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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)

    Scæna Tertia.
    Enter France, Dolphin, Pandulpho, Attendants.
    Fra. So by a roaring Tempest on the flood,
    A whole Armado of conuicted saile
    1385Is scattered and dis-ioyn'd from fellowship.
    Pand. Courage and comfort, all shall yet goe well.
    Fra. What can goe well, when we haue runne so ill?
    Are we not beaten? Is not Angiers lost?
    Arthur tane prisoner? diuers deere friends slaine?
    1390And bloudy England into England gone,
    Ore-bearing interruption spight of France?
    Dol. What he hath won, that hath he fortified:
    So hot a speed, with such aduice dispos'd,
    Such temperate order in so fierce a cause,
    1395Doth want example: who hath read, or heard
    Of any kindred-action like to this?
    Fra. Well could I beare that England had this praise,
    So we could finde some patterne of our shame:
    Enter Constance.
    1400Looke who comes heere? a graue vnto a soule,
    Holding th'eternall spirit against her will,
    In the vilde prison of afflicted breath:
    I prethee Lady goe away with me.
    Con. Lo; now: now see the issue of your peace.
    1405Fra. Patience good Lady, comfort gentle Constance.
    Con. No, I defie all Counsell, all redresse,
    But that which ends all counsell, true Redresse:
    Death, death, O amiable, louely death,
    Thou odoriferous stench: sound rottennesse,
    1410Arise forth from the couch of lasting night,
    Thou hate and terror to prosperitie,
    And I will kisse thy detestable bones,
    And put my eye-balls in thy vaultie browes,
    And ring these fingers with thy houshold wormes,
    1415And stop this gap of breath with fulsome dust,
    And be a Carrion Monster like thy selfe;
    Come, grin on me, and I will thinke thou smil'st,
    And busse thee as thy wife: Miseries Loue,
    O come to me.
    1420Fra. O faire affliction, peace.
    Con. No, no, I will not, hauing breath to cry:
    O that my tongue were in the thunders mouth,
    Then with a passion would I shake the world,
    And rowze from sleepe that fell Anatomy
    1425Which cannot heare a Ladies feeble voyce,
    Which scornes a moderne Inuocation.
    Pand. Lady, you vtter madnesse, and not sorrow.
    Con. Thou art holy to belye me so,
    I am not mad: this haire I teare is mine,
    1430My name is Constance, I was Geffreyes wife,
    Yong Arthur is my sonne, and he is lost:
    I am not mad, I would to heauen I were,
    For then 'tis like I should forget my selfe:
    O, if I could, what griefe should I forget?
    1435Preach some Philosophy to make me mad,
    And thou shalt be Canoniz'd (Cardinall.)
    For, being not mad, but sensible of greefe,
    My reasonable part produces reason
    How I may be deliuer'd of these woes,
    1440And teaches mee to kill or hang my selfe:
    If I were mad, I should forget my sonne,
    Or madly thinke a babe of clowts were he;
    I am not mad: too well, too well I feele
    The different plague of each calamitie.
    1445Fra. Binde vp those tresses: O what loue I note
    In the faire multitude of those her haires;
    Where but by chance a filuer drop hath falne,
    Euen to that drop ten thousand wiery fiends
    Doe glew themselues in sociable griefe,
    1450Like true, inseparable, faithfull loues,
    Sticking together in calamitie.
    Con. To England, if you will.
    Fra. Binde vp your haires.
    Con. Yes that I will: and wherefore will I do it?
    1455I tore them from their bonds, and cride aloud,
    O, that these hands could so redeeme my sonne,
    As they haue giuen these hayres their libertie:
    But now I enuie at their libertie,
    And will againe commit them to their bonds,
    1460Because my poore childe is a prisoner.
    And Father Cardinall, I haue heard you say
    That we shall see and know our friends in heauen:
    If that be true, I shall see my boy againe;
    For since the birth of Caine, the first male-childe
    1465To him that did but yesterday suspire,
    There was not such a gracious creature borne:
    But now will Canker-sorrow eat my bud,
    And chase the natiue beauty from his cheeke,
    And he will looke as hollow as a Ghost,
    1470As dim and meager as an Agues fitte,
    And so hee'll dye: and rising so againe,
    When I shall meet him in the Court of heauen
    I shall not know him: therefore neuer, neuer
    Must I behold my pretty Arthur more.
    1475Pand. You hold too heynous a respect of greefe.
    Const. He talkes to me, that neuer had a sonne.
