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Who having seen me in my worst estate,
But who was this?
Enter a Gentleman hastily, with a bloody Knife.
What kind of help? Alb.
Speak, man. Edg. What mean's that bloody knife? Gent.
"Tis hot, it smokes; It came even from the heart of Alb.
Who, man? speak. Gent. Your lady, sir, your lady: and her sister By her is poison’d; she confesses it.
Edm. I was contracted to them both; all three Now marry in an instant.
Alb. Produce their bodies, be they alive or dead! This judgment of the heavens, that makes us tremble; Touches us not with pity.
Here comes Kent, sir.
I am come
Great thing of us forgot!
Speak, Edmund, where's the king? and where's CorSee'st thou this object, Kent?
[delia ?-[The Bodies of Goneril and Regan are brought in. Kent. Alack, why thus? Edm.
Yet Edmund was belov'd: The one the other poison'd for my sake, And after slew herself.
Alb. Even so.-Cover their faces.
Edm. I pant for life :-Some good I mean to do,
Run, run, 0, run-
Edm. Well thought on; take my sword, Give it the captain.
Alb. Haste thee, for thy life. [Exit Edgar.
Edm. He hath commission from thy wife and me To hang Cordelia in the prison, aud To lay the blame upon her own despair, That she fordid herself. Alb. The gods defend her! Bear him hence awhile.
[Edmund is borne off: Enter Lear, with CORDELIA dead in his Arms;
EDGAR, Officer, and others.
Is this the promis'd end?
Fall, and cease!
It is a chance that does redeem all sorrows
O my good master! [Kneeling.
'Tis noble Kent, your friend.
Off. 'Tis true, my lords, he did.
Did I pot, fellow?
:-Who are you? Mine eyes are none o'the best :—I'll tell you straight.
Kent. If fortune brag of two she lovd and hated, One of them we belold.
Lear. This is a dull sight: Are you not Kent?
Lear. He's a good fellow, I can tell you that;
Kent. No, my good lord; I am the very man;-
Kent. That, from your first of difference and decay,
You are welcome hither, Kent. Nor no man else; all's cheerless, dark, and
Ay, so I think.
Enter an Officer. Off. Edmund is dead, my lord.
That's but a trifle here. You lords, and noble friends, know our intent. What comfort to this great decay 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 rights ;
[To Edgar and Kent. With boot, and such addition as your honours Have more than merited.--All friends shall taste The wages of their virtue, and all foes The cup of their deservings.--0, 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 no more, Never, never, never, never, never ! Pray you, undo this button : Thank you, sir.Do you see this? Look on her,—look,-her lips.--. Look there, look there!
(He dies. Edg.
He faints !—My lord, my lord,-Kent. Break, heart; I pr'ythee, break! Edg.
Look up, my lord. Kent. Vex not bis ghost:-0, let him pass! he hates
indeed. Kent. The wonder is, he hath endur'd so long : He but usurp'd his life.
Alb. Bear them from hence.-Our present business Is general woe. Friends of my soul, you twain
[To Kent and Edgar. Rule in this realm, and the gor'd state sustain.
Rent. I have a journey, sir, shortly to go;
Alb. The weight of this sad time we must obey;
[Exeunt, with a dead March.
O, be is
The tragedy of Lear is deservedly celebrated ainong 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 forlune, 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 to 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 burried 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