More on The True Chronicle History of King Leir
The True Chronicle History of King Leir
Leir. Nay, if thou talk of reason, then be mute;
For with good reason I can thee confute.
If they, which first by nature's sacred law,
Do owe to me the tribute of their lives;
If they to whom I always have been kind,
And bountiful beyond comparison;
If they, for whom I have undone myself,
And brought my age unto this extreme want,
Do now reject, contemn, despise, abhor me,
What reason moveth thee to sorrow for me?
(King Leir, Act 3 Scene 3; compare with Shakespeare Act 2 Scene 4)
Leir. Dear Gonorill, kind Ragan, sweet Cordella,
Ye flourishing branches of a kingly stock,
Sprung from a tree that once did flourish green,
Whose blossoms now are nipped with winter's frost,
And pale grim death doth wait upon my steps,
And summons me unto his next assizes.
Therefore, dear daughters, as ye tender the safety
Of him that was the cause of your first being,
Resolve a doubt which much molests my mind,
Which of you three to me would prove most kind;
Which loves me most, and which at my request
Will soonest yield unto their father's hest.
Gon. I hope, my gracious father makes no doubt
Of any of his daughters' love to him:
Yet for my part, to show my zeal to you,
Which cannot be in windy words rehearsed,
I prize my love to you at such a rate,
I think my life inferior to my love.
Should you enjoin me for to tie a millstone
About my neck, and leap into the sea,
At your command I willingly would do it:
Yea, for to do you good, I would ascend
The highest turret in all Brittany,
And from the top leap headlong to the ground:
Nay, more should you appoint me for to marry
The meanest vassal in the spacious world,
Without reply I would accomplish it:
In brief, command whatever you desire,
And if I fail no favour I require.
Leir. O, how my words revive my dying soul!
Cord. O, how I do abhor this flattery!
Leir. But what saith Ragan to her father's will?
Rag. O, that my simple utterance could suffice,
To tell the true intention of my heart,
Which burns in zeal of duty to your grace,
And never can be quenched, but by desire
To show the same in outward forwardness.
Oh, that there were some other maid that durst
But make a challenge of her love with me;
I would make her soon confess she never loved
Her father half so well as I do you.
Ay then, my deeds should prove in plainer case,
How much my zeal aboundeth to your grace:
But for them all, let this one mean suffice,
To ratify my love before your eyes:
I have right noble suitors to my love,
No worse than kings, and haply I love one:
Yet, would you have me make my choice anew,
I would bridle fancy, and be ruled by you.
Leir. Did never Philomel sing so sweet a note.
Cord. Did never flatterer tell so false a tale.
Leir. Speak now, Cordella, make my joys at full,
And drop down nectar from thy honey lips.
Cord. I cannot paint my duty forth in words
I hope my deeds shall make report for me:
But look what love the child doth owe the father,
The same to you I bear, my gracious lord.
(King Leir, Act 1 Scene 3; compare with Shakespeare Act 1 Scene 1)
Extract 3 The Final Scene
King: Thanks be to God, your foes are overcome,
And you again possessed of your right.
Leir: First to the heavens, next, thanks to you, my son,
By whose good means I repossess the same:
Which if it please you to accept yourself,
With all my heart I will resign to you:
For it is yours by right, and none of mine.
First, have you raised, at your own charge, a power
Of valiant Soldiers; (this comes all from you)
Next have you ventured your own person's scathe. ...
And lastly, (worthy Gallia never stained)
My kingly title I by thee have gained.
King: Thank heavens, not me, my zeal to you is such.
Command my utmost, I will never grutch.
Cord.: He that with all kind love entreats his Queen,
Will not be to her father unkind seen.
Leir: Ah, my Cordella, now I call to mind,
The modest answer, which I took unkind:
But now I see, I am no whit beguiled,
Thou lovedst me dearly, and as ought a child. ...
And thou (Perillus) partner once in woe,
Thee to requite, the best I can, I'll do:
Yet all I can, aye, were it ne're so much,
Were not sufficient, thy true love is such.
Thanks (worthy, Mumford) to thee last of all,
Not greeted last, 'cause thy desert was small;
No, thou hast Lion-like laid on today,
Chasing the Cornwall King and Cambria;
Who with my daughters, daughters did I say?
To save their lives, the fugitives did play. ...
Come, son and daughter, who did me advance,
Repose with me awhile, and then for France.
[Sound drums and Trumpets. Exeunt.]
[Compare with the end of Shakespeare Act 5 Scene 3]