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suddenly thinks himself in the field ; "there's my gauntlet-I'll prove it on a giant:' and that he has shot his arrow successfully ! O well fowo barb ! i'th' clout, i'th' clout : hewgh! give the word.' He then recollects the falsehood and cruelty of his daughters, and breaks out in some pathetic reflections on his old age, and on the tempest to which he was so lately exposed : “Ha! Gonerill, ha! Re. gan! They flattered me like a dog, and told me I had white hairs on my beard, 'ere the black ones were there. To say, ay, and no, to every thing that I said-ay and no too, was no good divinity: When the rain came to wet me once, and the wind to make me chatter ; when the thunder would not peace at my bidding; there I found 'em, there I smelt e'm out. Go to, they're not men of their words; they told me I was every thing : 'tis a lie, I am not ague-proof.' The impotence of royalty to exempt its possessor, more than the meanest sub. ject, from suffering natural evils, is here finely hinted at.
His friend and adherent Glo'ster, having been lately deprived of sight, inquires if the voice he hears is not the voice of the king ; Lear instantly catches the word, and replies with great quickness,
-Ay, every inch a king :
He then makes some very severe reflections on the hypocrisy of lewd' and 'abandoned women, and adds, • Fie, fie, fie ; pah, pah ; Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, to sweeten my imagination ;' and as every object seems to be present to the
eyes of the lunatic, he thinks he pays for the drug: there's money for thee ! Very strong and
lively also is the imagery in a succeeding speech, where he thinks himself viewing his subjects punished by the proper officer :
Thou rascal bedel, hold thy bloody hand :
This circumstance leads him to reflect on the efficacy of rank and power, to conceal and palliate profligacy and injustice; and this fine satire is couched in two different metaphors, that are carried on with much propriety and elegance :
Through tatter'd cloaths small vices do appear;
We are moved to find that Lear has some faint know. ledge of his old and faithful courtier.
If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes :
The advice he then gives him is very affecting :
Thou must be patient; we came crying hither :
This tender complaint of the miseries of human life
exact à resemblance with the following passage of Lucretius, that I cannot forbear transcribing it :
Vagitûque los um lugubri complet, ut equum est,
It is not to be imagined that our author copied from the Roman ; on such a subject it is almost impossi. ble but that two persons of genius and sensibility must feel and think alike. Lear drops his moralities and meditates revenge :
It were a delicate stratagem to shoe
The expedient is well suited to the character of a lunatic, and the frequent repetitions of the word • kill,' forcibly represent his rage and desire of revenge, and must affect an intelligent audience at once with pity and terror. At this instant Cordelia sends one of her attendants to protect her father from the danger with which he is threatened by her sisters : the wretched king is so accustomed to misery, and so hopeless of succour, that when the messenger offers to lead him out, he imagines himself taken captive and mortally wounded :
No rescue ? what ! a prisoner? I am e'en
Cordelia at length arrives ; an opiate is ad. ministered to the king, to calm the agonies and agitations of his mind; and a most interesting interview ensues between this daughter, that was so unjustly suspected of disaffection, and the rash and mistaken father. Lear, during his slumber, has been arrayed in regal apparel, and is brought upon the stage in a chair, not recovered from his trance.
I know not a speech more truly pathetic than that of
Had you not been their father, these white flakes
To be expos'd against the warring winds? The dreadfulness of that night is expressed by a circumstance of
humanity; for which kind of strokes Shakspeare is as eminent as for his poetry :
My very enemy's dog,
In short and musty straw ?Lear begins to awake; but his imagination is still distempered, and his pain exquisite ;
You do me wrong to take me out o'th' grave.
When Cordelia in great affliction asks him if he knows her, he replies,
You are a spirit, I know ; when did you die ? This reply heightens her distress ; but his sensibi. lity 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 :
The humility, calmness, and sedateness of this speech, opposed to the former rage and indignation of Lear, is finely calculated to excite commiseration. Struck with the remembrance of the injurious suspicion he had cherished against this favourite and fond daughter, the poor old man intreats her, “not to weep,' and tells her, that if she has prepared poison for him, he is ready to drink it ; for I know,' says you do not, you cannot love
after usage of you: your sisters have done me. much wrong, of which I have some faint remembrance ; you have some cause to hate me, they have none,' Being told that he is not in France, but in his own kingdom, he answers hastily, and in connection with that leading idea which I have before insisted on, • Do not abuse me'-and adds, with a meekness and contrition that are very pathetic, Pray now forget and forgive; I am old and foolish.'
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 deprived 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,
The heaving and swelling of his heart is described by a most expressive circumstance :
Pray you undo this but on. Thank you, Sir,
. I shall transiently observe, in conclusion of these remarks, that this drama is chargeable with cona,