Enter EDMUND the bastard, 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
5For 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
10With “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, tirèd bed
Go to th' creating a whole tribe of fops
15Got ’tween a sleep 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
20And my invention thrive, Edmund the base
Shall top th' legitimate. I grow, I prosper.
Now, gods, stand up for bastards!
EDMUND looks over his letter
Kent banished thus? And France in choler parted?
And the king gone tonight, prescribed his power
25Confined to exhibition? All this done
Upon the gad?—Edmund, how now? What news?