by William Shakespeare
KING JOHN. PRINCE HENRY, his son; afterwards KING HENRY III. ARTHUR, Duke of Bretagne, son to GEFFREY, late Duke of Bretagne, the elder brother to King John. WILLIAM MARSHALL, Earl of Pembroke. GEOFFREY FITZ-PETER, Earl of Essex, Chief Justiciary of England. WILLIAM LONGSWORD, Earl of Salisbury. ROBERT BIGOT, Earl of Norfolk. HUBERT DE BURGH, Chamberlain to the King. ROBERT FALCONBRIDGE, son to Sir Robert Falconbridge. PHILIP FALCONBRIDGE, his half-brother, bastard son to King Richard I. JAMES GURNEY, servant to Lady Falconbridge. PETER OF POMFRET, a prophet
PHILIP, King of France. LOUIS, the Dauphin. ARCHDUKE OF AUSTRIA. CARDINAL PANDULPH, the Pope's legate. MELUN, a French lord. CHATILLON, Ambassador from France to King John.
ELINOR, Widow of King Henry II and Mother to King John. CONSTANCE, Mother to Arthur. BLANCH OF SPAIN, Daughter to Alphonso, King of Castile, and Niece to King John. LADY FALCONBRIDGE, Mother to the Bastard and Robert Falconbridge.
Lords, Citizens of Angiers, Sheriff, Heralds, Officers, Soldiers, Messengers, Attendants and other Attendants.
SCENE: Sometimes in England, and sometimes in France.
SCENE 1. Northampton. A Room of State in the Palace.
[Enter KING JOHN, QUEEN ELINOR, PEMBROKE, ESSEX, SALISBURY, and others, with CHATILLON.]
KING JOHN. Now, say, Chatillon, what would France with us?
CHATILLON. Thus, after greeting, speaks the King of France, In my behaviour, to the majesty, The borrow'd majesty of England here.
ELINOR. A strange beginning:—borrow'd majesty!
KING JOHN. Silence, good mother; hear the embassy.
CHATILLON. Philip of France, in right and true behalf Of thy deceased brother Geffrey's son, 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 Which sways usurpingly these several titles, And put the same into young Arthur's hand, Thy nephew and right royal sovereign.
KING JOHN. What follows if we disallow of this?
CHATILLON. The proud control of fierce and bloody war, To enforce these rights so forcibly withheld.
KING JOHN. Here have we war for war, and blood for blood, Controlment for controlment;—so answer France.
CHATILLON. Then take my king's defiance from my mouth, The farthest limit of my embassy.
KING JOHN. Bear mine to him, and so depart in peace: Be thou as lightning in the eyes of France; 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.— An honourable conduct let him have:— Pembroke, look to 't. Farewell, Chatillon.
[Exeunt CHATILLON and PEMBROKE.]
ELINOR. 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 Upon the right and party of her son? This might have been prevented and made whole With very easy arguments of love; Which now the manage of two kingdoms must With fearful bloody issue arbitrate.
KING JOHN. Our strong possession and our right for us.
ELINOR. Your strong possession much more than your right, Or else it must go wrong with you and me: So much my conscience whispers in your ear, Which none but heaven and you and I shall hear.
[Enter the Sheriff of Northamptonshire, who whispers to Essex.]
ESSEX. My liege, here is the strangest controversy, Come from the country to be judg'd by you, That e'er I heard: shall I produce the men?
KING JOHN. Let them approach.—
Our abbeys and our priories shall pay This expedition's charge.
[Re-enter Sheriff, with ROBERT FAULCONBRIDGE and PHILIP, his bastard Brother.]
What men are you?
BASTARD. Your faithful subject I, a gentleman Born in Northamptonshire, and eldest son, As I suppose, to Robert Falconbridge,— A soldier by the honour-giving hand Of Coeur-de-lion knighted in the field.
KING JOHN. What art thou?
ROBERT. The son and heir to that same Falconbridge.
KING JOHN. Is that the elder, and art thou the heir? You came not of one mother then, it seems.
BASTARD. 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 I put you o'er to heaven and to my mother:— Of that I doubt, as all men's children may.
ELINOR. Out on thee, rude man! thou dost shame thy mother, And wound her honour with this diffidence.
BASTARD. 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 At least from fair five hundred pound a-year: Heaven guard my mother's honour and my land!
KING JOHN. A good blunt fellow.—Why, being younger born, Doth he lay claim to thine inheritance?
BASTARD. I know not why, except to get the land. But once he slander'd me with bastardy: But whe'er I be as true begot or no, That still I lay upon my mother's head; 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, 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!
KING JOHN. Why, what a madcap hath heaven lent us here!
ELINOR. He hath a trick of Coeur-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?
KING 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?
BASTARD. Because he hath a half-face, like my father; With half that face would he have all my land: A half-fac'd groat five hundred pound a-year!
ROBERT. My gracious liege, when that my father liv'd, Your brother did employ my father much,—
BASTARD. Well, sir, by this you cannot get my land: Your tale must be how he employ'd my mother.
ROBERT. And once despatch'd him in an embassy To Germany, there with the emperor To treat of high affairs touching that time. The advantage of his absence took the King, And in the meantime sojourn'd at my father's; Where how he did prevail I shame to speak,— But truth is truth: large lengths of seas and shores Between my father and my mother lay,— As I have heard my father speak himself,— When this same lusty gentleman was got. 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; And if he were, he came into the world Full fourteen weeks before the course of time. Then, good my liege, let me have what is mine, My father's land, as was my father's will.
KING JOHN. Sirrah, your brother is legitimate; 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, 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; Your father's heir must have your father's land.
ROBERT. Shall then my father's will be of no force To dispossess that child which is not his?
BASTARD. Of no more force to dispossess me, sir, Than was his will to get me, as I think.
ELINOR. Whether hadst thou rather be a Falconbridge, And like thy brother, to enjoy thy land, Or the reputed son of Coeur-de-lion, Lord of thy presence and no land beside?
BASTARD. Madam, an if my brother had my shape And I had his, Sir Robert's his, like him; And if my legs were two such riding-rods, My arms such eel-skins stuff'd, my face so thin That in mine ear I durst not stick a rose Lest men should say 'Look where three-farthings goes!' And, to his shape, were heir to all this land, Would I might never stir from off this place, I would give it every foot to have this face; I would not be Sir Nob in any case.
ELINOR. I like thee well: wilt thou forsake thy fortune, Bequeath thy land to him, and follow me? I am a soldier, and now bound to France.
BASTARD. Brother, take you my land, I'll take my chance: Your face hath got five hundred pound a-year; Yet sell your face for fivepence and 'tis dear.— Madam, I'll follow you unto the death.
ELINOR. Nay, I would have you go before me thither.
BASTARD. Our country manners give our betters way.
KING JOHN. What is thy name?
BASTARD. Philip, my liege, so is my name begun; Philip, good old Sir Robert's wife's eldest son.
KING JOHN. From henceforth bear his name whose form thou bear'st: Kneel thou down Philip, but rise more great,— Arise Sir Richard and Plantagenet.
BASTARD. Brother by the mother's side, give me your hand: My father gave me honour, yours gave land.— Now blessed be the hour, by night or day, When I was got, Sir Robert was away!
ELINOR. The very spirit of Plantagenet!— I am thy grandam, Richard; call me so.
BASTARD. 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: Near or far off, well won is still well shot; And I am I, howe'er I was begot.
KING JOHN. Go, Falconbridge; now hast thou thy desire: A landless knight makes thee a landed squire.— Come, madam,—and come, Richard; we must speed For France, for France, for it is more than need.
BASTARD. Brother, adieu. Good fortune come to thee! For thou wast got i' th' 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:— '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 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 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 ABC-book:— 'O sir,' says answer 'at your best command; At your employment; at your service, sir:'— 'No, sir,' says question 'I, sweet sir, at yours: And so, ere answer knows what question would,— Saving in dialogue of compliment, And talking of the Alps and Apennines, The Pyrenean and the river Po,— It draws toward supper in conclusion so. 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,— 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 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.— 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 FALCONBRIDGE, and JAMES GURNEY.]
O me, 'tis my mother!—w now, good lady! What brings you here to court so hastily?
LADY FALCONBRIDGE. Where is that slave, thy brother? where is he That holds in chase mine honour up and down?
