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If aught within that little seeming'14) substance,
I know no answer.
Pardon me, royal sir;
This is most strange,
I yet beseech your majesty,-
Hath lost me in your liking.
France. Is it but this,-a tardiness in nature
Lear. Nothing: I have sworn; I am firm.
Bur. I'm sorry, then, you have so lost a father
Peace be with Burgundy !(19)
France. Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor ; Most choice, forsaken; and most lov’d, despis'd ! Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon : Be't lawful I take up what's cast away. Gods, gods! 'tis strange that from their cold'st neglect My love should kindle to inflam'd respect.Thy dowerless daughter, king, thrown to my chance, Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France : Not all the dukes of waterish Burgundy Can buy this unpriz'd precious maid of me.Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind: Thou losest here, a better where to find.
Lear. Thou hast her, France : let her be thine ; for we Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see That face of hers again :—Therefore be gone Without our grace, our love, our benison.Come, noble Burgundy.
[Flourish. Exeunt Lear, Burgundy, Cornwall,
Albany, Gloster, and Attendants.
Cor. Ye jewels(20) of our father, with wash'd
your professèd bosoms I commit him :
Reg. Prescribe not us our duties.
Let your study
Cor. Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides :
Come, my fair Cordelia.
Exeunt France and Cordelia. Gon. Sister, it is not 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
Gon. You see how full of changes his age is; the observation we have made of it hath not been little :(22) 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-engraffed condition, but therewithal the unruly waywardness that infirm and choleric years bring
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(23) as he bears, this last surrender of his will but offend us.
Reg. We shall further think of it.
SCENE II. A hall in the Earl of Gloster's castle.
Enter EDMUND, with a letter.
Enter GLOSTER. Glo. Kent banish'd thus ! and France in choler parted! And the king gone to-night! subscrib’d his power! Confin'd to exhibition ! All this done Upon the gad !-Edmund, how now! what news? Edm. So please your lordship, none.
[Putting up Glo. Why so earnestly seek you to put up that letter? Edm. I know no news, my
the letter. let's see.
Glo. What paper were you reading?
Glo. No? What needed, then, that terrible dispatch 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; and for so much as I have perused, I find it not fit for your o'er-looking.
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, 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." 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 ine, my lord, - there's the cunning of it; I found it thrown in at the casement of my
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. Has he never before 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,