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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    Not Peer Reviewed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, Queen Eleanor, Pembroke, Essex, and Salisbury, with Chatillon of France.
    King John
    5Now say, Chatillon, what would France with us?
    Thus, after greeting, speaks the King of France
    In my behavior to the majesty --
    The borrowed majesty -- of England here.
    10Queen Eleanor
    A strange beginning: "borrowed majesty"?
    King John
    Silence, good mother, hear the embassy.
    Philip of France, in right and true behalf
    Of thy deceasèd brother Geoffrey's son,
    Arthur Plantagenet, lays most lawful claim
    15To this fair island, and the territories,
    To Ireland, Poitiers, Anjou, Touraine, Maine,
    Desiring thee to lay aside the sword
    Which sways usurpingly these several titles
    And put the same into young Arthur's hand,
    20Thy nephew, and right royal sovereign.
    King John
    What follows if we disallow of this?
    The proud control of fierce and bloody war
    To enforce these rights, so forcibly withheld.
    King John
    Here have we war for war and blood for blood,
    25Controlment for controlment. So answer France.
    Then take my king's defiance from my mouth,
    The farthest limit of my embassy.
    King John
    Bear mine to him, and so depart in peace.
    Be thou as lightning in the eyes of France,
    30For ere thou canst report I will be there;
    The thunder of my cannon shall be heard.
    So hence. Be thou the trumpet of our wrath
    And sullen presage of your own decay. --
    An honorable conduct let him have:
    35Pembroke look to't. -- Farewell, Chatillon.
    Exeunt Chatillon and Pembroke.
    Queen Eleanor
    What now, my son? Have I not ever said
    How that ambitious Constance would not cease
    Till she had kindled France and all the world
    40Upon the right and party of her son?
    This might have been prevented and made whole
    With very easy arguments of love,
    Which now the manage of two kingdoms must
    With fearful bloody issue arbitrate.
    45King John
    Our strong possession and our right for us.
    Queen Eleanor
    [Aside to John] Your strong possession much more than your right,
    Or else it must go wrong with you and me;
    So much my conscience whispers in your ear,
    Which none but heaven, and you, and I, shall hear.
    50Enter a Sheriff.
    My liege, here is the strangest controversy
    Come from the country to be judged by you
    That e'er I heard. Shall I produce the men?
    King John
    Let them approach.
    [Exit Sheriff.]
    55[To Eleanor] Our abbeys and our priories shall pay
    This expedition's charge.
    Enter Robert Faulconbridge and Philip [the Bastard].
    What men are you?
    Your faithful subject I, a gentleman,
    Born in Northamptonshire, and eldest son,
    60As I suppose, to Robert Faulconbridge,
    A soldier by the honor-giving hand
    Of Coeur-de-lion knighted in the field.
    King John
    [To Robert Faulconbridge] What art thou?
    Robert Faulconbridge
    The son and heir to that same Faulconbridge.
    65King John
    Is that the elder, and art thou the heir?
    You came not of one mother then, it seems.
    Most certain of one mother, mighty King,
    That is well known, and, as I think, one father.
    But for the certain knowledge of that truth,
    70I put you o'er to heaven, and to my mother;
    Of that I doubt, as all men's children may.
    Queen Eleanor
    Out on thee, rude man! Thou dost shame thy mother,
    And wound her honor with this diffidence.
    I Madam? No, I have no reason for it.
    75That is my brother's plea and none of mine,
    The which if he can prove, a pops me out,
    At least from fair five hundred pound a year.
    Heaven guard my mother's honor -- and my land.
    King John
    A good blunt fellow. Why, being younger born,
    80Doth he lay claim to thine inheritance?
    I know not why, except to get the land,
    But once he slandered me with bastardy.
    But whe'er I be as true begot or no,
    That still I lay upon my mother's head;
    85But that I am as well begot my liege --
    Fair fall the bones that took the pains for me --
    Compare our faces, and be judge yourself.
    If old Sir Robert did beget us both
    And were our father, and this son like him,
    90O, old Sir Robert, father, on my knee [Kneels]
    I give heaven thanks I was not like to thee!
    King John
    Why, what a mad-cap hath heaven lent us here!
    Queen Eleanor
    [To John] He hath a trick of Coeur-de-lion's face,
    The accent of his tongue affecteth him.
    95Do you not read some tokens of my son
    In the large composition of this man?
    King John
    Mine eye hath well examinèd his parts,
    And finds them perfect Richard. [To Robert] Sirrah speak,
    What doth move you to claim your brother's land?
    100Bastard [Rises]
    Because he hath a half-face like my father.
    With half that face would he have all my land --
    A half-faced groat, five hundred pound a year?
    Robert Faulconbridge
    My gracious liege, when that my father lived
    Your brother did employ my father much --
    Well sir, by this you cannot get my land:
    Your tale must be how he employed my mother.
    Robert Faulconbridge
    -- And once dispatched him in an embassy
    To Germany, there with the Emperor
    To treat of high affairs touching that time.
    110Th'advantage of his absence took the King,
    And in the meantime sojourned at my father's,
    Where how he did prevail, I shame to speak.
    But truth is truth: large lengths of seas and shores
    Between my father and my mother lay,
    115As I have heard my father speak himself,
    When this same lusty gentleman was got.
    Upon his death-bed he by will bequeathed
    His lands to me, and took it on his death
    That this my mother's son was none of his;
    120And if he were, he came into the world
    Full fourteen weeks before the course of time.
    Then, good my liege, let me have what is mine,
    My father's land, as was my father's will.
    King John
    Sirrah, your brother is legitimate:
    125Your father's wife did after wedlock bear him,
    And if she did play false, the fault was hers,
    Which fault lies on the hazards of all husbands
    That marry wives. Tell me, how if my brother
    Who, as you say, took pains to get this son,
    130Had of your father claimed this son for his?
    In sooth, good friend, your father might have kept
    This calf, bred from his cow, from all the world,
    In sooth he might. Then if he were my brother's,
    My brother might not claim him, nor your father,
    135Being none of his, refuse him. This concludes:
    My mother's son did get your fathers heir,
    Your father's heir must have your father's land.
    Robert Faulconbridge
    Shall then my father's will be of no force
    To dispossess that child which is not his?
    Of no more force to dispossess me, sir,
    Than was his will to get me, as I think.
    Queen Eleanor
    Whether hadst thou rather be: a Faulconbridge,
    And like thy brother to enjoy thy land,
    Or the reputed son of Coeur-de-lion,
    145Lord of thy presence, and no land beside?
    Madam, an if my brother had my shape
    And I had his, Sir Robert's his like him,
    And if my legs were two such riding rods,
    My arms such eel-skins stuffed, my face so thin
    150That in mine ear I durst not stick a rose,
    Lest men should say, "Look where three farthings goes!"
    And to his shape were heir to all this land,
    Would I might never stir from off this place,
    I would give it every foot to have this face:
    155It would not be Sir Nob in any case.
    Queen Eleanor
    I like thee well. Wilt thou forsake thy fortune,
    Bequeath thy land to him and follow me?
    I am a soldier, and now bound to France.
    Brother, take you my land, I'll take my chance.
    160Your face hath got five hundred pound a year,
    Yet sell your face for five pence and 'tis dear.
    Madam, I'll follow you unto the death.
    Queen Eleanor
    Nay, I would have you go before me thither.
    Our country manners give our betters way.
    165King John
    What is thy name?
    Philip, my liege, so is my name begun;
    Philip, good old Sir Robert's wife's eldest son.
    King John
    From henceforth bear his name whose form thou bearest:
    170Kneel thou down Philip, but rise more great,
    [The Bastard kneels and is knighted.]
    Arise Sir Richard, and Plantagenet.
    [Rises] Brother by th' mother's side, give me your hand.
    My father gave me honor, yours gave land:
    Now blessèd be the hour by night or day,
    175When I was got, Sir Robert was away.
    Queen Eleanor
    The very spirit of Plantagenet!
    I am thy grandam, Richard, call me so.
    Madam, by chance, but not by truth; what though?
    Something about a little from the right,
    180 In at the window, or else o'er the hatch:
    Who dares not stir by day, must walk by night,
    And have is have, however men do catch:
    Near or far off, well won is still well shot,
    And I am I, howe'er I was begot.
    185King John
    Go, Faulconbridge, now hast thou thy desire:
    A landless knight makes thee a landed squire.
    Come, madam, and come, Richard, we must speed
    For France, for France, for it is more than need.
    Brother adieu; good fortune come to thee,
    190For thou wast got i'th'way of honesty.
    Exeunt all but [the] Bastard.
    A foot of honor better than I was,
    But many a many foot of land the worse.
    Well, now can I make any Joan a lady.
    195"Good den, Sir Richard," "God-a-mercy fellow."
    An if his name be George, I'll call him Peter;
    For new-made honor doth forget men's names:
    'Tis too respective, and too sociable
    For your conversion. Now your traveler,
    200He and his toothpick at my worship's mess,
    And when my knightly stomach is sufficed,
    Why then I suck my teeth, and catechize
    My pickèd man of countries: "My dear sir,"
    Thus leaning on mine elbow I begin,
    205"I shall beseech you" -- that is Question now,
    And then comes Answer like an Absey book:
    "O sir," says Answer, "at your best command,
    At your employment, at your service, sir."
    "No sir," says Question, "I, sweet sir, at yours,"
    210And so ere Answer knows what Question would,
    Saving in dialogue of compliment,
    And talking of the Alps and Apennines,
    The Pyrenean and the river Po,
    It draws toward supper in conclusion so.
    215But this is worshipful society,
    And fits the mounting spirit like myself,
    For he is but a bastard to the time
    That doth not smack of observation;
    And so am I whether I smack or no.
    220And not alone in habit and device,
    Exterior form, outward accoutrement,
    But from the inward motion to deliver
    Sweet, sweet, sweet poison for the age's tooth,
    Which, though I will not practice to deceive,
    225Yet to avoid deceit I mean to learn;
    For it shall strew the footsteps of my rising.
    Enter Lady Faulconbridge and James Gurney.
    But who comes in such haste in riding robes?
    What woman-post is this? Hath she no husband
    That will take pains to blow a horn before her?
    230O me, 'tis my mother. -- How now, good lady,
    What brings you here to court so hastily?
    Lady Faulconbridge
    Where is that slave thy brother? Where is he
    That holds in chase mine honor up and down?
    My brother Robert, old Sir Robert's son?
    Colbrand the Giant, that same mighty man?
    Is it Sir Robert's son that you seek so?
    Lady Faulconbridge
    Sir Robert's son? Ay, thou unreverent boy.
    Sir Robert's son? Why scorn'st thou at Sir Robert?
    240He is Sir Robert's son, and so art thou.
    James Gurney, wilt thou give us leave a while?
    Good leave, good Philip.
    "Philip Sparrow," James,
    There's toys abroad. Anon I'll tell thee more.
    245Exit James [Gurney].
    Madam, I was not old Sir Robert's son.
    Sir Robert might have eat his part in me
    Upon Good Friday and ne'er broke his fast:
    Sir Robert could do well -- marry, to confess --
    250Could get me? Sir Robert could not do it:
    We know his handiwork. Therefore, good mother,
    To whom am I beholding for these limbs?
    Sir Robert never holp to make this leg.
    Lady Faulconbridge
    Hast thou conspirèd with thy brother too,
    255That for thine own gain shouldst defend mine honor?
    What means this scorn, thou most untoward knave?
    Knight, knight, good mother, Basilisco-like.
    What, I am dubbed! I have it on my shoulder.
    But mother, I am not Sir Robert's son,
    260I have disclaimed Sir Robert and my land;
    Legitimation, name, and all is gone.
    Then, good my mother, let me know my father,
    Some proper man, I hope. Who was it mother?
    Lady Faulconbridge
    Hast thou denied thy self a Faulconbridge?
    As faithfully as I deny the devil.
    Lady Faulconbridge
    King Richard Coeur-de-lion was thy father.
    By long and vehement suit I was seduced
    To make room for him in my husband's bed --
    Heaven lay not my transgression to my charge!
    270Thou art the issue of my dear offence
    Which was so strongly urged past my defense.
    Now by this light were I to get again,
    Madam, I would not wish a better father.
    Some sins do bear their privilege on earth,
    275And so doth yours. Your fault was not your folly;
    Needs must you lay your heart at his dispose,
    Subjected tribute to commanding love,
    Against whose fury and unmatchèd force,
    The aweless lion could not wage the fight,
    280Nor keep his princely heart from Richard's hand:
    He that perforce robs lions of their hearts,
    May easily win a woman's. Ay, my mother,
    With all my heart I thank thee for my father:
    Who lives and dares but say thou didst not well
    285When I was got, I'll send his soul to hell.
    Come, lady, I will show thee to my kin,
    And they shall say, when Richard me begot,
    If thou hadst said him nay, it had been sin;
    Who says it was, he lies. I say 'twas not.
    Enter, before Angiers, Philip King of France, Lewis [the] Dauphin, Austria, Constance, Arthur, [and soldiers].
    King Philip
    Before Angiers well met brave Austria. --
    295Arthur: that great forerunner of thy blood,
    Richard, that robbed the lion of his heart
    And fought the holy wars in Palestine,
    By this brave duke came early to his grave.
    And for amends to his posterity,
    300At our importance hither is he come
    To spread his colors, boy, in thy behalf,
    And to rebuke the usurpation
    Of thy unnatural uncle, English John.
    Embrace him, love him, give him welcome hither.
    God shall forgive you Coeur-de-lion's death
    The rather that you give his offspring life,
    Shadowing their right under your wings of war.
    I give you welcome with a powerless hand,
    But with a heart full of unstainèd love.
    310Welcome before the gates Angiers, Duke.
    A noble boy. Who would not do thee right?
