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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 Leir, Perillus, and two Marriners, in sea-
    gownes and sea-caps.
    Per. My honest friends, we are asham'd to shew
    The great extremity of our present state,
    1995In that at this time we are brought so low,
    That we want money for to pay our passage.
    The truth is so, we met with some good fellowes,
    A little before we came aboord your ship,
    Which stript vs quite of all the coyne we had,
    2000And left vs not a penny in our purses:
    Yet wanting mony, we will vse the meane,
    To see you satisfied to the vttermost. Looke on Leir.
    1. Mar. Heres a good gown, 'twould become me passing wel,
    I should be fine in it. Looke on Perillus.
    20052 Mar. Heres a good cloke, I maruel how I should look in it.
    Leir. Fayth, had we others to supply their roome,
    Though ne'erso meane, you willingly should haue them.
    1. Mar. Do you heare, sir? you looke like an honest man;
    G4 Ile
    The History of King Leir
    Ile not stand to do you a pleasure: here's a good strōg motly ga-
    2010berdine, cost me xiiij. good shillings at Billinsgate, giue me your
    gowne for it, & your cap for mine, & ile forgiue your passage.
    Leir.With al my heart, and xx. thanks. Leir & he changeth.
    2. Mar. Do you heare, sir? you shal haue a better match thē he,
    because you are my friend: here is a good sheeps russet sea-
    2015gowne, wil bide more stresse, I warrant you, then two of his, yet
    for you seem to be an honest gentleman, I am content to chāge
    it for your cloke, and aske you nothing for your passage more.
    Pull off Perillus cloke.
    Per. My owne I willingly would change with thee,
    2020And think my selfe indebted to thy kindnesse:
    But would my friend might keepe his garment still.
    My friend, ile giue thee this new dublet, if thou wilt
    Restore his gowne vnto him back agayne.
    1. Mar. Nay, if I do, would I might ne're eate powderd beefe
    2025and mustard more, nor drink Can of good liquor whilst I liue.
    My friend, you haue small reason to seeke to hinder me of my
    bargaine: but the best is, a bargayne's a bargayne.
    Leir. Kind friend, it is much better as it is; Leir to Perillus.
    For by this meanes we may escape vnknowne.
    2030Till time and opportunity do fit.
    2. Mar. Hark, hark, they are laying their heads together,
    Theile repent them of their bargayne anon,
    'Twere best for vs to go while we are well.
    1. Mar. God be with you, sir, for your passage back agayne,
    2035Ile vse you as vnreasonable as another.
    Leir. I know thou wilt; but we hope to bring ready money
    With vs, when we come back agayne. Exeunt Mariners.
    Were euer men in this extremity,
    In a strange country, and deuoyd of friends,
    2040And not a penny for to helpe our selues?
    Kind, friend, what thinkst thou will become of vs?
    Per. Be of good cheere, my Lord, I haue a dublet,
    Will yeeld vs mony ynough to serue our turnes,
    Vntill we come vnto your daughters Court:
    2045And then, I hope, we shall find friends ynough.
    Leir. Ah, kind Perillus, that is it I feare,
    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
    The History of King Leir
    For want of fresh meat and due sustenance.
    Per. Alack, my Lord, my heart doth bleed, to think
    That you should be in such extremity.
    Leir. Come, let vs go, and see what God will send;
    2090When all meanes faile, he is the surest friend. Exeunt.