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Edmund, the Quartos give it to Goneril, and modern editors are divided in their choice. Those who follow the Folios ask why the question, "Know'st thou this paper?" should be addressed to Goneril, considering Albany has already said to her, "I perceive you know it ". But this objection is not


Cf. i. 2. 129.

194. success, issue, result. 196. flaw'd, broken. Cf. ii. 4. 282. 204-221. This would . . . slave. Omitted in the Folios. 204. period, termination: note the different sense in iv. 7. 96. 205. but another, &c.; but another story, amplifying what is already too much, would make what is much even more, and so pass the extreme limits.

234. manners, treated as a singular; but contrast i. 4. 160 and iv. 6. 239.

235. It is fitting that at this juncture attention should be drawn to Lear by Kent, who at the beginning of the play had professed his constant devotion to the king.

255. fordid, destroyed. Cf. line 291.

262, stone, a crystal mirror.

263. the promised end, of the world. Mason compares S. Mark, xiii. 12 and 19. For image of that horror, cf. Macbeth, ii. 3. 83, "up, up, and see The great doom's image!"

285. Lear's thoughts again begin to wander. He cannot realize what Kent's devotion has been, and even the announcement of Regan's and Goneril's death has no effect.

288. your first of difference, beginning of your change.

290. Nor no man else, i.e. No, nor is any other man welcome.

301. boot, increase, enhancement.

305. poor fool, i.e. Cordelia: a common term of endearment. Some (e.g. Sir Joshua Reynolds) think that Lear refers to his Fool: but the Fool was not 'hanged'; he has long since passed out of the play (iii. 6); and it is not likely that Lear would think of him when dying for grief at the death of Cordelia.

313. pass. Cf. iv. 6. 47.

322. My master, i.e. Lear. Kent's devotion is unbroken.

323, &c. This concluding speech is given in the Quartos to Albany, in the Folios to Edgar. It is assigned more fittingly to the latter.



The Lear story is here given as told by Raphael Holinshed in his Chronicles (1577; second edition, 1587), by Higgins in the Mirror for Magistrates (1574), and by Spenser in the Faerie Queene (1590), and is followed by the passage in Sidney's Arcadia (1590) which is the undoubted original of the Gloucester story.

I. Holinshed's Chronicles.-The Historie of Britain, book ii, ch. 5: second edition,1 1587, pp. 12, 13.

Leir the sonne of Baldud was admitted ruler ouer the Britaines in the yeare of the world 3105, at what time Joas reigned in Juda. This Leir was a prince of right noble demeanor, gouerning his land and subiects in great wealth. He made the towne of Caerleir now called Leicester, which standeth vpon the riuer of Sore. It is written that he had by his wife three daughters without other issue, whose names were Gonorilla, Regan, and Cordeilla, which daughters he greatly loued, but specially Cordeilla the yoongest farre aboue the two elder. When this Leir therefore was come to great yeres, and began to waxe vnweldie through age, he thought to vnderstand the affections of his daughters towards him, and preferre hir whome he best loued, to the succession ouer the kingdome. Whervpon he first asked Gonorilla the eldest, how well she loued him: who calling hir gods to record, protested that she loued him more than hir owne life, which by right and reason should be most deere vnto hir. With which answer the father being well pleased, turned to the second, and demanded of hir how well she loued him: who answered (confirming hir saiengs with great othes) that she loued him more than toong could expresse, and farre aboue all other creatures of the world.

Then called he his yoongest daughter Cordeilla before him, and asked of hir what account she made of him, vnto whome she made this answer as followeth: " Knowing the great loue and fatherlie zeale that you haue alwaies borne towards me (for the which I maie not answere you otherwise than I thinke, and as my conscience leadeth me) I protest vnto you, that I haue loued you euer, and shall continuallie (while I liue) loue you as my naturall father. And if you would more

1 The evidence of other plays shows that Shakespeare used the second edition: see Shakspere's Holinshed, The Chronicle and the Historical Plays compared, By W. G. Boswell-Stone. 1896.

vnderstand of the loue that I beare you, assertaine your selfe, that so much as you haue, so much you are worth, and so much I loue you, and no more. The father being nothing content with this answere, married his two eldest daughters, the one vnto Henninus the duke of Cornewall, and the other vnto Maglanus the duke of Albania, betwixt whome he willed and ordeined that his land should be deuided after his death, and the one halfe thereof immediatelie should be assigned to them in hand: but for the third daughter Cordeilla he reserued nothing.

