William Shakespeare, The Life And Death Of King John (1596-97)

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)  


This is a part of a collection of works by William Shakespeare.


The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, ed. with a glossary by W.J. Craig M.A. (London: Oxford University Press, 1916).

See the complete volume in HTML and facs. PDF.



Table of Contents







King John.
Prince Henry, Son to the King.
Arthur, Duke of Britaine, Nephew to the King.
The Earl of Pembroke.
The Earl of Essex.
The Earl of Salisbury.
The Lord Bigot.
Hubert de Burgh.
Robert Faulconbridge, Son to Sir Robert Faulconbridge.
Philip the Bastard, his half-brother.
James Gurney, Servant to Lady Faulconbridge.
Peter of Pomfret, a Prophet.
Philip, King of France.
Lewis, the Dauphin.
Lymoges, Duke of Austria.
Cardinal Pandulph, the Pope’s Legate.
Melun, a French Lord.
Chatillon, Ambassador from France.
Queen Elinor, Mother to King John.
Constance, Mother to Arthur.
Blanch of Spain, Niece to King John.
Lady Faulconbridge.
Lords, Ladies, Citizens of Angiers, Sheriff, Heralds, Officers, Soldiers, Messengers, and other Attendants.



Scene.Sometimes in England, and sometimes in France.


Scene I.— A Room of State in the Palace.

Enter King John, Queen Elinor, Pembroke, Essex, Salisbury, and Others, with Chatillon.

K. John.

Now, say, Chatillon, what would France with us?


Thus, after greeting, speaks the King of France,

In my behaviour, to the majesty,

The borrow’d majesty of England here.  4


A strange beginning; ‘borrow’d majesty!’

K. John.

Silence, good mother; hear the embassy.


Philip of France, in right and true behalf

Of thy deceased brother Geffrey’s son,  8

Arthur Plantagenet, lays most lawful claim

To this fair island and the territories,

To Ireland, Poictiers, Anjou, Touraine, Maine;

Desiring thee to lay aside the sword  12

Which sways usurpingly these several titles,

And put the same into young Arthur’s hand,

Thy nephew and right royal sovereign.

K. John.

What follows if we disallow of this?


The proud control of fierce and bloody war,  17

To enforce these rights so forcibly withheld.

K. John.

Here have we war for war, and blood for blood,

Controlment for controlment: so answer France.


Then take my king’s defiance from my mouth,  21

The furthest limit of my embassy.

K. John.

Bear mine to him, and so depart in peace:

Be thou as lightning in the eyes of France;  24

For 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.  28

An honourable conduct let him have:

Pembroke, look to’t. Farewell, Chatillon.

[Exeunt Chatillon and Pembroke.


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  33

Upon the right and party of her son?

This might have been prevented and made whole

With very easy arguments of love,  36

Which now the manage of two kingdoms must

With fearful bloody issue arbitrate.

K. John.

Our strong possession and our right for us.


Your strong possession much more than your right,  40

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.

Enter a Sheriff, who whispers Essex.


My liege, here is the strangest controversy,  44

Come from the country to be judg’d by you,

That e’er I heard: shall I produce the men?

K. John.

Let them approach.

[Exit Sheriff.

Our abbeys and our priories shall pay  48

This expedition’s charge.

Re-enter Sheriff, with Robert Faulconbridge and Philip, his Bastard Brother.

What men are you?


Your faithful subject I, a gentleman

Born in Northamptonshire, and eldest son,

As I suppose, to Robert Faulconbridge,  52

A soldier, by the honour-giving hand

Of Cœur-de-Lion knighted in the field.

K. John.

What art thou?


The son and heir to that same Faulconbridge.  56

K. 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  61

I put you o’er to heaven and to my mother:

Of that I doubt, as all men’s children may.


Out on thee, rude man! thou dost shame thy mother  64

And wound her honour with this diffidence.


I, madam? no, I have no reason for it;

That is my brother’s plea and none of mine;

The which if he can prove, a’ pops me out  68

At least from fair five hundred pound a year:

Heaven guard my mother’s honour and my land!

K. John.

A good blunt fellow. Why, being younger born,

Doth he lay claim to thine inheritance?  72


I know not why, except to get the land.

But once he slander’d me with bastardy:

But whe’r I be as true-begot or no,

That still I lay upon my mother’s head;  76

But 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,  80

And were our father, and this son like him;

O old Sir Robert, father, on my knee

I give heaven thanks I was not like to thee!

K. John.

Why, what a madcap hath heaven lent us here!  84


He hath a trick of Cœur-de-Lion’s face;

The accent of his tongue affecteth him.

Do you not read some tokens of my son

In the large composition of this man?  88

K. John.

Mine eye hath well examined his parts,

And finds them perfect Richard. Sirrah, speak:

What doth move you to claim your brother’s land?


Because he hath a half-face, like my father.  92

With half that face would he have all my land;

A half-fac’d groat five hundred pound a year!


My gracious liege, when that my father liv’d,

Your brother did employ my father much,—  96


Well, sir, by this you cannot get my land:

Your tale must be how he employ’d my mother.


And once dispatch’d him in an embassy

To Germany, there with the emperor  100

To treat of high affairs touching that time.

The advantage of his absence took the king,

And in the mean time sojourn’d at my father’s;

Where how he did prevail I shame to speak,  104

But truth is truth: large lengths of seas and shores

Between my father and my mother lay,—

As I have heard my father speak himself,—

When this same lusty gentleman was got.  108

Upon his death-bed he by will bequeath’d

His lands to me, and took it on his death

That this my mother’s son was none of his;

An if he were, he came into the world  112

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.

K. John.

Sirrah, your brother is legitimate;

Your 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,  121

Had of your father claim’d 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,

Being none of his, refuse him: this concludes;

My mother’s son did get your father’s heir;  128

Your father’s heir must have your father’s land.


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.  133


Whe’r hadst thou rather be a Faulconbridge

And like thy brother, to enjoy thy land,

Or the reputed son of Cœur-de-Lion,  136

Lord of thy presence and no land beside?


Madam, an if my brother had my shape,

And I had his, Sir Robert his, like him;

And if my legs were two such riding-rods,  140

My arms such eel-skins stuff’d, my face so thin

That in mine ear I durst not stick a rose

Lest men should say, ‘Look, where three-far-things goes!’

And, to his shape, were heir to all this land,  144

Would I might never stir from off this place,

I’d give it every foot to have this face:

I would not be Sir Nob in any case.


I like thee well: wilt thou forsake thy fortune,  148

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.

Your face hath got five hundred pounds a year,

Yet sell your face for five pence and ’tis dear.

Madam, I’ll follow you unto the death.


Nay, I would have you go before me thither.


Our country manners give our betters way.  156

K. John.

What is thy name?


Philip, my liege, so is my name begun;

Philip, good old Sir Robert’s wife’s eldest son.

K. John.

From henceforth bear his name whose form thou bearest:  160

Kneel thou down Philip, but arise more great;

Arise Sir Richard, and Plantagenet.


Brother by the mother’s side, give me your hand:

My father gave me honour, yours gave land.  164

Now blessed be the hour, by night or day,

When I was got, Sir Robert was away!


The very spirit of Plantagenet!

I am thy grandam, Richard: call me so.  168


Madam, by chance but not by truth; what though?

Something about, a little from the right,

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.  173

Near or far off, well won is still well shot,

And I am I, howe’er I was begot.

K. John.

Go, Faulconbridge: now hast thou thy desire;  176

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!  180

For thou wast got i’ the way of honesty.

[Exeunt all but the Bastard.

A foot of honour better than I was,

But many a many foot of land the worse.

Well, now can I make any Joan a lady.  184

‘Good den, Sir Richard!’ ‘God-a-mercy, fellow!’

