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About this text

  • 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)

    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.