By MICHAEL CAINES
On Sunday evening, I eavesdropped on a conversation at Samuel Johnson's house. The writer Charlotte Lennox and the great man himself began it; they were soon joined by Dr Johnson's former pupil, the actor David Garrick. The subject of their chat was a play: King Lear.
They sipped their dishes of tea, and disputed. What had Shakespeare done with his sources? How had Nahum Tate and Garrick, in turn, "improved" on Shakespeare? And now what was Johnson going to do with it, since he was meant to be editing this most unbearably unjust of tragedies for his edition of Shakespeare's plays? . . .