And if his name be George, I’ll call him Peter;

For new-made honour doth forget men’s names:

’Tis too respective and too sociable  188

For your conversion. Now your traveller,

He and his toothpick at my worship’s mess,

And when my knightly stomach is suffic’d,

Why then I suck my teeth, and catechize  192

My picked man of countries: ‘My dear sir,’—

Thus, leaning on mine elbow, I begin,—

‘I shall beseech you,’—that is question now;

And then comes answer like an absey-book:  196

‘O, sir,’ says answer, ‘at your best command;

At your employment; at your service, sir:’

‘No, sir,’ says question, ‘I, sweet sir, at yours:’

And so, ere answer knows what question would,

Saving in dialogue of compliment,  201

And talking of the Alps and Apennines,

The Pyrenean and the river Po,

It draws toward supper in conclusion so.  204

But 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;  208

And so am I, whether I smack or no;

And not alone in habit and device,

Exterior form, outward accoutrement,

But from the inward motion to deliver  212

Sweet, sweet, sweet poison for the age’s tooth:

Which, though I will not practise to deceive,

Yet, to avoid deceit, I mean to learn;

For it shall strew the footsteps of my rising.  216

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?

Enter Lady Faulconbridge and James Gurney.

O me! it is my mother. How now, good lady!

What brings you here to court so hastily?  221

Lady F.

Where is that slave, thy brother? where is he,

That holds in chase mine honour up and down?


My brother Robert? old Sir Robert’s son?  224

Colbrand the giant, that same mighty man?

Is it Sir Robert’s son that you seek so?

Lady F.

Sir Robert’s son! Ay, thou unreverend boy,

Sir Robert’s son: why scorn’st thou at Sir Robert?  228

He is Sir Robert’s son, and so art thou.


James Gurney, wilt thou give us leave awhile?


Good leave, good Philip.


Philip! sparrow! James,

There’s toys abroad: anon I’ll tell thee more.

[Exit Gurney.

Madam, I was not old Sir Robert’s son:  233

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,  236

Could he 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.  240

Lady F.

Hast thou conspired with thy brother too,

That for thine own gain shouldst defend mine honour?

What means this scorn, thou most untoward knave?


Knight, knight, good mother, Basilisco-like.  244

What! I am dubb’d; I have it on my shoulder.

But, mother, I am not Sir Robert’s son;

I have disclaim’d Sir Robert and my land;

Legitimation, name, and all is gone.  248

Then, good my mother, let me know my father;

Some proper man, I hope; who was it, mother?

Lady F.

Hast thou denied thyself a Faulconbridge?


As faithfully as I deny the devil.  252

Lady F.

King Richard Cœur-de-Lion was thy father:

By long and vehement suit I was seduc’d

To make room for him in my husband’s bed.

Heaven lay not my transgression to my charge!

Thou art the issue of my dear offence,  257

Which was so strongly urg’d past my defence.


Now, by this light, were I to get again,

Madam, I would not wish a better father.  260

Some sins do bear their privilege on earth,

And so doth yours; your fault was not your folly:

Needs must you lay your heart at his dispose,

Subjected tribute to commanding love,  264

Against whose fury and unmatched force

The aweless lion could not wage the fight,

Nor keep his princely heart from Richard’s hand.

He that perforce robs lions of their hearts  268

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

When I was got, I’ll send his soul to hell.  272

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.  276



Scene I.— France. Before the Walls of Angiers.

Enter, on one side, the Duke of Austria, and Forces; on the other, Philip, King of France, and Forces, Lewis, Constance, Arthur, and Attendants.

K. Phi.

Before Angiers well met, brave Austria.

Arthur, that great forerunner of thy blood,

Richard, that robb’d the lion of his heart

And fought the holy wars in Palestine,  4

By this brave duke came early to his grave:

And, for amends to his posterity,

At our importance hither is he come,

To spread his colours, boy, in thy behalf,  8

And to rebuke the usurpation

Of thy unnatural uncle, English John:

Embrace him, love him, give him welcome hither.


God shall forgive you Cœur-de-Lion’s death  12

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 unstained love:  16

Welcome before the gates of Angiers, duke.

K. Phi.

A noble boy! Who would not do thee right?


Upon thy cheek lay I this zealous kiss,

As seal to this indenture of my love,  20

That to my home I will no more return

Till Angiers, and the right thou hast in France,

Together with that pale, that white-fac’d shore,

Whose foot spurns back the ocean’s roaring tides  24

And coops from other lands her islanders,

Even till that England, hedg’d in with the main,

That water-walled bulwark, still secure

And confident from foreign purposes,  28

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,  32

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.  36

K. Phi.

Well then, to work: our cannon shall be bent

Against the brows of this resisting town.

Call for our chiefest men of discipline,

To cull the plots of best advantages:  40

We’ll lay before this town our royal bones,

Wade 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 unadvis’d you stain your swords with blood.

My Lord Chatillon may from England bring

That right in peace which here we urge in war;

And then we shall repent each drop of blood  48

That hot rash haste so indirectly shed.

Enter Chatillon.

K. Phi.

A wonder, lady! lo, upon thy wish,

Our messenger, Chatillon, is arriv’d!

What England says, say briefly, gentle lord;  52

We coldly pause for thee; Chatillon, speak.


Then turn your forces from this paltry siege

And stir them up against a mightier task.

England, impatient of your just demands,  56

Hath put himself in arms: the adverse winds,

Whose leisure I have stay’d, have given him time

To land his legions all as soon as I;

His marches are expedient to this town,  60

His forces strong, his soldiers confident.

With him along is come the mother-queen,

An Ate, stirring him to blood and strife;

With her her niece, the Lady Blanch of Spain;

With them a bastard of the king’s deceas’d;  65

And all the unsettled humours of the land,

Rash, inconsiderate, fiery voluntaries,

With ladies’ faces and fierce dragons’ spleens,  68

Have sold their fortunes at their native homes,

Bearing their birthrights proudly on their backs,

To make a hazard of new fortunes here.

In brief, a braver choice of dauntless spirits  72

Than now the English bottoms have waft o’er

Did never float upon the swelling tide,

To do offence and scathe in Christendom.

[Drums heard within.

The interruption of their churlish drums  76

Cuts off more circumstance: they are at hand,

To parley or to fight; therefore prepare.

K. Phi.

How much unlook’d for is this expedition!


By how much unexpected, by so much

We must awake endeavour for defence,  81

For courage mounteth with occasion:

Let them be welcome then, we are prepar’d.

Enter King John, Elinor, Blanch, the Bastard, Lords, and Forces.

K. John.

Peace be to France, if France in peace permit  84

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

Their proud contempt that beats his peace to heaven.  88

K. Phi.

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 armour here we sweat:  92

This 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,  96

Out-faced infant state, and done a rape

Upon the maiden virtue of the crown.

Look here upon thy brother Geffrey’s face:

These eyes, these brows, were moulded out of his;  100

This little abstract doth contain that large

Which died in Geffrey, and the hand of time

Shall draw this brief into as huge a volume.

That Geffrey was thy elder brother born,  104

And this his son; England was Geffrey’s right

And this is Geffrey’s. In the name of God

How comes it then that thou art call’d a king,

When living blood doth in these temples beat,

Which owe the crown that thou o’ermasterest?

K. John.

From whom hast thou this great commission, France,

To draw my answer from thy articles?

K. Phi.

From that supernal judge, that stirs good thoughts  112

In 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,  116

And by whose help I mean to chastise it.

K. John.

Alack! thou dost usurp authority.

K. Phi.

Excuse; it is to beat usurping down.


Who is it thou dost call usurper, France?  120


Let me make answer; thy usurping son.


Out, insolent! thy bastard shall be king,

That thou mayst 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  125

Liker in feature to his father Geffrey

Than thou and John in manners; being as like

As rain to water, or devil to his dam.  128

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.


There’s a good mother, boy, that blots thy father.  132


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.  136

You are the hare of whom the proverb goes,

Whose valour plucks dead lions by the beard.

I’ll smoke your skin coat, an I catch you right.

Sirrah, look to’t; i’ faith, I will, i’ faith.  140


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’ shows upon an ass:  144

But, 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?  148

King,—Lewis, determine what we shall do straight.

K. Phil.

Women and fools, break off your conference.

King John, this is the very sum of all:

England and Ireland, Anjou, Touraine, Maine,

In right of Arthur do I claim of thee.  153

Wilt thou resign them and lay down thy arms?

K. John.

My life as soon: I do defy thee, France.

Arthur of Britaine, yield thee to my hand;  156

And out of my dear love I’ll give thee more

Than e’er the coward hand of France can win.

Submit thee, boy.


Come to thy grandam, child.


Do, child, go to it grandam, child;  160

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:  164

I am not worth this coil that’s made for me.


