King Leir – Anonymous – printed 1605
The True Chronicle history of King Leir
and his three daughters, Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordella:
As it hath bene diuers and sundry times lately acted.
London, Printed by Simon Stafford for Iohn Wright,
and are to bee sold at his shop at Christes Church dore,
next Newgate-market, 1605.
The only surviving quarto of this play, printed in 1605, runs 72 pages in the original. The play is anonymous.
The date of composition of KING LEIR is unknown; the style indicates a much earlier date than 1605. A play of King Lear, very possibly a revival or an earlier play, was performed in 1594 by the Queen’s and Lord Sussex’ Men
Leir, King of Britain.
Skalliger, a nobleman, follower of King Leir.
Perillus, a nobleman, follower of King Leir.
Gonorill, daughter of King Leir, later wife of the King of Cornwall.
Cordella, daughter of King Leir, later wife of the King of Gallia.
Ragan, daughter of King Leir, later wife of the King of Cambria.
King of Gaul
Mumford, follower of the King of Gallia.
Ambassador, from Gaul.
King of Cornwall.
Servant, of the King of Cornwall.
King of Cambria.
Servant, of the King of Cambria.
Captain of the Watch.
Noblemen, Messengers, Messenger [Murderer], Citizens
GLOSSARY For King Leir below text
Enter King Leir and Nobles.
LEIR: Thus to our grief the obsequies performed
Of our (too late) deceased and dearest Queen,
Whose soul I hope, possessed of heavenly joys,
Doth ride in triumph ‘mongst the Cherubins;
Let us request your grave advice, my Lords,
For the disposing of our princely daughters,
For whom our care is specially employed,
As nature bindeth to advance their states,
In royal marriage with some princely mates:
For wanting now their mother’s good advice, … [1.10]
Under whose government they have received
A perfect pattern of a virtuous life:
Lest as it were a ship without a stern,
Or silly sheep without a Pastor’s care;
Although ourselves do dearly tender them,
Yet are we ignorant of their affairs:
For fathers best do know to govern sons;
But daughters’ steps the mothers counsel turns.
A son we want for to succeed our Crown,
And course of time hath canceled the date … [1.20]
Of further issue from our withered loins:
One foot already hangeth in the grave,
And age hath made deep furrows in my face:
The world of me, I of the world am weary,
And I would fain resign these earthly cares,
And think upon the welfare of my soul:
Which by no better means may be effected,
Than by resigning up the Crown from me,
In equal dowry to my daughters three.
SKALLIGER: A worthy care, my Liege, which well declares, … [1.30]
The zeal you bare unto our quondam Queen:
And since your Grace hath licensed me to speak,
I censure thus; Your Majesty knowing well,
What several Suitors your princely daughters have,
To make them each a Jointure more or less,
As is their worth, to them that love profess.
LEIR: No more, nor less, but even all alike,
My zeal is fixed, all fashioned in one mold:
Wherefore unpartial shall my censure be,
Both old and young shall have alike for me. … [1.40]
NOBLE: My gracious Lord, I heartily do wish,
That God had lent you an heir indubitate,
Which might have set upon your royal throne,
When fates should loose the prison of your life,
By whose succession all this doubt might cease;
And as by you, by him we might have peace.
But after-wishes ever come too late,
And nothing can revoke the course of fate:
Wherefore, my Liege, my censure deems it best,
To match them with some of your neighbor Kings, … [1.50]
Bord’ring within the bounds of Albion,
By whose united friendship, this our state
May be protected ‘gainst all foreign hate.
LEIR: Herein, my Lords, your wishes sort with mine,
And mine (I hope) do sort with heavenly powers:
For at this instant two near neighboring Kings
Of Cornwall and of Cambria, motion love
To my two daughters, Gonorill and Ragan.
My youngest daughter, fair Cordella, vows
No liking to a Monarch, unless love allows. … [1.60]
She is solicited by divers Peers;
But none of them her partial fancy hears.
Yet, if my policy may her beguile,
I’ll match her to some King within this Isle,
And so establish such a perfect peace,
As fortune’s force shall ne’re prevail to cease.
PERILLUS: Of us & ours, your gracious care, my Lord,
Deserves an everlasting memory,
To be enrolled in Chronicles of fame,
By never-dying perpetuity: … [1.70]
Yet to become so provident a Prince,
Lose not the title of a loving father:
Do not force love, where fancy cannot dwell,
Lest streams, being stopped, above the banks do swell.
LEIR: I am resolved, and even now my mind
Doth meditate a sudden stratagem,
To try which of my daughters loves me best:
Which till I know, I cannot be in rest.
This granted, when they jointly shall contend,
Each to exceed the other in their love: … [1.80]
Then at the vantage will I take Cordella,
Even as she doth protest she loves me best,
I’ll say, Then, daughter, grant me one request,
To show thou lovest me as thy sisters do,
Accept a husband, whom myself will woo.
This said, she cannot well deny my suit,
Although (poor soul) her senses will be mute:
Then will I triumph in my policy,
And match her with a King of Brittany.
SKALLIGER: I’ll to them before, and bewray your secrecy. … [1.90]
LEIR: Thus fathers think their children to beguile,
And oftentimes themselves do first repent,
When heavenly powers do frustrate their intent. [Exeunt.]
[Enter Gonorill and Ragan.]
GONORILL: I marvel, Ragan, how you can endure
To see that proud pert Peat, our youngest sister,
So slightly to account of us, her elders,
As if we were no better than herself!
We cannot have a quaint device so soon,
Or new-made fashion, of our choice invention;
But if she like it, she will have the same,
Or study newer to exceed us both.
Besides, she is so nice and so demure;
So sober, courteous, modest, and precise, … [2.10]
That all the Court hath work enough to do,
To talk how she exceedeth me and you.
RAGAN: What should I do? would it were in my power,
To find a cure for this contagious ill:
Some desperate medicine must be soon applied,
To dim the glory of her mounting fame;
Else ere’t be long, she’ll have both prick and praise,
And we must be set by for working days.
Do you not see what several choice of Suitors
She daily hath, and of the best degree? … [2.20]
Say, amongst all, she hap to fancy one,
And have a husband when as we have none:
Why then, by right, to her we must give place,
Though it be ne’re so much to our disgrace.
GONORILL: By my virginity, rather than she shall have
A husband before me,
I’ll marry one or other in his shirt:
And yet I have made half a grant already
Of my good will unto the King of Cornwall.
RAGAN: Swear not so deeply (sister) here cometh my L. Skalliger: … [2.30]
Something his hasty coming doth import.
SKALLIGER: Sweet Princesses, I am glad I met you here so luckily,
Having good news which doth concern you both,
And craveth speedy expedition.
RAGAN: For Gods sake tell us what it is, my Lord,
I am with child until you utter it.
SKALLIGER: Madam, to save your longing, this it is:
Your father in great secrecy today,
Told me, he means to marry you out of hand,
Unto the noble Prince of Cambria; … [2.40]
You, Madam, to the King of Cornwall’s Grace:
Your younger sister he would fain bestow
Upon the rich King of Hibernia:
But that he doubts, she hardly will consent;
For hitherto she ne’re could fancy him.
If she do yield, why then, between you three,
He will divide his kingdom for your dowries.
