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 the Gallian King, Leir, Mumford, Cordella, Perillus, and soul-
    diers, with the chiefe of the towne bound.
    King. Feare not, my friends, you shall receyue no hurt,
    2510If you'l subscribe vnto your lawfull King,
    And quite reuoke your fealty from Cambria,
    And from aspiring Cornwall too, whose wiues
    Haue practisde treason 'gainst their fathers life.
    Wee come in iustice of your wronged King,
    and his three daughters.
    2515And do intend no harme at all to you,
    So you submit vnto your lawfull King.
    Leir. Kind Countrymen, it grieues me, that perforce,
    I am constraind to vse extremities.
    Noble. Long haue you here bin lookt for, good my Lord,
    2520And wish'd for by a generall consent:
    And had we known your Highnesse had arriued,
    We had not made resistance to your Grace:
    And now, my gracious Lord, you need not doubt,
    But all the Country will yeeld presently,
    2525Which since your absence haue bin greatly tax'd,
    For to maintayne their ouerswelling pride.
    Weele presently send word to all our friends;
    When they haue notice, they will come apace.
    Leir. Thanks, louing subiects; and thanks, worthy son,
    2530Thanks, my kind daughter, thanks to you, my Lord,
    Who willingly aduentured haue your blood,
    (Without desert) to do me so much good.
    Mum. O, say not so:
    I haue bin much beholding to your Grace:
    2535I must confesse, I haue bin in some skirmishes,
    But I was neuer in the like to this:
    For where I was wont to meet with armed men,
    I was now incountred with naked women.
    Cord.We that are feeble, and want vse of Armes,
    2540Will pray to God, to sheeld you from all harmes.
    Leir. The while your hands do manage ceaselesse toyle,
    Our hearts shall pray, the foes may haue the foyle.
    Per.Weele fast and pray, whilst you for vs do fight,
    That victory may prosecute the right.
    2545King.Me thinks, your words do amplify (my friends)
    And adde fresh vigor to my willing limmes: Drum.
    But harke, I heare the aduerse Drum approch.
    God and our right, Saint Denis, and Saint George.
    Enter Cornwall, Cambria, Gonorill, Ragan, and the army.
    2550Corn.Presumptuous King of Gawles, how darest thou
    Presume to enter on our Brittish shore?
    And more then that, to take our townes perforce,
    And draw our subiects hearts from their true King?
    I3 Be
    The History of King Leir
    Be sute to buy it at as deare a price,
    2555As ere you bought presumption in your liues.
    King. Ore-daring Cornwall, know, we came in right,
    And iust reuengement of the wronged King,
    Whose daughters there, fell vipers as they are,
    Haue sought to murder and depriue of life:
    2560But God protected him from all their spight,
    And we are come in iustice of his right.
    Cam. Nor he nor thou haue any interest here,
    But what you win and purchase with the sword.
    Thy slaunders to our noble vertuous Queenes,
    2565Wee'l in the battell thrust them down thy throte,
    Except for feare of our reuenging hands,
    Thou flye to sea, as not secure on lands.
    Mum.Welshman, ile so ferrit you ere night for that word,
    That you shall haue no mind to crake so wel this tweluemonth.
    2570 Gon. They lye, that say, we sought our fathers death.
    Rag. Tis meerely forged for a colours sake,
    To set a glosse on your inuasion.
    Me thinks, an old man ready for to dye,
    Should be asham'd to broache so foule a lye.
    2575Cord.Fy, shamelesse sister, so deuoyd of grace,
    To call our father lyer to his face.
    Gon. Peace (Puritan) dissembling hypocrite,
    Which art so good, that thou wilt proue stark naught:
    Anon, when as I haue you in my fingers,
    2580Ile make you wish your selfe in Purgatory.
    Per. Nay, peace thou monster, shame vnto thy sexe:
    Thou fiend in likenesse of a humane creature.
    Rag. I neuer heard a fouler spoken man.
    Leir. Out on thee, viper, scum, filthy parricide,
    2585More odious to my sight then is a Toade.
    Knowest thou these letters? She snatches them & teares them.
    Rag. Think you to outface me with your paltry scrowles?
    You come to driue my husband from his right,
    Vnder the colour of a forged letter.
    2590Leir. Who euer heard the like impiety?
    Per. You are our debtour of more patience:
    We were more patient when we stayd for you,
    and his three daughters.
    Within the thicket two long houres and more.
    Rag.What houres? what thicket?
    2595Per. There, where you sent your seruant with your letters,
    Seald with your hand, to send vs both to heauen,
    Where, as I thinke, you neuer meane to come.
    Raga. Alas, you are growne a child agayne with age,
    Or else your sences dote for want of sleepe.
    2600Per. Indeed you made vs rise betimes, you know,
    Yet had a care we should sleepe where you bade vs stay,
    But neuer wake more till the latter day.
    Gon. Peace, peace, old fellow, thou art sleepy still.
    Mum. Fayth, and if you reason till to morrow,
    2605You get no other answere at their hands.
    Tis pitty two such good faces
    Should haue so little grace betweene them.
    Well, let vs see if their husbands with their hands,
    Can do as much, as they do with their toungs.
    2610Cam. I, with their swords they'l make your toung vnsay
    What they haue sayd, or else they'l cut them out.
    King. Too't, gallants, too't, let's not stand brawling thus.
    Exeunt both armyes.