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Alb. A herald, ho!
This is mere practice, Gloster • Edm.
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 beguild. Took theit discharge.
Shut your mouth, dame, Reg. This sickness grows upon me. Or with this paper shall I stop it :-Hold, sir :
Thou worse than any name, read thine own evil :Enter a Herald.
No tearing, lady; I perceive, you know it.
[Gives the letter to Edmund. Alb. She is not well ; convey her to my tent. Gon Say, if I do; the laws are mine, not
(E.cit Regan, led.
thine : Come hither, herald, -Let the trumpet sound, -- Who shall arraign me for't ? And read out this.
Most monstrous ! Offi. Sound, trumpet. [1 trumpet sounds. Know'st thou this paper ?
Ask me not what I know. Herald reads.
Alb. Go after her: she's desperate; govern her. 14 any man of quality, or degree, within the lists
[To an Officer, who goes out. of the army, will maintain upon Edmund, supposed carl of Gloster, that he is a manifold traitor, let him
Edm. What you have charg'd me with, that have
I done; appear at the third sound of the trumpet : He is bold in his defence.
And more, much more: the time will bring it out;
'Tis past, and so am I: But what art thou, Edm. Sound.
[1 Trumpet. That hast this fortune on me? If thou art noble, Her. Again.
(2 Trumpet. I do forgive thee. Her. Again. (3 Trumpet.. Edg.
Let's exchange charity. [Trumpet answers within. I am no less in blood than thou art, Edmund;
If more, the more thou hast wrong'd me. Enter Edgar, armed, preceded by a trumpet.
My name is Edgar, and thy father's son. Alb. Ask him his purposes, why he appears The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices Upon this call o'the trumpet.
Make instruments to scourge us : Her.
What are you? The dark and vicious place where thee he got, Your name, your quality ? and why you answer Cost him his eyes. This present summons ?
Edm. Thou hast spoken right, 'tis true, Edg.
Know, my name is lost; The wheel is come full circle; I am liere. By treason's tooth bare-gnawn, and canker-bit : Alb. Methought, thy very gait did prophesy Yet am I noble, as the adversary
A royal nobleness :-I must embrace thee; I come to cope withal.
Let sorrow split my heart, if ever I Alb.
Which is that adversary? Did hate thee, or thy father! Edg. What's he, that speaks for Eůmund earl of Edg.
Worthy prince, Gloster?
I know it well. Edm. Himself;-What say'st thou to him ? Alb.
Where have you hid yourself? Edg.
Draw thy sword; How have you known the miseries of your father? That, if my speech offend a noble heart,
Edg. By nursing them, my lord.—List' a brief Thy arm may do thee justice: here is mine.
tale ; Behold, it is the privilege of mine honours, And, when 'tis told, O, that my heart would burst!» My oath and my profession: I protest,
The bloody proclamation to escape, Maugre? thy strength, youth, place, and eminence, That follow'd me so near, (0 our lives' swcetness: Despite thy victor sword, and fire-new fortune, That with the pain of death we'd hourly die, Thy valour, and thy heart, -Thou art a traitor: Rather than dic at once!) taught me to shifts False to thy gods, thy brother, and thy father; Into a madman's rags; to assume a semblance Conspirant 'gainst this high illustrious prince; That very dogs disdain'd: and in this habit And, from the extrefnest upward of thy head, Met I my father with his bleeding rings, To the descent and dust beneath thy feet,
Their precious stones new lost; became his guide, A most toad-spotted traitor. Say thou, No, Led him, berg'd for him, sav'd him from despair; This sword, this arm, and my best spirits, are Never (0 fault!) reveal'd myself unto him, bent
Until some hall-hour past, when I was arm’d, To prove upon thy heart, whereto I speak, Not sure, though hoping, of this good success, Thou liest.
I ask'd his blessing, and from first to last Edm. In wisdom, I should ask thy name ;3 Told him my pilgrimage: But his flaw'd heart, But, since thy outside looks so fair and warlike, (Alack, too weak the conflict to support!) And that thy tongue some 'say* of breeding breathes, 'Twixt'two extremes of passion, joy and grief, What safe and nicely I might well delay
Burst smilingly. By rule of knighthood, I disdain and spurn:
Edm. This speech of yours hath mov'd me, Back do I toss these treasons to thy head; And shall, perchance, do good: but speak you on? With the hell-hated lie o'erwhelm thy heart; You look as you had something more to say. Which (for they yet glance by, and scarcely bruise,) Alb. If there be more, more wosul, hold it in; This sword of mine shall give them instant way,, For I am almost ready to dissolve, Where they shall rest for ever. - Trumpets, speak. Hearing of this.
(Alarums. They fight. Edmund falls. Edg. This would have seem'd a period Alb. O save him, save him!
To such as love not sorrow; but another,
To amplify too much, would make much more, (1) i. e. Valour. (2) Notwithstanding And top extremity.
(3) Because if his adversary was not of equal rank, Edmund might have declined the combat. (4) Sample. (5) Stratagem. (6) Hear.
Whilst I was big in clamour, came there a man, To lay the blame upon her own despair,
That she forbid? herself.
[Edmund is borne ef. He fasten'd on my neck, and bellow'd out
Enter Lear, with Cordelia dead in his arms; EAAs he'd burst heaven; threw him on my father; Told the most piteous tale of Lear and him,
gar, Officer, and others. That ever ear receiv'd: which in recounting
Lear. Howl, howl, hor.l, howl!-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:40, 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,
Why, then she lives.
