recall these words, persisted in asking, she still
restrained her expressions so as to say rather less
than more than the truth. Then Leir, all in a
passion, burst forth: “Since thou hast not
reverenced thy aged father like thy sisters, think
not to have any part in my kingdom or what else I
have;”—and without delay, giving in
marriage his other daughters, Goneril to the Duke
of Albany, and Regan to the Duke of Cornwall, he divides
his kingdom between them, and goes to reside with
his eldest daughter, attended only by a hundred knights.
But in a short time his attendants, being complained
of as too numerous and disorderly, are reduced to
thirty. Resenting that affront, the old king
betakes him to his second daughter; but she, instead
of soothing his wounded pride, takes part with her
sister, and refuses to admit a retinue of more than
five. Then back he returns to the other, who
now will not receive him with more than one attendant.
Then the remembrance of Cordeilla comes to his thoughts,
and he takes his journey into France to seek her,
with little hope of kind consideration from one whom
he had so injured, but to pay her the last recompense
he can render,— confession of his injustice.
When Cordeilla is informed of his approach, and of
his sad condition, she pours forth true filial tears.
And, not willing that her own or others’ eyes
should see him in that forlorn condition, she sends
one of her trusted servants to meet him, and convey
him privately to some comfortable abode, and to furnish
him with such state as befitted his dignity.
After which Cordeilla, with the king her husband, went
in state to meet him, and, after an honorable reception,
the king permitted his wife, Cordeilla, to go with
an army and set her father again upon his throne.
They prospered, subdued the wicked sisters and their
consorts, and Leir obtained the crown and held it three
years. Cordeilla succeeded him and reigned five
years; but the sons of her sisters, after that, rebelled
against her, and she lost both her crown and life.
Shakspeare has chosen this story as the subject of
his tragedy of “King Lear,” varying its
details in some respects. The madness of Leir,
and the ill success of Cordeilla’s attempt to
reinstate her father, are the principal variations,
and those in the names will also be noticed.
Our narrative is drawn from Milton’s “History;”
and thus the reader will perceive that the story of
Leir has had the distinguished honor of being told
by the two acknowledged chiefs of British literature.
Ferrex and Porrex were brothers, who held the kingdom
after Leir. They quarrelled about the supremacy,
and Porrex expelled his brother, who, obtaining aid
from Suard, king of the Franks, returned and made
war upon Porrex. Ferrex was slain in battle and
his forces dispersed. When their mother came to
hear of her son’s death, who was her favorite,
she fell into a great rage, and conceived a mortal