The Duke of Burgundy and the King of France enter. Lear discloses his most recent decision, and asks which of them wants a now dowerless daughter. Burgundy declines, but France accepts her, noting the strangeness of the situation, and calling Cordelia “herself a dowry.” He raises her station in paradoxes: “most rich, being poor; most choice, forsaken, most loved, despised.” Lear basically annuls her birth in his graceless adieu. Cordelia rebukes her sisters on the way out. They, alone on the stage, confer, note Lear’s recent incoherence and erratic behavior, and promise each other to make a plan, quickly.
ACT I. SCENE 1. SEGMENT C.
Flourish. Enter Gloucester with King of France, and Burgundy, Attendents.
GLOUCESTER Here’s France and Burgundy, my noble lord.
My lord of Burgundy,
We first address toward you, who with this king
Hath rivaled 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 what your highness offered,
Nor will you tender less?
KING LEAR Right noble Burgundy, 
When she was dear to us we did hold her so.
But now her price is fallen. Sir, there she stands.
If aught within that little-seeming substance,
Or all of it, with our displeasure pieced,
And nothing more, may fitly like your grace, 
She’s there, and she is yours.
BURGUNDY I know no answer.
Will you with those infirmities she owes,
Unfriended, new adopted to our hate,
Dowered with our curse and strangered with our oath, 
Take her or leave her?
BURGUNDY Pardon me, royal sir.
Election makes not up on such conditions.
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 ashamed
Almost t’acknowledge hers. 
KING OF FRANCE This is most strange,
That she who even but now was your best object,
The argument of your praise, balm of your age,
The best, the dearest, should in this trice of time
Commit a thing so monstrous to dismantle 
So many folds of favor. Sure her offence
Must be of such unnatural degree
That monsters it, or your fore-vouched affection
Fall into taint, which to believe of her
Must be a faith that reason without miracle 
Could 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 dishonored step
That hath deprived me of your grace and favor,
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
KING LEAR Better thou
Hadst not been born than not t’have pleased me better.
KING OF 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 stands
Aloof from th’entire point. Will you have her? 
She is herself a dowry.
BURGUNDY Royal King,
Give but that portion which yourself proposed,
And here I take Cordelia by the hand,
Duchess of Burgundy. 
KING LEAR Nothing. I have sworn.
I am sorry, then, you have so lost a father
That you must lose a husband.
CORDELIA Peace be with Burgundy.
Since that respects of fortune are his love, 
I shall not be his wife.
KING OF FRANCE
Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich being poor,
Most choice forsaken, and most loved despised.
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 inflamed 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 unprized precious maid of me.
Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind;
Thou losest here, a better where to find.
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 [all but France, Cordelia, Regan, and Goneril]
KING OF FRANCE Bid farewell to your sisters.
The jewels of our father, with washed eyes 
Cordelia leaves you. I know you what you are,
And, like a sister, am most loath to call
Your faults as they are named. Love well our father.
To your professed 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.
REGAN Prescribe not us our duties.
GONERIL Let your study
Be to content your lord, who hath received you
At fortune’s alms. You have obedience scanted, 
And well are worth the want that you have wanted.
Time shall unfold what plaighted cunning hides;
Who cover faults at last shame them derides.
Well may you prosper.
KING OF FRANCE Come, my fair Cordelia. 
Exit France and Cordelia.
Sister, it is not a little I have to say of what
most nearly appertains to us both. I think our
father will hence tonight.
REGAN That’s most certain, and with you. Next month with us.
You see how full of changes his age is. The 
observation we have made of it hath not been
little. He always loved our sister most, and
with what poor judgment he hath now cast her off
appears too grossly.
‘Tis the infirmity of his age. Yet he hath ever 
but slenderly known himself.
The best and soundest of his time hath been but
rash. Then must we look from his age to receive
not alone the imperfections of long-engraffed
condition, but therewithal the unruly waywardness 
that infirm and choleric years bring with them.
Such unconstant starts are we like to have from
him as this of Kent’s banishment.
There is further compliment of leave-taking
between France and him. Pray you, let’s hit 
together. If our father carry authority with
such dispositions as he bears, this last
surrender of his will but offend us.
REGAN We shall further think of it.
GONERIL We must do something, and i’ the heat.