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Lear, King of Britain.
King Of France.
Duke Of Burgundy.
Duke Of Cornwall.
Duke Of Albany.
Earl Of Kent.
Earl Of Gloster.
Edgar, Son to Gloster.
Edmund, Bastard Son to Gloster.
CURAN, a Courtier.
Oswald, Steward to Goneril.
Old Man, Tenant to Gloster.
An Officer, employed by Edmund.
Servants to Cornwall.
Knights of Lear's train, Officers, Messengers, Soldiers, and
SCENE I. — A Room of State in King Lear's Palace.' Enter KENT, GLOSTER, and EDMUND.
Kent. I thought, the king had more affected the duke .of Albany,1 than Cornwall.
Gloster. 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.2
Kent. Is not this your son, my lord?
Glos. His breeding, Sir, hath been at my charge: I have so often blushed to acknowledge him, that now I am brazed3 to it. ■ •
Kent. I cannot conceive you.
Glos. Sir, this young fellow's mother could;4 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.5
Glos. But I have a son, Sir, by order of law, some year elder6 than this, who yet is no dearer in my account:
1. Scotland was anciently called Albany.
2. Curiosity, scrupulousness, captiousness; moiety strictly means half, but Shakespeare commonly uses it for any part or division. — The meaning of the sentence is: The qualities and properties of the several divisions are so weighed and balanced against one another, that the exactest scrutiny could
not determine in preferring one share to the other.
3. To braze, to harden to impudence.
4. i. e. could conceive: a play upon the word.
5. A proper man was a handsome man, a well-proportioned man.
6. Some year elder, about a year older.
though this knave. came somewhat saucily into the world,
... again. – The king is coming. [Sennet' within.
Enter LEAR, CORNWALL, ALBANY, G0NERIL, REGAN, CORDELIA, and Attendants.
Lear. Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloster.
Glos. I shall, my liege. !' GLOSTER and EDMUND.
Lear. Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.”
1. Sennet, flourish of trumpets. 4. Constant will, determined will; the 2. Darker purpose, secret, hidden same as fast intent. purpose. 5. See last note but one of Scene 4,
3. Fast intent, fixed, settled intent. Act III.
Goneril. Sir, I love you more than words can wield the
Dearer than eye-sight, space, and liberty;
Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;
No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour:
As much as child e'er lov'd, or father found;
A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable;
Beyond all manner of so much I love you.2
Cordelia. 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 of Cornwall? Speak.
Regan. I am made of that self metal as my sister, 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 profess3 Myself an enemy to all other joys, Which the most precious square of sense possesses,4 And find, I am alone felicitate In your dear highness' love.
Cor. Then, poor Cordelia! [Aside.
And yet not so; since, I am sure, my love's
Lear. To thee, and thine, hereditary ever,
1. f. c. more than words can deal with, or express.
2. i. e. 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 be yet more.
r 3. %. e. in that, in as much as I profess &c.
4. Perhaps square means compass,
comprehension; or, the full complement of all the senses. But this passage may possibly be corrupted.
5. The use of both forms of comparison together was common with the old writers. See many passages in this play.
6. Validity, worth, value; not integrity, or good title.
Strive to be interess'd; what can you say, to draw
Cordelia. Nothing, my lord.
Lear. Nothing will 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;1 nor more, nor less.
Lear. How? how, Cordelia? mend your speech a little, Lest you may mar your fortunes.
Cor. Good my lord,
You have begot me, bred me, lov'd me: I
Lear. But goes this with thy heart?
Cor. Ay, goodmy lord.
Lear. Sof 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 operation of the orbs, From whom we do exist, and cease to be, Here I disclaim all my paternal care, Propinquity and property of blood, And as a stranger to my heart and me, Hold thee from this for ever.2 The barbarous Scythian, Or he that makes his generation3 messes To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom Be as well neighbour'd, pitied, and reliev'd, As thou my sometime4 daughter.
Kent. Good my liege, —
1. i. e. As I am bound to do.
2. i. e. from this time forth for ever.
3. Generation, children.
4. Sometime, former. As thou that wert my daughter.