His mother shames him so, poor boy, he weeps.


Now shame upon you, whe’r she does or no!

His grandam’s wrongs, and not his mother’s shames,  168

Draw 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 brib’d

To do him justice and revenge on you.  172


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  176

Of this oppressed boy: this is thy eld’st son’s son,

Infortunate in nothing but in thee:

Thy sins are visited in this poor child;

The canon of the law is laid on him,  180

Being but the second generation

Removed from thy sin-conceiving womb.

K. John.

Bedlam, have done.


I have but this to say,

That he’s not only plagued for her sin,  184

But God hath made her sin and her the plague

On this removed issue, plagu’d for her,

And with her plague, her sin; his injury

Her injury, the beadle to her sin,  188

All punish’d in the person of this child,

And all for her. A plague upon her!


Thou unadvised scold, I can produce

A will that bars the title of thy son.  192


Ay, who doubts that? a will! a wicked will;

A woman’s will; a canker’d grandam’s will!

K. Phi.

Peace, lady! pause, or be more temperate:

It ill beseems this presence to cry aim  196

To these ill-tuned 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.  200

Trumpet sounds. Enter Citizens upon the Walls.

First Cit.

Who is it that hath warn’d us to the walls?

K. Phi.

’Tis France, for England.

K. John.

England for itself.

You men of Angiers, and my loving subjects,—

K. Phi.

You loving men of Angiers, Arthur’s subjects,  204

Our trumpet call’d you to this gentle parle,—

K. John.

For our advantage; therefore hear us first.

These flags of France, that are advanced here

Before the eye and prospect of your town,  208

Have hither march’d to your endamagement:

The cannons have their bowels full of wrath,

And ready mounted are they to spit forth

Their iron indignation ’gainst your walls:  212

All preparation for a bloody siege

And 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 do girdle you about,  217

By the compulsion of their ordinance

By this time from their fixed beds of lime

Had been dishabited, and wide havoc made  220

For bloody power to rush upon your peace.

But on the sight of us your lawful king,—

Who painfully with much expedient march

Have brought a countercheck before your gates,

To save unscratch’d your city’s threaten’d cheeks,—  225

Behold, the French amaz’d vouchsafe a parle;

And now, instead of bullets wrapp’d in fire,

To make a shaking fever in your walls,  228

They 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 labour’d spirits,

Forwearied in this action of swift speed,  233

Crave harbourage within your city walls.

K. Phi.

When I have said, make answer to us both.

Lo! in this right hand, whose protection  236

Is most divinely vow’d upon the right

Of him it holds, stands young Plantagenet,

Son to the elder brother of this man,

And king o’er him and all that he enjoys:  240

For this down-trodden equity, we tread

In war-like march these greens before your town,

Being no further enemy to you

Than the constraint of hospitable zeal,  244

In the relief of this oppressed child,

Religiously provokes. Be pleased then

To pay that duty which you truly owe

To him that owes it, namely, this young prince;

And then our arms, like to a muzzled bear,  249

Save in aspect, have all offence seal’d up;

Our cannons’ malice vainly shall be spent

Against the invulnerable clouds of heaven;  252

And with a blessed and unvex’d retire,

With unhack’d swords and helmets all unbruis’d,

We will bear home that lusty blood again

Which here we came to spout against your town,  256

And leave your children, wives, and you, in peace.

But if you fondly pass our proffer’d offer,

’Tis not the roundure of your old-fac’d walls

Can hide you from our messengers of war,  260

Though all these English and their discipline

Were harbour’d in their rude circumference.

Then tell us, shall your city call us lord,

In that behalf which we have challeng’d it?  264

Or shall we give the signal to our rage

And stalk in blood to our possession?

First Cit.

In brief, we are the King of England’s subjects:

For him, and in his right, we hold this town.  268

K. John.

Acknowledge then the king, and let me in.

First Cit.

That can we not; but he that proves the king,

To him will we prove loyal: till that time

Have we ramm’d up our gates against the world.

K. John.

Doth not the crown of England prove the king?  273

And if not that, I bring you witnesses,

Twice fifteen thousand hearts of England’s breed,—


Bastards, and else.  276

K. John.

To verify our title with their lives.

K. Phi.

As many and as well-born bloods as those,—


Some bastards too.

K. Phi.

Stand in his face to contradict his claim.  280

First Cit.

Till thou compound whose right is worthiest,

We for the worthiest hold the right from both.

K. John.

Then God forgive the sins of all those souls

That to their everlasting residence,  284

Before the dew of evening fall, shall fleet,

In dreadful trial of our kingdom’s king!

K. Phi.

Amen, Amen! Mount, chevaliers! to arms!


Saint George, that swing’d the dragon, and e’er since  288

Sits on his horse back 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,  292

And make a monster of you.


Peace! no more.


O! tremble, for you hear the lion roar.

K. John.

Up higher to the plain; where we’ll set forth

In best appointment all our regiments.  296


Speed then, to take advantage of the field.

K. Phi.

It shall be so; [To Lewis.] and at the other hill

Command the rest to stand. God, and our right!


Alarums and excursions; then a retreat. Enter a French Herald, with trumpets, to the gates.

F. Her.

You men of Angiers, open wide your gates,  300

And let young Arthur, Duke of Britaine, in,

Who, by the hand of France this day hath made

Much work for tears in many an English mother,

Whose sons he scatter’d on the bleeding ground;

Many a widow’s husband grovelling lies,  305

Coldly embracing the discolour’d earth;

And victory, with little loss, doth play

Upon the dancing banners of the French,  308

Who are at hand, triumphantly display’d,

To enter conquerors and to proclaim

Arthur of Britaine England’s king and yours.

Enter English Herald, with trumpets.

E. Her.

Rejoice, you men of Angiers, ring your bells;  312

King John, your king and England’s, doth approach,

Commander of this hot malicious day.

Their armours, that march’d hence so silver-bright,

Hither return all gilt with Frenchmen’s blood;

There stuck no plume in any English crest  317

That is removed by a staff of France;

Our colours do return in those same hands

That did display them when we first march’d forth;  320

And, like a jolly troop of huntsmen, come

Our lusty English, all with purpled hands

Dy’d in the dying slaughter of their foes.

Open your gates and give the victors way.  324

First Cit.

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 censured:  328

Blood hath bought blood, and blows have answer’d blows;

Strength match’d with strength, and power confronted power:

Both are alike; and both alike we like.

One must prove greatest: while they weigh so even,  332

We hold our town for neither, yet for both.

Re-enter the two Kings, with their powers, severally.

K. John.

France, hast thou yet more blood to cast away?

Say, shall the current of our right run on?

Whose passage, vex’d with thy impediment,  336

Shall leave his native channel and o’erswell

With course disturb’d even thy conflning shores,

Unless thou let his silver water keep

A peaceful progress to the ocean.  340

K. Phi.

England, thou hast not sav’d 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,  344

Before we will lay down our just-borne arms,

We’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  348

With slaughter coupled to the name of kings.


Ha, majesty! how high thy glory towers

When the rich blood of kings is set on fire!

O! now doth Death line his dead chaps with steel;  352

The swords of soldiers are his teeth, his fangs;

And now he feasts, mousing the flesh of men,

In undetermin’d differences of kings.

Why stand these royal fronts amazed thus?  356

Cry ‘havoc!’ kings; back to the stained field,

You equal-potents, fiery-kindled spirits!

Then let confusion of one part confirm

The other’s peace; till then, blows, blood, and death!  360

K. John.

Whose party do the townsmen yet admit?

K. Phi.

Speak, citizens, for England; who’s your king?

First Cit.

The King of England, when we know the king.

K. Phi.

Know him in us, that here hold up his right.  364

K. John.

In us, that are our own great deputy,

And bear possession of our person here,

Lord of our presence, Angiers, and of you.

First Cit.

