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Shall buy this unpriz'd precious maid of me.-
Lear. Thou hast her, France: let her be thine: for we
Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see
[Flourish. Exeunt Lear, Burgundy, Cornwall, Albany, Gloster, and Attendants.
France. Bid farewell to your sisters.
Cor. The jewels of our father, with wash'd eyes Cordelia leaves you: I know you what you are; And, like a sister, am most loath to call
Your faults, as they are nam'd. Use well our father:
So farewell to you both.
Let your study
Gon. Prescribe not us our duties. Reg. Be, to content your lord; who hath receiv'd you At fortune's alms. You have obedience scanted, And well are worth the want that you have wanted. Cor. Time shall unfold what plaited3 cunning
Who cover faults, at last shame them derides.
Come, my fair Cordelia. [Exeunt France and Cordelia. Gon. Sister, it is not a little I have to say, of what most nearly appertains to us both. I think, 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
(2) Blessing. (3) Folded, doubled
little he always loved our sister most; and with what poor judgment he hath now cast her off, appears too grossly.
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 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 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.
Gon. We inust do something, and i'the heat.2 [Exeunt.
SCENE II-A hall in the Earl of Gloster's castle. Enter Edmund, with a letter.
Edm. Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law
For that I am some twelve or fourteen moon-shines
More composition and fierce quality,
(1) Qualities of mind.
(2) Strike while the iron is hot.
(4) The nicety of civil institution.
Than doth, within a dull, stale, tired bed,
Glo. Kent banish'd thus! And France in choler
And the king gone to-night! subscrib'd' his power! Confin'd to exhibition !2 All this done
Upon the gad!3-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 letter?
Edm. I know no news, my lord.
Glo. What paper were you reading?
Edm. Nothing, my lord.
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.
Glu. 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.
(1) Yielded, surrendered. (3) Suddenly.
Edm. I hope, for my brother's justification, he wrote this but as an essay or taste of my virtue.
Glo. [Reads.] This policy, and reverence of age, makes the world bitter to the best of our times; keeps our fortunes from us, lill our oldness 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.-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 my closet.
Glo. You know the character to be your bro ther'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.
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 vilain!-Where is he?
(1) Trial. VOL. VIII.
(2) 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 hirs, that he hath writ this to feel my affection to your honour,2 and to no other pretence3 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.
Edm. Nor is not, sure.
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.4
Edm. I will seek him, sir, presently; conveys 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
(1) Whereas. (2) The usual address to a lord. (3) Design.
(4) Give all that I am possessed of, to be cerlain of the truth.