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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)

    Thy sinnes are visited in this poore childe,
    The Canon of the Law is laide on him,
    Being but the second generation
    Remoued from thy sinne-conceiuing wombe.
    485Iohn. Bedlam haue done.
    Con. I haue but this to say,
    That he is not onely plagued for her sin,
    But God hath made her sinne and her, the plague
    On this remoued issue, plagued for her,
    490And with her plague her sinne: his iniury
    Her iniurie the Beadle to her sinne,
    All punish'd in the person of this childe,
    And all for her, a plague vpon her.
    Que. Thou vnaduised scold, I can produce
    495A Will, that barres the title of thy sonne.
    Con. I who doubts that, a Will: a wicked will,
    A womans will, a cankred Grandams will.
    Fra. Peace Lady, pause, or be more temperate,
    It ill beseemes this presence to cry ayme
    500To these ill-tuned repetitions:
    Some Trumpet summon hither to the walles
    These men of Angiers, let vs heare them speake,
    Whose title they admit, Arthurs or Iohns.

    Trumpet sounds.
    505Enter a Citizen vpon the walles.
    Cit. Who is it that hath warn'd vs to the walles?
    Fra. 'Tis France, for England.
    Iohn. England for it selfe:
    You men of Angiers, and my louing subiects.
    510Fra. You louing men of Angiers, Arthurs subiects,
    Our Trumpet call'd you to this gentle parle.
    Iohn. For our aduantage, therefore heare vs first:
    These flagges of France that are aduanced heere
    Before the eye and prospect of your Towne,
    515Haue hither march'd to your endamagement.
    The Canons haue their bowels full of wrath,
    And ready mounted are they to spit forth
    Their Iron indignation 'gainst your walles:
    All preparation for a bloody siedge
    520And merciles proceeding, by these French.
    Comfort yours Citties eies, your winking gates:
    And but for our approch, those sleeping stones,
    That as a waste doth girdle you about
    By the compulsion of their Ordinance,
    525By this time from their fixed beds of lime
    Had bin dishabited, and wide hauocke made
    For bloody power to rush vppon your peace.
    But on the sight of vs your lawfull King,
    Who painefully with much expedient march
    530Haue brought a counter-checke before your gates,
    To saue vnscratch'd your Citties threatned cheekes:
    Behold the French amaz'd vouchsafe a parle,
    And now insteed of bulletts wrapt in fire
    To make a shaking feuer in your walles,
    535They shoote but calme words, folded vp in smoake,
    To make a faithlesse errour in your eares,
    Which trust accordingly kinde Cittizens,
    And let vs in. Your King, whose labour'd spirits
    Fore-wearied in this action of swift speede,
    540Craues harbourage within your Citie walIes.
    France. When I haue saide, make answer to vs both.
    Loe in this right hand, whose protection
    Is most diuinely vow'd vpon the right
    Of him it holds, stands yong Plantagenet,
    545Sonne to the elder brother of this man,
    And King ore him, and all that he enioyes:
    For this downe-troden equity, we tread
    In warlike march, these greenes before your Towne,
    Being no further enemy to you
    550Then the constraint of hospitable zeale,
    In the releefe of this oppressed childe,
    Religiously prouokes. Be pleased then
    To pay that dutie which you truly owe,
    To him that owes it, namely, this yong Prince,
    555And then our Armes, like to a muzled Beare,
    Saue in aspect, hath all offence seal'd vp:
    Our Cannons malice vainly shall be spent
    Against th' involuerable clouds of heauen,
    And with a blessed and vn-vext retyre,
    560With vnhack'd swords, and Helmets all vnbruis'd,
    We will beare home that lustie blood againe,
    Which heere we came to spout against your Towne,
    And leaue your children, wiues, and you in peace.
    But if you fondly passe our proffer'd offer,
    565'Tis not the rounder of your old-fac'd walles,
    Can hide you from our messengers of Warre,
    Though all these English, and their discipline
    Were harbour'd in their rude circumference:
    Then tell vs, Shall your Citie call vs Lord,
    570In that behalfe which we haue challeng'd it?
    Or shall we giue the signall to our rage,
    And stalke in blood to our possession?
    Cit. In breefe, we are the King of Englands subiects
    For him, and in his right, we hold this Towne.
    575Iohn. Acknowledge then the King, and let me in.
    Cit. That can we not: but he that proues the King
    To him will we proue loyall, till that time
    Haue we ramm'd vp our gates against the world.
    Iohn. Doth not the Crowne of England, prooue the
    580 King?
    And if not that, I bring you Witnesses
    Twice fifteene thousand hearts of Englands breed.
    Bast. Bastards and else.
    Iohn. To verifie our title with their liues.
    585Fran. As many and as well-borne bloods as those.
    Bast. Some Bastards too.
    Fran. Stand in his face to contradict his claime.
    Cit. Till you compound whose right is worthiest,
    We for the worthiest hold the right from both.
    590Iohn. Then God forgiue the sinne of all those soules,
    That to their euerlasting residence,
    Before the dew of euening fall, shall fleete
    In dreadfull triall of our kingdomes King.
    Fran. Amen, Amen, mount Cheualiers to Armes.
    595Bast. Saint George that swindg'd the Dragon,
    And ere since sit's on's horsebacke at mine Hostesse dore
    Teach vs some fence. Sirrah, were I at home
    At your den sirrah, with your Lionnesse,
    I would set an Oxe-head to your Lyons hide :
    600And make a monster of you.
    Aust. Peace, no more.
    Bast. O tremble : for you heare the Lyon rore.
    Iohn. Vp higher to the plaine, where we'l set forth
    In best appointment all our Regiments.
    605Bast . Speed then to take aduantage of the field.
    Fra. It shall be so, and at the other hill
    Command the rest to stand, God and our right. Exeunt
    Heere after excursions, Enter the Herald of France
    with Trumpets to the gates.
    610F. Her. You men of Angiers open wide your gates,
    And let yong Arthur Duke of Britaine in,