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  • Title: King Lear (Quarto 1, 1608)
  • Editor: Michael Best
  • Textual editors: James D. Mardock, Eric Rasmussen
  • Coordinating 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    Not Peer Reviewed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 (Quarto 1, 1608)

    M. William Shak-speare
    HISHistorie, of King Lear.
    Enter Kent, Gloster, and Bastard.
    I Thought the King had more affected the 5Duke of Al-
    bany then Cornwell.
    Glost. It did allwaies seeme so to vs, but now in the
    diuision of the kingdomes, it appeares not which of
    the Dukes he values most, for equalities are so weighed, that cu-
    riositie in nei10ther, can make choise of eithers moytie.
    Kent. Is not this your sonne my Lord?
    Glost. His breeding sir hath beene at my charge, I haue so of-
    ten blusht to acknowledge him, that now I am braz'd to it.
    15Kent. I cannot conceiue you.
    Glost. Sir, this young fellowes mother Could, wherupon shee
    grew round wombed, and had indeed Sir a sonne for her cradle,
    ere she had a husband for her bed, doe you smell a fault?
    20Kent. I cannot wish the fault vndone, the issue of it being so
    Glost. But I haue sir a sonne by order of Law, some yeare el-
    der then this, who yet is no deerer in my account, though this
    knaue came something sawcely into the 25world before hee was
    sent for, yet was his mother faire, there was good sport at his
    makeing, & the whoreson must be acknowledged, do, you know
    this noble gentleman Edmund?
    Bast. No my Lord.
    30Glost. My Lord of Kent, remember him hereafter as my ho-
    norable friend..
    Bast. My seruices to your Lordship.
    Kent. I must loue you, and sue to know you better.
    Bast. Sir I shall study deseruing.
    35Glost. Hee hath beene out nine yeares, and away hee shall
    againe, the King is comming.
    Sound a Sennet, Enter one bearing a Coronet, then Lear, then the
    Dukes of Albany, and Cornwell, next Gonorill, Regan, 38.1Cor-
    delia, with followers.
    Lear. Attend my Lords of France and Burgundy, Gloster.
    40Glost. I shall my Leige.
    Lear. Meane time we will expresse our darker purposes,
    The map there; know we haue diuided
    In three, our kingdome; and tis our first intent,
    To shake all cares and busines of our state,
    45Confirming them on yonger yeares,
    50The two great Princes France and Burgundy,
    Great ryuals in our youngest daughters loue,
    Long in our Court haue made their amorous soiourne,
    And here are to be answerd, tell me my daughters,
    Which of you shall we say doth loue vs most,
    That we our largest bountie may extend,
    Where merit doth most challenge it,
    Gonorill our eldest borne, speake first?
    60Gon. Sir I do loue you more then words can weild the (matter,
    Dearer then eye-sight, space or libertie,
    Beyond what can be valued rich or rare,
    No lesse then life; with grace, health, beautie, honour,
    As much a child ere loued, or father friend,
    65A loue that makes breath poore, and speech vnable,
    Beyond all manner of so much I loue you.
    Cor. What shall Cordelia doe, loue and be silent.
    Lear. Of al these bounds, euen from this line to this,
    With shady forrests, and wide skirted meades,
    We make thee Lady, to thine and Albaines issue,
    Be this perpetuall, what saies our second daughter?
    Our deerest Regan, wife to Cornwell, speake?
    Reg. Sir I am made of the selfe same mettall that my sister is,
    75And prize me at her worth in my true heart,
    I find she names my very deed of loue, onely she came short,
    That I professe my selfe an enemie to all other ioyes,
    Which the most precious square of sence possesses,
    80And find I am alone felicitate, in your deere highnes loue.
    Cord. Then poore Cord. & yet not so, since I am sure
    My loues more richer then my tongue.
    85Lear. To thee and thine hereditarie euer
    Remaine this ample third of our faire kingdome,
    No lesse in space, validity, and pleasure,
    Then that confirm'd on Gonorill, but now our ioy,
    Although the last, not least in our deere loue,
    What can you say to win a third, more opulent
    Then your sisters.
    Cord. Nothing my Lord.
    Lear. How, nothing can come of nothing, speake (againe.
    Cord. Vnhappie that I am, I cannot heaue my heart into my
    mouth,--> I loue your Maiestie according to my bond, nor more nor
    100Lear. Goe to, goe to, mend your speech a little,
    Least it may mar your fortunes.
    Cord. Good my Lord,
    You haue begot me, bred me, loued 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,.
    Happely when I shall wed, that Lord whose hand
    Must take my plight, shall cary halfe my loue with him,
    Halfe my care and duty, 110sure I shall neuer
    Mary like my sisters, to loue my father all.
