Obrazy na stronie

Thai. Lord Cerimon hath letters of good credit,
Sir, that my father's dead11.
Per. Heavens make a star of him12! Yet there,

my queen,
We'll celebrate their nuptials, and ourselves
Will in that kingdom spend our following days;
Our son and daughter shall in Tyrus reign.
Lord Cerimon, we do our longing stay,
To hear the rest untold.-Sir, lead the way.


Enter GOWER. Gow. In Antioch13, and his daughter, you have

heard Of monstrous lust the due and just reward: In Pericles, his queen and daughter, seen (Although assaild with fortune fierce and keen),

The poet has, however, been guilty of a slight inadvertency. If Pericles made the vow almost immediately after the birth of Marina, it was hardly necessary for him to make it again, as he has dune, when he arrived at Tharsus.

11 In the fragment of the Old Metrical Romance the father dies in his daughter's arms.

Zitt was hys fader-in-lawe a lyve
Archistrates the good kyng,
Folk come ageynes bym so blyve
As epy myght by othr thyng ;
They song daunsede & were blythe,
Thai ever he myghte that day yseo,
And thonked God a thousand sythe,
The kynge was gladdest ever be ye.
Tho he saw hem alle by fore
Hyo doughtr & hys sone in lawe,
And hys doughtr 80 fair y core,
A kyngis wyfe heo was wel fawe,
And her chyld ther also
Al clene of kyngis blod,
He buste hem, ho was glad tho
But the olde kyng so goud.
He made hem dwelle that yer

AND DEYDE IN RYS DOUGHTRS ARM. 12 Tbis potion is borrowed from the ancients, who expressed their mode of conferring divine honours and immortality on men, by placing them among the stars.

13° i. e. the king of Antioch. The old copy reads Antiochus. Steevens made the alteration, observing that in Shakepeare's other plays we have Francc for the king of France ; Morocco for ske king of Morocco, &c.



ACT 1.

Virtue preserv'd from fell destruction's blast,
Led on by heaven, and crown'd with joy at last.
In Helicanus may you well descry
A figure of truth, of faith, of loyalty:
In reverend Cerimon there well appears,
The worth that learned charity aye wears.
For wicked Cleon and his wife, when faine
Had spread their cursed deed, and honour'd name
of Pericles, to rage the city turn;
That him and his they in his palace burn.
The gods for murder seemed so content
To punish them; although not done, but meant.
So on your patience evermore attending,
New joy wait on you! Here our play has ending.

[Exit GOWER.

That this tragedy has some merit, it were vain to deny; but that it is the entire composition of Shakspeare, is more than can be Piastily granted. I shall not venture with Dr. Farmer, to determine that the band of our great poet is only visible in the last act; for I think it appears in several passages dispersed over each of these divisions. I find it difficult, however, to persuade myself that he was the original fabricator of the plot, or the author of every dialogue, chorus, &c.




PRELIMINARY REMARKS. The story of King Lear and his three daughters was originally told by Geffrey of Monmouth, from whom Holinshed transcribed it; and in his Chronicle Shakspeare had certainly read it: but hc seems to have been more indebted to the old anonymous play, entit, led The True Chronicle Hystorie of Leire, King of England, and hia Three Daughters Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordella, 1605. A play with that title was entered on the Stationers' books by Edward White, May 14, 1594 ; and there are two other entries of the same piece, May 8, 1605 ; and Nov. 26, 1607. From the Mirror of Magisirates Shakepeare has taken the hint for the behaviour of the Steward, and the reply of Cordelia to her father, concerning her future marriage. The Episode of Gloucester and his sons must have been borrowed from Sidney's Arcadia, no trace of it being found in the other sources of the fable. The reader will also find the story of King Lear in the second book and tenth canto of Spenser's Faerie Queene, and in the fifteenth chapter of the third book of Warner's Albion's England. Camden, in his Remaines, under the head of Wise Speeches, tells a similar story to this of Lear, of Ina, king of the West Saxons; which, if the thing ever happened, probably was the real origin of the fable. The story has found its way into many ballads and other metrical pieces; one ballad will be found in Dr. Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry,, vol. i. 3d edit. The story is also to be found in the unpablished Gesta Romanorum, and in the Romance of Perceforest. The whole of this play could not have been written till after 1603. Harenet's Declaration of Popish Impostures, to which it contains so many references, and froin which the fantastic names of several spirits are borrowed, was not published till that year. It must have been produced before the Christmas of 1606; for in the entry of Lear on ihe Stationers' Register, on the 26th of November, 1607, it is expressly recorded to bave been played, during the preceding Christinas, before his majesty at Whitehall. Malone places the date of the composition in 1605; Dr. Drake in 1604.

Of this noble tragedy, one of the first productions of the noblest of poets, it is scarcely possible to express our admiration in adequate terms. Whether considered as an effort of art, or as a picture of the passione, it is entitled to the highest praise. The two portions of which the fable consists, involving the fate of Lear and his danghters, and of Gloster and his sons, influence each other in 80 many points, and are blended with such consummate skill, that whilst the imagination is delighted by diversity of circumstances, the judgment is equally gratified in viewing their mutual cooperation towards the final result; the coalescence being so intimate, as

« PoprzedniaDalej »