Internet Shakespeare Editions

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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)

    2355.1[Scene 25] [Video Sc.25]
    Enter Ragan alone
    I feel a hell of conscience in my breast,
    Tormenting me with horror for my fact,
    And makes me in an agony of doubt
    2360For fear the world should find my dealing out.
    The slave whom I appointed for the act,
    I ne'er set eye upon the peasant since.
    Oh, could I get him for to make him sure,
    My doubts would cease, and I should rest secure.
    2365But if the old men with persuasive words
    Have saved their lives and made him to relent,
    Then are they fled unto the court of France,
    And like a trumpet manifest my shame.
    A shame on these white-livered slaves, say I,
    2370That with fair words so soon are overcome.
    Oh, God, that I had been but made a man,
    Or that my strength were equal with my will!
    These foolish men are nothing but mere pity,
    And melt as butter doth against the sun.
    2375Why should they have pre-eminence over us,
    Since we are creatures of more brave resolve?
    I swear, I am quite out of charity
    With all the heartless men in Christendom.
    A pox upon them when they are afraid
    2380To give a stab or slit a paltry windpipe,
    Which are so easy matters to be done.
    Well, had I thought the slave would serve me so,
    Myself would have been executioner;
    'Tis now undone, and if that it be known,
    2385I'll make as good shift as I can for one.
    He that repines at me howe'er it stands,
    'Twere best for him to keep him from my hands.