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Edm. I was contracted to them both; all three
[Gonerill and Regan's bodies brought out.
very manners urge.
Alb. Great thing of us forgot!
Kent. Alack, why thus ?
Edm. Yet Edmund was belov'd:
Alb. Even so; cover their faces.
Edm. I pant for life; some good I mean to do,
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 Lear, with Cordelia dead in his arms.
Kent. Is this the promis'd end?
Lear. This feather stirs, fhe lives; if it be so,
Lear. A plague upon you, murd’rous traitors all!
Gent. 'Tis true, my Lords, he did.
Lear. Did I not, fellow ?
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;
Lear. 'Twas a good fellow, I can tell you that, (62)
(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,
Kent. No, my good Lord, I am the very man,
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,
Enter a Messenger.
Alb. That's but a trifle.
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
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
Edg. He faints; my Lord,
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
Edg. Look up, my Lord.
Kent. Vex not his ghoft: 0, let him pafs ! he hates him,
Edg. He is gone, indeed.
Alb. Bear them from hence, our present business
Kent. I have a journey, Sir, shortly to go;
Aib. The weight of this fad time we must obey, (64)
[Exeunt with a dead Marcb.
[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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