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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 Gonorill and Ragan.
    Gon.I maruell, Ragan, how you can indure
    To see that proud pert Peat, our youngest sister,
    So slightly to account of vs, her elders,
    100As if we were no better then her selfe!
    We cannot haue a quaynt deuice so soone,
    Or new made fashion, of our choyce inuention;
    But if she like it, she will haue the same,
    Or study newer to exceed vs both.
    105Besides, she is so nice and so demure;
    So sober, courteous, modest, and precise,
    That all the Court hath worke ynough to do,
    To talke how she exceedeth me and you.
    Ra. What should I do? would it were in my power,
    110To find a cure for this contagious ill:
    A3 Some
    The History of King Leir
    Some desperate medicine must be soone applyed,
    To dimme the glory of her mounting fame;
    Els ere't be long, sheele haue both prick and praise,
    And we must be set by for working dayes.
    115Doe you not see what seuerall choyce of Suters
    She daily hath, and of the best degree?
    Say, amongst all, she hap to fancy one,
    And haue a husband when as we haue none:
    Why then, by right, to her we must giue place,
    120Though it be ne're so much to our disgrace.
    Gon. By my virginity, rather then she shall haue
    A husband before me,
    Ile marry one or other in his shirt:
    And yet I haue made halfe a graunt already
    125Of my good will vnto the King of Cornwall.
    Ra. Sweare not so deeply (sister) here cōmeth my L. Skalliger:
    Something his hasty comming doth import. Enter Skal.
    Skal. Sweet Princesses, I am glad I met you heere so luckily,
    Hauing good newes which doth concerne you both,
    130And craueth speedy expedition.
    Ra. For Gods sake tell vs what it is, my Lord,
    I am with child vntill you vtter it.
    Skal. Madam, to saue your longing, this it is:
    Your father in great secrecy to day,
    135Told me, he meanes to marry you out of hand,
    Vnto the noble Prince of Cambria;
    You, Madam, to the King of Cornwalls Grace:
    Your yonger sister he would fayne bestow
    Vpon the rich King of Hibernia:
    140But that he doubts, she hardly will consent;
    For hitherto she ne're could fancy him.
    If she do yeeld, why then, betweene you three,
    He will deuide his kingdome for your dowries.
    But yet there is a further mystery,
    145Which, so you will conceale, I will disclose.
    Gon. What e're thou speakst to vs, kind Skalliger,
    Thinke that thou speakst it only to thy selfe.
    Skal. He earnestly desireth for to know,
    and his three daughters.
    Which of you three do beare most loue to him,
    150And on your loues he so extremely dotes,
    As neuer any did, I thinke, before.
    He presently doth meane to send for you,
    To be resolu'd of this tormenting doubt:
    And looke, whose answere pleaseth him the best,
    155They shall haue most vnto their marriages.
    Ra. O that I had some pleasing Mermayds voyce,
    For to inchaunt his sencelesse sences with!
    Skal. For he supposeth that Cordella will
    (Striuing to go beyond you in her loue)
    160Promise to do what euer he desires:
    Then will he straight enioyne her for his sake,
    The Hibernian King in marriage for to take.
    This is the summe of all I haue to say;
    Which being done, I humbly take my leaue,
    165Not doubting but your wisdomes will foresee,
    What course will best vnto your good agree.
    Gon. Thanks, gentle Skalliger, thy kindnes vndeserued,
    Shall not be vnrequited, if we liue. Exit Skalliger.
    Ra. Now haue we fit occasion offred vs,
    170To be reueng'd vpon her vnperceyu'd.
    Gon. Nay, our reuenge we will inflIct on her,
    Shall be accounted piety in vs:
    I will so flatter with my doting father,
    As he was ne're so flattred in his life.
    175Nay, I will say, that if it be his pleasure,
    To match me to a begger, I will yeeld:
    For why, I know what euer I do say,
    He meanes to match me with the Cornwall King.
    Ra. Ile say the like: for I am well assured;
    180What e're I say to please the old mans mind,
    Who dotes, as if he were a child agayne,
    I shall inioy the noble Cambrian Prince:
    Only, to feed his humour, will suffice, [two illegible letters?]
    To say, I am content with any one
    185Whom heele appoynt me; this will please him more,
    Then e're Apolloes musike pleased Ioue.
    A4 Gon.I
    The History of King Leir
    Gon. I smile to think, in what a wofull plight
    Cordella will be, when we answere thus:
    For she will rather dye, then giue consent
    190To ioyne in marriage with the Irish King:
    So will our father think, she loueth him not,
    Because she will not graunt to his desire,
    Which we will aggrauate in such bitter termes,
    That he will soone conuert his loue to hate:
    195For he, you know, is alwayes in extremes.
    Rag. Not all the world could lay a better plot,
    I long till it be put in practice. Exeunt.