King Lear

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 2

page Act 1 Scene 2 Page 3

Original Text

Modern Text

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 forever, and live the beloved of your brother,
     Edgar.”
Hum, conspiracy? “'Sleep till I wake 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?
Come talk to me about this. If our father were dead you’d receive half of his revenue forever, and you’d have my undying love,
     Edgar.”
Hmm, what’s this, a conspiracy? “If our father were dead, you’d receive half of his revenue forever”—my son Edgar? How did he bring himself to write such a thing? How could he have even entertained these thoughts in his heart? How did you get this letter? Who delivered it?

EDMUND

It was not brought me, my lord. There’s the cunning of it.
60I found it thrown in at the casement of my closet.

EDMUND

Nobody delivered it, my lord. That’s what’s clever about it. It was tossed into the window of my room.

GLOUCESTER

You know the character to be your brother’s?

GLOUCESTER

You’re sure the handwriting is your brother’s?

EDMUND

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.

EDMUND

If he’d written nice things, I’d swear yes right away. But as it stands, I wish I could believe it wasn’t.

GLOUCESTER

It is his.

GLOUCESTER

But it is his handwriting?

EDMUND

65It is his hand, my lord, but I hope his heart is not in the contents.

EDMUND

It’s his handwriting, my lord, but I hope he didn’t mean what he wrote.

GLOUCESTER

Has he never before sounded you in this business?

GLOUCESTER

Has he ever tested out these ideas on you before?

EDMUND

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.

EDMUND

Never, my lord. But I’ve often heard him argue that when sons are at their prime and their fathers are declining, the sons should be their fathers' guardians and manage their fathers' money.

GLOUCESTER

O villain, villain! His very opinion in the letter! Abhorred villain! Unnatural, detested, brutish villain—worse than

GLOUCESTER

Oh, what a villain! That’s just what he said in the letter. Evil villain! Monstrous, hateful, bestial villain! Worse