BASTARD. My brother Robert? old Sir Robert's son? Colbrand the giant, that same mighty man? Is it Sir Robert's son that you seek so?
LADY FalcoNBRIDGE. Sir Robert's son! Ay, thou unreverend boy, Sir Robert's son: why scorn'st thou at Sir Robert? He is Sir Robert's son, and so art thou.
BASTARD. James Gurney, wilt thou give us leave awhile?
GURNEY. Good leave, good Philip.
BASTARD. Philip—sparrow!—James, There's toys abroad:—anon I'll tell thee more.
Madam, I was not old Sir Robert's son; Sir Robert might have eat his part in me Upon Good-Friday, and ne'er broke his fast. Sir Robert could do well: marry, to confess, Could not get me; Sir Robert could not do it,— We know his handiwork:—therefore, good mother, To whom am I beholding for these limbs? Sir Robert never holp to make this leg.
LADY FALCONBRIDGE. Hast thou conspired with thy brother too, That for thine own gain shouldst defend mine honour? What means this scorn, thou most untoward knave?
BASTARD. Knight, knight, good mother,—Basilisco-like; 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: Then, good my mother, let me know my father,— Some proper man, I hope: who was it, mother?
LADY FalcoNBRIDGE. Hast thou denied thyself a Falconbridge?
BASTARD. As faithfully as I deny the devil.
LADY FALCONBRIDGE. King Richard Coeur-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, Which was so strongly urg'd, past my defence.
BASTARD. Now, by this light, were I to get again, Madam, I would not wish a better father. Some sins do bear their privilege on earth, And so doth yours; your fault was not your folly: Needs must you lay your heart at his dispose,— Subjected tribute to commanding love,— Against whose fury and 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 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. 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.
SCENE 1. France. Before the walls of Angiers.
[Enter, on one side, the ARCHDUKE OF AUSTRIA and Forces; on the other, PHILIP, King of France, LOUIS, CONSTANCE, ARTHUR, and Forces.]
KING PHILIP. 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, 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; And to rebuke the usurpation Of thy unnatural uncle, English John: Embrace him, love him, give him welcome hither.
ARTHUR. God shall forgive you Coeur-de-lion's death The rather that you give his offspring life, Shadowing their right under your wings of war: I give you welcome with a powerless hand, But with a heart full of unstained love,— Welcome before the gates of Angiers, duke.
LOUIS. A noble boy! Who would not do thee right?
AUSTRIA. Upon thy cheek lay I this zealous kiss, As seal to this indenture of my love,— That to my home I will no more return, 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, 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,— 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.
CONSTANCE. O, take his mother's thanks, a widow's thanks, Till your strong hand shall help to give him strength To make a more requital to your love!
AUSTRIA. The peace of heaven is theirs that lift their swords In such a just and charitable war.
KING PHILIP. 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: 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.
CONSTANCE. 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 That hot rash haste so indirectly shed.
KING PHILIP. A wonder, lady!—lo, upon thy wish, Our messenger Chatillon is arriv'd.
What England says, say briefly, gentle lord; We coldly pause for thee; Chatillon, speak.
CHATILLON. Then turn your forces from this paltry siege, And stir them up against a mightier task. England, impatient of your just demands, 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, 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 neice, the Lady Blanch of Spain; With them a bastard of the king's deceas'd: And all the unsettled humours of the land,— Rash, inconsiderate, fiery voluntaries, With ladies' faces and fierce dragons' spleens,— Have sold their fortunes at their native homes, Bearing their birthrights proudly on their backs, To make a hazard of new fortunes here. In brief, a braver choice of dauntless spirits Than now the English bottoms have waft o'er Did never float upon the swelling tide To do offence and scathe in Christendom.
[Drums beat within.]
The interruption of their churlish drums Cuts off more circumstance: they are at hand; To parley or to fight: therefore prepare.
KING PHILIP. How much unlook'd-for is this expedition!
AUSTRIA. By how much unexpected, by so much We must awake endeavour for defence; For courage mounteth with occasion: Let them be welcome, then; we are prepar'd.
[Enter KING JOHN, ELINOR, BLANCH, the BASTARD, PEMBROKE, Lords, and Forces.]
KING JOHN. Peace be to France, if France in peace permit Our just and lineal entrance to our own! If not, bleed France, and peace ascend to heaven, Whiles we, God's wrathful agent, do correct Their proud contempt that beats his peace to heaven!
KING PHILIP. Peace be to England, if that war return From France to England, there to live in peace! England we love; and for that England's sake With burden of our armour here we sweat. 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, Outfaced 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: 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, 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'er-masterest?
KING JOHN. From whom hast thou this great commission, France, To draw my answer from thy articles?
KING PHILIP. From that supernal judge that stirs good thoughts 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; And by whose help I mean to chastise it.
KING JOHN. Alack, thou dost usurp authority.
KING PHILIP. Excus,—it is to beat usurping down.
ELINOR. Who is it thou dost call usurper, France?
CONSTANCE. Let me make answer;—thy usurping son.
ELINOR. Out, insolent! thy bastard shall be king, That thou mayst be a queen, and check the world!
CONSTANCE. My bed was ever to thy son as true As thine was to thy husband; and this boy 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. 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.
ELINOR. There's a good mother, boy, that blots thy father.
CONSTANCE. There's a good grandam, boy, that would blot thee.
BASTARD. Hear the crier.
AUSTRIA. What the devil art thou?
BASTARD. One that will play the devil, sir, with you, An 'a may catch your hide and you alone. You are the hare of whom the proverb goes, Whose 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.
BLANCH. O, well did he become that lion's robe That did disrobe the lion of that robe!
BASTARD. It lies as sightly on the back of him As great Alcides' shows upon an ass:— But, ass, I'll take that burden from your back, Or lay on that shall make your shoulders crack.
AUSTRIA. What cracker is this same that deafs our ears With this abundance of superfluous breath?
KING PHILIP. Louis, determine what we shall do straight.
LOUIS. 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: Wilt thou resign them, and lay down thy arms?
KING JOHN. My life as soon:—I do defy thee, France. Arthur of Bretagne, yield thee to my hand; And out of my dear love, I'll give thee more Than e'er the coward hand of France can win: Submit thee, boy.
ELINOR. Come to thy grandam, child.
CONSTANCE. Do, child, go to it' grandam, child; Give grandam kingdom, and it' grandam will Give it a plum, a cherry, and a fig. There's a good grandam!
ARTHUR. Good my mother, peace! I would that I were low laid in my grave: I am not worth this coil that's made for me.
ELINOR. His mother shames him so, poor boy, he weeps.
CONSTANCE. Now, shame upon you, whe'er she does or no! His grandam's wrongs, and not his mother's shames, Draws those heaven-moving pearls from his poor eyes, Which heaven shall take in nature of a fee: Ay, with these crystal beads heaven shall be brib'd To do him justice, and revenge on you.
ELINOR. Thou monstrous slanderer of heaven and earth!
CONSTANCE. Thou monstrous injurer of heaven and earth! Call not me slanderer: thou and thine usurp The dominations, royalties, and rights, Of this oppressed boy: this is thy eldest 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, Being but the second generation Removed from thy sin-conceiving womb.
KING JOHN. Bedlam, have done.
CONSTANCE. I have but this to say,— That he is not only plagued for her sin, But God hath made her sin and her the plague On this removed issue, plagu'd for her And with her plague, her sin; his injury Her injury,—the beadle to her sin; All punish'd in the person of this child, And all for her: a plague upon her!
ELINOR. Thou unadvised scold, I can produce A will that bars the title of thy son.
CONSTANCE. Ay, who doubts that? a will, a wicked will; A woman's will; a canker'd grandam's will!
KING PHILIP. Peace, lady! pause, or be more temperate: It ill beseems this presence to cry aim 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.
[Trumpet sounds. Enter citizens upon the walls.]
FIRST CITIZEN. Who is it that hath warn'd us to the walls?
KING PHILIP. 'Tis France, for England.
KING JOHN. England for itself:— You men of Angiers, and my loving subjects,—
KING PHILIP. You loving men of Angiers, Arthur's subjects, Our trumpet call'd you to this gentle parle.
