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  • Title: King Lear (Folio 1, 1623)
  • Editor: Michael Best
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-463-9

    Copyright Michael Best. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Michael Best
    Not Peer Reviewed

    King Lear (Folio 1, 1623)

    1 Actus Primus. Scoena Prima.
    Enter Kent, Glouce ster, and Edmond.
    I thought the King had more affected the
    5Duke of Albany, then Cornwall.
    Glou. It did alwayes seeme so to vs: But
    now in the diui sion of the Kingdome, it ap-
    peares not which of the Dukes hee valewes
    mo st, for qualities are so weigh'd, that curio sity in nei-
    10ther, can make choise of eithers moity.
    Kent. Is not this your Son, my Lord?
    Glou. His breeding Sir, hath bin at my charge. I haue
    so often blu sh'd to acknowledge him, that now I am
    braz'd too't.
    15 Kent. I cannot conceiue you.
    Glou. Sir, this yong Fellowes mother could; where-
    vpon she grew round womb'd, and had indeede (Sir) a
    Sonne for her Cradle, ere she had husband for her bed.
    Do you smell a fault?
    20 Kent. I cannot wi sh the fault vndone, the i s s ue of it,
    being so proper.
    Glou. But I haue a Sonne, Sir, by order of Law, some
    yeere elder then this; who, yet is no deerer in my ac-
    count, though this Knaue came somthing sawcily to the
    25world before he was sent for: yet was his Mother fayre,
    there was good sport at his making, and the horson mu st
    be acknowledged. Doe you know this Noble Gentle-
    man, Edmond?
    Edm. No, my Lord.
    30 Glou. My Lord of Kent:
    Remember him heereafter, as my Honourable Friend.
    Edm. My seruices to your Lord ship.
    Kent. I mu st loue you, and sue to know you better.
    Edm. Sir, I shall study deseruing.
    35 Glou. He hath bin out nine yeares, and away he shall
    againe. The King is comming.
    Sennet. Enter King Lear, Cornwall, Albany, Gonerill, Re-
    gan, Cordelia, and attendants.
    Lear. Attend the Lords of France & Burgundy, Glo ster.
    40 Glou. I shall, my Lord. Exit.
    Lear. Meane time we shal expre s s e our darker purpose.
    Giue me the Map there. Know, that we haue diuided
    In three our Kingdome: and 'tis our fa st intent,
    To shake all Cares and Bu sine s s e from our Age,
    45Conferring them on yonger strengths, while we
    Vnburthen'd crawle toward death. Our son of Cornwal,
    And you our no le s s e louing Sonne of Albany,
    We haue this houre a con stant will to publi sh
    Our daughters seuerall Dowers, that future strife
    50May be preuented now. The Princes, France & Burgundy,
    Great Riuals in our yonge st daughters loue,
    Long in our Court, haue made their amorous soiourne,
    And heere are to be answer'd. Tell me my daughters
    (Since now we will diue st vs both of Rule,
    55Intere st of Territory, Cares of State)
    Which of you shall we say doth loue vs mo st,
    That we, our large st bountie may extend
    Where Nature doth with merit challenge. Gonerill,
    Our elde st borne, speake fir st.
    60 Gon. Sir, I loue you more then word can weild ye matter,
    Deerer then eye- sight, space, and libertie,
    Beyond what can be valewed, rich or rare,
    No le s s e then life, with grace, health, beauty, honor:
    As much as Childe ere lou'd, or Father found.
    65A loue that makes breath poore, and speech vnable,
    Beyond all manner of so much I loue you.
    Cor. What shall Cordelia speake? Loue, and be silent.
    Lear. Of all these bounds euen from this Line, to this,
    With shadowie Forre sts, and with Champains rich'd
    70With plenteous Riuers, and wide-skirted Meades
    We make thee Lady. To thine and Albanies i s s ues
    Be this perpetuall. What sayes our second Daughter?
    Our deere st Regan, wife of Cornwall?
