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King John
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Entire Play

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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ACT 1
Scene 1
Enter King John, Queen Eleanor, Pembroke, Essex, and
Salisbury, with the Chatillion of France.


KING JOHN 
 Now say, Chatillion, what would France with us?
CHATILLION 
 Thus, after greeting, speaks the King of France
 In my behavior to the majesty,
 The borrowed majesty, of England here.
QUEEN ELEANOR 
5 A strange beginning: “borrowed majesty”!
KING JOHN 
 Silence, good mother. Hear the embassy.
CHATILLION 
 Philip of France, in right and true behalf
 Of thy deceasèd brother Geoffrey’s son,
 Arthur Plantagenet, lays most lawful claim
10 To this fair island and the territories,
 To Ireland, Poitiers, Anjou, Touraine, Maine,
 Desiring thee to lay aside the sword
 Which sways usurpingly these several titles,
 And put the same into young Arthur’s hand,
15 Thy nephew and right royal sovereign.
KING JOHN 
 What follows if we disallow of this?
7

9
King John
ACT 1. SC. 1

CHATILLION 
 The proud control of fierce and bloody war,
 To enforce these rights so forcibly withheld.
KING JOHN 
 Here have we war for war and blood for blood,
20 Controlment for controlment: so answer France.
CHATILLION 
 Then take my king’s defiance from my mouth,
 The farthest limit of my embassy.
KING JOHN 
 Bear mine to him, and so depart in peace.
 Be thou as lightning in the eyes of France,
25 For ere thou canst report, I will be there;
 The thunder of my cannon shall be heard.
 So, hence. Be thou the trumpet of our wrath
 And sullen presage of your own decay.—
 An honorable conduct let him have.
30 Pembroke, look to ’t.—Farewell, Chatillion.
Chatillion and Pembroke exit.
QUEEN ELEANOR, aside to King John 
 What now, my son! Have I not ever said
 How that ambitious Constance would not cease
 Till she had kindled France and all the world
 Upon the right and party of her son?
35 This might have been prevented and made whole
 With very easy arguments of love,
 Which now the manage of two kingdoms must
 With fearful bloody issue arbitrate.
KING JOHN, aside to Queen Eleanor 
 Our strong possession and our right for us.
QUEEN ELEANOR, aside to King John 
40 Your strong possession much more than your right,
 Or else it must go wrong with you and me—
 So much my conscience whispers in your ear,
 Which none but God and you and I shall hear.

11
King John
ACT 1. SC. 1

Enter a Sheriff, who speaks aside to Essex.

ESSEX 
 My liege, here is the strangest controversy
45 Come from the country to be judged by you
 That e’er I heard. Shall I produce the men?
KING JOHN Let them approach.Sheriff exits.
 Our abbeys and our priories shall pay
 This expedition’s charge.

Enter Robert Faulconbridge and Philip Faulconbridge.

50 What men are you?
PHILIP FAULCONBRIDGE 
 Your faithful subject I, a gentleman,
 Born in Northamptonshire, and eldest son,
 As I suppose, to Robert Faulconbridge,
 A soldier, by the honor-giving hand
55 Of Coeur de Lion knighted in the field.
KING JOHN, to Robert Faulconbridge What art thou?
ROBERT FAULCONBRIDGE 
 The son and heir to that same Faulconbridge.
KING JOHN 
 Is that the elder, and art thou the heir?
 You came not of one mother then, it seems.
PHILIP FAULCONBRIDGE 
60 Most certain of one mother, mighty king—
 That is well known—and, as I think, one father.
 But for the certain knowledge of that truth
 I put you o’er to heaven and to my mother.
 Of that I doubt, as all men’s children may.
QUEEN ELEANOR 
65 Out on thee, rude man! Thou dost shame thy
 mother
 And wound her honor with this diffidence.
PHILIP FAULCONBRIDGE 
 I, madam? No, I have no reason for it.
 That is my brother’s plea, and none of mine,

13
King John
ACT 1. SC. 1

70 The which if he can prove, he pops me out
 At least from fair five hundred pound a year.
 Heaven guard my mother’s honor and my land!
KING JOHN 
 A good blunt fellow.—Why, being younger born,
 Doth he lay claim to thine inheritance?
PHILIP FAULCONBRIDGE 
75 I know not why, except to get the land.
 But once he slandered me with bastardy.
 But whe’er I be as true begot or no,
 That still I lay upon my mother’s head.
 But that I am as well begot, my liege—
80 Fair fall the bones that took the pains for me!—
 Compare our faces and be judge yourself.
 If old Sir Robert did beget us both
 And were our father, and this son like him,
 O, old Sir Robert, father, on my knee
85 I give heaven thanks I was not like to thee!
KING JOHN 
 Why, what a madcap hath heaven lent us here!
QUEEN ELEANOR, aside to King John 
 He hath a trick of Coeur de Lion’s face;
 The accent of his tongue affecteth him.
 Do you not read some tokens of my son
90 In the large composition of this man?
KING JOHN, aside to Queen Eleanor 
 Mine eye hath well examinèd his parts
 And finds them perfect Richard. To Robert
 Faulconbridge 
Sirrah, speak.
 What doth move you to claim your brother’s land?
PHILIP FAULCONBRIDGE 
95 Because he hath a half-face, like my father.
 With half that face would he have all my land—
 A half-faced groat five hundred pound a year!
ROBERT FAULCONBRIDGE 
 My gracious liege, when that my father lived,
 Your brother did employ my father much—

15
King John
ACT 1. SC. 1

PHILIP FAULCONBRIDGE 
100 Well, sir, by this you cannot get my land.
 Your tale must be how he employed my mother.
ROBERT FAULCONBRIDGE 
 And once dispatched him in an embassy
 To Germany, there with the Emperor
 To treat of high affairs touching that time.
105 Th’ advantage of his absence took the King
 And in the meantime sojourned at my father’s;
 Where how he did prevail I shame to speak.
 But truth is truth: large lengths of seas and shores
 Between my father and my mother lay,
110 As I have heard my father speak himself,
 When this same lusty gentleman was got.
 Upon his deathbed he by will bequeathed
 His lands to me, and took it on his death
 That this my mother’s son was none of his;
115 An if he were, he came into the world
 Full fourteen weeks before the course of time.
 Then, good my liege, let me have what is mine,
 My father’s land, as was my father’s will.
KING JOHN 
 Sirrah, your brother is legitimate.
120 Your father’s wife did after wedlock bear him,
 An if she did play false, the fault was hers,
 Which fault lies on the hazards of all husbands
 That marry wives. Tell me, how if my brother,
 Who as you say took pains to get this son,
125 Had of your father claimed this son for his?
 In sooth, good friend, your father might have kept
 This calf, bred from his cow, from all the world;
 In sooth he might. Then if he were my brother’s,
 My brother might not claim him, nor your father,
130 Being none of his, refuse him. This concludes:
 My mother’s son did get your father’s heir;
 Your father’s heir must have your father’s land.

17
King John
ACT 1. SC. 1

ROBERT FAULCONBRIDGE 
 Shall then my father’s will be of no force
 To dispossess that child which is not his?
PHILIP FAULCONBRIDGE 
135 Of no more force to dispossess me, sir,
 Than was his will to get me, as I think.
QUEEN ELEANOR 
 Whether hadst thou rather: be a Faulconbridge
 And, like thy brother, to enjoy thy land,
 Or the reputed son of Coeur de Lion,
140 Lord of thy presence, and no land besides?
BASTARD 
 Madam, an if my brother had my shape
 And I had his, Sir Robert’s his like him,
 And if my legs were two such riding-rods,
 My arms such eel-skins stuffed, my face so thin
145 That in mine ear I durst not stick a rose,
 Lest men should say “Look where three-farthings
 goes,”
 And, to his shape, were heir to all this land,
 Would I might never stir from off this place,
150 I would give it every foot to have this face.
 I would not be Sir Nob in any case.
QUEEN ELEANOR 
 I like thee well. Wilt thou forsake thy fortune,
 Bequeath thy land to him, and follow me?
 I am a soldier and now bound to France.
BASTARD 
155 Brother, take you my land. I’ll take my chance.
 Your face hath got five hundred pound a year,
 Yet sell your face for five pence and ’tis dear.—
 Madam, I’ll follow you unto the death.
QUEEN ELEANOR 
 Nay, I would have you go before me thither.
BASTARD 
160 Our country manners give our betters way.

19
King John
ACT 1. SC. 1

KING JOHN What is thy name?
BASTARD 
 Philip, my liege, so is my name begun,
 Philip, good old Sir Robert’s wife’s eldest son.
KING JOHN 
 From henceforth bear his name whose form thou
165 bearest.
 Kneel thou down Philip, but rise more great.
Philip kneels. King John dubs him a knight,
tapping him on the shoulder with his sword.

 Arise Sir Richard and Plantagenet.
BASTARD, rising, to Robert Faulconbridge 
 Brother by th’ mother’s side, give me your hand.
 My father gave me honor, yours gave land.
170 Now blessèd be the hour, by night or day,
 When I was got, Sir Robert was away!
QUEEN ELEANOR 
 The very spirit of Plantagenet!
 I am thy grandam, Richard. Call me so.
BASTARD 
 Madam, by chance but not by truth. What though?
175 Something about, a little from the right,
  In at the window, or else o’er the hatch.
 Who dares not stir by day must walk by night,
  And have is have, however men do catch.
 Near or far off, well won is still well shot,
180 And I am I, howe’er I was begot.
KING JOHN, to Robert Faulconbridge 
 Go, Faulconbridge, now hast thou thy desire.
 A landless knight makes thee a landed squire.—
 Come, madam,—and come, Richard. We must
 speed
185 For France, for France, for it is more than need.
BASTARD 
 Brother, adieu, good fortune come to thee,

21
King John
ACT 1. SC. 1

 For thou wast got i’ th’ way of honesty.
All but Bastard exit.
 A foot of honor better than I was,
 But many a many foot of land the worse.
190 Well, now can I make any Joan a lady.
 “Good den, Sir Richard!” “God-a-mercy, fellow!”
 An if his name be George, I’ll call him “Peter,”
 For new-made honor doth forget men’s names;
 ’Tis too respective and too sociable
195 For your conversion. Now your traveler,
 He and his toothpick at my Worship’s mess,
 And when my knightly stomach is sufficed,
 Why then I suck my teeth and catechize
 My pickèd man of countries: “My dear sir,”
200 Thus leaning on mine elbow I begin,
 “I shall beseech you”—that is Question now,
 And then comes Answer like an absey-book:
 “O, sir,” says Answer, “at your best command,
 At your employment, at your service, sir.”
205 “No, sir,” says Question, “I, sweet sir, at yours.”
 And so, ere Answer knows what Question would,
 Saving in dialogue of compliment
 And talking of the Alps and Apennines,
 The Pyrenean and the river Po,
210 It draws toward supper in conclusion so.
 But this is worshipful society
 And fits the mounting spirit like myself;
 For he is but a bastard to the time
 That doth not smack of observation,
215 And so am I whether I smack or no;
 And not alone in habit and device,
 Exterior form, outward accouterment,
 But from the inward motion to deliver
 Sweet, sweet, sweet poison for the age’s tooth,
220 Which though I will not practice to deceive,

23
King John
ACT 1. SC. 1

 Yet to avoid deceit I mean to learn,
 For it shall strew the footsteps of my rising.

Enter Lady Faulconbridge and James Gurney.

 But who comes in such haste in riding robes?
 What woman post is this? Hath she no husband
225 That will take pains to blow a horn before her?
 O me, ’tis my mother.—How now, good lady?
 What brings you here to court so hastily?
LADY FAULCONBRIDGE 
 Where is that slave thy brother? Where is he
 That holds in chase mine honor up and down?
BASTARD 
230 My brother Robert, old Sir Robert’s son?
 Colbrand the Giant, that same mighty man?
 Is it Sir Robert’s son that you seek so?
LADY FAULCONBRIDGE 
 “Sir Robert’s son”? Ay, thou unreverent boy,
 Sir Robert’s son. Why scorn’st thou at Sir Robert?
235 He is Sir Robert’s son, and so art thou.
BASTARD 
 James Gurney, wilt thou give us leave awhile?
GURNEY 
 Good leave, good Philip.
BASTARD  “Philip Sparrow,” James.
 There’s toys abroad. Anon I’ll tell thee more.
James Gurney exits.
240 Madam, I was not old Sir Robert’s son.
 Sir Robert might have eat his part in me
 Upon Good Friday and ne’er broke his fast.
 Sir Robert could do well—marry, to confess—
 Could he get me. Sir Robert could not do it;
245 We know his handiwork. Therefore, good mother,
 To whom am I beholding for these limbs?
 Sir Robert never holp to make this leg.

25
King John
ACT 1. SC. 1

LADY FAULCONBRIDGE 
 Hast thou conspirèd with thy brother too,
 That for thine own gain shouldst defend mine
250 honor?
 What means this scorn, thou most untoward knave?
BASTARD 
 Knight, knight, good mother, Basilisco-like.
 What, I am dubbed! I have it on my shoulder.
 But, mother, I am not Sir Robert’s son.
255 I have disclaimed Sir Robert and my land.
 Legitimation, name, and all is gone.
 Then, good my mother, let me know my father—
 Some proper man, I hope. Who was it, mother?
LADY FAULCONBRIDGE 
 Hast thou denied thyself a Faulconbridge?
BASTARD 
260 As faithfully as I deny the devil.
LADY FAULCONBRIDGE 
 King Richard Coeur de Lion was thy father.
 By long and vehement suit I was seduced
 To make room for him in my husband’s bed.
 Heaven lay not my transgression to my charge!
265 Thou art the issue of my dear offense,
 Which was so strongly urged past my defense.
BASTARD 
 Now, by this light, were I to get again,
 Madam, I would not wish a better father.
 Some sins do bear their privilege on Earth,
270 And so doth yours. Your fault was not your folly.
 Needs must you lay your heart at his dispose,
 Subjected tribute to commanding love,
 Against whose fury and unmatchèd force
 The aweless lion could not wage the fight,
275 Nor keep his princely heart from Richard’s hand.
 He that perforce robs lions of their hearts

27
King John
ACT 1. SC. 1

 May easily win a woman’s. Ay, my mother,
 With all my heart I thank thee for my father.
 Who lives and dares but say thou didst not well
280 When I was got, I’ll send his soul to hell.
 Come, lady, I will show thee to my kin,
  And they shall say when Richard me begot,
 If thou hadst said him nay, it had been sin.
  Who says it was, he lies. I say ’twas not.
They exit.


ACT 2
Scene 1
Enter, before Angiers, at one side, with Forces, Philip
King of France, Louis the Dauphin, Constance, Arthur,
and Attendants; at the other side, with Forces, Austria,
wearing a lion’s skin.