Nevertheless it fortuned that one of the princes of Gallia (which now is called France) whose name was Aganippus, hearing of the beautie, womanhood, and good conditions of the said Cordeilla, desired to haue hir in mariage, and sent ouer to hir father, requiring that he might haue hir to wife: to whome answer was made, that he might haue his daughter, but as for anie dower he could haue none, for all was promised and assured to hir other sisters already. Aganippus notwithstanding this answer of deniall to receiue anie thing by way of dower with Cordeilla, tooke hir to wife, onlie moued thereto (I saie) for respect of hir person and amiable vertues. This Aganippus was one of the twelue kings that ruled Gallia in those daies, as in the British historie 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 yer the gouernment of land did come to their hands, arose against him in armour, and reft from him the gouernance of the land, vpon conditions to be continued for terme of life: by the which he was put to his portion, that is, to liue after a rate assigned to him for the maintenance of his estate, which in processe of time was diminished as well by Maglanus as by Henninus. But the greatest griefe that Leir tooke, was to see the vnkindnesse of his daughters, which seemed to thinke that all was too much which their father had, the same being neuer so little in so muche that going from the one to the other, he was brought to that miserie, that scarslie they would allow him one seruaunt to wait vpon him.

In the end, such was the vnkindnesse, or (as I maie saie) the vnnaturalnesse which he found in his two daughters, notwithstanding their faire and pleasant words vttered in time past, that being constreined of necessitie, he fled the land, & sailed into Gallia, there to seeke some comfort of his yongest daughter Cordeilla, whom before time he hated. The ladie Cordeilla hearing that he was arriued in poore estate, she first sent to him priuilie a certeine summe of monie to apparell himselfe withall, and to reteine a certeine number of seruants that might attend vpon him in honorable wise, as apperteined to the estate which he had borne: and then so accompanied, she appointed him to come to the court, which he did, and was so ioifullie, honorablie, and louinglie receiued, both by his sonne in law Aganippus, and also by his daughter Cordeilla, that his hart was greatlie comforted: for he was no lesse honored, than if he had beene king of the whole countrie himselfe,

Now when he had informed his sonne in law and his daughter in what sort he had beene vsed by his other daughters, Aganippus caused a mightie armie to be put in a readinesse, and likewise a great nauie of ships to be rigged, to passe ouer into Britaine with Leir his father in law, to see him againe restored to his kingdome. It was accorded, that

Cordeilla should also go with him to take possession of the land, the which he promised to leaue vnto hir, as the rightfull inheritour after his decesse, notwithstanding any former grant made to hir sisters or to their husbands in anie maner of wise.

Herevpon, when this armie and nauie of ships were readie, Leir and his daughter Cordeilla with hir husband tooke the sea, and arriuing in Britaine, fought with their enimies, and discomfited them in battell, in the which Maglanus and Henninus were slaine: and then was Leir restored to his kingdome, which he ruled after this by the space of two yeeres, and then died, fortie yeeres after he first began to reigne. His bodie was buried at Leicester in a vaut vnder the chanell of the riuer of Sore beneath the towne.

