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.
    Ioh. Some reasons of this double Corronation
    I haue possest you with, and thinke them strong.
    And more, more strong, then lesser is my feare
    1760I shall indue you with: Meane time, but aske
    What you would haue reform'd. that is not well,
    And well shall you perceiue, how willingly
    I will both heare, and grant you your requests.
    Pem. Then I, as one that am the tongue of these
    1765To sound the purposes of all their hearts,
    Both for my selfe, and them: but chiefe of all
    Your safety: for the which, my selfe and them
    Bend their best studies, heartily request
    Th'infranchisement of Arthur, whose restraint
    1770Doth moue the murmuring lips of discontent
    To breake into this dangerous argument.
    If what in rest you haue, in right you hold,
    Why then your feares, which (as they say) attend
    The steppes of wrong, should moue you to mew vp
    1775Your tender kinsman, and to choake his dayes
    With barbarous ignorance, and deny his youth
    The rich aduantage of good exercise,
    That the times enemies may not haue this
    To grace occasions: let it be our suite,
    1780That you haue bid vs aske his libertie,
    Which for our goods, we do no further aske,
    Then, whereupon our weale on you depending,
    Counts it your weale: he haue his liberty.
    Enter Hubert.
    1785Iohn, Let it be so: I do commit his youth
    To your direction: Hubert, what newes with you?
    Pem. This is the man should do the bloody deed:
    He shew'd his warrant to a friend of mine,
    The image of a wicked heynous fault
    1790Liues in his eye: that close aspect of his,
    Do shew the mood of a much troubled brest,
    And I do fearefully beleeue 'tis done,
    What we so fear'd he had a charge to do.
    Sal. The colour of the King doth come, and go
    1795Betweene his purpose and his conscience,
    Like Heralds 'twixt two dreadfull battailes set:
    His passion is so ripe, it needs must breake.
    Pem. And when it breakes, I feare will issue thence
    The foule corruption of a sweet childes death.
    1800Iohn. We cannot hold mortalities strong hand.
    Good Lords, although my will to giue, is liuing,
    The suite which you demand is gone, and dead.
    He tels vs Arthur is deceas'd to night.
    Sal. Indeed we fear'd his sicknesse was past cure.
    1805Pem. Indeed we heard how neere his death he was,
    Before the childe himselfe felt he was sicke:
    This must be answer'd either heere, or hence.
    Ioh. Why do you bend such solemne browes on me?
    Thinke you I beare the Sheeres of destiny?
    1810Haue I commandement on the pulse of life?
    Sal. It is apparant foule-play, and 'tis shame
    That Greatnesse should so grossely offer it;
    So thriue it in your game, and so farewell.
    Pem. Stay yet (Lord Salisbury) Ile go with thee,
    1815And finde th'inheritance of this poore childe,
    His little kingdome of a forced graue.
    That blood which ow'd the bredth of all this Ile,
    Three foot of it doth hold; bad world the while:
    This must not be thus borne, this will breake out
    1820To all our sorrowes, and ere long I doubt.
    Io. They burn in indignation: I repent:
    Enter Mes.
    There is no sure foundation set on blood:
    No certaine life atchieu'd by others death:
    A fearefull eye thou hast. Where is that blood,
    1825That I haue seene inhabite in those cheekes?
    So foule a skie, cleeres not without a storme,
    Poure downe thy weather: how goes all in France?
    Mes. From France to England, neuer such a powre
    For any forraigne preparation,
    1830Was leuied in the body of a land.
    The Copie of your speede is learn'd by them:
    For when you should be told they do prepare,
    The tydings comes, that they are all arriu'd.
    Ioh. Oh where hath our Intelligence bin drunke?
    1835Where hath it slept? Where is my Mothers care?
    That such an Army could be drawne in France,
    And she not heare of it?
    Mes. My Liege, her eare
    Is stopt with dust: the first of Aprill di'de
    1840Your noble mother; and as I heare, my Lord,
    The Lady Constance in a frenzie di'de
    Three dayes before: but this from Rumors tongue
    I idely heard: if true, or false I know not.
    Iohn. With-hold thy speed, dreadfull Occasion:
    1845O make a league with me, 'till I haue pleas'd
    My discontented Peeres. What? Mother dead?
    How wildely then walkes my Estate in France?
    Vnder whose conduct came those powres of France,
    That thou for truth giu'st out are landed heere?
    1850Mes. Vnder the Dolphin.
    Enter Bastard and Peter of Pomfret.
    Ioh. Thou hast made me giddy
    With these ill tydings: Now? What sayes the world
    To your proceedings? Do not seeke to stuffe
    1855My head with more ill newes: for it is full.
    Bast. But if you be a-feard to heare the worst,
    Then let the worst vn-heard, fall on your head.
    Iohn. Beare with me Cosen, for I was amaz'd
    Vnder the tide; but now I breath againe
    1860Aloft the flood, and can giue audience
    To any tongue, speake it of what it will.
    Bast. How I haue sped among the Clergy men,
    The summes I haue collected shall expresse:
    But as I trauail'd hither through the land,
    1865I finde the people strangely fantasied,
    Possest with rumors, full of idle dreames,
    Not knowing what they feare, but full of feare.
    And here's a Prophet that I brought with me
    From forth the streets of Pomfret, whom I found
    1870With many hundreds treading on his heeles:
    To whom he sung in rude harsh sounding rimes,
    That ere the next Ascension day at noone,
    Your Highnes should deliuer vp your Crowne.
    Iohn. Thou idle Dreamer, wherefore didst thou so?
    1875Pet. Fore-knowing that the truth will fall out so.
    Iohn. Hubert, away with him: imprison him,
    And on that day at noone, whereon he sayes
    I shall yeeld vp my Crowne, let him be hang'd.
    Deliuer him to safety, and returne,
    1880For I must vse thee. O my gentle Cosen,
    Hear'st thou the newes abroad, who are arriu'd?
    Bast. The French (my Lord) mens mouths are ful of it:
    Besides I met Lord Bigot, and Lord Salisburie
    With eyes as red as new enkindled fire,
    1885And others more, going to seeke the graue
    Of Arthur, whom they say is kill'd to night, on your
    Iohn. Gentle kinsman, go
    And thrust thy selfe into their Companies,
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