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ACT I. SCENE I.
A Room of State in King LEAR's Palace.
Enter KENT, GLOSTER, and EDMUND.
KENT. I thought, the king had more affected the duke of Albany, than Cornwall.
GLO. 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 2 are so weighed, that curiosity in neither can make choice of either's moiety *.
I in the division of the kingdom,] There is something of obscurity or inaccuracy in this preparatory scene. The king has already divided his kingdom, and yet when he enters he examines his daughters, to discover in what proportions he should divide it. Perhaps Kent and Gloster only were privy to his design, which he still kept in his own hands, to be changed or performed as subsequent reasons should determine him. JOHNSON.
2 — equalities -] So the first quartos; the folio readsqualities. JOHNSON.
Either may serve; but of the former I find an instance in the Flower of Friendship, 1568: "After this match made, and equalities considered," &c. STEEVENS.
3 that CURIOSITY in neither-] Curiosity, for exactest scrutiny. The sense of the whole sentence is, The qualities and properties of the several divisions are so weighed and balanced against one another, that the exactest scrutiny could not determine in preferring one share to the other. WARBURTON.
Curiosity is scrupulousness, or captiousness. So, in The Taming of the Shrew, Act IV. Sc. IV. :
"For curious I cannot be with you." STEEVENS. See Timon of Athens, Act IV. Sc. III. and the present tra
gedy, p. 31, n. 1. MALONE.
KENT. Is not this your son, my lord?
GLO. 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.
GLO. 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 3.
GLO. 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 somewhat 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 ?
EDM. No, my lord.
GLO. My lord of Kent: remember him hereafter as my honourable friend.
4- of either's MOIETY.] The strict sense of the word moiety is half, one of two equal parts; but Shakspeare commonly uses it for any part or division:
"Methinks my moiety north from Burton here,
"In quantity equals not one of yours: and here the division was into three parts. STEEVENS.
Heywood likewise uses the word moiety as synonymous to any part or portion: "I would unwillingly part with the greatest moiety of my own means and fortunes." Hystory of Women, 1624. See Henry IV. Part I. Act III. Sc. I. MALONE. 5 -being so PROPER.] i. e. handsome.
See vol. v. p. 21,
SOME YEAR elder than this,] Some year, is an expression used when we speak indefinitely. STEEVENS.
I do not agree with Mr. Steevens that some year is an expression used when we speak indefinitely. I believe it means about a year; and accordingly Edmund says, in the 32d page
"For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines
Lag of a brother." M. MASON.
EDM. My services to your lordship.
KENT. I must love you, and sue to know you better.
EDM. Sir, I shall study deserving.
GLO. He hath been out nine years, and away he shall again :-The king is coming.
[Trumpets sound within.
Enter LEAR, CORNWALL, ALBANY, GONERIL, REGAN, CORDELIA, and Attendants.
LEAR. Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloster.
GLO. I shall, my liege.
[Exeunt GLOSTER and Edmund. LEAR. Mean-time we shall express our darker purpose *7.
Give me the map there.-Know, that we have divided,
In three, our kingdom: and 'tis our fast intent9
* Quartos, purposes.
7 express our DARKER purpose.] Darker, for more secret ; not for indirect, oblique. WARBurton.
"We shall express
This word may admit a further explication. our darker purpose:" that is, we have already made known in some measure our desire of parting the kingdom; we will now discover what has not been told before, the reasons by which we shall regulate the partition. This interpretation will justify or palliate the exordial dialogue. JOHNSON.
8 GIVE ME the map there.] So the folio. The quartos, leaving the verse defective, read-The map there. STEEVENS.
- and 'tis our FAST intent-] Fast is the reading of the first folio, and, I think, the true reading. JOHNSON.
Our fast intent is our determined resolution. The quartos have -our first intent. MALONE.
from our age;] The quartos read-of our state.
2 CONFERRING them on younger STRENGTHS,] Is the reading
Unburden'd crawl toward death.-Our son of Corn
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 daugh
(Since now we will divest us, both of rule,
Which of you, shall we say, doth love us most?
Where merit doth most challenge it .-Goneril,
GoN. Sir, I do love you more than words can wield the matter;
* Quartos, The two great princes.
of the folio; the quartos read, Confirming them on younger years. STEEVENS.
while we, &c.]
omitted in the quartos. constant will -]
From while we, down to prevented now, is
Seems a confirmation of fast intent.
Constant is firm, determined. Constant will is the certa voluntas of Virgil. The same epithet is used with the same meaning in The Merchant of Venice:
else nothing in the world
"Could turn so much the constitution
"Of any constant man.' STEEVENS.
5 Since now, &c.] These two lines are omitted in the quartos.
"Where merit doth most challenge it.] The folio reads: "Where nature doth with merit challenge:
i. e. where the claim of merit is superadded to that of nature; or where a superior degree of natural filial affection is joined to the claim of other merits. STEEvens.
Dearer than eye-sight, space and liberty;
No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, ho
As much as child e'er lov'd, or father found * ;
COR. What shall Cordelia do?? Love, and be
[Aside. LEAR. Of all these bounds, even from this line
With shadowy forests and with champains rich'd,
* Quartos, friend.
7 Gon. Sir, I do love you more than words can wield the matter,
NO LESS THAN LIFE,] So, in Holinshed: " he first asked Gonorilla the eldest, how well she loved him; who calling hir gods to record, protested that she loved him more than her own life, which by right and reason should be most deere unto hir. With which answer the father being well pleased, turned to the second, and demanded of hir how well she loved him; who answered (confirming hir saieings with great othes,) that she loved him more than toong could expresse, and farre above all other creatures of the world.
"Then called he his youngest daughter Cordeilla before him, and asked hir, what account she made of him; unto whom she made this answer as followeth Knowing the great love and fatherlie zeale that you have alwaies born towards me, (for the which I maie not answere you otherwise than I thinke and as my conscience leadeth me,) I protest unto you that I have loved you ever, and will continuallie (while I live) love you as my natural father. And if you would more understand of the love I bear you, ascertain yourself, that so much as you have, so much you are worth, and so much I love you, and no more." MALONE.
8 Beyond all manner of so much-] Beyond all assignable quantity. I love you beyond limits, and cannot say it is so much, for how much soever I should name, it would be yet more.
Thus Rowe, in his Fair Penitent, Sc. I.:
I can only
"Swear you reign here, but never tell how much." STEEVENS. - do?] So the quarto; the folio has speak. JOHNSON.