    [To Arthur] Upon thy cheek lay I this zealous kiss
    As seal to this indenture of my love:
    That to my home I will no more return
    315Till Angiers and the right thou hast in France,
    Together with that pale, that white-faced shore,
    Whose foot spurns back the ocean's roaring tides
    And coops from other lands her islanders,
    Even till that England, hedged in with the main,
    320That water-wallèd bulwark, still secure
    And confident from foreign purposes,
    Even till that utmost corner of the west
    Salute thee for her King. Till then fair boy
    Will I not think of home, but follow arms.
    O take his mother's thanks, a widow's thanks,
    Till your strong hand shall help to give him strength
    To make a more requital to your love.
    The peace of heaven is theirs that lift their swords
    In such a just and charitable war.
    330King Philip
    Well then, to work. Our canon shall be bent
    Against the brows of this resisting town.
    Call for our chiefest men of discipline,
    To cull the plots of best advantages.
    We'll lay before this town our royal bones,
    335Wade to the market-place in Frenchmen's blood,
    But we will make it subject to this boy.
    Stay for an answer to your embassy,
    Lest unadvised you stain your swords with blood.
    My Lord Chatillon may from England bring
    340That right in peace which here we urge in war,
    And then we shall repent each drop of blood
    That hot rash haste so indirectly shed.
    Enter Chatillon.
    King Philip
    A wonder lady! Lo, upon thy wish
    345Our messenger Chatillon is arrived.
    What England says, say briefly gentle lord;
    We coldly pause for thee. Chatillon, speak.
    Then turn your forces from this paltry siege,
    And stir them up against a mightier task.
    350England, impatient of your just demands,
    Hath put himself in arms. The adverse winds,
    Whose leisure I have stayed, have given him time
    To land his legions all as soon as I.
    His marches are expedient to this town,
    355His forces strong, his soldiers confident.
    With him along is come the Mother Queen,
    An Atè stirring him to blood and strife;
    With her her niece, the Lady Blanche of Spain;
    With them a bastard of the King's deceased,
    360And all th'unsettled humors of the land --
    Rash, inconsiderate, fiery voluntaries,
    With ladies' faces, and fierce dragons' spleens --
    Have sold their fortunes at their native homes,
    Bearing their birthrights proudly on their backs,
    365To make a hazard of new fortunes here.
    In brief, a braver choice of dauntless spirits
    Than now the English bottoms have waft o'er
    Did never float upon the swelling tide,
    To do offence and scathe in Christendom.
    Drum beats.
    370The interruption of their churlish drums
    Cuts off more circumstance. They are at hand,
    To parley or to fight -- therefore prepare.
    King Philip
    How much unlooked-for is this expedition.
    By how much unexpected, by so much
    We must awake endeavor for defense,
    For courage mounteth with occasion.
    Let them be welcome then; we are prepared.
    Enter King [John] of England, [the] Bastard, Queen [Eleanor], Blanche, Pembroke, 380and others.
    King John
    Peace be to France, if France in peace permit
    Our just and lineal entrance to our own;
    If not, bleed France, and peace ascend to heaven,
    Whiles we, god's wrathful agent, do correct
    385Their proud contempt that beats his peace to heaven.
    King Philip
    Peace be to England, if that war return
    From France to England, there to live in peace.
    England we love, and for that England's sake
    With burden of our armor here we sweat.
    390This toil of ours should be a work of thine;
    But thou from loving England art so far
    That thou hast under-wrought his lawful King,
    Cut off the sequence of posterity,
    Out-facèd infant state, and done a rape
    395Upon the maiden virtue of the crown.
    [Indicating Arthur] Look here upon thy brother Geoffrey's face:
    These eyes, these brows, were molded out of his;
    This little abstract doth contain that large
    Which died in Geoffrey, and the hand of time
    400Shall draw this brief into as huge a volume.
    That Geoffrey was thy elder brother born,
    And this his son; England was Geoffrey's right,
    And this is Geoffrey's. In the name of god,
    How comes it then that thou art called a king,
    405When living blood doth in these temples beat
    Which own the crown that thou o'ermasterest?
    King John
    From whom hast thou this great commission, France,
    To draw my answer from thy articles?
    King Philip
    From that supernal Judge that stirs good thoughts
    410In any breast of strong authority
    To look into the blots and stains of right;
    That judge hath made me guardian to this boy,
    Under whose warrant I impeach thy wrong
    And by whose help I mean to chastise it.
    415King John
    Alack thou dost usurp authority.
    King Philip
    Excuse it is to beat usurping down.
    Queen Eleanor
    Who is it thou dost call usurper France?
    Let me make answer: thy usurping son.
    Queen Eleanor
    Out insolent! Thy bastard shall be king
    420That thou mayest be a queen, and check the world.
    My bed was ever to thy son as true
    As thine was to thy husband, and this boy
    Liker in feature to his father Geoffrey
    Than thou and John, in manners being as like
    425As rain to water, or devil to his dam.
    My boy a bastard? By my soul I think
    His father never was so true begot.
    It cannot be, an if thou wert his mother.
    Queen Eleanor
    There's a good mother, boy, that blots thy father.
    There's a good grandam, boy, that would blot thee.
    Hear the crier!
    What the devil art thou?
    One that will play the devil, sir, with you,
    An 'a may catch your hide and you alone.
    You are the hare of whom the proverb goes,
    Whose valor plucks dead lions by the beard.
    I'll smoke your skin-coat an I catch you right.
    440Sirrah, look too't, i'faith I will, i'faith.
    O, well did he become that lion's robe
    That did disrobe the lion of that robe.
    It lies as sightly on the back of him
    As great Alcides' shoes upon an ass.
    445But, ass, I'll take that burden from your back,
    Or lay on that shall make your shoulders crack.
    What cracker is this same that deafs our ears
    With this abundance of superfluous breath?
    King Philip
    Lewis, determine what we shall do straight.
    Women and fools, break off your conference.
    King John, this is the very sum of all:
    England and Ireland, Angiers, Touraine, Maine,
    In right of Arthur do I claim of thee.
    Wilt thou resign them and lay down thy arms?
    455King John
    My life as soon. I do defy thee France. --
    [To Arthur] Arthur of Bretagne, yield thee to my hand,
    And out of my dear love I'll give thee more
    Than e'er the coward hand of France can win.
    Submit thee boy.
    460Queen Eleanor
    Come to thy grandam child.
    Do, child, go to it grandam child,
    Give grandam kingdom, and it grandam will
    Give it a plum, a cherry, and a fig.
    There's a good grandam.
    Good my mother peace.
    I would that I were low laid in my grave;
    I am not worth this coil that's made for me.
    Queen Eleanor
    His mother shames him so, poor boy, he weeps.
    Now shame upon you whe'er she does or no!
    470His grandam's wrongs, and not his mother's shames
    Draws those heaven-moving pearls from his poor eyes,
    Which heaven shall take in nature of a fee.
    Ay, with these crystal beads heaven shall be bribed
    To do him justice, and revenge on you.
    475Queen Eleanor
    Thou monstrous slanderer of heaven and earth!
    Thou monstrous injurer of heaven and earth,
    Call not me slanderer; thou and thine usurp
    The dominations, royalties, and rights
    Of this oppressèd boy. This is thy eldest son's son,
    480Infortunate in nothing but in thee.
    Thy sins are visited in this poor child;
    The canon of the law is laid on him,
    Being but the second generation
    Removed from thy sin-conceiving womb.
    485King John
    Bedlam have done!
    I have but this to say,
    That he is not only plagued for her sin,
    But God hath made her sin and her the plague
    On this removèd issue, plagued for her
    490And with her plague; her sin his injury,
    Her injury, the beadle to her sin,
    All punished in the person of this child,
    And all for her. A plague upon her!
    Queen Eleanor
    Thou unadvisèd scold, I can produce
    495A will that bars the title of thy son.
    Ay, who doubts that? A will; a wicked will,
    A woman's will, a cankered Grandam's will.
    King Philip
    Peace lady. Pause, or be more temperate.
    It ill beseems this presence to cry aim
    500To these ill-tunèd repetitions.
    Some trumpet summon hither to the walls
    These men of Angiers; let us hear them speak
    Whose title they admit, Arthur's or John's.
    Trumpet sounds. 505Enter [citizens] upon the walls.
    Who is it that hath warned us to the walls?
    King Philip
    'Tis France, for England.
    King John
    England for itself.
    You men of Angiers, and my loving subjects --
    510King Philip
    You loving men of Angiers, Arthur's subjects,
    Our trumpet called you to this gentle parle --
    King John
    For our advantage; therefore hear us first.
    These flags of France that are advancèd here
    Before the eye and prospect of your town,
    515Have hither marched to your endamagement.
    The canons have their bowels full of wrath,
    And ready mounted are they to spit forth
    Their iron indignation 'gainst your walls.
    All preparation for a bloody siege
    520And merciless proceeding by these French
    Confronts your city's eyes, your winking gates;
    And, but for our approach, those sleeping stones,
    That as a waist doth girdle you about,
    By the compulsion of their ordinance
    525By this time from their fixèd beds of lime
    Had been dishabited, and wide havoc made
    For bloody power to rush upon your peace.
    But on the sight of us your lawful King,
    Who painfully with much expedient march
    530Have brought a counter-check before your gates
    To save unscratched your city's threatened cheeks,
    Behold the French, amazed, vouchsafe a parle.
    And now, instead of bullets wrapped in fire
    To make a shaking fever in your walls,
    535They shoot but calm words folded up in smoke
    To make a faithless error in your ears --
    Which trust accordingly kind citizens,
    And let us in. Your king, whose labored spirits
    Fore-wearied in this action of swift speed,
    540Craves harborage within your city walls.
    King Philip
    When I have said, make answer to us both.
    [Taking Arthur by the hand]
    Lo, in this right hand, whose protection
    Is most divinely vowed upon the right
    Of him it holds, stands young Plantagenet,
    545Son to the elder brother of this man,
    And King o'er him and all that he enjoys.
    For this down-trodden equity we tread
    In warlike march these greens before your town,
    Being no further enemy to you
    550Than the constraint of hospitable zeal
    In the relief of this oppressèd child
    Religiously provokes. Be pleasèd then
    To pay that duty which you truly owe,
    To him that owns it, namely, this young prince.
    555And then our arms, like to a muzzled bear
    Save in aspect, hath all offence sealed up.
    Our canons' malice vainly shall be spent
    Against th'invulnerable clouds of heaven,
    And with a blessèd and un-vexed retire,
    560With unhacked swords and helmets all unbruised,
    We will bear home that lusty blood again,
    Which here we came to spout against your town,
    And leave your children, wives, and you in peace.
    But if you fondly pass our proffered offer,
    565'Tis not the roundure of your old-faced walls
    Can hide you from our messengers of war,
    Though all these English and their discipline
    Were harbored in their rude circumference.
    Then tell us: shall your city call us lord
    570In that behalf which we have challenged it?
    Or shall we give the signal to our rage
    And stalk in blood to our possession?
    In brief, we are the king of England's subjects.
    For him, and in his right, we hold this town.
    575King John
    Acknowledge then the King, and let me in.
    That can we not. But he that proves the king,
    To him will we prove loyal. Till that time
    Have we rammed up our gates against the world.
    King John
    Doth not the crown of England, prove the 580king?
    And if not that, I bring you witnesses:
    Twice fifteen thousand hearts of England's breed --
    Bastards and else.
    King John
    -- To verify our title with their lives.
    585King Philip
    As many and as well-born bloods as those --
    Some bastards too.
    King Philip
    -- Stand in his face to contradict his claim.
    Till you compound whose right is worthiest,
    We for the worthiest hold the right from both.
    590King John
    Then God forgive the sin of all those souls,
    That to their everlasting residence,
    Before the dew of evening fall, shall fleet
    In dreadful trial of our kingdom's king.
    King Philip
    Amen, Amen. Mount, chevaliers, to arms!
    Saint George that swinged the dragon and e'er since
    Sits on's horseback at mine Hostess' door
    Teach us some fence. [To Austria] Sirrah, were I at home
    At your den, sirrah, with your lioness,
    I would set an ox-head to your lion's hide
    600And make a monster of you.
    Peace! No more.
    O tremble, for you hear the lion roar.
    King John
    Up higher to the plain, where we'll set forth
    In best appointment all our regiments.
    Speed then to take advantage of the field.
    King Philip
    It shall be so, and at the other hill
    Command the rest to stand. God and our right!
    Exeunt [separately. The Citizen remains on the wall].
    Here, after excursions, enter the Herald of France, with trumpets, to the gates.
    610French Herald
    You men of Angiers open wide your gates
    And let young Arthur Duke of Bretagne in,
    Who by the hand of France this day hath made
    Much work for tears in many an English mother,
    Whose sons lie scattered on the bleeding ground.
    615Many a widow's husband groveling lies,
    Coldly embracing the discolored earth,
    And victory with little loss doth play
    Upon the dancing banners of the French,
    Who are at hand, triumphantly displayed,
    620To enter conquerors, and to proclaim
    Arthur of Bretagne England's king and yours.
    Enter English Herald with trumpet[ers].
    English Herald
    Rejoice you men of Angiers, ring your bells.
    King John, your king and England's, doth approach,
    625Commander of this hot malicious day.
    Their armors, that marched hence so silver-bright,
    Hither return all gilt with Frenchmen's blood.
    There stuck no plume in any English crest
    That is removèd by a staff of France.
    630Our colors do return in those same hands
    That did display them when we first marched forth,
    And like a jolly troop of huntsmen come
    Our lusty English, all with purpled hands,
    Dyed in the dying slaughter of their foes.
    635Open your gates, and give the victors way.
    Heralds, from off our towers we might behold
    From first to last the onset and retire
    Of both your armies, whose equality
    By our best eyes cannot be censurèd.
    640Blood hath bought blood and blows have answered blows;
    Strength matched with strength, and power confronted power.
    Both are alike, and both alike we like;
    One must prove greatest. While they weigh so even,
    645We hold our town for neither, yet for both.
    Enter the two Kings with their powers, at several doors [King John, the Bastard, Salisbury, Queen Eleanor, and Blanche at one door, King Philip, Lewis the Dauphin, and Austria at the other].
