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The first stanza of this little sonnet, which an eminent critic justly admires for its extreme sweetness, is found in Shakspeare's Measure for Measure, act iv. sc. 1. Both the stanzas are preserved in Beaum and Fletcher's Bloody Brother, act v, sc. 2. Sewel and Gildon have printed it among Shakspeare's smaller poems; but they have done the same by twenty other pieces that were never writ by him, their book being a wretched heap of inaccuracies and mistakes. It is not found in Jaggard's old edition of Shakspeare's Passionate Pilgrim,t &c.

TAKE, oh take those lips away,

That so sweetlye were forsworne ;
And those eyes, the breake of day,

Lights, that do misleade the morne :

But my kisses bring againe,

Seales of love, but seal'd in vaine.

Hide, oh hide those hills of snowe,

Which thy frozen bosom beares,
On whose tops the pinkes that growe
Are of those that April wears:
But first set my poor heart free,
Bound in those icy chains by thee.

* Dr. Warburton in his Shaksp.



† Mr. Malone, in his improved edition of Shakspeare's SoxNETS, &c. hath substituted this instead of Marlow's Madrigal, printed above; for which he hath assigned reasons, which the Reader may see in his vol. x. p. 340.



The Reader has here an ancient ballad on the subject of King Lear, which (as a sensible female critic has well observed*) bears so exact an analogy to the argument of Shakspeare's play, that his having copied it could not be doubted, if it were certain that it was written before the tragedy. Here is found the hint of Lear's madness, which the old chroniclest do not mention, as also the extravagant cruelty exercised on him by his daughters. In the death of Lear they likewise very exactly coincide.-The misfortune is, that there is nothing to assist us in ascertaining the date of the ballad but what little evidence arises from within; this the Reader must weigh, and judge for himself.

It may be proper to observe, that Shakspeare was not the first of our Dramatic Poets who fitted the Story of LEIR to the Stage. His first 4to edition is dated 1608; but three years before that had been printed a play entitled "The true Chronicle History

of Leir and his three daughters Gonorill, Ragan, "and Cordella, as it hath been divers and sundry "times lately acted, 1605, 4to."-This is a very poor and dull performance, but happily excited Shakspeare to undertake the subject, which he has given with very different incidents. It is remarkable, that neither the circumstances of Leir's madness, nor his

* Mrs. Lennox. Shakspeare illustrated, vol. iii. p. 302. See Jeffery of Monmouth, Holingshead, &c. who relate Leir's history in many respects the same as the ballad.

retinue of a select number of knights, nor the affecting deaths of Cordelia and Leir, are found in that first dramatic piece: in all which Shakspeare concurs with this ballad.

But to form a true judgment of Shakspeare's merit, the curious Reader should cast his eye over that previous sketch; which he will find printed at the end of the Twenty Plays of Shakspeare, republished from the quarto impressions by George Steevens, Esq. with such elegance and exactness as led us to expect that fine edition of all the works of our great Dramatic Poet, which he hath since published.

The following Ballad is given from an ancient copy in the "Golden Garden," bl. let. entitled, “A "lamentable Song of the Death of King Lear and his "Three Daughters. To the tune of When flying


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,
Three daughters fair had he,

So princely seeming beautiful,

As fairer could not be.

So on a time it pleas'd the king

A question thus to move,

Which of his daughters to his grace

Could shew the dearest love:

For to my age you bring content,
Quoth he, then let me hear,

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Which of you three in plighted troth

The kindest will


To whom the eldest thus began;
Dear father, mind, quoth she,
Before your face, to do you good,
My blood shall render'd be:

And for your sake my bleeding heart
Shall here be cut in twain,

Ere that I see your reverend agc
The smallest grief sustain.

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And so will I, the second said;
Dear father, for your sake,


The worst of all extremities

I'll gently undertake:

And serve your highness night and day

With diligence and love;

That sweet content and quietness

Discomforts may remove.


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But what sayst thou, my youngest girl,


How is thy love ally'd?

My love (quoth young Cordelia then)

Which to your grace

I owe,

Shall be the duty of a child,

And that is all I'll show.


And wilt thou shew no more, quoth he,

Than doth thy duty bind?

I well perceive thy love is small,

When as no more I find.

Henceforth I banish thee my court,

Thou art no child of mine;

Nor any part of this my realm
By favour shall be thine.

Thy elder sisters loves are more

Than well I can demand,



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