Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Michael Best
Peer Reviewed

King John (Folio 1, 1623)


Actus Tertius,Scæna prima.
Enter King Iohn, France, Dolphin, Blanch, Elianor, Philip,
Austria, Constance.
1000Fran. 'Tis true (faire daughter) and this blessed day,
Euer in France shall be kept festiuall:
To solemnize this day the glorious sunne
Stayes in his course, and playes the Alchymist,
Turning with splendor of his precious eye
1005The meager cloddy earth to glittering gold:
The yearely course that brings this day about,
Shall neuer see it, but a holy day.
Const. A wicked day, and not a holy day.
What hath this day deseru'd? what hath it done,
1010That it in golden letters should be set
Among the high tides in the Kalender?
Nay, rather turne this day out of the weeke,
This day of shame, oppression, periury.
Or if it must stand still, let wiues with childe
1015Pray that their burthens may not fall this day,
Lest that their hopes prodigiously be crost:
But (on this day) let Sea-men feare no wracke,
No bargaines breake that are not this day made;
This day all things begun, come to ill end,
1020Yea, faith it selfe to hollow falshood change.
Fra. By heauen Lady, you shall haue no cause
To curse the faire proceedings of this day:
Haue I not pawn'd to you my Maiesty?
Const. You haue beguil'd me with a counterfeit
1025Resembling Maiesty, which being touch'd and tride,
Proues valuelesse: you are forsworne,forsworne,
You came in Armes to spill mine enemies bloud,
But now in Armes, you strengthen it with yours.
The grapling vigor, and rough frowne of Warre
1030Is cold in amitie, and painted peace,
And our oppression hath made vp this league:
Arme, arme, you heauens, against these periur'd Kings,
A widdow cries, be husband to me (heauens)
Let not the howres of this vngodly day
1035Weare out the daies in Peace; but ere Sun-set,
Set armed discord 'twixt these periur'd Kings,
Heare me, Oh, heare me.
Aust. Lady Constance, peace.
Const. War, war,no peace, peace is to me a warre:
1040O Lymoges, O Austria,thou dost shame
That bloudy spoyle: thou slauethou wretch, yu coward,
Thou little valiant,great in villanie,
Thou euer strong vpon the stronger side;
Thou Fortunes Champion,that do'st neuer fight
1045But when her humourous Ladiship is by
To teach thee safety: thou art periur'd too,
And sooth'st vp greatnesse. What a foole art thou,
A ramping foole,to brag, and stamp, and sweare,
Vpon my partie: thou cold blooded slaue,
1050Hast thou not spoke like thunder on my side?
Beene sworne my Souldier, bidding me depend
Vpon thy starres, thy fortune, and thy strength,
And dost thou now fall ouer to my foes?
Thou weare a Lyons hide, doff it for shame,
1055And hang a Calues skin on those recreant limbes.
Aus. O that a man should speake those words to me.
Phil. And hang a Calues-skin on those recreant limbs
Aus. Thou dar'st not say so villaine for thy life.
Phil.And hang a Calues-skin on those recreant limbs.
1060Iohn. We like not this, thou dost forget thy selfe.
Enter Pandulph.
Fra. Heere comes the holy Legat of the Pope.
Pan. Haile you annointed deputies of heauen;
To thee King Iohn my holy errand is:
1065I Pandulph, of faire Millane Cardinall,
And from Pope Innocent the Legate heere,
Doe in his name religiously demand
Why thou against the Church,our holy Mother,
So wilfully dost spurne; and force perforce
1070Keepe Stephen Langton chosen Arshbishop
Of Canterbury from that holy Sea:
This in our foresaid holy Fathers name
Pope Innocent, I doe demand of thee.
Iohn. What earthie name to Interrogatories
1075Can tast the free breath of a sacred King?
Thou canst not (Cardinall) deuise a name
So slight, vnworthy,and ridiculous
To charge me to an answere, as the Pope:
Tell him this tale,and from the mouth of England,
1080Adde thus much more, that no Italian Priest
Shall tythe or toll in our dominions:
But as we, vnder heauen, are supreame head,
So vnder him that great supremacy
Where we doe reigne, we will alone vphold
1085Without th'assistance of a mortall hand:
So tell the Pope, all reuerence set apart
To him and his vsurp'd authoritie.
Fra. Brother of England, you blaspheme in this.
