King John


Text
Act I
Act II
Act III
Act IV
Act V
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 disguised me quite.
semblance (n.) 1 appearance, outward show

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.
shift (n.) 4 stratagem, tactic, way

As good to die and go as die and stay.

He leaps down

O me! My uncle's spirit is in these stones!

Heaven take my soul, and England keep my bones!

He dies

Enter Pembroke, Salisbury, and Bigot


SALISBURY

Lords, I will meet him at Saint Edmundsbury.

It is our safety, and we must embrace
safety (n.) 1 prudent course of action, best safeguard

This gentle offer of the perilous time.
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind


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
private (n.) 2 private communication, confidential message

Is much more general than these lines import.
general (adj.) 2 all-embracing, universal, comprehensive
import (v.) 1 signify, mean, suggest


BIGOT

Tomorrow morning let us meet him then.


SALISBURY

Or rather then set forward; for 'twill be
set forward (v.) go forward, set out, go forth

Two long days' journey, lords, or ere we meet.

Enter the Bastard
distempered (adj.) 2 vexed, troubled, ill-humoured


BASTARD

Once more today well met, distempered lords!

The King by me requests your presence straight.
straight (adv.) straightaway, immediately, at once See Topics: Frequency count


SALISBURY

The King hath dispossessed himself of us;
dispossess (v.) cause to lose possession

We will not line his thin bestained cloak
bestained (adj.) stained all over, marked with stains

With our pure honours, nor attend the foot
attend (v.) 2 serve, follow, wait [on/upon]

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.
grief (n.) 1 grievance, complaint, hurt, injury


BASTARD

But there is little reason in your grief.

Therefore 'twere reason you had manners now.
reason (n.) 3 reasonable view, sensible judgement, right opinion


PEMBROKE

Sir, sir, impatience hath his privilege.
impatience (n.) 1 anger, rage, fury


BASTARD

'Tis true – to hurt his master, no man else.


SALISBURY

This is the prison.

He sees Arthur's body

                         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 doomed this beauty to a grave,
doom (v.) 2 condemn, pronounce judgement against

Found it too precious-princely for a grave.
precious-princely (adv.) like the precious character of a prince


SALISBURY

Sir Richard, what think you? You have beheld.

Or have you read, or heard, or could you think,

Or do you almost think, although you see,

That you do see? Could thought, without this object,

Form such another? This is the very top,

The height, the crest, or crest unto the crest,
crest (n.) 3 heraldic device placed above the shield and helmet in a coat-of-arms
heighth (n.) variant spelling of ‘height’

Of murder's arms. This is the bloodiest shame,

The wildest savagery, the vilest stroke,

That ever wall-eyed wrath or staring rage
wall-eyed with glaring eyes

Presented to the tears of soft remorse.
remorse (n.) 2 pity, compassion, tenderness


PEMBROKE

All murders past do stand excused in this.

And this, so sole and so unmatchable,
sole (adj.) 1 unique, unrivalled, singular

Shall give a holiness, a purity,

To the yet-unbegotten sin of times,
time (n.) 6 time to come, future days

And prove a deadly bloodshed but a jest,

Exampled by this heinous spectacle.
example (v.) 2 exemplify, illustrate
heinous (adj.) calamitous, terrible, severe


BASTARD

It is a damned and a bloody work,

The graceless action of a heavy hand –
graceless (adj.) wicked, ungodly, immoral
heavy (adj.) 10 brutal, oppressive, wicked

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.
light (n.) 2 inkling, foresight, glimmering

It is the shameful work of Hubert's hand,

The practise, and the purpose, of the King –
practice (n.) 1 scheme, plot, stratagem, intrigue
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count

From whose obedience I forbid my soul,

Kneeling before this ruin of sweet life,

And breathing to this breathless excellence

The incense of a vow, a holy vow,

Never to taste the pleasures of the world,

Never to be infected with delight,
infect (v.) affect, influence, stir

Nor conversant with ease and idleness,
conversant (adj.) occupied, concerned, having to do

Till I have set a glory to this hand

By giving it the worship of revenge.
worship (n.) 2 honour, distinction, repute


PEMBROKE and BIGOT

Our souls religiously confirm thy words.

Enter Hubert


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!
avaunt (int.) begone, go away, be off See Topics: Frequency count


HUBERT

I am no villain.


SALISBURY

                         Must I rob the law?

He draws 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;
defence (n.) 1 fencing, swordsmanship, skill of self-defence
tempt (v.) 1 try, test, make trial of
true (adj.) 12 [unclear meaning] skilful, of high quality; honest, justified

Lest I, by marking of your rage, forget
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count

Your worth, your greatness, and nobility.


