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judgment he hath now cast her off, appears too grossly.
Reg. 'Tis the infirmity of his age: yet he hath evre 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
Reg. We shall further think of it.
A Hall in the Earl of Gloster's Castle.
Enter EDMUND, with a Letter.
of long-engrafted condition,} i. e. of qualities of mind, confirmed by long habit.
let us hit - ] i. e. let us agree.
i'the heat.] i. e. We must strike while the iron's hot. $ Thou, nature, art my goddess ;] Edmund calls nature his goddess. for the same reason that we call a bastard a natural son; one, who according to the law of nature, is the child of his father, but according to those of civil society, is nullius filius.
9 Stand in the plague of custom ;] Wherefore should I acquiesce, submit tamely to the plagues and injustice of custom?
The curiosity of nations to deprive me,?
Enter GLOSTER. Glo. Kent banish'd thus ! And France in choler
parted! And the king gone to-night! subscrib'd his power !3 Confin'd to exhibition !4 All this done Upon the gad !5 -Edmund! How now; what news! Edm. So please your lordship, none.
[Putting up the Letter.
1 The curiosity of nations - ) i. e. the idle, nice distinctions of the world. to deprive me,] To deprive was,
in our author's time, synonymous to disinherit.
subscrib'd his power!] To subscribe in Shakspeare, is to yield or surrender.
exhibition..] is allowance. The term is yet used in the universities.
All this done Upon the gad !i. e. is done suddenly, or, as before, while the iron is hot. Agad is an iron bar.
Glo. Why so earnestly seek you to put up that letter ?
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 perus’d, I find it not fit for your overlooking
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. 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, 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
Glo. You know the character to be your brother's ?
idle and fond-] Weak and foolish.
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?
Edm. I do not well know, my lord. If it shall please you to suspend your indignation against my brother, till you
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.
where, if you-] Where, for whereas.
to your honour,] It has been already observed that this was the usual mode of address to a lord in Shakspeare's time.
pretence - ] Pretence is design, purpose.
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 busi
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.
Glo. These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us: Though the wisdom of nature 3 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,
I would unstate myself to be in a due resolution.] i. e. he would give all he possessed to be certain of the truth; for that is the meaning of the words to be in a due resolution.
convey the business -] To convey is to carry through ; in this place it is to manage artfully: we say of a juggler, that he has a clean conveyance.
- the wisdom of nature - ] That is, though natural philosophy can give account of eclipses, yet we feel their consequences.