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LITERARY AND HISTORICAL NOTICE. THE subject of this interesting tragedy, which was probably written in 1605, is scrived from an old histoncal
ballad, founded on a story in Holinshed's Chronicles, and originally told by Geoffery of Monmouth. “Leir (says the Welsh historian) was the eldest son of Bladud, nobly governed bis country for sixty years, and died about 800 years before Christ.” Camden tells a similar story of Isra, king of the West Saxons, and his three daughters...The episode of Gloster and his sons is taken from Sidney's Arcadia. Tate,the laureat, greatly altered, and in a degree polisbed this play, inserting new scenes or passages, and transposing or omitting others : in particular, be avoided its original heart-rending catastrophe, by which the virtue of Cordelia was suffered to perish in a just cause, contrary to the natural ideas of justice, to the hope of the reader, and to the facts of the ancient narrative. He also introduced Edgar to the audience as the suitor of Cordelia, cau. celling the excellent scene in which, after being rejected as dowerless, by Burgundy, her misfortunes and her goodness recommend her to the love of the king of France. Yet the restauration of the king, and the final happiness of Cordelia, have been ceasured (in the Spectator especially) as at variance with true tragic feeling and poetical beauty: although it may fairly be presumed, since mankind naturally love justice, that an attention to its dictates will never make a play worse, and that an audience will generally rise more satisfied where persecuted virtue is rewarded and triumpbant. Lear's struggles against his accumu. Jated injuries, and his own strong feelings of sorrow and indignation, are exquisitely drawn. The daughters severally working him up to madness, and his finally falling a martyr to that malady, is a more deep and skilful combination of dramatic portraiture than can be found in any other writer. « There is no play (soys Dr. Johnson,) which keeps the attention so constantly fixed; which so much agitates our passions and interests our curiosity.” The celebrated Dr. Warton, who minutely criticised this play in the Adventurer, objected to the instances of crusley, as too savage and too shocking. But Johnson observes, that the barbarity of the daughters is an historical fact, to which Shakspeare has added little, although he cannot so readily apologize for the extrusion of Gloster's eyes, which is too horrid an act for dramatic exhi. bition, and such as must always compel the mind to relieve its distresses by incredulity. Colman, as well as Tate, re-modelled this celebrated Drama, but it is acted, with trilling variations, on the original plan of the latter.
DRAMATIS PERSONÆ. LEAR, King of Britain.
OSWALD, Steward to Goneril. KING OF FRANCE.
An OFFICER, employed by Edmund. DUKE OP BURGUNDY.
GENTLEMAN, Attendant on Cordelia. DUKE OF CORNWALL.
SERVANTS to Cornwall.
Daughters to Lear.
Knights attending on the King, Officers, Mes. PHYSICIAN.
singers, Soldiers, and Attendants. Fool.
Kent. Is not this your son, my lord ?
Glo. His breeding, Sir, bath been at my SCENE 1.-A Room of State in King LEAR's charge : I have so often blush'd to acknowledge Palace.
him, that now I am brazed to it.
Kent. I cannot conceive you. Enter KENT, GLOSTER, and EDMUND.
Glo. Sir, this young fellow's mother could : Kent. I thought the king bad more affected whereupon she grew round-wombed ; and had, the duke of Albany than Cornwall.
indeed, Sir, a son for her cradle, ere she had a Glo. It did always seein so to us : but now, in husband for her bed. Do you smell a fault the division of the kingdom, it appears not which Kent. I cannot wish the fault undone, the of the dukes he values most; for equalities are issne of it being so proper. so weigh'd, that curiosity * in neither can Glo. But I have, sir, a son, by order of law, make choice of either's moiely. +
some year elder than this, who yet is no dearer • Exactest scrutiny. + Part or division
in my account : though this knave came some. No less in space, validity, and pleasure,
Strive to be interess'd :t what can you say, to Edm. No, my lord.
draw Glo. My lord of Kent: remember bim here. A third more opulent than your sisters ? Speak. after as my bonourable friend.
Cor. Nothing, my lord. Edm. My services to your lordship.
Lear. Nothing? Kent. I must love you, and sue to know you Cor. Nothing. better.
Lear. Nothing can come of nothing: speak Edm. Sir, I shall study deserving.
again. Glo. He hath been out nine years, and away Cor. Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave be shall again :-The king is coming,
My heart into my mouth : I love your majesty [7'rumpets sound within. According to my bond ; nor more, nor less.
Lear. How, how, Cordelia ? mend your Enter LEAR, CORNWALL, ALBANY, GONERIL,
speech a little, REGAN, CORDELIA, and Attendants.
