Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 7 of 8 from 1860 edition - online book

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276                     KING LEIR AND HIS
From A Collection of Old Ballads, ii. 8.' The same, with one or two trifling verbal differences, in Percy's Reliques, i. 246.
This story was originally told by Geoffrey of MonĀ­mouth, Historia Britonum, lib. ii. c. 2. It occurs in two forms in the Oesta Romanorum: see Madden's Old English Versions, p. 44, p. 450.
Shakespeare's King Lear was first printed in 1608, and is supposed to have been written between 1603 and 1605. Another drama on the subject was printed in 1605, called The true Chronicle History of King Leir and his Three Daughters, Oonorill, Ragan, and Cordelia. This was probably only a new impression of a piece entered in the Stationers' Registers as early as 1594. The ballad which follows agrees with Shakespeare's play in several particulars in which Shakespeare varies from the older drama and from Holinshed, the authority of both dramas. The name Cordelia is also found in place of the Cordelia of the Chronicle History; but, on the other hand, we have Ragan instead of Shakespeare's Regan. In the abĀ­sence of a date, we are unable to determine whether the ballad was written prior to the play of King Lear, or was founded upon it.
King Leir once ruled in this land
With princely power and peace, And had all things, with hearts content,
That might his joys increase. Amongst those things that nature gave,               «