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and they prostrate themselves before the was his confidence in the truth and purity of energy of his “gain'd knowledge." They the being with whom his life was bound up, feel that in their own original powers of and his general reliance upon the better part judgment they have no support against the of human nature, in his judgment of his dogmatism, and it may be the ridicule, of friend. When the confidence was destroyed experience. This is the course with the by the craft of his deadly enemy, his sustainyoung when they fall into the power of ing power was also destroyed ;-the balance the tempter. But was not Othello in all of his sensitive temperament was lost;-his essentials young ?
Was he not of an en enthusiasm became wild passion ;-his new thusiastic temperament, confiding, loving, belief in the dominion of grossness over the most sensitive to opinion,-jealous of his apparently pure and good shaped itself into honour,-truly wise, had he trusted to his outrage; his honour lent itself to schemes of own pure impulses ?—But he was most cruelty and revenge. But, even amidst the weak, in adopting an evil opinion against whirlwind of this passion, we every now and his own faith, and conviction, and proof, in then hear something which sounds as the his reliance upon the honesty and judgment softest echo of love and gentleness. Perhaps of a man whom he really doubted and had in the whole compass of the Shaksperean never proved. Yet this is the course by pathos there is nothing deeper than “But which the highest and noblest intellects are yet the pity of it, Iago! Oh, Iago, the pity of too often subjected to the dominion of the it, Iago!" It is the contemplated murder of subtle understanding and the unbridled will. Desdemona which thus tears his heart. But It is an unequal contest between the prin- his “ disordered power, engendered within ciples that are struggling for mastery in itself to its own destruction," hurries on the the individual man, when the attributes of catastrophe. We would ask, with Coleridge, the serpent and the dove are separated, and “ As the curtain drops, which do we pity the become conflicting. The wisdom which be- most?" longed to Othello's enthusiastic temperament
The first edition of 'King Lear' was pub- | neere St. Austins Gate, 1608.' Two other lished in 1608; its title was as follows: editions were published by Butter in the Mr. William Shake-speare his True Chronicle same year. It is remarkable that a play of History of the Life and Death of King Lear, which three editions were demanded in one and his three Daughters. With the un year should not have been reprinted till it fortunate Life of Edgar, Sonne and Heire was collected in the folio of 1623. Other of to the Earle of Glocester, and his sullen the plays, which were originally published in and assumed Humour of Tom of Bedlam. a separate form during the poet's life-time, As it was plaid before the King's Majesty were frequently reprinted before the folio at White-Hall, uppon S. Stephens Night; collection. Whether ‘Lear' was piratical, or in Christmas Hollidaies. By his Majesties whether a limited publication was allowed, it Servants playing usually at the Globe on the is clear, we think, that by some interference Banck-side. Printed for Nathaniel Butter, the continued publication was stopped. and are to be sold at his Shop in Paul's In the folio text of "Lear,' as compared Church-yard at the Signe of the Pied Bull with the text of the quarto, there are verbal
corrections, and additions and omissions; but | After the accession of James, when he was in the quarto text of that play the metrical proclaimed King of Great Britain, it was arrangement is one mass of confusion. This usual to merge the name of England in that circumstance appears to us conclusive that of Britain. Bacon thus explains the comthese quarto copies could not have been pletion of the old prophecy, “When hempe printed from the author's manuscript; and sponne, England 's donne.” The ancient yet they might have been printed from a metrical saying, “ Fy, fo, fum, I smell the genuine playhouse copy. The text of the blood of an English man,” becomes in ‘Lear, folio, in one material respect, differs con “I smell the blood of a British man;" and siderably from that of the quartos. Large in the quarto editions (Act IV., Scene 6) we passages which are found in the quartos are have omitted in the folio: there are, indeed, some lines found in the folio which are not in the
" And give the letters, which thou find’st about
me, quartos, amounting to about fifty. These
To Edmund, earl of Gloster; seek him out are scattered passages, not very remarkable
Upon the British party.” when detached, but for the most part essential to the
progress of the action or to the develop- The allusions derived from Harsnet's book ment of character. On the other hand, the fix the date of the tragedy as near as we can lines found in the quartos, which are not in desire it to be fixed. All that we can hope the folio amount to as many as two hundred for in these matters is an approximation to a and twenty-five; and they comprise one en date. It is sufficient for us to be confirmed, tire scene, and one or two of the most striking through such a fact, in the belief, derived from connected passages in the drama. It would internal evidence, that 'Lear' was produced be easy to account for these omissions by at that period when the genius of Shakspere the assumption that in the folio edition the
was “at its very point of culmination.” original play was cut down by the editors; The story of 'Lear' belongs to the popular for Lear,' without the omissions, is one literature of Europe. It is a pretty episode amongst the longest of Shakspere's plays. in the fabulous chronicles of Britain ; and, But this theory would require us to assume, whether invented by the monkish historians, also, that the additions to the folio were or transplanted into our annals from some made by the editors. These comprise several foreign source, is not very material. In the such minute touches as none but the hand of 'Gesta Romanorum,' the same story is told of the master could have superadded.
