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Edm. I was contracted to them both; all three
Now marry in an instant.
Edg. Here comes Kent.

Enter Kent.
Alb. Produce the bodies, be they alive or dead.

[Gonerill and Regan's bodies brought out.
This judgment of the heav'ns, that makes us tremble,
Touches us not with pity.70! is this he?
The time will not allow the compliment,
Which

very manners urge.
Kent, I am come
To bid my King and master aye good night;
Is he not here?

Alb. Great thing of us forgot!
Speak, Edmund, where's the King and where's Cordelia?
See'st thou this object, Kent ?

Kent. Alack, why thus ?

Edm. Yet Edmund was belov'd:
The one the other poison'd for my fake,
And after few herself.

Alb. Even so; cover their faces.

Edm. I pant for life; some good I mean to do,
Despight of mine own nature. Quickly fend,
(Be brief) into the castle; for my writ
Is on the life of Lear and on Cordelia :
Nay, send in time.

Alb. Run, run, O run

Edg. To whom, my Lord? who has the office ? Send thy token of reprieve.

Edm. 'Well thought on, take my sword, Give it the Captain Edg. Haste thee for thy life. [Exit Melenger.

Edm. He hath commission from thy wife and me To hang Cordelia in the prifon, and To lay the blame upon her own despair. Alb. The gods defend her! bear him hence awhile.

[Edmund is borne of

Enter

1

Enter Lear, with Cordelia dead in his arms.
Lear. Howl, howl, howl, howl,--Oyou are men of stone,
Had I your tongues and eyes, I'd use them so,
That heaven's vault should crack: she's gone for ever!
I know, when one is dead, and when one lives;
She's dead as earth! lend me a looking-glass,
If that her breath will mist or stain the stone,
Why then the lives.

Kent. Is this the promis'd end?

Lear. This feather stirs, fhe lives; if it be so,
It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows,
That ever I have felt.
Kent. O my good master!

[Kneeling.
Lear. Pr'ythee, away
Edg. 'Tis noble Kent, your friend.

Lear. A plague upon you, murd’rous traitors all!
I might have fav’d her; now she's gone for ever!
Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little. Ha !
What is't thou say'st her voice was ever soft,
Gentle, and low; an excellent thing in woman.
I kill'd the dave, that was a hanging thee.

Gent. 'Tis true, my Lords, he did.

Lear. Did I not, fellow ?
I've seen the day, with my good biting faulchion
I would have made them skip: I am old now,
And these fame croffes spoil me. Who are you?
Mine
eyes are none oth' beft.-I'll tell

you

strait. Kent. If fortune brag of two she lov’d and hated, One of them we behold.

Lear. Are you not Kent?

Kent. The same; your servant Kent;
Where is your servant Caius?

Lear. 'Twas a good fellow, I can tell you that, (62)
He'd strike, and quickly too:---he's dead and rotten.

(62) He's a good fellow, I can tell you that, He'll strike and quickly too: he's dead and rotten.]. We have seen Lear mad; but, never, a stark fool till this moment; to tell us, that a dead and rotten man will strike quickly. But it was a stupidity of the editors, and not chargeable on the poet,

Kenda

Kent. No, my good Lord, I am the very man,
Lear. I'll see that ftrait.

Kent. That, from your first of difference and decay, Have follow'd your fad steps

Lear. You're welcome hither.

Kent. Nor no man elfe;--all'scheerless, dark, and dead; Your eldest daughters have fore-done themselves, And despirately are dead.

Lear. Ay, so I think.

Alb. He knows not what he says; and vain is it,
That we present us to him.
Edg. Very bootless.

Enter a Messenger.
Mej. Edmund is dead, my Lord.

Alb. That's but a trifle.
You Lords and noble friends, know our intent;
What comfort to this great decay may come,
Shall be apply'd. For us, we will refign,
During the life of this old majesty,
To him our abfolute power: to you, your rights,

Fo Edgar
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: O 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? thou'lt come no more, Never, never, never, never, neverPray you, undo this button. Thank you, Sir; Do you

see this look on her, look on her lips, (63), Look there, look there

[He dies.

Edg. (63) Do you see this? look on her, look on her lips;

Look there, look there. ----] Our poet has taken the liberty in the eatastrophe of this play to depart from the Chronicles; in which Lear is said to be reinstated in his throne by Cordelia, and to have reign'd wpwards of two years after his restoration. He might have done this for two reasons. Either, to heighten the compassion towards the poor old King: or to vary from another, but most execrable, dramatic

performance

Edg. He faints; my Lord,
Kent. Break heart, I pr’ythee, break!

