Tuesday, 16 July 2013

My favourite Shakespearean joke


Glendower: Cousin, of many men 
    I do not bear these crossings. Give me leave
    To tell you once again that at my birth
    The front of heaven was full of fiery shapes,
    The goats ran from the mountains, and the herds
    Were strangely clamorous to the frighted fields.
    These signs have mark'd me extraordinary,
    And all the courses of my life do show
    I am not in the roll of common men.
    Where is he living, clipp'd in with the sea
    That chides the banks of England, Scotland, Wales,
    Which calls me pupil or hath read to me?
    And bring him out that is but woman's son
    Can trace me in the tedious ways of art
    And hold me pace in deep experiments.
Hotspur: I think there's no man speaks better Welsh. I'll to
Mortimer: Peace, cousin Percy; you will make him mad.
Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them?

From Henry IV Part i.



dearieme said...

True, true. But the competition is not all that hot.

Bruce Charlton said...

@d - Not a fan of Launcelot Gobbo (the Merchant of Venice 'clown') - I take it?

LAUNCELOT: Certainly my conscience will serve me to run from this Jew my master. The fiend is at mine elbow and tempts me, saying to me, 'Gobbo, Launcelot Gobbo, good Launcelot,' or 'good Gobbo,' or 'good Launcelot Gobbo -- use your legs, take the start, run away.' My conscience says, 'No. Take heed, honest Launcelot; take heed, honest Gobbo,' or as aforesaid, 'honest Launcelot Gobbo -- do not run; scorn running with thy heels.' Well, the most courageous fiend bids me pack. 'Fia!' says the fiend; 'away!' says the fiend. 'For the heavens, rouse up a brave mind,' says the fiend, 'and run.' Well, my conscience hanging about the neck of my heart says very wisely to me, 'My honest friend Launcelot, being an honest man's son' -- or rather 'an honest woman's son,' for indeed my father did something smack, something grow to; he had a kind of taste -- Well, my conscience says, 'Launcelot, budge not.' 'Budge,' says the fiend. 'Budge not,' says my conscience. 'Conscience,' say I, 'you counsel well.' 'Fiend,' say I, 'you counsel well.' To be ruled by my conscience, I should stay with the Jew my master who, God bless the mark, is a kind of devil; and to run away from the Jew, I should be ruled by the fiend who, saving your reverence, is the devil himself. Certainly the Jew is the very devil incarnation; And in my conscience, my conscience is but a kind of hard conscience to offer to counsel me to stay with the Jew. The fiend gives the more friendly counsel. I will run, fiend; my heels are at your commandment; I will run.


[Stage directions: Attendants move into the theatre to remove the audience - who are, by this time, all strewn about in fixed catatonic postures, and foaming at the mouth.]

josh said...

Glendower = John Dee?