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the most learned on the subject, whether such an event, as here described, ever, in reality, occurred.
But, if it never did before the time of Shakspeare, certainly something very like it has taken place since. Lear is not represented much more affectionate to his daughters by Shakspeare, than James the Second is by Hume. James's daughters were, besides, under more than ordinary obligations to their king and father, for the tenderness he had evinced towards their mother, in raising her from a humble station to the elevation of his own; and thus preserving these two princesses from the probable disgrace of illegitimate birth.
Even to such persons as hold it was right to drive King James from the throne, it must be a subject of lamentation, that his beloved children were the chief instruments of those concerned. When the king was informed that his eldest daughter, Mary, was landed, and proceeding to the metropolis, in order to dethrone him, he called, as the historian relates, for the princess Anne-and called for her by the tender description of his " dear, his only remaining daughter.” On the information given to his majesty in return, that “she had forsook the palace to join her sister," the king wept and tore his hair.
Lear, exposed on a bleak heath, suffered not more than James, at one of our sea-ports, trying to escape to France. King Lear was only pelted by a storm, King James by his merciless subjects.
Not one of Shakspeare's plays more violently agitates the passions than this tragedy; parents and chil. dren are alike interested in every character, and instructed by each. There is, nevertheless, too much of ancient cruelty in many of the events. An audience finds horror prevail over compassion on Gloster's loss of his eyes: and though Dr Johnson has vindicated this frightful incident, by saying, “ Shakspeare well knew what would please the audience for which he wrote," yet this argument is no apology for the correctors of Shakspeare, who have altered the drama to gratify spectators more refined, and yet have not expunged this savage and improbable act.
The nice distinction which the author has made between the real and the counterfeit madman in this tragedy, is a part of the work particularly admired by the experienced observers of that fatal disorder; and, to sum up the whole worth of the production, the reader may now say of it, with some degree of qualification, what Tate said before he had employed much time and taste on the alteration : " It is a heap of jewels, unstrung and unpolished, yet so dazzling in their disorder, that I soon perceived I had seized a treasure.”
It is curious and consolatory for a minor critic to observe, how the great commentators on Shakspeare differ in their opinions.
Tate alters the play of King Lear, and instead of suffering the good Cordelia to die of grief, as Shakspeare had done, he rewards her with life, love, and a throne. Addison, in his Spectator, condemns him for this; Dr Johnson comends him for it; both showing excellent reasons. Then comes Stecvens, who gives a better reason than all, why they are all wrong:
DRURY-LANE. COVENT-GARDEN. KING LEAR
Mr Kemble. Mr Cooke. DUKE OF BURGUNDY Mr Dignum. Mr Wilkinson: DUKE OF CORNWALL Mr C. Kemble. Mr Klanert. DUKE OF ALBANY Mr Whitfield. Mr Claremont. EARL OF KENT Mr Aickin. Mr Waddy. EARL OF GLOSTER Mr Packer. Mr Hull. EDGAR
Mr Wroughton. Mr Siddons, EDMUND
Mr Cory, FIRST KNIGHT Mr Caulfield. Mr Atkins. SECOND Do. Mr Phillimore. Mr L. Bologna. THIRD Do.
Mr Muddocks. Mr Harley. PHYSICIAN
Mr Jones. Mr Davenport, CAPTAIN OF THE Mr Trueman. Mr Jefferies:
Mr Cooke. OSWALD
Mr R. Palmer. Mr Farley. HERALD
Mr Bland. Mr Abbot. PAGE TO GONERIL Master Chatterley, Mr Edatt. PAGE TO REGAN Mr Gell.
Mr King. OLD MAN
Mr Burton. Mr Siminons. EDWARD
Mr King FIRST, RUFFIAN Mr Webb.
Mr Wild. SECOND Do,
Mr Evans. Mr Ledger. GONERIL
Mrs Cuyler. Mrs Dibdin. REGAN
Mrs Pozoell. Mrs St Leger, CORDELIA
Mrs Siddons Miss Murray, ARANTHE
Miss Tidswell Mrs Edwards.