But yet there is a further mystery,
Which, so you will conceal, I will disclose.
GONORILL: What e’re thou speakst to us, kind Skalliger, … [2.50]
Think that thou speakst it only to thyself.
SKALLIGER: He earnestly desireth for to know,
Which of you three do bear most love to him,
And on your loves he so extremely dotes,
As never any did, I think, before.
He presently doth mean to send for you,
To be resolved of this tormenting doubt:
And look, whose answer pleaseth him the best,
They shall have most unto their marriages.
RAGAN: O that I had some pleasing Mermaid’s voice, … [2.60]
For to enchant his senseless senses with!
SKALLIGER: For he supposeth that Cordella will
(Striving to go beyond you in her love)
Promise to do what ever he desires:
Then will he straight enjoin her for his sake,
The Hibernian King in marriage for to take.
This is the sum of all I have to say;
Which being done, I humbly take my leave,
Not doubting but your wisdoms will forsee,
What course will best unto your good agree. … [2.70]
GONORILL: Thanks gentle Skalliger, thy kindness undeserved,
Shall not be unrequited, if we live. [Exit Skalliger.]
RAGAN: Now have we fit occasion offered us,
To be revenged upon her unperceived.
GONORILL: Nay, our revenge we will inflict on her,
Shall be accounted piety in us:
I will so flatter with my doting father,
As he was ne’re so flattered in his life.
Nay, I will say, that if it be his pleasure,
To match me with a beggar, I will yield: … [2.80]
For why, I know whatever I will say,
He means to match me with the Cornwall King.
RAGAN: I’ll say the like: for I am well assured,
What e’re I say to please the old man’s mind,
Who dotes, as if he were a child again,
I shall enjoy the noble Cambrian Prince:
Only, to feed his humor, will suffice,
To say, I am content with anyone
Whom he’ll appoint me; this will please him more,
Than e’re Apollo’s music pleased Jove. … [1.90]
GONORILL: I smile to think, in what a woeful plight
Cordella will be, when we answer thus:
For she will rather die, than give consent
To join in marriage with the Irish King:
So will our father think, she loveth him not,
Because she will not grant to his desire,
Which we will aggravate in such bitter terms,
That he will soon convert his love to hate:
For he, you know, is always in extremes.
RAGAN: Not all the world could lay a better plot, … [2.100]
I long till it be put in practice.
[Enter Leir and Perillus.]
LEIR: Perillus, go seek my daughters,
Will them immediately come and speak with me.
PERILLUS: I will, my gracious Lord. [Exit.]
LEIR: Oh, what a combat feels my panting heart,
‘Twixt children’s love, and care of Common weal!
How dear my daughters are unto my soul,
None knows, but he, that knows my thoughts & secret deeds.
Ah, little do they know the dear regard,
Wherein I hold their future state to come:
When they securely sleep on beds of down, … [3.10]
These aged eyes do watch for their behalf:
While they like wantons sport in youthful toys,
This throbbing heart is pierced with dire annoys.
As doth the Sun exceed the smallest Star,
So much the father’s love exceeds the child’s.
Yet my complaints are causeless: for the world
Affords not children more conformable:
And yet, me thinks, my mind presageth still
I know not what: and yet I fear some ill.
[Enter Perillus, with the three daughters.]
Well, here my daughters come: I have found out … [3.20]
A present means to rid me of this doubt.
GONORILL: Our royal Lord and father, in all duty,
We come to know the tenor of your will,
Why you so hastily have sent for us?
LEIR: Dear Gonorill, kind Ragan, sweet Cordella,
Ye flourishing branches of a Kingly stock,
Sprung from a tree that once did flourish green,
Whose blossoms now are nipped with Winters frost,
And pale grim death doth wait upon my steps,
And summons me unto his next Assizes. … [3.30]
Therefore, dear daughters, as ye tender the safety
Of him that was the cause of your first being,
Resolve a doubt which much molests my mind,
Which of you three to me would prove most kind,
Which loves me most, and which at my request
Will soonest yield unto their father’s hest.
GONORILL: I hope, my gracious father makes no doubt
Of any of his daughters’ love to him:
Yet for my part, to show my zeal to you,
Which cannot be in windy words rehearsed, … [3.40]
I prize my love to you at such a rate,
I think my life inferior to my love.
Should you enjoin me for to tie a millstone
About my neck, and leap into the Sea,
At your command I willingly would do it:
Yea, for to do you good, I would ascend
The highest Turret in all Brittany,
And from the top leap headlong to the ground:
Nay, more, should you appoint me for to marry
The meanest vassal in the spacious world, … [3.50]
Without reply I would accomplish it:
In brief, command what ever you desire,
And if I fail, no favor I require.
LEIR: O, how thy words revive my dying soul!
CORDELLA: O, how I do abhor this flattery!
LEIR: But what saith Ragan to her father’s will?
RAGAN: O, that my simple utterance could suffice,
To tell the true intention of my heart,
Which burns in zeal of duty to your grace,
And never can be quenched but by desire … [3.60]
To show the same in outward forwardness.
Oh, that there were some other maid that durst
But make a challenge of her love with me;
I’d make her soon confess she never loved
Her father half so well as I do you.
Aye then, my deeds should prove in plainer case,
How much my zeal aboundeth to your grace:
But for them all, let this one mean suffice,
To ratify my love before your eyes:
I have right noble Suitors to my love, … [3.70]
No worse than Kings, and happily I love one:
Yet, would you have me make my choice anew,
I’d bridle fancy, and be ruled by you.
LEIR: Did never Philomel sing so sweet a note.
CORDELLA: Did never flatterer tell so false a tale.
LEIR: Speak now, Cordella, make my joys at full,
And drop down Nectar from thy honey lips.
CORDELLA: I cannot paint my duty forth in words,
I hope my deeds shall make report for me:
But look what love the child doth owe the father, … [3.80]
The same to you I bear, my gracious Lord.
GONORILL: Here is an answer answerless indeed:
Were you my daughter, I should scarcely brook it.
RAGAN: Dost thou not blush, proud Peacock as thou art,
To make our father such a slight reply?
LEIR: Why how now, Minion, are you grown so proud?
Doth our dear love make you thus peremptory?
What, is your love become so small to us,
As that you scorn to tell us what it is?
Do you love us, as every child doth love … [3.90]
Their father? True indeed, as some
Who by disobedience short their fathers’ days,
And so would you; some are so father-sick,
That they make means to rid them from the world;
And so would you: some are indifferent,
Whether their aged parents live or die;
And so are you. But, didst thou know, proud girl,
What care I had to foster thee to this,
Ah, then thou wouldst say as thy sisters do:
Our life is less, than love we owe to you. … [3.100]
CORDELLA: Dear father, do not so mistake my words,
Nor my plain meaning be misconstrued;
My tongue was never used to flattery.
GONORILL: You were not best say I flatter: if you do,
My deeds shall show, I flatter not with you.
I love my father better than thou canst.
CORDELLA: The praise were great, spoke from another’s mouth:
But it should seem your neighbors dwell far off.
RAGAN: Nay, here is one, that will confirm as much
As she hath said, both for myself and her. … [3.110]
I say, thou dost not wish my father’s good.