    King John
    France, hast thou yet more blood to cast away?
    Say, shall the current of our right run on,
    650Whose passage, vexed with thy impediment,
    Shall leave his native channel and o'er-swell,
    With course disturbed, even thy confining shores,
    Unless thou let his silver water keep
    A peaceful progress to the ocean?
    655King Philip
    England thou hast not saved one drop of blood
    In this hot trial more than we of France;
    Rather lost more. And by this hand I swear,
    That sways the earth this climate overlooks,
    Before we will lay down our just-borne arms,
    660We'll put thee down, 'gainst whom these arms we bear,
    Or add a royal number to the dead,
    Gracing the scroll that tells of this war's loss
    With slaughter coupled to the name of kings.
    Ha, majesty! How high thy glory towers
    665When the rich blood of kings is set on fire.
    O, now doth death line his dead chaps with steel;
    The swords of soldiers are his teeth, his fangs,
    And now he feasts, mousing the flesh of men,
    In undetermined differences of kings.
    670Why stand these royal fronts amazèd thus?
    Cry havoc kings! Back to the stainèd field
    You equal potents, fiery kindled spirits;
    Then let confusion of one part confirm
    The other's peace. Till then, blows, blood, and death.
    675King John
    Whose party do the townsmen yet admit?
    King Philip
    Speak Citizens, for England. Who's your king?
    The king of England -- when we know the king.
    King Philip
    Know him in us that here hold up his right.
    King John
    In us, that are our own great deputy
    680And bear possession of our person here,
    Lord of our presence, Angiers, and of you.
    A greater power than we denies all this,
    And till it be undoubted, we do lock
    Our former scruple in our strong-barred gates,
    685Kings of our fear, until our fears resolved
    Be by some certain king purged and deposed.
    By heaven, these scroyles of Angiers flout you, kings,
    And stand securely on their battlements,
    As in a theater, whence they gape and point
    690At your industrious scenes and acts of death.
    Your royal presences be ruled by me:
    Do like the mutines of Jerusalem,
    Be friends awhile, and both conjointly bend
    Your sharpest deeds of malice on this town.
    695By east and west let France and England mount
    Their battering canon, chargèd to the mouths,
    Till their soul-fearing clamors have brawled down
    The flinty ribs of this contemptuous city.
    I'd play incessantly upon these jades,
    700Even till unfencèd desolation
    Leave them as naked as the vulgar air.
    That done, dissever your united strengths
    And part your mingled colors once again.
    Turn face to face, and bloody point to point;
    705Then in a moment Fortune shall cull forth
    Out of one side her happy minion
    To whom in favor she shall give the day,
    And kiss him with a glorious victory.
    How like you this wild counsel mighty states?
    710Smacks it not something of the policy?
    King John
    Now, by the sky that hangs above our heads,
    I like it well. France, shall we knit our powers,
    And lay this Angiers even with the ground,
    Then after fight who shall be king of it?
    [To King Philip] An if thou hast the mettle of a king,
    Being wronged as we are by this peevish town,
    Turn thou the mouth of thy artillery,
    As we will ours, against these saucy walls;
    And when that we have dashed them to the ground,
    720Why, then defy each other and pell-mell
    Make work upon ourselves, for heaven or hell.
    King Philip
    Let it be so. Say, where will you assault?
    King John
    We from the west will send destruction
    Into this city's bosom.
    I from the north.
    King Philip
    Our thunder from the south
    Shall rain their drift of bullets on this town.
    [Aside] O prudent discipline! From north to south
    Austria and France shoot in each other's mouth.
    730I'll stir them to it. Come, away, away.
    Hear us great kings! Vouchsafe awhile to stay,
    And I shall show you peace and fair-faced league,
    Win you this city without stroke or wound,
    Rescue those breathing lives to die in beds,
    735That here come sacrifices for the field.
    Persever not, but hear me, mighty kings.
    King John
    Speak on with favor. We are bent to hear.
    That daughter there of Spain, the Lady Blanche,
    Is near to England; look upon the years
    740Of Lewis the Dauphin and that lovely maid.
    If lusty love should go in quest of beauty,
    Where should he find it fairer than in Blanche?
    If zealous love should go in search of virtue,
    Where should he find it purer than in Blanche?
    745If love ambitious sought a match of birth,
    Whose veins bound richer blood than Lady Blanche?
    Such as she is, in beauty, virtue, birth,
    Is the young Dauphin every way complete.
    If not complete of, say he is not she;
    750And she again wants nothing to name want,
    If want it be not, that she is not he.
    He is the half part of a blessèd man,
    Left to be finishèd by such as she,
    And she a fair divided excellence,
    755Whose fullness of perfection lies in him.
    Oh, two such silver currents when they join
    Do glorify the banks that bound them in,
    And two such shores to two such streams made one.
    Two such controlling bounds shall you be, kings,
    760To these two princes, if you marry them.
    This union shall do more than battery can
    To our fast-closèd gates, for at this match,
    With swifter spleen than powder can enforce,
    The mouth of passage shall we fling wide ope,
    765And give you entrance. But without this match,
    The sea enragèd is not half so deaf,
    Lions more confident, mountains and rocks
    More free from motion, no not death himself
    In mortal fury half so peremptory,
    770As we to keep this city.
    Here's a stay,
    That shakes the rotten carcass of old death
    Out of his rags. Here's a large mouth indeed
    That spits forth death and mountains, rocks, and seas;
    775Talks as familiarly of roaring lions
    As maids of thirteen do of puppy dogs.
    What cannoneer begot this lusty blood?
    He speaks plain cannon-fire, and smoke, and bounce;
    He gives the bastinado with his tongue.
    780Our ears are cudgeled; not a word of his
    But buffets better than a fist of France.
    Zounds, I was never so bethumped with words,
    Since I first called my brother's father Dad.
    Queen Eleanor [Aside to King John]
    Son, list to this conjunction; make this match.
    785Give with our niece a dowry large enough,
    For, by this knot, thou shalt so surely tie
    Thy now unsured assurance to the crown
    That yon green boy shall have no sun to ripe
    The bloom that promiseth a mighty fruit.
    790I see a yielding in the looks of France;
    Mark how they whisper. Urge them while their souls
    Are capable of this ambition,
    Lest zeal, now melted by the windy breath
    Of soft petitions, pity, and remorse,
    795Cool and congeal again to what it was.
    Why answer not the double majesties
    This friendly treaty of our threatened town?
    King Philip
    Speak England first, that hath been forward first
    To speak unto this city: what say you?
    800King John
    [Taking Blanche by the hand] If that the Dauphin there, thy princely son,
    Can in this book of beauty read, "I love,"
    Her dowry shall weigh equal with a queen:
    For Anjou and fair Touraine, Maine, Poitiers,
    And all that we upon this side the sea --
    805Except this city now by us besieged --
    Find liable to our crown and dignity,
    Shall gild her bridal bed and make her rich
    In titles, honors, and promotions,
    As she in beauty, education, blood,
    810Holds hand with any princess of the world.
    King Philip
    What sayest thou boy? look in the lady's face.
    [Taking her hand] I do, my lord, and in her eye I find
    A wonder, or a wondrous miracle,
    The shadow of myself formed in her eye,
    815Which, being but the shadow of your son,
    Becomes a sun and makes your son a shadow.
    I do protest I never loved my self
    Till now infixèd I beheld my self
    Drawn in the flattering table of her eye.
    820Whispers with Blanche.
    Drawn in the flattering table of her eye,
    Hanged in the frowning wrinkle of her brow,
    And quartered in her heart! He doth espy
    Himself love's traitor. This is pity now,
    825That hanged and drawn and quartered there should be
    In such a love so vile a lout as he.
    [To Lewis] My uncle's will in this respect is mine.
    If he see aught in you that makes him like,
    That anything he sees which moves his liking
    830I can with ease translate it to my will.
    Or if you will, to speak more properly,
    I will enforce it easily to my love.
    Further I will not flatter you, my lord,
    That all I see in you is worthy love,
    835Than this, that nothing do I see in you,
    Though churlish thoughts themselves should be your judge,
    That I can find should merit any hate.
    King John
    What say these young ones? What say you my 840niece?
    That she is bound in honor still to do
    What you in wisdom still vouchsafe to say.
    King John
    Speak then, Prince Dauphin. Can you love this lady?
    Nay, ask me if I can refrain from love,
    For I do love her most unfeignedly.
    King John
    Then I do give Volquessen, Toraine, Maine,
    Poitiers and Anjou; these five provinces
    With her to thee, and this addition more:
    850Full thirty thousand marks of English coin.
    Phillip of France, if thou be pleased withal,
    Command thy son and daughter to join hands.
    King Philip
    It likes us well. Young princes, close your hands.
    And your lips too, for I am well assured
    855That I did so when I was first assured.
    [Lewis and Blanche join hands and kiss.]
    King Philip
    Now citizens of Angiers ope your gates;
    Let in that amity which you have made,
    For at Saint Mary's Chapel presently
    The rites of marriage shall be solemnized.
    860Is not the Lady Constance in this troop?
    I know she is not, for this match made up
    Her presence would have interrupted much.
    Where is she and her son? Tell me, who knows?
    She is sad and passionate at your highness' tent.
    865King Philip
    And by my faith, this league that we have made
    Will give her sadness very little cure.
    Brother of England, how may we content
    This widow lady? In her right we came,
    Which we, God knows, have turned another way,
    870To our own vantage.
    King John
    We will heal up all,
    For we'll create young Arthur Duke of Bretagne
    And Earl of Richmond, and this rich, fair town
    We make him lord of. Call the Lady Constance.
    875Some speedy messenger bid her repair
    To our solemnity.
    [Exit Salisbury.]
    I trust we shall,
    If not fill up the measure of her will,
    Yet in some measure satisfy her so
    That we shall stop her exclamation.
    880Go we as well as haste will suffer us
    To this unlooked-for, unpreparèd pomp.
    Exeunt [all but the Bastard].
    Mad world, mad kings, mad composition!
    John, to stop Arthur's title in the whole,
    Hath willingly departed with a part;
    885And France, whose armor Conscience buckled on,
    Whom zeal and charity brought to the field
    As God's own soldier, rounded in the ear
    With that same purpose-changer, that sly devil,
    That broker, that still breaks the pate of faith,
    890That daily break-vow, he that wins of all,
    Of kings, of beggars, old men, young men, maids --
    Who having no external thing to lose
    But the word "maid" -- cheats the poor maid of that;
    That smooth-faced gentleman, tickling Commodity.
    895Commodity, the bias of the world;
    The world, who of itself is peisèd well,
    Made to run even upon even ground,
    Till this advantage, this vile-drawing bias,
    This sway of motion, this Commodity,
    900Makes it take head from all indifferency,
    From all direction, purpose, course, intent.
    And this same bias, this Commodity,
    This bawd, this broker, this all-changing word,
    Clapped on the outward eye of fickle France,
    905Hath drawn him from his own determined aid,
    From a resolved and honorable war
    To a most base and vile-concluded peace.
    And why rail I on this Commodity?
    But for because he hath not wooed me yet.
    910Not that I have the power to clutch my hand
    When his fair angels would salute my palm,
    But for my hand, as unattempted yet,
    Like a poor beggar, raileth on the rich.
    Well, whiles I am a beggar, I will rail,
    915And say there is no sin but to be rich;
    And being rich, my virtue then shall be
    To say there is no vice but beggary.
    Since kings break faith upon Commodity,
    Gain be my lord, for I will worship thee.
    Enter Constance, Arthur, and Salisbury.
    Gone to be married? Gone to swear a peace?
    False blood to false blood joined? Gone to be friends?
    Shall Lewis have Blanche and Blanche those provinces?
    925It is not so. Thou hast misspoke, misheard.
    Be well advised, tell o'er thy tale again.
    It cannot be. Thou dost but say 'tis so.
    I trust I may not trust thee, for thy word
    Is but the vain breath of a common man.
    930Believe me, I do not believe thee, man;
    I have a King's oath to the contrary.
    Thou shalt be punished for thus frighting me,
    For I am sick and capable of fears,
    Oppressed with wrongs and therefore full of fears,
    935A widow, husbandless, subject to fears,
    A woman naturally born to fears.
    And though thou now confess thou didst but jest,
    With my vexed spirits I cannot take a truce,
    But they will quake and tremble all this day.
    940What dost thou mean by shaking of thy head?
    Why dost thou look so sadly on my son?
    What means that hand upon that breast of thine?
    Why holds thine eye that lamentable rheum,
    Like a proud river peering o'er his bounds?
    945Be these sad signs confirmers of thy words?
    Then speak again, not all thy former tale,
    But this one word -- whether thy tale be true.
    As true as I believe you think them false
    That give you cause to prove my saying true.
    O, if thou teach me to believe this sorrow,
    Teach thou this sorrow how to make me die,
    And let belief and life encounter so
    As doth the fury of two desperate men,
    Which in the very meeting fall and die.
    955Lewis marry Blanche? O boy, then where art thou?
    France friend with England? What becomes of me?
    Fellow, be gone. I cannot brook thy sight.
    This news hath made thee a most ugly man.
    What other harm have I, good lady, done
    960But spoke the harm that is by others done?
    Which harm within itself so heinous is
    As it makes harmful all that speak of it.
    I do beseech you, madam, be content.
    If thou that bidst me be content wert grim,
    965Ugly, and slanderous to thy mother's womb,
    Full of unpleasing blots and sightless stains,
    Lame, foolish, crooked, swart, prodigious,
    Patched with foul moles and eye-offending marks,
    I would not care; I then would be content,
    970For then I should not love thee; no, nor thou
    Become thy great birth, nor deserve a crown.
    But thou art fair, and at thy birth, dear boy,
    Nature and Fortune joined to make thee great.
    Of Nature's gifts thou mayest with lilies boast,
    975And with the half-blown rose. But Fortune, O,
    She is corrupted, changed, and won from thee.
    Sh'adulterates hourly with thine uncle John,
    And with her golden hand hath plucked on France
    To tread down fair respect of sovereignty,
    980And made his majesty the bawd to theirs.
