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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.'
Hum-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.
Glou. You know the character to be your brother's?
Edm. If the matter were good, my lord, durst swear it were his; but, in respect of that, I would fain think it were not. 70
Glou. It is his.
Edm. It is his hand, my lord; but I hope his heart is not in the contents.
Glou. Hath he never heretofore sounded you in this business ?
Edm. Never, my lord: but I have heard him oft 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.
Glou. 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, 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 wrote this to feel my affection to your honor, and to no further pretence of danger. Glou. 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.
Glou. He cannot be such a monster-
Glou. 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. 111
dom 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 'twixt 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 truehearted Kent banished! his offence, honesty! 'Tis strange. [Exit.
Edm. This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune,— often the surfeit of our own behavior,-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 whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star! My father compounded with my mother under the dragon's tail; and my nativity was under Ursa major; so that it follows, I am rough and lecherous. Tut, I should have been that I am, had the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing. Edgar
and pat he comes like the catastrophe of the old comedy: my cue is villanous melancholy, with a sigh like Tom o' Bedlam. O, these eclipses do portend these divisions! fa, sol, la, mi.
Edg. How now, brother Edmund ! what serious contemplation are you in? 151
Edm. I am thinking, brother, of a predic tion I read this other day, what should follow these eclipses.
Edg. Do you busy yourself about 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.
Edg. How long have you been a sectary astronomical?
Edm. Come, come; when saw you my father last?
Edg. Why, the night gone by.
Edm. Parted you in good terms? Found you no displeasure in him by word or coun
Glou. These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us ; though the wis- ❘ tenance?
Edg. None at all.
Edm. Bethink yourself wherein you may have offended him and at my entreaty forbear his presence till some little time hath qualified the heat of his displeasure; which at this instant so rageth in him, that with the mischief of your person it would scarcely allay.
Edg. Some villain hath done me wrong. Edm. That's my fear. I pray you, have a continent forbearance till the speed of his rage goes slower; and, as I say, retire with me to my lodging, from whence I will fitly bring you to hear my lord speak: pray ye, go; there's my key if you do stir abroad, go armed.
Edg. Armed, brother!
Edm. Brother, I advise you to the best; go armed: I am no honest man if there be any good meaning towards you: I have told you what I have seen and heard; but faintly, nothing like the image and horror of it: pray you, away.
Edg. Shall I hear from you anon? Edm. I do serve you in this business. [Exit Edgar. A credulous father! and a brother noble, Whose nature is so far from doing harms, That he suspects none: on whose foolish honesty
My practices ride easy! I see the business. Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit: 199 All with me's meet that I can fashion fit.
I will not speak with him; say I am sick :
Gon. Put on what weary negligence you please,
You and your fellows; I'll have it come to question:
If he dislike it, let him to our sister,
To hold my very course. Prepare for dinner. [Exeunt.
SCENE IV. A hall in the same.
Enter KENT, disguised.
Kent. If but as well I other accents borrow, That can my speech defuse, my good intent May carry through itself to that full issue For which I razed my likeness. Now, banish'd Kent,
If thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemn'd,
So may it come, thy master, whom thou lovest,
Horns within. Enter LEAR, Knights,
Lear. Let me not stay a jot for dinner; go get it ready. [Exit an Attendant.] How now! what art thou?
Kent. A man, sir.
Lear. What dost thou profess? what wouldst thou with us?
Kent. I do profess to be no less than I seem; to serve him truly that will put me in trust to love him that is honest; to converse with him that is wise, and says little; to fear judgment; to fight when I cannot choose; and to eat no fish.
Lear. What art thou?
Kent. A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the king.
21 Lear. If thou be as poor for a subject as he is for a king, thou art poor enough. What wouldst thou?
Knight. My lord, I know not what the matter is; but, to my judgment, your highness is not entertained with that ceremonious affection as you were wont; there's a great abatement of kindness appears as well in the general dependants as in the duke himself also and your daughter.
Lear. Ha! sayest thou so?
Knight. I beseech you, pardon me, my lord, if I be mistaken; for my duty cannot be silent when I think your highness wronged.
Fool. If I gave them all my living, I'ld keep my coxcombs myself. There's mine: beg another of thy daughters.
Lear. Take heed, sirrah; the whip.
Fool. Truth's a dog must to kennel; he must be whipped out, when Lady the brach may stand by the fire and stink. A pestilent gall to me!
Sirrah, I'll teach thee a speech. Lear. Do.
Mark it, nuncle :
Have more than thou showest,
Speak less than thou knowest,
Lend less than thou owest,
Lear. Thou but rememberest me of mine own conception: I have perceived a most faint neglect of late which I have rather blamed as mine own jealous curiosity than as a very pretence and purpose of unkindness: I will look further into't. But where's my fool? I have not seen him this two days.
Knight. Since my young lady's going into France, sir, the fool hath much pined away.
