“ Yet perhaps had the number of them at last prevailed, if the king of Pontus (lately by them made so) had not come vnlooked for to their succour. Who, hauing had a dreame which had fixt his imagination vehemently vpon some great daunger presently to follow those two princes whom hee most dearely loued, was come in all hast, following as wel as he could their track with a hundreth horses, in that countrie which he thought, considering who then raigned, a fitte place inough to make the stage of any tragedie.

“ But then the match had beene so ill made for Plexirtus, that his ill-led life, and worse gotten honour, should haue tumbled together to destruction, had there not come in Tydeus and Telenor, with forty or fifty in their suité, to the defence of Plexirtus. These two were brothers, of the noblest house of that country, brought vppe from their infancy with Plexirtus : men of such prowesse, as not to knowe feare in themselues, and yet to teach it others that shoulde deale with them; for they had often made their lives triumph ouer most terrible daungers ; neuer dismaied, and euer fortunate; and truely no more setled in valure, then disposed to goodnes and iustice, if either they had lighted on a better friend, or could haue learned to make friendship a childe, and not the father of vertue. But bringing vp, rather then choise, hauing first knit their mindes vnto him, (indeede crafty inough, either to hide his faultes, or neuer to showe them, but when they might pay home,) they willingly helde out the course, rather to satisfie him then all the worlde; and rather to be good friendes, then good men: so as though they did not like the euill hee did, yet they liked him that did the euill; and though not councellors of the offence, yet protectors of the offender. Now they hauing heard of this sodaine going out, with so small a company, in a countrey full of euill-wishing mindes toward him, though they knew not the cause, followed him; till they founde him in such case as they were to venture their liues, or else he to loose his : which they did with such force of minde and bodie, that truely I may iustly say, Pyrocles and Musidorus had neuer till then found any, that could make them so well repeate their hardest lesson in the feates of armes. And briefly so they did, that if they ouercame not, yet were they not ouercome, but caried away that vngratefull maister of theirs to a place of security; howsoeuer the princes laboured to the contrary. But this matter being thus farre begun, it became not the constancy of the princes so to leaue it; but in all hast making forces both in Pontus and Phrigia, they had in fewe daies lefte him but onely that one strong place where he was. For feare hauing beene the onely knot that had fastned his people vnto him, that once yntied by a greater force, they all scattered from him ; like so many birdes, whose cage had beene broken. • “ In which season the blinde king, hauing in the chiefe cittie of

his realme set the crown vppon his son Leonatus head, with many teares (both of ioy and sorrow) setting forth to the whole people his owne fault and his sonnes vertue, after he had kist him, and forst his sonne to accept honour of him, as of his new-become subject, euen in a moment died : as it should seeme, his heart broken with vnkindness and affliction, stretched so farre beyond his limits with this excesse of comfort, as it was able no longer to keepe safe his vitall spirites. But the new king, hauing no lesse louingly performed all duties to him dead, then aliue, pursued on the siege of his vnnaturall brother, asmuch for the reuenge of his father, as for the establishing of his owne quiet. In which siege truely I cannot but acknowledge the prowesse of those two brothers, then whome the princes neuer found in all their trauaile two of greater hability to performe, nor of habler skil for conduct.

“But Plexirtus finding, that if nothing else, famine would at last bring him to destruction, thought better by humbleness to creepe, where by pride he coulde not marche. For certainely 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; be 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.




King Leir * once ruled in this land,

With princely power and peace;
And had all things with heart's content,

That might his joys increase.
Amongst those things that nature gave,

Three daughters fair had he,
So princely seeming beautiful,

As fairer could not be.

So on a time it pleas'd the king

A question thus to move,
Which of his daughters to his grace

Could show the dearest love:
For to my age you bring content,

Quoth he, then let me hear
Which of you three in plighted troth

The kindest will appear.

To whom the eldest thus began;

Dear father, mind, quoth she,
Before your face, to do you good,

My blood shall render'd be:
And for your sake my bleeding heart

Shall here be cut in twain,
Ere that I see your reverend age

The smallest grief sustain.

And so will I, the second said :

Dear father, for your sake,
The worst of all extremities

I'll gently undertake :

* 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. Steevens.

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 l'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; Nor any part of this my 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 nioan 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.

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