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“ Edm. Some officers take them away:
doomed, shines like a place of vergood guard ;
nal and summer joy. Until their greater pleasures first be
“ We two alone will sing like birds i'the known, That are to censure them. Cor. We are not the first,
And to higher thoughts than of pleaWho, with best meaning, bave incurr'd santness and peace,“ the aged mothe worst.
narch's soul awoke.” The very esFor thee, oppressed king, am I cast down; sence of his being seems to have Myself could else out-frown false fortune's
come sublimed from the furnace of frown.
affliction. A loftier occupation shall Shall we not see these daughters, and be his in his dungeon, than he had these sisters?
ever dreamt of in his palace. Lear. No, no, no, no! Come, let's away to prison :
“ And take upon us the mystery of things, We two alone will sing like birds i'the
As if we were God's spies!" cage :
As if-saith Samuel Johnson-50When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down,
lemnly — we were angels commisAnd ask of thee forgiveness : So we'll sioned to survey and report the lives live,
of men, and were consequently enAnd pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and
dowed with the power of prying in. laugh
to the original motives of action and Atgilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
the mysteries of conduct. Talk of court news; and we's talk with “ Enter LEAR, with Cordelta dead in his them too,
arms; EDGAR, Officer, and Others. Who loses, and who wins; who's in, Lear. Howl, howl, howl, howl!-0, who's out;
you are men of stones; And take upon us the mystery of things, Had I your tongues and eyes, I'd use As if we were God's spies : And we'll them so wear out,
That heaven's vault should crack:--0, In a wall’d prison, packs and sects of
she is gone for ever! great ones,
I know when one is dead, and when one That ebb and flow by the moon.
lives; Edm. Take them away.
She's dead as earth :-Lend me a lookLear. Upon such sacrifices, my Cor. ing-glass; delia,
If that her breath will mist or stain the The gods themselves throw incense. Have
stone, I caught thee?
Why, then she lives." He, that parts us, shall bring a brand
from beaven, And fire us hence, like foxes. Wipe thine eyes ;
“ And my poor fool is hang'd! -No, no, The goujeers shall devour them, flesh and
no life! fell, Ere they shall make us weep : we'll see
them starve first. Come.
Do you see this? Look on her, - look, [Ereunt Lear and Cor
- her lips,-DELIA, guarded.”
Look there, look there! [He dies.” What a blessed change has been wrought on poor old Lear! No
Almost every word spoken by more he cries
Cordelia have we here set down;
how few they are—butin power how “ the tempest in my mind mighty! Well and beautifully does Doth from my senses take all feeling else, the gifted lady, whose work has been Save what beats here."
lying before us while we have been
writing, say, that “ if Lear be the He has forgotten the hovel on the grandest of Shakspeare's Tragedies, heath-the creature “crown'd with Cordelia, in herself, as a human berank fumiter," " singing aloud,” “as ing, governed by the purest and homad as the vext sea” —he will not liest impulses and motives, the most think of those“ unnatural hags.”- refined from all dross of selfishness “ No-no-no-no”—but the pri- and passion, approaches nearest to son to which he and his Cordelia are perfection; and in her adaptation, as
& dramatic personage, to a determi- nor yet to see it acted; but we benate plan of action, may be pro- lieve the original sinner was Tate, of nounced altogether perfect. Amid the firm of Tate, Brady, and Co. Dr the awful, the overpowering interest Johnson observes, " that though the of the story; amid the terrible con- important moral, that villainy, is vulsions of passion and suffering, never at a stop, that crimes lead to and pictures of moral and physical crimes, and at last terminate in ruin, wretchedness, which harrow up the be incidentally enforced, yet Shaksoul, the tender influence of Corde- speare has suffered the virtue of lia, like that of a celestial visitant, is Cordelia to perish in a just cause, felt and acknowledged without being contrary to the natural ideas of jusquite understood. Like a soft star tice, to the hope of the reader, and that shines for a moment from be- what is yet more strange, to the faith hind a stormy cloud, and the next of the Chronicler,” And he seems is swallowed up in tempest and surprised that this conduct is justidarkness, the impression it leaves fied by the Spectator, who blames is beautiful and deep,-but vague. Tate for giving Cordelia success and From the simplicity with which the happiness in the alteration, and decharacter is dramatically treated, and clares that in his opinion “ the trathe small space it occupies, few are gedy has lost half
