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the fimplicity of the story. These objections may, I think, be answer. ed, by repeating, that the cruelty of the daughters is an historical fac, to which the poet has added little, having only drawn it into a series by dialogue and action. But I am not able to apologize with equal plaufibility for the extrusion of Glofter's eyes, which seems an act too horrid to be endured in dramatick exhibition, and such as must always compel the mind to relieve its distress by incredulity. Yet let it be rés membered that our authour well knew what would please the audience for which he wrote.
The injury done by Edmund to the fimplicity of the action is abun, dantly recompensed by 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 cona necting the wicked son with the wicked daughters, to impress this important moral, that villainy is never at a stop, that crimes lead to crimes, and at last terminate in ruin.
But though this moral be incidentally enforced, Shakspeare has fuffered the virtue of Cordelia to perif 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 juftiñed by The Spe&tator, who blames Tate for giving Cordelia success and happiness in his alteration, and declares, that, in his opinion, tbe tragedy bas loft balf its beauty. Dennis has remarked, whether juftly or not, that, to secure the favourable reception of Cato, ibe town was poisoned with mucb 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 juft representation of the common events of human life: but since all reasonable beings naturally love justice, I cannot eafily be persuaded, that the observation of justice makes a play worfe; or, that if other excellencies are equal, the audience will not always risc better pleased from the final triumph of persecuted virtue.
In the present case the publick 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 fuffrage, I might reJate, 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 criticks concerning this play. It is disputed whether the predominant image in Lear's difordered mind be the loss of his kingdom or the cruelty of his daughters.
* Dr. Johnson should rather have said that the managers of the theatres-royal have decided, and the publick has been obliged to aca quiesce in their decision. The altered play has the per gallery on its Side; the original drama was patronized by Addison : Victrix causa Diis placuit, sed victa Coroni. STILYENS.
Mr. Murphy, a very judicious critick, has evinced by induction of para ticular passages, that the cruelty of his daugbters 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 thc episode of Edmund, which is de. rived, I think, from Sidney, is taken originally from Geoffry of Monmouth, whom Holinshed 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 tempeft, 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 hint. ed Lear's madness, but did not array it in circumstances. The writer of the ballad 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. JOHNSON.
The episode of Gloster and his fons is borrowed from Sidney's Arcadia, in which we find the following chapter, which is said to be entitled, in the first edition of 1590, “ The pitiful state and forie of the Paphlagonian unkinde king, and his kind sonne; first related by the fonne, then by the blind father."
In che second edition printed in folio in 1593, there is no division of chapters. There the story of the king of Paphlagonia commences in p. 69, k, and is related in the following words:
1. It was in the kingdome of Galacia, the season being (as in the depth of winter) very cold, and as then sodainely growne to fo extreame and foule a storme, that neuer any winter (I thinke) brought foorth a fowler child; so that the princes were even compelled by the haile, that the pride of the winde blew into their faces, to seeke some throwd. ing place, which a certaine hollow rocke offering vnto them, they made jt their shield against the tempefts furie. And so staying there, till the violence thereof was passed, they heard the speach of a couple, who, not perceiuing them, (being hidde within that rude canapy) helde a kraunge and pitifull disputation, which made them fteppe out; yet in fuch fort, as they might see vnseene. There they perceaued an aged man, and a young, scarcely come to the age of a man, both poorely arayed, extreamely weather-beaten; the olde man blinde, the young man leading him: and yet through all those miseries, in both there there seemed to appeare a kinde of nobleneíle, not futable to that affiction. But the first words they heard, were these of the old man. Well, Leonatus, (said he) fince I cannot perswade thee to leade mee to that which should end my griefe, and thy trouble, let me now entreat thee to leaue me : feare not, my miserie cannot be greater then it is, and nothing doth become me but miserie ; feare not the danger of my blind steps; I cannot fall worse then I am. And doo not, I pray thee,
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doo not obtinately continue to infect thee with my wretchednes. But fie, fie from this region, onely worthy of me. Deare father, (answered he,) doo not take away from me the onely remnant of my hape pinesle : while I haue power to doo you seruice, I am not wholly mi. serable. Ah, my fonne, (said he, and with that he groned, as if sorrow Atraue to breake his harte,) how euill fits it me to have such a fonne, and how much doth thy kindnesse vpbraide my wickednefle! These dolefull speeches, and some others to like purpose, (well shewing they had not bene borne to the fortune they were in,) moued the princes to goe out vnto them, and aske the younger, what they were. Sirs,' (anfwered he, with a good grace, and made the more agreeable by a certain noble kinde of pitiousnes) I see well you are straungers, that know not our miserie, so well here knowne, that no man dare know, but that we must be miserable. In deede our state is such, as though nothing is to needfull vnto vs as pittie, yet nothing is more daungerous vnto vs, then to make our selues so knowne as may stirre pittie. But your presence promiseth, that cruelty shall not ouer-runne hate. And if it did, in truth our state is roncke below the degree of feare.