Lest it may mar your fortunes. Lear. Attend the lords of France and Bar.
Cor. Good my lord, Gloster.
You have begot me, bred me, lov'd me: 1 Glo. I shall, my liege.
Return those duties back as are right fit, (Ereuni GLOSTER and EDMUND. Obey you, love you, and most honour you. Lear. Meantime we shall express our darker. Why have my sisters busbands, if they say,
They love you all? Haply, when I shall wed, purpose. Give me the map there.-Know, that we have That lord, whose hand must take my plight,
Sure, I shall never marry like my sisters,
Lear. But goes this with thy heart
Cor. Ay, good my lord.
Cor. So young, my lord, and true.
Lear. Let it be so.-Thy truth then be thy strife
dower : May be prevented now. The princes, France For, by the sacred radiance of the sun; and Burgundy,
The mysteries of Hicate, and the night; Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,
By all the operations of the orbs, Long in our court have made their amorous From whom we do exist, and cease to be ; sojourn,
Here I disclaim all my paternal care, And here are to be answer'd.-Tell me, my Propinquity I and property of blood, (Since now we will divest us, both of rule,
And as a stranger to my heart and me Interest of territory, cares of state,)
Hold thee, from this, s for ever. The barbarous Which of you, shall we say, doth love us most ?
Scythian, That we our largest bounty may extend
Or be that makes his generation || messes Where merit doth most challenge it.-Goneril,
To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom Our eldest-born, speak first.
Be as well neighbour'd, pitied, and reliev'd, Gon, Sir, I
As thou my sometime daughter. Do love you more than words can wield tbe
Kent. Good my liege,Dearer than eye-sight, space and liberty ;
Lear. Peace, Kent ! Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare ;
Come not between the dragon and his wrath : No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, I lov'd her most, and thought to set my rest honour :
Ou her kind nursery.Hence, and avoid my As much as child e'er lov'd, or father found :
(To CORDELIA. A love that makes breath poor, and speech So be my grave my peace, as here I give unable ;
Her father's beart from her 1-Call France ; Beyond all manner of so much I love you.
Who stirs ? Cor. Wbat shall Cordelia do ? Love, and be call Burgundy,-Cornwall and Albany, silent.
With my two daughter's dowers digest this Lear. Of all these bounds, even from this
ihird : line to this,
Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.
Pre-eminence, and all the large effects
With reservation of a bundred knights,
Make with you by due turns. Only we still
sister, And prize me at her worth. In my true beart, Revenue, executiou of the rest, I find she dames my very deed of love ;
Beloved sons, be your's: which to confirm, Only she comes too short,--that I profess
Tbis coronet part between you. Myself an enemy to all other joys, (sesses ;
(Giving the Crown. which the most precious square # of sense pos- whom I have ever honour'd as my king,
Kent. Royal Lear,
Lov'd as my father, as my master follow'd,
(Aside. As my great patron thought on in my prayers, And yet not so ; since, I am sure, my love's
Lear. The bow is bent and drawn, inake More richer than my tongue.
from the shaft. Lear. To thee and thine bereditary ever
• Value. Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom ;
1 Interess'd, has the same meaning asinterested though one is der ved from the French, the other from the
Latin. • More secret. + Determined resolution.
| From this time. | His children. * Comprehension. | Made happy.
Kent. Let it fall rather, though the fork in-jir augbt within that little seeming. substance, vade
Or all of it, with our displeasure piec'd, The region of my heart : be Kent unmannerly, And nothing more, may titly like your grace, When Lear is mad. What wouldst thou do, old She's there, and she is yours. man 3
Bur. I know no answer.
(doom ; Unfriended, new adopted to our bate, When majesty stuops to folly. Reverse thy | Dower'd with our curse, and stranger'd with our And, in thy best consideration, check
oath, This hideous rashuess : answer my life, my Take her, or leave her ? judgment,
Bur. Pardon me, royal Sir; Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least ; Election makes not up I on such conditions. Nor are those empty-hearted, whose low sound Lear. Then leave her, Sir ; for, by the power Reverbs no hollowvess.
that made me, Lear. Kent, on thy life, no more.
I tell you all her wealth.-For you, great king, Kent. My life I never beld but as a pawn
(To FRANCE. To wage against thine enemies; nor fear to I would not from your love make such a stray, Jose it,
To match you where I hate ; therefore beseech Thy safety being the motive.
you Lear. Out of my sight!
To avert ō your liking a more worthier way, Kent. See better, Lear; and let me still re Than on a wretch whom nature is aslam'a The true blank + of tbine eye.
(main, Almost to acknowledge bers. Lear. Now, by Apollo,
France. This is most strange! Kent. Now, by Apollo, king,
That she, that even but now was your best object, Thou swear'st thy gods in vain.