DAUPHIN 
 Before Angiers well met, brave Austria.—
 Arthur, that great forerunner of thy blood,
 Richard, that robbed the lion of his heart
 And fought the holy wars in Palestine,
5 By this brave duke came early to his grave.
 And, for amends to his posterity,
 At our importance hither is he come
 To spread his colors, boy, in thy behalf,
 And to rebuke the usurpation
10 Of thy unnatural uncle, English John.
 Embrace him, love him, give him welcome hither.
ARTHUR 
 God shall forgive you Coeur de Lion’s death
 The rather that you give his offspring life,
 Shadowing their right under your wings of war.
15 I give you welcome with a powerless hand
 But with a heart full of unstainèd love.
 Welcome before the gates of Angiers, duke.
DAUPHIN 
 A noble boy. Who would not do thee right?
31

33
King John
ACT 2. SC. 1

AUSTRIA, to Arthur 
 Upon thy cheek lay I this zealous kiss
20 As seal to this indenture of my love:
 That to my home I will no more return
 Till Angiers and the right thou hast in France,
 Together with that pale, that white-faced shore,
 Whose foot spurns back the ocean’s roaring tides
25 And coops from other lands her islanders,
 Even till that England, hedged in with the main,
 That water-wallèd bulwark, still secure
 And confident from foreign purposes,
 Even till that utmost corner of the West
30 Salute thee for her king. Till then, fair boy,
 Will I not think of home, but follow arms.
CONSTANCE 
 O, take his mother’s thanks, a widow’s thanks,
 Till your strong hand shall help to give him strength
 To make a more requital to your love.
AUSTRIA 
35 The peace of heaven is theirs that lift their swords
 In such a just and charitable war.
KING PHILIP 
 Well, then, to work. Our cannon shall be bent
 Against the brows of this resisting town.
 Call for our chiefest men of discipline
40 To cull the plots of best advantages.
 We’ll lay before this town our royal bones,
 Wade to the marketplace in Frenchmen’s blood,
 But we will make it subject to this boy.
CONSTANCE 
 Stay for an answer to your embassy,
45 Lest unadvised you stain your swords with blood.
 My lord Chatillion may from England bring
 That right in peace which here we urge in war,
 And then we shall repent each drop of blood
 That hot rash haste so indirectly shed.

35
King John
ACT 2. SC. 1

Enter Chatillion.

KING PHILIP 
50 A wonder, lady! Lo, upon thy wish
 Our messenger Chatillion is arrived.—
 What England says say briefly, gentle lord.
 We coldly pause for thee. Chatillion, speak.
CHATILLION 
 Then turn your forces from this paltry siege
55 And stir them up against a mightier task.
 England, impatient of your just demands,
 Hath put himself in arms. The adverse winds,
 Whose leisure I have stayed, have given him time
 To land his legions all as soon as I.
60 His marches are expedient to this town,
 His forces strong, his soldiers confident.
 With him along is come the Mother Queen,
 An Ate stirring him to blood and strife;
 With her her niece, the Lady Blanche of Spain;
65 With them a bastard of the King’s deceased.
 And all th’ unsettled humors of the land—
 Rash, inconsiderate, fiery voluntaries,
 With ladies’ faces and fierce dragons’ spleens—
 Have sold their fortunes at their native homes,
70 Bearing their birthrights proudly on their backs,
 To make a hazard of new fortunes here.
 In brief, a braver choice of dauntless spirits
 Than now the English bottoms have waft o’er
 Did never float upon the swelling tide
75 To do offense and scathe in Christendom.
Drum beats.
 The interruption of their churlish drums
 Cuts off more circumstance. They are at hand,
 To parley or to fight, therefore prepare.
KING PHILIP 
 How much unlooked-for is this expedition.

37
King John
ACT 2. SC. 1

AUSTRIA 
80 By how much unexpected, by so much
 We must awake endeavor for defense,
 For courage mounteth with occasion.
 Let them be welcome, then. We are prepared.

Enter King John of England, Bastard, Queen
Eleanor, Blanche, Salisbury, Pembroke, and others.


KING JOHN 
 Peace be to France, if France in peace permit
85 Our just and lineal entrance to our own.
 If not, bleed France, and peace ascend to heaven,
 Whiles we, God’s wrathful agent, do correct
 Their proud contempt that beats his peace to heaven.
KING PHILIP 
 Peace be to England, if that war return
90 From France to England, there to live in peace.
 England we love, and for that England’s sake
 With burden of our armor here we sweat.
 This toil of ours should be a work of thine;
 But thou from loving England art so far
95 That thou hast underwrought his lawful king,
 Cut off the sequence of posterity,
 Outfacèd infant state, and done a rape
 Upon the maiden virtue of the crown.
 Look here upon thy brother Geoffrey’s face.
He points to Arthur.
100 These eyes, these brows, were molded out of his;
 This little abstract doth contain that large
 Which died in Geoffrey, and the hand of time
 Shall draw this brief into as huge a volume.
 That Geoffrey was thy elder brother born,
105 And this his son. England was Geoffrey’s right,
 And this is Geoffrey’s. In the name of God,
 How comes it then that thou art called a king,

39
King John
ACT 2. SC. 1

 When living blood doth in these temples beat
 Which owe the crown that thou o’ermasterest?
KING JOHN 
110 From whom hast thou this great commission,
 France,
 To draw my answer from thy articles?
KING PHILIP 
 From that supernal judge that stirs good thoughts
 In any breast of strong authority
115 To look into the blots and stains of right.
 That judge hath made me guardian to this boy,
 Under whose warrant I impeach thy wrong,
 And by whose help I mean to chastise it.
KING JOHN 
 Alack, thou dost usurp authority.
KING PHILIP 
120 Excuse it is to beat usurping down.
QUEEN ELEANOR 
 Who is it thou dost call usurper, France?
CONSTANCE 
 Let me make answer: thy usurping son.
QUEEN ELEANOR 
 Out, insolent! Thy bastard shall be king
 That thou mayst be a queen and check the world.
CONSTANCE 
125 My bed was ever to thy son as true
 As thine was to thy husband, and this boy
 Liker in feature to his father Geoffrey
 Than thou and John, in manners being as like
 As rain to water or devil to his dam.
130 My boy a bastard? By my soul, I think
 His father never was so true begot.
 It cannot be, an if thou wert his mother.
QUEEN ELEANOR, to Arthur 
 There’s a good mother, boy, that blots thy father.

41
King John
ACT 2. SC. 1

CONSTANCE 
 There’s a good grandam, boy, that would blot thee.
AUSTRIA 
135 Peace!
BASTARD  Hear the crier!
AUSTRIA  What the devil art thou?
BASTARD 
 One that will play the devil, sir, with you,
 An he may catch your hide and you alone.
140 You are the hare of whom the proverb goes,
 Whose valor plucks dead lions by the beard.
 I’ll smoke your skin-coat an I catch you right.
 Sirrah, look to ’t. I’ faith, I will, i’ faith!
BLANCHE 
 O, well did he become that lion’s robe
145 That did disrobe the lion of that robe.
BASTARD 
 It lies as sightly on the back of him
 As great Alcides’ shoes upon an ass.—
 But, ass, I’ll take that burden from your back
 Or lay on that shall make your shoulders crack.
AUSTRIA 
150 What cracker is this same that deafs our ears
 With this abundance of superfluous breath?
KING PHILIP 
 Louis, determine what we shall do straight.
DAUPHIN 
 Women and fools, break off your conference.—
 King John, this is the very sum of all:
155 England and Ireland, Anjou, Touraine, Maine,
 In right of Arthur do I claim of thee.
 Wilt thou resign them and lay down thy arms?
KING JOHN 
 My life as soon! I do defy thee, France.—
 Arthur of Brittany, yield thee to my hand,

43
King John
ACT 2. SC. 1

160 And out of my dear love I’ll give thee more
 Than e’er the coward hand of France can win.
 Submit thee, boy.
QUEEN ELEANOR  Come to thy grandam, child.
CONSTANCE 
 Do, child, go to it grandam, child.
165 Give grandam kingdom, and it grandam will
 Give it a plum, a cherry, and a fig.
 There’s a good grandam.
ARTHUR, weeping  Good my mother, peace.
 I would that I were low laid in my grave.
170 I am not worth this coil that’s made for me.
QUEEN ELEANOR 
 His mother shames him so, poor boy, he weeps.
CONSTANCE 
 Now shame upon you whe’er she does or no!
 His grandam’s wrongs, and not his mother’s
 shames,
175 Draws those heaven-moving pearls from his poor
 eyes,
 Which heaven shall take in nature of a fee.
 Ay, with these crystal beads heaven shall be bribed
 To do him justice and revenge on you.
QUEEN ELEANOR 
180 Thou monstrous slanderer of heaven and Earth!
CONSTANCE 
 Thou monstrous injurer of heaven and Earth,
 Call not me slanderer. Thou and thine usurp
 The dominations, royalties, and rights
 Of this oppressèd boy. This is thy eldest son’s son,
185 Infortunate in nothing but in thee.
 Thy sins are visited in this poor child.
 The canon of the law is laid on him,
 Being but the second generation
 Removèd from thy sin-conceiving womb.

45
King John
ACT 2. SC. 1

KING JOHN 
190 Bedlam, have done.
CONSTANCE  I have but this to say,
 That he is not only plaguèd for her sin,
 But God hath made her sin and her the plague
 On this removèd issue, plagued for her,
195 And with her plague; her sin his injury,
 Her injury the beadle to her sin,
 All punished in the person of this child
 And all for her. A plague upon her!
QUEEN ELEANOR 
 Thou unadvisèd scold, I can produce
200 A will that bars the title of thy son.
CONSTANCE 
 Ay, who doubts that? A will—a wicked will,
 A woman’s will, a cankered grandam’s will.
KING PHILIP 
 Peace, lady. Pause, or be more temperate.
 It ill beseems this presence to cry aim
205 To these ill-tunèd repetitions.—
 Some trumpet summon hither to the walls
 These men of Angiers. Let us hear them speak
 Whose title they admit, Arthur’s or John’s.
Trumpet sounds.

Enter Citizens upon the walls.

CITIZEN 
 Who is it that hath warned us to the walls?
KING PHILIP 
210 ’Tis France, for England.
KING JOHN  England, for itself.
 You men of Angiers, and my loving subjects—
KING PHILIP 
 You loving men of Angiers, Arthur’s subjects,
 Our trumpet called you to this gentle parle—

47
King John
ACT 2. SC. 1

KING JOHN 
215 For our advantage. Therefore hear us first.
 These flags of France that are advancèd here
 Before the eye and prospect of your town,
 Have hither marched to your endamagement.
 The cannons have their bowels full of wrath,
220 And ready mounted are they to spit forth
 Their iron indignation ’gainst your walls.
 All preparation for a bloody siege
 And merciless proceeding by these French
 Confronts your city’s eyes, your winking gates,
225 And, but for our approach, those sleeping stones,
 That as a waist doth girdle you about,
 By the compulsion of their ordinance
 By this time from their fixèd beds of lime
 Had been dishabited, and wide havoc made
230 For bloody power to rush upon your peace.
 But on the sight of us your lawful king,
 Who painfully with much expedient march
 Have brought a countercheck before your gates
 To save unscratched your city’s threatened cheeks,
235 Behold, the French, amazed, vouchsafe a parle.
 And now, instead of bullets wrapped in fire
 To make a shaking fever in your walls,
 They shoot but calm words folded up in smoke
 To make a faithless error in your ears,
240 Which trust accordingly, kind citizens,
 And let us in. Your king, whose labored spirits
 Forwearied in this action of swift speed,
 Craves harborage within your city walls.
KING PHILIP 
 When I have said, make answer to us both.
He takes Arthur by the hand.
245 Lo, in this right hand, whose protection
 Is most divinely vowed upon the right

49
King John
ACT 2. SC. 1

 Of him it holds, stands young Plantagenet,
 Son to the elder brother of this man,
 And king o’er him and all that he enjoys.
250 For this downtrodden equity we tread
 In warlike march these greens before your town,
 Being no further enemy to you
 Than the constraint of hospitable zeal
 In the relief of this oppressèd child
255 Religiously provokes. Be pleasèd then
 To pay that duty which you truly owe
 To him that owes it, namely, this young prince,
 And then our arms, like to a muzzled bear
 Save in aspect, hath all offense sealed up.
260 Our cannons’ malice vainly shall be spent
 Against th’ invulnerable clouds of heaven,
 And with a blessèd and unvexed retire,
 With unbacked swords and helmets all unbruised,
 We will bear home that lusty blood again
265 Which here we came to spout against your town,
 And leave your children, wives, and you in peace.
 But if you fondly pass our proffered offer,
 ’Tis not the roundure of your old-faced walls
 Can hide you from our messengers of war,
270 Though all these English and their discipline
 Were harbored in their rude circumference.
 Then tell us, shall your city call us lord
 In that behalf which we have challenged it?
 Or shall we give the signal to our rage
275 And stalk in blood to our possession?
CITIZEN 
 In brief, we are the King of England’s subjects.
 For him, and in his right, we hold this town.
KING JOHN 
 Acknowledge then the King and let me in.
CITIZEN 
 That can we not. But he that proves the King,

51
King John
ACT 2. SC. 1

280 To him will we prove loyal. Till that time
 Have we rammed up our gates against the world.
KING JOHN 
 Doth not the crown of England prove the King?
 And if not that, I bring you witnesses,
 Twice fifteen thousand hearts of England’s breed—
BASTARD 285Bastards and else.
KING JOHN 
 To verify our title with their lives.
KING PHILIP 
 As many and as wellborn bloods as those—
BASTARD Some bastards too.
KING PHILIP 
 Stand in his face to contradict his claim.
CITIZEN 
290 Till you compound whose right is worthiest,
 We for the worthiest hold the right from both.
KING JOHN 
 Then God forgive the sin of all those souls
 That to their everlasting residence,
 Before the dew of evening fall, shall fleet
295 In dreadful trial of our kingdom’s king.
KING PHILIP 
 Amen, amen.—Mount, chevaliers! To arms!
BASTARD 
 Saint George, that swinged the dragon and e’er
 since
 Sits on ’s horseback at mine hostess’ door,
300 Teach us some fence! To Austria. Sirrah, were I at
 home
 At your den, sirrah, with your lioness,
 I would set an ox head to your lion’s hide
 And make a monster of you.
AUSTRIA 305 Peace! No more.
BASTARD 
 O, tremble, for you hear the lion roar.

53
King John
ACT 2. SC. 1

KING JOHN, to his officers 
 Up higher to the plain, where we’ll set forth
 In best appointment all our regiments.
BASTARD 
 Speed, then, to take advantage of the field.
KING PHILIP, to his officers 
310 It shall be so, and at the other hill
 Command the rest to stand. God and our right!
They exit. Citizens remain, above.

Here, after excursions, enter the Herald of France, with
Trumpets, to the gates.


FRENCH HERALD 
 You men of Angiers, open wide your gates,
 And let young Arthur, Duke of Brittany, in,
 Who by the hand of France this day hath made
315 Much work for tears in many an English mother,
 Whose sons lie scattered on the bleeding ground.
 Many a widow’s husband groveling lies
 Coldly embracing the discolored earth,
 And victory with little loss doth play
320 Upon the dancing banners of the French,
 Who are at hand, triumphantly displayed,
 To enter conquerors and to proclaim
 Arthur of Brittany England’s king and yours.

