William Shakespeare: The Tragedy of King Lear

2. Scene II. A Hall in the Earl of Gloster's Castle. (continued)

Give me the letter, sir.

I shall offend, either to detain or give it. The contents, as in
part I understand them, are to blame.

Let's see, let's see!

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

[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 fond 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,
Hum! 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?

It was not brought me, my lord, there's the cunning of it; I
found it thrown in at the casement of my closet.

You know the character to be your brother's?

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.

It is his.

It is his hand, my lord; but I hope his heart is not in the

Hath he never before sounded you in this business?

Never, my lord: but I have heard him oft maintain it to be fit
that, sons at perfect age, and fathers declined, the father
should be as ward to the son, and the son manage his revenue.

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