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hood, and good conditions of the said Cordilla, son-in-law and his daughter in what sort he had desired to have her in marriage, and sent over been used by his other daughters, Aganippus to her father, requiring that he might have her caused a mighty army to be put in readiness, to wife; to whom answer was made, that he and likewise a great navy of ships to be rigged might have his daughter, but for any dowry to pass over into Britain, with Leir his father-inhe could have none, for all was promised and law, to see him again restored to his kingdom. assured to her other sisters already.
“ It was accorded that Cordilla should also Aganippus, notwithstanding this answer of go with him to take possession of the land, denial to receive anything by way of dower with the which he promised to leave unto her, as Cordilla, took her to wife, only moved thereto his rightful inheritor after his decease, not(I say) for respect of her person and amiable withstanding any former grants made unto her virtues. This Aganippus was one of the twelve sisters, or unto their husbands, in any manner kings that ruled Gallia in those days, as in the or wise; hereupon, when this army and navy British history it is recorded. But to proceed : of ships were ready, Leir and his daughter after that Leir was fallen into age, the two dukes Cordilla, with her husband, took the sea, and, that had married his two eldest daughters, arriving in Britain, fought with their enemies, thinking it long ere the government of the and discomfirted them in battle, in the which land did come to their hands, arose against him Maglanus and Henninus were slain, and then in armour, and reft from him the governance of was Leir restored to his kingdom, which he the land, upon conditions to be continued for ruled after this by the space of two years, and term of life : by the which he was put to his then died, forty years after he first began to portion; that is, to live after a rate assigned to reign. His body was buried at Leicester, in him for the maintenance of his estate, which a vault under the channel of the river Dore, in process of time was diminished, as well by beneath the town.” Maglanus as by Henninus. " But the greatest grief that Leir took was to narrated by Holinshed. She became Queen
The subsequent fate of Cordelia is also see the unkindness of his daughters, who seemed to think that all was too much which their father after her father's death; but her nephews
“levied war against her, and destroyed a had, the same being never so little, in so much that, going from the one to the other, he was
great part of the land, and finally took her brought to that misery that they would allow prisoner, and laid her fast in ward, wherewith him only one servant to wait upon him. In she took such grief, being a woman of a the end, such was the unkindness, or, as I may manly courage ; and, despairing to recover say, the unnaturalness, which he found in his liberty, there she slew herself.” Spenser, in two daughters, notwithstanding their fair and the second book of The Fairy Queen,' pleasant words uttered in time past, that, being canto 10, has told the story of Lear and his constrained of necessity, he fled the land, and daughters, in six stanzas, in which he has sailed into Gallia, there to seek some comfort of been content to put in verse, with very slight his youngest daughter, Cordilla, whom before he change or embellishment, the narrative of hated.
the chroniclers. The concluding stanza will “ The lady Cordilla, hearing he was arrived be a sufficient specimen :in poor estate, she first sent to him privately a sum of money to apparel himself withall,
“So to his crown she him restor'd again, and to retain a certain number of servants, that
In which he dy'd, made ripe for death by eld, might attend upon him in honourable wise, as
And after will'd it should to her remain; appertained to the estate which he had borne.
Who peaceably the same long time did weld, And then, so accompanied, she appointed
And all men's hearts in due obedience held; him to come to the court, which he did, and
Till that her sisters' children, woxen strong, was so joyfully, honourably, and lovingly re
Through proud ambition against her rebell’d, ceived, both by his son-in-law Aganippus, and
And overcomen, kept in prison long, also by his daughter Cordilla, that his heart was
Till, weary of that wretched life, herself she greatly comforted : for he was no less honoured
hong." than if he had been king of the whole country The story of Lear had unquestionably been himself. Also, after that he had informed his dramatised before Shakspere produced his
tragedy. "The true Chronicle History of King Leir and his three Daughters, Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordella, as it hath been divers and sundry times lately acted,' was printed, probably for the first time, in 1605; but there can be no doubt that it belongs to a period some ten, fifteen, or perhaps twenty years earlier. In 1594 an entry was made at Stationers' Hall, of 'The moste famous Chronicle Hystorie of Leire King of England, and his Three Daughters.' Theobald calls this old play “ an execrable performance;" Percy, “a very poor and dull performance; and Capell, “a silly old play.” It is certainly all these, when compared with the wonderful production of Shakspere; but we are by no means certain that it is not as good as half the pieces which occupied the stage, and not unsuccessfully, at the very time that Shakspere had produced some of his most glorious works. We subjoin a scene which will enable our readers to compare it with the first scene of Shakspere's 'Lear.'
