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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act II. Scene I.

The Tempest

Another Part of the Island.


Gon.Beseech you, sir, be merry: you have cause,

So have we all, of joy; for our escape

Is much beyond our loss. Our hint of woe

Is common: every day some sailor’s wife,

The masters of some merchant and the merchant,

Have just our theme of woe; but for the miracle,

I mean our preservation, few in millions

Can speak like us: then wisely, good sir, weigh

Our sorrow with our comfort.

Alon.Prithee, peace.

Seb.He receives comfort like cold porridge.

Ant.The visitor will not give him o’er so.

Seb.Look, he’s winding up the watch of his wit; by and by it will strike.


Seb.One: tell.

Gon.When every grief is entertain’d that’s offer’d,

Comes to the entertainer—

Seb.A dollar.

Gon.Dolour comes to him, indeed: you have spoken truer than you purposed.

Seb.You have taken it wiselier than I meant you should.

Gon.Therefore, my lord,—

Ant.Fie, what a spendthrift is he of his tongue!

Alon.I prithee, spare.

Gon.Well, I have done: but yet—

Seb.He will be talking.

Ant.Which, of he or Adrian, for a good wager, first begins to crow?

Seb.The old cock.

Ant.The cockerel.

Seb.Done. The wager?

Ant.A laughter.

Seb.A match!

Adr.Though this island seem to be desert,—

Seb.Ha, ha, ha! So you’re paid.

Adr.Uninhabitable, and almost inaccessible,—



Ant.He could not miss it.

Adr.It must needs be of subtle, tender, and delicate temperance.

Ant.Temperance was a delicate wench.

Seb.Ay, and a subtle; as he most learnedly delivered.

Adr.The air breathes upon us here most sweetly.

Seb.As if it had lungs, and rotten ones.

Ant.Or as ’twere perfumed by a fen.

Gon.Here is everything advantageous to life.

Ant.True; save means to live.

Seb.Of that there’s none, or little.

Gon.How lush and lusty the grass looks! how green!

Ant.The ground indeed is tawny.

Seb.With an eye of green in ’t.

Ant.He misses not much.

Seb.No; he doth but mistake the truth totally.

Gon.But the rarity of it is,—which is indeed almost beyond credit,—

Seb.As many vouch’d rarities are.

Gon.That our garments, being, as they were, drenched in the sea, hold notwithstanding their freshness and glosses; being rather new-dyed than stain’d with salt water.

Ant.If but one of his pockets could speak, would it not say he lies?

Seb.Ay, or very falsely pocket up his report.

Gon.Methinks, our garments are now as fresh as when we put them on first in Afric, at the marriage of the king’s fair daughter Claribel to the King of Tunis.

Seb.’Twas a sweet marriage, and we prosper well in our return.

Adr.Tunis was never graced before with such a paragon to their queen.

Gon.Not since widow Dido’s time.

Ant.Widow! a pox o’ that! How came that widow in? Widow Dido!

Seb.What if he had said, widower Æneas too? Good Lord, how you take it!

Adr.Widow Dido, said you? you make me study of that: she was of Carthage, not of Tunis.

Gon.This Tunis, sir, was Carthage.


Gon.I assure you, Carthage.

Ant.His word is more than the miraculous harp.

Seb.He hath rais’d the wall, and houses too.

Ant.What impossible matter will he make easy next?

Seb.I think he will carry this island home in his pocket, and give it his son for an apple.

Ant.And, sowing the kernels of it in the sea, bring forth more islands.


Ant.Why, in good time.

Gon.[To ALON.]Sir, we were talking that our garments seem now as fresh as when we were at Tunis at the marriage of your daughter, who is now queen.

Ant.And the rarest that e’er came there.

Seb.Bate, I beseech you, widow Dido.

Ant.O! widow Dido; ay, widow Dido.

Gon.Is not, sir, my doublet as fresh as the first day I wore it? I mean, in a sort.

Ant.That sort was well fish’d for.

Gon.When I wore it at your daughter’s marriage?

Alon.You cram these words into mine ears, against

The stomach of my sense. Would I had never

Married my daughter there! for, coming thence,

My son is lost; and, in my rate, she too,

Who is so far from Italy remov’d,

I ne’er again shall see her. O thou, mine heir

Of Naples and of Milan! what strange fish

Hath made his meal on thee?

Fran.Sir, he may live:

I saw him beat the surges under him,

And ride upon their backs: he trod the water,

Whose enmity he flung aside, and breasted

The surge most swoln that met him: his bold head

’Bove the contentious waves he kept, and oar’d

Himself with his good arms in lusty stroke

To the shore, that o’er his wave-worn basis bow’d,

As stooping to relieve him. I not doubt

He came alive to land.

Alon.No, no; he’s gone.

Seb.Sir, you may thank yourself for this great loss,

That would not bless our Europe with your daughter,

But rather lose her to an African;

Where she at least is banish’d from your eye,

Who hath cause to wet the grief on ’t.