CORDELLA: Dear father —
LEIR: Peace, bastard Imp, no issue of King Leir,
I will not hear thee speak one tittle more.
Call not me father, if thou love thy life,
Nor these thy sisters once presume to name:
Look for no help henceforth from me nor mine;
Shift as thou wilt, and trust unto thyself:
My Kingdom will I equally divide
‘Twixt thy two sisters to their royal dower, … [3.120]
And will bestow them worthy their deserts:
This done, because thou shalt not have the hope,
To have a child’s part in the time to come,
I presently will dispossesse myself,
And set up these upon my princely throne.
GONORILL: I ever thought that pride would have a fall.
RAGAN: Plain dealing, sister: your beauty is so sheen,
You need no dowry, to make you be a Queen.
[Exeunt Leir, Gonorill, Ragan.]
CORDELLA: Now whither, poor forsaken, shall I go,
When mine own sisters triumph in my woe? … [3.130]
But unto him which doth protect the just,
In him will poor Cordella put her trust.
These hands shall labor, for to get my spending;
And so I’ll live until my days have ending.
PERILLUS: Oh, how I grieve, to see my Lord thus fond,
To dote so much upon vain flattering words.
Ah, if he but with good advice had weighed,
The hidden tenure of her humble speech,
Reason to rage should not have given place,
Nor poor Cordella suffer such disgrace. [Exit.] … [3.140]
[Enter the Gallian King with Mumford, and three Nobles more.]
KING: Dissuade me not, my Lords, I am resolved
This next fair wind to sail for Brittany,
In some disguise, to see if flying fame
Be not too prodigal in the wondrous praise
Of these three Nymphs, the daughters of King Leir.
If present view do answer present praise,
And eyes allow of what our ears have heard,
And Venus stand auspicious to my vows,
And Fortune favor what I take in hand;
I will return seized of as rich a prize … [4.10]
As Jason, when he won the golden fleece.
MUMFORD: Heavens grant you may; the match were full of honor,
And well beseeming the young Gallian King.
I would your Grace would favor me so much,
As make me partner of your Pilgrimage.
I long to see the gallant British Dames,
And feed mine eyes upon their rare perfections:
For till I know the contrary, I’ll say,
Our Dames in France are more fair than they.
KING: Lord Mumford, you have saved me a labor, … [4.20]
In off’ring that which I did mean to ask:
And I must willingly accept your company.
Yet first I will enjoin you to observe
Some few conditions which I shall propose.
MUMFORD: So that you do not tie mine eyes for looking
After the amorous glances of fair Dames:
So that you do not tie my tongue from speaking,
My lips from kissing when occasion serves,
My hands from conges, and my knees to bow
To gallant Girls; which were a task more hard, … [4.30]
Than flesh and blood is able to endure:
Command what else you please, I rest content.
KING: To bind thee from a thing thou canst not leave,
Were but a mean to make thee seek it more:
And therefore speak, look, kiss, salute for me;
In these myself am like to second thee.
Now here thy task. I charge thee from the time
That first we set sail for the British shore,
To use no words of dignity to me,
But in the friendliest manner that thou cast, … [4.40]
Make use of me as thy companion:
For we will go disguised in Palmers’ weeds,
That no man shall mistrust us what we are.
MUMFORD: If that be all, I’ll fit your turn, I warrant you. I am
some kin to the Blunts, and I think, the bluntest of all my
kindred; therefore if I be too blunt with you, thank yourself
for praying me to be so.
KING: Thy pleasant company will make the way seem short.
It resteth now, that in my absence hence,
I do commit the government to you … [4.50]
My trusty Lords and faithful Counselors.
Time cutteth off the rest I have to say:
The wind blows fair, and I must needs away.
NOBLES: Heavens send your voyage to as good effect,
As we your land do purpose to protect. [Exeunt.]
[Enter the King of Cornwall and his men booted and spurred,
a riding wand, and a letter in his hand.]
CORNWALL: But how far distant are we from the Court?
SERVANT: Some twenty miles, my Lord, or thereabouts.
CORNWALL: It seemeth to me twenty thousand miles:
Yet hope I to be there within this hour.
SERVANT: Then are you like to ride alone for me.
[To himself.] I think, my Lord is weary of his life.
CORNWALL: Sweet Gonorill, I long to see thy face,
Which has so kindly gratified my love.
[Enter the King of Cambria booted and spurred,
and his man with a wand and a letter.]
CAMBRIA: Get a fresh horse: for by my soul I swear,
[He looks on the letter.]
I am past patience, longer to forbear … [5.10]
The wished sight of my beloved mistress,
Dear Ragan, stay and comfort of my life.
SERVANT: Now what in Gods name doth my Lord intend?
[To himself.] He thinks he ne’re shall come at journey’s end.
I would he had old Daedalus’ waxen wings,
That he might fly, so I might stay behind:
For e’re we get to Troynovant, I see
He quite will tire himself, his horse and me.
[Cornwall & Cambria look one upon another,
and start to see each other there.]
CORNWALL: Brother of Cambria, we greet you well,
As one whom here we little did expect. … [5.20]
CAMBRIA: Brother of Cornwall, met in happy time:
I thought as much to have met with the Soldan of Persia,
As to have met you in this place, my Lord,
No doubt, it is about some great affairs,
That makes you here so slenderly accompanied.
CORNWALL: To say the truth, my Lord, it is no less,
And for your part some hasty wind of chance
Hath blown you hither thus upon the sudden.
CAMBRIA: My Lord, to break off further circumstances,
For at this time I cannot brook delays: … [5.30]
Tell you your reason, I will tell you mine.
CORNWALL: In faith, content, and therefore to be brief,
For I am sure my haste’s as great as yours:
I am sent for, to come unto King Leir,
Who by these present letters promiseth
His eldest daughter, lovely Gonorill,
To me in marriage, and for present dowry,
The moiety of half his Regiment.
The Lady’s love I long ago possessed:
But until now I never had the father’s. … [5.40]
CAMBRIA: You tell me wonders, yet I will relate
Strange news, and henceforth we must brothers call;
Witness these lines: his honorable age,
Being weary of the troubles of his Crown,
His princely daughter Ragan will bestow
On me in marriage, with half his Seigniories,
Whom I would gladly have accepted of,
With the third part, her complements are such.
CORNWALL: If I have one half, and you have the other,
Then between us we must needs have the whole. … [5.50]
CAMBRIA: The hole! how mean you that? Zblood, I hope,
We shall have two holes between us.
CORNWALL: Why, the whole Kingdom.
CAMBRIA: Aye, that’s very true.
CORNWALL: What then is left for his third daughter’s dowry,
Lovely Cordella, whom the world admires?
CAMBRIA: Tis very strange, I know not what to think,
Unless they mean to make a Nun of her.
CORNWALL: ‘Twere pity such rare beauty should be hid
Within the compass of a Cloister’s wall: … [5.60]
But howsoe’re, if Leir’s words prove true,
It will be good, my Lord, for me and you.
CAMBRIA: Then let us haste, all danger to prevent,
For fear delays do alter his intent. [Exeunt.]
[Enter Gonorill and Ragan.]
GONORILL: Sister, when did you see Cordella last,
That pretty piece, that thinks none good enough
To speak to her, because (sir-reverence)
She hath a little beauty extraordinary?
