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This reply heightens her distress; but his sensibility beginning to return, she kneels to him, and begs his benediction. I hope I have no readers that can peruse his answer without tears :
Pray do not mock me:
To be my child Cordelia.
Cordelia is at last slain : the lamentations of Lear are extremely tender and affecting; and this accident is so severe and intolerable, that it again deprives him of his intellect, which seemed to be returning
His last speech, as he surveys the body, consists of such simple reflections as nature and sorrow dictate :
Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life,
Never, never, never, never, never !The heaving and swelling of his heart is described by a most expressive circumstance :
Pray you undo this button. Thank you, Sir.
Dies. I shall transiently observe, in conclusion of these remarks, that this drama is chargeable with considerable imperfections. The plot of Edmund against his brother, which distracts the attention, and destroys the unity of the fable; the cruel and horrid extinction of Gloster's eyes, which ought not to be exhibited on the stage; the utter improbability of Gloster's imagining, though blind, that he had leaped down Dover cliff; and some passages that are too turgid and full of strained metaphors; are faults which the warmest admirers of Shakspeare will find it difficult to excuse. I know not,
12 The objection which is here made by Dr. Warton to the secondary plot in Lear, as destroying the unity of the fable, and
also, whether the cruelty of the daughters is not painted with circumstances too savage and unna
to the occasional barbarity of the scene, will be found, I think, satisfactorily replied to by the following remarks of the ingenious Schlegel. “The story of Lear and his daughters," he cbserves, “ was left by Shakspeare exactly as he found it in a fabulous tradition, with all the features characteristical of the simplicity of old times. But in that tradition, there is not the slightest trace of the story of Gloster and his sons, which was derived by Shakspeare froin another source. The incorporation of the two stories has been censured as destructive of the unity of action. But whatever contributes to the intrigue or the dénouement, must always possess unity. And with what ingenuity and skill the two main parts of the composition are dovetailed into one another! The pity felt by Gloster for the fate of Lear becomes the means which enables his son Edmund to effect his complete destruction, and affords the outcast Edgar an opportunity of being the saviour of his father. On the other hand, Edmund is active in the cause of Regan and Gonerill; and the criminal passion which they both entertain for him, induces them to execute justice on each other, and on themselves. The laws of the drama have therefore been sufficiently complied with ; but that is the least: it is the very combination which constitutes the sublime beauty of the work. The two cases resemble each other in the main : an infatuated father is blind towards his well-disposed child, and the unpatural offspring, to whom he gives the preference, requite him by the destruction of his entire happiness. But all the circumstances are so different, that these stories, while they make an equal impression on the heart, form a complete contrast for the imagination. Were Lear alone to suffer from his daughters, the impression would be limited to the powerful compassion felt by us for his private misfortune. But two such unheard of examples taking place at the same time, have the appearance of a great commotion in the moral world : the picture becomes
tural; for it is not sufficient to say that this monstrous barbarity is founded on historical truth, if we recollect the just observation of Boileau,
Le vrai peut quelquefois n'être pas vraisemblable. .
gigantic, and fills us with such alarm as we should entertain at the idea that the heavenly bodies might one day fall out of their regular orbits. To save, in some degree, the honour of human nature, Shakspeare never wishes that his spectators should forget that the story takes place in a dreary and barbarous age. He lays particular stress on the circumstance that the Britons of that day were still heathens, although he has not made all the remaining circumstances to coincide learnedly with the time which he has chosen. From this point of view, wemust judge of many coarsenesses in expression and manners; for instance, the immodest manner in which Gloster acknowledges his bastard; Kent's quarrel with the steward ; and more especially the cruelty personally exercised on Gloster by the Duke of Cornwall. Even the virtue of the honest Kent bears the stamp of an iron age, in which the good and the bad display the same ungovernable strength."-Lectures on Dramatic Literature, Vol 2, p. 206.
* Adventurer, No. 122, January 5th, 1754.
CRITICAL REMARKS ON OTHELLO.
Of those who possess that superiority of genius which enables them to shine by their own strength, the number has been few. When we take a review of mankind in this respect, we behold a dark and extended tract, illuminated with scattered clusters of stars, shedding their influence, for the most part, with an unavailing lustre. So much however are mankind formed to contemplate and admire whatever is great and resplendent, that it cannot be said that these luminaries have exhibited themselves to the world in vain. Whole nations, as well as individuals, have taken fire at the view of illustrious merit, and have been ambitious in their turn to distinguish themselves from the common mass of mankind. And since, by the happy invention of printing, we have it in our power to gather these scattered rays into one great body, and converge them to one point, we complain without reason of not having light enough to guide us through the vale of life.
Among those to whom mankind is most indebted, the first place is perhaps due to Homer and to Shakspeare. They both flourished in the infancy of society, and the popular tales of the