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Aganippus, notwithstanding this answer of denial to receive anything by way of dower with Cordilla, took her to wife, only moved thereto (I say) for respect of her person and amiable virtues. This Aganippus was one of the twelve kings that ruled Gallia in those days, as in the British history it is recorded. But to proceed; after that Leir was fallen into age, the two dukes that had married his two eldest daughters, thinking it long ere the government of the land did come to their hands, arose against him in armour, and reft from him the governance of the land, upon conditions to be continued for term of life: by the which he was put to his portion ; that is, to live after a rate assigned to him for the maintenance of his estate, which in process of time was diminished, as well by Maglanus as by Henninus.

But the greatest grief that Leir took was to see the unkindness of his daughters, who seemed to think that all was too much which their father had, the same being never so little, in so much that, going from the one to the other, he was brought to that misery that they would allow him only one servant to wait upon him. In the end, such was the unkindness, or, as I may say, the unnaturalness, which he found in his two daughters, notwithstanding their fair and pleasant words uttered in time past, that, being constrained of necessity, he fled the land, and sailed into Gallia, there to seek some comfort of his youngest daughter, Cordilla, whom before he hated.

The lady Cordilla, hearing he was arrived in poor estate, she first sent to him privately a sum of money to apparel himself withal, and to retain a certain number of servants, that might attend upon him in honourable wise, as apperteyned to the estate which he had borne. And then, so accompanyed, she appointed him to come to the court, which he did, and was so joyfully, honorably, and lovingly received, both by his son-in-law Aganippus, and also by his daughter Cordilla, that his heart was greatly comforted: for he was no less honoured than if he had been king of the whole country himself. Also, after that he had informed his son-in-law and his daughter in what sort he had been used by his other daughters, Aganippus caused a mighty army to be put in readiness, and likewise a great navy of ships to be rigged to pass over into Britain, with Leir his father-in-law, to see him again restored to his kingdom.

It was accorded that Cordilla should also go with him to take possession of the land, the which he promised to leave unto her, as his rightful inheritor after his decease, notwithstanding any former grants made unto her sisters, or unto their husbands, in any manner of wise; hereupon, when this army and navy of ships were ready, Leir and his daughter Cordilla, with her husband, took the sea, and arriving in Britain, fought with their enemies, and discomfited them in battle, in the which Maglanus and Henninus were

slain, and then was Leir restored to his kingdom, which he ruled after this by the space of two years, and then died, forty years after he first began to reign. His body was buried at Leicester, in a vault under the channel of the river Dore, beneath the town.

In Holinshed's Chronik fand Shakspere auch das Motiv zu seiner Darstellung von Cordelia's Tode, freilich wiederum in veränderter Weise. Cordelia, die Nachfolgerin ihres Vaters auf dem Throne, Britanniens, wird von ihren aufrührerischen Neffen, den Kindern ihrer Schwestern, bekriegt und gefangen genommen, und im Gefängniss erhängt sie sich aus Verzweiflung Dieser Stoff, wie er in Holinshed vorliegt, wurde vor Shakspere bereits von andern Dichtern bearbeitet. Edmund Spencer widmete ihm sechs Stanzen in seiner Faierie Queene (Buch 2, Gesang 10), ohne dass jedoch Shakspere aus diesem versificirten Chronikenbericht etwas Anderes entnahm, als vielleicht den Namen Cordelia, der bei Holinshed Cordilla lautet. Ausführlicher behandelte schon vor Spencer denselben Gegenstand Higgins in dem epischen Lehrgedichte Mirror for Magistrates, aber auch ihm scheint Shakspere nichts entlehnt zu haben, eben so wenig der in Verse gebrachten Geschichte Englands, welche Warner unter dem Titel Albion's England herausgab.

Das alte Drama : The True Chronicle History of King Leir and his three Daughters, Gonorill, Ragan and Cordella, schon im Jahre 1594 in die Buchhändlerregister eingetragen und wahrscheinlich auch damals schon gedruckt, ist auf uns nur in der späteren Auflage von 1605 gekommen. Es behandelt den Stoff nach der Darstellung des Chronisten und nähert sich der Shakspere’schen Behandlung nur insofern an, als die Freundschaft Kent's ihr Vorbild hat an einem Freunde, Namens Perillus, der dem Leir des unbekannten Verfassers eben so treu in seinem Unglück zur Seite steht. Einige weitere Einzelnheiten, die Sh. mit seinem Vorgänger in flüchtiger Aehnlichkeit gemeinsam hat, ergeben sich aus der zweifachen Behandlung eines und desselben Stückes. — Von dem Styl dieses weitschweifigen und schwerfälligen Dramas mag die Scene, welche der ersten in Sh.'s Lear theilweise entspricht, eine Probe geben :