A greater power than we denies all this;  368

And, till it be undoubted, we do lock

Our former scruple in our strong-barr’d gates,

Kings of ourselves; until our fears, resolv’d,

Be by some certain king purg’d and depos’d.  372


By heaven, these scroyles of Angiers flout you, kings,

And stand securely on their battlements

As in a theatre, whence they gape and point

At your industrious scenes and acts of death.  376

Your royal presences be rul’d by me:

Do like the mutines of Jerusalem,

Be friends awhile and both conjointly bend

Your sharpest deeds of malice on this town.  380

By east and west let France and England mount

Their battering cannon charged to the mouths,

Till their soul-fearing clamours have brawl’d down

The flinty ribs of this contemptuous city:  384

I’d play incessantly upon these jades,

Even till unfenced desolation

Leave them as naked as the vulgar air.

That done, dissever your united strengths,  388

And part your mingled colours once again;

Turn face to face and bloody point to point;

Then, in a moment, Fortune shall cull forth

Out of one side her happy minion,  392

To whom in favour she shall give the day,

And kiss him with a glorious victory.

How like you this wild counsel, mighty states?

Smacks it not something of the policy?  396

K. 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?  400


An if thou hast the mettle of a king,

Being wrong’d as we are by this peevish town,

Turn thou the mouth of thy artillery,

As we will ours, against these saucy walls;  404

And when that we have dash’d them to the ground,

Why then defy each other, and, pell-mell,

Make work upon ourselves, for heaven or hell.

K. Phi.

Let it be so. Say, where will you assault?  408

K. John.

We from the west will send destruction

Into this city’s bosom.


I from the north.

K. Phi.

Our thunder from the south

Shall rain their drift of bullets on this town.  412


O, prudent discipline! From north to south

Austria and France shoot in each other’s mouth:

I’ll stir them to it. Come, away, away!

First Cit.

Hear us, great kings: vouchsafe a while to stay,  416

And I shall show you peace and fair-fac’d league;

Win you this city without stroke or wound;

Rescue those breathing lives to die in beds,

That here come sacrifices for the field.  420

Persever not, but hear me, mighty kings.

K. John.

Speak on with favour: we are bent to hear.

First Cit.

That daughter there of Spain, the Lady Blanch,

Is near to England: look upon the years  424

Of Lewis the Dauphin and that lovely maid.

If lusty love should go in quest of beauty,

Where should he find it fairer than in Blanch?

If zealous love should go in search of virtue,  428

Where should he find it purer than in Blanch?

If love ambitious sought a match of birth,

Whose veins bound richer blood than Lady Blanch?

Such as she is, in beauty, virtue, birth,  432

Is the young Dauphin every way complete:

If not complete of, say he is not she;

And she again wants nothing, to name want,

If want it be not that she is not he:  436

He is the half part of a blessed man,

Left to be finished by such a she;

And she a fair divided excellence,

Whose fulness of perfection lies in him.  440

O! 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,  444

To these two princes, if you marry them.

This union shall do more than battery can

To our fast-closed gates; for at this match,

With swifter spleen than powder can enforce,  448

The mouth of passage shall we fling wide ope,

And give you entrance; but without this match,

The sea enraged is not half so deaf,

Lions more confident, mountains and rocks  452

More free from motion, no, not death himself

In mortal fury half so peremptory,

As we to keep this city.


Here’s a stay,

That shakes the rotten carcase of old Death  456

Out of his rags! Here’s a large mouth, indeed,

That spits forth death and mountains, rocks and seas,

Talks as familiarly of roaring lions

As maids of thirteen do of puppy-dogs.  460

What cannoneer begot this lusty blood?

He speaks plain cannon fire, and smoke and bounce;

He gives the bastinado with his tongue;

Our ears are cudgell’d; not a word of his  464

But buffets better than a fist of France.

’Zounds! I was never so bethump’d with words

Since I first call’d my brother’s father dad.


[Aside to King John.] Son, list to this conjunction, make this match;  468

Give with our niece a dowry large enough;

For by this knot thou shalt so surely tie

Thy now unsur’d assurance to the crown,

That yon green boy shall have no sun to ripe  472

The bloom that promiseth a mighty fruit.

I see a yielding in the looks of France;

Mark how they whisper: urge them while their souls

Are capable of this ambition,  476

Lest zeal, now melted by the windy breath

Of soft petitions, pity and remorse,

Cool and congeal again to what it was.

First Cit.

Why answer not the double majesties  480

This friendly treaty of our threaten’d town?

K. Phi.

Speak England first, that hath been forward first

To speak unto this city: what say you?

K. John.

If that the Dauphin there, thy princely son,  484

Can in this book of beauty read ‘I love,’

Her dowry shall weigh equal with a queen:

For Anjou, and fair Touraine, Maine, Poictiers,

And all that we upon this side the sea,—  488

Except this city now by us besieg’d,—

Find liable to our crown and dignity,

Shall gild her bridal bed and make her rich

In titles, honours, and promotions,  492

As she in beauty, education, blood,

Holds hand with any princess of the world.

K. Phi.

What sayst thou, boy? look in the lady’s face.


I do, my lord; and in her eye I find  496

A wonder, or a wondrous miracle,

The shadow of myself form’d in her eye;

Which, being but the shadow of your son

Becomes a sun, and makes your son a shadow:

I do protest I never lov’d myself  501

Till now infixed I beheld myself,

Drawn in the flattering table of her eye.

[Whispers with Blanch.


Drawn in the flattering table of her eye!

Hang’d in the frowning wrinkle of her brow!

And quarter’d in her heart! he doth espy

Himself love’s traitor: this is pity now,

That hang’d and drawn and quarter’d, there should be  508

In such a love so vile a lout as he.


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,

I can with ease translate it to my will;  513

Or if you will, to speak more properly,

I will enforce it easily to my love.

Further I will not flatter you, my lord,  516

That all I see in you is worthy love,

Than this: that nothing do I see in you,

Though churlish thoughts themselves should be your judge,

That I can find should merit any hate.  520

K. John.

What say these young ones? What say you, my niece?


That she is bound in honour still to do

What you in wisdom still vouchsafe to say.

K. John.

Speak then, Prince Dauphin; can you love this lady?  524


Nay, ask me if I can refrain from love;

For I do love her most unfeignedly.

K. John.

Then do I give Volquessen, Touraine, Maine,

Poictiers, and Anjou, these five provinces,  528

With her to thee; and this addition more,

Full thirty thousand marks of English coin.

Philip of France, if thou be pleas’d withal,

Command thy son and daughter to join hands.

K. Phi.

It likes us well. Young princes, close your hands.  533


And your lips too; for I am well assur’d

That I did so when I was first assur’d.

K. Phi.

Now, citizens of Angiers, ope your gates,  536

Let in that amity which you have made;

For at Saint Mary’s chapel presently

The rites of marriage shall be solemniz’d.

Is not the Lady Constance in this troop?  540

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.  544

K. Phi.

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;  548

Which we, God knows, have turn’d another way,

To our own vantage.

K. John.

We will heal up all;

For we’ll create young Arthur Duke of Britaine

And Earl of Richmond; and this rich fair town

We make him lord of. Call the Lady Constance:

Some speedy messenger bid her repair

To our solemnity: I trust we shall,

If not fill up the measure of her will,  556

Yet in some measure satisfy her so,

That we shall stop her exclamation.

Go we, as well as haste will suffer us,

To this unlook’d-for unprepared pomp.  560

[Exeunt all except the Bastard. The Citizens retire from the walls.


Mad world! mad kings! mad composition!

John, to stop Arthur’s title in the whole,

Hath willingly departed with a part;

And France, whose armour conscience buckled on,  564

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,

That daily break-vow, he that wins of all,  569

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,  572

That smooth-fac’d gentleman, tickling Commodity,

Commodity, the bias of the world;

The world, who of itself is peized well,

Made to run even upon even ground,  576

Till this advantage, this vile-drawing bias,

This sway of motion, this Commodity,

Makes it take head from all indifferency,

From all direction, purpose, course, intent:  580

And this same bias, this Commodity,

This bawd, this broker, this all-changing word,

Clapp’d on the outward eye of fickle France,

Hath drawn him from his own determin’d aid,

From a resolv’d and honourable war,  585

To a most base and vile-concluded peace.

And why rail I on this Commodity?

But for because he hath not woo’d me yet.  588

Not 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.  592

Well, whiles I am a beggar, I will rail,

And 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.  596

Since kings break faith upon Commodity,

Gain, be my lord, for I will worship thee!



Scene I.— France. The French King’s Tent.

Enter Constance, Arthur, and Salisbury.


