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THE

DRAMATIC WOBKS

OF

WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE:

ILLUSTRATED:

EMBRACING

A LIFE OF THE POET,

AND

NOTES,

OEIGINAL AND SELECTED.

VOL. VII.

BOSTON:

PHILLIPS, SAMPSON AND COMPANY.
1851.

KING LEAR.

PRELIMINARY REMARK'S.

The story of King Lear and his Three Daughters was originally told by Geffrey of Monmouth, from whom Holinshed transcribed it; and in his Chronicle, Shakspeare had certainly read it; but he seems to have been more indebted to the old anonymous play, entitled The True Chronicle Hystorie of Leire, King of England, and his Three Daughters, Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordelia; 1605. A play with that title was entered on the Stationers' books by Edward White, May 14,1594; and there are two other entries of the same piece, May 8,1605, and Nov. 26, 1607. From the Mirror of Magistrates, Shakspeare has taken the hint for the behavior of the steward, and the reply of Cordelia to her father concerning her future marriage. The episode of Gloucester and his sons must have been borrowed from Sidney's Arcadia, no trace of it being found in the other sources of the fable. The reader will also find the story of King Lear in the second book and tenth canto of Spenser's Faerie Q,ueene, and in the fifteenth chapter of the third book of Warner's Albion's England. Camden, in his Remaines, under the head of Wise Speeches, tells a similar story to this of Lear, of Ina, king of the West Saxons; which, if the thing ever happened, probably was the real origin of the fable. The story has found its way into many ballads and other metrical pieces; one ballad will be found in Dr. Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, vol. i. 3d edit. The story is also to be found in the unpublished Gesta Romanorum, and in the Romance of Perceforest. The whole of this play could not have been written till after 1603. Harsnet's Declaration of Popish Impostures, to which it contains so many references, and from which the fantastic names of several spirits are

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