Leir. Deare Gonorill, kind Ragan, sweet

Cordella,
Ye florishing branches of a kingly stocke,
Sprung from a tree that once did flourish greene,
Whose blossomes now are nipt with winter's frost,
And pale grym death doth wayt upon my steps,
And summons me unto his next assizes.
Therefore, deare daughters, asye tender the safety
of him that was the cause of your first being,
Resolve a doubt which much molests my mind,

Which of you three to mewould prove most kind;
Which loves me most, and which at my request
Will soonest yeeld unto their father's hest.
Gon. I hope, my gracious father makes

no doubt
of any of his daughter's love to him:
Yet for my part, to shew my zeal to you,
Which cannot be in windy words rehearst,
I prize my love to you at such a rate,
I thinke my life inferiour to my love.

Doth our deare love make you thus peremptory,
What, is your love become so small to us ?
As that you scorne to tell us what it is?
Do you love us, as every child doth love
Their father? True indeed, as some,
Who by disobedience short their father's dayes,
And so would you ; some are so father-sick,
That they make meanes to rid them from the world:
And so would you: some are indifferent,
Whether their aged parents live or die;
And so are you. But, didst thou know, proud girle,
What care I had to foster thee to this,
Ah, then thou wouldst say as thy sisters do:
Our life is lesse, then love we owe to you.

Cor. Deare father, do not so mistake my words,
Nor my plaine meaning be misconstrued ;
My toung was never usde to flattery.

Gon. You were not best say I flatter: if

you do,

Should you injoine me for to tie a milstone
About my neck, and leape into the sea,
At your commaund I willingly would doe it:
Yea, for to doe you good, I would ascend
The highest turret in all Brittany,
And from the top leape headlong to the ground:
Nay, more, should you appoint me for to marry
The meanest vassaile in the spacious world,
Without reply I would accomplish it:
In briefe, commaund whatever you desire,
And if I faile, no favour I require.

Leir. O, how thy words revive my dying soule!
Cor. O, how I doe abhorre this flattery !
Leir. But what sayth Ragan to her fa-

ther's will?
Rag. O, that my simple utterance could suffice
To tell the true intention of my heart,
Which burnes in zeale of duty to your grace:
And never can be quench’d, but by desire
To shew the same in outward forwardnesse.
Oh, that there were some other maid that durst
But make a challenge of her love with me;
Ide make her soone confesse she never loved
Her father halfe 80 well as I doe you.
I then my deeds should prove in plainer case,
How much my zeale aboundeth to your grace:
But for them all, let this one meane suffice
To ratify my love before your eyes :
I have right noble suters to my love;
No worse then kings, and happely I love one:
Yes, would you have me make my choice anew,
Ide bridle fancy, and be rulde by you.

Leir. Did never Philomel sing so sweet a note.
Cor. Did never fiatterer tell so false a tale.
Leir. Speak now, Cordella, make my joys

at full, And drop downe nectar from thy honey lips.

Cor. I cannot paint my duty forth in words, I hope my deeds shall make report for me: But looke what love the child doth owe the father, The same to you I beare, my gracious lord.

Gon. Here is an ansidere answerlesse indeed: Were you my daughter, I should scarcely

brooke it. Rag. Dost thou not blush, proud peacock

as thou art. To make our father such a slight reply? Leir. Why how now minion, are you

growne so proud ?

My deeds shall shew, I flatter not with you.
I love my father better then thou canst.
Cor. The praise were great, spoke from

another's mouth: But it should seeme your neighbours dwell far off. Rag. Nay, here is one, that will confirme

as much As she hath said, both for myselfe and her. I suy, thou dost not wish my father's good.

Cor. Deare father
Leir. Peace, bastard impe, no issue of king

Leir,
I will not heare thee speake one tittle more.
Call not me father, if thou love thy life,
Nor these thy sisters once presume to name :
Looke for no helpe henceforth from me or mine;
Shift as thou wilt, and trust unto thyselfe:
My kingdome will I equally devide
'Twixt thy two sisters to their royal dowre,
And will bestow them worthy their deserts :
This done, because thou shalt not have the hope
To have a child's part in the time to come,
I presently will dispossesse myselfe,
And set up these upon my princely throne.
Gon. I ever thought that pride would have

a fall. Rag. Plaine dealing sister : your beauty is

80 sheene, You need no dowry, to make you be a queene.

[Exeunt LEIR, Gonorill, RAGAN.

