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King Lear: Act 1, Scene 1

King Lear
Act 1, Scene 1

Scene 1

King Lear’s palace.

  1. Enter Kent, Gloucester, and Edmund.

Kent

2 - 3
  1. I thought the King had more affected the Duke of Albany than
  2. Cornwall.

Gloucester

4 - 7
  1. It did always seem so to us; but now in the division of the
  2. kingdom, it appears not which of the Dukes he values most,
  3. for equalities are so weigh’d, that curiosity in neither can
  4. make choice of either’s moi’ty.

Kent

8
  1. Is not this your son, my lord?

Gloucester

9 - 10
  1. His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge. I have so often
  2. blush’d to acknowledge him, that now I am braz’d to’t.

Kent

11
  1. I cannot conceive you.

Gloucester

12 - 14
  1. Sir, this young fellow’s mother could; whereupon she grew
  2. round-womb’d, and had indeed, sir, a son for her cradle ere
  3. she had a husband for her bed. Do you smell a fault?

Kent

15 - 16
  1. I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so
  2. proper.

Gloucester

17 - 22
  1. But I have a son, sir, by order of law, some year elder than
  2. this, who yet is no dearer in my account. Though this knave
  3. came something saucily to the world before he was sent for,
  4. yet was his mother fair, there was good sport at his making,
  5. and the whoreson must be acknowledg’d. Do you know this
  6. noble gentleman, Edmund?

Edmund

23
  1. No, my lord.

Gloucester

24 - 25
  1. My Lord of Kent. Remember him hereafter as my honorable
  2. friend.

Edmund

26
  1. My services to your lordship.

Kent

27
  1. I must love you, and sue to know you better.

Edmund

28
  1. Sir, I shall study deserving.

Gloucester

29 - 31
  1. He hath been out nine years, and away he shall again.
  2. Sound a sennet.
  3. The King is coming.
  1. Enter one bearing a coronet, then King Lear, Cornwall,
  2. Albany, Goneril, Regan, Cordelia, and Attendants.

Lear

34
  1. Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloucester.

Gloucester

35
  1. I shall, my lord.
  1. Exit with Edmund.

Lear

37 - 55
  1. Mean time we shall express our darker purpose.
  2. Give me the map there. Know that we have divided
  3. In three our kingdom; and ’tis our fast intent
  4. To shake all cares and business from our age,
  5. Conferring them on younger strengths, while we
  6. Unburden’d crawl toward death. Our son of Cornwall,
  7. And you, our no less loving son of Albany,
  8. We have this hour a constant will to publish
  9. Our daughters’ several dowers, that future strife
  10. May be prevented now. The princes, France and Burgundy,
  11. Great rivals in our youngest daughter’s love,
  12. Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,
  13. And here are to be answer’d. Tell me, my daughters
  14. (Since now we will divest us both of rule,
  15. Interest of territory, cares of state),
  16. Which of you shall we say doth love us most,
  17. That we our largest bounty may extend
  18. Where nature doth with merit challenge? Goneril,
  19. Our eldest-born, speak first.

Goneril

56 - 62
  1. Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter,
  2. Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty,
  3. Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare,
  4. No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honor;
  5. As much as child e’er lov’d, or father found;
  6. A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable:
  7. Beyond all manner of so much I love you.

Cordelia

63 - 64
  1. Aside.
  2. What shall Cordelia speak? Love, and be silent.

Lear

65 - 70
  1. Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,
  2. With shadowy forests and with champains rich’d,
  3. With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads,
  4. We make thee lady. To thine and Albany’s issue
  5. Be this perpetual. What says our second daughter,
  6. Our dearest Regan, wife of Cornwall? Speak.

Regan

71 - 78
  1. I am made of that self metal as my sister,
  2. And prize me at her worth. In my true heart
  3. I find she names my very deed of love;
  4. Only she comes too short, that I profess
  5. Myself an enemy to all other joys
  6. Which the most precious square of sense possesses,
  7. And find I am alone felicitate
  8. In your dear Highness’ love.

Cordelia

79 - 82
  1. Aside.
  2.                              Then poor Cordelia!
  3. And yet not so, since I am sure my love’s
  4. More ponderous than my tongue.

