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(a) The first of these, 1. v. 54-5, I decidedly believe to be spurious. (1) The scene ends quite in Shakespeare's manner without it. (2) It does not seem likely that at the end of the scene Shakespeare would have introduced anything violently incongruous with the immediately preceding words,

Oh let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven!
Keep me in temper: I would not be mad!

(3) Even if he had done so, it is very unlikely that the incongruous words would have been grossly indecent. (4) Even if they had been, surely they would not have been irrelevantly indecent and evidently addressed to the audience, two faults which are not in Shakespeare's way. (5) The lines are doggerel. Doggerel is not uncommon in the earliest plays; there are a few lines even in the Merchant of Venice, a line and a half, perhaps, in As You Like It; but I do not think it occurs later, not even where, in an early play, it would certainly have been found, e.g. in the mouth of the Clown in All's Well. The best that can be said for these lines is that they appear in the Quartos, i.e. in reports, however vile, of the play as performed within two or three years of its composition.

(b) I believe, almost as decidedly, that the second passage, III. ii. 79 ff., is spurious. (1) The scene ends characteristically without the lines. (2) They are addressed directly to the audience. (3) They destroy the pathetic and beautiful effect of the immediately preceding words of the Fool, and also of Lear's solicitude for him. (4) They involve the absurdity that the shivering timid Fool would allow his master and protector, Lear and Kent, to go away into the storm and darkness, leaving him alone. (5) It is also somewhat against them that they do not appear in the Quartos. At the same time I do not think one would hesitate to accept them if they occurred at any natural place within the dialogue.

(c) On the other hand I see no sufficient reason for doubting the genuineness of Edgar's soliloquy at the end of III. vi. (1) Those who doubt it appear not to perceive that some words of soliloquy are wanted; for it is evidently intended that, when Kent and Gloster bear the King away, they should leave the Bedlam behind. Naturally they do so. He is only accidentally connected with the King; he was taken to shelter with him merely to gratify his whim, and as the King is now asleep

there is no occasion to retain the Bedlam; Kent, we know, shrank from him, 'shunn'd [his] abhorr'd society' (v. iii. 210). So he is left to return to the hovel where he was first found. When the others depart, then, he must be left behind, and surely would not go off without a word. (2) If his speech is spurious, therefore, it has been substituted for some genuine speech; and surely that is a supposition not to be entertained except under compulsion. (3) There is no such compulsion in the speech. It is not very good, no doubt; but the use of rhymed and somewhat antithetic lines in a gnomic passage is quite in Shakespeare's manner, more in his manner than, for example, the rhymed passages in I. i. 183-190, 257-269, 281-4, which nobody doubts; quite like many places in All's Well, or the concluding lines of King Lear itself. (4) The lines are in spirit of one kind with Edgar's fine lines at the beginning of Act IV. (5) Some of them, as Delius observes, emphasize the parallelism between the stories of Lear and Gloster. (6) The fact that the Folio omits the lines is, of course, nothing against them.



As Koppel has shown, the usual modern stage-directions1 for this scene (IV. vii.) are utterly wrong and do what they can to defeat the poet's purpose.

It is evident from the text that the scene shows the first meeting of Cordelia and Kent, and the first meeting of Cordelia and Lear, since they parted in 1. i. Kent and Cordelia indeed. are doubtless supposed to have exchanged a few words before they come on the stage; but Cordelia has not seen her father at all until the moment before she begins (line 26), 'O my dear father!' Hence the tone of the first part of the scene, that between Cordelia and Kent, is kept low, in order that the latter part, between Cordelia and Lear, may have its full effect.

1There are exceptions: e.g., in the editions of Delius and Mr. W. J. Craig.

The modern stage-direction at the beginning of the scene, as found, for example, in the Cambridge and Globe editions, is as follows:

'SCENE vii.-A tent in the French camp. LEAR on a bed asleep, soft music playing; Gentleman, and others attending.

Enter CORDELia, Kent, and Doctor.

At line 25, where the Doctor says 'Please you, draw near,' Cordelia is supposed to approach the bed, which is imagined by some editors visible throughout at the back of the stage, by others as behind a curtain at the back, this curtain being drawn open at line 25.

Now, to pass by the fact that these arrangements are in flat contradiction with the stage-directions of the Quartos and the Folio, consider their effect upon the scene. In the first place, the reader at once assumes that Cordelia has already seen her father; for otherwise it is inconceivable that she would quietly talk with Kent while he was within a few yards of her. The edge of the later passage where she addresses him is therefore blunted. In the second place, through Lear's presence the reader's interest in Lear and his meeting with Cordelia is at once excited so strongly that he hardly attends at all to the conversation of Cordelia and Kent; and so this effect is blunted too. Thirdly, at line 57, where Cordelia says,

O, look upon me, sir,

And hold your hands in benediction d'er me!

