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Gon. This is mere practice, Gloster : A herald, ho, a herald! By the law of arms, thou wast not bound to answer Alb. Trust to thy single virtue; for thy soldiers,|| An unknown opposite; thou art not vanquish'd, All levied in my name, have in my name But cozen'd and beguil❜d. Took their discharge.
Alb. A herald, ho!
This sickness grows upon me.
Alb. She is not well; convey her to my tent.
If any man of quality, or degree, within the lists of the army, will maintain upon Edmund, supposed earl of Gloster, that he is a manifold traitor, let him appear at the third sound of the trumpet: He is bold in his defence.
[1 Trumpet. [2 Trumpet. [3 Trumpet. [Trumpet answers within.
Enter Edgar, armed, preceded by a trumpet.
Alb. Ask him his purposes, why he appears Upon this call o'the trumpet.
Let's exchange charity.
Edm. Himself;-What say'st thou to him?
And, when 'tis told, O, that my heart would burst!—
Until some half-hour past, when I was arm'd,
I come to cope withal.
To prove upon thy heart, whereto I speak,
Edm. In wisdom, I should ask thy name ;3
(1) i e. Valour. (2) Notwithstanding. (3) Because if his adversary was not of equal rank, Edmund might have declined the combat.
Most monstrous !
Ask me not what I know, [Exit Goneril. Alb. Go after her: she's desperate; govern her. [To an Officer, who goes out. Edm. What you have charg'd me with, that have I done;
And more, much more: the time will bring it out;
I know it well.
Edm. This speech of yours bath mov'd me,
Whilst I was big in clamour, came there a man,
Follow'd his enemy king, and did him service
Enter a Gentleman hastily, with a bloody knife.
Edg. What means that bloody knife?
It came even from the heart of
What kind of help?
Who, man? speak. Gent. Your lady, sir, your lady: and her sister By her is poison'd; she confesses it.
Edm. I was contracted to them both; all three Now marry in an instant.
Alb. Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead! This judgment of the heavens, that makes us tremble,
Touches us not with pity. [Exit Gentleman.
Lear. Pr'ythee, away.
Lear. This is a dull sight: Are you not Kent?
Great thing of us forgot!Speak, Edmund, where's the king? and where's
See'st thou this object, Kent?
[The bodies of Goneril and Regan are
Kent. Alack, why thus?
Run, run, O, run
Edg. To who, my lord?-Who has the office?
Thy token of reprieve.
Edm. Well thought on; take my sword, Give it the captain.
To lay the blame upon her own despair,
Kent. No, my good lord; I am the very man ;-
Kent. That, from your first of difference and
Alb. Even so.-Cover their faces.
Edm. I pant for life :-Some good I mean to do, Your eldest daughters have fore-doom'd themselves, Despite of mine own nature. Quickly send,Be brief in it,-to the castle; for my writ
And desperately are dead.
Is on the life of Lear, and on Cordelia :
Alb. Haste thee, for thy life. [Exit Edgar
To hang Cordelia in the prison, and
(1) For ever.
(2) Destroyed herself. (3) The end of the world, or the horrible circumstances preceding it.
Alb. The gods defend her! Bear him hence
Enter Lear, with Cordelia dead in his arms; Edgar, Officer, and others.
Lear. Howl, howl, howl, howl!-0, you are men of stones;
Had I your tongues and eyes, I'd use them so
I know when one is dead, and when one lives;
O my good master!
Ay, so I think.
Off. Edmund is dead, my lord.
What comfort to this great decay may come,
To him our absolute power :-You, to your rights,
(4) i. e. Die; Albany speaks to Lear.
With boot, and such addition2 as your honours
nicely discriminates, and so minutely describes the characters of men, he commonly neglects and confounds the characters of ages, by mingling customs. ancient and modern, English and foreign.
My learned friend Mr. Warton,5 who has in The Adventurer very minutely criticised this play, remarks, that the instances of cruelty are too savage
Never, never, never, never, never!
Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life,
Pray you, undo this button: Thank you, sir.-
O, he is gone, indeed. Kent. The wonder is, he hath endur'd so long: He but usurp'd his life.
Alb. Bear them from hence.-Our present busi
Is general wo. Friends of my soul, you twain
Alb. The weight of this sad time we must
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The injury done by Edmund to the simplicity of the action is abundantly recompensed by the addition of variety, by the art with which he is made to co-operate with the chief design, and the opportunity which he gives the poet of combining perfidy with perfidy, and connecting the wicked son with the wicked daughters, to impress this important moral, that villany is never at a stop, that crimes lead to crimes, and at last terminate in ruin.
