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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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    1Actus Primus. Scoena Prima.
    Enter Kent, Gloucester, 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 diuision of the Kingdome, it ap-
    peares not which of the Dukes hee valewes
    most, for qualities are so weigh'd, that curiosity 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 blush'd to acknowledge him, that now I am
    braz'd too't.
    15Kent. 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?
    20Kent. I cannot wish the fault vndone, the issue 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 must
    be acknowledged. Doe you know this Noble Gentle-
    man, Edmond?
    Edm. No, my Lord.
    30Glou. My Lord of Kent:
    Remember him heereafter, as my Honourable Friend.
    Edm. My seruices to your Lordship.
    Kent. I must loue you, and sue to know you better.
    Edm. Sir, I shall study deseruing.
    35Glou. 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, Gloster.
    40Glou. I shall, my Lord. Exit.
    Lear. Meane time we shal expresse our darker purpose.
    Giue me the Map there. Know, that we haue diuided
    In three our Kingdome: and 'tis our fast intent,
    To shake all Cares and Businesse from our Age,
    45Conferring them on yonger strengths, while we
    Vnburthen'd crawle toward death. Our son of Cornwal,
    And you our no lesse louing Sonne of Albany,
    We haue this houre a constant will to publish
    Our daughters seuerall Dowers, that future strife
    50May be preuented now. The Princes, France & Burgundy,
    Great Riuals in our yongest 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 diuest vs both of Rule,
    55Interest of Territory, Cares of State)
    Which of you shall we say doth loue vs most,
    That we, our largest bountie may extend
    Where Nature doth with merit challenge. Gonerill,
    Our eldest borne, speake first.
    60Gon. 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 lesse 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 Forrests, and with Champains rich'd
    70With plenteous Riuers, and wide-skirted Meades
    We make thee Lady. To thine and Albanies issues
    Be this perpetuall. What sayes our second Daughter?
    Our deerest Regan, wife of Cornwall?
    Reg. I am made of that selfe-mettle as my Sister,
    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 professe
    My selfe an enemy to all other ioyes,
    Which the most precious square of sense professes,
    80And finde I am alone felicitate
    In your deere Highnesse loue.
    Cor. Then poore Cordelia,
    And yet not so, since I am sure my loue's
    More ponderous then my tongue.
    85Lear. To thee, and thine hereditarie euer,
    Remaine this ample third of our faire Kingdome,
    No lesse in space, validitie, and pleasure
    Then that conferr'd on Gonerill. Now our Ioy,
    Although our last and least; to whose yong loue,
    90The Vines of France, and Milke of Burgundie,
    Striue to be interest. What can you say, to draw
    A third, more opilent then your Sisters? speake.
    Cor. Nothing my Lord.
    Lear. Nothing?
    95Cor. 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 Maiesty
    According to my bond, no more nor lesse.
    100Lear. How, how Cordelia? mend your speech a little,
    Least 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 most Honour you.
    Why haue my Sisters Husbands, if they say
    They loue you all? Happily when I shall wed,
    That Lord, whose hand must take my plight, shall carry
    Halfe my loue with him, halfe my Care, and Dutie,
    110Sure I shall neuer marry like my Sisters.
    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.
    115Lear. 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 exist, 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 messes
    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 most, and thought to set my rest
    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, digest the third,
    Let pride, which she cals plainnesse, marry her:
    I doe inuest you ioyntly with my power,
    Preheminence, and all the large effects
    140That troope with Maiesty. Our selfe by Monthly course,
    With reseruation of an hundred Knights,
    By you to be sustain'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 rest,
    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 Master 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 wouldest thou do old man?
    Think'st thou that dutie shall haue dread to speake,
    When power to flattery bowes?
    To plainnesse honour's bound,
    When Maiesty falls to folly, reserue thy state,
    160And in thy best consideration checke
    This hideous rashnesse, answere my life, my iudgement:
    Thy yongest Daughter do's not loue thee least,
    Nor are those empty hearted, whose low sounds
    Reuerbe no hollownesse.
    165Lear. Kent, on thy life no more.
    Kent. My life I neuer held but as pawne
    To wage against thine enemies, nere feare to loose it,
    Thy safety being motiue.
    Lear. Out of my sight.
    170Kent. See better Lear, and let me still remaine
    The true blanke of thine eie.
    Kear. Now by Apollo,
    Lent. Now by Apollo, King
    Thou thy Gods in vaine.
    175Lear. O Vassall! Miscreant.
    Alb. Cor. Deare Sir forbeare.