    Reg. I am made of that selfe-mettle as my Si ster,
    75And prize me at her worth. In my true heart,
    I finde she names my very deede of loue:
    Onely she comes too short, that I profe s s e
    My selfe an enemy to all other ioyes,
    Which the mo st precious square of sense profe s s es,
    80And finde I am alone felicitate
    In your deere Highne s s e loue.
    Cor. Then poore Cordelia,
    And yet not so, since I am sure my loue's
    More ponderous then my tongue.
    85 Lear. To thee, and thine hereditarie euer,
    Remaine this ample third of our faire Kingdome,
    No le s s e in space, validitie, and pleasure
    Then that conferr'd on Gonerill. Now our Ioy,
    Although our la st and lea st ; to whose yong loue,
    90The Vines of France, and Milke of Burgundie,
    Striue to be intere st. What can you say, to draw
    A third, more opilent then your Si sters? speake.
    Cor. Nothing my Lord.
    Lear. Nothing?
    95 Cor. Nothing.
    Lear. Nothing will come of nothing, speake againe.
    Cor. Vnhappie that I am, I cannot heaue
    My heart into my mouth: I loue your Maie sty
    According to my bond, no more nor le s s e.
    100 Lear. How, how Cordelia? mend your speech a little,
    Lea st you may marre your Fortunes.
    Cor. Good my Lord,
    You haue begot me, bred me, lou'd me.
    I returne those duties backe as are right fit,
    105Obey you, Loue you, and mo st Honour you.
    Why haue my Si sters Husbands, if they say
    They loue you all? Happily when I shall wed,
    That Lord, whose hand mu st take my plight, shall carry
    Halfe my loue with him, halfe my Care, and Dutie,
    110Sure I shall neuer marry like my Si sters.
    Lear. But goes thy heart with this?
    Cor. I my good Lord.
    Lear. So young, and so vntender?
    Cor. So young my Lord, and true.
    115 Lear. Let it be so, thy truth then be thy dowre:
    For by the sacred radience of the Sunne,
    The miseries of Heccat and the night :
    By all the operation of the Orbes,
    From whom we do exi st, and cease to be,
    120Heere I disclaime all my Paternall care,
    Propinquity and property of blood,
    And as a stranger to my heart and me,
    Hold thee from this for euer. The barbarous Scythian,
    Or he that makes his generation me s s es
    125To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosome
    Be as well neighbour'd, pittied, and releeu'd,
    As thou my sometime Daughter.
    Kent. Good my Liege.
    Lear. Peace Kent,
    130Come not betweene the Dragon and his wrath,
    I lou'd her mo st, and thought to set my re st
    On her kind nursery. Hence and avoid my sight:
    So be my graue my peace, as here I giue
    Her Fathers heart from her ; call France, who stirres?
    135Call Burgundy, Cornwall, and Albanie,
    With my two Daughters Dowres, dige st the third,
    Let pride, which she cals plainne s s e, marry her:
    I doe inue st you ioyntly with my power,
    Preheminence, and all the large effects
    140That troope with Maie sty. Our selfe by Monthly course,
    With reseruation of an hundred Knights,
    By you to be su stain'd, shall our abode
    Make with you by due turne, onely we shall retaine
    The name, and all th'addition to a King: the Sway,
    145Reuennew, Execution of the re st,
    Beloued Sonnes be yours, which to confirme,
    This Coronet part betweene you.
    Kent. Royall Lear,
    Whom I haue euer honor'd as my King,
    150Lou'd as my Father, as my Ma ster follow'd,
    As my great Patron thought on in my praiers.
    Le. The bow is bent & drawne, make from the shaft.
    Kent. Let it fall rather, though the forke inuade
    The region of my heart, be Kent vnmannerly,
    155When Lear is mad, what woulde st thou do old man?
    Think' st thou that dutie shall haue dread to speake,
    When power to flattery bowes?
    To plainne s s e honour's bound,
    When Maie sty falls to folly, reserue thy state,
    160And in thy be st con sideration checke
    This hideous ra shne s s e, answere my life, my iudgement:
    Thy yonge st Daughter do's not loue thee lea st,
    Nor are those empty hearted, whose low sounds
    Reuerbe no hollowne s s e.
