[Flouish. Re-enter Gloucester, with France, Burgundy, and Attendants.]
GLOUCESTER - Here's France and Burgundy, my noble lord.
LEAR - My lord Burgundy,
We first address towards you, who with this king
Hath rivaled 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,
I crave no more than what your highness offered,
Nor will you tender less.
LEAR - Right noble Burgundy,
When she was dear to us, we did hold her so;
But now her price has fallen. Sir, there she stands;
It 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 now answer.
LEAR - Will you, with those infirmities she owes,
Unfriended, new-adopted to our hate,
Dowered with our curse, and strangered with our oath,
Take her, or leave her?
BURGUNDY - 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 you 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 ashamed
Almost to acknowledge hers.
FRANCE - This is most strange,
That she, whom 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 favor. Sure, her offense
Must of be such unnatural degree,
That monsters it, or your fore-vouched affection
Fall'n into taint; which to believe of her,
Must be a faith that reason without miracle
Could never plant in me.
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,
No unchaste action, or dishonored step,
That hath deprived me of your grace and favor;
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
Hath lost me in your liking.
LEAR - Better thou
Hadst not been born than not to have pleased 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 stands
Aloof from th' entire point. Will you have her?
She is herself a dowry.
BURGUNDY - Royal Lear,
Give but that portion which yourself proposed,
And here I take Cordelia by the hand,
Duchess of Burgundy.
LEAR - Nothing! I have sworn; I am firm.
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.
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! 't is strange that from their cold'st neglect
My love should kindle to inflamed respect.
Thy dowerless daughter, king, thrown to my chance,
Is queen of us, of ours, and of our fair France.
Not all the dukes of waterish Burgundy
Can buy this unprized 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 all but France, Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia.]
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