Enter English Herald, with Trumpet.

ENGLISH HERALD 
 Rejoice, you men of Angiers, ring your bells!
325 King John, your king and England’s, doth approach,
 Commander of this hot malicious day.
 Their armors, that marched hence so silver bright,
 Hither return all gilt with Frenchmen’s blood.
 There stuck no plume in any English crest
330 That is removèd by a staff of France.

55
King John
ACT 2. SC. 1

 Our colors do return in those same hands
 That did display them when we first marched forth,
 And like a jolly troop of huntsmen come
 Our lusty English, all with purpled hands,
335 Dyed in the dying slaughter of their foes.
 Open your gates, and give the victors way.
CITIZEN 
 Heralds, from off our towers we might behold
 From first to last the onset and retire
 Of both your armies, whose equality
340 By our best eyes cannot be censurèd.
 Blood hath bought blood, and blows have answered
 blows,
 Strength matched with strength, and power
 confronted power.
345 Both are alike, and both alike we like.
 One must prove greatest. While they weigh so even,
 We hold our town for neither, yet for both.

Enter the two Kings with their Powers (including the
Bastard, Queen Eleanor, Blanche, and Salisbury;
Austria, and Louis the Dauphin), at several doors.


KING JOHN 
 France, hast thou yet more blood to cast away?
 Say, shall the current of our right roam on,
350 Whose passage, vexed with thy impediment,
 Shall leave his native channel and o’erswell
 With course disturbed even thy confining shores,
 Unless thou let his silver water keep
 A peaceful progress to the ocean?
KING PHILIP 
355 England, thou hast not saved one drop of blood
 In this hot trial more than we of France,
 Rather lost more. And by this hand I swear
 That sways the earth this climate overlooks,

57
King John
ACT 2. SC. 1

 Before we will lay down our just-borne arms,
360 We’ll put thee down, ’gainst whom these arms we
 bear,
 Or add a royal number to the dead,
 Gracing the scroll that tells of this war’s loss
 With slaughter coupled to the name of kings.
BASTARD, aside 
365 Ha, majesty! How high thy glory towers
 When the rich blood of kings is set on fire!
 O, now doth Death line his dead chaps with steel,
 The swords of soldiers are his teeth, his fangs,
 And now he feasts, mousing the flesh of men
370 In undetermined differences of kings.
 Why stand these royal fronts amazèd thus?
 Cry havoc, kings! Back to the stainèd field,
 You equal potents, fiery-kindled spirits.
 Then let confusion of one part confirm
375 The other’s peace. Till then, blows, blood, and
 death!
KING JOHN 
 Whose party do the townsmen yet admit?
KING PHILIP 
 Speak, citizens, for England. Who’s your king?
CITIZEN 
 The King of England, when we know the King.
KING PHILIP 
380 Know him in us, that here hold up his right.
KING JOHN 
 In us, that are our own great deputy
 And bear possession of our person here,
 Lord of our presence, Angiers, and of you.
CITIZEN 
 A greater power than we denies all this,
385 And till it be undoubted, we do lock
 Our former scruple in our strong-barred gates,

59
King John
ACT 2. SC. 1

 Kings of our fear, until our fears resolved
 Be by some certain king purged and deposed.
BASTARD 
 By heaven, these scroyles of Angiers flout you, kings,
390 And stand securely on their battlements
 As in a theater, whence they gape and point
 At your industrious scenes and acts of death.
 Your royal presences, be ruled by me:
 Do like the mutines of Jerusalem,
395 Be friends awhile, and both conjointly bend
 Your sharpest deeds of malice on this town.
 By east and west let France and England mount
 Their battering cannon chargèd to the mouths,
 Till their soul-fearing clamors have brawled down
400 The flinty ribs of this contemptuous city.
 I’d play incessantly upon these jades,
 Even till unfencèd desolation
 Leave them as naked as the vulgar air.
 That done, dissever your united strengths
405 And part your mingled colors once again;
 Turn face to face and bloody point to point.
 Then in a moment Fortune shall cull forth
 Out of one side her happy minion,
 To whom in favor she shall give the day
410 And kiss him with a glorious victory.
 How like you this wild counsel, mighty states?
 Smacks it not something of the policy?
KING JOHN 
 Now by the sky that hangs above our heads,
 I like it well. France, shall we knit our powers
415 And lay this Angiers even with the ground,
 Then after fight who shall be king of it?
BASTARD, to King Philip 
 An if thou hast the mettle of a king,
 Being wronged as we are by this peevish town,

61
King John
ACT 2. SC. 1

 Turn thou the mouth of thy artillery,
420 As we will ours, against these saucy walls,
 And when that we have dashed them to the ground,
 Why, then, defy each other and pell-mell
 Make work upon ourselves, for heaven or hell.
KING PHILIP 
 Let it be so. Say, where will you assault?
KING JOHN 
425 We from the west will send destruction
 Into this city’s bosom.
AUSTRIA I from the north.
KING PHILIP Our thunder from the south
 Shall rain their drift of bullets on this town.
BASTARD, aside 
430 O, prudent discipline! From north to south,
 Austria and France shoot in each other’s mouth.
 I’ll stir them to it. — Come, away, away!
CITIZEN 
 Hear us, great kings. Vouchsafe awhile to stay,
 And I shall show you peace and fair-faced league,
435 Win you this city without stroke or wound,
 Rescue those breathing lives to die in beds
 That here come sacrifices for the field.
 Persever not, but hear me, mighty kings.
KING JOHN 
 Speak on with favor. We are bent to hear.
CITIZEN 
440 That daughter there of Spain, the Lady Blanche,
 Is near to England. Look upon the years
 Of Louis the Dauphin and that lovely maid.
 If lusty love should go in quest of beauty,
 Where should he find it fairer than in Blanche?
445 If zealous love should go in search of virtue,
 Where should he find it purer than in Blanche?
 If love ambitious sought a match of birth,

63
King John
ACT 2. SC. 1

 Whose veins bound richer blood than Lady
 Blanche?
450 Such as she is, in beauty, virtue, birth,
 Is the young Dauphin every way complete.
 If not complete of, say he is not she,
 And she again wants nothing, to name want,
 If want it be not that she is not he.
455 He is the half part of a blessèd man,
 Left to be finishèd by such as she,
 And she a fair divided excellence,
 Whose fullness of perfection lies in him.
 O, two such silver currents when they join
460 Do glorify the banks that bound them in,
 And two such shores to two such streams made one,
 Two such controlling bounds shall you be, kings,
 To these two princes, if you marry them.
 This union shall do more than battery can
465 To our fast-closèd gates, for at this match,
 With swifter spleen than powder can enforce,
 The mouth of passage shall we fling wide ope
 And give you entrance. But without this match,
 The sea enragèd is not half so deaf,
470 Lions more confident, mountains and rocks
 More free from motion, no, not Death himself
 In mortal fury half so peremptory
 As we to keep this city.
King Philip and Louis the Dauphin
walk aside and talk.

BASTARD, aside  Here’s a stay
475 That shakes the rotten carcass of old Death
 Out of his rags! Here’s a large mouth indeed
 That spits forth death and mountains, rocks and
 seas;
 Talks as familiarly of roaring lions
480 As maids of thirteen do of puppy dogs.

65
King John
ACT 2. SC. 1

 What cannoneer begot this lusty blood?
 He speaks plain cannon fire, and smoke, and
 bounce.
 He gives the bastinado with his tongue.
485 Our ears are cudgeled. Not a word of his
 But buffets better than a fist of France.
 Zounds, I was never so bethumped with words
 Since I first called my brother’s father Dad.
QUEEN ELEANOR, aside to King John 
 Son, list to this conjunction; make this match.
490 Give with our niece a dowry large enough,
 For by this knot thou shalt so surely tie
 Thy now unsured assurance to the crown
 That yon green boy shall have no sun to ripe
 The bloom that promiseth a mighty fruit.
495 I see a yielding in the looks of France.
 Mark how they whisper. Urge them while their
 souls
 Are capable of this ambition,
 Lest zeal, now melted by the windy breath
500 Of soft petitions, pity, and remorse,
 Cool and congeal again to what it was.
CITIZEN 
 Why answer not the double majesties
 This friendly treaty of our threatened town?
KING PHILIP 
 Speak England first, that hath been forward first
505 To speak unto this city. What say you?
KING JOHN 
 If that the Dauphin there, thy princely son,
 Can in this book of beauty read “I love,”
 Her dowry shall weigh equal with a queen.
 For Anjou and fair Touraine, Maine, Poitiers,
510 And all that we upon this side the sea—
 Except this city now by us besieged—

67
King John
ACT 2. SC. 1

 Find liable to our crown and dignity,
 Shall gild her bridal bed and make her rich
 In titles, honors, and promotions,
515 As she in beauty, education, blood,
 Holds hand with any princess of the world.
KING PHILIP 
 What sayst thou, boy? Look in the lady’s face.
DAUPHIN 
 I do, my lord, and in her eye I find
 A wonder or a wondrous miracle,
520 The shadow of myself formed in her eye,
 Which, being but the shadow of your son,
 Becomes a sun and makes your son a shadow.
 I do protest I never loved myself
 Till now infixèd I beheld myself
525 Drawn in the flattering table of her eye.
He whispers with Blanche.
BASTARD, aside 
 “Drawn in the flattering table of her eye”?
  Hanged in the frowning wrinkle of her brow
 And quartered in her heart! He doth espy
  Himself love’s traitor. This is pity now,
530 That hanged and drawn and quartered there should
 be
 In such a love so vile a lout as he.
BLANCHE, aside to Dauphin 
 My uncle’s will in this respect is mine.
 If he see aught in you that makes him like,
535 That anything he sees which moves his liking
 I can with ease translate it to my will.
 Or if you will, to speak more properly,
 I will enforce it eas’ly to my love.
 Further I will not flatter you, my lord,
540 That all I see in you is worthy love,
 Than this: that nothing do I see in you,

69
King John
ACT 2. SC. 1

 Though churlish thoughts themselves should be
 your judge,
 That I can find should merit any hate.
KING JOHN 
545 What say these young ones? What say you, my
 niece?
BLANCHE 
 That she is bound in honor still to do
 What you in wisdom still vouchsafe to say.
KING JOHN 
 Speak then, Prince Dauphin. Can you love this lady?
DAUPHIN 
550 Nay, ask me if I can refrain from love,
 For I do love her most unfeignedly.
KING JOHN 
 Then do I give Volquessen, Touraine, Maine,
 Poitiers and Anjou, these five provinces
 With her to thee, and this addition more:
555 Full thirty thousand marks of English coin.—
 Philip of France, if thou be pleased withal,
 Command thy son and daughter to join hands.
KING PHILIP 
 It likes us well.—Young princes, close your hands.
AUSTRIA 
 And your lips too, for I am well assured
560 That I did so when I was first assured.
Dauphin and Blanche join hands and kiss.
KING PHILIP 
 Now, citizens of Angiers, ope your gates.
 Let in that amity which you have made,
 For at Saint Mary’s Chapel presently
 The rites of marriage shall be solemnized.—
565 Is not the Lady Constance in this troop?
 I know she is not, for this match made up
 Her presence would have interrupted much.
 Where is she and her son? Tell me, who knows.

71
King John
ACT 2. SC. 1

DAUPHIN 
 She is sad and passionate at your Highness’ tent.
KING PHILIP 
570 And by my faith, this league that we have made
 Will give her sadness very little cure.—
 Brother of England, how may we content
 This widow lady? In her right we came,
 Which we, God knows, have turned another way
575 To our own vantage.
KING JOHN  We will heal up all,
 For we’ll create young Arthur Duke of Brittany
 And Earl of Richmond, and this rich, fair town
 We make him lord of.—Call the Lady Constance.
580 Some speedy messenger bid her repair
 To our solemnity. Salisbury exits. I trust we
 shall,
 If not fill up the measure of her will,
 Yet in some measure satisfy her so
585 That we shall stop her exclamation.
 Go we as well as haste will suffer us
 To this unlooked-for, unpreparèd pomp.
All but the Bastard exit.
BASTARD 
 Mad world, mad kings, mad composition!
 John, to stop Arthur’s title in the whole,
590 Hath willingly departed with a part;
 And France, whose armor conscience buckled on,
 Whom zeal and charity brought to the field
 As God’s own soldier, rounded in the ear
 With that same purpose-changer, that sly devil,
595 That broker that still breaks the pate of faith,
 That daily break-vow, he that wins of all,
 Of kings, of beggars, old men, young men, maids—
 Who having no external thing to lose
 But the word “maid,” cheats the poor maid of
600 that—

73
King John
ACT 2. SC. 1

 That smooth-faced gentleman, tickling Commodity,
 Commodity, the bias of the world—
 The world, who of itself is peisèd well,
 Made to run even upon even ground,
605 Till this advantage, this vile-drawing bias,
 This sway of motion, this Commodity,
 Makes it take head from all indifferency,
 From all direction, purpose, course, intent.
 And this same bias, this Commodity,
610 This bawd, this broker, this all-changing word,
 Clapped on the outward eye of fickle France,
 Hath drawn him from his own determined aid,
 From a resolved and honorable war
 To a most base and vile-concluded peace.
615 And why rail I on this Commodity?
 But for because he hath not wooed me yet.
 Not that I have the power to clutch my hand
 When his fair angels would salute my palm,
 But for my hand, as unattempted yet,
620 Like a poor beggar raileth on the rich.
 Well, whiles I am a beggar, I will rail
 And say there is no sin but to be rich;
 And being rich, my virtue then shall be
 To say there is no vice but beggary.
625 Since kings break faith upon Commodity,
 Gain, be my lord, for I will worship thee!
He exits.


ACT 3
Scene 1
Enter Constance, Arthur, and Salisbury.