« This old man whom I leade, was lately rightfull prince of this countrie of Papblagonia, by the hard-harted yngratefulnes of a fonde of his, depriued, not onely of his kingdome (whereof no forraine forces were euer able to spoyle him) but of his right; the riches which nature graunts to the poorelt creatures. Whereby, and by other his vnnaturall dealings, he hath bin driuen to such griefe, as even now he would haue had me to haue led him to the toppe of this rocke, thence to cart himselfe headlong to death: and so would haue made me, who re. ceiued my life of him, to be the worker of his destruction. But noble gentlemen, (said he) if either of you haue a father, and feele what duetifull affection is engrafted in a sonnes hart, let me entreate you to conuay this afflicted prince to some place of rest and securitie. Amongst your worthie actes it shall be none of the least, that a king, of such might and fame, and so vniuftlie opprefled, is in any fort by you relieued,
« But before they coulde make him aunswere, his father began to speake. Ah, my ronne, (said he) how euill an historian are you, that Jeaue out the chief knot of all the discourse ? my wickednes, my wicke ednes. And if thou doelt it to spare my ears, (the onely sense now left mee proper for knowledge,) assure thy selfe thou doeft miftake me. And I take witnesie of that funne which you see, (with that be cast vp bis blinde eies, as if he would hunt for light,) and wish my felfe in worse case then I doe with my selfe, which is as euill as may bee, if I spcake vntiuely, that nothing is so welcome to my thougbts, as the publishing of my shame. Therefore know you, gentlemen, (to whome from my heart I wish that it may not proue some ominous foretoken of misfortune to have met with such a miser as I am,) that whatsoeuer my sonne (Ô God, that truth bindes me to reproch him with the name of my fon !) hath Taide, is true. But besides those truches, this alio is
true; that hauing had in lawfull mariage, of a mother fitte to bears toiall children, this sonne, (such a one as partly you fee, and better thall knowe by my thort declaration,) and so enioyed the expectations in the world of him, till he was growen to iustifie their expectations, (so as I needed enuie no father for the chiefe comfort of mortalitie, to Jeaue an other ones felfe after me,) I was carried by a bastard Sonne of mine (if at least I bee bounde to beleeue the words of that base woman my concubine, his mother,) first to mislike, then to hate, lastly to deAtroy, or to doo my best to destroy, this sonne (I thinke you thinke) vndeseruing destruction. What waies he vsed to bring me to it, if I thoulde tell you, I shoulde tedioullie trouble you with as much poisone ous hypocrisie, desperate fraude, smooth malice, hidden ambition, and tmiling enuie, as in any liuing person could be harbored. But I lift it not; no remembraunce of naughtinesle delightes me, but mine owne; and me thinkes, the accusing his trappes might in some manner excuse my fault, which certainelie I loth to doo. But the conclusion is, that I gaue order to some seruauntes of mine, whome I thought as apte for such charities as my felfe, to lead him out into a forrest, and there to kill him.
