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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.
    I neuer heard Cordellaes name before,
    Nor neuer was in Fraunce in all my life:
    I neuer knew thou hadst a daughter there,
    To whom thou didst proue so vnkind a churle:
    1595But thy owne toung declares that thou hast bin
    A vyle old wretch, and full of heynous sin.
    Leir. Ah no, my friend, thou are deceyued much:
    For her except, whom I confesse I wrongd,
    Through doting frenzy, and o're-ielous loue.
    1600There liues not any vnder heauens bright eye,
    That can conuict me of impiety.
    And therefore sure thou dost mistake the marke:
    For I am in true peace with all the world.
    Mes. You are the fitter for the King of heauen:
    1605And therefore, for to rid thee of suspence,
    Know thou, the Queenes of Cambria and Cornwall,
    Thy owne two daughters, Gonorill and Ragan,
    Appoynted me to massacre thee here.
    Why wouldst thou then perswade me, that thou art
    1610In charity with all the world? but now
    When thy owne Issue hold thee in such hate,
    That they haue hyred me t'abbridge thy fate,
    Oh, fy vpon such vyle dissembling breath,
    That would deceyue, euen at the poynt of death.
    1615Per. Am I awake, or is it but a dreame?
    Mes. Feare nothing, man, thou art but in a dreame,
    And thou shalt neuer wake vntill doomes day,
    By then, I hope, thou wilt haue slept ynough.
    Leir. Yet, gentle friend, graunt one thing ere I die.
    1620Mes. Ile graunt you any thing, except your liues.
    Leir. Oh, but assure me by some certayne token,
    That my two daughters hyred thee to this deed:
    If I were once resolu'd of that, then I
    Would wish no longer life, but craue to dye.
    1625Mes. That to be true, in sight of heauen I sweare.
    Leir. Sweare not by heauen, for feare of punishmēt:
    The heauens are guiltlesse of such haynous acts.
    Mes. I sweare by earth, the mother of vs all.
    F3 Leir. Sweare