Gone to be married! gone to swear a peace!

False blood to false blood join’d! gone to be friends!

Shall Lewis have Blanch, and Blanch those provinces?

It is not so; thou hast misspoke, misheard;  4

Be well advis’d, 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:  8

Believe me, I do not believe thee, man;

I have a king’s oath to the contrary.

Thou shalt be punish’d for thus frighting me,

For I am sick and capable of fears;  12

Oppress’d with wrongs, and therefore full of fears;

A widow, husbandless, subject to fears;

A woman, naturally born to fears;

And though thou now confess thou didst but jest,  16

With my vex’d spirits I cannot take a truce,

But they will quake and tremble all this day.

What dost thou mean by shaking of thy head?

Why dost thou look so sadly on my son?  20

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?

Be these sad signs confirmers of thy words?  24

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.  28


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  32

Which in the very meeting fall and die.

Lewis marry Blanch! O boy! then where art thou?

France friend with England what becomes of me?

Fellow, be gone! I cannot brook thy sight:  36

This news hath made thee a most ugly man.


What other harm have I, good lady, done,

But spoke the harm that is by others done?


Which harm within itself so heinous is

As it makes harmful all that speak of it.  41


I do beseech you, madam, be content.


If thou, that bidd’st me be content, wert grim,

Ugly and slanderous to thy mother’s womb,  44

Full of unpleasing blots and sightless stains,

Lame, foolish, crooked, swart, prodigious,

Patch’d with foul moles and eye-offending marks,

I would not care, I then would be content;  48

For 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 join’d to make thee great:

Of Nature’s gifts thou mayst with lilies boast  53

And with the half-blown rose. But Fortune, O!

She is corrupted, chang’d, and won from thee:

She adulterates hourly with thine uncle John,  56

And with her golden hand hath pluck’d on France

To tread down fair respect of sovereignty,

And made his majesty the bawd to theirs.

France is a bawd to Fortune and King John,  60

That strumpet Fortune, that usurping John!

Tell me, thou fellow, is not France forsworn?

Envenom him with words, or get thee gone

And leave those woes alone which I alone  64

Am bound to underbear.


Pardon me, madam,

I may not go without you to the kings.


Thou mayst, thou shalt: I will not go with thee.

I will instruct my sorrows to be proud;  68

For grief is proud and makes his owner stoop.

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  72

Can hold it up: here I and sorrows sit;

Here is my throne, bid kings come bow to it.

[Seats herself on the ground.

Enter King John, King Philip, Lewis, Blanch, Elinor, the Bastard, Duke of Austria, and Attendants.

K. Phi.

’Tis true, fair daughter; and this blessed day

Ever in France shall be kept festival:  76

To solemnize this day the glorious sun

Stays in his course and plays the alchemist,

Turning with splendour of his precious eye

The meagre cloddy earth to glittering gold:  80

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 deserv’d? what hath it done

That it in golden letters should be set  85

Among the high tides in the calendar?

Nay, rather turn this day out of the week,

This day of shame, oppression, perjury:  88

Or, if it must stand still, let wives with child

Pray that their burdens may not fall this day,

Lest that their hopes prodigiously be cross’d:

But on this day let seamen fear no wrack;  92

No bargains break that are not this day made;

This day all things begun come to ill end;

Yea, faith itself to hollow falsehood change!

K. Phi.

By heaven, lady, you shall have no cause  96

To curse the fair proceedings of this day:

Have I not pawn’d to you my majesty?


You have beguil’d me with a counterfeit

Resembling majesty, which, being touch’d and tried,  100

Proves valueless: you are forsworn, forsworn;

You came in arms to spill mine enemies’ blood,

But now in arms you strengthen it with yours:

The grappling vigour and rough frown of war

Is cold in amity and painted peace,  105

And our oppression hath made up this league.

Arm, arm, you heavens, against these perjur’d kings!

A widow cries; be husband to me, heavens!  108

Let not the hours of this ungodly day

Wear out the day in peace; but, ere sunset,

Set armed discord ’twixt these perjur’d kings!

Hear me! O, hear me!


Lady Constance, peace!


War! war! no peace! peace is to me a war.  113

O, Lymoges! O, Austria! thou dost shame

That bloody spoil. thou slave, thou wretch, thou coward!

Thou little valiant, great in villany!  116

Thou ever strong upon the stronger side!

Thou Fortune’s champion, that dost never fight

But when her humorous ladyship is by

To teach thee safety! thou art perjur’d too,  120

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,

Hast thou not spoke like thunder on my side?

Been sworn my soldier? bidding me depend  125

Upon thy stars, thy fortune, and thy strength?

And dost thou now fall over to my foes?

Thou wear a hon’s hide! doff it for shame,  128

And 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.  132


And hang a calf’s-skin on those recreant limbs.

K. John.

We like not this; thou dost forget thyself.

Enter Pandulph.

K. Phi.

Here comes the holy legate of the pope.


Hail, you anointed deputies of heaven!

To thee, King John, my holy errand is.  137

I Pandulph, of fair Milan cardinal,

And from Pope Innocent the legate here,

Do in his name religiously demand  140

Why thou against the church, our holy mother,

So wilfully dost spurn; and, force perforce,

Keep Stephen Langton, chosen Archbishop

Of Canterbury, from that holy see?  144

This, in our foresaid holy father’s name,

Pope Innocent, I do demand of thee.

K. John.

What earthly name to interrogatories

Can task the free breath of a sacred king?  148

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  152

Add thus much more: that no Italian priest

Shall tithe or toll in our dominions;

But as we under heaven are supreme head,

So under him that great supremacy,  156

Where we do reign, we will alone uphold,

Without the assistance of a mortal hand:

So tell the pope; all reverence set apart

To him, and his usurp’d authority.  160

K. Phi.

Brother of England, you blaspheme in this.

K. John.

Though you and all the kings of Christendom

Are led so grossly by this meddling priest,

Dreading the curse that money may buy out;

And, by the merit of vile gold, dross, dust,  165

Purchase corrupted pardon of a man,

Who in that sale sells pardon from himself;

Though you and all the rest so grossly led  168

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,

Thou shalt stand curs’d and excommunicate:

And blessed shall he be that doth revolt

From his allegiance to a heretic;

And meritorious shall that hand be call’d,  176

Canonized and worshipp’d as a saint,

That 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  181

To 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.  184


And for mine too: when law can do no right,

Let it be lawful that law bar no wrong.

Law cannot give my child his kingdom here,

For he that holds his kingdom holds the law:

Therefore, since law itself is perfect wrong,  189

How can the law forbid my tongue to curse?


Philip of France, on peril of a curse,

Let go the hand of that arch-heretic,  192

And raise the power of France upon his head,

Unless he do submit himself to Rome.


Look’st thou pale, France? do not let go thy hand.


Look to that, devil, lest that France repent,  196

And 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,  200



Your breeches best may carry them.

K. John.

Philip, what sayst 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,  205

Or the light loss of England for a friend:

Forego the easier.


That’s the curse of Rome.


O Lewis, stand fast! the devil tempts thee here,  208

In likeness of a new untrimmed 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,  212

That need must needs infer this principle,

That 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.

K. John.

The king is mov’d, and answers not to this.  217


O! be remov’d from him, and answer well.


Do so, King Philip: hang no more in doubt.


Hang nothing but a calf’s-skin, most sweet lout.  220

K. Phi.

I am perplex’d, and know not what to say.


What canst thou say but will perplex thee more,

If thou stand excommunicate and curs’d?

K. Phi.

Good reverend father, make my person yours,  224

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 link’d together

With all religious strength of sacred vows;  229

The latest breath that gave the sound of words

Was deep-sworn faith, peace, amity, true love,

Between our kingdoms and our royal selves;  232

And even before this truce, but new before,

No longer than we well could wash our hands

To clap this royal bargain up of peace,

Heaven knows, they were besmear’d and overstain’d  236

With slaughter’s pencil, where revenge did paint

The fearful difference of incensed kings:

And shall these hands, so lately purg’d of blood,

So newly join’d in love, so strong in both,  240

Unyoke this seizure and this kind regreet?

Play fast and loose with faith? so jest with heaven,

Make such unconstant children of ourselves,

As 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,  248

My reverend father, let it not be so!

