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you on;

You look as you had something more to say.
Alb. If there be more, more woful, hold it in;
For I am almost ready to dissolve,
Hearing of this.

Edg. This would have seem'd a period
To such as love not sorrow; but another,
To amplify too much, would make much more,
And top extremity.

Whilst I was big in clamour, came there a man,
Who having seen me in my worst estate,
Shunn'd my abhorr'd society; but then, finding
Who'twas that so endured, with his strong arms
He fasten'd on my neck, and bellow'd out
As he'd burst heaven; threw him on my father;
Told the most piteous tale of Lear and him,
That ever ear received: which in recounting
His grief grew puissant, and the strings of life
Began to crack: Twice then the trumpet
And there I left him tranced. [sounded,
But who was this? [disguise
Edg. Kent, sir, the banish'd Kent; who in
Follow'd his enemy king, and did him service
Improper for a slave.

Enter a Gentleman hastily, with a bloody
Gent. Help! help! Ŏ help!

Edg. Alb. O! it is he. The time will not allow the compliment, Which very manners urges.

Edm. Yet Edmund was beloved: The one the other poison'd for my sake, And after slew herself.


Kent. I am come To bid my king and master aye good night; Is he not here? Alb. Great thing of us forgot!Speak, Edmund, where's the king? and where's Seest thou this object, Kent? [Cordelia?[The Bodies of GONERIL and REGAN are brought in. Kent. Alack, why thus?

. For ever.

+ Destroyed herself. circumstances preceding it.

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What kind of help?
Speak, man.
Edg. What means that bloody knife?
'Tis hot, it smokes;

It came even from the heart of

Who, man? speak.
Gent. Your lady, sir, your lady: and her
By her is poison'd; she confesses it. [sister
Edm.I was contracted to them both; all three
Now marry in an instant.

Alb. Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead!-[tremble, This judgment of the heavens, that makes us Touches us not with pity. [Exit Gentleman. Enter KENT.


Here comes Kent, sir.

Had I your tongues and eyes, I'd use them so That heaven's vault should crack:-0, she is gone for ever!

I know when one is dead, and when one lives; She's dead as earth :-Lend me a looking glass; If that her breath will mist or stain the stone, Why, then she lives.

Kent. Is this the promised end?? Edg. Or image of that horror? Alb. Fall, and cease §! Lear. This feather stirs; she lives! if it be so, It is a chance that does redeem all sorrows That ever I have felt.

Kent. O my good master! [Kneeling. Lear. Pr'ythee, away.

Edg. 'Tis noble Kent, your friend. Lear.A plague upon you,murderers, traitors, all! [ever!I might have saved her; now she's gone for Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little. Ha! What is't thou say st?-Her voice was ever soft, Gentle,and low; an excellent thing inwoman:I kill'd the slave that was a hanging thee. Off. 'Tis true, my lords, he did. Lear.

Did I not, fellow? have seen the day, with my good biting falchion

I would have made them skip: I am old now,
And these same crosses spoil me.-Who are
Mine eyes are none o'the best :-I'll tell you
Kent. If fortune brag of two she loved and
One of them we behold.
Lear. This is a dull sight: Are you not Kent?
The same,
Your servant Kent: Where is your servant

Lear. He's a good fellow, I can tell you that; He'll strike, and quickly too:-He's dead and


The end of the world, or the h i. e., Die; Albany speaks to Lear.

Kent.No,my good lord; I am the very man―
Lear. I'll see that straight.
Kent. That from your first of difference and
Have follow'd your sad steps. [decay,
You are welcome hither.
Kent. Nor no man else; all's cheerless, dark,
and deadly.-
Your eldest daughters have fore-doom'd them-
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.


Very bootless*.
Enter an Officer.

Off. Edmund is dead, my lord.
That's but a trifte here.-
You, lords, and noble friends, know our intent,
What comfort to this great decayt 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
With boot, and such addition ý as your honours
Have more than merited:-All friends shall
The wages of their virtue, and all foes [taste
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? O, thou wilt come
Never, never, never, never, never!-[no more,
Pray you, undo this button: Thank you, sir.-
Do you see this?-Look on her,-look,-her

Look there, look there!-
(He dies,
Edg. He faints!-My lord, my lord,-
Kent. Break, heart; I pr'ythee, 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.


