« AnteriorContinuar »
sides, with which he shifts from generated in a great measure from the journal to narrative, and from nar- model of Waverley. A wit of Charles rative to journal (such is the miscel- the Second's age would call the great· laneous form of his book), seems to .er part of the dialogue in these present indicate the same anxiety, the same volumes-low; and to a less fopindecent haste, to get to the end of pish critic of George the Fourth's his work, and the bottom of our reign, its vigour might certainly appurses, without much troubling him- pear of a description somewhat too self about the means he takes to little refined to un-deserve that excome there.
pressive character. The Great UnFrom the incalculable superiority known seems indeed to write this of genius which the dialogue of these rakehelly kind of dialogue con amore, Novels exhibits above the dialogue and with superior facility; the neof Halidon Hill, we have sometimes cessity therefore under which he labeen perplexed in the extreme how bours, of writing more novels in the to identify, with complete satisfac- year than he ought, may be some tion, Sir Walter Scott and the Au- excuse for his indulging in this spethor of Waverley; the vigour oftheone cies of composition, which to all apseems wholly uncongenial with the pearance flows as readily from his tameness of the other. Different minds pen as the ink will allow of. That seem to have generated the prose and same unavoidable necessity will we the poetic dialogue. Redgauntlet does have no doubt palliate the other not enable us to solve the riddle; its numberless imperfections of Reddialogue, though frequently, as we gauntlet (solely, let it be remembered, have shown, un-characteristic, is al- arising from haste and confusion), ways spirited and forceful. Preserv- with those at least of his readers who ing however the same distance from are less bountifully supplied with the dialogue of Halidon Hill as its good sense than good nature. predecessors did, it has likewise de
Are more pleasant to me
Than the smiles that flee
But the world is gay
In the hot sun-ray,
And I love to dream
In the shadowy beam,
Which shall never be old,
Nor seared, nor cold,
ON THE MADNESS OF LEAR. The story of this tragedy is said produced a catastrophe so exquisitely to have been taken from “ The true touching and natural, as to make an Chronicle History of King Leir and audience shrink with sensitive horror his three daughters, Gonorell, Ragan, from a contemplation of it? A caand Cordella.” Some play on the same tastrophe of one of the most beausubject was entered at Stationers' tiful tragedies our language boasts, Hall, by Edward White, May 14, brought about by a train of probable 1594. The present is supposed to events, affecting persons whose sorhave been written by Shakspeare, in rows have made them dear to us! 1605.
There can be little doubt that Shak" There is, perhaps, no play," says speare intended to make the afflicDr. Johnson, « which keeps the at tions and death of Cordelia the strong tention so strongly fixed-which so links by which to bind our sympamuch agitates our passions, and in- thies to the fate of Lear. Without her terests our curiosity. The artful in- the impetuous monarch would excite volutions of distinct interests, the but little compassion-he had not striking oppositions of contrary cha
« borne his faculties so meek,” nor racters, the sudden changes of for- been “so clear in his great office,” tune, the quick succession of events, as to generate the popular affection, fill the mind with a continual tumult and make his subjects feel the king's of indignation, pity, and hope. There calamity as their own misfortune ; is no scene which does not contribute indeed,“ the best and soundest of to the aggravation of the distress, or his time had been but rash.” conduct of the action, and scarce A temper naturally irritable and a line which does not conduce to the impatient of contradiction, the habit progress of the scene.” Such was of giving unrestrained indulgence to the opinion of the great critic, yet in its caprices, and the fractiousness and the same paper he speaks as it were imbecility of age, sufficiently prein censure of the Spectator, for de- pared Lear on the advent of disaster claring that Tate had deprived the for a paroxysm of insanity. tragedy of half its beauty, by his The first and second scenes exhibit alteration in giving Cordelia success him greedily swallowing the mawkand happiness. The literary levia- ish beverage of strained adulation, than then observes : “ In the pre- and turning in wrath and disgust sent case the public has decided. from the pure element of truth, afCordelia from the time of Tate has fection, and discriminate duty: they always retired with victory and feli- record the abrupt and causeless discity; and if my sensations could add inheritance of his favourite child; and any thing to the general suffrage, I the banishment of Kent, for intermight relate I was many years ago posing the voice of reason and reso shocked by Cordelia's death, that conciliation “ between the sentence I know not whether I ever endured and the power” of majesty. to read again the last scenes of the Lear.
Now our joy, play till I undertook to revise them Although the last not least : Speak. as an Editor.” Mr. Stevens has ob Cordelia. Unhappy that I am, I cannot served with every appearance of truth,
heave that “ Dr. Johnson should rather My heart into my mouth ; I love your have said that the managers of the
Majesty theatres-royal have decided, and the You have begot me, bred me, loved me: I
According to my bond ; nor more, nor less. public has been obliged to acquiesce Return those duties back as are right fit; in their decision. The altered play Obey you, love you, and most honour you. has the upper gallery on its side: the Why have my sisters husbands, if they say original drama was patronized by They love you all ? Haply when I shall wed, Addison :
That Lord whose hand must take my plight, Victrix causa Diis placuit, sed victa Catoni.”
