King John

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter, in arms, Lewis the Dauphin, Melun, Pembroke,

Salisbury, Bigot, and soldiers


My Lord Melun, let this be copied out,

And keep it safe for our remembrance.
remembrance (n.) 1 memory, bringing to mind, recollection See Topics: Frequency count

Return the precedent to these lords again,
precedent (n.) 3 original text from which a copy is made

That, having our fair order written down,
fair (adj.) 10 legitimate, lawful, proper
order (n.) 3 agreement, arrangement, entente

Both they and we, perusing o'er these notes,

May know wherefore we took the sacrament,

And keep our faiths firm and inviolable.


Upon our sides it never shall be broken.

And, noble Dauphin, albeit we swear

A voluntary zeal and an unurged faith

To your proceedings, yet believe me, prince,

I am not glad that such a sore of time

Should seek a plaster by contemned revolt,
contemned (adj.) 1 despised, contemptible, despicable

And heal the inveterate canker of one wound
canker (n./adj.) 2 cancer, ulcer, blight, corruption
inveterate (adj.) long-standing, deep-rooted

By making many. O, it grieves my soul

That I must draw this metal from my side

To be a widow-maker! O, and there

Where honourable rescue and defence

Cries out upon the name of Salisbury!

But such is the infection of the time

That, for the health and physic of our right,
physic (n.) 1 medicine, healing, treatment See Topics: Frequency count

We cannot deal but with the very hand
deal (v.) 1 proceed, behave, conduct oneself

Of stern injustice and confused wrong.

And is't not pity, O my grieved friends,

That we, the sons and children of this isle,

Were born to see so sad an hour as this;
sad (adj.) 3 downcast, distressed, mournful, gloomy

Wherein we step after a stranger, march
stranger (n.) foreigner, alien, outsider

Upon her gentle bosom, and fill up
gentle (adj.) 4 peaceful, calm, free from violence

Her enemies' ranks – I must withdraw and weep

Upon the spot of this enforced cause –
spot (n.) 1 stain, blemish, blot

To grace the gentry of a land remote,
grace (v.) 1 favour, add merit to, do honour to

And follow unacquainted colours here?
colours (n.) 1 battle-flags, ensigns, standards, banners See Topics: Frequency count
unacquainted unfamiliar, strange, unusual

What, here? O nation, that thou couldst remove!
remove (v.) go, move off, depart

That Neptune's arms, who clippeth thee about,
clip about (v.) embrace, clasp, hug

Would bear thee from the knowledge of thyself

And grapple thee unto a pagan shore,
grapple (v.) join, fasten, bind

Where these two Christian armies might combine

The blood of malice in a vein of league,
league (n.) 1 compact, alliance, treaty, bond of friendship

And not to spend it so unneighbourly!


A noble temper dost thou show in this,
temper (n.) 1 frame of mind, temperament, disposition

And great affections wrestling in thy bosom
affection (n.) 2 emotion, feeling
bosom (n.) 1 heart, inner person
wrastle (v.) variant form of ‘wrestle’

Doth make an earthquake of nobility.

O, what a noble combat hast thou fought

Between compulsion and a brave respect!
brave (adj.) 2 noble, worthy, excellent

Let me wipe off this honourable dew

That silverly doth progress on thy cheeks.
silverly (adv.) with a silvery appearance

My heart hath melted at a lady's tears,

Being an ordinary inundation,
inundation (n.) outpouring, overflowing, flood
ordinary (adj.) everyday, commonplace, regularly experienced

But this effusion of such manly drops,
effusion (n.) spilling, shedding

This shower, blown up by tempest of the soul,

Startles mine eyes, and makes me more amazed
amazed (adj.) dumbfounded, stunned, thunderstruck, overwhelmed

Than had I seen the vaulty top of heaven
vaulty (adj.) 1 resembling a vault, arched, domed

Figured quite o'er with burning meteors.
figure over (v.) cover with a pattern, embellish, ornament
meteor (n.) aurora, luminous emanation, atmospheric effect

Lift up thy brow, renowned Salisbury,
brow (n.) 4 forehead [often plural, referring to the two prominences of the forehead]

And with a great heart heave away this storm.

