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About this text

  • 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    Not Peer Reviewed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?