CONSTANCE, to Salisbury 
 Gone to be married? Gone to swear a peace?
 False blood to false blood joined? Gone to be friends?
 Shall Louis have Blanche and Blanche those
 provinces?
5 It is not so. Thou hast misspoke, misheard.
 Be well advised; tell o’er thy tale again.
 It cannot be; thou dost but say ’tis so.
 I trust I may not trust thee, for thy word
 Is but the vain breath of a common man.
10 Believe me, I do not believe thee, man.
 I have a king’s oath to the contrary.
 Thou shalt be punished for thus flighting me,
 For I am sick and capable of fears,
 Oppressed with wrongs and therefore full of fears,
15 A widow, husbandless, subject to fears,
 A woman naturally born to fears.
 And though thou now confess thou didst but jest,
 With my vexed spirits I cannot take a truce,
 But they will quake and tremble all this day.
20 What dost thou mean by shaking of thy head?
 Why dost thou look so sadly on my son?
 What means that hand upon that breast of thine?
77

79
King John
ACT 3. SC. 1

 Why holds thine eye that lamentable rheum,
 Like a proud river peering o’er his bounds?
25 Be these sad signs confirmers of thy words?
 Then speak again—not all thy former tale,
 But this one word, whether thy tale be true.
SALISBURY 
 As true as I believe you think them false
 That give you cause to prove my saying true.
CONSTANCE 
30 O, if thou teach me to believe this sorrow,
 Teach thou this sorrow how to make me die,
 And let belief and life encounter so
 As doth the fury of two desperate men
 Which in the very meeting fall and die.
35 Louis marry Blanche?—O, boy, then where art
 thou?—
 France friend with England? What becomes of me?
 Fellow, be gone. I cannot brook thy sight.
 This news hath made thee a most ugly man.
SALISBURY 
40 What other harm have I, good lady, done
 But spoke the harm that is by others done?
CONSTANCE 
 Which harm within itself so heinous is
 As it makes harmful all that speak of it.
ARTHUR 
 I do beseech you, madam, be content.
CONSTANCE 
45 If thou that bidd’st me be content wert grim,
 Ugly, and sland’rous to thy mother’s womb,
 Full of unpleasing blots and sightless stains,
 Lame, foolish, crooked, swart, prodigious,
 Patched with foul moles and eye-offending marks,
50 I would not care; I then would be content,
 For then I should not love thee; no, nor thou

81
King John
ACT 3. SC. 1

 Become thy great birth, nor deserve a crown.
 But thou art fair, and at thy birth, dear boy,
 Nature and Fortune joined to make thee great.
55 Of Nature’s gifts thou mayst with lilies boast,
 And with the half-blown rose. But Fortune, O,
 She is corrupted, changed, and won from thee;
 Sh’ adulterates hourly with thine Uncle John,
 And with her golden hand hath plucked on France
60 To tread down fair respect of sovereignty,
 And made his majesty the bawd to theirs.
 France is a bawd to Fortune and King John,
 That strumpet Fortune, that usurping John.—
 Tell me, thou fellow, is not France forsworn?
65 Envenom him with words, or get thee gone
 And leave those woes alone which I alone
 Am bound to underbear.
SALISBURY  Pardon me, madam,
 I may not go without you to the Kings.
CONSTANCE 
70 Thou mayst, thou shalt, I will not go with thee.
 I will instruct my sorrows to be proud,
 For grief is proud and makes his owner stoop.
She sits down.
 To me and to the state of my great grief
 Let kings assemble, for my grief ’s so great
75 That no supporter but the huge firm Earth
 Can hold it up. Here I and sorrows sit.
 Here is my throne; bid kings come bow to it.

Enter King John, hand in hand with King Philip of
France, Louis the Dauphin, Blanche, Queen Eleanor,
Bastard, Austria, and Attendants.


KING PHILIP, to Blanche 
 ’Tis true, fair daughter, and this blessèd day
 Ever in France shall be kept festival.

83
King John
ACT 3. SC. 1

80 To solemnize this day the glorious sun
 Stays in his course and plays the alchemist,
 Turning with splendor of his precious eye
 The meager cloddy earth to glittering gold.
 The yearly course that brings this day about
85 Shall never see it but a holy day.
CONSTANCE, rising 
 A wicked day, and not a holy day!
 What hath this day deserved? What hath it done
 That it in golden letters should be set
 Among the high tides in the calendar?
90 Nay, rather turn this day out of the week,
 This day of shame, oppression, perjury.
 Or if it must stand still, let wives with child
 Pray that their burdens may not fall this day,
 Lest that their hopes prodigiously be crossed.
95 But on this day let seamen fear no wrack;
 No bargains break that are not this day made;
 This day, all things begun come to ill end,
 Yea, faith itself to hollow falsehood change!
KING PHILIP 
 By heaven, lady, you shall have no cause
100 To curse the fair proceedings of this day.
 Have I not pawned to you my majesty?
CONSTANCE 
 You have beguiled me with a counterfeit
 Resembling majesty, which, being touched and tried,
 Proves valueless. You are forsworn, forsworn.
105 You came in arms to spill mine enemies’ blood,
 But now in arms you strengthen it with yours.
 The grappling vigor and rough frown of war
 Is cold in amity and painted peace,
 And our oppression hath made up this league.
110 Arm, arm, you heavens, against these perjured
 kings!

85
King John
ACT 3. SC. 1

 A widow cries; be husband to me, God!
 Let not the hours of this ungodly day
 Wear out the days in peace, but ere sunset
115 Set armèd discord ’twixt these perjured kings.
 Hear me, O, hear me!
AUSTRIA  Lady Constance, peace.
CONSTANCE 
 War, war, no peace! Peace is to me a war.
 O Limoges, O Austria, thou dost shame
120 That bloody spoil. Thou slave, thou wretch, thou
 coward,
 Thou little valiant, great in villainy,
 Thou ever strong upon the stronger side,
 Thou Fortune’s champion, that dost never fight
125 But when her humorous Ladyship is by
 To teach thee safety. Thou art perjured too,
 And sooth’st up greatness. What a fool art thou,
 A ramping fool, to brag and stamp and swear
 Upon my party. Thou cold-blooded slave,
130 Hast thou not spoke like thunder on my side?
 Been sworn my soldier, bidding me depend
 Upon thy stars, thy fortune, and thy strength?
 And dost thou now fall over to my foes?
 Thou wear a lion’s hide! Doff it for shame,
135 And hang a calfskin on those recreant limbs.
AUSTRIA 
 O, that a man should speak those words to me!
BASTARD 
 “And hang a calfskin on those recreant limbs.”
AUSTRIA 
 Thou dar’st not say so, villain, for thy life!
BASTARD 
 “And hang a calfskin on those recreant limbs.”
KING JOHN 
140 We like not this. Thou dost forget thyself.

87
King John
ACT 3. SC. 1

Enter Pandulph.

KING PHILIP 
 Here comes the holy legate of the Pope.
PANDULPH 
 Hail, you anointed deputies of heaven!
 To thee, King John, my holy errand is.
 I, Pandulph, of fair Milan cardinal
145 And from Pope Innocent the legate here,
 Do in his name religiously demand
 Why thou against the Church, our holy mother,
 So willfully dost spurn, and force perforce
 Keep Stephen Langton, chosen Archbishop
150 Of Canterbury, from that Holy See.
 This, in our foresaid Holy Father’s name,
 Pope Innocent, I do demand of thee.
KING JOHN 
 What earthy name to interrogatories
 Can task the free breath of a sacred king?
155 Thou canst not, cardinal, devise a name
 So slight, unworthy, and ridiculous
 To charge me to an answer, as the Pope.
 Tell him this tale, and from the mouth of England
 Add thus much more, that no Italian priest
160 Shall tithe or toll in our dominions;
 But as we under God are supreme head,
 So, under Him, that great supremacy
 Where we do reign we will alone uphold
 Without th’ assistance of a mortal hand.
165 So tell the Pope, all reverence set apart
 To him and his usurped authority.
KING PHILIP 
 Brother of England, you blaspheme in this.
KING JOHN 
 Though you and all the kings of Christendom
 Are led so grossly by this meddling priest,

89
King John
ACT 3. SC. 1

170 Dreading the curse that money may buy out,
 And by the merit of vile gold, dross, dust,
 Purchase corrupted pardon of a man
 Who in that sale sells pardon from himself,
 Though you and all the rest, so grossly led,
175 This juggling witchcraft with revenue cherish,
 Yet I alone, alone do me oppose
 Against the Pope, and count his friends my foes.
PANDULPH 
 Then, by the lawful power that I have,
 Thou shalt stand cursed and excommunicate;
180 And blessèd shall he be that doth revolt
 From his allegiance to an heretic;
 And meritorious shall that hand be called,
 Canonizèd and worshiped as a saint,
 That takes away by any secret course
185 Thy hateful life.
CONSTANCE  O, lawful let it be
 That I have room with Rome to curse awhile!
 Good father cardinal, cry thou “Amen”
 To my keen curses, for without my wrong
190 There is no tongue hath power to curse him right.
PANDULPH 
 There’s law and warrant, lady, for my curse.
CONSTANCE 
 And for mine, too. When law can do no right,
 Let it be lawful that law bar no wrong.
 Law cannot give my child his kingdom here,
195 For he that holds his kingdom holds the law.
 Therefore, since law itself is perfect wrong,
 How can the law forbid my tongue to curse?
PANDULPH 
 Philip of France, on peril of a curse,
 Let go the hand of that arch-heretic,
200 And raise the power of France upon his head
 Unless he do submit himself to Rome.

91
King John
ACT 3. SC. 1

QUEEN ELEANOR 
 Look’st thou pale, France? Do not let go thy hand.
CONSTANCE 
 Look to that, devil, lest that France repent
 And by disjoining hands, hell lose a soul.
AUSTRIA 
205 King Philip, listen to the Cardinal.
BASTARD 
 And hang a calfskin on his recreant limbs.
AUSTRIA 
 Well, ruffian, I must pocket up these wrongs,
 Because—
BASTARD  Your breeches best may carry them.
KING JOHN 
210 Philip, what sayst thou to the Cardinal?
CONSTANCE 
 What should he say, but as the Cardinal?
DAUPHIN 
 Bethink you, father, for the difference
 Is purchase of a heavy curse from Rome,
 Or the light loss of England for a friend.
215 Forgo the easier.
BLANCHE  That’s the curse of Rome.
CONSTANCE 
 O Louis, stand fast! The devil tempts thee here
 In likeness of a new untrimmèd bride.
BLANCHE 
 The Lady Constance speaks not from her faith,
220 But from her need.
CONSTANCE, to King Philip 
 O, if thou grant my need,
 Which only lives but by the death of faith,
 That need must needs infer this principle:
 That faith would live again by death of need.
225 O, then tread down my need, and faith mounts up;
 Keep my need up, and faith is trodden down.

93
King John
ACT 3. SC. 1

KING JOHN 
 The King is moved, and answers not to this.
CONSTANCE, to King Philip 
 O, be removed from him, and answer well!
AUSTRIA 
 Do so, King Philip. Hang no more in doubt.
BASTARD 
230 Hang nothing but a calfskin, most sweet lout.
KING PHILIP 
 I am perplexed and know not what to say.
PANDULPH 
 What canst thou say but will perplex thee more,
 If thou stand excommunicate and cursed?
KING PHILIP 
 Good reverend father, make my person yours,
235 And tell me how you would bestow yourself.
 This royal hand and mine are newly knit,
 And the conjunction of our inward souls
 Married, in league, coupled, and linked together
 With all religious strength of sacred vows.
240 The latest breath that gave the sound of words
 Was deep-sworn faith, peace, amity, true love
 Between our kingdoms and our royal selves;
 And even before this truce, but new before,
 No longer than we well could wash our hands
245 To clap this royal bargain up of peace,
 God knows they were besmeared and overstained
 With slaughter’s pencil, where revenge did paint
 The fearful difference of incensèd kings.
 And shall these hands, so lately purged of blood,
250 So newly joined in love, so strong in both,
 Unyoke this seizure and this kind regreet?
 Play fast and loose with faith? So jest with heaven?
 Make such unconstant children of ourselves
 As now again to snatch our palm from palm,

95
King John
ACT 3. SC. 1

255 Unswear faith sworn, and on the marriage bed
 Of smiling peace to march a bloody host
 And make a riot on the gentle brow
 Of true sincerity? O holy sir,
 My reverend father, let it not be so!
260 Out of your grace, devise, ordain, impose
 Some gentle order, and then we shall be blest
 To do your pleasure and continue friends.
PANDULPH 
 All form is formless, order orderless,
 Save what is opposite to England’s love.
265 Therefore to arms! Be champion of our Church,
 Or let the Church, our mother, breathe her curse,
 A mother’s curse, on her revolting son.
 France, thou mayst hold a serpent by the tongue,
 A chafèd lion by the mortal paw,
270 A fasting tiger safer by the tooth,
 Than keep in peace that hand which thou dost hold.
KING PHILIP 
 I may disjoin my hand, but not my faith.
PANDULPH 
 So mak’st thou faith an enemy to faith,
 And like a civil war sett’st oath to oath,
275 Thy tongue against thy tongue. O, let thy vow
 First made to God, first be to God performed,
 That is, to be the champion of our Church!
 What since thou swor’st is sworn against thyself
 And may not be performèd by thyself,
280 For that which thou hast sworn to do amiss
 Is not amiss when it is truly done;
 And being not done where doing tends to ill,
 The truth is then most done not doing it.
 The better act of purposes mistook
285 Is to mistake again; though indirect,
 Yet indirection thereby grows direct,

97
King John
ACT 3. SC. 1

 And falsehood falsehood cures, as fire cools fire
 Within the scorchèd veins of one new-burned.
 It is religion that doth make vows kept,
290 But thou hast sworn against religion
 By what thou swear’st against the thing thou
 swear’st,
 And mak’st an oath the surety for thy truth
 Against an oath. The truth thou art unsure
295 To swear swears only not to be forsworn,
 Else what a mockery should it be to swear?
 But thou dost swear only to be forsworn,
 And most forsworn to keep what thou dost swear.
 Therefore thy later vows against thy first
300 Is in thyself rebellion to thyself.
 And better conquest never canst thou make
 Than arm thy constant and thy nobler parts
 Against these giddy loose suggestions,
 Upon which better part our prayers come in,
305 If thou vouchsafe them. But if not, then know
 The peril of our curses light on thee
 So heavy as thou shalt not shake them off,
 But in despair die under their black weight.
AUSTRIA 
 Rebellion, flat rebellion!
BASTARD 310 Will ’t not be?
 Will not a calfskin stop that mouth of thine?
DAUPHIN 
 Father, to arms!
BLANCHE  Upon thy wedding day?
 Against the blood that thou hast marrièd?
315 What, shall our feast be kept with slaughtered men?
 Shall braying trumpets and loud churlish drums,
 Clamors of hell, be measures to our pomp?
She kneels.
 O husband, hear me! Ay, alack, how new
 Is “husband” in my mouth! Even for that name,

99
King John
ACT 3. SC. 1

320 Which till this time my tongue did ne’er pronounce,
 Upon my knee I beg, go not to arms
 Against mine uncle.
CONSTANCE, kneeling 
 O, upon my knee
 Made hard with kneeling, I do pray to thee,
325 Thou virtuous Dauphin, alter not the doom
 Forethought by heaven!
BLANCHE, to Dauphin 
 Now shall I see thy love. What motive may
 Be stronger with thee than the name of wife?
CONSTANCE 
 That which upholdeth him that thee upholds,
330 His honor.—O, thine honor, Louis, thine honor!
DAUPHIN, to King Philip 
 I muse your Majesty doth seem so cold,
 When such profound respects do pull you on.
PANDULPH 
 I will denounce a curse upon his head.
KING PHILIP, dropping King John’s hand 
 Thou shalt not need.—England, I will fall from
335 thee.
CONSTANCE, rising 
 O, fair return of banished majesty!
QUEEN ELEANOR 
 O, foul revolt of French inconstancy!
KING JOHN 
 France, thou shalt rue this hour within this hour.
BASTARD 
 Old Time the clock-setter, that bald sexton Time,
340 Is it as he will? Well, then, France shall rue.
BLANCHE, rising 
 The sun’s o’ercast with blood. Fair day, adieu.
 Which is the side that I must go withal?
 I am with both, each army hath a hand,

101
King John
ACT 3. SC. 2

 And in their rage, I having hold of both,
345 They whirl asunder and dismember me.
 Husband, I cannot pray that thou mayst win.—
 Uncle, I needs must pray that thou mayst lose.—
 Father, I may not wish the fortune thine.—
 Grandam, I will not wish thy wishes thrive.
350 Whoever wins, on that side shall I lose.
 Assurèd loss before the match be played.
DAUPHIN 
 Lady, with me, with me thy fortune lies.
BLANCHE 
 There where my fortune lives, there my life dies.
KING JOHN, to Bastard 
 Cousin, go draw our puissance together.
Bastard exits.
355 France, I am burned up with inflaming wrath,
 A rage whose heat hath this condition,
 That nothing can allay, nothing but blood—
 The blood, and dearest-valued blood, of France.
KING PHILIP 
 Thy rage shall burn thee up, and thou shalt turn
360 To ashes ere our blood shall quench that fire.
 Look to thyself. Thou art in jeopardy.
KING JOHN 
 No more than he that threats.—To arms let’s hie!
They exit.


