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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)

    We make him Lord of. Call the Lady Constance,
    875Some speedy Messenger bid her repaire
    To our solemnity: I trust we shall,
    (If not fill vp the measure of her will)
    Yet in some measure satisfie her so,
    That we shall stop her exclamation,
    880Go we as well as hast will suffer vs,
    To this vnlook'd for vnprepared pompe. Exeunt.
    Bast. Mad world, mad kings, mad composition:
    Iohn to stop Arthurs Title in the whole,
    Hath willingly departed with a part,
    885And France, whose armour Conscience buckled on,
    Whom zeale and charitie brought to the field,
    As Gods owne souldier, rounded in the eare,
    With that same purpose-changer, that slye diuel,
    That Broker, that still breakes the pate of faith,
    890That dayly breake-vow, he that winnes of all,
    Of kings, of beggers, old men, yong men, maids,
    Who hauing no externall thing to loose,
    But the word Maid, cheats the poore Maide of that.
    That smooth-fac'd Gentleman, tickling commoditie,
    895Commoditie, the byas of the world,
    The world, who of it selfe is peysed well,
    Made to run euen, vpon euen ground;
    Till this aduantage, this vile drawing byas,
    This sway of motion, this commoditie,
    900Makes it take head from all indifferency,
    From all direction, purpose, course, intent.
    And this same byas, this Commoditie,
    This Bawd, this Broker, this all-changing-word,
    Clap'd on the outward eye of fickle France,
    905Hath drawne him from his owne determin'd ayd,
    From a resolu'd and honourable warre,
    To a most base and vile-concluded peace.
    And why rayle I on this Commoditie?
    But for because he hath not wooed me yet:
    910Not that I haue the power to clutch my hand,
    When his faire Angels would salute my palme,
    But for my hand, as vnattempted yet,
    Like a poore begger, raileth on the rich.
    Well, whiles I am a begger, I will raile,
    915And say there is no sin but to be rich:
    And being rich, my vertue then shall be,
    To say there is no vice, but beggerie:
    Since Kings breake faith vpon commoditie,
    Gaine be my Lord, for I will worship thee. Exit.

    920Actus Secundus

    Enter Constance, Arthur, and Salisbury.

    Con. Gone to be married? Gone to sweare a peace?
    False blood to false blood ioyn'd. Gone to be freinds?
    Shall Lewis haue Blaunch, and Blaunch those Prouinces?
    925It is not so, thou hast mispoke, misheard,
    Be well aduis'd, tell ore thy tale againe.
    It cannot be, thou do'st but say 'tis so.
    I trust I may not trust thee, for thy word
    Is but the vaine breath of a common man:
    930Beleeue me, I doe not beleeue thee man,
    I haue a Kings oath to the contrarie.
    Thou shalt be punish'd for thus frighting me,
    For I am sicke, and capeable of feares,
    Opprest with wrongs, and therefore full of feares,
    935A widdow, husbandles, subiect to feares,
    A woman naturally borne to feares;
    And though thou now confesse thou didst but iest
    With my vext spirits, I cannot take a Truce,
    But they will quake and tremble all this day.
    940What dost thou meane by shaking of thy head?
    Why dost thou looke so sadly on my sonne?
    What meanes that hand vpon that breast of thine?
    Why holdes thine eie that lamentable rhewme,
    Like a proud riuer peering ore his bounds?
    945Be these sad signes confirmers of thy words?
    Then speake againe, not all thy former tale,
    But this one word, whether thy tale be true.
    Sal. As true as I beleeue you thinke them false,
    That giue you cause to proue my saying true.
    950Con. Oh if thou teach me to beleeue this sorrow,
    Teach thou this sorrow, how to make me dye,
    And let beleefe, and life encounter so,
    As doth the furie of two desperate men,
    Which in the very meeting fall, and dye.
    955Lewes marry Blaunch? O boy, then where art thou?
    France friend with England, what becomes of me?
    Fellow be gone: I cannot brooke thy sight,
    This newes hath made thee a most vgly man.
    Sal. What other harme haue I good Lady done,
    960But spoke the harme, that is by others done?
    Con. Which harme within it selfe so heynous is,
    As it makes harmefull all that speake of it.
    Ar. I do beseech you Madam be content.
    Con. If thou that bidst me be content, wert grim
    965Vgly, and slandrous to thy Mothers wombe,
    Full of vnpleasing blots, and sightlesse staines,
    Lame, foolish, crooked, swart, prodigious,
    Patch'd with foule Moles, and eye-offending markes,
    I would not care, I then would be content,
    970For then I should not loue thee: no, nor thou
    Become thy great birth, nor deserue a Crowne.
    But thou art faire, and at thy birth (deere boy)
    Nature and Fortune ioyn'd to make thee great.
    Of Natures guifts, thou mayst with Lillies boast,
    975And with the halfe-blowne Rose. But Fortune, oh,
    She is corrupted, chang'd, and wonne from thee,
    Sh'adulterates hourely with thine Vnckle Iohn,
    And with her golden hand hath pluckt on France
    To tread downe faire respect of Soueraigntie,
    980And made his Maiestie the bawd to theirs.
    France is a Bawd to Fortune, and king Iohn,
    That strumpet Fortune, that vsurping Iohn:
    Tell me thou fellow, is not France forsworne?
    Euvenom him with words, or get thee gone,
    985And leaue those woes alone, which I alone
    Am bound to vnder-beare.
    Sal. Pardon me Madam,
    I may not goe without you to the kings.
    Con. Thou maist, thou shalt, I will not go with thee,
    990I will instruct my sorrowes to bee proud,
    For greefe is proud, and makes his owner stoope,
    To me and to the state of my great greefe,
    Let kings assemble: for my greefe's so great,
    That no supporter but the huge firme earth
    995Can hold it vp: here I and sorrowes sit,
    Heere is my Throne, bid kings come bow to it.