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KING LEAR.

PRELIMINARY NOTICE.

THE Stationers' Registers contain the following memorandum concerning this tragedy, under the date, November 26th, 1607; “Na. Butter and Jo. Busby] Entered for their copie under t' hands of Sir Geo. Bucke, Kt. and the Wardens, a booke called Mr. Willm Shakespeare his Hystorye of Kinge Lear, as yt was played before the King's Majestie at Whitehall, upon St. Stephen's night at Christmas last, by his Majesties servants playing usually at the Globe on the Bank-side.” which proves that it was acted at court, on the 26th of December 1606. In 1608, no less than three editions of it in quarto were issued, all by the same stationer. One of these is intituled,—“Mr. William Shak-speare: His True Chronicle Historie of the life and death of King Lear and his three daughters. With the vnfortunate life of Edgar, sonne and heire to the Earle of Gloster, and his sullen and assumed humort of Tom of Bedlam. As it was played before the kings Maiestie at Whitehall upon S. Stephens night in Christmas Hollidayes. By his Maiesties seruants playing vsually at the Gloabe, on the Bancke-side.-London, printed for Nathaniel Butter, and are to be sold at his shop in Pauls Churchyard at the signe of the Pide Bull neere St. Austins Gate. 1608."

The two other impressions are described as,—“M. William Shakespeare, His True Chronicle History of the life and death of King Lear, and his three Daughters. With the ynfortunate life of Edgar, sonne and heire to the Earle of Glocester, and his sullen and assumed humour of Tom of Bedlam. As it was plaid before the Kings Maiesty at White-hall, vppon S. Stephens night in Christmas Hollidaies. By his Maiesties Seruants, playing vsually at the Globe, on the Banck-side.-Printed for Nathaniel Butter. 1608.”

No other edition of “King Lear” has been discovered, prior to that of the folio 1623, which differs materially from the text of the quartos, chiefly in the omission of large portions of matter found in the latter, in numberless minute verbal changes, and also by the addition of about fifty lines peculiar to itself. The omissions appear to have been made for the better adapting the piece to representation, and a careful comparison of the quarto and folio texts convinces us that, unlike that of Richard III., the text of Lear in the folio is taken from a later and revised copy of the play. Whether the curtailment is the work of the author, it is impossible

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now to determine; it is not always judicious, and some of the substitutions are inferior to the language they displace; yet, on the other hand, the additions which we meet with in the folio bear the undoubted mark of Shakespeare's mint, and while the metrical arrangement of the speeches in that edition has been carefully regarded, the text of the quartos is printed in parts without any observance of prosodial construction. With respect to the date of its composition, Steevens remarks, that King Lear, or at least the whole of it, could not have been written till after the publication of Harsnet's Discovery of Popish Impostures, in 1603, because the names of the fiends mentioned by Edgar are borrowed from that work.

The story of King Lear and his daughters was so popular in Shakespeare's time, that he may have taken it from Geoffrey of Monmouth; from the legend “How Queene Cordila in dispaire slew her selfe, The yeare before Christ 800,” in the “Mirror for Magistrates;" from Spenser's “Fairie Queene," b. ii. c. x.; or, from Holinshed. There was, indeed, an old anonymous play on the subject, an edition of which was put forth in 1605, under the title of “The True Chronicle History of King Leir, and his Three Daughters, Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordella :" mainly in consequence it would seem of the great popularity of the present drama then “running" at the Globe theatre; the publishers probably trusting to foist the elder production upon the public as Shakespeare's work; but from this piece he appears to have derived nothing, unless, perhaps, some hint for the character of Kent.

The episode of Gloucester and his two sons was probably founded on Book II. chap. x. of Sidney's Arcadia, The pitifull state and storie of the Paphlagonian unkinde king, and his kind sonne ;" &c. which together with the legend of “ Queene Cordilla," from The Mirror for Magistrates," are reprinted in Mr. Collier's "Shakespeare's Library," Vol. II.

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SCENE I.-A Room of State in King Lear's Palace.

Sear wontst, anderingdon

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Enter KENT, GLOUCESTER, and EDMUND. KENT. I thought the king had more affected the duke of Albanya 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, hath been at my charge: I have so often blushed to acknowledge him, that now I am brazed to 't.

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 something saucily intof the world before he was sent for, yet was his mother fair, there was good spart 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 sound without.

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Enter LEAR, CORNWALL, ALBANY, GONERIL, REGAN, CORDELIA,

and Attendants.
LEAR. Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloster.
GLO. I shall, my liege. [Exeunt GLOUCESTER and EDMUND.
LEAR. Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.

(*) First folio, qualities. (+) First folio, a Sonne, Sir. (7) First folio, to.

