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  • Title: The History of King Leir (Modern)
  • Editor: Andrew Griffin

  • Copyright Queen's Men Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: Anonymous
    Editor: Andrew Griffin
    Peer Reviewed

    The History of King Leir (Modern)

    0.1[Scene 1] [Video Sc.1]
    1Enter King Leir[, Skalliger, Perillus and a Nobleman]
    Thus to our grief, the obsequies performed
    Of our -- too late -- deceased and dearest queen,
    5Whose soul, I hope, possessed of heavenly joys,
    Doth ride in triumph 'mongst the cherubim.
    Let us request your grave advice, my lords,
    For the disposing of our princely daughters,
    For whom our care is specially employed,
    10As nature bindeth, to advance their states
    In royal marriage with some princely mates;
    For wanting now their mother's good advice,
    Under whose government they have received
    A perfect pattern of a virtuous life --
    15Left, as it were, a ship without a stern,
    Or silly sheep without a pastor's care --
    Although ourselves do dearly tender them,
    Yet are we ignorant of their affairs,
    For fathers best do know to govern sons,
    20But daughters' steps the mother's counsel turns.
    A son we want for to succeed our crown,
    And course of time hath cancellèd the date
    Of further issue from our withered loins;
    One foot already hangeth in the grave,
    25And age hath made deep furrows in my face.
    The world of me, I of the world am weary,
    And I would fain resign these earthly cares
    And think upon the welfare of my soul,
    Which by no better means may be effected
    30Than by resigning up the crown from me
    In equal dowry to my daughters three.
    A worthy care, my liege, which well declares
    The zeal you bare unto our quondam queen.
    And since your grace hath licensed me to speak,
    35I censure thus: your majesty, knowing well
    What several suitors your princely daughters have,
    To make them each a jointure -- more or less,
    As is their worth -- to them that love profess.
    No more nor less, but even all alike.
    40My zeal is fixed: all fashioned in one mould,
    Wherefore unpartial shall my censure be;
    Both old and young shall have alike from me.
    A Nobleman
    My gracious lord, I heartily do wish
    That God had lent you an heir indubitate,
    45Which might have set upon your royal throne
    When Fates should loose the prison of your life,
    By whose succession all this doubt might cease
    And, as by you, by him we might have peace.
    But after-wishes ever come too late
    50And nothing can revoke the course of fate;
    Wherefore, my liege, my censure deems it best,
    To match them with some of your neighbor kings,
    Bord'ring within the bounds of Albion,
    By whose united friendship, this our state,
    55May be protected 'gainst all foreign hate.
    Herein, my lords, your wishes sort with mine,
    And mine, I hope, do sort with heavenly powers,
    For at this instant two near-neighboring kings,
    Of Cornwall and of Cambria, motion love
    60To my two daughters, Gonorill and Ragan.
    My youngest daughter, fair Cordella, vows
    No liking to a monarch unless love allows.
    She is solicited by divers peers,
    But none of them her partial fancy hears.
    65Yet, if my policy may her beguile,
    I'll match her to some king within this isle
    And so establish such a perfect peace
    As Fortune's force shall ne'er prevail to cease.
    Of us and ours, your gracious care, my lord,
    70Deserves an everlasting memory
    To be enrolled in chronicles of fame
    By never-dying perpetuity;
    Yet, to become so provident a prince,
    Lose not the title of a loving father.
    75Do not force love where fancy cannot dwell,
    Lest streams, being stopped, above the banks do swell.
    I am resolved, and even now my mind
    Doth meditate a sudden stratagem
    To try which of my daughters loves me best,
    80Which, till I know, I cannot be in rest.
    This granted, when they jointly shall contend,
    Each to exceed the other in their love,
    Then at the vantage will I take Cordella,
    Even as she doth protest she loves me best;
    85I'll say, "Then, daughter, grant me one request:
    To show thou lov'st me as thy sisters do,
    Accept a husband whom myself will woo."
    This said, she cannot well deny my suit,
    Although, poor soul, her senses will be mute.
    90Then will I triumph in my policy,
    And match her with a king of Brittany.
    [Aside] I'll to them before and bewray your secrecy.
    [Aside] Thus, fathers think their children to beguile,
    And oftentimes themselves do first repent
    95When heavenly powers do frustrate their intent.
    [Scene 2] [Video Sc.2]
    Enter Gonorill and Ragan
    I marvel, Ragan, how you can endure
    To see that proud pert peat, our youngest sister,
    So slightly to account of us, her elders,
    100As if we were no better than herself!
    We cannot have a quaint device so soon,
    Or new-made fashion of our choice invention,
    But, if she like it, she will have the same,
    Or study newer to exceed us both.
    105Besides, she is so nice and so demure,
    So sober, courteous, modest, and precise,
    That all the court hath work enough to do
    To talk how she exceedeth me and you.
    What should I do? Would it were in my power
    110To find a cure for this contagious ill:
    Some desperate medicine must be soon applied
    To dim the glory of her mounting fame,
    Else, ere't be long, she'll have both prick and praise,
    And we must be set by for working days.
    115Do you not see what several choice of suitors
    She daily hath, and of the best degree?
    Say, amongst all, she hap to fancy one,
    And have a husband whenas we have none;
    Why, then, by right, to her we must give place,
    120Though it be ne'er so much to our disgrace.
    By my virginity, rather than she shall have
    A husband before me,
    I'll marry one or other in his shirt.
    And yet I have made half a grant already
    125Of my good will unto the king of Cornwall.
    Swear not so deeply, sister. Here cometh my Lord Skalliger.
    Something his hasty coming doth import.
    Enter Skalliger
    Sweet princesses, I am glad I met you here so luckily,
    Having good news which doth concern you both
    130And craveth speedy expedition.
    For God's sake, tell us what it is, my lord!
    I am with child until you utter it.
    [To Ragan] Madam, to save your longing, this it is:
    Your father, in great secrecy, today
    135Told me he means to marry you out of hand
    Unto the noble prince of Cambria. --
    You, madam, to the king of Cornwall's grace. --
    Your younger sister he would fain bestow
    Upon the rich king of Hibernia,
    140But that he doubts she hardly will consent,
    For hitherto she ne'er could fancy him.
    If she do yield, why then, between you three,
    He will divide his kingdom for your dowries.
    But yet there is a further mystery
    145Which, so you will conceal, I will disclose.
    Whate'er thou speakst to us, kind Skalliger,
    Think that thou speak'st it only to thyself.
    He earnestly desireth for to know
    Which of you three do bear most love to him,
    150And on your loves he so extremely dotes
    As never any did, I think, before.
    He presently doth mean to send for you
    To be resolved of this tormenting doubt,
    And look whose answer pleaseth him the best,
    155They shall have most unto their marriages.
    Oh, that I had some pleasing mermaid's voice
    For to enchant his senseless senses with!
    For he supposeth that Cordella will,
    Striving to go beyond you in her love,
    160Promise to do whatever he desires;
    Then will he straight enjoin her, for his sake,
    Th'Hibernian king in marriage for to take.
    This is the sum of all I have to say,
    Which, being done, I humbly take my leave,
    165Not doubting but your wisdoms will foresee
    What course will best unto your good agree.
    Thanks, gentle Skalliger; thy kindness undeserved
    Shall not be unrequited, if we live.
    Exit Skalliger.
    Now have we fit occasion offered us
    170To be revenged upon her unperceived.
    Nay, our revenge we will inflict on her
    Shall be accounted piety in us.
    I will so flatter with my doting father
    As he was ne'er so flattered in his life.
    175Nay, I will say that if it be his pleasure
    To match me to a beggar, I will yield,
    For why I know -- whatever I do say --
    He means to match me with the Cornwall king.
    I'll say the like, for I am well assured,
    180Whate'er I say to please the old man's mind,
    Who dotes as if he were a child again,
    I shall enjoy the noble Cambrian prince;
    Only, to feed his humor, will suffice
    To say I am content with anyone
    185Whom he'll appoint me. This will please him more
    Than e'er Apollo's music pleasèd Jove.
    I smile to think in what a woeful plight
    Cordella will be when we answer thus,
    For she will rather die than give consent
    190To join in marriage with the Irish king.
    So will our father think she loveth him not
    Because she will not grant to his desire,
    Which we will aggravate in such bitter terms
    That he will soon convert his love to hate,
    195For he, you know, is always in extremes.
    Not all the world could lay a better plot;
    I long till it be put in practice.
    197.1[Scene 3] [Video Sc.3]
    Enter Leir and Perillus
    Perillus, go seek my daughters. Will them immediately
    200Come and speak with me.
    I will, my gracious lord.
    Oh, what a combat feels my panting heart
    'Twixt children's love and care of common weal!
    How dear my daughters are unto my soul
    205None knows but He that knows my thoughts and secret deeds.
    Ah, little do they know the dear regard
    Wherein I hold their future state to come.
    When they securely sleep on beds of down,
    These agèd eyes do watch for their behalf.
    210While they, like wantons, sport in youthful toys,
    This throbbing heart is pierced with dire annoys.
    As doth the sun exceed the smallest star,
    So much the father's love exceeds the child's.
    Yet my complaints are causeless, for the world
    215Affords not children more conformable,
    And yet methinks my mind presageth still
    I know not what, and yet I fear some ill.
    Enter Perillus, with the three daughters[, Gonorill, Ragan and Cordella]
    Well, here my daughters come. I have found out
    220A present means to rid me of this doubt.
    Our royal lord and father, in all duty
    We come to know the tenor of your will,
    Why you so hastily have sent for us.
    Dear Gonorill, kind Ragan, sweet Cordella,
    225Ye flourishing branches of a kingly stock,
    Sprung from a tree that once did flourish green,
    Whose blossoms now are nipped with winter's frost,
    And pale, grim Death doth wait upon my steps,
    And summons me unto his next assizes.
    230Therefore, dear daughters, as ye tender the safety
    Of him that was the cause of your first being,
    Resolve a doubt which much molests my mind:
    Which of you three to me would prove most kind,
    Which loves me most, and which, at my request,
    235Will soonest yield unto their father's hest?
    I hope my gracious father makes no doubt
    Of any of his daughters' love to him;
    Yet, for my part, to show my zeal to you,
    Which cannot be in windy words rehearsed,
    240I prize my love to you at such a rate,
    I think my life inferior to my love.
    Should you enjoin me for to tie a millstone
    About my neck and leap into the sea,
    At your command I willingly would do it.
    245Yea, for to do you good, I would ascend
    The highest turret in all Brittany,
    And from the top leap headlong to the ground.
    Nay, more, should you appoint me for to marry
    The meanest vassal in the spacious world,
    250Without reply I would accomplish it.
    In brief, command whatever you desire,
    And if I fail, no favor I require.
    Oh, how thy words revive my dying soul!
    [Aside] Oh, how I do abhor this flattery!
    But what saith Ragan to her father's will?
    Oh, that my simple utterance could suffice
    To tell the true intention of my heart,
    Which burns in zeal of duty to your grace
    And never can be quenched but by desire
    260To show the same in outward forwardness.
    Oh, that there were some other maid that durst
    But make a challenge of her love with me:
    I'd make her soon confess she never loved
    Her father half so well as I do you.
    265Ay, then my deeds should prove in plainer case
    How much my zeal aboundeth to your grace.
    But, for them all, let this one mean suffice
    To ratify my love before your eyes:
    I have right noble suitors to my love,
    270No worse than kings, and happily I love one;
    Yet, would you have me make my choice anew,
    I'd bridle fancy, and be ruled by you.
    Did never Philomel sing so sweet a note?
    [Aside]Did never flatterer tell so false a tale?
    Speak now, Cordella, make my joys at full,
    And drop down nectar from thy honey lips.
    I cannot paint my duty forth in words;
    I hope my deeds shall make report for me.
    But look what love the child doth owe the father:
    280The same to you I bear, my gracious lord.
    Here is an answer answerless indeed!
    Were you my daughter, I should scarcely brook it.
    Dost thou not blush, proud peacock as thou art,
    To make our father such a slight reply?
    Why, how now, minion, are you grown so proud?
    Doth our dear love make you thus peremptory?
    What, is your love become so small to us
    As that you scorn to tell us what it is?
    Do you love us as every child doth love
    290Their father? True indeed, as some
    Who by disobedience short their fathers' days,
    And so would you; some are so father-sick
    That they make means to rid them from the world,
    And so would you; some are indifferent
    295Whether their agèd parents live or die,
    And so are you. But didst thou know, proud girl,
    What care I had to foster thee to this,
    Ah, then thou wouldst say as thy sisters do:
    "Our life is less than love we owe to you."
    Dear father, do not so mistake my words,
    Nor my plain meaning be misconstrued;
    My tongue was never used to flattery.
    You were not best say I flatter: if you do,
    My deeds shall show I flatter not with you.
    305I love my father better than thou canst.
    The praise were great, spoke from another's mouth,
    But it should seem your neighbors dwell far off.
    Nay, here is one that will confirm as much
    As she hath said, both for myself and her.
    310I say thou dost not wish my father's good.
    Dear father --
    Peace, bastard imp, no issue of King Leir!
    I will not hear thee speak one tittle more.
    Call not me father if thou love thy life,
    315Nor these thy sisters once presume to name;
    Look for no help henceforth from me nor mine;
    Shift as thou wilt and trust unto thyself.
    My kingdom will I equally divide
    'Twixt thy two sisters to their royal dower,
    320And will bestow them worthy their deserts.
    This done, because thou shalt not have the hope
    To have a child's part in the time to come,
    I presently will dispossess myself
    And set up these upon my princely throne[H3].
    I ever thought that pride would have a fall.
    Plain-dealing sister, your beauty is so sheen,
    You need no dowry to make you be a queen.
    Exeunt Leir, Gonorill, Ragan.
    Now whither -- poor, forsaken -- shall I go,
    330When mine own sisters triumph in my woe,
    But unto Him which doth protect the just?
    In Him will poor Cordella put her trust.
    These hands shall labor for to get my spending,
    And so I'll live until my days have ending.
    Oh, how I grieve to see my lord thus fond
    To dote so much upon vain flattering words.
    Ah, if he but with good advice had weighed
    The hidden tenor of her humble speech,
    Reason to rage should not have given place,
    340Nor poor Cordella suffer such disgrace.
