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'King Lear' Act 1, Scene 1 (Part 4)

The Complete Text to 'King Lear' Act 1, Scene 1 (Part 4)

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KING LEAR

Better thou
Hadst not been born than not to have pleased me better.


KING OF FRANCE

Is it but this, -- a tardiness in nature
Which often leaves the history unspoke
That it intends to do? My lord of Burgundy,
What say you to the lady? Love's not love
When it is mingled with regards that stand
Aloof from the entire point. Will you have her?
She is herself a dowry.


BURGUNDY

Royal Lear,
Give but that portion which yourself proposed,
And here I take Cordelia by the hand,
Duchess of Burgundy.


KING LEAR

Nothing: I have sworn; I am firm.


BURGUNDY

I am sorry, then, you have so lost a father
That you must lose a husband.


CORDELIA

Peace be with Burgundy!
Since that respects of fortune are his love,
I shall not be his wife.


KING OF FRANCE

Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor;
Most choice, forsaken; and most loved, despised!
Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon:
Be it lawful I take up what's cast away.
Gods, gods! 'tis strange that from their cold'st neglect
My love should kindle to inflamed respect.
Thy dowerless daughter, king, thrown to my chance,
Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France:
Not all the dukes of waterish Burgundy
Can buy this unprized precious maid of me.
Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind:
Thou losest here, a better where to find.


KING LEAR

Thou hast her, France: let her be thine; for we
Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see
That face of hers again. Therefore be gone
Without our grace, our love, our benison.
Come, noble Burgundy.

[Flourish. Exeunt all but KING OF FRANCE, GONERIL, REGAN, and CORDELIA]


KING OF FRANCE

Bid farewell to your sisters.


CORDELIA

The jewels of our father, with wash'd eyes
Cordelia leaves you: I know you what you are;
And like a sister am most loath to call
Your faults as they are named. Use well our father:
To your professed bosoms I commit him
But yet, alas, stood I within his grace,
I would prefer him to a better place.
So, farewell to you both.


REGAN

Prescribe not us our duties.


GONERIL

Let your study
Be to content your lord, who hath received you
At fortune's alms. You have obedience scanted,
And well are worth the want that you have wanted.


CORDELIA

Time shall unfold what plaited cunning hides:
Who cover faults, at last shame them derides.
Well may you prosper!


KING OF FRANCE

Come, my fair Cordelia.

[Exeunt KING OF FRANCE and CORDELIA]


GONERIL

Sister, it is not a little I have to say of what
most nearly appertains to us both. I think our
father will hence to-night.


REGAN

That's most certain, and with you; next month with us.


GONERIL

You see how full of changes his age is; the
observation we have made of it hath not been
little: he always loved our sister most; and
with what poor judgment he hath now cast her off
appears too grossly.


REGAN

'Tis the infirmity of his age: yet he hath ever
but slenderly known himself.


GONERIL

The best and soundest of his time hath been but
rash; then must we look to receive from his age,
not alone the imperfections of long-engraffed
condition, but therewithal the unruly waywardness
that infirm and choleric years bring with them.


REGAN

Such unconstant starts are we like to have from
him as this of Kent's banishment.


GONERIL

There is further compliment of leavetaking
between France and him. Pray you, let's hit
together: if our father carry authority with
such dispositions as he bears, this last
surrender of his will but offend us.


REGAN

We shall further think on't.


GONERIL

We must do something, and i' the heat.

[Exeunt]

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