Page images
PDF
EPUB

It is no vicious blot, murder, or foulness,
No unchaste action, or dishonour'd step,
That hath depriv'd me of your grace and favour:
But even for want of that, for which I am richer;
A still-soliciting eye, and such a tongue
That I am glad I have not, though, not to have it,
Hath lost me in your liking.
Lear.

Better thou
Had'st not been born, than not to have pleas’d me better.

France. Is it but this? a tardiness in nature,
Which often leaves the history unspoke,
That it intends to do?–My lord of Burgundy,
What say you to the lady? Love is not love,
When it is mingled with respects, that stand
Aloof from the entire point.* Will you have her?
She is herself a dowry.
Bur.

Royal Lear,
Give but that portion which yourself propos’d,
And here I take Cordelia by the hand,
Duchess of Burgundy.

Lear. Nothing : I have sworn; I am firm.

Bur. I am sorry then, you have so lost a father,
That you must lose a husband.
Cor.

Peace be with Burgundy!
Since that respects of fortune are his love,
I shall not be his wife.

France. Fairest Cordelia, thou art most rich, being poor; Most choice, forsaken ; and most lov'd, despis’d! Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon : Be it 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,

queen of us, of ours, and our fair France: Not all the dukes of wat’rish Burgundy Shall buy this unpriz'd precious maid of me.

Is

mingled with respects, that stand Alof from the entire point.] i.c. Mixed with considerations that have no reference to the essential point. Entire has the sense of unmingled, single.

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 her's again :-Therefore be gone,
Without our grace, our love, our benizon.
Come, noble Burgundy.

[Flourish. Exeunt Lear, BURGUNDY, CORN

WALL, ALBANY, GLOSTER, and Attendants. France. Bid farewell to your sisters.

Cor. Yez jewels of our father, with wash'd eyes
Cordelia leaves you : I know you what you are;
And, like a sister, am most loath to call
Your faults, as they are nam'd. Use well our father:
To your professed" bosoms I commit him:
But yet, alas! stood I within his grace,
I would prefer him to a better place.
So farewell to

you

both.
Gon. Prescribe not us our duties.
Reg.

Let your study
Be, to content your lord ; who hath receiv'd you
At fortune's alms. You have obedience scanted, ,
And well are worth the want that you have wanted."

Cor. Time shall unfold what plaited cunning hides ;
Who covers faults, at last shame them derides.
Well may you prosper!
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.

y Thou losest here, a better where—] Here and where have the power of nouns. Thou losest this residence to find a better residence in another place.JOHNSON.

? Ye-) Old copy the: but the change in the reading may be justified, as in ancient Mss. it was frequently impossible to distinguish the one word from the customary abbreviation of the other.-STEEVENS.

professed ] --for professing. Shakspeare often uses in this manner one participle for the other.—STEEVENS.

b And well are worth the want that you have wanted.] i. e. Are well deserving of the want of dower that you are without.-Tollet.

plaited— ] i.e. Complicated, involved.

3

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.

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 we are 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 hite together : If 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.'

[Exeunt.

SCENE II.

A Hall in the Earl of Gloster's Castle.

Enter EDMUND, with a Letter.

d

Edm. Thou, nature, art my goddess ;$ to thy law
My services are bound: Wherefore should I
Stand in the plague of custom;" and permit
The curiosity of nations to deprive me,

of long-engrafted condition,] i. e. Of qualities of mind, confirmed by long babit.-MALONE.

let us hit—] i. e. Let us agree.-STEEVENS.

i'the heat.] i. e. We must strike while the iron's hot.-STEEVENS. & 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.-M. Mason.

Stand in the plague of custom ;] Wherefore should I acquiesce, submit tamely to the plagues and injustice of custom ?--STEEVENS.

The curiosity of nations—] i.e. The idle strictness of civil institutions.--M. Mason.

For that I am some twelve or fourteen moon-shines
Lag of a brother? Why bastard ? wherefore base ?
When my dimensions are as well compact,
My mind as generous, and my shape as true,
As honest madam's issue? Why brand they us
With base ? with baseness ? bastardy ? base, base ?
Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, take
More composition and fierce quality,
Than doth within a dull, stale, tired bed,
Go to the creating a whole tribe of fops,
Got 'tween asleep and wake ?-Well then,
Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land :
Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund,
As to the legitimate: Fine word,-legitimate !
Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed,
And my invention thrive, Edmund the base
Shall stop the legitimate. I grow; I prosper :-
Now, gods, stand up for bastards!

Enter Gloster.

Glo. Kent banish'd thus! And France in choler parted! And the king gone to-night! subscrib’dk his power! Confin'd to exhibition !! All this done Upon the gad !m_Edmund! How now; what news? 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? Edm. Nothing, my lord.

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

[ocr errors]

subscrib'd-]i. e. Surrendered.

exhibition !] i. e. Allowance. The term is yet used in the universities. Johnson.

m Upon the gad!] i. e. Suddenly, or, as before, while the iron is hot. A gad is an iron bar.-Ritson.

my

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 over-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, let's see.

Edm. I hope, for my brother's justification, he wrote this but as an essay or taste of 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 fondo bondage in 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 my closet

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!

idle and fond-] i. e. Weak and foolish.--Jounson.

« PreviousContinue »