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that the latter was first issued. It would seem that the folio of 1623 was composed from a copy, 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 may decide with certainty that Shakespeare's “King Lear” 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, &c. mentioned by Edgar.
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 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. A ballad on King Lear was also published (see Percy's Reliques, vol. ii. 249. Edit. 1812), but no copy with a date has come down to us.
The earliest notice we recollect of " King Lear” (probably the older play from the spelling of the name) is in a book, printed by Boscard at St. Omer's in 1614, called “The Life and Death of Edinund Gerringes," where the writer is speaking of those who admire affected words, telling them
“ If any such there be, post to King Leire :
He hath applause; seeke not contentment here." In the margin opposite the name are inserted the words “ A booke so called ;” and no doubt a play-book was intended.
LEAR, King of Britain.
Daughters to Lear.
Knights of Lear's train, Officers, Messengers, Soldiers,
"A list of the characters in this tragedy was first inserted by Rowe. KING LEA R.
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 ?
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 ?
can make choice of either's morETY.] “Moiety," here, as elsewhere, is not used by Shakespeare in its strict sense of half, but as a share : see Vol. ij. p. 372. The folio reads kingdom for “ kingdoms,” and qualities for “equalities ;" but our text is that of the 4tos.
SO PROPER.] i. e. So handsome-such as it ought to be.
Edm. No, my lord.
Glo. My lord of Kent: remember him hereafter as my honourable friend.
Edm. My services to your lordship.
better. Edm. Sir, I shall study deserving.
Glo. He hath been out nine years, and away he shall again. —The king is coming.
[Sennet within. Enter LEAR, CORNWALL, ALBANY, GONERIL, REGAN,
CORDELIA, and Attendants.
Lear. Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.
3 I shall, my Liege.] “ Liege " in the 4tos; lord in the folio. “Give me the map there.-Know, that we have divided,” is from the folio: the 4tos. read, “The map there: know we have divided.”
and 'tis our past intent] The 4tos. bave "first intent;" and in the next line, “ of our state," for "from our age.”
3 Conferring them on younger STRENGTHS,] So the folio: the 4tos, “ Con. firming them on younger years." What follows these words, down to “May be prevented now,” is only in the folio.
6 The two great princes, France and Burgundy,] So the 4tos, and we prefer leaving “ May be prevented now” as a hemistich to running it all, as in the folio, 1623, into one inbarmonious line of fourteen syllables.
1 – cares of state] The two lines, forming this parenthesis, are wanting in the 4tos.
Where nature doth with merit challenge.-Goneril,
Reg. I am made of that self metal as my sister,
8 Sir, I love you more than words] In the corr. fo. 1632, “Sir" is struck out: it is injurious to the metre ; but as it is found in all the 4tos. and folios we leave it. The 4tos. have “Sir, I do love you," but do is not in the folios, where, however, “words " is accidentally misprinted word. 9 What shall Cordelia SPEAK?] “What shall Cordelia do," in the 4tos.
and with champains rich'd, With plenteous rivers] These words are not in the 4tos, which, for “shadowy forests,” read “ shady forests."
Speak.] This word, clearly necessary to the measure, probably dropped out in the folio at the end of the line. It is in all the 4tos.
? Which the most precious SPHERE of sense POSSESSES,] In the folio, 1623, this line stands as follows:
“Which the most precious square of sense professes,” and we are indebted for our text to the corr. fo. 1632, where perhaps " possesses was derived by the old annotator from one of the 4tos, or from correct recitation ; but “sphere" for square is in no previous copy. Mr. Singer tells us that he had corrected square to“ sphere" before he heard of it in our Vol. of “ Notes and Emendations," and we, not dealing in literary discourtesy, entirely believe him. We only wonder that, when, as in this case, he finds his own conjecture authoritatively confirmed, he “professes” so little faith in the accuracy of other changes in our corr. fo. 1632. He also amends “precious” to spacious, for which he has no warrant, and he might have seen that the epithet “most pre