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Imagine howling! 'Tis too horrible!
The weariest and most loathed worldly life
That age, ache, penury and imprisonment
Can lay on nature, is a paradise
To what we fear of death!"
King Henry the Fourth, on his deathbed thus bitterly rebukes Prince Hal for his heartless haste in taking the crown before the last breath leaves his father:
"Thy wish was father, Harry, to that thought;
I stay too long by thee, I weary thee.
Dost thou so hunger for my empty chair,
That thou wilt needs invest thee with mine honors
Before thy hour be ripe? O, foolish youth!
Thou seek'st the greatness that will overwhelm
Stay but a little; for my cloud of dignity
Is held from falling with so weak a mind
That it will quickly drop; my day is dim.
Thou hast stolen that, which after some few
Were thine without offense; and at my death,
Thou hast sealed up my expectation;
Thou life did manifest, thou lov❜st me not,
And thou wilt have me die assured of it.
Thou hid'st a thousand daggers in thy thoughts;
Which thou hast whetted on thy stony heart,
To stab at half an hour of my life.
What! can'st thou not forbear me half an hour?
Then get thee gone; and dig my grave thyself;
And bid the merry bells ring to thine ear;
That thou art crowned, not that I am dead.
Let all the tears that should bedew my hearse
Be drops of balm, to sanctify thy head;
Only compound me with begotten dust;
Give that which gave thee life, unto the worms;
Pluck down my officers, break my decrees;
For now a time is come to mock at form.
Harry the Fifth is crowned; up, vanity!
Down royal state! all you sage counsellors, hence!
And to the English Court assemble now,
From every region, apes of idleness!
Now, neighbor confines, purge you of your scum;
Have you a ruffian, that will swear, drink, dance,
Revel the night; rob, murder and commit
The oldest sins, the newest kind of ways!
Be happy, he will trouble you no more;
England shall double gild his treble guilt;
For the Fifth Harry from curbed license plucks
The muzzle of restraint, and the wild dog
Shall flesh his tooth in every innocent.
O, poor Kingdom, sick with civil blows!
When that my care could not withhold thy riots
What wilt thou do, when riot is thy care?
O, thou wilt be a wilderness again,
Peopled with wolves, thy old inhabitants!"
King Lear, the generous old monarch of Britain, in a spasm of parental love, bequeathes his dominion to his two daughters, Goneril and Regan, and gave nothing to the beautiful Cordelia. Hear the old man rave at his ungrateful daughters and the corrupt world:
"Ingratitude! thou marble-hearted fiend, More hideous, when thou show'st in a child,
Than the sea monster!
Hear, nature, hear!
Dear goddess, hear! Suspend thy purpose, if Thou did'st intend to make this creature fruitful!
Into her womb convey sterility!
Dry up in her the organs of increase;
And from her degraded body never spring
A babe to honor her! If she must teem,
Create her a child of spleen; that it may live
And be a thwart disnatured torment to her!
Let it stamp wrinkles on her brow of youth;
With falling tears fret channels in her cheeks;
Turn all her mother's pains and benefits
To laughter and contempt; that she may feel
How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
To have a thankless child!”
Blow, wind, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow! You cataracts, and hurricanes, 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
Strike flat the thick rotundity of the world! Crack nature's molds, all germens spill at once, That make ingrateful men!
Rumble thy belly full! 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, called you children,
You owe me no obedience; why then let fall
Your horrible pleasure; here I stand your slave,
A poor, infirm, weak and despised old man;
But yet I call you servile ministers,
That have with two pernicious daughters joined
Your high-engendered battles 'gainst a head
So old as this! I am a man more sinned against
Ay, every inch a King!
When I do stare, see, how the subject quakes! I pardon that man's life; what was thy cause? Adultery;
Thou shalt not die; die for adultery! No!
The wren goes to it; and the small gilded fly
Does lecher in my sight.
Let copulation thrive, for Gloster's bastard son Was kinder to his father than my daughters Got between the lawful sheets;
To it luxury, pell-mell, for I lack soldiers.—
Behold yon simpering dame,
Whose face between her forks presageth snow;
That minceth virtue, and does shake the head
To hear of pleasure's name;
The fitchew, nor the soiled horse, goes to it
With more riotous appetite.
Down from the waist they are centaurs,
Though women all above;
But to the girdle do the gods inherit,
Beneath is all the fiends.
Through tattered clothes small vices do appear Robes and furred gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold
And the strong lance of justice breaks;
Arm it in rags, a pigmy's straw doth pierce it!"
Prospero, the Duke philosopher and magician of the "Tempest," is my greatest conception, where I command invisible spirits to work out the fate of man, and show that love and forgiveness are the greatest attributes. Prospero is blessed with a pure and faithful daughter-Miranda, and an honorable son-in-law-Ferdinand.
"If I have too austerely punished you,
Your compensation makes amends; for I
Have given you here a thread of mine own life,
Or that for which I live; whom once again
I tender to thy hand; all thy vexations
Were but my trials of thy love, and thou
Hast strangely stood the test; here afore heaven
I ratify this my rich gift. O, Ferdinand,
Do not smile at me, that I boast her off,
For thou shalt find she will outstrip all praise,
And make it halt behind her.
Then, as my gift, and thine own acquisition,
Worthily purchased, take my daughter; But
If thou dost break her virgin knot before
All sanctimonious ceremonies may
With full and holy rites be ministered,
No sweet sprinkling shall the heavens let fall
To make this contract grow; but barren hate,
Sour-eyed disdain, and discord, shall beshrew
The union of your bed with weeds so loathly
That you shall hate it both; therefore, take heed
As Hymen's lamps shall light you!