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KING LEAR.

VOL VIII.

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KING LEAR.

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Was acted before King James on Dec, 26th, 1606, as we learn by the follow. ing memorandum in the Stationers' Registers, dated Nov. 26th, 1607; “Na. Butter and Jo. Bushby] Entered for their copie under t' hands of Sir Geo. Bucke, Kt., and the Wardens, a booke called Mr. Willm Shakespeare his Hystorye of Kinge Lear, as yt was played before the King's Majestie at Whitehall, upon St. Stephen's night at Christmas last, by his Majesties Servants playing usually at the Globe on the Bankside.” During the next year three editions of the play were put forth in quarto by Butter; nor was it reprinted till it appeared in the folio of 1623. Very large portions found in the quartos are omitted in the folio, which yet here and there affords lines not contained in the quartos.—Steevens observes that King Lear, or at least the whole of it, could not have been written till after the publication of Harsnet's Discovery of Popish Impostors, in 1603, for the names of the fiends mentioned by Edgar are taken from Harsnet's work. Malone remarks ; “It seems extremely probable that its first appearance was in March or April, 1605; in which year the old play of King Leir, that had been entered at Stationers' Hall in 1594, was printed by Simon Stafford for John Wright, who, we may presume, finding Shakespeare's play successful, hoped to palm the spurious one on the public for his. The old King Leir was entered on the Stationers' Books, May 8, 1605, as it was lately acted.” Life of Shakespeare, p. 404.-Our author had read the story of King Lear and his daughters in Geoffrey of Moumouth, in Holinshed, in The Mirror for Magistratcs, &c. ; with the anonymous old play The True Chronicle History of King Leir, and his Three Daughters, Gonoril, Ragan, and Cordella, he was doubtless acquainted, and would seem to have made some slight use of it; and he certainly appears to have formed the episode of Gloster and his sons on the story of the blind King of Paphlagonia in Sidney's Arcadia, B. ii. ch. io of ed. 1590. (The old play of King Leir has been reprinted by Steevens in vol. iv. of Twenty of the Plays of Shakespeare, &c., 1766, and by Nichols among Six Old Plays, on rckich Shakespeare founded, &c., 1779; and Higgins's legend, in verse, of Queene Cordila," from The Mirror for Magistrates, and “The pitifull state and storie of the Paphlagonian unkinde King," &c., from Sidney's Arcadia, are included in Collier's Shakespeare's Library, vol. ii.)

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

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LEAR, king of Britain.
King of France.
Duke of Burgundy.
Duke of Cornwall.
Duke of Albany.
Earl of Kent.
Earl of Gloster.
EDGAR, son to Gloster.
EDMUND, bastard son to Gloster.
CURAN, a courtier.
Old Man, tenant to Gloster.
Doctor.
Fool.
OSWALD, steward to Goneril.
An Officer employed by Edmund.
Gentleman attendant on Cordelia,
A Herald.
Servants to Cornwall.

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Knights attending on Lear, Officers, Messengers, Soldiers, and

Attendants.

SCENE-Britain.

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