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greatly loved, but especially the youngest, Cordilla, far above the two elder.
“When this Leir was come to great years, and began to wear unwieldy through age, he thought to understand the affections of his daughters towards him, and prefer her whom he best loved to the succession of the kingdom ; therefore, he first asked Gonorilla, the eldest, how well she loved him : the which, calling her gods to record, protested that she loved him more than her own life, which by right and reason should be most dear unto her ; with which answer the father, being well pleased, turned to the second, and demanded of her how well she loved him ? which answered (confirming her sayings with great oaths) that she loved him more than tongue can express, and far above all other creatures in the world.
“Then called he his youngest daughter, Cordilla, before him, and asked of her what account she made of him : unto whom she made this answer as followeth :-Knowing the great love and fatherly zeal you have always borne towards me (for the which, that I may not answer you otherwise than I think, and as my conscience leadeth me), I protest to you that I have always loved you, and shall continually while I live love you, as my natural father ; and if you would more understand of the love that I bear you, ascertain yourself, that so much as you have, so much you are worth, and so much I love you, and no more.
“The father, being nothing content with this answer, married the two eldest daughters, the one unto the duke of Cornwall, named Henninus, and the other unto the duke of Albania, called Maglanus; and betwixt them, after his death, he willed and ordained his land should be divided, and the one-half thereof should be immediately assigned unto them in hand; but for the third daughter, Cordilla, he reserved nothing.
“ Yet it fortuned that one of the princes of Gallia (which is now called France), whose name was Aganippus, hearing of the beauty, womanhood, and good conditions of the said Cordilla, desired to have her in marriage, and sent over to her father, requiring that he might have her to wife; to whom answer was made, that he might have his daughter, but for any dowry he could have none, for all was promised and assured to her other sisters already.
"Aganippus, notwithstanding this answer of denial to receive anything by way of dower with Cordilla, took her to wife, only moved thereto (I say) for respect of her person and amiable virtues. This Aganippus was one of the twelve kings that ruled Gallia in those days, as in the British history it is recorded. But to proceed : after that Leir was fallen into age, the two dukes that had married his two eldest daughters, thinking it long ere the government of the land did come to their hands, arose against him in armour, and reft from him the governance of the land, upon conditions to be continued for term of life : by the which he was put to his portion ; that is, to live after a rate assigned to him for the maintenance of his estate, which in process of time was diminished, as well by Maglanus as by Henninus.
“But the greatest grief that Leir took was to see the unkindness of his daughters, who seemed to think that all was too much which their father had, the same being never so little, in so much that, going from the one to the other, he was brought to that misery that they would allow him only one servant to wait upon him. In the end, such was the unkindness, or, as I may say, the unnaturalness, which he found in his two daughters, notwithstanding their fair and pleasant words uttered in time past, that, being constrained of necessity, he fled the land, and sailed into Gallia, there to seek some comfort of his youngest daughter, Cordilla, whom before he hated.
“The lady Cordilla, hearing he was arrived in poor estate, she first sent to him privately a sum of money to apparel himself withall, and to retain a certain number of servants, that might attend upon him in honourable wise, as appertained to the estate which he had borne. And then, so accompanied, she appointed him to come to the court, which he did, and was so joyfully, honourably, and lovingly received, both by his son-in-law Aganippus, and also by his daughter Cordilla, that his heart was greatly comforted: for he was no less honoured than if he had been king of the whole country himself. Also, after that he had informed his sonin-law and his daughter in what sort he had been used by his other daughters, Agapippus caused a mighty army to be put in readiness, and likewise a great navy of ships to be rigged, to pass over into Britain, with Leir his father-in-law, to see him again restored to his kingdom.
“It was accorded that Cordilla should also go with him to take possession of the land, the which he promised to leave unto her, as his rightful inheritor after his decease, notwithstanding any former grants made unto her sisters, or unto their husbands, in any manner or wise ; hereupon, when this army and navy of ships were ready, Leir and his daughter Cordilla, with her husband, took the sea, and, arriving in Britain, fought with their enemies, and discomfited them in battle, in the which Maglanus and Henninus were slain, and then was Leir restored to his kingdom, which he ruled after this by the space of two years, and then died, forty years after he first began to reign. His body was buried at Leicester, in a vault under the channel of the river Dore, beneath the town.”
Shelley, in his eloquent Defence of Poetry,' published in his 'Posthumous Essays,' &c., has stated the grounds for his belief that the 'Lear' of Shakspere may sustain a comparison with the master-pieces of the Greek tragedy. modern practice of blending comedy with tragedy, though liable to great abuse in point of practice, is undoubtedly an extension of the dramatic circle ; but the comedy should be as in ‘King Lear,' universal, ideal, and sublime. It is, perhaps, the intervention of this principle which determines the balance in favour of 'King Lear' against the 'Edipus Tyrannus' or the 'Agamemnon,' or, if you will, the trilogies with which they are connected ; unless the intense power of the choral poetry, especially that of the latter, should be considered as restoring the equilibrium. 'King Lear,' if it can sustain that comparison, may be judged to be the most perfect specimen of the dramatic art existing in the world.” We now understand 'King Lear' in this spirit. In the last century, Nahum Tate, whose “Lear' held possession of the stage to our own times, was not laughed at when he said, of the most perfect specimen of the dramatic art existing in the world—“ It is a heap of jewels, unstrung and unpolished, yet so dazzling in their disorder that I soon perceived I had
seized a treasure.” There is only one mode in which such a production as the ? Lear' of Shakspere can be understood by study, and by reverential reflection. The age which produced Tate's miserable parody of 'Lear' was, as far as regards the knowledge of the highest efforts of intellect, an artificial age. Tate was tolerated because Shakspere was not read, We lave arrived, in some degree, to a better judgment, because we have learnt to judge more humbly. The very sensible view which M. Guizot took of the contest in France between the classic and romantic schools of poetry is a true exposition of the mode in which we should regard 'Lear' as a work of art :
“This intellectual ferment can never cease, as long as the question shall be mooted as a contest between science and barbarism—the beauties of order, and the irregular influences of disorder; as long as we shall obstinately refuse to see, in the system of which Shakspere has traced the first outlines, nothing more than a liberty without restraint-an indefinite latitude, which lies open as much to the freaks of the imagination as to the course of genius. If the romantic system has its beauties, it has necessarily its art and its rules. Nothing is beautiful for man that does not owe its effect to certain combinations, of which our judgment may always disclose to us the secret when our emotions have borne witness to their power. The employment of these combinations constitutes art. Shakspere had his own art. To discover it in his works we must examine the means which he used, and the results to which he aspired.”—Life of Shakspere.