Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: King John (Folio 1, 1623)
  • Editor: Michael Best
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-410-3

    Copyright Michael Best. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Michael Best
    Peer Reviewed

    King John (Folio 1, 1623)

    The life and death of King John.
    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,
    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 of bloud?
    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.