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"The story of King Lear and his three daughters, is found in Holinshed's Chronicle; and was originally told by Geoffry of Monmouth, who says that Lear was the eldest son of Bladud, and nobly governed his country for sixty years.' According to that his torian, he died about 800 years before Christ. Shakspeare has taken the hint for the behavior of the steward, and the reply of Cordelia to her father concerning her future marriage, from the Mirror of Magistrates, 1587. According to Steevens, the episode of Gloster and his sons is borrowed from Sidney's Arcadia.”
Macbeth, Othello, Hamlet, and Lear, are placed by general consent as first in the list of Shakspeare's inspired creations, but to the character of Lear, is yielded the pre-eminence. It is perhaps the most wonderfu. dramatic conception on record. We have endeavored to incorporate into our selections, the entire development of this extraordinary creation.
LEAR, King of Britain.
KING OF FRANCE.
DUKE OF BURGUNDY.
DUKE OF CORNWALL.
DUKE OF ALBANY.
EARL OF KENT.
EARL OF GLOSTER.
EDGAR, son to Gloster.
EDMUND, illegitimate son to Gloster.
CURAN, a courtier.
Old Man, tenant to Gloster.
OSWALD, steward to Goneril.
GONERIL, REGAN, CORDELIA, daughters to Lear.
Knights attending on the King, Officers, Messengers, Soldiers and
SCENE I.—A Room of State in King Lear's Palace. Enter LEAR, CORNWALL, ALBANY, GONERIL, REGAN, CORDELIA, and Attendants.
Lear. Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloster.
Glo. I shall, my liege. [Exit GLOSTER & EDMUND. Lear. Mean-time 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 Unburden'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 merit doth most challenge it.-Goneril,
Our eldest-born, speak first.
Do love you more than words can wield the matter
Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;
No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honor:
A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable;
Cor. What shall Cordelia do? Love, and be silent.
Reg. I am made of that self metal as my sister,
Only she comes too short, that I profess
Which the most precious square of sense possesses;
And find, I am alone felicitate
In your dear highness' love.
Then poor Cordelia !
And yet not so; since, I am sure, my love's
Lear. To thee, and thine, hereditary ever,
Than that confirm'd on Goneril.-Now, our joy,
Lear. Nothing can come of nothing: speak again.
My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty
According to my bond; nor more, nor less.
Lear. How, how, Cordelia? mend your speech a little,
That lord, whose hand must take my plight, shall carry
Sure, I shall never marry like my sisters,
To love my father all.
Lear. But goes this with thy heart?
Lear. So young, and so untender?
Cor. So young, my lord, and true.
Ay, good my lord.
Lear. Let it be so,-Thy truth then be thy dower :
For, by the sacred radiance of the sun;
The mysteries of Hecate, and the night;
By all the operations of the orbs,
From whom we do exist, and cease to be;
Lear. Peace, Kent!
Good my liege,
Come not between the dragon and his wrath:
On her kind nursery.-Hence, and avoid my sight!
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.
Pre-eminence, and all the large effects
That troop with majesty.-Ourself, by monthly course,
By you to be sustain'd, shall our abode
Make with you by due turns. Only we still retain
Royal Lear, Whom I have ever honor'd as my king,
Lov'd as my father, as my master follow'd,
As my great patron thought on in my prayers,
[Giving the crown.
Lear. The bow is bent and drawn, make from the shaft.
The region of my heart: be Kent unmannerly,
When Lear is mad. What would'st thou do, old man?
When power to flattery bows? To plainness honor's bound,
This hideous rashness: answer my life my judgment,
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.
Out of my sight!
Kent. See better, Lear; and let me still remain
The true blank of thine eye.
Lear. Now, by Apollo,
Thou swear'st thy gods in vain.
Alb. Corn. Dear sir, forbear.
Now, by Apollo, king,
[Laying his hand on his sword.
O, vassal! miscreant !
Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow
Or, whilst I can vent clamor from my throat,
Hear me, recreant!
On thine allegiance hear me !
Since thou hast sought to make us break our vow,
Kent. Fare thee well, king; since thus thou wilt appear,
[To REGAN and GONERIL.
That good effects may spring from words of love.-
Re-enter GLOSTER: with FRANCE, BURGUNDY, and Attendants.
Glo. Here's France and Burgundy, my noble lord.
We first address towards you, who with this king
Or cease your quest of love?
Most royal majesty, I crave no more than hath your highness offer'd, Nor will you tender less.
Right noble Burgundy,
But now her price is fall'n: Sir, there she stands ;
I know no answer.
Will you, with those infirmities she owes,
Unfriended, new-adopted to our hate,
Dower'd with our curse, and stranger'd with our oath,