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that the latter was first issued. It would seem that the folio of 1623 was composed from a manuscript, which had been much, and not very judiciously, abridged for the purposes of the theatre; and, although it contains some additions, not in any of the quartos, there are, perhaps, few quartos of any of Shakespeare's plays more valuable for the quantity of matter they contain, of which there is no trace in the folio.
We have said that we agree with Malone in opinion that “King Lear" was brought out at the Globe Theatre in the spring of 1605, according to our present mode of computing the year. We may decide with certainty that it was not written until after the appearance of Harsnet's "Discovery of Popish Impostors" in 1603, because from it, as Steevens established, are taken the names of various fiends mentioned by Edgar in the course of his scenes of pretended madness.
As we find a "King Leir" entered on the Stationers' books in 1594, we can have no hesitation in arriving at the conclusion that the old play, printed by Simon Stafford for John Wright, in 1605, when Shakespeare's "King Lear" was (as we have supposed) experiencing a run of popularity at the Globe, was considerably anterior in point of date. There is little doubt that Shakespeare was acquainted with it, and probably adopted from it at least that part of the conduct of his story which relates to the faithful Kent. There are other general, but few particular resemblances: for both the chief materials were evidently derived from Holinshed, but Shakespeare varied from all authorities in his catastrophe: he seems to have thought, that to abandon the course of the ordinary and popular narrative would heighten and improve the effect of his drama, and give a novelty to its termination.
The story of Lear and his daughters is briefly told by Spenser in B. ii. c. 10, of his "Fairie Queene," and thence it has been thought that Shakespeare obtained the name of Cordelia, 'till then usually called Cordella. That portion of the plot which relates to the Earl of Gloster, he may have procured from Sir Philip Sidney's "Arcadia," first printed in 1590, 4to: B. ii. c. 10, of that romance is thus headed: -"The pitifull state and storie of the Paphalgonian unkinde King, and his kind son." An early ballad on King Lear was also published (see Percy's Reliques, vol. ii. p. 249. Edit. 1812), but no copy with a date has come down to us: although it employs the older names of some of the characters, it adopts that of Cordelia; and there are several circumstances, besides a more modern style of composition, which lead us to the belief that it was written posterior to the production of Shakespeare's Tragedy.
Knights of Lear's train, Officers, Messengers, Soldiers,
1 A list of characters was first inserted by Rowe.
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 affected the duke of Albany, than Cornwall.
Glo. It did always seem so to us: but now, in the division of the kingdoms, 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 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?
1- neither can make choice of either's MOIETY.] "Moiety," here, as elsewhere, is not used by Shakespeare in its strict sense of half, but as a share. See Vol. iv. p. 283. The folio reads kingdom for “kingdoms,” and qualities for “equalities.” Kingdoms," in the plural, of course, refers to the separate dominions given by Lear to the Dukes of Albany and Cornwall. Steevens justifies "equalities" by a quotation, but none seems required.
Kent. I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper.
Glo. But I have a son, sir, 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.
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.
Enter LEAR, CORNWALL, ALBANY, GONERIL, Regan, CORDELIA, and Attendants.
Lear. Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloster.
Glo. I shall, my liege3.
[Exeunt GLOSTER and EDMUND. Lear. Mean-time we shall express our darker pur
Give me the map there.-Know, that we have divided,
2 — saucily INTO the world-] The folio," saucily to the world."
3 I shall, my LIEGE.] "Liege" in the quartos; lord in the folio. In the next line it seems right in reading "purpose," for purposes of the quartos. "Give me the map there.-Know that we have divided," is from the folio: the quartos read, "The map there: know we have divided."
4 — and 'tis our FAST intent] The quartos have "first intent ;" and in the next line," of our state," for "from our age."
5 CONFERRING them on younger STRENGTHS,] So the folio: the quartos,
Unburden'd crawl toward death.-Our son of Corn
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 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,
Gon. Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;
Dearer than eye-sight, space, and liberty;
Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;
No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honour:
A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable;
Cor. What shall Cordelia speak'? Love, and be
Lear. Of all these bounds, even from this line to
With shadowy forests, and with champains rich'd,
"Confirming them on younger years." What follows these words, down to May be prevented now," is only in the folio.
The princes, France and Burgundy,] The quartos make a line of these words, by reading, " The two great princes, France and Burgundy."
7 - cares of state,] The two lines, forming this parenthesis, are wanting in the quartos.
8 Where nature doth with merit challenge.] So the folio: the quartos, "Where merit most doth challenge it." In the next line but one, our text is that of the folio, instead of " Sir, I do love," &c. of the quartos.
or father FOUND ;] The quartos misprint "found" friend.
1 What shall Cordelia SPEAK ?] Do, in the quartos.