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LEAR, King of Britain.
EDGAR, Son to Gloster.
EDMUND, Bastard Son to Gloster.
CURAN, a Courtier.
Old Man, tenant to Gloster.
OSWALD, Steward to Goneril.
Servants to Cornwall.
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.
I THOUGHT, the king had more affected the duke of
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 weigh'd, that curiosity in neither can make choice of either's moiety.3
Kent. Is not this your son, my lord?
1 · in the division of the kingdom,] 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. JOHNSON.
· that curiosity in neither —] Curiosity is scrupulousness, or captiousness.
of either's moiety.] The strict sense of the word moiety is half, one of two equal parts: but Shakspeare commonly uses it for
any part or division.
Glo. His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge: I have so often blush'd 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?
Kent. I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper.*
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 honourable friend.
Edm. My services to your lordship.
Kent. I must love you, and sue to know you better.
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,
Lear. Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloster.
Glo. I shall, my liege.
[Exeunt GLOSTER and EDMUND.
being so proper.] i. e. handsome.
some year elder than this,] i. e. about a year.
Lear. Mean-time we shall express our darker pur pose. 6
Give me the map there.- Know, that we have divided,
And you, our no less loving son of Albany,
May be prevented now. The princes, France and Bur
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?
Do love you more than words can wield the matter,
Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;
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.
Lear. Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,
Reg. I am made of that self metal as my sister,
Which the most precious square of sense possesses;2
And find, I am alone felicitate
In your dear highness' love.
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.
that I profess, &c.] In that, i. e. inasmuch as, I profess myself, &c.
2 Which the most precious square of sense possesses;] Perhaps square means only compass, comprehension; or, the full complement of all the senses.
3 No less in space, validity,] Validity, for worth, value; not for integrity, or good title.