KING JOHN. For our advantage; therefore hear us first. These flags of France, that are advanced here Before the eye and prospect of your town, 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: 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 doth girdle you about, By the compulsion of their ordinance By this time from their fixed beds of lime Had been dishabited, and wide havoc made For bloody power to rush upon your peace. But, on the sight of us, your lawful king,— Who, painfully, with much expedient march, Have brought a countercheck before your gates, To save unscratch'd your city's threatn'd cheeks,— 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, 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, Craves harbourage within your city-walls.
KING PHILIP. When I have said, make answer to us both. Lo, in this right hand, whose protection 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: 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 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, Save in aspect, hath all offence seal'd up; Our cannons' malice vainly shall be spent Against the invulnerable clouds of heaven; 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, 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, 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? Or shall we give the signal to our rage, And stalk in blood to our possession?
FIRST CITIZEN. In brief: we are the King of England's subjects: For him, and in his right, we hold this town.
KING JOHN. Acknowledge then the king, and let me in.
CITIZEN. 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.
KING JOHN. Doth not the crown of England prove the king? And if not that, I bring you witnesses, Twice fifteen thousand hearts of England's breed,—
BASTARD. Bastards, and else.
KING JOHN. To verify our title with their lives.
KING PHILIP. As many and as well-born bloods as those,—
BASTARD. Some bastards too.
KING PHILIP. Stand in his face, to contradict his claim.
FIRST CITIZEN. Till you compound whose right is worthiest, We for the worthiest hold the right from both.
KING JOHN. Then God forgive the sin of all those souls That to their everlasting residence, Before the dew of evening fall, shall fleet, In dreadful trial of our kingdom's king!
KING PHILIP. Amen, Amen!—Mount, chevaliers; to arms!
BASTARD. Saint George, that swinged the dragon, and e'er since Sits on his horse' back at mine hostess' door, Teach us some fence!—Sirrah [To AUSTRIA.], were I at home, At your den, sirrah, with your lioness, I would set an ox-head to your lion's hide, And make a monster of you.
AUSTRIA. Peace! no more.
BASTARD. O, tremble, for you hear the lion roar.
KING JOHN. Up higher to the plain; where we'll set forth In best appointment all our regiments.
BASTARD. Speed, then, to take advantage of the field.
KING PHILIP. It shall be so;—[To LOUIS.] and at the other hill Command the rest to stand.—God and our right!
[After excursions, enter a French Herald, with trumpets, to the gates.]
FRENCH HERALD. You men of Angiers, open wide your gates And let young Arthur, Duke of Bretagne, in, Who, by the hand of France, this day hath made Much work for tears in many an English mother, Whose sons lie scatter'd on the bleeding ground; Many a widow's husband grovelling lies, Coldly embracing the discolour'd earth; And victory, with little loss, doth play Upon the dancing banners of the French, Who are at hand, triumphantly display'd, To enter conquerors, and to proclaim Arthur of Bretagne England's king and yours.
[Enter an ENGLISH HERALD, with trumpets.]
ENGLISH HERALD. Rejoice, you men of Angiers, ring your bells: 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 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; 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.
FIRST CITIZEN. 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: 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, We hold our town for neither; yet for both.
[Enter, on one side, KING JOHN, ELINOR, BLANCH, the BASTARD, and Forces; at the other, KING PHILIP, LOUIS, AUSTRIA, and Forces.]
KING 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, Shall leave his native channel, and o'erswell With course disturb'd even thy confining shores, Unless thou let his silver water keep A peaceful progress to the ocean.
KING PHILIP. 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, 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 With slaughter coupled to the name of kings.
BASTARD. 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; 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? 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!
KING JOHN. Whose party do the townsmen yet admit?
KING PHILIP. Speak, citizens, for England; who's your king?
FIRST CITIZEN. The King of England, when we know the king.
KING PHILIP. Know him in us, that here hold up his right.
KING JOHN. In us, that are our own great deputy, And bear possession of our person here; Lord of our presence, Angiers, and of you.
FIRST CITIZEN. A greater power than we denies all this; And till it be undoubted, we do lock Our former scruple in our strong-barr'd gates; King'd of our fears, until our fears, resolv'd, Be by some certain king purg'd and depos'd.
BASTARD. 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. 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: 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: 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, 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, 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?
KING JOHN. Now, by the sky that hangs above our heads, I like it well.—France, shall we knit our powers, And lay this Angiers even with the ground; Then, after, fight who shall be king of it?
BASTARD. 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; 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!
KING PHILIP. Let it be so.—Say, where will you assault?
KING JOHN. We from the west will send destruction Into this city's bosom.
AUSTRIA. I from the north.
KING PHILIP. Our thunder from the south Shall rain their drift of bullets on this town.
BASTARD. O prudent discipline! From north to south,— Austria and France shoot in each other's mouth: I'll stir them to it.[Aside.]—Come, away, away!
FIRST CITIZEN. Hear us, great kings: vouchsafe awhile to stay, 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: Persever not, but hear me, mighty kings.
KING JOHN. Speak on with favour; we are bent to hear.
FIRST CITIZEN. That daughter there of Spain, the Lady Blanch, Is niece to England:—look upon the years Of Louis 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, 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, 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: 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. 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, 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, 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 More free from motion; no, not Death himself In mortal fury half so peremptory As we to keep this city.
BASTARD. Here's a stay That shakes the rotten carcase of old Death 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! 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 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.
ELINOR. Son, list to this conjunction, make this match; 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 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, Lest zeal, now melted by the windy breath Of soft petitions, pity, and remorse, Cool and congeal again to what it was.
FIRST CITIZEN. Why answer not the double majesties This friendly treaty of our threaten'd town?
KING PHILIP. Speak England first, that hath been forward first To speak unto this city: what say you?
KING JOHN. If that the Dauphin there, thy princely son, Can in this book of beauty read 'I love,' Her dowry shall weigh equal with a queen; For Anjou, and fair Touraine, Maine, Poictiers, And all that we upon this side the sea,— 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, As she in beauty, education, blood, Holds hand with any princess of the world.
KING PHILIP. What say'st thou, boy? look in the lady's face.
LOUIS. I do, my lord, and in her eye I find 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 Till now infixed I beheld myself Drawn in the flattering table of her eye.
[Whispers with BLANCH.]
BASTARD. [Aside.] 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 In such a love so vile a lout as he.
BLANCH. 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; Or if you will, to speak more properly, I will enforce it easily to my love. Further, I will not flatter you, my lord, That all I see in you is worthy love, 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.
KING JOHN. What say these young ones?—What say you, my niece?
BLANCH. That she is bound in honour still to do What you in wisdom still vouchsafe to say.
KING JOHN. Speak then, Prince Dauphin; can you love this lady?
LOUIS. Nay, ask me if I can refrain from love; For I do love her most unfeignedly.
KING JOHN. Then do I give Volquessen, Touraine, Maine, Poictiers, and Anjou, these five provinces, 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.
KING PHILIP. It likes us well.—Young princes, close your hands.
AUSTRIA. And your lips too; for I am well assur'd That I did so when I was first assur'd.
KING PHILIP. Now, citizens of Angiers, ope your gates, Let in that amity which you have made; For at Saint Mary's chapel presently The rites of marriage shall be solemniz'd.— Is not the Lady Constance in this troop? I know she is not; for this match made up Her presence would have interrupted much: Where is she and her son? tell me, who knows.
LOUIS. She is sad and passionate at your highness' tent.
KING PHILIP. And, by my faith, this league that we have made Will give her sadness very little cure.— Brother of England, how may we content This widow lady? In her right we came; Which we, God knows, have turn'd another way, To our own vantage.
KING JOHN. We will heal up all; For we'll create young Arthur Duke of Bretagne, And Earl of Richmond; and this rich fair town We make him lord of.—Call the Lady Constance: Some speedy messenger bid her repair To our solemnity:—I trust we shall, If not fill up the measure of her will, Yet in some measure satisfy her so That we shall stop her exclamation. Go we, as well as haste will suffer us, To this unlook'd-for, unprepared pomp.
[Exeunt all but the BASTARD. The Citizens retire from the Walls.]
BASTARD. 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, 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, Of kings, of beggars, old men, young men, maids,— Who having no external thing to lose But the word maid, cheats the poor maid of that; That smooth-fac'd gentleman, tickling commodity,— Commodity, the bias of the world; The world, who of itself is peised well, Made to run even upon even ground, 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: 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, 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: 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. 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: Since kings break faith upon commodity, Gain, be my lord!—for I will worship thee.
SCENE 1. France. The FRENCH KING'S tent.
