2. Scene II. A Hall in the Earl of Gloster's Castle.
[Enter Edmund with a letter.]
Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law
My services are bound. Wherefore should I
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?
When my 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
Shall top the legitimate. I grow; I prosper.--
Now, gods, stand up for bastards!
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 this done
Upon the gad!--Edmund, how now! What news?
So please your lordship, none.
[Putting up the letter.]
Why so earnestly seek you to put up that letter?
I know no news, my lord.
What paper were you reading?
Nothing, my lord.
No? What needed, then, that terrible dispatch of it into your
pocket? the quality of nothing hath not such need to hide itself.
Come, if it be nothing, I shall not need spectacles.
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.