« AnteriorContinua »
and daughterly dutie at the uttermost could expect, “yet she did think that one day it would come to passe that she should affect another more fervently, meaning her husband, when she were married ;” who being made one flesh with her, as God by commandement had told, and nature had taught her, she was to cleave fast to, forsaking father and mother, kiffe and kinne. [Anonymous.] One referreth this to the daughters of King Leir.""
It is, I think, more probable that Shakspeare had this passage in his thoughts, when he wrote Cordelia's reply concerning her future marriage, than The Mirrour for Magistrates, as Camden's book was published recently before he appears to have composed this play, and that portion of it which is entitled Wise Speeches, where the foregoing passage is found, furnished him with a hint in Coriolanus.
The story of King Leir and his three daughters was originally told by Geoffrey of Monmouth, from whom Holinshed transcribed it; and in his Chronicle Shakspeare had certainly read it, as it occurs not far from that of Cymbeline; though the old play on the same subject probably first suggested to him the idea of making it the groundwork of a tragedy.
Geoffrey of Monmouth says, that Leir, who was the eldest son of Bladud," nobly governed his country for sixty years." According to that historian, he died about 800 years before the birth of Christ.
The name of Leir's youngest daughter, which in Geoffrey's hystory, in Holinshed, The Mirrour for Magistrates, and the old anonymous play, is Cordeilla, Cordila, or Cordella; Shakspeare found softened into Cordelia by Spenser in his Second Book, Canto X. The names of Edgar and Edmund were probably suggested by Holinshed. See his Chronicle, vol. i. p. 122: “ Edgar, the son of Edmund, brother of Athelstane,” &c.
This tragedy, I believe, was written in 1605. See An Attempt to ascertain the Order of Shakspeare's Plays, vol. ii.
As the episode of Gloster and his sons is undoubtedly formed on the story of the blind king of Paphlagonia in Sidney's Arcadia, I shall subjoin it, at the end of the play. Malone.
Of this play there are three quarto copies, all dated 1608, and printed for the same bookseller, Nathaniel Butter. That which I have distinguished by the letter A, has a direction to the place of sale, which is omitted in the two others. These correspond in their title-pages, but vary in their readings. They will be found particularly described in the list of early quartos, vol. ii
. Mr. Steevens seems not to have been aware of more than two of these.
LEAR, King of Britain.
Knights attending on the King, Officers, Messen
gers, Soldiers, and Attendants.
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 kingdom', it appears not which of the dukes he values most; for equalities are so weighed, that curiosity in neither 3 can make choice of either's moiety.
1- in the division of the kingdom,] There is something of obscurity or inaccuracy in this preparatory scene. The king has alrea ly divided his kingdom, and yet when he enters he examines his daughters
, to discover in what proportions he should divide it. Perhaps Kent and Gloster only were privy to his design, which he still kept in his own hands, to be changed or performed as subsequent reasons should determine him. Johnson.
: - equalities -) So the first quartos; the folio readsqualities. JOHNSON.
Either may serve; but of the former I find an instance in the Flower of Friendship, 1568 : “After this match made, and equalities considered," &c. STEEVENS.
3 - that CURIOSITY in neither -] Curiosity, for exactest scrutiny. The sense of the whole sentence is, 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.
Curiosity is scrupulousness, or captiousness. So, in The Taming of the Shrew, Act IV. Sc. IV.:
“ For curious I cannot be with you.” Steevens. See Timon of Athens, Act IV. Sc. III. : and the present tragedy, p. 31, n. 1. MALONE.
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, sir, a son 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.
of either's moiety.] The strict sense of the word moiety is half, one of two equal parts; but Shakspeare 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. Steevens.
Heywood likewise uses the word moiety as synonymous to any part or portion : “I would unwillingly part with the greatest moiety of my own means and fortunes.”. Hystory of Women, 1624. See Henry IV. Part I. Act III. Sc. I. Malone.
5. — being so PROPER.) i. e. handsome. See vol. v. p. 21, n. 1. MALONE.
SOME YEAR elder than this,] Some year, is an expression used when we speak indefinitely. Steevens.
I do not agree with Mr. Steevens that some year is an expression used when we speak indefinitely. I believe it means about a year; and accordingly Edmund says, in the 32d page
“ For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines
Edm. My services to your lordship.
Kent. I must love you, and sue to know you better.
Edm. Sir, I shall study deserving.
he shall again :—The king is coming.
[Trumpets sound within.
Enter LEAR, CORNWALL, ALBANY, GONERIL, REGAN,
CORDELIA, and Attendants. LEAR. Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloster. Glo. I shall, my liege.
[E.reunt Gloster and EDMUND. LEAR. Mean-time we shall express our darker
purpose * ?
Give me the map thereo-Know, that we have
divided, In three, our kingdom : and 'tis our fast intent' To shake all cares and business from our age”; Conferring them on younger strengths ?, while we
“ We shall express
7 - express our DARKER purpose.] Darker, for more secret ; not for indirect, oblique. WARBURTON.
This word may admit a further explication. our darker purpose :” that is, we have already made known in some measure our desire 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.
8 Give me the map there.) So the folio. The quartos, leaving the verse defective, read— The map there. Steevens.
9 - and 'tis our fast intent-) Fast is the reading of the first folio, and, I think, the true reading. Johnson.
Our fast intent is our determined resolution. The quartos have -our first intent. Malone. from our age ;] The quartos read-of our state.
Steevens. 2 CONFERRING them on younger STRENGTHS,] Is the reading