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LEAR, King of Britain.
King of France.
Duke of Burgundy.
Duke of Cornwall.
Duke of Albany.
Earl of Kent.
Earl of Gloster.
EDGAR, Son to Gloster.
EDMUND, Bastard Son to Gloster.
CURAN, a Courtier.
Old Man, Tenant to Gloster.
OSWALD, Steward to Goneril.
An Officer, employed by Edmund.
Gentleman, Attendant on Cordelia.
Servants to Cornwall.
REGAN, Daughters to Lear.
Knights attending on the King, Officers, Messengers,
Soldiers, and Attendants.
SCENE I. 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,' 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: 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?
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. Edm. Sir, I shall study deserving.
Glo. He hath been out nine years, and away he shall again. The king is coming.
[Trumpets sound within.
Enter LEAR, CORNWALL, ALBANY, GONERIL, REGAN, CORDELIA, and Attendants.
Lear. Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloster.
Glo. I shall, my liege.
[Exeunt GLOSTER and EDMUND Lear. Mean time we shall express our darker2 pur
Give me the map there.-Know that we have divided
Conferring them on younger strengths, while we, Unburdened, crawl toward death. Our son of Corn
And you, our no less loving son of Albany,
1 Proper is comely, handsome.
2 i. e. more secret.-The sense is, "We have already made known our desire of parting the kingdom. We will now discover the reasons by which we shall regulate the partition."
3 i. e. our determined resolution. The quartos read "first intent." 4 The quartos read confirming.
We have this hour a constant will1 to publish
Our daughters' several dowers, that future strife
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, (Since now we will divest us, both of rule,
Interest of territory, cares of state,2)
Which of you, shall we say, doth love us most?
That we our largest bounty may extend
Where merit doth most challenge it.—Goneril,
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.
Reg. I am made of that self metal as my sister, And prize me at her worth. In my true heart
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 rich 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
I find, she names my very deed of love;
Which the most precious square of sense possesses;
In your dear highness' love.
Cor. Then poor Cordelia! [Aside. And yet not so; since, I am sure, my love's More richer 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 conferred on Goneril.-Now, our joy,
Lear. Nothing can come of nothing; speak again. Cor. Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
My heart into my mouth. I love your majesty
According to my bond; nor more, nor less.
Lear. How, how, Cordelia? mend your speech a
Lest it may mar your fortunes..
Good my lord,
You have begot me, bred me, loved me; I
an enemy to all other joys which the most precious aggregation of sense can bestow." Square is here used for the whole complement, as circle is now sometimes used.
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.