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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 and Perillus.
    Leir. Perillus, go seeke my daughters,
    200Will them immediately come and speak with me.
    Per. I will, my gracious Lord. Exit.
    Leir. Oh, what a combat feeles my panting heart,
    'Twixt childrens loue, and care of Common weale!
    How deare my daughters are vnto my soule,
    205None knowes, but he, that knowes my thoghts & secret deeds.
    Ah, little do they know the deare regard,
    Wherein I hold their future state to come:
    When they securely sleepe on beds of downe,
    These aged eyes do watch for their behalfe :
    210While they like wantons sport in youthfull toyes,
    This throbbing heart is pearst with dire annoyes.
    As doth the Sun excceed the smallest Starre;
    So much the fathers loue exceeds the childs.
    Yet my complaynts are causlesse: for the world
    215Affords not children more conformable:
    And yet, me thinks, my mind presageth still
    I know not what; and yet I feare some ill.
    Enter Perillus, with the three daughters.
    Well, here my daughters come: I haue found out
    220A present meanes to rid me of this doubt.
    Gon. Our royall Lord and father, in all duty,
    We come to know the tenour of your will,
    Why you so hastily haue sent for vs ?
    Leir. Deare Gonorill, kind Ragan, sweet Cordella,
    and his three daughters.
    225Ye florishing branches of a Kingly stocke,
    Sprung from a tree that once did flourish greene,
    Whose blossomes now are nipt with Winters frost,
    And pale grym death doth wayt vpon my steps,
    And summons me vnto his next Assizes.
    230Therefore, deare daughters, as ye tender the safety
    Of him that was the cause of your first being,
    Resolue a doubt which much molests my mind,
    Which of you three to me would proue most kind;
    Which loues me most, and which at my request
    235Will soonest yeeld vnto their fathers hest.
    Gon. I hope, my gracious father makes no doubt
    Of any of his daughters loue to him:
    Yet for my part, to shew my zeale to you,
    Which cannot be in windy words rehearst,
    240I prize my loue to you at such a rate,
    I thinke my life inferiour to my loue.
    Should you inioyne me for to tye a milstone
    About my neck, and leape into the Sea,
    At your commaund I willingly would doe it:
    245Yea, for to doe you good, I would ascend
    The highest Turret in all Brittany,
    And from the top leape headlong to the ground:
    Nay, more, should you appoynt me for to marry
    The meanest vassayle in the spacious world,
    250Without reply I would accomplish it:
    In briefe, commaund what euer you desire,
    And if I fayle, no fauour I require.
    Leir. O, how thy words reuiue my dying soule!
    Cor. O, how I doe abhorre this flattery!
    255Leir. But what sayth Ragan to her fathers will?
    Rag. O, that my simple vtterance could suffice,
    To tell the true intention of my heart,
    Which burnes in zeale of duty to your grace,
    And neuer can be quench'd, but by desire
    260To shew the same in outward forwardnesse.
    Oh, that there were some other mayd that durst
    But make a challenge of her loue with me;
    B Ide
    The History of King Leir
    Ide make her soone confesse she neuer loued
    Her father halfe so well as I doe you.
    265I then, my deeds should proue in playner case,
    How much my zeale aboundeth to your grace:
    But for them all, let this one meane suffice,
    To ratify my loue before your eyes:
    I haue right noble Suters to my loue,
    270No worse then Kings, and happely I loue one:
    Yet, would you haue me make my choyce anew,
    Ide bridle fancy, and be rulde by you.
    Leir. Did neuer Philomel sing so sweet a note.
    Cord. Did neuer flatterer tell so false a tale.
    275Leir. Speak now, Cordella, make my ioyes at full,
    And drop downe Nectar from thy hony lips.
    Cor. I cannot paynt my duty forth in words,
    I hope my deeds shall make report for me:
    But looke what loue the child doth owe the father,
    280The same to you I beare, my gracious Lord.
    Gon. Here is an answere answerlesse indeed:
    Were you my daughter, I should scarcely brooke it.
    Rag. Dost thou not blush, proud Peacock as thou art,
    To make our father such a slight reply?
    285Leir. Why how now, Minion, are you growne so proud?
    Doth our deare loue make you thus peremptory?
    What, is your loue become so small to vs,
    As that you scorne to tell vs what it is?
    Do you loue vs, as euery child doth loue
    290Their father? True indeed, as some,
    Who by disobedience short their fathers dayes,
    And so would you; some are so father-sick,
    That they make meanes to rid them from the world;
    And so would you: some are indifferent,
    295Whether their aged parents liue or dye;
    And so are you. But, didst thou know, proud gyrle,
    What care I had to foster thee to this,
    Ah, then thou wouldst say as thy sisters do: ??
    Our life is lesse, then loue we owe to you.
    300Cord. Deare father, do not so mistake my words,
    and his three daughters.
    Nor my playne meaning be misconstrued;
    My toung was neuer vsde to flattery.
    Gon. You were not best say I flatter: if you do,
    My deeds shall shew, I flatter not with you.
    305I loue my father better then thou canst.
    Cor. The prayse were great, spoke from anothers mouth:
    But it should seeme your neighbours dwell far off.
    Rag. Nay, here is one, that will confirme as much
    As she hath sayd, both for my selfe and her.
    310I say, thou dost not wish my fathers good.
    Cord. Deare father.-------
    Leir. Peace, bastard Impe, no Issue of King Leir,
    I will not heare thee speake one tittle more.
    Call not me father, if thou loue thy life,
    315Nor these thy sisters once presume to name:
    Looke for no helpe henceforth from me nor mine;
    Shift as thou wilt, and trust vnto thy selfe:
    My Kingdome will I equally deuide
    'Twixt thy two sisters to their royall dowre,
    320And will bestow them worthy their deserts:
    This done, because thou shalt not haue the hope,
    To haue a childs part in the time to come,
    I presently will dispossesse my selfe,
    And set vp these vpon my princely throne.
    325Gon. I euer thought that pride would haue a fall.
    Ra. Plaine dealing, sister: your beauty is so sheene,
    You need no dowry, to make you be a Queene.
    Exeunt Leir, Gonorill, Ragan.
    Cord. Now whither, poore forsaken, shall I goe,
    330When mine own sisters tryumph in my woe?
    But vnto him which doth protect the iust,
    In him will poore Cordella put her trust.
    These hands shall labour, for to get my spending;
    And so ile liue vntill my dayes haue ending.
    335Per. Oh, how I grieue, to see my Lord thus fond,
    To dote so much vpon vayne flattering words.
    Ah, if he but with good aduice had weyghed,
    The hidden tenure of her humble speech,
    B2 Reason
    The History of King Leir
    Reason to rage should not haue giuen place,
    340Nor poore Cordella suffersuch disgrace. Exit.