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the ideas which they had derived from these sources. The principle is so correct, that we forgive the author for the anachronism by which the Danish lady is made to rave in expressions chosen from the common authors of the Elizabethan age. Guided by the same principle, Shakspeare has taken the odd jumble of names uttered by Edgar when he feigns madness almost verbatim from Harsnet, whose work had been published very shortly before he wrote his play.

Jaques was an early delineation-Hamlet was drawn several years sooner than Lear-and we may trace the improving skill of the poet in the growing fulness and boldness of his touch. Well may

* Lear' have been called a study even for the pathologist. The author marks, in the very outset of the tragedy, the temperament on which he is about to engraft madness :

Goneril. The best and soundest of his time has been but rash; then must we look to receive from his age, not alone the imperfections of long-engrafted condition, but therewithal the unruly waywardness that infirm and choleric years bring with them.'

Ardent in his affections no less than in his temper-born to a position in which the wholesome uses of adversity are never learnt, and which converts even kindred into flatterers—it is not surprising that the reserve of his favourite child should have shocked his inmost spirit :

• Like an engine, wrenched my frame of nature
From the fixed place; drew from my heart all love,

And added to the gall.' After the terrible burst of passion under which Lear discards Cordelia and his faithful servant Kent, Shakspeare invents no pompous scene to exhibit the struggle within, but, by a touch of impatience, shows how ill the father has succeeded in tearing his child from his heart :

Lear. Ha, sayest thou ?
Thou but remindest me of mine own conception.
I have perceived a most faint neglect of late.
But where's my fool! I have not seen him these two days.

Knight. Since my lady's going into France, Sir, the fool has much pined away.

Lear. No more of that, I have noted it well.'

From the moment in which he loses Cordelia to that of his death, Lear is a prey to the most vehement trials of passionate suffering. The faint suspicions of Goneril's neglect are speedily converted into certainty. The fond and generous father marks

• That the offices of nature, bond of childhood,

Effects of courtesy, dues of gratitude,' are all forgotten; and then the paroxysm of passion overwhelms him, finding vent in that terrible curse which Kemble groaned out with a concentration of agony which seemed to render his frame motionless-fixed in the posture of a mummy, as if the very dead poured forth the awful denunciations-a curse which, in its utterance, seemed to fell Kean to the earth, as, planted on both knees, with uplifted arms bared to the shoulder, naked boson, and streaming hair, presenting the picture of a desolate and withered tree, he called all nature to hear him.

The excess of passion has now unhinged the frame of Lear, and the currents of life no longer run equably; accordingly, the poet has made him more absorbed in his griefs. He pays little attention to the jibes and jests of his fool, and from time to time the thoughts of his injustice to Cordelia, and the ingratitude of Goneril, find unconscious utterance.

• I did her wrong I will forget my nature—so kind a father.' This internal conflict goes on in none without disturbing the circulation, creating fulness and oppression about the heart, which is relieved by sighs. This general derangement of the circulation creates, for the most part, indefinable sensations in the head, precursors of approaching madness. The sufferers, long before insanity breaks out, have presentiments of their fate. It is now that Lear exclaims,

• Oh, let me not be mad ! not mad, sweet heaven!

Keep me in temper-I would not be mad.' Nor when the physical malady becomes more intense-after he finds his messenger has been put into the stocks by Regan “the daughter left, who he was sure was kind'-does the poet fail to note the corporeal effects• O how this mother swells

up towards


heart! Hysterica passio-Down, thou climbing sorrow,

Thy element's belowThe mind takes alarm, as it discovers itself more and more under the tyranny of corporeal sway. Shakspeare, therefore, no longer paints Lear as giving way to unrestrained passion, but, conscious of the increased hold of the malady, he makes him endeavour to be calm. The alternate play of passion and forced resignation is wrought up to the sublime. A burst of rage succeeds when Lear is informed that Regan and her husband send excuses for not receiving him ; but this he endeavours to subdue : * Lear. Oh me, my heart-my rising heart—but down. Regan. I am glad to see your highness. Lear. Regan, I think you are ; I know what reason I have to think so: if thou shouldst not be glad, I would divorce me from thy mother's tomb, VOL. XLIX, NO, XCVII.



Sepulchring an adulteressBeloved Regan,
Thy sister's naught: 0 Regan, she hath tied
Sharp-tooth'd unkindness, like a vulture, here.
I can scarce speak to thee; thou'lt not believe,
Of how deprav'd a quality:- -O Regan !

In the midst of this scene Goneril enters, to taunt her father ; and the conflict between a mind saddened by griefs and a choleric temperament goaded into a phrensy of passion, hastens the catastrophe :

- Return with her ?
Persuade me rather to be slave and sumpter
To this detested groom.

