Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Michael Best
Not Peer Reviewed

King Lear (Quarto 1, 1608)

Enter Bastard Solus.
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 curiositie of nations to depriue me, for that I am
some twelue or 14. mooneshines 340lag of a brother, why bastard?
wherfore base, when my dementions are as well compact,
mind as generous, and my shape as true as honest madams issue,
why brand they vs with base, base bastardie? 345who in the lusty
stealth of nature, take more composition and feirce quality, then
doth within a stale dull lyed bed, goe to the creating of a whole
tribe of fops got tweene a sleepe and wake; well the 350legitimate
Edgar, I must haue your land, our Fathers loue is to the bastard
Edmund, as to the legitimate, well my legitimate, if this letter
speede, and my inuention thriue, Edmund the base
355shall tooth'le-
gitimate: I grow, I prosper, now Gods stand vp for Bastards.
Enter Gloster.
Glost. Kent banisht thus, and France in choller parted, and
the King gone to night, subscribd his power, 360confined to exhi-
bition, all this donne vpon the gadde; Edmund how now
what newes?
Bast. So please your Lordship, none:
Glost. Why so earnestly seeke you to put vp that letter?
Bast. I know no newes my Lord.
365Glost. What paper were you reading?
Bast. Nothing my Lord,
Glost. No, what needes then that terribe dispatch of it into
your pocket, the qualitie of nothing hath not such need to hide
it selfe, lets see, come if it bee no370thing I shall not neede specta-
Ba. I beseech you Sir pardon me, it is a letter from my brother,
that I haue not all ore read, for so much as I haue perused, I find it
not fit for your liking.
375Glost. 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.
Glost. Lets see, lets see?
380Bast. I hope for my brothers iustification, he wrot this but
as an essay, or tast of my vertue. A Letter.
Glost. This policie of age makes the world bitter to the best
of our times, keepes our fortunes from vs till our oldnes cannot
relish them, I begin to find an idle 385and fond bondage in the op-
pression of aged tyranny, who swaies not as it hath power, but as
it is suffered, come to me, that of this I may speake more, if our
father would sleepe till I wakt him, you should inioy halfe his
reuenew for euer, and liue the beloued of your brother Ed-
390 Hum, conspiracie, slept till I wakt him, you should enioy halfe
his reuenew, my sonne Edgar, had hee a hand to write this, a
hart, and braine to breed it in, when came this to you, who
brought it?
Bast. It was not brought me my Lord, ther's the 395cunning of
it, I found it throwne in at the casement of my closet.
Glost. You know the Caractar to be your brothers?
Bast. If the matter were good, my Lord I durst sweare it were
his but in respect, of that I would faine thinke it 400were
Glost. It is his?
Bast. It is his hand my Lord, but I hope his heart is not in
the contents.
Glost. Hath he neuer heretofore soũded you in this busines?
405Bast. Neuer my Lord, but I haue often heard him maintaine
it to be fit, that sons at perfit age, & fathers declining, his father
should be as ward to the sonne, and the sonne mannage the re-
Glost. O villaine, villaine, his very opinion in the let410ter, ab-
horred villaine, vnnaturall detested brutish villaine, worse then
brutish, go sir seeke him, I apprehend him, abhominable villaine
where is he?
Bast. I doe not well know my Lord, if it shall please you to
suspend your indignation against my brother, til you can 415deriue
from him better testimony of this intent: you should run a cer-
taine course, where if you violently proceed against him, mi-
staking his purpose, it would make a great gap in your owne
honour, & shake in peeces the heart of his obediẽce, I dare pawn
downe my life for him, 420he hath wrote this to feele my affection
to your honour, and to no further pretence of danger.
Glost. Thinke you so?
Bast. If your honour iudge it meete, I will place you where
you shall heare vs conferre of this, and by an auri425gular assurance
haue your satisfaction, and that without any further delay then
this very euening.
Glost. He cannot be such a monster.
427.1Bast. Nor is not sure.
Glost. To his father, that so tenderly and intirely loues him,
heauen and earth! Edmund seeke him out, wind mee into him, I
pray you frame your busines after your own wisedome, I would
vnstate my 430selfe to be in a due resolution.
Bast. I shall seeke him sir presently, conuey the businesse as I
shall see meanes, and acquaint you withall.
Glost. These late eclipses in the Sunne and Moone portend
no good to vs, though the wisedome of nature can 435reason thus
and thus, yet nature finds it selfe scourg'd by the sequent effects,
loue cooles, friendship fals off, brothers diuide, in Citties mu-
tinies, in Countries discords, Pallaces treason, the bond crackt
betweene sonne and father; find out this villaine Edmund, it shal
loose 445thee nothing, doe it carefully, and the noble and true har-
ted Kent banisht, his offence honest, strange strange!
Bast. This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when
we are sicke in Fortune, often the surfeit of our owne behauiour,
we make guiltie of our disasters, the Sunne, the 450Moone, and the
Starres, as if we were Villaines by necessitie, Fooles by heauen-
ly compulsion, Knaues, Theeues, and Trecherers by spirituall
predominance, Drunkards, Lyars, and Adulterers by an enforst
obedience of planitary influence, and all that wee are euill in,
by a diuine thru455sting on, an admirable euasion of whoremaster
man, to lay his gotish disposition to the charge of Starres: my
Father compounded with my Mother vnder the Dragons taile,
and my natiuitie was vnder Vrsa maior, so that it followes, I am
rough and lecherous, Fut, I should 460haue beene that I am, had the
maidenlest starre of the Firmament twinckled on my bastardy
er Edgar
Edgar; and out hee comes like the Catastrophe of the old Co-
medy, mine is villanous melancholy, with a sith like them of
465Bedlam; O these eclipses doe portend these diuisions.
Edgar. How now brother Edmund, what serious contempla-
tion are you in?
Bast. I am thinking brother of a prediction I read this 470other
day, what should follow these Eclipses.
Edg. Doe you busie your selfe about that?
Bast. I promise you the effects he writ of, succeed vnhappily,
as of vnnaturalnesse betweene the child and the parent, death,
473.1dearth, dissolutions of ancient amities, diuisions in state, mena-
ces and maledictions against King and nobles, needles diffiden-
ces, banishment of friẽds, dissipation of Cohorts, nuptial breach-
es, and I know not what.
473.5Edg. How long haue you beene a sectary Astronomicall?
Bast. Come, come, when saw you my father last?
Edg. Why, 475the night gon by.
Bast. Spake you with him?
Edg. Two houres together.
Bast. Parted you in good tearmes? found you no displeasure
in him by word or countenance?
480Edg. None at all.
Bast. Bethinke your selfe wherein you may haue offended
him, and at my intreatie, forbeare his presence, till some little
time hath qualified the heat of his displeasure, which at this in-
stant so rageth in him, that with the mis485chiefe, of your parson it
would scarce allay.
Edg. Some villaine hath done me wrong.
Bast. Thats my feare brother, I aduise you to the best, goe
arm'd, I am no honest man if there bee any good meaning to-
wards you, I haue told 495you what I haue seene & heard, but faint-
ly, nothing like the image and horror of it, pray you away
Edg. Shall I heare from you anon?
Bast. I doe serue you in this busines: Exit Fdgar
A credulous Father, and a brother noble,
500Whose nature is so farre from doing harmes,
That he suspects none, on whose foolish honesty
My practises ride easie, I see the busines,
Let me if not by birth, haue lands by wit,
All with me's meete, that I can fashion fit. Exit.