Out of your grace, devise, ordain, impose

Some gentle order, and then we shall be bless’d

To do your pleasure and continue friends.  252


All form is formless, order orderless,

Save 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.  257

France, thou mayst hold a serpent by the tongue,

A chafed lion by the mortal paw,

A fasting tiger safer by the tooth,  260

Than keep in peace that hand which thou dost hold.

K. Phi.

I may disjoin my hand, but not my faith.


So mak’st thou faith an enemy to faith:

And like a civil war sett’st oath to oath,  264

Thy tongue against thy tongue. O! let thy vow

First made to heaven, first be to heaven perform’d;

That is, to be the champion of our church.

What since thou swor’st is sworn against thyself

And may not be performed by thyself;  269

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.  273

The better act of purposes mistook

Is to mistake again; though indirect,

Yet indirection thereby grows direct,  276

And falsehood falsehood cures, as fire cools fire

Within the scorched veins of one new-burn’d.

It is religion that doth make vows kept;

But thou hast sworn against religion  280

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

To swear, swears only not to be forsworn;  284

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  288

Is in thyself rebellion to thyself;

And better conquest never canst thou make

Than arm thy constant and thy nobler parts

Against these giddy loose suggestions:  292

Upon which better part our prayers come in,

If 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,  296

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?  300

Against the blood that thou hast married?

What! shall our feast be kept with slaughter’d men?

Shall braying trumpets and loud churlish drums,

Clamours of hell, be measures to our pomp?  304

O husband, hear me! ay, alack! how new

Is husband in my mouth; even for that name,

Which till this time my tongue did ne’er pronounce,

Upon my knee I beg, go not to arms  308

Against mine uncle.


O! upon my knee,

Made hard with kneeling, I do pray to thee,

Thou virtuous Dauphin, alter not the doom

Forethought by heaven.  312


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 honour: O! thine honour, Lewis, thine honour.  316


I muse your majesty doth seem so cold,

When such profound respects do pull you on.


I will denounce a curse upon his head.

K. Phi.

Thou shalt not need. England, I’ll fall from thee.  320


O fair return of banish’d majesty!


O foul revolt of French inconstancy!

K. John.

France, thou shalt rue this hour within this hour.


Old Time the clock-setter, that bald sexton Time,  324

Is it as he will? well then, France shall rue.


The sun’s o’ercast with blood: fair day, adieu!

Which is the side that I must go withal?

I am with both: each army hath a hand;  328

And in their rage, I having hold of both,

They whirl asunder and dismember me.

Husband, I cannot pray that thou mayst win;

Uncle, I needs must pray that thou mayst lose;

Father, I may not wish the fortune thine;  333

Grandam, I will not wish thy wishes thrive:

Whoever wins, on that side shall I lose;

Assured loss before the match be play’d.  336


Lady, with me; with me thy fortune lies.


There where my fortune lives, there my life dies.

K. John.

Cousin, go draw our puissance together.

[Exit Bastard.

France, I am burn’d up with inflaming wrath;

A rage whose heat hath this condition,  341

That nothing can allay, nothing but blood,

The blood, and dearest-valu’d blood of France.

K. Phi.

Thy rage shall burn thee up, and thou shalt turn  344

To ashes, ere our blood shall quench that fire:

Look to thyself, thou art in jeopardy.

K. John.

No more than he that threats. To arms let’s hie!


Scene II.— The Same. Plains near Angiers.

Alarums; excursions. Enter the Bastard, with the Duke of 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.  4

Enter King John, Arthur, and Hubert.

K. John.

Hubert, keep this boy. Philip, make up,

My mother is assailed in our tent,

And ta’en, I fear.


My lord, I rescu’d her;

Her highness is in safety, fear you not:  8

But on, my liege; for very little pains

Will bring this labour to a happy end.


Scene III.— The Same.

Alarums; excursions; retreat. Enter King John, Elinor, Arthur, the Bastard, Hubert, and Lords.

K. John.

[To Elinor.] So shall it be; your grace shall stay behind

So 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.  4


O! this will make my mother die with grief.

K. John.

[To the Bastard.] Cousin, away for England! haste before;

And, ere our coming, see thou shake the bags

Of hoarding abbots; set at liberty  8

Imprison’d angels: 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  12

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.  16


Farewell, gentle cousin.

K. John.

Coz, farewell.

[Exit Bastard.


Come hither, little kinsman; hark, a word.

[She takes Arthur aside.

K. John.

Come hither, Hubert. O my gentle Hubert,

We owe thee much: within this wall of flesh  20

There 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 cherished.  24

Give me thy hand. I had a thing to say,

But I will fit it with some better time.

By heaven, Hubert, I am almost asham’d

To say what good respect I have of thee.  28


I am much bounden to your majesty.

K. John.

Good friend, thou hast no cause to say so yet;

But thou shalt have; and creep time ne’er so slow,

Yet it shall come for me to do thee good.  32

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,

Is all too wanton and too full of gawds  36

To give me audience: if the midnight bell

Did, with his iron tongue and brazen mouth,

Sound one into the drowsy race of night;

If this same were a churchyard where we stand,

And thou possessed with a thousand wrongs;  41

Or if that surly spirit, melancholy,

Had bak’d thy blood and made it heavy-thick,

Which else runs tickling up and down the veins,

Making that idiot, laughter, keep men’s eyes  45

And strain their cheeks to idle merriment,

A passion hateful to my purposes;

Or if that thou couldst see me without eyes,  48

Hear me without thine ears, and make reply

Without a tongue, using conceit alone,

Without eyes, ears, and harmful sound of words;

Then, in despite of brooded watchful day,  52

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,  56

Though that my death were adjunct to my act,

By heaven, I would do it.

K. John.

Do not I know thou wouldst?

Good Hubert! Hubert, Hubert, throw thine eye

On yon young boy: I’ll tell thee what, my friend,  60

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  64

That he shall not offend your majesty.

K. John.



My lord?

K. John.

A grave.


He shall not live.

K. John.


I could be merry now. Hubert, I love thee;

Well, I’ll not say what I intend for thee:  68

Remember. Madam, fare you well:

I’ll send those powers o’er to your majesty.


My blessing go with thee!

K. John.

For England, cousin; go:

Hubert shall be your man, attend on you  72

With all true duty. On toward Calais, ho!


Scene IV.— The Same. The French King’s Tent.

Enter King Philip, Lewis, Pandulph, and Attendants.

K. Phi.

So, by a roaring tempest on the flood,

A whole armado of convicted sail

Is scatter’d and disjoin’d from fellowship.


Courage and comfort! all shall yet go well.  4

K. Phi.

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,  8

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,  12

Doth want example: who hath read or heard

Of any kindred action like to this?

K. Phi.

Well could I bear that England had this praise,

So we could find some pattern of our shame.  16

Enter Constance.

Look, who comes here! a grave unto a soul;

Holding the eternal spirit, against her will,

In the vile prison of afflicted breath.

I prithee lady, go away with me.  20


Lo now! now see the issue of your peace.

K. Phi.

Patience, good lady! comfort, gentle Constance!


No, I defy all counsel, all redress,

But that which ends all counsel, true redress,  24

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,  28

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:  33

Come, grin on me; and I will think thou smil’st

And buss thee as thy wife! Misery’s love,

O! come to me.

K. Phi

O fair affliction, peace!  36


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  40

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;  44

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!  48

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;  52

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:  56

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.  60

K. Phi.

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 fallen,

Even to that drop ten thousand wiry friends  64

Do glue themselves in sociable grief;

Like true, inseparable, faithful loves,

Sticking together in calamity.


To England, if you will.

K. Phi.

Bind up your hairs.  68


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!’  72

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  76

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,  80

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,  84

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  88

Must I behold my pretty Arthur more.


You hold too heinous a respect of grief.


He talks to me, that never had a son.

K. Phi.

You are as fond of grief as of your child.  92


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,  96

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.  100

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!  104

My widow-comfort, and my sorrows’ cure!


