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First acted at the Theatre-Royal in Covent-Garden,

on the 20th of February, 1768.

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ADVERTISEMEN T.

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THE

HE Tragedy of Lear is deservedly cele

brated among the dramas of Shakespeare. “ There is, perhaps, no play which keeps the at“ tention so strongly fixed; which so much agitates is our passions, and interests our 'curiosity. The « artful involutions of distinct interests, the strike

ing opposition of contrary characters, the sudden “ changes of fortune, and the quick succession of “ events, fill the mind with a perpetual tumult of. “indignation, pity, and hope. There is no scene as which does not contribute to the aggravation of " the distress, or conduct of the action; and scarce “ a line which does not conduce to the progress of " the fcene. So powerful is the current of the “poet's imagination, that the mind, which once « ventures within it, is hurried irresistibly along."

Such is the decision of Dr. Johnson on the Lear of Shakespeare. Yet Tate, with all this treasure before him, considered it as “a heap of jewels “ unstrung, and unpolished;" and resolved, “ out “ of zeal for all the remains of Shakespeare," to new-model the story. Having formed this resolution," it was my good fortune (says he) to light

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on one expedient to rectify what was wanting “ in the regularity and probability of the tale ; “ which was to run through the whole, a love “ betwixt Edgar and Cordelia, that never changed “ word with each other in the original. This ren“ ders Cordelia's indifference, and her father's “passion, in the first scene, probable. It likewife “ gives countenance to Edgar's disguise, making " that a generous design, that was before a poor “ fhift to save his life The distress of the story is

evidently heightened by it; and it particularly

gave occasion to a new scene or two, of more “ success perhaps than merit."

Now this very expedient of a love betwixt Edgar and Cordelia, on which Tate felicitates himself, seemed to me to be one of the capital objections to his. alteration; For even supposing that it rendered Cordelia's indifference to her father more probable (an indifference which Shakespeare has no where implied), it assigns a very poor motive for it; so that what Edgar gains on the side of romantick generosity, Cordelia loses on that of real virtue. The distress of the story is so far from being heightened by it, that it has diffused a languor and insipidity over all the scenes of the play from which Lear is absent; for which I appeal

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