Half my love with him, half my care and What higher testimony can be ad duty : duced of the exalted genius of Shak- Sure I shall never marry, like my sisters ; speare, than the fact of his having To love my father, all.
Lear. So young and so untender ?
This is not Lear. Cordelia. So young, my Lord, and true. Does Lear talk thus ? Speak thus ? Where Lear. Let it be so, thy truth then be thy are his eyes ? dower ;
The succeeding speech of Goneril Here I disclaim all my paternal care, Propinquity and property of blood;
calls forth the intemperance of his And, as a stranger to my heart and me,
rage: Hold thee from this for ever.
Darkness and devils. Kent. Good, my liege.
And afterwards: Leur. Peace, Kent,
Detested kite, thou liest. Come not between the dragon and his
At length comes his horrible dewrath.
munciation, which is conceived in the
sublimity of terrific grandeur, and The bow is bent and drawn, make from conveyed in language admirably dethe shaft.
scriptive of the array of thought. Kent. Let it fall rather, though the fork invade
Hear, nature ! hear, dear Goddess, hear! The region of my heart. Be Kent un Suspend thy purpose, if thou didst intend mannerly
To make this creature fruitful!
Into her womb convey sterility !
Dry up in her the organs of increase, (Laying his hand on his sword.) That from her derogate body never spring Kent. Do,
A babe to honour her. If she must teem, Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow
Create her child of spleen, that it may live, Upon the foul disease.
And be a thwart disnatured torment to her : Lear. (to Kent.) Since thou hast sought Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth, to make us break our yow,
With cadent tears fret channels in her To come between our sentence and our
Turn all her mother's pains and benefits -power (Which nor our nature nor our place can
To laughter and contempt--that she may
feel bear), Our potency make good--take thy reward. How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is Five days we do allot thee for provision,
To have a thankless child. To shield thee from diseases of the world, When he calmly considers the inAnd on the sixth to turn thy hated back dignities that have been heaped upon Upon our kingdom. If on the tenth day him, and reverts to the ingratitude of following
his two daughters, reflection serves Thy banish'd trunk be found in our domi. only to increase his tortures, and he nions,
feels an apprehension of supervening The moment is thy death.
Oh! let me not be mad—not mad, sweet Cornwall and Albany, Heaven! With my two daughters' dowers, digest the Keep me in temper- I would not be mad.
third; Let pride, which she calls plainness, marry this presentiment is not uncommon.
In many states of mental affliction, her. I do invest you jointly with my power,
The conflict of passions produces Pre-eminence, and all the large effects palpitations and anxieties about the That troop with Majesty.
region of the heart; the blood as
cends in flushes, and appears to scald Thou hast her, France. Let her be thine, ed and increased assemblage of ideas
the brain in its passage, and a crowdfor we Have no such dar.ghter, nor shall ever see
produce confusion in the mind. Of That face of hers again. Therefore, be- these precursors, Lear experienced gone,
many intimations, and he exerts him\Vithout our grace, our love, our benison. self to suppress the kindling of his
rage : When the authority of Lear is Oh! how this mother swells up
my afterwards questioned by his daugh heart, ter Goneril, he is so surprised, that Hysterica passio! Down, thou climbing he doubts of his personal identity.
sorrow, The approximations to insanity are Thy element's below. introduced with great skill—they Again he checks himself, and suphave a regular succession, and aug- poses that the “fiery Duke” of Cornment.
wall may be actually indisposed :
a kind of instinctive horror, a soreAnd am fallen out with my more headierness that penetrates to the quick, will,
and at which he writhes when he
O Regan! Goneril !
gave all; unnatural children, and perceives his Oh! that way madness lies: let me shun impending distraction:
that: O fool, I shall go mad.
No more of that. When Goneril and Regan have Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are, barred him out, he alternately braves That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm, the storm with violent imprecations, How shall your houseless heads and unfed and conciliates it with a wounded sides, spirit.
Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, deBlow! winds, and crack your cheeks,
From seasons such as these : Oh! I have
ta'en I tax not you, ye elements, with unkindness, Too little care of this. Take physic, pomp, I never gave you kingdom, call'd you Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel, children;
That thou may'st shake the superflux to
And show the heavens more just.
