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Fal'n into taint; which to believe of her,
Cori I yet beseech your Majesty.
Lear. Better thou Hadst not been born, than not have pleas’d me better.
France. Is it but this? a tardiness in nature,
Bur. Royal King,
Cor: Peace be with Burgundy,
Tbat monsters it i. e. that makes a monster, a prodigy, of it: And our pret-uses this verb elsewhere in fuch a sense. So Albany, afterwards in this play,, says to Gonerill, his wife;
Thou chang'd, and self-converted thing! for shame,
Be-me1.fier not thy features.
I'd rather have one scratch my head i' th’ Sun,
Since that respects of fortune are his love,
France. Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor,
Lear. Thou hast her, France; let her be thine, for we
[and Burgundy. France. Bid farewel to your sisters.
Cor. Ye jewels of our father, with wash'd eyes
Reg. Prescribe not us our duty.
Gon. Let your study
(4) And well are worth the Want that you have wanted.] This is a very obfcure expression, and must be pieced out with an imülied sense, to be underitood. This I take to be the poet's meaning, Atript of the jingle which makes it dark; “ You well deserve to meet with that « Want of love from your husband, which you have profess’d to want 66 for our father,"
Cor. Time shall unfold what plaited cunning hides, Who covers faults, at last with Thame derides. Well may you prosper! France. Come, my fair Cordelia.
[Exeunt France and Cor. Gon. Sifter, it is not little I've to say, Of what most nearly appertains to us both; I think, our father will go hence to night.
Reg. That's certain, and with you; next month with us.
Gon. You see how full of changes his age is, the obfervation we have made of it hath not been little; he always lov'd our fifter moft, 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 flenderly known himself.
Gon. The best and foundeft of his time hath been but rash; then must we look, from his age, to receive not alone the imperfections of long-engrafted condition, but therewithal the upruly 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 disposition 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'th' heat. [Exeunt. SCENE changes to a Castle belonging to
the Earl of Gloster.
Enter EDMUND, with a Letter. Edm. HOU, Nature, art my Goddess; to thy law
Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
For (5) The nicety of nations. ] This is Mr. Pope's reading, ex Cathedra; for it has the sanction of none of the copies, that I have met with.
For that I am fome twelve or fourteen moon-shines
The curtesy of nations allows you my better, in that you are the
Nor muft we forget that tenure in our laws, whereby fome lands are held by the Curtesy of England. And I ought to take notice, that I had the concurrence of the ingenious Dr. I birlby, who hinted to me this very emendation, before he knew I made it.
(6) Wbo, in the lusty stealtb of nature,] These fine lines are a very fignal proof of our author's admirable art, in giving proper sentiments to his characters. And such a proof, as hath in it lomething very extraordinary, The Bastard's character is that of a confirm'd atheift; and the poet's making him ridicule judicial Aftrology was design'd as one instance of that character: For that impious juggle bad a religious reverence paid it at that time: and Shakespeare makes his best characters in this very play, own and acknowledge the force of the stars influence. The poet, in short, gives an atheistical turn to all his fentiments; and how much the lines, following this, are in this character, may be seen by that strange monstrous with, which Vanini, the infamous Neapolitan atheist, made in his tract De Admirandis Nature; printed at Paris in 1616, the very year that our author dy'd. “0! ir Urinam extra legitimum & connub.alem tborum elem pro reatus! Ila « enim progenitores mei in venerem incaluiffent ardentiùs, ac cumula“ tim aifatimque generosa Semina contuliffent; e quibus ego fornice “ blanditiam et elegantiam, robuftas corporis vires, mentem.que innubilam “ consequutus fuiffem. At quia Conjugatorum lum foboles, his orbatus « sum bonis.' -Now had this book been publith'd ten years before, who would not have sworn that Sbakespeare hinted at this para fage? But the divinity of his genius here, as it were, furetold what such an atheist, as Vanini was, would say, when he wrote upon this subject.
Got 'tween a- sleep and wake? Well then,
Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund,
Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed,
my invention thrive, Edmund the base Shall be th' legitimate.--I grow, I profper; Now, Gods, stand up for bastards!
To him, Enter Glo'ster. Glo. Kent banish'd thus! and France in choler parted! And the King gone to-night! subscrib’d his pow'r ! Confin'd to exhibition! all is gone 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 letter? Edm. I know no news, my
Glo. No! what needed then that terrible dispatch of it into your pocketthe quality of nothing hath not fuch need to hide it self. Let's fee; 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'er-read; and for so much as I have perus’d, I find it not fit for your o'erlooking
Glo. Give me the letter, Sir.
Edin. I fall offend, either to detain, or give it; 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 ages 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 fond bondage in the opprefion of aged tyranny; which fway's, not as it hath power, but as it is suffered. Come to me, that of this I may speak more. If our father would