Lear

83 - 90
  1. To thee and thine hereditary ever
  2. Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom,
  3. No less in space, validity, and pleasure,
  4. Than that conferr’d on Goneril.—Now, our joy,
  5. Although our last and least, to whose young love
  6. The vines of France and milk of Burgundy
  7. Strive to be interess’d, what can you say to draw
  8. A third more opulent than your sisters’? Speak.

Cordelia

91
  1. Nothing, my lord.

Lear

92
  1. Nothing?

Cordelia

93
  1. Nothing.

Lear

94
  1. Nothing will come of nothing, speak again.

Cordelia

95 - 97
  1. Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
  2. My heart into my mouth. I love your Majesty
  3. According to my bond, no more nor less.

Lear

98 - 99
  1. How, how, Cordelia? Mend your speech a little,
  2. Lest you may mar your fortunes.

Cordelia

100 - 109
  1.                                 Good my lord,
  2. You have begot me, bred me, lov’d me: I
  3. Return those duties back as are right fit,
  4. Obey you, love you, and most honor you.
  5. Why have my sisters husbands, if they say
  6. They love you all? Happily, when I shall wed,
  7. That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry
  8. Half my love with him, half my care and duty.
  9. Sure I shall never marry like my sisters,
  10. To love my father all.

Lear

110
  1. But goes thy heart with this?

Cordelia

111
  1.                               Ay, my good lord.

Lear

112
  1. So young, and so untender?

Cordelia

113
  1. So young, my lord, and true.

Lear

114 - 126
  1. Let it be so: thy truth then be thy dow’r!
  2. For by the sacred radiance of the sun,
  3. The mysteries of Hecat and the night;
  4. By all the operation of the orbs,
  5. From whom we do exist and cease to be;
  6. Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
  7. Propinquity and property of blood,
  8. And as a stranger to my heart and me
  9. Hold thee from this forever. The barbarous Scythian,
  10. Or he that makes his generation messes
  11. To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom
  12. Be as well neighbor’d, pitied, and reliev’d,
  13. As thou my sometime daughter.

Kent

127
  1.                               Good my liege

Lear

128 - 148
  1. Peace, Kent!
  2. Come not between the dragon and his wrath;
  3. I lov’d her most, and thought to set my rest
  4. On her kind nursery.
  5. To Cordelia.
  6.                      Hence, and avoid my sight!—
  7. So be my grave my peace, as here I give
  8. Her father’s heart from her. Call France. Who stirs?
  9. Call Burgundy. Cornwall and Albany,
  10. With my two daughters’ dow’rs digest the third;
  11. Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.
  12. I do invest you jointly with my power,
  13. Pre-eminence, and all the large effects
  14. That troop with majesty. Ourself, by monthly course,
  15. With reservation of an hundred knights
  16. By you to be sustain’d, shall our abode
  17. Make with you by due turn. Only we shall retain
  18. The name, and all th’ addition to a king;
  19. The sway, revenue, execution of the rest,
  20. Beloved sons, be yours, which to confirm,
  21. This coronet part between you.

Kent

149 - 152
  1.                                Royal Lear,
  2. Whom I have ever honor’d as my king,
  3. Lov’d as my father, as my master follow’d,
  4. As my great patron thought on in my prayers

Lear

153
  1. The bow is bent and drawn, make from the shaft.

Kent

154 - 164
  1. Let it fall rather, though the fork invade
  2. The region of my heart; be Kent unmannerly
  3. When Lear is mad. What wouldest thou do, old man?
  4. Think’st thou that duty shall have dread to speak
  5. When power to flattery bows? To plainness honor’s bound,
  6. When majesty falls to folly. Reserve thy state,
  7. And in thy best consideration check
  8. This hideous rashness. Answer my life my judgment,
  9. Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least,
  10. Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sounds
  11. Reverb no hollowness.

Lear

165
  1.                       Kent, on thy life, no more.

Kent

166 - 168
  1. My life I never held but as a pawn
  2. To wage against thine enemies, ne’er fear’d to lose it,
  3. Thy safety being motive.

Lear

169
  1.                          Out of my sight!

Kent

170 - 171
  1. See better, Lear, and let me still remain
  2. The true blank of thine eye.

