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Knights of Lear's train, Officers, Messengers, Soldiers, and Attendants.



SCENE I. A Room of State in King LEAR'S



Kent. I thought the king had more affected the Duke of Albany than Cornwall.

Glou. 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.

Kent. Is not this your son, my lord?

Glou. 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.


Glou. Sir, this young fellow's mother could; 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.

Glou. But I have a son, sir, by order of law, some year elder than this, who yet is no dearer in my account: though this knave came something 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.

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Give me the map there. Know that we hardivided

In three our kingdom; and 'tis our fast intent To shake all cares and business from our age, « Conferring them on younger strengths, while w Unburden'd crawl toward death. Our son c Cornwall,

And you, our no less loving son of Albany,
We have this hour a constant will to publish
Our daughters' several dowers, that future stri
May be prevented now. The princes, Fran
and Burgundy,

Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love.
Long in our court have made their amorve
Tell me,

And here are to be answer'd.

Since now we will divest us both of rule,

Glou. My Lord of Kent: remember him here- Interest of territory, cares of state, after as my honourable friend.

Edm. My services to your lordship.

Which of you shall we say doth love us most 30 That we our largest bounty may extend

Where nature doth with merit challenge. | For, by the sacred radiance of the sun, Goneril,

Our eldest-born, speak first.

Gon. Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;

Dearer than eye-sight, space, and liberty;
Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;
No less than life, with grace, health, beauty,


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.

Cor. Aside. 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
Bethis perpetual. What says our second daughter,
Our dearest Regan, wife to Cornwall? Speak. 70
Reg. 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 profess
Myself an enemy to all other joys

Which the most precious square of sense possesses,

And find I am alone felicitate

In your dear highness' love.

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


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

Cor. Nothing.


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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. The barbarous


Or he that makes his generation messes
To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom
Be as well neighbour'd, pitied, and reliev'd,
As thou my sometime daughter.


Lear. Peace, Kent!


Good my liege,

Come not between the dragon and his wrath.
I lov'd her most, and thought to set my rest
On her kind nursery. Hence, and avoid my sight!
So be my grave my peace, as here I give
Her father's heart from her! Call France. Who

Call Burgundy. Cornwall and Albany,
With my two daughters' dowers digest the third;
Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.
I do invest you jointly with my power,
Pre-eminence, and all the large effects
That troop with majesty. Ourself, by monthly



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Whom I have ever honour'd as my king,
Lov'd as my father, as my master follow'd,
As my great patron thought on in my prayers,-
Lear. The bow is bent and drawn; make from
the shaft.

Kent. Let it fall rather, though the fork invade The region of my heart: be Kent unmannerly, When Lear is mad. What would'st thou do, old man?

Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour's bound


When majesty falls to folly. Reserve thy state;
And, in thy best consideration, check
This hideous rashness: answer my life my

Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least;
Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sound
Reverbs no hollowness.

Lear. Kent, on thy life, no more. Kent. My life I never held but as a pawn To wage against thine enemies; nor fear to

lose it,

Thy safety being the motive.

Lear. Out of my sight! Kent. See better, Lear; and let me still remain The true blank of thine eye. Lear. Now, by Apollo,Kent.


Now, by Apollo, king,

Thou swear'st thy gods in vain. Lear.

O, vassal! miscreant! Laying his hand upon his sword.


Alb., Corn. Dear sir, forbear.

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Hear me, recreant!
On thine allegiance, hear me !
Since thou hast sought to make us break our vow,
Which we durst never yet, and with strain'd pride
To come betwixt our sentence and our power,
Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,
Our potency made good, take thy reward.
Five days we do allot thee for provision
To shield thee from diseases of the world;
And on the sixth to turn thy hated back
Upon our kingdom: if on the tenth day following
Thy banish'd trunk be found in our dominions,
The moment is thy death. Away! By Jupiter,
This shall not be revok'd.


Kent. Fare thee well, king; sith thus thou wilt appear,

Freedom lives hence, and banishment is here.
To CORDELIA. The gods to their dear shelter
take thee, maid,

That justly think'st, and hast most rightly said!
To REGAN and GONERIL. And your large
speeches may your deeds approve,
That good effects may spring from words of love.
Thus Kent, O princes! bids you all adieu;
He'll shape his old course in a country new. Exit.
Flourish. Re-enter GLOUCESTER, with FRANCE,
BURGUNDY, and Attendants.

The argument of your praise, balm of your age,
The best, the dearest, should in this trice of time
Commit a thing so monstrous, to dismantle *
So many folds of favour. Sure, her offence
Must be of such unnatural degree

That monsters it, or your fore-vouch'd affection
Fall'n into taint; which to believe of her,
Must be a faith that reason without miracle
Should never plant in me.


