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his two daughters and their husbands—also Cordelia and one of his most faithful nobles, the Earl of Kenthe told his children that he was going to divide his kingdom amongst them; and then he asked which of them loved him most that he might give the largest share to the one who did. One would have thought he might have known this without asking; for loving children, or grown-up people either, show their affection, when it is real, by deeds and not by empty words. His daughter Goneril spoke very largely, said that she loved him more than words could tell, that he was dearer to her than her eye-sight, dearer than riches, or health or beauty ; in short, that she loved him as much as child ever loved father, and that speech could not express how much. The poor king believed all she said, and was quite delighted. He declared that she should have a third part of his kingdom, a very beautiful portion with shadowy forests and plains, noble rivers and wide-spreading fields; and Goneril, not at all ashamed of the untruths she had spoken, thought she had been
clever thus to flatter her father. Then it was Regan's turn to speak; and she, seeing how well her sister's plan had answered, tried to say even more; she assured her father that she felt all that her sister did, for that she found happiness in nothing but his love; and Lear believed her also, and gave to her another third part of his kingdom. Cordelia had been quite shocked to hear her sisters' falsehoods, and to see their effect upon
the dear old father whom she so truly loved. She felt that she could not talk about her love ; it was too deep and tender for words. She loved her father dearly, loved him for himself, and not for the gifts he had to bestow. She knew that her love was richer than her tongue. So, when the king turned his eyes on her, called her his joy, and, though the last, not least, and asked what she could say to obtain a richer portion than her sisters, and bid her speak and asked what she had to say, she answered, “Nothing, my lord.” “Nothing ?” said her father, in the greatest surprise. “Nothing,” said Cordelia. “What !” said the king, “So young, and so untender ?” To which Cordelia answered, “So young and yet so true.” More and more angry, the king said, “Thy truth then be thy dower,” and declared that from that time she should be as a stranger to him, and that he no longer considered her his child. The Earl of Kent, who loved both Lear and Cordelia, began to expostulate, but the king bid him not come between the dragon and his wrath ; said he had loved Cordelia most, and had hoped to find rest in her kind care of him, but now he said, “Hence, and avoid my sight. Call France; call Burgundy; Cornwall, and Albany.” When they came he told them that he divided the portion which should have been Cordelia's between his other daughters, reserving for himself a hundred knights and the title of king; would by turns stay a month at a time with each daughter, expecting them, of course, to maintain him and his knights, as the least they could do in return for all he had bestowed
them. The power of reigning, the revenue, and other things, he made over to Albany and Cornwall, gave them his crown, and told them to part it between them. “Royal Lear,” said Kent, “whom I have ever honoured as my king, loved as my father, as my master followed, as my great patron thought on in my prayers."
« The bow is bent and drawn, make from the shaft,” cried Lear. But Kent's courage failed him not; he spoke again“ Be Kent unmannerly when Lear is mad. What would'st thou do, old man ? Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak when power to flattery bows. —when majesty stoops to folly ?” Then he entreated the king to reverse the doom, to check such hideous rashness. “Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least.” “ Kent, on thy life, no more,” said Lear. Kent answered that he feared not to lose his life, when the king's safety was his object. “Out of my sight,” the king passionately exclaimed, and laid his hand upon his sword. Even Albany and Cornwall were shocked, and said, “ Dear sir, forbear.
Hear me, recreant,” said Lear, looking at Kent. “Take thy
reward.” Then he pronounced him a banished man, gave him only five days for preparation, and said that if he was found in the kingdom on the tenth day following, he should be put to death. Upon hearing this, the noble-hearted and injured Earl of Kent bid the poor deluded king farewell. He spoke with the tenderness of a father to Cordelia, for whom he felt so deeply. He expressed his wish to Goneril and Regan that their large speeches might be proved to be true, by the deeds which should follow them, and then he went his way. There can be no doubt that the king's mind had become weak, and that he was easily led by flatterers.
CHAPTER II. When Kent had withdrawn from the royal presence, the Earl of Gloster entered, and announced the King of France and the Duke of Burgundy. King Lear first addressed the Duke of Burgundy, and desired to