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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)

    2015Big. To morrow morning let vs meete him then.
    Sal. Or rather then set forward, for 'twill be
    Two long dayes iourney (Lords) or ere we meete.
    Enter Bastard.
    Bast. Once more to day well met, distemper'd Lords,
    2020The King by me requests your presence straight.
    Sal. The king hath dispossest himselfe of vs,
    We will not lyne his thin-bestained cloake
    With our pure Honors: nor attend the foote
    That leaues the print of blood where ere it walkes.
    2025Returne, and tell him so: we know the worst.
    Bast. What ere you thinke, good words I thinke
    were best.
    Sal. Our greefes, and not our manners reason now.
    Bast. But there is little reason in your greefe.
    2030Therefore 'twere reason you had manners now.
    Pem. Sir, sir, impatience hath his priuiledge.
    Bast. 'Tis true, to hurt his master, no mans else.
    Sal. This is the prison: What is he lyes heere?
    P. Oh death, made proud with pure & princely beuty,
    2035The earth had not a hole to hide this deede.
    Sal. Murther, as hating what himselfe hath done,
    Doth lay it open to vrge on reuenge.
    Big. Or when he doom'd this Beautie to a graue,
    Found it too precious Princely, for a graue.
    2040Sal. Sir Richard, what thinke you? you haue beheld,
    Or haue you read, or heard, or could you thinke?
    Or do you almost thinke, although you see,
    That you do see? Could thought, without this obiect
    Forme such another? This is the very top,
    2045The heighth, the Crest: or Crest vnto the Crest
    Of murthers Armes: This is the bloodiest shame,
    The wildest Sauagery, the vildest stroke
    That euer wall-ey'd wrath, or staring rage
    Presented to the teares of soft remorse.
    2050Pem. All murthers past, do stand excus'd in this:
    And this so sole, and so vnmatcheable,
    Shall giue a holinesse, a puritie,
    To the yet vnbegotten sinne of times;
    And proue a deadly blood-shed, but a iest,
    2055Exampled by this heynous spectacle.
    Bast. It is a damned, and a bloody worke,
    The gracelesse action of a heauy hand,
    If that it be the worke of any hand.
    Sal. If that it be the worke of any hand?
    2060We had a kinde of light, what would ensue:
    It is the shamefull worke of Huberts hand,
    The practice, and the purpose of the king:
    From whose obedience I forbid my soule,
    Kneeling before this ruine of sweete life,
    2065And breathing to his breathlesse Excellence
    The Incense of a Vow, a holy Vow:
    Neuer to taste the pleasures of the world,
    Neuer to be infected with delight,
    Nor conuersant with Ease, and Idlenesse,
    2070Till I haue set a glory to this hand,
    By giuing it the worship of Reuenge.
    Pem. Big. Our soules religiously confirme thy words.
    Enter Hubert.
    Hub. Lords, I am hot with haste, in seeking you,
    2075Arthur doth liue, the king hath sent for you.
    Sal. Oh he is bold, and blushes not at death,
    Auant thou hatefull villain, get thee gone.
    Hu. I am no villaine. Sal. Must I rob (the law?
    Bast. Your sword is bright sir, put it vp againe.
    2080Sal. Not till I sheath it in a murtherers skin.
    Hub. Stand backe Lord Salsbury, stand backe I say:
    By heauen, I thinke my sword's as sharpe as yours.
    I would not haue you (Lord) forget your selfe,
    Nor tempt the danger of my true defence;
    2085Least I, by marking of your rage, forget
    your Worth, your Greatnesse, and Nobility.
    Big. Out dunghill: dar'st thou braue a Nobleman?
    Hub. Not for my life: But yet I dare defend
    My innocent life against an Emperor.
    2090Sal. Thou art a Murtherer.
    Hub. Do not proue me so:
    Yet I am none. Whose tongue so ere speakes false,
    Not truely speakes: who speakes not truly, Lies.
    Pem. Cut him to peeces.
    2095Bast. Keepe the peace, I say.
    Sal. Stand by, or I shall gaul you Faulconbridge.
    Bast. Thou wer't better gaul the diuell Salsbury.
    If thou but frowne on me, or stirre thy foote,
    Or teach thy hastie spleene to do me shame,
    2100Ile strike thee dead. Put vp thy sword betime,
    Or Ile so maule you, and your tosting-Iron,
    That you shall thinke the diuell is come from hell.
    Big. What wilt thou do, renowned Faulconbridge?
    Second a Villaine, and a Murtherer?
    2105Hub. Lord Bigot, I am none.
    Big. Who kill'd this Prince?
    Hub. 'Tis not an houre since I left him well:
    I honour'd him, I lou'd him, and will weepe
    My date of life out, for his sweete liues losse.
    2110Sal. Trust not those cunning waters of his eyes,
    For villanie is not without such rheume,
    And he, long traded in it, makes it seeme
    Like Riuers of remorse and innocencie.
    Away with me, all you whose soules abhorre
    2115Th' vncleanly sauours of a Slaughter-house,
    For I am stifled with this smell of sinne.
    Big. Away, toward Burie, to the Dolphin there.
    P. There tel the king, he may inquire vs out. Ex. Lords.
    Ba. Here's a good world: knew you of this faire work?
    2120Beyond the infinite and boundlesse reach of mercie,
    (If thou didst this deed of death) art yu damn'd Hubert.
    Hub Do but heare me sir.
    Bast. Ha? Ile tell thee what.
    Thou'rt damn'd as blacke, nay nothing is so blacke,
    2125Thou art more deepe damn'd then Prince Lucifer:
    There is not yet so vgly a fiend of hell
    As thou shalt be, if thou didst kill this childe.
    Hub. Vpon my soule.
    Bast. If thou didst but consent
    2130To this most cruell Act: do but dispaire,
    And if thou want'st a Cord, the smallest thred
    That euer Spider twisted from her wombe
    Will serue to strangle thee: A rush will be a beame
    To hang thee on. Or wouldst thou drowne thy selfe,
    2135Put but a little water in a spoone,
    And it shall be as all the Ocean,
    Enough to stifle such a villaine vp.
    I do suspect thee very greeuously.
    Hub. If I in act, consent, or sinne of thought,
    2140Be guiltie of the stealing that sweete breath
    Which was embounded in this beauteous clay,
    Let hell want paines enough to torture me:
    I left him well.
    Bast. Go, beare him in thine armes:
    2145I am amaz'd me thinkes, and loose my way
    Among the thornes, and dangers of this world.