K. Phi.

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,  108

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,  113

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?  116


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.  120

’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.  125

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  129

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  132

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 as boisterously maintain’d as gain’d;

And he that stands upon a slippery place  137

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.  140


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!  145

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.  148

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;  152

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  156

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,  160

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  165

And kiss the lips of unacquainted change,

And pick strong matter of revolt and wrath

Out of the bloody fingers’ ends of John.  168

Methinks I see this hurly all on foot:

And, O! what better matter breeds for you

Than I have nam’d. The bastard Faulconbridge

Is now in England ransacking the church,  172

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,  176

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.  180

For England go; I will whet on the king.


Strong reasons make strong actions. Let us go:

If you say ay, the king will not say no.



Scene I.— 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  4

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

First Attend.

I hope your warrant will bear out the deed.


Uncleanly scruples! fear not you: look to’t.

[Exeunt Attendants.

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!  12

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,  16

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:  20

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  25

He will awake my mercy which lies dead:

Therefore I will be sudden and dispatch.


Are you sick, Hubert? you look pale to-day:  28

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.  32

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.  36

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.  40


Have you the heart? When your head did but ache,

I knit my handkercher about your brows,—

The best I had, a princess wrought it me,—

And I did never ask it you again;  44

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?’  48

Or, ‘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.  52

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?  56

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!  60

The iron of itself, though heat red-hot,

Approaching near these eyes, would drink my tears

And quench this fiery indignation

Even in the matter of mine innocence;  64

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  68

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 cord, irons, &c.

Do as I bid you do.  72


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 boisterousrough?  76

I will not struggle; I will stand stone-still.

For heaven’s sake, Hubert, let me not be bound!

Nay, hear me, Hubert: drive these men away,

And I will sit as quiet as a lamb;  80

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.  84


Go, stand within: let me alone with him.

First Attend.

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.  88

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,  92

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.  96


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,  101

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  104

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;  108

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.  112


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,  116

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.  121


Well, see to live; I will not touch thine eyes

For all the treasure that thine uncle owes:

Yet am I sworn and I did purpose, boy,  124

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:  129

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:  133

Much danger do I undergo for thee.


Scene II.— The Same. A Room of State in the Palace.

Enter King John, crowned; Pembroke, Salisbury, and other Lords. The King takes his state.

K. John.

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,  5

The faiths of men ne’er stained with revolt;

Fresh expectation troubled not the land

With any long’d-for change or better state.  8


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,  12

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.  16


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.  20


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,  25

Makes sound opinion sick and truth suspected,

For putting on so new a fashion’d robe.


When workmen strive to do better than well  28

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  32

Discredit more in hiding of the fault

Than did the fault before it was so patch’d.


To this effect, before you were newcrown’d,

We breath’d our counsel: but it pleas’d your highness  36

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.

K. John.

Some reasons of this double coronation  40

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  45

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,—  48

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  53

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?  60

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  64

Than whereupon our weal, on you depending,

Counts it your weal he have his liberty.

Enter Hubert.

K. John.

Let it be so: I do commit his youth

To your direction. Hubert, what news with you?

[Taking him apart.


This is the man should do the bloody deed;  69

He show’d his warrant to a friend of mine:

The image of a wicked hemous fault

Lives in his eye; that close aspect of his  72

Does 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,  77

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  80

The foul corruption of a sweet child’s death.

K. John.

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.  85


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:  88

This must be answer’d, either here or hence.

K. John.

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?  92


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,  96

And find the 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!  100

This must not be thus borne: this will break out

To all our sorrows, and ere long I doubt.

[Exeunt Lords.

K. John.

They burn in indignation. I repent:

There is no sure foundation set on blood,  104

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:  108

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.  112

The copy of your speed is learn’d by them;

For when you should be told they do prepare,

The tidings come that they are all arriv’d.

K. John.

O! where hath our intelligence been drunk?  116

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  120

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.  124

K. John.

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!  128

Under whose conduct came those powers of France

That thou for truth giv’st out are landed here?


Under the Dauphin.

K. John.

Thou hast made me giddy

With these ill tidings.

Enter the Bastard, and Peter of Pomfret.

Now, what says the world  132

To your proceedings? do not seek to stuff

My 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.

K. John.

Bear with me, cousin, for I was amaz’d  137

Under the tide; but now I breathe again

Aloft the flood, and can give audience

To any tongue, speak it of what it will.  140


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,  144

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  148

With many hundreds treading on his heels;

To whom he sung, in rude harsh-sounding rimes,

That, ere the next Ascension-day at noon,

Your highness should deliver up your crown.  152

K. John.

Thou idle dreamer, wherefore didst thou so?


Foreknowing that the truth will fall out so.

K. John.

Hubert, away with him; imprison him:

And on that day at noon, whereon, he says,  156

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:  161

Besides, I met Lord Bigot and Lord Salisbury,

With eyes as red as new-enkindled fire,

And others more, going to seek the grave  164

Of Arthur, whom they say is kill’d to-night

On your suggestion.

K. John.

Gentle kinsman, go,

And thrust thyself into their companies.

I have a way to win their loves again;  168

Bring them before me.


I will seek them out.

K. John.

Nay, but make haste; the better foot before.

O! let me have no subject enemies

When adverse foreigners affright my towns  172

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.  176

K. John.

Spoke like a sprightful noble gentleman.

[Exit Bastard.

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.


K. John.

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.  184

K. 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  188

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.  192

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.  200

Another lean unwash’d artificer

Cuts off his tale and talks of Arthur’s death.

K. John.

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  205

To wish him dead, but thou hadst none to kill him.


No had, my lord! why, did you not provoke me?

K. John.

It is the curse of kings to be attended  208

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  212

Of dangerous majesty, when, perchance, it frowns

More upon humour than advis’d respect.


Here is your hand and seal for what I did.

K. John.

O! when the last account ’twixt heaven and earth  216

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

Makes ill deeds done! Hadst not thou been by,

A fellow by the hand of nature mark’d,  221

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,  224

Finding thee fit for bloody villany,

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,  228

Made it no conscience to destroy a prince.


My lord,—

K. John.

Hadst thou but shook thy head or made a pause

When I spake darkly what I purposed,  232

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:  236

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  240

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 this fleshly land,  245

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,  252

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,  256

Which, howsoever rude exteriorly,

Is yet the cover of a fairer mind

Than to be butcher of an innocent child.

K. John.

Doth Arthur live? O! haste thee to the peers,  260

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,  264

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.  268

I conjure thee but slowly; run more fast.


Scene III.— 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.  4

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.  8

[Leaps down.

O me! my uncle’s spirit is in these stones:

Heaven take my soul, and England keep my bones!


Enter Pembroke, Salisbury, and Bigot.


Lords, I will meet him at Saint Edmundsbury.

It is our safety, and we must embrace  12

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,  16

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!  21

The king by me requests your presence straight.


The king hath dispossess’d himself of us:

We will not line his thin bestained cloak  24

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.  28


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.  33


This is the prison.

[Seeing Arthur.

What is he lies here?


O death, made proud with pure and princely beauty!

The earth had not a hole to hide this deed.  36


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.  40


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,  44

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,  48

That ever wall-eyed 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,  52

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.  56


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!  60

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,  64

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,  68

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.  72


Our souls religiously confirm thy words.


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.  77


I am no villain.


[Drawing his sword.] Must I rob the law?


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:  81

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;  84

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.  89


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.  92


Cut him to pieces.


Keep the peace, I say.


Stand by, or I shall gall you, Faulconbridge.


Thou wert better gall the devil, Salisbury:

If thou but frown on me, or stir thy foot,  96

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 Faulconbridge?  101

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  105

My date of life out for his sweet life’s loss.


Trust not those cunning waters of his eyes,

For villany is not without such rheum;  108

And he, long traded in it, makes it seem

Like rivers of remorse and innocency.

Away with me, all you whose souls abhor

The uncleanly savours of a slaughter-house;

For I am stifled with this smell of sin.  113


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?  116

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;  120

Thou art 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.  124


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  128

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,  132

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  136

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  140

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  144

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  148

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,—  152

As doth a raven on a sick-fallen beast,—

The imminent decay of wrested pomp.

Now happy he whose cloak and ceinture can

Hold out this tempest. Bear away that child

And follow me with speed: I’ll to the king:  157

A thousand businesses are brief in hand,

And heaven itself doth frown upon the land.



Scene I.— The Same. A Room in the Palace.

Enter King John, Pandulph with the crown, and Attendants.

K. John.

Thus have I yielded up into your hand

The circle of my glory.


