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  • Title: The History of King Leir (Modern)
  • 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 (Modern)

    1878.1[Scene 22] [Video Sc.22]
    Enter Cambria and Ragan, with Nobles
    What strange mischance or unexpected hap
    Hath thus deprived us of our father's presence?
    Can no man tell us what's become of him,
    With whom we did converse not two days since?
    My lords, let everywhere light-horse be sent
    1885To scour about through all our regiment;
    Dispatch a post immediately to Cornwall
    To see if any news be of him there;
    Myself will make a strict inquiry here,
    And all about our cities near at hand,
    1890Till certain news of his abode be brought.
    [Exit Nobles.]
    All sorrow is but counterfeit to mine,
    Whose lips are almost sealèd up with grief.
    Mine is the substance whilst they do but seem
    To weep the loss which tears cannot redeem.
    1895Oh, ne'er was heard so strange a misadventure,
    A thing so far beyond the reach of sense,
    Since no man's reason in the cause can enter,
    What hath removed my father thus from hence?
    Oh, I do fear some charm or invocation
    1900Of wicked spirits or infernal fiends,
    Stirred by Cordella, moves this innovation
    And brings my father timeless to his end.
    But might I know that the detested witch
    Were certain cause of this uncertain ill,
    1905Myself to France would go in some disguise
    And with these nails scratch out her hateful eyes,
    For since I am deprivèd of my father,
    I loathe my life and wish my death the rather.
    The heavens are just and hate impiety,
    1910And will no doubt reveal such heinous crimes;
    Censure not any till you know the right:
    Let Him be judge that bringeth truth to light.
    Oh, but my grief, like to a swelling tide,
    Exceeds the bounds of common patience,
    1915Nor can I moderate my tongue so much
    To conceal them whom I hold in suspect.
    This matter shall be sifted; if it be she,
    A thousand Frances shall not harbor her.
    Enter the Gallian Ambassador
    All happiness unto the Cambrian king.
    Welcome, my friend, from whence is thy embassage?
    I came from Gallia unto Cornwall sent
    With letters to your honorable father,
    Whom there not finding, as I did expect,
    1925I was directed hither to repair.
    Frenchman, what is thy message to my father?
    My letters, madam, will import the same,
    Which my commission is for to deliver.
    In his absence you may trust us with your letters.
    I must perform my charge in such a manner,
    As I have strict commandment from the king.
    There is good packing 'twixt your king and you.
    You need not hither come to ask for him;
    You know where he is better than ourselves.
    Madam, I hope not far off.
    Hath the young murd'ress, your outrageous queen,
    No means to color her detested deeds
    In finishing my guiltless father's days--
    Because he gave her nothing to her dower--
    1940But by the color of a feigned embassage
    To send him letters hither to our court?
    Go carry them to them that sent them hither,
    And bid them keep their scrolls unto themselves;
    They cannot blind us with such slight excuse
    1945To smother up so monstrous vile abuse.
    And, were it not it is 'gainst law of arms
    To offer violence to a messenger,
    We would inflict such torments on thyself
    As should enforce thee to reveal the truth.
    Madam, your threats no whit appal my mind:
    I know my conscience guiltless of this act.
    My king and queen, I dare be sworn, are free
    From any thought of such impiety.
    And, therefore, madam, you have done them wrong,
    1955And ill-beseeming with a sister's love,
    Who, in mere duty, tender him as much
    As ever you respected him for dower.
    The king your husband will not say as much.
    I will suspend my judgment for a time
    1960Till more appearance give us further light;
    Yet, to be plain, your coming doth enforce
    A great suspicion to our doubtful mind,
    And that you do resemble, to be brief,
    Him that first robs and then cries, "Stop the thief."
    Pray God some near you have not done the like.
    Hence, saucy mate, reply no more to us,
    She strikes him.
    For law of arms shall not protect thy tongue.
    Ne'er was I offered such discourtesy!
    God and my king, I trust, ere it be long,
    1970Will find a mean to remedy this wrong.
    Exit [Ambassador].
    How shall I live to suffer this disgrace
    At every base and vulgar peasant's hands?
    It ill befitteth my imperial state
    To be thus used, and no man take my part.
    She weeps.
    What should I do? Infringe the law of arms
    Were to my everlasting obloquy,
    But I will take revenge upon his master,
    Which sent him hither to delude us thus.
    Nay, if you put up this, be sure, ere long,
    1980Now that my father thus is made away,
    She'll come and claim a third part of your crown
    As due unto her by inheritance.
    But I will prove her title to be nought
    But shame and the reward of parricide,
    1985And make her an example to the world
    For after-ages to admire her penance.
    This will I do, as I am Cambria's king,
    Or lose my life to prosecute revenge.
    Come, first let's learn what news is of our father,
    1990And then proceed as best occasion fits.