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But daughters steps the mothers counfell turnes.
A sonne we want for to succeed our crowne,
And course of time bath cancelled the date
Of further issue from our withered loynes :
One foote already hangeth in the graue,
And age hath made deepe furrowes in my face:
The world of me, I of the world am weary,
And I would fayne resigne these earthly cares,
And thinke vpon the welfare of my foule :
Which by no better meanes may be effected,
Then by resigning vp the crowne from me.
In equall dowry to my daughters three.
Skalliger. A worthy care, my liege, which well declares,
The zeale you bare vnto our quondam queene :
And since your grace hath licens'd me to speake,
I censure thus; your maiesty knowing well,
What seuerall suters your princely daughters haue,
To make them eche a joynter more or lesse,
As is their worth, to them that love professe.
Leir. No more, nor lelle, but euen all alike,
My zeale is fixt, all fashiond in one mould:
Wherefore vnpartiall Mall my censure be,
Both old and young shall haue alike for me,
Nobl. My gracious lord, I hartily do wish,
That God had lent you an heyre indubitate,
Which might haue set vpon your royall throne,
When fates should loose the prison of your life,
By whose succession all this doubt might cease;
And as by you, by him we might haue peace.
But after-wishes euer come too late,
And nothing can reuoke the course of fate :-
Wherefore, my liege, my censure deemes it best,
To match them with some of your neighbour kings,
Bordring within the bounds of Albion,
By whose vnited friendship, this our state
May be protected 'gainst all forrayne hate.
Leir. Herein, my lords, your wishes fort with mine,
And mine (I hope) do fort with heauenly powers :
For at this instant two Deere neyghbouring kings,
Of Cornwall and of Cambria, motion loue
To my two daughters, Gonorill and Ragan,
My youngest daughter, fayre Cordella, vowes
No liking to a monarch, vnlesle loue allowes.
She is follicited by diners peeres;
But none of them her partiall fancy heares.
Yet, if my policy máy her beguyle,
lle match her to some king within this ile,
And so eftablish such a perfit peace,
As fortunes force shall ne're preuayle to cease.
Perillus. Of vs and ours, your gracious care, my lord,
Deserues an euerlasting memory,
To be inrol'd in chronicles of fame,
By neuer-dying perpetuity :
Yet to become so prouident a prince,
Lose not the title of a louing father :
Do not force loue, where fancy cannot dwell,
Left streames being stopt, aboue the banks do swell.
Leir. I am resolu'd, and euen now my mind
Doth meditate a sudden stratagem,
To try which of my daughters loues me best:
Which till I know, I cannot be in rest.
This graunted, when they ioyntly shall contend,
Eche to exceed the other in their loue :
Then at the vantage will I take Cordella,
Euen as she doth protest she loues me best,
Ile say, then, daughter, graunt me one request,
To shew thou loueft me as thy sisters doe,
Accept a husband, whom my felfe will woo.
This fayd, she cannot well deny my sute,
Although (poore foule) her fences will be mute :
Then will I tryumph in my policy,
And match her with a king of Brittany.
Skal. Ile to them before, and bewray your secrecy.
Der. Thus fathers think their children to beguile,
And oftentimes themselues do first repent,
When heauenly powers do frustrate their intent.
Enter Gonorill and Ragan.
Gon. I maruell, Ragan, how you can indure
To see that proud pert peat, our youngest sister,
So fightly to account of vs, her elders,
As if we were no better then her selfe !
We cannot haue a quaynt deuice so soone,
Or new made fashion, of our choyce inuention ;
But if she like it, she will haue the fame,
Or study newer to exceed vs both.
Besides, she is so nice and so demure;
So sober, courteous, modest, and precise,
That all the court hath work ynough to do,
To talke how she exceedeth me and you.
Ra. What should I do? would it were in my power,
To find a cure for this contagious ill :
Some desperate medicine must be soone applyed,
To dimme the glory of her mounting fame;
Els ere't be long, Teele haue both prick and praise,
And we mast be set by for working dayes.
Doe you not fee what seuerall choyce of futers
She daily hath, and of the best degree?
Say, amongst all, the hap to fancy one,
And haue a husband when as we haue pone:
Why then, by right, to her we must give place,
Though it be ne’re so much to our disgrace.
Gon. By my virginity, rather then she shall haue
A husband before me,
Ile marry one or other in his shirt :
And yet I haue made halfe a graunt already
Of my good will vnto the king of Cornwall
Ra. Sweare not so deeply (fifter) here cometh my L.
Something his hasty comming doth import.
Skal. Sweet princesses, I am glad I met you heere fo luckily, Hauing good newes which doth concerne you both, And craueth speedy expedition.
Ra. For Gods fake tell vs what it is, my lord,
I am with child vntill you vtter it.
Skal. Madam, to faue your longing, this it is :
Your father in great secrecy to day,
Told me, he meanes to marry you out of hand,
Vnto the noble prince of Cambria ;
You, madam, to the king of Cornwalls grace :
Your yonger sister he would fayne bestow
Vpon the rich king of Hibernia:
But that he doubts, she hardly will consent;
For hitherto The 'ne're could fancy him.
If the do yeeld, why then, betweene you three,
He will deuide his kingdome for your dowries.
But yet there is a further mystery,
Which, so you will conceale, I will disclose.
Gon. What e're thou speaks to vs, kind Skalliger,
Thinkę that thou speakst it only to thy selfę.
Skal. He earnestly desireth for to knofv,
Which of you three do beare most love to him,
And on your loues he so extremely dotes, ,
As neuer any did, I thinke, before.
He presently doth meane to fend for you,
To be resolu'd of this tormeating doubt:
And looke, whose answere pleaseth him the beft,
They shall haue most voto their marriages.
Ra. O that I had some pleasing mermayds voyce,
For to inchaunt his sencelelle fences with !
Skal. For he supposeth that Cordella will
(Striuing to go beyond you in her loue)
Promise to do what euer he desires :
Then will he straight enioyne her for his fake,
The Hibernian king in marriage for to take.
This is the summe of all I haue to say;
Which being done, I humbly take my leaue,
Not doubting but your wisdomes will foresee,
What course will beft vnto your good agree.
Gon. Thanks, gentle Skalliger, thy kindnes vndeserued, Shall not be vnrequited, if we liue.
Ra. Now haue we fit occasion offred vs,
To be reueng'd vpon her vnperceyu'd.
Gon. Nay, our reuenge we will inflict on her,
Shall be accounted piety in vs :
I will fo Aatter with my doting father,
As he was ne're so flattred in his life.
Nay, I will say, that if it be his pleasure,
To match me to a begger, I will yeeld:
For why, I know what ever I do say,
He meanes to match me with the Cornwall king.
Ra. Ile say the like : for I am well assured,
What e're I say to please the old mans mind,