[Enter CONSTANCE, ARTHUR, and SALISBURY.]
CONSTANCE. Gone to be married! gone to swear a peace! False blood to false blood join'd! gone to be friends! Shall Louis have Blanch? and Blanch those provinces? It is not so; thou hast misspoke, misheard; 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: 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; 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, 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? 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? Then speak again,—not all thy former tale, But this one word, whether thy tale be true.
SALISBURY. As true as I believe you think them false That give you cause to prove my saying true.
CONSTANCE. O, if thou teach me to believe this sorrow, Teach thou this sorrow how to make me die; And let belief and life encounter so As doth the fury of two desperate men, Which in the very meeting fall and die!— Louis marry Blanch! O boy, then where art thou? France friend with England! what becomes of me?— Fellow, be gone: I cannot brook thy sight; This news hath made thee a most ugly man.
SALISBURY. What other harm have I, good lady, done, But spoke the harm that is by others done?
CONSTANCE. Which harm within itself so heinous is, As it makes harmful all that speak of it.
ARTHUR. I do beseech you, madam, be content.
CONSTANCE. If thou, that bid'st me be content, wert grim, Ugly, and slanderous to thy mother's womb, 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; 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, 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; 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— 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 Am bound to under-bear.
SALISBURY. Pardon me, madam, I may not go without you to the kings.
CONSTANCE. Thou mayst, thou shalt; I will not go with thee: I will instruct my sorrows to be proud; For grief is proud, and makes his owner stout. 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 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, LOUIS, BLANCH, ELINOR, BASTARD, AUSTRIA, and attendants.]
KING PHILIP. 'Tis true, fair daughter; and this blessed day Ever in France shall be kept festival: To solemnize this day the glorious sun Stays in his course and plays the alchemist, Turning, with splendour of his precious eye, The meagre cloddy earth to glittering gold: The yearly course that brings this day about Shall never see it but a holiday.
CONSTANCE. [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 Among the high tides in the calendar? Nay, rather turn this day out of the week, This day of shame, oppression, perjury: Or, if it must stand still, let wives with child 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 wreck; 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!
KING PHILIP. By heaven, lady, you shall have no cause To curse the fair proceedings of this day. Have I not pawn'd to you my majesty?
CONSTANCE. You have beguil'd me with a counterfeit Resembling majesty; which, being touch'd and tried, 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, 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! 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!
AUSTRIA. Lady Constance, peace!
CONSTANCE. War! war! no peace! peace is to me a war. O Lymoges! O Austria! thou dost shame That bloody spoil: thou slave, thou wretch, thou coward! Thou little valiant, great in villainy! Thou ever strong upon the stronger side! Thou Fortune's champion that dost never fight But when her humorous ladyship is by To teach thee safety!—thou art perjur'd too, And sooth'st up greatness. What a fool art thou, A ramping fool, to brag, and stamp. and swear Upon my party! Thou cold-blooded slave, Hast thou not spoke like thunder on my side? Been sworn my soldier? bidding me depend Upon thy stars, thy fortune, and thy strength? And dost thou now fall over to my foes? Thou wear a lion's hide! doff it for shame, And hang a calf's-skin on those recreant limbs!
AUSTRIA. O that a man should speak those words to me!
BASTARD. And hang a calf's-skin on those recreant limbs.
AUSTRIA. Thou dar'st not say so, villain, for thy life.
BASTARD. And hang a calf's-skin on those recreant limbs.
KING JOHN. We like not this: thou dost forget thyself.
KING PHILIP. Here comes the holy legate of the Pope.
PANDULPH. Hail, you anointed deputies of heaven!— To thee, King John, my holy errand is. I Pandulph, of fair Milan cardinal, And from Pope Innocent the legate here, Do in his name religiously demand Why thou against the church, our holy mother, So wilfully dost spurn; and, force perforce Keep Stephen Langton, chosen Archbishop Of Canterbury, from that holy see? This, in our foresaid holy father's name, Pope Innocent, I do demand of thee.
KING JOHN. What earthly name to interrogatories Can task the free breath of a sacred king? Thou canst not, cardinal, devise a name So slight, unworthy, and ridiculous, To charge me to an answer, as the pope. Tell him this tale; and from the mouth of England 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, 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.
KING PHILIP. Brother of England, you blaspheme in this.
KING 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, Purchase corrupted pardon of a man, Who in that sale sells pardon from himself; Though you and all the rest, so grossly led, This juggling witchcraft with revenue cherish; Yet I, alone, alone do me oppose Against the pope, and count his friends my foes.
PANDULPH. 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 an heretic; And meritorious shall that hand be call'd, Canonized, and worshipp'd as a saint, That takes away by any secret course Thy hateful life.
CONSTANCE. O, lawful let it be That I have room with Rome to curse awhile! Good father Cardinal, cry thou amen To my keen curses: for without my wrong There is no tongue hath power to curse him right.
PANDULPH. There's law and warrant, lady, for my curse.
CONSTANCE. 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, How can the law forbid my tongue to curse?
PANDULPH. Philip of France, on peril of a curse, Let go the hand of that arch-heretic, And raise the power of France upon his head, Unless he do submit himself to Rome.
ELINOR. Look'st thou pale, France; do not let go thy hand.
CONSTANCE Look to that, devil; lest that France repent And, by disjoining hands, hell lose a soul.
AUSTRIA. King Philip, listen to the cardinal.
BASTARD. And hang a calf's-skin on his recreant limbs.
AUSTRIA. Well, ruffian, I must pocket up these wrongs, Because—
BASTARD. Your breeches best may carry them.
KING JOHN. Philip, what say'st thou to the cardinal?
CONSTANCE. What should he say, but as the cardinal?
LOUIS. Bethink you, father; for the difference Is, purchase of a heavy curse from Rome, Or the light loss of England for a friend: Forgo the easier.
BLANCH. That's the curse of Rome.
CONSTANCE. O Louis, stand fast! The devil tempts thee here In likeness of a new uptrimmed bride.
BLANCH. The Lady Constance speaks not from her faith, But from her need.
CONSTANCE. O, if thou grant my need, Which only lives but by the death of faith, 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!
KING JOHN. The king is mov'd, and answers not to this.
CONSTANCE. O be remov'd from him, and answer well!
AUSTRIA. Do so, King Philip; hang no more in doubt.
BASTARD. Hang nothing but a calf's-skin, most sweet lout.
KING PHILIP. I am perplex'd, and know not what to say.
PANDULPH. What canst thou say, but will perplex thee more, If thou stand excommunicate and curs'd?
KING PHILIP. Good reverend father, make my person yours, And tell me how you would bestow yourself. This royal hand and mine are newly knit, And the conjunction of our inward souls Married in league, coupled and link'd together With all religious strength of sacred vows; The latest breath that gave the sound of words Was deep-sworn faith, peace, amity, true love, Between our kingdoms and our royal selves; And even before this truce, but new before,— 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 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, 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. 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.
PANDULPH. 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. France, thou mayst hold a serpent by the tongue, A chafed lion by the mortal paw, A fasting tiger safer by the tooth, Than keep in peace that hand which thou dost hold.
KING PHILIP. I may disjoin my hand, but not my faith.
PANDULPH. So mak'st thou faith an enemy to faith; And, like a civil war, sett'st oath to oath, 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: 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: The better act of purposes mistook Is to mistake again; though indirect, Yet indirection thereby grows direct, And falsehood falsehood cures, as fire cools fire Within the scorched veins of one new-burn'd. It is religion that doth make vows kept; But thou hast sworn against religion, By what thou swear'st against the thing thou swear'st; And mak'st an oath the surety for thy truth Against an oath: the truth thou art unsure To swear, swears only not to be forsworn; Else what a mockery should it be to swear! But thou dost swear only to be forsworn; And most forsworn, to keep what thou dost swear. Therefore thy latter vows against thy first 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: Upon which better part our prayers come in, If thou vouchsafe them; but if not, then know The peril of our curses fight on thee, So heavy as thou shalt not shake them off, But in despair die under the black weight.
AUSTRIA. Rebellion, flat rebellion!
BASTARD. Will't not be? Will not a calf's-skin stop that mouth of thine?
LOUIS. Father, to arms!
BLANCH. Upon thy wedding-day? 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? 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 Against mine uncle.
