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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)

    If heauen be pleas'd that you must vse me ill,
    Why then you must. Will you put out mine eyes?
    These eyes, that neuer did, nor neuer shall
    So much as frowne on you.
    1635Hub. I haue sworne to do it:
    And with hot Irons must I burne them out.
    Ar. Ah, none but in this Iron Age, would do it:
    The Iron of it selfe, though heate red hot,
    Approaching neere these eyes, would drinke my teares,
    1640And quench this fierie indignation,
    Euen in the matter of mine innocence:
    Nay, after that, consume away in rust,
    But for containing fire to harme mine eye:
    Are you more stubborne hard, then hammer'd Iron?
    1645And if an Angell should haue come to me,
    And told me Hubert should put out mine eyes,
    I would not haue beleeu'd him: no tongue but Huberts.
    Hub. Come forth: Do as I bid you do.
    Art. O saue me Hubert, saue me: my eyes are out
    1650Euen with the fierce lookes of these bloody men.
    Hub. Giue me the Iron I say, and binde him heere.
    Art. Alas, what neede you be so boistrous rough?
    I will not struggle, I will stand stone still:
    For heauen sake Hubert let me not be bound:
    1655Nay heare me Hubert, driue these men away,
    And I will sit as quiet as a Lambe.
    I will not stirre, nor winch, nor speake a word,
    Nor looke vpon the Iron angerly:
    Thrust but these men away, and Ile forgiue you,
    1660What euer torment you do put me too.
    Hub. Go stand within: let me alone with him.
    Exec. I am best pleas'd to be from such a deede.
    Art. Alas, I then haue chid away my friend,
    He hath a sterne looke, but a gentle heart:
    1665Let him come backe, that his compassion may
    Giue life to yours.
    Hub. Come (Boy) prepare your selfe.
    Art. Is there no remedie?
    Hub. None, but to lose your eyes.
    1670Art. O heauen: that there were but a moth in yours,
    A graine, a dust, a gnat, a wandering haire,
    Any annoyance in that precious sense:
    Then feeling what small things are boysterous there,
    Your vilde intent must needs seeme horrible.
    1675Hub. Is this your promise? Go too, hold your toong.
    Art. Hubert, the vtterance of a brace of tongues,
    Must needes want pleading for a paire of eyes:
    Let me not hold my tongue: let me not Hubert,
    Or Hubert, if you will cut out my tongue,
    1680So I may keepe mine eyes. O spare mine eyes,
    Though to no vse, but still to looke on you.
    Loe, by my troth, the Instrument is cold,
    And would not harme me.
    Hub. I can heate it, Boy.
    1685Art. No, in good sooth: the fire is dead with griefe,
    Being create for comfort, to be vs'd
    In vndeserued extreames: See else your selfe,
    There is no malice in this burning cole,
    The breath of heauen, hath blowne his spirit out,
    1690And strew'd repentant ashes on his head.
    Hub. But with my breath I can reuiue it Boy.
    Art. And if you do, you will but make it blush,
    And glow with shame of your proceedings, Hubert:
    Nay, it perchance will sparkle in your eyes:
    1695And, like a dogge that is compell'd to fight,
    Snatch at his Master that doth tarre him on.
    All things that you should vse to do me wrong
    Deny their office: onely you do lacke
    That mercie, which fierce fire, and Iron extends,
    1700Creatures of note for mercy, lacking vses.
    Hub. Well, see to liue: I will not touch thine eye,
    For all the Treasure that thine Vnckle owes,
    Yet am I sworne, and I did purpose, Boy,
    With this same very Iron, to burne them out.
    1705Art. O now you looke like Hubert. All this while
    You were disguis'd.
    Hub. Peace: no more. Adieu,
    Your Vnckle must not know but you are dead.
    Ile fill these dogged Spies with false reports:
    1710And, pretty childe, sleepe doubtlesse, and secure,
    That Hubert for the wealth of all the world,
    Will not offend thee.
    Art. O heauen! I thanke you Hubert.
    Hub. Silence, no more; go closely in with mee,
    1715Much danger do I vndergo for thee. Exeunt

    Scena Secunda.

    Enter Iohn, Pembroke, Salisbury, and other Lordes.
    Iohn. Heere once againe we sit: once against crown'd
    And look'd vpon, I hope, with chearefull eyes.
    1720Pem. This once again (but that your Highnes pleas'd)
    Was once superfluous: you were Crown'd before,
    And that high Royalty was nere pluck'd off:
    The faiths of men, nere stained with reuolt:
    Fresh expectation troubled not the Land
    1725With any long'd-for-change, or better State.
    Sal. Therefore, to be possess'd with double pompe,
    To guard a Title, that was rich before;
    To gilde refined Gold, to paint the Lilly;
    To throw a perfume on the Violet,
    1730To smooth the yce, or adde another hew
    Vnto the Raine-bow; or with Taper-light
    To seeke the beauteous eye of heauen to garnish,
    Is wastefull, and ridiculous excesse.
    Pem. But that your Royall pleasure must be done,
    1735This acte, is as an ancient tale new told,
    And, in the last repeating, troublesome,
    Being vrged at a time vnseasonable.
    Sal. In this the Anticke, and well noted face
    Of plaine old forme, is much disfigured,
    1740And like a shifted winde vnto a saile,
    It makes the course of thoughts to fetch about,
    Startles, and frights consideration :
    Makes sound opinion sicke, and truth suspected,
    For putting on so new a fashion'd robe.
    1745Pem. When Workemen striue to do better then wel,
    They do confound their skill in couetousnesse,
    And oftentimes excusing of a fault,
    Doth make the fault the worse by th'excuse:
    As patches set vpon a little breach,
    1750Discredite more in hiding of the fault,
    Then did the fault before it was so patch'd.
    Sal. To this effect, before you were new crown'd
    We breath'd our Councell: but it pleas'd your Highnes
    To ouer-beare it, and we are all well pleas'd,
    1755Since all, and euery part of what we would
    Doth make a stand, at what your Highnesse will.