King Lear By William Shakespeare Act I: Scene 1

KENT.
Good my liege, —

LEAR.
Peace, Kent!
Come not between the dragon and his wrath.
I lov'd her most, and thought to set my rest
On her kind nursery. — Hence, and avoid my sight! — [To Cordelia.]
So be my grave my peace, as here I give
Her father's heart from her! — Call France; — who stirs?
Call Burgundy! — Cornwall and Albany,
With my two daughters' dowers digest this third:
Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.
I do invest you jointly in my power,
Pre-eminence, and all the large effects
That troop with majesty. — Ourself, by monthly course,
With reservation of an hundred knights,
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;
The sway,
Revenue, execution of the rest,
Beloved sons, be yours; which to confirm,
This coronet part betwixt you.
[Giving the crown.]

KENT.
Royal Lear,
Whom I have ever honour'd as my king,
Lov'd as my father, as my master follow'd,
As my great patron thought on in my prayers. —

LEAR.
The bow is bent and drawn; make from the shaft.

KENT.
Let it fall rather, though the fork invade
The region of my heart: be Kent unmannerly
When Lear is mad. What wouldst thou do, old man?
Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak
When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour's bound
When majesty falls to folly. Reverse thy state;
And in thy best consideration check
This hideous rashness: answer my life my judgment,
Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least;
Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sound
Reverbs no hollowness.

LEAR.
Kent, on thy life, no more.

KENT.
My life I never held but as a pawn
To wage against thine enemies; nor fear to lose it,
Thy safety being the motive.

LEAR.
Out of my sight!

KENT.
See better, Lear; and let me still remain
The true blank of thine eye.

LEAR.
Now, by Apollo, —

KENT.
Now by Apollo, king,
Thou swear'st thy gods in vain.

LEAR.
O vassal! miscreant!

[Laying his hand on his sword.]

ALBANY and CORNWALL.
Dear sir, forbear!

KENT.
Do;
Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow
Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy gift,
Or, whilst I can vent clamour from my throat,
I'll tell thee thou dost evil.

LEAR.
Hear me, recreant!
On thine allegiance, hear me! —
Since thou hast sought to make us break our vow, —
Which we durst never yet, — and with strain'd pride
To come between our sentence and our power, —
Which nor our nature nor our place can bear, —
Our potency made good, take thy reward.
Five days we do allot thee for provision
To shield thee from diseases of the world;
And on the sixth to turn thy hated back
Upon our kingdom: if, on the tenth day following,
Thy banish'd trunk be found in our dominions,
The moment is thy death. Away! by Jupiter,
This shall not be revok'd.

KENT.
Fare thee well, king: sith thus thou wilt appear,
Freedom lives hence, and banishment is here. —
[To Cordelia.] The gods to their dear shelter take thee, maid,
That justly think'st and hast most rightly said!
[To Regan and Goneril.]
And your large speeches may your deeds approve,
That good effects may spring from words of love. —
Thus Kent, O princes, bids you all adieu;
He'll shape his old course in a country new.

[Exit.]

[Flourish. Re-enter Gloucester, with France, Burgundy, and
Attendants.]

GLOUCESTER.
Here's France and Burgundy, my noble lord.

LEAR.
My Lord of Burgundy,
We first address toward you, who with this king
Hath rivall'd for our daughter: what in the least
Will you require in present dower with her,
Or cease your quest of love?

BURGUNDY.
Most royal majesty,
I crave no more than hath your highness offer'd,
Nor will you tender less.

LEAR.
Right noble Burgundy,
When she was dear to us, we did hold her so;
But now her price is fall'n. Sir, there she stands:
If aught within that little seeming substance,
Or all of it, with our displeasure piec'd,
And nothing more, may fitly like your grace,
She's there, and she is yours.

BURGUNDY.
I know no answer.

LEAR.
Will you, with those infirmities she owes,
Unfriended, new-adopted to our hate,
Dower'd with our curse, and stranger'd with our oath,
Take her, or leave her?

BURGUNDY.
Pardon me, royal sir;
Election makes not up on such conditions.

LEAR.
Then leave her, sir; for, by the power that made me,
I tell you all her wealth. — [To France] For you, great king,
I would not from your love make such a stray
To match you where I hate; therefore beseech you
To avert your liking a more worthier way
Than on a wretch whom nature is asham'd
Almost to acknowledge hers.

FRANCE.
This is most strange,
That she, who even but now was your best object,
The argument of your praise, balm of your age,
Most best, most dearest, should in this trice of time
Commit a thing so monstrous, to dismantle
So many folds of favour. Sure her offence
Must be of such unnatural degree
That monsters it, or your fore-vouch'd affection
Fall'n into taint; which to believe of her
Must be a faith that reason without miracle
Should never plant in me.

CORDELIA.
I yet beseech your majesty, —
If for I want that glib and oily art
To speak and purpose not; since what I well intend,
I'll do't before I speak, — that you make known
It is no vicious blot, murder, or foulness,
No unchaste action or dishonour'd step,
That hath depriv'd me of your grace and favour;
But even for want of that for which I am richer, —
A still-soliciting eye, and such a tongue
As I am glad I have not, though not to have it
Hath lost me in your liking.

LEAR.
Better thou
Hadst not been born than not to have pleas'd me better.

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