Scene 2
Alarums, excursions.
Enter Bastard with Austria’s head.


BASTARD 
 Now, by my life, this day grows wondrous hot.
 Some airy devil hovers in the sky
 And pours down mischief. Austria’s head lie there,
 While Philip breathes.

103
King John
ACT 3. SC. 3

Enter King John, Arthur, Hubert.

KING JOHN 
5 Hubert, keep this boy.—Philip, make up.
 My mother is assailèd in our tent
 And ta’en, I fear.
BASTARD  My lord, I rescued her.
 Her Highness is in safety, fear you not.
10 But on, my liege, for very little pains
 Will bring this labor to an happy end.
They exit.


Scene 3
Alarums, excursions, retreat.
Enter King John, Queen Eleanor, Arthur, Bastard,
Hubert, Lords.


KING JOHN, to Queen Eleanor 
 So shall it be. Your Grace shall stay behind
 So strongly guarded. To Arthur. Cousin, look not sad.
 Thy grandam loves thee, and thy uncle will
 As dear be to thee as thy father was.
ARTHUR 
5 O, this will make my mother die with grief!
KING JOHN, to Bastard 
 Cousin, away for England! Haste before,
 And ere our coining see thou shake the bags
 Of hoarding abbots; imprisoned angels
 Set at liberty. The fat ribs of peace
10 Must by the hungry now be fed upon.
 Use our commission in his utmost force.
BASTARD 
 Bell, book, and candle shall not drive me back
 When gold and silver becks me to come on.
 I leave your Highness.—Grandam, I will pray,

105
King John
ACT 3. SC. 3

15 If ever I remember to be holy,
 For your fair safety. So I kiss your hand.
QUEEN ELEANOR 
 Farewell, gentle cousin.
KING JOHN  Coz, farewell.Bastard exits.
QUEEN ELEANOR, to Arthur 
 Come hither, little kinsman. Hark, a word.
They walk aside.
KING JOHN 
20 Come hither, Hubert.He takes Hubert aside.
 O, my gentle Hubert,
 We owe thee much. Within this wall of flesh
 There is a soul counts thee her creditor,
 And with advantage means to pay thy love.
25 And, my good friend, thy voluntary oath
 Lives in this bosom dearly cherishèd.
 Give me thy hand. I had a thing to say,
 But I will fit it with some better tune.
 By heaven, Hubert, I am almost ashamed
30 To say what good respect I have of thee.
HUBERT 
 I am much bounden to your Majesty.
KING JOHN 
 Good friend, thou hast no cause to say so yet,
 But thou shalt have. And, creep time ne’er so slow,
 Yet it shall come for me to do thee good.
35 I had a thing to say—but let it go.
 The sun is in the heaven, and the proud day,
 Attended with the pleasures of the world,
 Is all too wanton and too full of gauds
 To give me audience. If the midnight bell
40 Did with his iron tongue and brazen mouth
 Sound on into the drowsy race of night;
 If this same were a churchyard where we stand,
 And thou possessèd with a thousand wrongs;

107
King John
ACT 3. SC. 3

 Or if that surly spirit, melancholy,
45 Had baked thy blood and made it heavy, thick,
 Which else runs tickling up and down the veins,
 Making that idiot, laughter, keep men’s eyes
 And strain their cheeks to idle merriment,
 A passion hateful to my purposes;
50 Or if that thou couldst see me without eyes,
 Hear me without thine ears, and make reply
 Without a tongue, using conceit alone,
 Without eyes, ears, and harmful sound of words;
 Then, in despite of brooded watchful day,
55 I would into thy bosom pour my thoughts.
 But, ah, I will not. Yet I love thee well,
 And by my troth I think thou lov’st me well.
HUBERT 
 So well that what you bid me undertake,
 Though that my death were adjunct to my act,
60 By heaven, I would do it.
KING JOHN Do not I know thou wouldst?
 Good Hubert, Hubert, Hubert, throw thine eye
 On yon young boy. I’ll tell thee what, my friend,
 He is a very serpent in my way,
65 And wheresoe’er this foot of mine doth tread,
 He lies before me. Dost thou understand me?
 Thou art his keeper.
HUBERT  And I’ll keep him so
 That he shall not offend your Majesty.
KING JOHN 
70 Death.
HUBERT  My lord?
KING JOHN  A grave.
HUBERT  He shall not live.
KING JOHN Enough.
75 I could be merry now. Hubert, I love thee.
 Well, I’ll not say what I intend for thee.

109
King John
ACT 3. SC. 4

 Remember. He turns to Queen Eleanor. Madam, fare
 you well.
 I’ll send those powers o’er to your Majesty.
QUEEN ELEANOR 80My blessing go with thee.
KING JOHN, to Arthur For England, cousin, go.
 Hubert shall be your man, attend on you
 With all true duty.—On toward Calais, ho!
They exit.


Scene 4
Enter King Philip of France,Louis the Dauphin,
Pandulph, Attendants.


KING PHILIP 
 So, by a roaring tempest on the flood,
 A whole armada of convicted sail
 Is scattered and disjoined from fellowship.
PANDULPH 
 Courage and comfort. All shall yet go well.
KING PHILIP 
5 What can go well when we have run so ill?
 Are we not beaten? Is not Angiers lost?
 Arthur ta’en prisoner? Divers dear friends slain?
 And bloody England into England gone,
 O’erbearing interruption, spite of France?
DAUPHIN 
10 What he hath won, that hath he fortified.
 So hot a speed, with such advice disposed,
 Such temperate order in so fierce a cause,
 Doth want example. Who hath read or heard
 Of any kindred action like to this?
KING PHILIP 
15 Well could I bear that England had this praise,
 So we could find some pattern of our shame.

Enter Constance, with her hair unbound.


111
King John
ACT 3. SC. 4

 Look who comes here! A grave unto a soul,
 Holding th’ eternal spirit against her will
 In the vile prison of afflicted breath.—
20 I prithee, lady, go away with me.
CONSTANCE 
 Lo, now, now see the issue of your peace!
KING PHILIP 
 Patience, good lady. Comfort, gentle Constance.
CONSTANCE 
 No, I defy all counsel, all redress,
 But that which ends all counsel, true redress.
25 Death, death, O amiable, lovely death,
 Thou odoriferous stench, sound rottenness,
 Arise forth from the couch of lasting night,
 Thou hate and terror to prosperity,
 And I will kiss thy detestable bones
30 And put my eyeballs in thy vaulty brows,
 And ring these fingers with thy household worms,
 And stop this gap of breath with fulsome dust,
 And be a carrion monster like thyself.
 Come, grin on me, and I will think thou smil’st,
35 And buss thee as thy wife. Misery’s love,
 O, come to me!
KING PHILIP  O fair affliction, peace!
CONSTANCE 
 No, no, I will not, having breath to cry.
 O, that my tongue were in the thunder’s mouth!
40 Then with a passion would I shake the world
 And rouse from sleep that fell anatomy
 Which cannot hear a lady’s feeble voice,
 Which scorns a modern invocation.
PANDULPH 
 Lady, you utter madness and not sorrow.
CONSTANCE 
45 Thou art not holy to belie me so.
 I am not mad. This hair I tear is mine;

113
King John
ACT 3. SC. 4

 My name is Constance; I was Geoffrey’s wife;
 Young Arthur is my son, and he is lost.
 I am not mad; I would to heaven I were,
50 For then ’tis like I should forget myself.
 O, if I could, what grief should I forget!
 Preach some philosophy to make me mad,
 And thou shalt be canonized, cardinal.
 For, being not mad but sensible of grief,
55 My reasonable part produces reason
 How I may be delivered of these woes,
 And teaches me to kill or hang myself.
 If I were mad, I should forget my son,
 Or madly think a babe of clouts were he.
60 I am not mad. Too well, too well I feel
 The different plague of each calamity.
KING PHILIP 
 Bind up those tresses.—O, what love I note
 In the fair multitude of those her hairs;
 Where but by chance a silver drop hath fall’n,
65 Even to that drop ten thousand wiry friends
 Do glue themselves in sociable grief,
 Like true, inseparable, faithful loves,
 Sticking together in calamity.
CONSTANCE 
 To England, if you will.
KING PHILIP 70 Bind up your hairs.
CONSTANCE 
 Yes, that I will. And wherefore will I do it?
 I tore them from their bonds and cried aloud
 “O, that these hands could so redeem my son,
 As they have given these hairs their liberty!”
75 But now I envy at their liberty,
 And will again commit them to their bonds,
 Because my poor child is a prisoner.
She binds up her hair.

115
King John
ACT 3. SC. 4

 And father cardinal, I have heard you say
 That we shall see and know our friends in heaven.
80 If that be true, I shall see my boy again;
 For since the birth of Cain, the first male child,
 To him that did but yesterday suspire,
 There was not such a gracious creature born.
 But now will canker sorrow eat my bud
85 And chase the native beauty from his cheek,
 And he will look as hollow as a ghost,
 As dim and meager as an ague’s fit,
 And so he’ll die; and, rising so again,
 When I shall meet him in the court of heaven
90 I shall not know him. Therefore never, never
 Must I behold my pretty Arthur more.
PANDULPH 
 You hold too heinous a respect of grief.
CONSTANCE 
 He talks to me that never had a son.
KING PHILIP 
 You are as fond of grief as of your child.
CONSTANCE 
95 Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
 Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
 Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
 Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
 Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form;
100 Then, have I reason to be fond of grief?
 Fare you well. Had you such a loss as I,
 I could give better comfort than you do.
She unbinds her hair.
 I will not keep this form upon my head
 When there is such disorder in my wit.
105 O Lord! My boy, my Arthur, my fair son,
 My life, my joy, my food, my all the world,
 My widow-comfort and my sorrows’ cure!She exits.

117
King John
ACT 3. SC. 4

KING PHILIP 
 I fear some outrage, and I’ll follow her.
He exits, with Attendants.
DAUPHIN 
 There’s nothing in this world can make me joy.
110 Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale,
 Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man;
 And bitter shame hath spoiled the sweet world’s
 taste,
 That it yields naught but shame and bitterness.
PANDULPH 
115 Before the curing of a strong disease,
 Even in the instant of repair and health,
 The fit is strongest. Evils that take leave
 On their departure most of all show evil.
 What have you lost by losing of this day?
DAUPHIN 
120 All days of glory, joy, and happiness.
PANDULPH 
 If you had won it, certainly you had.
 No, no. When Fortune means to men most good,
 She looks upon them with a threat’ning eye.
 ’Tis strange to think how much King John hath lost
125 In this which he accounts so clearly won.
 Are not you grieved that Arthur is his prisoner?
DAUPHIN 
 As heartily as he is glad he hath him.
PANDULPH 
 Your mind is all as youthful as your blood.
 Now hear me speak with a prophetic spirit.
130 For even the breath of what I mean to speak
 Shall blow each dust, each straw, each little rub,
 Out of the path which shall directly lead
 Thy foot to England’s throne. And therefore mark:
 John hath seized Arthur, and it cannot be
135 That, whiles warm life plays in that infant’s veins,

119
King John
ACT 3. SC. 4

 The misplaced John should entertain an hour,
 One minute, nay, one quiet breath of rest.
 A scepter snatched with an unruly hand
 Must be as boisterously maintained as gained.
140 And he that stands upon a slipp’ry place
 Makes nice of no vile hold to stay him up.
 That John may stand, then Arthur needs must fall.
 So be it, for it cannot be but so.
DAUPHIN 
 But what shall I gain by young Arthur’s fall?
PANDULPH 
145 You, in the right of Lady Blanche your wife,
 May then make all the claim that Arthur did.
DAUPHIN 
 And lose it, life and all, as Arthur did.
PANDULPH 
 How green you are and fresh in this old world!
 John lays you plots. The times conspire with you,
150 For he that steeps his safety in true blood
 Shall find but bloody safety, and untrue.
 This act so evilly borne shall cool the hearts
 Of all his people and freeze up their zeal,
 That none so small advantage shall step forth
155 To check his reign but they will cherish it.
 No natural exhalation in the sky,
 No scope of nature, no distempered day,
 No common wind, no customèd event,
 But they will pluck away his natural cause
160 And call them meteors, prodigies, and signs,
 Abortives, presages, and tongues of heaven,
 Plainly denouncing vengeance upon John.
DAUPHIN 
 Maybe he will not touch young Arthur’s life,
 But hold himself safe in his prisonment.
PANDULPH 
165 O, sir, when he shall hear of your approach,

121
King John
ACT 3. SC. 4

 If that young Arthur be not gone already,
 Even at that news he dies; and then the hearts
 Of all his people shall revolt from him
 And kiss the lips of unacquainted change,
170 And pick strong matter of revolt and wrath
 Out of the bloody fingers’ ends of John.
 Methinks I see this hurly all on foot;
 And, O, what better matter breeds for you
 Than I have named! The bastard Faulconbridge
175 Is now in England ransacking the Church,
 Offending charity. If but a dozen French
 Were there in arms, they would be as a call
 To train ten thousand English to their side,
 Or as a little snow, tumbled about,
180 Anon becomes a mountain. O noble dauphin,
 Go with me to the King. ’Tis wonderful
 What may be wrought out of their discontent,
 Now that their souls are topful of offense.
 For England, go. I will whet on the King.
DAUPHIN 
185 Strong reasons makes strange actions. Let us go.
 If you say ay, the King will not say no.
They exit.


ACT 4
Scene 1
Enter Hubert and Executioners, with irons and rope.

HUBERT 
 Heat me these irons hot, and look thou stand
 Within the arras. When I strike my foot
 Upon the bosom of the ground, rush forth
 And bind the boy which you shall find with me
5 Fast to the chair. Be heedful. Hence, and watch.
EXECUTIONER 
 I hope your warrant will bear out the deed.
HUBERT 
 Uncleanly scruples fear not you. Look to ’t.
Executioners exit.
 Young lad, come forth. I have to say with you.

