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Most royal majesty,
I crave no more than hath your highness offer'd,
Nor will you tender less.
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.
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 ?
Pardon me, royal sir;
Election makes not up on such conditions.
Lear. Then leave her, sir; for, by the power that made
I tell you all her wealth.—For you, great king, [To France.
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.
This is most strange,
That she, who (11) even but now was your best object,
The argument of your praise, balm of your age,
Most best, most dearest,(12) 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 into taint: which to believe of her,
Must be a faith that reason without miracle
Should never plant in me.
I yet beseech your majesty
(If for I want that glib and oily art,
To speak and purpose not; since what I well(13) intend,
I'll do't before I speak), that you make known
It is no vicious blot, murder,(14) 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
That I am glad I have not, though not to have it
Hath lost me in your liking.
Hadst not been born than not to have pleas’d me better.
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.
Give but that portion which yourself propos’d,
And here I take Cordelia by the hand,
Duchess of Burgundy.
Lear. Nothing: I have sworn; I am firm.
Bur. I am sorry, then, you have so lost a father
That you must lose a husband.
Peace be with Burgundy!
Since that respects of fortune are his love,
I shall not be his wife.
France. Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being
Most choice, forsaken; and most lov’d, despis'd !
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 inflam’d 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 unpriz'd precious maid of me.-
Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind:
Thou losest here, a better where to find.
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 Lear, Burgundy, Cornwall,
Albany, Gloster, and Attendants.
France. Bid farewell to your sisters.
Cor. The (16) jewels of our father, with wash'd eyes
Cordelia leaves you: I know you what you are;
And, like a sister, am most loth to call
Your faults as they are nam’d. Love well our father :
To your professèd 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.
Reg. Prescribe not us our duty.
Let your study
Be to content your lord, who hath receiv'd you
At fortune's alms. You have obedience scanted,
And well are worth the want that you have wanted.
Cor. Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides :
Who cover faults, at last shame them derides. (17)
Well may you prosper!
Come, my fair Cordelia.
[Exeunt France and Cordelia. Gon. Sister, it is not little I have to say of what most nearly appertains to us both. I think our father will hence to-night.
Reg. That's most certain, and with you; next month with us.
Gon. You see how full of changes his age is; the observation we have made of it hath not(18) been little: he always loved our sister most; and with what poor judgment he hath now cast her off appears too grossly.
Reg. 'Tis the infirmity of his age: yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself.
Gon. 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.
Reg. Such unconstant starts are we like to have from him as this of Kent's banishment. · Gon. There is further compliment of leave-taking between France and him. Pray you, let us hit(19) together: if our father carry authority with such dispositions as he bears, this last surrender of his will but offend us.
Reg. We shall further think of it.
Gon. We must do something, and i' the heat. [Exeunt.
A hall in the Earl of Gloster's castle.
Enter EDMUND, with a letter.
Edm. Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law
My services are bound. Wherefore should I
Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines
Lag of a brother? Why bastard ? wherefore base?
When my dimensions are as well compact,
My mind as generous, and my shape as true,
As honest madam's issue? Why brand they us
With base ? with baseness? bastardy? base, base ?
Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, take
More composition and fierce quality
Than doth, within a dull, stale, tirèd bed,
Go to the creating a whole tribe of fops,
Got 'tween asleep and wake ?–Well, then,
Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land:
Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund
As to the legitimate : fine word,,legitimate !
Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed,
And my invention thrive, Edmund the base
Shall top the (20) legitimate. I grow; I prosper :-
Now, gods, stand up for bastards !
Glo. Kent banish'd thus! and France in choler parted!
And the king gone to-night! subscrib'd his power!
Confin'd to exhibition! All this done
Upon the gad !—Edmund, how now! what news?
Edm. So please your lordship, none.
[Putting up the letter.
Glo. Why so earnestly seek you to put up that letter?
Edm. I know no news, my lord.
Glo. What paper were you reading ?
Edm. Nothing, my lord.
Glo. No? What needed, then, that terrible dispatch of it into your pocket ? the quality of nothing hath not such need to hide itself. Let's see: come, if it be nothing, I shall not need spectacles.
Edm. I beseech you, sir, pardon me: it is a letter from my brother, that I have not all o'er-read; and for so much as I have perused, I find it not fit for your o'er-looking.
Glo. Give me the letter, sir.
Edm. I shall offend, either to detain or give it. The contents, as in part I understand them, are to blame.
Glo. Let's see, let's see.
Edm. I hope, for my brother's justification, he wrote this but as an essay or taste of my virtue.
Glo. [reads] “This policy and reverence of age makes the world bitter to the best of our times; keeps our fortunes from us till our oldness cannot relish them. I begin to find an idle and fond bondage in the oppression of aged tyranny; who sways, not as it hath power, but as it is suffered. Come to me, that of this I may speak more. If our father would sleep till I waked him, you should enjoy half his revenue for ever, and live the beloved of your brother,
EDGAR." Hum-conspiracy !—“Sleep till I waked him,-you should enjoy half his revenue,"—My son Edgar! Had he a hand to write this ? a heart and brain to breed it in ?— When came this to you? who brought it?
Edm. It was not brought me, my lord,—there's the cunning of it; I found it thrown in at the casement of my closet.