[Enter one bearing a coronet, then King Lear, Cornwall, Albany, Goneril, Regan, Cordelia, and Attendants.]

LEAR - Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloucester.

GLOUCESTER - I shall, my liege. [Exeunt Gloucester and Edmund]

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,

Conferring them on younger strengths, while we

Unburthened 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

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 answered. Tell me, my daughters, --

Since now we will divest us, both of rule,

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.

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, honor;

As much as child e'er loved, or father found;

A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable;

Beyond all manner of so much I love you.

CORDELIA - [aside] What shall Cordelia speak? Love, and be silent.

LEAR - Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,

With shadowy forests and with champains riched,

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

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,

Which the most precious square of sense possesses,

And find I am alone felicitate

In your dear highness' love.

CORDELIA - [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 every

Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom;

No less in space, validity, and pleasure,

Than that conferred on Goneril. Now, our joy,

Although our last and least; to whose young love

The vines of France and milk of Burgundy

Strive to be interessed, what can you say to draw

A third more opulent thatn you sisters? Speak.

CORDELIA - Nothing, my lord.

LEAR - Nothing?

CORDELIA - Nothing.

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.

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,

Obey you, love you, 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,

To love my father all.

LEAR - But goes thy heart with this?

CORDELIA - Ay, good my lord.

LEAR - So young, and so untender?

CORDELIA - 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. The barbarous Scythian,

Or he that makes his generation messes

To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom

Be as well neighbored, pitied, and relieved,

As thou my sometime daughter.

KENT - 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!

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,

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 sustained, shall our abode

Make with you by due turns. Only we still retain

The name, and all the additions to a king;

The sway, revenue, execution of the rest,

Beloved sons, by yours; which to confirm,

This coronet part betwixt you.

KENT - Royal Lear,

Whom I have ever honored as my king,

Loved as my father, as my master followed,

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 wilt thou do, old man?

Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak,

When power to flattery bows? To plainness honor's bound,

When majesty stoops to folly. Reverse thy doom,

And, in thy best consideration, check

This hideous rashness. Answer my life my judgement,

Thy youngest daughter does not live thee least;

Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sounds

Reverb no hollowness.

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.

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 on his sword.]


Dear sir, forbear.


KENT - Do;

Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow

Upon thy foul disease. Revoke thy doom;

Or, whilst I can vent clamor from my throat,

I'll tell thee thou dost evil.

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 strained pride

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;

And on the sixth to turn thy hated back

Upon our kingdom: if, on the tenth day following,

Thy banished trunk be found in our dominions,

The moment is thy death. Away! by Jupiter,

This shall not be revoked.

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 form words of love.

Thus Kent, O princes, bids you all adieu;

He'll shape his old course in a country new. [Exit]


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