Lear

172
  1. Now, by Apollo

Kent

173 - 174
  1.                 Now, by Apollo, King,
  2. Thou swear’st thy gods in vain.

Lear

175
  1.                                 O vassal! Miscreant!
  1. Starts to draw his sword.

Both Albany and Cornwall

177
  1. Dear sir, forbear.

Kent

178 - 181
  1. Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow
  2. Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy gift,
  3. Or whilst I can vent clamor from my throat,
  4. I’ll tell thee thou dost evil.

Lear

182 - 195
  1.                                Hear me, recreant,
  2. On thine allegiance, hear me!
  3. That thou hast sought to make us break our vow
  4. Which we durst never yetand with strain’d pride
  5. To come betwixt our sentence and our power,
  6. Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,
  7. Our potency made good, take thy reward.
  8. Five days we do allot thee, for provision
  9. To shield thee from disasters of the world,
  10. And on the sixth to turn thy hated back
  11. Upon our kingdom. If, on the tenth day following,
  12. Thy banish’d trunk be found in our dominions,
  13. The moment is thy death. Away! By Jupiter,
  14. This shall not be revok’d.

Kent

196 - 205
  1. Fare thee well, King; sith thus thou wilt appear,
  2. Freedom lives hence, and banishment is here.
  3. To Cordelia.
  4. The gods to their dear shelter take thee, maid,
  5. That justly think’st and hast most rightly said!
  6. To Regan and Goneril.
  7. And your large speeches may your deeds approve,
  8. That good effects may spring from words of love.
  9. Thus Kent, O princes, bids you all adieu,
  10. He’ll shape his old course in a country new.
  1. Exit.
  1. Flourish. Enter Gloucester with France and Burgundy,
  2. Attendants.

Gloucester

209
  1. Here’s France and Burgundy, my noble lord.

Lear

210 - 214
  1. My Lord of Burgundy,
  2. We first address toward you, who with this king
  3. Hath rivall’d for our daughter. What, in the least,
  4. Will you require in present dower with her,
  5. Or cease your quest of love?

Burgundy

215 - 217
  1.                              Most royal Majesty,
  2. I crave no more than hath your Highness offer’d,
  3. Nor will you tender less.

Lear

218 - 224
  1.                           Right noble Burgundy,
  2. When she was dear to us, we did hold her so,
  3. But now her price is fallen. Sir, there she stands:
  4. If aught within that little seeming substance,
  5. Or all of it, with our displeasure piec’d,
  6. And nothing more, may fitly like your Grace,
  7. She’s there, and she is yours.

Burgundy

225
  1.                                I know no answer.

Lear

226 - 229
  1. Will you, with those infirmities she owes,
  2. Unfriended, new adopted to our hate,
  3. Dow’r’d with our curse, and stranger’d with our oath,
  4. Take her, or leave her?

Burgundy

230 - 231
  1.                         Pardon me, royal sir,
  2. Election makes not up in such conditions.

Lear

232 - 240
  1. Then leave her, sir, for by the pow’r that made me,
  2. I tell you all her wealth.
  3. To France.
  4.                            For you, great King,
  5. I would not from your love make such a stray
  6. To match you where I hate; therefore beseech you
  7. T’ avert your liking a more worthier way
  8. Than on a wretch whom Nature is asham’d
  9. Almost t’ acknowledge hers.

King of France

241 - 251
  1.                             This is most strange,
  2. That she, whom even but now was your best object,
  3. The argument of your praise, balm of your age,
  4. The best, the dearest, should in this trice of time
  5. Commit a thing so monstrous, to dismantle
  6. So many folds of favor. Sure her offense
  7. Must be of such unnatural degree
  8. That monsters it, or your fore-vouch’d affection
  9. Fall into taint; which to believe of her
  10. Must be a faith that reason without miracle
  11. Should never plant in me.

Cordelia

252 - 262
  1.                           I yet beseech your Majesty
  2. If for I want that glib and oily art
  3. To speak and purpose not, since what I well intend,
  4. I’ll do’t before I speakthat you make known
  5. It is no vicious blot, murder, or foulness,
  6. No unchaste action, or dishonored step,
  7. That hath depriv’d me of your grace and favor,
  8. But even for want of that for which I am richer
  9. A still-soliciting eye, and such a tongue
  10. That I am glad I have not, though not to have it
  11. Hath lost me in your liking.

