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LEAR, King of Britain.
Knights attending on the King, Officers, Messengers,
Soldiers, and Attendants.
Enter Kent, GLOSTER, and Edmund. Kent. I thought the king had more affected the duke of Albany, than Cornwall.
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 weighed, that curiosity ? in neither can make choice of either's moiety.3
Kent. Is not this your son, my lord ?
Glo. His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge. I have so often blushed 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 ?
1 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.
2 Curiosity is scrupulous exactness.
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 honorable friend.
Edm. My services to your lordship.
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,
CORDELIA, and Attendants. Lear. Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloster. Glo. I shall, my liege.
[ Exeunt GLOSTER and EDMUND Lear. Mean time we shall express our darker? pur
pose. Give me the map there.—Know that we have divided In three our kingdom; and 'tis our fast intent 3 To shake all cares and business from our age; Conferring 5 them on younger strengths, while we, Unburdened, crawl toward death. -Our son of Corn
wall, And you, our no less loving son of Albany,
1 Proper is comely, handsome.
2 i. e. more secret.—The sense is, “ We have already made known our desire of parting the kingdom. We will now discover the reasons by which we shall regulate the partition."
3 i. e. our determined resolution. The quartos read “ first intent." 4 The quartos read confirming.
We have this hour a constant will? to publish
Sir, I 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; As much as child e'er loved, or father found. A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable ; Beyond all manner of so much I love you.3 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.
9 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 ;
Then poor Cordelia! [Aside.
Lear. To thee, and thine, hereditary ever,
Cor. Nothing, my lord.
Cor. Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
Good my lord,
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.