O, he is gone, indeed. Kent. The wonder is, he hath endured so long:

He but usurp'd his life.
Alb. Bear them from hence. Our present
Is general woe. Friends of my soul, you twain,
Rule in this realm, and the gored state sustain.
Kent. I have a journey, sir, shortly to go;
My master calls, and I must not say no.

Alb.The weight of this sad time we must obey,
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest hath borne most: we, that are
Shall never see so much, nor live so long.
[Exeunt, with a dead murch.

* Useless.

+ i. e., Lear.


§ Titles. Poor fool, in the time of Shakspeare, was an expression of endearment.

¶ Die.

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 interests, 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 of the action, and scarce a line which does not conduce to the progress of the scene. So powerful is the current of the poet's imagination, that the mind, which once ventures within it, is hurried irresistibly. along.

On the seeming improbability of Lear's conduct, it may be observed, that he is represented according 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 resignation of dominion on such conditions, would be yet credible, if told of a petty prince of Guinea or Madagascar. Shakspeare, indeed, by the mention of his earls and dukes, has given us the idea of times more civilized, and of life regulated by softer manners; and the truth is, that though he so 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*, who has, in THE ADVENTURER, very minutely criticised this play, remarks, that the instances of cruelty are too savage and shocking, and that the intervention of Edmund destroys the simplicity of the story. These objections may, I think, be answered by repeating, that the cruelty of the daughters is an historical fact, to which the poet has added little, having only drawn it into a series of dialogue and action. But I am not able to apologize with equal plausibility for the extrusion of Gloster's eyes, which seems an act too horrid to be endured in dramatic exhibition, and such as must always compel the mind to relieve its distress by incredulity. Yet let it be remembered, that our author well knew what would please the audience for which he wrote.

The injury done by Edmund to the simplicity of the action, is abundantly recompensed by

* Dr. Joseph Warton.

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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 crines 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 was poisoned with much false and abominable criticism," and that endeavours had been used to discredit and decry poetical justice. A play in which the wicked prosper, and the virtuous miscarry, may doubtless be good, because it is a just representation of the common events of human life: 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.

In the present case, the public has decided. Cordelia, from the time of Tate, has always retired with victory and felicity. And, if my sensations could add any thing to the general suffrage, I might relate, I was many years ago so shocked by Cordelia'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 loss of his kingdom, or the cruelty of his daughters. Mr. Murphy, a very judicious critic, has evinced by induction of particular passages, that the cruelty of his daughters is the primary source of his distress, and that the loss of royalty affects him only as a secondary and subordinate evil. He observes, with great justness, that Lear would move our compassion but little, did we not rather consider the injured father than the degraded king.

The story of this play, except the episode of Edmund, which is derived, I think, from Sidney, is taken originally from Geoffry of Monmouth, whom Holingshed generally copied; but perhaps immediately from an old historical ballad. My reason for believing that the play was posterior to the ballad, rather than the ballad to the play, is, that the ballad has nothing of Shakspeare's nocturnal tempest, which is too striking to have been omitted, and that it follows the chronicle; it has the rudiments of the play, but none of its amplifications: it first hinted Lear's madness, but did not array it in circumstances. The writer of the bal lad added something to the history, which is a proof that he would have added more, if more had occurred to his mind, and more must have occurred if he had seen Shakspeare.


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tool; here comes two of the house of the Mon-
Sam. My naked weapon is out; quarrel, I
will back thee.

Gre. How? turn thy back and run?

Sam. Fear me not.

La. Mon. Thou shalt not stir one foot to seek
a foe.

