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ACCURATELY PRINTED FROM
THE TEXT OF MR. STEEVENS'S LAST EDITION,
A SELECTION OF THE MOST IMPORTANT NOTES.
IN EIGHT VOLUMES.
PRINTED TOR T.LONGMAN, B. LAW, C. DILLY, J. JOHNSON,
6. G. AND J. ROBINSON, R. BALDWIN, H. L. GARDNER,
J. AND J. TAYLOR, J. SCATCHERD,
The story of this tragedy had found its way into many ballads and other nietrical pieces; yet Shakspeare seems to have been more indebted to The True Chronicle Hiftory of King Leir and bis Three Daughters, Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordella, 1605, (which I have already published at the end of a collection of the quarto copies) than to all the other performances to. gether. It appears from the books at Stationers' Hall, that some play on this subject was entered by Edward White, May 14, 1594. " A booke entituled, The mofte famous Cbronicle Hystorie of Leire King of England, and bis three Daughters." A piece with the same title is entered again, May 8, 1605; and again Nov. 26, 1607. See the extracts from these Entries at the end of the Prefaces, &c. Vol. l. From The Mirror of Magistrates, 1587, Shakspeare has, however, taken the hint for the be. haviour of the Steward, and the reply of Cordelia to her father concern. ing her future marriage. The episode of Gloster and his fons must have been borrowed from Sidney's Arcadia, as I have not found the least trace of it in any other work. I have referred to these pieces, wherever our author seems more immediately to have followed them, in the course of my notes on the play. For the first King Lear, see likewise Six old Plays on which Skakspeare founded, &c. published for S. Leacroft, Charing Cross.
The reader will also find the fory of K. Lear, in the second book and 10th canto of Spenser's Faery Queen, and in the 15th chapter of the third book of Warner's Albion's England, 1602.
The whole of this play, however, could not have been written till after 1603. Harsnet's pamphlet to which it contains so many references, (as will appear in the notes) was not published till that year. STEEVENS.
Camden, in his Remains, (p. 306. ed. 1674,) tells a fimiliar story to this of Leir or Lear, of Ina king of the West Saxons; which, if the thing ever happened, probably was the real origin of the fable. See under :he head of Wife Speecbes. Percy.
The story told by Camden in his Remaines, 4t0. 1635, is this :--Ina, king of West Saxons, had three daughters, of whom upon a time he demanded whether they did love him, and so would do during their lives, above all others: the two elder sware deeply they would; the youngest, but the wisest, told her father flatly, without Aattery, that albeit the did love, honour, and reverence him, and so would whilft the lived, as much as nature and daughterly dutie at the uttermoft could expect, yet fhe did rbink tbat one day it would come to pasle ibat foe pould affect anot ber more fervently, meaning ber bufand, wben she were married ; who being made one Aesh with her, as God by commandment 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 mar. riage, than Tbe Mirrour for Magistrates, as Camden's bo jk was publihed recently before he appears to have composed this play, and that portion of it which is entitled Wife Speeches, where the foregoing paslage is nd, furnished him with a hint in Coriolanus.