Enter Arthur.

ARTHUR 
 Good morrow, Hubert.
HUBERT 10 Good morrow, little prince.
ARTHUR 
 As little prince, having so great a title
 To be more prince, as may be. You are sad.
HUBERT 
 Indeed, I have been merrier.
ARTHUR  Mercy on me!
125

127
King John
ACT 4. SC. 1

15 Methinks nobody should be sad but I.
 Yet I remember, when I was in France,
 Young gentlemen would be as sad as night
 Only for wantonness. By my christendom,
 So I were out of prison and kept sheep,
20 I should be as merry as the day is long.
 And so I would be here but that I doubt
 My uncle practices more harm to me.
 He is afraid of me, and I of him.
 Is it my fault that I was Geoffrey’s son?
25 No, indeed, is ’t not. And I would to heaven
 I were your son, so you would love me, Hubert.
HUBERT, aside 
 If I talk to him, with his innocent prate
 He will awake my mercy, which lies dead.
 Therefore I will be sudden and dispatch.
ARTHUR 
30 Are you sick, Hubert? You look pale today.
 In sooth, I would you were a little sick
 That I might sit all night and watch with you.
 I warrant I love you more than you do me.
HUBERT, aside 
 His words do take possession of my bosom.
He shows Arthur a paper.
35 Read here, young Arthur. (Aside.) How now,
 foolish rheum?
 Turning dispiteous torture out of door?
 I must be brief lest resolution drop
 Out at mine eyes in tender womanish tears.—
40 Can you not read it? Is it not fair writ?
ARTHUR 
 Too fairly, Hubert, for so foul effect.
 Must you with hot irons burn out both mine eyes?
HUBERT 
 Young boy, I must.

129
King John
ACT 4. SC. 1

ARTHUR  And will you?
HUBERT 45 And I will.
ARTHUR 
 Have you the heart? When your head did but ache,
 I knit my handkercher about your brows—
 The best I had, a princess wrought it me—
 And I did never ask it you again;
50 And with my hand at midnight held your head,
 And like the watchful minutes to the hour
 Still and anon cheered up the heavy time,
 Saying “What lack you?” and “Where lies your
 grief?”
55 Or “What good love may I perform for you?”
 Many a poor man’s son would have lien still
 And ne’er have spoke a loving word to you;
 But you at your sick service had a prince.
 Nay, you may think my love was crafty love,
60 And call it cunning. Do, an if you will.
 If heaven be pleased that you must use me ill,
 Why then you must. Will you put out mine eyes—
 These eyes that never did nor never shall
 So much as frown on you?
HUBERT 65 I have sworn to do it.
 And with hot irons must I burn them out.
ARTHUR 
 Ah, none but in this Iron Age would do it.
 The iron of itself, though heat red-hot,
 Approaching near these eyes, would drink my tears
70 And quench this fiery indignation
 Even in the matter of mine innocence;
 Nay, after that, consume away in rust
 But for containing fire to harm mine eye.
 Are you more stubborn-hard than hammered iron?
75 An if an angel should have come to me
 And told me Hubert should put out mine eyes,

131
King John
ACT 4. SC. 1

 I would not have believed him. No tongue but
 Hubert’s.
HUBERT stamps his foot and calls Come forth.

Enter Executioners with ropes, a heated iron, and a
brazier of burning coals.


80 Do as I bid you do.
ARTHUR 
 O, save me, Hubert, save me! My eyes are out
 Even with the fierce looks of these bloody men.
HUBERT 
 Give me the iron, I say, and bind him here.
He takes the iron.
ARTHUR 
 Alas, what need you be so boist’rous-rough?
85 I will not struggle; I will stand stone-still.
 For God’s sake, Hubert, let me not be bound!
 Nay, hear me, Hubert! Drive these men away,
 And I will sit as quiet as a lamb.
 I will not stir nor wince nor speak a word
90 Nor look upon the iron angerly.
 Thrust but these men away, and I’ll forgive you,
 Whatever torment you do put me to.
HUBERT, to Executioners 
 Go stand within. Let me alone with him.
EXECUTIONER 
 I am best pleased to be from such a deed.
Executioners exit.
ARTHUR 
95 Alas, I then have chid away my friend!
 He hath a stern look but a gentle heart.
 Let him come back, that his compassion may
 Give life to yours.
HUBERT  Come, boy, prepare yourself.
ARTHUR 
100 Is there no remedy?

133
King John
ACT 4. SC. 1

HUBERT  None but to lose your eyes.
ARTHUR 
 O God, that there were but a mote in yours,
 A grain, a dust, a gnat, a wandering hair,
 Any annoyance in that precious sense.
105 Then, feeling what small things are boisterous
 there,
 Your vile intent must needs seem horrible.
HUBERT 
 Is this your promise? Go to, hold your tongue.
ARTHUR 
 Hubert, the utterance of a brace of tongues
110 Must needs want pleading for a pair of eyes.
 Let me not hold my tongue. Let me not, Hubert,
 Or, Hubert, if you will, cut out my tongue,
 So I may keep mine eyes. O, spare mine eyes,
 Though to no use but still to look on you.
He seizes the iron.
115 Lo, by my troth, the instrument is cold,
 And would not harm me.
HUBERT, taking back the iron 
 I can heat it, boy.
ARTHUR 
 No, in good sooth. The fire is dead with grief,
 Being create for comfort, to be used
120 In undeserved extremes. See else yourself.
 There is no malice in this burning coal.
 The breath of heaven hath blown his spirit out
 And strewed repentant ashes on his head.
HUBERT 
 But with my breath I can revive it, boy.
ARTHUR 
125 An if you do, you will but make it blush
 And glow with shame of your proceedings, Hubert.
 Nay, it perchance will sparkle in your eyes,

135
King John
ACT 4. SC. 2

 And, like a dog that is compelled to fight,
 Snatch at his master that doth tar him on.
130 All things that you should use to do me wrong
 Deny their office. Only you do lack
 That mercy which fierce fire and iron extends,
 Creatures of note for mercy-lacking uses.
HUBERT 
 Well, see to live. I will not touch thine eye
135 For all the treasure that thine uncle owes.
 Yet am I sworn, and I did purpose, boy,
 With this same very iron to burn them out.
ARTHUR 
 O, now you look like Hubert. All this while
 You were disguisèd.
HUBERT 140 Peace. No more. Adieu.
 Your uncle must not know but you are dead.
 I’ll fill these doggèd spies with false reports.
 And, pretty child, sleep doubtless and secure
 That Hubert, for the wealth of all the world,
145 Will not offend thee.
ARTHUR  O heaven! I thank you, Hubert.
HUBERT 
 Silence. No more. Go closely in with me.
 Much danger do I undergo for thee.
They exit.


Scene 2
Enter King John, Pembroke, Salisbury, and other
Lords. King John ascends the throne.


KING JOHN 
 Here once again we sit, once again crowned
 And looked upon, I hope, with cheerful eyes.
PEMBROKE 
 This “once again,” but that your Highness pleased,

137
King John
ACT 4. SC. 2

 Was once superfluous. You were crowned before,
5 And that high royalty was ne’er plucked off,
 The faiths of men ne’er stainèd with revolt;
 Fresh expectation troubled not the land
 With any longed-for change or better state.
SALISBURY 
 Therefore, to be possessed with double pomp,
10 To guard a title that was rich before,
 To gild refinèd gold, to paint the lily,
 To throw a perfume on the violet,
 To smooth the ice or add another hue
 Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
15 To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
 Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.
PEMBROKE 
 But that your royal pleasure must be done,
 This act is as an ancient tale new told,
 And, in the last repeating, troublesome,
20 Being urgèd at a time unseasonable.
SALISBURY 
 In this the antique and well-noted face
 Of plain old form is much disfigurèd,
 And like a shifted wind unto a sail,
 It makes the course of thoughts to fetch about,
25 Startles and frights consideration,
 Makes sound opinion sick and truth suspected
 For putting on so new a fashioned robe.
PEMBROKE 
 When workmen strive to do better than well,
 They do confound their skill in covetousness,
30 And oftentimes excusing of a fault
 Doth make the fault the worse by th’ excuse,
 As patches set upon a little breach
 Discredit more in hiding of the fault
 Than did the fault before it was so patched.

139
King John
ACT 4. SC. 2

SALISBURY 
35 To this effect, before you were new-crowned,
 We breathed our counsel; but it pleased your
 Highness
 To overbear it, and we are all well pleased,
 Since all and every part of what we would
40 Doth make a stand at what your Highness will.
KING JOHN 
 Some reasons of this double coronation
 I have possessed you with, and think them strong;
 And more, more strong, when lesser is my fear,
 I shall endue you with. Meantime, but ask
45 What you would have reformed that is not well,
 And well shall you perceive how willingly
 I will both hear and grant you your requests.
PEMBROKE 
 Then I, as one that am the tongue of these
 To sound the purposes of all their hearts,
50 Both for myself and them, but chief of all
 Your safety, for the which myself and them
 Bend their best studies, heartily request
 Th’ enfranchisement of Arthur, whose restraint
 Doth move the murmuring lips of discontent
55 To break into this dangerous argument:
 If what in rest you have in right you hold,
 Why then your fears, which, as they say, attend
 The steps of wrong, should move you to mew up
 Your tender kinsman and to choke his days
60 With barbarous ignorance and deny his youth
 The rich advantage of good exercise.
 That the time’s enemies may not have this
 To grace occasions, let it be our suit
 That you have bid us ask, his liberty,
65 Which for our goods we do no further ask
 Than whereupon our weal, on you depending,
 Counts it your weal he have his liberty.

141
King John
ACT 4. SC. 2

KING JOHN 
 Let it be so. I do commit his youth
 To your direction.

Enter Hubert.

70 Hubert, what news with you?
King John and Hubert talk aside.
PEMBROKE 
 This is the man should do the bloody deed.
 He showed his warrant to a friend of mine.
 The image of a wicked heinous fault
 Lives in his eye. That close aspect of his
75 Doth show the mood of a much troubled breast,
 And I do fearfully believe ’tis done
 What we so feared he had a charge to do.
SALISBURY 
 The color of the King doth come and go
 Between his purpose and his conscience,
80 Like heralds ’twixt two dreadful battles set.
 His passion is so ripe it needs must break.
PEMBROKE 
 And when it breaks, I fear will issue thence
 The foul corruption of a sweet child’s death.
KING JOHN, coming forward with Hubert 
 We cannot hold mortality’s strong hand.—
85 Good lords, although my will to give is living,
 The suit which you demand is gone and dead.
 He tells us Arthur is deceased tonight.
SALISBURY 
 Indeed, we feared his sickness was past cure.
PEMBROKE 
 Indeed, we heard how near his death he was
90 Before the child himself felt he was sick.
 This must be answered either here or hence.
KING JOHN 
 Why do you bend such solemn brows on me?

143
King John
ACT 4. SC. 2

 Think you I bear the shears of destiny?
 Have I commandment on the pulse of life?
SALISBURY 
95 It is apparent foul play, and ’tis shame
 That greatness should so grossly offer it.
 So thrive it in your game, and so farewell.
PEMBROKE 
 Stay yet, Lord Salisbury. I’ll go with thee
 And find th’ inheritance of this poor child,
100 His little kingdom of a forcèd grave.
 That blood which owed the breadth of all this isle,
 Three foot of it doth hold. Bad world the while!
 This must not be thus borne; this will break out
 To all our sorrows, and ere long, I doubt.
Pembroke, Salisbury, and other Lords exit.
KING JOHN 
105 They burn in indignation. I repent.
 There is no sure foundation set on blood,
 No certain life achieved by others’ death.

Enter Messenger.

 A fearful eye thou hast. Where is that blood
 That I have seen inhabit in those cheeks?
110 So foul a sky clears not without a storm.
 Pour down thy weather: how goes all in France?
MESSENGER 
 From France to England. Never such a power
 For any foreign preparation
 Was levied in the body of a land.
115 The copy of your speed is learned by them,
 For when you should be told they do prepare,
 The tidings comes that they are all arrived.
KING JOHN 
 O, where hath our intelligence been drunk?
 Where hath it slept? Where is my mother’s care,

145
King John
ACT 4. SC. 2

120 That such an army could be drawn in France
 And she not hear of it?
MESSENGER  My liege, her ear
 Is stopped with dust. The first of April died
 Your noble mother. And as I hear, my lord,
125 The Lady Constance in a frenzy died
 Three days before. But this from rumor’s tongue
 I idly heard. If true or false, I know not.
KING JOHN, aside 
 Withhold thy speed, dreadful occasion!
 O, make a league with me till I have pleased
130 My discontented peers. What? Mother dead?
 How wildly then walks my estate in France!—
 Under whose conduct came those powers of France
 That thou for truth giv’st out are landed here?
MESSENGER 
 Under the Dauphin.
KING JOHN 135 Thou hast made me giddy
 With these ill tidings.

Enter Bastard and Peter of Pomfret.

To Bastard. Now, what says the world
 To your proceedings? Do not seek to stuff
 My head with more ill news, for it is full.
BASTARD 
140 But if you be afeard to hear the worst,
 Then let the worst, unheard, fall on your head.
KING JOHN 
 Bear with me, cousin, for I was amazed
 Under the tide, but now I breathe again
 Aloft the flood and can give audience
145 To any tongue, speak it of what it will.
BASTARD 
 How I have sped among the clergymen
 The sums I have collected shall express.

147
King John
ACT 4. SC. 2

 But as I traveled hither through the land,
 I find the people strangely fantasied,
150 Possessed with rumors, full of idle dreams,
 Not knowing what they fear, but full of fear.
 And here’s a prophet that I brought with me
 From forth the streets of Pomfret, whom I found
 With many hundreds treading on his heels,
155 To whom he sung in rude harsh-sounding rhymes
 That ere the next Ascension Day at noon,
 Your Highness should deliver up your crown.
KING JOHN, to Peter 
 Thou idle dreamer, wherefore didst thou so?
PETER 
 Foreknowing that the truth will fall out so.
KING JOHN 
160 Hubert, away with him! Imprison him.
 And on that day at noon, whereon he says
 I shall yield up my crown, let him be hanged.
 Deliver him to safety and return,
 For I must use thee.Hubert and Peter exit.
165 O my gentle cousin,
 Hear’st thou the news abroad, who are arrived?
BASTARD 
 The French, my lord. Men’s mouths are full of it.
 Besides, I met Lord Bigot and Lord Salisbury
 With eyes as red as new-enkindled fire,
170 And others more, going to seek the grave
 Of Arthur, whom they say is killed tonight
 On your suggestion.
KING JOHN  Gentle kinsman, go
 And thrust thyself into their companies.
175 I have a way to win their loves again.
 Bring them before me.
BASTARD  I will seek them out.
KING JOHN 
 Nay, but make haste, the better foot before!

