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Cor. Time shall unfold what plaited cunning hides, Who covers faults, at last with shame derides. Well may you prosper! France. Come, my fair Cordelia.
[Exeunt France and Cor. Gon. Sister, it is not little I've to say, Of what most nearly appertains to us both; I think, our father will go hence to night.
Reg. That's certain, and with you; next month with us,
Gon. You see how full of changes his age is, the obfervation we have made of it hath not been little; he always lov'd 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 flenderly known himself.
Gon. The best and foundeit of his time hath been but rath; 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 fall further think of it.
Gon. We must do fomething, and i'th' heat. [Exeunt. SCENE changes to a Castle belonging to
the Earl of Gloster.
Enter EDMUND, with a Leiter. Ecm. HOU, Nature, art my Goddess; to thy law
My services are bound; wherefore should I Stand in the plague of custom, and permit The curteiy of nations to deprive me, (5)
For (5) The nicety of nations.] This is Mr. Pope's reading, ex Cathedra; for it has the sanction of none of the copies, that I have met with.
For that I am fume twelve or fourteen moon-fhines
They all, indeed, give it us, 'by a foolish corruption, the Curiosity of nations; but I fome 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
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 cught to take notice, that I had the concurrence of the ingenious Dr. Thirlb;', 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 Bafard's character is that of a confirm'd atheist; and the poet's making him ridicule judicial tilirology was design'd as one inftance of that character: For that impious jugele had a religious reverence paid it at that time: and Shakespeare makes his belt characters in this very play, own and acknowledge the force of the stars influence. The poet, in short, gives an atheistical turn to all his sentiments; and how much the lines, following 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 fem pro reatus! Ita “ enim progenitores mei in venerem incaluitent ardentiùs, ac cumula“ tim affatimque generosa Semina contuliffent; e quibus ego forme “ blanditiam et elegantiam, robufias corporis vires, menter.que innubilar
consequutus fuillem. At quia Conjugatorum sum 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 parfage? 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.
Glo. No! what needed then that terrible dispatch of it into your pocket? the quality of nothing hath not fuch need to hide it felf. 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 fee, let's fee.
Edm. I hope, for my brother's juftification, he wrote this but as an effay, 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
'till our oldness cannot relish them. I begin to find an idle and fond bondage in the opprefion of aged tyranny; which Sways, not as it bath power, but as it is sufered.
Come to me, that of this I may speak inore. If our father would
sleep, till I wak'd him, you should enjoy half his revenue for ever, and live the beloved of your brother Edgar. -- Humn
-Conspiracy! - fleep, 'till I wake 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 cafement of
Glo. You know the character to be
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, chat fons 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 shake in pieces the heart of his obedience. I dare pawn down life for him, that he hath writ this to feel my affection to your Honour, and to no other pretence of danger. Gle. Think
so? Edm. If your Honour judge it meet, I will place you where you fhall 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.
Glo. To his Father, that fo tenderly and entirely loves him -Heav'n and Earth! Edmund, feek him out; wind me into him, I pray you; frame the business after your own wisdom. I would unitate 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 falls 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 feer the ben of our tius. Machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all ruinous difurders follow us disquietly to our graves! Find out this villain, Edmund; it malt 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 disasters, the tun, the moon and stars (7); as if we were villains on neceffity; fools, by heavenly compulfion; knaves,
(7) We make guilty of our disa ters, the sun, the moon, and fars:) It was the opinion of judicial astrologers, that whatsoever good dispolitions the infant, unborn, might be endow'd with, either from nature or traductively from its parents; yet if, at the huur 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 satire.