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Knights of Lear's train, Officers, Messengers, Soldiers, and Attendants.
SCENE I.-A Room of State in King LEAR'S
Enter KENT, GLOUCESTER, and EDMUND.
Kent. I thought the king had more affected the Duke of Albany than Cornwall.
Glou. It did always seem so to us; but now, in the division of the kingdom, it appears not which of the dukes he values most; for equalities are so weighed that curiosity in neither can make choice of either's moiety.
Kent. Is not this your son, my lord?
Glou. His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge: I have so often blushed to acknowledge him, that now I am brazed to it.
Kent. I cannot conceive you.
Glou. 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? Kent. I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper.
Glou. But I have a son, sir, 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 world 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 gentle
man, Edmund ?
Edm. No, my lord.
Exeunt GLOUCESTER and EDMUND. Lear. Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.
Give me the map there. Know that we have divided
In three our kingdom; and 'tis our fast intent
And you, our no less loving son of Albany,
Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,
And here are to be answer'd.
Since now we will divest us both of rule,
Glou. My Lord of Kent: remember him here- Interest of territory, cares of state,
after as my honourable friend.
Edm. My services to your lordship.
Which of you shall we say doth love us most! That we our largest bounty may extend
Where nature doth with merit challenge. | For, by the sacred radiance of the sun, Goneril,
Our eldest-born, speak first.
Gon. Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;
Dearer than eye-sight, space, and liberty;
As much as child e'er lov'd, or father found; A love that makes breath poor and speech unable;
Beyond all manner of so much I love you.
Cor. Aside. What shall Cordelia do? Love, and be silent.
Lear. Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,
With shadowy forests and with champains rich'd,
Which the most precious square of sense possesses,
And find I am alone felicitate
In your dear highness' love.
Cor. Aside. Then poor Cordelia ! And yet not so; since I am sure my love's More ponderous than my tongue.
Lear. To thee and thine, hereditary ever, Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom, No less in space, validity, and pleasure, Than that conferr'd on Goneril. Now, our joy, Although our last, not least; to whose young love The vines of France and milk of Burgundy Strive to be interess'd; what can you say to draw A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak. Cor. Nothing, my lord. Lear. Nothing?
The mysteries of Hecate and the night,
Or he that makes his generation messes
Lear. Peace, Kent!
Good my liege,
Come not between the dragon and his wrath.
Call Burgundy. Cornwall and Albany,
Whom I have ever honour'd as my king,
Kent. Let it fall rather, though the fork invade The region of my heart: be Kent unmannerly, When Lear is mad. What would'st thou do, old man?
Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour's bound
When majesty falls to folly. Reserve thy state;
Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least;
Lear. Kent, on thy life, no more. Kent. My life I never held but as a pawn To wage against thine enemies; nor fear to
Thy safety being the motive.
Lear. Out of my sight! Kent. See better, Lear; and let me still remain The true blank of thine eye. Lear. Now, by Apollo,Kent.
Now, by Apollo, king,
Thou swear'st thy gods in vain. Lear.
O, vassal! miscreant! Laying his hand upon his sword.
Alb., Corn. Dear sir, forbear.
Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow
Hear me, recreant! On thine allegiance, hear me ! Since thou hast sought to make us break our vow, Which we durst never yet, and with strain'd pride To come betwixt our sentence and our power, Which nor our nature nor our place can bear, Our potency made good, take thy reward. Five days we do allot thee for provision To shield thee from diseases of the world; And on the sixth to turn thy hated back Upon our kingdom: if on the tenth day following Thy banish'd trunk be found in our dominions, The moment is thy death. Away! By Jupiter, This shall not be revok'd. 182
Kent. Fare thee well, king; sith thus thou wilt appear,
Freedom lives hence, and banishment is here. To CORDELIA. The gods to their dear shelter take thee, maid,
That justly think'st, and hast most rightly said! To REGAN and GONERIL. And your large speeches may your deeds approve,
That good effects may spring from words of love.
The argument of your praise, balm of your age,
That monsters it, or your fore-vouch'd affection
I yet beseech your majesty,
I'll do 't before I speak, that you make known
Hadst not been born than not to have pleas'd
France. Is it but this? a tardiness in nature
Glou. Here's France and Burgundy, my noble And here I take Cordelia by the hand,
Lear. My Lord of Burgundy,
We first address toward you, who with this king Hath rivall'd for our daughter. What, in the least,
Will you require in present dower with her,
I know no answer.
Take her, or leave her?
I tell you all her wealth. To FRANCE. For you, great king,
I would not from your love make such a stray
This is most strange, That she, that even but now was your best object,
Duchess of Burgundy.
Lear. Nothing: I have sworn; I am firm. Bur. I am sorry, then, you have so lost a father That you must lose a husband.
Cor. Peace be with Burgundy! Since that respects of fortune are his love, I shall not be his wife.
France. Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor;
Most choice, forsaken; and most lov'd, despis'd!
My love should kindle to inflam'd respect.
Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France: 280
Lear. Thou hast her, France; let her be thine, for we
Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see
Flourish. Exeunt LEAR, BURGUNDY, CORN-
France. Bid farewell to your sisters.
Cor. The jewels of our father, with wash'd
Cordelia leaves you: I know you what you are; And like a sister am most loath to call
Your faults as they are nam'd. Use well our Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed,
Come, my fair Cordelia. Exeunt FRANCE and CORDELIA. Gon. Sister, it is not little I have to say of what most nearly appertains to us both. I think our father will hence to-night.
