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'King Lear' Act 1, Scene 1 (Part 1)

The Complete Text to 'King Lear' Act 1, Scene 1 (Part 1)

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[King Lear's palace.]

[Enter KENT, GLOUCESTER, and EDMUND]


KENT

I thought the king had more affected the Duke of
Albany than Cornwall.


GLOUCESTER

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.


KENT

Is not this your son, my lord?


GLOUCESTER

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.


GLOUCESTER

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.


GLOUCESTER

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 something 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?


EDMUND

No, my lord.


GLOUCESTER

My lord of Kent: remember him hereafter as my
honourable friend.


EDMUND

My services to your lordship.


KENT

I must love you, and sue to know you better.


EDMUND

Sir, I shall study deserving.


GLOUCESTER

He hath been out nine years, and away he shall
again. The king is coming.

[Sennet. Enter KING LEAR, CORNWALL, ALBANY, GONERIL, REGAN, CORDELIA, and Attendants]


KING LEAR

Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloucester.


GLOUCESTER

I shall, my liege.

[Exeunt GLOUCESTER and EDMUND]


KING LEAR

Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.
Give me the map there. Know that we have divided
In three our kingdom: and 'tis our fast intent
To shake all cares and business from our age;
Conferring them on younger strengths, while we
Unburthen'd crawl toward death. Our son of Cornwall,
And you, our no less loving son of Albany,
We have this hour a constant will to publish
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 nature doth with merit challenge. Goneril,
Our eldest-born, speak first.


GONERIL

Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;
Dearer than eye-sight, space, and liberty;
Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;
No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour;
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.


CORDELIA

[Aside]

What shall Cordelia do?
Love, and be silent.


LEAR

Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,
With shadowy forests and with champains rich'd,
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.


REGAN

Sir, I am made
Of the self-same metal that my sister is,
And prize me at her worth. In my true heart
I find she names my very deed of love;
Only she comes too short: that I profess
Myself an enemy to all other joys,
Which the most precious square of sense possesses;
And find I am alone felicitate
In your dear highness' love.

Continue onto the next part of Scene One here

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