Enter Prince, with Attendants.
Prin. Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace,
Profaners of this neighbour-stained steel,-
Will they not hear?-what ho! you men, you

That quench the fire of your pernicious rage
With purple fountains issuing from your veins,
On pain of torture, from those bloody hands
Throw your mistemper'd‡ weapons to the

And hear the sentence of your moved prince.-
Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word,
By thee, old Capulet and Montague,
Have thrice disturb'd the quiet, of our streets;
And made Verona's ancient citizens
Cast by their grave beseeming ornaments,
To wield old partisans, in hands as old,
Canker'd with peace, to part your canker'd
If ever you disturb our streets again, [hate :
Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace.
For this time, all the rest depart away:
You, Capulet, shall go along with me;

Abr. Quarrel, sir? no, sir.

Sam. If you do, sir, I am for you; I serve And, Montague, come you this afternoon,

as good a man as you.

Abr. No better.

Sam. Well, sir.

To know our further pleasure in this case,[ place,
To old Free-town, our common judgment-.
Once more, on pain of death, all men depart.
[Exeunt Prince, and Attendants; CA-
Citizens, and Servants.
Mon. Who set this ancient quarrel new
Speak, nephew, were you by when it began?
Ben. Here were the servants of your adver-

And yours, close fighting ere I did approach:
I drew to part them; in the instant came
The fiery Tybalt, with his sword prepared ;
Which, as he breathed defiance to my ears,
He swung about his head, and cut the winds,
Who nothing hurt withal, hiss'd him in scorn:
While we were interchanging thrusts and
Came more and more, and fought on part and
Till the prince came, who parted either part.
La. Mon.O, where is Romeo!-saw you him

Gre. No, marry: I fear thee!
Sum. Let us take the law of our sides; let
them begin.

Gre. I will frown, as I pass by; and let
them take it as they list.

Sam. Nay, as they dare. I will bite my
thumb at them; which is a disgrace to them,
if they bear it.

Abr. Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
Sam. I do bite my thumb, sir.
Abr. Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
Sam. Is the law on our side, if I say,-ay?
Gre. No.

Sam. No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir; but I bite my thumb, sir.

Gre. Do you quarrel, sir?

Enter BENVOLIO, at a distance. Gre. Say-better; here comes one of my master's kinsmen.

Sam. Yes, better, sir.

Abr. You lie.

Sam. Draw, if you be men.-Gregory, remember thy swashing blow. [They fight. Ben. Part, fools; put up your swords; you know not what you do.

[Beats down their Swords. Enter TYBALT.

Tyb. What! art thou drawn among these
heartless hinds?

Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death. Ben. I do but keep the peace; put up thy sword,

Or manage it to part these men with me. Tyb. What, drawn and talk of peace? I hate the word,

As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee:
Have at thee, coward.
[They fight.
Enter several Partisans of both Houses, who
join the Fray; then enter Citizens, with

1 Cit. Clubs +, bills, and partisans! strike!
beat them down!
Down with the Capulets! down with the Mon-
Enter CAPULET, in his Gown; and Lady

Cap. What noise is this!-Give me my long sword, ho! [for a sword? La. Cap. A crutch, a crutch!-Why call you Cap. My sword, I say!-Old Montague is And flourishes his blade in spite of me. [come, Enter MONTAGUE and Lady MONTAGUE. Mon. Thou villain Capulet.-Hold me not, let me go.

Right glad I am, he was not at this fray. [sun
Ben. Madam, an hour before the worshipp'd
Peer'd forth the golden window of the east,
A troubled mind drave me to walk abroad;
Where, underneath the grove of sycamore,
That westward rooteth from the city's side,-
So early walking did I see your son:
Towards him I made; but he was 'ware of me,
And stole into the covert of the wood:
I, measuring his affections by my own,-
That most are busied when they are most
Pursued my humour, not pursuing his, [alone,-
And gladly shunn'd who gladly fled from me.
Mon. Many a morning hath he there been
With tears augmenting the fresh morning's
Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep
But all so soon as the all-cheering sun [sighs:

The disregard of concord is in character
at an affray in the streets, as we now call watch!

+ Clubs! was the usual exclamation
+ Angry.

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