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King Lear

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ACT I SCENE I King Lear's palace. 
KENT I thought the king had more affected the Duke of 
 Albany than Cornwall. 
GLOUCESTER It did always seem so to us: but now, in the 
 division of the kingdom, it appears not which of 5
 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? 
GLOUCESTER His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge: I have 10
 so often blushed to acknowledge him, that now I am 
 brazed to it. 
KENT I cannot conceive you. 
GLOUCESTER Sir, this young fellow's mother could: whereupon 
 she grew round-wombed, and had, indeed, sir, a son 15
 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. 
GLOUCESTER But I have, sir, a son by order of law, some year 20
 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 25
 noble gentleman, Edmund? 
EDMUND No, my lord. 
GLOUCESTER My lord of Kent: remember him hereafter as my 
 honourable friend. 
EDMUND My services to your lordship. 30
KENT I must love you, and sue to know you better. 
EDMUND Sir, I shall study deserving. 
GLOUCESTER He hath been out nine years, and away he shall 
 again. The king is coming. 
KING LEAR Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloucester. 35
GLOUCESTER I shall, my liege. 
KING LEAR Meantime we shall express our darker 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; 40
 Conferring them on younger strengths, while we 
 Unburthen'd crawl toward death. Our son of 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 strife 45
 May be prevented now. The princes, France and Burgundy, 
 Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love, 
 Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn, 
 And here are to be answer'd. Tell me, my daughters,-- 
 Since now we will divest us both of rule, 50
 Interest of territory, cares of state,-- 
 Which of you shall we say doth love us most? 
 That we our largest bounty may extend 
 Where nature doth with merit challenge. Goneril, 
 Our eldest-born, speak first. 55
GONERIL 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, honour; 
 As much as child e'er loved, or father found; 60
 A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable; 
 Beyond all manner of so much I love you. 
 Love, and be silent. 
LEAR Of all these bounds, even from this line to this, 
 With shadowy forests and with champains rich'd, 65
 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. 
REGAN Sir, I am made 70
 Of the self-same metal that my sister is, 