Edg. performance upon this fory: which I certainly believe to have preceded our author's piece, and which none of our stage-historians appear to have had any knowledge of. The edition, which I have of it, bears this title. The true chronicle history of King LEIR, and bis ibree daughters, Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordella. As it halb bene di. vers and fundry times lately aEted. London; printed by Simon Stafford for John Wright, and are to be sold at bis shop at Chrifies Church dore next Newgate Market. 1605. That Shakespeare, however, may stand acquitted from the least suspicion of plagiarism, in the opinion of his readers, I'll subjoin a small taste of this other anonymous author's abilities both in conduct and diction. Leir, with one Perillus his friend, embarks for France to try what reception he mould find from his daughter Cordella. When they come ashore, neither of them has a rag of money: and they are forc'd to give their cloaks to the mariners to pay for their passage. This, no doubt, our playwright intended for a mastery in distress: as he must think it a notable fetch of inPention to bring the King and Queen of France disguis'd like rusticks, travelling a long way on foot into the woods, with a basket of

provisions, only that they may have the casual opportunity of relieving Leir and Perillus from being itarv'd. Now for a little specimen of style, and dignity of thinking. Cordella, now Queen of France, and in her own palace, comes in and makes this pathetick soliloquy.

I have been over negligent to day
In going to the temple of my god,
To render thanks for all his benefits,
Which he miraculousy hath beftow'd on me;
In railing me out of my mean estate,
When as I was devoid of worldly friends;
And placing me in such a sweet content,
As far exceeds the reach of my deserts.
My kingly husband, mirrour of his time,
For zeal, for justice, kindness, and for care,
To god, his subjects, me, and common weale,
By his appointment was ordain'd for me.
I cannot with the thing that I do want;
I cannot want the thing, but I may have;
Save only this which I shall ne'er obtain,
My father's love; Oh, this I ne'er shall gain.
I would abstain from any nutriment,
And pine my body to the very bones:
Barefoot I would on pilgrimage set forth,
Unto the furthest quarters of the earth,
And all my life time would I fackcloth wear,
And mourning-wise pour duft upon my head:

So

foul, you

Edg. Look up, my Lord.

Kent. Vex not his ghoft: 0, let him pafs ! he hates him,
That would upon the rack of this rough world
Stretch him out longer.

Edg. He is gone, indeed.
Kent. The wonder is, he hath endur'd so long:
He but usurpt his life.

Alb. Bear them from hence, our present business
Is general woe: friends of

my

twain
Rule in this realm, and the gor'd state sustain.

Kent. I have a journey, Sir, shortly to go;
My master calls me; I must not say, no. [Dies.

Aib. The weight of this fad time we must obey, (64)
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest hath borne moft; we, that are young,
Shall never see so much, nor live so long.

[Exeunt with a dead Marcb.
So he but to forgive me once would please,
That his grey hairs might go to heaven in peace,
And yet I know not how I him offended,
Or wherein justly I've deserved blame.
Oh fifters! you are much to blame in this;
It was not he, but you, that did me wrong.
-Yet, god forgive both him, and you, and me,
Ev'n as I do in perfect charity.
I will to church, and pray unto my Saviour,
That, e'er I die, I may obtain his favour.

[Exit. This is, surely, such poetry as one might hammer out, Stans pede in uno; or, as our author says, “it is the right butter-wuman's rank " to market: and a man might verfify you so eight years together, “ dinners, and suppers, and neeping hours excepted.”...--Again, Shake peare was too well vers’d in Holing fhead not to know, that King Lear reign'd above 800 years before the period of christianity. The gods his King talks of are Jupiter, Juno, Apollo; and not any dej ies more modern than his own time. Licentious as he was in anachro. nisms, he would have judg’d it an unpardonable absurdity to have made a Briton of Cordella's time talk of her Saviour. And, his not being trapt into such ridiculous Nips of ignorance, seems a plain proof to me that he stole neither from his predecessors, nor contemporaries of the English theatre, both which abounded in them.

(64) Alb. The weight of this sad time, &c.] This speech from the authority of the old 4to is rightly plac'd to Albany: in the edition by the players it is given to Edgar, by whom, I doubt not, it was of custom spoken. And the case was this: He who play'd Edgar, being a more favourite actor, than he who perfonated Albany; in spight of decorum, it was thought proper he should have the last word.

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