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Philip and Weller hugging

Welcome to my web site, now under development for more than twenty years.   
-- Philip Weller, November 13, 1941 - February 1, 2021
Dr. Weller, an Eastern Washington University professor of English and Shakespearean scholar for more than 50 years.

The Tempest: Act 2, Scene 1

Tom Conti as Gonzalo


  1   Beseech you, sir, be merry; you have cause,
  2   So have we all, of joy; for our escape
  3   Is much beyond our loss. Our hint of woe
3. Our hint of woe: the reason for our woe (being shipwrecked).

  4   Is common; every day some sailor's wife,
  5   The masters of some merchant and the merchant
5. The masters . . . merchant: the officers of some merchant vessel and the merchant who owns the cargo.

  6   Have just our theme of woe; but for the miracle,
  7   I mean our preservation, few in millions
  8   Can speak like us: then wisely, good sir, weigh
8-9. weigh / Our sorrow with our comfort: balance our sorrow against our comfort.

  9   Our sorrow with our comfort.

  9                                                 Prithee, peace.
9. Prithee, peace: please stop talking.

 10   He receives comfort like cold porridge.
10. porridge: soup thickened with peas, beans, lentils, etc. Since "peas" and "peace" sound the same, perhaps Sebastian is punning.

 11   The visitor will not give him o'er so.
11. visitor: one bringing nourishment and comfort to the sick, as Gonzalo is doing. give him o'er so: abandon him.

 12   Look, he's winding up the watch of his wit;
12. watch: chiming clock.

 13   by and by it will strike.
13. strike: chime, sound.

 14   Sir,—

 15   One: tell.
15. tell: count. This is Sebastian's way of saying "I told you so."

 16   When every grief is entertain'd that's offer'd,
16. When . . . offer'd: When every sorrow that comes is accepted without resistance.

 17   Comes to the entertainer—
17. the entertainer: i.e., the person who is grieving.

 18   A dollar.
18. dollar: a coin. Sebastian is sarcastically pretending that when Gonzalo said "entertainer," he meant "innkeeper."

 19   Dolour comes to him, indeed: you
19. Dolour: sorrow. Here Gonzalo retorts to Sebastian's pun with one of his own.

 20   have spoken truer than you purposed.

Alan Cuming as Sebastian
Alan Cuming as Sebastian

 21   You have taken it wiselier than I meant you
 22   should.

 23   Therefore, my lord,—

 24   Fie, what a spendthrift is he of his tongue!

 25   I prithee, spare.
25. I prithee, spare: please stop talking.

 26   Well, I have done: but yet,—

 27   He will be talking.

 28   Which, of he or Adrian, for a good
 29   wager, first begins to crow?
28-29. Which, of he or Adrian, for a good wager, first begins to crow?: Which of the two, Gonzalo or Adrian, do you bet will speak ("crow") first?

 30   The old cock.
30. old cock: i.e., Gonzalo.

 31   The cock'rel.
31. cock'rel: i.e., Adrian.

 32   Done. The wager?

 33   A laughter.
33. laughter: (1) burst of laughter (2) clutch of eggs.

 34   A match!
34. A match!: A bargain; agreed!

 35   Though this island seem to be desert,—
35. desert: uninhabited.

 36   Ha, ha, ha!
36. Ha, ha, ha!: Sebastian loses the bet since Adrian speaks first, and so Sebastian pays Antonio with a laugh.

 37   So, you're paid.

 38   Uninhabitable and almost inaccessible,—

 39   Yet,—

 40   Yet,—

 41   He could not miss't.
41. miss't: (1) avoid saying "yet"; (2) miss the island.

 42   It must needs be of subtle, tender and delicate
42. must needs be: has to be. subtle: finely constructed. tender: fresh. delicate: charming, pleasant.

 43   temperance.
43. temperance: climate.

 44   Temperance was a delicate wench.

 45   Ay, and a subtle; as he most learnedly
45. subtle: Here it means "sexually crafty."

 46   delivered.
46. delivered: proclaimed.

