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so had nature formed him, and the exercise of craft conformed him, to all turningnes of sleights, that though no man had lesse goodnes in his soule than he, no man could better find the places whence arguments might grow of goodnesse to another: though no man felt lesse pitie, no man could tel better how to stir pitie: no man more impudent to deny, where proofes were not manifest; no man more ready to confesse with a repenting manner of aggrauating his owne euill, where denial would but make the fault fowler. Now he tooke this way, that hauing gotten a pasport for one (that pretended he would put Plexirtus aliue into his hands) to speake with the king his brother, he himselfe (though much against the minds of the valiant brothers, who rather wished to die in braue defence,) with a rope about his necke, barefooted, came to offer himselfe to the discretion of Leonatus. Where, what submission hee vsed, how cunningly in making greater the faulte he made the faultines the lesse, how artificially he could set out the torments of his owne conscience, with the burdensome comber he had found of his ambitious desires, how finely seeming to desire nothing but death, as ashamed to liue, he begd life in the refusing it, I am not cunning inough to be able to expresse: but so fell out of it, that though at first sight Leonatus saw him with no other eie then as the murderer of his father, and anger already began to paint reuenge in many colours, ere long he had not onely gotten pitie, but pardon ; and if not an excuse of the faulte past, yet an opinion of a future amendment: while the poore villaines chiefe ministers of his wickednes, now betraied by the author thereof, were deliuered to many cruell sorts of death; he so handling it, that it rather seemed, hee had more come into the defence of an vnremediable mischiefe already committed, then that they had done it at first by his consent." MALONE.

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King Leir &c.] This ballad is given from an ancient copy in The Golden Garland, black letter, to the tune of When flying fame. It is here reprinted from Dr. Percy's Reliques of ancient English Poetry, Vol. I. third edit.


And so will I, the second said;

Dear father, for your sake,

The worst of all extremities

I'll gently undertake:

And serve your highness night and day With diligence and love;

That sweet content and quietness
Discomforts may remove.

In doing so, you glad my soul,
The aged king reply'd ;

But what say'st thou, my youngest girl, How is thy love ally'd?

My love (quoth young Cordelia then) Which to your grace I owe,

Shall be the duty of a child,

And that is all I'll show.

And wilt thou show no more, quoth he,
Than doth thy duty bind?

I well perceive thy love is small,
When as no more I find :

Henceforth I banish thee my court,
Thou art no child of mine;
any part of this realm
By favour shall be thine.

Thy elder sisters' loves are more
Than well I can demand,
To whom I equally bestow

My kingdome and my land,
My pompal state and all my goods,
That lovingly I may

With those thy sisters be maintain'd
Until my dying day.

Thus flattering speeches won renown
By these two sisters here:
The third had causeless banishment,
Yet was her love more dear:
For poor Cordelia patiently

Went wand'ring up and down,
Unhelp'd, unpity'd, gentle maid,
Through many an English town:

Until at last in famous France
She gentler fortunes found;
Though poor and bare, yet she was deem'd
The fairest on the ground:

Where when the king her virtues heard,

And this fair lady seen,

With full consent of all his court
He made his wife and queen.

Her father, old king Leir, this while
With his two daughters staid;
Forgetful of their promis'd loves,
Full soon the same decay'd;
And living in queen Ragan's court,
The eldest of the twain,

She took from him his chiefest means,
And most of all his train.

For whereas twenty men were wont
To wait with bended knee:

She gave allowance but to ten,

And after scarce to three:

Nay, one she thought too much for him:

So took she all away,

In hope that in her court, good king,
He would no longer stay.

Am I rewarded thus, quoth he,
In giving all I have
Unto my children, and to beg
For what I lately gave?
I'll go unto my Gonorell;

My second child, I know,
Will be more kind and pitiful,
And will relieve my woe.

Full fast he hies then to her court;
Where when she hears his moan
Return'd him answer, That she griev'd
That all his means were gone:
But no way could relieve his wants;
Yet if that he would stay

Within her kitchen, he should have
What scullions gave away.

When he had heard with bitter tears,
He made his answer then;
In what I did let me be made
Example to all men.

I will return again, quoth he,
Unto my Ragan's court;
She will not use me thus, I hope,
But in a kinder sort.

Where when he came, she gave command
To drive him thence away:

When he was well within her court,
(She said) he would not stay.
Then back again to Gonorell
The woeful king did hie,
That in her kitchen he might have
What scullion boys set by.

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