    340.1[Scene 4] [Video Sc.4]
    Enter the King of Gallia with Mumford and three Nobles more.
    Dissuade me not, my lords, I am resolved
    This next fair wind to sail for Brittany
    345In some disguise, to see if flying Fame
    Be not too prodigal in the wondrous praise
    Of these three nymphs, the daughters of King Leir.
    If present view do answer absent praise,
    And eyes allow of what our ears have heard,
    350And Venus stand auspicious to my vows,
    And Fortune favor what I take in hand,
    I will return seized of as rich a prize
    As Jason when he won the golden fleece.
    Heavens grant you may: the match were full of honor
    355And well beseeming the young Gallian king.
    I would your grace would favor me so much
    As make me partner of your pilgrimage.
    I long to see the gallant British dames
    And feed mine eyes upon their rare perfections,
    360For till I know the contrary, I'll say
    Our dames in France are more fair than they.
    Lord Mumford, you have saved me a labor
    In off'ring that which I did mean to ask,
    And I most willingly accept your company.
    365Yet, first I will enjoin you to observe
    Some few conditions which I shall propose.
    So that you do not tie mine eyes for looking
    After the amorous glances of fair dames,
    So that you do not tie my tongue from speaking,
    370My lips from kissing when occasion serves,
    My hands from congees, and my knees to bow
    To gallant girls -- which were a task more hard
    Than flesh and blood is able to endure --
    Command what else you please, I rest content.
    To bind thee from a thing thou canst not leave
    Were but a mean to make thee seek it more,
    And therefore speak, look, kiss, salute for me;
    In these myself am like to second thee.
    Now hear thy task: I charge thee, from the time
    380That first we set sail for the British shore,
    To use no words of dignity to me,
    But, in the friendliest manner that thou canst,
    Make use of me as thy companion,
    For we will go disguised in palmers' weeds,
    385That no man shall mistrust us what we are.
    If that be all, I'll fit your turn, I warrant you. I am some kin to the Blounts, and, I think, the bluntest of all my kindred; therefore, if I be too blunt with you, thank yourself for praying me to be so.
    Thy pleasant company will make the way seem short. --
    It resteth now that in my absence hence
    I do commit the government to you,
    My trusty lords and faithful counsellors.
    Time cutteth off the rest I have to say:
    395The wind blows fair, and I must needs away.
    Heavens send your voyage to as good effect
    As we your land do purpose to protect.
    397.1[Scene 5] [Video Sc.5]
    Enter the King of Cornwall and his man[, Servant 1,] booted and spurred; a riding wand and a letter in [Cornwall's] hand
    400 Cornwall
    But how far distant are we from the court?
    Servant 1
    Some twenty miles, my lord, or thereabouts.
    It seemeth to me twenty thousand miles;
    Yet hope I to be there within this hour.
    Servant 1
    [To himself] Then are you like to ride alone for me.
    405I think my lord is weary of his life.
    Sweet Gonorill, I long to see thy face,
    Which hast so kindly gratified my love.
    Enter the King of Cambria, booted and spurred with a wand and a letter, and his man[, Servant 2]
    [He looks at the letter.] Get a fresh horse, for, by my soul I swear,
    I am past patience longer to forbear
    The wished sight of my beloved mistress,
    Dear Ragan, stay and comfort of my life.
    Servant 2
    [To himself] Now what in God's name doth my lord intend?
    415He thinks he ne'er shall come at's journey's end.
    I would he had old Daedalus' waxen wings
    That he might fly, so I might stay behind;
    For ere we get to Troynovant, I see,
    He quite will tire himself, his horse, and me.
    420Cornwall and Cambria look one upon another and start to see each other there.
    Brother of Cambria, we greet you well,
    As one whom here we little did expect.
    Brother of Cornwall, met in happy time.
    425I thought as much to have met with the Sultan of Persia
    As to have met you in this place, my lord.
    No doubt it is about some great affairs
    That makes you here so slenderly accompanied.
    To say the truth, my lord, it is no less.
    430And, for your part, some hasty wind of chance
    Hath blown you hither thus upon the sudden.
    My lord, to break off further circumstances,
    For at this time I cannot brook delays,
    Tell you your reason, I will tell you mine.
    In faith, content; and, therefore, to be brief,
    For I am sure my haste's as great as yours:
    I am sent for to come unto King Leir,
    Who, by these present letters, promiseth
    His eldest daughter, lovely Gonorill,
    440To me in marriage and for present dowry
    The moiety of half his regiment.
    The lady's love I long ago possessed,
    But until now I never had the father's.
    You tell me wonders, yet I will relate
    445Strange news, and henceforth we must brothers call.
    Witness these lines: his honorable age,
    Being weary of the troubles of his crown,
    His princely daughter Ragan will bestow
    On me in marriage, with half his seigniories,
    450Whom I would gladly have accepted of
    With the third part, her complements are such.
    If I have one half and you have the other,
    Then between us we must needs have the whole.
    The hole! How mean you that? 'Sblood, I hope
    455We shall have two holes between us.
    Why, the whole kingdom.
    Ay, that's very true.
    What then is left for his third daughter's dowry,
    Lovely Cordella, whom the world admires?
    'Tis very strange. I know not what to think,
    Unless they mean to make a nun of her.
    'Twere pity such rare beauty should be hid
    Within the compass of a cloister's wall;
    But, howsoe'er, if Leir's words prove true,
    465It will be good, my lord, for me and you.
    Then let us haste, all danger to prevent,
    For fear delays do alter his intent.
    467.1[Scene 6] [Video Sc.6]
    Enter Gonorill and Ragan
    Sister, when did you see Cordella last,
    470That pretty piece that thinks none good enough
    To speak to her because, sir-reverence,
    She hath a little beauty extraordinary?
    Since time my father warned her from his presence,
    I never saw her that I can remember.
    475God give her joy of her surpassing beauty;
    I think her dowry will be small enough.
    I have incensed my father so against her
    As he will never be reclaimed again.
    I was not much behind to do the like.
    Faith, sister, what moves you to bear her such good will?
    In truth, I think the same that moveth you:
    Because she doth surpass us both in beauty.
    Beshrew your fingers, how right you can guess.
    I tell you true, it cuts me to the heart.
    But we will keep her low enough, I warrant,
    And clip her wings for mounting up too high.
    Whoever hath her shall have a rich marriage of her.
    She were right fit to make a parson's wife,
    For they, men say, do love fair women well,
    490And many times do marry them with nothing.
    With nothing! Marry, God forbid! Why, are there any such?
    I mean, no money.
    I cry you mercy, I mistook you much.
    And she is far too stately for the church:
    495She'll lay her husband's benefice on her back
    Even in one gown, if she may have her will.
    In faith, poor soul, I pity her a little.
    Would she were less fair or more fortunate.
    Well, I think long until I see my Morgan,
    500The gallant Prince of Cambria, here arrive.
    And so do I until the Cornwall king
    Present himself to consummate my joys.
    Peace, here cometh my father.
    Enter Leir, Perillus, and others
    Cease, good my lords, and sue not to reverse
    Our censure which is now irrevocable.
    We have dispatchèd letters of contract
    Unto the kings of Cambria and of Cornwall:
    Our hand and seal will justify no less.
    510Then do not so dishonor me, my lords,
    As to make shipwreck of our kingly word.
    I am as kind as is the pelican
    That kills itself to save her young ones' lives,
    And yet as jealous as the princely eagle
    515That kills her young ones if they do but dazzle
    Upon the radiant splendor of the sun.
    Within this two days I expect their coming.
    Enter Kings of Cornwall and Cambria
    But in good time they are arrived already.
    This haste of yours, my lords, doth testify
    520The fervent love you bear unto my daughters,
    And think yourselves as welcome to King Leir
    As ever Priam's children were to him.
    My gracious lord, and father too, I hope,
    Pardon for that I made no greater haste,
    525But were my horse as swift as was my will,
    I long ere this had seen your majesty.
    No other 'scuse of absence can I frame
    Than what my brother hath informed your grace;
    For our undeserved welcome, we do vow
    530Perpetually to rest at your command.
    But you, sweet love, illustrious Gonorill,
    The regent and the sovereign of my soul,
    Is Cornwall welcome to your excellency?
    As welcome as Leander was to Hero,
    535Or brave Aeneas to the Carthage queen,
    So and more welcome is your grace to me.
    Oh, may my fortune prove no worse than his
    Since heavens do know my fancy is as much.
    Dear Ragan, say if welcome unto thee;
    540All welcomes else will little comfort me.
    As gold is welcome to the covetous eye,
    As sleep is welcome to the traveler,
    As is fresh water to sea-beaten men,
    Or moistened showers unto the parchèd ground,
    545Or anything more welcomer than this,
    So and more welcome lovely Morgan is.
    What resteth, then, but that we consummate
    The celebration of these nuptial rites?
    My kingdom I do equally divide.
    550Princes, draw lots, and take your chance as falls.
    Then they draw lots.
    These I resign as freely unto you
    As erst by true succession they were mine.
    And here I do freely dispossess myself
    555And make you two my true adopted heirs.
    Myself will sojourn with my son of Cornwall
    And take me to my prayers and my beads.
    I know my daughter Ragan will be sorry
    Because I do not spend my days with her.
    560Would I were able to be with both at once:
    They are the kindest girls in Christendom.
    I have been silent all this while, my lord,
    To see if any worthier than myself
    Would once have spoke in poor Cordella's cause,
    565But love or fear ties silence to their tongues.
    Oh, hear me speak for her my gracious lord,
    Whose deeds have not deserved this ruthless doom,
    As thus to disinherit her of all.
    Urge this no more an if thou love thy life!
    570I say she is no daughter that doth scorn
    To tell her father how she loveth him.
    Whoever speaketh hereof to me again,
    I will esteem him for my mortal foe.
    Come, let us in to celebrate with joy
    575The happy nuptials of these lovely pairs.
    Exeunt omnes; Perillus remains.
    Ah, who so blind as they that will not see
    The near approach of their own misery?
    Poor lady, I extremely pity her,
    580And, whilst I live, each drop of my heart blood
    Will I strain forth to do her any good.
    581.1[Scene 7] [Video Sc.7]
    Enter the King of Gallia and Mumford, disguised like pilgrims.
    My lord, how do you brook this British air?
    "My lord"? I told you of this foolish humor
    And bound you to the contrary, you know.
    Pardon me for once, my lord, I did forget.
    "My lord" again? Then let's have nothing else
    And so be ta'en for spies, and then 'tis well.
    'Swounds, I could bite my tongue in two for anger!
    For God's sake name yourself some proper name.
    Call me Tresillus; I'll call thee Denapoll.
    Might I be made the monarch of the world,
    I could not hit upon these names, I swear.
    Then call me Will; I'll call thee Jack.
    Well, be it so, for I have well deserved to be called Jack.
    Enter Cordella
    Stand close, for here a British lady cometh.
    A fairer creature ne'er mine eyes beheld.
    This is a day of joy unto my sisters,
    600Wherein they both are married unto kings,
    And I, by birth as worthy as themselves,
    Am turned into the world to seek my fortune.
    How may I blame the fickle queen of chance
    That maketh me a pattern of her power?
    605Ah, poor, weak maid, whose imbecility
    Is far unable to endure these brunts!
    Oh, father Leir, how dost thou wrong thy child
    Who always was obedient to thy will!
    But why accuse I Fortune and my father?
    610No, no, it is the pleasure of my God,
    And I do willingly embrace the rod.
    It is no goddess, for she doth complain
    On Fortune and th'unkindness of her father.
    These costly robes, ill fitting my estate,
    615I will exchange for other meaner habit.
    Now if I had a kingdom in my hands,
    I would exchange it for a milkmaid's smock and petticoat that she and I might shift our clothes together.
    I will betake me to my thread and needle,
    620And earn my living with my fingers' ends.
    O brave! God willing, thou shalt have my custom,
    By sweet St. Denis here I sadly swear,
    For all the shirts and nightgear that I wear!
    I will profess and vow a maiden's life.
    Then I protest thou shalt not have my custom.
    I can forbear no longer for to speak,
    For if I do I think my heart will break.
    'Sblood, Will, I hope you are not in love with my sempster!
    I am in such a labyrinth of love
    630As that I know not which way to get out.
    You'll ne'er get out unless you first get in.
    I prithee, Jack, cross not my passions.
    Prithee, Will, to her and try her patience.
    Thou fairest creature, whatsoe'er thou art,
    635That ever any mortal eyes beheld,
    Vouchsafe to me, who have o'erheard thy woes,
    To show the cause of these thy sad laments.
    Ah pilgrims, what avails to show the cause
    When there's no means to find a remedy?
    To utter grief doth ease a heart o'ercharged.
    To touch a sore doth aggravate the pain.
    The silly mouse, by virtue of her teeth,
    Released the princely lion from the net.
    Kind palmer, which so much desir'st to hear
    645The tragic tale of my unhappy youth,
    Know this in brief: I am the hapless daughter
    Of Leir, sometime king of Brittany.
    Why, who debars his honorable age
    From being still the king of Brittany?
    None but himself hath dispossessed himself,
    And given all his kingdom to the kings
    Of Cornwall and of Cambria with my sisters.
    Hath he given nothing to your lovely self?
    He loved me not and therefore gave me nothing,
    655Only because I could not flatter him,
    And in this day of triumph to my sisters
    Doth Fortune triumph in my overthrow.
    Sweet lady, say there should come a king --
    As good as either of your sisters' husbands --
    660To crave your love: would you accept of him?
    Oh, do not mock with those in misery;
    Nor do not think, though Fortune have the power
    To spoil mine honor and debase my state,
    That she hath any interest in my mind,
    665For if the greatest monarch on the earth
    Should sue to me in this extremity,
    Except my heart could love and heart could like
    Better than any that I ever saw,
    His great estate no more should move my mind
    670Than mountains move by blast of every wind.
    Think not, sweet nymph, 'tis holy palmer's guise
    To grievèd souls fresh torments to devise;
    Therefore, in witness of my true intent,
    Let heaven and earth bear record of my words:
    675There is a young and lusty Gallian king,
    So like to me as I am to myself,
    That earnestly doth crave to have thy love
    And join with thee in Hymen's sacred bonds.
