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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 Cambria and Ragan, with Nobles.
    1880Cam. What strange mischance or vnexpected hap
    Hath thus depriu'd vs of our fathers presence?
    Can no man tell vs what's become of him,
    With whom we did conuerse not two dayes since?
    My Lords, let euery where light-horse be sent,
    1885To scoure about through all our Regiment.
    Dispatch a Poste immediately to Cornwall,
    To see if any newes be of him there;
    My selfe will make a strickt inquiry here,
    And all about our Cities neere at hand,
    1890Till certayne newes of his abode be brought.
    Rag. All sorrow is but counterfet to mine,
    Whose lips are almost sealed vp with griefe:
    Mine is the substance, whilst they do but seeme
    To weepe the lesse, which teares cannot redeeme.
    and his three daughters.
    1895O, ne're was heard so strange a misaduenture,
    A thing so far beyond the reach of sence,
    Since no mans reason in the cause can enter.
    What hath remou'd my father thus from hence?
    O, I do feare some charme or inuocation
    1900Of wicked spirits, or infernall fiends,
    Stird by Cordella, moues this innouation,
    And brings my father timelesse to his end.
    But might I know, that the detested Witch
    Were certayne cause of this vncertayne ill,
    1905My selfe to Fraunce would go in some disguise,
    And with these nayles scratch out her hatefull eyes:
    For since I am depriued of my father,
    I loath my life, and wish my death the rather.
    Cam.The heauens are iust, and hate impiety,
    1910And will (no doubt) reueale such haynous crimes:
    Censure not any, till you know the right:
    Let him be Iudge, that bringeth truth to light.
    Ra. O, but my griefe, like to a swelling tyde,
    Exceeds the bounds of common patience:
    1915Nor can I moderate my toung so much,
    To conceale them, whom I hold in suspect.
    Cam. This matter shall be sifted: if it be she,
    A thousand Fraunces shall not harbour her.
    Enter the Gallian Ambassador.
    1920Am. All happinesse vnto the Cambrian King.
    Cam.Welcom, my friend, from whence is thy Ambassage?
    Am.I came from Gallia, vnto Cornwall sent,
    With letters to your honourable father,
    Whom there not finding, as I did expect,
    1925I was directed hither to repayre.
    Rag. Frenchman, what is thy message to my father?
    Am.My letters, Madam, will import the same,
    Which my Commission is for to deliuer.
    Ra. In his absence you may trust vs with your letters.
    1930Am. I must performe my charge in such a maner,
    As I haue strict commaundement from the King.
    Ra. There is good packing twixt your King and you:
    G3 You
    The History of King Leir
    You need not hither come to aske for him,
    You know where he is better then our selues.
    1935Am. Madam, I hope, not far off.
    Ra. Hath the young murdresse, your outragious Queen,
    No meanes to colour her detested deeds,
    In finishing my guiltlesse fathers dayes,
    (Because he gaue her nothing to her dowre)
    1940But by the colour of a fayn'd Ambassage,
    To send him letters hither to our Court?
    Go carry them to them that sent them hither,
    And bid them keepe their scroules vnto themselues:
    They cannot blind vs with such slight excuse,
    1945To smother vp so monstrous vild abuse.
    And were it not, it is 'gainst law of Armes,
    To offer violence to a Messenger,
    We would inflict such torments on thy selfe,
    As should inforce thee to reueale the truth.
    1950Am. Madam, your threats no whit apall my mind,
    I know my conscience guiltlesse of this act;
    My King and Queene, I dare be sworne, are free
    From any thought of such impiety:
    And therefore, Madam, you haue done them wrong,
    1955And ill beseeming with a sisters loue,
    Who in meere duty tender him as much,
    As euer you respected him for dowre.
    The King your husband will not say as much.
    Cam. I will suspend my iudgement for a time,
    1960Till more apparance giue vs further light:
    Yet to be playne, your comming doth inforce
    A great suspicion to our doubtful mind,
    And that you do resemble, to be briefe,
    Him that first robs, and then cries, Stop the theefe.
    1965Am. Pray God some neere you haue not done the like.
    Rag. Hence, saucy mate, reply no more to vs; She strikeshim.
    For law of Armes shall not protect thy toung.
    Am. Ne're was I offred such discourtesy;
    God and my King, I trust, ere it be long,
    1970Will find a meane to remedy this wrong, Exit Amb.
    Rag. How
    and his three daughters.
    Rag.How shall I liue, to suffer this disgrace,
    At euery base and vulgar peasants hands?
    It ill befitteth my imperiall state,
    To be thus vsde, and no man take my part. Shee weeps.
    1975Cam.What should I do? infringe the law of Armes,
    Were to my euerlasting obloquy:
    But I will take reuenge vpon his master,
    Which sent him hither, to delude vs thus.
    Rag. Nay, if you put vp this, be sure, ere long,
    1980Now that my father thus is made away,
    Sheele come & clayme a third part of your Crowne,
    As due vnto her by inheritance.
    Cam. But I will proue her title to be nought
    But shame, and the reward of Parricide,
    1985And make her an example to the world,
    For after-ages to admire her penance.
    This will I do, as I am Cambriaes King,
    Or lose my life, to prosecute reuenge.
    Come, first let's learne what newes is of our father,
    1990And then proceed, as best occasion fits. Exeunt.