Alon.Prithee, peace.

Seb.You were kneel’d to and importun’d otherwise

By all of us; and the fair soul herself

Weigh’d between loathness and obedience, at

Which end o’ the beam should bow. We have lost your son,

I fear, for ever: Milan and Naples have

More widows in them of this business’ making,

Than we bring men to comfort them: the fault’s

Your own.

Alon.So is the dearest of the loss.

Gon.My lord Sebastian,

The truth you speak doth lack some gentleness

And time to speak it in; you rub the sore,

When you should bring the plaster.

Seb.Very well.

Ant.And most chirurgeonly.

Gon.It is foul weather in us all, good sir,

When you are cloudy.

Seb.Foul weather?

Ant.Very foul.

Gon.Had I plantation of this isle, my lord,—

Ant.He’d sow ’t with nettle-seed.

Seb.Or docks, or mallows.

Gon.And were the king on ’t, what would I do?

Seb.Scape being drunk for want of wine.

Gon.I’ the commonwealth I would by contraries

Execute all things; for no kind of traffic

Would I admit; no name of magistrate;

Letters should not be known; riches, poverty,

And use of service, none; contract, succession,

Bourn, bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none;

No use of metal, corn, or wine, or oil;

No occupation; all men idle, all;

And women too, but innocent and pure;

No sovereignty,—

Seb.Yet he would be king on ’t.

Ant.The latter end of his commonwealth forgets the beginning.

Gon.All things in common nature should produce

Without sweat or endeavour: treason, felony,

Sword, pike, knife, gun, or need of any engine,

Would I not have; but nature should bring forth,

Of its own kind, all foison, all abundance,

To feed my innocent people.

Seb.No marrying ’mong his subjects?

Ant.None, man; all idle; whores and knaves.

Gon.I would with such perfection govern, sir,

To excel the golden age.

Seb.Save his majesty!

Ant.Long live Gonzalo!

Alon.And,—do you mark me, sir?

Alon.Prithee, no more: thou dost talk nothing to me.

Gon.I do well believe your highness; and did it to minister occasion to these gentlemen, who are of such sensible and nimble lungs that they always use to laugh at nothing.

Ant.’Twas you we laugh’d at.

Gon.Who in this kind of merry fooling am nothing to you; so you may continue and laugh at nothing still.

Ant.What a blow was there given!

Seb.An it had not fallen flat-long.

Gon.You are gentlemen of brave mettle: you would lift the moon out of her sphere, if she would continue in it five weeks without changing.

Enter ARIEL, invisible, playing solemn music.

Seb.We would so, and then go a-bat-fowling.

Ant.Nay, good my lord, be not angry.

Gon.No, I warrant you; I will not adventure my discretion so weakly. Will you laugh me asleep, for I am very heavy?

Ant.Go sleep, and hear us.[All sleep but ALON., SEB., and ANT.

Alon.What! all so soon asleep! I wish mine eyes

Would, with themselves, shut up my thoughts: I find

They are inclin’d to do so.

Seb.Please you, sir,

Do not omit the heavy offer of it:

It seldom visits sorrow; when it doth

It is a comforter.

Ant.We two, my lord,

Will guard your person while you take your rest,

And watch your safety.

Alon.Thank you. Wondrous heavy.[ALONSO sleeps. Exit ARIEL.

Seb.What a strange drowsiness possesses them!

Ant.It is the quality o’ the climate.


Doth it not then our eyelids sink? I find not

Myself dispos’d to sleep.

Ant.Nor I: my spirits are nimble.

They fell together all, as by consent;

They dropp’d, as by a thunder-stroke. What might,

Worthy Sebastian? O! what might?—No more:—

And yet methinks I see it in thy face,

What thou should’st be. The occasion speaks thee; and

My strong imagination sees a crown

Dropping upon thy head.

Seb.What! art thou waking?

Ant.Do you not hear me speak?

Seb.I do; and surely,

It is a sleepy language, and thou speak’st

Out of thy sleep. What is it thou didst say?

This is a strange repose, to be asleep

With eyes wide open; standing, speaking, moving,

And yet so fast asleep.

Ant.Noble Sebastian,

Thou let’st thy fortune sleep—die rather; wink’st

Whiles thou art waking.

Seb.Thou dost snore distinctly:

There’s meaning in thy snores.

Ant.I am more serious than my custom: you

Must be so too, if heed me; which to do

Trebles thee o’er.

Seb.Well; I am standing water.

Ant.I’ll teach you how to flow.

Seb.Do so: to ebb,

Hereditary sloth instructs me.


If you but knew how you the purpose cherish

Whiles thus you mock it! how, in stripping it,

You more invest it! Ebbing men, indeed,

Most often do so near the bottom run

By their own fear or sloth.