    [Aside] The like to thee did ne'er these eyes behold.
    680Oh, live to add new torments to my grief!
    Why didst thou thus entrap me unawares? --
    Ah, palmer, my estate doth not befit
    A kingly marriage as the case now stands.
    Whilom whenas I lived in honor's height,
    685A prince perhaps might postulate my love;
    Now misery, dishonor, and disgrace
    Hath light on me, and quite reversed the case.
    Thy king will hold thee wise if thou surcease
    The suit whereas no dowry will ensue.
    690Then be advisèd, palmer, what to do:
    Cease for thy king, seek for thyself to woo.
    Your birth's too high for any but a king.
    My mind is low enough to love a palmer
    Rather than any king upon the earth.
    Oh, but you never can endure their life,
    Which is so straight and full of penury.
    Oh, yes, I can, and happy if I might.
    I'll hold thy palmer's staff within my hand
    And think it is the scepter of a queen;
    700Sometime I'll set thy bonnet on my head
    And think I wear a rich imperial crown;
    Sometime I'll help thee in thy holy prayers
    And think I am with thee in paradise:
    Thus I'll mock Fortune as she mocketh me,
    705And never will my lovely choice repent,
    For having thee, I shall have all content.
    [Aside] 'Twere sin to hold her longer in suspense
    Since that my soul hath vowed she shall be mine. --
    Ah, dear Cordella, cordial to my heart,
    710I am no palmer as I seem to be
    But hither come in this unknown disguise
    To view th'admirèd beauty of those eyes.
    I am the king of Gallia, gentle maid,
    Although thus slenderly accompanied,
    715And yet thy vassal by imperious Love,
    And sworn to serve thee everlastingly.
    Whate'er you be, of high or low descent,
    All's one to me; I do request but this:
    That as I am, you will accept of me,
    720And I will have you whatsoe'er you be.
    Yet well I know you come of royal race;
    I see such sparks of honor in your face.
    Have palmers' weeds such power to win fair ladies?
    Faith, then I hope the next that falls is mine.
    725Upon condition I no worse might speed,
    I would forever wear a palmer's weed.
    I like an honest and plain-dealing wench
    That swears, without exceptions, "I will have you."
    These foppets that know not whether to love a man or no -- ex730cept they first go ask their mothers' leave -- by this hand, I hate them ten times worse than poison.
    What resteth, then, our happiness to procure?
    Faith, go to church to make the matter sure.
    It shall be so because the world shall say,
    735"King Leir's three daughters were wedded in one day."
    The celebration of this happy chance
    We will defer until we come to France.
    I like the wooing that's not long a doing.
    Well, for her sake, I know what I know: 740I'll never marry whilst I live except I have one of these British ladies. My humor is alienated from the maids of France.
    742.1[Scene 8] [Video Sc.8]
    Enter Perillus [alone]
    The king hath dispossessed himself of all,
    745Those to advance which scarce will give him thanks.
    His youngest daughter he hath turned away,
    And no man knows what is become of her.
    He sojourns now in Cornwall with the eldest,
    Who flattered him until she did obtain
    750That at his hands which now she doth possess;
    And, now she sees he hath no more to give,
    It grieves her heart to see her father live.
    Oh, whom should man trust in this wicked age
    When children thus against their parents rage?
    755But he, the mirror of mild patience,
    Puts up all wrongs and never gives reply,
    Yet shames she not, in most opprobrious sort,
    To call him "fool" and "dotard" to his face,
    And sets her parasites of purpose oft
    760In scoffing-wise to offer him disgrace.
    Oh, iron age! Oh, times! Oh, monstrous, vile,
    When parents are condemnèd of the child!
    His pension she hath half restrained from him,
    And will, ere long, the other half, I fear,
    765For she thinks nothing is bestowed in vain
    But that which doth her father's life maintain.
    Trust not alliance, but trust strangers rather,
    Since daughters prove disloyal to the father.
    Well, I will counsel him the best I can.
    770Would I were able to redress his wrong!
    Yet what I can unto my utmost power
    He shall be sure of to the latest hour.
    772.1[Scene 9] [Video Sc.9]
    Enter Gonorill and Skalliger
    I prithee, Skalliger, tell me what thou think'st:
    775Could any woman of our dignity
    Endure such quips and peremptory taunts
    As I do daily from my doting father?
    Doth't not suffice that I him keep of alms
    Who is not able for to keep himself,
    780But, as if he were our better, he should think
    To check and snap me up at every word?
    I cannot make me a new-fashioned gown,
    And set it forth with more than common cost,
    But his old doting, doltish, withered wit
    785Is sure to give a senseless check for it.
    I cannot make a banquet extraordinary
    To grace myself and spread my name abroad
    But he, old fool, is captious by and by,
    And saith the cost would well suffice for twice.
    790Judge then, I pray, what reason is't that I
    Should stand alone charged with his vain expense
    And that my sister Ragan should go free,
    To whom he gave as much as unto me?
    I prithee, Skalliger, tell me, if thou know,
    795By any means to rid me of this woe.
    Your many favors still bestowed on me
    Bind me in duty to advise your grace
    How you may soonest remedy this ill.
    The large allowance which he hath from you
    800Is that which makes him so forget himself;
    Therefore, abridge it half and you shall see
    That, having less, he will more thankful be,
    For why abundance maketh us forget
    The fountains whence the benefits do spring.
    Well, Skalliger, for thy kind advice herein,
    I will not be ungrateful if I live.
    I have restrainèd half his portion already
    And I will presently restrain the other,
    That, having no means to relieve himself,
    810He may go seek elsewhere for better help.
    Exit [Gonorill].
    Go, viperous woman, shame to all thy sex,
    The heavens no doubt will punish thee for this.
    And me, a villain that, to curry favor,
    Have given the daughter counsel 'gainst the father.
    815But us the world doth this experience give:
    That he that cannot flatter cannot live.
    816.1[Scene 10] [Video Sc.10]
    Enter King of Cornwall, Leir, Perillus, and Nobles
    Father, what aileth you to be so sad?
    Methinks you frolic not as you were wont.
    The nearer we do grow unto our graves,
    The less we do delight in worldly joys.
    But if a man can frame himself to mirth,
    It is a mean for to prolong his life.
    Then welcome sorrow, Leir's only friend,
    825Who doth desire his troubled days had end.
    Comfort yourself, father, here comes your daughter,
    Who much will grieve, I know, to see you sad.
    Enter Gonorill
    But more doth grieve, I fear, to see me live.
    My Gonorill, you come in wishèd time
    830To put your father from these pensive dumps.
    In faith, I fear that all things go not well.
    What, do you fear that I have angered him?
    Hath he complained of me unto my lord?
    I'll provide him a piece of bread and cheese,
    835For in a time he'll practise nothing else
    Than carry tales from one unto another.
    'Tis all his practice for to kindle strife
    'Twixt you, my lord, and me your loving wife.
    But I will take an order, if I can,
    840To cease th'effect where first the cause began.
    Sweet, be not angry in a partial cause:
    He ne'er complained of thee in all his life. --
    Father, you must not weigh a woman's words.
    Alas, not I. Poor soul, she breeds young bones,
    845And that is it makes her so touchy sure.
    What, "breeds young bones" -- already! You will make
    An honest woman of me then, belike.
    O vile old wretch! Whoever heard the like,
    That seeketh thus his own child to defame?
    I cannot stay to hear this discord sound.
    Exit [Cornwall].
    [To Leir and his attendants] For anyone that loves your company,
    You may go pack and seek some other place
    To sow the seed of discord and disgrace.
    Exit [Gonorill].
    Thus, say or do the best that e'er I can,
    855'Tis wrested straight into another sense.
    This punishment my heavy sins deserve,
    And more than this ten thousand thousand times,
    Else agèd Leir them could never find
    Cruel to him to whom he hath been kind.
    860Why do I overlive myself, to see
    The course of nature quite reversed in me?
    Ah, gentle Death, if ever any wight
    Did wish thy presence with a perfect zeal,
    Then come, I pray thee, even with all my heart,
    865And end my sorrows with thy fatal dart.
    He weeps.
    Ah, do not so disconsolate yourself,
    Nor dew your agèd cheeks with wasting tears.
    What man art thou that takest any pity
    Upon the worthless state of old Leir?
    One who doth bear as great a share of grief,
    As if it were my dearest father's case.
    Ah, good my friend, how ill art thou advised
    For to consort with miserable men.
    Go learn to flatter where thou mayst in time
    875Get favor 'mongst the mighty, and so climb;
    For now I am so poor and full of want
    As that I ne'er can recompense thy love.
    What's got by flattery doth not long endure,
    And men in favor live not most secure.
    880My conscience tells me if I should forsake you,
    I were the hateful'st excrement on the earth,
    Which well do know, in course of former time,
    How good my lord hath been to me and mine.
    Did I e'er raise thee higher than the rest
    885Of all thy ancestors which were before?
    I ne'er did seek it, but by your good grace
    I still enjoyed my own with quietness.
    Did I e'er give thee living to increase
    The due revenues which thy father left?
    I had enough, my lord, and having that,
    What should you need to give me any more?
    Oh, did I ever dispossess myself
    And give thee half my kingdom in good will?
    Alas, my lord, there were no reason why
    895You should have such a thought to give it me.
    Nay, if thou talk of reason, then be mute,
    For with good reason I can thee confute.
    If they, which first by nature's sacred law
    Do owe to me the tribute of their lives,
    900If they to whom I always have been kind
    And bountiful beyond comparison,
    If they for whom I have undone myself
    And brought my age unto this extreme want,
    Do now reject, condemn, despise, abhor me,
    905What reason moveth thee to sorrow for me?
    Where reason fails let tears confirm my love,
    And speak how much your passions do me move.
    Ah, good my lord, condemn not all for one:
    You have two daughters left to whom I know
    910You shall be welcome, if you please to go.
    Oh, how thy words add sorrow to my soul,
    To think of my unkindness to Cordella,
    Whom causeless I did dispossess of all
    Upon th'unkind suggestions of her sisters;
    915And for her sake I think this heavy doom
    Is fallen on me, and not without desert.
    Yet unto Ragan was I always kind,
    And gave to her the half of all I had.
    It may be, if I should to her repair,
    920She would be kinder and entreat me fair.
    No doubt she would, and practise, ere't be long,
    By force of arms for to redress your wrong.
    Well, since thou dost advise me for to go,
    I am resolved to try the worst of woe.
    924.1[Scene 11] [Video Sc.11]
    925Enter Ragan alone
    How may I bless the hour of my nativity
    Which bodeth unto me such happy stars!
    How may I thank kind Fortune that vouchsafes
    To all my actions such desired event!
    930I rule the king of Cambria as I please;
    The states are all obedient to my will
    And look whate'er I say, it shall be so;
    Not anyone that dareth answer no.
    My eldest sister lives in royal state
    935And wanteth nothing fitting her degree;
    Yet hath she such a cooling card withal
    As that her honey savoreth much of gall.
    My father with her is quartermaster still,
    And many times restrains her of her will,
    940But, if he were with me, and served me so,
    I'd send him packing somewhere else to go:
    I'd entertain him with such slender cost
    That he should quickly wish to change his host.
    943.1[Scene 12] [Video Sc.12]
    Enter Cornwall, Gonorill, and attendants
    Ah, Gonorill, what dire unhappy chance
    Hath sequestered thy father from our presence
    That no report can yet be heard of him?
    Some great unkindness hath been offered him,
    Exceeding far the bounds of patience,
    950Else all the world shall never me persuade
    He would forsake us without notice made.
    Alas, my lord, whom doth it touch so near,
    Or who hath interest in this grief but I,
    Whom sorrow had brought to her longest home,
    955But that I know his qualities so well?
    I know he is but stol'n upon my sister
    At unawares to see her how she fares
    And spend a little time with her, to note
    How all things go and how she likes her choice;
    960And when occasion serves, he'll steal from her
    And unawares return to us again.
    Therefore, my lord, be frolic and resolve
    To see my father here again ere long.
    I hope so too, but yet to be more sure
    965I'll send a post immediately to know
    Whether he be arrivèd there or no.
    Exit [Cornwall with attendants].
    But I will intercept the messenger
    And temper him, before he doth depart,
    With sweet persuasions and with sound rewards,
    970That his report shall ratify my speech
    And make my lord cease further to inquire.
    If he be not gone to my sister's court,
    As sure my mind presageth that he is,
    He haply may, by travelling unknown ways,
    975Fall sick, and as a common passenger
    Be dead and buried. Would God it were so well,
    For then there were no more to do but this:
    "He went away, and none knows where he is."
    But say he be in Cambria with the king
    980And there exclaim against me, as he will;
    I know he is as welcome to my sister
    As water is into a broken ship.
    Well, after him I'll send such thunderclaps
    Of slander, scandal, and invented tales
    985That all the blame shall be removed from me
    And, unperceived, rebound upon himself.
    Thus with one nail another I'll expel,
    And make the world judge that I used him well.
    Enter the Messenger that should go to Cambria, 990 with a letter in his hand.
    My honest friend, whither away so fast?
    To Cambria, madam, with letters from the king.
    To whom?
    Unto your father, if he be there.
    Let me see them.
    She opens them.
    Madam, I hope your grace will stand between me and my neck-verse if I be called in question for opening the king's letters.
    'Twas I that opened them; it was not thou.
    Ay, but you need not care, and so must I, a handsome man, be quickly trussed up; and when a man's hanged, all the world cannot save him.
    He that hangs thee were better hang his father,
    Or that but hurts thee in the least degree.
    1005I tell thee, we make great account of thee.
    I am o'erjoyed; I surfeit of sweet words.
    Kind Queen, had I a hundred lives, I would
    Spend ninety-nine of them for you for that word.
    Ay, but thou wouldst keep one life still,
    1010And that's as many as thou art like to have.
    That one life is not too dear for my good queen: this sword, this buckler, this head, this heart, these hands, arms, legs, tripes, bowels, and all the members else whatsoever, are at your dispose. Use me, trust me, command me; if I fail in any1015thing, tie me to a dung cart and make a scavenger's horse of me, and whip me so long as I have any skin on my back.