CONSTANCE. O, upon my knee, Made hard with kneeling, I do pray to thee, Thou virtuous Dauphin, alter not the doom Forethought by heaven.
BLANCH. Now shall I see thy love: what motive may Be stronger with thee than the name of wife?
CONSTANCE. That which upholdeth him that thee upholds, His honour:—O, thine honour, Louis, thine honour!
LOUIS. I muse your majesty doth seem so cold, When such profound respects do pull you on.
PANDULPH. I will denounce a curse upon his head.
KING PHILIP. Thou shalt not need.—England, I will fall from thee.
CONSTANCE. O fair return of banish'd majesty!
ELINOR. O foul revolt of French inconstancy!
KING JOHN. France, thou shalt rue this hour within this hour.
BASTARD. Old Time the clock-setter, that bald sexton Time, Is it as he will? well, then, France shall rue.
BLANCH. 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; 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; Grandam, I will not wish thy wishes thrive: Whoever wins, on that side shall I lose; Assured loss before the match be play'd.
LOUIS. Lady, with me: with me thy fortune lies.
BLANCH. There where my fortune lives, there my life dies.
KING JOHN. Cousin, go draw our puissance together.—
France, I am burn'd up with inflaming wrath; A rage whose heat hath this condition, That nothing can allay, nothing but blood,— The blood, and dearest-valu'd blood of France.
KING PHILIP. Thy rage shall burn thee up, and thou shalt turn To ashes, ere our blood shall quench that fire: Look to thyself, thou art in jeopardy.
KING JOHN. No more than he that threats.—To arms let's hie!
SCENE 2. The same. Plains near Angiers
[Alarums. Excursions. Enter the BASTARD with AUSTRIA'S head.]
BASTARD. 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.
[Enter KING JOHN, ARTHUR, and HUBERT.]
KING JOHN. Hubert, keep this boy.—Philip, make up: My mother is assailed in our tent, And ta'en, I fear.
BASTARD. My lord, I rescu'd her; Her highness is in safety, fear you not: But on, my liege; for very little pains Will bring this labour to an happy end.
SCENE 3. The same.
[Alarums, Excursions, Retreat. Enter KING JOHN, ELINOR, ARTHUR, the BASTARD, HUBERT, and LORDS.]
KING 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.
ARTHUR. O, this will make my mother die with grief!
KING JOHN. Cousin [To the BASTARD], away for England; haste before: And, ere our coming, see thou shake the bags Of hoarding abbots; imprison'd angels Set at liberty: the fat ribs of peace Must by the hungry now be fed upon: Use our commission in his utmost force.
BASTARD. Bell, book, and candle shall not drive me back, When gold and silver becks me to come on. I leave your highness.—Grandam, I will pray,— If ever I remember to be holy,— For your fair safety; so, I kiss your hand.
ELINOR. Farewell, gentle cousin.
KING JOHN. Coz, farewell.
ELINOR. Come hither, little kinsman; hark, a word.
[She takes Arthur aside.]
KING JOHN. Come hither, Hubert. O my gentle Hubert, We owe thee much! within this wall of flesh 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. 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.
HUBERT. I am much bounden to your majesty.
KING 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. 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 To give me audience:—if the midnight bell Did, with his iron tongue and brazen mouth, Sound on into the drowsy race of night; If this same were a churchyard where we stand, And thou possessed with a thousand wrongs; 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, And strain their cheeks to idle merriment— A passion hateful to my purposes;— Or if that thou couldst see me without eyes, Hear me without thine ears, and make reply Without a tongue, using conceit alone, Without eyes, ears, and harmful sound of words,— Then, in despite of brooded watchful day, I would into thy bosom pour my thoughts: But, ah, I will not!—yet I love thee well; And, by my troth, I think thou lov'st me well.
HUBERT. So well that what you bid me undertake, Though that my death were adjunct to my act, By heaven, I would do it.
KING JOHN. Do not I know thou wouldst? Good Hubert, Hubert, Hubert, throw thine eye On yon young boy: I'll tell thee what, my friend, He is a very serpent in my way; And wheresoe'er this foot of mine doth tread, He lies before me: dost thou understand me? Thou art his keeper.
HUBERT. And I'll keep him so That he shall not offend your majesty.
KING JOHN. Death.
HUBERT. My lord?
KING JOHN. A grave.
HUBERT. He shall not live.
KING JOHN. Enough!— I could be merry now. Hubert, I love thee; Well, I'll not say what I intend for thee: Remember.—Madam, fare you well: I'll send those powers o'er to your majesty.
ELINOR. My blessing go with thee!
KING JOHN. For England, cousin, go: Hubert shall be your man, attend on you With all true duty.—On toward Calais, ho!
SCENE 4. The same. The FRENCH KING's tent.
[Enter KING PHILIP, LOUIS, PANDULPH, and Attendants.]
KING PHILIP. So, by a roaring tempest on the flood A whole armado of convicted sail Is scattered and disjoin'd from fellowship.
PANDULPH. Courage and comfort! all shall yet go well.
KING PHILIP. What can go well, when we have run so ill. Are we not beaten? Is not Angiers lost? Arthur ta'en prisoner? divers dear friends slain? And bloody England into England gone, O'erbearing interruption, spite of France?
LOUIS. What he hath won, that hath he fortified: So hot a speed with such advice dispos'd, Such temperate order in so fierce a cause, Doth want example: who hath read or heard Of any kindred action like to this?
KING PHILIP. Well could I bear that England had this praise, So we could find some pattern of our shame.— Look who comes here! a grave unto a soul; Holding the eternal spirit, against her will, In the vile prison of afflicted breath.
I pr'ythee, lady, go away with me.
CONSTANCE. Lo, now! now see the issue of your peace!
KING PHILIP. Patience, good lady! comfort, gentle Constance!
CONSTANCE. No, I defy all counsel, all redress, But that which ends all counsel, true redress, Death, death:—O amiable lovely death! Thou odoriferous stench! sound rottenness! Arise forth from the couch of lasting night, Thou hate and terror to prosperity, And I will kiss thy detestable bones; And put my eyeballs in thy vaulty brows; And ring these fingers with thy household worms; And stop this gap of breath with fulsome dust, And be a carrion monster like thyself: Come, grin on me; and I will think thou smil'st, And buss thee as thy wife! Misery's love, O, come to me!
KING PHILIP. O fair affliction, peace!
CONSTANCE. No, no, I will not, having breath to cry:— O, that my tongue were in the thunder's mouth! Then with a passion would I shake the world; And rouse from sleep that fell anatomy Which cannot hear a lady's feeble voice, Which scorns a modern invocation.
PANDULPH. Lady, you utter madness, and not sorrow.
CONSTANCE. Thou art not holy to belie me so; I am not mad: this hair I tear is mine; My name is Constance; I was Geffrey's wife; Young Arthur is my son, and he is lost: I am not mad:—I would to heaven I were! For then, 'tis like I should forget myself: O, if I could, what grief should I forget!— Preach some philosophy to make me mad, And thou shalt be canoniz'd, cardinal; For, being not mad, but sensible of grief, My reasonable part produces reason How I may be deliver'd of these woes, And teaches me to kill or hang myself: If I were mad I should forget my son, Or madly think a babe of clouts were he: I am not mad; too well, too well I feel The different plague of each calamity.
KING PHILIP. Bind up those tresses.—O, what love I note In the fair multitude of those her hairs! Where but by a chance a silver drop hath fallen, Even to that drop ten thousand wiry friends Do glue themselves in sociable grief; Like true, inseparable, faithful loves, Sticking together in calamity.
CONSTANCE. To England, if you will.
KING PHILIP. Bind up your hairs.
CONSTANCE. Yes, that I will; and wherefore will I do it? I tore them from their bonds, and cried aloud, 'O that these hands could so redeem my son, As they have given these hairs their liberty!' But now I envy at their liberty, And will again commit them to their bonds, Because my poor child is a prisoner.— And, father cardinal, I have heard you say That we shall see and know our friends in heaven: If that be true, I shall see my boy again; For since the birth of Cain, the first male child, To him that did but yesterday suspire, There was not such a gracious creature born. But now will canker sorrow eat my bud, And chase the native beauty from his cheek, And he will look as hollow as a ghost, As dim and meagre as an ague's fit; And so he'll die; and, rising so again, When I shall meet him in the court of heaven I shall not know him: therefore never, never Must I behold my pretty Arthur more!
