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This was a bold or a lazy avowal in Johnson; for Aristotle describes the popular admiration of the tragedy which ends happily for the good characters, and fatally for the bad, as a result of the "weakness of the spectators;" and though Johnson vigorously attacked Aristotle's Unities—or rather the doctrine of the Unities imputed to Aristotle the good critic must have been sleeping when he gave his voice to the general suffrage at the risk of being accounted weak. Johnson was too clever a man not to know that he lost something by not reading "the last scenes" of Shakspere's Lear; and we have considerable doubts whether he ever looked into the last scenes of Tate's Lear. Carrying the principle to the end with which we set out, we venture to print the last scene of each writer in apposition; and we ask our readers to apply the scale of Tate, in the manner which we have indicated, to the admeasurement of Shakspere :


"Enter ALBANY, KENT, and Knights to LEAR and CORDELIA in Prison.

Lear. Who are you?

My eyes are none o' th' best, I'll tell you straight:
Oh, Albany! Well, sir, we are your captives,
And you are come to see death pass upon us.
Why this delay ?-Or, is't your highness' pleasure
To give us first the torture? Say you so?
Why here's old Kent, and I, as tough a pair
As e'er bore tyrant stroke;-but my Cordelia,
My poor Cordelia here, O pity-

Alb. Thou injur'd majesty,

The wheel of fortune now has made her circle,
And blessings yet stand 'twixt thy grave and thee.

Lear. Com'st thou, inhuman lord, to sooth us back
To a fool's paradise of hope, to make

Our doom more wretched? Go to; we are too well
Acquainted with misfortune, to be gull'd
With lying hope; no, we will hope no more.

Alb. Since then my injuries, Lear, fall in with thine,

I have resolv'd the same redress for both.
Kent. What says my lord?

Cord. Speak; for methought I heard
The charming voice of a descending god.

Alb. The troops by Edmund rais'd, I have disbanded:
Those that remain are under my command.

What comfort may be brought to cheer your age,
And heal your savage wrongs, shall be apply'd;

For to your majesty we do resign

Your kingdom, save what part yourself conferr'd
On us in marriage.

Kent. Hear you that, my liege.

Cord. Then there are gods, and virtue is their care.
Lear. Is't possible?

Let the spheres stop their course, the sun make halt,
The winds be hush'd, the seas and fountains rest,
All nature pause, and listen to the change!
Where is my Kent, my Caius ?

Kent. Here, my liege.

Lear. Why, I have news that will recall thy youth; Ha! didst thou hear't?- or did th' inspiring gods Whisper to me alone?-Old Lear shall be

A king again.

Kent. The prince, that like a god has pow'r, has said it.
Lear. Cordelia then shall be a queen, mark that;
Cordelia shall be queen: winds, catch the sound,
And bear it on your rosy wings to heav'n,

Cordelia is a queen.

Alb. Look, sir, where pious Edgar comes,
Leading his eyeless father. O my liege,

His wond'rous story well deserves your leisure;
What he has done and suffer'd for your sake,
What for the fair Cordelia's.

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I have seen the day, with my good biting faulchion
I would have made them skip: I am old now,
And these same crosses spoil me.-Who are you?
Mine eyes are not o' the best:-I'll tell you straight.
Kent. If fortune brag of two she lov'd and hated,
One of them we behold.

Lear. This is a dull sight. Are you not Kent?
The same;

Your servant Kent: Where is your servant Caius ?
Lear. He's a good fellow, I can tell you that;
He'll strike, and quickly too: He's dead and rotten.
Kent. No, my good lord; I am the very man ;-
Lear. I'll see that straight.

Kent. That, from your first of difference and decay,
Have follow'd your sad steps.

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• Treatise on Poetry-Twining's Translation.

Re-enter EDGAR with GLOSTER, L.H.

Glost. Where's my liege? Conduct me to his knees, to hail

His second birth of empire: My dear Edgar

Has, with himself, reveal'd the king's blest restoration.
Lear. My poor dark Gloster!

Glost. O let me kiss that once more scepter'd hand!
Lear. Hold, thou mistak'st the majesty; kneel here;
Cordelia has our pow'r, Cordelia's queen.
Speak, is not that the noble, suff'ring Edgar?

Glost. My pious son, more dear than my lost eyes.
Lear. I wrong'd him too; but here's the fair amends.

Edg. Divine Cordelia, all the gods can witness
How much thy love to empire I prefer.
Thy bright example shall convince the world,
Whatever storms of fortune are decreed,
That truth and virtue shall at last succeed.

(Flourish of Drums and Trumpets.)"

You lords, and noble friends, know our intent.
What comfort to this great decay may come
Shall be applied: For us, we will resign,
During the life of this old majesty,

To him our absolute power:-You, to your rights:

With boot, and such addition as your honours
Have more than merited.-All friends shall taste
The wages of their virtue, and all foes
The cup of their deservings.-O, see, see!

Lear. And my poor fool is hang'd! No, no, no life:
Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life,

And thou no breath at all? Thou 'It come no more.
Never, never, never, never, never!-

Pray you undo this button: Thank you, sir.-
Do you see this? Look on her,-look,-her lips,-
Look there, look there!-

[He dies.

He faints!-My lord, my lord,-
Kent. Break, heart; I prithee, break!
Look up, my lord.
Kent. Vex not his ghost: O, let him pass! he hates him
That would upon the rack of this tough world
Stretch him out longer.

[Exeunt with a dead march."

And why do we ask any one of our readers to compare what cannot be compared ?-why do we put one of the most divine conceptions of poetry side by side with the meanest interpretation of the most unimaginative feelings-equally remote from the verisimilitude of common life, as from the truth of ideal beauty? It is, as we have said before, because we feel unable to impart to others our own conceptions of the marvellous power of the Lear of Shakspere, without employing some agency that may give distinctness to ideas which must be otherwise vague. There is only one mode in which such a production as the Lear of Shakspere can be understood-by study, and by reverential reflection. The age which produced the miserable parody of Lear that till within a few years has banished the Lear of Shakspere from the stage, was, as far as regards the knowledge of the highest efforts of intellect, a presumptuous, artificial, and therefore empty age. Tate was tolerated because Shakspere was not read. We have arrived, in some degree, to a better judgment, because we have learnt to judge more humbly. We have learnt to compare the highest works of the highest masters of poetry, not by the pedantic principle of considering a modern great only to the extent in which he is an imitator of an ancient, but by endeavouring to comprehend the idea in which the modern and the ancient each worked. The Cordelia of Shakspere and the Antigone of Sophocles have many points of similarity; but they each belong to a different system of art. It is for the highest minds only to carry their several systems to an approach to the perfection to which Shakspere and Sophocles have carried them. It was for the feeblest of imitators, in a feeble age, to produce such parodies as we have exhibited, under the pretence of substituting order for irregularity, but in utter ignorance of the principle of order which was too skilfully framed to be visible to the grossness of their taste.

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