“ Lear. Dear Gonoril, kind Regan, sweet
Cordelia, Ye flourishing branches of a kingly stock, Sprung from a tree that once did flourish
green, Whose blossoms noware nipt with winter's frost, And pale grim death doth wait upon my steps, And summons me unto his next assizes. Therefore, dear daughters, as ye tender the
safety Of him that was the cause of your first being, Resolve a doubt which much molests my mind, Which of you three to me would prove most
Nay, more, should you appoint me for to marry
soul! “ Cordelia. Oh, how I do abhor this flattery ! “ Lear. But what saith Regan to her
father's will ? "Regan. Oh, that my simple utterance could
suffice To tell the true intention of my heart, Which burns in zeal of duty to your grace, And never can be quench’d, but by desire To show the same in outward forwardness. Oh, that there were some other maid that
durst But make a challenge of her love with me; I'd make her soon confess she never loved Her father half so well as I do you. I then my deeds should prove in plainer case, How much my zeal aboundeth to your grace: But for them all, let this one mean suffice To ratify my love before your eyes : I have right noble suitors to my love, No worse than kings, and haply I love one: Yet, would you have me make my choice anew, I'd bridle fancy, and be ruled by you. “ Lear. Did never Philomel sing so sweet
a note. “ Cordelia. Did never flatterer tell so false
Which loves me most, and which at my
request Will soonest yield unto their father's hest. “Gonoril. I hope, my gracious father makes
no doubt Of any of his daughters' love to him: Yet, for my part, to show my zeal to you, Which cannot be in windy words rehears'd, I prize my love to you at such a rate, I think my life inferior to my love. Should you enjoin me for to tie a millstone About my neck, and leap into the sea, At your command I willingly would do it: Yea, for to do you good, I would ascend The highest turret in all Brittany, And from the top leap headlong to the ground:
“ Lear. Speak now, Cordelia, make my joys
at full, And drop down nectar from thy honey lips. “Cordelia. I cannot paint my duty forth in
words, I hope my deeds shall make report for me: But look what love the child doth owe the
father, The same to you I bear, my gracious lord. “ Gonoril. Here is an answer answerless
indeed: Were you my daughter, I should scarcely
brook it. “ Regan. Dost thou not blush, proud pea
cock thou art, To make our father such a slight reply? “ Lear. Why how now, minion, are you
grown so proud? Doth our dear love make you thus peremptory? What, is your love become so small to us, As that you scorn to tell us what it is?
Do you love us, as every child doth love the old play, and also in the points of Their father? True indeed, as some,
difference. Our readers will easily imagine, Who by disobedience short their father's days, from the extract with which we have furnished And so would you; some are so father-sick, them, that Shakspere had, at all events, to That they make means to rid them from the create the poetical diction of 'Lear,' without world;
any obligation to his lumbering predecessor. And so would you: some are indifferent,
In the conduct of the plot he is equally Whether their aged parents live or die;
original. It may be sufficient for us to state And so are you.
But, didst thou know, that of the madness of Lear we have no trace proud girl,
in the old play; and that, like the chronicle, What care I had to foster thee to this, Ah, then thou wouldst say as thy sisters do:
it ends with the triumphant restoration of Our life is less, than love we owe to you.
Lear to his kingdom. “Cordelia. Dear father, do not so mistake
There is a ballad, printed in Percy's
'Reliques,' on the story of Lear. It is my words, Nor my plain meaning be misconstrued;
without a date, and Percy says, “Here is My tongue was never used to flattery. found the hint of Lear's madness, which the “Gonoril. You were not best say I flatter: old chronicles do not mention, as also the if you do,
extravagant cruelty exercised on him by his My deeds shall shew, I flatter not with you. daughters. In the death of Lear they like I love my father better than thou canst.
wise very exactly coincide. The misfortune “ Cordelia. The praise were great, spoke is, that there is nothing to assist us in from another's mouth:
ascertaining the date of the ballad but what But it should seem your neighbours dwell little evidence arises from within.” We print far off.
the passages to which Percy alludes :" Regan. Nay, here is one, that will confirm
“Her father, old king Leir, this while as much
With his two daughters staid; As she hath said, both for myself and her.
