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SCENE I. A Heath. A storm is heard, with thun
der and lightning
Enter Kent, and a Gentleman, meeting. Kent. Who's here, beside foul weather ? Gent. One minded like the weather, most unquietly. 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 main, That things might change, or cease ;tears his white
Which the impetuous blasts, with eyeless rage,
But who is with him?
Sir, I do know you ;
1 The main seems to signify here the main land, the continent.
2 The first folio ends this speech at “ change or cease," and begins again at Kent's speech, “ But who is with him ? " 3 Steevens thinks that we should read “out-storm." 4 That is, a bear whose dugs are drawn dry by its young. 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 mand's construction in the face.” The folio reads:
upon the warrant of my note ;” which Dr. Johnson explains,“ my observation of your character."
VOL. VII. 9
Although as yet the face of it be covered
Gent. I will talk further with you.
No, do not.
1 This and the 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.
2 Snuffs are dislikes, and packings underhand contrivances. 3. A furnish anciently signified a sample. “To lend the world a furnisk of wit, she lays her own out to pawn.”—Green's Groatsworth of Wit.
That yet you do not know. Fie on this storm.
Gent. Give me your hand; have you no more to
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.
SCENE II. Another Part of the Heath. Storm
Enter LEAR and Fool. Lear. Blow, wind, and crack your cheeks! rage!
blow! You cataracts, and hurricanoes, spout Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks! 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-water“ 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;
1 The quartos read :
“ That when we have found the King,
I'le this way, you that; he that first lights
On him, hollow the other.” ? Thought-erecuting, “ 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.
4 Court holy-water is fair words and flattering speeches. The French have their Eau benite de la cour in the same sense.
I never gave you kingdom, called you children;
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,
So beggars marry many.
What he his heart should make,
And turn his sleep to wake. - for there was never yet fair woman, but she made mouths in a glass.
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
Since I was man, Such sheets of fire, such bursts of horrid thunder, Such groans of roaring wind and rain, I never
1 i. e. submission, obedience.
2 Meaning the king and himself. The king's grace was the usual expression in Shakspeare's time.
3 To gallow is to frighten, to scare.
Remember to have heard ; man's nature cannot carry
Let the great gods,
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 raised; Which even but now, demanding after you, Denied me to come in) return, and force Their scanted courtesy. Lear.
My wits begin to turn.-
With a heigh, ho, the wind and the rain,-
For the rain it raineth every day. 1 Thus the folio and one of the quartos ; the other quarto reads thundering 2 1. e. counterfeit. 3 Continent for that which contains or incloses. 4 Summoners are officers that summon offenders before a proper tri5 The quartos read, “ That sorrows yet for thee.” 6 Part of the Clown's song at the end of Twelfth Night.