The argument of your praise, balm of your age, Lear. O vassal miscreant !
Most best, most dearest, should in this trice of (Laying his Hand upon his Sword.
time Alb. Corn. Dear Sir, forbear.
Commit a thing so monstrous, to dismantle Kent. Do:
So many folds of favour ! Sure, her offeuce Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow
Must be of such unnatural degree, Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy gift; That monsters it, or your fore-vouch'd || affection or, whilst I can veut clamour from my throat, Fall into taint: wbich to believe of her, l'll tell thee, thou dost evil.
Must be a faith, tbat reason without miracle Lear. Hear me, recreant !
Could never plant in me. On thine allegiance hear mel
Cor. I yet beseech your majesty, Since thou hast sought to make us break our(if for ** I want that glib and oily art, (intend, vow,
(pride, To speak and purpose not : since what I weli (Which we durst never yet,) and, with strain'à l'll do't before I speak, that you make known To come betwixt our sentence and our power ;
It is no vicious blot, murder, or foulness, (Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,) No unchaste action, or dishonour'd step, Our potency make good, take thy reward. That hatb depriv'd me of your grace and favour : Five days we do allot thee, for provision
But even for want of that, for which I am To shield thee from diseases of the world ;
richerAnd, on the sixth, to turn thy hated back A still-solt iting eye, and such a tongue Upon our kingdom : if, on the tenth day follow. That I am tad i have not, though not to have it, ing,
Hath lost we in your liking. Thy banish trunk be found in our dominions,
Lear. Better thou The moment is thy death : Away! By Jupiter,
Hadst got been born, than not to have pleas'd This shall not be revok'd.
me better. Kent. Fare thee well, king: since thus thou
France. Is it but this I a tardiness in nature, wilt appear,
Wbich often leaves the history unspoke, Freedom lives bence, and banishment is here.- That it intends to do ?-My lord of Burgundy, The gods to their dear shelter take thee, maid, What say you to the lady? Love is not love,
[TV CORDELIA. When it is mingled with respects, that stand That justly think'st, and bas most rightly said !- Aloof from the entire point. It will you have And your large speeches may your deeds approve, She is berself a dowry.
(bert [To Regan and GONERIL.
Bur. Royal Lear, That good effects may spring from words of Give but that portion which yourself propos'd, love.
And bere I take Cordelia by the band, Thus Kent, O princes, bids you all adieu ;
Duchess of Burgundy. He'll shape his old course I in a country new.
Lear. Nothing : I have sworn : I am firm. (Exit. Bur. I am sorry, then, you have so lost a That you must lose a husband.
[father, Re-enter GLOSTER; with FRANCE, BURGUNDY, Cor. Peace be with Burgundy! and Attendants.
Since that respects of fortune are his love, Glo. Here's France and Burgundy, iny noble I shall not be his wife. lord.
France. Fairest Cordelia, thou art most rich, Lear. My lord of Burgundy,
being poor ; We first address towards you, who with this Most choice, forsaken; and most lov'd, despis'd : king
Thee and thy virtues bere I seize upon : Hath rivalid for our daughter ; What, in the Be it lawful, I take up what's cast away. Will you require in present dower with her, Gods, gods ! 'tis strange, that from their cold'st Or cease your quest of love ? $
neglect Bur. Most royal majesty,
My love should kindle to infim'd respect. I crave no more than hath your highness offera, Thy dowerless daughter, king, thrown to my Nor will you tender less.
chance, Lear. Right noble Burgundy,
Is queen of us, of our's, and our fair France : When she was dear to us, we did hold ber so ;
Not all the dukes of wat'risb Burgundy But now her price is fallin : Sir, there she Shall buy this unprix'd precious maid of me.-stands;
• Specious. Owns
1 Concludes not. $ Turn. • Reverberates. + The mark to shoot at.
Former declaration of. Reproach.
.. Because. 1 Follow his old mode of life. ) Amorous expedition.. 11 “Who seeks for aught in lore but love alone
Bid them farewell, Cordelia, thongh unkind : Than doth, within a dull, stale, tred bed,
Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land : Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund, That face of her's again :-Therefore be goue, As to the legitimate: Fine word, -legitimate ! Without our grace, our love, our benisoll. t- Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed, Come, noble Burgundy.
And my invention thrive, Edmund the base (Flourish. Ereunt LEAR, BURGUNDY, CORN. Shall top the legitimate. I grow; I prosper :
WALL, ALBANY, GLOster, and Attendants. Now, gods, stand up for bastards !
