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  • Title: King Lear (Folio 1, 1623)
  • Editor: Michael Best
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-463-9

    Copyright Michael Best. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Michael Best
    Not Peer Reviewed

    King Lear (Folio 1, 1623)

    Scena Secunda.
    Enter Bastard.
    335Bast. Thou Nature art my Goddesse, to thy Law
    My seruices are bound, wherefore should I
    Stand in the plague of custome, and permit
    The curiosity of Nations, to depriue me?
    For that I am some twelue, or fourteene Moonshines
    340Lag of a Brother? Why Bastard? Wherefore base?
    When my Dimensions are as well compact,
    My minde as generous, and my shape as true
    As honest Madams issue? Why brand they vs
    With Base? With basenes Barstadie? Base, Base?
    345Who in the lustie stealth of Nature, take
    More composition, and fierce qualitie,
    Then doth within a dull stale tyred bed
    Goe to th'creating a whole tribe of Fops
    Got 'tweene a sleepe, and wake ? Well then,
    350Legitimate Edgar, I must haue your land,
    Our Fathers loue, is to the Bastard Edmond,
    As to th'legitimate: fine word: Legitimate.
    Well, my Legittimate, if this Letter speed,
    And my inuention thriue, Edmond the base
    355Shall to'th'Legitimate: I grow, I prosper:
    Now Gods, stand vp for Bastards.
    Enter Gloucester.
    Glo. Kent banish'd thus? and France in choller parted?
    And the King gone to night? Prescrib'd his powre,
    360Confin'd to exhibition? All this done
    Vpon the gad? Edmond, how now? What newes?
    Bast. So please your Lordship, none.
    Glou. Why so earnestly seeke you to put vp yt Letter?
    Bast. I know no newes, my Lord.
    365Glou. What Paper were you reading?
    Bast. Nothing my Lord.
    Glou. No? what needed then that terrible dispatch of
    it into your Pocket ? The quality of nothing, hath not
    such neede to hide it selfe. Let's see: come, if it bee no-
    370thing, I shall not neede Spectacles.
    Bast. I beseech you Sir, pardon mee; it is a Letter
    from my Brother, that I haue not all ore-read; and for so
    much as I haue perus'd, I finde it not fit for your ore-loo-
    375Glou. Giue me the Letter, Sir.
    Bast. I shall offend, either to detaine, or giue it:
    The Contents, as in part I vnderstand them,
    Are too blame.
    Glou. Let's see, let's see.
    380Bast. I hope for my Brothers iustification, hee wrote
    this but as an essay, or taste of my Vertue.
    Glou. reads.
    This policie, and reuerence of Age, makes the
    world bitter to the best of our times : keepes our Fortunes from
    vs, till our oldnesse cannot rellish them. I begin to finde an idle
    385and fond bondage, in the oppression of aged tyranny, who swayes
    not as it hath power , but as it is suffer'd. Come to me, that of
    this I may speake more . If our Father would sleepe till I wak'd
    him, you should enioy halfe his Reuennew for euer, and liue the
    beloued of your Brother.
    390Hum? Conspiracy? Sleepe till I wake him, you should
    enioy halfe his Reuennew: my Sonne Edgar, had hee a
    hand to write this? A heart and braine to breede it in?
    When came you to this? Who brought it?
    Bast. It was not brought mee, my Lord; there's the
    395cunning of it. I found it throwne in at the Casement of
    my Closset.
    Glou. You know the character to be your Brothers?
    Bast. If the matter were good my Lord, I durst swear
    it were his: but in respect of that, I would faine thinke it
    400were not.
    Glou. It is his.
    Bast. It is his hand, my Lord: but I hope his heart is
    not in the Contents.
    Glo. Has he neuer before sounded you in this busines?
    405Bast. Neuer my Lord. But I haue heard him oft main-
    taine it to be fit, that Sonnes at perfect age, and Fathers
    declin'd, the Father should bee as Ward to the Son, and
    the Sonne manage his Reuennew.
    Glou. O Villain, villain: his very opinion in the Let-
    410ter. Abhorred Villaine, vnnaturall, detested, brutish
    Villaine; worse then brutish: Go sirrah, seeke him: Ile
    apprehend him. Abhominable Villaine, where is he?
    Bast . I do not well know my L. If it shall please you to
    suspend your indignation against my Brother, til you can
    415deriue from him better testimony of his intent, you shold
    run a certaine course: where, if you violently proceed a-
    gainst him, mistaking his purpose, it would make a great