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, 75
 Which the most precious square of sense possesses; 
 And find I am alone felicitate 
 In your dear highness' love. 
 And yet not so; since, I am sure, my love's 
 More richer than my tongue. 80
KING 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 the last, not least; to whose young love 85
 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. 
CORDELIA Nothing, my lord. 
KING LEAR Nothing! 90
CORDELIA Nothing. 
KING LEAR Nothing will come of nothing: speak again. 
CORDELIA Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave 
 My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty 
 According to my bond; nor more nor less. 95
KING LEAR How, how, Cordelia! mend your speech a little, 
 Lest it may mar your fortunes. 
CORDELIA Good my lord, 
 You have begot me, bred me, loved me: I 
 Return those duties back as are right fit, 100
 Obey you, love you, and most honour 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: 105
 Sure, I shall never marry like my sisters, 
 To love my father all. 
KING LEAR But goes thy heart with this? 
CORDELIA Ay, good my lord. 
KING LEAR So young, and so untender? 110
CORDELIA So young, my lord, and true. 
KING 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 115
 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 Scythian, 120
 Or he that makes his generation messes 
  To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom 
 Be as well neighbour'd, pitied, and relieved, 
 As thou my sometime daughter. 
KENT Good my liege,-- 125
KING 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! 
 So be my grave my peace, as here I give 130
 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, 135
 Pre-eminence, and all the large effects 
 That troop with majesty. Ourself, by monthly course, 
 With reservation of an hundred knights, 
 By you to be sustain'd, shall our abode 
 Make with you by due turns. Only we still retain 140
 The name, and all the additions to a king; 
 The sway, revenue, execution of the rest, 
 Beloved sons, be yours: which to confirm, 
 This coronet part betwixt you. 
 Giving the crown 
KENT Royal Lear, 145
 Whom I have ever honour'd as my king, 
 Loved as my father, as my master follow'd, 
 As my great patron thought on in my prayers,-- 
KING LEAR The bow is bent and drawn, make from the shaft. 
KENT Let it fall rather, though the fork invade 150
 The region of my heart: be Kent unmannerly, 
 When Lear is mad. What wilt 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 stoops to folly. Reverse thy doom; 155
 And, in thy best consideration, cheque 
 This hideous rashness: answer my life my judgment, 
 Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least; 
 Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sound 
 Reverbs no hollowness. 160
KING LEAR Kent, on thy life, no more. 
KENT My life I never held but as a pawn 
 To wage against thy enemies; nor fear to lose it, 
 Thy safety being the motive. 
KING LEAR Out of my sight! 165
KENT See better, Lear; and let me still remain 
 The true blank of thine eye. 
KING LEAR Now, by Apollo,-- 
KENT Now, by Apollo, king, 
 Thou swear'st thy gods in vain. 170
KING LEAR O, vassal! miscreant! 
 Laying his hand on his sword 
ALBANY, CORNWALL Dear sir, forbear. 
 Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow 
 Upon thy foul disease. Revoke thy doom; 
 Or, whilst I can vent clamour from my throat, 175
 I'll tell thee thou dost evil. 
KING LEAR 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 180
 To come between 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; 185
 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 revoked. 190
KENT Fare thee well, king: sith thus thou wilt appear, 
 Freedom lives hence, and banishment is here. 
 The gods to their dear shelter take thee, maid, 
 That justly think'st, and hast most rightly said! 
 And your large speeches may your deeds approve, 195
 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. 
 Flourish. Re-enter GLOUCESTER, with KING OF FRANCE, BURGUNDY, and Attendants. 
GLOUCESTER Here's France and Burgundy, my noble lord. 
KING LEAR My lord of Burgundy. 200
 We first address towards you, who with this king 
 Hath rivall'd for our daughter: what, in the least, 
 Will you require in present dower with her, 
 Or cease your quest of love? 
BURGUNDY Most royal majesty, 205
 I crave no more than what your highness offer'd, 
 Nor will you tender less. 
KING LEAR 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: 210
 If aught within that little seeming substance, 
 Or all of it, with our displeasure pieced, 
 And nothing more, may fitly like your grace, 
 She's there, and she is yours. 
BURGUNDY I know no answer. 215
KING 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? 
BURGUNDY Pardon me, royal sir; 220
 Election makes not up on such conditions. 
KING LEAR Then leave her, sir; for, by the power that made me, 
 I tell you all her wealth. 
 For you, great king, 
 I would not from your love make such a stray, 225
 To match you where I hate; therefore beseech you 
 To avert your liking a more worthier way 
 Than on a wretch whom nature is ashamed 
 Almost to acknowledge hers. 
KING OF FRANCE This is most strange, 230
 That she, that even but now was your best object, 
 The argument of your praise, balm of your age, 
 Most best, most dearest, should in this trice of time 
 Commit a thing so monstrous, to dismantle 
 So many folds of favour. Sure, her offence 235
 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 
 Could never plant in me. 240
CORDELIA I yet beseech your majesty,-- 
 If for I want that glib and oily art, 
 To speak and purpose not; since what I well intend, 
 I'll do't before I speak,--that you make known 
 It is no vicious blot, murder, or foulness, 245
 No unchaste action, or dishonour'd step, 
 That hath deprived 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 
 As I am glad I have not, though not to have it 250
 Hath lost me in your liking. 
KING LEAR Better thou 
 Hadst not been born than not to have pleased me better. 
KING OF FRANCE Is it but this,--a tardiness in nature 
 Which often leaves the history unspoke 255
 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. 260
BURGUNDY Royal Lear, 
 Give but that portion which yourself proposed, 
 And here I take Cordelia by the hand, 
 Duchess of Burgundy. 
KING LEAR Nothing: I have sworn; I am firm. 265
BURGUNDY I am sorry, then, you have so lost a father 
 That you must lose a husband. 
CORDELIA Peace be with Burgundy! 
 Since that respects of fortune are his love, 
 I shall not be his wife. 270
KING OF FRANCE Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor; 
 Most choice, forsaken; and most loved, despised! 
 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'st neglect 275
 My love should kindle to inflamed respect. 
 Thy dowerless daughter, king, thrown to my chance, 
 Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France: 
 Not all the dukes of waterish Burgundy 
 Can buy this unprized precious maid of me. 280
 Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind: 
 Thou losest here, a better where to find. 
KING 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 285
 Without our grace, our love, our benison. 
 Come, noble Burgundy. 
 Flourish. Exeunt all but KING OF FRANCE, GONERIL, REGAN, and CORDELIA. 
KING OF FRANCE Bid farewell to your sisters. 
CORDELIA The jewels of our father, with wash'd eyes 
 Cordelia leaves you: I know you what you are; 290
 And like a sister am most loath to call 
 Your faults as they are named. Use well our father: 
 To your professed bosoms I commit him 
 But yet, alas, stood I within his grace, 
 I would prefer him to a better place. 295
 So, farewell to you both. 
REGAN Prescribe not us our duties. 
GONERIL Let your study 
 Be to content your lord, who hath received you 
 At fortune's alms. You have obedience scanted, 300
 And well are worth the want that you have wanted. 
CORDELIA Time shall unfold what plaited cunning hides: 
 Who cover faults, at last shame them derides. 
 Well may you prosper! 
KING OF FRANCE Come, my fair Cordelia. 305
GONERIL Sister, it is not a little I have to say of what 
 most nearly appertains to us both. I think our 
 father will hence to-night. 
REGAN That's most certain, and with you; next month with us. 
GONERIL You see how full of changes his age is; the 310
 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. 
REGAN 'Tis the infirmity of his age: yet he hath ever 315
 but slenderly known himself. 
GONERIL 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 320
 that infirm and choleric years bring with them. 
REGAN Such unconstant starts are we like to have from 
 him as this of Kent's banishment. 
GONERIL There is further compliment of leavetaking 
 between France and him. Pray you, let's hit 325
 together: if our father carry authority with 
 such dispositions as he bears, this last 
 surrender of his will but offend us. 
REGAN We shall further think on't. 
GONERIL We must do something, and i' the heat. 330

King Lear, Act 1, Scene 2

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