Reg. That's most certain, and with you; next month with us.
Gon. You see how full of changes his age is; the observation 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 grossly.
Reg. 'Tis the infirmity of his age; yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself.
Gon. The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash; then must we look to receive from his age, not alone the imperfections of long-engraffed condition, but therewithal the unruly waywardness that infirm and choleric years bring with them.
Reg. Such unconstant starts are we like to
have from him as this of Kent's banishment.
Gon. There is further compliment of leave taking between France and him. Pray you, let's hit together: if our father carry authority with such disposition as he bears, this last surrender 310
Glou. Give me the letter, sir.
Glou. Let's see, let's see.
Edm. I hope, for my brother's justification, he wrote this but as an essay or taste of my virtue.
world bitter to the best of our times; keeps our for Glou. This policy and reverence of age makes the I begin to find an idle and fond bondage in the tunes from us till our oldness cannot relish them. oppression of aged tyranny, who sways, not as it hath power, but as it is suffered. Come to me, that of this I may speak more. If our father would sleep till I wake him, you should enjoy half his revenue, for ever, and live the beloved of your brother, EDGAR. Hum! Conspiracy! Sleep till I wake him,--SCENE II.—A Hall in the Earl of GLOUCESTER'S you should enjoy half his revenue.' My son
of his will but offend us.
Reg. We shall further think on't.
Enter EDMUND, with a letter.
Edm. Thou, Nature, art my goddess; to thy law
For that I am some twelve or fourteen moon-
Lag of a brother? Why bastard? wherefore base?
Edgar! Had he a hand to write this? a heart and brain to breed it in? When came this to you? Who brought it?
Edm. It was not brought me, my lord; there's the cunning of it; I found it thrown in at the casement of my closet.
Glou. You know the character to be your brother's?
Edm. If the matter were good, my lord, I
the letter! Abhorred villain! Unnatural, de- | with a sigh like Tom o' Bedlam. O! these tested, brutish villain ! worse than brutish! Go, eclipses do portend these divisions. Pa, sol, sirrah, seek him; I'll apprehend him. Abomin- la, mi. able villain! Where is he?
Edm. I do not well know, my lord. If it shall please you to suspend your indignation against my brother till you can derive from him better testimony of his intent, you shall run a certain course; where, if you violently proceed against him, mistaking his purpose, it would make a great gap in your own honour, and shake in pieces the heart of his obedience. I dare pawn down my life for him, that he hath writ this to feel my affection to your honour, and to no other pretence of danger.
Glou. to his father, that so tenderly and entirely loves him. Heaven and earth! Edmund, seek him out; wind me into him, I pray you : frame the business after your own wisdom. I would unstate myself to be in a due resolution. Edm. I will seek him, sir, presently; convey the business as I shall find means, and acquaint you withal. 112 Glou. These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us: though the wisdom of nature can reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself scourged by the sequent effects. Love cools, friendship falls off, brothers divide: in cities, mutinies; in countries, discord; in palaces, treason; and the bond cracked 'twixt son and father. This villain of mine comes under the prediction; there's son against father: the king falls from bias of nature; there's father against child. We have seen the best of our time machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all ruinous disorders, follow us disquietly to our graves. Find out this villain, Edmund; it shall lose thee nothing: do it carefully. And the noble and true-hearted Kent banished! his offence, honesty! 'Tis strange.
Edm. This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune, often the surfeit of our own behaviour, we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars; as if we were villains on necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves thieves and treachers by spherical predominance, drunkards liars and adulterers by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on: an admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star! My father compounded with my mother under the dragon's tail, and my nativity was under ursa major; so that it follows I am rough and lecherous. Tut! I should have been that I am had the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing. Edgar
and pat he comes, like the catastrophe of the old comedy: my cue is villanous melancholy,
Edg. How now, brother Edmund! serious contemplation are you in?
Edm. I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read this other day, what should follow these eclipses.
Edg. Do you busy yourself with that? Edm. I promise you the effects he writes of succeed unhappily; as of unnaturalness between the child and the parent; death, dearth, dissolutions of ancient amities; divisions in state: menaces and maledictions against king and nobles; needless diffidences, banishment of friends, dissipation of cohorts, nuptial breaches, and I know not what.
Edg. How long have you been a sectary astronomical?
Edm. Come, come; when saw you my father last?
Edg. The night gone by.
Edm. Spake you with him?
Edg. Ay, two hours together.
Edg. Some villain hath done me wrong. Edm. That's my fear. I pray you have a continent forbearance till the speed of his rage goes slower, and as I say, retire with me to my lodging, from whence I will fitly bring you to hear my lord speak. Pray you, go; there's my key. If you do stir abroad, go armed. Edg. Armed, brother!
Edm. Brother, I advise you to the best, go armed; I am no honest man if there be any good meaning towards you; I have told you what I have seen and heard; but faintly, nothing like the image and horror of it; pray you, away.
Edg. Shall I hear from you anon?
A credulous father, and a brother noble,
SCENE III.-A Room in the Duke of ALBANY'S Palace.
Enter GONERIL, and OSWALD, her Steward. Gon. Did my father strike my gentleman for chiding of his fool? Osw. Ay, madam.
Gon. By day and night he wrongs me; every hour
He flashes into one gross crime or other,