No, sir, you must not kneel,

the poor old King must be supposed either to try to get out of bed, or actually to do so, or to kneel, or to try to kneel, on the bed. Fourthly, consider what happens at line 81.

Doctor. Desire him to go in; trouble him no more
Till further settling.



Will't please your highness walk?

You must bear with me;

Pray you now, forget and forgive; I am old and

foolish. [Exeunt all but Kent and Gentleman.

If Lear is in a tent containing his bed, why in the world, when the doctor thinks he can bear no more emotion, is he made to walk out of the tent? A pretty doctor!

But turn now to the original texts. Of course they say nothing

about the place. The stage-direction at the beginning runs, in the Quartos, 'Enter Cordelia, Kent, and Doctor;' in the Folio, 'Enter Cordelia, Kent, and Gentleman.' They differ about the Gentleman and the Doctor, and the Folio later wrongly gives to the Gentleman the Doctor's speeches as well as his own. This is a minor matter. But they agree in making no mention of Lear. He is not on the stage at all. Thus Cordelia, and the reader, can give their whole attention to Kent.

Her conversation with Kent finished, she turns (line 12) to the Doctor and asks 'How does the King?' The Doctor tells her that Lear is still asleep, and asks leave to wake him. Cordelia assents and asks if he is 'arrayed,' which does not mean whether he has a night-gown on, but whether they have taken away his crown of furrow-weeds, and tended him duly after his mad wanderings in the fields. The Gentleman says that in his sleep 'fresh garments' (not a night-gown) have been put on him. The Doctor then asks Cordelia to be present when her father is waked. She assents, and the Doctor says, 'Please you, draw near. Louder the music there.' The next words are Cordelia's, 'O my dear father!'

What has happened? At the words 'is he arrayed?' according to the Folio, 'Enter Lear in a chair carried by Servants. The moment of this entrance, as so often in the original editions, is doubtless too soon. It should probably come at the words 'Please you, draw near,' which may, as Koppel suggests, be addressed to the bearers. But that the stage-direction is otherwise right there cannot be a doubt (and that the Quartos omit it is no argument against it, seeing that, according to their directions, Lear never enters at all).

This arrangement (1) allows Kent his proper place in the scene, (2) makes it clear that Cordelia has not seen her father before, (3) makes her first sight of him a theatrical crisis in the best sense, (4) makes it quite natural that he should kneel, (5) makes it obvious why he should leave the stage again when he shows signs of exhaustion, and (6) is the only arrangement 1And it is possible that, as Koppel suggests, the Doctor should properly enter at this point; for if Kent, as he says, wishes to remain unknown, it seems strange that he and Cordelia should talk as they do before a third person. This change however is not necessary, for the Doctor might naturally stand out of hearing till he was addressed; and it is better not to go against the stage-direction without necessity.

which has the slightest authority, for Lear on a bed asleep' was never heard of till Capell proposed it. The ruinous change of the staging was probably suggested by the version of that unhappy Tate.

Of course the chair arrangement is primitive, but the Elizabethans did not care about such things. What they cared for was dramatic effect.



I found my impression of the extraordinary ineffectiveness of this battle (p. 255) confirmed by a paper of James Spedding (New Shakspere Society Transactions, 1877, or Furness's King Lear, p. 312 f.); but his opinion that this is the one technical defect in King Lear seems certainly incorrect, and his view that this defect is not due to Shakespeare himself will not, I think, bear scrutiny.

To make Spedding's view quite clear I may remind the reader that in the preceding scene the two British armies, that of Edmund and Regan, and that of Albany and Goneril, have entered with drum and colours, and have departed. Scene ii. is as follows (Globe):

SCENE 11-A field between the two camps.

Alarum within. Enter, with drum and colours, LEAR, Cordelia, and Soldiers, over the stage; and exeunt. Enter EDGAR and GLOSTER.

Edg. Here, father, take the shadow of this tree

For your good host; pray that the right may thrive:

If ever I return to you again,

I'll bring you comfort.


Grace go with you, sir!

[Exit Edgar

Alarum and retreat within.

Re-enter EDGAR.

Edg. Away, old man; give me thy hand; away!

King Lear hath lost, he and his daughter ta'en:
Give me thy hand; come on.

Glo. No farther, sir; a man may rot even here.

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