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Whilst I was big in clamour, came there a man, To lay the blame upon her own despair,
[Edmund is borne off He fasten'd on my neck, and bellow'd out As be'd burst heaven; threw him on my father;
Enter Lear, with Cordelia dead in his arms; Ed. Told the most piteous tale of Lear and him,
gar, Officer, and others. That ever ear receiv'd: which in recounting Lear. Howl, howl, howl, how!!—0, you are His grief grew puissant, and the strings of life
men of stones; Began to crack: Twice then the trumpet sounded, Had I your tongues and eyes, I'd use them so And there I left him tranc'd.
That heaven's vault should crack :-0, she is gone Alb. But who was this?
for ever Edg. Kent, sir, the banish'd Kent; who in dis- I know when one is dead, and when one lives; guise
She's dead as earth :-Lend me a looking-glass; Follow'd his enemy king, and did him service If that her breath will mist or stain the stone, Improper for a slave.
Why, then she lives.
Is this the promis'd end 3 Enter a Gentleman hastily, with a bloody knife. Edg. Or image of that horror
Fall, and cease! Gent. Help! help! O help!
Lear. This feather stirs; she lives! if it be so, Edg.
What kind of help? || It is a chance that does redeem all sorrows Alb.
Speak, man. || That ever I have felt. Edg. What means that bloody knife?
O my good master! Gent. 'Tis hot, it smokes;
(Kneeling. It came even from the heart of
Lear. Pr'ythee, away.
'Tis noble Kent, your friend. Gent. Your lady, sir, your lady: and her sister Lear. A plague upon you, murderers, traitors By her is poison'd; she confesses it
all! Edm. I was contracted to them both; all three I might have sav'd her; now she's gone for ever! Now marry in an instant.
Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little. Ha! Alb. Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead! What is't thou say'st ?Her voice was ever soft, This judgment of the heavens, that makes us Gentle, and low; an excellent thing in woman :tremble,
I kill'd the slave that was a hanging thee.
Off. 'Tis true, my lords, he did.
Did I not, fellow?
I have seen the day, with my good biting faulchion Edg.
Here comes Kent, sir. And these same crosses spoil'me.- Who are you?
I would have made them skip: I am old now, Alb. O! it is he.
Mine eyes are none o'the best :--I'll tell yon straight. The time will not allow the compliment,
Kent. If fortune brag of two she lov'd and bated, Which very manners urges.
One of them we behold. Kent.
I am come
Lear. This is a dull sight: Are you not Kent? To bid my king and master ayel good night;
Kent. Is be not here?
The same; Alb. Great thing of us forgot
Your servant Kent: Where is your servant Caius? Speak, Edmund, where's the king? and where's || He'll strike, and quickly too :-He's dead and
Lear. He's a good fellow, I can tell you that; Cordelia ?
rotten, See'st thou this object, Kent?
Kent. No, my good lord; I am the very man ;(The bodies of Goneril and Regan are
Lear. I'll see that straight. brought in. Kent. Alack, why thus?
Kent. That, from your first of difference and Edm. Yet Edmund was belov'd:
Have follow'd your sad steps. The one the other poison'd for my sake,
You are welcome hither. And after slew herself.
Kent. Nor no man else; all's cheerless, dark, Alb. Even so.-Cover their faces. Edm. I pant for life :—Some good I mean to do, || Youreldest daughters have fore-doom'd themselves,
and deadly.Despite of mine own nature. Quickly send,
Be brief in it,-to the castle ; for my writ
And desperately are dead.
Ay, so I think.
Alb. He knows not what he says; and vain it is
That we present us to him.
Enter an Officer.
Off. Edmund is dead,
my lord. Alb.
That's but a trifle here Give it the captain.
You lords, and noble friends, know our intent.
What comfort to this great decay may come,
During the life of this old majesty, To hang Cordelia in the prison, and
To him our absolute power :- You, to your rights ;
[To Edgar and Kent. (1) For even (2) Destroyed hersell.
(3) The end of the world, or the horrible cir- (4) i. e. Die; Albany speaks to Lear. cumstances preceding it.
(5) Useless. (6) i. e. Lear
With boot, and such addition2 as your honours nicely discriminates, and so minutely describes the
Adventurer very minutely criticised this play, reWhy should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life, marks, that the instances of cruelty are too savage And thou no breath at all: o, thou wilt come no and shocking, and that the intervention of Edmund more,
destroys the simplicity of the story. These objecNever, never, never, never, never !
tions may, I think, be answered by repeating, that Pray you, undo this button: Thank you, sir. the cruelty of the daughters is an historical fact, to Do you see this? Look on her,-look, - her lips, which the poet has added little, having only drawn Look there, look there!
(He dies. it into a series by dialogue and action. But 1 am Edg. He faints !--My lord, my lord, not able to apologize with equal plausibility for the Kent. Break, heart; I pr’ythee, break! extrusion of Gloster's eyes, which seems an act too Edg.