    France is a bawd to Fortune and King John;
    That strumpet Fortune, that usurping John.
    Tell me thou fellow, is not France forsworn?
    Envenom him with words or get thee gone
    985And leave those woes alone which I alone
    Am bound to underbear.
    Pardon me, Madam,
    I may not go without you to the kings.
    Thou mayest; thou shalt. I will not go with thee.
    990I will instruct my sorrows to be proud,
    For grief is proud and makes his owner stoop.
    [She sits on the ground.]
    To me and to the state of my great grief,
    Let kings assemble; for my grief's so great
    That no supporter but the huge firm earth
    995Can hold it up. Here I and sorrows sit.
    Here is my throne; bid kings come bow to it.
    [Exit Salisbury and Arthur. Constance remains seated.]
    Enter King John, King Philip, [Lewis the] Dauphin, Blanche, [Queen] Eleanor, [the Bastard, and] Austria.
    1000King Philip
    'Tis true, fair daughter, and this blessèd day
    Ever in France shall be kept festival.
    To solemnize this day the glorious sun
    Stays in his course and plays the alchemist,
    Turning with splendor of his precious eye
    1005The meager cloddy earth to glittering gold.
    The yearly course that brings this day about
    Shall never see it but a holiday.
    [Rising] A wicked day and not a holy day.
    What hath this day deserved? what hath it done,
    1010That it in golden letters should be set
    Among the high tides in the calendar?
    Nay, rather turn this day out of the week,
    This day of shame, oppression, perjury.
    Or, if it must stand still, let wives with child
    1015Pray that their burdens may not fall this day,
    Lest that their hopes prodigiously be crossed;
    But on this day let seamen fear no wreck;
    No bargains break that are not this day made;
    This day all things begun come to ill end;
    1020Yea, faith itself to hollow falsehood change.
    King Philip
    By heaven, lady, you shall have no cause
    To curse the fair proceedings of this day.
    Have I not pawned to you my majesty?
    You have beguiled me with a counterfeit
    1025Resembling majesty, which, being touched and tried,
    Proves valueless. You are forsworn, forsworn.
    You came in arms to spill mine enemy's blood,
    But now in arms you strengthen it with yours.
    The grappling vigor and rough frown of war
    1030Is cold in amity and painted peace,
    And our oppression hath made up this league.
    Arm, arm, you heavens, against these perjured kings!
    A widow cries, be husband to me, heavens.
    Let not the hours of this ungodly day
    1035Wear out the days in peace, but ere sunset
    Set armèd discord 'twixt these perjured kings.
    Hear me, O, hear me!
    Lady Constance, peace.
    War, war, no peace. Peace is to me a war.
    1040O Limoges, O Austria, thou dost shame
    That bloody spoil. Thou slave, thou wretch, thou coward,
    Thou little valiant, great in villainy;
    Thou ever strong upon the stronger side;
    Thou Fortune's champion, that dost never fight
    1045But when her humorous ladyship is by
    To teach thee safety -- thou art perjured too,
    And sooth'st up greatness. What a fool art thou,
    A ramping fool, to brag and stamp and swear
    Upon my party. Thou cold-blooded slave,
    1050Hast thou not spoke like thunder on my side?
    Been sworn my soldier, bidding me depend
    Upon thy stars, thy fortune, and thy strength?
    And dost thou now fall over to my foes?
    Thou wear a lion's hide? Doff it for shame,
    1055And hang a calf's-skin on those recreant limbs.
    O that a man should speak those words to me!
    And hang a calf's-skin on those recreant limbs.
    Thou dar'st not say so villain for thy life.
    And hang a calf's-skin on those recreant limbs.
    1060King John
    We like not this, thou dost forget thyself.
    Enter Pandulph.
    King Philip
    Here comes the holy legate of the Pope.
    Hail you anointed deputies of heaven. --
    To thee King John my holy errand is.
    1065I, Pandulph, of fair Milan Cardinal,
    And from Pope Innocent the legate here,
    Do in his name religiously demand
    Why thou against the Church, our holy mother,
    So willfully dost spurn and force perforce
    1070Keep Stephen Langton, chosen Archbishop
    Of Canterbury, from that holy See.
    This in our foresaid Holy Father's name,
    Pope Innocent, I do demand of thee.
    King John
    What earthly name to interrogatories
    1075Can test the free breath of a sacred king?
    Thou canst not, Cardinal, devise a name
    So slight, unworthy, and ridiculous
    To charge me to an answer as the Pope.
    Tell him this tale, and from the mouth of England
    1080Add thus much more: that no Italian priest
    Shall tithe or toll in our dominions;
    But as we, under [god], are supreme head,
    So under him that great supremacy
    Where we do reign, we will alone uphold
    1085Without th'assistance of a mortal hand.
    So tell the Pope, all reverence set apart,
    To him and his usurped authority.
    King Philip
    Brother of England, you blaspheme in this.
    King John
    Though you and all the kings of Christendom
    1090Are led so grossly by this meddling priest,
    Dreading the curse that money may buy out,
    And by the merit of vile gold, dross, dust,
    Purchase corrupted pardon of a man
    Who in that sale sells pardon from himself;
    1095Though you, and al the rest so grossly led,
    This juggling witchcraft with revenue cherish,
    Yet I alone, alone do me oppose
    Against the Pope, and count his friends my foes.
    Then, by the lawful power that I have,
    1100Thou shalt stand curst and excommunicate,
    And blessèd shall he be that doth revolt
    From his allegiance to an heretic,
    And meritorious shall that hand be called,
    Canonizèd and worshipped as a saint,
    1105That takes away by any secret course
    Thy hateful life.
    O, lawful let it be
    That I have room with Rome to curse awhile.
    Good Father Cardinal, cry thou "amen"
    1110To my keen curses, for without my wrong
    There is no tongue hath power to curse him right.
    There's law and warrant, lady, for my curse.
    And for mine too. When law can do no right,
    Let it be lawful that law bar no wrong.
    1115Law cannot give my child his kingdom here,
    For he that holds his kingdom holds the law.
    Therefore, since law itself is perfect wrong,
    How can the law forbid my tongue to curse?
    Philip of France, on peril of a curse,
    1120Let go the hand of that arch-heretic
    And raise the power of France upon his head
    Unless he do submit himself to Rome.
    Queen Eleanor
    Look'st thou pale France? Do not let go thy hand.
    Look to that, devil, lest that France repent
    1125And by disjoining hands, hell lose a soul.
    King Philip, listen to the Cardinal.
    And hang a calf's-skin on his recreant limbs.
    Well ruffian, I must pocket up these wrongs,
    Because --
    Your breeches best may carry them.
    King John
    Philip, what sayest thou to the Cardinal?
    What should he say, but as the Cardinal?
    Bethink you father, for the difference
    Is purchase of a heavy curse from Rome,
    1135Or the light loss of England for a friend.
    Forgo the easier.
    That's the curse of Rome.
    O Lewis, stand fast; the devil tempts thee here
    In likeness of a new untrimmèd bride.
    The Lady Constance speaks not from her faith,
    But from her need.
    O, if thou grant my need,
    Which only lives but by the death of faith,
    That need must needs infer this principle:
    1145That faith would live again by death of need.
    O, then tread down my need, and faith mounts up,
    Keep my need up, and faith is trodden down.
    King John
    The king is moved and answers not to this.
    O, be removed from him, and answer well.
    Do so King Philip, hang no more in doubt.
    Hang nothing but a calf's-skin, most sweet lout.
    King Philip
    I am perplexed, and know not what to say.
    What canst thou say, but will perplex thee more
    If thou stand excommunicate and cursed?
    1155King Philip
    Good reverend father, make my person yours,
    And tell me how you would bestow yourself.
    This royal hand and mine are newly knit,
    And the conjunction of our inward souls
    Married in league, coupled, and linked together
    1160With all religious strength of sacred vows.
    The latest breath that gave the sound of words
    Was deep-sworn faith, peace, amity, true love
    Between our kingdoms and our royal selves;
    And even before this truce, but new before,
    1165No longer than we well could wash our hands,
    To clap this royal bargain up of peace,
    Heaven knows they were besmeared and over-stained
    With slaughter's pencil; where revenge did paint
    The fearful difference of incensèd kings.
    1170And shall these hands, so lately purged of blood,
    So newly joined in love, so strong in both,
    Unyoke this seizure and this kind regreet?
    Play fast and loose with faith? So jest with heaven,
    Make such unconstant children of ourselves
    1175As now again to snatch our palm from palm,
    Unswear faith sworn, and on the marriage bed
    Of smiling peace to march a bloody host,
    And make a riot on the gentle brow
    Of true sincerity? O, holy sir
    1180My reverend father, let it not be so;
    Out of your grace, devise, ordain, impose
    Some gentle order, and then we shall be blest
    To do your pleasure and continue friends.
    All form is formless, order orderless,
    1185Save what is opposite to England's love.
    Therefore to arms! Be champion of our church,
    Or let the church our mother breathe her curse,
    A mother's curse, on her revolting son.
    France, thou mayest hold a serpent by the tongue,
    1190A casèd lion by the mortal paw,
    A fasting tiger safer by the tooth,
    Than keep in peace that hand which thou dost hold.
    King Philip
    I may disjoin my hand, but not my faith.
    So mak'st thou faith an enemy to faith,
    1195And like a civil war set'st oath to oath,
    Thy tongue against thy tongue. O let thy vow
    First made to heaven, first be to heaven performed,
    That is, to be the champion of our church.
    What since thou swor'st is sworn against thyself
    1200And may not be performèd by thyself,
    For that which thou hast sworn to do amiss,
    Is not amiss when it is truly done.
    And being not done where doing tends to ill,
    The truth is then most done not doing it.
    1205The better act of purposes mistook
    Is to mistake again; though indirect,
    Yet indirection thereby grows direct,
    And falsehood falsehood cures, as fire cools fire
    Within the scorchèd veins of one new burned.
    1210It is religion that doth make vows kept,
    But thou hast sworn against religion
    By what thou swear'st against the thing thou swear'st,
    And mak'st an oath the surety for thy truth
    Against an oath. The truth thou art unsure
    1215To swear, swears only not to be forsworn,
    Else what a mockery should it be to swear?
    But thou dost swear only to be forsworn,
    And most forsworn to keep what thou dost swear.
    Therefore thy later vows against thy first
    1220Is in thy self rebellion to thy self;
    And better conquest never canst thou make,
    Than arm thy constant and thy nobler parts
    Against these giddy loose suggestions,
    Upon which better part our prayers come in,
    1225If thou vouchsafe them. But if not, then know
    The peril of our curses light on thee
    So heavy as thou shalt not shake them off,
    But in despair die under their black weight.
    Rebellion, flat rebellion!
    Will't not be?
    Will not a calf's-skin stop that mouth of thine?
    Father, to arms!
    Upon thy wedding day?
    Against the blood that thou hast marrièd?
    1235What, shall our feast be kept with slaughtered men?
    Shall braying trumpets and loud churlish drums,
    Clamors of hell, be measures to our pomp?
    O husband, hear me! Ay, alack, how new
    Is "husband" in my mouth! [Kneeling] Even for that name,
    1240Which till this time my tongue did ne'er pronounce,
    Upon my knee I beg, go not to arms
    Against mine uncle.
    [Kneeling] O, upon my knee made hard with kneeling,
    I do pray to thee, thou virtuous Dauphin,
    1245Alter not the doom forethought by heaven.
    [To Lewis] Now shall I see thy love. What motive may
    Be stronger with thee than the name of wife?
    That which upholdeth him that thee upholds,
    His honor. -- O, thine honor, Lewis, thine honor.
    [To King Philip] I muse your majesty doth seem so cold
    When such profound respects do pull you on.
    I will denounce a curse upon his head.
    King Philip
    Thou shalt not need. England, I will fall from thee.
    Constance [Rising]
    O fair return of banished majesty!
    1255Queen Eleanor
    O foul revolt of French inconstancy!
    King John
    France, thou shalt rue this hour within this hour.
    Old Time the clock-setter, that bald sexton Time,
    Is it as he will? Well then, France shall rue.
    [Rising] The Sun's o'ercast with blood. Fair day adieu.
    1260Which is the side that I must go withal?
    I am with both; each army hath a hand,
    And in their rage, I having hold of both,
    They whirl asunder and dismember me.
    Husband, I cannot pray that thou mayest win; --
    1265Uncle, I needs must pray that thou mayest lose; --
    Father, I may not wish the fortune thine; --
    Grandam, I will not wish thy wishes thrive.
    Whoever wins, on that side shall I lose,
    Assurèd loss, before the match be played.
    Lady, with me, with me thy fortune lies.
    There where my fortune lives, there my life dies.
    King John
    Cousin, go draw our puissance together.
    [Exit the Bastard.]
    France, I am burned up with inflaming wrath,
    A rage, whose heat hath this condition,
    1275That nothing can allay, nothing but blood --
    The blood and dearest-valued blood of France.
    King Philip
    Thy rage shall burn thee up and thou shalt turn
    To ashes ere our blood shall quench that fire.
    Look to thyself. Thou art in jeopardy.
    1280King John
    No more than he that threats. To arms let's hie.
    Alarums, excursions. Enter Bastard with Austria's head.
    Now, by my life, this day grows wondrous hot.
    Some airy devil hovers in the sky
    And pours down mischief. Austria's head lie there
    While Philip breathes. [He puts down Austria's head.]
    Enter [King] John, Arthur, Hubert.
    1290King John
    Hubert, keep this boy. Philip, make up,
    My mother is assailèd in our tent,
    And ta'en I fear.
    My lord I rescued her.
    Her highness is in safety, fear you not --
    1295But on, my liege, for very little pains
    Will bring this labor to an happy end.
    Alarums, excursions, retreat. Enter [King] John, [Queen] Eleanor, Arthur, [the] Bastard, Hubert, [and] lords.