PANDULPH. You hold too heinous a respect of grief.
CONSTANCE. He talks to me that never had a son.
KING PHILIP. You are as fond of grief as of your child.
CONSTANCE. Grief fills the room up of my absent child, Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me, Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words, Remembers me of all his gracious parts, Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form; Then have I reason to be fond of grief. Fare you well: had you such a loss as I, I could give better comfort than you do.— I will not keep this form upon my head,
[Tearing off her head-dress.]
When there is such disorder in my wit. O Lord! my boy, my Arthur, my fair son! My life, my joy, my food, my ail the world! My widow-comfort, and my sorrows' cure!
KING PHILIP. I fear some outrage, and I'll follow her.
LOUIS. There's nothing in this world can make me joy: Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man; And bitter shame hath spoil'd the sweet world's taste, That it yields nought but shame and bitterness.
PANDULPH. Before the curing of a strong disease, Even in the instant of repair and health, The fit is strongest; evils that take leave On their departure most of all show evil; What have you lost by losing of this day?
LOUIS. All days of glory, joy, and happiness.
PANDULPH. If you had won it, certainly you had. No, no; when Fortune means to men most good, She looks upon them with a threatening eye. 'Tis strange to think how much King John hath lost In this which he accounts so clearly won. Are not you griev'd that Arthur is his prisoner?
LouIS. As heartily as he is glad he hath him.
PANDULPH. Your mind is all as youthful as your blood. Now hear me speak with a prophetic spirit; For even the breath of what I mean to speak Shall blow each dust, each straw, each little rub, Out of the path which shall directly lead Thy foot to England's throne; and therefore mark. John hath seiz'd Arthur; and it cannot be That, whiles warm life plays in that infant's veins, The misplac'd John should entertain an hour, One minute, nay, one quiet breath of rest: A sceptre snatch'd with an unruly hand Must be boisterously maintain'd as gain'd: And he that stands upon a slippery place Makes nice of no vile hold to stay him up: That John may stand then, Arthur needs must fall: So be it, for it cannot be but so.
LOUIS. But what shall I gain by young Arthur's fall?
PANDULPH. You, in the right of Lady Blanch your wife, May then make all the claim that Arthur did.
LOUIS. And lose it, life and all, as Arthur did.
PANDULPH. How green you are, and fresh in this old world! John lays you plots; the times conspire with you; For he that steeps his safety in true blood Shall find but bloody safety and untrue. This act, so evilly borne, shall cool the hearts Of all his people, and freeze up their zeal, That none so small advantage shall step forth To check his reign, but they will cherish it; No natural exhalation in the sky, No scope of nature, no distemper'd day, No common wind, no customed event, But they will pluck away his natural cause And call them meteors, prodigies, and signs, Abortives, presages, and tongues of heaven, Plainly denouncing vengeance upon John.
LOUIS. May be he will not touch young Arthur's life, But hold himself safe in his prisonment.
PANDULPH. O, sir, when he shall hear of your approach, If that young Arthur be not gone already, Even at that news he dies; and then the hearts Of all his people shall revolt from him, And kiss the lips of unacquainted change; And pick strong matter of revolt and wrath Out of the bloody fingers' ends of john. Methinks I see this hurly all on foot: And, O, what better matter breeds for you Than I have nam'd!—The bastard Falconbridge Is now in England, ransacking the church, Offending charity: if but a dozen French Were there in arms, they would be as a call To train ten thousand English to their side: Or as a little snow, tumbled about Anon becomes a mountain. O noble Dauphin, Go with me to the king:—'tis wonderful What may be wrought out of their discontent, Now that their souls are topful of offence: For England go:—I will whet on the king.
LOUIS. Strong reasons makes strong actions: let us go: If you say ay, the king will not say no.
SCENE 1. Northampton. A Room in the Castle.
[Enter HUBERT and two Attendants.]
HUBERT. Heat me these irons hot; and look thou stand Within the arras: when I strike my foot Upon the bosom of the ground, rush forth And bind the boy which you shall find with me Fast to the chair: be heedful: hence, and watch.
FIRST ATTENDANT. I hope your warrant will bear out the deed.
HUBERT. Uncleanly scruples! Fear not you; look to't.—
Young lad, come forth; I have to say with you.
ARTHUR. Good morrow, Hubert.
HUBERT. Good morrow, little prince.
ARTHUR. As little prince, having so great a tide To be more prince, as may be.—You are sad.
HUBERT. Indeed I have been merrier.
ARTHUR. Mercy on me! Methinks no body should be sad but I: Yet, I remember, when I was in France, Young gentlemen would be as sad as night, Only for wantonness. By my christendom, So I were out of prison, and kept sheep, I should be as merry as the day is long; And so I would be here, but that I doubt My uncle practises more harm to me: He is afraid of me, and I of him: Is it my fault that I was Geffrey's son? No, indeed, is't not; and I would to heaven I were your son, so you would love me, Hubert.
HUBERT. [Aside.] If I talk to him, with his innocent prate He will awake my mercy, which lies dead: Therefore I will be sudden and despatch.
ARTHUR. Are you sick, Hubert? you look pale to-day: In sooth, I would you were a little sick, That I might sit all night and watch with you: I warrant I love you more than you do me.
HUBERT. [Aside.] His words do take possession of my bosom.— Read here, young Arthur.
[Showing a paper.]
[Aside.] How now, foolish rheum! Turning dispiteous torture out of door! I must be brief, lest resolution drop Out at mine eyes in tender womanish tears.— Can you not read it? is it not fair writ?
ARTHUR. Too fairly, Hubert, for so foul effect. Must you with hot irons burn out both mine eyes?
HUBERT. Young boy, I must.
ARTHUR. And will you?
HUBERT. And I will.
ARTHUR. Have you the heart? When your head did but ache, I knit my handkerchief about your brows,— The best I had, a princess wrought it me,— And I did never ask it you again; And with my hand at midnight held your head; And, like the watchful minutes to the hour, Still and anon cheer'd up the heavy time, Saying 'What lack you?' and 'Where lies your grief?' Or 'What good love may I perform for you?' Many a poor man's son would have lien still, And ne'er have spoke a loving word to you; But you at your sick service had a prince. Nay, you may think my love was crafty love, And call it cunning.—do, an if you will: If heaven be pleas'd that you must use me ill, Why, then you must.—Will you put out mine eyes, These eyes that never did nor never shall So much as frown on you?
HUBERT. I have sworn to do it! And with hot irons must I burn them out.
ARTHUR. Ah, none but in this iron age would do it! The iron of itself, though heat red-hot, Approaching near these eyes would drink my tears, And quench his fiery indignation, Even in the matter of mine innocence; Nay, after that, consume away in rust, But for containing fire to harm mine eye. Are you more stubborn-hard than hammer'd iron? An if an angel should have come to me And told me Hubert should put out mine eyes, I would not have believ'd him,—no tongue but Hubert's.
HUBERT. [Stamps.] Come forth.
[Re-enter Attendants, with cords, irons, &c.]
Do as I bid you do.
ARTHUR. O, save me, Hubert, save me! my eyes are out Even with the fierce looks of these bloody men.
HUBERT. Give me the iron, I say, and bind him here.
ARTHUR. Alas, what need you be so boist'rous rough? I will not struggle, I will stand stone-still. For heaven sake, Hubert, let me not be bound! Nay, hear me, Hubert!—drive these men away, And I will sit as quiet as a lamb; I will not stir, nor wince, nor speak a word, Nor look upon the iron angerly: Thrust but these men away, and I'll forgive you, Whatever torment you do put me to.
HUBERT. Go, stand within; let me alone with him.
FIRST ATTENDANT. I am best pleas'd to be from such a deed.
ARTHUR. Alas, I then have chid away my friend! He hath a stern look but a gentle heart:— Let him come back, that his compassion may Give life to yours.
HUBERT. Come, boy, prepare yourself.
ARTHUR. Is there no remedy?
HUBERT. None, but to lose your eyes.
ARTHUR. O heaven!—that there were but a mote in yours, A grain, a dust, a gnat, a wandering hair, Any annoyance in that precious sense! Then, feeling what small things are boisterous there, Your vile intent must needs seem horrible.
HUBERT. Is this your promise? go to, hold your tongue.
