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‘Phe story of this tragedy has been told in many an ancient ballad, and other ingenious works; but mr. Malone supposes, that Shakspeare is more indebted for his fable to “the true chronicle history of king Lear and his three daughters. Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia.” than no any other production. Camden, in his remains, gives the following account of an english king, which is also similar to the story of Leir, or Lear. “Ina, king of the 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 Catly, that albeit she did love, honor, and reverence him, and so would whilst she lived, as much as nature and daughterly duty at the uttermost could expect; yet she did think that one day it would come to pass, that she should affect another more fervently, meaning her husband, when she were married.” This relation, the commentator imagines, may probably have been applied to king Lear; whom Geoffrey of Monmouth says, “nobly governed his country for sixty years, and died about eight hundred years before the birth of Christ.” Notwithstanding the number of histories and books of fiction, that have promulgated this piteous tale of a monarch and his children, it remains a doubt among the most learned on this subject, whether such an e
vent, as here described, ever, in reality, occured. *
Lear. Now, by the gods— Rent. Now, by the gods, rash king, thou swear'stin Waln. Lear. Ha! traitor : Rent. Do, kill thy physician, Lear; Strike through my throat; yet, with my latest breath, I’ll thunder in thine ear my just complaint, And tell thee to thy face, that thou dostill. Dear. Hear me, rash man; on thine allegiance hear me; Since thou hast striven to make us break our vow, And press'd between our sentence and our power; Which nor our nature, nor our place, can bear, We banish thee for ever from our sight And kingdom; if, when three days are expired, Thy hated trunk be found in our dominions, That moment is thy death.-Away. Kent. Why, fare thee well, king; since thou art resolved, I take thee at thy word; I will not stay To see thy fall. The gods protect thee, maid, That truly think’st, and has most justly said. Thus to old climates my old truth I bear; Friendship lives hence, and banishment is here. [erit Kent Lear. Now, Burgundy, you see her price is fall'n ; Yet, if the fondness of your passion still Affect her as she stands, dowerless, and lost In our esteem, she's yours; take her, or leave her. Burg. Pardon me, royal Lear, I but demand The dower yourself proposed, and here I take Cordelia by the hand, dutchess of Burgundy. Lear. Then leave her, sir; for, by a father's rage, I tell you all her wealth. (Cordelia throws herself at Lear's feet) Away! away! away ! (flourish of trumpets, &c.) [exeunt all but Cordelia.
exter EDGAR. Edg, Hasheaven then weigh’d the merit of my love.
Or is it the raving of a sickly thought 2
Nor can I now forget my royal birth,
And live dependent on my lover's fortune;
And he but with more compliment dissemble; if so, I shall oblige him by denying ; But, if his love be fix’d, such constant flame As warms my breast, if such I find his passion, ... My heart as grateful to his truth shall be, ~ And cold Cordelia prove as kind as he. *. - [exit Cordelia ~. exrer EDMUND, hastily. Edm. Brother, I’ve found you in a lucky minute : Fly, and be safe; some villain has incensed Ou% father against your life. Edg. Distress'd Cordéa-t-but oh, more cruel! Edin. Hear me, sir; your of, your life's in danger. Elg. And yet, perhaps, twas out pretended coldness, To try how far my passion would bursue. Edm. He hears me not; 'wake, 'wake, sir. Edg. Say you, brother ?— , , , , No tears, good Edmund; if thou bring's he tidings To strike me dead, for charity delay not; That present will befit so kind a hand. w Edin. Your danger, sir, comes on so fast, That i want time to inform you ; but retire, Whilst I take care to turn the pressing stream. O gods for heaven's sake, sir, Edg. Pardon me, sir, a serious thought Had seized me; but I think you talk'd of danger, And wish'd me to retire.—Must all our vows End thus?—friend, 1 obey you.-O Cordelia! [erit Edgar Edm. Ha! has fond man! such credulous honesty Lessens the glory of my artifice ; His nature is so far from doing wrongs, That he suspects none: if this letter speed, And pass for Edgar's, as himself would own The counterfeit, but for the foul contents, Then my designs are perfect. Here comes Gloster
enter G L () STER.
Glost. Stay. Edmund, turn; what paper were Yoo reading P i.