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)

    Enter Messenger solus.
    1295 Mes. It is a world to see now I am flush,
    How many friends I purchase euery where!
    How many seekes to creepe into my fauour,
    And kisse their hands, and bend their knees to me!
    No more, here comes the Queene, now shall I know her mind,
    1300And hope for to deriue more crownes from her. Enter Ragā.
    Rag. My friend, I see thou mind'st thy promise well,
    And art before me here, me thinks, to day.
    Mes. I am a poore man, and it like your Grace;
    But yet I alwayes loue to keepe my word.
    1305Ra. Wel, keepe thy word with me, & thou shalt see,
    That of a poore man I will make thee rich.
    Mes. I long to heare it, it might haue bin dispatcht,
    If you had told me of it yesternight.
    Ra. It is a thing of right strange consequence,
    1310And well I cannot vtter it in words.
    Mes. It is more strange, that I am not by this
    Beside my selfe, with longing for to heare it.
    Were it to meet the Deuill in his denne,
    And try a bout with him for a scratcht face,
    1315Ide vndertake it, if you would but bid me.
    Ra. Ah, good my friend, that I should haue thee do,
    Is such a thing, as I do shame to speake;
    Yet it must needs be done.
    Mes. Ile speak it for thee, Queene: shall I kill thy father?
    1320I know tis that, and if it be so, say. Rag. I.
    Mes. Why, thats ynough.
    Rag. And yet that is not all.
    Mes. What else?
    Rag. Thou must kill that old man that came with him.
    E3 Mes. Here
    The History of King Leir
    1325Mes. Here are two hands, for eche of them is one.
    Rag. And for eche hand here is a recompence.
    Giue him two purses.
    Mes. Oh, that I had ten hands by myracle,
    I could teare ten in pieces with my teeth,
    1330So in my mouth yould put a purse of gold.
    But in what maner must it be effected?
    Rag. To morrow morning ere the breake of day,
    I by a wyle will send them to the thicket,
    That is about some two myles from the Court,
    1335And promise them to meet them there my selfe,
    Because I must haue priuate conference,
    About some newes I haue receyu'd from Cornwall.
    This is ynough, I know, they will not fayle,
    And then be ready for to play thy part:
    1340Which done, thou mayst right easily escape,
    And no man once mistrust thee for the fact:
    But yet, before thou prosecute the act,
    Shew him the letter, which my sister sent,
    There let him read his owne inditement first,
    1345And then proceed to execution:
    But see thou faynt not; for they will speake fayre.
    Mes.Could he speak words as pleasing as the pipe
    Of Mercury, which charm'd the hundred eyes
    Of watchfull Argos, and inforc'd him sleepe:
    1350Yet here are words so pleasing to my thoughts, To the purse.
    As quite shall take away the sound of his. Exit.
    Rag. About it then, and when thou hast dispatcht,
    Ile find a meanes to send thee after him. Exit.