    King John
    [To Queen Eleanor] So shall it be. Your Grace shall stay behind
    1300So strongly guarded. -- [To Arthur] Cousin, look not sad,
    Thy grandam loves thee, and thy uncle will
    As dear be to thee as thy father was.
    O, this will make my mother die with grief.
    King John
    [To the Bastard] Cousin, away for England, haste before,
    1305And ere our coming see thou shake the bags
    Of hoarding abbots; imprisoned angels
    Set at liberty. The fat ribs of peace
    Must by the hungry now be fed upon.
    Use our commission in his utmost force.
    Bell, book, and candle shall not drive me back
    When gold and silver becks me to come on.
    I leave your highness. -- Grandam, I will pray,
    If ever I remember to be holy,
    For your fair safety; so I kiss your hand.
    1315Queen Eleanor
    Farewell, gentle cousin.
    King John
    Coz, farewell.
    [Exit the Bastard.]
    Queen Eleanor
    Come hither little kinsman, hark, a word.
    [She takes Arthur aside.]
    King John
    Come hither Hubert. [He takes Hubert aside.] O my gentle Hubert,
    We owe thee much. Within this wall of flesh
    1320There is a soul counts thee her creditor,
    And with advantage means to pay thy love.
    And, my good friend, thy voluntary oath
    Lives in this bosom, dearly cherishèd.
    Give me thy hand. I had a thing to say,
    1325But I will fit it with some better tune.
    By heaven Hubert, I am almost ashamed
    To say what good respect I have of thee.
    I am much bounden to your majesty.
    King John
    Good friend, thou hast no cause to say so yet,
    1330But thou shalt have; and, creep time ne'er so slow,
    Yet it shall come for me to do thee good.
    I had a thing to say -- but let it go.
    The sun is in the heaven, and the proud day,
    Attended with the pleasures of the world,
    1335Is all too wanton and too full of gauds
    To give me audience. If the midnight bell
    Did with his iron tongue and brazen mouth
    Sound on into the drowsy race of night;
    If this same were a churchyard where we stand,
    1340And thou possessed with a thousand wrongs;
    Or if that surly spirit, melancholy,
    Had baked thy blood, and made it heavy, thick,
    Which else runs tickling up and down the veins,
    Making that idiot, laughter, keep men's eyes,
    1345And strain their cheeks to idle merriment,
    A passion hateful to my purposes;
    Or if that thou couldst see me without eyes,
    Hear me without thine ears, and make reply
    Without a tongue, using conceit alone --
    1350Without eyes, ears, and harmful sound of words --
    Then, in despite of brooded watchful day,
    I would into thy bosom pour my thoughts.
    But, ah, I will not. Yet I love thee well,
    And by my troth I think thou lov'st me well.
    So well, that what you bid me undertake,
    Though that my death were adjunct to my act,
    By heaven I would do it.
    King John
    Do not I know thou wouldst?
    Good Hubert, Hubert, Hubert throw thine eye
    1360On yon young boy. I'll tell thee what, my friend,
    He is a very serpent in my way,
    And wheresoe'er this foot of mine doth tread,
    He lies before me. Dost thou understand me?
    Thou art his keeper.
    And I'll keep him so
    That he shall not offend your majesty.
    King John
    My lord?
    King John
    A grave.
    He shall not live.
    King John
    I could be merry now. Hubert, I love thee.
    Well, I'll not say what I intend for thee.
    Remember. -- Madam, fare you well,
    1375I'll send those powers o'er to your majesty.
    Queen Eleanor
    My blessing go with thee.
    King John
    [To Arthur] For England cousin, go.
    Hubert shall be your man, attend on you
    With all true duty. -- On toward Calais, ho!
    Enter King Philip, Lewis, Pandulph, [and] attendants.
    King Philip
    So by a roaring tempest on the flood,
    A whole armada of convicted sail
    1385Is scattered and disjoined from fellowship.
    Courage and comfort! All shall yet go well.
    King Philip
    What can go well, when we have run so ill?
    Are we not beaten? Is not Angiers lost?
    Arthur ta'en prisoner? Divers dear friends slain?
    1390And bloody England into England gone,
    O'erbearing interruption spite of France?
    What he hath won, that hath he fortified.
    So hot a speed, with such advice disposed,
    Such temperate order in so fierce a cause,
    1395Doth want example. Who hath read or heard
    Of any kindred action like to this?
    King Philip
    Well could I bear that England had this praise,
    So we could find some pattern of our shame.
    Enter Constance [with her hair unbound].
    1400Look who comes here: a grave unto a soul,
    Holding th' eternal spirit against her will
    In the vile prison of afflicted breath.
    I prithee lady go away with me.
    Lo, now, now see the issue of your peace.
    1405King Philip
    Patience, good lady. Comfort, gentle Constance.
    No, I defy all counsel, all redress,
    But that which ends all counsel, true redress.
    Death. Death, O amiable, lovely death,
    Thou odoriferous stench, sound rottenness,
    1410Arise forth from the couch of lasting night,
    Thou hate and terror to prosperity,
    And I will kiss thy detestable bones,
    And put my eye-balls in thy vaulty brows,
    And ring these fingers with thy household worms,
    1415And stop this gap of breath with fulsome dust,
    And be a carrion monster like thy self.
    Come, grin on me, and I will think thou smil'st,
    And buss thee as thy wife. Misery's love,
    O, come to me.
    1420King Philip
    O, fair affliction, peace.
    No, no, I will not, having breath to cry.
    O, that my tongue were in the thunder's mouth:
    Then with a passion would I shake the world,
    And rouse from sleep that fell anatomy
    1425Which cannot hear a lady's feeble voice,
    Which scorns a modern invocation.
    Lady, you utter madness and not sorrow.
    Thou art not holy to belie me so.
    I am not mad. This hair I tear is mine;
    1430My name is Constance; I was Geoffrey's wife;
    Young Arthur is my son, and he is lost:
    I am not mad. I would to [god] I were,
    For then 'tis like I should forget my self.
    O, if I could, what grief should I forget?
    1435Preach some philosophy to make me mad,
    And thou shalt be canonized, Cardinal.
    For, being not mad, but sensible of grief,
    My reasonable part produces reason
    How I may be delivered of these woes,
    1440And teaches me to kill or hang my self.
    If I were mad, I should forget my son,
    Or madly think a babe of clouts were he.
    I am not mad: too well, too well I feel
    The different plague of each calamity.
    1445King Philip
    Bind up those tresses. O, what love I note
    In the fair multitude of those her hairs,
    Where but by chance a silver drop hath fall'n,
    Even to that drop ten thousand wiry friends
    Do glue themselves in sociable grief,
    1450Like true, inseparable, faithful loves,
    Sticking together in calamity.
    To England, if you will.
    King Philip
    Bind up your hairs.
    Yes that I will. And wherefore will I do it?
    1455I tore them from their bonds, and cried aloud,
    "O, that these hands could so redeem my son
    As they have given these hairs their liberty."
    But now I envy at their liberty
    And will again commit them to their bonds,
    1460Because my poor child is a prisoner.
    [She binds up her hair.]
    And, father Cardinal, I have heard you say
    That we shall see and know our friends in heaven.
    If that be true, I shall see my boy again;
    For since the birth of Cain, the first male child,
    1465To him that did but yesterday suspire,
    There was not such a gracious creature born.
    But now will canker-sorrow eat my bud
    And chase the native beauty from his cheek,
    And he will look as hollow as a ghost,
    1470As dim and meager as an ague's fit,
    And so he'll die; and, rising so again,
    When I shall meet him in the court of heaven
    I shall not know him. Therefore never, never
    Must I behold my pretty Arthur more.
    You hold too heinous a respect of grief.
    He talks to me that never had a son.
    King Philip
    You are as fond of grief as of your child.
    Grief fills the room up of my absent child:
    Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
    1480Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
    Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
    Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form.
    Then have I reason to be fond of grief?
    Fare you well. Had you such a loss as I,
    1485I could give better comfort than you do.
    [She unbinds her hair.]
    I will not keep this form upon my head,
    When there is such disorder in my wit.
    O lord; my boy, my Arthur, my fair son,
    My life, my joy, my food, my all the world,
    1490My widow-comfort, and my sorrows' cure.
    King Philip
    I fear some outrage, and I'll follow her.
    There's nothing in this world can make me joy.
    Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale
    Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man;
    1495And bitter shame hath spoiled the sweet word's taste
    That it yields naught but shame and bitterness.
    Before the curing of a strong disease,
    Even in the instant of repair and health,
    The fit is strongest. Evils that take leave
    1500On their departure most of all show evil.
    What have you lost by losing of this day?
    All days of glory, joy, and happiness.
    If you had won it, certainly you had.
    No, no. When Fortune means to men most good
    1505She looks upon them with a threat'ning eye.
    'Tis strange to think how much King John hath lost
    In this which he accounts so clearly won.
    Are not you grieved that Arthur is his prisoner?
    As heartily as he is glad he hath him.
    Your mind is all as youthful as your blood.
    Now hear me speak with a prophetic spirit,
    For even the breath of what I mean to speak
    Shall blow each dust, each straw, each little rub
    Out of the path which shall directly lead
    1515Thy foot to England's throne. And therefore mark:
    John hath seized Arthur, and it cannot be,
    That whiles warm life plays in that infant's veins,
    The misplaced John should entertain an hour,
    One minute, nay one quiet breath of rest.
    1520A scepter snatched with an unruly hand
    Must be as boisterously maintained as gained.
    And he that stands upon a slippery place
    Makes nice of no vile hold to stay him up.
    That John may stand, then Arthur needs must fall.
    1525So be it, for it cannot be but so.
    But what shall I gain by young Arthur's fall?
    You, in the right of Lady Blanche your wife,
    May then make all the claim that Arthur did.
    And lose it, life and all, as Arthur did.
    How green you are, and fresh in this old world!
    John lays you plots. The times conspire with you,
    For he that steeps his safety in true blood
    Shall find but bloody safety, and untrue.
    This act, so evilly borne, shall cool the hearts
    1535Of all his people and freeze up their zeal,
    That none so small advantage shall step forth
    To check his reign but they will cherish it.
    No natural exhalation in the sky,
    No scope of nature, no distempered day,
    1540No common wind, no customèd event,
    But they will pluck away his natural cause
    And call them meteors, prodigies, and signs;
    Abortives, presages, and tongues of heaven,
    Plainly denouncing vengeance upon John.
    Maybe he will not touch young Arthur's life,
    But hold himself safe in his prisonment.
    O sir, when he shall hear of your approach,
    If that young Arthur be not gone already,
    Even at that news he dies; and then the hearts
    1550Of all his people shall revolt from him
    And kiss the lips of unacquainted change,
    And pick strong matter of revolt and wrath
    Out of the bloody fingers' ends of John.
    Methinks I see this hurley all on foot,
    1555And O, what better matter breeds for you
    Than I have named. The Bastard Falconbridge
    Is now in England ransacking the church,
    Offending charity. If but a dozen French
    Were there in arms they would be as a call
    1560To train ten thousand English to their side;
    Or as a little snow, tumbled about,
    Anon becomes a mountain. O noble Dauphin,
    Go with me to the King. 'Tis wonderful,
    What may be wrought out of their discontent
    1565Now that their souls are top-full of offence.
    For England go. I will whet on the King.
    Strong reasons makes strange actions: let us go,
    If you say ay, the King will not say no.
    1570Enter Hubert and executioners [with a rope and irons].
    Heat me these irons hot, and look thou stand
    Within the arras. When I strike my foot
    Upon the bosom of the ground, rush forth
    And bind the boy which you shall find with me
    1575Fast to the chair. Be heedful. Hence, and watch.
    I hope your warrant will bear out the deed.
    Uncleanly scruples! Fear not you. Look too't.
    [The executioners withdraw.]
    Young lad come forth. I have to say with you.
    Enter Arthur.
    Good morrow Hubert.
    Good morrow little prince.
    As little prince, having so great a title
    To be more prince, as may be. You are sad.
    Indeed I have been merrier.
    Mercy on me!
    Methinks nobody should be sad but I.
    Yet I remember, when I was in France,
    Young gentlemen would be as sad as night
    Only for wantonness. By my christendom,
    1590So I were out of prison and kept sheep,
    I should be as merry as the day is long;
    And so I would be here but that I doubt
    My uncle practices more harm to me.
    He is afraid of me, and I of him.
    1595Is it my fault that I was Geoffrey's son?
    No indeed is't not; and I would to heaven
    I were your son, so you would love me, Hubert.
    [Aside] If I talk to him, with his innocent prate
    He will awake my mercy, which lies dead.
    1600Therefore I will be sudden and dispatch.
    Are you sick Hubert? You look pale today.
    In sooth I would you were a little sick
    That I might sit all night and watch with you.
    I warrant I love you more than you do me.
    [Aside] His words do take possession of my bosom.
    [To Arthur, showing him a paper]
    Read here young Arthur. [Aside] How now, foolish rheum?
    Turning dispiteous torture out of door?
    I must be brief, lest resolution drop
    Out at mine eyes in tender womanish tears.
    1610Can you not read it? Is it not fair writ?
    Too fairly Hubert, for so foul effect.
    Must you with hot irons, burn out both mine eyes?
    Young boy, I must.
    And will you?
    And I will.
    Have you the heart? When your head did but ache,
    I knit my handkerchief about your brows --
    The best I had, a princess wrought it me --
    1620And I did never ask it you again.
    And with my hand at midnight held your head,
    And like the watchful minutes to the hour
    Still and anon cheered up the heavy time,
    Saying, "What lack you?" and "Where lies your grief?"
    1625Or "What good love may I perform for you?"
    Many a poor man's son would have lain still
    And ne'er have spoke a loving word to you,
    But you at your sick service had a prince.
    Nay, you may think my love was crafty love,
    1630And call it cunning. Do, an if you will,
    If heaven be pleased that you must use me ill,
    Why then you must. Will you put out mine eyes?
    These eyes that never did, nor never shall,
    So much as frown on you?
    I have sworn to do it,
    And with hot irons must I burn them out.
