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About this text

  • Title: The History of King Leir (Quarto, 1605)
  • 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
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    The History of King Leir (Quarto, 1605)

    and his three daughters.
    Ile sit me downe, and read vntill she come.
    1440Pull out a booke and sit downe.
    Per. Sheele not be long, I warrant you, my Lord:
    But say, a couple of these they call good fellowes,
    Should step out of a hedge, and set vpon vs,
    We were in good case for to answere them.
    1445Leir. 'Twere not for vs to stand vpon our hands.
    Per.I feare, we scant should stand vpon our legs.
    But how should we do to defend our selues?
    Leir. Euen pray to God, to blesse vs frō their hands:
    For feruent prayer much ill hap withstands.
    1450Per. Ile sit and pray with you for company;
    Yet was I ne're so heauy in my life.
    They fall both asleepe.
    Enter the Messenger or murtherer with two
    daggers in his hands.
    1455Mess. Were it not a mad iest, if two or three of my professiō
    should meet me, and lay me downe in a ditch, and play robbe
    thiefe with me, & perforce take my gold away from me, whilest
    I act this stratagem, and by this meanes the gray beards should
    escape? Fayth, when I were at liberty againe, I would make no
    1460more to do, but go to the next tree, and there hang my selfe.
    See them and start.
    But stay, me thinks, my youthes are here already,
    And with pure zeale haue prayed themselues asleepe.
    I thinke, they know to what intent they came,
    1465And are prouided for another world.
    He takes their bookes away.
    Now could I stab them brauely, while they sleepe,
    And in a maner put them to no payne;
    And doing so, I shewed them mighty friendship:
    1470For feare of death is worse then death it selfe.
    But that my sweet Queene will'd me for to shew
    This letter to them, ere I did the deed.
    Masse, they begin to stirre: ile stand aside;
    So shall I come vpon them vnawares.
    1475They wake and rise.
    Leir. I maruell, that my daughter stayes so long.
    F Per. I