I yet beseech your majesty,
If for I want that glib and oily art
To speak and purpose not; since what I well

I'll do 't before I speak, that you make known
It is no vicious blot nor other foulness,
No unchaste action, or dishonour'd step,
That hath depriv'd me of your grace and favour.
But even for want of that for which I am richer,
A still-soliciting eye, and such a tongue
That I am glad I have not, though not to have it
Hath lost me in your liking.

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Hadst not been born than not to have pleas'd
me better.

France. Is it but this? a tardiness in nature
Which often leaves the history unspoke
That it intends to do? My Lord of Burgundy,
What say you to the lady? Love's not love *
When it is mingled with regards that stand
Aloof from the entire point. Will you have her!
She is herself a dowry.

Royal Lear,
Give but that portion which yourself propos'd,
Glou. Here's France and Burgundy, my noble And here I take Cordelia by the hand,

Lear. My Lord of Burgundy,


We first address toward you, who with this king
Hath rivall'd for our daughter.


What, in the

Will you require in present dower with her,
Or cease your quest of love?
Most royal majesty,
I crave no more than hath your highness offer'd,
Nor will you tender less.

Right noble Burgundy,
When she was dear to us we did hold her so,
But now her price is fall'n. Sir, there she stands:
If aught within that little seeming substance, 201
Or all of it, with our displeasure piec'd,
And nothing more, may fitly like your grace,
She's there, and she is yours.

I know no answer.
Lear. Will you, with those infirmities she owes,
Unfriended, new-adopted to our hate,
Dower'd with our curse, and stranger'd with
our oath,

Take her, or leave her?
Pardon me, royal sir;
Election makes not up on such conditions.
Lear. Then leave her, sir; for, by the power
that made me,


I tell you all her wealth. To FRANCE. For you,
great king,

I would not from your love make such a stray
To match you where I hate; therefore beseech you
To avert your liking a more worthier way
Than on a wretch whom nature is asham'd
Almost to acknowledge hers.

This is most strange,
That she, that even but now was your best object,

Duchess of Burgundy.

Lear. Nothing: I have sworn; I am firm.
Bur. I am sorry, then, you have so lost a fatber
That you must lose a husband.

Peace be with Burgundy
Since that respects of fortune are his love,
I shall not be his wife.

France. Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich,
being poor;

Most choice, forsaken; and most lov'd, despis'd.
Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon :
Be it lawful I take up what's cast away.
Gods, gods! 'tis strange that from their cold's

My love should kindle to inflam'd respect.
Thy dowerless daughter, king, thrown to my

Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France: >
Not all the dukes of waterish Burgundy
Shall buy this unpriz'd precious maid of me.
Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind:
Thou losest here, a better where to find.

Lear. Thou hast her, France; let her be thine.
for we

Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see
That face of hers again; therefore be gone
Without our grace, our love, our benison.
Come, noble Burgundy.

Flourish. Exeunt LEAR, BURGUNDY, CORS-

France. Bid farewell to your sisters.

Cor. The jewels of our father, with wash


Cordelia leaves you: I know you what you are;
And like a sister am most loath to call

Your faults as they are nam'd. Use well our Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed, father:

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Come, my fair Cordelia. Exeunt FRANCE and CORDELIA. Gon. Sister, it is not little I have to say of what most nearly appertains to us both. I think our father will hence to-night.

Reg. That 's most certain, and with you; next month with us.


Gon. You see how full of changes his age is; the observation we have made of it hath not been little he always loved our sister most; and with what poor judgment he hath now cast her off appears too grossly.

Reg. "Tis the infirmity of his age; yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself.

Gon. The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash; then must we look to receive from his age, not alone the imperfections of long-engraffed condition, but therewithal the unruly waywardness that infirm and choleric years bring with them.


Reg. Such unconstant starts are we like to

have from him as this of Kent's banishment.

And my invention thrive, Edmund the base 20
Shall to the legitimate: I grow, I prosper;
Now, gods, stand up for bastards!

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Glou. This policy and reverence of age makes the world bitter to the best of our times; keeps our fortunes from us till our oldness cannot relish them. Gon. There is further compliment of leave-I begin to find an idle and fond bondage in the taking between France and him. Pray you, let's hit together: if our father carry authority with oppression of aged tyranny, who sways, not as it such disposition as he bears, this last surrender of this I may speak more. If our father would sleep but as it is suffered. Come to me, that till I wake him, you should enjoy half his revenue for ever, and live the beloved of your brother, EDGAR. Hum! Conspiracy! Sleep till I wake him,——SCENE II. A Hall in the Earl of GLOUCESTER's you should enjoy half his revenue.' My son

of his will but offend us.