[Giving John the crown.] Take again

From this my hand, as holding of the pope,

Your sovereign greatness and authority.  4

K. 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 inflam’d.

Our discontented counties do revolt,  8

Our people quarrel with obedience,

Swearing allegiance and the love of soul

To stranger blood, to foreign royalty.

This inundation of mistemper’d humour  12

Rests by you only to be qualified:

Then pause not; for the present time’s so sick,

That present medicine must be minister’d,

Or overthrow incurable ensues.  16


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  20

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.


K. John.

Is this Ascension-day? Did not the prophet  25

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;  28

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  33

To offer service to your enemy;

And wild amazement hurries up and down

The little number of your doubtful friends.  36

K. 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  40

By some damn’d hand was robb’d and ta’en away.

K. 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;  45

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;  48

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  52

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.  56

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 further from the doors,  60

And grapple with him ere he comes so nigh.

K. John.

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  64

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  68

To arms invasive? shall a beardless boy,

A cocker’d silken wanton, brave our fields,

And flesh his spirit in a war-like soul,

Mocking the air with colours idly spread,  72

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.  76

K. 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.


Scene II.— A Plain, near St. Edmundsbury. The French Camp.

Enter, in arms, Lewis, Salisbury, Melun, Pembroke, Bigot, and Soldiers.


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,  4

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.  8

And, noble Dauphin, albeit we swear

A voluntary zeal, an unurg’d faith

To your proceedings; yet, believe me, prince,

I am not glad that such a sore of time  12

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  16

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,  20

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!  24

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  28

Her enemies’ ranks,—I must withdraw and weep

Upon the spot of this enforced cause,—

To grace the gentry of a land remote,

And follow unacquainted colours here?  32

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 gripple thee unto a pagan shore;  36

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  41

Do make an earthquake of nobility.

O! what a noble combat hast thou fought

Between compulsion and a brave respect.  44

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;  48

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  52

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  56

That never saw the giant world enrag’d;

Nor met with fortune other than at feasts,

Full warm of blood, of mirth, of gossiping.

Come, come; for thou shalt thrust thy hand as deep  60

Into the purse of rich prosperity

As Lewis himself: so, nobles, shall you all,

That knit your sinews to the strength of mine.

Enter Pandulph attended.

And even there, methinks, an angel spake:  64

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.


Hail, noble prince of France!  68

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.  72

Therefore thy threat’ning 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,  76

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,  80

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,  84

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,  88

Acquainted me with interest to this land,

Yea, thrust this enterprise into my heart;

And come you now to tell me John hath made

His peace with Rome? What is that peace to me?  92

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?  96

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,  100

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 roy! as I have bank’d their towns?  104

Have I not here the best cards for the game

To win 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.  108


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  112

Before I drew this gallant head of war,

And cull’d these fiery spirits from the world,

To outlook conquest and to win renown

Even in the jaws of danger and of death.  116

[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  120

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:  125

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;  128

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,  132

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.  136

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:  140

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,  144

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,  148

And like an eagle o’er his aiery towers,

To souse annoyance that comes near his nest.

And you degenerate, you ingrate revolts,

You bloody Neroes, ripping up the womb  152

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 change,  156

Their neelds 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  161

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  164

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 clamour of thy drum,  168

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  172

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  176

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 III.— The Same. A Field of Battle.

Alarums. Enter King John and Hubert.

K. John.

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


Badly, I fear. How fares your majesty?

K. John.

This fever, that hath troubled me so long,

Lies heavy on me: O! my heart is sick.  4

Enter a Messenger.


My lord, your valiant kinsman, Faulconbridge,

Desires your majesty to leave the field,

And send him word by me which way you go.

K. John.

Tell him, toward Swinstead, to the abbey there.  8


Be of good comfort: for the great supply

That was expected by the Dauphin here,

Are wrack’d three nights ago on Goodwin sands.

This news was brought to Richard but even now.

The French fight coldly, and retire themselves.  13

K. John.

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.  17


Scene IV.— The Same. Another Part of the Same.

Enter Salisbury, Pembroke, Bigot, 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, Faulconbridge,

In spite of spite, alone upholds the day.  5


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.  12

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 moe with me,  17

Upon the altar at Saint Edmundsbury;

Even on that altar where we swore to you

Dear amity and everlasting love.  20


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  24

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  28

That 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 day break in the east:  32

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  37

Even with a treacherous fine of all your lives,

If Lewis by your assistance win the day.

Commend me to one Hubert with your king;  40

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  44

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.  48


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,  52

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,  56

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.  61

[Exeunt, leading off Melun.

Scene V.— 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,  4

When with a volley of our needless shot,

After such bloody toil, we bid good night,

And wound our tottering colours clearly up,

Last in the field, and almost lords of it!  8

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 wish’d so long,

Are cast away and sunk, on Goodwin sands.  13


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  16

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 to-night:  20

The day shall not be up so soon as I,

To try the fair adventure of to-morrow.


Scene VI.— An open Place in the neighbourhood of Swinstead Abbey.

Enter 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  4

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.  8

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  12

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?  16


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.  20


Show me the very wound of this ill news:

I am no woman; I’ll not swound at it.


The king, I fear, is poison’d by a monk:

I left him almost speechless; and broke out  24

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?  28


A monk, I tell you; a resolved villain,

Whose bowels suddenly burst out: the king

Yet speaks, and peradventure may recover.


Whom didst thou leave to tend his majesty?  32


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.  36


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;  40

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 VII.— The Orchard of Swinstead Abbey.

Enter Prince Henry, Salisbury, and Bigot.

P. Hen.

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,  4

Foretell the ending of mortality.

Enter Pembroke.


His highness yet doth speak; and holds belief

That, being brought into the open air,

It would allay the burning quality  8

Of that fell poison which assaileth him.

P. Hen.

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.  12

P. Hen.

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  16

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.  20

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  24


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 carrying King John in a chair.

K. John.

Ay, marry, now my soul hath elbow-room;  28

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  32

Upon a parchment, and against this fire

Do I shrink up.

P. Hen.

How fares your majesty?

K. John.

Poison’d, ill-fare; dead, forsook, cast off;

And none of you will bid the winter come  36

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  40

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.

P. Hen.

O! that there were some virtue in my tears,  44

That might relieve you.

K John.

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.  48

Enter the Bastard.


O! I am scalded with my violent motion

And spleen of speed to see your majesty.

K. John.

O cousin! thou art come to set mine eye:

The tackle of my heart is crack’d and burn’d,  52

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;  56

And then all this thou seest is but a clod

And module of confounded royalty.


The Dauphin is preparing hitherward,

Where heaven he knows how we shall answer him:  60

For in a night the best part of my power,

As I upon advantage did remove,

Were in the Washes all unwarily

Devoured by the unexpected flood.  64

[The King dies.


You breathe these dead news in as dead an ear.

My liege! my lord! But now a king, now thus.

P. Hen.

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?  69


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.  73

Now, now, you stars, that move in your right spheres,

Where be your powers? Show now your mended faiths,

And instantly return with me again,  76

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:

The Dauphin rages at our very heels.  80


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  84

As we with honour and respect may take,

With purpose presently to leave this war.


He will the rather do it when he sees

Ourselves well sinewed to our defence.  88


Nay, it is in a manner done already;

For many carriages he hath dispatch’d

To the sea-side, and put his cause and quarrel

To the disposing of the cardinal:  92

With whom yourself, myself, and other lords,

If you think meet, this afternoon will post

To consummate this business happily.


Let it be so. And you, my noble prince,

With other princes that may best be spar’d,  97

Shall wait upon your father’s funeral.

P. Hen.

At Worcester must his body be interr’d;

For so he will’d it.


Thither shall it then.  100

And happily may your sweet self put on

The lineal state and glory of the land!

To whom, with all submission, on my knee,

I do bequeath my faithful services  104

And true subjection everlastingly.


And the like tender of our love we make,

To rest without a spot for evermore.

P. Hen.

I have a kind soul that would give you thanks,  108

And knows not how to do it but with tears.


O! let us pay the time but needful woe

Since it hath been beforehand with our griefs.

This England never did, nor never shall,  112

Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror,

But 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,  116

And we shall shock them. Nought shall make us rue,

If England to itself do rest but true.