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King John
Act 5, scene 2

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The events in King John take place in the thirteenth century, well before Shakespeare’s other English history plays. After the death of…

Act 1, scene 1

John, King of England, is told by a messenger from the King of France that the territories held by John…

Act 2, scene 1

King Philip of France and the Duke of Austria, on behalf of Arthur, begin to lay siege to the city…

Act 3, scene 1

The league between John and Philip is attacked first by Constance, who accuses Philip of treacherously betraying Arthur’s cause, and…

Act 3, scene 2

The Bastard, having killed the Duke of Austria, reports that he has rescued Queen Eleanor. Arthur, captured by John, is…

Act 3, scene 3

John prepares to leave for England with his forces. He tells Hubert that Arthur must die. Hubert promises to kill…

Act 3, scene 4

John’s victories and his capture of Arthur lead the French to despair and Constance to wild grief. Pandulph, predicting Arthur’s…

Act 4, scene 1

Hubert prepares to put out Arthur’s eyes with hot irons. Arthur begs him to show mercy. Hubert plans to tell…

Act 4, scene 2

The nobles express their disapproval of John’s second coronation and urge that he set Arthur free. When Hubert brings word…

Act 4, scene 3

Arthur dies as he attempts to leap from the prison wall. The Bastard reaches the nobles, on their way to…

Act 5, scene 1

King John submits his royal power to the Pope in exchange for Pandulph’s intercession against the French forces. The Bastard…

Act 5, scene 2

The rebellious English nobles swear to support the Dauphin in his attack on England. Pandulph tells the Dauphin to take…

Act 5, scene 3

King John, sick with a fever, is instructed by the Bastard to leave the battle. John receives the good news…

Act 5, scene 4

While the English army continues to fight successfully under the Bastard, the rebel English nobles learn from the wounded French…

Act 5, scene 5

The Dauphin rejoices that his forces have almost defeated the English. He then learns that Count Melun has died, that…

Act 5, scene 6

Hubert brings news to the Bastard that King John has been poisoned by a monk, and that, at the urging…

Act 5, scene 7

As King John lies dying, surrounded by his newly loyal nobles and his son, Prince Henry, the Bastard brings him…

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Scene 2
Enter, in arms, Louis the Dauphin, Salisbury, Melun,
Pembroke, Bigot, and French and English Soldiers.


DAUPHIN, handing a paper to Melun 
 My Lord Melun, let this be copied out,
 And keep it safe for our remembrance.
 Return the precedent to these lords again,
 That having our fair order written down,
5 Both they and we, perusing o’er these notes,
 May know wherefore we took the Sacrament,
 And keep our faiths firm and inviolable.
SALISBURY 
 Upon our sides it never shall be broken.
 And, noble dauphin, albeit we swear
10 A voluntary zeal and unurged faith
 To your proceedings, yet believe me, prince,
 I am not glad that such a sore of time
 Should seek a plaster by contemned revolt
 And heal the inveterate canker of one wound
15 By making many. O, it grieves my soul
 That I must draw this metal from my side
 To be a widow-maker! O, and there
 Where honorable rescue and defense
 Cries out upon the name of Salisbury!
20 But such is the infection of the time
 That for the health and physic of our right,
 We cannot deal but with the very hand
 Of stern injustice and confusèd wrong.

179
King John
ACT 5. SC. 2

 And is ’t not pity, O my grievèd friends,
25 That we, the sons and children of this isle,
 Was born to see so sad an hour as this,
 Wherein we step after a stranger, march
 Upon her gentle bosom, and fill up
 Her enemies’ ranks? I must withdraw and weep
30 Upon the spot of this enforcèd cause,
 To grace the gentry of a land remote,
 And follow unacquainted colors here.
 What, here? O nation, that thou couldst remove,
 That Neptune’s arms, who clippeth thee about,
35 Would bear thee from the knowledge of thyself
 And grapple thee unto a pagan shore,
 Where these two Christian armies might combine
 The blood of malice in a vein of league,
 And not to spend it so unneighborly.He weeps.
DAUPHIN 
40 A noble temper dost thou show in this,
 And great affections wrestling in thy bosom
 Doth make an earthquake of nobility.
 O, what a noble combat hast thou fought
 Between compulsion and a brave respect!
45 Let me wipe off this honorable dew
 That silverly doth progress on thy cheeks.
 My heart hath melted at a lady’s tears,
 Being an ordinary inundation,
 But this effusion of such manly drops,
50 This shower, blown up by tempest of the soul,
 Startles mine eyes and makes me more amazed
 Than had I seen the vaulty top of heaven
 Figured quite o’er with burning meteors.
 Lift up thy brow, renownèd Salisbury,
55 And with a great heart heave away this storm.
 Commend these waters to those baby eyes
 That never saw the giant world enraged,
 Nor met with fortune other than at feasts

181
King John
ACT 5. SC. 2

 Full warm of blood, of mirth, of gossiping.
60 Come, come; for thou shalt thrust thy hand as deep
 Into the purse of rich prosperity
 As Louis himself.—So, nobles, shall you all,
 That knit your sinews to the strength of mine.
 And even there, methinks, an angel spake.

Enter Pandulph.

