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King John by William Shakespeare [Collins edition]

Part 2 out of 3

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Thou art his keeper.

And I'll keep him so
That he shall not offend your majesty.


My lord?

A grave.

He shall not live.

I could be merry now. Hubert, I love thee;
Well, I'll not say what I intend for thee:
Remember.--Madam, fare you well:
I'll send those powers o'er to your majesty.

My blessing go with thee!

For England, cousin, go:
Hubert shall be your man, attend on you
With all true duty.--On toward Calais, ho!


SCENE 4. The same. The FRENCH KING's tent.

[Enter KING PHILIP, LOUIS, PANDULPH, and Attendants.]

So, by a roaring tempest on the flood
A whole armado of convicted sail
Is scattered and disjoin'd from fellowship.

Courage and comfort! all shall yet go well.

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?
And 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 dispos'd,
Such temperate order in so fierce a cause,
Doth want example: who hath read or heard
Of any kindred action like to this?

Well could I bear that England had this praise,
So we could find some pattern of our shame.--
Look who comes here! a grave unto a soul;
Holding the eternal spirit, against her will,
In the vile prison of afflicted breath.


I pr'ythee, lady, go away with me.

Lo, now! now see the issue of your peace!

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!
Arise forth from the couch of lasting night,
Thou hate and terror to prosperity,
And I will kiss thy detestable bones;
And put my eyeballs in thy vaulty brows;
And ring these fingers with thy household worms;
And stop this gap of breath with fulsome dust,
And be a carrion monster like thyself:
Come, grin on me; and I will think thou smil'st,
And buss thee as thy wife! Misery's love,
O, come to me!

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
Which 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;
My name is Constance; I was Geffrey's wife;
Young Arthur is my son, and he is lost:
I am not mad:--I would to heaven I were!
For then, 'tis like I should forget myself:
O, if I could, what grief should I forget!--
Preach some philosophy to make me mad,
And thou shalt be canoniz'd, cardinal;
For, being not mad, but sensible of grief,
My reasonable part produces reason
How I may be deliver'd of these woes,
And teaches me to kill or hang myself:
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.

Bind up those tresses.--O, what love I note
In the fair multitude of those her hairs!
Where but by a chance a silver drop hath fallen,
Even to that drop ten thousand wiry friends
Do glue themselves in sociable grief;
Like true, inseparable, faithful loves,
Sticking together in calamity.

To England, if you will.

Bind up your hairs.

Yes, that I will; and wherefore will I do it?
I 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,
Because my poor child is a prisoner.--
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,
To 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,
As dim and meagre 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.

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,
Puts 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,
I could give better comfort than you do.--
I will not keep this form upon my head,

[Tearing off her head-dress.]

When there is such disorder in my wit.
O Lord! my boy, my Arthur, my fair son!
My life, my joy, my food, my ail the world!
My widow-comfort, and my sorrows' cure!


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;
And bitter shame hath spoil'd the sweet world's taste,
That it yields nought 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
On 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,
She looks upon them with a threatening eye.
'Tis strange to think how much King John hath lost
In this which he accounts so clearly won.
Are not you griev'd 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
Thy foot to England's throne; and therefore mark.
John hath seiz'd Arthur; and it cannot be
That, whiles warm life plays in that infant's veins,
The misplac'd John should entertain an hour,
One minute, nay, one quiet breath of rest:
A sceptre snatch'd with an unruly hand
Must be boisterously maintain'd as gain'd:
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:
So be it, for it cannot be but so.

But what shall I gain by young Arthur's fall?

You, in the right of Lady Blanch 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
Of 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 distemper'd day,
No common wind, no customed 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.

May be 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
Of 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 hurly all on foot:
And, O, what better matter breeds for you
Than I have nam'd!--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
To 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,
Now that their souls are topful of offence:
For England go:--I will whet on the king.

Strong reasons makes strong actions: let us go:
If you say ay, the king will not say no.



SCENE 1. Northampton. A Room in the Castle.

[Enter HUBERT and two Attendants.]

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
Fast to the chair: be heedful: hence, and watch.

I hope your warrant will bear out the deed.

Uncleanly scruples! Fear not you; look to't.--


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 tide
To be more prince, as may be.--You are sad.

Indeed I have been merrier.

