Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: King John (Modern)
  • Editor: Michael Best
  • General textual editor: Eric Rasmussen
  • Coordinating editor: Michael Best
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-410-3

    Copyright Michael Best. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Michael Best
    Not Peer Reviewed

    King John (Modern)

    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!