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dispositions as he bears, this last surrender of his will but offend us.

Re. We shall farther think of it.
Gon. We must do something, and i' the heat.



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 1 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 ? base, base ? 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. Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund

i The scrupulous nicety of civil institutions.

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As to the legitimate: fine word,- legitimate !
Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed,

my invention thrive, Edmund the base Shall top the legitimate. I grow; I prosper. Now, gods, stand up for bastards !


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Glos. Kent banish'd thus, and France in choler

And the king gone to-night! subscribed 1 his power!
Confined to exhibition ! ? All this done
Upon the gad!3_Edmund ! How now? what

Edm. So please your lordship, none.

(putting up the letter. Glos. Why so earnestly seek you to put up that letter?

Edm. I know no news, my lord.
Glos. What paper were you reading ?
Edm. Nothing, my lord.

Glos. 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

3 Allowance.

i Yielded, surrendered. 3 Suddenly.

read; for so much as I have perused, I find it not fit for your overlooking.

Glos. 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.

Glos. Let's see, let's see.

Edm. I hope, for my brother's justification, he wrote this but as an essay 1 or taste of my virtue.

Glos. [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 2 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.'—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?

Edm. It was not brought me, my lord ; there's the cunning of it: I found it thrown in at the casement of


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

i Trial.

2 Weak and foolish.

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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.

Glos. It is his.

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

Glos. Hath he never heretoforé 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.

Glos. 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?

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,1 if you violently proceed against him, mistaking his purpose, it would make a great gap in your own honor, 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 honor, and to no other pretence 2 of danger.

Glos. Think you so ?

1 Whereas,

2 Design.

Edm. If your honor 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 farther delay than this very evening

Glos. He cannot be such a monster.
Edm. Nor is not, sure.

Glos. To his father, that so tenderly and intirely 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.1

Edm. I will seek him, sir, presently; convey? the business as I shall find means; and acquaint you withal.

Glos. 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 : 8 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, hollow

i I would give my estate to be certain of the truth, 2 Manage.

3 i. e. though natural philosophy can give account of eclipses, yet we feel their consequences.

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