    Ah, none but in this iron age would do it.
    The iron of itself, though heat red hot,
    Approaching near these eyes, would drink my tears,
    1640And quench his fiery indignation,
    Even in the matter of mine innocence;
    Nay, after that, consume away in rust,
    But for containing fire to harm mine eye.
    Are you more stubborn-hard, than hammered iron?
    1645An if an angel should have come to me
    And told me Hubert should put out mine eyes
    I would not have believed him. No tongue
    But Hubert's.
    [Stamps his foot] Come forth!
    [Executioners come forward with a cord, a heated iron, and a brazier.]
    Do as I bid you do.
    O, save me Hubert, save me! My eyes are out
    1650Even with the fierce looks of these bloody men.
    Give me the iron, I say, and bind him here.
    Alas, what need you be so boisterous-rough?
    I will not struggle, I will stand stone-still.
    For [god's] sake Hubert, let me not be bound.
    1655Nay, hear me Hubert! Drive these men away,
    And I will sit as quiet as a lamb.
    I will not stir, nor wince, nor speak a word,
    Nor look upon the iron angrily.
    Thrust but these men away, and I'll forgive you
    1660Whatever torment you do put me to.
    Go stand within. Let me alone with him.
    I am best pleased to be from such a deed.
    [Exeunt executioners.]
    Alas, I then have chid away my friend.
    He hath a stern look, but a gentle heart.
    1665Let him come back, that his compassion may
    Give life to yours.
    Come, boy, prepare your self.
    Is there no remedy?
    None but to lose your eyes.
    O heaven, that there were but a mote in yours,
    A grain, a dust, a gnat, a wandering hair,
    Any annoyance in that precious sense:
    Then, feeling what small things are boisterous there,
    Your vile intent must needs seem horrible.
    Is this your promise? Go to, hold your tongue.
    Hubert, the utterance of a brace of tongues
    Must needs want pleading for a pair of eyes.
    Let me not hold my tongue, let me not Hubert;
    Or Hubert, if you will, cut out my tongue,
    1680So I may keep mine eyes. O spare mine eyes,
    Though to no use, but still to look on you.
    Lo, by my troth, the instrument is cold,
    And would not harm me.
    I can heat it, boy.
    No, in good sooth. The fire is dead with grief,
    Being create for comfort, to be used
    In undeserved extremes. See else yourself;
    There is no malice in this burning coal.
    The breath of heaven hath blown his spirit out
    1690And strewed repentant ashes on his head.
    But with my breath I can revive it, boy.
    An if you do, you will but make it blush
    And glow with shame of your proceedings, Hubert.
    Nay, it perchance will sparkle in your eyes,
    1695And, like a dog that is compelled to fight,
    Snatch at his master that doth tarre him on.
    All things that you should use to do me wrong
    Deny their office: only you do lack
    That mercy which fierce fire and iron extends,
    1700Creatures of note for mercy-lacking uses.
    Well, see to live. I will not touch thine eye
    For all the treasure that thine uncle owes.
    Yet am I sworn, and I did purpose, boy,
    With this same very iron to burn them out.
    O, now you look like Hubert. All this while
    You were disguisèd.
    Peace, no more. Adieu.
    Your uncle must not know but you are dead.
    I'll fill these doggèd spies with false reports;
    1710And, pretty child, sleep doubtless and secure,
    That Hubert, for the wealth of all the world,
    Will not offend thee.
    O heaven! I thank you Hubert.
    Silence, no more. Go closely in with me.
    1715Much danger do I undergo for thee.
    Enter [King] John, Pembroke, Salisbury, and other lords. [King John ascends the throne.]
    King John
    Here once again we sit, once again crowned,
    And looked upon, I hope, with cheerful eyes.
    This "once again," but that your Highness pleased,
    Was once superfluous. You were crowned before,
    And that high royalty was ne'er plucked off,
    The faiths of men ne'er stainèd with revolt;
    Fresh expectation troubled not the land
    1725With any longed-for change or better state.
    Therefore to be possessed with double pomp,
    To guard a title that was rich before,
    To gild refinèd gold, to paint the lily,
    To throw a perfume on the violet,
    1730To smooth the ice, or add another hue
    Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
    To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
    Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.
    But that your royal pleasure must be done,
    1735This act is as an ancient tale new told,
    And, in the last repeating, troublesome,
    Being urged at a time unseasonable.
    In this the antique, and well-noted face
    Of plain old form is much disfigurèd,
    1740And like a shifted wind unto a sail,
    It makes the course of thoughts to fetch about,
    Startles and frights consideration,
    Makes sound opinion sick and truth suspected
    For putting on so new a fashioned robe.
    When workmen strive to do better than well
    They do confound their skill in covetousness,
    And oftentimes excusing of a fault
    Doth make the fault the worse by th'excuse,
    As patches set upon a little breach
    1750Discredit more in hiding of the fault
    Than did the fault before it was so patched.
    To this effect, before you were new crowned
    We breathed our counsel. But it pleased your Highness
    To overbear it, and we are all well pleased,
    1755Since all, and every part of what we would
    Doth make a stand at what your highness will.
    King John
    Some reasons of this double coronation
    I have possessed you with, and think them strong.
    And more, more strong, than lesser is my fear
    1760I shall endue you with. Mean time, but ask
    What you would have reformed that is not well,
    And well shall you perceive how willingly
    I will both hear and grant you your requests.
    Then I, as one that am the tongue of these
    1765To sound the purposes of all their hearts,
    Both for myself and them, but chief of all
    Your safety, for the which myself and them
    Bend their best studies, heartily request
    Th'enfranchisement of Arthur, whose restraint
    1770Doth move the murmuring lips of discontent
    To break into this dangerous argument.
    If what in rest you have, in right you hold,
    Why then your fears, which, as they say, attend
    The steps of wrong, should move you to mew up
    1775Your tender kinsman and to choke his days
    With barbarous ignorance, and deny his youth
    The rich advantage of good exercise.
    That the time's enemies may not have this
    To grace occasions, let it be our suit
    1780That you have bid us ask his liberty,
    Which for our goods we do no further ask,
    Than whereupon our weal, on you depending,
    Counts it your weal he have his liberty.
    Enter Hubert.
    1785King John
    Let it be so. I do commit his youth
    To your direction. --
    [King John and Hubert talk aside.]
    Hubert, what news with you?
    This is the man should do the bloody deed;
    He showed his warrant to a friend of mine.
    The image of a wicked heinous fault
    1790Lives in his eye; that close aspect of his
    Does show the mood of a much troubled breast,
    And I do fearfully believe 'tis done,
    What we so feared he had a charge to do.
    The color of the King doth come and go
    1795Between his purpose and his conscience,
    Like heralds 'twixt two dreadful battles set.
    His passion is so ripe it needs must break.
    And when it breaks, I fear will issue thence
    The foul corruption of a sweet child's death.
    1800King John
    [Coming forward] We cannot hold mortality's strong hand.
    Good lords, although my will to give is living,
    The suit which you demand is gone and dead.
    He tells us Arthur is deceased tonight.
    Indeed, we feared his sickness was past cure.
    Indeed, we heard how near his death he was
    Before the child himself felt he was sick.
    This must be answered either here or hence.
    King John
    Why do you bend such solemn brows on me?
    Think you I bear the shears of destiny?
    1810Have I commandment on the pulse of life?
    It is apparent foul play, and 'tis shame
    That greatness should so grossly offer it.
    So thrive it in your game, and so farewell.
    Stay yet, Lord Salisbury, I'll go with thee
    1815And find th'inheritance of this poor child,
    His little kingdom of a forcèd grave.
    That blood which owned the breadth of all this isle,
    Three foot of it doth hold. Bad world the while!
    This must not be thus borne, this will break out
    1820To all our sorrows, and ere long, I doubt.
    Exeunt [Pembroke, Salisbury, and other lords].
    King John
    They burn in indignation. I repent.
    There is no sure foundation set on blood,
    No certain life achieved by others' death. --
    [Enter messenger.]
    A fearful eye thou hast. Where is that blood
    1825That I have seen inhabit in those cheeks?
    So foul a sky clears not without a storm.
    Pour down thy weather: how goes all in France?
    From France to England. Never such a power
    For any foreign preparation
    1830Was levied in the body of a land.
    The copy of your speed is learned by them,
    For when you should be told they do prepare,
    The tidings comes that they are all arrived.
    King John
    O, where hath our intelligence been drunk?
    1835Where hath it slept? Where is my Mother's care,
    That such an army could be drawn in France
    And she not hear of it?
    My liege, her ear
    Is stopped with dust. The first of April died
    1840Your noble mother; and as I hear, my lord,
    The Lady Constance in a frenzy died
    Three days before, but this from rumor's tongue
    I idly heard: if true or false I know not.
    King John
    Withhold thy speed, dreadful Occasion!
    1845O, make a league with me 'till I have pleased
    My discontented peers. What? Mother dead?
    How wildly then walks my estate in France!
    Under whose conduct came those powers of France
    That thou for truth giv'st out are landed here?
    Under the Dauphin.
    King John
    Thou hast made me giddy
    With these ill tidings.
    Enter [the] Bastard and Peter of Pomfret.
    Now, what says the world
    To your proceedings? Do not seek to stuff
    1855My head with more ill news, for it is full.
    But if you be afeard to hear the worst,
    Then let the worst unheard fall on your head.
    King John
    Bear with me cousin, for I was amazed
    Under the tide, but now I breathe again
    1860Aloft the flood and can give audience
    To any tongue, speak it of what it will.
    How I have sped among the clergymen,
    The sums I have collected shall express.
    But as I traveled hither through the land,
    1865I find the people strangely fantasied,
    Possesed with rumors, full of idle dreams,
    Not knowing what they fear, but full of fear.
    And here's a prophet that I brought with me
    From forth the streets of Pomfret, whom I found
    1870With many hundreds treading on his heels,
    To whom he sung in rude harsh-sounding rhymes,
    That ere the next Ascension Day at noon,
    Your Highness should deliver up your crown.
    King John
    Thou idle dreamer, wherefore didst thou so?
    Foreknowing that the truth will fall out so.
    King John
    Hubert, away with him. Imprison him,
    And on that day at noon whereon he says
    I shall yield up my crown, let him be hanged!
    Deliver him to safety and return,
    1880For I must use thee.
    [Exeunt Hubert and Peter of Pomfret]
    O my gentle cousin,
    Hear'st thou the news abroad, who are arrived?
    The French, my lord. Men's mouths are full of it.
    Besides, I met Lord Bigot and Lord Salisbury,
    With eyes as red as new-enkindled fire,
    1885And others more, going to seek the grave
    Of Arthur, whom they say is killed tonight
    On your suggestion.
    King John
    Gentle kinsman, go
    And thrust thyself into their companies.
    I have a way to win their loves again.
    1890Bring them before me.
    I will seek them out.
    King John
    Nay, but make haste, the better foot before.
    O, let me have no subject enemies
    When adverse foreigners affright my towns
    1895With dreadful pomp of stout invasion.
    Be Mercury, set feathers to thy heels,
    And fly like thought from them to me again.
    The spirit of the time shall teach me speed.
    King John
    Spoke like a sprightful noble gentleman. --
    1900Go after him, for he perhaps shall need
    Some messenger betwixt me and the peers,
    And be thou he.
    With all my heart, my liege.
    [Exit messenger.]
    King John
    My mother dead?
    1905Enter Hubert.
    My lord, they say five moons were seen tonight:
    Four fixèd, and the fifth did whirl about
    The other four in wondrous motion.
    King John
    Five moons?
    Old men and beldams in the streets
    Do prophesy upon it dangerously.
    Young Arthur's death is common in their mouths,
    And when they talk of him, they shake their heads
    And whisper one another in the ear.
    1915And he that speaks doth grip the hearer's wrist,
    Whilst he that hears makes fearful action
    With wrinkled brows, with nods, with rolling eyes.
    I saw a smith stand with his hammer, thus,
    The whilst his iron did on the anvil cool,
    1920With open mouth swallowing a tailor's news,
    Who, with his shears and measure in his hand,
    Standing on slippers which his nimble haste
    Had falsely thrust upon contrary feet,
    Told of a many thousand warlike French
    1925That were embattailèd and ranked in Kent.
    Another lean, unwashed artificer
    Cuts off his tale and talks of Arthur's death.
    King John
    Why seek'st thou to possess me with these fears?
    Why urgest thou so oft young Arthur's death?
    1930Thy hand hath murdered him. I had a mighty cause
    To wish him dead, but thou hadst none to kill him.
    No had, my lord. Why, did you not provoke me?
    King John
    It is the curse of kings to be attended
    By slaves that take their humors for a warrant
    1935To break within the bloody house of life,
    And on the winking of authority
    To understand a law, to know the meaning
    Of dangerous majesty, when perchance it frowns
    More upon humor than advised respect.
    [Showing the warrant] Here is your hand and seal for what I did.
    King John
    O, when the last account 'twixt heaven and earth
    Is to be made, then shall this hand and seal
    Witness against us to damnation.
    How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds
    1945Make deeds ill done! Hadst not thou been by,
    A fellow by the hand of nature marked,
    Quoted, and signed to do a deed of shame,
    This murder had not come into my mind.
    But taking note of thy abhorred aspect,
    1950Finding thee fit for bloody villainy,
    Apt, liable to be employed in danger,
    I faintly broke with thee of Arthur's death,
    And thou, to be endeared to a king,
    Made it no conscience to destroy a prince.
    My lord --
    King John
    Had'st thou but shook thy head, or made a pause
    When I spake darkly what I purposèd,
    Or turned an eye of doubt upon my face,
    As bid me tell my tale in express words,
    1960Deep shame had struck me dumb, made me break off,
    And those thy fears might have wrought fears in me.
    But thou didst understand me by my signs,
    And didst in signs again parley with sin,
    Yea, without stop didst let thy heart consent,
    1965And consequently thy rude hand to act
    The deed, which both our tongues held vile to name.
    Out of my sight, and never see me more.