its beauty.” Saaware of its internal power or its muel sides with Tate against Shakwonderful depth of purpose. If Cor- speare and Addison. But though delia remind us of any thing on earth, Samuel-in this case-be in the it is of one of those Madonnas in the wrong, we cannot but respect and old Italian pictures, ' with downcast love the high-minded and tendereyes beneath th' Almighty dove;'_hearted heretic. “A play,” quoth and as that heavenly form is con- he,“ in which the wicked prosper, nected with our human sympathies and the virtuous miscarry, may only by the expression of maternal doubtless be good, because it is a tenderness or maternal sorrow, even just representation of the common 80 Cordelia would be almost too an- events of human life; but since all gelic, were she not linked to our reasonable beings naturally love jusearthly feelings, bound to our very tice, I cannot easily be persuaded hearts, by her filial love, her wrongs, that the observation of justice makes her suffering, and her tears."
a play worse; or that if other excel. In the story of King Lear and his lencies are equal, the audience will Three Daughters, as it is related in not always rise better pleased from the “ delectable and mellifluous" the final triumph of persecuted virromance of Perce Forest, and in the tue. In the present case, the public Chronicle of Geoffrey of Monmouth, has decided. Cordelia, from the time the conclusion is fortunate. Mrs of Tate, has always retired with vicJameson says that she supposes “it tory and felicity: And if my sensais by way of amending his errors, and tions could add any thing to the bringing back this daring innovator general suffrage, I might relate I was to sober history, that it has been many years ago so shocked with Corthought fit to alter the play of Lear delia's death, that I know not whefor the stage as they have altered ther I ever endured to read again Romeo and Juliet. They have con. the last scenes of the play till I unverted the seraph-like Cordelia into dertook to revise them as an editor.” a puling love-heroine, and sent her Too harrowing had been the horoff victorious at the end of the play, ror-too dreadful the terror-the -exit with drums and colours fly- pity too severe, to the shuddering ing-to be married to Edgar.” This soul of him, rightly called the great last is rather too bold a stroke for a English Moralist. He could not enwife, seeing that Cordelia has a hus- dure to see Lear enter with Cordeband already—the King of France. lia dead in his arms-to hear him But him, we presume, they put out utter “ O my poor fool is hanged !" of the way by death, or divorce; and He was afraid to read those scenes Cordelia walks off in the character —glad to escape from the belief that of the Widow Bewitched.
such wretchedness could be in this We have never been so fortunate world-happy to see sunshine stream as to read this version of the story, down at last from the black sky, and settle into a spot of peace on the bo- from his grief for the death of Corsom of the green earth. For sake of delia ; and if he is also to be saved, such relief from pathos too intense, and to pass the remainder of his he was willing to sacrifice the most days in happiness, the whole loses awful triumph ever achieved by the its meaning. According to Shakgenius of mortal man over the dark- speare's plan, the guilty, it is true, are est mysteries of our nature.
all punished, for wickedness destroys Blame him not-rather let him itself; but the auxiliary virtues are have our reverence. Neither, surely, everywhere too late, or overmatchis he to be found fault with for say ed by the cunning activity of malice. ing, that “ since all reasonable be- The persons of the drama have only ings love justice, he cannot easily such a faint belief in providence as be persuaded that the observation of heathens may be supposed to have ; justice makes a play worse." It and the poet here writes to shew us must always make it better. But is that this belief requires a wider there here any injustice? To the range than the dark pilgrimage on Jast moment of her life Cordelia was earth to be established in its utmost happy
extent.” Most true. Only the light “ Fair creature! to whom Heaven
from beyond the grave can enable A calm and sinless life, with love, bath
our eyes to see into the mystery of
the darkness in which all things on given !"
