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King Lear: Act I, Scene 2

King Lear
Act I, Scene 2

The Earl of Gloucester’s castle.

  1. Enter Edmund the Bastard with a letter.

Edmund

1 - 22
  1. Thou, Nature, art my goddess, to thy law
  2. My services are bound. Wherefore should I
  3. Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
  4. The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
  5. For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines
  6. Lag of a brother? Why bastard? Wherefore base?
  7. When my dimensions are as well-compact,
  8. My mind as generous, and my shape as true,
  9. As honest madam’s issue? Why brand they us
  10. With base? With baseness? Bastardy? Base, base?
  11. Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, take
  12. More composition, and fierce quality,
  13. Than doth within a dull, stale, tired bed
  14. Go to th’ creating a whole tribe of fops,
  15. Got ’tween asleep and wake? Well then,
  16. Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land.
  17. Our father’s love is to the bastard Edmund
  18. As to th’ legitimate. Fine word, legitimate”!
  19. Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed
  20. And my invention thrive, Edmund the base
  21. Shall top th’ legitimate. I grow, I prosper:
  22. Now, gods, stand up for bastards!
  1. Enter Gloucester.

Gloucester

23 - 26
  1. Kent banish’d thus? And France in choler parted?
  2. And the King gone tonight? Prescrib’d his pow’r,
  3. Confin’d to exhibition? All this done
  4. Upon the gad? Edmund, how now? What news?

Edmund

27
  1. So please your lordship, none.
  1. Putting up the letter.

Gloucester

28
  1. Why so earnestly seek you to put up that letter?

Edmund

29
  1. I know no news, my lord.

Gloucester

30
  1. What paper were you reading?

Edmund

31
  1. Nothing, my lord.

Gloucester

32 - 35
  1. No? What needed then that terrible dispatch of it into your
  2. pocket? The quality of nothing hath not such need to hide
  3. itself. Let’s see. Come, if it be nothing, I shall not need
  4. spectacles.

Edmund

36 - 38
  1. I beseech you, sir, pardon me. It is a letter from my
  2. brother that I have not all o’er-read; and for so much as I
  3. have perus’d, I find it not fit for your o’erlooking.

Gloucester

39
  1. Give me the letter, sir.

Edmund

40 - 41
  1. I shall offend either to detain or give it: the contents, as
  2. in part I understand them, are to blame.

Gloucester

42
  1. Let’s see, let’s see.

Edmund

43 - 44
  1. I hope, for my brother’s justification, he wrote this but as
  2. an essay or taste of my virtue.

Gloucester

45 - 56
  1. Reads.
  2. This policy and reverence of age makes the world bitter to
  3. the best of our times; keeps our fortunes from us till our
  4. oldness cannot relish them. I begin to find an idle and fond
  5. bondage in the oppression of aged tyranny, who sways, not as
  6. it hath power, but as it is suffer’d. Come to me, that of
  7. this I may speak more. If our father would sleep till I
  8. wak’d him, you should enjoy half his revenue forever, and
  9. live the belov’d of your brother. Edgar.”
  10. Hum? Conspiracy?
  11. Sleep till I wake him, you should enjoy half his revenue.”
  12. My son Edgar! Had he a hand to write this? A heart and brain
  13. to breed it in?—When came you to this? Who brought it?

Edmund

57 - 58
  1. It was not brought me, my lord; there’s the cunning of it. I
  2. found it thrown in at the casement of my closet.

Gloucester

59
  1. You know the character to be your brother’s?

Edmund

60 - 61
  1. If the matter were good, my lord, I durst swear it were his;
  2. but in respect of that, I would fain think it were not.

Gloucester

62
  1. It is his.

Edmund

63 - 64
  1. It is his hand, my lord; but I hope his heart is not in the
  2. contents.

Gloucester

65
  1. Has he never before sounded you in this business?

Edmund

66 - 69
  1. Never, my lord. But I have heard him oft maintain it to be
  2. fit that, sons at perfect age and fathers declin’d, the
  3. father should be as ward to the son, and the son manage his
  4. revenue.

Gloucester

70 - 73
  1. O villain, villain! His very opinion in the letter. Abhorred
  2. villain! Unnatural, detested, brutish villain! Worse than
  3. brutish! Go, sirrah, seek him; I’ll apprehend him.
  4. Abominable villain! Where is he?

Edmund

74 - 82
  1. I do not well know, my lord. If it shall please you to
  2. suspend your indignation against my brother till you can
  3. derive from him better testimony of his intent, you should
  4. run a certain course; where, if you violently proceed
  5. against him, mistaking his purpose, it would make a great
  6. gap in your own honor and shake in pieces the heart of his
  7. obedience. I dare pawn down my life for him that he hath
  8. writ this to feel my affection to your honor, and to no
  9. other pretense of danger.

Gloucester

83
  1. Think you so?

