[iv] “ case, says Dr. Johnson, the publick has “ decided, and Cordelia, from the time of • Tate, has always retired with victory and


To reconcile the catastrophe of Tate to the story of Shakespeare, was the first grand object which I proposed to myself in this alteration ; thinking it one of the principal duties of my situation, to render every drama submitted to the Publick, as consistent and rational an entertainment as possible. In this kind of employment, one person cannot do a great deal; yet if every Director of the Theatre will endeavour to do a little, the Stage will every day be improved, and become more worthy attention and encouragement. Romeo, Cymbeline, Every Man in his Humour, have long been refined from the dross that hindered them from being current with the Publick; and I have now endeavoured to purge the tragedy of Lear of the alloy of Tate, which has so long been suffered to debase it.



The utter improbability of Glocester's “ imagining, though' blind, that he had

leaped down Dover Cliff,” has been juitly censured by Dr. Warton *

and in the representation it is still more liable to objection than in print. I have therefore, without scruple, omitted it, preserving, however, at the same time, that celebrated

* Adventurer, No. 122.


description of the Cliff in the mouth of Edgar. The putting out Glocefter's eyes is also so unpleasing a circumstance, that I would have altered it, if possible; but, upon examination, it appeared to be so closely interwoven with the fable, that I durft not venture to change it. I had once some idea of retaining the character of the fool; but though Dr.

Warton has very truly observed t, that the poet “ has so well conducted even “ the natural jargon of the beggar, and the

jestings of the fool, which in other hands “must have funk into burlesque, that they “ contribute to heighten the pathetick;" yet, after the most serious consideration, I was convinced that such a scene would “ sink into burlesque” in the representation, and would not be endured on the modern stage.


† Adventurer, No. 116.


LEAR, King of Britain, Mr. Powell.
King of France,

Mr. Davis.
Duke of Burgundy,

Mr. Lewis. Duke of Cornwall,

Mr. Gardner. Duke of Albany,

Mr. Hull. Earl of Glocester,

Mr. Gibson. Earl of Kent,

Mr. Clarke. Edgar, son to Glocefter,

Mr. Smith. Edmund, bastard son to Glocester, Mr. Bensley. Doctor,

Mr. Redman. Steward to Gonerill,

Mr. Cushing. Captain,

Mr. Wignell. Old Man, tenant to Glocester, Mr. Hallam. Herald,

Mr. Holtom. Servant to Cornwall,

Mr. T. Smith.

Gonerill, Regan, Cordelia,

daughters to Lear,

Mrs. Stephens.
Mrs. Du-Bellamy.
Mrs. Yates,

Knights attending on the King, Officers, Messengers, Soldiers,

and Attendants.


[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Enter Kent, Glocester, and Edmund the Bastard.

Kent. * Thought the King had more affect

ed the Duke of Albany than Cornwall.

Glo. It did always seem so to us : but now in the division of the king

dom, it appears not which of the Dukes he values moft.

Kent. Is not this your son, my lord ?
Glo. His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge.
Kent. I cannot conceive you.

Glo. Sir, this young fellow's mother had, indeed, a son for her cradle, ere she had a husband for her bed. Do you smell a fault?

Kent. I cannot with the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper.



Glo. But I have a son, sir, by order of law, some year elder than this, who yet is no dearer in my account. Do you know this nobleman, Edmund ?

Edm. No, my lord.

Glo. "My lord of Kent;
Remember him hereafter as my honourable friend,

Edm. My services to your lordfhip.
Kent. I must love you, and fue to know you better.
Edin. Sir, I shall Audy your deserving.

Trampets sou::d, within.
Glo. The King is coming.
Scene opens, and discovers King Lear, Cornwall, Al-
bany, Gonerill, Regan, Cordelia, and attendants.

Lear. Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Glo'ster. Glo. I shall, my liege.

(Exit. Lear. Mean cime we shall express our darker

purpose : Give me the map here. Know, we have divided, In three, our kingdon; and ’ris our faft intent, To shake all cares and business from our age; Conferring them on younger strengths, while we Unburchen'd crawl cow'rd death. Our son of Corn

wall, And you, our no less loving son of Albany, We have this hour a constant will co publish Our daughters sev'ral dow’rs, chat future strife May be prevented now. The princes France and

Great rivals in our younger daughter's love,
Long in our court have made their am'rous fojourn,
And here are to be antwer'd. Tell me, daughters,
Which of you, shall we say, doth love us most?
That we our largest bounty may extend,
Where nature doth with merit challenge. Gonerill,
Our eldest born, speak first.

Gon. I love you, sir,
Dearer than eye-light, space, and liberty ;



« ForrigeFortsett »