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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.

But there of that he was deny'd,
Which she had promis'd late:
For once refusing, he should not
Come after to her gate.

Thus 'twixt his daughters, for relief
He wander'd up and down;
Being glad to feed on beggar's food,

That lately wore a crown.

And calling to remembrance then
His youngest daughter's words,
That said, the duty of a child
Was all that love affords:
But doubting to repair to her,
Whom he had banish'd so,
Grew frantic mad; for in his mind
He bore the wounds of woe.

Which made him rend his milk-white locks, And tresses from his head,

And all with blood bestain his cheeks,

With age and honour spread:

To hills and woods and wat'ry founts,

He made his hourly moan,

Till hills and woods, and senseless things,

Did seem to sigh and groan.

Even thus possest with discontents,
He passed o'er to France,

In hope from fair Cordelia there

To find some gentler chance:

Most virtuous dame! which when she heard

Of this her father's grief,

As duty bound, she quickly sent

Him comfort and relief.

And by a train of noble peers,

In brave and gallant sort,

She gave in charge he should be brought
To Aganippus' court;

Whose royal king, with noble mind,
So freely gave consent,

To muster up his knights at arms,
To fame and courage bent.

And so to England came with speed,

To repossess king Leir,

And drive his daughters from their thrones By his Cordelia dear:

Where she, true-hearted noble queen,

Was in the battle slain :

Yet he, good king, in his old days,
Possest his crown again.

But when he heard Cordelia's death,
Who died indeed for love

Of her dear father, in whose cause
She did this battle move;
He swooning fell upon her breast,
From whence he never parted;

But on her bosom left his life,
That was so truly hearted.

The lords and nobles when they saw

'The end of these events,

The other sisters unto death

They doomed by consents;

And being dead, their crowns they left

Unto the next of kin :

Thus have you seen the fall of pride,

And disobedient sin.


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Knights attending on the King, Officers, Messengers,

Soldiers, and Attendants.

SCENE, Britain.

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