Mercy on me!
Methinks no body 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,
So 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 practises more harm to me:
He is afraid of me, and I of him:
Is it my fault that I was Geffrey'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:
Therefore I will be sudden and despatch.

Are you sick, Hubert? you look pale to-day:
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.--
Read here, young Arthur.

[Showing a paper.]

[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.--
Can 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,--
And 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 cheer'd up the heavy time,
Saying 'What lack you?' and 'Where lies your grief?'
Or 'What good love may I perform for you?'
Many a poor man's son would have lien 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,
And call it cunning.--do, an if you will:
If heaven be pleas'd 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,
And 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 hammer'd iron?
An if an angel should have come to me
And told me Hubert should put out mine eyes,
I would not have believ'd him,--no tongue but Hubert's.

[Stamps.] Come forth.

[Re-enter Attendants, with cords, irons, &c.]

Do as I bid you do.

O, save me, Hubert, save me! my eyes are out
Even with the fierce looks of these bloody men.

Give me the iron, I say, and bind him here.

Alas, what need you be so boist'rous rough?
I will not struggle, I will stand stone-still.
For heaven sake, Hubert, let me not be bound!
Nay, 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 angerly:
Thrust but these men away, and I'll forgive you,
Whatever torment you do put me to.

Go, stand within; let me alone with him.

I am best pleas'd to be from such a deed.

[Exeunt Attendants.]

Alas, I then have chid away my friend!
He hath a stern look but a gentle heart:--
Let him come back, that his compassion may
Give life to yours.

Come, boy, prepare yourself.

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,
So 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 us'd
In undeserv'd extremes: see else yourself;
There is no malice in this burning coal;
The breath of heaven hath blown his spirit out,
And strew'd 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;
And, like a dog that is compell'd 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,
Creatures 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 I am 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 disguised.

Peace; no more. Adieu!
Your uncle must not know but you are dead;
I'll fill these dogged spies with false reports:
And, 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:
Much danger do I undergo for thee.


SCENE 2.The same. A Room of State in the Palace.

[Enter KING JOHN, crowned, PEMBROKE, SALISBURY, and other LORDS.
The KING takes his State.]

Here once again we sit, once again crown'd,
And look'd upon, I hope, with cheerful eyes.

This once again, but that your highness pleas'd,
Was once superfluous: you were crown'd before,
And that high royalty was ne'er pluck'd off;
The faiths of men ne'er stained with revolt;
Fresh expectation troubled not the land
With any long'd-for change or better state.

Therefore, to be possess'd with double pomp,
To guard a title that was rich before,
To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,
To 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,
This 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 disfigured;
And, 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 fashion'd 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 the excuse,--
As patches set upon a little breach
Discredit more in hiding of the fault
Than did the fault before it was so patch'd.

To this effect, before you were new-crown'd,
We breath'd our counsel: but it pleas'd your highness
To overbear it; and we are all well pleas'd,
Since all and every part of what we would
Doth make a stand at what your highness will.

Some reasons of this double coronation
I have possess'd you with, and think them strong;
And more, more strong, when lesser is my fear,
I shall indue you with: meantime but ask
What you would have reform'd 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,
To 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
The enfranchisement of Arthur, whose restraint
Doth 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
Your 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
That 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.

Let it be so: I do commit his youth
To your direction.

[Enter HUBERT.]

Hubert, what news with you?

This is the man should do the bloody deed;
He show'd his warrant to a friend of mine:
The image of a wicked heinous fault
Lives in his eye; that close aspect of his
Doth show the mood of a much-troubled breast;
And I do fearfully believe 'tis done
What we so fear'd he had a charge to do.

The colour of the king doth come and go
Between 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.

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 deceas'd to-night.

Indeed, we fear'd 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 answer'd either here or hence.

Why do you bend such solemn brows on me?
Think you I bear the shears of destiny?
Have 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
And find th' inheritance of this poor child,
His little kingdom of a forced grave.
That blood which ow'd 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
To all our sorrows, and ere long, I doubt.

[Exeunt LORDS.]

They burn in indignation. I repent:
There is no sure foundation set on blood;
No certain life achiev'd by others' death.--

[Enter a MESSENGER.]

A fearful eye thou hast: where is that blood
That 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
Was levied in the body of a land.
The copy of your speed is learn'd by them;
For when you should be told they do prepare,
The tidings comes that they are all arriv'd.