65 Look where the holy legate comes apace
 To give us warrant from the hand of God,
 And on our actions set the name of right
 With holy breath.
PANDULPH  Hail, noble prince of France.
70 The next is this: King John hath reconciled
 Himself to Rome; his spirit is come in
 That so stood out against the holy Church,
 The great metropolis and See of Rome.
 Therefore thy threat’ning colors now wind up,
75 And tame the savage spirit of wild war
 That, like a lion fostered up at hand,
 It may lie gently at the foot of peace
 And be no further harmful than in show.
DAUPHIN 
 Your Grace shall pardon me; I will not back.
80 I am too high-born to be propertied,
 To be a secondary at control,
 Or useful servingman and instrument
 To any sovereign state throughout the world.
 Your breath first kindled the dead coal of wars
85 Between this chastised kingdom and myself
 And brought in matter that should feed this fire;
 And now ’tis far too huge to be blown out
 With that same weak wind which enkindled it.
 You taught me how to know the face of right,
90 Acquainted me with interest to this land,
 Yea, thrust this enterprise into my heart.

183
King John
ACT 5. SC. 2

 And come you now to tell me John hath made
 His peace with Rome? What is that peace to me?
 I, by the honor of my marriage bed,
95 After young Arthur claim this land for mine.
 And now it is half conquered, must I back
 Because that John hath made his peace with Rome?
 Am I Rome’s slave? What penny hath Rome borne?
 What men provided? What munition sent
100 To underprop this action? Is ’t not I
 That undergo this charge? Who else but I,
 And such as to my claim are liable,
 Sweat in this business and maintain this war?
 Have I not heard these islanders shout out
105 “Vive le Roi” as I have banked their towns?
 Have I not here the best cards for the game
 To win this easy match played for a crown?
 And shall I now give o’er the yielded set?
 No, no, on my soul, it never shall be said.
PANDULPH 
110 You look but on the outside of this work.
DAUPHIN 
 Outside or inside, I will not return
 Till my attempt so much be glorified
 As to my ample hope was promisèd
 Before I drew this gallant head of war
115 And culled these fiery spirits from the world
 To outlook conquest and to win renown
 Even in the jaws of danger and of death.
A trumpet sounds.
 What lusty trumpet thus doth summon us?

Enter Bastard.

BASTARD 
 According to the fair play of the world,
120 Let me have audience. I am sent to speak,
 My holy lord of Milan, from the King.

185
King John
ACT 5. SC. 2

 I come to learn how you have dealt for him,
 And, as you answer, I do know the scope
 And warrant limited unto my tongue.
PANDULPH 
125 The Dauphin is too willful-opposite
 And will not temporize with my entreaties.
 He flatly says he’ll not lay down his arms.
BASTARD 
 By all the blood that ever fury breathed,
 The youth says well! Now hear our English king,
130 For thus his royalty doth speak in me:
 He is prepared—and reason too he should.
 This apish and unmannerly approach,
 This harnessed masque and unadvisèd revel,
 This unheard sauciness and boyish troops,
135 The King doth smile at, and is well prepared
 To whip this dwarfish war, these pigmy arms,
 From out the circle of his territories.
 That hand which had the strength, even at your door,
 To cudgel you and make you take the hatch,
140 To dive like buckets in concealèd wells,
 To crouch in litter of your stable planks,
 To lie like pawns locked up in chests and trunks,
 To hug with swine, to seek sweet safety out
 In vaults and prisons, and to thrill and shake
145 Even at the crying of your nation’s crow,
 Thinking this voice an armèd Englishman—
 Shall that victorious hand be feebled here
 That in your chambers gave you chastisement?
 No! Know the gallant monarch is in arms,
150 And like an eagle o’er his aerie towers
 To souse annoyance that comes near his nest.—
 And you degenerate, you ingrate revolts,
 You bloody Neroes, ripping up the womb
 Of your dear mother England, blush for shame!
155 For your own ladies and pale-visaged maids

187
King John
ACT 5. SC. 2

 Like Amazons come tripping after drums,
 Their thimbles into armèd gauntlets change,
 Their needles to lances, and their gentle hearts
 To fierce and bloody inclination.
DAUPHIN 
160 There end thy brave and turn thy face in peace.
 We grant thou canst outscold us. Fare thee well.
 We hold our time too precious to be spent
 With such a brabbler.
PANDULPH  Give me leave to speak.
BASTARD 
165 No, I will speak.
DAUPHIN  We will attend to neither.
 Strike up the drums, and let the tongue of war
 Plead for our interest and our being here.
BASTARD 
 Indeed, your drums being beaten will cry out,
170 And so shall you, being beaten. Do but start
 An echo with the clamor of thy drum,
 And even at hand a drum is ready braced
 That shall reverberate all as loud as thine.
 Sound but another, and another shall,
175 As loud as thine, rattle the welkin’s ear
 And mock the deep-mouthed thunder. For at hand,
 Not trusting to this halting legate here,
 Whom he hath used rather for sport than need,
 Is warlike John, and in his forehead sits
180 A bare-ribbed Death, whose office is this day
 To feast upon whole thousands of the French.
DAUPHIN 
 Strike up our drums to find this danger out.
BASTARD 
 And thou shalt find it, dauphin, do not doubt.
They exit.