Theodosius, a wise emperor in the city of The period of the first production of 'Lear' Rome.” Douce has published this story from may be fixed with tolerable certainty. We the manuscript in the Harleian Collection. collect, from the registers of the Stationers' | It may be sufficient to give the beginning of Company, that 'Lear' was played before King this curious narrative, to show how clearly James, at Whitehall, upon St. Stephen's night, all the histories have been derived from a in the year 1606—that is, on the 26th of December. Here is the limit in one direction. In the other direction we have the publi
“ Theodosius regned, a wys emperour in the cation, in 1603, of Harsnet's Declaration cite of Rome, and myghti he was of power; the
whiche emperour had thre doughters. So hit of egregious Popish Impostures, from which
liked to this emperour to knowe which of his book Shakspere undoubtedly derived some
doughters lovid him best. And tho he seid to materials which he employed in the assumed
the eldest doughter, how moche lovist thou me? madness of Edgar. It is pretty clear, also, fforsoth, quod she, more than I do myself, therefrom two passages in the text of the quarto fore, quod he, thou shalt be hily avaunsed, and editions, that the author or the actors of the maried her to a riche and myghti kyng. Tho tragedy, “as it was played before the king's he cam to the secund, and seid to her, doughter, majesty," were careful to make two minute how moche lovist thou me? As moche forsoth, changes which would be agreeable to James. / she seid, as I do myself.
So the emperour
common source :
maried her to a duc. And tho he seid to the “ Leir, the son of Baldud, was admitted ruler third doughter, how moche lovist thou me? over the Britains in the year of the world 3105. fforsoth, quod she, as moche as ye beth worthi, At what time Joas reigned as yet in Juda. and no more. Tho seid the emperour, doughter, This Lcir was a prince of noble demeanour, sith thou lovist me no more, thou shalt not be governing his land and subjects in great wealth. maried so richely as thi susters beth. And tho He made the town of Cairleir, now called he maried her to an erle."
Leicester, which standeth upon the river of The French have a famous romance entitled
Dore. It is writ that he had by his wife three ‘La tres elegante delicieuse melliflue et tres daughters
, without other issue, whose names
were Gonorilla, Regan, and Cordilla, which plaisante hystoire du tres victorieux & ex
daughters he greatly loved, but especially the cellentissime Roy Perceforest Roy de la grant youngest, Cordilla, far above the two elder. Bretaigne,' of the veritable contents of which
“ When this Leir was come to great years, an account will be found in the Censura and began to wear unwieldy through age, he Literaria, vol. viii. These chronicles, ac thought to understand the affections of his cording to Sir Egerton Brydges,“ begin with daughters towards him, and prefer her whom the foundation of Troy, which they affirm to he best loved to the succession of the kingdom ; have been in the third age of the world, and therefore, he first asked Gonorilla, the eldest, that it was taken while Abdon was judge how well she loved him : the which, calling her over Israel. The travels of Brutus, and his gods to record, protested that she loved him wars in Great Britain and Aquitaine, follow, more than her own life, which by right and which took place while Saul reigned in Judea,
reason should be most dear unto her; with and Aristeus in Lacedemon. His grandson, which answer the father, being well pleased, , Rududribas, father of the celebrated Bladud, turned to the second, and demanded of her founded the ancient city of Canterbury, which how well she loved him ? which answered (conoccurred during the time in which Haggai, loved him more than tongue can express
firming her sayings with great oaths) that she Amos, and Joel prophesied. These curious
far above all other creatures in the world. circumstances are succeeded by the story of
“ Then called he his youngest daughter, Lear (son to Bladud) and his three daughters, Cordilla, before him, and asked of her what which was in the time of Isaiah and Hosea, account she made of him: unto whom she at which period also the city of Rome was
made this answer as followeth :Knowing the founded." The exact chronology of the great love and fatherly zeal you have always romancers and chroniclers is well worthy borne towards me (for the which, that I may not attention. Geoffrey of Monmouth is quite answer you otherwise than I think, and as my as precise as Pierceforest : “ At this time conscience leadeth me), I protest to you that flourished the prophets Isaiah and Hosea, I have always loved you, and shall continually and Rome was built upon the eleventh of the while I live love you, as my natural father; Calends of May, by the two brothers Romulus and if you would more understand of the love and Remus.” With such unquestionable that I bear you, ascertain yourself, that so much authority for the date of the story of Lear,
as you have, so much you are worth, and so well may Malone have been shocked when much I love you, and no more.
