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Your faults as they are named.

father:

Use well our

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.

Reg. Prescribe not us our duties.
Gon.

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.
Cor. Time shall unfold what plaited cunning

hides :

Who cover faults, at last shame them derides.
Well may you prosper !

France.

Come, my fair Cordelia. [Exeunt France and Cordelia.

I think

Gon. Sister, it is not a little I have to say of what most nearly appertains to us both. 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 been little he always loved our sister most; and with what poor judgement he hath now cast her off appears too grossly.

Reg. 'Tis the infirmity of his age: yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself.

280

290

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- 300

275. professed, full of professions.

281. scanted, stinted.

282. And well are worth, etc., and are deservedly denied the

natural kindness which you have not shown.

life.

283. plaited, folded.

298. of his time, (part) of his

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 leavetaking 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.

Reg. We shall further think on 't.

Gon. We must do something, and i' the heat.

[Exeunt.

SCENE II. The Earl of Gloucester'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,

310

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? 10
Who in the lusty stealth of nature take

More composition and fierce quality
Than doth, within a dull, stale, tired bed,
Go to the creating a whole tribe of fops,
Got 'tween asleep and wake?
Well then,
Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land:

3. Stand in the plague, etc., be exposed to the tyranny of custom.

4. curiosity, nice scruples. 8. generous, spirited.

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 legitimate. I grow; I prosper :
Now, gods, stand up for bastards!

Enter GLOUCESTER.

Glou. Kent banish'd thus! and France in choler parted!

And the king gone to-night! subscribed his power!

Confined to exhibition! All this done

Upon the gad! Edmund, how now! what news?
Edm. So please your lordship, none.

[Putting up the letter.

Glou. Why so earnestly seek you to put up

that letter?

Edm. I know no news, my lord.

Glou. What paper were you reading?

Edm. Nothing, my lord.

Glou. 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'erread; and for so much as I have perused, I find it not fit for your o'er-looking.

Glou. Give me the letter, sir.

Edm. I shall offend, either to detain or give

21. top the; Capell's reading.

Ff 'to th';' Qq 'tooth.'

24. subscribed, signed away. 25. exhibition, allowance.

20

30

40

26. Upon the gad, on the spur

of the moment, offhand.

32. terrible, terrified.

it.

The contents, as in part I understand them, are to blame.

Glou. 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.

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Glou. [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 50 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 60 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.

Glou. You know the character to be your brother's?

Edm. If the matter were good, my lord, I durst swear it were his; but, in respect of that, I would fain think it were not.

Glou. It is his.

Edm. It is his hand, my lord; but I hope his heart is not in the contents.

Glou. Hath he never heretofore sounded you in this business?

Edm. Never, my lord: but I have heard him

48. policy and reverence of

age, policy of revering age.

70

49. best of our times, best part of our lives.

oft maintain it to be fit, that, sons at perfect age, and fathers declining, the father should be as ward to the son, and the son manage his revenue.

Glou. O villain, villain! His very opinion in 80 the letter! Abhorred villain! Unnatural, detested, brutish villain! worse than brutish! Go, sirrah, seek him; I'll apprehend him: abominable villain! Where is he?

Edm. I do not well know, my lord. If it shall please you to suspend your indignation against my brother till you can derive from him better testimony of his intent, you should run a certain course; where, if you violently proceed against him, mistaking his purpose, it would make 90 a great gap in your own honour, and shake in pieces the heart of his obedience. I dare pawn down my life for him, that he hath wrote this to feel my affection to your honour, and to no further pretence of danger.

Glou. Think you so?

Edm. If your honour judge it meet, I will place you where you shall hear us confer of this, and by an auricular assurance have your satisfaction; and that without any further delay than 100 this very evening.

Glou. He cannot be such a monster

Edm. Nor is not, sure.

Ed

Glou. To his father, that so tenderly and entirely loves him. Heaven and earth! mund, seek him out; wind me into him, I pray you frame the business after your own wisdom. I would unstate myself, to be in a due resolution. Edm. I will seek him, sir, presently; convey

89. where, whereas.

108. unstate myself, deprive myself of position and dignity.

108. to be in a due resolution, to have my doubts fully resolved. 109. convey, discharge.

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