King Lear
Background on King Lear: King Leir the Play: Scene 7

Mumford and the Gallian King come in as pilgrims.  Mumford calls him “my lord” twice, rebuked by the king, who decides they shall call themselves “Tresillus” and “Denapoll.”  Mumford thinks these names absurd, so they choose Will and Jack.  Cordella enters, a fairer creature then ere they beheld.  She is talking to herself.  She curses her plight, undeserved, blames fate, then Leir, and finally Providence: “it is the pleasure of my God.”  She decides to take a “meaner habit,” earn her living at needlework – a maiden’s life.  Meanwhile, Will and Jack drool.  The king is particularly smit, and orders Mumford to ally his own hot passions.

The king finally addressed Cordella directly, wondering at her woes.  She says there is no reason to give causes when there is no remedy.   They exchange competing platitudes, but she then confesses to being Leir’s daughter, dispossessed, and he self-dispossessed of his kingdom, to his daughters and by implication, the Kings of Cornwall and Cambria.  The king cannot believe it, and wonders if a king wanted her, would she accept.  She mocks him for mocking her, and claims determination to follow her fate to maidenhood.  He then feigns standing in for the Gallian King, who craves her love.

As she has no home and no dowry, she once again mocks him for adding torments to her grief, but then relents a little, and says he should woo her for himself, now at her level, than the king.  He says she is only fit for a king, but she then insists that the wife of a Palmer would be her preferred station.  He then confesses his identity.  She insists she be taken as she is, and then claims to recognize his royal bearings.  Mumford wishes the next falls to him, one devoted to him.  They hurry to a church to marry. So all three daughters are married in one day, with Mumford declaring his allegiance to the ladies of England.

Scene 6 . . . Directory . . . Scene 8

Scene 7

Enter the Gallian King, and Mumford, disguised like Pilgrims.

MUMFORD: My Lord, how do you brook this British air?

KING: My Lord? I told you of this foolish humor,
And bound you to the contrary, you know.

MUMFORD: Pardon me for once, my Lord; I did forget.

KING: My Lord again? then let’s have nothing else,
And so be tane for spies, and then tis well.

MUMFORD: Swounds, I could bite my tongue in two for anger:
For God’s sake name yourself some proper name.

KING: Call me Tresillus: I’ll call thee Denapoll.

MUMFORD: Might I be made the Monarch of the world, … [7.10]
I could not hit upon these names, I swear.

KING: Then call me Will, I’ll call thee Jack.

MUMFORD: Well, be it so, for I have well deserved to be called Jack.

KING: Stand close, for here a British Lady cometh:

Enter Cordella.

A fairer creature ne’re mine eyes beheld.

This is a day of joy unto my sisters,
Wherein they both are married unto Kings,
And I, by birth, as worthy as themselves,
Am turned into the world, to seek my fortune.
How may I blame the fickle Queen of Chance, … [7.20]
That maketh me a pattern of her power?
Ah, poor weak maid, whose imbecility
Is far unable to endure these brunts.
Oh, father Leir, how dost thou wrong thy child,
Who always was obedient to thy will!
But why accuse I fortune and my father?
No, no, it is the pleasure of my God:
And I do willingly embrace the rod.

KING: It is no Goddess; for she doth complain
On fortune, and th’ unkindness of her father. … [7.30]

These costly robes ill fitting my estate,
I will exchange for other meaner habit.

MUMFORD: Now if I had a Kingdom in my hands,
I would exchange it for a milkmaid’s smock and petticoats,
That she and I might shift our clothes together.

CORDELLA: I will betake me to my thread and Needle,
And earn my living with my fingers’ ends.

MUMFORD: O brave! God willing, thou shalt have my custom,
By sweet S. Denis, here I sadly swear,
For all the shirts and night-gear that I wear. … [7.40]

CORDELLA: I will profess and vow a maiden’s life.

MUMFORD: Then I protest thou shalt not have my custom.

KING: I can forbear no longer for to speak:
For if I do, I think my heart will break.

MUMFORD: Sblood, Will, I hope you are not in love with my Sempster.

KING: I am in such a labyrinth of love,
As that I know not which way to get out.

MUMFORD: You’ll ne’re get out, unless you first get in.

KING: I prithee, Jack, cross not my passions.

MUMFORD: Prithy Will, to her, and try her patience. … [7.50]

KING: Thou fairest creature, whatsoere thou art,
That ever any mortal eyes beheld,
Vouchsafe to me, who have o’erheard thy woes,
To show the cause of these thy sad laments.

CORDELLA: Ah Pilgrims, what avails to show the cause.
When there’s no means to find a remedy?

