Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Warner
Editor: Michael Best
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Albion's England (Selection)

William Warner was a poet and translator of Latin classics, best known for his long poem on chronicling the history of England, Albion's England. It was first published in 1586, and was subsequently expanded and published in six editions, the last appearing in 1612. This version is modernized from the text published in Geoffrey Bullough's Narrative and Dramatic Souces of Shakespeare, checked with the edition of 1586 available from Early English Books Online.
Albion's England: Book 3, chapter 14
1About a thirty years and five did Leir rule this land,
When, doting on his daughters three, with them he fell in hand
To tell how much they loved him. The eldest did esteem
Her life inferior to her love, so did the second deem,
5The youngest said her love was such as did a child behove,
And that how much himself was worth, so much she him did love.
The foremost two did please him well, the youngest did not so.
Upon the Prince of Albany the first he did bestow,
The middle on the Cornish prince; their dowry was his throne
10At his decease. Cordella's part was very small or none,
Yet for her form and virtuous life, a noble Gallian king
Did her, un-dowed, for his queen into his country bring.
Her sisters, sick of father's health, their husbands by consent
Did join in arms. From Leir so by force the scepter went;
15Yet, for they promise pensions large, he rather was content.
In Albany, the quondam king at eldest daughter's court,
Was settled scarce, when she repines and lessens still his port.
His second daughter then, he thought, would show herself more kind,
To whom, he going, for a while did frank allowance find.
20Ere long, abridging almost all, she keepeth him so low,
That of two bads, for better's choice he back again did go.
But Gonorill, at his return, not only did attempt
Her father's death, but openly did hold him in contempt.
His aged eyes pour out their tears, when holding up his hands,
25He said, "O God, who so thou art, that my good hap withstands,
Prolong not life, defer not death, myself I over-live
When those that owe to me their lives to me my death would give.
Thou town, whose walls rose of my wealth, stand evermore to tell
Thy founder's fall, and warn that none do fall as Leir fell.
30Bid none affy in friends; for say, "His children wrought his wrack;
Yea those that were to him most dear did loathe and let him lack.
Cordella? Well Cordella said; she lovèd as a child.
But sweeter words we seek than sooth, and so are men beguiled.
She only rests untrièd yet, but what may I expect
35From her, to whom I nothing gave, when these do me reject?
Then die; nay, try, the rule may fail, and nature may ascend,
Nor are they ever surest friends on whom we most do spend."
He ships himself to Gallia then, but maketh known before
Unto Cordella his estate, who rueth him so poor,
40And kept his there arrival close, till she provided had
To furnish him in every want. Of him her king was glad,
And nobly entertained him; the Queen, with tears among,
Her duty done, conferreth with her father of his wrong.
Such duty, bounty, kindness, and increasing love he found
45In that his daughter and her lord, that sorrows more abound
For his unkindly using her than for the others' crime.
And king-like thus in Agamp's court did Leir dwell, till time
The noble king his son-in-law transports an army great,
Of forcy Gauls, possessing him of dispossessèd seat,
50To whom Cordella did succeed, not reigning long in quiet.