Lear

263 - 264
  1.                              Better thou
  2. Hadst not been born than not t’ have pleas’d me better.

King of France

265 - 271
  1. Is it but thisa tardiness in nature
  2. Which often leaves the history unspoke
  3. That it intends to do? My Lord of Burgundy,
  4. What say you to the lady? Love’s not love
  5. When it is mingled with regards that stands
  6. Aloof from th’ entire point. Will you have her?
  7. She is herself a dowry.

Burgundy

272 - 275
  1.                         Royal King,
  2. Give but that portion which yourself propos’d,
  3. And here I take Cordelia by the hand,
  4. Duchess of Burgundy.

Lear

276
  1. Nothing. I have sworn, I am firm.

Burgundy

277 - 278
  1. I am sorry then you have so lost a father
  2. That you must lose a husband.

Cordelia

279 - 281
  1.                               Peace be with Burgundy!
  2. Since that respects of fortune are his love,
  3. I shall not be his wife.

King of France

282 - 293
  1. Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich being poor,
  2. Most choice forsaken, and most lov’d despis’d,
  3. Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon,
  4. Be it lawful I take up what’s cast away.
  5. Gods, gods! ’Tis strange that from their cold’st neglect
  6. My love should kindle to inflam’d respect.
  7. Thy dow’rless daughter, King, thrown to my chance,
  8. Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France.
  9. Not all the dukes of wat’rish Burgundy
  10. Can buy this unpriz’d precious maid of me.
  11. Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind,
  12. Thou losest here, a better where to find.

Lear

294 - 300
  1. Thou hast her, France, let her be thine, for we
  2. Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see
  3. That face of hers again.
  4. To Cordelia.
  5.                          Therefore be gone,
  6. Without our grace, our love, our benison.—
  7. Come, noble Burgundy.
  1. Flourish. Exeunt all but France, Goneril, Regan, and
  2. Cordelia.

King of France

303
  1. Bid farewell to your sisters.

Cordelia

304 - 311
  1. The jewels of our father, with wash’d eyes
  2. Cordelia leaves you. I know you what you are,
  3. And like a sister am most loath to call
  4. Your faults as they are named. Love well our father;
  5. To your professed bosoms I commit him,
  6. But yet, alas, stood I within his grace,
  7. I would prefer him to a better place.
  8. So farewell to you both.

Regan

312
  1. Prescribe not us our duty.

Goneril

313 - 316
  1.                            Let your study
  2. Be to content your lord, who hath receiv’d you
  3. At fortune’s alms. You have obedience scanted,
  4. And well are worth the want that you have wanted.

Cordelia

317 - 319
  1. Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides,
  2. Who covers faults, at last with shame derides.
  3. Well may you prosper!

King of France

320
  1.                       Come, my fair Cordelia.
  1. Exeunt France and Cordelia.

Goneril

322 - 324
  1. Sister, it is not little I have to say of what most nearly
  2. appertains to us both. I think our father will hence
  3. tonight.

Regan

325
  1. That’s most certain, and with you; next month with us.

Goneril

326 - 329
  1. You see how full of changes his age is; the observation we
  2. have made of it hath not been little. He always lov’d our
  3. sister most, and with what poor judgment he hath now cast
  4. her off appears too grossly.

Regan

330 - 331
  1. ’Tis the infirmity of his age, yet he hath ever but
  2. slenderly known himself.

Goneril

332 - 336
  1. The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash; then
  2. must we look from his age to receive not alone the
  3. imperfections of long-ingraff’d condition, but therewithal
  4. the unruly waywardness that infirm and choleric years bring
  5. with them.

Regan

337 - 338
  1. Such unconstant starts are we like to have from him as this
  2. of Kent’s banishment.

Goneril

339 - 342
  1. There is further compliment of leave-taking between France
  2. and him. Pray you let us hit together; if our father carry
  3. authority with such disposition as he bears, this last
  4. surrender of his will but offend us.

Regan

343
  1. We shall further think of it.

Goneril

344
  1. We must do something, and i’ th’ heat.
  1. Exeunt.
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