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Upon the gad Edmund, How now! what news?
[Putting up the Letter. Glo. Why so earnestly seek you to put up that
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’er-read; and for so much as I have perused, I find it not fit for your o'erlookings Glo. Give me the letter, sir.
Edm. I shall offend, either to detain or give it.
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.”— Humph !-Conspiracy !—“Sleep till I waked him,
8 – not fit for your o’ER-LOOKING.] So the folio, though the reading of the quartos might be justified, “not fit for your liking.” 9 This policy, and reverence-] The quartos omit “ and reverence.” VOL. VII.
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 declined, 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 his 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
10 When came this to you ?] The folio, “ When came you to this ?" Other minor variations do not require separate notice.
1- and fathers DECLINED, the father-] The quartos read, “and fathers declining, his father, &c.” Below, the quartos have, “ I apprehend him," for “ I'll apprehend him” of the folio.
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 farther delay than this very evening.
Glo. He cannot be such a monster.
Glo. 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 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 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: 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 true-hearted Kent banished! his offence, honesty !—'Tis strange.
1 — and to no OTHER pretence-] The quartos, “ to no farther pretence :" “pretence” was frequently thus used for design or intention. See also p. 378.
3 Nor is not, sure.) This speech and Gloster's reply, as far as “ Heaven and earth !" are only in the quartos.
I would unstate myself to be in a due resolution.) We should hardly have thought a note here necessary, if Warburton, Johnson, Mason, and Steevens, had not disputed regarding the meaning, which seems only to be, “I would be content to sacrifice my rank, if I could but arrive at a thorough conviction as to his design."
5 – as I shall find means.] The quartos, “as I shall see means.”
6 This villain of mine-] From these words inclusive down to “ disquietly to our graves ” is only in the folio.
[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; 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 whore-master man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of stars! 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
. Planes and
and' pat he comes, like the catastrophe of the old comedy: my cue is villainous 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.
7kuaves, thieves, and TREACHERS,] « Treachers” is a word of not unfrequent occurrence in old writers. In the quartos it stands treacherers.
8 — to the charge of stars !) The folio," on the charge of a star." 9 – on my BASTARDIZING.] The quartos," on my bastardy."
1 Edgar-and-] These two words are not in the folio : the quartos read, “ out he comes,” for “ pat he comes ;” and farther on they have mine for "my cue;" “ them of Bedlam” for “Tom o' Bedlam ;” and they omit “Fa, sol, la, mi," besides some smaller variations.
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, dissolution 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 astronomi
Edm. Come, come; when saw you my father last?
Edm. Parted you in good terms ? found you 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 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 fears. 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?
? - as of unnaturalness-] These words, and what follows them, down to “ Come, come,” in Edmund's next speech, are only in the quartos.
3 - dissipation of cohorts,] So the old copies ; but Johnson very reasonably suggested that “cohorts” was a misprint for courts.
4 — the heat of his displeasure ;] In Malone's Shakespeare by Buswell, it is misprinted,“ the heart of his displeasure.”
5 That's my fear.] What follows these words, down to, and including, Edgars speech,“ Armed brother ?” is not in the quartos.