The Kingdoms of Lear in Tate and Shakespeare: A Restoration Reconfiguration of Archipelagic Kingdoms
University of Kyoto
You lords and noble friends, know our intent.Here Albany returns to Lear his “absolute power” as long as the old king lives. As Lear dies some 15 lines later (in both texts), it would be natural to presume that Albany soon recovers this “absolute power” at the end of the play. What part of Britain does Shakespeare’s Albany mean when he speaks of the temporary resignation of his “absolute power”? One possibility is that Albany is talking of Britain in its entirety, as implied by the term “absolute.” If such is the case, he would have no ambition to retain the one-third given to him and Goneril. The term “absolute” might also indicate that Albany is returning his unlimited sovereign power to Lear. This interpretation is supported by his use of the royal plural. When he hears of the deaths of Goneril and Regan, Albany says, “This justice of the heavens, that makes us tremble, / Touches us not with pity” (225-26; 205-6). In this speech he uses the royal plural for the first time. With the deaths of the sisters, Albany assumes that he is now the sole ruler of Britain. The repetition of “us” in this speech emphasizes this change. After Lear’s death, Albany says to Kent and Edgar, “Friends of my soul, you twain / Rule in this kingdom, and the gored state sustain” (313-14; 294-95). While the use of the singular “my” indicates that he is talking as a friend rather than a sovereign, what Albany is offering to Kent and Edgar in these lines, according to Stanley Wells, is not entirely certain: “It is not clear whether Albany is inviting Kent and Edgar to share the rule with him (perhaps as members of his council), or to resume their feudal roles” (274). Yet the singular “kingdom” suggests that Albany is again talking of the entire realm. Albany resigns his rule to Lear and returns again to being a mere duke as he was before the division of the kingdom(s). Then, with the death of the old king, Albany recovers all of Britain. Shakespeare thus dramatizes the re-unification of a kingdom in the period when the union of England and Scotland was a contemporary issue (although James VI and I’s union project had been rejected by the Commons by 1607).
What comfort to this great decay may come
Shall be applied; for us, we will resign
During the life of this old majesty
To him our absolute power; (Q: scene 24. 290-94; F: 5.3.271-74)
The Troops by Edmund rais’d, I have disbanded;In contrast to Shakespeare’s Albany, Tate’s Albany “resigns” the kingdom “save what Part your Self conferr’d / On Us in Marriage,” namely, except for the third of it given to him and Goneril in the opening scene of the play. This indicates that he returns to Lear the following two-thirds of the kingdom: 1) the “ample Third” (1.1.91) which Lear gave to Regan; and 2) the “richer Third” (98) which Lear intended for Cordelia and “invest[ed] jointly with full Right” (139) to Albany and Cornwall, following Cordelia’s refusal to declare how much she loves her father. The kingdom Cordelia inherits and will reign over with Edgar consists of these two parts of Lear’s original kingdom. The ending of Tate’s King Lear is a happy one in the sense that the evil characters are punished with their deserved deaths and the legitimate sovereign is restored. Yet the once divided kingdom will remain divided. The restoration of the old monarch is not without vicissitude.
Those that remain are under my Command.
What Comfort may be brought to cheer your Age
And heal your savage Wrongs, shall be apply’d;
For to your Majesty we do Resign
Your Kingdom, save what Part your Self conferr’d
On Us in Marriage. (90-96)
The Riots of these proud imperial SistersEdmund explains that the heavy taxation imposed by Goneril and Regan as a result of their wasteful living has angered the commoners. While their “Complaints” are vain, if loud, the situation is changing. Still believing that his bastard son is loyal to him, Gloster says to Edmund:
Already have impos’d the galling Yoke
Of Taxes, and hard Impositions on
The drudging Peasants Neck, who bellow out
Their loud Complaints in Vain—Triumphant Queens!
With what Assurance do they tread the Crowd. (3-8)
This change in the State sits uneasie. The Commons
Repine aloud at their female Tyrants,
Already they Cry out for the re-installment
Of their good old King, where Injuries
I fear will inflame ’em into Mutiny. (3.2.32-36)
Thou hast it Boy, ’tis to be hopt indeed,
On me they cast their Eyes, and hourly Court me
To lead ’em on, and whilst this Head is Mine
I am Theirs, a little covert Craft, my Boy,
And then for open Action, ’twill be Employment
Worthy such honest daring Souls as Thine.
Thou, Edmund, art my trusty Emissary,
Haste on the Spur at the first break of day
With these Dispatches to the Duke of Combray;
You know what mortal Feuds have always flam’d
Between this Duke of Cornwall’s Family and his;
Full Twenty thousand Mountaners
Th’ inveterate Prince will send to our Assistance. (38-50)
KENT I thought the King had more affected the Duke of Albany than Cornwall.This dialogue, in which two courtiers have observed that Lear has favoured Albany over Cornwall, suggests the tension between Lear and Cornwall, which may be recalled later as the audience sees Cornwall’s treatment of Lear and his followers. The absence of this dialogue at the beginning of Tate’s play renders neutral the Lear-Cornwall relationship.
GLOUCESTER It did always seem so to us, but now in the division of the kingdoms [F: kingdom] it appears not which of the Dukes he values most: for equalities are so weighed that curiosity in neither can make choice of either’s moiety. (1. 1-6; 1.1.1-6)
First to the heauens, next, thanks to you, my sonne,The King of Gallia declines this offer. If he had accepted, Britain would have been his, because at this moment there is no one in Britain who could stop him. The absence of the King of France from Tate’s play effectively removes the always sensitive issue of a potential invasion of the French force. (As is often argued about Shakespeare’s versions, the French presence in the Folio is smaller than in the Quarto, suggesting that Shakespeare tried to revise his play in this respect.)
