King Lear

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

EDMUND

(pocketing the letter) So please your lordship, none.

EDMUND

(pocketing the letter) No news, my lord.

GLOUCESTER

Why so earnestly seek you to put up that letter?

GLOUCESTER

Why are you hiding that letter?

EDMUND

I know no news, my lord.

EDMUND

I don’t have any news to report, my lord.

GLOUCESTER

30What paper were you reading?

GLOUCESTER

What’s that paper you were reading?

EDMUND

Nothing, my lord.

EDMUND

It’s nothing, my lord.

GLOUCESTER

No? What needed, then, that terrible dispatch 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.

GLOUCESTER

No? Then why did you have to stick it in your pocket in such a hurry? If it were nothing, you wouldn’t need to hide it. Let’s see it. Come on, if it’s nothing, I won’t need glasses to read it.

EDMUND

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 perused, I find it not fit for your o'erlooking.

EDMUND

Please, sir, I beg you. It’s a letter from my brother that I haven’t finished reading yet. But judging from the bit I have read, it’s not fit for you to see.

GLOUCESTER

Give me the letter, sir.

GLOUCESTER

Give me that letter, sir.

EDMUND

40I shall offend, either to detain or give it. The contents, as in part I understand them, are to blame.

EDMUND

Now I’ll offend you whether I give it to you or not. The problem is in what the letter says, as far as I can tell.

GLOUCESTER

(taking the letter) Let’s see, let’s see.

GLOUCESTER

(taking the letter) Let’s see, let’s see.

EDMUND

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

EDMUND

I hope for my brother’s sake that he just wrote it to test my honor.

GLOUCESTER

45 (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.

GLOUCESTER

(reads)
“The custom of respecting the elderly makes it hard for the young and healthy to live well, and keeps us without our inheritance until we are so old we can’t enjoy our happiness anyway. The power of the elderly is starting to feel like a silly and foolish slavery to me, and they only enjoy that power because we let them have it.