    In token of further employment, take that.
    Flings him a purse.
    A strong bond, a firm obligation, good in law, good 1020in law. If I keep not the condition, let my neck be the forfeiture of my negligence.
    I like thee well; thou hast a good tongue.
    And as bad a tongue, if it be set on it, as any oysterwife at Billingsgate hath. Why, I have made many of my neighbors 1025forsake their houses with railing upon them, and go dwell elsewhere, and so, by my means, houses have been good cheap in our parish. My tongue being well whetted with choler is more sharp than a razor of Palermo.
    Oh, thou art a fit man for my purpose.
    Commend me not, sweet Queen, before you try me.
    As my deserts are, so do think of me.
    Well said. Then this is thy trial: instead of carrying the king's letters to my father, carry thou these letters to my sister, which contain matter quite contrary to the other. There 1035shall she be given to understand that my father hath detracted her, given out slanderous speeches against her, and that he hath most intolerably abused me, set my lord and me at variance, and made mutinies amongst the commons.
    These things -- although it be not so --
    1040Yet thou must affirm them to be true
    With oaths and protestations as will serve
    To drive my sister out of love with him
    And cause my will accomplishèd to be.
    This do, thou winn'st my favor forever,
    1045And makst a highway of preferment to thee
    And all thy friends.
    It sufficeth; conceit, it is already done. I will so tongue-whip him that I will leave him as bare of credit 1050as a poulter leaves a cony when she pulls off his skin.
    Yet there is a further matter.
    I thirst to hear it.
    If my sister thinketh convenient, as my letters importeth, to make him away, hast thou the heart to 1055effect it?
    Few words are best in so small a matter;
    These are but trifles. By this book I will.
    [He] kisse[s] the paper.
    About it presently; I long till it be done.
    I fly, I fly.
    1060.1[Scene 13] [Video Sc.13]
    Enter Cordella alone
    I have been over-negligent today
    In going to the temple of my God
    To render thanks for all his benefits
    1065Which he miraculously hath bestowed on me
    In raising me out of my mean estate
    Whenas I was devoid of worldly friends
    And placing me in such a sweet content
    As far exceeds the reach of my deserts.
    1070My kingly husband, mirror of his time
    For zeal, for justice, kindness, and for care
    To God, his subjects, me, and common weal,
    By His appointment was ordained for me.
    I cannot wish the thing that I do want,
    1075I cannot want the thing but I may have,
    Save only this which I shall ne'er obtain:
    My father's love. Oh, this I ne'er shall gain.
    I would abstain from any nutriment
    And pine my body to the very bones;
    1080Barefoot, I would on pilgrimage set forth
    Unto the furthest quarters of the earth,
    And all my lifetime would I sackcloth wear,
    And mourning-wise pour dust upon my head,
    So he but to forgive me once would please,
    1085That his grey hairs might go to heaven in peace.
    And yet I know not how I him offended,
    Or wherein justly I have deserved blame.
    O sisters! You are much to blame in this:
    It was not he but you that did me wrong.
    1090Yet God forgive both him and you and me,
    Eʼen as I do in perfect charity.
    I will to church and pray unto my savior
    That, ere I die, I may obtain his favor.
    1093.1[Scene 14] [Video Sc.14]
    Enter Leir and Perillus faintly
    Rest on me, my lord, and stay yourself;
    The way seems tedious to your agèd limbs.
    Nay, rest on me, kind friend, and stay thyself;
    Thou art as old as I, but more kind.
    Ah, good my lord, it ill befits that I
    1100Should lean upon the person of a king.
    But it fits worse that I should bring thee forth,
    That had no cause to come along with me,
    Through these uncouth paths and tireful ways,
    And never ease thy fainting limbs a whit.
    1105Thou hast left all -- ay, all -- to come with me,
    And I, for all, have nought to guerdon thee.
    Cease, good my lord, to aggravate my woes
    With these kind words, which cut my heart in two
    To think your will should want the power to do.
    Cease, good Perillus, for to call me "lord,"
    And think me but the shadow of myself.
    That honorable title will I give
    Unto my lord so long as I do live.
    Oh, be of comfort, for I see the place
    1115Whereas your daughter keeps her residence.
    And, lo, in happy time the Cambrian prince
    Is here arrived to gratify our coming.
    Enter the Prince of Cambria, Ragan, and Nobles; look upon them and whisper together.
    Were I best speak or sit me down and die?
    I am ashamed to tell this heavy tale.
    Then let me tell it, if you please, my lord.
    'Tis shame for them that were the cause thereof.
    What two old men are those that seem so sad?
    1125Methinks I should remember well their looks.
    No, I mistake not, sure it is my father.
    [Aside] I must dissemble kindness now of force.
    She runneth to him, and kneels down, saying:
    Father, I bid you welcome, full of grief,
    1130To see your grace used thus unworthily,
    And ill-befitting for your reverend age
    To come on foot a journey so indurable.
    Oh, what disaster chance hath been the cause
    To make your cheeks so hollow, spare, and lean? --
    1135He cannot speak for weeping. For God's love, come,
    Let us refresh him with some needful things
    And at more leisure we may better know
    Whence springs the ground of this unlooked-for woe.
    Come, father; ere we any further talk,
    1140You shall refresh you after this weary walk.
    Exeunt [all but] Ragan.
    Comes he to me with finger in the eye
    To tell a tale against my sister here,
    Whom I do know he greatly hath abused?
    And now, like a contentious crafty wretch,
    1145He first begins for to complain himself,
    Whenas himself is in the greatest fault.
    I'll not be partial in my sister's cause,
    Nor yet believe his doting vain reports,
    Who, for a trifle, safely I dare say,
    1150Upon a spleen is stolen thence away,
    And here, forsooth, he hopeth to have harbor
    And to be moaned and made on like a child.
    But ere't be long, his coming he shall curse,
    And truly say he came from bad to worse.
    1155Yet will I make fair weather to procure
    Convenient means, and then I'll strike it sure.
    1156.1[Scene 15] [Video Sc.15]
    Enter Messenger [alone]
    Now happily I am arrivèd here
    Before the stately palace of the Cambrian king.
    1160If Leir be here safe-seated and in rest,
    To rouse him from it I will do my best.
    Enter Ragan
    Now, bags of gold, your virtue is, no doubt,
    To make me in my message bold and stout. --
    The king of heaven preserve your majesty,
    1165And send your highness everlasting reign.
    Thanks, good my friend, but what imports thy message?
    Kind greetings from the Cornwall queen;
    The residue these letters will declare.
    She opens the letters.
    How fares our royal sister?
    I did leave her at my parting in good health.
    She reads the letter, frowns, and stamps.
    [Aside] See how her color comes and goes again,
    Now red as scarlet, now as pale as ash;
    1175See how she knits her brow, and bites her lips,
    And stamps, and makes a dumbshow of disdain
    Mixed with revenge and violent extremes.
    Here will be more work and more crowns for me.
    [Aside] Alas, poor soul, and hath he used her thus?
    1180And is he now come hither with intent
    To set divorce betwixt my lord and me?
    Doth he give out that he doth hear report
    That I do rule my husband as I list,
    And therefore means to alter so the case
    1185That I shall know my lord to be my head?
    Well, it were best for him to take good heed,
    Or I will make him hop without a head
    For his presumption, dotard that he is.
    In Cornwall he hath made such mutinies --
    1190First, setting of the king against the queen,
    Then stirring up the commons 'gainst the king --
    That had he there continued any longer,
    He had been called in question for his fact.
    So upon that occasion thence he fled,
    1195And comes thus slyly stealing unto us,
    And now already since his coming hither,
    My lord and he are grown in such a league
    That I can have no conference with his grace.
    I fear he doth already intimate
    1200Some forgèd cavillations 'gainst my state.
    'Tis therefore best to cut him off in time,
    Lest slanderous rumors, once abroad dispersed,
    It is too late for them to be reversed. --
    [To the Messenger] Friend, as the tenor of these letters shows,
    1205My sister puts great confidence in thee.
    She never yet committed trust to me
    But that, I hope, she found me always faithful.
    So will I be to any friend of hers
    That hath occasion to employ my help.
    Hast thou the heart to act a stratagem,
    And give a stab or two if need require?
    I have a heart compact of adamant
    Which never knew what melting pity meant.
    I weigh no more the murd'ring of a man
    1215Than I respect the cracking of a flea
    When I do catch her biting on my skin.
    If you will have your husband or your father
    Or both of them sent to another world,
    Do but command me do't: it shall be done.
    It is enough; we make no doubt of thee.
    Meet us tomorrow, here, at nine o'clock.
    Meanwhile, farewell,
    [She gives him a purse.]
    and drink that for my sake.
    Exit [Ragan].
    Ay, this is it will make me do the deed.
    Oh, had I every day such customers,
    1225This were the gainful'st trade in Christendom!
    A purse of gold giv'n for a paltry stab!
    Why, here's a wench that longs to have a stab.
    Well, I could give it her, and ne'er hurt her neither.
    [Exit Messenger.]
    1228.1[Scene 16] [Video Sc.16]
    Enter the King of Gallia and Cordella
    When will these clouds of sorrow once disperse
    And smiling joy triumph upon thy brow?
    When will this scene of sadness have an end
    And pleasant acts ensue to move delight?
    When will my lovely queen cease to lament
    1235And take some comfort to her grievèd thoughts?
    If of thyself thou deignst to have no care,
    Yet pity me whom thy grief makes despair.
    Oh, grieve not you, my lord, you have no cause.
    Let not my passions move your mind a whit,
    1240For I am bound by nature to lament
    For his ill will that life to me first lent.
    If so the stalk be drièd with disdain,
    Withered and sere the branch must needs remain.
    But thou art now graft in another stock:
    1245I am the stock and thou the lovely branch,
    And from my root continual sap shall flow
    To make thee flourish with perpetual spring.
    Forget thy father and thy kindred now,
    Since they forsake thee like inhumane beasts.
    1250Think they are dead since all their kindness dies,
    And bury them where black oblivion lies.
    Think not thou art the daughter of old Leir,
    Who did unkindly disinherit thee,
    But think thou art the noble Gallian queen,
    1255And wife to him that dearly loveth thee.
    Embrace the joys that present with thee dwell;
    Let sorrow pack and hide herself in hell.
    Not that I miss my country or my kin,
    My old acquaintance or my ancient friends --
    1260Doth any whit distemperate my mind,
    Knowing you, which are more dear to me
    Than country, kin and all things else can be?
    Yet pardon me, my gracious lord, in this,
    For what can stop the course of nature's power?
    1265As easy is it for four-footed beasts
    To stay themselves upon the liquid air
    And mount aloft into the element
    And overstrip the feathered fowls in flight,
    As easy is it for the slimy fish
    1270To live and thrive without the help of water,
    As easy is it for the blackamoor
    To wash the tawny colour from his skin,
    Which all oppose against the course of nature,
    As I am able to forget my father.
    Mirror of virtue, Phoenix of our age!
    Too kind a daughter for an unkind father!
    Be of good comfort, for I will dispatch
    Ambassadors immediately for Britain,
    Unto the king of Cornwall's court, whereas
    1280Your father keepeth now his residence,
    And in the kindest manner him entreat
    That, setting former grievances apart,
    He will be pleased to come and visit us.
    If no entreaty will suffice the turn,
    1285I'll offer him the half of all my crown.
    If that moves not, we'll furnish out a fleet
    And sail to Cornwall for to visit him,
    And there you shall be firmly reconciled
    In perfect love, as erst you were before.
    Where tongue cannot sufficient thanks afford,
    The king of heaven remunerate my lord.
    Only be blithe and frolic, sweet, with me;
    This and much more I'll do to comfort thee.
    1293.1[Scene 17] [Video Sc.17]
    Enter Messenger [alone]
    1295 Messenger
    It is a world to see, now I am flush,
    How many friends I purchase everywhere!
    How many seek to creep into my favor,
    And kiss their hands and bend their knees to me!
    No more, here comes the queen; now shall I know her mind,
    1300And hope for to derive more crowns from her.
    Enter Ragan
    My friend, I see thou mindst thy promise well
    And art before me here, methinks, today.
    I am a poor man, an it like your grace,
    But yet I always love to keep my word.
    Well, keep thy word with me and thou shalt see
    That of a poor man I will make thee rich.
    I long to hear it; it might have been dispatched
    If you had told me of it yesternight.
    It is a thing of right strange consequence,
    1310And well I cannot utter it in words.
    It is more strange that I am not by this
    Beside myself with longing for to hear it.
    Were it to meet the devil in his den
    And try a bout with him for a scratched face,
    1315I'd undertake it if you would but bid me.
    Ah, good my friend, that I should have thee do
    Is such a thing as I do shame to speak,
    Yet it must needs be done.
    I'll speak it for thee, Queen; shall I kill thy father?
    1320I know 'tis that, an if it be so, say.
    Why, that's enough.
    And yet that is not all.
    What else?
    Thou must kill that old man that came with him.
    Here are two hands; for each of them is one.
    And for each hand here is a recompense.
    Give[s] him two purses.
    Oh, that I had ten hands by miracle,
    I could tear ten in pieces with my teeth,
    1330So in my mouth you'd put a purse of gold.
    But in what manner must it be effected?
    Tomorrow morning ere the break of day,
    I by a wile will send them to the thicket
    That is about some two miles from the court,
    1335And promise them to meet them there myself
    Because I must have private conference
    About some news I have received from Cornwall.
    This is enough, I know, they will not fail,
    And then be ready for to play thy part,
    1340Which done, thou mayst right easily escape
    And no man once mistrust thee for the fact.
    But yet, before thou prosecute the act,
    Show him the letter which my sister sent;
    There let him read his own indictment first,
    1345And then proceed to execution.
    But see thou faint not, for they will speak fair.
    Could he speak words as pleasing as the pipe
    Of Mercury, which charmed the hundred eyes
    Of watchful Argos and enforced him sleep,
    1350Yet here are words so pleasing to my thoughts,
    To the purse
    As quite shall take away the sound of his.
    Exit [Messenger].
    About it then, and when thou hast dispatched,
    I'll find a means to send thee after him.
