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nature grants to the poorest creatures; whereby and by other his unnatural dealings, he hath been driven to such griefs, as even now he would have had me to have led him to the top of this rock, thence to cast himself headlong to death; and so would have had me, who received my life of him, to be the worker of his destruction."

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THE sagacious Mrs. Lenox informs us that "Shakspere has deviated widely from History in the catastrophe of his play;" whereat she is somewhat indignant, for "had Shakspere followed the historian he would not have violated the rules of poetical justice." The antiquarians are as sensitive as the moralists upon this point. Had Shakspere attended to the chronology of the days of king Bladud, and preserved a due regard to the manners of Britain, at the period when Romulus and Remus built Rome "apon the eleventh of the Calends of May," he would not have given us what Douce calls" a plentiful crop of blunders." He would have made no allusions, according to Douce's literal view of the matter, to Turks, or Bedlam beggars, or Childe Roland, or the theatrical moralities, or to Nero. We confess, however, that this inexactitude of the poet does not shock us quite so much as it does the professional detectors of anachronisms,-those who look upon such allusions "blunders" that may disturb the empire of accuracy and dulness, and consider poetry as properly a sort of ornamented Appendix to a Cyclopædia. We have no desire to regard the symbols by which ideas may be most readily communicated, as the exponents of the things themselves to which they refer. We are willing that a poet, describing events of a purely fabulous character, represented by the narrators of them as belonging to an age to which we cannot attach one precise notion of costume, (we use the word in its large sense,) should employ images that belong to a more recent period— and even to his own time. It is for the same reason that we do not object to see Lear painted with a diadem on his head, and his knights in armour. It is for this reason also, that the gentleman to whom we are indebted for that part of our comment which relates to the dress of Shakspere's characters, has nothing to say on the subject of Lear. We should not much quarrel with any theatrical costume of the tragedy, excepting, perhaps, Garrick's laced coat, and Quin's powdered periwig. We would leave these things to the imaginations of our readers, (whatever stage-managers may do with their audiences,) lest we should fall into some such mistake as that celebrated in the 'Art of Sinking in Poetry :'

"A painted vest Prince Vortigern had on,

Which from a naked Pict his grandsire won,"

My good biting faulchion."]

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SCENE I-King Lear's Palace.


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Johnson says, "There is something of obscurity, or inThe king has already accuracy, in this preparatory scene. divided his kingdom, and yet, when he enters, he examines his daughters to discover in what proportions he should divide it." Coleridge has shown that there is no inaccuracy; but that the king, having determined upon the division of his kingdom, institutes the trial of professions in strict accordance with his complicated character. (See Supplementary Notice.)

L Qualities. In the quartos equalities.

e Curiosity-exact scrutiny.

d Moiety. In the same way Hotspur calls his third share moiety. In both these cases it is used for an assigned proportion. (See note on Henry IV., Part 1., Act III.. Sc. 1.) TRAGEDIES.-Vol. I. 2 D

Kent. Is not this your son, my lord?

Glo. His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge: I have so often blush'd to acknowledge him, that now I am braz'd to 't.

Kent. I cannot conceive you.

Glo. Sir, this young fellow's mother could : whereupon she grew round-wombed; and had indeed, sir, a son for her cradle, ere she had a husband for her bed. Do you smell a fault?

Kent. I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper.

Glo. But I have a son, sir, by order of law, some year elder than this, who yet is no dearer in my account: though this knave came somewhat saucily to the world before he was sent for, yet was his mother fair; there was good sport at his making, and the whoreson must be acknowledged. Do you know this noble gen tleman, Edmund ?

To-the quartos into.


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In three, our kingdom: and 't is our fast intent
To shake all cares and business from our age;
Conferring them on younger strengths, while we
Unburthen'd crawl toward death.-Our son of

And you, our no less loving son of Albany,
We have this hour a constant will to publish
Our daughters' several dowers, that future strife
May be prevented now. The princes, France
and Burgundy,

Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love, Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,

And here are to be answer'd.-Tell me, my daughters,

(Since now we will divest us, both of rule,
Interest of territory, cares of state,)

Which of you, shall we say, doth love us most?
That we our largest bounty may extend
Where nature doth with merit challenge."—

Our eldest born, speak first.

Gon. Sir, I love you more than word can
wield the matter,

Dearer than eye-sight, space, and liberty;
Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;
No less than life, with grace, health, beauty,


As much as child e'er lov'd, or father found. A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable;

Beyond all manner of so much I love you.

a The quartos "where merit doth must challenge it."

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Cor. You have begot me, bred me, lov'd me: I Return those duties back as are right fit, Obey you, love you, and most honour you. Why have my sisters husbands, if they say They love you, all? Haply, when I shall wed, That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry

Half my love with him, half my care, and duty: Sure, I shall rever marry like my sisters,

[To love my father all."]

Lear. But goes thy heart with this ? a
Ay, my good lord.
Lear. So young, and so untender?
Cor. So young, my lord, and true.
Lear. Let it be so:-Thy truth then be thy

For, by the sacred radiance of the sun;
The mysteries of Hecate and the night;
By all the operation of the orbs,

From whom we do exist, and cease to be;
Here I disclaim all my paternal care,
Propinquity and property of biood,
And as a stranger to my heart and me
Hold thee, from this, for ever.


The barbarous

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b You-the quartos, it.

The line in brackets is not found in the folic.

d The quartos read, "But goes this with thy heart!" and Malone attributes the change in the folio to the editor of that edition, who, he says, did not understand this kind of Phraseology. We have no doubt, speaking generally, that the minute changes of language in the folio are of the author, not of the editor.

Her father's heart from her!-Call France ;-
Who stirs ?

Call Burgundy.-Cornwall and Albany,
With my two daughters' dowers digest the third
Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her.
I do invest you jointly with my power,
Pre-eminence, and all the large effects
That troop with majesty.-Ourself, by monthly


With reservation of an hundred knights,
By you to be sustain'd, shall our abode
Make with you by due turn. Only we shall

The name, and all the additions to a king;
The sway,

Revenue, execution of the rest,

Beloved sons, be yours: which to confirm,
This coronet part between you.


[Giving the crown. Royal Lear, Whom I have ever honour'd as my king, Lov'd as my father, as my master follow'd, As my great patron thought on in my prayers,— Lear. The bow is bent and drawn, make from the shaft.

Kent. Let it fall rather, though the fork invade

The region of my heart: be Kent unmannerly, When Lear is mad. What wouldst thou do, old man?

Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak, When power to flattery bows?

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To plainness

When majesty falls to folly. Reserve thy state;
And, in thy best consideration, check
This hideous rashness: answer my life my judg



Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least; Nor are those empty-hearted, whose low sounds Reverb no hollowness.

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