Forgetful of their promised loves, I say, thou dost not wish my father's good.
Full soon the same decay'd; “ Cordelia. Dear father
And living in queen Ragan's court, “ Lear. Peace, bastard imp, no issue of
The eldest of the twain, king Lear,
She took from him his chiefest means, I will not hear thee speak one tittle more.
And most of all his train. Call not me father, if thou love thy life,
“For, whereas twenty men were wont Nor these thy sisters once presume to name:
To wait with bended knee,
She gave allowance but to ten,
And after scarce to three: My kingdom will I equally divide
Nay, one she thought too much for him: "Twixt thy two sisters to their royal dower,
So took she all away, And will bestow them worthy their deserts :
In hope that in her court, good king, This done, because thou shalt not have the hope
He would no longer stay. To have a child's part in the time to come,
« «Am I rewarded thus,' quoth be, I presently will dispossess myself, And got up these upon my princely throne.
'In giving all I have “ Gonoril. I ever thought that pride would
Unto my children, and to beg
For what I lately gave?
I'll go unto my Gonorell;
My second child, I know, You need no dowry, to make you be a queen.
Will be more kind and pitiful, [Exeunt LEAR, GONORIL, REGAN."
And will relieve my woe.'
“ Full fast he hies then to her court; Mr. Skottowe has, with great diligence and Where when she hears his moan, minuteness, attempted to trace Shakspere in Return'd him answer, That she griev'd what he is supposed to have borrowed from
That all his means were gone:
But no way could relieve his wants; Edgar. It may be sufficient for us to give
the relation of the “ kind son :"Within her kitchen, he should have
"This old man, whom I lead, was lately What scullions gave away.
rightful prince of Paphlagonia, by the hard
hearted ungratefulness of a son his, deprived “And calling to remembrance then
not only of his kingdom, but of his sight, the His youngest daughter's words,
riches which nature grants to the poorest creaThat said, the duty of a child
tures; whereby and by other his unnatural Was all that love affords;
dealings, he hath been driven to such griefs, as But doubting to repair to her,
even now he would have had me to have led Whom he had banish'd so,
him to the top of this rock, thence to cast himGrew frantic mad; for in his mind
self headlong to death; and so would have had He bore the wounds of woe:
me, who received my life of him, to be the “ Which made him rend his milk-white locks worker of his destruction."
And tresses from his head,
Criticism, as far as regards the very
highest works of art, must always be a To hills and woods and wat'ry founts
failure. What criticism (and in that term He made his hourly moan,
we include description and analysis) ever Till hills and woods and senseless things helped us to an adequate notion of the BelDid seem to sigh and groan.
vedere Apollo, or the Cartoons of Raffaelle ?
We may try to apply general principles to And so to England came with speed, the particular instances, as far as regards To re-possess king Leir,
the ideal of such productions ; or, what is And drive his daughters from their thrones more common, we may seize upon the salient Dy his Cordelia dear:
points of their material and mechanical exWhere she, true-heart
cellences. If we adopt this comparatively Was in the battle slain:
easy and therefore common course, criticism Yet he, good king, in his old days,
puts on that technical and pedantic form Possess'd his crown again.
which is the besetting sin of all who attempt “But when he heard Cordelia's death,
to make the great works of painting or Who dy'd indeed for love
sculpture comprehensible by the medium of - Of her dear father, in whose cause
words. If we take the more difficult path, She did this battle move;
we are quickly involved in the vague and He swooning fell upon her breast, From whence he never parted :
obscure, and end in explanations without But on her bosom left his life,
explanation. "The Correggiescity of CorThat was so truly hearted.
reggio,” after all, and in sober truth, tells as
much as the critics have told us. And is it “ The lords and nobles, when they saw The ends of these events,
different with poetry of the very highest The other sisters unto death
order? What criticism, for example, can They doomed by consents;
make the harmony of a very great poem And being dead, their crowns they left
comprehensible to those who have not stuUnto the next of kin:
died such a poem again and again, till all Thus have you seen the fall of pride, its scattered lights, and all its broad masses And disobedient sin."
