QueenʼsMen Editions

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
    Peer Reviewed

    The History of King Leir (Quarto, 1605)

    The History of King Leir
    So shall you saue me labour for to do it,
    And proue your selues true old men of your words.
    1555And here I vow in sight of all the world,
    I ne're will trouble you whilst I liue agayne.
    Leir.Affright vs not with terrour, good my friend,
    Nor strike such feare into our aged hearts.
    Play not the Cat, which dallieth with the mouse;
    1560And on a sudden maketh her a pray:
    But if thou art markt for the man of death
    To me and to my Damion, tell me playne,
    That we may be prepared for the stroke,
    And make our selues fit for the world to come.
    1565Mes. I am the last of any mortall race,
    That ere your eyes are likely to behold,
    And hither sent of purpose to this place,
    To giue a finall period to your dayes,
    Which are so wicked, and haue liued so long,
    1570That your owne children seeke to short your life.
    Leir. Camst thou from France, of purpose to do this?
    Mes. From France? zoones, do I looke like a Frenchman?
    Sure I haue not mine owne face on; some body hath chang'd
    faces with me, and I know not of it: But I am sure, my apparell
    1575is all English. Sirra, what meanest thou to aske that question?
    I could spoyle the fashion of this face for anger. A French face!
    Leir. Because my daughter, whom I haue offended,
    And at whose hands I haue deseru'd as ill,
    As euer any father did of child,
    1580Is Queene of Fraunce, no thanks at all to me,
    But vnto God, who my iniustice see.
    If it be so, that shee doth seeke reuenge,
    As with good reason she may iustly do,
    I will most willingly resigne my life,
    1585A sacrifice to mittigate her ire:
    I neuer will intreat thee to forgiue,
    Because I am vnworthy for to liue.
    Therefore speake soone, & I will soone make speed:
    Whether Cordella will'd thee do this deed?
    1590Mes. As I am a perfit gentleman, thou speakst French to me:
    I neuer