RAGAN: Since time my father warned her from his presence,
I never saw her, that I can remember.
God give her joy of her surpassing beauty;
I think her dowry will be small enough.
GONORILL: I have incensed my father so against her,
As he will never be reclaimed again. … [6.10]
RAGAN: I was not much behind to do the like.
GONORILL: Faith, sister, what moves you to bear her such good will?
RAGAN: In truth, I think, the same that moveth you;
Because she doth surpass us both in beauty.
GONORILL: Beshrew your fingers, how right you can guess:
I told you true, it cuts me to the heart.
RAGAN: But we will keep her low enough, I warrant,
And clip her wings for mounting up too high.
GONORILL: Whoever hath her, shall have a rich marriage of her.
RAGAN: She were right fit to make a Parson’s wife: … [6.20]
For they, men say, do love fair women well,
And many times do marry them with nothing.
GONORILL: With nothing! marry God forbid: why, are there any such?
RAGAN: I mean, no money.
GONORILL: I cry you mercy, I mistook you much:
And she is far too stately for the Church;
She’ll lay her husbands Benefice on her back,
Even in one gown, if she may have her will.
RAGAN: In faith, poor soul, I pity her a little.
Would she were less fair, or more fortunate. … [6.30]
Well, I think long until I see my Morgan,
The gallant Prince of Cambria, here arrive.
GONORILL: And so do I, until the Cornwall King
Present himself, to consumate my joys.
Peace, here cometh my father.
[Enter Lear, Perillus and others.]
LEIR: Cease, good my Lords, and sue not to reverse
Our censure, which is now irrevocable.
We have dispatched letters of contract
Unto the Kings of Cambria and of Cornwall;
Our hand and seal will justify no less: … [6.40]
Then do not so dishonor me, my Lords,
As to make shipwreck of our kingly word.
I am as kind as is the Pelican,
That kills itself, to save her young ones’ lives:
And yet as jealous as the princely Eagle,
That kills her young ones, if they do but dazzle
Upon the radiant splendor of the Sun.
Within this two days I expect their coming.
[Enter Kings of Cornwall and Cambria.]
But in good time, they are arrived already.
This haste of yours, my Lords, doth testify … [6.50]
The fervent love your bear unto my daughters:
And think yourselves as welcome to King Leir,
As ever Priam’s children were to him.
CORNWALL: My gracious Lord, and father too, I hope,
Pardon, for that I made no greater haste:
But were my horse as swift as was my will,
I long ere this had seen your Majesty.
CAMBRIA: No other scuse of absence can I frame,
Than what my brother hath informed your Grace:
For our undeserved welcome, we do vow, … [6.60]
Perpetually to rest at your command.
CORNWALL: But you, sweet Love, illustrious Gonorill,
The Regent, and the Sovereign of my soul,
Is Cornwall welcome to your Excellency?
GONORILL: As welcome as Leander was to Hero,
Or brave Aeneas to the Carthage Queen:
So and more welcome is your Grace to me.
CAMBRIA: O, may my fortune prove no worse than his,
Since heavens do know, my fancy is as much,
Dear Ragan, say, if welcome unto thee, … [6.70]
All welcomes else will little comfort me.
RAGAN: As gold is welcome to the covetous eye,
As sleep is welcome to the Traveler,
As is fresh water to sea-beaten men,
Or moistened showers unto the parched ground,
Or anything more welcomer than this,
So and more welcome lovely Morgan is.
LEIR: What resteth then, but that we consumate
The celebration of these nuptial Rites?
My Kingdom I do equally divide. … [6.80]
Princes, draw lots, and take your chance as falls.
[Then they draw lots.]
These I resign as freely unto you,
As erst by true succession they were mine.
And here I do freely dispossess myself,
And make you two my true-adopted heirs:
Myself will sojourn with my son of Cornwall,
And take me to my prayers and my beads.
I know, my daughter Ragan will be sorry,
Because I do not spend my days with her:
Would I were able to be with both at once; … [6.90]
They are the kindest Girls in Christendom,
PERILLUS: I have been silent all this while, my Lord,
To see if any worthier than myself,
Would once have spoke in poor Cordella’s cause:
But love or fear ties silence to their tongues.
Oh, hear me speak for her, my gracious Lord,
Whose deeds have not deserved this ruthless doom,
As thus to disinherit her of all.
LEIR: Urge this no more, and if thou love thy life:
I say, she is no daughter, that doth scorn … [6.100]
To tell her father how she loveth him.
Who ever speaketh hereof to me again,
I will esteem him for my mortal foe.
Come, let us in, to celebrate with joy,
The happy Nuptials of these lovely pairs.
[Exit omnes. Manet Perillus.]
PERILLUS: Ah, who so blind, as they that will not see
The near approach of their own misery?
Poor Lady, I extremely pity her:
And whilst I live, each drop of my heart-blood
Will I strain forth, to do her any good. [Exit.] … [6.110]
[Enter the Gallian King, and Mumford, disguised like Pilgrims.]
MUMFORD: My Lord, how do you brook this British air?
KING: My Lord? I told you of this foolish humor,
And bound you to the contrary, you know.
MUMFORD: Pardon me for once, my Lord; I did forget.
KING: My Lord again? then let’s have nothing else,
And so be tane for spies, and then tis well.
MUMFORD: Swounds, I could bite my tongue in two for anger:
For God’s sake name yourself some proper name.
KING: Call me Tresillus: I’ll call thee Denapoll.
MUMFORD: Might I be made the Monarch of the world, … [7.10]
I could not hit upon these names, I swear.
KING: Then call me Will, I’ll call thee Jack.
MUMFORD: Well, be it so, for I have well deserved to be called Jack.
KING: Stand close, for here a British Lady cometh:
A fairer creature ne’re mine eyes beheld.
CORDELLA: This is a day of joy unto my sisters,
Wherein they both are married unto Kings,
And I, by birth, as worthy as themselves,
Am turned into the world, to seek my fortune.
How may I blame the fickle Queen of Chance, … [7.20]
That maketh me a pattern of her power?
Ah, poor weak maid, whose imbecility
Is far unable to endure these brunts.
Oh, father Leir, how dost thou wrong thy child,
Who always was obedient to thy will!
But why accuse I fortune and my father?
No, no, it is the pleasure of my God:
And I do willingly embrace the rod.
KING: It is no Goddess; for she doth complain
On fortune, and th’ unkindness of her father. … [7.30]
CORDELLA: These costly robes ill fitting my estate,
I will exchange for other meaner habit.
MUMFORD: Now if I had a Kingdom in my hands,
I would exchange it for a milkmaid’s smock and petticoats,
That she and I might shift our clothes together.
CORDELLA: I will betake me to my thread and Needle,
And earn my living with my fingers’ ends.
MUMFORD: O brave! God willing, thou shalt have my custom,
By sweet S. Denis, here I sadly swear,
For all the shirts and night-gear that I wear. … [7.40]
CORDELLA: I will profess and vow a maiden’s life.
MUMFORD: Then I protest thou shalt not have my custom.
KING: I can forbear no longer for to speak:
For if I do, I think my heart will break.
MUMFORD: Sblood, Will, I hope you are not in love with my Sempster.
KING: I am in such a labyrinth of love,
As that I know not which way to get out.
MUMFORD: You’ll ne’re get out, unless you first get in.
KING: I prithee, Jack, cross not my passions.
MUMFORD: Prithy Will, to her, and try her patience. … [7.50]
KING Thou fairest creature, whatsoere thou art,
That ever any mortal eyes beheld,
Vouchsafe to me, who have o’erheard thy woes,
To show the cause of these thy sad laments.
CORDELLA: Ah Pilgrims, what avails to show the cause.
When there’s no means to find a remedy?
KING: To utter grief, doth ease a heart o’ercharged.
CORDELLA: To touch a sore, doth aggravate the pain.
KING: The silly mouse, by virtue of her teeth,
Released the princely Lion from the net. … [7.60]
CORDELLA: Kind Palmer, which so much desir’st to hear
The tragic tale of my unhappy youth:
Know this in brief, I am the hapless daughter
Of Leir, sometimes King of Britainy.
KING: Why, who debars his honorable age,
From being still the King of Britainy?
CORDELLA: None, but himself hath dispossessed himself,
And given all his Kingdom to the Kings
Of Cornwall and of Cambria, with my sisters.
KING: Hath he given nothing to your lovely self? … [7.70]
CORDELLA: He loved me not, & therefore gave me nothing,
Only because I could not flatter him:
And in this day of triumph to my sisters,
Doth Fortune triumph in my overthrow.
KING: Sweet Lady, say there should come a King,
As good as either of your sisters’ husbands,
To crave your love, would you accept of him?
CORDELLA: Oh, do not mock with those in misery,
Nor do not think, though fortune have the power,
To spoil mine honor, and debase my state, … [7.80]
That she hath any interest in my mind:
For if the greatest Monarch on the earth,
Should sue to me in this extremity,
Except my heart could love, and heart could like,
Better than any that I ever saw,
His great estate no more should move my mind,
Than mountains move by blast of every wind.
KING: Think not, sweet Nymph, tis holy Palmers’ guise,
To grieved souls fresh torments to devise:
Therefore in witness of my true intent, … [7.90]
Let heaven and earth bear record of my words:
There is a young and lusty Gallian King,
So like to me, as I am to myself,
That earnestly doth crave to have thy love,
And join with thee in Hymen’s sacred bonds.
CORDELLA: The like to thee did ne’re these eyes behold;
Oh live to add new torments to my grief:
Why didst thou thus entrap me unawares?
Ah Palmer, my estate doth not befit
A kingly marriage, as the case now stands. … [7.100]
Whilom when as I lived in honor’s height,
A Prince perhaps might postulate my love:
Now misery, dishonor and disgrace,
Hath lit on me, and quite reversed the case.
Thy King will hold thee wise, if thou surcease
The suit, whereas no dowry will ensue.
Then be advised, Palmer, what to do:
Cease for thy King, seek for thyself to woo.
KING: Your birth’s too high for any, but a King.
CORDELLA: My mind is low enough to love a Palmer, … [7.110]
Rather than any King upon the earth.
KING: O, but you can never endure their life,
Which is so straight and full of penury.
CORDELLA: O yes, I can, and happy if I might:
I’ll hold thy Palmer’s staff within my hand,
And think it is the Scepter of a Queen,
Sometime I’ll set thy Bonnet on my head,
And think I wear a rich imperial Crown,
Sometime I’ll help thee in thy holy prayers,
And think I am with thee in Paradise. … [7.120]
Thus I’ll mock fortune, as she mocketh me,
And never will my lovely choice repent:
For having thee, I shall have all content.
KING: ‘Twere sin to hold her longer in suspense,
Since that my soul hath vowed she shall be mine.
Ah, dear Cordella, cordial to my heart,
I am no Palmer, as I seem to be,
But hither come in this unknown disguise,
To view th’ admired beauty of those eyes.
I am the King of Gallia, gentle maid, … [7.130]
(Although thus slenderly accompanied)
And yet thy vassall by imperious Love,
And sworn to serve thee everlastingly.
CORDELLA: Whate’re you be, of high or low descent,
All’s one to me, I do request but this:
That as I am, you will accept of me,
And I will have you whatsoe’re you be:
Yet well I know, you come of royal race,
I see such sparks of honor in your face.
MUMFORD: Have Palmers’ weeds such power to win fair Ladies? … [7.140]
Faith, then I hope the next that falls is mine:
Upon condition I no worse might speed,
I would forever wear a Palmer’s weed.
I like an honest and plain-dealing wench,
That swears (without exception) I will have you.
These foppets, that know not whether to love a man or no,
except they first go ask their mothers’ leave, by this hand, I
hate them ten times worse than poison.
KING: What resteth then our happiness to procure?
MUMFORD: Faith, go to Church, to make the matter sure. … [7.150]
KING: It shall be so, because the world shall say,
King Leir’s three daughters were wedded in one day:
The celebration of this happy chance,
We will defer, until we come to France.
MUMFORD: I like the wooing, that’s not long a doing.
Well, for her sake, I know what I know:
I’ll never marry whilest I live,
Except I have one of these British Ladies.
My humor is alienated from the maids of France. [Exeunt.]
[Enter Perillus solus.]
PERILLUS: The King hath dispossessed himself of all,
Those to advance which scarce will give him thanks:
His youngest daughter he hath turned away,
And no man knows what is become of her.
He sojourns now in Cornwall with the eldest,
Who flattered him, until she did obtain
That at his hands, which now she doth possess:
And now she sees he hath no more to give,
It grieves her heart to see her father live.
Oh, whom should man trust in this wicked age, … [8.10]
When children thus against their parents rage?
But he, the mirror of mild patience,
Puts up all wrongs, and never gives reply:
Yet shames she not in most opprobrious sort,
To call him fool and dotard to his face,
And sets her Parasites of purpose oft,
In scoffing-wise to offer him disgrace.
Oh iron age! O times! O monstrous, vild,
When parents are condemned of the child!
His pension she hath half-restrained from him, … [8.20]
And will, e’re long, the other half, I fear:
For she thinks nothing is bestowed in vain,
But that which doth her father’s life maintain.
Trust not alliance; but trust strangers rather,
Since daughters prove disloyal to the father.
Well, I will counsel him the best I can:
Would I were able to redress his wrong.
Yet what I can, unto my utmost power,
He shall be sure of to the latest hour. [Exit.]
[Enter Gonorill and Skalliger.]
GONORILL: I prithy, Skalliger, tell me that thou thinkst:
Could any woman of our dignity
Endure such quips and peremptory taunts,
As I do daily from my doting father?
Doth’t not suffice that I him keep of alms,
Who is not able for to keep himself?
But as it he were our better, he should think
To check and snap me up at every word.
I cannot make me a new-fashioned gown,
And set it forth with more than common cost; … [9.10]
But his old doting doltish withered wit,
Is sure to give a senseless check for it.
I cannot make a banquet extraordinary,
To grace myself, and spread my name abroad,
But he, old fool, is captious by and by,
And saith, the cost would well suffice for twice.
Judge then, I pray, what reason is’t, that I
Should stand alone charged with his vain expense,
And that my sister Ragan should go free,
To whom he gave as much, as unto me? … [9.20]
I prithee, Skalliger, tell me, if thou know,
By any means to rid me of this woe.