The Sixt Chapter.- Cordeilla the yoongest daughter of Leir was admitted Q. and supreme gouernesse of Britaine in the yeere of the world 3155, before the bylding of Rome 54; Uzia was then reigning in Juda, and Jeroboam ouer Israell. This Cordeilla after hir fathers deceasse ruled the land of Britaine right worthilie during the space of fiue yeeres, in which meane time hir husband died, and then about the end of those fiue yeeres, hir two nephewes Margan and Cunedag, sonnes to hir aforesaid sisters, disdaining to be vnder the gouernment of a woman, leuied warre against hir, and destroied a great part of the land, and finallie tooke hir prisoner, and laid hir fast in ward, wherewith she tooke suche griefe, being a woman of a manlie courage, and despairing to recouer libertie, there she slue hirselfe, when she had reigned (as before is mentioned) the tearme of fiue yeeres.

II. The Mirror for Magistrates. From the story of Queene Cordila, written by John Higgins: ed. Haslewood, 1815, vol. i, pp. 124–132.

6. My grandsire Bladud hight, that found the bathes by skill,
A fethered King that practis'd high to soare,
Whereby hee felt the fall, God wot against his will,

And neuer went, road, raygnd, nor spake, nor flew no more.
After whose death my father Leire therefore

Was chosen King, by right apparent heyre,
Which after built the towne of Leircestere.

7. Hee had three daughters, first and eld'st hight Gonerell,
Next after her his yonger Ragan was begot:
The third and last was I the yongest, nam'd Cordell.
Vs all our father Leire did loue to well, God wot.

But minding her that lou'd him best to note,

Because hee had no sonne t'enioy his land,

Hee thought to guerdon most where fauour most hee fand.

8. What though I yongest were, yet men mee iudg'd more wise Than either Gonerell or Ragan more of age,

And fairer farre: wherefore my sisters did despise

My grace and giefts, and sought my wrecke to wage.
But yet though vice on vertue dye with rage,

It cannot keepe her vnderneath to drowne:
For still she flittes aboue, and reaps renowne.

9. My father thought to wed vs vnto princely peeres,
And vnto them and theirs deuide and part the land.
For both my sisters first hee cal'd (as first their yeares
Requir'd), their minds, and loue, and fauoure t'vnderstand.
(Quoth hee) all doubts of duty to aband,

I must assay your friendly faithes to proue:
My daughters, tell mee how you doe mee loue.

10. Which when they aunswerd him they lou'd their father more
Then they themselues did loue, or any worldly wight,
He praised them, and sayd hee would therefore
The louing kindnes they deseru'd in fine requite.
So found my sisters fauour in his sight,

By flattery faire they won their fathers heart;
Which after turned hym and mee to smart.

II. But not content with this, hee asked mee likewise
If I did not him loue and honour well.

No cause (quoth I) there is I should your grace despise:
For nature so doth binde and duty mee compell
To loue you, as I ought my father, well.

Yet shortely I may chaunce, if Fortune will,

To finde in heart to beare another more good will.

12. Thus much I sayd of nuptiall loues that ment,
Not minding once of hatred vile or ire,
And partly taxing them, for which intent
They set my fathers heart on wrathfull fire.
"Shee neuer shall to any part aspire

Of this my realme (quoth hee) among'st you twayne:
But shall without all dowry aie remaine."


13. Then to Maglaurus Prince, with Albany hee gaue
My sister Gonerell, the eldest of vs all:
And eke my sister Ragan to Hinniue to haue,
And for her dowry Camber and Cornwall.
These after him should haue his Kingdome all.

Betweene them both hee gaue it franke and free,
But nought at all hee gaue of dowry mee.

14. At last it chaunst a Prince of Fraunce to heare my fame.
My beauty braue, my wit was blaz'd abroad ech where.
My noble vertues prais'd mee to my fathers blame,
Who did for flattery mee lesse friendly fauour beare.
Which when this worthy Prince (I say) did heare,

Hee sent ambassage, lik'd mee more then life,
And soone obtayned mee to bee his wife.

15. Prince Aganippus reau'd mee of my woe,

And that for vertues sake, of dowryes all the best:
So I contented was to Fraunce my father fro
For to depart, and hoapt t'enioy some greater rest.
Where liuing well belou'd, my ioyes encreast:

I gate more fauour in that Prince his sight,
Then euer Princesse of a Princely wight.

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