    My Nobles leave me, and my state is braved,
    Even at my gates, with ranks of foreign powers;
    1970Nay, in the body of this fleshly land,
    This kingdom, this confine of blood and breath,
    Hostility and civil tumult reigns
    Between my conscience and my cousin's death.
    Arm you against your other enemies.
    1975I'll make a peace between your soul and you.
    Young Arthur is alive. This hand of mine
    Is yet a maiden and an innocent hand,
    Not painted with the crimson spots of blood.
    Within this bosom never entered yet
    1980The dreadful motion of a murderous thought,
    And you have slandered nature in my form,
    Which, howsoever rude exteriorly,
    Is yet the cover of a fairer mind
    Than to be butcher of an innocent child.
    1985King John
    Doth Arthur live? O, haste thee to the peers,
    Throw this report on their incensèd rage,
    And make them tame to their obedience.
    Forgive the comment that my passion made
    Upon thy feature, for my rage was blind,
    1990And foul imaginary eyes of blood
    Presented thee more hideous than thou art.
    O, answer not, but to my closet bring
    The angry lords with all expedient haste.
    I conjure thee but slowly: run more fast!
    Enter Arthur on the walls [disguised as a ship-boy].
    The wall is high, and yet will I leap down.
    Good ground be pitiful and hurt me not!
    There's few or none do know me. If they did,
    2000This ship-boy's semblance hath disguised me quite.
    I am afraid, and yet I'll venture it.
    If I get down and do not break my limbs,
    I'll find a thousand shifts to get away.
    As good to die and go as die and stay.
    [He jumps.]
    2005O me, my uncle's spirit is in these stones.
    Heaven take my soul, and England keep my bones.
    Enter Pembroke, Salisbury [with a letter], and Bigot.
    Lords, I will meet him at Saint Edmondsbury.
    It is our safety, and we must embrace
    2010This gentle offer of the perilous time.
    Who brought that letter from the Cardinal?
    The Count Melun, a noble lord of France,
    Whose private with me of the Dauphin's love
    Is much more general than these lines import.
    Tomorrow morning let us meet him then.
    Or rather then set forward, for 'twill be
    Two long days' journey, lords, or ere we meet.
    Enter [the] Bastard.
    Once more today well met, distempered lords,
    2020The King by me requests your presence straight.
    The King hath dispossessed himself of us,
    We will not line his thin bestainèd cloak
    With our pure honors, nor attend the foot
    That leaves the print of blood where e'er it walks.
    2025Return and tell him so. We know the worst.
    What e'er you think, good words I think were best.
    Our griefs and not our manners reason now.
    But there is little reason in your grief.
    2030Therefore 'twere reason you had manners now.
    Sir, sir, impatience hath his privilege.
    'Tis true, to hurt his master, no man else.
    This is the prison.
    [He sees Arthur's body.]
    What is he lies here?
    O, death, made proud with pure and princely beauty!
    2035The earth had not a hole to hide this deed.
    Murder, as hating what himself hath done,
    Doth lay it open to urge on revenge.
    Or, when he doomed this beauty to a grave,
    Found it too precious-princely for a grave.
    Sir Richard, what think you? You have beheld.
    Or have you read, or heard, or could you think?
    Or do you almost think, although you see,
    That you do see? Could thought, without this object
    Form such another? This is the very top,
    2045The height, the crest, or crest unto the crest
    Of murder's arms. This is the bloodiest shame,
    The wildest savagery, the vilest stroke
    That ever wall-eyed wrath, or staring rage
    Presented to the tears of soft remorse.
    All murders past do stand excused in this.
    And this, so sole and so unmatchable,
    Shall give a holiness, a purity,
    To the yet unbegotten sin of times
    And prove a deadly bloodshed but a jest,
    2055Exampled by this heinous spectacle.
    It is a damnèd, and a bloody work,
    The graceless action of a heavy hand --
    If that it be the work of any hand.
    If that it be the work of any hand?
    2060We had a kind of light what would ensue.
    It is the shameful work of Hubert's hand,
    The practice and the purpose of the king,
    From whose obedience I forbid my soul, [He kneels.]
    Kneeling before this ruin of sweet life,
    2065And breathing to his breathless excellence
    The incense of a vow, a holy vow:
    Never to taste the pleasures of the world,
    Never to be infected with delight,
    Nor conversant with ease and idleness,
    2070Till I have set a glory to this hand
    By giving it the worship of revenge.
    Pembroke and Bigot
    [They kneel.] Our souls religiously confirm thy words.
    Enter Hubert. [The lords rise.]
    Lords, I am hot with haste in seeking you,
    2075Arthur doth live; the king hath sent for you.
    O, he is bold and blushes not at death. --
    Avaunt thou hateful villain, get thee gone!
    I am no villain.
    Must I rob the law?
    [He draws his sword.]
    Your sword is bright sir; put it up again.
    Not till I sheathe it in a murderer's skin.
    [Putting his hand on his sword] Stand back Lord Salisbury. Stand back, I say.
    By heaven, I think my sword's as sharp as yours.
    I would not have you, lord, forget yourself,
    Nor tempt the danger of my true defense,
    2085Lest I, by marking of your rage, forget
    your worth, your greatness, and nobility.
    Out dunghill! Dar'st thou brave a nobleman?
    Not for my life. But yet I dare defend
    My innocent life against an emperor.
    Thou art a murderer.
    Do not prove me so;
    Yet I am none. Whose tongue so e'er speaks false,
    Not truly speaks; who speaks not truly, lies.
    [Drawing his sword] Cut him to pieces.
    [Drawing his sword] Keep the peace, I say.
    Stand by, or I shall gall you Faulconbridge.
    Thou wer't better gall the devil Salisbury.
    If thou but frown on me, or stir thy foot,
    Or teach thy hasty spleen to do me shame,
    2100I'll strike thee dead. Put up thy sword betimes,
    Or I'll so maul you and your toasting-iron
    That you shall think the devil is come from hell.
    What wilt thou do, renownèd Faulconbridge?
    Second a villain, and a murderer?
    Lord Bigot, I am none.
    [Indicating Arthur's body] Who killed this Prince?
    'Tis not an hour since I left him well:
    I honored him, I loved him, and will weep
    My date of life out for his sweet life's loss.
    Trust not those cunning waters of his eyes,
    For villainy is not without such rheum,
    And he, long traded in it, makes it seem
    Like rivers of remorse and innocency.
    Away with me, all you whose souls abhor
    2115Th'uncleanly savors of a slaughter-house,
    For I am stifled with this smell of sin.
    Away, toward Bury, to the Dauphin there!
    There tell the king, he may inquire us out.
    Exeunt lords.
    Here's a good world! Knew you of this fair work?
    2120Beyond the infinite and boundless reach
    Of mercy, if thou didst this deed of death,
    Art thou damned, Hubert.
    Do but hear me sir.
    Ha? I'll tell thee what.
    Thou'rt damned as black -- nay nothing is so black --
    2125Thou art more deep damned than Prince Lucifer.
    There is not yet so ugly a fiend of hell
    As thou shalt be if thou didst kill this child.
    Upon my soul --
    If thou didst but consent
    2130To this most cruel act, do but despair,
    And if thou want'st a cord, the smallest thread
    That ever spider twisted from her womb
    Will serve to strangle thee. A rush will be a beam
    To hang thee on. Or wouldst thou drown thyself,
    2135Put but a little water in a spoon
    And it shall be as all the ocean,
    Enough to stifle such a villain up.
    I do suspect thee very grievously.
    If I in act, consent, or sin of thought,
    2140Be guilty of the stealing that sweet breath
    Which was embounded in this beauteous clay,
    Let hell want pains enough to torture me.
    I left him well.
    Go, bear him in thine arms.
    2145I am amazed methinks, and lose my way
    Among the thorns and dangers of this world.
    [Hubert takes up Arthur's body.]
    How easy dost thou take all England up!
    From forth this morsel of dead royalty
    The life, the right, and truth of all this realm
    2150Is fled to heaven, and England now is left
    To tug and scamble, and to part by th'teeth
    The unowed interest of proud-swelling state.
    Now for the bare-picked bone of majesty
    Doth dogged war bristle his angry crest
    2155And snarleth in the gentle eyes of peace.
    Now powers from home and discontents at home
    Meet in one line, and vast confusion waits
    As doth a raven on a sick-fall'n beast,
    The imminent decay of wrested pomp.
    2160Now happy he whose cloak and cincture can
    Hold out this tempest. Bear away that child
    And follow me with speed. I'll to the King.
    A thousand businesses are brief in hand,
    And heaven itself doth frown upon the land.
    Exeunt [with Hubert carrying Arthur's body].
    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.
    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.
    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?
    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.
    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.
    Away then with good courage! Yet I know
    Our party may well meet a prouder foe.
    2250Enter, in arms, Lewis, Salisbury, Melun, Pembroke, Bigot [and] soldiers.
    [Handing a paper to Melun] My Lord Melun, let this be copied out
    And keep it safe for our remembrance.
    Return the precedent to these lords again,
    2255That, having our fair order written down,
    Both they and we, perusing o'er these notes,
    May know wherefore we took the sacrament,
    And keep our fates firm and inviolable.
    Upon our sides it never shall be broken.
    2260And noble Dauphin, albeit we swear
    A voluntary zeal and unurged faith
    To your proceedings, yet believe me, Prince,
    I am not glad that such a sore of time
    Should seek a plaster by contemned revolt
    2265And heal the inveterate canker of one wound
    By making many. O, it grieves my soul
    That I must draw this metal from my side
    To be a widow-maker. O, and there
    Where honorable rescue and defense
    2270Cries out upon the name of Salisbury.
    But such is the infection of the time
    That, for the health and physic of our right,
    We cannot deal but with the very hand
    Of stern injustice, and confusèd wrong.
    2275And is't not pity, oh my grievèd friends,
    That we, the sons and children of this isle,
    Were born to see so sad an hour as this,
    Wherein we step after a stranger, march
    Upon her gentle bosom, and fill up
    2280Her enemy's ranks? I must withdraw and weep
    Upon the spot of this enforcèd cause,
    To grace the gentry of a land remote,
    And follow unacquainted colors here.
    What here? O nation, that thou couldst remove,
    2285That Neptune's arms, who clippeth thee about,
    Would bear thee from the knowledge of thyself,
    And grapple thee unto a pagan shore,
    Where these two Christian armies might combine
    The blood of malice in a vein of league,
    2290And not to spend it so unneighborly!
    A noble temper dost thou show in this,
    And great affections wrestling in thy bosom
    Doth make an earthquake of nobility.
    O, what a noble combat hast thou fought
    2295Between compulsion and a brave respect!
    Let me wipe off this honorable dew
    That silverly doth progress on thy cheeks.
    My heart hath melted at a lady's tears,
    Being an ordinary inundation,
    2300But this effusion of such manly drops,
    This shower, blown up by tempest of the soul,
    Startles mine eyes and makes me more amazed
    Than had I seen the vaulty top of heaven
    Figured quite o'er with burning meteors.
    2305Lift up thy brow, renownèd Salisbury,
    And with a great heart heave away this storm.
    Commend these waters to those baby eyes
    That never saw the giant world enraged,
    Nor met with fortune other than at feasts
    2310Full warm of blood, of mirth, of gossiping.
    Come, come; for thou shalt thrust thy hand as deep
    Into the purse of rich prosperity
    As Lewis himself -- So, nobles, shall you all,
    That knit your sinews to the strength of mine.
    2315Enter Pandulph.
    And even there, methinks an angel spake.
    Look where the holy legate comes apace
    To give us warrant from the hand of god,
    And on our actions set the name of right
    2320With holy breath.
    Hail noble prince of France!
    The next is this: King John hath reconciled
    Himself to Rome; his spirit is come in,
    That so stood out against the holy Church,
    2325The great metropolis and See of Rome.
    Therefore thy threat'ning colors now wind up
    And tame the savage spirit of wild war,
    That, like a lion fostered up at hand,
    It may lie gently at the foot of peace
    2330And be no further harmful than in show.
    Your Grace shall pardon me, I will not back.
    I am too high born to be propertied
    To be a secondary at control,
    Or useful serving-man and instrument
    2335To any sovereign state throughout the world.
    Your breath first kindled the dead coal of wars
    Between this chastised kingdom and myself,
    And brought in matter that should feed this fire,
    And now 'tis far too huge to be blown out
    2340With that same weak wind which enkindled it.
    You taught me how to know the face of right,
    Acquainted me with interest to this land,
    Yea, thrust this enterprise into my heart.
    And come ye now to tell me John hath made
    2345His peace with Rome? What is that peace to me?
    I, by the honor of my marriage-bed,
    After young Arthur claim this land for mine.
    And now it is half-conquered, must I back,
    Because that John hath made his peace with Rome?
    2350Am I Rome's slave? What penny hath Rome borne?
    What men provided? What munition sent
    To under-prop this action? Is't not I
    That undergo this charge? Who else but I,
    And such as to my claim are liable,
    2355Sweat in this business and maintain this war?
    Have I not heard these islanders shout out
    "Vive le Roi," as I have banked their towns?
    Have I not here the best cards for the game
    To win this easy match played for a crown?
    2360And shall I now give o'er the yielded set?
    No, no, on my soul it never shall be said.
    You look but on the outside of this work.
    Outside or inside, I will not return
    Till my attempt so much be glorified
    2365As to my ample hope was promisèd
    Before I drew this gallant head of war
    And culled these fiery spirits from the world
    To outlook conquest and to win renown
    Even in the jaws of danger and of death.
    [A trumpet sounds.]
    2370What lusty trumpet thus doth summon us?
    Enter [the] Bastard.
    According to the fair play of the world,
    Let me have audience. I am sent to speak,
    My holy lord of Milan, from the King.
    2375I come to learn how you have dealt for him,
    And, as you answer, I do know the scope
    And warrant limited unto my tongue.
    The Dauphin is too wilful-opposite
    And will not temporize with my entreaties.
    2380He flatly says he'll not lay down his arms.
