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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, 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, Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty;
Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare ;
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.
[Aside. Lear. Of all these bounds, even from this line to this, With shadowy forests and with champains riched,* With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads, We make thee lady. To thine and Albany's issue Be this perpetual.-What says our second daughter, Our dearest Regan, wife to Cornwall? Speak.
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 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
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, Although the last, not least; to whose young love The vines of France, and milk of Burgundy, Strive to be interessed: 3 what can you say, to draw A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak. Cor. Nothing, my lord.
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.
Obey you, love
and most honor you.
Why have my sisters husbands, if they say,
They love you all? Haply, when I shall wed,
To love my father all.
Lear. But goes this with thy heart?
Ay, good my lord.
Lear. So young, and so untender?
Cor. So young, my lord, and true.
Lear. Let it be so,-thy truth then be thy dower;
For, by the sacred radiance of the sun,
The mysteries of Hecate, and the night;
By all the operations of the orbs,
From whom we do exist, and cease to be;
Propinquity and property of blood,
And as a stranger to my heart and me
Hold thee, from this, forever. The barbarous Scythian, Or he that makes his generation1 messes
To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom
Be as well neighbored, pitied, and relieved,
Lear. Peace, Kent!
Good my liege,
Come not between the dragon and his wrath.
I loved her most, and thought to set my rest
On her kind nursery.-Hence, and avoid my sight! [To CORDELIA.
So be my grave my peace, as here I give
Her father's heart from her!-Call France ;—who stirs ? Call Burgundy.-Cornwall, and Albany,
With my two daughters' dowers digest this third;
Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.
Preeminence, and all the large effects
That troop with majesty.-Ourself, by monthly course, With reservation of a hundred knights,
1 His children.
By you to be sustained, shall our abode
Make with you by due turns. Only we still retain1 The name, and all the additions to a king;
Revenue, execution of the rest,3
Beloved sons, be yours; which to confirm,
This coronet part between you. [Giving the crown.
Loved as my father, as my master followed,
As my great patron thought on in my prayers,
Lear. The bow is bent and drawn; make from the shaft.
Kent. Let it fall rather, though the fork invade The region of my heart; be Kent unmannerly,
When Lear is mad. What wouldst thou do, old
Think'st thou, that duty shall have dread to speak, When power to flattery bows? To plainness honor's
When majesty stoops to folly. Reverse thy doom;" And, in thy best consideration, check
This hideous rashness. Answer my life my judgment, Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least;
Nor are those empty-hearted, whose low sound
Reverbs 5 no hollowness.
Kent, on thy life, no more.
Kent. My life I never held but as a pawn
To wage against thine enemies," nor fear to lose it,
Out of my sight!
1 Thus the quarto; folio, “we shall retain.”
2 "All the titles belonging to a king."
3 By "the execution of the rest," all the other functions of the kingly office are probably meant.
4 The folio reads, "reserve thy state;" and has falls instead of "stoops to folly."
5 This is, perhaps, a word of the Poet's own; meaning the same as reverberates.
The expression to wage against is used in a letter from Guil. Webbe to Robt. Wilmot, prefixed to Tancred and Gismund, 1592:-" You shall not be able to wage against me in the charges growing upon this action."
Kent. See better, Lear, and let me still remain
Thou swear'st thy gods in vain.
Now, by Apollo, king,
O vassal! miscreant!
[Laying his hand on his sword.
Alb. Corn. Dear sir, forbear.
Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow
Hear me, recreant!
Since thou hast sought to make us break our vow,
Upon our kingdom. If, on the tenth day following,
Kent. Fare thee well, king; since thus thou wilt
Freedom' lives hence, and banishment is here. The gods to their dear shelter take thee, maid, [To CORDELIA. That justly think'st, and hast most rightly said!And your large speeches may your deeds approve, [To REGAN and GONERIL.
1 The blank is the mark at which men shoot. 2 "They to whom I have surrendered my authority, yielding me the ability to dispense it in this instance." Quarto B. reads "make good." 3 Thus the quartos. The folio reads "disasters." By diseases are meant uneasinesses, inconveniences.
4 The quartos read "Friendship ;" and in the next line, instead of "dear shelter," "protection."