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  • 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)

    Are not you grieu'd that Arthur is his prisoner?
    Dol. As heartily as he is glad he hath him.
    1510Pan. Your minde is all as youthfull as your blood.
    Now heare me speake with a propheticke spirit:
    For euen the breath of what I meane to speake,
    Shall blow each dust, each straw, each little rub
    Out of the path which shall directly lead
    1515Thy foote to Englands Throne. And therefore marke:
    Iohn hath seiz'd Arthur, and it cannot be,
    That whiles warme life playes in that infants veines,
    The mis-plac'd-Iohn should entertaine an houre,
    One minute, nay one quiet breath of rest.
    1520A Scepter snatch'd with an vnruly hand,
    Must be as boysterously maintain'd as gain'd.
    And he that stands vpon a slipp'ry place,
    Makes nice of no vilde hold to stay him vp:
    That Iohn may stand, then Arthur needs must fall,
    1525So be it, for it cannot be but so.
    Dol. But what shall I gaine by yong Arthurs fall?
    Pan. You, in the right of Lady Blanch your wife,
    May then make all the claime that Arthur did.
    Dol. And loose it, life and all, as Arthur did.
    1530Pan. How green you are, and fresh in this old world?
    Iohn layes you plots: the times conspire with you,
    For he that steepes his safetie in true blood,
    Shall finde but bloodie safety, and vntrue.
    This Act so euilly borne shall coole the hearts
    1535Of all his people, and freeze vp their zeale,
    That none so small aduantage shall step forth
    To checke his reigne, but they will cherish it.
    No naturall exhalation in the skie,
    No scope of Nature, no distemper'd day,
    1540No common winde, no customed euent,
    But they will plucke away his naturall cause,
    And call them Meteors, prodigies, and signes,
    Abbortiues, presages, and tongues of heauen,
    Plainly denouncing vengeance vpon Iohn.
    1545Dol. May be he will not touch yong Arthurs life,
    But hold himselfe safe in his prisonment.
    Pan. O Sir, when he shall heare of your approach,
    If that yong Arthur be not gone alreadie,
    Euen at that newes he dies: and then the hearts
    1550Of all his people shall reuolt from him,
    And kisse the lippes of vnacquainted change,
    And picke strong matter of reuolt, and wrath
    Out of the bloody fingers ends of Iohn.
    Me thinkes I see this hurley all on foot;
    1555And O, what better matter breeds for you,
    Then I haue nam'd. The Bastard Falconbridge
    Is now in England ransacking the Church,
    Offending Charity: If but a dozen French
    Were there in Armes, they would be as a Call
    1560To traine ten thousand English to their side;
    Or, as a little snow, tumbled about,
    Anon becomes a Mountaine. O noble Dolphine,
    Go with me to the King, 'tis wonderfull,
    What may be wrought out of their discontent,
    1565Now that their soules are topfull of offence,
    For England go; I will whet on the King.
    Dol. Strong reasons makes strange actions: let vs go,
    If you say I, the King will not say no. Exeunt.

    Actus Quartus, Scæna prima.

    1570Enter Hubert and Executioners.
    Hub. Heate me these Irons hot, and looke thou stand
    Within the Arras: when I strike my foot
    Vpon the bosome of the ground, rush forth
    And binde the boy, which you shall finde with me
    1575Fast to the chaire: be heedfull: hence, and watch.
    Exec. I hope your warrant will beare out the deed.
    Hub. Vncleanly scruples feare not you: looke too't.
    Yong Lad come forth; I haue to say with you.
    Enter Arthur.
    1580Ar. Good morrow Hubert.
    Hub. Good morrow, little Prince.
    Ar. As little Prince, hauing so great a Title
    To be more Prince, as may be: you are sad.
    Hub. Indeed I haue beene merrier.
    1585Art. 'Mercie on me:
    Me thinkes no body should be sad but I:
    Yet I remember, when I was in France,
    Yong Gentlemen would be as sad as night
    Onely for wantonnesse: by my Christendome,
    1590So I were out of prison, and kept Sheepe
    I should be as merry as the day is long:
    And so I would be heere, but that I doubt
    My Vnckle practises more harme to me:
    He is affraid of me, and I of him:
    1595Is it my fault, that I was Geffreyes sonne?
    No in deede is't not: and I would to heauen
    I were your sonne, so you would loue me, Hubert:
    Hub. If I talke to him, with his innocent prate
    He will awake my mercie, which lies dead:
    1600Therefore I will be sodaine, and dispatch.
    Ar. Are you sicke Hubert? you looke pale today,
    In sooth I would you were a little sicke,
    That I might sit all night, and watch with you.
    I warrant I loue you more then you do me.
    1605Hub. His words do take possession of my bosome.
    Reade heere yong Arthnr. How now foolish rheume?
    Turning dispitious torture out of doore?
    I must be breefe, least resolution drop
    Out at mine eyes, in tender womanish teares.
    1610Can you not reade it? Is it not faire writ?
    Ar. Too fairely Hubert, for so foule effect,
    Must you with hot Irons, burne out both mine eyes?
    Hub. Yong Boy, I must.
    Art. And will you?
    1615Hub. And I will.
    Art. Haue you the heart? When your head did but
    I knit my hand-kercher about your browes
    (The best I had, a Princesse wrought it me)
    1620And I did neuer aske it you againe:
    And with my hand, at midnight held your head;
    And like the watchfull minutes, to the houre,
    Still and anon cheer'd vp the heauy time;
    Saying, what lacke you? and where lies your greefe?
    1625Or what good loue may I performe for you?
    Many a poore mans sonne would haue lyen still,
    And nere haue spoke a louing word to you:
    But you, at your sicke seruice had a Prince:
    Nay, you may thinke my loue was craftie loue,
    1630And call it cunning. Do, and if you will,