 47   The air breathes upon us here most sweetly.

 48   As if it had lungs and rotten ones.

 49   Or as 'twere perfumed by a fen.
49. fen: evil-smelling marshland.

 50   Here is everything advantageous to life.

 51   True; save means to live.
51. save: except.

 52   Of that there's none, or little.

 53   How lush and lusty the grass looks! how
53. lusty: healthy.

 54   green!

 55   The ground indeed is tawny.
55. tawny: parched tan or yellow.

 56   With an eye of green in't.
56. eye: tinge, or spot.

 57   He misses not much.

 58   No; he doth but mistake the truth totally.
58. he doth but mistake the truth totally: i.e., his only mistake is that he is 100% wrong.

 59   But the rarity of it is,—which is indeed almost
 60   beyond credit,—

 61   As many vouched rarities are.
61. vouched: guaranteed true. Sebastian is, of course, being sarcastic.

 62   That our garments, being, as they were, drenched in
 63   the sea, hold notwithstanding their freshness and
 64   glosses, being rather new-dyed than stained with
 65   salt water.

 66   If but one of his pockets could speak, would it not
 67   say he lies?
66-67. If . . . lies: Antonio and Sebastian, the sarcastic realists, are wrong. See Ariel's report on the condition of the survivors of the ship wreck.

 68   Ay, or very falsely pocket up his report
68. pocket up: conceal, suppress.

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

 73   'Twas a sweet marriage, and we prosper well
74. we prosper well: Sebastian is being sarcastic again.

 74   in our return.

 75   Tunis was never graced before with such a paragon to
75. to: for.

 76   their queen.

 77   Not since widow Dido's time.
77. widow Dido: This is an odd way to refer to Dido, legendary Queen of Carthage. >>>

 78   Widow! a pox o' that! How came that widow in?
 79   widow Dido!

 80   What if he had said 'widower Æneas' too? Good Lord,
80. widower Æneas: Æneas was a widower, but that is not significant in the story of his love affair with Dido.

 81   how you take it!
81. take: understand, interpret.

 82   'Widow Dido' said you? you make me study of that:
82. study of: think about.

 83   she was of Carthage, not of Tunis.

 84   This Tunis, sir, was Carthage.
84. This Tunis, sir, was Carthage:Tunis and Carthage were separate cities, though not far apart. After the Muslim conquest of Northern Africa, Tunis displaced Carthage as the leading city of the area.

 85   Carthage?

 86   I assure you, Carthage.

 87   His word is more than the miraculous harp; he hath
87. miraculous harp: the legendary harp of Amphion, which raised the walls of Thebes. Sebastian is saying that Gonzalo's error has created a whole new city.

 88   raised the wall and houses too.

 89   What impossible matter will he make easy
 90   next?

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

 93   And, sowing the kernels of it in the sea, bring
93.kernels: seeds.

 94   forth more islands.

      GONZALO [To Adrian]
 95   Ay.

 96   Why, in good time.
96.Why, in good time: i.e., and there it is, right on time! Antonio's point is that Gonzalo's "Ay" to Adrian is another example of Gonzalo's foolishness.

      GONZALO [To Alonso]
 97   Sir, we were talking that our garments seem now
 98   as fresh as when we were at Tunis at the marriage
 99   of your daughter, who is now queen.

100   And the rarest that e'er came there.
100. rarest: most remarkable, beautiful.

101   Bate, I beseech you, widow Dido.
101. Bate: except.

102   O, widow Dido! ay, widow Dido.

103   Is not, sir, my doublet as fresh as the first day I
103. doublet: common type of close-fitting jacket.

104   wore it? I mean, in a sort.
104. in a sort: in a way. —I don't think that Gonzalo means that his doublet is stained with sea water, but that's the way Antonio interprets it.

105   That sort was well fished for.

106   When I wore it at your daughter's marriage?

107   You cram these words into mine ears against
108   The stomach of my sense. Would I had never
108. stomach of my sense: my appetite for hearing them.

109   Married my daughter there! for, coming thence,
109. Married: given in marriage.

110   My son is lost and, in my rate, she too,
110. rate: opinion.

111   Who is so far from Italy removed
112   I ne'er again shall see her. O thou mine heir
113   Of Naples and of Milan, what strange fish
114-115. O thou . . . Milan: Alonso is speaking to his son, Ferdinand, who he believes is drowned. —The phrase "heir / Of Naples and Milan" seems to indicate that Alonso, when he made his bargain to help Antonio oust Prospero from Milan, received in return the right to give the rule of Milan to his son.

114   Hath made his meal on thee?

114                                             Sir, he may live:
115   I saw him beat the surges under him,
115. surges: waves.

116   And ride upon their backs; he trod the water,
117   Whose enmity he flung aside, and breasted
118   The surge most swoll'n that met him; his bold head
119   'Bove the contentious waves he kept, and oar'd
119. oar'd: propelled as by an oar.

120   Himself with his good arms in lusty stroke
120. lusty: vigorous.

121   To the shore, that o'er his wave-worn basis bow'd,
121. that o'er his wave-worn basis bow'd: that projected out over its surf-eroded base, bending down toward the sea.

122   As stooping to relieve him: I not doubt
122. As: as if.

123   He came alive to land.

123                                     No, no, he's gone.

124   Sir, you may thank yourself for this great loss,
125   That would not bless our Europe with your daughter,
125. That: you who.

126   But rather lose her to an African;
127   Where she at least is banish'd from your eye,
127-128. Where . . . on't: where at the very least she is out of the sight of your eye, which has good reason to weep for the grief of losing her.

128   Who hath cause to wet the grief on't.

128                                                           Prithee, peace.
128. Prithee, peace: please stop talking.

129   You were kneel'd to and importuned otherwise
129. importuned otherwise: implored to do otherwise.

130   By all of us, and the fair soul herself
131   Weigh'd between loathness and obedience, at
132   Which end o' the beam should bow. We have lost your son
130-132. the fair soul . . . should bow: Claribel herself was poised uncertainly, like a balance scale, between loathing the African she was to marry and wishing to obey her father.

133   I fear, for ever: Milan and Naples have
134   More widows in them of this business' making
134. of this business' making: on account of this marriage and the subsequent shipwreck.

135   Than we bring men to comfort them:
136   The fault's your own.

136                                   So is the dear'st o' the loss.
136. dear'st: heaviest, most costly.

137   My lord Sebastian,
138   The truth you speak doth lack some gentleness
139   And time to speak it in: you rub the sore,
139. time: appropriate occasion.

140   When you should bring the plaster.
140. plaster: bandage.

140                                                           Very well.
140. Very well: i.e., Nice speech—not!

141   And most chirurgeonly.
141. chirurgeonly: like a skilled surgeon. —Antonio is also being sarcastic.

142   It is foul weather in us all, good sir,
143   When you are cloudy.

143                                 Foul weather?

143                                                       Very foul.

144   Had I plantation of this isle, my lord,—
144. Had I plantation of this isle: i.e. If I were in charge of establishing a settlement on this island.

145   He'd sow't with nettle-seed.
145. sow't: sow it. —Antonio pretends that Gonzalo used the word "plantation" to mean the action of sowing seeds in the ground.

145                                               Or docks, or mallows.
145. docks, or mallows: Both are, like nettles, noxious weeds.

146   And were the king on't, what would I do?

147   'Scape being drunk for want of wine.
147. 'Scape: Escape. want: lack.

148   I' the commonwealth I would by contraries
148. contraries: The opposites of everything that is customary.

149   Execute all things; for no kind of traffic
149. traffic: business, trade.

150   Would I admit; no name of magistrate;
151   Letters should not be known; riches, poverty,
151. Letters: reading, writing, learning.

152   And use of service, none; contract, succession,
152. use of service: custom of employing servants. succession: holding of property by right of inheritance.

153   Bourn, bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none;
153. Bourn: boundary; i.e., division of land among various owners. tilth: tillage, agriculture.
154. corn: grain, such as wheat, barley, and oats.

154   No use of metal, corn, or wine, or oil;
155   No occupation; all men idle, all;
156   And women too, but innocent and pure;
157   No sovereignty;—
157. sovereignty: rule of one person by another.

157                           Yet he would be king on't.

158   The latter end of his commonwealth forgets the
159   beginning.

160   All things in common nature should produce
161   Without sweat or endeavour: treason, felony,
162   Sword, pike, knife, gun, or need of any engine,
162. pike: spear. engine: instrument of war.