At your choice, sir. Lear. I prithee, daughter, do not make me mad; I will not trouble thee, my child; farewell: We'll no more meet—no more see one another.' The poet well knew, that such a conflict, made up of the highest excitement and the deepest depression, must end in death or insanity. The king, when he finds Regan as ungrateful as her sister, feels it too. Those mysterious sensations which render the mind vaguely cognizant, we know not how, of some fearful alteration, alarm Lear; and lamentations, which he in vain endeavours to suppress, now suggest the idea of instant, impending madness; from the thought of which he flies with breathless horror. Driven to the heath, where all nature seems to him leagued ' against a head so old and white as this,' he perceives anew the approach of the enemy:

My wits begin to turn !' But the morbid thoughts and feelings, which have already absorbed all nature into their vortex, keep possession of his mind; and the old man, in the workings of the elements, sees nothing but the ingratitude of his pelican daughters':

Pour on; I will endure-
In such a night as this ! O Regan, Goneril!
Your kind old father, whose frank heart gave you all,
0, that way madness lies : let me shun that:

No more of that!' At this juncture, Shakspeare has made him conscious of that marked sign of overwhelming mental agitation-insensibility to bodily privation and suffering. When Kent urges Lear to take shelter, he receives for answer :

The tempest


Doth from my senses take all feeling else,

Save what beats here,-- filial ingratitude !' Up to this point, the poet has depicted the effects of impas


sioned grief, which has unhinged the mind :-he now plunges Lear into a paroxysm of incoherent delirium, by an incident which shows how deeply he had studied the human heart. We have seen, that as the disorder increased, so all external nature appeared to his mind tinged by the predominating hues of his malady. The elements were

-Servile ministers, That have with two pernicious daughters joined !' But even the associations thus afforded do not come sufficiently home, to tear up reason from its seat. Accordingly, it is only when Lear sees Edgar disguised as a madman, that the presentation of such wretchedness appears as an embodied reflex of his own, and causes his mind to give way. Every sympathy is torn open; and the filial ingratitude which had been diffused over nature, now appears concentrated in one crawling victim before him :

* Lear. What! have his daughters wrought him to this pass ? Couldst thou save nothing ? Didst thou give them all ?

Here, on the open heath, and unsheltered from the storm, the old king, in imitation of the madman, for whom he conceives a violent and sudden attachment, flings off his clothes, begins to rave of the noble Athenian, the learned Theban before him; and thus gives token to Kent, that all power of his wit has given way to his impatience.'

Shakspeare now depicts another step of the disorder of the mind, and Lear is made to be unconscious of the identity of those about him—to mistake inanimate objects for persons. Kent. How do you, sir ? Stand you not so amaz'd; Will

you lie down at rest upon the cushions ? Lear. I'll see their trial first. Bring in the evidence, Thou robed man of justice, take thy place; And thou, his yoke-fellow of equity, Bench by his side:-You are of the commission, Sit Arraign her first ; 'tis Goneril. I here Take my oath before this honourable assembly, She kicked the poor king her father. Fool. Come hither, mistress : is your name Goneril ? Lear. She cannot deny it! Fool. Cry you mercy, I took you for a joint-stool. Lear. And here's another, whose warped looks proclaim What store the heart is made of.-Stop her there! Arms, arms, sword, fire Corruption in the place! False justicer, why hast thou let her 'scape ?' The very phantasms of his imagination re-act the realities of his story, escape from his grasp, and leaye him so desolate, that the 2


you, too.

deep canker of ingratitude appears to him to have extended even to his household dogs

Tray, Blanch, and Sweetheart, see, they bark at me.' After the king has been removed to Dover to meet Cordelia, the poet, true to nature, paints the regular course of the mental malady as marked by lucid intervals, in which, for burning shame, he will not see his child

Kent. Well, sir, the poor distressed Lear is i' th' town,
Who sometime in his better tune remembers
What we are come about, and by no means

Will yield to see his daughter.' The following scenes depict that utmost degradation of madness which we have already noticed, but relieved with some touches of exquisite pathos--and equal truth. The conditions of the cure are now stated, and here too Shakspeare has been guided by the practice of the physicians of the day, who received their notions from the ancient schools. The king is lulled into repose by many simples operative, whose power will close the eye of anguish.' He is to be awakened by soft strains of music which shall not jar the disturbed senses, and then a powerful moral impression is to be produced by the presentation of Cordelia when he first wakesPhy. Be by, good madam, when we do awake him ; I doubt not of his temperance. Cor. He wakes-speak to him. Phy. Madam, do you—'tis fittest.'

The thoughts which are incessantly passing in rapid succession through the heated imagination of the insane when waking, rarely subside in their sleep. The overwrought brain still labours in dreams. The potency of the drugs has, however, lulled the mind of Lear; and though the organ of thought has not altogether resumed the tranquil activity of health — though dreams too vivid and too painful have occupied the brain, still the poet indicates with beautiful art their calmer tenor. The visions in his sleep appear to have been accompanied by some soothing feelings-Lear had found that rest in the grave which was denied him on earth. His first exclamation on waking is– • You do me wrong to take me out of the grave. Thou'rt a soul in bliss. Cor. Sir, do you know me? Lear. You are a spirit I know; when did you

die? Phy. He's scarce awake!'

The struggle between reason and insanity is exquisitely drawn. At first Lear is not assured of his condition-doubts if he be indeed alive-questions his sanity. The perceptions strengthen

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