    165 Lear. Kent, on thy life no more.
    Kent. My life I neuer held but as pawne
    To wage again st thine enemies, nere feare to loose it,
    Thy safety being motiue.
    Lear. Out of my sight.
    170 Kent. See better Lear, and let me still remaine
    The true blanke of thine eie.
    Kear. Now by Apollo,
    Lent. Now by Apollo, King
    Thou swear. st thy Gods in vaine.
    175 Lear. O Va s s all! Miscreant.
    Alb. Cor . Deare Sir forbeare.
    Kent. Kill thy Phy sition, and thy fee be stow
    Vpon the foule disease, reuoke thy guift,
    Or whil' st I can vent clamour from my throate,
    180Ile tell thee thou do st euill.
    Lea. Heare me recreant, on thine allegeance heare me;
    That thou ha st sought to make vs breake our vowes,
    Which we dur st neuer yet; and with strain'd pride,
    To come betwixt our sentences, and our power,
    185Which, nor our nature, nor our place can beare;
    Our potencie made good, take thy reward.
    Fiue dayes we do allot thee for proui sion,
    To shield thee from disa sters of the world,
    And on the sixt to turne thy hated backe
    190Vpon our kingdome; if on the tenth day following,
    Thy bani sht trunke be found in our Dominions,
    The moment is thy death, away. By Iupiter,
    This shall not be reuok'd,
    Kent. Fare thee well King, sith thus thou wilt appeare,
    195Freedome liues hence, and bani shment is here;
    The Gods to their deere shelter take thee Maid,
    That iu stly think' st, and ha st mo st rightly said:
    And your large speeches, may your deeds approue,
    That good effects may spring from words of loue:
    200Thus Kent, O Princes, bids you all adew,
    Hee'l shape his old course, in a Country new. Exit.
    Flouri sh. Enter Glo ster with France, and Bur-
    gundy, Attendants.
    Cor. Heere's France and Burgundy, my Noble Lord.
    205 Lear. My Lord of Bugundie,
    We fir st addre s s e toward you, who with this King
    Hath riuald for our Daughter; what in the lea st
    Will you require in present Dower with her,
    Or cease your que st of Loue?
    210 Bur. Mo st Royall Maie sty,
    I craue no more then hath your Highne s s e offer'd,
    Nor will you tender le s s e?
    Lear. Right Noble Burgundy,
    When she was deare to vs, we did hold her so,
    215But now her price is fallen: Sir, there she stands,
    If ought within that little seeming sub stance,
    Or all of it with our displeasure piec'd,
    And nothing more may fitly like your Grace,
    Shee's there, and she is yours.
    220 Bur. I know no answer.
    Lear. Will you with those infirmities she owes,
    Vnfriended, new adopted to our hate,
    Dow'rd with our curse, and stranger'd with our oath,
    Take her or, leaue her.
    225 Bur. Pardon me Royall Sir,
    Election makes not vp in such conditions.
    Le. Then leaue her sir, for by the powre that made me,
    I tell you all her wealth. For you great King,
    I would not from your loue make such a stray,
    230To match you where I hate, therefore beseech you
    T'auert your liking a more worthier way,
    Then on a wretch whom Nature is a sham'd
    Almo st t'acknowledge hers.
    Fra. This is mo st strange,
    235That she whom euen but now, was your obiect,
    The argument of your praise, balme of your age,
    The be st, the deere st, sh}ould in this trice of time
    Commit a thing so mon strous, to dismantle
    So many folds of fauour: sure her offence
    240Mu st be of such vnnaturall degree,
    That mon sters it: Or your fore-voucht affection
    Fall into taint, which to beleeue of her
    Mu st be a faith that reason without miracle
    Should neuer plant in me.
    245 Cor. I yet beseech your Maie sty.
    If for I want that glib and oylie Art,
    To speake and purpose not, since what I will intend,
    Ile do't before I speake, that you make knowne
    It is no vicious blot, murther, or foulene s s e,
    250No vncha ste action or di shonoured step
    That hath depriu'd me of your Grace and fauour,
    But euen for want of that, for which I am richer,
    A still soliciting eye, and such a tongue,
    That I am glad I haue not, though not to haue it,
    255Hath lo st me in your liking.