ARTHUR. Hubert, the utterance of a brace of tongues Must needs want pleading for a pair of eyes: Let me not hold my tongue,—let me not, Hubert; Or, Hubert, if you will, cut out my tongue, So I may keep mine eyes: O, spare mine eyes, Though to no use but still to look on you!— Lo, by my troth, the instrument is cold And would not harm me.
HUBERT. I can heat it, boy.
ARTHUR. No, in good sooth; the fire is dead with grief, Being create for comfort, to be us'd In undeserv'd extremes: see else yourself; There is no malice in this burning coal; The breath of heaven hath blown his spirit out, And strew'd repentant ashes on his head.
HUBERT. But with my breath I can revive it, boy.
ARTHUR. An if you do, you will but make it blush, And glow with shame of your proceedings, Hubert. Nay, it, perchance will sparkle in your eyes; And, like a dog that is compell'd to fight, Snatch at his master that doth tarre him on. All things that you should use to do me wrong, Deny their office: only you do lack That mercy which fierce fire and iron extends, Creatures of note for mercy-lacking uses.
HUBERT. Well, see to live; I will not touch thine eye For all the treasure that thine uncle owes: Yet I am sworn, and I did purpose, boy, With this same very iron to burn them out.
ARTHUR. O, now you look like Hubert! all this while You were disguised.
HUBERT. Peace; no more. Adieu! Your uncle must not know but you are dead; I'll fill these dogged spies with false reports: And, pretty child, sleep doubtless and secure That Hubert, for the wealth of all the world, Will not offend thee.
ARTHUR. O heaven! I thank you, Hubert.
HUBERT. Silence; no more: go closely in with me: Much danger do I undergo for thee.
SCENE 2.The same. A Room of State in the Palace.
[Enter KING JOHN, crowned, PEMBROKE, SALISBURY, and other LORDS. The KING takes his State.]
KING JOHN. Here once again we sit, once again crown'd, And look'd upon, I hope, with cheerful eyes.
PEMBROKE. This once again, but that your highness pleas'd, Was once superfluous: you were crown'd before, And that high royalty was ne'er pluck'd off; The faiths of men ne'er stained with revolt; Fresh expectation troubled not the land With any long'd-for change or better state.
SALISBURY. Therefore, to be possess'd with double pomp, To guard a title that was rich before, To gild refined gold, to paint the lily, To throw a perfume on the violet, To smooth the ice, or add another hue Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish, Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.
PEMBROKE. 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.
SALISBURY. In this, the antique and well-noted face Of plain old form is much disfigured; And, like a shifted wind unto a sail, It makes the course of thoughts to fetch about; Startles and frights consideration; Makes sound opinion sick, and truth suspected, For putting on so new a fashion'd robe.
PEMBROKE. When workmen strive to do better than well, They do confound their skill in covetousness; And oftentimes excusing of a fault Doth make the fault the worse by the excuse,— As patches set upon a little breach Discredit more in hiding of the fault Than did the fault before it was so patch'd.
SALISBURY. To this effect, before you were new-crown'd, We breath'd our counsel: but it pleas'd your highness To overbear it; and we are all well pleas'd, Since all and every part of what we would Doth make a stand at what your highness will.
KING JOHN. Some reasons of this double coronation I have possess'd you with, and think them strong; And more, more strong, when lesser is my fear, I shall indue you with: meantime but ask What you would have reform'd that is not well, And well shall you perceive how willingly I will both hear and grant you your requests.
PEMBROKE. Then I,—as one that am the tongue of these, To sound the purposes of all their hearts,— Both for myself and them,—but, chief of all, Your safety, for the which myself and them Bend their best studies,—heartily request The enfranchisement of Arthur, whose restraint Doth move the murmuring lips of discontent To break into this dangerous argument,— If what in rest you have in right you hold, Why then your fears,—which, as they say, attend The steps of wrong,—should move you to mew up Your tender kinsman, and to choke his days With barbarous ignorance, and deny his youth The rich advantage of good exercise? That the time's enemies may not have this To grace occasions, let it be our suit That you have bid us ask his liberty; Which for our goods we do no further ask Than whereupon our weal, on you depending, Counts it your weal he have his liberty.
KING JOHN. Let it be so: I do commit his youth To your direction.
Hubert, what news with you?
PEMBROKE. This is the man should do the bloody deed; He show'd his warrant to a friend of mine: The image of a wicked heinous fault Lives in his eye; that close aspect of his Doth show the mood of a much-troubled breast; And I do fearfully believe 'tis done What we so fear'd he had a charge to do.
SALISBURY. The colour of the king doth come and go Between his purpose and his conscience, Like heralds 'twixt two dreadful battles set. His passion is so ripe it needs must break.
PEMBROKE. And when it breaks, I fear will issue thence The foul corruption of a sweet child's death.
KING 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.
SALISBURY. Indeed, we fear'd his sickness was past cure.
PEMBROKE. Indeed, we heard how near his death he was, Before the child himself felt he was sick: This must be answer'd either here or hence.
KING 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?
SALISBURY. It is apparent foul-play; and 'tis shame That greatness should so grossly offer it: So thrive it in your game! and so, farewell.
PEMBROKE. Stay yet, Lord Salisbury, I'll go with thee And find th' inheritance of this poor child, His little kingdom of a forced grave. That blood which ow'd the breadth of all this isle Three foot of it doth hold:—bad world the while! This must not be thus borne: this will break out To all our sorrows, and ere long, I doubt.
KING JOHN. They burn in indignation. I repent: There is no sure foundation set on blood; No certain life achiev'd by others' death.—
[Enter a MESSENGER.]
A fearful eye thou hast: where is that blood That I have seen inhabit in those cheeks? So foul a sky clears not without a storm: Pour down thy weather:—how goes all in France?
MESSENGER. From France to England.—Never such a power For any foreign preparation Was levied in the body of a land. The copy of your speed is learn'd by them; For when you should be told they do prepare, The tidings comes that they are all arriv'd.
KING JOHN. O, where hath our intelligence been drunk? Where hath it slept? Where is my mother's care, That such an army could be drawn in France, And she not hear of it?
MESSENGER. My liege, her ear Is stopp'd with dust; the first of April died Your noble mother; and as I hear, my lord, The Lady Constance in a frenzy died Three days before; but this from rumour's tongue I idly heard,—if true or false I know not.
KING 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!— Under whose conduct came those powers of France That thou for truth giv'st out are landed here?
MESSENGER. Under the Dauphin.
KING JOHN. Thou hast made me giddy With these in tidings.
[Enter the BASTARD and PETER OF POMFRET.]
Now! What says the world To your proceedings? do not seek to stuff My head with more ill news, for it is full.
BASTARD. But if you be afear'd to hear the worst, Then let the worst, unheard, fall on your head.
KING JOHN. Bear with me, cousin, for I was amaz'd Under the tide: but now I breathe again Aloft the flood; and can give audience To any tongue, speak it of what it will.
BASTARD. How I have sped among the clergymen, The sums I have collected shall express. But as I travell'd hither through the land, I find the people strangely fantasied; Possess'd with rumours, full of idle dreams. Not knowing what they fear, but full of fear; And here's a prophet that I brought with me From forth the streets of Pomfret, whom I found With many hundreds treading on his heels; To whom he sung, in rude harsh-sounding rhymes, That, ere the next Ascension-day at noon, Your highness should deliver up your crown.
KING JOHN. Thou idle dreamer, wherefore didst thou so?
PETER. Foreknowing that the truth will fall out so.
KING JOHN. Hubert, away with him; imprison him; And on that day at noon, whereon he says I shall yield up my crown, let him be 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?
BASTARD. The French, my lord; men's mouths are full of it; Besides, I met Lord Bigot and Lord Salisbury,— With eyes as red as new-enkindled fire, And others more, going to seek the grave Of Arthur, whom they say is kill'd to-night On your suggestion.
KING JOHN. Gentle kinsman, go And thrust thyself into their companies: I have a way to will their loves again: Bring them before me.
BASTARD. I will seek them out.
KING JOHN. Nay, but make haste; the better foot before. O, let me have no subject enemies When adverse foreigners affright my towns With dreadful pomp of stout invasion! Be Mercury, set feathers to thy heels, And fly like thought from them to me again.
BASTARD. The spirit of the time shall teach me speed.
KING JOHN. Spoke like a sprightful noble gentleman!
Go after him; for he perhaps shall need Some messenger betwixt me and the peers; And be thou he.
MESSENGER. With all my heart, my liege.