But though this moral be incidentally enforced, Shakspeare has suffered the virtue of Cordelia to perish in a just cause, contrary to the natural ideas of justice, to the hope of the reader, and what is yet more strange, to the faith of chronicles. Yet this conduct is justified by The Spectator, who blames Tate for giving Cordelia success and happiness in his alteration, and declares, that in his opinion, the tragedy has lost half its beauty. Dennis has remarked, whether justly or not, that, to secure the favourable reception of Cato, the town criticism, and that endeavours had been used to was poisoned with much false and abominable discredit and decry poetical justice. A play in which the wicked prosper, and the virtuous misin-representation of the common events of human life: carry, may doubtless be good, because it is a just but since all reasonable beings naturally love justice, I cannot easily be persuaded, that the observation of justice makes a play worse; or that, if other excellencies are equal, the audience will not always rise better pleased from the final triumph of persecuted virtue.
(1) Benefit. (2) Titles. (3) Poor fool in the time of Shakspeare, was an expression of endearment.
The tragedy of Lear is deservedly celebrated among the dramas of Shakspeare. There is perhaps no play which keeps the attention so strongly fixed: which so much agitates our passions, and interests our curiosity. The artful involutions of distinct terests, the striking oppositions of contrary characters, the sudden changes of fortune, and the quick succession of events, fill the mind with a perpetual tumult of indignation, pity, and hope. There is no scene which does not contribute to the aggravation of the distress or conduct to the action, and scarce a line which does not conduce to the progress of the So powerful is the current of the poet's imagination, that the mind, which once ventures within it, is hurried irresistibly along.
delia, from the time of Tate, has always retired In the present case the public has decided. Corwith victory and felicity. And, if my sensations relate, I was many years ago so shocked by Corcould add any thing to the general suffrage, I might
On the seeming improbability of Lear's conduct,
it may be observed, that he is represented accord-delia's death, that I know not whether I ever endured to read again the last scenes of the play, till I undertook to revise them as an editor.
There is another controversy among the critics concerning this play. It is disputed whether the predominant image in Lear's disordered mind be the
ing to histories at that time vulgarly received as true. And, perhaps, if we turn our thoughts upon the barbarity and ignorance of the age to which this story is referred, it will appear not so unlikely as while we estimate Lear's manners by our own. 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, would Mr. 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 mention of his earls and dukes, has given us the idea tress, and that the loss of royalty affects him only ty of his daughters is the primary source of his disof 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 consider the injured father than the degraded king.
(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 cirHolinshed generally copied; but perhaps immedi- cumstances. The writer of the ballad added ately from an old historical ballad. My reason for something to the history, which is a proof that he believing that the play was posterior to the ballad, would have added more, if more had occurred to rather than the ballad to the play, is, that the bal-his mind; and more must have occurred if he had lad has nothing of Shakspeare's nocturnal tempest, || seen Shakspeare. which is too striking to have been omitted, and
TWO households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life; Whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows
Do, with their death, bury their parents' strife. The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage, Which, but their children's end, nought could
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
stand: I will take the wall of any man or maid of Montague's.
Gre. That shows thee a weak slave; for the weakest goes to the wall.
Sam. True; and therefore women, being the weaker vessels, are ever thrust to the wall:therefore I will push Montague's men from the wall, and thrust his maids to the wall.
Gre. The quarrel is between our masters, and us their men.
Sam. 'Tis all one, I will show myself a tyrant : when I have fought with the men, I will be cruel re-with the maids; I will cut off their heads. Gre. The heads of the maids?
SCENE I-A public place. Enter Sampson and Gregory, armed with swords and bucklers.
Page to Paris.
GREGORY, o'my word, we'll not carry coals.1
Citizens of Verona; several Men and Women, relations to both houses; Maskers, Guards, Watchmen, Attendants.
(1) A phrase formerly in use to signify the bearang injuries.
Scene, during the greater part of the play, in Verona: once, in the fifth act, at Mantua.
Sam. I strike quickly, being moved.
Gre. But thou art not quickly moved to strike. Sam. A dog of the house of Montague moves me. Gre. To move, is-to stir; and to be valiant, is-bear it. to stand to it: therefore, if thou art moved, thou runn'st away.
Sam. A dog of that house shall move me to
Sam. Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them; which is a disgrace to them, if they
Abr. Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
(2) Poor John is hake, dried and salted.