Obrázky na stránke

Then, as if rendered, by the shock, dubious of his own identity, he turns to those about him, and asks

Does any here know me? Why, this is not Lear:
Does Lear walk thus?—speak thus?—where are his eyes!“
Either his notion weakens, or his discernings
Are lethargy'd-Ha! waking!—'Tis not so.-
Who is it that can tell me who I am-Lear's shadow?
I would learn that; for by the marks
Of sovereignty, of knowledge, and of reason,
I should be false persuaded I had daughters

Your name, fair gentlewoman? What pen, what imagination can do justice to this wonderful effusion?- What a complicated picture of internal agony, confusion and horror is here presented to the mind! All Lear's functions are for the moment suspended_his sorrow in astonishment-his rage in doubt and incredulity_his sensations reach above complaint-and his wrongs are so far beyond all likelihood, that he feels disposed rather to disbelieve his own existence, or his having children, than to give credit to the baseness of Goneril, till it is forced upon his belief by her cruel reply: then, for the first time, his feelings break forth in a succession of the most pathetic complaints, frightful execrations, poignant invectives against his own folly, and furious denuncïations against his daughter. It may, without fear of controversy, be affirmed, that a passage cannot be found in any poet, dramatic or other, in which passion is wrought up with equal probability or effect, to so stupendous a height-not one in which, without bursting the brain, the feelings are urged so close to the confines of madness, or in which every heart is so irresistibly summoned to sympathize with suffering humanity.

Lear. Darkness and devils!-
Saddle my horses; call my train together-
Degenerate bastard! I'll not trouble thee;
Yet have I left a daughter!

-Woe, that too late repents,

O sir, are you come? [ALBANY, Goneril's husband, enters.
Is it your will ?-Speak, sir! -Prepare my horses.
Ingratitude! thou marble-hearted fiend,
More hideous when thou show'st thee in a child,
Than the sea monster.

Albany. Pray, sir, be patient.



Lear. Detested kite! thou liest:

(to Goneril.
My train are men of choice and rarest parts,
That all particulars of duty know;
And in the most exact regard support
The worships of their name.- most small fault!
How ugly didst thou in Cordelia show,
Which, like an engine, wrench'd my frame of nature
From the fixt place, drew from my heart all love
And added to the gall. O Lear, Lear!
Beat at this gate that let thy folly in, (striking his head.
And thy dear judgment out!--Go, go, my people.

Albany. My lord, I am guiltless, as I am ignorant
Of what hath mov'd you.

Lear. It be so my lord.
Hear, nature! hear; [kneels.] dear goddess, hear a father!
Suspend thy purpose, if thou didst intend
To make this creature fruitful!
Into her womb convey sterility;
Dry up in her the organs of increase,
That from her derogate body never spring
A babe to honour her! If she must teem,
Create her child of spleen; that it may live,
And be a thwart disratur'd torment to her!
Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth;
With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks;
Turn all her mother's pains and benefits
To laughter and contempt; that she may feel
How sharper than a serpent's tongue it is
To have a thankless child.--Away, away!

Albany. Now, gods that we adore, whereof comes this?

Goneril. Never afflict yourself to know the causo;
But let his disposition have that scope
That dotage gives it.


Re-enter LEAR.

Here we have fresh occasion to notice the unparalleled judgment of Shakspeare in the distribution of his parts. The short departure of Lear gives an opportunity to Albany to avow his innocence and heighten the guilt of Goneril, by showing that he has no participation in it: besides it displays a natural trait in the feelings of the old king, who goes away—but cannot find it in his heart to leave his offending daughter without some further expostulation; and there. fore returns to vent his feelings further-the diminution of his train first in his mouth, because it is uppermost in his thoughts:

Lear. What, fifty of my followers at a chop!
Albany. What's the matter, sir?

Lear. I'll tell thee;-life and death! I am asham'd
That thou (to Goneril.] hast power to shake my manhood thus:
That these hot tears, which break from me perforce,
Should make thee worth them.-Blasts and fogs upon thee!
The untended woundings of a father's curse
Pierce every sense about thee! Old fond eyes
Beweep this cause again, I'll pluck you out;
And cast you with the waters that you lose
To temper clay.-Ha! is it come to this?
Let it be so: Yet I have left a daughter,
Who, I am sure, is kind and comfortable;
When she shall hear this of thee, with her nails
She'll flay thy wolfish visage. Thou shalt find,
That I'll resume the shape which thou dost think
I have thrown off for ever; thou shalt find, I warrant thee!

[Exit Lear with his attendants. As we have traversed this act in detail, word by word with the author, we have at each step felt additional motives to condemn the alterations of this tragedy. There is not a part, or, as Garrick once wrote, "a drop" of it, that can be spared without injury to the piece. A proof of this is, that the reader's mind accompanies the author with delight through every sentence: for it is not only the rapidity, yet correctness—the orderly connexion, yet the vivid spirit, with which the action is conducted, which renders every scene so irresistible, but the sentiments so characteristic and illustrative, and the language in which they are conveyed so forcible, perspicuous and just, (every word being in its proper place, and requisite to the progression of the story) that nothing in the whole appears superfluous, and therefore every thing that is taken away must do an injury. Even the speeches of the Fool, though they retard the action of the play, and, along with it, the march of the mind, are so replete with wit, and, under the guise of idiocy, so full of what Johnson calls axioms of domestic wisdom that, with a very slight alteration,if judiciously managed,

the character would greatly enhance the value of the play, and the pleasure to be derived from it.

(To be continued.)

[graphic][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]
« PredošláPokračovať »