KING JOHN. My mother dead!
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.
KING JOHN. Five moons!
HUBERT. Old men and beldams in the streets Do prophesy upon it dangerously: Young Arthur's death is common in their mouths: And when they talk of him, they shake their heads, And whisper one another in the ear; And he that speaks doth gripe the hearer's wrist; Whilst he that hears makes fearful action With wrinkled brows, with nods, with rolling eyes. I saw a smith stand with his hammer, thus, The whilst his iron did on the anvil cool, With open mouth swallowing a tailor's news; Who, with his shears and measure in his hand, Standing on slippers,—which his nimble haste Had falsely thrust upon contrary feet,— Told of a many thousand warlike French That were embattailed and rank'd in Kent. Another lean unwash'd artificer Cuts off his tale, and talks of Arthur's death.
KING 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 To wish him dead, but thou hadst none to kill him.
HUBERT. No had, my lord! why, did you not provoke me?
KING JOHN. It is the curse of kings to be attended By slaves that take their humours for a warrant To break within the bloody house of life; And, on the winking of authority, To understand a law; to know the meaning Of dangerous majesty, when perchance it frowns More upon humour than advis'd respect.
HUBERT. Here is your hand and seal for what I did.
KING JOHN. O, when the last account 'twixt heaven and earth Is to be made, then shall this hand and seal Witness against us to damnation! How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds Make deeds ill done! Hadst not thou been by, A fellow by the hand of nature mark'd, Quoted and sign'd to do a deed of shame, This murder had not come into my mind: But, taking note of thy abhorr'd aspect, Finding thee fit for bloody villainy, Apt, liable to be employ'd in danger, I faintly broke with thee of Arthur's death; And thou, to be endeared to a king, Made it no conscience to destroy a prince.
HUBERT. My lord,—
KING JOHN. Hadst thou but shook thy head or made pause, When I spake darkly what I purpos'd, Or turn'd an eye of doubt upon my face, As bid me tell my tale in express words, Deep shame had struck me dumb, made me break off, And those thy fears might have wrought fears in me: But thou didst understand me by my signs, And didst in signs again parley with sin; Yea, without stop, didst let thy heart consent, And consequently thy rude hand to act The deed which both our tongues held vile to name.— Out of my sight, and never see me more! My nobles leave me; and my state is brav'd, Even at my gates, with ranks of foreign powers; Nay, in the body of the fleshly land, This kingdom, this confine of blood and breath, Hostility and civil tumult reigns Between my conscience and my cousin's death.
HUBERT. Arm you against your other enemies, I'll make a peace between your soul and you. Young Arthur is alive: this hand of mine Is yet a maiden and an innocent hand, Not painted with the crimson spots of blood. Within this bosom never enter'd yet The dreadful motion of a murderous thought; And you have slander'd nature in my form,— Which, howsoever rude exteriorly, Is yet the cover of a fairer mind Than to be butcher of an innocent child.
KING JOHN. Doth Arthur live? O, haste thee to the peers, Throw this report on their incensed rage, And make them tame to their obedience! Forgive the comment that my passion made Upon thy feature; for my rage was blind, And foul imaginary eyes of blood Presented thee more hideous than thou art. O, answer not; but to my closet bring The angry lords with all expedient haste: I conjure thee but slowly; run more fast.
SCENE 3. The same. Before the castle.
[Enter ARTHUR, on the Walls.]
ARTHUR. The wall is high, and yet will I leap down:— Good ground, be pitiful and hurt me not!— There's few or none do know me: if they did, This ship-boy's semblance hath disguis'd me quite. I am afraid; and yet I'll venture it. If I get down, and do not break my limbs, I'll find a thousand shifts to get away: As good to die and go, as die and stay.
O me! my uncle's spirit is in these stones:— Heaven take my soul, and England keep my bones!
[Enter PEMBROKE, SALISBURY, and BIGOT.]
SALISBURY. Lords, I will meet him at Saint Edmunds-Bury; It is our safety, and we must embrace This gentle offer of the perilous time.
PEMBROKE. Who brought that letter from the cardinal?
SALISBURY. The Count Melun, a noble lord of France, Whose private with me of the Dauphin's love Is much more general than these lines import.
BIGOT. To-morrow morning let us meet him then.
SALISBURY. Or rather then set forward; for 'twill be Two long days' journey, lords, or e'er we meet.
[Enter the BASTARD.]
BASTARD. Once more to-day well met, distemper'd lords! The king by me requests your presence straight.
SALISBURY. The King hath dispossess'd himself of us. We will not line his thin bestained cloak With our pure honours, nor attend the foot That leaves the print of blood where'er it walks. Return and tell him so: we know the worst.
BASTARD. Whate'er you think, good words, I think, were best.
SALISBURY. Our griefs, and not our manners, reason now.
BASTARD. But there is little reason in your grief; Therefore 'twere reason you had manners now.
PEMBROKE. Sir, sir, impatience hath his privilege.
BASTARD. 'Tis true,—to hurt his master, no man else.
SALISBURY. This is the prison:—what is he lies here?
PEMBROKE. O death, made proud with pure and princely beauty! The earth had not a hole to hide this deed.
SALISBURY. Murder, as hating what himself hath done, Doth lay it open to urge on revenge.
BIGOT. Or, when he doom'd this beauty to a grave, Found it too precious-princely for a grave.
SALISBURY. Sir Richard, what think you? Have you beheld, Or have you read or heard, or could you think? Or do you almost think, although you see, That you do see? could thought, without this object, Form such another? This is the very top, The height, the crest, or crest unto the crest, Of murder's arms: this is the bloodiest shame, The wildest savagery, the vilest stroke, That ever wall-ey'd wrath or staring rage Presented to the tears of soft remorse.
PEMBROKE. All murders past do stand excus'd in this; And this, so sole and so unmatchable, Shall give a holiness, a purity, To the yet unbegotten sin of times; And prove a deadly bloodshed but a jest, Exampled by this heinous spectacle.
BASTARD. It is a damned and a bloody work; The graceless action of a heavy hand,— If that it be the work of any hand.
SALISBURY. If that it be the work of any hand?— We had a kind of light what would ensue. It is the shameful work of Hubert's hand; The practice and the purpose of the king:— From whose obedience I forbid my soul, Kneeling before this ruin of sweet life, And breathing to his breathless excellence The incense of a vow, a holy vow, Never to taste the pleasures of the world, Never to be infected with delight, Nor conversant with ease and idleness, Till I have set a glory to this hand, By giving it the worship of revenge.
PEMBROKE. and BIGOT. Our souls religiously confirm thy words.
HUBERT. Lords, I am hot with haste in seeking you: Arthur doth live; the king hath sent for you.
SALISBURY. O, he is bold, and blushes not at death:— Avaunt, thou hateful villain, get thee gone!
HUBERT. I am no villain.
SALISBURY. Must I rob the law?
[Drawing his sword.]
BASTARD. Your sword is bright, sir; put it up again.
SALISBURY. Not till I sheathe it in a murderer's skin.
HUBERT. Stand back, Lord Salisbury,—stand back, I say; By heaven, I think my sword's as sharp as yours: I would not have you, lord, forget yourself, Nor tempt the danger of my true defence; Lest I, by marking of your rage, forget Your worth, your greatness, and nobility.
BIGOT. Out, dunghill! dar'st thou brave a nobleman?
HUBERT. Not for my life: but yet I dare defend My innocent life against an emperor.
SALISBURY. Thou art a murderer.
HUBERT. Do not prove me so; Yet I am none: whose tongue soe'er speaks false, Not truly speaks; who speaks not truly, lies.
PEMBROKE. Cut him to pieces.
BASTARD. Keep the peace, I say.
SALISBURY. Stand by, or I shall gall you, Falconbridge.
BASTARD. Thou wert better gall the devil, Salisbury: If thou but frown on me, or stir thy foot, Or teach thy hasty spleen to do me shame, I'll strike thee dead. Put up thy sword betime: Or I'll so maul you and your toasting-iron That you shall think the devil is come from hell.
BIGOT. What wilt thou do, renowned Falconbridge? Second a villain and a murderer?
HUBERT. Lord Bigot, I am none.
BIGOT. Who kill'd this prince?
HUBERT. 'Tis not an hour since I left him well: I honour'd him, I lov'd him, and will weep My date of life out for his sweet life's loss.