Lear. No more of that; I have noted it well. Go you, and tell my daughter I would speak with her. [Exit an Attendant.] Go you, call hither my fool. [Exit an Attendant.
Ride more than thou goest,
Learn more than thou trowest, Set less than thou throwest; Leave thy drink and thy whore, And keep in-a-door,
And thou shalt have more
Than two tens to a score.
This is nothing, fool.
Then 'tis like the breath of an unfee'd lawyer; you gave me nothing for't. Can you make no use of nothing, nuncle ?
Lear. Why, no, boy; nothing can be made out of nothing.
Fool. [To Kent] Prithee, tell him, so much the rent of his land comes to: he will not believe a fool.
Lear. A bitter fool! Fool. Dost thou know the difference, my boy, between a bitter fool and a sweet fool? Lear. No, lad; teach me.
Fool. That lord that counsell'd thee
To give away thy land,
Come place him here by me,
Do thou for him stand:
The sweet and bitter fool
Will presently appear;
The one in motley here,
The other found out there. Dost thou call me fool, boy? Fool. All thy other titles thou hast given away; that thou wast born with.
Kent. This is not altogether fool, my lord. Fool. No, faith, lords and great men wi not let me if I had a monopoly out, they
would have part on't and ladies too, they will not let me have all fool to myself; they'll be snatching. Give me an egg, nuncle, and I'll give thee two crowns.
Lear. What two crowns shall they be? Fool. Why, after I have cut the egg i' the middle, and eat up the meat, the two crowns of the egg. When thou clovest thy crown i' the middle, and gavest away both parts, thou borest thy ass on thy back o'er the dirt: thou hadst little wit in thy bald crown, when thou gavest thy golden one away. If I speak like myself in this, let him be whipped that first finds it so. 180
[Singing] Fools had ne'er less wit in a year;
Lear. When were you wont to be so full of songs, sirrah ?
Fool. I have used it, nuncle, ever since thou madest thy daughters thy mothers: for when thou gavest them the rod, and put'st down thine own breeches,
[Singing] Then they for sudden joy did weep, And I for sorrow sung,
That such a king should play bo-peep,
And go the fools among.
Prithee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach thy fool to lie: I would fain learn to lie.
Lear. An you lie, sirrah, wo'll have you whipped.
Fool. I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are: they'll have me whipped for speaking true, thou'lt have me whipped for lying; and sometimes I am whipped for holding my peace. I had rather be any kind o' thing than a fool: and yet I would not be thee, nuncle; thou hast pared thy wit o' both sides, and left nothing i' the middle: here comes one o' the parings.
Fool. Thou wast a pretty fellow when thou hadst no need to care for her frowning; now thou art an O without a figure: I am better than thou art now; I am a fool, thou art nothing. [To Gon.] Yes, forsooth, I will hold my tongue; so your face bids me, though you say nothing. Mum, mum,
He that keeps nor crust nor crum,
[Pointing to Lear] That's & shealed peascod. Gon. Not only, sir, this your all-licensed fool,
But other of your insolent retinue
Would not 'scape censure, nor the redresses sleep, 229
Which, in the tender of a wholesome weal, Might in their working do you that offence, Which else were shame, that then necessity Will call discreet proceeding.
Fool. For, you trow, nuncle,
The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long,
That it's had it head bit off by it young. So, out went the candle, and we were left darkling.
Lear. Are you our daughter?
I would you would make use of that good
Whereof I know you are fraught; and put
Fool. Which they will make an obedient father.
Lear. Your name, fair gentlewoman?
Of other your new pranks. I do beseech you To understand my purposes aright: 260 As you are old and reverend, you should be
Here do you keep a hundred knights and squires;
Men so disorder'd, so debosh'd and bold, That this our court, infected with their manners,
Shows like a riotous inn: epicurism and lust Make it more like a tavern or a brothel
Than a graced palace. The shame itself doth speak
For instant remedy: be then desired
Of what hath moved you.
Lear. It may be so, my lord. Hear, nature, hear; dear goddess, hear! Suspend thy purpose, if thou didst intend To make this creature fruitful! Into her womb convey sterility! Dry up in her the organs of increase; And from her derogate body never spring A babe to honor her! If she must teem, Create her child of spleen; that it may live, And be a thwart disnatured torment to her! Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth; With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks; Turn all her mother's pains and benefits To laughter and contempt; that she may feel How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is 310 To have a thankless child! Away, away!
[Exit. Alb. Now, gods that we adore, whereof comes this?
Gon. Never afflict yourself to know the
'Tis politic and safe to let him keep
At point a hundred knights: yes, that, on every dream,
Each buzz, each fancy, each complaint, dis
How now, Oswald !
What, have you writ that letter to my sister? Osw. Yes, madam.
Gon. Take you some company, and away
Inform her full of my particular fear;
no, my lord,
This milky gentleness and course of yours Though I condemn not, yet, under pardon,