    Lear. But goes this with thy heart?
    Cord. I good my Lord.
    Lear. So yong and so vntender.
    Cord. So yong my Lord and true.
    115Lear. Well let it be so, thy truth then be thy dower,
    For by the sacred radience of the Sunne,
    The mistresse of Heccat, and the might,
    By all the operation of the orbs,
    From whome we doe exsist and cease to be
    120Heere I disclaime all my paternall care,
    Propinquitie and property of blood,
    And as a stranger to my heart and me
    Hould thee from this for euer, the barbarous Scythyan,
    Or he that makes his generation
    Messes 125to gorge his appetite
    Shall bee as well neighbour'd, pittyed and relieued
    As thou my sometime daughter.
    Kent. Good my Liege.
    Lear. Peace Kent, 130come not between the Dragon & (his wrath,
    I lou'd her most, and thought to set my rest
    On her kind nurcery, hence and auoide my sight?
    So be my graue my peace as here I giue,
    Her fathers heart from her, call France, who stirres?
    135Call Burgundy, Cornwell, and Albany,
    With my two daughters dower digest this third,
    Let pride, which she cals plainnes, marrie her:
    I doe inuest you iointly in my powre,
    Preheminence, and all the large effects
    140That troope with Maiestie, our selfe by monthly course
    With reseruation of an hundred knights,
    By you to be sustayn'd, shall our abode
    Make with you by due turnes, onely we still retaine
    The name and all the additions to a King,
    The sway, 145reuenue, execution of the rest,
    Beloued sonnes be yours, which to confirme,
    This Coronet part betwixt you.
    Kent. Royall Lear,
    Whom I haue euer honor'd as my King,
    150Loued as my Father, as my maister followed,
    As my great patron thought on in my prayers.
    Lear. The bow is bẽt & drawen make from the shafte.
    Kent. Let it fall rather,
    Though the forke inuade the region of my heart,
    Be Kent vnmannerly 155when Lear is man,
    What wilt thou doe ould man, think'st thou that dutie
    Shall haue dread to speake, when power to flatterie bowes,
    To plainnes honours bound when Maiesty stoops to folly,
    Reuerse thy doome, 160and in thy best consideration
    Checke this hideous rashnes, answere my life
    My iudgement, thy yongest daughter does not loue thee least,
    Nor are those empty harted whose low, sound
    Reuerbs no hollownes.
    165Lear. Kent on thy life no more.
    Kent. My life I neuer held but as a pawne
    To wage against thy enemies, nor feare to lose it
    Thy safty being the motiue.
    Lear. Out of my sight.
    170Kent. See better Lear and let me still remaine,
    The true blanke of thine eye.
    Lear. Now by Appollo,
    Kent. Now by Appollo King thou swearest thy Gods (in vaine.
    175Lear. Vassall, recreant.
    Kent. Doe, kill thy Physicion,
    And the fee bestow vpon the foule disease,
    Reuoke thy doome, or whilst I can vent clamour
    From my throat, 180ile tell thee thou dost euill.
    Lear. Heare me, on thy allegeance heare me?
    Since thou hast sought to make vs breake our vow,
    Which we durst neuer yet; and with straied pride,
    To come betweene our sentence and our powre,
    185Which nor our nature nor our place can beare,
    Our potency made good, take thy reward,
    Foure dayes we doe allot thee for prouision,
    To shield thee from diseases of the world,
    And on the fift to turne thy hated backe
    190Vpon our kingdome, if on the tenth day following,
    Thy banisht truncke be found in our dominions,
    The moment is thy death, away, by Iupiter
    This shall not be reuokt.
    Kent. Why fare thee well king, since thus thou wilt (appeare,
    195Friendship liues hence, and banishment is here,
    The Gods to their protection take the maide,
    That rightly thinks, and hast most iustly said,
    And your large speeches may your deedes approue,
    That good effects may spring from wordes of loue:
    200Thus Kent O Princes, bids you all adew,
    Heele shape his old course in a countrie new.
    Enter France and Burgundie with Gloster.
    Glost. Heers France and Burgundie my noble Lord.
    205Lear. My L. of Burgũdie, we first addres towards you,
    Who with a King hath riuald for our daughter,
    What in the least will you require in present
    Dower with her, or cease your quest of loue?
    210Burg. Royall maiesty,
    I craue no more then what
    Your highnes offered, nor will you tender lesse?
    Lear. Right noble Burgundie, when she was deere to (vs
    We did hold her so, 215but now her prise is fallen,
    Sir there she stands, if ought within that little
    Seeming substãce, or al of it with our displeasure peec'st,
    And nothing else may fitly like your grace,
    Shees there, and she is yours.
    220Burg. I know no answer.