Is this the promis'd end ??
Edg. Or image of that horror ?
Fall, and cease! Gent. Help! help! O help!
Lear. This feather stirs; she lives !'ir it be so, Edg.
What kind of help? It is a chance that does redeem all sorrows 1lb.
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! Edin. 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. Touches us not with pity. [E.cit Gentleman. Offi. 'Tis true, my lords, he did.
Did I not, fellor? Enter Kent.
I have seen the day, with my good biting faulchion
I would have made them skip: I am old now, Edg.
Here comes Kent, sir. And these same crosses spoil me.-Who are you? Alb. O! it is he.
Mine eyes are none o'the best :-I'll tell you straight. The time will not allow the compliment,
Kent. If fortune brag of two she lov'd and rated 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 aye' good night;
The same Is he not here?
Your servant Kent: Where is your servant Caius? Alb. Great thing of us forgot!
Lear. He's a good fellow, I can tell you that; Speak, Edmund, where's the king ? and where's He'll strike, and quickly too:-He's dead and Cordelia ?
rotten. See'st thou this object, Kent?
Kenl. 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. That, from your first of difference and Kent. Alack, why thus?
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 herseli.
Kent. Nor no inan else; all's cheerless, dark, Alb. Even so.-Cover their faces.
and deadly. Edm. 1 pant for life :-Some good I mean to do, Lour eldest daughters have fore-doom'd themselves Despite of mine own nature. Quickly send,
And desperately are dead. Be brief in it to the castle ; for my writ
Ay, so I think. Is on the life of Lear, and on Cordelia :
Alb. He knows not what he says; and vain it is Nay, send in time,
That we present us to him.
Very bootless." Edg. To who, my lord ?-Who has the office ?
Enter an Officer. send Thy token of reprieve.
Offi. Edmund is dead, my lord. Edlm. Well thought on; take my sword,
That's but a trifle here.Give it the captain.
You lords, and noble friends, know our intent. Alb. Haste thee, for thy life. (Exit Edgar. What comfort to this great decay may come, Edm. He hath commission from thy wife and Shall be applied : For us, we will resign,
During the life of this old majesty, To hang Cordelia in the prison, and
To him our absolute power :-You, to your rights;
[To Édgar and Ker (1) For ever. (2) Destroyed herself.
13) The end of the world, or the horrible cir (4) i. e. Die; Albany speaks to Lear, cumstances preceding it.
(5) Useless. (6) &. e. Lear,
With boot,' and such addition’ as your honours | nicely discriminates, and so mmutely describes the Have more than merited.-All friends shall taste characters of men, he commonly neglects and conThe wages of their virtue, and all foes
rounds the characters of ages, by mingling customs The cup of their deservings.-0, see, see ! ancient and modern, English and foreign. Lear. And my poor fool' is hang'd! No, no, no My learned friend Mr. Warton,' who has in The life:
Alventurer very minutely criticised this play, reWhy should a dog, a horse, a rat, have lise, marks, that the instances of crucity 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!
Lions may, I think, be answered by repeating, ihat 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 adued little, having only drawn Look there, look there!
[He dies. it into a series by dialogue and action. But I am Edg.
He saints !-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. Ves not his ghost :-1, let him pass!" he 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.
0, 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 poct 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 Snakspeare 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, to the faith of chronicles. Yet Shall never see so much, nor live so lor.g.
ihis conduct is justified by The Spectator, who [Ereunt, with a deail march. blames Tate for giving Cordelia success and happi
ness in his alteration, and declarcs, that in his opinion, the tragedy has lost half its beauty. Dennis' has remarked, whether justly or not, that, to sccure the favourable reception of Cato, the lown
was poisoned with much false and abominable The tragedy of Lear is deservedly celebrated crilicism, and that endeavours had been used to 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 miswhich so much agitates our passions, and interests carry, may doubtless be good, because it is a just our curiosity. The artsul involutions of distinct in- representation of the common events of human life: terests, the striking oppositions of contrary charac- but since all reasonable beings naturally love jus. ters, the sudden changes of fortune, and the quick tice, I cannot easily be persuaded, thai 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 of the distress or conduct to the action, and scarce persecuted virtue. a line which does not conduce to the progress of the In the present case the public has decided. Cor. scene. So powerful is the current of the poet's delia, from the time of Tate, has always retired imagination, that the mind, which once ventures with victory and felicity. And, if my sensations within it, is hurried irresistibly along.
could add any thing to the general suffrage, I might On the seeming improbability of Lear's conduct, relate, I was many years ago so shocked by Corit may be observed, that he is represented accord-delia's death, that I know not whether I cver 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 upon I 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. prominent 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, would Mr. Murphy, a very judicious critic, has evinced be yet credible, if told of a petty prince of Guinea by induction of pariicular 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 observes, softer manners; and the truth is, that though he so with great justness, that Lear would move our com
passion but little, did we not rather consider the (1) Benefit. (2) Titles.
injured father than the degraded king. (3) Poor fool in the time of Shakspeare, was an expression of endearment.
(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 oricinally froin Geoffry of Monmouth, whom hinted Lear's madness, but did not array it in cirHolinshed generallv 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 occurrent 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 I