O, where hath our intelligence been drunk?
Where 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 stopp'd with dust; the first of April died
Your noble mother; and as I hear, my lord,
The Lady Constance in a frenzy died
Three days before; but this from rumour's tongue
I idly heard,--if true or false I know not.

Withhold thy speed, dreadful occasion!
O, make a league with me, till I have pleas'd
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.

Thou hast made me giddy
With these in tidings.


Now! What says the world
To your proceedings? do not seek to stuff
My head with more ill news, for it is full.

But if you be afear'd to hear the worst,
Then let the worst, unheard, fall on your head.

Bear with me, cousin, for I was amaz'd
Under the tide: but now I breathe again
Aloft 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 travell'd hither through the land,
I find the people strangely fantasied;
Possess'd with rumours, 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
With 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.

Thou idle dreamer, wherefore didst thou so?

Foreknowing that the truth will fall out so.

Hubert, away with him; imprison him;
And on that day at noon, whereon he says
I shall yield up my crown, let him be hang'd.
Deliver him to safety; and return,
For I must use thee.

[Exit HUBERT with PETER.]

O my gentle cousin,
Hear'st thou the news abroad, who are arriv'd?

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,
And others more, going to seek the grave
Of Arthur, whom they say is kill'd to-night
On your suggestion.

Gentle kinsman, go
And thrust thyself into their companies:
I have a way to will their loves again:
Bring them before me.

I will seek them out.

Nay, but make haste; the better foot before.
O, let me have no subject enemies
When adverse foreigners affright my towns
With 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.

Spoke like a sprightful noble gentleman!


Go after him; for he perhaps shall need
Some messenger betwixt me and the peers;
And be thou he.

With all my heart, my liege.


My mother dead!

[Re-enter HUBERT.]

My lord, they say five moons were seen to-night;
Four fixed, and the fifth did whirl about
The other four in wondrous motion.

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;
And he that speaks doth gripe 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,
With 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
That were embattailed and rank'd in Kent.
Another lean unwash'd artificer
Cuts off his tale, and talks of Arthur's death.

Why seek'st thou to possess me with these fears?
Why urgest thou so oft young Arthur's death?
Thy hand hath murder'd 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?

It is the curse of kings to be attended
By slaves that take their humours for a warrant
To 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 humour than advis'd respect.

Here is your hand and seal for what I did.

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
Make deeds ill done! Hadst not thou been by,
A fellow by the hand of nature mark'd,
Quoted and sign'd to do a deed of shame,
This murder had not come into my mind:
But, taking note of thy abhorr'd aspect,
Finding thee fit for bloody villainy,
Apt, liable to be employ'd 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,--

Hadst thou but shook thy head or made pause,
When I spake darkly what I purpos'd,
Or turn'd an eye of doubt upon my face,
As bid me tell my tale in express words,
Deep 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,
And 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 brav'd,
Even at my gates, with ranks of foreign powers;
Nay, in the body of the 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,
I'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 enter'd yet
The dreadful motion of a murderous thought;
And you have slander'd nature in my form,--
Which, howsoever rude exteriorly,
Is yet the cover of a fairer mind
Than to be butcher of an innocent child.

Doth Arthur live? O, haste thee to the peers,
Throw this report on their incensed rage,
And make them tame to their obedience!
Forgive the comment that my passion made
Upon thy feature; for my rage was blind,
And 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.


SCENE 3. The same. Before the castle.

[Enter ARTHUR, on the Walls.]

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,
This ship-boy's semblance hath disguis'd 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.

[Leaps down.]

O me! my uncle's spirit is in these stones:--
Heaven take my soul, and England keep my bones!



Lords, I will meet him at Saint Edmunds-Bury;
It is our safety, and we must embrace
This 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.

To-morrow morning let us meet him then.

Or rather then set forward; for 'twill be
Two long days' journey, lords, or e'er we meet.

[Enter the BASTARD.]

Once more to-day well met, distemper'd lords!
The king by me requests your presence straight.

The King hath dispossess'd himself of us.
We will not line his thin bestained cloak
With our pure honours, nor attend the foot
That leaves the print of blood where'er it walks.
Return and tell him so: we know the worst.

Whate'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;
Therefore '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:--what is he lies here?