By whose good meanes I repossesse the same:
Which if it please you to accept your selfe,
With all my heart I will resigne to you:
For it is yours by right, and none of mine. (2633-39)
Of all these Bounds, ev’n from this Line to thisSimilarly, though he does not refer to Cornwall by his title, Lear treats the marriage between Regan and Cornwall as a matter not to be disputed. The same may be said about Cordelia and Burgundy. When Lear declares that Cordelia is now without dowry, Burgundy says, “Pardon me, Royal Lear, I but demand / The Dow’r your Self propos’d, and here I take / Cordelia by the Hand Duchess of Burgundy” (180-82). This is a conflated and abridged version of the reply of Shakespeare’s Burgundy, who says, “Royal Majesty [F: Most royal majesty], / I crave no more than what your highness offered; / Nor will you tender less” (1.180-82; 1.1.190-92) and finally “Royal Lear [F: Royal King], / Give that portion which yourself proposed, / And here I take Cordelia by the hand, / Duchess of Burgundy—” (1.230-33; 1.1.239-42). In both plays, Burgundy suggests that he had already negotiated and reached an agreement with Lear concerning the dowry.
With shady Forests and wide-skirted Meads,
We make thee Lady, to thine and Albany’s Issue
Be this perpetual— (81-84)
 Among the critics taking this view are Matthew H. Wikander, Nancy Klein Maguire, C. B. Hardman and Michael Dobson. Tate’s King Lear is usually regarded as Tory propaganda, with the notable exception of Maguire, who argues that Tate was “hedging his bets” (39). Hardman criticizes Maguire’s reading (918).
 Kerrigan has been among the literary critics who have profitably studied seventeenth-century literature from this perspective. See, for example, Joan Fitzpatrick, Andrew Hadfield, and Philip Schwyzer and Simon Mealor for other studies.
 One might say that Shakespeare’s Lear plays are reconfigurations of the Leir story, with the First Folio The Tragedy of King Lear as a reconfiguration of the First Quarto The History of King Lear.
 In these chronicles the tragic story of Cordelia’s defeat by her nephews and her suicide in prison postdates this happy ending.
 Although Leir offers the crown to the Gallic king, he declines the offer.
 References to Shakespeare’s plays are taken from The Norton Shakespeare, 2nd ed.
 This impression is strengthened especially in the Quarto in which he delivers the ending speech.
 Hardman’s observation suggests that Shakespeare reconfigured the Quarto’s Duke of Albany in the Folio.
 Quotations from Tate’s King Lear are taken from Christopher Spencer’s edition.
 The Exclusion Crisis was one of the moments when the Anglo-Scottish discrepancy became apparent. John Morrill points out that “in 1681 (as the English Commons sought to pass another Exclusion Bill), the Scottish Parliament declared the inviolability of divine, hereditary right” (36). The Anglo-Scottish separation became reality when in the brief period after the Glorious Revolution the Scottish parliament announced its support of James VII (and II) while its English counterpart sought alternatives to him.
 See Earl Miner’s commentary to Dryden’s Albion and Albanius (Works 15: 329).
 See stage directions at the first entrance of Lear ( l.31 in Q and 1.1.31 in F).
 For an expression of the Tory concern about the alliance between the Duke of Monmouth and Parliament, see Dryden’s His Majesties Declaration Defended (Works 17: 211-12). Note that Henry Neville’s Plato Redivivus, to which Dryden’s criticism in His Majesties Declaration Defended is directed, represents a negative view towards giving Monmouth the throne (Robbins 165-72). Note also that it was a Tory commonplace to accuse the Whigs of aspiring to the return of the Commonwealth. See the Commentary to Absalom and Achitophel (Works 2: 237).
 See Bullough for the references to The Mirrour for Magistrates and The Faerie Queene.
 Although Gloster is never referred to as an earl in Tate’s Lear, Edmund is twice called “Earl of Gloster” (3.5.19; 4.4.203).
 Lear says to Burgundy after stripping Cordelia of her dowry:
My lord of Burgundy,
We first address towards [F: toward] you, who with a king [F: the King]
Hath rivalled for our daughter: what in the least
Will you require in present dower with her
Or cease your quest of love? (1. 176-79; 1.1.186-89)
In the Quarto the difference in rank is emphasized. Lear points out in particular that the Duke of Burgundy has dared to rival “a king.” This suggests Lear is sensitive to this difference, which must be reflected in his attitude toward the Dukes of Albany and Cornwall. In the Folio, the royalty of France is still highlighted by Lear’s reference to him as “the King,” though the focus on the difference in rank is not as pronounced as in the Quarto. Lear also calls France “you, great King” (1.195; 1.1.205), and reminds those who are on stage (and the audience) that France is the only character equal in rank to himself.
 This speech derives from the one delivered by Shakespeare’s Lear before the entrance of the King of France and the Duke of Burgundy:
The two great princes, France and Burgundy—
Great rivals in our youngest daughter’s love—
Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,
And here are to be answered. (1.39-42; 1.1.43-46)
(The first line of F reads, “The princes France and Burgundy—”)
 There is no dash after “Duchess of Burgundy” in F.
 On the ambitious dream of a universal monarchy and on the expansionism of Louis XIV’s France (which caused the English to fear a French invasion in this period), see Harris 163-67.
Responses to this piece intended for the Readers' Forum may be sent to the Editors at M.Steggle@shu.ac.uk.
© 2013-, Annaliese Connolly and Matthew Steggle (Editors, EMLS).