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  • Title: The History of King Leir (Quarto, 1605)
  • 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
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    The History of King Leir (Quarto, 1605)

    The true Chronicle Historie of King
    Leir and his three daughters.
    ACTVS I.
    1Enter King Leir and Nobles.
    THus to our griefe the obsequies performd
    Of our (too late) deceast and dearest Queen,
    5Whose soule I hope, possest of heauēly ioyes,
    Doth ride in triumph 'mōgst the Cherubins;
    Let vs request your graue aduice, my Lords,
    For the disposing of our princely daughters,
    For whom our care is specially imployd,
    10As nature bindeth to aduaunce their states,
    In royall marriage with some princely mates:
    For wanting now their mothers good aduice,
    Vnder whose gouernment they haue receyued
    A perfit patterne of a vertuous life:
    15Left as it were a ship without a sterne,
    Or silly sheepe without a Pastors care;
    Although our selues doe dearely tender them,
    Yet are we ignorant of their affayres:
    For fathers best do know to gouerne sonnes;
    20But daughters steps the mothers counsell turnes.
    A sonne we want for to succeed our Crowne,
    And course of time hath cancelled the date
    Of further issue from our withered loynes:
    One foote already hangeth in the graue,
    25And age hath made deepe furrowes in my face:
    The world of me, I of the world am weary,
    And I would fayne resigne these earthly cares,
    And thinke vpon the welfare of my soule:
    Which by no better meanes may be effected,
    30Then by resigning vp the Crowne from me,
    In equall dowry to my daughters three.
    Skalliger. A worthy care, my Liege, which well declares,
    The zeale you bare vnto our quondam Queene:
    And since your Grace hath licens'd me to speake,
    The History of King Leir
    35I censure thus; Your Maiesty knowing well,
    What seuerall Suters your princely daughters haue,
    To make them eche a Ioynter more or lesse,
    As is their worth, to them that loue professe.
    Leir. No more, nor lesse, but euen all alike,
    40My zeale is fixt, all fashiond in one mould:
    Wherefore vnpartiall shall my censure be,
    Both old and young shall haue alike for me.
    Nobl. My gracious Lord, I hartily do wish,
    That God had lent you an heyre indubitate,
    45Which might haue set vpon your royall throne,
    When fates should loose the prison of your life,
    By whose succession all this doubt might cease; [close up]
    And as by you, by him we might haue peace.
    But after-wishes euer come too late,
    50And nothing can reuoke the course of fate:
    Wherefore, my Liege, my censure deemes it best,
    To match them with some of your neighbour Kings,
    Bordring within the bounds of Albion,
    By whose vnited friendship, this our state
    55May be protected 'gainst all forrayne hate.
    Leir. Herein, my Lords, your wishes sort with mine,
    And mine (I hope) do sort with heauenly powers:
    For at this instant two neere neyghbouring Kings
    Of Cornwall and of Cambria, motion loue
    60To my two daughters, Gonorill and Ragan.
    My youngest daughter, fayre Cordella, vowes
    No liking to a Monarch, vnlesse loue allowes.
    She is sollicited by diuers Peeres;
    But none of them her partiall fancy heares.
    65Yet, if my policy may her beguyle,
    Ile match her to some King within this Ile,
    And so establish such a perfit peace,
    As fortunes force shall ne're preuayle to cease.
    Perillus. Of vs & ours, your gracious care, my Lord,
    70Deserues an euerlasting memory,
    To be inrol'd in Chronicles of fame,
    By neuer-dying perpetuity:
    and his three daughters.
    Yet to become so prouident a Prince,
    Lose not the title of a louing father:
    75Do not force loue, where fancy cannot dwell,
    Lest streames being stopt, aboue the banks do swell.
    Leir. I am resolu'd, and euen now my mind
    Doth meditate a sudden stratagem,
    To try which of my daughters loues me best:
    80Which till I know, I cannot be in rest.
    This graunted, when they ioyntly shall contend,
    Eche to exceed the other in their loue:
    Then at the vantage will I take Cordella,
    Euen as she doth protest sh}e loues me best,
    85Ile say, Then, daughter, graunt me one request,
    To shew thou louest me as thy sisters doe,
    Accept a husband, whom my selfe will woo.
    This sayd, she cannot well deny my sute,
    Although (poore soule) her sences will be mute:
    90Then will I tryumph in my policy,
    And match her with a King of Brittany.
    Skal. Ile to them before, and bewray your secrecy.
    Per. Thus fathers think their children to beguile,
    And oftentimes themselues do first repent,
    95When heauenly powers do frustrate their intent. Exeunt.