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SCENE 1. A Room of State in King Lear's Palace.
Enter KENT, GLOSTER, and EDMUND.
Kent. I THOUGHT the king had more affected the duke of Albany, than Cornwall.
Glo. It did always seem so to us; but now, in the division of the kingdom,1 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.3
Kent. Is not this your son, my lord?
Glo. 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.
Glo. Sir, this young fellow's mother could: where-
1 There is something of obscurity or inaccuracy in this preparatory scene. The king has already divided his kingdom, and yet, when he enters, he examines his daughters to discover in what proportions he should divide it. Perhaps Kent and Gloster only were privy to his design, which he still kept in his own hands, to be changed or performed as subsequent reasons should determine him.
2 Curiosity is scrupulous exactness.
3 Moiety is used by Shakspeare for part or portion.
Kent. I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper.1
Glo. 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 somewhat 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 gentleman, Edmund ?
Edm. No, my lord.
Glo. My lord of Kent. Remember him hereafter as my honorable friend.
Edm. My services to your lordship.
Kent. I must love you, and sue to know you better.
Glo. He hath been out nine years, and away he
[Trumpets sound within.
Enter LEAR, CORNWALL, ALBANY, GONERIL, Regan,
Lear. Attend the lords of France and Burgundy,
Glo. I shall, my liege.
[Exeunt GLOSTER and EDMUND Lear. Mean time we shall express our darker 2 purpose.
Give me the map there.-Know that we have divided
1 Proper is comely, handsome.
2 i. e. more secret.-The sense is, "We have already made known our
3 i. e. our determined resolution. The quartos read "first intent.”
Which of you, shall we say, doth love us most?
We have this hour a constant will1 to publish
Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,
Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,
Do love you more than words can wield the matter,
No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honor;
A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable;
Cor. What shall Cordelia do? Love, and be silent.
1 A firm, determined will. The lines from while we to prevented now are omitted in the quartos.
2 The two lines in a parenthesis are omitted in the quartos.
3"Beyond all assignable quantity. I love you beyond limits, and cannot say it is so much; for how much soever I should name, it would yet be more."
4 i. e. enriched. So Drant in his translation of Horace's Epistles, 1567:
"To ritch his country, let his words lyke flowing water fall.”
5 That is, “estimate me at her value; my love has at least equal claim to your favor. Only she comes short of me in this, that I profess myself
In your dear highness' love.
I find, she names my very deed of love;
Which the most precious square of sense possesses;
Then poor Cordelia! [Aside.
Lear. To thee, and thine, hereditary ever,
Lest it may mar your fortunes.
Good my lord,
Lear. Nothing can come of nothing; speak again.
My heart into my mouth. I love your majesty
Lear. How, how, Cordelia? mend your speech a
an enemy to all other joys which the most precious aggregation of sense
1 Validity is several times used to signify worth, value, by Shakspeare. It does not, however, appear to have been peculiar to him in this sense.
2 The folio reads conferred; the quartos, confirmed. So in a former passage we have in the quartos confirming for conferring. The word confirm might be used in this connection in a legal sense, as it is in instruments of conveyance.
3 To interest and to interesse are not, perhaps, different spellings of the same verb, but two distinct words, though of the same import. We have interessed in Ben Jonson's Sejanus. Drayton also uses the word in the Preface to his Polyolbion.
To love my father all.
Lear. But goes this with thy heart?
From whom we do exist, and cease to be ;
Ay, good my lord.
Lear. So young, and so untender?
Lear. Let it be so,-thy truth then be thy dower;
And as a stranger to my heart and me
Hold thee, from this, forever. The barbarous Scythian,
Or he that makes his generation1 messes
Good my liege,
Lear. Peace, Kent!
Come not between the dragon and his wrath.
So be my grave my peace, as here I give
1 His children.