Iohn. Though you,and all the Kings of Christendom
1090Are led so grossely by this medling Priest,
Dreading the curse that money may buy out,
And by the merit of vilde gold, drosse, dust,
Purchase corrupted pardon of a man,
Who in that sale sels pardon from himselfe:
1095Though you, and al the rest so grossely led,
This iugling witchcraft with reuennue cherish,
Yet I alone, alone doe me oppose
Against the Pope, and count his friends my foes.
Pand. Then by the lawfull power that I haue,
1100Thou shalt stand curst,and excommunicate,
And blessed shall he be that doth reuolt
From his Allegeance to an heretique,
And meritorious shall that hand be call'd,
Canonized and worship'd as a Saint,
1105That takes away by any secret course
Thy hatefull life.
Con. O lawfull let it be
That I haue roome with Rome to curse a while,
Good Father Cardinall, cry thou Amen
1110To my keene curses; for without my wrong
There is no tongue hath power to curse him right.
Pan. There's Law and Warrant (Lady) for my curse.
Cons. And for mine too,when Law can do no right.
Let it be lawfull,that Law barre no wrong:
1115Law cannot giue my childe his kingdome heere;
For he that holds his Kingdome,holds the Law:
Therefore since Law it selfe is perfect wrong,
How can the Law forbid my tongue to curse?
Pand. Philip of France, on perill of a curse,
1120Let goe the hand of that Arch-heretique,
And raise the power of France vpon his head,
Vnlesse he doe submit himselfe to Rome.
Elea.Look'st thou pale France?do not let go thy hand.
Con. Looke to that Deuill, lest that France repent,
1125And by disioyning hands hell lose a soule.
Aust. King Philip, listen to the Cardinall.
Bast. And hang a Calues-skin on his recreant limbs.
Aust. Well ruffian, I must pocket vp these wrongs,
Because,
1130Bast. Your breeches best may carry them.
Iohn. Philip, what saist thou to the Cardinall?
Con. What should he say, but as the Cardinall?
Dolph. Bethinke you father, for the difference
Is purchase of a heauy curse from Rome,
1135Or the light losse of England,for a friend:
Forgoe the easier.
Bla. Thats the curse of Rome.
Con. O Lewis, stand fast, the deuill tempts thee heere
In likenesse of a new vntrimmed Bride.
1140Bla. The Lady Constance speakes not from her faith,
But from her need.
Con. Oh, if thou grant my need,
Which onely liues but by the death of faith,
That need, must needs inferre this principle,
1145That faith would liue againe by death of need:
O then tread downe my need,and faith mounts vp,
Keepe my need vp,and faith is trodden downe.
Iohn. The king is moud, and answers not to this.
Con. O be remou'd from him, and answere well.
1150Aust. Doe so king Philip, hang no more in doubt.
Bast. Hang nothing but a Calues skin most sweet lout.
Fra. I am perplext,and know not what to say.
Pan. What canst thou say,but wil perplex thee more?
If thou stand excommunicate, and curst?
1155Fra. Good reuerend father, make my person yours,
And tell me how you would bestow your selfe?
This royall hand and mine are newly knit,
And the coniunction of our inward soules
Married in league, coupled,and link'd together
1160With all religous strength of sacred vowes,
The latest breath that gaue the sound of words
Was deepe-sworne faith, peace, amity, true loue
Betweene our kingdomes and our royall selues,
And euen before this truce, but new before,
1165No longer then we well could wash our hands,
To clap this royall bargaine vp of peace,
Heauen knowes they were besmear'd and ouer-staind
With slaughters pencill; where reuenge did paint
The fearefull difference of incensed kings:
1170And shall these hands so lately purg'd ofbloud?
So newly ioyn'd in loue? so strong in both,
Vnyoke this seysure, and this kinde regreete?
Play fast and loose with faith? so iest with heauen,
Make such vnconstant children of onr selues
1175As now againe to snatch our palme from palme:
Vn-sweare faith sworne, and on the marriage bed
Of smiling peace to march a bloody hoast,
And make a ryot on the gentle brow
Of true sincerity? O holy Sir
1180My reuerend father, let it not be so;
Out of your grace, deuise, ordaine, impose
Some gentle order, and then we shall be blest
To doe your pleasure, and continue friends.
Pand. All forme is formelesse,Order orderlesse,
1185Saue what is opposite to Englands loue.