149
King John
ACT 4. SC. 2

 O, let me have no subject enemies
180 When adverse foreigners affright my towns
 With dreadful pomp of stout invasion.
 Be Mercury, set feathers to thy heels,
 And fly like thought from them to me again.
BASTARD 
 The spirit of the time shall teach me speed.
He exits.
KING JOHN 
185 Spoke like a sprightful noble gentleman.
 To Messenger. Go after him, for he perhaps shall
 need
 Some messenger betwixt me and the peers,
 And be thou he.
MESSENGER 190 With all my heart, my liege.
Messenger exits.
KING JOHN My mother dead!

Enter Hubert.

HUBERT 
 My lord, they say five moons were seen tonight—
 Four fixèd, and the fifth did whirl about
 The other four in wondrous motion.
KING JOHN 
195 Five moons!
HUBERT  Old men and beldams in the streets
 Do prophesy upon it dangerously.
 Young Arthur’s death is common in their mouths,
 And when they talk of him, they shake their heads
200 And whisper one another in the ear,
 And he that speaks doth grip the hearer’s wrist,
 Whilst he that hears makes fearful action
 With wrinkled brows, with nods, with rolling eyes.
 I saw a smith stand with his hammer, thus,
205 The whilst his iron did on the anvil cool,

151
King John
ACT 4. SC. 2

 With open mouth swallowing a tailor’s news,
 Who with his shears and measure in his hand,
 Standing on slippers which his nimble haste
 Had falsely thrust upon contrary feet,
210 Told of a many thousand warlike French
 That were embattlèd and ranked in Kent.
 Another lean, unwashed artificer
 Cuts off his tale and talks of Arthur’s death.
KING JOHN 
 Why seek’st thou to possess me with these fears?
215 Why urgest thou so oft young Arthur’s death?
 Thy hand hath murdered him. I had a mighty cause
 To wish him dead, but thou hadst none to kill him.
HUBERT 
 No had, my lord! Why, did you not provoke me?
KING JOHN 
 It is the curse of kings to be attended
220 By slaves that take their humors for a warrant
 To break within the bloody house of life,
 And on the winking of authority
 To understand a law, to know the meaning
 Of dangerous majesty, when perchance it frowns
225 More upon humor than advised respect.
HUBERT, showing a paper 
 Here is your hand and seal for what I did.
KING JOHN 
 O, when the last accompt twixt heaven and Earth
 Is to be made, then shall this hand and seal
 Witness against us to damnation!
230 How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds
 Make deeds ill done! Hadst not thou been by,
 A fellow by the hand of nature marked,
 Quoted, and signed to do a deed of shame,
 This murder had not come into my mind.
235 But taking note of thy abhorred aspect,

153
King John
ACT 4. SC. 2

 Finding thee fit for bloody villainy,
 Apt, liable to be employed in danger,
 I faintly broke with thee of Arthur’s death;
 And thou, to be endearèd to a king,
240 Made it no conscience to destroy a prince.
HUBERT My lord—
KING JOHN 
 Hadst thou but shook thy head or made a pause
 When I spake darkly what I purposèd,
 Or turned an eye of doubt upon my face,
245 As bid me tell my tale in express words,
 Deep shame had struck me dumb, made me break
 off,
 And those thy fears might have wrought fears in me.
 But thou didst understand me by my signs
250 And didst in signs again parley with sin,
 Yea, without stop didst let thy heart consent
 And consequently thy rude hand to act
 The deed which both our tongues held vile to name.
 Out of my sight, and never see me more.
255 My nobles leave me, and my state is braved,
 Even at my gates, with ranks of foreign powers.
 Nay, in the body of this fleshly land,
 This kingdom, this confine of blood and breath,
 Hostility and civil tumult reigns
260 Between my conscience and my cousin’s death.
HUBERT 
 Arm you against your other enemies.
 I’ll make a peace between your soul and you.
 Young Arthur is alive. This hand of mine
 Is yet a maiden and an innocent hand,
265 Not painted with the crimson spots of blood.
 Within this bosom never entered yet
 The dreadful motion of a murderous thought,
 And you have slandered nature in my form,

155
King John
ACT 4. SC. 3

 Which, howsoever rude exteriorly,
270 Is yet the cover of a fairer mind
 Than to be butcher of an innocent child.
KING JOHN 
 Doth Arthur live? O, haste thee to the peers,
 Throw this report on their incensèd rage,
 And make them tame to their obedience.
275 Forgive the comment that my passion made
 Upon thy feature, for my rage was blind,
 And foul imaginary eyes of blood
 Presented thee more hideous than thou art.
 O, answer not, but to my closet bring
280 The angry lords with all expedient haste.
 I conjure thee but slowly; run more fast.
They exit.


Scene 3
Enter Arthur on the walls, dressed as a shipboy.

ARTHUR 
 The wall is high, and yet will I leap down.
 Good ground, be pitiful and hurt me not.
 There’s few or none do know me. If they did,
 This shipboy’s semblance hath disguised me quite.
5 I am afraid, and yet I’ll venture it.
 If I get down and do not break my limbs,
 I’ll find a thousand shifts to get away.
 As good to die and go as die and stay.
He jumps.
 O me, my uncle’s spirit is in these stones.
10 Heaven take my soul, and England keep my bones.
He dies.

Enter Pembroke, Salisbury with a letter, and Bigot.

SALISBURY 
 Lords, I will meet him at Saint Edmundsbury;

157
King John
ACT 4. SC. 3

 It is our safety, and we must embrace
 This gentle offer of the perilous time.
PEMBROKE 
 Who brought that letter from the Cardinal?
SALISBURY 
15 The Count Melun, a noble lord of France,
 Whose private with me of the Dauphin’s love
 Is much more general than these lines import.
BIGOT 
 Tomorrow morning let us meet him, then.
SALISBURY 
 Or rather then set forward, for ’twill be
20 Two long days’ journey, lords, or ere we meet.

Enter Bastard.

BASTARD 
 Once more today well met, distempered lords.
 The King by me requests your presence straight.
SALISBURY 
 The King hath dispossessed himself of us.
 We will not line his thin bestainèd cloak
25 With our pure honors, nor attend the foot
 That leaves the print of blood where’er it walks.
 Return, and tell him so. We know the worst.
BASTARD 
 Whate’er you think, good words I think were best.
SALISBURY 
 Our griefs and not our manners reason now.
BASTARD 
30 But there is little reason in your grief.
 Therefore ’twere reason you had manners now.
PEMBROKE 
 Sir, sir, impatience hath his privilege.
BASTARD 
 ’Tis true, to hurt his master, no man’s else.

159
King John
ACT 4. SC. 3

SALISBURY 
 This is the prison.
He sees Arthur’s body.
35 What is he lies here?
PEMBROKE 
 O Death, made proud with pure and princely beauty!
 The Earth had not a hole to hide this deed.
SALISBURY 
 Murder, as hating what himself hath done,
 Doth lay it open to urge on revenge.
BIGOT 
40 Or when he doomed this beauty to a grave,
 Found it too precious-princely for a grave.
SALISBURY, to Bastard 
 Sir Richard, what think you? You have beheld.
 Or have you read or heard, or could you think,
 Or do you almost think, although you see,
45 That you do see? Could thought, without this object,
 Form such another? This is the very top,
 The height, the crest, or crest unto the crest,
 Of murder’s arms. This is the bloodiest shame,
 The wildest savagery, the vilest stroke
50 That ever wall-eyed wrath or staring rage
 Presented to the tears of soft remorse.
PEMBROKE 
 All murders past do stand excused in this.
 And this, so sole and so unmatchable,
 Shall give a holiness, a purity,
55 To the yet unbegotten sin of times
 And prove a deadly bloodshed but a jest,
 Exampled by this heinous spectacle.
BASTARD 
 It is a damnèd and a bloody work,
 The graceless action of a heavy hand,
60 If that it be the work of any hand.

161
King John
ACT 4. SC. 3

SALISBURY 
 If that it be the work of any hand?
 We had a kind of light what would ensue.
 It is the shameful work of Hubert’s hand,
 The practice and the purpose of the King,
65 From whose obedience I forbid my soul,
 Kneeling before this ruin of sweet lifeHe kneels.
 And breathing to his breathless excellence
 The incense of a vow, a holy vow:
 Never to taste the pleasures of the world,
70 Never to be infected with delight,
 Nor conversant with ease and idleness,
 Till I have set a glory to this hand
 By giving it the worship of revenge.
PEMBROKE, BIGOT, kneeling 
 Our souls religiously confirm thy words.
They rise.

Enter Hubert.

HUBERT 
75 Lords, I am hot with haste in seeking you.
 Arthur doth live; the King hath sent for you.
SALISBURY 
 O, he is bold and blushes not at death!—
 Avaunt, thou hateful villain, get thee gone!
HUBERT 
 I am no villain.
SALISBURY, drawing his sword 80 Must I rob the law?
BASTARD 
 Your sword is bright, sir. Put it up again.
SALISBURY 
 Not till I sheathe it in a murderer’s skin.
HUBERT 
 Stand back, Lord Salisbury, stand back, I say.
 By heaven, I think my sword’s as sharp as yours.
He puts his hand on his sword.

163
King John
ACT 4. SC. 3

85 I would not have you, lord, forget yourself,
 Nor tempt the danger of my true defense,
 Lest I, by marking of your rage, forget
 Your worth, your greatness, and nobility.
BIGOT 
 Out, dunghill! Dar’st thou brave a nobleman?
HUBERT 
90 Not for my life. But yet I dare defend
 My innocent life against an emperor.
SALISBURY 
 Thou art a murderer.
HUBERT  Do not prove me so.
 Yet I am none. Whose tongue soe’er speaks false,
95 Not truly speaks. Who speaks not truly, lies.
PEMBROKE, drawing his sword 
 Cut him to pieces.
BASTARD, drawing his sword  Keep the peace, I say.
SALISBURY 
 Stand by, or I shall gall you, Faulconbridge.
BASTARD 
 Thou wert better gall the devil, Salisbury.
100 If thou but frown on me, or stir thy foot,
 Or teach thy hasty spleen to do me shame,
 I’ll strike thee dead. Put up thy sword betime,
 Or I’ll so maul you and your toasting-iron
 That you shall think the devil is come from hell.
BIGOT 
105 What wilt thou do, renownèd Faulconbridge?
 Second a villain and a murderer?
HUBERT 
 Lord Bigot, I am none.
BIGOT  Who killed this prince?
HUBERT 
 ’Tis not an hour since I left him well.
110 I honored him, I loved him, and will weep
 My date of life out for his sweet life’s loss.
He weeps.

165
King John
ACT 4. SC. 3

SALISBURY 
 Trust not those cunning waters of his eyes,
 For villainy is not without such rheum,
 And he, long traded in it, makes it seem
115 like rivers of remorse and innocency.
 Away with me, all you whose souls abhor
 Th’ uncleanly savors of a slaughterhouse,
 For I am stifled with this smell of sin.
BIGOT 
 Away, toward Bury, to the Dauphin there.
PEMBROKE 
120 There, tell the King, he may inquire us out.
Lords exit.
BASTARD 
 Here’s a good world! Knew you of this fair work?
 Beyond the infinite and boundless reach
 Of mercy, if thou didst this deed of death,
 Art thou damned, Hubert.
HUBERT 125Do but hear me, sir.
BASTARD Ha! I’ll tell thee what.
 Thou ’rt damned as black—nay, nothing is so black—
 Thou art more deep damned than Prince Lucifer.
 There is not yet so ugly a fiend of hell
130 As thou shalt be, if thou didst kill this child.
HUBERT 
 Upon my soul—
BASTARD  If thou didst but consent
 To this most cruel act, do but despair,
 And if thou want’st a cord, the smallest thread
135 That ever spider twisted from her womb
 Will serve to strangle thee; a rush will be a beam
 To hang thee on. Or wouldst thou drown thyself,
 Put but a little water in a spoon
 And it shall be as all the ocean,
140 Enough to stifle such a villain up.
 I do suspect thee very grievously.

167
King John
ACT 4. SC. 3

HUBERT 
 If I in act, consent, or sin of thought
 Be guilty of the stealing that sweet breath
 Which was embounded in this beauteous clay,
145 Let hell want pains enough to torture me.
 I left him well.
BASTARD  Go, bear him in thine arms.
 I am amazed, methinks, and lose my way
 Among the thorns and dangers of this world.
Hubert takes up Arthur’s body.
150 How easy dost thou take all England up!
 From forth this morsel of dead royalty,
 The life, the right, and truth of all this realm
 Is fled to heaven, and England now is left
 To tug and scamble and to part by th’ teeth
155 The unowed interest of proud-swelling state.
 Now for the bare-picked bone of majesty
 Doth doggèd war bristle his angry crest
 And snarleth in the gentle eyes of peace.
 Now powers from home and discontents at home
160 Meet in one line, and vast confusion waits,
 As doth a raven on a sick-fall’n beast,
 The imminent decay of wrested pomp.
 Now happy he whose cloak and cincture can
 Hold out this tempest. Bear away that child,
165 And follow me with speed. I’ll to the King.
 A thousand businesses are brief in hand,
 And heaven itself doth frown upon the land.
They exit, with Hubert carrying Arthur’s body.


ACT 5
Scene 1
Enter King John and Pandulph with the crown, and
their Attendants.


KING JOHN 
 Thus have I yielded up into your hand
 The circle of my glory.
PANDULPH, handing John the crown  Take again
 From this my hand, as holding of the Pope,
5 Your sovereign greatness and authority.
KING JOHN 
 Now keep your holy word. Go meet the French,
 And from his Holiness use all your power
 To stop their marches ’fore we are inflamed.
 Our discontented counties do revolt,
10 Our people quarrel with obedience,
 Swearing allegiance and the love of soul
 To stranger blood, to foreign royalty.
 This inundation of mistempered humor
 Rests by you only to be qualified.
15 Then pause not, for the present time’s so sick
 That present med’cine must be ministered,
 Or overthrow incurable ensues.
PANDULPH 
 It was my breath that blew this tempest up,
 Upon your stubborn usage of the Pope;
171

173
King John
ACT 5. SC. 1

20 But since you are a gentle convertite,
 My tongue shall hush again this storm of war
 And make fair weather in your blust’ring land.
 On this Ascension Day, remember well:
 Upon your oath of service to the Pope,
25 Go I to make the French lay down their arms.
He exits, with Attendants.
KING JOHN 
 Is this Ascension Day? Did not the prophet
 Say that before Ascension Day at noon
 My crown I should give off? Even so I have.
 I did suppose it should be on constraint,
30 But, God be thanked, it is but voluntary.

Enter Bastard.

BASTARD 
 All Kent hath yielded. Nothing there holds out
 But Dover Castle. London hath received
 Like a kind host the Dauphin and his powers.
 Your nobles will not hear you, but are gone
35 To offer service to your enemy;
 And wild amazement hurries up and down
 The little number of your doubtful friends.
KING JOHN 
 Would not my lords return to me again
 After they heard young Arthur was alive?
BASTARD 
40 They found him dead and cast into the streets,
 An empty casket where the jewel of life
 By some damned hand was robbed and ta’en away.
KING JOHN 
 That villain Hubert told me he did live!
BASTARD 
 So, on my soul, he did, for aught he knew.
45 But wherefore do you droop? Why look you sad?
 Be great in act, as you have been in thought.

