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Lear's disordered mind be the loss of his kingdom or the cruelty of his daughters. Mr. Murphy, a very judicious critic, has evinced by induction of particular passages, that the cruelty of his daughters is the primary source of his distress, and that the loss of royalty affects him only as a secondary_and subordinate evil. He observes with great justness, that Lear would move our compassion but little, did we not rather consider the injured father than the degraded king.
The story of this play, except the episode of Edmund, which is derived, I think, from Sidney, is taken originally from Geoffrey of Monmouth, whom Holinshed generally copied ; but perhaps immediately from an old historical ballad. My reason for believing that the play was posterior to the ballad, rather than the ballad to the play, is, that the ballad has nothing of Shakspeare's nocturnal tempest, which is too striking to have been omitted, and that it follows the chronicle; it has the rudiments of the play, but none of its amplifications: it first hinted Lear's madness, but did not array it in circumstances. The writer of the ballad added something to the history, which is a proof that he would have added more, if more had occurred to his mind, and more must have occurred if he had seen Shakspeare. JOHNSON.
The story of King Leir and his three daughters was originally told by Geoffrey of Monmouth, from whom Holinshed transcribed it; and in his Chronicle Shakspeare had certainly read it, as it occurs not far from that of Cymbeline; though the old play on the same subject probably first suggested to him the idea of making it the ground-work of a tragedy.
Geoffrey of Monmouth says, that Leir, who was the eldest son of Bladud, "nobly governed his country for sixty years." According to that historian, he died about 800 years before the birth of Christ.
This tragedy, I believe, was written in 1605. See An Attempt to ascertain the Order of Shakespeare's Plays.
The episode of Gloster and his sons is undoubtedly formed on the story of the blind king of Paphlagonia in Sidney's Arcadia. MALONE.
The reader will also find the story of King Lear, in the second book and 10th canto of Spenser's Fairy Queen, and in the 15th chapter of the third book of Warner's Albion's England, 1602.. STEEVENS
LEAR, king of Britain.
EDGAR, son to Gloster.
EDMUND, bastard son to Gloster.
CURAN, a courtier.
Old Man, tenant to Gloster.
OSWALD, steward to Goneril.
Servants to Cornwall.
Knights attending on the King, Officers, Messengers,
SCENE 1.-4 Room of State in King LEAR's Palace. Enter KENT, GLOSTER, and EDMUND.
THOUGHT, the king had more affected the duke of Albany, than Cornwall.
Glo. It did always seem so to us: but now, in the division of the kingdom, it appears not which of the dukes he values most; for equalities are so weighed, that curiosity in neither' can make choice of either's moiety.
Kent. Is not this your son, my lord?
Glo. His breeding, sir, has been at my charge: I have so often blushed to acknowledge him, that now I am brazed to it.
Kent. I cannot conceive you.
Glo. Sir, this young fellow's mother could: whereupon she grew round-wombed; and had, indeed, sir, a son for her cradle, ere she had a husband for her bed. Do you smell a fault?
Kent. I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper.
Glo. But I have, sir, a son, by order of law, some year elder than this, who yet is no dearer in my account though this knave came somewhat saucily into the world before he was sent for, yet was his mother fair; there was good sport at his making, and the whoreson must be acknowledged.-Do you know this `noble gentleman, Edmund ?
Edm. No, my lord.
Glo. My lord of Kent: remember him hereafter as my honourable friend.
Edm. My services to your lordship.
 Curiosity is scrupulousness, or captiousness. So, in the Taming of the Shrew, "For curious I cannot be with you
Kent. I must love you, and sue to know you better.
Edm. Sir, I shall study deserving.
Glo. He hath been out nine years, and away he shall again :-The king is coming. [Trumpets sound within. Enter LEAR, CORNWALL, ALBANY, GONERIL, REGAN, CORDELIA, and Attendants.
Lear. Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloster.
Glo. I shall, my liege. [Exeunt GLO. and EDMUND. Lear. Mean-time we shall express our darker purpose.
Give me the map there.-Know, that we have divided,
Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,
Which of you, shall we say, doth love us most?
Gon. Sir, I
Do love you more than words can wield the matter,
Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;
No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour:
 Darker-for more secret ; not for indirect, oblique. WARBURTON. This word may admit a further explication. "We shall express our darker purpose": that is, we have already made known in some measure our design of parting the kingdom; we will now discover what has not been told before, the reasons by which we shall regulate the partition. This interpolation will justify or palliate the exordial dialogue. JOHNSON.
 Beyond all assignable quantity. I love you beyond limits, and cannot say, It is so much; for how much soever I should name, it would yet be more. JOHNSON.
Cor. What shall Cordelia do? Love, and be silent.
Lear. Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,
Reg. I am made of that self metal as my sister,
Which the most precious square of sense possesses;
In your dear highness' love.
Cor. Then poor Cordelia !
And yet not so; since, I am sure, my love's
Lear. To thee, and thine, hereditary ever,
You have begot me, bred me, lov'd me: I
Lear. Nothing can come of nothing: speak again.
My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty
Lear. How, how, Cordelia? mend your speech a little, Lest it may mar your fortunes.
Cor. Good my lord,
 My sister has equally expressed my sentiments only she comes short of me in this, that I profess myself an enemy to all joys but you."-That I profess, means, in that I profess. M. MASON.
 Perhaps square means compass, comprehension.
 Validity-for worth, value; not for integrity or good title. WARB, VOL. VIII.