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And, like a sister, am most loath to call
Your faults, as they are named. Use well our father;
Gon. Prescribe not us our duties.
Let your study
Be, to content your lord; who hath received you
France. 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 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.
1 We have here professed for professing. It has been elsewhere observed that Shakspeare often uses one participle for another.
2 Thus the folio. The quartos read:
"And well are worth the worth that you have wanted."
The meaning of the passage, as it now stands in the text, is, "You well
The folio has:
3 That is, complicated, intricate, involved, cunning.
4 The quartos read:
"Who covers faults, at last shame them derides."
"Who covers faults, at last with shame derides." Mason proposed to read :—
"Who covert faults, at last with shame derides." The word who referring to Time.
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,1 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 leave-taking between France and him. 'Pray you, let us hit togethIf 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 must do something, and i'the heat.2
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
My mind as generous, and my shape as true,
Than doth, within a dull, stale, tired bed,
1 i. e. temper; qualities of mind confirmed by long habit.
2 We must strike while the iron's hot.
3 Edmund calls nature his goddess, for the same reason as we call a bastard a natural son.
4 “Wherefore should I submit tamely to the plague (i. e. the evil) or injustice of custom?"
5 The nicety of civil institutions, their strictness and scrupulosity.
6 To deprive is equivalent to disinherit. Holinshed speaks of the line of Henry before deprived.
Go to the creating a whole tribe of fops,
Glo. Kent banished thus! and France in choler parted!
And the king gone to-night! subscribed1 his power!
Edmund! how now? what
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?
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'erread; for so much as I have perused, I find it not fit for your overlooking.
Glo. Give me the letter, sir.
1 To subscribe is to yield, to surrender.
2 Exhibition is an allowance, a stipend.
3 i. e. in haste, equivalent to upon the spur. A gad was a sharp-pointed piece of steel, used as a spur to urge cattle forward; whence goaded forward. Mr. Nares suggests, that to gad and gadding, originate from being on the spur to go about.
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
Edm. It was not brought me, my lord, there's the
Glo. 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.
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 ;
1 "As an essay," &c. means as a trial or taste of my virtue. "Ta assay, or rather essay, of the French word essayer," says Baret.
2 i. e. weak and foolish.
I'll apprehend him.-Abominable villain!--Where is he?
Edm. I do not well know, my lord. If it shall please ye 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 3 of danger.
Glo. Think you so?
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 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! 4]-Edmund, seek him out; wind me into him,5 I pray you; frame the business after your own wisdom; I would unstate myself, to be in a due resolution.6
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.8 Love cools, friendship falls off, brothers divide; in cities, mutinies; in countries, discord; in palaces, treason; and the bond
1 Where for whereas.
2 The usual address to a lord.
3 i. e. design or purpose.
4 The words between brackets are omitted in the folio.
5 "Wind me into him." Another example of familiar expressive phraseology not unfrequent in Shakspeare.
6 "I would give all that I am possessed of, to be satisfied of the truth.”
7 To convey is to conduct, or carry through.
8 That is, though natural philosophy can give account of eclipses, yet we feel their consequences.