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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, I durst swear it were his; but, in respect of that, I would fain think it were not. 70
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. 101
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.
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. I will seek him, sir, presently: convey the business as I shall find means, and acquaint you withal.
Glou. These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us; though the wis
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. Spake you with him?
Edg. Ay, two hours together.
Edm. Parted you in good terms? Found you no displeasure in him by word or coun 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 hon
Lear. Who wouldst thou serve?
Dost thou know me, fellow ?
Kent. No, sir; but you have that in your countenance which I would fain call master. Lear. What's that?
Lear. What services canst thou do? Kent. I can keep honest counsel, ride, run, mar a curious tale in telling it, and deliver a plain message bluntly that which ordinary men are fit for, I am qualified in; and the best of me is diligence.
Lear. How old art thou?
Kent. Not so young, sir, to love a woman for singing, nor so old to dote on her for any thing: I have years on my back forty eight.
Lear. Follow me; thou shalt serve me if I like thee no worse after dinner, I will not part from thee yet. Dinner, ho, dinner! Where's my knave? my fool? Go you, and call my fool hither. [Exit an Attendant,
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.
O, you sir, you, come you hither, sir : who am I, sir?
Osw. My lady's father.
Lear. My lady's father'! my lord's knave: your whoreson dog! you slave! you cur!
Osw. I am none of these, my lord; I beseech your pardon.
Lear. Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal? [Striking him.
Osw. I'll not be struck, my lord. Kent. Nor tripped neither, you base football player. [Tripping up his heels. Lear. I thank thee, fellow; thou servest me, and I'll love thee.
Kent. Come, sir, arise, away! I'll teach you differences away, away! If you will measure your lubber's length again, tarry: but away go to; have you wisdom? so. [Pushes Oswald out. Lear. Now, my friendly knave, I thank thee: there's earnest of thy service.
[Giving Kent money.
Fool. Let me hire him too: here's my coxcomb. [Offering Kent his cap. Lear. How now, my pretty knave! how dost thou ?
Fool. Sirrah, you were best take my coxcomb.
Kent. Why, fool?
Fool. Why, for taking one's part that's out of favor: nay, an thou canst not smile as the wind sits, thou'lt catch cold shortly there, take my coxcomb: why, this fellow has banished two on's daughters, and did the third a blessing against his will; if thou follow him, thou must needs wear my coxcomb. How now, nuncle! Would I had two coxcombs and two daughters!
Lear. Why, my boy?
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.
Lear. A pestilent gall to me!
Mark it, nuncle :
Have more than thou showest,
And thou shalt have more
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. 171
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; For wise men are grown foppish, They know not how their wits to wear, Their manners are so apish.
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.
Lear. How now, daughter! what makes that frontlet on? Methinks you are too much of late i' the frown.
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, Weary of all, shall want some. [Pointing to Lear] That's & shealed peascod. Gon. Not only, sir, this your all-licensed fool,
But other of your insolent retinue Do hourly carp and quarrel; breaking forth In rank and not-to-be endured riots. Sir, I had thought, by making this well known unto you, To have found a safe redress ; but now grow fearful,
By what yourself too late have spoke and done,
That you protect this course, and put it on By your allowance; which if you should, the fault
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 wisdom,
Whereof I know you are fraught; and put
Fool. May not an ass know when the cart draws the horse? Whoop, Jug! I love thee. Lear. Doth any here know me? This is not Lear:
Yet have I left a daughter.
Gon. You strike my people; and your disorder'd rabble
Make servants of their betters.
Lear. Woe, that too late repents,-[To Alb.] O, sir, are you come ? Is it your will? Speak, sir. Prepare my horses. 280 Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend, More hideous when thou show'st thee in a child
Than the sea-monster!
Pray, sir, be patient.
How ugly didst thou in Cordelia show!
drew from heart all
From the fix'd place; love, And added to the gall. O Lear, Lear, Lear! Beat at this gate, that let thy folly in, [Striking his head. And thy dear judgment out! Go, go, my people.
Alb. My lord, I am guiltless, as I am igner
Of what hath moved you.
Into her womb convey sterility!
Gon. Never afflict yourself to know the
But let his disposition have that scope That dotage gives it.
Lear. What, fifty of my followers at a clap! Within a fortnight!
That thou hast power to shake my manhood
That these hot tears, which break from me perforce, 320 Should make thee worth them. Blasts and fogs upon thee!
The untented woundings of a father's curse Pierce every sense about thee! Old fond eyes,
Beweep this cause again, I'll pluck ye out.
She'll flay thy wolvish visage. Thou shalt find
That I'll resume the shape which thou dost think
I have cast off for ever: thou shalt, I warrant thee.
[Exeunt Lear, Kent, and Attendants. Gon. Do you mark that, my lord? Alb. I cannot be so partial, Goneril, To the great love I bear you,
Gon. Pray you, content. What, Oswald, ho!
[To the Fool] You, sir, more knave than fool, after your master.
Fool. Nuncle Lear, nuncle Lear, tarry and take the fool with thee.
A fox, when one has caught her,
If my cap would buy a halter: So the fool follows after. [Exit. Gon. This man hath had good counsel :--a hundred knights!
'Tis politic and safe to let him keep
At point a hundred knights: yes, that, on every dream,
Each buzz, each fancy, each complaint, dislike,
He may enguard his dotage with their pow
And hold our lives in mercy. Oswald, I say!