    By all the blood that ever fury breathed,
    The youth says well. Now hear our English king,
    For thus his royalty doth speak in me:
    He is prepared -- and reason too he should.
    2385This apish and unmannerly approach,
    This harnessed mask and unadvisèd revel,
    This unheard sauciness and boyish troops,
    The King doth smile at, and is well prepared
    To whip this dwarfish war, these pigmy arms
    2390From out the circle of his territories.
    That hand which had the strength, even at your door,
    To cudgel you and make you take the hatch,
    To dive like buckets in concealèd wells,
    To crouch in litter of your stable planks,
    2395To lie like pawns, locked up in chests and trunks,
    To hug with swine, to seek sweet safety out
    In vaults and prisons, and to thrill and shake,
    Even at the crying of your nation's crow,
    Thinking this voice an armèd Englishman --
    2400Shall that victorious hand be feebled here,
    That in your chambers gave you chastisement?
    No! Know the gallant monarch is in arms,
    And like an eagle o'er his aerie towers
    To souse annoyance that comes near his nest. --
    2405And you degenerate, you ingrate revolts,
    You bloody Neroes, ripping up the womb
    Of your dear mother England, blush for shame,
    For your own ladies and pale-visaged maids,
    Like Amazons, come tripping after drums,
    2410Their thimbles into armèd gauntlets change,
    Their needles to lances, and their gentle hearts
    To fierce and bloody inclination.
    There end thy brave, and turn thy face in peace.
    We grant thou canst outscold us. Fare thee well.
    2415We hold our time too precious to be spent
    with such a brabbler.
    Give me leave to speak.
    No, I will speak.
    We will attend to neither.
    2420Strike up the drums, and let the tongue of war
    Plead for our interest, and our being here.
    Indeed, your drums, being beaten, will cry out,
    And so shall you, being beaten. Do but start
    An echo with the clamor of thy drum,
    2425And even at hand a drum is ready braced
    That shall reverberate all as loud as thine.
    Sound but another, and another shall,
    As loud as thine, rattle the welkin's ear
    And mock the deep-mouthed thunder. For at hand --
    2430Not trusting to this halting legate here,
    Whom he hath used rather for sport than need --
    Is warlike John, and in his forehead sits
    A bare-ribbed Death, whose office is this day
    To feast upon whole thousands of the French.
    Strike up our drums, to find this danger out.
    And thou shalt find it, Dauphin, do not doubt
    [Drums beat.] Exeunt [separately].
    Alarums. Enter [King] John and Hubert.
    2440King John
    How goes the day with us? O, tell me Hubert.
    Badly I fear. How fares your majesty?
    King John
    This fever that hath troubled me so long
    Lies heavy on me. O, my heart is sick.
    Enter a messenger.
    My lord, your valiant kinsman, Falconbridge,
    Desires your Majesty to leave the field
    And send him word by me which way you go.
    King John
    Tell him toward Swinstead, to the Abbey there.
    Be of good comfort, for the great supply
    2450That was expected by the Dauphin here
    Are wrecked three nights ago on Goodwin Sands.
    This news was brought to Richard but even now.
    The French fight coldly and retire themselves.
    King John
    Ay me, this tyrant fever burns me up
    2455And will not let me welcome this good news.
    Set on toward Swinsted. To my litter straight.
    Weakness possesseth me, and I am faint.
    Enter Salisbury, Pembroke, and Bigot.
    I did not think the King so stored with friends.
    Up once again! Put spirit in the French.
    If they miscarry, we miscarry too.
    That misbegotten devil Falconbridge,
    In spite of spite, alone upholds the day.
    They say King John, sore sick, hath left the field.
    Enter Melun, wounded, [led by a soldier].
    Lead me to the revolts of England here.
    When we were happy, we had other names.
    It is the Count Melun.
    Wounded to death.
    Fly noble English! You are bought and sold.
    Unthread the rude eye of rebellion
    And welcome home again discarded faith.
    Seek out King John and fall before his feet,
    2475For if the French be lords of this loud day,
    He means to recompense the pains you take
    By cutting off your heads. Thus hath he sworn,
    And I with him, and many more with me,
    Upon the Altar at Saint Edmondsbury,
    2480Even on that altar, where we swore to you
    Dear amity and everlasting love.
    May this be possible? May this be true?
    Have I not hideous death within my view,
    Retaining but a quantity of life,
    2485Which bleeds away, even as a form of wax
    Resolveth from his figure 'gainst the fire?
    What in the world should make me now deceive,
    Since I must lose the use of all deceit?
    Why should I then be false, since it is true
    2490That I must die here and live hence by truth?
    I say again, if Lewis do win the day,
    He is forsworn if e'er those eyes of yours
    Behold another daybreak in the east.
    But even this night, whose black contagious breath
    2495Already smokes about the burning crest
    Of the old, feeble, and day-wearied sun,
    Even this ill night, your breathing shall expire,
    Paying the fine of rated treachery
    Even with a treacherous fine of all your lives,
    2500If Lewis by your assistance win the day.
    Commend me to one Hubert, with your King.
    The love of him, and this respect besides,
    For that my grandsire was an Englishman,
    Awakes my conscience to confess all this.
    2505In lieu whereof, I pray you bear me hence
    From forth the noise and rumor of the field,
    Where I may think the remnant of my thoughts
    In peace, and part this body and my soul
    With contemplation and devout desires.
    We do believe thee, and beshrew my soul,
    But I do love the favor and the form
    Of this most fair occasion, by the which
    We will untread the steps of damnèd flight,
    And like a bated and retirèd flood,
    2515Leaving our rankness and irregular course,
    Stoop low within those bounds we have o'er-looked
    And calmly run on in obedience
    Even to our ocean, to our great King John.
    My arm shall give thee help to bear thee hence,
    2520For I do see the cruel pangs of death
    Right in thine eye. Away, my friends! New flight,
    And happy newness, that intends old right.
    Enter [Lewis the] Dauphin and his train.
    The sun of heaven, methought, was loath to set,
    But stayed, and made the western welkin blush
    When English measured backward their own ground
    In faint retire. Oh bravely came we off,
    When with a volley of our needless shot,
    2530After such bloody toil, we bid good night,
    And wound our tott'ring colors clearly up,
    Last in the field, and almost lords of it.
    Enter a messenger.
    Where is my prince, the Dauphin?
    Here. What news?
    The Count Melun is slain. The English lords,
    By his persuasion, are again fall'n off,
    And your supply, which you have wished so long,
    Are cast away and sunk on Goodwin Sands.
    Ah foul, shrewd news! beshrew thy very heart!
    I did not think to be so sad tonight
    As this hath made me. Who was he that said
    King John did fly an hour or two before
    The stumbling night did part our weary powers?
    Whoever spoke it, it is true, my lord.
    Well: keep good quarter and good care tonight.
    The day shall not be up so soon as I,
    To try the fair adventure of tomorrow.
    2550Enter [the] Bastard and Hubert, severally.
    Who's there? Speak ho! Speak quickly, or I shoot.
    A friend. What art thou?
    Of the part of England.
    Whither dost thou go?
    What's that to thee?
    Why may not I demand of thine affairs
    As well as thou of mine?
    Hubert, I think.
    Thou hast a perfect thought.
    I will upon all hazards well believe
    Thou art my friend that know'st my tongue so well.
    Who art thou?
    Who thou wilt: An if thou please
    2565Thou mayest befriend me so much as to think
    I come one way of the Plantagenets.
    Unkind remembrance! Thou, and endless night
    Have done me shame. Brave soldier, pardon me,
    That any accent breaking from thy tongue,
    2570Should scape the true acquaintance of mine ear.
    Come, come, sans compliment. What news abroad?
    Why here walk I in the black brow of night
    To find you out.
    Brief then: and what's the news?
    O my sweet sir, news fitting to the night,
    Black, fearful, comfortless, and horrible.
    Show me the very wound of this ill news.
    I am no woman, I'll not swoon at it.
    The King, I fear, is poisoned by a monk.
    I left him almost speechless and broke out
    To acquaint you with this evil, that you might
    The better arm you to the sudden time
    Than if you had at leisure known of this.
    How did he take it? Who did taste to him?
    A monk, I tell you, a resolved villain
    Whose bowels suddenly burst out. The King
    Yet speaks and peradventure may recover.
    Who didst thou leave to tend his majesty?
    Why, know you not? The lords are all come back
    And brought Prince Henry in their company,
    At whose request the king hath pardoned them,
    And they are all about his Majesty.
    Withhold thine indignation, mighty heaven,
    And tempt us not to bear above our power!
    I'll tell thee, Hubert, half my power this night,
    Passing these flats, are taken by the tide.
    These Lincoln Washes have devourèd them,
    2600My self, well mounted, hardly have escaped.
    Away before! Conduct me to the king.
    I doubt he will be dead or ere I come.
    Enter Prince Henry, Salisbury, and Bigot.
    2605Prince Henry
    It is too late. The life of all his blood
    Is touched corruptibly, and his pure brain,
    Which some suppose the soul's frail dwelling house,
    Doth by the idle comments that it makes
    Foretell the ending of mortality.
    2610Enter Pembroke.
    His highness yet doth speak and holds belief
    That, being brought into the open air,
    It would allay the burning quality
    Of that fell poison which assaileth him.
    2615Prince Henry
    Let him be brought into the orchard here.
    [Exit Bigot.]
    Doth he still rage?
    He is more patient
    Than when you left him. Even now he sung.
    Prince Henry
    O vanity of sickness! Fierce extremes
    2620In their continuance will not feel themselves.
    Death, having preyed upon the outward parts,
    Leaves them invisible, and his siege is now
    Against the mind, the which he pricks and wounds
    With many legions of strange fantasies,
    2625Which in their throng and press to that last hold
    Confound themselves. 'Tis strange that death should sing.
    I am the cygnet to this pale faint swan,
    Who chants a doleful hymn to his own death,
    And from the organ-pipe of frailty sings
    2630His soul and body to their lasting rest.
    Be of good comfort, Prince, for you are born
    To set a form upon that indigest
    Which he hath left so shapeless and so rude.
    [King] John brought in[, attended by Bigot].
    2635King John
    Ay, marry, now my soul hath elbow-room;
    It would not out at windows, nor at doors.
    There is so hot a summer in my bosom
    That all my bowels crumble up to dust.
    I am a scribbled form drawn with a pen
    2640Upon a parchment, and against this fire
    Do I shrink up.
    Prince Henry
    How fares your majesty?
    King John
    Poisoned -- ill fare! Dead, forsook, cast off.
    And none of you will bid the winter come
    2645To thrust his icy fingers in my maw,
    Nor let my kingdom's rivers take their course
    Through my burned bosom, nor entreat the North
    To make his bleak winds kiss my parchèd lips
    And comfort me with cold. I do not ask you much.
    2650I beg cold comfort: and you are so strait
    And so ingrateful, you deny me that.
    Prince Henry
    O, that there were some virtue in my tears
    That might relieve you.
    King John
    The salt in them is hot.
    2655Within me is a hell, and there the poison
    Is, as a fiend, confined to tyrannize
    On unreprievable condemnèd blood.
    Enter [the] Bastard.
    O, I am scalded with my violent motion
    2660And spleen of speed to see your majesty.
    King John
    O cousin, thou art come to set mine eye.
    The tackle of my heart is cracked and burnt,
    And all the shrouds wherewith my life should sail
    Are turned to one thread, one little hair.
    2665My heart hath one poor string to stay it by,
    Which holds but till thy news be utterèd,
    And then all this thou seest is but a clod
    And module of confounded royalty.
    The Dauphin is preparing hitherward,
    2670Where God he knows how we shall answer him.
    For in a night the best part of my power,
    As I upon advantage did remove,
    Were in the Washes all unwarily
    Devourèd by the unexpected flood.
    [King John dies.]
    You breathe these dead news in as dead an ear. --
    My liege! my lord! -- But now a king, now thus.
    Prince Henry
    Even so must I run on, and even so stop.
    What surety of the world, what hope, what stay,
    When this was now a king, and now is clay?
    Art thou gone so? I do but stay behind
    To do the office for thee of revenge,
    And then my soul shall wait on thee to heaven,
    As it on earth hath been thy servant still.
    Now, now you stars that move in your right spheres,
    2685Where be your powers? Show now your mended faiths
    And instantly return with me again
    To push destruction and perpetual shame
    Out of the weak door of our fainting land.
    Straight let us seek, or straight we shall be sought.
    2690The Dauphin rages at our very heels.
    It seems you know not then so much as we.
    The Cardinal Pandulph is within at rest,
    Who half an hour since came from the Dauphin,
    And brings from him such offers of our peace
    2695As we with honor and respect may take,
    With purpose presently to leave this war.
    He will the rather do it when he sees
    Our selves well sinewèd to our defense.
    Nay, 'tis in a manner done already,
    2700For many carriages he hath dispatched
    To the seaside, and put his cause and quarrel
    To the disposing of the Cardinal,
    With whom yourself, myself, and other lords,
    If you think meet, this afternoon will post
    2705To consummate this business happily.
    Let it be so. -- And you my noble Prince,
    With other princes that may best be spared,
    Shall wait upon your father's funeral.
    Prince Henry
    At Worcester must his body be interred,
    2710For so he willed it.
    Thither shall it then,
    And happily may your sweet self put on
    The lineal state and glory of the land, [He kneels.]
    To whom with all submission on my knee,
    2715I do bequeath my faithful services
    And true subjection everlastingly.
    [All kneel to Prince Henry.] And the like tender of our love we make
    To rest without a spot for evermore.
    Prince Henry
    I have a kind soul that would give thanks,
    2720And knows not how to do it but with tears.
    [They rise.] Oh let us pay the time but needful woe,
    Since it hath been beforehand with our griefs.
    This England never did, nor never shall
    Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror
    2725But when it first did help to wound itself.
    Now these her princes are come home again,
    Come the three corners of the world in arms
    And we shall shock them: naught shall make us rue,
    If England to itself, do rest but true.