[Seeing Arthur.]

O death, made proud with pure and princely beauty!
The 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 doom'd this beauty to a grave,
Found it too precious-princely for a grave.

Sir Richard, what think you? Have you 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,
The 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-ey'd wrath or staring rage
Presented to the tears of soft remorse.

All murders past do stand excus'd 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,
Exampled by this heinous spectacle.

It is a damned 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?--
We 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,
Kneeling before this ruin of sweet life,
And 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,
Till I have set a glory to this hand,
By giving it the worship of revenge.

Our souls religiously confirm thy words.

[Enter HUBERT.]

Lords, I am hot with haste in seeking you:
Arthur 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?

[Drawing his sword.]

Your sword is bright, sir; put it up again.

Not till I sheathe it in a murderer's skin.

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 defence;
Lest 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 soe'er speaks false,
Not truly speaks; who speaks not truly, lies.

Cut him to pieces.

Keep the peace, I say.

Stand by, or I shall gall you, Falconbridge.

Thou wert better gall the devil, Salisbury:
If thou but frown on me, or stir thy foot,
Or teach thy hasty spleen to do me shame,
I'll strike thee dead. Put up thy sword betime:
Or I'll so maul you and your toasting-iron
That you shall think the devil is come from hell.

What wilt thou do, renowned Falconbridge?
Second a villain and a murderer?

Lord Bigot, I am none.

Who kill'd this prince?

'Tis not an hour since I left him well:
I honour'd him, I lov'd 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
Th' uncleanly savours 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?
Beyond the infinite and boundless reach
Of mercy, if thou didst this deed of death,
Art thou damn'd, Hubert.

Do but hear me, sir.

Ha! I'll tell thee what;
Thou'rt damn'd as black--nay, nothing is so black;
Thou art more deep damn'd 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
To 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,
Put 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,
Be 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.--
I am amaz'd, methinks, and lose my way
Among the thorns and dangers of this world.--
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
Is fled to heaven; and England now is left
To tug and scamble, and to part by the teeth
The unow'd interest of proud-swelling state.
Now for the bare-pick'd bone of majesty
Doth dogged war bristle his angry crest,
And 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-fallen beast,
The imminent decay of wrested pomp.
Now 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.



SCENE 1. Northampton. A Room in the Palace.

[Enter KING JOHN, PANDULPH with the crown, and Attendants.]

Thus have I yielded up into your hand
The circle of my glory.

[Give KING JOHN the crown.]
Take again
From this my hand, as holding of the pope,
Your sovereign greatness and authority.

Now keep your holy word: go meet the French;
And from his holiness use all your power
To stop their marches 'fore we are inflam'd.
Our 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 mistemper'd humour
Rests by you only to be qualified.
Then pause not; for the present time's so sick
That present medicine must be ministr'd
Or overthrow incurable ensues.

It was my breath that blew this tempest up,
Upon 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,
Upon your oath of service to the pope,
Go I to make the French lay down their arms.


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:
I did suppose it should be on constraint;
But, heaven be thank'd, it is but voluntary.

[Enter the BASTARD.]

All Kent hath yielded; nothing there holds out
But Dover Castle: London hath receiv'd,
Like 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.

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 damn'd hand was robb'd and ta'en away.

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
Govern the motion of a kingly eye:
Be stirring as the time; be fire with fire;
Threaten the threatener, and outface the brow
Of bragging horror: so shall inferior eyes,
That borrow their behaviours from the great,
Grow great by your example, and put on
The dauntless spirit of resolution.
Away, and glister like the god of war
When he intendeth to become the field:
Show boldness and aspiring confidence.
What, shall they seek the lion in his den,
And fright him there? and make him tremble there?
O, let it not be said!--Forage, and run
To meet displeasure farther from the doors,
And grapple with him ere he come so nigh.

The legate of the pope hath been with me,
And I have made a happy peace with him;
And he hath promis'd to dismiss the powers
Led by the Dauphin.

O inglorious league!
Shall 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 cocker'd silken wanton, brave our fields,
And flesh his spirit in a warlike soil,
Mocking the air with colours 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
They saw we had a purpose of defence.

Have thou the ordering of this present time.

Away, then, with good courage! yet, I know
Our party may well meet a prouder foe.


SCENE 2. Near Saint Edmunds-bury. The French Camp.


