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About this text

  • Title: King Lear (Modern, Quarto)
  • 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    Not Peer Reviewed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 (Modern, Quarto)

    1[Scene 1]
    Enter Kent, Gloucester, and [the] Bastard.
    I thought the King had more affected the 5Duke of Albany than Cornwall.
    It did always seem so to us, but now in the division of the kingdoms it appears not which of the dukes he values most, for equalities are so weighed that curiosity in 10neither can make choice of either's moiety.
    Is not this your son, my lord?
    His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge. I have so often blushed to acknowledge him that now I am brazed to it.
    I cannot conceive you.
    Sir, this young fellow's mother could, whereupon she grew round-wombed, and had indeed, sir, a son for her cradle ere she had a husband for her bed. Do you smell a fault?
    I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper.
    But I have, sir, a son by order of law, some year elder than this, who yet is no dearer in my account. Though this knave came something saucily into the 25world before he was sent for, yet was his mother fair, there was good sport at his making, and the whoreson must be acknowledged.--Do you know this noble gentleman, Edmund?
    No, my lord.
    My lord of Kent. Remember him hereafter as my honorable friend.
    My services to your lordship.
    I must love you, and sue to know you better.
    Sir, I shall study deserving.
    He hath been out nine years, and away he shall again. The King is coming.
    Sound a sennet. Enter one bearing a coronet, then Lear, then the Dukes of Albany and Cornwall; next Goneril, Regan, [and] 38.1Cordelia, with followers.
    Attend my lords of France and Burgundy, Gloucester.
    I shall, my liege.
    [Exit Gloucester.]
    Meantime we will express our darker purposes.
    The map there. Know we have divided
    In three our kingdom; and 'tis our first intent
    To shake all cares and business of our state,
    45Confirming them on younger years.
    50The two great princes France and Burgundy,
    Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,
    Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,
    And here are to be answered. Tell me, my daughters,
    Which of you shall we say doth love us most,
    That we our largest bounty may extend
    Where merit doth most challenge it.
    Goneril, our eldest born, speak first.
    Sir, I do love you more than words can wield the matter;
    Dearer than eyesight, space or liberty,
    Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare,
    No less than life; with grace, health, beauty, honor,
    As much a child e'er loved or father found;
    65A love that makes breath poor and speech unable.
    Beyond all manner of so much I love you.
    [Aside] What shall Cordelia do? Love and be silent.
    Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,
    With shady forests and wide-skirted meads,
    We make thee lady. To thine and Albany's issue
    Be this perpetual. What says our second daughter,
    Our dearest Regan, wife to Cornwall? Speak.
    Sir, I am made of the self same mettle
    That my sister is,
    75And prize me at her worth. In my true heart
    I find she names my very deed of love,
    Only she came short, that I profess
    Myself an enemy to all other joys
    Which the most precious square of sense possesses,
    80And find I am alone felicitate
    In your dear highness' love.
    [Aside] Then poor Cordelia--
    And yet not so, since I am sure my love's
    More richer than my tongue.
    To thee and thine hereditary ever
    Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom,
    No less in space, validity, and pleasure,
    Than that confirmed on Goneril. But now our joy,
    Although the last, not least in our dear love,
    What can you say to win a third, more opulent
    Than your sisters'?
    Nothing my lord.
    How? Nothing can come of nothing. Speak again.
    Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
    My heart into my mouth. I love your majesty
    According to my bond, nor more nor less.
    Go to, go to. Mend your speech a little
    Lest it may mar your fortunes.
    Good my lord,
    You have begot me, bred me, loved me.
    I return those duties back as are right fit;
    105Obey you, love you, and most honor you.
    Why have my sisters husbands if they say
    They love you all?
    Haply when I shall wed, that lord whose hand
    Must take my plight shall carry half my love with him,
    Half my care and duty. 110Sure I shall never
    Marry like my sisters, to love my father all.
    But goes this with thy heart?
    Ay, good my lord.
    So young and so untender.
    So young, my lord, and true.
    Well, let it be so. Thy truth then be thy dower;
    For by the sacred radiance of the sun,
    The mysteries of Hecate and the night,
    By all the operation of the orbs
    From whom we do exist and cease to be,
    120Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
    Propinquity and property of blood,
    And as a stranger to my heart and me
    Hold thee from this for ever. The barbarous Scythian,
    Or he that makes his generation messes
    125To gorge his appetite
    Shall be as well neighbored, pitied, and relieved
    As thou my sometime daughter.
    Good my liege--
    Peace, Kent! 130Come not between the dragon and his wrath.
    I loved her most, and thought to set my rest
    On her kind nursery. [To Cordelia] Hence and avoid my sight!--
    So be my grave my peace, as here I give
    Her father's heart from her. Call France. Who stirs?
    135Call Burgundy.
    [Exit an attendant.]
    Cornwall and Albany,
    With my two daughters' dowers digest this third.
    Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.
    I do invest you jointly in my power,
    Preeminence, and all the large effects
    140That troop with majesty. Ourself by monthly course,
    With reservation of a hundred knights
    By you to be sustained, shall our abode
    Make with you by due turns; only we still retain
    The name and all the additions to a king.
    The sway, 145revenue, execution of the rest,
    Beloved sons, be yours; which to confirm,
    This coronet part betwixt you.
    Royal Lear,
    Whom I have ever honored as my king,
    150Loved as my father, as my master followed,
    As my great patron thought on in my prayers--
    The bow is bent and drawn. Make from the shaft.
    Let it fall rather, though the fork invade
    The region of my heart. Be Kent unmannerly
    155When Lear is mad. What wilt thou do old man?
    Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak
    When power to flattery bows? To plainness honor's bound
    When majesty stoops to folly. Reverse thy doom,
    160And in thy best consideration check
    This hideous rashness. Answer my life my judgment;
    Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least;
    Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sound
    Reverbs no hollowness.
    Kent, on thy life no more.
    My life I never held but as a pawn
    To wage against thy enemies, nor fear to lose it
    Thy safety being the motive.
    Out of my sight!
    See better, Lear, and let me still remain
    The true blank of thine eye.
    Now by Apollo--
    Now, by Apollo, King, thou swear'st thy gods in vain.
    [Threatening Kent] Vassal, recreant!
    Do. Kill thy physician,
    And the fee bestow upon the foul disease.
    Revoke thy doom, or whilst I can vent clamor
    From my throat 180I'll tell thee thou dost evil.
    Hear me. On thy allegiance hear me.
    Since thou hast sought to make us break our vow,
    Which we durst never yet, and with strayed pride
    To come between our sentence and our power,
    185Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,
    Our potency made good, take thy reward.
    Four days we do allot thee for provision
    To shield thee from dis-eases of the world,
    And on the fifth to turn thy hated back
    190Upon our kingdom. If on the next day following
    Thy banished trunk be found in our dominions,
    The moment is thy death. Away! By Jupiter,
    This shall not be revoked.
    Why fare thee well, King, since thus thou wilt appear,
    195Friendship lives hence, and banishment is here.
    [To Cordelia] The gods to their protection take thee, maid,
    That rightly thinks and hast most justly said.
    [To Goneril and Regan] And your large speeches may your deeds approve,
    That good effects may spring from words of love.
    200Thus Kent, O princes, bids you all adieu;
    He'll shape his old course in a country new.
    Enter France and Burgundy with Gloucester [and an attendant.]
    Here's France and Burgundy, my noble lord.
    My lord of Burgundy, we first address towards you,
    Who with a king hath rivaled for our daughter.
    What in the least will you require in present
    Dower with her, or cease your quest of love?
    Royal majesty, I crave no more than what
    Your highness offered; nor will you tender less.
    Right noble Burgundy, when she was dear to us
    We did hold her so,
    215But now her price is fallen. Sir, there she stands.
    If aught within that little-seeming substance,
    Or all of it, with our displeasure pieced
    And nothing else, may fitly like your grace,
    She's there, and she is yours.
    I know no answer.
    Sir, will you with those infirmities she owes,
    Unfriended, new adopted to our hate,
    Covered with our curse and strangered with our oath,
    Take her or leave her?
    Pardon me, royal sir,
    Election makes not up on such conditions.
    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 your love make such a stray
    230To 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.
    This is most strange,
    235That she, that 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 offence
    240Must be of such unnatural degree
    That monsters it, or your fore-vouched affections
    Fallen into taint; which to believe of her
    Must be a faith that reason without miracle
    Could never plant in me.
    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 may know
    It is no vicious blot, murder or foulness,
    250No unclean action or dishonored step
    That hath deprived me of your grace and favor,
    But even for want of that for which I am rich--
    A still-soliciting eye, and such a tongue,
    As I am glad I have not--though not to have it,
    255Hath lost me in your liking.
    Go to, go to. Better thou hadst
    Not been born, than not to have pleased me better.
    Is it no more but this? A tardiness in nature
    That often leaves the history unspoke
    260That it intends to do? My lord of Burgundy,
    What say you to the lady? Love is not love
    When it is mingled with respects that stands
    Aloof from the entire point. Will you have her?
    She is herself a dowry.
    Royal Lear,
    Give but that portion which yourself proposed,
    And here I take Cordelia by the hand,
    Duchess of Burgundy.
    Nothing. I have sworn.
    [To Cordelia] I am sorry then you have so lost a father
    That you must lose a husband.
    Peace be with Burgundy; since that respects
    Of fortune are his love, I shall not be his wife.
    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! 'Tis strange, that from their coldest neglect
    280My love should kindle to inflamed respect.
    Thy dowerless daughter, King, thrown to thy chance,
    Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France.
    Not all the dukes in waterish Burgundy,
    Shall buy this unprized precious maid of me.
    285Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind.
    Thou losest here, a better where to find.
    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,
    290Without our grace, our love, our benison.
    Come, noble Burgundy.
    Exeunt Lear, Burgundy, [and others].
    Bid farewell to your sisters.
    The jewels of our father, with washed eyes
    Cordelia leaves you. I know you what you are,
    295And like a sister am most loath to call
    Your faults as they are named. Use well our father.
    To your professèd bosoms I commit him;
    But yet, alas, stood I within his grace,
    I would prefer him to a better place.
    300So farewell to you both.
    Prescribe not us our duties.
    Let your study
    Be to content your lord, who hath received you
    At fortune's alms. You have obedience scanted,
    305And well are worth the want that you have wanted.
    Time shall unfold what pleated cunning hides,
    Who covers faults, at last shame them derides.
    Well may you prosper.
    Come, fair Cordelia.
    Exeunt France and Cordelia.
    Sister, it is not a little I have to say of what most nearly appertains to us both. I think our father will hence tonight.
    That's most certain, and with you; next month with us.
    You see how full of changes his age is. The 315observation we have made of it hath not been little. He always loved our sister most, and with what poor judgment he hath now cast her off appears too gross.
    'Tis the infirmity of his age. Yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself.
    The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash. Then must we look to receive from his age not alone the imperfection of long-engrafted condition, but therewithal unruly waywardness that infirm and choleric years bring with them.
    Such unconstant starts are we like to have from him as this of Kent's banishment.
    There is further compliment of leave taking between France and him. Pray let's hit together. If our father carry authority with such dispositions as he bears, 330this last surrender of his will but offend us.
    We shall further think on't.
    We must do something, and i'th'heat.