Commend these waters to those baby eyes
commend (v.) 2 commit, entrust, hand over

That never saw the giant world enraged,

Nor met with fortune other than at feasts,

Full warm of blood, of mirth, of gossiping.
blood (n.) 1 passion, feeling, strong emotion [especially sexual]
full (adv.) 1 fully, completely, properly
gossiping (n.) merry-making, joyful meeting

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

Into the purse of rich prosperity

As Lewis himself. So, nobles, shall you all,

That knit your sinews to the strength of mine.
sinew (n.) 3 strength, force, power

A trumpet sounds
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count

And even there, methinks, an angel spake.

Enter Cardinal Pandulph
apace (adv.) quickly, speedily, at a great rate See Topics: Frequency count

Look where the holy legate comes apace,

To give us warrant from the hand of heaven,

And on our actions set the name of right

With holy breath.


                         Hail, noble prince of France!

The next is this: King John hath reconciled

Himself to Rome; his spirit is come in
come in (v.) 2 submit, reconcile, yield

That so stood out against the holy church,

The great metropolis and see of Rome.

Therefore thy threatening colours now wind up,
colours (n.) 1 battle-flags, ensigns, standards, banners See Topics: Frequency count

And tame the savage spirit of wild war,

That, like a lion fostered up at hand,
foster up (v.) bring up, nurse, nourish

It may lie gently at the foot of peace

And be no further harmful than in show.


Your grace shall pardon me, I will not back.

I am too high-born to be propertied,
property (v.) 1 make a property of, treat as an object, exploit

To be a secondary at control,
secondary (n.) deputy, agent, second-in-command

Or useful servingman and instrument

To any sovereign state throughout the world.

Your breath first kindled the dead coal of wars
coal (n.) 1 ember, smouldering fuel

Between this chastised kingdom and myself,

And brought in matter that should feed this fire;
matter (n.) 5 reason, cause, ground

And now 'tis far too huge to be blown out

With that same weak wind which enkindled it.

You taught me how to know the face of right,
face (n.) 1 appearance, outward show, look

Acquainted me with interest to this land,
interest (n.) 1 valid claim [on], rights of possession [to]

Yea, thrust this enterprise into my heart;

And come ye now to tell me John hath made

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

I, by the honour of my marriage-bed,

After young Arthur, claim this land for mine;

And, now it is half conquered must I back

Because that John hath made his peace with Rome?

Am I Rome's slave? What penny hath Rome borne,

What men provided, what munition sent,

To underprop this action? Is't not I
underprop (v.) prop up, support, uphold

That undergo this charge? Who else but I,
charge (n.) 7 expense, cost, outlay

And such as to my claim are liable,
claim (n.) demand for service
liable (adj.) 1 subject, legally bound

Sweat in this business and maintain this war?

Have I not heard these islanders shout out

‘Vive le roi!' as I have banked their towns?
bank (v.) [unclear meaning] put in a bank, win; pass by [as in a boat]

Have I not here the best cards for the game

To win this easy match played for a crown?

And shall I now give o'er the yielded set?
set (n.) 3 [cards, tennis] series of games
yielded (adj.) surrendered, conceded

No! No, on my soul, it never shall be said!


You look but on the outside of this work.


Outside or inside, I will not return

Till my attempt so much be glorified
attempt (n.) 1 exploit, undertaking, enterprise

As to my ample hope was promised
ample (adj.) full, complete, absolute

Before I drew this gallant head of war,
draw (v.) 1 bring together, draw in, gather
head (n.) 1 fighting force, army, body of troops

And culled these fiery spirits from the world
cull (v.) select, pick out, choose

To outlook conquest and to win renown
outlook (v.) outstare, overcome by facing up to

Even in the jaws of danger and of death.

A trumpet sounds
lusty (adj.) 1 vigorous, strong, robust, eager

What lusty trumpet thus doth summon us?

Enter the Bastard
fair-play, fair play (n.) chivalrous action, honourable conduct


According to the fair play of the world,

Let me have audience; I am sent to speak.