this side of it are shrouded ; and A few days of what we might call poetical justice itself can only be felt misery were all she ever suffered.
in the spirit of religion. She could not change insanity into Charles Lamb, alluding to Tate's perfect health—but she said,
botchings, says well—" It is not “ O my dear father! Restoration, hang
enough that Cordelia is a daughter, Thy medicine on my lips ; and let this she must shine as a lover too." kiss
Where is her husband ? He seems Repair those violent harms, that my two
to have come with her across the sisters
Channel-but to have been recalled Have in thy reverence made !"
by some sudden disturbances in
France. Nobody doubts that CorAnd Restoration came at that invo- delia was a perfect wife. That is cation, and did her bidding ; so that, implied in her filial piety. But her wher afterwards sent to prison to- conjugal duties were for a while to gether, Lear said they two would lie dormant and forgotten-along sing there, like“ birds i’ the cage!" with her lord and their mutual love. And so they did ; till a slave stole in She was sent on a higher missionupon their holy communion, and and in Nature's holiest cause she Cordelia in a moment was murder
was a martyr. “ A happy ending!" ed—and sent to bliss.
exclaims Mr Lamb—"as if the living “ O fairest flower! no sooner blown than martyrdom that Lear had gone blasted!"
through-the flaying of his feelings
alive, did not make a fair dismissal For not till then was the beauty of from the stage of life, the only decoCordelia's being full blown, under the sunshine of joy and the dews of and be happy after, if he could sus
rous thing for him. If he is to live pity—it was perfect-and in its per tain the world's burden after, why fection ceased to be on earth, and all this pudder and preparationwas transferred to heaven.
why torment us with all this unne“ Thou thy worldly tásk hast done, cessary sympathy? As if the childHome art gone, and tå'en thy wages."
ish pleasure of getting his gilt robes
and sceptre again could tempt him to What were they-her wages ? Bless- act over again his misused station ings from her father's quieted eyes ! -as if, at his years and with his exthe still delight of duty unconscious perience, any thing was left but to of its own grandeur in the depth of die!" love!
Characters of the Affections ! HerSchlegel speaks well—" after sur-mione, Imogen, Desdemona, and viving so many suffeting Lear Cordelia! Farewell. May we now can only die in a tragical manner be permitted to philosophize ?
The language of ethical writers pleasure, does or does not bear a mind in general seems to oppose the idea of which the state itself, considered of making the Affections objects of without respect to the particular acmoral approbation.
tions it suggests, but regarded as a Thus Dr Reid, (Essay V., Chap. 5,) frame of mind, (only with confidence speaks unequivocally : _" If virtue that it is sufficiently sincere and fixed and vice be a matter of choice, they to produce its own actions when ocmust consist in voluntary actions, or casion may arise,) is not an object of in fixed purposes of acting according moral approbation ? Now there can to a certain rule, when there is op- be but one answer, that the filial portunity,and not in qualities of mind piety of such a child would be the which are involuntary."
object of our very purest and highest Thus Mr Stewart, (Outlines, 257, and most delighted praise. Yet in 258,) more explicitly still :-" Thé such a mind there shall be no consipropriety or impropriety of our con- deration that these feelings are right, duct depends in no instance on the and that feelings different from these strength or weakness of the affection, would be wrong. There shall be nobut on our obeying or disobeying the thing but the pure and simple inspiradictates of reason and of conscience.” tion of affection. Still less would there In connexion with which he says, be in such a temper of mind, and in “our affections were given us to ar. all the feelings that sprung up in it, rest our attention to particular ob- any thing of election or choice. The jects, whose happiness is connected very supposition that they are affecwith our exertions; and to excite tions, precludes all choice. The acts and support the activity of the mind, indeed are matter of choice, but they when a sense of duty might be ina derive their worth and character sufficient for the purpose.”
