Scena Secunda.

Enter Bastard.

Bast. 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 Lag 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 Bastardie? Base, Base? Who 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, Legitimate 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 Shall 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, Confin'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 y Letter? Bast. I know no newes, my Lord

Glou. 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 nothing, 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-looking

Glou. 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

Bast. 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 and 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. Edgar. Hum? 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 cunning 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 were 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? Bast. Neuer my Lord. But I haue heard him oft maintaine 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 Letter. 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[ord]. If it shall please you to suspend your indignation against my Brother, til you can deriue from him better testimony of his intent, you shold run a certaine course: where, if you violently proceed against 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 he hath writ this to feele my affection to your Honor, & to no other pretence of danger

William Shakespeare
Classic Literature Library

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