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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)

    Whose leisure I haue staid, haue giuen him time
    To land his Legions all as soone as I:
    His marches are expedient to this towne,
    355His forces strong, his Souldiers confident:
    With him along is come the Mother Queene,
    An Ace stirring him to bloud and strife,
    With her her Neece, the Lady Blanch of Spaine,
    With them a Bastard of the Kings deceast,
    360And all th'vnsetled humors of the Land,
    Rash, inconsiderate, fiery voluntaries,
    With Ladies faces, and fierce Dragons spleenes,
    Haue sold their fortunes at their natiue homes,
    Bearing their birth-rights proudly on their backs,
    365To make a hazard of new fortunes heere:
    In briefe, a brauer choyse of dauntlesse spirits
    Then now the English bottomes haue waft o're,
    Did neuer flote vpon the swelling tide,
    To doe offence and scathe in Christendome:
    370The interruption of their churlish drums
    Cuts off more circumstance, they are at hand,
    Drum beats.
    To parlie or to fight, therefore prepare.
    Kin. How much vnlook'd for, is this expedition.
    375Aust. By how much vnexpected, by so much
    We must awake indeuor for defence,
    For courage mounteth with occasion,
    Let them be welcome then, we are prepar'd.

    Enter K. of England, Bastard, Queene, Blanch, Pembroke,
    380 and others.

    K. Iohn. Peace be to France: If France in peace permit
    Our iust and lineall entrance to our owne;
    If not, bleede France, and peace ascend to heauen.
    Whiles we Gods wrathfull agent doe correct
    385Their proud contempt that beats his peace to heauen.
    Fran. Peace be to England, if that warre returne
    From France to England, there to liue in peace:
    England we loue, and for that Englands sake,
    With burden of our armor heere we sweat:
    390This toyle of ours should be a worke of thine;
    But thou from louing England art so farre,
    That thou hast vnder-wrought his lawfull King,
    Cut off the sequence of posterity,
    Out-faced Infant State, and done a rape
    395Vpon the maiden vertue of the Crowne:
    Looke heere vpon thy brother Geffreyes face,
    These eyes, these browes, were moulded out of his;
    This little abstract doth containe that large,
    Which died in Geffrey: and the hand of time,
    400Shall draw this breefe into as huge a volume:
    That Geffrey was thy elder brother borne,
    And this his sonne, England was Geffreys right,
    And this is Geffreyes in the name of God:
    How comes it then that thou art call'd a King,
    405When liuing blood doth in these temples beat
    Which owe the crowne, that thou ore-masterest?
    K. Iohn. From whom hast thou this great commission (France,
    To draw my answer from thy Articles?
    Fra. Frō that supernal Iudge that stirs good thoughts
    410In any beast of strong authoritie,
    To looke into the blots and staines of right,
    That Iudge hath made me guardian to this boy,
    Vnder whose warrant I impeach thy wrong,
    And by whose helpe I meane to chastise it.
    415K. Iohn. Alack thou dost vsurpe authoritie.
    Fran. Excuse it is to beat vsurping downe.
    Queen. Who is it thou dost call vsurper France?
    Const. Let me make answer: thy vsurping sonne.
    Queen. Out insolent, thy bastard shall be King,
    420That thou maist be a Queen, and checke the world.
    Con. My bed was euer to thy sonne as true
    As thine was to thy husband, and this boy
    Liker in feature to his father Geffrey
    Then thou and Iohn, in manners being as like,
    425As raine to water, or deuill to his damme;
    My boy a bastard? by my soule I thinke
    His father neuer was so true begot,
    It cannot be, and if thou wert his mother.
    Queen. Theres a good mother boy, that blots thy fa-(ther
    430Const. There's a good grandame boy
    That would blot thee.
    Aust. Peace.
    Bast. Heare the Cryer.
    Aust. What the deuill art thou?
    435Bast. One that wil play the deuill sir with you,
    And a may catch your hide and yon alone:
    You are the Hare of whom the Prouerb goes
    Whose valour plucks dead Lyons by the beard;
    Ile smoake your skin-coat and I catch you right,
    440Sirra looke too't, y faith I will, y faith.
    Blan. O well did he become that Lyons robe,
    That did disrobe the Lion of that robe.
    Bast. It lies as sightly on the backe of him
    As great Alcides shooes vpon an Asse:
    445But Asse, Ile take that burthen from your backe,
    Or lay on that shall make your shoulders cracke.
    Aust. What cracker is this same that deafes our eares
    With this abundance of superfluous breath?
    King Lewis, determine what we shall doe strait.
    450Lew. Women & fooles, breake off your conference.
    King Iohn, this is the very summe of all:
    England and Ireland, Angiers, Toraine, Maine,
    In right of Arthur doe I claime of thee:
    Wilt thou resigne them, and lay downe thy Armes?
    455Iohn. My life as soone: I doe defie thee France,
    Arthur of Britaine, yeeld thee to my hand,
    And out of my deere loue Ile giue thee more,
    Then ere the coward hand of France can win;
    Submit thee boy.
    460Queen. Come to thy grandame child.
    Cons. Doe childe, goe to yt grandame childe,
    Giue grandame kingdome, and it grandame will
    Giue yt a plum, a cherry, and a figge,
    There's a good grandame.
    465Arthur. Good my mother peace,
    I would that I were low laid in my graue,
    I am not worth this coyle that's made for me.
    Qu. Mo. His mother shames him so, poore boy hee (weepes.
    Con. Now shame vpon you where she does or no,
    470His grandames wrongs, and not his mothers shames
    Drawes those heauen-mouing pearles frō his poor eies,
    Which heauen shall take in nature of a fee:
    I, with these Christall beads heauen shall be brib'd
    To doe him Iustice, and reuenge on you.
    475Qu. Thou monstrous slanderer of heauen and earth.
    Con. Thou monstrous Iniurer of heauen and earth,
    Call not me slanderer, thou and thine vsurpe
    The Dominations, Royalties, and rights
    Of this oppressed boy; this is thy eldest sonnes sonne,
    480Infortunate in nothing but in thee: