ACT 3, SCENE 2: Another part of the heath. Storm still.


Enter LEAR and Fool.

KING LEAR: Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!

You cataracts and hurricanes, spout

Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks!

You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,

Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,                                    [5]

Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,

Smite 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          [10]

house is better than this rain-water out o' door.

Good nuncle, in, and ask thy daughters' blessing:

here's a night pities neither wise man nor fool.

KING LEAR: Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! spout, rain!

Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters:                               [15]

I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness;

I never gave you kingdom, call'd you children,

You owe me no subscription: then let fall

Your horrible pleasure: here I stand, your slave,

A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man:                                     [20]

But yet I call you servile ministers,

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's head in has a good                                   [25]


The cod-piece that will house

Before the head has any,

The head and he shall louse;

So beggars marry many.                                                                         [30]

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                            [35]

mouths in a glass.

KING LEAR: No, I will be the pattern of all patience;

I will say nothing.

Enter KENT.

KENT: Who's there?

Fool: Marry, here's grace and a cod-piece; that's a                                           [40]

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 the very wanderers of the dark,

And make them keep their caves: since I was man,                         [45]

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.

KING LEAR:                           Let the great gods,

That keep this dreadful pother o'er our heads,                                   [50]

Find out their enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch,

That hast within thee undivulged crimes,

Unwhipp'd of justice: hide thee, thou bloody hand;

Thou perjured, and thou simular man of virtue

That art incestuous: caitiff, to pieces shake,                                        [55]

That under covert and convenient seeming

Hast practised on man's life: close pent-up guilts,

Rive your concealing continents, and cry

These dreadful summoners grace. I am a man

More sinn'd against than sinning.                                                         [60]

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 harder than the stones whereof 'tis raised;

Which even but now, demanding after you,                                      [65]

Denied me to come in--return, and force

Their scanted courtesy.

KING LEAR:                           My wits begin to turn.

Come on, my boy: how dost, my boy? art cold?

I am cold myself. Where is this straw, my fellow?

The art of our necessities is strange,                                                      [70]

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.

Fool: [Singing.]

He that has and a little tiny wit--                                                          [75]

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,--

Must make content with his fortunes fit,

For the rain it raineth every day.

KING 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. I'll                                         [80]

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 heretics burn'd, but wenches' suitors;                                         [85]

When 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;                                           [90]

And bawds and whores do churches build;

Then shall the realm of Albion

Come to great confusion:

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

That going shall be used with feet.                                                      [95]

This prophecy Merlin shall make; for I live before

his time.




image Borrowed from