Page images

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 my brother, that I have not all o'erread; for so much as I have perused, 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 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! -Humpb-Conspiracy!-Sleep till I waked him -you should enjoy half his revenue,-My son Ed. gar!-Had he a band to write this? a heart and brain to breed it in ?-When came this to you? Who brought it?

Edm. It w 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 bis; 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 can derive from him better testimony of his intent, you shall run a certain course; where, if you violently proceed against him, mistaking bis 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..
Edm. Nor is not, sure.

Gla. 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.

Glo. These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us : Though the wisdom of nature can reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself sconrged by the sequent effects : love cools, friendship falls off, brothers divide; in cities, mutinies; in countries, discord; in pa. laces, 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: Macbinations, hollowness, treachery, and all ruinous disorders, follow us disquietly to our graves !-Find out this villain, Edmund, it sball lose thee nothing; do it carefully :-And the noble and true-bearted Kent banished ! bis 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, thieves, and treachers, by spherical' predominance; drunkard, 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 iny mother under the dragon's tail ; and my nativity was under ursa major; so that it follows, I am rough and lecherous.-Tot, I should bave been that I am, had the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing. Edgar

Enter EDGAR, and pat he comes, like the catastrophe of the old comedy: My cue is villanous melancholy, with a sigh like Tom o'Bedlam.-0, these eclipses do portend these divisions! fa, sol, la, mi.

Edg. How now, brother Edmund ? What serious contemplation are you in?

Edm. I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read this other day, what should follow these eclipses.

Edg. Do you busy yourself with 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 wbat.

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 yon no displeasure in him, by word or countenance ?

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 tbis 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 you, 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.-

[Erit EDGAR,
A credulous father, and a brother noble,
Whose nature is so far from doing harms,
That he suspects none; on whose foolish bo-

nesty My practices ride easy !-I see the business.Let me, if not by birib, have lands by wit: All with me's meet, that I can fashion fit.


[ocr errors]

A Room in the Duke of Albany's Palace,

Enter GONERIL and Steward.
Gon. Did my father strike my gentleman for

chiding of his fool?
Stew. Ay, madam.
Gon. By day and night! he wrongs me; every

He flashes into one gross crime or other,
That sets us all at odds : l'll not endure it:
His knights grow riotous, and himself upbraids
On everytrifle;-When he returns from hunting,
I will not speak with him: say, I am sick :--
If you come slack of former services,
You shall do well; the fault of it I'll answer.
Stew. He's coming, madam; I hear him.

[Horns within. Gon. Put on what weary negligence you

You and your fellows; I'd have it come to

question :
If he dislike it, let him to my sister,
Whose mind and mine, I know, in that are one,
Not to be overrul'd. Idle old man,
That still would manage those authorities,
That he hath given away!-Now, by my life,
Old fools are babes again; and must be us'd
With checks, as flatteries,—when they are seen

Remember what I have said.

Very well, madam. Gon. And let his knights have colder looks

among you;
What grows of it, no matter; advise your fel-

lows so:
I would breed from bence occasions, and I shall,
That I may speak :-I'll write straight to my
To hold my very course :-Prepare for dinner.


[ocr errors]


« PreviousContinue »