    Lear. Sir will you with those infirmities she owes,
    Vnfriended, new adopted to our hate,
    Couered with our curse, and stranger'd with our oth,
    Take her or leaue her.
    225Burg. Pardon me royall sir, election makes not vp
    On such conditions.
    Lear. 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,
    To auert your liking a more worthier way,
    Then on a wretch whome nature is ashamed
    Almost to acknowledge hers.
    Fra. This is most strange, 235that she, that euen but now
    Was your best obiect, the argument of your praise,
    Balme of your age, most best, most deerest,
    Should in this trice of time commit a thing,
    So monstrous to dismantell so many foulds of fauour,
    Sure her offence 240must be of such vnnaturall degree,
    That monsters it, or you for voucht affections
    Falne into taint, which to beleeue of her
    Must be a faith that reason without miracle
    Could neuer plant in me.
    245Cord. I yet beseech your Maiestie,
    If for I want that glib and oyly Art,
    To speake and purpose not, since what I well entend
    Ile do't before I speake, that you may know
    It is no vicious blot, murder or foulnes,
    250No vncleane action or dishonord step
    That hath depriu'd me of your grace and fauour,
    But euen for want of that, for which I am rich,
    A still soliciting eye, and such a tongue,
    As I am glad I haue not, though not to haue it,
    255Hath lost me in your liking.
    Leir. Goe to, goe to, better thou hadst not bin borne,
    Then not to haue pleas'd me better.
    Fran. Is it no more but this, a tardines in nature,
    That often leaues the historie vnspoke 260that it intends to (do,
    My Lord of Burgundie, what say you to the Lady?
    Loue is not loue when it is mingled with respects that (stãds
    Aloofe from the intire point wil you haue her?
    She is her selfe and dowre.
    265Burg. Royall Leir,
    giue but that portion
    Which your selfe proposd, and here I take Cordelia
    By the hand, Dutches of Burgundie,
    Leir. Nothing, I haue sworne.
    270Burg. I am sory then you haue so lost a father,
    That you must loose a husband.
    Cord. Peace be with Burgundie, since that respects
    Of fortune are his loue, I shall not be his wife.
    275Fran. Fairest Cordelia that art most rich being poore,
    Most choise forsaken, and most loued despisd,
    Thee and thy vertues here I ceaze vpon,
    Be it lawfull I take vp whats cast away,
    Gods, Gods! tis strãge, that from their couldst neglect,
    280My loue should kindle to inflam'd respect,
    Thy dowreles daughter King throwne to thy chance,
    Is Queene of vs, of ours, and our faire France:
    Not all the Dukes in watrish Burgundie,
    Shall buy this vnprizd precious maide of me,
    285Bid them farewell Cordelia, though vnkind
    Thou loosest here, a better where to find.
    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 (Burgũdy.
    Exit Lear and Burgundie.
    Fran. Bid farewell to your sisters?
    Cord. The iewels of our father,
    With washt eyes Cordelia leaues you, I know you what (you are,
    295And like a sister am most loath to call your faults
    As they are named, vse well our Father,
    To your professed bosoms I commit him,
    But yet alas stood I within his grace,
    I would preferre him to a better place:
    300So farewell to you both?
    Gonorill. Prescribe not vs our duties?
    Regan. Let your study be to content your Lord,
    Who hath receaued you at Fortunes almes,
    You haue obedience scanted,
    305And well are worth the worth that you haue wanted.
    Cord. Time shal vnfould what pleated cũning hides,
    Who couers faults, at last shame them derides:
    Well may you prosper.
    Fran. Come faire Cordelia? Exit France & Cord.
    310Gonor. Sister, it is not a little I haue to say,
    Of what most neerely appertaines to vs both,
    I thinke our father will hence to night.
    Reg. Thats most certaine, and with you, next moneth with vs.
    Gon. You see how full of changes his age is the ob315seruation we
    haue made of it hath not bin little; hee alwaies loued our sister
    most, and with what poore iudgement hee hath now cast her
    off, appeares too grosse.
    Reg. Tis the infirmitie of his age, yet hee hath euer but slen-
    derly knowne himselfe.
    320Gono. The best and soundest of his time hath bin but rash,
    then must we looke to receiue from his age not alone the imper-
    fection of long ingrafted condition, but therwithal vnruly way-
    wardnes, that infirme and cholericke yeares bring with them.
    325Rag. Such vnconstant starts are we like to haue from him, as
    this of Kents banishment.
    Gono. There is further complement of leaue taking betweene
    France and him, pray lets hit together, if our Father cary autho-
    rity with such dispositions as he beares, 330this last surrender of his,
    will but offend vs,
    Ragan. We shall further thinke on't.
    Gon. We must doe something, and it'h heate. Exeunt.