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Reg. 'Tis the infirmity of his age : yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself,
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-engrafted condition, but therewithal, the unruly waywardness that infirm and cholerick 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 leave-taking between France and him, Pray you, let us 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 of it.
A Hall in the Earl of Gloster'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 moon-shines Lag of a brother? Why bastard ? wherefore base ? When my dimensions are as well compact, My mind as generous, and my shape as true, As honest madam's issue? Why brand they us With base? with baseness ? bastardy? Well then Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land: Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund,
7 Qualities of mind.
* The nicety of civil institution.
As to the legitimate: Fine word, - legitimate !
Glo. Kent banish'd thus! And France in choler
parted! And the king gone to-night! subscrib'd' his power! Confin'd to exhibition'! All this done Upon the gad?! Edmund! How now? what
news ? Edm. So please your lordship, none.
[Putting up the Letter. Glo. Why so earnestly seek you to put up that
Glo. No? What needed then that terrible despatch 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'er read; for so much as I have perused, I find it not fit for your over-looking.
Glo. Give me the letter, sir. Edm. I shall offend, either to detain or give it. The contents, as in part I understand them, are to blame.
Glo. 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.
9 Yielded, surrendered.
1 Allowance. 3 Trial.
Glo. [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 cannot relish them. I begin to find an-idle and fond * bondage in the oppression of aged tyranny; who sways, notas 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. -Humph – Conspiracy! - Sleep till i waked him— you should enjoy half his revenue, My son. Edgar! Had he a hand to write this ? a heart and brain to breed it in ? - When came this to.you? Who brought it?
Edr. It was not brought me, my lord, there's the cunning of it ; I found it thrown in at the casement of my
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.
Glo. It is his.
Edm. It is his hand, my lord; but, I hope, his heart is not in the contents.
Glo. Hath he never heretofore sounded you in this business?
Edm. Never, my lord : But I have often heard him. 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.
Glo. O villain, villain !- His very opinion in the letter!— Abhorred villain! Unnatural, detested, brutish villain! worse than brutish! - Go, sirrah, seek him; I'll apprehend him :- Abominable villain ! - Where is he?
4 Weak and foolish.
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 shall run a certain course ; where', if you violently proceed against him, mistaking his purpose, it would make 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 writ this to feel my affection to your honour, and to no other pretence of danger,
Glo. 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 this very evening.
Glo. He cannot be such a monster.
Glo. To his father, that so tenderly and entirely loves him. Heaven and earth!- Edmund, 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 the business as I shall find means, and acquaint you withal.
Glo. These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us: Though the wisdom of nature. can reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself scourged by the sequent effects: love cools, friendship falls off, brothers divide : in cities, mutinies; in countries, discord; in palaces, treason; and the bond cracked between son and father. This villain of mine comes under the prediction; there's son against father : the king falls from bias of nature; there's father against child. We have seen the best of our time: Machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all ruinous disorders, follow us disquietly to our
graves! - Find out this villain, Edmund, it shall lose thee nothing; do it carefully : And the noble and true-hearted Kent banished ! his offence, honesty! Strange! strange!
[Exit. Edm. This is the excellent foppery of the world! that, when we are sick in fortune, (often the surfeit of our own behaviour,) we make guilty of our disasters, the sun, the moon, and the stars: as if we were villains by necessity: fools, by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treachers, by spherical predominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on: An admirable evasion of man, to lay his ill disposition to the charge of a star! Edgar
and pat he comes, like the catastrophe of the old comedy: My cue is villainous melancholy, with a sigh like Tom o'Bedlam. – 0, these eclipses do portend these divisions ! fa, sol, la, mi.9.
Edg. How now, brother Edmund? What serious contemplation are you in?
Edm. I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read this other day, what should follow these
Edg. Do you busy yourself with that ?
Edm. I promise you, the effects he writes of, succeed unhappily; as of unnaturalness between the child and the parent; death, dearth, dissolutions of ancient amities ; divisions in state, menaces and maledictions against king and nobles ; needless diffidences, banishment of friends, dissipation of cohorts', nuptial breaches, and I know not what.
8 Traitors. 9 These sounds are unnatural and offensive in musick.
i For cohorts some editors read courts.