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Cor. Time shall unfold what plaited cunning hides,
[Exeunt France and Cor.
Reg. That's 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 lov'd our fifter moft, and with what poor judgmené he hath now cast her off, appears too grossly.
Reg. 'Tis the infirmity of his age; yet he hath ever but Nenderly known himself.
Gon. The best and foundest of his time hath been but rash; then must we look, from his age, to receive 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 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 disposition as he bears, this last surrender of his will but offend us.
Reg. We hall further think of it.
SCENE changes to a Castle belonging to
the Earl of Glofter.
Enter EDMUND, with a Letter.
My services are bound; wherefore should I
For (5) The nicety of nations.] This is Mr. Pope's reading, ex Cathedra; for it has the sanct'on of none of the copies, that I have met with.
For that I am fome twelve or fourteen moon-fines
They all, indeed, give it us, 'by a foolish corruption, the Curio. fity of nations; but I some time ago prov'd, that our Author's word was, Curtejy. So, again, in As You like it;
The curtesy of nations allows you my better, in that you are the forf born And again, in Cymbeline, this word stands for Birth-right;
-aye hopeless To have the curtesy your cradle promis’d.
Nor must we forget that tenure in our laws, whereby some lands are held by the Curtesy of England. And i cugh to take notice, that I had the concurrence of the ingenious Dr. Ibirlb;', who hinted to me this very emendation, before he knew I made it.
(6) Wbo, in the luftv fealth of nature,] Tiefe fine lines are a very signal proof of our author's admirable art, in giving proper sentiments to his characters. And such a proof, as hath in it something very extraordinary. The Bastard's characier is that of a confirm'd atheist; and the poet's making him ridicule judicial tiirology was design'd as one inftance of that character: For that imp:ous jugule had a religious reverence paid it at that time: an. Shakespeare makes his beit characters in this very play, own and acknowledge the force of the stars influence. The poet, in Mort, gives an atheistical turn to all his sentiments; and how much the lines, foilowing this, are in this character, may be seen by that strange monstrous wish, which Vanini, the infamous Neapolitan atheist, made in his tract De Admirandis Naturæ; printed at Paris in 1616, the very year that our author dy'd. “ Utinam extra legitimum & connub'alem thorum odiem pro reatus! Ila
enim progenitores mei in venerem incaluifient ardentiùs, ac cumula“ tim affatimque generosa Semina contuliffent; e quibus ego forme “ blanditiam et elegantiam, robufias corporis vires, menter que innubilam “ consequutus fuiffem. At quia Conjugatoruin fum foboles, his orbatus “ sum bonis.” Now had this book been publish'd ten years before, who would not have sworn that Shakespeare hinted at this passage? But the divinity of his genius here, as it were, foretold what such an atheist, as Vanini was, would say, when he wrote upon this subject.
Got 'tween a sleep' and wake? Well then,
To him, Enter Glo'ster.
[Putting up the letter. Gl. Why so earnestly seek you to put up that letter? Edm. I know no news, my lord.
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 it self. 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 perus’d, I find it not fit for your o'erlooking.
Glo. Give me the letter, Sir.
Edin. 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 ages makes the world bitter to the beli 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 oppresion of aged tyranny; which fways, not as it hath power, but as it is sufered. Come to me, that of this I may speak more. If our father would
sleep, till I wak'd him, you should enjoy half his revenue for e-ver, and live the beloved of your brother Edgar.- -- Huin -Conspiracy!
-leep, 'till I wake him—you fhould 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
Glo. You know the character to be
your brother's ? Edm. If the matter were good, my lord, I durft 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; I hope, his heart is not in the contents.
Glo. Has he never before founded 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 a ward to the fon, 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, firrah, 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 should run a certain course; where, if you violently proceed against him, miftaking his purpose, it would make a great gap in your own honour, and Thake 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
fo? Edm. If your Honour judge it meet, I will place you where you fall hear us confer of this, and by an auricular assurance have your satisfaction: and that, without any further delay than this very evening.
Gl. He cannot be such a monster.
Glo. To his Father, that so tenderly and entirely loves hin-Heav'n and Earth! Edmund, seek him out; wind me into him, I pray you; frame the business af. ter your own wisdom. I would unítate myself, to be in a due resolution.
Edm. I will seek him, Sir, presently: convey the bufiness as I shall find means, and acquaint you withal.
Glo. These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us; tho' the wisdom of nature can reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself scourg'd by the frequent effects. Love cools, friendship fails off, brothers divide. In cities, mutinies; in countries, discord; in Palaces, treason; and the bond crack'd 'twixt fon 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 fren the best ûf our time. Machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all ruinous disorders follow us disquietly to our graves! Find out this villain, Edmund; it shalt lose thee nothing, do it carefully and the noble and true-hearted Kent banish'd! his offence, Honesty. 'Tis strange.
(Exit. Manet Edmund. Edm. This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are fick in fortune, (often the surfeits of our own behaviour) we make guilty of our difatters, the sun, the moon and stars (7); as if we were villains on neceflity; fools, by heavenly compulsion; knaves,
(7) We make guilty of our disa ters, the sun, the moon, and stars :) It was the opinion of judicial astrologers, that whatsoever good difpolitions the infant, unborn, might be endow'd with, either from nature or traductively from its parents; yet if, at the hour of birth, its delivery was by any casual accident so accelerated, or retarded, that it fell in with the predominancy of a malignant constellation; that momentary influence would entirely change its nature, and bias it to all the contrary ill qualities ---- This was so wretched and monstrous an opinion, that it well deserved and was well fitted for the lash of fatire.