solely from the motive, in which Both these writers here speak there is here no choice; and even what may be considered as the re- these are not considered by the ceived language of moralists. They mind by any rule of right, but are are not proposing new views, but tried merely how far they accord referring to acknowledged princi- with the feelings that are in the ples.
heart. In all these observations it is laid Now, this single case, if it be addown as an unquestionable maxim, mitted, will entirely set aside the that in order to constitute virtue, absolute authority of those two there must be in the mind of the principles which we have cited from agent at the time a knowledge of his Dr Reid and Mr Stewart, and which conformity with the rule of virtue. are very commonly admitted. It It is further represented by Dr Reid, will shew that these rules require to that to make any thing right, it must be explained, and to be much rebe matter of choice or election, stricted in their application ; that if wbich the affections are not.
they are useful, it is in particular · Now, we cannot help thinking, that cases ; but that as absolute tests of notwithstanding both these maxims, morality, in which sense they are which would exclude the affections, proposed, they do not hold good ;generally speaking, from morality, since here is a case of a very high they are nevertheless esteemed, and moral order, in which they are tojustly esteemed, by the common tally inapplicable. And this case, it sentiment of mankind, as the great will be observed, though proposed constituents of virtue.
as a single one, is merely the reLet us speak first of a class of af- presentative of a very extensive orfections which are uniformly looked der of moral cases,-all those of pure, upon with the bighest respect, and good, rightly-directed native affecmost decided moral approbation- tion. The instance of a mind so perthose which regard parents; and we fectly pure and good as we have supwould ask, whether a child whose posed, is a rare one, but such do ocmind is much filled with these affec- cur; and it would be no vindication, tions, is full of reverence, of fond and but the strongest objection, to a grateful feeling, towards those to theory of morals, that it would not whom it seems to itself to owe all include those cases, however rare, things, tenderly fearful to give them which were rare only from the height pain, and only solicitous to do their of moral excellence they implied. We
have represented nearly the only piness of disposition, and of the cir-
But the same will hold mind towards the Supreme Being,
sideration that he was so, or any It is true that passing emotions of temptation of evil entering into his right feeling are not virtue; nor is a mind to tell him that he had a consingle good affection. But suppose science,-if all his affections for earth any man, who in all the various re- and heaven could have been right, lations of life feels kindly, warmly, and pure, and strong, and all in their generously, and who in performing just proportion, so that every allureall its offices is influenced by the ment to ill that could have been pleasure he feels, and by a sense of offered to him should have appeared natural aversion to that wbich would not matter of deliberation but of abbe contrary to his just, kind, right horrence,—that this state, which, acfeelings-should we withhold our cording to the ethical maxims in esteem from such a man, and say question, must be without any merit that his feelings had no moral qua- or claim to praise, would have been lity because they were involuntary ? in truth the highest moral state conor his actions, because they were ceivable. These maxims then canprompted by his feelings, and not not be supported. measured to a known rule of right? But, constituted as human nature
We are inclined to think, that by is, this state is not possible. In man far the greater part of the moral ap- good is mixed with evil, and it is probation and disapprobation we be- this mixture which gives occasion to stow in life, is given from recogni- all ethical enquiry. The contention sing the presence or absence of such between good and evil is that strife right affections.
of which conscience is the umpire. If the nature of man be truly con- It is reflection on the tendencies of sidered, and the purport of the great- these two opposite forces that gives er part of the moral instruction which rise to a rule of right. It is the alhe receives, and the moral discipline lurement which both good and evil he passes through, it will be found offer to the mind, that makes virtue that the great object of all is to frame a matter of volition and choice. him to right feelings. Are these feel- From this mixed state, then, and this ings right and moral only because subjection of human nature to two they have been formed in the mind different powers, arises a great deagainst nature ? And do they lose partment of morality. And, as it aptheir character when by greater hap- pears to us, all that has been usually