“ But those theeues (better natured to my sonne then my felfe) spae red his life, letting him goe, to learne to liue poorlie: which he did, giuing himselfe to be a priuate souldier, in a countrey here by. But as hee was ready to be greatlie aduaunced for some noble peeces of feruice which he did, he heard newes of me: who, dronke in my affection to that ynlawfull and vonaturall sonne of mine, suffered my felfe so ta be gouerned by him, that all fauours and punishments pafled by him i all offices, and places of importance, diftributed to his fauorites ; so that ere I was aware, I had left my felfe nothing but the name or a king: which he Ahortly wearie of too, with manie indignities, if any thing may be called an indignitie, which was laide vzpon me, threw me out of my seate, and put out my eies; and then, proud in his tirannie, let me goe, neither imprisoning nor killing me: but rather delighting to make me feele my miserie; miserie in deede, if euer there were any; full of wretchednefle, fuller of disgrace, and fullert of guiltines. And as he came to the crowne by so vniust meanes, as yniuftlie he kept it, by force of straunger souldiers in cittadels, the Deftes of tirannie, and murderers of libertie; disarming all his own countrimen, that no man durft thew himselfe a well-willer of mine ; to say the truth, (I thinke) few of them being so, considering my crueli folly to my good sonne, and foolith kindnesle to my vnkind bastard : but if there were any who felt a pitty of fo great a fall, and had yet any sparkes of vnllaine duety lefte in them towards me, yet durft they not thewe it, scarcely with giuing mee almes at their doores; which yet was the onely fuftenaunce of my diftrefled life, no body daring to thewe so much charitie, as to lende mee a hande to guide my darke fteppes: till this sonne of mine, (God knowes, woorthy of a more verfuous, and more fortunate father,) forgetting my abhominable wronges,
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not recking daunger, and negle&ting the present good way hee was in of doing himselfe good, came hether to doo this kind office you fee him performe towardes me, to my vnspeakeable griefe ; not only because his kindnes is a glasle euen to my blind eies, of my naughtines, but that, aboue all griefes, it greeves me he should desperatlie aduenture the lotie of his well deseruing life for mine, that yet owe more to for. tune for my deserts; as if hee would cary mudde in a cheft of chriftall. For well I know, he that now raigneth, howe much so euer (and with good reason) he despiseth me, of all men despised, yet hee will not let Nippe any aduantage to make away him, whose iuft title, enobled by courage and goodnes, may one day shake the feate of a neuer-secure tyrannie. And for this cause I craued of him to leade mee to the toppe of this rocke, indeede I must confeffe, with meaning to free him from fo ferpentine a companion as I am. But he finding what I purposed, onely therein fince hee was borne, shewed himselfe disobedient' vnto mee. And now, gentlemen, you haue the true storie, which I pray you publish to the world, that my mischieuous proceedinges may bee the glorie of his filiall pietie, the onely reward now left for fo greate a merite. And if it may be, let me obtaine that of you, which my sonne denies me: for neuer was there more pity in fauing any, then in enda ing me; both because therein my agonies thall ende, and so fhall you preferue this excellent young man, who els wilfully followes his owne ruine.
“ The matter in it felfe lamentable, lamentably expreffed by the old prince, which needed not take to himselfe the gestures of pitie, fince his face coulde not put of the markes thereof, greatly moued the two princes to compassion, which coulde not stay in such harts as theirs without feeking remedie. But by and by the occafion was presented : for Plexirtus (so was the baftard called) came thether with fortie horse, onely of purpose to murder this brother; of whose comming he had foone aduertisement, and thought no eyes of sufficient credite in such a matter, but his owne; and therefore came himselfe to be actor, and fpectator. And as foone as hee came, not regarding the weake (as hee thought) garde of but two men, commaunded some of his follow. ers to set their handes to his, in the killing of Leonatus. But the young prince, though not otherwise armed but with a sworde, howe falsely foeuer he was dealt with by others, would not betray him felfe; buc brauely drawing it out, made the death of the firft that affayled him warne' his fellowes to come more warily after him. But then Pyrocles and Mufidorus were quickly become parties, (so iust a defence deferving as much as old friend thip,) and so did behave them among that companie, more iniurious then valiant, that many of them lost their liues for their wicked maister.
" Yet perhaps had the number of them at last preuailed, if the king of Pontus (lately by them made fo) had not come ynlooked for to their Luccour. Who, hauing had a dreame which had fixt his imagination vehemently vpon some great daunger presently to follow those two