You sulphurous and thought-executing? fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Strike flat the thick rotundity o’the world!
Crack nature's moulds, all germens spill at once*,
That make ingrateful man!

Fool. O nuncle, court holy-waters in a dry house is better than this rain-water out o'door. Good nuncle, in, and ask thy daughter's blessing! Here's a night pities neither wise men nor fools.

Lear. Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! spout, rain! Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters; I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness, I never gave you kingdom, calld you children, You owe me no subscription ®; why, then let fall Your horrible pleasure; here I stand, your slave, A poor, infirm, weak, and despis'd old man:

I call

you servile ministers, ? Thought-executing, 'doing execution with celerity equal to thought.'

3 Avant-couriers, Fr. The phrase occurs in other writers of Shakspeare's time. It originally meant the foremost scouts of an army. In The Tempest · Jove's lightnings’ are termed more familiarly

the precursors

O'the dreadful thunder-claps.' 4 There is a parallel passage in The Winter's Tale:

Let nature crash the sides o’the earth together,

And mar the seeds within.' So again in Macbeth :

and the sum Of nature's germens tumble all together.' For the force of the word spill, see Genesis, xxxviii. 9.

5 Court holy-water is fair words and flattering speeches. 'Gonfiare alcuno (says Florio), to soothe or flatter one, to set one agogge, or with fair words bring him into a foole's paradise; to fill one with hopes, or court holie-water. It appears to have been borrowed from the French, who have their Eau bénite de la cour in the same sense.

6 i. e. submission, obedience. See Act i. Sc. 2, note 5; and vol. vii. p. 422. VOL. IX.


But yet



That have with two pernicious daughters join'd
Your high engender'd battles, 'gainst a head
So old and white as this. O! O! 'tis foul!

Fool. He that has a house to put his head in, has a good head-piece.

The cod-piece that will house,

Before the head has any,
The head and he shall louse ;-

So beggars marry many.
The man that makes his toe

What he his heart should make,
Shall of a corn cry woe,

And turn his sleep to wake. -for there was never yet fair woman, but she made mouths in a glass.

Enter KENT. Lear. No, I will be the pattern of all patience, I will say nothing.

Kent. Who's there?

Fool. Marry, here's grace, and a cod-piece?; that's a wise man, and a fool. Kent. Alas, sir, are you here? things that love

night, Love not such nights as these; the wrathful skies Gallow 8 the very wanderers of the dark, And make them keep their caves: Since I was man, Such sheets of fire, such bursts of horrid thunder, Such

groans of roaring wind and rain, I never Remember to have heard: man's nature cannot carry The affliction, nor the fear.

7 Meaning the king and himself. The king's grace was the usual expression in Shakspeare's time: perhaps the latter phrase alludes to the saying of a contemporary wit, that there is no discretion below the girdle.

8 To gallow is to frighten, to scare; from the A. S. agælan, or agælpan. In the corrupted form of to gally it is still in use in the west of England.


Let the great gods, That keep this dreadful pother? o'er our heads, Find out their enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch, That hast within thee undivulged crimes, Unwhipp'd of justice: Hide thee, thou bloody hand; Thou perjur'd, and thou simular10 man of virtue That art incestuous: Caitiff, to pieces shake, That under covert and convenient seeming Hast practis'd on man's life!—Close pent-up guilts, Rive your concealing continents'1, and cry These dreadful summoners grace 12. I am a man, More sinn'd against, than sinning 13. Kent.

Alack, bare-headed ! Gracious my lord, hard by here is a hovel; Some friendship will it lend you ’gainst the tempest; Repose you there: while I to this hard house, (More hard than is the stone whereof 'tis rais'd; Which even but now, demanding after you,

9 Thus the folio and one of the quartos; the other quarto reads thundring. 10 i. e, counterfeit; from simulo, Lat.

My practices so prevail'd,
That I return’d with simular proof enough
To make the noble Leonatas mad.'

Cymbeline, Act v. Sc. 5. 11 Continent for that which contains or encloses. Thus in Antony and Cleopatra :

"Heart, once be stronger than thy continent.' The quartos read, -concealed centers.

12 Summoners are officers that summon offenders before a proper tribunal. See Chaucer's Sompnour's Tale, v. 625-670.Thus in Howard's Defensative against the Poison of supposed Prophecies, 1581 :— They seem to brag most of the strange events which follow for the most part after blazing starres, as if they were the summoners of God to call princes to the seat of judgment.

13 Edipus, in Sophocles, represents himself in the same light. Edip. Colon. v. 270 :-

τα γ' εργά με
Πεπονθότ' εεί μάλλον ή δεδρακότα.'


Denied me to come in), return, and force
Their scanted courtesy.

My wits begin to turn,Come on, my boy: How dost, my boy? Art cold? I am cold myself.—Where is this straw, my fel

low? The art of our necessities is strange, That can make vile things precious. Come, your

hovel, Poor fool and knave, I have one part in my

heart That's sorry yet for thee 14. Fool. He that has a little tiny wit,

With a heigh, ho, the wind and the rain,Must make content with his fortunes fit;

For the rain it raineth every day 15. Lear. True, my good boy.--Come, bring us to

this hovel. [Exeunt LEAR and KENT. Fool. This is a brave night to cool a courtezan 16. -I'll speak a prophecy ere I go:

When priests are more in word than matter;
When brewers mar their malt with water;
When nobles are their tailors' tutors;
No hereticks burn'd, but wenches' suitors :

every case in law is right;
No squire in debt, nor no poor knight;
When slanders do not live in tongues ;
Nor cutpurses come not to throngs;
When usurers tell their gold i’ the field;
And bawds and whores do churches build :-
Then shall the realm of Albion
Come to great confusion 17.
14 The quartos read, “That sorrows yet for thee.'
15 Part of the Clown's song at the end of Twelfth Night.
16 This speech is not in the quartos.

17 These lines are taken from what is commonly called Chaucer's Prophecy; but which is much older than his time in its

Then comes the time, who lives to see't,

That going shall be us’d with feet. This prophecy Merlin shall make; for I live before his time.


SCENE III. A Room in Gloster's Castle.

Enter GLOSTER and EDMUND. Glo. Alack, alack, Edmund, I like not this unnatural dealing: When I desired their leave that I might pity him, they took from me the use of mine own house; charged me, on pain of their perpetual displeasure, neither to speak of him, entreat for him, nor any way sustain him.

Edm. Most savage, and unnatural!

Glo. Go to; say you nothing: There is division between the dukes; and worse matter than that: I have received a letter this night;—'tis dangerous to be spoken:-I have locked the letter in my closet: these injuries the king now bears will be revenged at home; there is part of a power already footed 1: we must incline to the king. I will seek him, and privily relieve him: go you, and maintain talk with the duke, that my charity be not of him perceived: If he ask for me, I am ill, and gone to bed. If I die for it, as no less is threatened me, the king my old master must be relieved. There is

original form. It is thus quoted by Puttenham, in his Art of Poetry, 1589:

· When faith fails in priestes saws,
And lords hests are bolden for laws,
And robbery is tane for purchase,
And letchery for solace,
Then shall the realm of Albion

Be brought to great confusion.' See the Works of Chaucer in Whittingham's edit. vol. v. p. 179. | The quartos read, landed.

« ElőzőTovább »