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I. SCENE I.
King Lear's Palace,
Enter Kent, Gloster, and Edmund. Kent. I thought, the king had more affected the duke of Albany, than Cornwall.
The story of this tragedy had found its way into many bal. lads 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, (which I have already published at the end of a collection of the quarto copies) 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. booke entituled, The moste famous Chronicle Hystorie 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. See the extracts from these Entries at the end of the Prefaces, &c. From The Mirror of Magiftrates, 1586, Shakspeare has, however, 'taken the hint for the behaviour of the Steward, and the reply of Cordelia to her father concerning her future marri. age. The episode of Glofter and his sons must have been borrowed from Sidney's Arcadia, as I have not found the least trace of it in any other work. I have referred to these pieces, whenever our author seems more immediately to have followed them, in the course of my notes on the play. For the first King Lear, see likewise Six old Plays on which Shakespeare founded, &c. published for S. Leacroft, Charing-Cross.
The reader will also find the story of K. Lear, in the second book and oth canto of Spenser's Faery Queen, and in the 15th 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, (as will appear in the notes) 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 ;
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 3 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, fir, hath been at my charge: I have so often blush'd to acknowledge him, that now I am braz'd to't.
Kent. I cannot conceive you.
which, if the thing ever happened, probably was the real origin of the fable. See under the head of Wife Speeches. Percy.
in the divihon of the kingdom, — There is something of obscurity or inaccuracy in this preparatory scene. The king has already divided his kingdom, and yet when he enters he examines his daughters, to discover in what proportions he should divide it. Perhaps Kent and Glofter only were privy to his defign, which he ftill kept in his own hands, to be changed or performed as subsequent reasons fhould determine him.
JOHNSON. 3 equalities,] So, the first quartos; the folio reads Qualities. Johnson.
Either may serve; but of the former I find an instance in the Flower of Friendship, 1568 : “ After this match made, and equalities considered, &c." STEVENS.
* -that curiosity in neitber-) Curiosity, for exactest scrutiny. The sense of the whole sentence is, The qualities and properties of the several divisions are so weighed and balanced against one another, that the exactest fcrutiny could not determine in preference one share to the other. WARBURTON.
Curiofity is scrupulousness, or captiousness. So, in the Taming of a Sbrew, act IV. sc. iv.
" For curious I cannot be with you." STEEVENS. 5- make choice of either's moiety.) The Atrict sense of the word moiety is balf, one of two equal parts; but Shakspeare commonly uses it for any part or divifion.
Methinks my moiety north from Burton here,
In quantity equals not one of yours: and here the division was into three parts. STEEVENS.
Heywood likewise uses the word moiety as synonymous to any part or portion. “I would unwillingly part with the greatest moiety of my own means and fortunes." Hift. of Women, 1624. See Vol. V. p. 372. MALONE.
upon she grew round-wombed ; and had, indeed, 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, o fome 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 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.
Glo. He hath been out nine years, and away he
[Trumpets found within.
Enter Lear, Cornwall, Albany, Goneril, Regan, Cor
delia, and attendants.
The some year elder than this,] The Oxford editor, not understanding the common phrase, alters year to years. He did not consider, the Bastard says:
For that I am fome twelve or fourteen moon-fhines
The map there.-Know, that we have divided,
This word may admit a further explication. We shall express our darker purpose; that is, we have already made known in fome measure our desire of parting the kingdom ; we will now discover what has not been told before, the reasons by which we Dall regulate the partition. This interpretation will justify or palliate the exordial dialogue. JOHNSON,
-and 'lis our fait intent.) This is an interpolation of Mr. Lewis Theobald, for want of knowing the meaning of the old reading in the quarto of 1608, and firit folio of 1623; where we find it,
-and 'tis our first intent; which is as Shakspeare wrote it; who makes Lear declare his purpose with a dignity becoming his character: that the fir reason of his abdication was the love of his people, that they might be protected by such as were better able to discharge the truit; and his natural affection for his daughters, only the second.
WARBURTON. Fat is the reading of the first folio, and, I think, the true reading. JOHNSON. - from our age;] The quartos read-off our fate.
STEEVENS. Conferring them on younger strengths,] is the reading of the folio; the quartos read, Confirming them on younger years.
STEEVENS. -while we, &c.] From while we, down to prevented now, is omitted in the quartos. STEEVENS.
3 –conftant will seems a confirmation of fast intent. JOHNSON.
Çonftant is firm, determined. Constant will is the certa voluntas of Virgil. The same epithet is used with the same meaning in the Merchant of Venice:
-else nothing in the world Could turn so much the constitution Of any confiant man. STEEVENS.
Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,
Gon. Sir, 1
( Afide. Lear. Of all these bounds, even from this line to
this, With shadowy forests and with champains rich’d,
* Since now, &c.] These two lines are omitted in the quartos.
STEEVENS. s Where nature doth with merit challenge. - Where the claim of merit is fuperadded to that of nature; or where a superiour degree of natural filial affection is joined to the claim of other merits. STEEVENS.
6 Beyond all manner of so much Beyond all alignable quantity. I love you beyond limits, and cannot say it is so much, for how much soever I should name, it would be yet more.
JOHNSON. 7 do?-) So the quarto; the folio has speak. JOHNSON.
-and with champains rich’d, With plenteous rivers) These words are omitted in the quartos. To rich is an obsolete verb. It is used by Tho. Drant in his translation of Horace's Epiftles, 1567 : “ To ritch his country let his words lyke flowing water fall.”
STEEVENS. Rich'd is used for enrichd, as 'rice for entice, 'bare for abatı, frain for sonstrain, &c. Monck Mason.