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LEAR, King of Britain.
Servants to Gloster. 2d.
Knights attending on the King, Officers, Messengers,
Soldiers, and Attendants.
SCENE lies in BRITAIN,
A CT I. SCENE I.
The king's palace.
Enter Kent, Gloster, and Edmund the bastard.
KENT. THOUGHT the king had more affected the duke of Albany than Cornwall.
Glo. It did always seem so to us : but now, 2 in the division of the kingdom, it appears not which of the dukes he values moit; for 3 equalities are so
· The story of this tragedy had found its way into many ballads and other metrical pieces; yet Shakespeare leem to have been more indebted to the True Chronicle H.,?ory of King Leir and bis 9 bree Daughters, Goworill, Ragan, and Cordella, 1605, (which I have already published at the end of my collection of the quarto copies) than to all the other performances together. From The Mirror of Magifrates, 1586, he has however taken the hint for the behaviour of the Steward, and the reply of Cordelia to her father concerning her future marriage. The episode of Glo'ster and his sons must have been borrowed from Sidney's Arcadia, as I have not found the leatt trace of it in any other work. I have referred to these pieces, whenever Shakespeare seems more immediately to have followed thein, in the course of my notes on the play. Steevens.
2- in the division 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 hould divide it. Perhaps Kent and Glouceller only were privy to his-detign, which he still kept in his own hands, to be changed or performed as subsequent reasons should determine him. JOHNSON.
- equalities,-) So the first quarto's: the folio reads Qualities. JOHNSON.
weigh’d, 4 that curiosity in neither can 5 make choice of either's moiety.
Kent. Is not this your son, my lord ?
Glo. His breeding, Sir, has been at my charge. I have so often blush'd to acknowledge him, that now I am braz'd to't. Keit. I cannot conceive
you. Glo. Sir, this young fellow's mother could: whereupon she grew round-womb’d; and had, indeed, Sir, a son for her cradle, ere she had a husband for her bed. Do you imell a fault?
Kent. I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper.
Gio. Lut I have a fon, Sir, by order of law, 6 some year elder than this, who yet is no dearer in my account. Though this knave came fomewhat 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 ?
- that curiosity in neither-) Curiosity, for exactest scrutiny. The sente of the whole sentence is, The qualities and properties of the several divisions are so weighed and balanced against one another, that the exaciest ferutiny could not determine in preferring one share to the other.
WARBURTON. make choice of either's moiety.] The strict sense of the word moiety is half, one of two equal parts; but Shakespeare commonly uses it for any part or division.
Methinks my moiety north from Burton here
in quantity equals not one of yours : and here the division was into three parts. Had Shakespeare been aware of the precise meaning, he probably would not have anticip.ted the determination of the king, who in the next scene divides the kingdom in this manner. STEEVENS.
- some year older than this,--] The Oxford Editor, not underltanding the common phrase, alters year to years. He did not consider, the Baitard says,
For that I am fome twclve or fourteen moon-fhines
Lag of a brother. WARBURTON. Some year, is an expresion used when we speak indefinitely.
Edm. No, my lord.
Glo. My lord of Kent :
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 :
[Trumpets found within, The king is coming.
Enter king Lear, Cornwall, Albany, Gonerill, Regan,
Cordelia, and attendents. Lear. Attend the lords of France and Burgundy,
Glo'ster. Glo. I shall, my liege. (Exeunt Gloster and Edmurd. Lear. Mean time we shall 7 express our darker
purpose. The map there. Know, that we have divided, In three, our kingdom: 8 and 'tis our falt intent,
express our darker purpose.] Darker, for more secret ; not for indiret, oblique. W'ARBURTON.
This word may admit a further explication. We all express our darker purpose: that is, we have already made known in some measure our defign of parting the kingdom ; we will now discover what has not been told before, the reasons by which we shall regulate the partition. This interpretation will justify or palliate the exordial dialogue. JOHNSON.
and 'tis our past intent, ] This is an interpolation of Mr. Lewis Theobald, for want of knowing the meaning of the old reading in the quarto of 1603, and firit folio of 1623; where we find it,
and 'tis our first intent; which is as Shakespeare wrote it'; who makes Lear declare his purpose with a dignity becoming his character: that the first reason of his abdication was the love of his people, that they might be protected by such as were better able to discharge the truft ; and his natural affection for his daughters, only the second. WARBURTON.
Fast is the reading of the first folio, and, I think, the true reading. JOHNSON,
To shake all cares and business from our age;
And you, our no less loving fon of Albany,
Where nature doth with merit challenge. Gonerill,
Gon. Sir, I
[Afide. Lear. Of all these bounds, even from this line to
9--constant will seems a confirmation of fasi intent. Johns.
! Where nature doth with merit challenge. -] Where the claim of merit is superadded to that of nature. STEVENS.
Beyond all manner, &c.] i. e. beyond all expreffion. WARB. Beyond all manner of so much-Beyond all assignable quantity. I love you beyond limits, and cannot say it is lo much, for how much foever I hould name, it would yet be more. JOHNSON. 3- do?) So the quarto; the folio has speak. Johns.