BIGOT

Out, dunghill! Darest thou brave a nobleman?
brave (v.) 1 challenge, defy, confront, provoke


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.
false (adj.) 4 wrong, mistaken


PEMBROKE

Cut him to pieces!


BASTARD

                         Keep the peace, I say.


SALISBURY

Stand by, or I shall gall you, Faulconbridge.
by (adv.) 2 aside, out of the way
gall (v.) 3 injure, harm, wound


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,
spleen (n.) 2 irritability, malice, bad temper

I'll strike thee dead. Put up thy sword betime,
betime (adv.) 3 at once, immediately

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 Faulconbridge?

Second a villain and a murderer?


HUBERT

Lord Bigot, I am none.


BIGOT

                         Who killed this prince?


HUBERT

'Tis not an hour since I left him well.

I honoured him, I loved him, and will weep

My date of life out for his sweet life's loss.
date (n.) 1 duration, period of existence


SALISBURY

Trust not those cunning waters of his eyes,
water (n.) 1 tears

For villainy is not without such rheum,
rheum (n.) 1 tears

And he, long traded in it, makes it seem
traded (adj.) practised, expert, experienced

Like rivers of remorse and innocency.
innocency (n.) innocence
remorse (n.) 2 pity, compassion, tenderness

Away with me, all you whose souls abhor

Th' uncleanly savours of a slaughter-house;
savour (n.) 2 smell, stench, stink
uncleanly (adj.) 2 offensive, foul

For I am stifled with this smell of sin.


BIGOT

Away toward Bury, to the Dauphin there!


PEMBROKE

There tell the King he may inquire us out.

Exeunt Pembroke, Salisbury, and Bigot


BASTARD

Here's a good world! Knew you of this fair work?

Beyond the infinite and boundless reach

Of mercy, if thou didst this deed of death,

Art thou damned, Hubert.


HUBERT

Do but hear me, sir –


BASTARD

                         Ha! I'll tell thee what.

Thou'rt damn'd as black – nay, nothing is so black;

Thou art more deep damned than Prince Lucifer;

There is not yet so ugly a fiend of hell

As thou shalt be, if thou didst kill this child.


HUBERT

Upon my soul –
consent (v.) agree, concur, acquiesce


BASTARD

                         If thou didst but consent

To this most cruel act, do but despair;

And if thou wantest a cord, the smallest thread
want (v.) 1 lack, need, be without See Topics: Frequency count

That ever spider twisted from her womb

Will serve to strangle thee; a rush will be a beam

To hang thee on; or wouldst thou drown thyself,

Put but a little water in a spoon,

And it shall be as all the ocean,

Enough to stifle such a villain up.

I do suspect thee very grievously.
grievously (adv.) 2 seriously, greatly


HUBERT

If I in act, consent, or sin of thought

Be guilty of the stealing that sweet breath

Which was embounded in this beauteous clay,
embound enclose, contain, confine

Let hell want pains enough to torture me.
want (v.) 3 fall short [of], be deficient [in]

I left him well.


BASTARD

                         Go, bear him in thine arms.

I am amazed, methinks, and lose my way
amaze (v.) 1 confuse, perplex, bewilder
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count

Among the thorns and dangers of this world.

How easy dost thou take all England up!

From forth this morsel of dead royalty

The life, the right and truth, of all this realm

Is fled to heaven; and England now is left

To tug and scamble and to part by th' teeth
part (v.) 3 cleave, break, tear
scamble (v.) scramble, struggle, make shift

The unowed interest of proud-swelling state.
state (n.) 6 kingship, majesty, sovereignty
unowed (adj.) unowned, vacant

Now for the bare-picked bone of majesty

Doth dogged war bristle his angry crest
crest (n.) 2 [on an animal head or neck] ridge of feathers, ridge of hairs; hackles
dogged (adj.) 1 fierce, cruel, ferocious

And snarleth in the gentle eyes of peace;
gentle (adj.) 6 soft, tender, kind

Now powers from home and discontents at home
power (n.) 1 armed force, troops, host, army See Topics: Frequency count

Meet in one line; and vast confusion waits,
confusion (n.) 2 calamity, disaster, catastrophe
vast (adj.) boundless, extensive, widespread

As doth a raven on a sick-fallen beast,

The imminent decay of wrested pomp.
decay (n.) 1 destruction, downfall, ending
pomp (n.) 2 greatness, nobility, high estate
wrested (adj.) seized, snatched away, taken by force

Now happy he whose cloak and ceinture can
ceinture (n.) belt, girdle

Hold out this tempest. Bear away that child

And follow me with speed; I'll to the King.

A thousand businesses are brief in hand,
brief (adj.) 2 [unclear meaning] rife, widespread; pressing, urgent

And heaven itself doth frown upon the land.

Exeunt

 
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