King Lear vowed in impotent rage to do things, "what they are yet I know not, but they shall be the terrors of the earth". We know that if he ever thinks of something to do, nobody will notice.
Today's King, the Bank of England's Mervyn, is the opposite. He has made an art of getting his way by doing nothing. Every month he and his interest-setting monetary policy committee settle down for two days to read the economic runes - and in the ordinary way of things vote to leave well alone.
This has led to suggestions that they might as well not bother, get together every three months, say, and stop making such an ado about nothing.
That would be foolish. Governor King and his committee achieve their purpose admirably by leaving it to the City's markets to guess what they are going to do next, if ever they get round to it. Better still, the City changes its mind without the Bank doing anything at all.
Since the Bank cut its official rate to 4.5 per cent last August, the markets have veered from confidence that this was the first of a series of cuts to a near certainty that we had best face up to two quarter-point increases by this time next year. Strangely, leaving it to the money market to do the job, seems to work faster than actually doing something.
After last August's cuts, it was mid-winter, four months, before the housing market came back to life in terms of activity. That revival coincided with a spell of absurdly low long-term interest rates in the money market, which enabled mortgage lenders to offer fixed rate deals costing barely more than plain vanilla variable rate loans.
That stopped the moment the market decided that the Bank's next move was going to be up not down. The fixed-rate bargains vanished and, sure enough, both the number and value of new mortgages approved the lenders began to dwindle.
Without changing anything, the Bank presided over, first a return to normal in housing market activity, then when it looked as if prices might go shooting up again, what looks like the beginning of, a welcome pause. You may not believe in soft landings, or in little green men at the bottom of the garden, but this is starting to look rather like one.
Governor King claims not to be bothered by anything that happens in the housing market. But it is the most readily visible mirror of what the Bank's interest rate policies are doing to the real economy - or rather the City's guess at those policies.
Fewer than half the small businesses that could qualify for a special relief that could halve their business rates have so far applied for it, the Local Government Association says.
The scheme started only in April and small firms have until September to apply for the first year, so there are still four months to go.
Even so, it does look as if this scheme has been grossly under-publicised. Very possibly a lot of what were intended to be helpful leaflets have been binned by people who mistook them for yet another tangle of red tape.