My Lord Melun, let this be copied out
And keep it safe for our remembrance:
Return the precedent to these lords again;
That, 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 faiths firm and inviolable.

Upon our sides it never shall be broken.
And, noble Dauphin, albeit we swear
A voluntary zeal and an unurg'd faith
To your proceedings; yet, believe me, prince,
I am not glad that such a sore of time
Should seek a plaster by contemn'd revolt,
And 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 honourable rescue and defence
Cries 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 confused wrong.--
And is't not pity, O my grieved 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
Her enemies' ranks--I must withdraw and weep
Upon the spot of this enforc'd cause--
To grace the gentry of a land remote,
And follow unacquainted colours here?
What, here?--O nation, that thou couldst remove!
That 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,
And not to spend it so unneighbourly!

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
Between compulsion and a brave respect!
Let me wipe off this honourable dew
That silverly doth progress on thy cheeks:
My heart hath melted at a lady's tears,
Being an ordinary inundation;
But this effusion of such manly drops,
This shower, blown up by tempest of the soul,
Startles mine eyes and makes me more amaz'd
Than had I seen the vaulty top of heaven
Figur'd quite o'er with burning meteors.
Lift up thy brow, renowned Salisbury,
And with a great heart heave away this storm:
Commend these waters to those baby eyes
That never saw the giant world enrag'd,
Nor met with fortune other than at feasts,
Full of warm blood, of mirth, of gossiping.
Come, come; for thou shalt thrust thy hand as deep
Into the purse of rich prosperity
As Louis himself:--so, nobles, shall you all,
That knit your sinews to the strength of mine.--
And even there, methinks, an angel spake:
Look, where the holy legate comes apace,
To give us warrant from the hand of heaven
And on our actions set the name of right
With holy breath.

[Enter PANDULPH, attended.]

Hail, noble prince of France!
The next is this,--King John hath reconcil'd
Himself to Rome; his spirit is come in,
That so stood out against the holy church,
The great metropolis and see of Rome:
Therefore thy threatening colours now wind up,
And tame the savage spirit of wild war,
That, like a lion foster'd up at hand,
It may lie gently at the foot of peace
And 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
To any sovereign state throughout the world.
Your breath first kindled the dead coal of wars
Between this chastis'd kingdom and myself,
And brought in matter that should feed this fire;
And now 'tis far too huge to be blown out
With 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
His peace with Rome? What is that peace to me?
I, by the honour of my marriage-bed,
After young Arthur, claim this land for mine;
And, now it is half-conquer'd, must I back
Because that John hath made his peace with Rome?
Am I Rome's slave? What penny hath Rome borne,
What men provided, what munition sent,
To underprop this action? Is't not I
That undergo this charge? Who else but I,
And such as to my claim are liable,
Sweat in this business and maintain this war?
Have I not heard these islanders shout out,
'Vive le roi!' as I have bank'd their towns?
Have I not here the best cards for the game,
To will this easy match, play'd for a crown?
And 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
As to my ample hope was promised
Before I drew this gallant head of war,
And cull'd these fiery spirits from the world,
To outlook conquest, and to will renown
Even in the jaws of danger and of death.--

[Trumpet sounds.]

What lusty trumpet thus doth summon us?

[Enter the BASTARD, attended.]

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
I 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;
He flatly says he'll not lay down his arms.

By all the blood that ever fury breath'd,
The youth says well.--Now hear our English king;
For thus his royalty doth speak in me.
He is prepar'd; and reason too he should:
This apish and unmannerly approach,
This harness'd masque and unadvised revel
This unhair'd sauciness and boyish troops,
The king doth smile at; and is well prepar'd
To whip this dwarfish war, these pigmy arms,
From 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 concealed wells;
To crouch in litter of your stable planks;
To lie, like pawns, lock'd 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 armed Englishman;--
Shall 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 aery towers
To souse annoyance that comes near his nest.--
And 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-visag'd maids,
Like Amazons, come tripping after drums,--
Their thimbles into armed gauntlets chang'd,
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;
We 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.--
Strike 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
And echo with the clamour of thy drum,
And even at hand a drum is ready brac'd
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-mouth'd thunder: for at hand,--
Not trusting to this halting legate here,
Whom he hath us'd rather for sport than need,--
Is warlike John; and in his forehead sits
A bare-ribb'd 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.