“ The father, being nothing content with this Edgar says, “ Nero was an angler in the lake
answer, married the two eldest daughters, the of darkness;" and we ought to be grave when we are also informed, with the most perfect and the other unto the duke of Albania, called
one unto the duke of Cornwall, named Henninus, gravity, “ Nero is introduced in the present Maglanus ; and betwixt them, after his death, play above eight hundred years before he he willed and ordained his land should be diwas born.” Shakspere found the story in his vided, and the one-half thereof should be imfavourite Holinshed ; and he probably did mediately assigned unto them in hand; but for not trouble himself to refer to Geoffrey of the third daughter, Cordilla, he reserved nothing. Monmouth, from whom Holinshed abridged “ Yet it fortuned that one of the princes of it. We subjoin the legend as told by Gallia (which now is called France), whose name Holinshed :
was Aganippus, hearing of the beauty, woman
hood, and good conditions of the said Cordilla, son-in-law and his daughter in what sort he had desired to have her in marriage, and sent over been used by his other daughters, Aganippus to her father, requiring that he might have her caused a mighty army to be put in readiness, to wife; to whom answer was made, that he and likewise a great navy of ships to be rigged might have his daughter, but for any dowry to pass over into Britain, with Leir his father-inhe could have none, for all was promised and law, to see him again restored to his kingdom. assured to her other sisters already.
“ It was accorded that Cordilla should also Aganippus, notwithstanding this answer of go with him to take possession of the land, denial to receive anything by way of dower with the which he promised to leave unto her, as Cordilla, took her to wife, only moved thereto his rightful inheritor after his decease, not(I say) for respect of her person and amiable withstanding any former grants made unto her virtues. This Aganippus was one of the twelve sisters, or unto their husbands, in any manner kings that ruled Gallia in those days, as in the or wise; hereupon, when this army and navy British history it is recorded. But to proceed : of ships were ready, Leir and his daughter after that Leir was fallen into age, the two dukes Cordilla, with her husband, took the sea, and, that had married his two eldest daughters, arriving in Britain, fought with their enemies, thinking it long ere the government of the and discomfirted them in battle, in the which land did come to their hands, arose against him Maglanus and Henninus were slain, and then in armour, and reft from him the governance of was Leir restored to his kingdom, which he the land, upon conditions to be continued for ruled after this by the space of two years, and term of life : by the which he was put to his then died, forty years after he first began to portion; that is, to live after a rate assigned to reign. His body was buried at Leicester, in him for the maintenance of his estate, which a vault under the channel of the river Dore, in process of time was diminished, as well by beneath the town.” Maglanus as by Henninus.
The subsequent fate of Cordelia is also " But the greatest grief that Leir took was to
narrated by Holinshed. She became Queen see the unkindness of his daughters, who seemed
after her father's death; but her nephews to think that all was too much which their father had, the same being never so little, in so much
"levied war against her, and destroyed a that, going from the one to the other, he was
great part of the land, and finally took her brought to that misery that they would allow prisoner, and laid her fast in ward, wherewith him only one servant to wait upon him.