    1353.1[Scene 18] [Video Sc.18]
    Enter Cornwall and Gonorill
    I wonder that the messenger doth stay
    Whom we dispatched for Cambria so long since.
    If that his answer do not please us well,
    And he do show good reason for delay,
    I'll teach him how to dally with his king,
    1360And to detain us in such long suspense.
    My lord, I think the reason may be this:
    My father means to come along with him
    And, therefore, 'tis his pleasure he shall stay
    For to attend upon him on the way.
    It may be so, and therefore till I know
    The truth thereof, I will suspend my judgment.
    Enter Servant
    Servant 1
    An't like your grace, there is an ambassador
    Arrived from Gallia and craves admittance to your majesty.
    From Gallia? What should his message
    Hither import? Is not your father haply
    Gone thither? Well, whatsoe'er it be,
    Bid him come in; he shall have audience.
    Enter Ambassador
    1375What news from Gallia? Speak, ambassador.
    The noble king and queen of Gallia first salute,
    By me, their honorable father, my lord Leir;
    Next, they commend them kindly to your graces,
    As those whose welfare they entirely wish.
    1380Letters I have to deliver to my lord Leir,
    And presents too, if I might speak with him.
    If you might speak with him? Why, do you think
    We are afraid that you should speak with him?
    Pardon me, madam, for I think not so,
    1385But say so only 'cause he is not here.
    Indeed, my friend, upon some urgent cause
    He is at this time absent from the court,
    But if a day or two you here repose
    'Tis very likely you shall have him here,
    1390Or else have certain notice where he is.
    Are not we worthy to receive your message?
    I had in charge to do it to himself.
    [Aside] It may be then 'twill not be done in haste. --
    [To the Ambassador] How doth my sister brook the air of France?
    Exceeding well, and never sick one hour
    Since first she set her foot upon the shore.
    I am the more sorry.
    I hope not so, madam.
    Didst thou not say that she was ever sick
    1400Since the first hour that she arrivèd there?
    No, madam, I said quite contrary.
    Then I mistook thee.
    Then she is merry, if she have her health.
    Oh no, her grief exceeds until the time
    1405That she be reconciled unto her father.
    God continue it.
    What, madam?
    Why, her health.
    Amen to that, but God release her grief
    1410And send her father in a better mind
    Than to continue always so unkind.
    I'll be a mediator in her cause,
    And seek all means to expiate his wrath.
    Madam, I hope your grace will do the like.
    Should I be a mean to exasperate his wrath
    Against my sister, whom I love so dear? No, no.
    To expiate or mitigate his wrath,
    For he hath misconceived without a cause.
    Oh, ay, what else?
    'Tis pity it should be so; would it were otherwise.
    It were great pity it should be otherwise.
    Than how, madam?
    Than that they should be reconciled again.
    It shows you bear an honorable mind.
    [Aside] It shows thy understanding to be blind,
    And that thou hadst need of an interpreter.
    Well, I will know thy message ere't be long,
    And find a mean to cross it, if I can.
    Come in, my friend, and frolic in our court
    1430Till certain notice of my father come.
    1430.1[Scene 19] [Video Sc.19]
    Enter Leir and Perillus
    My lord, you are up today before your hour.
    'Tis news to you to be abroad so rathe.
    'Tis news indeed; I am so extreme heavy,
    1435That I can scarcely keep my eyelids open.
    And so am I, but I impute the cause
    To rising sooner than we use to do.
    Hither my daughter means to come disguised;
    I'll sit me down and read until she come.
    1440[Leir] pulls out a book and sits down.
    She'll not be long, I warrant you, my lord,
    But say a couple of these they call good-fellows
    Should step out of a hedge and set upon us.
    We were in good case for to answer them.
    'Twere not for us to stand upon our hands.
    I fear we scant should stand upon our legs.
    But how should we do to defend ourselves?
    Even pray to God to bless us from their hands,
    For fervent prayer much ill hap withstands.
    I'll sit and pray with you for company;
    Yet was I ne'er so heavy in my life.
    They fall both asleep.
    Enter the Messenger, or murderer, with two daggers in his hands
    Were it not a mad jest if two or three of my profession should meet me and lay me down in a ditch and play rob-thief with me and perforce take my gold away from me whilst I act this stratagem, and by this means the gray-beards should escape? Faith, when I were at liberty again I would make no 1460more to do but go to the next tree and there hang myself.
    Sees them and starts
    But stay, methinks my youths are here already
    And with pure zeal have prayed themselves asleep.
    I think they know to what intent they came
    1465And are provided for another world.
    He takes their books away.
    Now could I stab them bravely, while they sleep,
    And in a manner put them to no pain,
    And doing so, I showed them mighty friendship,
    1470For fear of death is worse than death itself.
    But that my sweet queen willed me for to show
    This letter to them ere I did the deed.
    Mass, they begin to stir. I'll stand aside;
    So shall I come upon them unawares.
    1475They wake and rise.
    I marvel that my daughter stays so long.
    I fear we did mistake the place, my lord.
    God grant we don't miscarry in the place;
    I had a short nap, but so full of dread
    1480As much amazeth me to think thereof.
    Fear not, my lord: dreams are but fantasies
    And slight imaginations of the brain.
    [Aside] Persuade him so, but I'll make him and you
    Confess that dreams do often prove too true.
    I pray, my lord, what was the effect of it?
    I may go near to guess what it portends.
    [Aside] Leave that to me: I will expound the dream.
    Methought my daughters, Gonorill and Ragan,
    Stood both before me with such grim aspects,
    1490Each brandishing a falchion in their hands,
    Ready to lop a limb off where it fell,
    And in their other hands a naked poniard,
    Wherewith they stabbed me in a hundred places,
    And, to their thinking, left me there for dead;
    1495But then my youngest daughter, fair Cordella,
    Came with a box of balsam in her hand,
    And poured it into my bleeding wounds,
    By whose good means I was recovered well,
    In perfect health, as erst I was before;
    1500And with the fear of this I did awake,
    And yet for fear my feeble joints do quake.
    I'll make you quake for something presently.
    Stand, stand!
    They reel.
    We do, my friend, although with much ado.
    Deliver, deliver!
    Deliver us, good Lord, from such as he.
    You should have prayed before, while it was time,
    And then perhaps you might have 'scaped my hands;
    But you, like faithful watchmen, fell asleep
    1510The whilst I came and took your halberds from you
    [He]shows their books.
    And now you want your weapons of defence.
    How have you any hope to be delivered?
    This comes because you have no better stay
    1515But fall asleep when you should watch and pray.
    My friend, thou seemst to be a proper man.
    [Aside] 'Sblood, how the old slave claws me by the elbow?
    He thinks, belike, to 'scape by scraping thus.
    And, it may be, are in some need of money.
    That to be false, behold my evidence.
    [He]shows his purses.
    If that I have will do thee any good,
    I give it thee, even with a right good will.
    [Messenger] take[s] Leir's purse.
    Here, take mine too, and wish with all my heart,
    1525To do thee pleasure, it were twice as much.
    Takes [Perillus' purse], and weighs them both in his hands
    I'll none of them: they are too light for me.
    Puts them in his pocket
    Why then, farewell, an if thou have occasion
    1530In anything to use me to the queen,
    'Tis like enough that I can pleasure thee.
    They proffer to go.
    Do you hear? Do you hear, sir?
    If I had occasion to use you to the queen,
    1535Would you do one thing for me, I should ask?
    Ay, anything that lies within my power;
    Here is my hand upon it. So farewell.
    [He] proffers to go
    Hear you, sir? Hear you? Pray, a word with you.
    Methinks a comely honest ancient man
    1540Should not dissemble with one for a vantage.
    I know when I shall come to try this gear,
    You will recant from all that you have said.
    Mistrust not him, but try him when thou wilt;
    He is her father, therefore may do much.
    I know he is, and therefore mean to try him.
    You are his friend too; I must try you both.
    Leir and Perillus
    Prithee do, prithee do.
    [They] proffer to go out.
    Stay, gray-beards, then, and prove men of your words.
    The queen hath tied me by a solemn oath
    1550Here in this place to see you both dispatched.
    Now, for the safeguard of my conscience,
    Do me the pleasure for to kill yourselves;
    So shall you save me labor for to do it,
    And prove yourselves true old men of your words.
    1555And here I vow, in sight of all the world,
    I ne'er will trouble you whilst I live again.
    Affright us not with terror, good my friend,
    Nor strike such fear into our agèd hearts.
    Play not the cat which dallieth with the mouse
    1560And on a sudden maketh her a prey,
    But if thou art marked for the man of death
    To me and to my Damon, tell me plain,
    That we may be preparèd for the stroke
    And make ourselves fit for the world to come.
    I am the last of any mortal race
    That e'er your eyes are likely to behold,
    And hither sent of purpose to this place
    To give a final period to your days,
    Which are so wicked and have lived so long
    1570That your own children seek to short your life.
    Cam'st thou from France of purpose to do this?
    From France? 'Zoons, do I look like a Frenchman? Sure I have not mine own face on: somebody hath changed faces with me and I know not of it. But I am sure my apparel 1575is all English. Sirrah, what meanest thou to ask that question? I could spoil the fashion of this face for anger. A French face!
    Because my daughter, whom I have offended,
    And at whose hands I have deserved as ill
    As ever any father did of child,
    1580Is queen of France, no thanks at all to me,
    But unto God, who my injustice sees.
    If it be so that she doth seek revenge,
    As with good reason she may justly do,
    I will most willingly resign my life:
    1585A sacrifice to mitigate her ire.
    I never will entreat thee to forgive,
    Because I am unworthy for to live.
    Therefore speak soon, and I will soon make speed,
    Whether Cordella willed thee do this deed?
    As I am a perfect gentleman, thou speakst French to me.
    I never heard Cordella's name before,
    Nor never was in France in all my life;
    I never knew thou hadst a daughter there
    To whom thou didst prove so unkind a churl;
    1595But thy own tongue declares that thou hast been
    A vile old wretch, and full of heinous sin.
    Ah no, my friend, thou are deceivèd much,
    For her except, whom I confess I wronged
    Through doting frenzy and o'erjealous love,
    1600There lives not any under heaven's bright eye
    That can convict me of impiety.
    And, therefore, sure thou dost mistake the mark,
    For I am in true peace with all the world.
    You are the fitter for the king of Heaven;
    1605And, therefore, for to rid thee of suspense,
    Know thou the queens of Cambria and Cornwall,
    Thy own two daughters, Gonorill and Ragan,
    Appointed me to massacre thee here.
    Why wouldst thou then persuade me that thou art
    1610In charity with all the world but now,
    When thy own issue hold thee in such hate
    That they have hired me t'abridge thy fate?
    Oh, fie upon such vile dissembling breath
    That would deceive even at the point of death.
    Am I awake, or is it but a dream?
    Fear nothing, man, thou art but in a dream,
    And thou shalt never wake until doomsday.
    By then, I hope, thou wilt have slept enough.
    Yet, gentle friend, grant one thing ere I die.
    I'll grant you anything except your lives.
    Oh, but assure me by some certain token
    That my two daughters hired thee to this deed.
    If I were once resolved of that, then I
    Would wish no longer life, but crave to die.
    That to be true, in sight of heaven, I swear.
    Swear not by heaven for fear of punishment:
    The heavens are guiltless of such heinous acts.
    I swear by earth, the mother of us all.
    Swear not by earth; for she abhors to bear
    1630Such bastards as are murderers of her sons.
    Why then, by hell and all the devils, I swear.
    Swear not by hell, for that stands gaping wide
    To swallow thee an if thou do this deed.
    Thunder and lightning
    [Aside] I would that word were in his belly again:
    It hath frighted me even to the very heart.
    This old man is some strong magician:
    His words have turned my mind from this exploit. --
    Then neither heavens, earth, nor hell be witness,
    1640But let this paper witness for them all.
    [He] shows Gonorill's letter.
    [Aside] Shall I relent, or shall I prosecute?
    Shall I resolve, or were I best recant?
    I will not crack my credit with two queens
    1645To whom I have already passed my word.
    Oh, but my conscience for this act doth tell,
    I get heaven's hate, earth's scorn, and pains of hell.
    [Leir AND Perillus] bless themselves.
    O just Jehovah, whose almighty power
    1650Doth govern all things in this spacious world,
    How canst thou suffer such outrageous acts
    To be committed without just revenge?
    Oh, viperous generation and accursed,
    To seek his blood whose blood did make them first!
    Ah, my true friend in all extremity,
    Let us submit us to the will of God.
    Things past all sense, let us not seek to know:
    It is God's will, and therefore must be so.
    My friend, I am preparèd for the stroke;
    1660Strike when thou wilt, and I forgive thee here,
    Even from the very bottom of my heart.
    But I am not prepared for to strike.
    Farewell, Perillus, even the truest friend
    That ever lived in adversity.
    1665The latest kindness I'll request of thee
    Is that thou go unto my daughter Cordella
    And carry her her father's latest blessing.
    Withal desire her that she will forgive me,
    For I have wronged her without any cause. --
    1670Now, Lord, receive me, for I come to thee,
    And die, I hope, in perfect charity. --
    Dispatch, I pray thee; I have lived too long.
    Ay, but you are unwise to send an errand
    By him that never meaneth to deliver it.
    1675Why, he must go along with you to heaven;
    It were not good you should go all alone.
    No doubt he shall, when, by the course of nature,
    He must surrender up his due to death;
    But that time shall not come till God permit.
    Nay, presently, to bear you company.
    I have a passport for him in my pocket,
    Already sealed, and he must needs ride post.
    [He] shows a bag of money
    The letter which I read imports not so:
    1685It only toucheth me, no word of him.
    Ay, but the queen commands it must be so,
    And I am paid for him as well as you.
    I, who have borne you company in life,
    Most willingly will bear a share in death.
    1690It skilleth not for me, my friend, a whit,
    Nor for a hundred such as thou and I.
    Marry, but it doth, sir, by your leave: your good days are past. Though it be no matter for you, 'tis a matter for me; proper men are not so rife.
    Oh, but beware how thou dost lay thy hand
    Upon the high anointed of the Lord.
    Oh, be advisèd ere thou dost begin:
    Dispatch me straight, but meddle not with him.