Therefore to Armes, be Champion of our Church,
Or let the Church our mother breathe her curse,
A mothers curse, on her reuolting sonne:
France, thou maist hold a serpent by the tongue,
1190A cased Lion by the mortall paw,
A fasting Tyger safer by the tooth,
Then keepe in peace that hand which thou dost hold.
Fra. I may dis-ioyne my hand, but not my faith.
Pand. So mak'st thou faith an enemy to faith,
1195And like a ciuill warre setst oath to oath,
Thy tongue against thy tongue. O let thy vow
First made to heauen, first be to heauen perform'd,
That is, to be the Champion of our Church,
What since thou sworst, is sworne against thy selfe,
1200And may not be performed by thy selfe,
For that which thou hast sworne to doe amisse,
Is not amisse when it is truely done:
And being not done,where doing tends to ill,
The truth is then most done not doing it:
1205The better Act of purposes mistooke,
Is to mistake again, though indirect,
Yet indirection thereby growes direct,
And falshood, falshood cures, as fire cooles fire
Within the scorched veines of one new burn'd:
1210It is religion that doth make vowes kept,
But thou hast sworne against religion:
By what thou swear'st against the thing thou swear'st,
And mak'st an oath the suretie for thy truth,
Against an oath the truth, thou art vnsure
1215To sweare, sweares onely not to be forsworne,
Else what a mockerie should it be to sweare?
But thou dost sweare, onely to be forsworne,
And most forsworne, to keepe what thou dost sweare,
Therefore thy later vowes,against thy first,
1220Is in thy selfe rebellion to thy selfe:
And better conquest neuer canst thou make,
Then arme thy constant and thy nobler parts
Against these giddy loose suggestions:
Vpon which better part, our prayrs come in,
1225If thou vouchsafe them. But if not,then know
The perill of our curses light on thee
So heauy, as thou shalt not shake them off
But in despaire, dye vnder their blacke weight.
Aust. Rebellion,flat rebellion.
1230Bast. Wil't not be?
Will not a Calues-skin stop that mouth of thine?
Daul. Father,to Armes.
Blanch. Vpon thy wedding day?
Against the blood that thou hast married?
1235What,shall our feast be kept with slaughtered men?
Shall braying trumpets, and loud churlish drums
Clamors of hell, be measures to our pomp?
O husband heare me: aye, alacke, how new
Is husband in my mouth? euen for that name
1240Which till this time my tongue did nere pronounce;
Vpon my knee I beg, goe not to Armes
Against mine Vncle.
Const. O, vpon my knee made hard with kneeling,
I doe pray to thee, thou vertuous Daulphin,
1245Alter not the doome fore-thought by heauen.
Blan. Now shall I see thy loue, what motiue may
Be stronger with thee, then the name of wife?
Con. That which vpholdeth him,that thee vpholds,
His Honor, Oh thine Honor, Lewis thine Honor.
1250Dolph. I muse your Maiesty doth seeme so cold,
When such profound respects doe pull you on?
Pand. I will denounce a curse vpon his head.
Fra. Thou shalt not need.England,I will fall frō thee.
Const. O faire returne of banish'd Maiestie.
1255Elea. O foule reuolt of French inconstancy.
Eng. France, yu shalt rue this houre within this houre.
Bast.Old Time the clocke setter, yt bald sexton Time:
Is it as he will? well then,France shall rue.
Bla. The Sun's orecast with bloud: faire day adieu,
1260Which is the side that I must goe withall?
I am with both, each Army hath a hand,
And in their rage, I hauing hold of both,
They whurle a-sunder, and dismember mee.
Husband, I cannot pray that thou maist winne:
1265Vncle, I needs must pray that thou maist lose:
Father, I may not wish the fortune thine:
Grandam, I will not wish thy wishes thriue:
Who-euer wins,on that side shall I lose:
Assured losse,before the match be plaid.
1270Dolph. Lady,with me,with me thy fortune lies.
Bla. There where my fortune liues,there my life dies.
Iohn. Cosen, goe draw our puisance together,
France,I am burn'd vp with inflaming wrath,
A rage, whose heat hath this condition;
1275That nothing can allay,nothing but blood,
The blood and deerest valued bloud of France.
Fra. Thy rage shall burne thee vp, & thou shalt turne
To ashes, ere our blood shall quench that fire:
Looke to thy selfe,thou art in ieopardie.
1280Iohn.No more then he that threats. To Arms le'ts hie.
Exeunt.