    Lear. Better thou had' st '
    Not beene borne, then not t haue pleas'd me better.
    Fra. Is it but this ? A tardine s s e in nature,
    Which often leaues the hi story vnspoke
    260That it intends to do: my Lord of Burgundy,
    What say you to the Lady? Loue's not loue
    When it is mingled with regards, that stands
    Aloofe from th'intire point, will you haue her?
    She is herselfe a Dowrie.
    265 Bur. Royall King,
    Giue but that portion which your selfe propos'd,
    And here I take Cordelia by the hand,
    Dutche s s e of Burgundie.
    Lear. Nothing, I haue sworne, I am firme.
    270 Bur. I am sorry then you haue so lo st a Father,
    That you mu st loose a husband.
    Cor. Peace be with Burgundie,
    Since that respect and Fortunes are his loue,
    I shall not be his wife.
    275 Fra. Faire st Cordelia, that art mo st rich being poore,
    Mo st choise forsaken, and mo st lou'd despis'd,
    Thee and thy vertues here I seize vpon,
    Be it lawfull I take vp what's ca st away.
    Gods, Gods! 'Tis strange, that from their cold' st neglect
    280My Loue should kindle to enflam'd respect.
    Thy dowrele s s e Daughter King, throwne to my chance,
    Is Queene of vs, of ours, and our faire France :
    Not all the Dukes of watri sh Burgundy,
    Can buy this vnpriz'd precious Maid of me.
    285Bid them farewellCordelia, though vnkinde,
    Thou loose st here a better where to finde.
    Lear. Thou ha st her France, let her be thine, for we
    Haue no such Daughter, nor shall euer see
    That face of hers againe, therfore be gone,
    290Without our Grace, our Loue, our Benizon:
    Come Noble Burgundie. Flouri sh. Exeunt.
    Fra. Bid farwell to your Si sters.
    Cor. The Iewels of our Father, with wa sh'd eies
    Cordelia leaues you, I know you what you are,
    295And like a Si ster am mo st loth to call
    Your faults as they are named. Loue well our Father:
    To your profe s s ed bosomes I commit him,
    But yet alas, stood I within his Grace,
    I would prefer him to a better place,
    300So farewell to you both.
    Regn. Prescribe not vs our dutie.
    Gon. Let your study
    Be to content your Lord, who hath receiu'd you
    At Fortunes almes, you haue obedience scanted,
    305And well are worth the want that you haue wanted.
    Cor. Time shall vnfold what plighted cunning hides,
    Who couers faults, at la st with shame derides:
    Well may you prosper.
    Fra. Come my faire Cordelia. Exit France and Cor.
    310 Gon. Si ster, it is not little I haue to say,
    Of what mo st neerely appertaines to vs both,
    I thinke our Father will hence to night. (with vs.
    Reg. That's mo st certaine, and with you: next moneth
    Gon. You see how full of changes his age is, the ob-
    315 seruation we haue made of it hath beene little; he alwaies
    lou'd our Si ster mo st, and with what poore iudgement he
    hath now ca st her off, appeares too gro s s ely.
    Reg. 'Tis the infirmity of his age, yet he hath euer but
    slenderly knowne himselfe.
    320 Gon. The be st and sounde st of his time hath bin but
    ra sh, then mu st we looke from his age, to receiue not a-
    lone the imperfections of long ingraffed condition, but
    therewithall the vnruly way-wardne s s e, that infirme and
    cholericke yeares bring with them.
    325 Reg. Such vncon stant starts are we like to haue from
    him, as this of Kents bani shment.
    Gon. There is further complement of leaue-taking be-
    tweene France and him, pray you let vs sit together, if our
    Father carry authority with such dispo sition as he beares,
    330this la st surrender of his will but offend vs.
    Reg. We shall further thinke of it.
    Gon. We mu st do something, and i'th'heate. Exeunt.