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OBSERVATIONS.

THE story of this tragedy had found its way into many ballads and

other metrical pieces; yet Shakspeare seems to have been more indebted to The True Chronicle History of King Leir and his Three Daughters, Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordella, 1605, than to all the other performances together. It appears from the books at Stationers' Hall, that some play on this subject was entered by Edward White, May 14, 1594. * A booke entituled, The moste famous Chronicle Historie of Leire King of England, and his Three Daughters.A piece with the same title is entered again, May 8, 1605; and again Nov. 26, 1607. From The Mirror for Magiftrates, 1587, Shake speare has, however, taken the hint for the behaviour of the Steward, and the reply of Cordelia to her father concerning her future marriage. The episode of Gloster and his sons must have been bor. rowed from Sidney's Arcadia. For the first King Lear, see likewise Six old Plays on which Shakefpeare founded, &c. published for S. Leacroft, Charing-Crofs.

The reader will also find the story of K. Lear, in the second book and icth canto of Spenser's Faery Queen, and in the 35th chapter of the third book of Warner's Albion's England, 1602.

The whole of this play, however, could not have been written till after 1603. Harsnet's pamphlet, to which it contains so many references, was not published till that year. STEEVENS.

Camden, in his Remains, (p. 306. ed. 1674,) tells a similar story to this of Leir or Lear, of Ina king of the West Saxons; which, if the thing ever happened, probably was the real origin of the fable. See under the head of Wife Speeches. PERCY.

The story told by Camden in his Remaines, 4to. 1605, is this:

« Ina, king of Welt Saxons, had three daughters, of whora upon a time he demanded whether they did love him, and so would do during their lives, above all others : the two elder sware deeply they would ; the youngest, but the wifeft, told her father flatly, without Hattery, that albeit The did love, honour, and reverence him, and so would whilft the lived, as much as nature and daughterly dutie at the uttermost. could expect, yet she did think that one day it would come to passe that

She

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She should affe& another more fervently, meaning her husband, when she
were married; who being made one fleth with her, as God by com-
mandment had told, and nature had taught her, the was to cleave fast
to
, forfaking father and mother, kiffe and kinne. [Anonymous. ] One
referreth this to the daughters of king Leir."
It is, I think, more probable that Shakspeare had this passage in his
thoughts, when he wrote Cordelia's reply concerning her future mar-
riage

, than The Mirrour for Magistrates, as Camden's book was pub. lished recently before he appears to have composed this play, and that portion of it which is entitled Wife Speeches, where the foregoing pal{age is found, furnished him with a hint in Coriolanus.

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 suba ject probably forf suggested to him the idea of making it the groundwork of a tragedy.

Geoffrey of Monmouth says, that Leir, who was the eldest son of Bladud, " nobly governed his country for fixty years.” According to that historian, he died about 800 years before the birth of Christ.

The name of Leir's youngest daughter, which in Geoffrey's history, in Holinshed, The Mirrour for Magistrates, and the old anonymous play, is Cordeilla, Cordila, or Cordella, Shakspeare found foftened into Cordelia by Spenser in his Second Book, Canto X. The names of Edgar and Edmund were probably fuggested by Holin hed. See bis Chronicle, Vol. I. p. 122: «'Edgar, the son of Edmund, brother of Athelftane,” &c.

This tragedy, I believe, was written in 1605. MALONE,

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PERSONS REPRESENTED.

LEAR, King of BRITAIN.
King of France.
Duke of BURGUNDY.
Duke of CORNWALL.
Duke of ALBANY.
Earl of Kent.
Earl of GLOSTER.
EDGAR, Son to GLOSTER.
EDMUND, Bastard Son to GLOSTER.
CURAN, a Courtier.
Old Man, Tenant to GLOSTER.
Physician.
Fool.
OSWALD, Steward to GONERIL.
An Officer, employed by EDMUND.
Gentleman, attendant on CORDELIA.
A Herald.
Servants to CORNWALL.

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Knights attending on the King, Officer's, Meffengers, Soldiers,

and Attendants.

SCENE. Britain.

KING LEAR.

ACT I. SCENE I.

A Room of State in King LEAR's Palace.

Enter Kent, GLOSTER, and EDMUND.

Kent.

I THOUGHT, the king had more affe£ted the duke of

Albany, than Cornwall. Glo. It did always seem so to üs: buc now, in the divifion of the kingdom, it appears not which of the dukes he values most; for equalities are so weigh'd, that curiosity in neither can make choice of either's moiety.

Kent. Is not this your son, my lord ?

Glo. His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge: I have so often blush'd to acknowledge him, that now I am brazed to it.

Kent. I cannot conceive you.

Glo. Sir, this young fellow's mother could: whereupon the grew round-wombed ; and had, indeed, fir, a fon for her cradle, ere she had a husband for her bed. Do you smell a fault?

Kent. I cannot with the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper.

Glo. But I have, fir, a son by order of law, some year elder than this, who yet is no dearer in my account: though this knave came somewhat faucily into the world before he was sent for, yet was his mother fair ; there was

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good

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. 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 found witbin. Enter LEAR, CORNWALL, ALBANY, GONERIL, REGAN,

CORDELIA, and Attendants.
Lear. Attend the lords of France and Burgundy,

Gloster.
Glo. I shall, my liege.

[Exeunt GLOSTER and EDMUND.
Lear. Mean-time we shall express our darker purpose.
Give me the map there.-Know, that we have divided,
In three, our kingdom: and 'tis our fast intent
To take all cares and business from our age ;
Conferring them on younger strengths, while we
Unburden'd crawl toward death.-Our son of Cornwall,
And you, our no less loving son of Albany,
We have this hour a constant will to publish
Our daughters' several dowers, that future strife
May be prevented now. The princes, France and Burgundy,
Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,
Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,
And here are to be answer'd.-Tell me, my daughters,
(Since now we will deveft us, both of rule,
Interest of territory, cares of state,)
Which of you, shall we fay, doth love us most?

That

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