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  • 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)

    Enter Cornwall, Gonorill, and attendants.
    945Corn. Ah, Gonorill, what dire vnhappy chaunce
    D2 Hath
    The History of King Leir
    Hath sequestred thy father from our presence,
    That no report can yet be heard of him?
    Some great vnkindnesse hath bin offred him,
    Exceeding far the bounds of patience:
    950Else all the world shall neuer me perswade,
    He would forsake vs without notice made.
    Gon. Alas, my Lord, whom doth it touch so neere,
    Or who hath interest in this griefe, but I,
    Whom sorrow had brought to her longest home,
    955But that I know his qualities so well?
    I know, he is but stolne vpon my sister
    At vnawares, to see her how she fares,
    And spend a little time with her, to note
    How all things goe, and how she likes her choyce:
    960And when occasion serues, heele steale from her,
    And vnawares returne to vs agayne.
    Therefore, my Lord, be frolick, and resolue
    To see my father here agayne e're long.
    Corn. I hope so too; but yet to be more sure,
    965Ile send a Poste immediately to know
    Whether he be arriued there or no. Exit.
    Gon. But I will intercept the Messenger,
    And temper him before he doth depart,
    With sweet perswassions, and with sound rewards,
    970That his reportshhall ratify my speech,
    And make my Lord cease further to inquire.
    If he be not gone to my sisters Court,
    As sure my mind presageth that he is,
    He happely may, by trauelling vnknowne wayes,
    975Fall sicke, and as a common passenger,
    Be dead and buried: would God it were so well;
    For then there were no more to do, but this,
    He went away, and none knowes where he is.
    But say he be in Cambria with the King,
    980And there exclayme against me, as he will:
    I know he is as welcome to my sister,
    As water is into a broken ship.
    Well, after him Ile send such thunderclaps
    and his three daughters.
    Of slaunder, scandall, and inuented tales,
    985That all the blame shall be remou'd from me,
    And vnperceiu'd rebound vpon himselfe.
    Thus with one nayle another Ile expell,
    And make the world iudge, that I vsde him well.
    Enter the Messenger that should go to Cambria,
    990With a letter in his hand.
    Gon. My honest friend, whither away so fast?
    Mes. To Cambria, Madam, with letters frō the king.
    Gon. To whom?
    Mess. Vnto your father, if he be there.
    995Gon. Let me see them. She opens them.
    Mess. Madam, I hope your Grace will stand
    Betweene me and my neck-verse, if I be
    Calld in question, for opening the Kings letters.
    Gon. 'Twas I that opened them, it was not thou.
    1000Mes. I, but you need not care: and so must I,
    A hansome man, be quickly trust vp,
    And when a man's hang'd, all the world cannot saue him.
    Gon. He that hangs thee, were better hang his father,
    Or that but hurts thee in the least degree.
    1005I tell thee, we make great account of thee.
    Mes. I am o're-ioy'd, I surfet of sweet words:
    Kind Queene, had I a hundred liues, I would
    Spend ninety nyne of them for you, for that word.
    Gon. I, but thou wouldst keepe one life still,
    1010And that's as many as thou art like to haue.
    Mes. That one life is not too deare for my good Queene; this
    sword, this buckler, this head, this heart, these hands, armes,
    legs, tripes, bowels, and all the members else whatsoeuer, are at
    your dispose; vse me, trust me, commaund me: if I fayle in any
    1015thing, tye me to a dung cart, and make a Scauengers horse of
    me, and whip me, so long as I haue any skin on my back.
    Gon.In token of further imployment, take that.
    Flings him a purse.
    Mes. A strong Bond, a firme Obligation, good in law, good
    1020in law: if I keepe not the condition, let my necke be the forfey-
    ture of my negligence.
    D3 Gon. I
    The History of King Leir
    Gon. I like thee well, thou hast a good toung.
    Mes. And as bad a toung if it be set on it, as any Oysterwife
    at Billinsgate hath: why, I haue made many of my neighbours
    1025forsake their houses with rayling vpon them, and go dwell else
    where; and so by my meanes houses haue bin good cheape in
    our parish: My toung being well whetted with choller, is more
    sharpe then a Razer of Palerno.
    Gon. O, thou art a fit man for my purpose.
    1030Mes. Commend me not, sweet Queene, before you try me.
    As my deserts are, so do think of me.
    Gon. Well sayd, then this is thy tryall: Instead of carrying
    the Kings letters to my father, carry thou these letters to my
    sister, which contayne matter quite contrary to the other: there
    1035shal she be giuen to vnderstand, that my father hath detracted
    her, giuen out slaundrous speaches against her; and that hee
    hath most intollerably abused me, set my Lord and me at va-
    riance, and made mutinyes amongst the commons.
    These things (although it be not so)
    1040Yet thou must affirme them to be true,
    With othes and protestations as will serue,
    To driue my sister out of loue with him,
    And cause my will accomplished to be.
    This do, thou winst my fauour for euer,
    1045And makest a hye way of preferment to thee
    And all thy friends.
    Mess. It sufficeth, conceyt it is already done:
    I will so toung-whip him, that I will
    Leaue him as bare of credit, as a Poulter
    1050Leaues a Cony, when she pulls off his skin.
    Gon. Yet there is a further matter.
    Mes. I thirst to heare it.
    Gon. If my sister thinketh conuenient, as my letters
    importeth, to make him away, hast thou the heart to
    1055effect it?
    Mess. Few words are best in so small a matter:
    These are but trifles. By this booke I will.
    kisse the paper.
    and his three daughters.
    Gon. About it presently, I long till it be done.
    1060Mes. I fly, I fly. Exeunt.