, a
son for her cradle, ere she had a husband for her bed.
you smell a fault?

1 There is something of obscurity or inaccuracy in this preparatory scene. The king has already divided his kingdom, and yet, when he enters, he examines his daughters to discover in what proportions he should divide it. Perhaps Kent and Gloster only were privy to his design, which he still kept in his own hands, to be changed or performed as subsequent reasons should determine him.

2 Curiosity is scrupulous exactness.

3 Moiety is used by Shakspeare for part or portion.



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[ACT 1.

Kent. I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper.1

Glo. 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 knave came somewhat 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 ?

Edm. No, my lord.

Glo. My lord of Kent. Remember him hereafter as my honorable friend.

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Edm. My services to your lordship.

Kent. I must love you, and sue to know you better.
Edm. Sir, I shall study deserving.

Glo. He hath been out nine years, and away he
shall again. The king is coming.

[Trumpets sound within.

CORDELIA, and Attendants.

Lear. Attend the lords of France and Burgundy,

Glo. I shall, my liege.

[Exeunt GLOSTER and EDMUND Lear. Mean time we shall express our darker 2 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 we,
Unburdened, crawl toward death.-Our son of Corn-


And you, our no less loving son of Albany,

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1 Proper is comely, handsome.

2 i. e. more secret.-The sense is, "We have already made known our
desire of parting the kingdom. We will now discover the reasons by
which we shall regulate the partition."

3 i. e. our determined resolution. The quartos read "first intent.”
4 The quartos read confirming.

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Which of you, shall we say, doth love us most?
That we our largest bounty may extend
Where merit doth most challenge it.—Goneril,
Our eldest-born, speak first.

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SC. I.]

We have this hour a constant will1 to publish
Our daughters' several dowers, that future strife
May be prevented now. The princes, France and

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Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,

Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,
And here are to be answered.-Tell me, my daughters,
(Since now we will divest us, both of rule,
Interest of territory, cares of state,2)


Sir, I

Do love you more than words can wield the matter,
Dearer than eyesight, 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.

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A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable;
Beyond all manner of so much I love you.3

Cor. 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 riched,4
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. I am made of that self metal as my sister,
And prize me at her worth.5 In my true heart

1 A firm, determined will. The lines from while we to prevented now are omitted in the quartos.

2 The two lines in a parenthesis are omitted in the quartos.

3"Beyond all assignable quantity. I love you beyond limits, and cannot say it is so much; for how much soever I should name, it would yet be more."

4 i. e. enriched. So Drant in his translation of Horace's Epistles, 1567:

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"To ritch his country, let his words lyke flowing water fall.”

5 That is, “estimate me at her value; my love has at least equal claim to your favor. Only she comes short of me in this, that I profess myself

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In your dear highness' love.


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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 possesses;
And find I am alone felicitate

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

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Lear. To thee, and thine, hereditary ever,
Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom;
No less in space, validity,' and pleasure,
Than that conferred on Goneril.-Now, our joy,
Although the last, not least; to whose young love
The vines of France, and milk of Burgundy,
Strive to be interessed: 3 what can you say, to draw
A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak.
Cor. Nothing, my lord.
Lear. Nothing?


Lest it may mar your fortunes.


Good my lord,
You have begot me, bred me, loved me;
Return those duties back as are right fit,

Cor. Nothing.

Lear. Nothing can come of nothing; speak again.
Cor. Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave

My heart into my mouth. I love your majesty
According to my bond; nor more, nor less.

Lear. How, how, Cordelia? mend your speech a

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an enemy to all other joys which the most precious aggregation of sense
can bestow." Square is here used for the whole complement, as circle is
now sometimes used.

1 Validity is several times used to signify worth, value, by Shakspeare. It does not, however, appear to have been peculiar to him in this sense.

2 The folio reads conferred; the quartos, confirmed. So in a former passage we have in the quartos confirming for conferring. The word confirm might be used in this connection in a legal sense, as it is in instruments of conveyance.

3 To interest and to interesse are not, perhaps, different spellings of the same verb, but two distinct words, though of the same import. We have interessed in Ben Jonson's Sejanus. Drayton also uses the word in the Preface to his Polyolbion.

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To love my father all.

Lear. But goes this with thy heart?



Obey you,
love and most honor you.
Why have my sisters husbands, if they say,
They love you all? Haply, when I shall wed,
That lord, whose hand must take my plight, shall carry
Half my love with him, half my care, and duty.
Sure, I shall never marry like my sisters,

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From whom we do exist, and cease to be ;
Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
Propinquity and property of blood,


Ay, good my lord.

Lear. So young, and so untender?
Cor. So young, my lord, and true.

Lear. Let it be so,-thy truth then be thy dower;
For, by the sacred radiance of the sun,
The mysteries of Hecate, and the night;
By all the operations of the orbs,

And as a stranger to my heart and me

Hold thee, from this, forever. The barbarous Scythian,

Or he that makes his generation1 messes
To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom
Be as well neighbored, pitied, and relieved,
As thou my sometime daughter.


Good my liege,

Lear. Peace, Kent!

Come not between the dragon and his wrath.
I loved her most, and thought to set my rest
On her kind nursery.-Hence, and avoid my sight!

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So be my grave my peace, as here I give
Her father's heart from her!-Call France ;--who stirs ?
Call Burgundy.-Cornwall, and Albany,
With my two daughters' dowers digest this third;
Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.
I do invest you jointly with my power,
Preeminence, and all the large effects
That troop with majesty.-Ourself, by monthly course,
With reservation of a hundred knights,

1 His children.

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