Reg. We shall further think on 't.
Gon. We must do something, and i' the heat.


Enter EDMUND, with a letter.


Edm. Thou, Nature, art my goddess; to thy law
My services are bound. Wherefore should I
Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
The curiosity of nations to deprive me,

Edgar! Had he a hand to write this? a heart and brain to breed it in? When came this to you? Who brought it?


Edm. It was not brought me, my lord; there's the cunning of it; I found it thrown in at the casement of my closet.

Glou. You know the character to be your

For that I am some twelve or fourteen moon- brother's? shines


Lag of a brother? Why bastard? wherefore base?
When my dimensions are as well compact,
My mind as generous, and my shape as true,
As honest madam's issue? Why brand they us
With base? with baseness? bastardy? base, base?
Who in the lusty stealth of nature take
More composition and fierce quality
Than doth, within a dull, stale, tired bed,
Go to the creating a whole tribe of fops,
Got 'tween asleep and wake? Well then,
Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land:
Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund
As to the legitimate. Fine word, 'legitimate'!

Edm. If the matter were good, my lord, I durst swear it were his; but, in respect of that, I would fain think it were not.

Glou. It is his.


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the letter! Abhorred villain! Unnatural, de- | with a sigh like Tom o' Bedlam. O! these tested, brutish villain ! worse than brutish! Go, eclipses do portend these divisions. sirrah, seek him; I'll apprehend him. Abominable villain! Where is he?

Edm. I do not well know, my lord. If it shall please you to suspend your indignation against my brother till you can derive from him better testimony of his intent, you shall run a certain course; where, if you violently proceed against him, mistaking his purpose, it would make a great gap in your own honour, and shake in pieces the heart of his obedience. I dare pawn down my life for him, that he hath writ this to feel my affection to your honour, and to no other pretence of danger.

Glou. Think you so?

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you withal.

Edm. I will seek him, sir, presently; convey the business as I shall find means, and acquaint 112 Glou. These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us: though the wisdom of nature can reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself scourged by the sequent effects. Love cools, friendship falls off, brothers divide: in cities, mutinies; in countries, discord; in palaces, treason; and the bond cracked 'twixt son and father. This villain of mine comes under the prediction; there's son against father: the king falls from bias of nature; there's father against child. We have seen the best of our time machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all ruinous disorders, follow us disquietly to our graves. Find out this villain, Edmund; it shall lose thee nothing: do it carefully. And the noble and true-hearted Kent banished! his offence, honesty! 'Tis strange.

Exit. 129

Edm. This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune, often the surfeit of our own behaviour, we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars; as if we were villains on necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves thieves and treachers by spherical predominance, drunkards liars and adulterers by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on: an admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star! My father compounded with my mother under the dragon's tail, and my nativity was under ursa major; so that it follows I am rough and lecherous. Tut! I should have been that I am had the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing. Edgar

Enter EDGAR.


and pat he comes, like the catastrophe of the old comedy: my cue is villanous melancholy,

la, mi.

Pa, sol, What


Edg. How now, brother Edmund! serious contemplation are you in? Edm. I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read this other day, what should follow these eclipses.

Edg. Do you busy yourself with that? Edm. I promise you the effects he writes of succeed unhappily; as of unnaturalness between the child and the parent; death, dearth, dissolutions of ancient amities; divisions in state; menaces and maledictions against king and nobles; needless diffidences, banishment of friends, dissipation of cohorts, nuptial breaches, and I know not what.

Edg. How long have you been a sectary astronomical?

Edm. Come, come; when saw you my father


Edg. The night gone by.

Edm. Spake you with him?

Edg. Ay, two hours together.

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Edm. Parted you in good terms? Found you no displeasure in him by word nor countenance ' Edg. None at all.

Edm. Bethink yourself wherein you may have offended him; and at my entreaty forbear his presence until some little time liath qualified the heat of his displeasure, which at this instant so rageth in him that with the mischief of your person it would scarcely allay.


Edg. Some villain hath done me wrong. Edm. That's my fear. I pray you have a continent forbearance till the speed of his rage goes slower, and as I say, retire with me to my lodging, from whence I will fitly bring you to hear my lord speak. Pray you, go; there's my key. If you do stir abroad, go armed. Edg. Armed, brother!


Edm. Brother, I advise you to the best, go armed; I am no honest man if there be any good meaning towards you; I have told yea what I have seen and heard; but faintly, nothing like the image and horror of it; pray you, away.

Edg. Shall I hear from you anon?
Edm. I do serve you in this business.

A credulous father, and a brother noble,
Whose nature is so far from doing harms
That he suspects none; on whose foolish honesty
My practices ride easy! I see the business.
Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit:
All with me 's meet that I can fashion fit. Eril,

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