    Kent. Kill thy Physition, and thy fee bestow
    Vpon the foule disease, reuoke thy guift,
    Or whil'st I can vent clamour from my throate,
    180Ile tell thee thou dost euill.
    Lea. Heare me recreant, on thine allegeance heare me;
    That thou hast sought to make vs breake our vowes,
    Which we durst 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 prouision,
    To shield thee from disasters of the world,
    And on the sixt to turne thy hated backe
    190Vpon our kingdome; if on the tenth day following,
    Thy banisht 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 banishment is here;
    The Gods to their deere shelter take thee Maid,
    That iustly think'st, and hast most 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.
    Flourish. Enter Gloster with France, and Bur-
    gundy, Attendants.
    Cor. Heere's France and Burgundy, my Noble Lord.
    205Lear. My Lord of Bugundie,
    We first addresse toward you, who with this King
    Hath riuald for our Daughter; what in the least
    Will you require in present Dower with her,
    Or cease your quest of Loue?
    210Bur. Most Royall Maiesty,
    I craue no more then hath your Highnesse offer'd,
    Nor will you tender lesse?
    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 substance,
    Or all of it with our displeasure piec'd,
    And nothing more may fitly like your Grace,
    Shee's there, and she is yours.
    220Bur. 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.
    225Bur. 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 asham'd
    Almost t'acknowledge hers.
    Fra. This is most strange,
    235That she whom euen but now, was your obiect,
    The argument of your praise, balme of your age,
    The best, the deerest, sh}ould in this trice of time
    Commit a thing so monstrous, to dismantle
    So many folds of fauour: sure her offence
    240Must be of such vnnaturall degree,
    That monsters it: Or your fore-voucht affection
    Fall into taint, which to beleeue of her
    Must be a faith that reason without miracle
    Should neuer plant in me.
    245Cor. I yet beseech your Maiesty.
    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 foulenesse,
    250No vnchaste action or dishonoured 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 lost 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 tardinesse in nature,
    Which often leaues the history 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.
    265Bur. Royall King,
    Giue but that portion which your selfe propos'd,
    And here I take Cordelia by the hand,
    Dutchesse of Burgundie.
    Lear. Nothing, I haue sworne, I am firme.
    270Bur. I am sorry then you haue so lost a Father,
    That you must loose a husband.
    Cor. Peace be with Burgundie,
    Since that respect and Fortunes are his loue,
    I shall not be his wife.
    275Fra. Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich being poore,
    Most choise forsaken, and most lou'd despis'd,
    Thee and thy vertues here I seize vpon,
    Be it lawfull I take vp what's cast away.
    Gods, Gods! 'Tis strange, that from their cold'st neglect
    280My Loue should kindle to enflam'd respect.
    Thy dowrelesse Daughter King, throwne to my chance,
    Is Queene of vs, of ours, and our faire France:
    Not all the Dukes of watrish Burgundy,
    Can buy this vnpriz'd precious Maid of me.
    285Bid them farewellCordelia, though vnkinde,
    Thou loosest here a better where to finde.
    Lear. Thou hast 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. Flourish. Exeunt.
    Fra. Bid farwell to your Sisters.
    Cor. The Iewels of our Father, with wash'd eies
    Cordelia leaues you, I know you what you are,
    295And like a Sister am most loth to call
    Your faults as they are named. Loue well our Father:
    To your professed 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 last with shame derides:
    Well may you prosper.
    Fra. Come my faire Cordelia. Exit France and Cor.
    310Gon. Sister, it is not little I haue to say,
    Of what most neerely appertaines to vs both,
    I thinke our Father will hence to night. (with vs.
    Reg. That's most certaine, and with you: next moneth
    Gon. You see how full of changes his age is, the ob-
    315seruation we haue made of it hath beene little; he alwaies
    lou'd our Sister most, and with what poore iudgement he
    hath now cast her off, appeares too grossely.
    Reg. 'Tis the infirmity of his age, yet he hath euer but
    slenderly knowne himselfe.
    320Gon. The best and soundest of his time hath bin but
    rash, then must we looke from his age, to receiue not a-
    lone the imperfections of long ingraffed condition, but
    therewithall the vnruly way-wardnesse, that infirme and
    cholericke yeares bring with them.
    325Reg. Such vnconstant starts are we like to haue from
    him, as this of Kents banishment.
    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 disposition as he beares,
    330this last surrender of his will but offend vs.
    Reg. We shall further thinke of it.
    Gon. We must do something, and i'th'heate. Exeunt.