Look up, my lord. horrid to be endured in dramatic exhibition, and Kent. Vex not his ghost :-0, let him pass !4 be such as must always compel the mind to relieve its hates him,
distress by incredulity. Yet let it be remembered That would upon the rack of this tough world that our author well knew what would please the Stretch him out longer.
audience for which he wrote. Edg:
O, he is gone, indeed. The injury done by Edmund to the simplicity of Kent. The wonder is, he hath endur'd so long : the action is abundantly recompensed by the addiHe but usurp'd his life.
tion of variety, by the art with which he is made to Alb. Bear them from hence.—Our present busi-co-operate with the chief design, and the opportu
nity which he gives the poet of combining perfidy Is general wo. Friends of my soul, you twain with perfidy, and connecting the wicked son with
[To Kent and Edgar. the wicked daughters, to impress this important Rule in this realm, and the gor'd state sustain. moral, that villany is never at a stop, that'crimes
Kent. I have a journey, sir, shortly to go; lead to crimes, and at last terminate in ruin. My master calls, and I must not say, no. But though this moral be incidentally enforced, Alb. The weight of this sad time we must | Shakspeare has suffered the virtue of Cordelia to obey ;
perish in a just cause, contrary to the natural ideas Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say. of justice, to the hope of the reader, and what is The oldest hath borne most : we, that are young, yet more strange, the faith of chronicles. Yet Shall never see so much, nor live so long. this conduct is justified by The Spectator, who (Exeunt, with a dead march.blames Tate for giving Cordelia success and happi
ness in his alteration, and declares, that in his opin
ion, the tragedy has lost half its beauty. Dennis has remarked, whether justly or not, that, to
secure the favourable reception of Cato, the town The tragedy of Lear is deservedly celebrated || criticism, and that endeavours had been used to
was poisoned with much false and abominable among the dramas of Shakspeare. There is perhaps discredit and decry poetical justice. A play in no play which keeps the attention so strongly fixed : / which the wicked prosper, and the virtuous misvhich so much agitates our passions, and interests terests, the striking oppositions of contrary charac. || but since all reasonable beings naturally love jusour curiosity. The artful involutions of distinct in carry, may doubtless be good, because it is a just
representation of the common events of human life: ters, the sudden changes of fortune, and the quick || tice, I cannot easily be persuaded, that the obsersuccession of events, fill the mind with a perpetual | vation of justice makes a play worse; or that, if tumult of indignation, pity, and hope. There is no other excellencies are equal, the audience will not scene which does not contribute to the aggravation || always rise better pleased from the final triumph of the distress or conduct to the action, and scarce of persecuted virtue. a line which does not conduce to the progress of the scene. So powerful is the current of the poet's delia, from the time of Tate, has always retired
In the present case the public has decided. Corimagination, that the mind, which once ventures with victory and felicity. And, if my sensations within it, is hurried irresistibly along. On the seeming improbability of Lear's conduct, || relate, I was many years ago so shocked by Cor
could add any thing to the general suffrage, I might it may be observed, that he is represented accord. delia's death, that I know not whether I ever en. ing to histories at that time vulgarly received as dured to read again the last scenes of the play, till true. And, perhaps, if we turn our thoughts uponI undertook to revise them as an editor. the barbarity and ignorance of the age to which
There is another controversy among the critics this story is referred, it will appear not so unlikely || concerning this play. It is disputed whether the as while we estimate Lear's manners by our
own. predominant image in Lear's disordered mind be the Such preference of one daughter to another, or re: loss of his kingdom or the cruelty of his daughters. signation of dominion on such conditions, wouldMr. Murphy, a very judicious critic, has evinced be yet credible, if told of a petty prince of Guinea | by induction of particular passages, that the cruelor Madagascar. Shakspeare, indeed, by the men- | ty of his daughters is the primary source of his distion of his earls and dukes, has given us the idea| tress, and that the loss of royalty affects him only of times more civilized, and of life regulated by as a secondary and subordinate evil. He obsofter manners; and the truth is, that though he so serves, with great justness, that Lear would move
our compassion but little, did we not rather con. (1) Benefit. (2) Titles.
sider the injured father than the degraded king. (3) Poor fool in the time of Shakspeare, was an expression of endearment.
(4) Die. (5) Dr. Joseph Warton.
The story of this play, except the episode of Ed- || that it follows the chronicle; it has the rudiments mund, which is derived, I think, from Sidney, is of the play, but none of its amplifications: it first taken originally from Geoffry of Monmouth, whom hinted Lear's madness, but did not array it in cirHollinshod generally copied, but perhaps immedi- cumstances. The writer of the ballad added some ately from an old historical ballad. My reason for thing to the history, which is a proof that he would believing that the play was posterior to the ballad, have added more, if more had occurred to his mind; rather than the ballad to the play, is, that the bal- and more must have occurred if he had seen Shak lad has nothing of Shakspeare's nocturnal tempest, I speare. which is too striking to have been omitted,' and