Albany-) Scotland was anciently called Albany,

can make choice of either's moiety.) “The qualities and properties of the several divisions are so weighed and balanced against one another, that the exactest scrutiny could not determine in preferring one share to the other."—WARBURTON. • Darker purpose.-] Secret, hidden purpose.

framly

alarm

Give me the map there.—Know that we have divided
In three our kingdom: and 't is our fasta intent
To shake all cares and business from our age;
Conferring them on younger strengths, while we
Unburden'd crawl toward death.k_Our son of Cornwall,
And yan, 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 answerd.—Tell me, my daughters,
(Since now we will divest us, both of rule,
Interest of territory, cares of state,')
Which of you shall we say doth love us most ?
That we our largest bounty may extend
Where nature doth with merit challenge.-Goneril,
Our eldest-born, speak first.

Gox. Sir, I love you more than words* can wield the matter;
Dearer than eye-sight, space, and liberty;
Beyond what can be valu’d, rich or rare;
No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour;
As much as child e'er lov'd, or father found;
A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable ;
Beyond all manner of so much I love you.

CORD. [Aside.) What shall Cordelia do?t Love, and be silent.

LEAR. Of all these bounds, even from this line to this,
With shadowy forests and with champains rich'd,
With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads, a
We make thee lady: to thine and Albany's issue
Be this perpetual.—What says our second daughter,
Our dearest Regan, wife to Cornwall ? speak.

REG. I am made of that self metal as my sister,
And prize me at her worth. In my true heart

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b

First folio, word.

(+) First folio, speake. First folio, issues.

First folio, of

(II) 'First folio omits, speak. fıst intent-] The quartos read, first intent; but "fast intent," signifying fixed, seviled intent, is, like “darker purpose," and' " constant will,” peculiarly in Shakespeare's manner.

· while we Unburden'd crawl toward death.] The passage commencing with these words, down to “May be prevented now," does not occur in the quartos.

(Since now we will divest us, both of rule,

Interest of territory, cares of state,)] The quartos onit these two lines.

With shadowy forests and with champains rich'd,

With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads,-] So the folio: the quartos read only,

With shady forrests, and wide-skirted meads.”

e

d

andalia is much Leane daughter

I find she names my very deed of love;
Only she comes too short,—that I profess
Myself an enemy to all other joys,
Which the most precious squarea of sense possesses,
And find I am alone felicitate
In your dear highness' love.
ČORD. [Aside.]

Then poor Cordelia !
And yet not so; since, I am sure, my love's
More richerb than my tongue.

LEAR. To thee and thine, hereditary ever,
Remain this ample third of our fair kingdom;
No less in space, validity, and pleasure,
Than that conferr'd on Goneril.—Now, our joy,
Although our last, not least;c to whose young love
The vines of France and milk of Burgundy,
Strive to be interess'd; what can you say, to draw
A third more opulent than your sisters ? Speak.
CORD. Nothing, my lord.
LEAR. Nothing !
CORD. Nothing
LEAR. Nothing will come of nothing: speak again.

CORD. Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty
According to my bond; nor more nor less.

LEAR. How, how, Cordelia! mend your speech a little,
Lest it f may mar your fortunes.
CORD.

Good my lord,

(*) First folio, professes.

(1) First folio, you.
* Square of sense—] By square of sense, if square is not a corruption, may be meant
the complement or compass of sense. Mr. Collier's annotator suggests, " sphere of
sense;" but what is “sphere of sense?".

b More richer than my tongue.] The folio reads, “More ponderous," &c.
c Although our last, not least;'&c.] In the quartos this passage stands, –

“ Although the last, not least in our deere love,

What can you say to win a third, more opulent

Then your sisters ?” In the folin,

“ Although our last and least; to whose yong love,

The Vines of France, and Milke of Burgundie,
Strive to be interest. What can you say, to draw

A third, more opilent than your Sisters speake."
That and in the folio is a misprint for not,” it seems scarcely possible to doubt, yet
Mr. Collier and Mr. Knight read, “our last and least.” “Though last not least," was
one of the commonest forms of expression

in Shakespeare's age; in addition to the over-
whelming array of examples cited in the Variorum edition of 1821, Vol. II., pp. 276-279,
take the following:-
“ The last, not least, of these brave bretheren.”

PEELE's Polyhymnia. “Though I speak last, my lord, I am not least.”

MIDDLETON’s Mayor of Qucenborough, I. Sc. 3.
Anc

“ My last is, and not least.”
BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER'S Monsieur Thomas, Act III. Sc. 1.
LEAR. Nothing!
CORD. Nothing.) Omitted in the quartos,

quarter

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