KING: To utter grief, doth ease a heart o’ercharged.

CORDELLA: To touch a sore, doth aggravate the pain.

KING: The silly mouse, by virtue of her teeth,
Released the princely Lion from the net. … [7.60]

Kind Palmer, which so much desir’st to hear
The tragic tale of my unhappy youth:
Know this in brief, I am the hapless daughter
Of Leir, sometimes King of Britainy.

KING: Why, who debars his honorable age,
From being still the King of Britainy?

CORDELLA: None, but himself hath dispossessed himself,
And given all his Kingdom to the Kings
Of Cornwall and of Cambria, with my sisters.

KING: Hath he given nothing to your lovely self? … [7.70]

CORDELLA: He loved me not, & therefore gave me nothing,
Only because I could not flatter him:
And in this day of triumph to my sisters,
Doth Fortune triumph in my overthrow.

KING: Sweet Lady, say there should come a King,
As good as either of your sisters’ husbands,
To crave your love, would you accept of him?

CORDELLA: Oh, do not mock with those in misery,
Nor do not think, though fortune have the power,
To spoil mine honor, and debase my state, … [7.80]
That she hath any interest in my mind:
For if the greatest Monarch on the earth,
Should sue to me in this extremity,
Except my heart could love, and heart could like,
Better than any that I ever saw,
His great estate no more should move my mind,
Than mountains move by blast of every wind.

KING: Think not, sweet Nymph, tis holy Palmers’ guise,
To grieved souls fresh torments to devise:
Therefore in witness of my true intent, … [7.90]
Let heaven and earth bear record of my words:
There is a young and lusty Gallian King,
So like to me, as I am to myself,
That earnestly doth crave to have thy love,
And join with thee in Hymen’s sacred bonds.

CORDELLA: The like to thee did ne’re these eyes behold;
Oh live to add new torments to my grief:
Why didst thou thus entrap me unawares?
Ah Palmer, my estate doth not befit
A kingly marriage, as the case now stands. … [7.100]
Whilom when as I lived in honor’s height,
A Prince perhaps might postulate my love:
Now misery, dishonor and disgrace,
Hath lit on me, and quite reversed the case.
Thy King will hold thee wise, if thou surcease
The suit, whereas no dowry will ensue.
Then be advised, Palmer, what to do:
Cease for thy King, seek for thyself to woo.

KING: Your birth’s too high for any, but a King.

CORDELLA: My mind is low enough to love a Palmer, … [7.110]
Rather than any King upon the earth.

KING: O, but you can never endure their life,
Which is so straight and full of penury.

CORDELLA: O yes, I can, and happy if I might:
I’ll hold thy Palmer’s staff within my hand,
And think it is the Scepter of a Queen,
Sometime I’ll set thy Bonnet on my head,
And think I wear a rich imperial Crown,
Sometime I’ll help thee in thy holy prayers,
And think I am with thee in Paradise. … [7.120]
Thus I’ll mock fortune, as she mocketh me,
And never will my lovely choice repent:
For having thee, I shall have all content.

KING: ‘Twere sin to hold her longer in suspense,
Since that my soul hath vowed she shall be mine.
Ah, dear Cordella, cordial to my heart,
I am no Palmer, as I seem to be,
But hither come in this unknown disguise,
To view th’ admired beauty of those eyes.
I am the King of Gallia, gentle maid, … [7.130]
(Although thus slenderly accompanied)
And yet thy vassall by imperious Love,
And sworn to serve thee everlastingly.

CORDELLA: Whate’re you be, of high or low descent,
All’s one to me, I do request but this:
That as I am, you will accept of me,
And I will have you whatsoe’re you be:
Yet well I know, you come of royal race,
I see such sparks of honor in your face.

MUMFORD: Have Palmers’ weeds such power to win fair Ladies? … [7.140]
Faith, then I hope the next that falls is mine:
Upon condition I no worse might speed,
I would forever wear a Palmer’s weed.
I like an honest and plain-dealing wench,
That swears (without exception) I will have you.
These foppets, that know not whether to love a man or no,
except they first go ask their mothers’ leave, by this hand, I
hate them ten times worse than poison.

KING: What resteth then our happiness to procure?

MUMFORD: Faith, go to Church, to make the matter sure. … [7.150]

KING: It shall be so, because the world shall say,
King Leir’s three daughters were wedded in one day:
The celebration of this happy chance,
We will defer, until we come to France.

MUMFORD: I like the wooing, that’s not long a doing.
Well, for her sake, I know what I know:
I’ll never marry whilest I live,
Except I have one of these British Ladies.
My humor is alienated from the maids of France.     Exeunt.

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