    Friend, thy commission is to deal with me,
    1700And I am he that hath deservèd all.
    The plot was laid to take away my life,
    And here it is: I do entreat thee take it.
    Yet, for my sake, and as thou art a man,
    Spare this my friend that hither with me came.
    1705I brought him forth whereas he had not been
    But for good will to bear me company.
    He left his friends, his country, and his goods,
    And came with me in most extremity.
    Oh, if he should miscarry here and die,
    1710Who is the cause of it, but only I?
    Why that am I! Let that ne'er trouble thee.
    Oh no, 'tis I. Oh, had I now to give thee
    The monarchy of all the spacious world
    To save his life, I would bestow it on thee;
    1715But I have nothing but these tears and prayers,
    And the submission of a bended knee.
    [Leir] kneels.
    Oh, if all this to mercy move thy mind,
    Spare him! In heaven thou shalt like mercy find.
    [Aside] I am as hard to be moved as another, and yet 1720methinks the strength of their persuasions stirs me a little.
    My friend, if fear of the almighty power
    Have power to move thee, we have said enough,
    But if thy mind be movable with gold,
    1725We have not presently to give it thee.
    Yet to thyself thou mayst do greater good
    To keep thy hands still undefiled from blood,
    For do but well consider with thyself,
    When thou hast finished this outrageous act,
    1730What horror still will haunt thee for the deed.
    Think this again, that they which would incense
    Thee for to be the butcher of their father,
    When it is done, for fear it should be known
    Would make a means to rid thee from the world.
    1735Oh, then art thou forever tied in chains
    Of everlasting torments to endure,
    Even in the hottest hole of grisly hell,
    Such pains as never mortal tongue can tell.
    It thunders. [Messenger] quakes, and lets fall the dagger 1740next to Perillus.
    Oh, heavens be thanked, he will spare my friend!
    Now, when thou wilt, come make an end of me.
    [Messenger] lets fall the other dagger.
    Oh, happy sight! He means to save my lord.
    1745The king of heaven continue this good mind.
    Why stayst thou to do the execution?
    I am as wilful as you for your life:
    I will not do it, now you do entreat me.
    Ah, now I see thou hast some spark of grace.
    Beshrew you for it; you have put it in me!
    The parlousest old men that e'er I heard!
    Well, to be flat, I'll not meddle with you;
    Here I found you, and here I'll leave you.
    If any ask you why the case so stands,
    1755Say that your tongues were better than your hands.
    Exit Messenger.
    Farewell. If ever we together meet,
    It shall go hard, but I will thee re-greet.--
    Courage, my lord, the worst is overpast;
    Let us give thanks to God, and hie us hence.
    Thou art deceived, for I am past the best
    And know not whither for to go from hence.
    Death had been better welcome unto me
    Than longer life to add more misery.
    It were not good to return from whence we came,
    1765Unto your daughter Ragan back again.
    Now let us go to France, unto Cordella,
    Your youngest daughter; doubtless she will succor you.
    Oh, how can I persuade myself of that,
    Since th'other two are quite devoid of love
    1770To whom I was so kind, as that my gifts
    Might make them love me, if 'twere nothing else?
    No worldly gifts, but grace from God on high,
    Doth nourish virtue and true charity.
    Remember well what words Cordella spake
    1775What time you asked her how she loved your grace.
    She said her love unto you was as much
    As ought a child to bear unto her father.
    But she did find my love was not to her
    As should a father bear unto a child.
    That makes not her love to be any less
    If she do love you as a child should do.
    You have tried two; try one more for my sake.
    I'll ne'er entreat you further trial make.
    Remember well the dream you had of late,
    1785And think what comfort it foretells to us.
    Come, truest friend that ever man possessed,
    I know thou counselst all things for the best.
    If this third daughter play a kinder part,
    It comes of God, and not of my desert.
    1789.1[Scene 20] [Video Sc.20]
    1790Enter the Gallian Ambassador alone.
    There is of late news come unto the court
    That old Lord Leir remains in Cambria.
    I'll hie me thither presently to impart
    My letters and my message unto him.
    1795I never was less welcome to a place
    In all my lifetime than I have been hither,
    Especially unto the stately queen
    Who would not cast one gracious look on me,
    But still, with louring and suspicious eyes,
    1800Would take exceptions at each word I spake,
    And fain she would have undermined me
    To know what my embassage did import.
    But she is like to hop without her hope,
    And in this matter for to want her will,
    1805Though, by report, she'll have't in all things else.
    Well, I will post away for Cambria;
    Within these few days I hope to be there,
    1807.1[Scene 21] [Video Sc.21]
    Enter Gallia, Cordella and Mumford
    By this, our father understands our mind
    1810And our kind greetings sent to him of late;
    Therefore, my mind presageth ere't be long,
    We shall receive from Britain happy news.
    I fear my sister will dissuade his mind,
    For she to me hath always been unkind.
    Fear not, my love, since that we know the worst,
    The last means helps if that we miss the first.
    If he'll not come to Gallia unto us,
    Then we will sail to Britain unto him.
    Well, if I once see Britain again, 1820I have sworn I'll ne'er come home without my wench, and I'll not be forsworn; I'll rather never come home while I live.
    Are you sure, Mumford, she is a maid still?
    Nay, I'll not swear she is a maid, but she goes for one. 1825I'll take her at all adventures, if I can get her.
    Ay, that's well put in.
    Well put in? Nay, it was ill put in, for had it been as well put in as e'er I put in in my days, I would have made her follow me to France.
    Nay, you'd have been so kind as take her with you, or else, were I as she, I would have been so loving as I'd stay behind you. Yet I must confess, you are a very proper man, and able to make a wench do more than she would do.
    Well, I have a pair of slops for the nonce will hold all your mocks.
    Nay, we see you have a handsome hose.
    Ay, and of the newest fashion.
    More bobs, more; put them in still! 1840They'll serve instead of bombast; yet put not in too many, lest the seams crack and they fly out amongst you again. You must not think to outface me so easily in my mistress' quarrel, who if I see once again, ten team of horses shall not draw me away till I have full and whole possession.
    Ay, but one team and a cart will serve the turn.
    Not only for him, but also for his wench.
    Well, you are two to one; I'll give you over; and since I see you so pleasantly disposed, which indeed is but seldom seen, I'll claim 1850a promise of you which you shall not deny me, for promise is debt, and by this hand you promised it me, therefore you owe it me, and you shall pay it me, or I'll sue you upon an action of unkindness.
    Prithee, Lord Mumford, what promise did I make thee?
    Faith, nothing but this: that the next fair weather, which is very now, you would go in progress down to the seaside, which is very near.
    Faith, in this motion I will join with thee,
    1860And be a mediator to my queen. --
    Prithee, my love, let this match go forward;
    My mind foretells 'twill be a lucky voyage.
    Entreaty needs not where you may command;
    So you be pleased, I am right well content.
    1865Yet as the sea I much desire to see,
    So am I most unwilling to be seen.
    We'll go disguised, all unknown to any.
    Howsoever you make one, I'll make another.
    And I the third. Oh, I am overjoyed!
    1870See what love is, which getteth with a word
    What all the world besides could ne'er obtain!
    But what disguises shall we have, my lord?
    Faith, thus: my queen and I will be disguised
    Like a plain country couple, and you shall be Roger,
    1875Our man, and wait upon us. Or, if you will,
    You shall go first, and we will wait on you.
    'Twere more than time; this device is excellent.
    Come let us about it.
    1878.1[Scene 22] [Video Sc.22]
    Enter Cambria and Ragan, with Nobles
    What strange mischance or unexpected hap
    Hath thus deprived us of our father's presence?
    Can no man tell us what's become of him,
    With whom we did converse not two days since?
    My lords, let everywhere light-horse be sent
    1885To scour about through all our regiment;
    Dispatch a post immediately to Cornwall
    To see if any news be of him there;
    Myself will make a strict inquiry here,
    And all about our cities near at hand,
    1890Till certain news of his abode be brought.
    [Exit Nobles.]
    All sorrow is but counterfeit to mine,
    Whose lips are almost sealèd up with grief.
    Mine is the substance whilst they do but seem
    To weep the loss which tears cannot redeem.
    1895Oh, ne'er was heard so strange a misadventure,
    A thing so far beyond the reach of sense,
    Since no man's reason in the cause can enter,
    What hath removed my father thus from hence?
    Oh, I do fear some charm or invocation
    1900Of wicked spirits or infernal fiends,
    Stirred by Cordella, moves this innovation
    And brings my father timeless to his end.
    But might I know that the detested witch
    Were certain cause of this uncertain ill,
    1905Myself to France would go in some disguise
    And with these nails scratch out her hateful eyes,
    For since I am deprivèd of my father,
    I loathe my life and wish my death the rather.
    The heavens are just and hate impiety,
    1910And will no doubt reveal such heinous crimes;
    Censure not any till you know the right:
    Let Him be judge that bringeth truth to light.
    Oh, but my grief, like to a swelling tide,
    Exceeds the bounds of common patience,
    1915Nor can I moderate my tongue so much
    To conceal them whom I hold in suspect.
    This matter shall be sifted; if it be she,
    A thousand Frances shall not harbor her.
    Enter the Gallian Ambassador
    All happiness unto the Cambrian king.
    Welcome, my friend, from whence is thy embassage?
    I came from Gallia unto Cornwall sent
    With letters to your honorable father,
    Whom there not finding, as I did expect,
    1925I was directed hither to repair.
    Frenchman, what is thy message to my father?
    My letters, madam, will import the same,
    Which my commission is for to deliver.
    In his absence you may trust us with your letters.
    I must perform my charge in such a manner,
    As I have strict commandment from the king.
    There is good packing 'twixt your king and you.
    You need not hither come to ask for him;
    You know where he is better than ourselves.
    Madam, I hope not far off.
    Hath the young murd'ress, your outrageous queen,
    No means to color her detested deeds
    In finishing my guiltless father's days--
    Because he gave her nothing to her dower--
    1940But by the color of a feigned embassage
    To send him letters hither to our court?
    Go carry them to them that sent them hither,
    And bid them keep their scrolls unto themselves;
    They cannot blind us with such slight excuse
    1945To smother up so monstrous vile abuse.
    And, were it not it is 'gainst law of arms
    To offer violence to a messenger,
    We would inflict such torments on thyself
    As should enforce thee to reveal the truth.
    Madam, your threats no whit appal my mind:
    I know my conscience guiltless of this act.
    My king and queen, I dare be sworn, are free
    From any thought of such impiety.
    And, therefore, madam, you have done them wrong,
    1955And ill-beseeming with a sister's love,
    Who, in mere duty, tender him as much
    As ever you respected him for dower.
    The king your husband will not say as much.
    I will suspend my judgment for a time
    1960Till more appearance give us further light;
    Yet, to be plain, your coming doth enforce
    A great suspicion to our doubtful mind,
    And that you do resemble, to be brief,
    Him that first robs and then cries, "Stop the thief."
    Pray God some near you have not done the like.
    Hence, saucy mate, reply no more to us,
    She strikes him.
    For law of arms shall not protect thy tongue.
    Ne'er was I offered such discourtesy!
    God and my king, I trust, ere it be long,
    1970Will find a mean to remedy this wrong.
    Exit [Ambassador].
    How shall I live to suffer this disgrace
    At every base and vulgar peasant's hands?
    It ill befitteth my imperial state
    To be thus used, and no man take my part.
    She weeps.
    What should I do? Infringe the law of arms
    Were to my everlasting obloquy,
    But I will take revenge upon his master,
    Which sent him hither to delude us thus.
    Nay, if you put up this, be sure, ere long,
    1980Now that my father thus is made away,
    She'll come and claim a third part of your crown
    As due unto her by inheritance.
    But I will prove her title to be nought
    But shame and the reward of parricide,
    1985And make her an example to the world
    For after-ages to admire her penance.
    This will I do, as I am Cambria's king,
    Or lose my life to prosecute revenge.
    Come, first let's learn what news is of our father,
    1990And then proceed as best occasion fits.
    1990.1[Scene 23] [Video Sc.23]
    Enter Leir, Perillus, and two mariners in sea-gowns and sea-caps.
    My honest friends, we are ashamed to show
    The great extremity of our present state,
    1995In that at this time we are brought so low
    That we want money for to pay our passage.
    The truth is so: we met with some good-fellows,
    A little before we came aboard your ship,
    Which stripped us quite of all the coin we had
    2000And left us not a penny in our purses.
    Yet, wanting money, we will use the mean
    To see you satisfied to the uttermost.
    First Mariner looks on Leir.
    First Mariner
    Here's a good gown; 'twould become me passing well; I should be fine in it.
    Second Mariner looks on Perillus.
    2005Second Mariner
    Here's a good cloak; I marvel how I should look in it.
    Faith, had we others to supply their room,
    Though ne'er so mean, you willingly should have them.
    Second Mariner
    Do you hear, sir? You look like an honest man; I'll not stand to do you a pleasure. Here's a good, strong, 2010motley gaberdine, cost me fourteen good shillings at Billingsgate; give me your gown for it, and your cap for mine, and I'll forgive your passage.
    With all my heart and twenty thanks.
    Leir and [First Mariner] changeth.
    Second Mariner
    Do you hear, sir? You shall have a better match than he because you are my friend: here is a good sheep's russet sea-2015gown: will bide more stress, I warrant you, than two of his. Yet, for you seem to be an honest gentleman, I am content to change it for your cloak, and ask you nothing for your passage more.
    Pull[s] off Perillus' cloak
    My own I willingly would change with thee,
    2020And think myself indebted to thy kindness,
    But would my friend might keep his garment still.
    My friend, I'll give thee this new doublet if thou wilt
    Restore his gown unto him back again.
    First Mariner
    Nay, if I do, would I might ne'er eat powdered beef 2025and mustard more, nor drink can of good liquor whilst I live. My friend, you have small reason to seek to hinder me of my bargain, but the best is, a bargain's a bargain.
    [To Perillus] Kind friend, it is much better as it is,
    For by this means we may escape unknown
    2030Till time and opportunity do fit.
    Second Mariner
    Hark, hark, they are laying their heads together;
    They'll repent them of their bargain anon.