Although Lear's mind had been
strained by the torture it had underAgain he endeavours to restrain the confines of madness; he has per
gone, he has only hitherto approached the bursting torrent of his passion :
ceived the dangerous brink on which No! I will be the pattern of all patience, he stands, and caught in momentary I will say nothing
glimpses the distractions that hover And concludes a speech of exqui- round him. It is not till he comes in site beauty with a temperate and contact with the counterfeit lunatic consoling reflection :
that the fabric of his intellect loosens ;
and he presumes that no misfortune I am a man More sinn'd against than sinning.
could have reduced another so low in
the scale of humanity, but the sources The actual perversion of his mind of his own affliction. At sight of is now fast approaching; the alarm Edgar, who feigns madness to answer for the continuance of reason in
a purpose, he asks creases ; his restraints are less effec- What! have his daughters brought him to tually imposed. Some internal sensations whisper that the mental Could'st thou save nothing? Didst thou eclipse is commencing:
give them all ? My wits begin to turn.
How admirable is the contrivance, Lear next becomes aware that he and how natural the result of this insustains privations with extraordi- terview between Lear and Edgar. nárý nerve, and that cold and hun- The king, with his mind oppressed ger do not exert their usual influence and weakened by the ingratitude of on his frame. This insensibility to his children, meets the pretended external impressions is a marked maniac, and concludes that symptom of approaching and exist
Nothing could have subdued ing derangement, and it is physiologically accounted for by the inimita- To such a lowness but his unkind daughble author.
When the mind's free Adding-
Still reason, though feebly and tre- When contemplating the wretched mulously, holds the rein ; and he feels appearance of Edgar, he says,
Why, thou wert better in thy grave than to recurrence to the source of his de
rangement :With thy uncovered body this extremity of « Then let them anatomize Regan. the skies.
See what breeds about her heart. Is Is man no more than this ? Consider him there any cause in nature that makes
these hard hearts?” Thou ow'st the worm no silk, the beast no
In the ruins of his mind, many hide, The sheep no wool, the cat no perfume :
fragments of the stately pile still reHa! here's three* of us are sophisticated ! main entire; for even madness canThou art the thing itself: unaccommodated not extinguish pride and ambition : Man is no more but such a poor, bare, and in his wildest sallies, recollection forked
prompts him, “ that he is every inch Animal as thou art.- Off! off! you lend. a king ;” and that when a Monarch ings :—Come,
« stares “ the Subject quakes.” Unbutton here
Even in our ashes live our wonted fires. And immediately begins to tear off his own clothes. The declension of
Thedutiful and affectionate Cordelia, Lear's mind into raving madness by hearing that her father wanders about force of sympathy, created by the mad as the vext sea, singing loud,” frantic appearance and manner of is solicitous for his restoration by Edgar, is exquisitely simple and na
medical sagacity and experience. She tural.' In stripping off his garments is informed that he lacks repose ; that
there to copy the nakedness of Edgar, Lear manifests the first overt act of insa- Are many simples operative whose powers nity.
Will close the eye of anguish. Off, off, you lendings:-Come, unbutton
These medical agents are employhere.
ed with so much effect, that in the Delighted with the maniac, the pi- heaviness of his sleep his attendants tiless pelting of the storm is disre- put fresh garments on him. In this garded, and he leaves his friends un scene, Shakspeare displays not only heeded to form a nearer intimacy a perfect knowledge of the disease with his new acquaintance: his de- under which Lear labours, but an inrangement magnifies the wretched timate acquaintance with the course and brainless wanderer into an oracle of medical treatment which in those of wisdom, and a sage preceptor; days, and, indeed, until very recently, the remonstrance of his attendants is
was pursued with a view to its cure. disregarded, he lingers “ to talk with It may fairly be presumed that some this philosopher,' “ this learned narcotic drug, some oblivious antiTheban,” “this good Athenian.” He dote, had been administered in order adheres to him with an affection and to procure the desired repose, as the confidence that banish all fears for king's first impressions, when he is his own safety; he seems inspired by awakened by Cordelia, are obviously his associate, and his madness blazes the broken continuation of a distresswith a rival flame :
ing dream, as if he had been roused To have a thousand with red burning spits before the operation of the opiate had Come hissing in upon them.
been exhausted: And again,
You do me wrong to take me out o' the The little dogs and all,
grave. Tray, Blanch, and Sweetheart, see, they Thou art a soul in bliss : but I am bound bark at me.
Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears The poet felt that the mere imperti
Do scald like molten lead. nency of madness could not be long Cordelia inquires, “ Sir, do you sustained; it would fail to excite the know me?” attention, and would lower the digni Lear replies, “ You are a spirit, ty of the scene: the deprivation of I know. When did you die?" reason is therefore supplied by acute The gradual and imperfect return ness of feeling, and an impassioned of perception, the glance at his suf
Meaning the fool, Kent, and himself. The fool is omitted in the representation, and only Lear, Kent, and Edgar, appear on the stage.