Your faults, as they are nam'd. Use well our father:
To your professed 40 bosoms I commit him :
But yet, alas! stood I within his grace,
I would prefer him to a better place.
So farewell to you both.

Gon. Prescribe not us our duties.

Let your study Be, to content your lord; who hath receiv'd you At fortune's alms. You have obedience scanted, And well are worth the want that you have wanted 41. Cor. Time shall unfold what plaited 42 cunning

Who cover faults 43, at last shame them derides.
Well may you prosper!

Come, my fair Cordelia.

[Exeunt FRANCE and CORDELIA. Gon. Sister, it is not a little I have to say, of

40 We have here professed for professing. It has been elsewhere observed that Shakspeare often uses one participle for another. Thus in the Merchant of Venice, Act iii. Sc. 2. p. 55, we have guiled for guiling; in other places delighted for delighting, &c. A remarkable instance of the converse occurs in Antony and Cleopatra; where we have all-obeyed for all-obeying. 41 Thus the folio. The quartos read:

. And well are worth the worth that you have wanted.' The meaning of the passage, as it now stands in the text, is, • You well deserve to want that dower, which you have lost by having failed in your obedience.' So in King Henry VI. Part III. Act iv. Sc. 1:– Though I want a kingdom ;' i. e, though I am without a kingdom.

42 That is, complicated, intricate, involved, cunning. 43 The quartos read :

• Who covers faults, at last shame them derides.' The folio has :

• Who covers faults, at last with shame derides.' Mason proposed to read :

Who covert faults at last with shame derides.'
The word who referring to Time. In the third act Lear says:

Caitiff, shake to pieces,
That under covert and convenient seeming,
Hast practis'd on man's life.'

what most nearly appertains to us both. I think, our father will hence to-night.

Reg. That's most certain, and with you; next month with us.

Gon. You see how full of changes his age is; the observation we have made of it hath not been little: he always loved 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 slenderly known himself.

Gon. The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash; then must we look to receive from his age, not alone the imperfections of long-engrafted condition 44, 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 dispositions as he bears, this last surrender of his will but offend us.

Reg. We shall further think of it.
Gon. We must do something, and i’ the heat *5.


SCENE II. A Hall in the Earl of Gloster's Castle.

Enter EDMUND, with a Letter. Edm. Thou, nature, art my goddess 1; to thy law My services are bound; Wherefore should I

44 i. e. temper; qualities of mind confirmed by long habit. Thus in Othello :-

A woman of so gentle a condition.' 45 We must strike while the iron's hot. · Edmund calls nature his goddess, for the same reason as we

Stand in the plague? of custom; and permit
The curiosity of nations to deprive* me,
For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines
Lag of a brother? Why bastard ? wherefore base?


dimensions are as well compact, My mind as generous, and my shape as true, As honest madam's issue? Why brand they us With base? with baseness? bastardy? base, base? Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, take More composition and fierce quality, Than doth, within a dull, stale, tired bed, Go to the creating a whole tribe of fops, Got 'tween asleep and wake?—Well then, Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land: Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund, As to the legitimate: Fine word,-legitimate! Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed, And

my invention thrive, Edmund the base call a bastard a natural son: one who, according to the law of nature, is the child of his father; but, according to those of civil society, is nullus filius.

2 · Wherefore should I submit tamely to the plague (i. e. the evil), or injustice of custom ?'

3 The nicety of civil institutions, their strictness and scrupulosity. See note 2, on the first scene.

4 To deprive is equivalent to disinherit. Exhæredo is rendered by this word in the old dictionaries: and Holinshed speaks of the line of Henry before deprived.

• How much the following lines are in character may be seen by that monstrous wish of Vanini, the Italian atheist, in his tract De Admirandis Naturæ, &c. printed at Paris, 1616, the very year our poet died:"0 utinam extra legitimum et connubialem thorum essem procreatus ! Ita enim progenitores mei in venerem incaluissent ardentius, ac cumulatim affatimque generosa semina contulissent, è quibus ego formæ blanditiam et elegantiam, robustas corporis vires, mentemque innubilem, consequutus fuissem. At quia conjugatorum sum soboles, his orbatus sum bonis.” Had the book been published but ten or twenty years sooner, who would not have believed that Shakspeare alluded to this passage? But the divinity of his genius foretold, as it were, what such an atheist as Vanini would say when he wrote on such a subject.' - Warburton.

Shall top the legitimate. I grow; I prosper :-
Now, gods, stand up for bastards!

Glo. Kent banish'd thus! And France in choler

And the king gone to-night! subscrib'd' his power!
Confin’d to exhibition 6! All this done
Upon the gad?! Edmund! How now? what

news? Edm. So please your lordship, none.

[Putting up the Letter. Glo. Why so earnestly seek you to put up that

Edm. I know no news, my lord.
Glo. What paper were you reading ?
Edm. Nothing, my lord.

Glo. No? What needed then that terrible despatch of it into your pocket? the quality of nothing hath not such need to hide itself. 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’erread; for so much as I have perused, I find it not fit for your over-looking.

Glo. Give me the letter, sir.
Edm. I shall offend, either to detain or give it.

5 To subscribe is to yield, to surrender. So in Troilus and Cressida, vol. vii. p. 422:—

• For Hector in his blaze of wrath subscribes

To tender objects.' 6 Exhibition is an allowance, a stipend. See vol. i. p. 112, note 5.

7 i. e. in haste, equivalent to upon the spur. A gad was a sharp pointed piece of steel, used as a spur to urge cattle forward ; whence goaded forward. Mr. Nares suggests that to gad and gadding originate from being on the spur to go about.

The contents, as in part I understand them, are to blame. Glo. Let's see,

let's see. Edm. I hope, for my brother's justification, he wrote this but as an essay or taste of my virtue.

Glo. [Reads.] This policy, and reverence of age, makes the world bitter to the best of our times; keeps our fortunes from us, till our oldness cannot relish them. I begin to find an idle and fondo bondage in the oppression of aged tyranny; who sways, not as it hath power, but as it is suffered. Come to me, that of this I may speak more. If our father would sleep till I waked him, you should enjoy half his revenue for ever, and live the beloved of your brother, Edgar.-Humph-Conspiracy!-Sleep till I waked 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 casement of


closet. Glo. You know the character to be your brother's ?

Edm. If the matter were good, my lord, I durst 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; but, I hope, his heart is not in the contents. Glo. Hath he never heretofore sounded


in this business?

8 • As an essay,' &c. means as a trial or taste of my virtue. To assay, or rather essay, of the French word essayer,' says Baret; and a little lower: “To taste or assay before; prælibo.'

9 i. e. weak and foolish.

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