Von dem Wahnsinn Lear's, seiner Gefangennehmung und seinem tragischen Ende fand Shakspere bei keinem dieser Vorgänger die geringste Spur: denn eine von Percy in seinen Reliques of Ancient English Poetry mitgetheilte Ballade, in welcher diese Umstände zum Theil vorkommen, ist nach Collier's gewiss richtiger Ansicht von späterem Datum, als die Tragödie unsers Dichters und scheint aus einer Vermengung des Shakspere’schen Lear mit dem Lear der Chronik hervorgegangen zu sein. Auch die Parallele, in welche Shakspere das Schicksal Glosters zu dem Schicksal Lear's stellt, gehört ganz und gar ihm selber an. Er hatte in Sidney's Arcadia die Geschichte eines Paphlagonischen Königs gefunden, der in blinder Vorliebe für seinen unehelichen Sohn, den Edmund unsers Drama's, sich durch dessen falsche Anklagen gegen seinen gutgearteten rechtmässigen Sohn dergestalt einnehmen lässt, dass er seinen Dienern den Befehl zur Tödtung des Letztern ertheilt. Dieser entwischt jedoch, um dann späterhin seinem Vater, den der Bastard nicht nur der Herrschaft beraubt, sondern auch blenden lässt und ins Elend verstösst, zum Führer zu dienen. Auch die Spitze des Felsens, zu der der Alte sich führen lassen will, um durch einen Sturz von da herab seinem verbassten Leben ein Ende zu machen, kommt in der Arcadia wie im Drama vor, nur dass der treue Sohn auch nicht einmal scheinbar gehorcht. Die betreffende Stelle, dem Sohn in den Mund gelegt, lautet bei Sidney so :

This old man, whom I lead, was lately rightful prince of Paphlagonia, by the hard-hearted ungratefulness of a son of his, deprived not only of his kingdom, but of his sight, the riches which nature grants to the poorest creatures; whereby and by other his unnatural dealings, he hath been driven to such griefs, as even now he would have had me to have led him to the top of this rock, thence to cast himself headlong to death; and so would have had me, who received my life of him, to be the worker of his destruction,

Ausser diesen allgemeinen Zügen hat Shakspere auch dieser Quelle Nichts zu verdanken; die Charakteristik, wie alles Uebrige, musste er selbst schaffen.

Für die Rolle, welche Edgar als Besessener zu spielen hat, entlehnte Shakspere das Material theilweise aus dem 1603 erschienenen oben erwähnten Buche von Dr. L. Harsnet, späterem Erzbischof von York. Das Buch sollte die damals zum Zweck der Proselytenmacherei von einigen Jesuiten betriebenen Teufelsbannereien enthüllen, deren Hauptschauplatz das Haus eines Katholiken, Namens Peckham, war, wo zwei Diener und drei Kammermädchen der Familie für Besessene ausgegeben und von den Pricstern in die Kur genommen wurden. Aus den Bekenntnissen, die durch eine gerichtliche Untersuchung herbeigeführt wurden, und die den Hauptinhalt des Buches bilden, nahm der Dichter das in den Anmerkungen bezeichnete sachliche Detail zu Edgar's Wahnsinnsreden.

Schliesslich mögen hier aus der oben erwähnten Ballade die Verse stehen, welche Lear's Wahnsinn und seinen, sowie seiner Cordelia Tod enthalten: Thus twixt his daughters, for relief

As duty bound, she quickly sent He wandred up and down ;

Him comfort and relief : Being glad to feed on beggars food,

And by a train of noble peers, That lately wore a crown.

In brave and gallant sort, And calling to remembrance then

She gave in charge he should be brought His youngest daughters words,

To Aganippus' court; That said the duty of a child

Whose royal king, with noble mind Was all that love affords:

So freely gave consent, But doubting to repair to her,

To muster up his knights at arms, Whom he had banish'd so,

To fame and courage bent. Grew frantick mad; for in his mind

And so to England came with speed, He bore the wounds of woe :

To repossesse King Leir, Which made him rend his milk-white locks, And drive his daughters from their thrones And tresses from his head,

By his Cordelia dear. And all with blood bestain his cheecks,

Where she, true-hearted noble queen, With age and honour spread.

Was in the battle slain; To hills and woods and watry founts

Yet he good king, in his old days,
He made his hourly moan,

Possest his crown again.
Till hills and woods and sensless things, But when he heard Cordelia's death,
Did seem to sigh and groan.

Who died indeed for love
Even thus possest with discontents,

Of her dear father, in whose cause He passed o’re to France,

She did this battle move ; In hopes from fair Cordelia there,

He swooning fell upon her breast, To find some gentler chance;

From whence he never parted : Most virtuous dame, which when she heard But on her bosom left his life, of this her father's grief,

That was so truly hearted.

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