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Bradley, A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth.
2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1905.
PAGE 452

without it. (2) It does not seem likely that at the end of the scene Shakespeare would have introduced anything violently incongruous with the immediately preceding words,

Oh let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven!
Keep me in temper: I would not be mad!

(3) Even if he had done so, it is very unlikely that the incongruous words would have been grossly indecent. (4) Even if they had been, surely they would not have been irrelevantly indecent and evidently addressed to the audience, two faults which are not in Shakespeare's way. (5) The lines are doggerel. Doggerel is not uncommon in the earliest plays; there are a few lines even in the Merchant of Venice, a line and a half, perhaps, in As You Like It; but I do not think it occurs later, not even where, in an early play, it would certainly have been found, e.g. in the mouth of the Clown in All's Well. The best that can be said for these lines is that they appear in the Quartos, i.e. in reports, however vile, of the play as performed within two or three years of its composition.

     (b) I believe, almost as decidedly, that the second passage, III. ii. 79 ff., is spurious. (1) The scene ends characteristically without the lines. (2) They are addressed directly to the audience. (3) They destroy the pathetic and beautiful effect of the immediately preceding words of the Fool, and also of Lear's solicitude for him. (4) They involve the absurdity that the shivering timid Fool would allow his master and protector, Lear and Kent, to go away into the storm and darkness, leaving him alone. (5) It is also somewhat against them that they do not appear in the Quartos. At the same time I do not think one would hesitate to accept them if they occurred at any natural place within the dialogue.

     (c) On the other hand I see no sufficient reason for doubting the genuineness of Edgar's soliloquy at the end of III. vi. (1) Those who doubt it appear not to perceive that some words of soliloquy are wanted; for it is evidently intended that, when Kent and Gloster bear the King away, they should leave the Bedlam behind. Naturally they do so. He is only accidentally connected with the King; he was taken to shelter with him merely to gratify his whim, and as the King is now asleep there is no occasion to retain the Bedlam; Kent, we know, shrank from him, 'shunn'd [his] abhorr'd society' (V. iii. 210). So he is left to return to the hovel where he was first found.

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