Sidor som bilder

Man's life is cheap as beast's: thou art a lady;
If only to go warm were gorgeous,

Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear'st,
Which scarcely keeps thee warm.-But, for true

You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need!
You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,
As full of grief as age; wretched in both!
If it be you that stir these daughters' hearts
Against their father, fool me not so much
To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger!
O, let not women's weapons, water-drops,
Stain my man's cheeks!-No, you unnatural hags,
I will have such revenges on you both,

That all the world shall-I will do such things,—
What they are, yet I know not35; but they shall be
The terrors of the earth. You think, I'll weep;
No, I'll not weep:-

I have full cause of weeping; but this heart
Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws36,
Or ere I'll weep:-O, fool, I shall go mad!

[Exeunt LEAR, GLOSTER, KENT, and Fool. Corn. Let us withdraw 'twill be a storm.

[Storm heard at a distance.
This house

Is little; the old man and his people cannot
Be well bestow'd.

34 As cheap here means as little worth. See Baret's Alvearie,

1573. C. 388.

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Sed grande quiddam est.'

Ovid. Met. lib. vi.

Seneca Thyestes

Let such as are unwilling to allow that copiers of nature must occasionally use the same thoughts and expressions, remember that of both these authors there were early translations. Golding thus renders the passage from Ovid :—

The thing that I do purpose on is great, whate'er it is

I know not what it may be yet.'

36 Flaws anciently signified fragments, as well as mere cracks. Among the Saxons it certainly had that meaning, as may be seen in Somner's Dict. Saxon, voce floh. The word, as Bailey observes, was especially applied to the breaking off shivers or thin pieces from precious stones."


'Tis his own blame; hath put

Himself from rest, and must needs taste his folly. Reg. For his particular, I'll receive him gladly, But not one follower.


Where is my lord of Gloster?

So am I purpos'd.

Re-enter GLOSTER.

Corn. Follow'd the old man forth:-he is return'd. Glo. The king is in high rage.


(Whither is he going? Glo. He calls to horse; but will I know not whither. Corn. "Tis best to give him way; he leads himself. Gon. My lord, entreat him by no means to stay. Glo. Alack, the night comes on, and the bleak winds

Do sorely ruffle37; for many miles about
There's scarce a bush.


O, sir, to wilful men,
The injuries, that they themselves procure,
Must be their schoolmasters: Shut up your doors;
He is attended with a desperate train;

And what they may incense38 him to, being apt
To have his ear abus'd, wisdom bids fear.

Corn. Shut up your doors, my lord: 'tis a wild night;

My Regan counsels well; come out o'the storm.


37 Thus the folio. The quartos read, 'Do sorely russel,' i. e. rustle. But ruffle is most probably the true reading. See the first note on Macbeth.

38 To incense is here, as in other places, to instigate.



SCENE I. A Heath.

A Storm is heard, with Thunder and Lightning.

Enter KENT, and a Gentleman, meeting.

Kent. Who's here, beside foul weather?

Gent. One minded like the weather, most un-

Kent. I know you; Where's the king?

Gent. Contending with the fretful element:
Bids the wind blow the earth into the sea,
Or swell the curled waters 'bove the main1,
That things might change, or cease2: tears his
white hair;

Which the impetuous blasts, with eyeless rage,
Catch in their fury, and make nothing of:
Strives in his little world of man to out-scorn3
The to-and-fro-conflicting wind and rain.

This night, wherein the cub-drawn bear4 would

1 The main seems to signify here the main land, the continent. The main is again used in this sense in Hamlet :

'Goes it against the main of Poland, sir?'

So in Bacon's Wars with Spain: In 1589 we turned challengers,
and invaded the main of Spain.' This interpretation sets the two
objects of Lear's desire in proper opposition to each other. He
wishes for the destruction of the world, either by the winds blowing
the land into the water, or raising the waters so as to overwhelm
the land:

'—-terra mari miscebitur, et mare cœlo.'

Lucret. iii. 854.
See also the Eneid i. 133; xii. 204. So in Troilus and Cressida :-
The bounded waters

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Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores,

And make a sop of all this solid globe.

2 The first folio ends this speech at

change, or cease,' and be

gins again at Kent's speech, "But who is with him?'

3 Steevens thinks that we should read, out-storm. The error of printing scorn for storm occurs in the old copies of Troilus and Cressida, and might easily happen from the similarity of the words

in old MSS.

4 That is, a bear whose dugs are drawn dry by its young. Shakspeare has the same image in As You Like It:



The lion and the belly-pinched wolf
Keep their fur dry, unbonneted he runs,
And bids what will take all5.

But who is with him?

Kent. Gent. None but the fool; who labours to outjest His heart-struck injuries.


Sir, I do know you;

And dare upon the warrant of my art,
Commend a dear thing to you. There is division,
Although as yet the face of it be cover'd

With mutual cunning, 'twixt Albany and Cornwall;
Who have (as who have not, that their great stars?
Thron'd and set high?) servants, who seem no less;
Which are to France the spies and speculations
Intelligent of our state; what hath been seen,
Either in snuffs and packings of the dukes;

Or the hard rein which both of them have borne
Against the old kind king; or something deeper,
Whereof, perchance, these are but furnishings9 :-)
[But, true it is, from France there comes a power
Into this scatter'd kingdom; who already
Wise in our negligence, have secret feet10

A lioness, with udders all drawn dry,
Lay couching-

Again ibidem :

Food to the suck'd and hungry lioness.'

5 So in Antony and Cleopatra, Enobarbus says:

"I'll strike, and cry, Take all

6 i. e. on the strength of that art or skill which teaches us to find the mind's construction in the face. The folio reads:


upon the warrant of my note;'

which Dr. Johnson explains, my observation of your character. This and seven following lines are not in the quartos. The lines in crotchets lower down, from 'But, true it is, &c. to the end of the speech, are not in the folio. So that if the speech be read with omission of the former, it will stand according to the first edition; and if the former lines are read, and the latter omitted, it will then stand according to the second. The second edition is generally best, and was probably nearest to Shakspeare's last copy but in this speech the first is preferable; for in the folio the messenger is sent, he knows not why, he knows not whither.

8 Snuffs are dislikes, and packings underhand contrivances.

9 A furnish anciently signified a sample. To lend the world a furnish of wit, she lays her own out to pawn.'-Green's Groatsworth of Wit.

10 i. e. secret footing.

In some of our best ports, and are at point
To show their open banner.-Now to you :
If on my credit you dare build so far
To make your speed to Dover, you shall find
Some that will thank you, making just report
Of how unnatural and bemadding sorrow
The king hath cause to plain.

I am a gentleman of blood and breeding;
And, from some knowledge and assurance, offer
This office to you.]

Gent. I will talk further with you.


No, do not.

For confirmation that I am much more
Than my out wall, open this purse, and take
What it contains: If you shall see Cordelia
(As fear not but you shall), show her this ring;
And she will tell you who your fellow11 is
That yet you do not know. Fye on this storm!
I will go seek the king.

Gent. Give me your hand: Have you no more
to say?

Kent. Few words, but, to effect, more than all yet; That, when we have found the king (in which

your pain

That way; I'll this); he that first lights on him,
Holla the other.

[Exeunt severally.



Another Part of the Heath. Storm continues.

Enter LEAR and Fool.

Lear. Blow, wind, and crack your cheeks1! rage! blow!

11 Companion.

1 The poet was here thinking of the common representation of the winds in many books of his time. We find the same allusion in Troilus and Cressida. See vol. vii. p. 384.


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