Edmund has shown Cornwall his father’s secret letter, and Cornwall is infuriated, swearing to be revenged on the old man. Edmund hypocritically laments the fight he had to hold between loyalty to his father and to his country. Cornwall names him Duke of Gloucester in his father’s stead. (9 lines)
Enter Cornwall and Edmund.
I will have my revenge ere I depart his house.
How, my lord, I may be censur’d, that nature thus gives way to loyalty, something fears me to think of.
I now perceive, it was not altogether your brother’s evil disposition made him seek his death; but a provoking merit, set a-work by a reprovable badness in himself.
How malicious is my fortune, that I must repent to be just! This is the letter which he spoke of, which approves him an intelligent party to the advantages of France. O heavens! That this treason were not; or not I the detector!
Go with me to the Duchess.
If the matter of this paper be certain, you have mighty business in hand.
True or false, it hath made thee Earl of Gloucester. Seek out where thy father is, that he may be ready for our apprehension.
If I find him comforting the King, it will stuff his suspicion more fully.—I will persever in my course of loyalty, though the conflict be sore between that and my blood.
I will lay trust upon thee; and thou shalt find a dearer father in my love.