    gap in your owne Honor, and shake in peeces, the heart of
    his obedience. I dare pawne downe my life for him, that
    420he hath writ this to feele my affection to your Honor, &
    to no other pretence of danger.
    Glou. Thinke you so?
    Bast. If your Honor iudge it meete, I will place you
    where you shall heare vs conferre of this, and by an Auri-
    425cular assurance haue your satisfaction, and that without
    any further delay, then this very Euening.
    Glou. He cannot bee such a Monster. Edmond seeke
    him out: winde me into him, I pray you: frame the Bu-
    sinesse after your owne wisedome. I would vnstate my
    430selfe, to be in a due resolution.
    Bast. I will seeke him Sir, presently: conuey the bu-
    sinesse as I shall find meanes, and acquaint you withall.
    Glou. These late Eclipses in the Sun and Moone por-
    tend no good to vs: though the wisedome of Nature can
    435reason it thus, and thus, yet Nature finds it selfe scourg'd
    by the sequent effects. Loue cooles, friendship falls off,
    Brothers diuide. In Cities, mutinies; in Countries, dis-
    cord; in Pallaces, Treason; and the Bond crack'd, 'twixt
    Sonne and Father. This villaine of mine comes vnder the
    440prediction; there's Son against Father, the King fals from
    byas of Nature, there's Father against Childe. We haue
    seene the best of our time. Machinations, hollownesse,
    treacherie, and all ruinous disorders follow vs disquietly
    to our Graues. Find out this Villain, Edmond, it shall lose
    445thee nothing, do it carefully: and the Noble & true-har-
    ted Kent banish'd; his offence, honesty. 'Tis strange. Exit
    Bast. This is the excellent foppery of the world, that
    when we are sicke in fortune,often the surfets of our own
    behauiour, we make guilty of our disasters, the Sun, the
    450Moone, and Starres, as if we were villaines on necessitie,
    Fooles by heauenly compulsion, Knaues, Theeues, and
    Treachers by Sphericall predominance. Drunkards,Ly-
    ars,and Adulterers by an inforc'd obedience of Planatary
    influence; and all that we are euill in, by a diuine thru-
    455sting on. An admirable euasion of Whore-master-man,
    to lay his Goatish disposition on the charge of a Starre,
    My father compounded with my mother vnder the Dra-
    gons taile, and my Natiuity was vnder Vrsa Maior, so
    that it followes, I am rough and Leacherous. I should
    460haue bin that I am, had the maidenlest Starre in the Fir-
    mament twinkled on my bastardizing.
    Enter Edgar.
    Pat: he comes like the Catastrophe of the old Comedie:
    my Cue is villanous Melancholly, with a sighe like Tom
    465o'Bedlam. ---O these Eclipses do portend these diui-
    sions. Fa, Sol, La, Me.
    Edg. How now Brother Edmond, what serious con-
    templation are you in?
    Bast. I am thinking Brother of a prediction I read this
    470other day, what should follow these Eclipses.
    Edg. Do you busie your selfe with that?
    Bast. I promise you, the effects he writes of, succeede
    When saw you my Father last ?
    475Edg. The night gone by.
    Bast. Spake you with him ??
    Edg. I, two houres together.
    Bast. Parted you in good termes ? Found you no dis-
    pleasure in him, by word, nor countenance?
    480Edg. None at all,
    Bast. Bethink your selfe wherein you may haue offen-
    ded him: and at my entreaty forbeare his presence, vntill
    some little time hath qualified the heat of his displeasure,
    which at this instant so rageth in him, that with the mis-
    485chiefe of your person, it would scarsely alay.
    Edg. Some Villaine hath done me wrong.
    Edm. That's my feare, I pray you haue 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
    490fitly bring you to heare my Lord speake: pray ye goe,
    there's my key: if you do stirre abroad, goe arm'd.
    Edg. Arm'd, Brother?
    Edm. Brother, I aduise you to the best, I am no honest
    man, if ther be any good meaning toward you: I haue told
    495you what I haue seene, and heard: But faintly. Nothing
    like the image, and horror of it, pray you away.
    Edg. Shall I heare from you anon? Exit.
    Edm. I do serue you in this businesse:
    A Credulous Father, and a Brother Noble,
    500Whose nature is so farre from doing harmes,
    That he suspects none: on whose foolish honestie
    My practises ride easie: I see the businesse.
    Let me, if not by birth, haue lands by wit,
    All with me's meete, that I can fashion fit. Exit.