163   Would I not have; but nature should bring forth,
164   Of its own kind, all foison, all abundance,
164. Of its own kind: by its own nature. foison: plenty.

165   To feed my innocent people.

166   No marrying 'mong his subjects?

167   None, man; all idle: whores and knaves.

168   I would with such perfection govern, sir,
169   To excel the golden age.

169                                         God save his majesty!

170   Long live Gonzalo!

170                                 And,—do you mark me, sir?

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

172   I do well believe your highness; and
173   did it to minister occasion to these gentlemen,
173. minister occasion: give opportunity.

174   who are of such sensible and nimble lungs that
174. sensible and nimble: sensitive and lively.

175   they always use to laugh at nothing.
175. they always use to: they are accustomed to.

176   'Twas you we laughed at.

177   Who in this kind of merry fooling am nothing
178   to you: so you may continue and laugh at
179   nothing still.

180   What a blow was there given!

181   An it had not fallen flat-long.
181. An: if. flat-long: with the sword blade flat, not on edge; i.e., harmlessly.

182   You are gentlemen of brave metal; you would lift
182. brave metal: impudent temperament.

183   the moon out of her sphere, if she would continue
183. sphere: orbit. —Gonzalo's point is that Antonio and Sebastian are punk know-it-alls.

184   in it five weeks without changing.

           Enter ARIEL, [invisible], playing solemn.

185   We would so, and then go a bat-fowling.
185. bat-fowling: hunting birds at night with lantern, net, and bat (a stick). —"Bat-fowling" was also a slang term for misleading and mocking a stupid person.

      ANTONIO [To Gonzalo.]
186   Nay, good my lord, be not angry.

187   No, I warrant you; I will not adventure
187-188. adventure my discretion so weakly: i.e., risk my reputation for discretion by getting angry at you, because you are not worth it.

188   my discretion so weakly. Will you laugh
189   me asleep, for I am very heavy?
189. heavy: drowsy.

190   Go sleep, and hear us.
190. hear us: i.e., listen to our laughter.

           [All sleep except Alonso, Sebastian, and

191   What, all so soon asleep! I wish mine eyes
191-192. I wish . . . thoughts: I wish my eyes would close and shut off my sad thoughts.

192   Would, with themselves, shut up my thoughts: I find
193   They are inclined to do so.

193                                             Please you, sir,
194   Do not omit the heavy offer of it:
194. Do not omit the heavy offer of it: do not decline the drowsy invitation to sleep.

195   It seldom visits sorrow; when it doth,
196   It is a comforter.

196                               We two, my lord,
197   Will guard your person while you take your rest,
198   And watch your safety.

198                                       Thank you. Wondrous heavy.

           [Alonso sleeps. Exit Ariel.]

199   What a strange drowsiness possesses them!

200   It is the quality o' the climate.

200                                                     Why
201   Doth it not then our eyelids sink? I find not
202   Myself disposed to sleep.

202                                             Nor I; my spirits are nimble.
203   They fell together all, as by consent;
203. They fell together all, as by consent: The others all fell asleep simultaneously, as if by common agreement.

204   They dropp'd, as by a thunder-stroke. What might,
205   Worthy Sebastian? O, what might?—No more:—
206   And yet me thinks I see it in thy face,
207   What thou shouldst be: the occasion speaks thee, and
207. the occasion speaks thee: the opportunity of the moment calls upon you.

208   My strong imagination sees a crown
209   Dropping upon thy head.

209                                         What, art thou waking?

210   Do you not hear me speak?

210                                         I do; and surely
211   It is a sleepy language and thou speak'st
211. sleepy: dreamlike, fantastic.

212   Out of thy sleep. What is it thou didst say?
212. Out of thy sleep: while you are sleeping.

213   This is a strange repose, to be asleep
214   With eyes wide open; standing, speaking, moving,
215   And yet so fast asleep.

215                                       Noble Sebastian,
216   Thou let'st thy fortune sleep—die, rather; wink'st
216. wink'st: are keeping your eyes shut.

217   Whiles thou art waking.

217                                         Thou dost snore distinctly;
218   There's meaning in thy snores.

219   I am more serious than my custom: you
220   Must be so too, if heed me; which to do
220. if heed me: if you heed me.

