Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Pervez Rizvi
Not Peer Reviewed

King Lear (Quarto 2, 1619)

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 curiosity of Nations to depriue me, for that I am
some 12. or 14. moone-shines lag of a brother: why bastard?
340wherefore base, when my dementions are as well compact, my
minde as generous, & my shape as true as honest madams issue,
why brand they vs with base, base bastardy? who in the lusty
345stealth of nature, take more composition and fierce quality, then
doth within a stale dull lie[d] bed, goe to the creating of a whole
tribe of fops got tweene sleepe and wake; well the legitimate
350Edgar, I must haue your land, our Fathers loue is to the bastard
Edmund, as to the legitimate: well my legitimate. if this letter
speed, and my inuention thriue, Edmund the base shall tooth'le-
355gitimate: I grow, I prosper, now Gods stand vp for Bastards.
Enter Glocester.
Glost. Kent banisht thus, and France in choller parted, and
the King gone to night, subscrib'd his power, confined to ex-
360hibition, all this done vpon the gad; Edmund, how now, what
Bast. So please y[ou]r Lordship, none.
Glost.. Why so earnestly seeke you to put vp that letter?
Bast. I know no newes, my Lord.
365Glo. What paper were you reading?
Bast. Nothing my Lord.
Glost. No, what needs then that terrible dispatch of it into
your pocket, the quality of nothing hath not such need to hide
it selfe, lets see, come if it be nothing I shal not need spectacles.
Bast. I beseech you sir pardon me, it is a Letter from my bro-
ther that I haue not all ore read, for so much as I haue perused,
I finde 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.
Glo. Lets see, Lets see.
380Bast. I hope for my brothers iustification, he wrote this but
as an essay, or taste of my vertue. A Letter.
Glost. This policy of age makes the world bitter to the best
of our times, keepes our fortunes from vs till our oldnesse can-
not relish them, I begin to finde an idle and fond bondage in
385the oppression of aged tyranny, who swaies not as it hath pow-
er, but as it is suffered, come to mee, that of this I may speake
more; if our Father would sleepe till I wakt him, you should
enioy halfe his reuenew for euer, and liue the beloued of your
brother Edgar.
390 Hum, conspiracy, slept till I wakt him, you should enioy halfe
his reuenew: my sonne Edgar, had he a hand to write this, a hart
and braine to breed it in? when came this to you, who brought
Bast. It was not brought me my Lord, there's the cunning
395of it, I found it throwne in at the casement of my Closet.
Glost. You know the carracter 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 think it were not.
Glost. Is it his?
Bast. It is his hand my Lord, but I hope his heart is not in
the contents.
Glost. Hath he neuer heeretofore sounded you in this busi-
405Bast. Neuer my Lord, but I haue often heard him maintaine
it to be fit, that sonnes at parfit age, and fathers declining, his
father should be as Ward to the sonne, and the sonne mannage
the reuenew.
Glost. O villaine, villaine, his very opinion in the Letter, ab-
410horrid villaine, vnnaturall detested bruitish villaine, worse then
bruitish go sir seeke him; I, apprehend him, abhominable vil-
laine, where is he?
Bast. I do not well know my Lord, if it shall please you to
suspend your indignation against my brother, till you can de-
415riue from him better testimony of this intent, you shal runnne a
certaine course, where if you violently proceed against him, mi-
staking his purpose, it would make a great gap in your owne
honour, and shake in peeces the heart of his obedience, I dare
pawne downe my life for him, hee hath wrote this to feele my
420affection 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 aurigular assurance
425haue 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 entirely loues him:
heauen and earth! Edmund seeke him out, winde me into him, I
pray you frame your busines after your owne wisedome, I wold
vnstate my selfe ro 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 reason thus and
435thus, yet nature findes it selfe scourg'd by the sequent effects,
loue cooles, friendship fals off, brothers diuide, in Cities muti-
nies, in Countries discords, Pallaces treason, the bond crackt
betweene sonne and father; finde out this villaine, Edmund it
shall lose thee nothing, do it carefully; and the noble and true
hearted 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 surfet of our owne behauiour,
we make guilty of our disasters, the Sunne, the Moore, and the
450stars, as if we were villaines by necessity, fooles by heauenly
compulsion, knaues, theeues, and trecherers by spirituall predo-
minance, drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforc'st obedi-
ence of planitary influence, and all that we are euill in, by a di-
uine thrusting on, an admirable euasion of whore-master man,
to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of stars; my Father
compounded with my Mother vnder the Dragons taile, & my
natiuity was vnder Vrsa maior, so that it followes I am rough &
lecherous; Fut, I should haue beene that I am, had the maiden-
460lest starre of the Firmament twinckled on my bastardy; Edgar,
Enter Edgar.
& out he comes like the Catastrophe of the old Comedy, mine
is villanous melancholy, with a sigh like them of Bedlam; O
465these Ecclipses do 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 other
470day, what should follow these Ecclipses.
Edg. Doe you busie your selfe about that?
Bast. I promise you the effects he writ of, succeed vnhappily,
as of vnnaturalnesse betweene the childe and the parent, death,
473.1dearth, dissolutions of ancient armies, diuisions in state, mena-
ces and maledictions against King and Nobles, needlesse diffi-
dences, banishment of friends, dissipation of Cohorts, nuptiall
breaches, and I know not what.
473.5Edg. How long haue you bin a sectary Astronomicall?
Bast. Come, come, when saw you my father last?
475Edg. Why the night gone 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 entreaty, forbeare his presence, till some little
time hath qualified the heate of his displeasure, which at this
instant so rageth in him, that with the mischiefe of your person
485it would scarse allay.
Edg. Some villaine hath done me wrong.
Bast. That's my feare brother, I aduise you to the best, goe
arm'd, I am no honest man if there be any good meaning to-
wards you, I haue told you what I haue seen & heard, but faint-
495ly, nothing like the image and horror of it; pray you away.
Edg. Shall I heare from you anon? Exit Edgar.
Bast. 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 honesty
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.