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And pray, and fing, and tell old tales, and laugh
Edm. Take them away.
Lear. Upon fuch facrifices, my Cordelia, The gods themselves throw incense.
SCENE VIII. The Justice of the Gods.
(26) The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices Makes instruments to scourge us.
(25) And, &c.] 'Tis a catalogue
Of all the gamesters of the court and city:
The False One, Act i. Sc. I. The word fpies in the text, is taken in the sense of spies upon any one, to inspect their conduct, not fpies enployed by a person.
(26) Tbe, &c.] This retorting of punishments, and making the means by which we offended the scourge of our offence, is very common amongst the ancients, and perhaps had its rise from the Jewish people. An cyo for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, &c. Callimachus, in his hymn to Pallas, tells us, that goddess depriv'd the young hunter of his eyes, because they had offended, having seen her in the bath. See the Hymn, p. 75. And in Sophocless at the end of Electra, Orefics cries out to Ægistus;
Peace, and attend me to that place wlere thou
Edgar's Account of his discovering himself to his
List a brief tale,
Baft. This speech of yours hath mov'd me,
Alb. If there be more, more woeful, hold it in,
Edg(27). This would have seem'd a period
(27) This, &c.] The bastard, whose favage nature is well displayed by it, desires to hear more: the gentle Albany, touch'd at the sad tale, begs him no more to melt_his heart : upon which, Edgar observes, sensibly affected by Edmund's inhumanity, “ One should have imagined, this would have seemd a
To amplify too much, would make much more,
SCENE XII. Lear on the Death of Cordelia.
Howl, howl, howl, howl! you are men of stone; Had I your tongues and
I'd use them fo That Heav'ns vault shou'd crack; fhe's
for ever! I know when one's 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 she lives.
period, a sufficient end of woe, to such as love not sorrow, who are not pleased to hear of the distresses of others: but another (a person of another and more cruel temper) to amplify too much, (to augment and aggravate that which is already too great) would Itill make much more (would still increase it) and top extremity itself; that is, even go beyond that which is already at the utmost limit:" Nothing can be plainer than this, which Mr. Warburton condemning as miserable nonsense, reads thus, and admïts into his text !
This wou'd have seem'd a period; but fuch
Too much, wou'd make much more and top extremity! 'Tis remarkable, this fine speech, (and indeed many others) are omitted in the Oxford edition.
This feather stirs, she lives : if it be so
Kent. O my good master.
Lear. Prythee away-
Lear dying. 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 coine no more, Never, never, never, never, never.
THE tragedy of Lear (says Johnson) is deservedly celebrated among the dramas of Shakespiar. There is perhaps no play which keeps the attention so strongly fixed ; which so much agitates our paffions; and interests our curiosity. The artful involutions of distinct interests, the striking opposition of contrary characters, the sudden changes of fortune, and the quick succession of events, fill the mind with a perpetual tumult of indignation, pity, and hope. There is no scene which does not contribute to the aggravation of the distress or conduct of the action, and scarce a line which does not conduce to the progress of the scene. So powerful is the current of the poet's imagination, that the mind, which once ventures within it, is hurried irresistibly along.
(1) THAT are these,
So wither'd and so wild in their attire, That look not like th' inhabitants o'th'earth, And yet are on't? Live you, or are you aught
That man may question? You seem to understand me, By each at once her choppy finger laying Upon her skinny lips; You Thould be women: And yet your beards forbid me to interpret That
you are fo.
(1) What, &c.] Shakespear's excellence in these fictitious characters hath been before observed : . In such circles, indeed, none could move like him; ghosts, witches, and fairies seem to acknowledge him their sovereign. We must observe, that the reality of witches was firmly believed in our author's time, not only established by law, but by fashion also, and that