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Was acted before King James on Dec. 26th, 1606, as we learn by the fol-
lowing memorandum in the Stationers' Registers, dated Nov. 26th, 1607;
"Na. Butter and Jo. Bushby] Entered for their copie under t hands of
Sir Geo. Bucke, Kt., and the Wardens, a booke called Mr. Willm Shake.
speare 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 Bankside.” During
the next year three editions of the play were put forth in quarto by Butter ;
nor was it reprinted till it appeared in the folio of 1623. Very large portions
found in the quartos are omitted in the folio, which yet here and there
affords lines not contained in the quartos.--Steevens observes 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 Impostors, in 1603, for the
names of the fiends mentioned by Edgar are taken from Harsnet's work.
Malone remarks ; “It seems extremely probable that its first appearance
Was in March or April, 1605 ; in which year the old play of king Leir, that
had been entered at Stationers' Hall in 1594, was printed by Simon Stafford
for John Wright, who, we may presume, finding Shakespeare's play suc-
cessful, hoped to palm the spurious one on the public for his. The old King
Leir was entered on the Stationers' Books, May 8, 1605, as it was lately
acted.” Life of Shakespeare, p. 40+.–Our author had read the story of King
Lear and his daughters in Geoffrey of Monmouth, in Holinshed, in The
Virror for Vagistrates, &c. ; with the anonymous old play The True
Chronicle History of King Leir, and his Three Daughters, Gonorill, Ragan,
and Cordella, he was doubtless acquainted, and would seem to have made
some slight use of it ; and he certainly appears to have formed the episode
of Gloster and his sons on the story of the blind King of Paphlagonia in
Sidney's Arcadia, B. ii. ch. 10 of ed. 1590. (The old play of king Leir has
been reprinted by Steevens in vol. iv. of Trenty of the Plays of Shake-
speare, &c. 1766, and by Nichols among Six Ou Plays, on which Shakespeare
founded, &c., 1779; and Higgins's legend, in verse, of "Queene Cordila," from
The Mirror for Vagistrates, and " The pitifull state and storie of the Paphla-
gonian unkinde king," &c. from Sidney's Arcadia, are included in Collier's
Shakespeare's Library, vol. ii.)
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.
CURAX, a courtier,
Old Man, tenant to Gloster,
OSWALD, steward to Goneril.
An Officer employed by Edmund.
Gentleman attendant on Cordelia.
Servants to Cornwall.
Knights attending on Lear, Officers, Messengers, Soldiers, and
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 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
Kent. I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it
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 something saucily into the world before he was sent for, yet was his mother fair; there was good sport