    'Twere best for us to go while we are well.
    First Mariner
    God be with you, sir. For your passage back again, 2035I'll use you as unreasonable as another.
    I know thou wilt, but we hope to bring ready money with us when we come back again.
    Exeunt Mariners.
    Were ever men in this extremity,
    In a strange country, and devoid of friends,
    2040And not a penny for to help ourselves?
    Kind friend, what thinkst thou will become of us?
    Be of good cheer, my lord. I have a doublet
    Will yield us money enough to serve our turns
    Until we come unto your daughter's court;
    2045And then, I hope, we shall find friends enough.
    Ah, kind Perillus, that is it I fear,
    And makes me faint or ever I come there.
    Can kindness spring out of ingratitude,
    Or love be reaped where hatred hath been sown?
    2050Can henbane join in league with mithridate,
    Or sugar grow in wormwood's bitter stalk?
    It cannot be: they are too opposite,
    And so am I to any kindness here.
    I have thrown wormwood on the sugared youth,
    2055And, like to henbane, poisoned the fount
    Whence flowed the mithridate of a child's good will.
    I, like an envious thorn, have pricked the heart
    And turned sweet grapes to sour, unrelished sloes.
    The causeless ire of my respectless breast
    2060Hath soured the sweet milk of Dame Nature's paps.
    My bitter words have galled her honey thoughts,
    And weeds of rancour choked the flower of grace.
    Then what remainder is of any hope,
    But all our fortunes will go quite aslope?
    Fear not, my lord, the perfect good indeed
    Can never be corrupted by the bad:
    A new fresh vessel still retains the taste
    Of that which first is poured into the same.
    And therefore, though you name yourself the thorn,
    2070The weed, the gall, the henbane, and the wormwood,
    Yet she'll continue in her former state,
    The honey, milk, grape, sugar, mithridate.
    Thou pleasing orator unto me in woe,
    Cease to beguile me with thy hopeful speeches.
    2075Oh, join with me and think of nought but crosses,
    And then we'll one lament another's losses.
    Why say the worst? The worst can be but death[H1],
    And death is better than for to despair.
    Then hazard death, which may convert to life,
    2080Banish despair, which brings a thousand deaths.
    O'ercome with thy strong arguments, I yield,
    To be directed by thee, as thou wilt.
    As thou yieldst comfort to my crazèd thoughts,
    Would I could yield the like unto thy body,
    2085Which is full weak, I know, and ill-apaid
    For want of fresh meat and due sustenance.
    Alack, my lord, my heart doth bleed to think
    That you should be in such extremity.
    Come, let us go and see what God will send:
    2090When all means fail, He is the surest friend.
    2090.1[Scene 24] [Video Sc.24]
    Enter the King of Gallia, Cordella, and Mumford, with a basket [and table], disguised like country folk.
    This tedious journey all on foot, sweet love,
    Cannot be pleasing to your tender joints
    2095Which ne'er were usèd to these toilsome walks.
    I never in my life took more delight
    In any journey than I do in this;
    [Enter attendants with banquet table.]
    It did me good, whenas we happed to light
    Amongst the merry crew of country folk,
    2100To see what industry and pains they took
    To win them commendations 'mongst their friends.
    Lord, how they labor to bestir themselves,
    And in their quirks to go beyond the moon,
    And so take on them with such antic fits
    2105That one would think they were beside their wits!
    Come away, Roger, with your basket.
    Soft, dame, here comes a couple of old youths.
    I must needs make myself fat with jesting at them.
    Enter Leir and Perillus, very faintly
    Nay, prithee do not; they do seem to be
    2110Men much o'ergone with grief and misery.
    Let's stand aside and harken what they say.
    [Cordella, Gallia, and Mumford stand aside and listen to Leir and Perillus.]
    Ah, my Perillus, now I see we both
    Shall end our days in this unfruitful soil.
    Oh, I do faint for want of sustenance,
    2115And thou, I know, in little better case.
    No gentle tree affords one taste of fruit
    To comfort us until we meet with men,
    No lucky path conducts our luckless steps
    Unto a place where any comfort dwells.
    2120Sweet rest betide unto our happy souls,
    For here I see our bodies must have end.
    Ah, my dear lord, how doth my heart lament
    To see you brought to this extremity!
    Oh, if you love me, as you do profess,
    2125Or ever thought well of me in my life,
    He strips up his arm.
    Feed on this flesh, whose veins are not so dry
    But there is virtue left to comfort you.
    Oh, feed on this; if this will do you good,
    I'll smile for joy to see you suck my blood.
    I am no cannibal that I should delight
    To slake my hungry jaws with human flesh;
    I am no devil, or ten times worse than so,
    To suck the blood of such a peerless friend.
    Oh, do not think that I respect my life
    2135So dearly as I do thy loyal love. --
    Ah, Britain, I shall never see thee more,
    That hast unkindly banishèd thy king,
    And yet not thou dost make me to complain,
    But they which were more near to me than thou.
    What do I hear? This lamentable voice,
    Methinks, ere now I oftentimes have heard.
    Ah, Gonorill, was half my kingdom's gift
    The cause that thou didst seek to have my life?
    Ah, cruel Ragan, did I give thee all,
    2145And all could not suffice without my blood?
    Ah, poor Cordella, did I give thee nought,
    Nor never shall be able for to give?
    Oh, let me warn all ages that ensueth
    How they trust flattery and reject the truth.
    2150Well, unkind girls, I here forgive you both --
    Yet the just heavens will hardly do the like --
    And only crave forgiveness, at the end,
    Of good Cordella, and of thee, my friend;
    Of God, whose majesty I have offended
    2155By my transgression many thousand ways;
    Of her, dear heart, whom I for no occasion
    Turned out of all through flatterers' persuasion;
    Of thee, kind friend, who, but for me, I know,
    Hadst never come unto this place of woe.
    Alack, that ever I should live to see
    My noble father in this misery.
    Sweet love, reveal not what thou art as yet,
    Until we know the ground of all this ill.
    Oh, but some meat, some meat! Do you not see
    2165How near they are to death for want of food?
    [Cordella takes Mumford's basket and empties out the food onto a table.]
    Lord, which didst help thy servants at their need,
    Or now or never send us help with speed.--
    Oh, comfort, comfort! Yonder is a banquet
    And men and women, my lord; be of good cheer,
    2170For I see comfort coming very near.
    Oh, my lord, a banquet and men and women!
    Oh, let kind pity mollify their hearts
    That they may help us in our great extremes.
    God save you, friends, and if this blessed banquet
    2175Affordeth any food or sustenance,
    Even for his sake that saved us all from death,
    Vouchsafe to save us from the grip of famine.
    [Cordella] bringeth [Perillus] to the table.
    Here, father, sit and eat; here, sit and drink,
    And would it were far better for your sakes.
    2180Perillus takes Leir by the hand to the table.
    I'll give you thanks anon: my friend doth faint
    And needeth present comfort.
    Leir drinks.
    [Aside] I warrant, he ne'er stays to say grace.
    Oh, there's no sauce to a good stomach.
    The blessèd God of heaven hath thought upon us.
    The thanks be His, and these kind courteous folk,
    By whose humanity we are preserved.
    They eat hungrily. Leir drinks.
    And may that draught be unto him as was
    That which old Aeson drank, which did renew
    2190His withered age and made him young again.
    And may that meat be unto him as was
    That which Elias ate, in strength whereof
    He walked forty days and never fainted.
    [To King of Gallia] Shall I conceal me longer from my father?
    2195Or shall I manifest myself to him?
    Forbear a while until his strength return,
    Lest being overjoyed with seeing thee
    His poor weak senses should forsake their office
    And so our cause of joy be turned to sorrow.
    What cheer, my lord? How do you feel yourself?
    Methinks I never ate such savory meat:
    It is as pleasant as the blessed manna,
    That rained from heaven amongst the Israelites.
    It hath recalled my spirits home again
    2205And made me fresh as erst I was before.
    But how shall we congratulate their kindness?
    In faith, I know not how sufficiently,
    But the best mean that I can think on is this:
    I'll offer them my doublet in requital,
    2210For we have nothing else to spare.
    Nay, stay, Perillus, for they shall have mine.
    Pardon, my lord, I swear they shall have mine.
    Perillus proffers his doublet; they will not take it.
    Ah, who would think such kindness should remain
    2215Among such strange and unacquainted men,
    And that such hate should harbor in the breast
    Of those which have occasion to be best?
    Ah, good old father, tell to me thy grief;
    I'll sorrow with thee if not add relief.
    Ah, good young daughter, I may call thee so,
    For thou art like a daughter I did owe.
    Do you not owe her still? What, is she dead?
    No, God forbid, but all my interest's gone
    By showing myself too much unnatural;
    2225So have I lost the title of a father
    And may be called a stranger to her rather.
    Your title's good still, for 'tis always known
    A man may do as him list with his own.
    But have you but one daughter then in all?
    Yes, I have more by two than would I had.
    Oh, say not so, but rather see the end:
    They that are bad may have the grace to mend.
    But how have they offended you so much?
    If from the first I should relate the cause,
    2235'Twould make a heart of adamant to weep,
    And thou, poor soul, kind-hearted as thou art,
    Dost weep already ere I do begin.
    For God's love tell it, and when you have done
    I'll tell the reason why I weep so soon.
    Then know this first, I am a Briton born,
    And had three daughters by one loving wife;
    And, though I say it, of beauty they were sped,
    Especially the youngest of the three,
    For her perfections hardly matched could be.
    2245On these I doted with a jealous love
    And thought to try which of them loved me best
    By asking them which would do most for me.
    The first and second flattered me with words
    And vowed they loved me better than their lives.
    2250The youngest said she loved me as a child
    Might do. Her answer I esteemed most vile
    And presently, in an outrageous mood,
    I turned her from me to go sink or swim,
    And all I had, even to the very clothes,
    2255I gave in dowry with the other two;
    And she that best deserved the greatest share,
    I gave her nothing but disgrace and care.
    Now mark the sequel: when I had done thus,
    I sojourned in my eldest daughter's house
    2260Where, for a time, I was entreated well
    And lived in state sufficing my content.
    But every day her kindness did grow cold,
    Which I with patience put up well enough,
    And seemèd not to see the things I saw.
    2265But at the last she grew so far incensed
    With moody fury and with causeless hate
    That, in most vile and contumelious terms,
    She bade me pack and harbor somewhere else.
    Then was I fain for refuge to repair
    2270Unto my other daughter for relief,
    Who gave me pleasing and most courteous words,
    But in her actions showed herself so sore
    As never any daughter did before.
    She prayed me in a morning out betime
    2275To go to a thicket two miles from the court,
    'Pointing that there she would come talk with me;
    There she had set a shag-haired murd'ring wretch
    To massacre my honest friend and me.
    Then judge yourself, although my tale be brief,
    2280If ever man had greater cause of grief.
    Nor never like impiety was done
    Since the creation of the world begun.
    And now I am constrained to seek relief
    Of her to whom I have been so unkind,
    2285Whose censure, if it do award me death,
    I must confess she pays me but my due.
    But if she show a loving daughter's part,
    It comes of God and her, not my desert.
    No doubt she will. I dare be sworn she will.
    How know you that, not knowing what she is?
    Myself a father have a great way hence,
    Used me as ill as ever you did her;
    Yet, that his reverend age I once might see,
    I'd creep along to meet him on my knee.
    Oh, no men's children are unkind but mine.
    Condemn not all because of others' crime,
    But look, dear father, look, behold and see,
    Thy loving daughter speaketh unto thee.
    She kneels.
    Oh, stand thou up! It is my part to kneel
    2300And ask forgiveness for my former faults.
    He kneels.
    Oh, if you wish I should enjoy my breath,
    Dear father rise, or I receive my death.
    He riseth.
    Then I will rise, to satisfy your mind,
    But kneel again, till pardon be resigned.
    He kneels.
    I pardon you; the word beseems not me,
    But I do say so for to ease your knee.
    You gave me life, you were the cause that I
    Am what I am, who else had never been.
    But you gave life to me and to my friend,
    2310Whose days had else had an untimely end.
    You brought me up whenas I was but young,
    And far unable for to help myself.
    I cast thee forth whenas thou wast but young
    And far unable for to help thyself.
    God, world, and nature say I do you wrong,
    That can endure to see you kneel so long.
    Let me break off this loving controversy,
    Which doth rejoice my very soul to see.
    Good father, rise. She is your loving daughter,
    He riseth.
    2320And honors you with as respective duty
    As if you were the monarch of the world.
    But I will never rise from off my knee,
    She kneels.
    Until I have your blessing and your pardon
    Of all my faults committed any way
    2325From my first birth unto this present day.
    The blessing, which the God of Abraham gave
    Unto the tribe of Judah, light on thee,
    And multiply thy days, that thou mayst see
    Thy children's children prosper after thee.
    2330Thy faults, which are just none that I do know,
    God pardon on high, and I forgive below.
    She riseth.
    Now is my heart at quiet and doth leap
    Within my breast for joy of this good hap.
    And now, dear father, welcome to our court,
    2335And welcome, kind Perillus, unto me,
    Mirror of virtue and true honesty.
    Oh, he hath been the kindest friend to me
    That ever man had in adversity.
    My tongue doth fail to say what heart doth think,
    2340I am so ravished with exceeding joy.
    All you have spoke, now let me speak my mind,
    And in few words much matter here conclude:
    He kneels.
    If e'er my heart do harbor any joy
    Or true content repose within my breast
    2345Till I have rooted out this viperous sect
    And repossessed my father of his crown,
    Let me be counted for the perjured'st man
    That ever spake word since the world began.
    [He] rise[s].
    Let me pray too, that never prayed before;
    Mumford kneels.
    2350If e'er I resalute the British earth,
    As, ere't be long, I do presume I shall,
    And do return from thence without my wench,
    Let me be gelded for my recompense.
    [Mumford] rise[s].
    Come, let's to arms for to redress this wrong.
    2355Till I am there, methinks the time seems long.
    2355.1[Scene 25] [Video Sc.25]
    Enter Ragan alone
    I feel a hell of conscience in my breast,
    Tormenting me with horror for my fact,
    And makes me in an agony of doubt
    2360For fear the world should find my dealing out.