221   Trebles thee o'er.
221. Trebles thee o'er: makes you three time what you are now.

221                               Well, I am standing water.
221. standing water: slack tide, neither rising nor ebbing. —Sebastian means that he's not ready to commit to anything, but he's listening.

222   I'll teach you how to flow.

222                                           Do so: to ebb
222. ebb: recede, decline.

223   Hereditary sloth instructs me.
223. Hereditary sloth: i.e., natural laziness.

223                                                       O,
224   If you but knew how you the purpose cherish
224-225. If you . . . mock it!: If you only knew how much you secretly cherish ambition even while your words mock it!

225   Whiles thus you mock it! how, in stripping it,
225-226. how . . . invest it!: How the more you speak flippantly of ambition, the more you, in effect, affirm it, clothing what you have stripped!
227. the bottom: i.e., on which unadventurous men may go aground and miss the tide of fortune.

226   You more invest it! Ebbing men, indeed,
227   Most often do so near the bottom run
228   By their own fear or sloth.

228                                             Prithee, say on:
229   The setting of thine eye and cheek proclaim
229. setting: set expression (of earnestness).

230   A matter from thee, and a birth indeed
230. matter: matter of importance.

231   Which throes thee much to yield.
231. throes: causes labor pains. yield: give forth, speak about.

231                                                       Thus, sir:
232   Although this lord of weak remembrance, this,
232-236. Although . . . alive: Although this owner of a weak memory, he who will be only weakly remembered when he is dead, has nearly persuaded - since he's a mind or soul devoted solely to persuasion - King Ansolo that Ferdinand lives.

233   Who shall be of as little memory
234   When he is earth'd, hath here almost persuade,—
235   For he's a spirit of persuasion, only
236   Professes to persuade,—the king his son's alive,
237   'Tis as impossible that he's undrown'd
238   As he that sleeps here swims.

238                                                   I have no hope
239   That he's undrown'd.

239                                 O, out of that 'no hope'
240   What great hope have you! no hope that way is
241   Another way so high a hope that even
241-243. that even / Ambition cannot pierce a wink beyond, / But doubt discovery there: that even ambition cannot see anything higher, and even there it doubts the reality of what it sees (because the place is so supremely high).

242   Ambition cannot pierce a wink beyond,
243   But doubt discovery there. Will you grant with me
244   That Ferdinand is drown'd?

244                                             He's gone.

244                                                         Then, tell me,
245   Who's the next heir of Naples?

245                                                 Claribel.

246   She that is queen of Tunis; she that dwells
247   Ten leagues beyond man's life; she that from Naples
247. Ten leagues beyond man's life: thirty miles farther than a lifetime's journey.

248   Can have no note, unless the sun were post—
248. note: news. post: messenger.

249   The man i' the moon's too slow—till new-born chins
250   Be rough and razorable; she that from whom
250. razorable: ready for shaving. from: on our voyage from.

251   We all were sea-swallow'd, though some cast again,
251. cast: were disgorged. (With a pun on "casting" of parts for a play.)

252   And by that destiny to perform an act
253   Whereof what's past is prologue, what to come
254   In yours and my discharge.
254. discharge: part to play, duty to perform.

254                                    What stuff is this! how say you?
255   'Tis true, my brother's daughter's queen of Tunis;
256   So is she heir of Naples; 'twixt which regions
257   There is some space.

257                                   A space whose every cubit
257. cubit: measure of about 20 inches.

258   Seems to cry out, 'How shall that Claribel
259   Measure us back to Naples? Keep in Tunis,
259. Measure us: retrace our journey. Keep: You, Claribel, stay.

260   And let Sebastian wake.' Say, this were death
260. wake: i.e., realize his good luck.

261   That now hath seized them; why, they were no worse
262   Than now they are. There be that can rule Naples
262. There be: There are those.

263   As well as he that sleeps; lords that can prate
263. prate: babble on.

264   As amply and unnecessarily
265   As this Gonzalo; I myself could make
265-266. I myself could make / A chough of as deep chat: I could teach a jackdaw to talk as wisely.

266   A chough of as deep chat. O, that you bore
267   The mind that I do! what a sleep were this
268   For your advancement! Do you understand me?