175
King John
ACT 5. SC. 1

 Let not the world see fear and sad distrust
 Govern the motion of a kingly eye.
 Be stirring as the time; be fire with fire;
50 Threaten the threat’ner, and outface the brow
 Of bragging horror. So shall inferior eyes,
 That borrow their behaviors from the great,
 Grow great by your example and put on
 The dauntless spirit of resolution.
55 Away, and glister like the god of war
 When he intendeth to become the field.
 Show boldness and aspiring confidence.
 What, shall they seek the lion in his den
 And fright him there? And make him tremble there?
60 O, let it not be said! Forage, and run
 To meet displeasure farther from the doors,
 And grapple with him ere he come so nigh.
KING JOHN 
 The legate of the Pope hath been with me,
 And I have made a happy peace with him,
65 And he hath promised to dismiss the powers
 Led by the Dauphin.
BASTARD  O inglorious league!
 Shall we upon the footing of our land
 Send fair-play orders and make compromise,
70 Insinuation, parley, and base truce
 To arms invasive? Shall a beardless boy,
 A cockered silken wanton, brave our fields
 And flesh his spirit in a warlike soil,
 Mocking the air with colors idly spread,
75 And find no check? Let us, my liege, to arms!
 Perchance the Cardinal cannot make your peace;
 Or if he do, let it at least be said
 They saw we had a purpose of defense.
KING JOHN 
 Have thou the ordering of this present time.

177
King John
ACT 5. SC. 2

BASTARD 
80 Away, then, with good courage! (Aside.) Yet I
 know
 Our party may well meet a prouder foe.
They exit.


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.




189
King John
ACT 5. SC. 4

Scene 3
Alarums. Enter King John and Hubert.

KING JOHN 
 How goes the day with us? O, tell me, Hubert.
HUBERT 
 Badly, I fear. How fares your Majesty?
KING JOHN 
 This fever that hath troubled me so long
 Lies heavy on me. O, my heart is sick.

Enter a Messenger.

MESSENGER 
5 My lord, your valiant kinsman, Faulconbridge,
 Desires your Majesty to leave the field
 And send him word by me which way you go.
KING JOHN 
 Tell him toward Swinstead, to the abbey there.
MESSENGER 
 Be of good comfort, for the great supply
10 That was expected by the Dauphin here
 Are wracked three nights ago on Goodwin Sands.
 This news was brought to Richard but even now.
 The French fight coldly and retire themselves.
KING JOHN 
 Ay me, this tyrant fever burns me up
15 And will not let me welcome this good news.
 Set on toward Swinstead. To my litter straight.
 Weakness possesseth me, and I am faint.
They exit.


Scene 4
Enter Salisbury, Pembroke, and Bigot.

SALISBURY 
 I did not think the King so stored with friends.

191
King John
ACT 5. SC. 4

PEMBROKE 
 Up once again. Put spirit in the French.
 If they miscarry, we miscarry too.
SALISBURY 
 That misbegotten devil, Faulconbridge,
5 In spite of spite, alone upholds the day.
PEMBROKE 
 They say King John, sore sick, hath left the field.

Enter Melun, wounded, led by a Soldier.

MELUN 
 Lead me to the revolts of England here.
SALISBURY 
 When we were happy, we had other names.
PEMBROKE 
 It is the Count Melun.
SALISBURY 10 Wounded to death.
MELUN 
 Fly, noble English; you are bought and sold.
 Unthread the rude eye of rebellion
 And welcome home again discarded faith.
 Seek out King John and fall before his feet,
15 For if the French be lords of this loud day,
 He means to recompense the pains you take
 By cutting off your heads. Thus hath he sworn,
 And I with him, and many more with me,
 Upon the altar at Saint Edmundsbury,
20 Even on that altar where we swore to you
 Dear amity and everlasting love.
SALISBURY 
 May this be possible? May this be true?
MELUN 
 Have I not hideous death within my view,
 Retaining but a quantity of life,
25 Which bleeds away even as a form of wax
 Resolveth from his figure ’gainst the fire?

193
King John
ACT 5. SC. 4

 What in the world should make me now deceive,
 Since I must lose the use of all deceit?
 Why should I then be false, since it is true
30 That I must die here and live hence by truth?
 I say again, if Louis do win the day,
 He is forsworn if e’er those eyes of yours
 Behold another daybreak in the East.
 But even this night, whose black contagious breath
35 Already smokes about the burning crest
 Of the old, feeble, and day-wearied sun,
 Even this ill night your breathing shall expire,
 Paying the fine of rated treachery
 Even with a treacherous fine of all your lives,
40 If Louis by your assistance win the day.
 Commend me to one Hubert with your king;
 The love of him, and this respect besides,
 For that my grandsire was an Englishman,
 Awakes my conscience to confess all this.
45 In lieu whereof, I pray you bear me hence
 From forth the noise and rumor of the field,
 Where I may think the remnant of my thoughts
 In peace, and part this body and my soul
 With contemplation and devout desires.
SALISBURY 
50 We do believe thee, and beshrew my soul
 But I do love the favor and the form
 Of this most fair occasion, by the which
 We will untread the steps of damnèd flight,
 And like a bated and retirèd flood,
55 Leaving our rankness and irregular course,
 Stoop low within those bounds we have o’erlooked
 And calmly run on in obedience
 Even to our ocean, to our great King John.
 My arm shall give thee help to bear thee hence,
60 For I do see the cruel pangs of death

195
King John
ACT 5. SC. 5

 Right in thine eye.—Away, my friends! New flight,
 And happy newness, that intends old right.
They exit, assisting Melun.


Scene 5
Enter Louis, the Dauphin and his train.

DAUPHIN 
 The sun of heaven, methought, was loath to set,
 But stayed and made the western welkin blush,
 When English measured backward their own
 ground
5 In faint retire. O, bravely came we off,
 When with a volley of our needless shot,
 After such bloody toil, we bid good night
 And wound our tott’ring colors clearly up,
 Last in the field and almost lords of it.

Enter a Messenger.

MESSENGER 
10 Where is my prince, the Dauphin?
DAUPHIN  Here. What news?
MESSENGER 
 The Count Melun is slain. The English lords,
 By his persuasion, are again fall’n off,
 And your supply, which you have wished so long,
15 Are cast away and sunk on Goodwin Sands.
DAUPHIN 
 Ah, foul, shrewd news. Beshrew thy very heart!
 I did not think to be so sad tonight
 As this hath made me. Who was he that said
 King John did fly an hour or two before
20 The stumbling night did part our weary powers?
MESSENGER 
 Whoever spoke it, it is true, my lord.

197
King John
ACT 5. SC. 6

DAUPHIN 
 Well, keep good quarter and good care tonight.
 The day shall not be up so soon as I
 To try the fair adventure of tomorrow.
They exit.


Scene 6
Enter Bastard and Hubert, severally.

HUBERT 
 Who’s there? Speak ho! Speak quickly, or I shoot.
BASTARD 
 A friend. What art thou?
HUBERT  Of the part of England.
BASTARD 
 Whither dost thou go?
HUBERT 5 What’s that to thee?
BASTARD 
 Why may not I demand of thine affairs
 As well as thou of mine? Hubert, I think?
HUBERT Thou hast a perfect thought.
 I will upon all hazards well believe
10 Thou art my friend, that know’st my tongue so well.
 Who art thou?
BASTARD  Who thou wilt. An if thou please,
 Thou mayst befriend me so much as to think
 I come one way of the Plantagenets.
HUBERT 
15 Unkind remembrance! Thou and endless night
 Have done me shame. Brave soldier, pardon me
 That any accent breaking from thy tongue
 Should ’scape the true acquaintance of mine ear.
BASTARD 
 Come, come. Sans compliment, what news abroad?

199
King John
ACT 5. SC. 6

HUBERT 
20 Why, here walk I in the black brow of night
 To find you out.
BASTARD  Brief, then; and what’s the news?
HUBERT 
 O my sweet sir, news fitting to the night,
 Black, fearful, comfortless, and horrible.
BASTARD 
25 Show me the very wound of this ill news.
 I am no woman; I’ll not swoon at it.
HUBERT 
 The King, I fear, is poisoned by a monk.
 I left him almost speechless, and broke out
 To acquaint you with this evil, that you might
30 The better arm you to the sudden time
 Than if you had at leisure known of this.
BASTARD 
 How did he take it? Who did taste to him?
HUBERT 
 A monk, I tell you, a resolvèd villain,
 Whose bowels suddenly burst out. The King
35 Yet speaks and peradventure may recover.
BASTARD 
 Who didst thou leave to tend his Majesty?
HUBERT 
 Why, know you not? The lords are all come back,
 And brought Prince Henry in their company,
 At whose request the King hath pardoned them,
40 And they are all about his Majesty.
BASTARD 
 Withhold thine indignation, mighty God,
 And tempt us not to bear above our power.
 I’ll tell thee, Hubert, half my power this night,
 Passing these flats, are taken by the tide.
45 These Lincoln Washes have devourèd them.
 Myself, well mounted, hardly have escaped.

201
King John
ACT 5. SC. 7

 Away before. Conduct me to the King.
 I doubt he will be dead or ere I come.
They exit.


Scene 7
Enter Prince Henry, Salisbury, and Bigot.

PRINCE HENRY 
 It is too late. The life of all his blood
 Is touched corruptibly, and his pure brain,
 Which some suppose the soul’s frail dwelling-house,
 Doth, by the idle comments that it makes,
5 Foretell the ending of mortality.

Enter Pembroke.

PEMBROKE 
 His Highness yet doth speak, and holds belief
 That being brought into the open air
 It would allay the burning quality
 Of that fell poison which assaileth him.
PRINCE HENRY 
10 Let him be brought into the orchard here.
Bigot exits.
 Doth he still rage?
PEMBROKE  He is more patient
 Than when you left him. Even now he sung.
PRINCE HENRY 
 O vanity of sickness! Fierce extremes
15 In their continuance will not feel themselves.
 Death, having preyed upon the outward parts,
 Leaves them invisible, and his siege is now
 Against the mind, the which he pricks and wounds
 With many legions of strange fantasies,
20 Which in their throng and press to that last hold

203
King John
ACT 5. SC. 7

 Confound themselves. ’Tis strange that Death should
 sing.
 I am the cygnet to this pale faint swan,
 Who chants a doleful hymn to his own death,
25 And from the organ-pipe of frailty sings
 His soul and body to their lasting rest.
SALISBURY 
 Be of good comfort, prince, for you are born
 To set a form upon that indigest
 Which he hath left so shapeless and so rude.

King John brought in, attended by Bigot.

KING JOHN 
30 Ay, marry, now my soul hath elbow-room.
 It would not out at windows nor at doors.
 There is so hot a summer in my bosom
 That all my bowels crumble up to dust.
 I am a scribbled form drawn with a pen
35 Upon a parchment, and against this fire
 Do I shrink up.
PRINCE HENRY  How fares your Majesty?
KING JOHN 
 Poisoned—ill fare—dead, forsook, cast off,
 And none of you will bid the winter come
40 To thrust his icy fingers in my maw,
 Nor let my kingdom’s rivers take their course
 Through my burned bosom, nor entreat the North
 To make his bleak winds kiss my parchèd lips
 And comfort me with cold. I do not ask you much.
45 I beg cold comfort, and you are so strait
 And so ingrateful, you deny me that.
PRINCE HENRY 
 O, that there were some virtue in my tears
 That might relieve you!
KING JOHN  The salt in them is hot.
50 Within me is a hell, and there the poison

205
King John
ACT 5. SC. 7

 Is, as a fiend, confined to tyrannize
 On unreprievable, condemnèd blood.

Enter Bastard.

BASTARD 
 O, I am scalded with my violent motion
 And spleen of speed to see your Majesty.
KING JOHN 
55 O cousin, thou art come to set mine eye.
 The tackle of my heart is cracked and burnt,
 And all the shrouds wherewith my life should sail
 Are turnèd to one thread, one little hair.
 My heart hath one poor string to stay it by,
60 Which holds but till thy news be utterèd,
 And then all this thou seest is but a clod
 And module of confounded royalty.
BASTARD 
 The Dauphin is preparing hitherward,
 Where God He knows how we shall answer him.
65 For in a night the best part of my power,
 As I upon advantage did remove,
 Were in the Washes all unwarily
 Devourèd by the unexpected flood.
King John dies.
SALISBURY 
 You breathe these dead news in as dead an ear.—
70 My liege! My lord!—But now a king, now thus.
PRINCE HENRY 
 Even so must I run on, and even so stop.
 What surety of the world, what hope, what stay,
 When this was now a king and now is clay?
BASTARD 
 Art thou gone so? I do but stay behind
75 To do the office for thee of revenge,
 And then my soul shall wait on thee to heaven,
 As it on Earth hath been thy servant still.—

207
King John
ACT 5. SC. 7

 Now, now, you stars, that move in your right spheres,
 Where be your powers? Show now your mended
80 faiths
 And instantly return with me again
 To push destruction and perpetual shame
 Out of the weak door of our fainting land.
 Straight let us seek, or straight we shall be sought;
85 The Dauphin rages at our very heels.
SALISBURY 
 It seems you know not, then, so much as we.
 The Cardinal Pandulph is within at rest,
 Who half an hour since came from the Dauphin,
 And brings from him such offers of our peace
90 As we with honor and respect may take,
 With purpose presently to leave this war.
BASTARD 
 He will the rather do it when he sees
 Ourselves well-sinewèd to our defense.
SALISBURY 
 Nay, ’tis in a manner done already,
95 For many carriages he hath dispatched
 To the sea-side, and put his cause and quarrel
 To the disposing of the Cardinal,
 With whom yourself, myself, and other lords,
 If you think meet, this afternoon will post
100 To consummate this business happily.
BASTARD 
 Let it be so.—And you, my noble prince,
 With other princes that may best be spared,
 Shall wait upon your father’s funeral.
PRINCE HENRY 
 At Worcester must his body be interred,
105 For so he willed it.
BASTARD  Thither shall it, then,
 And happily may your sweet self put on
 The lineal state and glory of the land,

209
King John
ACT 5. SC. 7

 To whom with all submission on my knee
110 I do bequeath my faithful services
 And true subjection everlastingly.He kneels.
SALISBURY 
 And the like tender of our love we make
 To rest without a spot forevermore.
Salisbury, Pembroke, and Bigot kneel.
PRINCE HENRY 
 I have a kind soul that would give you thanks
115 And knows not how to do it but with tears.
They rise.
BASTARD 
 O, let us pay the time but needful woe,
 Since it hath been beforehand with our griefs.
 This England never did nor never shall
 Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror
120 But when it first did help to wound itself.
 Now these her princes are come home again,
 Come the three corners of the world in arms
 And we shall shock them. Naught shall make us rue,
 If England to itself do rest but true.
They exit, bearing the body of King John.