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ACT THE FIRST"'."]
An Antechamber in King Lear's Palace.
Enter Edmund. Edm. Thou, Nature, art my goddess; to thy law My services are bound: why am I then Depriv'd of a son's right, because I came not In the dull road that custom has prescrib'd?" , Why bastard? Wherefore base? when I can beast A mind as gen'rous, and a shape as true As honest madam's issue? Why are we Held base, who, in the lusty stealth of nature Take fiercer qualities than what compound The scanted births of the stale marriage-bed? Well then, legitimate Edgar, to thy right 'Of law I will oppose a bastard's cunning. Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund As to legitimate Edgar; with success I've practis'd yet on both their easy natures — Here comes the old man, chaf'dwith the information, Which last I forg'd against my brother Edgar; A tale so plausible, so boldly utter'd, And heighten'd by such lucky accidents, That now the slightest circumstance confirms him, And base-born Edmund, spite of law, inherits.
Enter Kent and Gloster. Glost. Nay, good my Lord, your charity
O'ershoots itself, to plead in his behalf;
Glost, Plead with the seas, and reason down the
Glost. Alas! 'tis the infirmity of his age: Yet has his temper ever been unfixt, Chol'ric, and sudden. [Flourish of Trumpets.
Hark, they approach.
[Exeunt Gloster, Kent, and Edmund.
Enter Cordelia and Edgar.
And, ere successful Burgundy receive
Cord. Alas! what wou'd the wretched Edgar with
A Room of State in the Palace.
King Lear upon his Throne.
Albany, Cornwall, Burgundy, Kent, Gloster, Goneril, Regan, Cordelia, Captain of the Guard, Knights, Pages, Gentleman with the Map, Gentleman with the Crown, Lords, LaDies, &c. &c. discovered.
Lear. Attend, my lords of Albany and Cornwall, With princely Burgundy.
Alb. We do, my liege.
Lear. Give me the map.—Know, Lords, we have divided In three our kingdom, having now resolv'd To disengage from our long toil of state, Conferring all upon your younger years. You, Burgundy, Cornwall, and Albany, Long in our court have made your amorous sojourn,
And now are to be answer'd.—Tell me, my daughters,
Gon. Sir, I do love you more than words can utter,
Lear. Of all these bounds, e'en from this line to
Reg. My sister, sir, in part, exprest my love;
Lear. Therefore, to thee and thine hereditary,
Cord. Now comes my trial.—How am I distrest, That must with cold speech tempt the chol'ric king, Rather to leave me dowerless, than condemn me To Burgundy's embraces!
Lear. Speak now our last, not least in our dear love,— So ends my task of state,—Cordelia, speak; What canst thou say to win a richer third, Than what thy sisters gain'd?
Cord, Now must my love in words, fall short of theirs, As much as it exceeds in truth.—Nothing, my Lord.
Lear. Nothing can come of nothing; speak again.
Cord. Unhappy am I that I can't dissemble: Sir, as I ought, I love your Majesty,
No more, nor less.
Lear. Take heed, Cordelia;
Cord. O my liege!
Lear. And goes thy heart with this?
Cord. So young, my lord, and true.
Lear. Thy truth then be thy dower;
Kent. This is phrenzy.
Lear. Peace, Kent;