of shadow, are blended into one pervading
tint, upon which the mind reposes, through In Sidney's Arcadia' there is a chapter the influence of that mighty power by which entitled “The pitiful state and story of the the force of contrast is subjected to the Paphlagonian unkind king, and his kind higher force of unity ? Criticism may, to a son, first related by the son, then by the certain extent, stimulate us to the appreciablind father. This unquestionably furnished tion of the great parts of the highest creathe dramatic foundation of Gloster and tions of poetical genius ; but, in the exact
degree in which it is successful in leading to | Tate has succeeded, to an extent which defies a comprehension of details, is it injurious to all competition, in degrading the Psalms of the higher purpose of its vocation—that of David and the 'Lear' of Shakspere to the illuminating a whole. It is precisely the condition of being tolerated, and perhaps same with regard to the modes in which even admired, by the most dull, gross, and even the most tasteful minds attempt to anti-poetical capacity. These were not easy convey impressions to others of the effects of tasks ; but Nahum Tate has enjoyed more real scenery. There are, probably, recol- than a century of honour for his labours ; lections lingering around most of us of some and his new versions of the Psalms are still combination of natural grandeur or beauty sung on (like the shepherd in Arcadia piped) which can never be forgotten—which has as if they would never be old, and his ‘Lear' moved us even to tears. What can we de- was ever the 'Lear' of the playhouse, until scribe of such scenes ? Take a common in- Mr. Macready ventured upon a modern stance-a calm river sleeping in the moon- heresy in favour of Shakspere. To have light-familiar hills, in their massy outlines enjoyed so extensive and lasting a popularity, looking mountain-like—the well-known vil- Nahum Tate must have possessed more than lage on the river's bank, giving forth its ordinary power in the reduction of the cottage lights, each shining as a star in the highest things to the vulgar standard. He depth of the transparent stream. The de- set about the Metamorphosis of 'Lear' with scription of such a scene becomes merely a bold hand, nothing doubting that he had picturesque. It is the harmony which can- an especial vocation to the office of tumbling not be described—the harmony which re- that barbaric pile into ruins, for the purpose sults from some happy combinations not of building up something compact, and always, and indeed rarely, present—which pretty, and modern, after the fashion of the has thus invested the commonest things with architecture of his own age. He talks, inlife-lasting impressions. The “ prevailing deed, of his feat, in the way in which the poet,” in his great productions, converts court jeweller talks at the beginning of a what is accidental in nature into a principle new reign, when he pulls the crown to pieces, in art. But the workings of the principle and re-arranges the emeralds and rubies of must, to a great extent, be felt and under- our Edwards and Henries according to the stood, rather than analysed and described. newest taste. “It is a heap of jewels, un
Hazlitt, applying himself to write a set strung and unpolished, yet so dazzling in criticism upon 'Lear,' says—“We wish that their disorder that I soon perceived I had we could
pass this play over, and say nothing seized a treasure.” We are grateful, howabout it. All that we can say must fall far ever, to Tate for what he has done ; for he short of the subject, or even of what we has enabled us to say something about Shakourselves conceive of it. To attempt to spere's 'Lear,' when, without him, we might give a description of the play itself, or of have shrunk into “ expressive silence.” We its effect upon the mind, is mere imper- propose to show what the ' Lear' is, in some tinence." This is not affectation.
of its highest attributes, by an investigation “ effect upon the mind” which ‘Lear' pro- of the process by which one of the feeblest duces is the result of combinations too and most prosaic of verse-makers has turned subtle to be described—almost so to be de- it into something essentially different. Tate fined to ourselves; and yet, to continue the thus becomes a standard by which to measentence of Hazlitt, we must say some- sure Shakspere ; and we are relieved from thing."
the oppressive sense of the vast, by the There is an English word-joiner-author juxta-position of the minute. We judge of we will not call him—who has had the the height of the pyramids by the scale of temerity to accomplish two things, either of the human atoms at their base. which would have been enough to have con- Shelley, in his eloquent Defence of ferred upon him a bad immortality. Nahum Poetry,' published in his ‘Posthumous