SCENE 3. The same. The Field of Battle.

[Alarums. Enter KING JOHN and HUBERT.]

How goes the day with us? O, tell me, Hubert.

Badly, I fear. How fares your majesty?

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.

Tell him, toward Swinstead, to the abbey there.

Be of good comfort; for the great supply
That was expected by the Dauphin here
Are wreck'd three nights ago on Goodwin Sands.
This news was brought to Richard but even now:
The French fight coldly, and retire themselves.

Ay me! this tyrant fever burns me up
And will not let me welcome this good news.--
Set on toward Swinstead: to my litter straight;
Weakness possesseth me, and I am faint.


SCENE 4. The same. Another part of the same.

[Enter SALISBURY, PEMBROKE, and others.]

I did not think the king so stor'd 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, and led by Soldiers.]

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;
For 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 Edmunds-bury;
Even 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,
Which 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
That I must die here, and live hence by truth?
I say again, if Louis do will the day,
He is forsworn if e'er those eyes of yours
Behold another day break in the east:
But even this night,--whose black contagious breath
Already 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,
If Louis 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.
In lieu whereof, I pray you, bear me hence
From forth the noise and rumour 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 favour and the form
Of this most fair occasion, by the which
We will untread the steps of damned flight;
And like a bated and retired flood,
Leaving our rankness and irregular course,
Stoop low within those bounds we have o'erlook'd,
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;
For I do see the cruel pangs of death
Right in thine eye.--Away, my friends! New flight,
And happy newness, that intends old right.

[Exeunt, leading off MELUN.]

SCENE 5. The same. The French camp.

[Enter LEWIS and his train.]

The sun of heaven, methought, was loath to set,
But stay'd, and made the western welkin blush,
When the English measur'd backward their own ground
In faint retire. O, bravely came we off,
When with a volley of our needless shot,
After such bloody toil, we bid good night;
And wound our tattrring colours 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 falln off:
And your supply, which you have wish'd 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 to-night
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.

Keep good quarter and good care to-night;
The day shall not be up so soon as I,
To try the fair adventure of to-morrow.


SCENE 6. An open place in the neighborhood of Swinstead Abbey.

[Enter the BASTARD and HUBERT, meeting.]

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 I not 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: and if thou please,
Thou mayst befriend me so much as to think
I come one way of the Plantagenets.

Unkind remembrance! thou and eyeless night
Have done me shame:--brave soldier, pardon me,
That any accent breaking from thy tongue
Should 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 poison'd 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 pardon'd 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 devoured them;
Myself, well-mounted, hardly have escap'd.
Away, before! conduct me to the king;
I doubt he will be dead or ere I come.


SCENE 7. The orchard of Swinstead Abbey.


It is too late: the life of all his blood
Is touch'd 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.


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.

Let him be brought into the orchard here.--
Doth he still rage?

[Exit BIGOT.]

He is more patient
Than when you left him; even now he sung.

O vanity of sickness! fierce extremes
In their continuance will not feel themselves.
Death, having prey'd 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,
Which, 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
His 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.

[Re-enter BIGOT and Attendants, who bring in KING JOHN in a

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,
Upon a parchment; and against this fire
Do I shrink up.

How fares your majesty?

Poison'd,--ill-fare;--dead, forsook, cast off;
And none of you will bid the winter come,
To thrust his icy fingers in my maw;
Nor let my kingdom's rivers take their course
Through my burn'd bosom; nor entreat the north
To make his bleak winds kiss my parched lips,
And comfort me with cold:--I do not ask you much;
I beg cold comfort; and you are so strait,
And so ingrateful, you deny me that.

O, that there were some virtue in my tears,
That might relieve you!

The salt in them is hot.--
Within me is a hell; and there the poison
Is, as a fiend, confin'd to tyrannize
On unreprievable condemned blood.

[Enter the BASTARD.]

O, I am scalded with my violent motion
And spleen of speed to see your majesty!

O cousin, thou art come to set mine eye:
The tackle of my heart is crack'd and burn'd;
And all the shrouds, wherewith my life should sail,
Are turned to one thread, one little hair:
My heart hath one poor string to stay it by,
Which holds but till thy news be uttered;
And then all this thou seest is but a clod,
And module of confounded royalty.


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