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
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    The History of King Leir (Quarto, 1605)

    The History of King Leir
    Leir. Sweare not by earth; for she abhors to beare
    1630Such bastards, as are murtherers of her sonnes.
    Mes. Why then, by hell, and all the deuils I sweare.
    Leir. Sweare not by hell; for that stands gaping wide,
    To swallow thee, and if thou do this deed.
    Thunder and lightning.
    1635Mes. I would that word were in his belly agayne,
    It hath frighted me euen to the very heart:
    This old man is some strong Magician:
    His words haue turned my mind from this exployt.
    Then neyther heauen, earth, nor hell be witnesse;
    1640But let this paper witnesse for them all.
    Shewes Gonorils letter.
    Shall I relent, or shall I prosecute?
    Shall I resolue, or were I best recant?
    I will not crack my credit with two Queenes,
    1645To whom I haue already past my word.
    Oh, but my conscience for this act doth tell,
    I get heauens hate, earths scorne, and paynes of hell.
    They blesse themselues.
    Per. Oh iust Iehoua, whose almighty power
    1650Doth gouerne all things in this spacious world,
    How canst thou suffer such outragious acts
    To be committed without iust reuenge?
    O viperous generation and accurst,
    To seeke his blood, whose blood did make them first!
    1655Leir. Ah, my true friend in all extremity,
    Let vs submit vs to the will of God:
    Things past all sence, let vs not seeke to know;
    It is Gods will, and therefore must be so.
    My friend, I am prepared for the stroke:
    1660Strike when thou wilt, and I forgiue thee here,
    Euen from the very bottome of my heart.
    Mes. But I am not prepared for to strike.
    Leir. Farewell, Perillus, euen the truest friend,
    That euer liued in aduersity:
    1665The latest kindnesse ile request of thee,
    Is that thou go vnto my daughter Cordella,