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ACT THE FIRST.
An Antechamber in King Lear's Palace.
Edm. Thou, Nature, art my goddess; to thy law
I've practis'd yet on both their easy natures —
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;
First-born and best-belov'd.—O, villain Edgar!
Glost, Plead with the seas, and reason down the winds,
Yet shalt thou ne'er convince me: I have seen
Inverted nature, Gloster's shame and glory :
Whilst Edgar, begg'd of Heaven, and born in honour,
His realms amongst his daughters. Heav'n succeed it!
Kent. I grieve to see him.
With such wild starts of passion hourly seiz'd,
As render majesty beneath itself.
Glost. Alas! 'tis the infirmity of his age:
Yet has his temper ever been unfixt,
Chol'ric, and sudden.
[Flou ish f Trumpet
. Hark, t ey approach.
[Exeunt Gloster, Kent, and Edmund.
Enter Cordelia and Edgar.
Edg. Cordelia, royal fair, turn yet, once more,
And, ere successful Burgundy receive
The treasure of thy beauties from the King,
Cast back one pitying look on wretched Edgar.
Who, in obedience to a father's will,
Flies from her Edgar's arms to Burgundy's?
A Room of State in the Palace.
Flourish of Trumpets—Drums.
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
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, Beyond what can be valu'd rich or rare ;
Nor liberty, nor sight, health, fame, or beauty,
As much as child can love the best of fathers.
Lear. Of all these bounds, e'en from this line to this,
With shady forests, and wide skirted meads,
Reg. My sister, sir, in part, exprest my love;
I have my all in my dear liege's love.
Lear. Therefore, to thee and thine hereditary, Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom.
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;
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;
Thy fortunes are at stake; think better on't,
You gave me being, bred me, dearly love me,
Obey you, love you, and most honour you.
Lear. And goes thy heart with this?
Cord. So young, my lord, and true.
Kent. This is phrenzy.
Consider, good my liege—
Lear. Peace, Kent;
Come not between a dragon and his rage.