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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)

    467.1[Scene 6] [Video Sc.6]
    Enter Gonorill and Ragan
    Sister, when did you see Cordella last,
    470That pretty piece that thinks none good enough
    To speak to her because, sir-reverence,
    She hath a little beauty extraordinary?
    Since time my father warned her from his presence,
    I never saw her that I can remember.
    475God give her joy of her surpassing beauty;
    I think her dowry will be small enough.
    I have incensed my father so against her
    As he will never be reclaimed again.
    I was not much behind to do the like.
    Faith, sister, what moves you to bear her such good will?
    In truth, I think the same that moveth you:
    Because she doth surpass us both in beauty.
    Beshrew your fingers, how right you can guess.
    I tell you true, it cuts me to the heart.
    But we will keep her low enough, I warrant,
    And clip her wings for mounting up too high.
    Whoever hath her shall have a rich marriage of her.
    She were right fit to make a parson's wife,
    For they, men say, do love fair women well,
    490And many times do marry them with nothing.
    With nothing! Marry, God forbid! Why, are there any such?
    I mean, no money.
    I cry you mercy, I mistook you much.
    And she is far too stately for the church:
    495She'll lay her husband's benefice on her back
    Even in one gown, if she may have her will.
    In faith, poor soul, I pity her a little.
    Would she were less fair or more fortunate.
    Well, I think long until I see my Morgan,
    500The gallant Prince of Cambria, here arrive.
    And so do I until the Cornwall king
    Present himself to consummate my joys.
    Peace, here cometh my father.
    Enter Leir, Perillus, and others
    Cease, good my lords, and sue not to reverse
    Our censure which is now irrevocable.
    We have dispatchèd letters of contract
    Unto the kings of Cambria and of Cornwall:
    Our hand and seal will justify no less.
    510Then 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
    515That 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
    520The fervent love you bear unto my daughters,
    And think yourselves as welcome to King Leir
    As ever Priam's children were to him.
    My gracious lord, and father too, I hope,
    Pardon for that I made no greater haste,
    525But were my horse as swift as was my will,
    I long ere this had seen your majesty.
    No other 'scuse of absence can I frame
    Than what my brother hath informed your grace;
    For our undeserved welcome, we do vow
    530Perpetually to rest at your command.
    But you, sweet love, illustrious Gonorill,
    The regent and the sovereign of my soul,
    Is Cornwall welcome to your excellency?
    As welcome as Leander was to Hero,
    535Or brave Aeneas to the Carthage queen,
    So and more welcome is your grace to me.
    Oh, may my fortune prove no worse than his
    Since heavens do know my fancy is as much.
    Dear Ragan, say if welcome unto thee;
    540All welcomes else will little comfort me.
    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 parchèd ground,
    545Or anything more welcomer than this,
    So and more welcome lovely Morgan is.
    What resteth, then, but that we consummate
    The celebration of these nuptial rites?
    My kingdom I do equally divide.
    550Princes, 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
    555And 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.
    560Would I were able to be with both at once:
    They are the kindest girls in Christendom.
    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,
    565But 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.
    Urge this no more an if thou love thy life!
    570I say she is no daughter that doth scorn
    To tell her father how she loveth him.
    Whoever speaketh hereof to me again,
    I will esteem him for my mortal foe.
    Come, let us in to celebrate with joy
    575The happy nuptials of these lovely pairs.
    Exeunt omnes; Perillus remains.
    Ah, who so blind as they that will not see
    The near approach of their own misery?
    Poor lady, I extremely pity her,
    580And, whilst I live, each drop of my heart blood
    Will I strain forth to do her any good.