    The slave whom I appointed for the act,
    I ne'er set eye upon the peasant since.
    Oh, could I get him for to make him sure,
    My doubts would cease, and I should rest secure.
    2365But if the old men with persuasive words
    Have saved their lives and made him to relent,
    Then are they fled unto the court of France,
    And like a trumpet manifest my shame.
    A shame on these white-livered slaves, say I,
    2370That with fair words so soon are overcome.
    Oh, God, that I had been but made a man,
    Or that my strength were equal with my will!
    These foolish men are nothing but mere pity,
    And melt as butter doth against the sun.
    2375Why should they have pre-eminence over us,
    Since we are creatures of more brave resolve?
    I swear, I am quite out of charity
    With all the heartless men in Christendom.
    A pox upon them when they are afraid
    2380To give a stab or slit a paltry windpipe,
    Which are so easy matters to be done.
    Well, had I thought the slave would serve me so,
    Myself would have been executioner;
    'Tis now undone, and if that it be known,
    2385I'll make as good shift as I can for one.
    He that repines at me howe'er it stands,
    'Twere best for him to keep him from my hands.
    2387.1[Scene 26] [Video Sc.26]
    Sound drums and trumpets
    Enter the King of Gallia, Leir, Mumford, and the army
    Thus have we brought our army to the sea
    Whereas our ships are ready to receive us.
    The wind stands fair and we in four hours' sail
    May easily arrive on British shore
    Where, unexpected, we may them surprise
    2395And gain a glorious victory with ease.
    Wherefore, my loving countrymen, resolve,
    Since truth and justice fighteth on our sides,
    That we shall march with conquest where we go.
    Myself will be as forward as the first,
    2400And step-by-step march with the hardiest wight;
    And not the meanest soldier in our camp
    Shall be in danger, but I'll second him. --
    [To Mumford]To you, my lord, we give the whole command
    Of all the army, next unto ourself,
    2405Not doubting of you but you will extend
    Your wonted valor in this needful case,
    Encouraging the rest to do the like
    By your approvèd magnanimity.
    My liege, 'tis needless to spur a willing horse
    2410That's apt enough to run himself to death,
    For here I swear by that sweet saint's bright eyes,
    Which are the stars which guide me to good hap,
    Either to see my old lord crowned anew,
    Or in his cause to bid the world adieu.
    Thanks, good Lord Mumford, 'tis more of your good will
    Than any merit or desert in me.
    [To the soldiers] And now to you, my worthy countrymen,
    Ye valiant race of Genovestan Gauls,
    Surnamed Redshanks for your chivalry,
    2420Because you fight up to the shanks in blood,
    Show yourselves now to be right Gauls indeed,
    And be so bitter on your enemies
    That they may say you are as bitter as gall.
    Gall them, brave shot, with your artillery,
    2425Gall them, brave halberds, with your sharp-point bills,
    Each in their 'pointed place. Not one, but all,
    Fight for the credit of yourselves and Gaul.
    Then what should more persuasion need to those
    That rather wish to deal than hear of blows?
    2430Let's to our ships. And if that God permit,
    In four hours' sail I hope we shall be there.
    And in five hours more, I make no doubt
    But we shall bring our wished desires about.
    2433.1[Scene 27] [Video Sc.27]
    Enter a Captain of the Watch [( 1 Captain)] and two Watchmen
    24351 Captain
    My honest friends, it is your turn tonight
    To watch in this place, near about the beacon,
    And vigilantly have regard,
    If any fleet of ships pass hitherward;
    Which if you do, your office is to fire
    2440The beacon presently and raise the town.
    First Watchman
    Ay, ay, ay, fear nothing. We know our charge, I warrant: I have been a watchman about this beacon this thirty year, and yet I ne'er see it stir but stood as quietly as might be.
    Second Watchman
    Faith, neighbor, and you'll follow my 'vice, instead of 2445watching the beacon, we'll go to Goodman Jennings' and watch a pot of ale and a rasher of bacon. An if we do not drink ourselves drunk, then so, I warrant, the beacon will see us when we come out again.
    First Watchman
    Ay, but how if somebody excuse us to the captain?
    2450Second Watchman
    'Tis no matter. I'll prove by good reason that we watch the beacon, ass for example --
    First Watchman
    I hope you do not call me ass by craft, neighbor.
    Second Watchman
    No, no, but for example: say here stands the pot of ale, that's the beacon.
    First Watchman
    Ay, ay, 'tis a very good beacon.
    2455Second Watchman
    Well, say here stands your nose: that's the fire.
    First Watchman
    Indeed, I must confess 'tis somewhat red.
    Second Watchman
    I see come marching in a dish, half a score pieces of salt bacon.
    First Watchman
    I understand your meaning. That's as much to say half a score ships.
    Second Watchman
    True; you construe right. Presently, like 2460a faithful watchman, I fire the beacon and call up the town.
    First Watchman
    Ay, that's as much as to say you set your nose to the pot, and drink up the drink.
    Second Watchman
    You are in the right. Come, let's go fire the beacon.
    2463.1[Scene 28] [Video Sc.28]
    Enter the King of Gallia with a still march, Mumford, and soldiers.
    Now march our ensigns on the British earth,
    And we are near approaching to the town;
    Then look about you, valiant countrymen,
    And we shall finish this exploit with ease.
    Th'inhabitants of this mistrustful place
    2470Are dead asleep, as men that are secure.
    Here shall we skirmish but with naked men
    That know not what our coming doth portend
    Till they do feel our meaning on their skins.
    2475Therefore, assail! God and our right for us!
    2475.1[Scene 29] [Video Sc.29]
    Alarum, with men and women half-naked
    Enter two Captains without doublets, with swords
    1 Captain
    Where are these villains -- that were set to watch
    And fire the beacon, if occasion served --
    2480That thus have suffered us to be surprised,
    And never given notice to the town?
    We are betrayed and quite devoid of hope
    By any means to fortify ourselves.
    2 Captain
    'Tis ten to one the peasants are o'ercome
    With drink 2485and sleep, and so neglect their charge.
    1 Captain
    A whirlwind carry them quick to a whirlpool,
    That there the slaves may drink their bellies full.
    2 Captain
    This 'tis to have the beacon so near the ale house.
    Enter the Watchmen drunk, with each a pot.
    24901 Captain
    Out on ye, villains! Whither run you now?
    First Watchman
    To fire the town and call up the beacon.
    Second Watchman
    No, no, sir, to fire the beacon.
    He drinks.
    2 Captain
    What, with a pot of ale, you drunken rogues?
    1 Captain
    You'll fire the beacon when the town is lost!
    2495I'll teach you how to tend your office better.
    Draw[s] to stab them
    Enter Mumford
    Captains run away.
    Yield, yield, yield!
    He kicks down their pots.
    First Watchman
    Reel? No, we do not reel. You may lack a pot of ale ere you die.
    But in meanspace, I answer, you want none. Well, there's no dealing with you, y'are tall men and well weaponed. I would there were no worse than you in the town.
    Exit [Mumford].
    Second Watchman
    'A speaks like an honest man. My choler's passed already. Come, neighbor, let's go.
    2505First Watchman
    Nay, first let's see an we can stand.
    Alarum, excursions, Mumford after them, and some half-naked
    2506.1[Scene 30] [Video Sc.30]
    Enter the King of Gallia, Leir, Mumford, Cordella, Perillus and Soldiers, with the Chief of the town bound, [and an English Nobleman]
    Fear not, my friends, you shall receive no hurt
    2510If you'll subscribe unto your lawful king
    And quite revoke your fealty from Cambria,
    And from aspiring Cornwall too, whose wives
    Have practiced treason 'gainst their father's life.
    We come in justice of your wrongèd king,
    2515And do intend no harm at all to you,
    So you submit unto your lawful king.
    Kind countrymen, it grieves me that perforce
    I am constrained to use extremities.
    A Nobleman
    Long have you here been looked for, good my lord,
    2520And wished for by a general consent;
    And had we known your highness had arrived,
    We had not made resistance to your grace.
    And now, my gracious lord, you need not doubt
    But all the country will yield presently,
    2525Which, since your absence, have been greatly taxed
    For to maintain their overswelling pride.
    We'll presently send word to all our friends:
    When they have notice, they will come apace.
    Thanks, loving subjects, and thanks, worthy son;
    2530Thanks, my kind daughter, thanks to you, my lord,
    Who willingly adventured half your blood,
    Without desert, to do me so much good.
    Oh, say not so! I have been much beholding to your grace: 2535I must confess, I have been in some skirmishes, but I was never in the like to this, for where I was wont to meet with armed men, I was now encountered with naked women.
    We that are feeble and want use of arms
    2540Will pray to God to shield you from all harms.
    The while your hands do manage ceaseless toil,
    Our hearts shall pray the foes may have the foil.
    We'll fast and pray whilst you for us do fight,
    That victory may prosecute the right.
    Methinks your words do amplify, my friends,
    And add fresh vigor to my willing limbs.
    But hark, I hear the adverse drum approach.
    God and our right, Saint Denis, and Saint George!
    Enter Cornwall, Cambria, Gonorill, Ragan, and the army.
    Presumptuous King of Gauls, how dar'st thou
    Presume to enter on our British shore?
    And, more than that, to take our towns perforce,
    And draw our subjects' hearts from their true king?
    Be sure to buy it at as dear a price
    2555As e'er you bought presumption in your lives.
    O'erdaring Cornwall, know we came in right
    And just revengement of the wrongèd king,
    Whose daughters there, fell vipers as they are,
    Have sought to murder and deprive of life;
    2560But God protected him from all their spite,
    And we are come in justice of his right.
    Nor he nor thou have any interest here
    But what you win and purchase with the sword.
    Thy slanders to our noble virtuous queens
    2565We'll in the battle thrust them down thy throat
    Except, for fear of our revenging hands,
    Thou fly to sea, as not secure on lands.
    Welshman, I'll so ferret you ere night for that word that you shall have no mind to crake so well this twelvemonth.
    They lie that say we sought our father's death.
    'Tis merely forgèd for a color's sake,
    To set a gloss on your invasion.
    Methinks an old man ready for to die
    Should be ashamed to broach so foul a lie.
    Fie, shameless sister, so devoid of grace,
    To call our father "liar" to his face.
    Peace, puritan, dissembling hypocrite,
    Which art so good that thou wilt prove stark naught!
    Anon, whenas I have you in my fingers,
    2580I'll make you wish yourself in purgatory.
    Nay, peace, thou monster, shame unto thy sex,
    Thou fiend in likeness of a human creature!
    I never heard a fouler spoken man.
    Out on thee, viper, scum, filthy parricide,
    2585More odious to my sight than is a toad.
    Knowest thou these letters?
    She snatches them and tears them.
    Think you to outface me with your paltry scrolls?
    You come to drive my husband from his right,
    Under the color of a forgèd letter.
    Whoever heard the like impiety?
    You are our debtor of more patience:
    We were more patient when we stayed for you
    Within the thicket two long hours and more.
    What hours? What thicket?
    There, where you sent your servant with your letters,
    Sealèd with your hand, to send us both to heaven,
    Where, as I think, you never mean to come.
    Alas, you are grown a child again with age,
    Or else your senses dote for want of sleep.
    Indeed, you made us rise betimes, you know,
    Yet had a care we should sleep where you bade us stay,
    But never wake more till the latter day.
    Peace, peace, old fellow, thou art sleepy still.
    Faith, an if you reason till tomorrow
    2605You get no other answer at their hands.
    'Tis pity two such good faces
    Should have so little grace between them.
    Well, let us see if their husbands, with their hands,
    Can do as much as they do with their tongues.
    Ay, with their swords they'll make your tongue unsay
    What they have said, or else they'll cut them out.
    Too't, gallants, too't; let's not stand brawling thus.
    Exeunt both armies.
    2613.1[Scene 31] [Video Sc.31]
    Sound alarum, excursions.
    Mumford must chase Cambria 2615away, then cease.
    Enter Cornwall
    The day is lost: our friends do all revolt
    And join against us with the adverse part.
    There is no means of safety but by flight,
    And therefore I'll to Cornwall with my queen.
    2620Enter Cambria
    I think there is a devil in the camp hath haunted me today: he hath so tired me that in a manner I can fight no more.
    Enter Mumford
    'Zounds, here he comes; I'll take me to my horse.
    2625Mumford follows him to the door and returns.
    Farewell, Welshman, give thee but thy due:
    Thou hast a light and nimble pair of legs.
    Thou art more in debt to them than to thy hands,
    But if I meet thee once again today
    2630I'll cut them off and set them to a better heart.
    2630.1[Scene 32] [Video Sc.32]
    Alarums and excursions, then sound victory
    Enter Leir, PERILLUS, Gallia, Cordella, and Mumford
    Thanks be to God: your foes are overcome,
    And you again possessed of your right.
    First to the heavens, next, thanks to you, my son,
    By whose good means I repossess the same,
    Which if it please you to accept yourself,
    With all my heart I will resign to you,
    For it is yours by right, and none of mine.
    2640First, have you raised, at your own charge, a power
    Of valiant soldiers -- this comes all from you --
    Next have you ventured your own person's scathe,
    And lastly, worthy Gallia never stained,
    My kingly title I by thee have gained.
    Thank heavens, not me; my zeal to you is such,
    Command my utmost, I will never grutch.
    He that with all kind love entreats his queen
    Will not be to her father unkind seen.
    Ah, my Cordella, now I call to mind
    2650The modest answer which I took unkind;
    But now I see, I am no whit beguiled,
    Thou loved'st me dearly, and as ought a child.
    And thou, Perillus, partner once in woe,
    Thee to requite, the best I can, I'll do;
    2655Yet all I can, ay, were it ne'er so much,
    Were not sufficient, thy true love is such.
    Thanks, worthy Mumford, to thee last of all,
    Not greeted last 'cause thy desert was small,
    No, thou hast lion-like laid on today,
    2660Chasing the Cornwall king and Cambria,
    Who with my daughters -- "daughters," did I say? --
    To save their lives, the fugitives did play.
    Come son and daughter, who did me advance,
    Repose with me awhile, and then for France.
    2665Sound drums and trumpets