269   Methinks I do.

269                         And how does your content
269-270. And how does your content / Tender your own good fortune?: And how does your contentment with what I've just said further your good fortune?

270   Tender your own good fortune?

270                                                   I remember
271   You did supplant your brother Prospero.

271                                                                   True:
272   And look how well my garments sit upon me;
273   Much feater than before: my brother's servants
273. feater: better fitting, more elegant.

274   Were then my fellows; now they are my men.
274. fellows: my equals. my men: my servants.

275   But, for your conscience?
275. But, for your conscience?: But, what about your conscience?

276   Ay, sir; where lies that? if 'twere a kibe,
276. kibe: a sore on the heel.

277   'Twould put me to my slipper: but I feel not
277. put me to: make me wear.

278   This deity in my bosom: twenty consciences,
278-280. twenty . . . molest!: Even if there were twenty consciences between me and the dukedom of Milan, I'd have them lumped together, crystallized like candy, and then melted down before I'd let them interfere!

279   That stand 'twixt me and Milan, candied be they
280   And melt ere they molest! Here lies your brother,
281   No better than the earth he lies upon,
282   If he were that which now he's like, that's dead;
283   Whom I, with this obedient steel, three inches of it,
284   Can lay to bed for ever; whiles you, doing thus,
284. thus: similarly.

285   To the perpetual wink for aye might put
285. wink: sleep, closing of eyes. for aye: forever.

286   This ancient morsel, this Sir Prudence, who
286. This ancient morsel: this old baby; i.e., Gonzalo.

287   Should not upbraid our course. For all the rest,
287. Should not: must not be allowed to.

288   They'll take suggestion as a cat laps milk;
288. take suggestion: believe what they're told.

289   They'll tell the clock to any business that
289. tell the clock: i.e., agree and chime in.

290   We say befits the hour.
Sebastian and Antonio about to kill Alonso and Gonzalo.

290                                       Thy case, dear friend,
291   Shall be my precedent; as thou got'st Milan,
292   I'll come by Naples. Draw thy sword: one stroke
293   Shall free thee from the tribute which thou payest;
294   And I the king shall love thee.

294                                                   Draw together;
295   And when I rear my hand, do you the like,
296   To fall it on Gonzalo.
296. fall it: let it fall.

296                                   O, but one word.

           [They talk apart.]

           Enter ARIEL [invisible], with music and song.

297   My master through his art foresees the danger
298   That you, his friend, are in; and sends me forth—
299   For else his project dies—to keep them living.

           Sings in Gonzalo's ear.

300        While you here do snoring lie,
301        Open-eyed conspiracy
302        His time doth take.
302. time: opportunity.

303        If of life you keep a care,
304        Shake off slumber, and beware:
305        Awake, awake!

306   Then let us both be sudden.
306. Then let us both be sudden: So let us both be quick about it. —While Ariel has been speaking and singing, Antonio and Sebastian have been putting the finishing touches on their murderous plot.


306                                             Now, good angels
307   Preserve the king.

           [Wakes Alonso.]

308   Why, how now? ho, awake! Why are you drawn?
309   Wherefore this ghastly looking?

309                                                         What's the matter?

310   Whiles we stood here securing your repose,
310. securing: guarding.

311   Even now, we heard a hollow burst of bellowing
312   Like bulls, or rather lions: did't not wake you?
313   It struck mine ear most terribly.

313                                                         I heard nothing.

314   O, 'twas a din to fright a monster's ear,
315   To make an earthquake! sure, it was the roar
316   Of a whole herd of lions.

316                                         Heard you this, Gonzalo?

317   Upon mine honour, sir, I heard a humming,
318   And that a strange one too, which did awake me:
319   I shaked you, sir, and cried: as mine eyes open'd,
319. cried: called out.

320   I saw their weapons drawn: there was a noise,
321   That's verily. 'Tis best we stand upon our guard,
321. verily: true.

322   Or that we quit this place; let's draw our weapons.

323   Lead off this ground; and let's make further search
324   For my poor son.

324                           Heavens keep him from these beasts!
325   For he is, sure, i' the island.

325                                           Lead away.

326   Prospero my lord shall know what I have done:
327   So, king, go safely on to seek thy son.