SKALLIGER: Your many favors still bestowed on me,
Bind me in duty to advise your Grace,
How you may soonest remedy this ill.
The large allowance which he hath from you,
Is that which makes him so forget himself:
Therefore abridge it half, and you shall see,
That having less, he will more thankful be:
For why, abundance maketh us forget … [9.30]
The fountains whence the benefits do spring.
GONORILL: Well, Skalliger, for thy kind advice herein,
I will not be ungrateful, if I live:
I have restrained half his portion already,
And I will presently restrain the other,
That having no means to relieve himself,
He may go seek elsewhere for better help. [Exit.]
SKALLIGER: Go, viperous woman, shame to all thy sex:
The heavens, no doubt, will punish thee for this:
And me a villain, that to curry favor, … [9.40]
Have given the daughter counsel ‘gainst the father.
But us the world doth this experience give,
That he that cannot flatter, cannot live. [Exit.]
[Enter King of Cornwall, Leir, Perillus & Nobles.]
CORNWALL: Father, what aileth you to be so sad?
Me thinks, you frolic not as you were wont.
LEIR: The nearer we do grow unto our graves,
The less we do delight in worldly joys.
CORNWALL: But if a man can frame himself to mirth,
It is a mean for to prolong his life.
LEIR: Then welcome sorrow, Leir’s only friend,
Who doth desire his troubled days had end.
CORNWALL: Comfort yourself, father, here comes your daughter,
Who much will grieve, I know, to see you sad. [Enter Gonorill.] … [10.10]
LEIR: But more doth grieve, I fear, to see me live.
CORNWALL: My Gonorill, you come in wished time,
To put your father from these pensive dumps.
In faith, I fear that all things go not well.
GONORILL: What do you fear, that I have angered him?
Hath he complained of me to my Lord?
I’ll provide him a piece of bread and cheese;
For in a time he’ll practice nothing else,
Than carry tales from one unto another.
Tis all his practice for to kindle strife, … [10.20]
‘Twixt you, my Lord, and me your loving wife:
But I will take an order, if I can,
To cease th’ effect, where first the cause began.
CORNWALL: Sweet, be not angry in a partial cause,
He ne’re complained of thee in all his life.
Father, you must not weigh a woman’s words.
LEIR: Alas, not I: poor soul, she breeds young bones,
And that is it makes her to touchy, sure.
GONORILL: What, breeds young bones already! you will make
An honest woman of me then, belike. … [10.30]
O vild old wretch! who ever heard the like,
That seeketh thus his own child to defame?
CORNWALL: I cannot stay to hear this discord sound. [Exit.]
GONORILL: For anyone that loves your company,
You may go pack, and seek some other place,
To sow the seed of discord and disgrace. [Exit.]
LEIR: Thus, say or do the best that ere I can,
Tis wrested straight into another sense.
This punishment my heavy sins deserve,
And more than this ten thousand thousand times: … [10.40]
Else aged Leir them could never find
Cruel to him, to whom he hath been kind.
Why do I over-live myself, to see
The course of nature quite reversed in me?
Ah, gentle Death, if ever any wight
Did wish thy presence with a perfect zeal:
Then come, I pray thee, even with all my heart,
And end my sorrows with thy fatal dart. [He weeps.]
PERILLUS: Ah, do not so disconsolate yourself,
Nor dew your aged cheeks with wasting tears. … [10.50]
LEIR: What man art thou that takest any pity
Upon the worthless state of old Leir?
PERILLUS: One, who doth bear as great a share of grief,
As it were my dearest father’s case.
LEIR: Ah, good my friend, how ill art thou advised,
For to consort with miserable men:
Go learn to flatter, where thou mayst in time
Get favor ‘mongst the mighty, and so climb:
For now I am so poor and full of want,
As that I ne’re can recompense thy love. … [10.60]
PERILLUS: What’s got by flattery, doth not long endure;
And men in favor live not most secure.
My conscience tells me, if I should forsake you,
I were the hatefulst excrement on the earth:
Which well do know, in course of former time,
How good my Lord hath been to me and mine.
LEIR: Did I e’er raise thee higher than the rest
Of all thy ancestors which were before?
PERILLUS: I ne’re did seek it; but by your good Grace,
I still enjoyed my own with quietness. … [10.70]
LEIR: Did I e’er give thee living, to increase
The due revenues which thy father left?
PERILLUS: I had enough, my Lord, and having that,
What should you need to give me any more?
LEIR: Oh, did I ever dispossess myself,
And give thee half my Kingdom in good will?
PERILLUS: Alas, my Lord, there were no reason, why
You should have such a thought, to give it me.
LEIR: Nay, if thou talk of reason, then be mute:
For with good reason I can thee confute. … [10.80]
If they, which first by nature’s sacred law,
Do owe to me the tribute of their lives;
If they to whom I always have been kind,
And bountiful beyond comparison;
If they, for whom I have undone myself,
And brought my age unto this extreme want,
Do now reject, condemn, despise, abhor me,
What reason moveth thee to sorrow for me?
PERILLUS: Where reason fails, let tears confirm my love,
And speak how much your passions do me move. … [10.90]
Ah, good my Lord, condemn not all for one:
You have two daughters left to whom I know
You shall be welcome, if you please to go.
LEIR: Oh, how thy words add sorrow to my soul,
To think of my unkindness to Cordella!
Whom causeless I did dispossess of all,
Upon th’ unkind suggestions of her sisters:
And for her sake, I think this heavy doom
Is fall’n on me, and not without desert:
Yet unto Ragan was I always kind, … [10.100]
And gave to her the half of all I had:
It may be, if I should to her repair,
She would be kinder, and entreat me fair.
PERILLUS: No doubt she would, & practice ere’t be long,
By force of Arms for to redress your wrong.
LEIR: Well, since thou dost advise me for to go,
I am resolved to try the worst of woe. [Exeunt.]
[Enter Ragan solus.]
RAGAN: How may I bless the hour of my nativity,
Which bodeth unto me such happy Stars!
How may I think kind fortune, that vouchsafes
To all my actions, such desired event!
I rule the King of Cambria as I please:
The States are all obedient to my will;
And look whatere I say, it shall be so;
Not any one, that dareth answer no.
My eldest sister lives in royal state,
And wanteth nothing fitting her degree: … [11.10]
Yet hath she such a cooling card withal,
As that her honey savoreth much of gall.
My father with her is quarter-master still,
And many times restrains her of her will:
But if he were with me, and served me so,
I’d send him packing somewhere else to go.
I’d entertain him with such slender cost,
That he should quickly wish to change his host. [Exit.]
[Enter Cornwall, Gonorill, and attendants.]
CORNWALL: Ah, Gonorill, what dire unhappy chance
Hath sequestered thy father from our presence,
That no report can yet be heard of him?
Some great unkindness hath been offered him,
Exceeding far the bounds of patience:
Else all the world shall never me persuade,
He would forsake us without notice made.
GONORILL: Alas, my Lord, whom doth it touch so near,
Or who hath interest in this grief, but I,
Whom sorrow hath brought to her longest home, … [12.10]
But that I know his qualities so well?