In she took such grief, being a woman of a the end, such was the unkindness, or, as I may manly courage ; and, despairing to recover say, the unnaturalness, which he found in his liberty, there she slew herself.” Spenser, in two daughters, notwithstanding their fair and the second book of The Fairy Queen,' pleasant words uttered in time past, that, being canto 10, has told the story of Lear and his constrained of necessity, he fled the land, and daughters, in six stanzas, in which he has sailed into Gallia, there to seek some comfort of been content to put in verse,
very slight his youngest daughter, Cordilla, whom before he change or embellishment, the narrative of hated.
the chroniclers. The concluding stanza will “ The lady Cordilla, hearing he was arrived be a sufficient specimen :in poor estate, she first sent to him privately a sum of money to apparel himself withall,
“So to his crown she him restor'd again, and to retain a certain number of servants, that
In which he dy'd, made ripe for death by eld, might attend upon him in honourable wise, as
And after will'd it should to her remain; appertained to the estate which he had borne.
Who peaceably the same long time did weld, And then, so accompanied, she appointed
And all men's hearts in due obedience held; him to come to the court, which he did, and
Till that her sisters' children, woxen strong, was so joyfully, honourably, and lovingly re
Through proud ambition against her rebellid, ceived, both by his son-in-law Aganippus, and
And overcomen, kept in prison long, also by his daughter Cordilla, that his heart was
Till, weary of that wretched life, herself she greatly comforted : for he was no less honoured
hong." than if he had been king of the whole country The story of Lear had unquestionably been himself. Also, after that he had informed his dramatised before Shakspere produced his
tragedy. "The true Chronicle History of King Leir and his three Daughters, Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordella, as it hath been divers and sundry times lately acted,' was printed, probably for the first time, in 1605; but there can be no doubt that it belongs to a period some ten, fifteen, or perhaps twenty years earlier. In 1594 an entry was made at Stationers' Hall, of “The moste famous Chronicle Hystorie of Leire King of England, and his Three Daughters.' Theobald calls this old play “an execrable performance ;"
;. Percy, “a very poor and dull performance;" and Capell, “a silly old play.” It is certainly all these, when compared with the wonderful production of Shakspere; but we are by no means certain that it is not as good as half the pieces which occupied the stage, and not unsuccessfully, at the very time that Shakspere had produced some of his most glorious works. We subjoin a scene which will enable our readers to compare it with the first scene of Shakspere's 'Lear.'
Lear. Dear Gonoril, kind Regan, sweet
Cordelia, Ye flourishing branches of a kingly stock, Sprung from a tree that once did flourish
green, Whose blossoms noware nipt with winter'sfrost, And pale grim death doth wait upon my steps, And summons me unto his next assizes. Therefore, dear daughters, as ye tender the
safety Of him that was the cause of your first being, Resolve a doubt which much molests my mind, Which of you three to me would prove most
kind; Which loves me most, and which at my
request Will soonest yield unto their father's hest. “ Gonoril. I hope, my gracious father makes
no doubt Of any of his daughters' love to him: Yet, for my part, to show my zeal to you, Which cannot be in windy words rehears’d, I prize my love to you at such a rate, I think my life inferior to my love. Should you enjoin me for to tie a millstone About my neck, and leap into the sea, At your command I willingly would do it: Yea, for to do you good, I would ascend The highest turret in all Brittany, And from the top leap headlong to the ground:
Nay, more, should you appoint me for to marry
father's will? “Regan. Oh, that my simple utterance could
suffice To tell the true intention of my heart, Which burns in zeal of duty to your grace, And never can be quench'd, but by desire To show the same in outward forwardness. Oh, that there were some other maid that
durst But make a challenge of her love with me; I'd make her soon confess she never loved Her father half so well as I do you. I then my deeds should prove in plainer case, How much my zeal aboundeth to your grace: But for them all, let this one mean suffice To ratify my love before your eyes: I have right noble suitors to my love, No worse than kings, and haply I love one: Yet, would you have me make my choice anew, I'd bridle fancy, and be ruled by you. “ Lear. Did never Philomel sing so sweet
a note. “ Cordelia. Did never flatterer tell so false
a tale. “ Lear. Speak now, Cordelia, make my joys
at full, And drop down nectar from thy honey lips. “Cordelia. I cannot paint my duty forth in
words, I hope my deeds shall make report for me: But look what love the child doth owe the
father, The same to you I bear, my gracious lord. “ Gonoril. Here is an answer answerless
indeed: Were you my daughter, I should scarcely
cock as thou art, To make our father such a slight reply? “ Lear. Why how now, minion, are you
grown so proud ? Doth our dear love make you thus peremptory? What, is your love become so small to us, As that you scorn to tell us what it is?