QueenʼsMen Editions

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)

    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.