I know, he is but stolen upon my sister
At unawares, to see her how she fares,
And spend a little time with her, to note
How all things go, and how she likes her choice:
And when occasion serves, he’ll steal from her,
And unawares return to us again.
Therefore, my Lord, be frolic, and resolve
To see my father here again e’re long.
CORNWALL: I hope so too; but yet to be more sure, … [12.20]
I’ll send a Post immediately to know
Whether he be arrived there or no. [Exit.]
GONORILL: But I will intercept the Messenger,
And temper him before he doth depart,
With sweet persuasions, and with sound rewards,
That his report shall ratify my speech,
And make my Lord cease further to inquire.
If he be not gone to my sister’s Court,
As sure my mind presageth that he is,
He happily may, by traveling unknown ways, … [12.30]
Fall sick, and as a common passenger,
Be dead and buried: would God it were so well;
For then there were no more to do, but this,
He went away, and none knows where he is.
But say he be in Cambria with the King,
And there exclaim against me, as he will:
I know he is as welcome to my sister,
As water is unto a broken ship.
Well, after him I’ll send such thunderclaps
Of slander, scandal, and invented tales, … [12.40]
That all the blame shall be removed from me,
And unperceived rebound upon himself.
Thus with one nail another I’ll expel,
And make the world judge, that I used him well.
[Enter the Messenger that should go to Cambria, with a letter in his hand.]
My honest, friend, whither away so fast?
MESS: To Cambria, Madam, with letters from the king.
GONORILL: To whom?
MESS: Unto your father, if he be there.
GONORILL: Let me see them. [She opens them.]
MESS: Madam, I hope your Grace will stand … [12.50]
Between me and my neck-verse, if I be
Called in question, for opening the Kings letters.
GONORILL: ‘Twas I that opened them, it was not thou.
MESS: Aye, but you need not care: and so must I,
A hansom man, be quickly trust up,
And when a man’s hanged, all the world cannot save him.
GONORILL: He that hang thee, were better hang his father,
Or that but hurts thee in the least degree.
I tell thee, we make great account of thee.
MESS: I am o’erjoyed, I surfeit of sweet words: … [12.60]
Kind Queen, had I a hundred lives, I would
Spend ninety-nine of them for you, for that word.
GONORILL: Aye, but thou wouldst keep one life still,
And that’s as many as thou art like to have.
MESS: That one life is not too dear for my good Queene;
this sword, this buckler, this head, this heart, these
hands, arms, legs, tripes, bowels, and all the members else
whatsoever, are at your dispose; use me, trust me, command
me: if I fail in anything, tie me to a dung-cart, and make a
Scavenger’s horse of me, and whip me, so long as I have any … [12.70]
skin on my back.
GONORILL: In token of further employment, take that.
[Flings him a purse.]
MESS: A strong Bond, a firm Obligation, good in law,
good in law: if I keep not the condition, let my neck be the
forfeiture of my negligence.
GONORILL: I like thee well, thou hast a good tongue.
MESS: And as bad a tongue if it be set on it, as any Oyster-
wife at Billingsgate hath: why, I have made many of my
neighbors forsake their homes with railing upon them, and
go dwell elsewhere: and so by my means houses have been good … [12.80]
cheap in our parish: My tongue being well whetted with choler,
is more sharp than a Razor of Palerno.
GONORILL: O, thou art a fit man for my purpose.
MESS: Commend me not, sweet Queen, before you try me.
As my deserts are, so do think of me.
GONORILL: Well said, then this is thy trial: Instead of carrying
the King’s letters to my father, carry thou these letters to my
sister, which contain matter quite contrary to the other:
there shall she be given to understand, that my father hath
detracted her, given out slanderous speeches against her; and … [12.90]
that he hath most intolerably abused me, set my Lord and
me at variance, and made mutinies amongst the commons.
These things (although it be not so)
Yet thou must affirm them to be true,
With oaths and protestations as will serve,
To drive my sister out of love with him,
And cause my will accomplished to be.
This do, thou winst my favor forever,
And makest a highway of preferment to thee
And all my friends. … [12.100]
MESS: It sufficeth, conceit, it is already done:
I will so tongue-whip him, that I will
Leave him as bare of credit, as a Poulter
Leaves a Cony, when she pulls off his skin.
GONORILL: Yet there is a further matter.
MESS: I thirst to hear it.
GONORILL: If my sister thinketh convenient, as my letters
importeth, to make him away, hast thou the heart to effect it?
MESS: Few words are best in so small a matter:
These are but trifles. By this book I will. [Kisses the paper.] … [12.110]
GONORILL: About it presently, I long till it be done.
MESS: I fly, I fly. [Exeunt.]
[Enter Cordella solus.]
CORDELLA: I have been over-negligent today,
In going to the Temple of my God,
To render thanks for all his benefits,
Which he miraculously hath bestowed on me,
In raising me out of my mean estate,
When as I was devoid of worldly friends,
And placing me in such a sweet content,
As far exceeds the reach of my deserts,
My kingly husband, mirror of his time,
For zeal, for justice, kindness, and for care … [13.10]
To God, his subjects, me, and Common weal,
By his appointment was ordained for me.
I cannot wish the thing that I do want;
I cannot want the thing but I may have,
Save only this which I shall ne’re obtain,
My father’s love, oh this I ne’re shall gain.
I would abstain from any nutriment,
And pine my body to the very bones:
Barefoot I would on pilgrimage set forth
Unto the furthest quarters of the earth, … [13.20]
And all my lifetime would I sackcloth wear,
And mourning-wise pour dust upon my head:
So he but to forgive me once would please,
That his gray hairs might go to heaven in peace.
And yet I know not how I him offended,
Or wherein justly I have deserved blame.
Oh sisters! you are much to blame in this,
It was not he, but you that did me wrong.
Yet God forgive both him, and you and me,
Even as I do in perfect charity. … [13.30]
I will to Church, and pray unto my Savior,
That ere I die, I may obtain his favor.
[Enter Leir and Perillus faintly.]
PERILLUS: Rest on me, my Lord, and stay yourself,
The way seems tedious to your aged limbs.
LEIR: Nay, rest on me, kind friend, and stay thyself,
Thou art as old as I, but more kind.
PERILLUS: Ah, good my Lord, it ill befits, that I
Should lean upon the person of a King.
LEIR: But it fits worse, that I should bring thee forth,
That had no cause to come along with me,
Through these uncouth paths, and tireful ways,
And never ease thy fainting limbs a whit. … [14.10]
Thou hast left all, aye, all to come with me,
And I, for all, have nought to guerdon thee.
PERILLUS: Cease, good my Lord, to aggravate my woes,
With these kind words, which cuts my heart in two,
To think your will should want the power to do.
LEIR: Cease, good Perillus, for to call me Lord,
And think me but the shadow of myself.
PERILLUS: That honorable title will I give,
Unto my Lord, so long as I do live.
Oh, be of comfort; for I see the place … [14.20]
Whereas your daughter keeps her residence.
And lo, in happy time the Cambrian Prince
Is here arrived, to gratify our coming.
[Enter the Prince of Cambria, Ragan and Nobles:
look upon them, and whisper together.]
LEIR: Were I best speak, or sit me down and die?
I am ashamed to tell this heavy tale.
PERILLUS: Then let me tell it, if you please, my Lord:
Tis shame for them that were the cause thereof.
