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Enter Lear, with Cordelia dead in his arms.
Lear. Howl, bowl, howl, bowl,--O you are men of stone,
Had I your tongues and eyes, I'd use them fo,
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, ine lives į if it be ro,
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 sav'd her ; now she's gone for ever!
Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little. Ha !
What is't thou say't her voice was ever soft,
Gentle, and low; an excellent thing in woman.
I kill'd the slave, 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 fkip: I am old now,
And these same crosses spoil me. Who are you?
Mine eyes are none o' th’ best.-I'll tell you strait.

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

Lear. Are you not Kent ?

Kent. The fame; your servant Kent;
Where is your servani Caius?

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

(62) He's a good fellowu, I can tell you that,

He'll strike and quickly too: he's dead and rotten.) We have seen L'ar mad; but, never, a stark fool till this moment; to tell that a dead and rotten man will strike quickly. But it was a stupidity of the editors, and not chargeable

Kent,

us,

the poet.

!

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

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's cheerless, dark, and dead Your eldest daughters have fore-done themselves, And desp'rately 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 Mefenger.
Mef. Edmund is dead, my Lord.

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

[To 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 fee, 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, 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 ber, look on ber lips; Look there, look there.-) Our poet has taken the liberty in the catastrophe of this play to depart from the Chronicles ; in which Lear is faid to be reinstated in his throne by Cordelia, and to have reign'd vpwards of two years after his restoration. He might have done this for two reasons. Either, to heighten the compaflion towards the poor old King: or to vary from another, but most execrable, dramatic:

performance

Sir;

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

Edg.

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performance upon this story: 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 tbree daughters, Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordella. As it bath bene di

vers and surdry times lately acted. London ; printed by Simon Stafford
for John Wright, and are to be sold at his shop at Christes Cburcb dore
next Newgate Market. 1605. That Shakespeare, however, may stand
acquitted from the least suspicion of plagiarism, in the opinion of his
Teaders, I'll subjoin a small taste of this other anonymous author's abi-
lities 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
Tag 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 in-
vention 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 pro-
visions, only that they may have the casual opportun of relieving
Leir and Perillus from being starv'd. Now for a little specimen of
Style, and dignity of thinking. Cordella, now Queen of France, and
in her own pałace, 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 miraculously hath bestow'd on me,
In raising 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 wish 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 sackcloth wear,
And mourning-wise pour duft upon my head :

!

Edg. He is

Edg. Look up, my Lord.

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

gone,

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

Alb. Bear them from hence, our present business Is general woe : friends of my soul, you twain Rule in this realm, and the gor'd state fuftain.

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

(Dies.
Alb. The weight of this sad time we must obey, (64)
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest hath borne most; we, that are young,
Shall never fee so much, nor live so long.

[Exeunt with a dead march.
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 juftly I've deferved blame.
Vh filters! 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 pode in uno ; or, as our author says, “ it is the right butter-woman's rank « to market : and a man might versify you so eight years together, “ dinners, and suppers, and sleeping hours excepted.” -Again, Shakespeare was too well vers’d in Holing pead 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 deities 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 predeceffors, ror 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 plaç'd to Allany : 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 personated Altany ; in spight of decorum, it was thought proper he should have the last word. I

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