    Fra. You are as fond of greefe, as of your childe.
    Con. Greefe fils the roome vp of my absent childe:
    Lies in his bed, walkes vp and downe with me,
    1480Puts on his pretty lookes, repeats his words,
    Remembets me of all his gracious parts,
    Stuffes out his vacant garments with his forme;
    Then, haue I reason to be fond of griefe?
    Fare you well: had you such a losse as I,
    1485I could giue better comfort then you doe.
    I will not keepe this forme vpon my head,
    When there is such disorder in my witte:
    O Lord, my boy, my Arthur, my faire sonne,
    My life, my ioy, my food, my all the world:
    1490My widow-comfort, and my sorrowes cure. Exit.
    Fra. I feare some out-rage, and Ile follow her. Exit.
    Dol. There's nothing in this world can make me ioy,
    Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale,
    Vexing the dull eare of a drowsie man;
    1495And bitter shame hath spoyl'd the sweet words taste,
    That it yeelds nought but shame and bitternesse.
    Pand. Before the curing of a strong disease,
    Euen in the instant of repaire and health,
    The fit is strongest: Euils that take leaue
    1500On their departure, most of all shew euill:
    What haue you lost by losing of this day?
    Dol. All daies of glory, ioy, and happinesse.
    Pan. If you had won it, certainely you had.
    No, no: when Fortune meanes to men most good,
    1505Shee lookes vpon them with a threatning eye:
    'Tis strange to thinke how much King Iohn hath lost
    In this which he accounts so cleareIy wonne :
    Are not you grieu'd that Arthur is his prisoner?
    Dol. As heartily as he is glad he hath him.
    1510Pan. Your minde is all as youthfull as your blood.
    Now heare me speake with a propheticke spirit:
    For euen the breath of what I meane to speake,
    Shall blow each dust, each straw, each little rub
    Out of the path which shall directly lead
    1515Thy foote to Englands Throne. And therefore marke:
    Iohn hath seiz'd Arthur, and it cannot be,
    That whiles warme life playes in that infants veines,
    The mis-plac'd-Iohn should entertaine an houre,
    One minute, nay one quiet breath of rest.
    1520A Scepter snatch'd with an vnruly hand,
    Must be as boysterously maintain'd as gain'd.
    And he that stands vpon a slipp'ry place,
    Makes nice of no vilde hold to stay him vp:
    That Iohn may stand, then Arthur needs must fall,
    1525So be it, for it cannot be but so.
    Dol. But what shall I gaine by yong Arthurs fall?
    Pan. You, in the right of Lady Blanch your wife,
    May then make all the claime that Arthur did.
    Dol. And loose it, life and all, as Arthur did.
    1530Pan. How green you are, and fresh in this old world?
    Iohn layes you plots: the times conspire with you,
    For he that steepes his safetie in true blood,
    Shall finde but bloodie safety, and vntrue.
    This Act so euilly borne shall coole the hearts
    1535Of all his people, and freeze vp their zeale,
    That none so small aduantage shall step forth
    To checke his reigne, but they will cherish it.
    No naturall exhalation in the skie,
    No scope of Nature, no distemper'd day,
    1540No common winde, no customed euent,
    But they will plucke away his naturall cause,
    And call them Meteors, prodigies, and signes,
    Abbortiues, presages, and tongues of heauen,
    Plainly denouncing vengeance vpon Iohn.
    1545Dol. May be he will not touch yong Arthurs life,
    But hold himselfe safe in his prisonment.
    Pan. O Sir, when he shall heare of your approach,
    If that yong Arthur be not gone alreadie,
    Euen at that newes he dies: and then the hearts
    1550Of all his people shall reuolt from him,
    And kisse the lippes of vnacquainted change,
    And picke strong matter of reuolt, and wrath
    Out of the bloody fingers ends of Iohn.
    Me thinkes I see this hurley all on foot;
    1555And O, what better matter breeds for you,
    Then I haue nam'd. The Bastard Falconbridge
    Is now in England ransacking the Church,
    Offending Charity: If but a dozen French
    Were there in Armes, they would be as a Call
    1560To traine ten thousand English to their side;
    Or, as a little snow, tumbled about,
    Anon becomes a Mountaine. O noble Dolphine,
    Go with me to the King, 'tis wonderfull,
    What may be wrought out of their discontent,
    1565Now that their soules are topfull of offence,
    For England go; I will whet on the King.
    Dol. Strong reasons makes strange actions: let vs go,
    If you say I, the King will not say no. Exeunt.