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Lear. Mean-time we shall express our darker purpose. 6
Give me the map there. - Know, that we have divided, In three, our kingdom: and 'tis our fast intent7
To shake all cares and business from
Our age; Conferring them on younger strengths, while we
Unburden'd crawl toward death. Our son of Corn
And you, our no less loving son of Albany,
Our daughters' several dowers, that future strife
May be prevented now. The princes, France and Burgundy,
Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,
Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn, And here are to be answer'd. - Tell me, my daughters, (Since now we will divest us, both of rule,
Interest of territory, cares of state,)
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,
Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;
No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour: As much as child e'er lov'd, or father found.
express our darker purpose.] That is, we have already made known in some measure our desire of parting the kingdom; we will now discover what has not been told before, the reasons by which we shall regulate the partition. This interpretation will justify or palliate the exordial dialogue. JOHNSON.
and 'tis our fast intent-] Our determined resolution. constant will-] Constant is firm, determined. Constant will is the certa voluntas of Virgil.
A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable;
Cor. What shall Cordelia do? Love, and be silent.
Myself an enemy to all other joys,
Which the most precious square of sense possesses;'
In your dear highness' love.
Then poor Cordelia ! [Aside.
Lear. To thee, and thine, hereditary ever,
9 Beyond all manner of so much -] 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 be yet more.
fess myself, &c.
that I profess, &c.] In that, i. e. inasmuch as, I pro
2 Which the most precious square of sense possesses;] Perhaps square means only compass, comprehension; or, the full complement of all
3 No less in space, validity,] Validity, for worth, value; not for integrity, or good title.
Strive to be interess'd; what can you say, to draw
Lear. Nothing can come † of nothing: speak again.
My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty
Lear. How, how, Cordelia? mend your speech a
Lest it may mar your fortunes.
That lord, whose hand must take my plight, shall carry
Sure, I shall never marry like my sisters,
To love my father all.
Lear. But goes this with thy heart?
Lear. So young, and so untender?
Cor. So young, my lord, and true.
Ay, good my lord.
Lear. Let it be so,-Thy truth then be thy dower:
From whom we do exist, and cease to be;
4 Strive to be interess'd;] To interest and to interesse, are not, perhaps, different spellings of the same verb, but are two distinct words though of the same import; the one being derived from the Latin, the other from the French interesser.
Propinquity and property of blood,
And as a stranger to my heart and me
Hold thee, from this, for ever. The barbarous Scy
Or he that makes his generation 5 messes
To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom
Lear. Peace, Kent!
Good my liege,
Come not between the dragon and his wrath:
So be my grave my peace, as here I give
Her father's heart from her! - Call France; Who
Cornwall, and Albany,
With my two daughters' dowers digest this third:
That troop with majesty.— Ourself, by monthly course,
By you to be sustain'd, shall our abode
Make with you by due turns. Only we still retain
The name, and all the additions to a king;
Revenue, execution of the rest, 7
Beloved sons, be yours: which to confirm,
This coronet part between you.
[Giving the Crown.
Whom I have ever honour'd as my king,
generation] i. e. his children.
all the additions to a king;] All the titles belonging to a king. execution of the rest,] All the other business.
Lov'd as my father, as my master follow'd,
As my great patron thought on in my prayers, -
Kent. Let it fall rather, though the fork invade
What would'st thou do, old man?
When power to flattery bows?
When majesty stoops to folly.
To plainness honour's
Reverse thy doom;
And, in thy best consideration, check
This hideous rashness: answer my life my judgment,
Kent, on thy life, no more.
Kent. My life I never held but as a pawn
Out of my sight!
Kent. See better, Lear; and let me still remain
The true blank of thine eye. 9
Lear. Now, by Apollo,
8 Reverbs -] This is, perhaps, a word of the poet's own making, meaning the same as reverberates.
9 The true blank of thine eye.] The blank is the white or exact mark at which the arrow is shot. See better, says Kent, and keep me always in your view.