Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Michael Best
Peer Reviewed

King John (Folio 1, 1623)

The life and death of King John.
Who by the hand of France, this day hath made
Much worke for teares in many an English mother,
Whose sonnes lye scattered on the bleeding ground:
615Many a widdowes husband groueling lies,
Coldly embracing the discoloured earrh,
And victorie with little losse doth play
Vpon the dancing banners of the French,
Who are at hand triumphantly displayed
620To enter Conquerors, and to proclaime
Arthur of Britaine, Englands King, and yours.
Enter English Herald with Trumpet.
E.Har. Reioyce you men of Angiers,ring your bels,
King Iohn, your king and Englands, doth approach,
625Commander of this hot malicious day,
Their Armours that march'd hence so siluer bright,
Hither returne all gilt with Frenchmens blood:
There stucke no plume in any English Crest,
That is remoued by a staffe of France.
630Our colours do returne in those same hands
That did display them when we first marcht forth:
And like a iolly troope of Huntsmen come
Our lustie English, all with purpled hands,
Dide in the dying slaughter of their foes,
635Open your gates, and giue the Victors way.
Hubert.Heralds, from off our towres we might behold
From first to last, the on-set and retyre
Of both yonr Armies, whose equality
By our best eyes cannot be censured:
640Blood hath bought blood, and blowes haue answerd
Strength matcht with strength, and power confronted
Both are alike,and both alike we like:
One must proue greatest. While they weigh so euen,
645We hold our Towne for neither: yet for both.

Enter the two Kings with their powers,
at seuerall doores.

Iohn. France, hast thou yet more blood to cast away?
Say, shall the currant of our right rome on,
650Whose passage vext with thy impediment,
Shall leaue his natiue channell, and ore-swell
With course disturb'd euen thy confining shores,
Vnlesse thou let his siluer Water, keepe
A peacefull progresse to the Ocean.
655Fra. England thou hast not sau'd one drop of blood
In this hot triall more then we of France,
Rather lost more. And by this hand I sweare
That swayes the earth this Climate ouer-lookes,
Before we will lay downe our iust-borne Armes,
660Wee'l put thee downe,'gainst whom these Armes wee
Or adde a royall number to the dead:
Gracing the scroule that tels of this warres losse,
With slaughter coupled to the name of kings.
Bast. Ha Maiesty: how high thy glory towres,
665When the rich blood of kings is set on fire:
Oh now doth death line his dead chaps with steele,
The swords of souldiers are his teeth, his phangs,
And now he feasts, mousing the flesh of men
In vndetermin'd differences of kings.
670Why stand these royall fronts amazed thus:
Cry hauocke kings, backe to the stained field
You equall Potents, fierie kindled spirits,
Then let confusion of one part confirm
The others peace: till then, blowes, blood, and death.
675Iohn. Whose party do the Townesmen yet admit?
Fra. Speake Citizens for England,whose your king.
Hub. The king of England, when we know the king.
Fra. Know him in vs, that heere hold vp his right.
Iohn. In Vs, that are our owne great Deputie,
680And beare possession of our Person heere,
Lord of our presence Angiers,and of you.
Fra. A greater powre then We denies all this,
And till it be vndoubted,we do locke
Our former scruple in our strong barr'd gates:
685Kings of our feare, vntill our feares resolu'd
Be by some certaine king, purg'd and depos'd.
Bast. By heauen, these scroyles of Angiers flout you
And stand securely on their battelments,
As in a Theater, whence they gape and point
690At your industrious Scenes and acts of death.
Your Royall presences be rul'd by mee,
Do like the Mutines of Ierusalem,
Be friends a-while, and both conioyntly bend
Your sharpest Deeds of malice on this Towne.
695By East and West let France and England mount
Their battering Canon charged to the mouthes,
Till their soule-fearing clamours haue braul'd downe
The flintie ribbes of this contemptuous Citie,
I'de play incessantly vpon these Iades,
700Euen till vnfenced desolation
Leaue them as naked as the vulgar ayre:
That done, disseuer your vnited strengths,
And part your mingled colours once againe,
Turne face to face, and bloody point to point:
705Then in a moment Fortune shall cull forth
Out of one side her happy Minion,
To whom in fauour she shall giue the day,
And kisse him with a glorious victory:
How like you this wilde counsell mighty States,
710Smackes it not something of the policie.
Iohn. Now by the sky that hangs aboue our heads,
I like it well. France, shall we knit our powres,
And lay this Angiers euen with the ground,
Then after fight who shall be king of it?
715Bast. And if thou hast the mettle of a king,
Being wrong'd as we are by this peeuish Towne:
Turne thou the mouth of thy Artillerie,
As we will ours, against these sawcie walles,
And when that we haue dash'd them to the ground,
720Why then defie each other, and pell-mell,
Make worke vpon our selues, for heauen or hell.
Fra. Let it be so: say, where will you assault?
Iohn. We from the West will send destruction
Into this Cities bosome.
725Aust. I from the North.
Fran. Our Thunder from the South,
Shall raine their drift of bullets on this Towne.
Bast. O prudent discipline! From North to South:
Austria and France shoot in each others mouth.
730Ile stirre them to it: Come, away, away.
Hub. Heare vs great kings, vouchsafe awhile to stay
And I shall shew you peace, and faire-fac'd league:
Win you this Citie without stroke, or wound,
Rescue those breathing liues to dye in beds,
735That heere come sacrifices for the field.
Perseuer not, but heare me mighty kings.
Iohn. Speake on with fauour, we are bent to heare.
Hub. That daughter there of Spaine,the Lady Blanch
Is neere to England, looke vpon the yeeres
740Of Lewes the Dolphin, and that louely maid.
If lustie loue should go in quest of beautie,