Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Michael Best
Not Peer Reviewed

King John (Modern)


Enter Salisbury, Pembroke, and Bigot.
2460Salisbury I did not think the King so stored with friends.
Pembroke Up once again! Put spirit in the French.
If they miscarry, we miscarry too.
Salisbury That misbegotten devil Falconbridge,
In spite of spite, alone upholds the day.
2465Pembroke 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.
It is the Count Melun.
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,
2475For 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 Edmondsbury,
2480Even 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,
2485Which bleeds away, even as a form of wax
Resolveth from his figure 'gainst the fire?
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
2490That I must die here and live hence by truth?
I say again, if Lewis 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
2495Already 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,
2500If Lewis 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.
2505In 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.
2510Salisbury 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,
2515Leaving our rankness and irregular course,
Stoop low within those bounds we have o'er-looked
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,
2520For I do see the cruel pangs of death
Right in thine eye. Away, my friends! New flight,
And happy newness, that intends old right.