Glo. Kent banish'd thus! And France in Cordelia leaves you : I know yon what you are ;
choler parted! And, like a sister, am most loath to call
And the king gone to-night! subscrib'd his Your faults as they are nain'd. Use well our Confu'd to exhibition !+ All this done (power! father :
Upon the gad ! 1-Edunund ! How now, what To your professed bosoms I commit him:
news ? But yet, alas ! stood I within his grace,
Edm. So please your lordship, none. I would prefer bim to a beller place.
[Putting up the Letter. So farewell to you both.
Glo. Why so earnestly seek you to put up that Gon. Prescribe not us our duties.
letter? Reg. Let your study
Edm. I know no news, my lord.
Glo. No? What needed then that terrible wanted.
despatch of it into your pocket? the quality of Cor. Time shall unfold what plaited 1 cun- nothing hath not such need to hide itself. ning hides ;
Let's see : Come, if it be nothing, I shall not Who cover "raults, at last shame them derides. need spectacles. Well may you prosper !
Edm. I beseech you, Sir, pardon me : it is a France. Come, my fair Cordelia.
letter from my brother, that I have not all o'rr. (Exeunt FRANCE und CORDELIA. read ; for so inuch as I have perused, I find it Gon. Sister, it is not a little I have to say, of not fit for your over-looking. what most nearly appertains to us both. T Glo. Give me the letter, Sir. think our father will hence to-night.
Edm. I shall offend, either to detain or give Reg. That's most certain, and with you ; next it. The contents, as in part : understand them, month with us.
are to blame. Gon. You see how full of changes his age is ; Glo. Let's see, let's see. the observation we have made of it hath not Edm. I hope, for my brother's justification, been little : he always loved our sister most; he wrote this but as an essay ý or taste of my and with what poor judgment he hath now cast virtue. her off, appears too grossly.
Glo. (Reads.). This policy and reverence. Reg.' 'Tis the infirmity of his age : yet he hath of age makes the world bitter to the best of ever buit slenderly known himself.
our times, keeps cur fortunes from us till Gon. The best and soundest of his time bath our oldness cannot relish them. I begin to been but rash ; then must we look to receive find an idle and fond | bondage in the op. from his age, not alone the imperfections of pression of aged tyranny; who strays, not as long.engrafted condition, ø but, therewithal, the it hath power, bui as it is sufered. Come to unruly waywardness that infirin and choleric me, that of this I may speak more. If our years bring with them.
Jather would sleep till 1 waked him, you Reg. Such unconstant starts are we like to should enjoy hulf his revenue for erer, and have froin him, as this of Kent's banishment. live the beloved of your brother, Edgar.
Gon. There is further compliment of leave. Humph-Conspiracy !--Sleep till I waked him taking between France and him. Pray yoll, let -you should enjoy half his revenue,- My son us hit together : If our father carry authority Edgar! Had he a hand to write this ? a beart and with such dispositions as be bears, this last sur brain to breed it in ?-When came this to you? render of his will but oflend us.
Who brought it ? Reg. We shall furtber think of it.
Edm. It was not brought me, my lord, there's Gon. We must do something, and i'the heat. | the cunning of it; I found it thrown in at the
(Exeuni. casement of my closet.
Glo. You know the character to be your SCENE II.-A Hall in the Earl of GLOSTER's brother's ? Castle.
Edm. If the matter were good, my lord, I
durst swear it were his; but, in respect of that, Enter EDMUND, with a Letter.
I would fain think it were not. Edm. Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy
Glo. It is bis. law
Edm. It is his hand, my lord ; but, I hope his My services are bound : Wherefore should I beart is not in the contents. Stand in the plague of custom; and permit Glo. Hath he never heretofore sounded you The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
in this business For that I am some twelve or fourteen moon. Edm. Never, my lord : But I have often shines
heard bim maintain it to be fit, that, sous at Lag of a brother? Why hastard ? wherefore base ? perfect age, and fathers declining, the father When my dimensions are as well coinpact, should be as ward to the son, and the son My mind as generous, and my shape as true, manage his revenue. As honest madman's issue? Why brand they us Glo. O villai!, villain !-His very opinion in With base? with baseness ? bastardy? base, the letter ! - Abhorred villain! Vonatural, de. base ?
tested, brutish villain I worse than brutish !-Go Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, take sirrah, seek bim ; l'll apprehend bim :--AbomiMore composition and fierce quality,
nable villain !- Where is he?
Edm. I do not well know, my lord. If it • Place Blessing.
* Folded. 6 Qualites of mind. | Strike while the iron's hot. • Surrendered, Allowance. Suddeuly The nejustice. • The nacety of civil iustitution.
1 Weak aud foolish