CAMBRIA: What two old men are those that seem so sad?
Me thinks, I should remember well their looks.
RAGAN: No, I mistake not, sure it is my father: … [14.30]
I must dissemble kindness now of force.
[She runeth to him, and kneels down, saying:]
Father, I bid you welcome, full of grief,
To see your Grace used thus unworthily,
And ill-befitting for your reverend age,
To come on foot a journey so endurable.
Oh, what disaster chance hath been the cause,
To make your cheeks so hollow, spare and lean?
He cannot speak for weeping: for God’s love, come.
Let us refresh him with some needful things,
And at more leisure we may better know, … [14.40]
Whence springs the ground of this unlooked-for woe.
CAMBRIA: Come, father, e’re we any further talk,
You shall refresh you after this weary walk. [Exit, manet Ragan.]
RAGAN: Come he to me with finger in the eye,
To tell a tale against my sister here?
Whom I do know, he greatly hath abused:
And now like a contentious crafty wretch,
He first begins for to complain himself,
When as himself is in the greatest fault.
I’ll not be partial in my sister’s cause, … [14.50]
Nor yet believe his doting vain reports:
Who for a trifle (safely) I dare say,
Upon a spleen is stolen thence away:
And here (forsooth) he hopeth to have harbor,
And to be moaned and made on like a child:
But ere’t be long, his coming he shall curse,
And truly say, he came from bad to worse:
Yet will I make fair weather, to procure
Convenient means, and then I’ll strike it sure. [Exit.]
[Enter Messenger solus.]
MESS: Now happily I am arrived here,
Before the stately Palace of the Cambrian King:
If Leir be here, safe-seated, and in rest,
To rouse him from it I will do my best. [Enter Ragan.]
Now bags of gold, your virtue is (no doubt)
To make me in my message bold and stout.
The King of heaven preserve your Majesty,
And send your Highness everlasting reign.
RAGAN: Thanks, good my friend; but what imports thy message?
MESS: Kind greetings from the Cornwall Queen: … [15.10]
The residue these letters will declare.
[She opens the letters.]
RAGAN: How fares our royal sister?
MESS: I did leave her at my parting, in good health.
[She reads the letter, frowns and stamps.]
See how her color comes and goes again,
Now red as scarlet, now as pale as ash:
See how she knits her brow, and bites her lips,
And stamps, and makes a dumb show of disdain,
Mixed with revenge, and violent extremes.
Here will be more work and more crowns for me.
RAGAN: Alas, poor soul, and hath he used her thus? … [15.20]
And is he now come hither, with intent
To set divorce betwixt my Lord and me?
Doth he give out, that he doth hear report,
That I do rule my husband as I list,
And therefore means to alter so the case,
That I shall know my Lord to be my head?
Well, it were best for him to take good heed,
Or I will make him hop without a head,
For this presumption, dotard that he is.
In Cornwall he hath made such mutinies, … [15.30]
First, setting of the King against the Queen;
Then stirring up the Commons ‘gainst the King;
That had he there continued any longer,
He had been called in question for his fact.
So upon that occasion thence he fled,
And comes thus slyly stealing unto us:
And now already since his coming-hither,
My Lord and he are grown in such a league,
That I can have no conference with his Grace:
I fear, he doth already intimate … [15.40]
Some forged cavilations ‘gainst my state:
Tis therefore best to cut him off in time,
Lest slanderous rumors once abroad dispersed,
It is too late for them to be reversed.
Friend, as the tenor of these letters shows,
My sister puts great confidence in thee.
MESS: She never yet committed trust to me.
But that (I hope) she found me always faithful:
So will I be to any friend of hers,
That hath occasion to employ my help. … [15.50]
RAGAN: Hast thou the heart to act a stratagem,
And give a stab or two, if need require?
MESS: I have a heart compact of Adamant,
Which never knew what melting pity meant.
I weigh no more the murd’ring of a man,
Than I respect the cracking of a Flea,
When I do catch her biting on my skin.
If you will have your husband or your father,
Or both of them sent to another world,
Do but command me do’t, it shall be done. … [15.60]
RAGAN: It is enough, we make no doubt of thee:
Meet us to morrow here, at nine a clock:
Mean while, farewell, and drink that for my sake. [Exit.]
MESS: Aye, this is it will make me do the deed:
Oh, had I every day such customers,
This were the gainfulest trade in Christendom!
A purse of gold giv’n for a paltry stab!
Why, here’s a wench that longs to have a stab.
Well, I could give it her, and ne’re hurt her neither.
[Enter the Gallian King, and Cordella.]
KING: When will these clouds of sorrow once disperse,
And smiling joy triumph upon thy brow?
When will this Scene of sadness have an end,
And pleasant acts ensue, to move delight?
When will my lovely Queen cease to lament,
And take some comfort to her grieved thoughts?
If of thyself thou deignest to have no care
Yet pity me, whom thy grief makes despair.
CORDELLA: O, grieve not you, my Lord, you have no cause:
Let not my passions move your mind a whit: … [16.10]
For I am bound by nature, to lament
For his ill will, that life to me first lent.
If so the stock be dried with disdain,
Withered and sere the branch must needs remain.
KING: But thou art now graft in another stock;
I am the stock, and thou the lovely branch:
And from my root continual sap shall flow,
To make thee flourish with perpetual spring.
Forget thy father and thy kindred now,
Since they forsake thee like inhuman beasts, … [16.20]
Think they are dead, since all their kindness dies,
And bury them, where black oblivion lies.
Think not thou art the daughter of old Leir,
Who did unkindly disinherit thee:
But think thou art the noble Gallian Queen,
And wife to him that dearly loveth thee:
Embrace the joys that present with thee dwell,
Let sorrow pack and hide herself in hell.
CORDELLA: Not that I miss my country or my kin,
My old acquaintance or my ancient friends, … [16.30]
Doth any whit distemperate my mind,
Knowing you, which are more dear to me,
Than Country, kind, and all the things else can be.
Yet pardon me, my gracious Lord, in this:
For what can stop the course of nature’s power?
As easy is it for four-footed beasts,
To stay themselves upon the liquid air,
And mount aloft into the element,
And overstrip the feathered Fowls in flight:
As easy is it for the slimy Fish, … [16.40]
To live and thrive without the help of water:
As easy is it for the Blackamoor,
To wash the tawny color from his skin,
Which all oppose against the course of nature,
As I am able to forget my father.
KING: Mirror of virtue, Phoenix of our age!
Too kind a daughter for an unkind father,
Be of good comfort; for I will dispatch
Ambassadors immediately for Britain,
Unto the King of Cornwall’s Court, whereas … [16.50]
Your father keepeth now his residence,
And in the kindest manner him entreat,
That setting former grievances apart,
He will be pleased to come and visit us.
If no entreaty will suffice the turn,
I’ll offer him the the half of all my Crown:
If that moves not, we’ll furnish out a Fleet,
And sail to Cornwall for to visit him;
And there you shall be firmly reconciled
In perfect love, as erst you were before. … [16.60]
CORDELLA: Where tongue cannot sufficient thanks afford,
The King of heaven remunerate my Lord.
KING: Only be blithe, and frolic (sweet) with me:
This and much more I’ll do to comfort thee.