Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: King John (Modern)
  • Editor: Michael Best
  • General textual editor: Eric Rasmussen
  • Coordinating 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
    Not Peer Reviewed

    King John (Modern)



    Enter King John and Pandulph [with] attendants.
    King John Thus have I yielded up into your hand
    The circle of my glory.
    [Returning the crown to King John] Take again
    2170From this my hand, as holding of the Pope,
    Your sovereign greatness and authority.
    King John Now keep your holy word. Go meet the French,
    And from his holiness use all your power
    To stop their marches 'fore we are inflamed.
    2175Our discontented counties do revolt;
    Our people quarrel with obedience,
    Swearing allegiance and the love of soul
    To stranger blood, to foreign royalty.
    This inundation of mistempered humor
    2180Rests by you only to be qualified.
    Then pause not, for the present time's so sick
    That present medicine must be ministered,
    Or overthrow incurable ensues.
    Pandulph It was my breath that blew this tempest up
    2185Upon your stubborn usage of the Pope;
    But since you are a gentle convertite,
    My tongue shall hush again this storm of war
    And make fair weather in your blustering land:
    On this Ascension Day, remember well,
    2190Upon your oath of service to the Pope,
    Go I to make the French lay down their arms.
    Exeunt [all but King John].
    King John Is this Ascension Day? Did not the prophet
    Say that before Ascension Day at noon
    My crown I should give off? Even so I have.
    2195I did suppose it should be on constraint,
    But, heaven be thanked, it is but voluntary.
    Enter [the] Bastard.
    Bastard All Kent hath yielded. Nothing there holds out
    But Dover Castle. London hath received
    2200Like a kind host, the Dauphin and his powers.
    Your nobles will not hear you, but are gone
    To offer service to your enemy,
    And wild amazement hurries up and down
    The little number of your doubtful friends.
    2205King John Would not my lords return to me again
    After they heard young Arthur was alive?
    Bastard They found him dead, and cast into the streets,
    An empty casket, where the jewel of life
    By some damned hand was robbed and ta'en away.
    2210King John That villain Hubert told me he did live.
    Bastard So on my soul he did, for aught he knew.
    But wherefore do you droop? Why look you sad?
    Be great in act as you have been in thought.
    Let not the world see fear and sad distrust
    2215Govern the motion of a kingly eye.
    Be stirring as the time; be fire with fire;
    Threaten the threatener, and out-face the brow
    Of bragging horror. So shall inferior eyes,
    That borrow their behaviors from the great,
    2220Grow great by your example and put on
    The dauntless spirit of resolution.
    Away, and glisten like the god of war
    When he intendeth to become the field:
    Show boldness and aspiring confidence.
    2225What, shall they seek the lion in his den
    And fright him there? And make him tremble there?
    Oh let it not be said! Forage, and run
    To meet displeasure farther from the doors,
    And grapple with him ere he come so nigh.
    2230King John The legate of the Pope hath been with me,
    And I have made a happy peace with him,
    And he hath promised to dismiss the powers
    Led by the Dauphin.
    Oh inglorious league!
    2235Shall we upon the footing of our land
    Send fair-play orders and make compromise,
    Insinuation, parley, and base truce
    To arms invasive? Shall a beardless boy,
    A cockered silken wanton, brave our fields
    2240And flesh his spirit in a war-like soil,
    Mocking the air with colors idly spread,
    And find no check? Let us my liege to arms!
    Perchance the Cardinal cannot make your peace;
    Or if he do, let it at least be said
    2245They saw we had a purpose of defense.
    King John Have thou the ordering of this present time.
    Bastard Away then with good courage! Yet I know
    Our party may well meet a prouder foe.