My holy lord of Milan, from the King

I come, to learn how you have dealt for him;

And, as you answer, I do know the scope
scope (n.) 2 range, reach, extent

And warrant limited unto my tongue.
limited (adj.) 1 appointed, designated, nominated
warrant (n.) 2 licence, sanction, authorization


The Dauphin is too wilful-opposite,
wilful-opposite (adj.) stubbornly hostile, at fault for being too antagonistic

And will not temporize with my entreaties.
temporize (v.) 2 negotiate, come to terms, effect a compromise

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


By all the blood that ever fury breathed,

The youth says well! Now hear our English King,

For thus his royalty doth speak in me:
royalty (n.) 1 majesty, royal highness

He is prepared, and reason too he should.
reason (n.) 3 reasonable view, sensible judgement, right opinion

This apish and unmannerly approach,
approach (n.) 3 advance, attack, offensive

This harnessed masque and unadvised revel,
harnessed (adj.) armoured, armed
masque (n.) masquerade, pageant, show
revel (n.) revelry, festivity, courtly entertainment
unadvised (adj.) rash, foolhardy, thoughtless, unconsidered

This unhaired sauciness and boyish troops,
sauciness (n.) insolence, rudeness, impertinence
unhaired (adj.) beardless, youthful

The King doth smile at; and is well prepared

To whip this dwarfish war, this pygmy arms,

From out the circle of his territories.
circle (n.) 1 compass, confines, bounds

That hand which had the strength, even at your door,

To cudgel you and make you take the hatch,
hatch (n.) 2 lower part of a door, half-door, gate

To dive like buckets in concealed wells,
concealed (adj.) 2 hidden, secret, offering a hiding-place

To crouch in litter of your stable planks,
crouch (v.) 2 duck down, lie hidden
litter (n.) 2 animal straw, rushes, bedding
plank (n.) planking, floor

To lie like pawns locked up in chests and trunks,
pawn (n.) pledge, surety, forfeit

To hug with swine, to seek sweet safety out
hug (v.) bed down, curl up, lie close

In vaults and prisons, and to thrill and shake
thrill (v.) 1 shiver, tremble, feel a pang of emotion

Even at the crying of your nation's crow,
crow (n.) 2 cockerel

Thinking his voice an armed Englishman –

Shall that victorious hand be feebled here

That in your chambers gave you chastisement?

No! Know the gallant monarch is in arms

And like an eagle o'er his eyrie towers
aery (n.) brood [of a bird of prey], nestful
tower (v.) [falconry] mount up to a great height, circle, soar

To souse annoyance that comes near his nest.
annoyance (n.) 1 injury, harmfulness, danger
souse (v.) swoop down on, beat away

And you degenerate, you ingrate revolts,
ingrate (adj.) ungrateful, unthankful, unappreciative
revolt (n.) 3 rebel, revolutionary, malcontent

You bloody Neroes, ripping up the womb

Of your dear mother England, blush for shame!

For your own ladies and pale-visaged maids,

Like Amazons, come tripping after drums,

Their thimbles into armed gauntlets change,
armed (adj.) 1 armoured, mail-clad, furnished with defences

Their needles to lances, and their gentle hearts

To fierce and bloody inclination.
gentle (adj.) 4 peaceful, calm, free from violence


There end thy brave, and turn thy face in peace.
brave (n.) boast, bravado, blustering threat

We grant thou canst outscold us. Fare thee well!

We hold our time too precious to be spent

With such a brabbler.
brabbler (n.) braggart, brawler, quarreller


                         Give me leave to speak.


No, I will speak.
attend (v.) 7 listen [to], pay attention [to]


                         We will attend to neither.

Strike up the drums, and let the tongue of war

Plead for our interest and our being here.


Indeed, your drums, being beaten, will cry out –

And so shall you, being beaten. Do but start

An echo with the clamour of thy drum,

And even at hand a drum is ready braced
braced (adj.) with tightened skin, stretched

That shall reverberate all as loud as thine.

Sound but another, and another shall,

As loud as thine, rattle the welkin's ear
welkin (n.) sky, firmament, heavens

And mock the deep-mouthed thunder. For at hand –

Not trusting to this halting legate here,
halting (adj.) 2 wavering, dilatory, shifting

Whom he hath used rather for sport than need –
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment See Topics: Frequency count

Is warlike John; and in his forehead sits

A bare-ribbed death, whose office is this day
death (n.) skull, memento mori
office (n.) 1 task, service, duty, responsibility See Topics: Frequency count

To feast upon whole thousands of the French.


Strike up our drums to find this danger out.


And thou shalt find it, Dauphin, do not doubt.


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