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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.
    And makes me faynt, or euer I come there.
    Can kindnesse spring out of ingratitude?
    Or loue be reapt, where hatred hath bin sowne?
    2050Can Henbane ioyne in league with Methridate?
    Or Sugar grow in Wormwoods bitter stalke?
    It cannot be, they are too opposi}te
    And so am I to any kindnesse here.
    I haue throwne Wormwood on the sugred youth,
    2055And like to Henbane poysoned the Fount,
    Whence flowed the Methridate of a childs goodwil:
    I, like an enuious thorne, haue prickt the heart,
    And turnd sweet Grapes, to sowre vnrelisht Sloes:
    The causelesse ire of my respectlesse brest,
    2060Hath sowrd the sweet milk of dame Natures paps:
    My bitter words haue gauld her hony thoughts,
    And weeds of rancour chokt the flower of grace.
    Then what remainder is of any hope,
    But all our fortunes will go quite aslope?
    2065Per. Feare not, my Lord, the perfit good indeed,
    Can neuer be corrupted by the bad:
    A new fresh vessell still retaynes the taste
    Of that which first is powr'd into the same:
    And therfore, though you name yourselfe the thorn,
    2070The weed, the gall, the henbane & the wormewood;
    Yet sheele continue in her former state,
    The hony, milke, Grape, Sugar, Methridate.
    Leir. Thou pleasi}ng Orator vnto me in wo,
    Cease to beguile me with thy hopefull speaches:
    2075O ioyne with me, and thinke of nought but crosses,
    And then weele one lament anothers losses.
    Per. Why, say the worst, the worst can be but death,
    And death is better then for to despaire:
    Then hazzard death, which may conuert to life;
    2080Banish despaire, which brings a thousand deathes.
    Leir. Orecome with thy strong arguments, I yeeld,
    To be directed by thee, as thou wilt;
    As thou yeeldst comfort to my crazed thoughts,
    Would I could yeeld the like vnto thy body,
    2085Which is full weake, I know, and ill apayd,
    H For