Seb.Prithee, say on:

The setting of thine eye and cheek proclaim

A matter from thee, and a birth indeed

Which throes thee much to yield.

Ant.Thus, sir:

Although this lord of weak remembrance, this

Who shall be of as little memory

When he is earth’d, hath here almost persuaded,—

For he’s a spirit of persuasion, only

Professes to persuade,—the king, his son’s alive,

’Tis as impossible that he’s undrown’d

As he that sleeps here swims.

Seb.I have no hope

That he’s undrown’d.

Ant.O! out of that ’no hope

What great hope have you! no hope that way is

Another way so high a hope that even

Ambition cannot pierce a wink beyond,

But doubts discovery there. Will you grant with me

That Ferdinand is drown’d?

Seb.He’s gone.

Ant.Then tell me

Who’s the next heir of Naples?


Ant.She that is Queen of Tunis; she that dwells

Ten leagues beyond man’s life; she that from Naples

Can have no note, unless the sun were post—

The man i’ th’ moon’s too slow—till new-born chins

Be rough and razorable: she that, from whom?

We all were sea-swallow’d, though some cast again,

And by that destiny to perform an act

Whereof what’s past is prologue, what to come

In yours and my discharge.

Seb.What stuff is this!—How say you?

’Tis true my brother’s daughter’s Queen of Tunis;

So is she heir of Naples; ’twixt which regions

There is some space.

Ant.A space whose every cubit

Seems to cry out, ‘How shall that Claribel

Measure us back to Naples?—Keep in Tunis,

And let Sebastian wake!’—Say, this were death

That now hath seiz’d them; why, they were no worse

Than now they are. There be that can rule Naples

As well as he that sleeps; lords that can prate

As amply and unnecessarily

As this Gonzalo; I myself could make

A chough of as deep chat. O, that you bore

The mind that I do! what a sleep were this

For your advancement! Do you understand me?

Seb.Methinks I do.

Ant.And how does your content

Tender your own good fortune?

Seb.I remember

You did supplant your brother Prospero.


And look how well my garments sit upon me;

Much feather than before; my brother’s servants

Were then my fellows; now they are my men.

Seb.But, for your conscience,—

Ant.Ay, sir; where lies that? if it were a kibe,

’Twould put me to my slipper; but I feel not

This deity in my bosom: twenty consciences,

That stand ’twixt me and Milan, candied be they,

And melt ere they molest! Here lies your brother,

No better than the earth he lies upon,

If he were that which now he’s like, that’s dead;

Whom I, with this obedient steel,—three inches of it,—

Can lay to bed for ever; whiles you, doing thus,

To the perpetual wink for aye might put

This ancient morsel, this Sir Prudence, who

Should not upbraid our course. For all the rest,

They’ll take suggestion as a cat laps milk;

They’ll tell the clock to any business that

We say befits the hour.

Seb.Thy case, dear friend,

Shall be my precedent: as thou got’st Milan,

I’ll come by Naples. Draw thy sword: one stroke

Shall free thee from the tribute which thou pay st,

And I the king shall love thee.

Ant.Draw together;

And when I rear my hand, do you the like,

To fall it on Gonzalo.

Seb.O! but one word.[They converse apart.

Music.Re-enter ARIEL, invisible.

Ari.My master through his art foresees the danger

That you, his friend, are in; and sends me forth—

For else his project dies—to keep thee living.[Sings in GONZALO’S ear.

  • While you here do snoring lie,
  • Open-ey’d Conspiracy
  • His time doth take.
  • If of life you keep a care,
  • Shake off slumber, and beware:
  • Awake! awake!
  • Ant.Then let us both be sudden.

    Gon.Now, good angels

    Preserve the king![They wake.

    Alon.Why, how now! ho, awake! Why are you drawn?

    Wherefore this ghastly looking?

    Gon.What’s the matter?

    Seb.Whiles we stood here securing your repose,

    Even now, we heard a hollow burst of bellowing

    Like bulls, or rather lions; did ’t not wake you?

    It struck mine ear most terribly.

    Alon.I heard nothing.

    Ant.O! ’twas a din to fright a monster’s ear,

    To make an earthquake: sure it was the roar

    Of a whole herd of lions.

    Alon.Heard you this, Gonzalo?

    Gon.Upon mine honour, sir, I heard a humming,

    And that a strange one too, which did awake me.

    I shak’d you, sir, and cry’d; as mine eyes open’d,

    I saw their weapons drawn:—there was a noise,

    That’s verily. ’Tis best we stand upon our guard,

    Or that we quit this place: let’s draw our weapons.

    Alon.Lead off this ground, and let’s make further search

    For my poor son.

    Gon.Heavens keep him from these beasts!

    For he is, sure, i’ the island.

    Alon.Lead away.[Exit with the others.

    Ari.Prospero my lord shall know what I have done:

    So, king, go safely on to seek thy son.[Exit.