Edmund

84 - 87
  1. If your honor judge it meet, I will place you where you
  2. shall hear us confer of this, and by an auricular assurance
  3. have your satisfaction, and that without any further delay
  4. than this very evening.

Gloucester

88
  1. He cannot be such a monster

Edmund

89
  1. Nor is not, sure.

Gloucester

90 - 93
  1. To his father, that so tenderly and entirely loves him.
  2. Heaven and earth! Edmund, seek him out; wind me into him, I
  3. pray you. Frame the business after your own wisdom. I would
  4. unstate myself to be in a due resolution.

Edmund

94 - 95
  1. I will seek him, sir, presently; convey the business as I
  2. shall find means, and acquaint you withal.

Gloucester

96 - 109
  1. These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to
  2. us. Though the wisdom of nature can reason it thus and thus,
  3. yet nature finds itself scourg’d by the sequent effects.
  4. Love cools, friendship falls off, brothers divide: in
  5. cities, mutinies; in countries, discord; in palaces,
  6. treason; and the bond crack’d ’twixt son and father. This
  7. villain of mine comes under the prediction; there’s son
  8. against father: the King falls from bias of nature; there’s
  9. father against child. We have seen the best of our time.
  10. Machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all ruinous
  11. disorders follow us disquietly to our graves. Find out this
  12. villain, Edmund, it shall lose thee nothing, do it
  13. carefully. And the noble and true-hearted Kent banish’d! His
  14. offense, honesty! ’Tis strange.
  1. Exit.

Edmund

110 - 126
  1. This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are
  2. sick in fortuneoften the surfeits of our own behaviorwe
  3. make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and stars,
  4. as if we were villains on necessity, fools by heavenly
  5. compulsion, knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical
  6. predominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an
  7. enforc’d obedience of planetary influence; and all that we
  8. are evil in, by a divine thrusting on. An admirable evasion
  9. of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition on the
  10. charge of a star! My father compounded with my mother under
  11. the Dragon’s tail, and my nativity was under Ursa Major, so
  12. that it follows, I am rough and lecherous. Fut, I should
  13. have been that I am, had the maidenl’est star in the
  14. firmament twinkled on my bastardizing. Edgar
  15. Enter Edgar.
  16. Pat! He comes like the catastrophe of the old comedy. My cue
  17. is villainous melancholy, with a sigh like Tom o’ Bedlam.—O,
  18. these eclipses do portend these divisions! Fa, sol, la, mi.
  1. Humming these notes.

Edgar

127 - 128
  1. How now, brother Edmund, what serious contemplation are you
  2. in?

Edmund

129 - 130
  1. I am thinking, brother, of a prediction I read this other
  2. day, what should follow these eclipses.

Edgar

131
  1. Do you busy yourself with that?

Edmund

132 - 137
  1. I promise you, the effects he writes of succeed unhappily,
  2. as of unnaturalness between the child and the parent, death,
  3. dearth, dissolutions of ancient amities, divisions in state,
  4. menaces and maledictions against king and nobles, needless
  5. diffidences, banishment of friends, dissipation of cohorts,
  6. nuptial breaches, and I know not what.

Edgar

138
  1. How long have you been a sectary astronomical?

Edmund

139
  1. Come, come, when saw you my father last?

Edgar

140
  1. The night gone by.

Edmund

141
  1. Spake you with him?

Edgar

142
  1. Ay, two hours together.

Edmund

143 - 144
  1. Parted you in good terms? Found you no displeasure in him by
  2. word nor countenance?

Edgar

145
  1. None at all.

Edmund

146 - 150
  1. Bethink yourself wherein you may have offended him; and at
  2. my entreaty forbear his presence until some little time hath
  3. qualified the heat of his displeasure, which at this instant
  4. so rageth in him, that with the mischief of your person it
  5. would scarcely allay.

Edgar

151
  1. Some villain hath done me wrong.

Edmund

152 - 156
  1. That’s my fear. I pray you have a continent forbearance till
  2. the speed of his rage goes slower; and as I say, retire with
  3. me to my lodging, from whence I will fitly bring you to hear
  4. my lord speak. Pray ye go, there’s my key. If you do stir
  5. abroad, go arm’d.

Edgar

157
  1. Arm’d, brother?

Edmund

158 - 161
  1. Brother, I advise you to the best; I am no honest man if
  2. there be any good meaning toward you. I have told you what I
  3. have seen and heard; but faintly, nothing like the image and
  4. horror of it. Pray you away.

Edgar

162
  1. Shall I hear from you anon?

Edmund

163 - 169
  1. I do serve you in this business.
  2. Exit Edgar.
  3. A credulous father and a brother noble,
  4. Whose nature is so far from doing harms
  5. That he suspects none; on whose foolish honesty
  6. My practices ride easy. I see the business.
  7. Let me, if not by birth, have lands by wit:
  8. All with me’s meet that I can fashion fit.
  1. Exit.
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