King John

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Original text
Act III, Scene I
Enter Constance, Arthur, and Salisbury.

Con.
Gone to be married? Gone to sweare a peace?
False blood to false blood ioyn'd. Gone to be freinds?
Shall Lewis haue Blaunch, and Blaunch those Prouinces?
It is not so, thou hast mispoke, misheard,
Be well aduis'd, tell ore thy tale againe.
It cannot be, thou do'st but say 'tis so.
I trust I may not trust thee, for thy word
Is but the vaine breath of a common man:
Beleeue me, I doe not beleeue thee man,
I haue a Kings oath to the contrarie.
Thou shalt be punish'd for thus frighting me,
For I am sicke, and capeable of feares,
Opprest with wrongs, and therefore full of feares,
A widdow, husbandles, subiect to feares,
A woman naturally borne to feares;
And though thou now confesse thou didst but iest
With my vext spirits, I cannot take a Truce,
But they will quake and tremble all this day.
What dost thou meane by shaking of thy head?
Why dost thou looke so sadly on my sonne?
What meanes that hand vpon that breast of thine?
Why holdes thine eie that lamentable rhewme,
Like a proud riuer peering ore his bounds?
Be these sad signes confirmers of thy words?
Then speake againe, not all thy former tale,
But this one word, whether thy tale be true.

Sal.
As true as I beleeue you thinke them false,
That giue you cause to proue my saying true.

Con.
Oh if thou teach me to beleeue this sorrow,
Teach thou this sorrow, how to make me dye,
And let beleefe, and life encounter so,
As doth the furie of two desperate men,
Which in the very meeting fall, and dye.
Lewes marry Blaunch? O boy, then where art thou?
France friend with England, what becomes of me?
Fellow be gone: I cannot brooke thy sight,
This newes hath made thee a most vgly man.

Sal.
What other harme haue I good Lady done,
But spoke the harme, that is by others done?

Con.
Which harme within it selfe so heynous is,
As it makes harmefull all that speake of it.

Ar.
I do beseech you Madam be content.

Con.
If thou that bidst me be content, wert grim
Vgly, and slandrous to thy Mothers wombe,
Full of vnpleasing blots, and sightlesse staines,
Lame, foolish, crooked, swart, prodigious,
Patch'd with foule Moles, and eye-offending markes,
I would not care, I then would be content,
For then I should not loue thee: no, nor thou
Become thy great birth, nor deserue a Crowne.
But thou art faire, and at thy birth (deere boy)
Nature and Fortune ioyn'd to make thee great.
Of Natures guifts, thou mayst with Lillies boast,
And with the halfe-blowne Rose. But Fortune, oh,
She is corrupted, chang'd, and wonne from thee,
Sh'adulterates hourely with thine Vnckle Iohn,
And with her golden hand hath pluckt on France
To tread downe faire respect of Soueraigntie,
And made his Maiestie the bawd to theirs.
France is a Bawd to Fortune, and king Iohn,
That strumpet Fortune, that vsurping Iohn:
Tell me thou fellow, is not France forsworne?
Euvenom him with words, or get thee gone,
And leaue those woes alone, which I alone
Am bound to vnder-beare.

Sal.
Pardon me Madam,
I may not goe without you to the kings.

Con.
Thou maist, thou shalt, I will not go with thee,
I will instruct my sorrowes to bee proud,
For greefe is proud, and makes his owner stoope,

To me and to the state of my great greefe,
Let kings assemble: for my greefe's so great,
That no supporter but the huge firme earth
Can hold it vp: here I and sorrowes sit,
Heere is my Throne, bid kings come bow to it.
Enter King Iohn, France, Dolphin, Blanch, Elianor, Philip,
Austria, Constance.

Fran.
'Tis true (faire daughter) and this blessed day,
Euer in France shall be kept festiuall:
To solemnize this day the glorious sunne
Stayes in his course, and playes the Alchymist,
Turning with splendor of his precious eye
The meager cloddy earth to glittering gold:
The yearely course that brings this day about,
Shall neuer see it, but a holy day.

Const.
A wicked day, and not a holy day.
What hath this day deseru'd? what hath it done,
That it in golden letters should be set
Among the high tides in the Kalender?
Nay, rather turne this day out of the weeke,
This day of shame, oppression, periury.
Or if it must stand still, let wiues with childe
Pray that their burthens may not fall this day,
Lest that their hopes prodigiously be crost:
But (on this day) let Sea-men feare no wracke,
No bargaines breake that are not this day made;
This day all things begun, come to ill end,
Yea, faith it selfe to hollow falshood change.

Fra.
By heauen Lady, you shall haue no cause
To curse the faire proceedings of this day:
Haue I not pawn'd to you my Maiesty?

Const.
You haue beguil'd me with a counterfeit
Resembling Maiesty, which being touch'd and tride,
Proues valuelesse: you are forsworne, forsworne,
You came in Armes to spill mine enemies bloud,
But now in Armes, you strengthen it with yours.
The grapling vigor, and rough frowne of Warre
Is cold in amitie, and painted peace,
And our oppression hath made vp this league:
Arme, arme, you heauens, against these periur'd Kings,
A widdow cries, be husband to me (heauens)
Let not the howres of this vngodly day
Weare out the daies in Peace; but ere Sun-set,
Set armed discord 'twixt these periur'd Kings,
Heare me, Oh, heare me.

Aust.
Lady Constance, peace.

Const.
War, war, no peace, peace is to me a warre:
O Lymoges, O Austria, thou dost shame
That bloudy spoyle: thou slaue thou wretch, yu coward,
Thou little valiant, great in villanie,
Thou euer strong vpon the stronger side;
Thou Fortunes Champion, that do'st neuer fight
But when her humourous Ladiship is by
To teach thee safety: thou art periur'd too,
And sooth'st vp greatnesse. What a foole art thou,
A ramping foole, to brag, and stamp, and sweare,
Vpon my partie: thou cold blooded slaue,
Hast thou not spoke like thunder on my side?
Beene sworne my Souldier, bidding me depend
Vpon thy starres, thy fortune, and thy strength,
And dost thou now fall ouer to my foes?
Thou weare a Lyons hide, doff it for shame,
And hang a Calues skin on those recreant limbes.

Aus.
O that a man should speake those words to me.

Phil.
And hang a Calues-skin on those recreant limbs

Aus.
Thou dar'st not say so villaine for thy life.

Phil.
And hang a Calues-skin on those recreant limbs.

Iohn.
We like not this, thou dost forget thy selfe.
Enter Pandulph.

Fra.
Heere comes the holy Legat of the Pope.

Pan.
Haile you annointed deputies of heauen;
To thee King Iohn my holy errand is:
I Pandulph, of faire Millane Cardinall,
And from Pope Innocent the Legate heere,
Doe in his name religiously demand
Why thou against the Church, our holy Mother,
So wilfully dost spurne; and force perforce
Keepe Stephen Langton chosen Arshbishop
Of Canterbury from that holy Sea:
This in our foresaid holy Fathers name
Pope Innocent, I doe demand of thee.

Iohn.
What earthie name to Interrogatories
Can tast the free breath of a sacred King?
Thou canst not (Cardinall) deuise a name
So slight, vnworthy, and ridiculous
To charge me to an answere, as the Pope:
Tell him this tale, and from the mouth of England,
Adde thus much more, that no Italian Priest
Shall tythe or toll in our dominions:
But as we, vnder heauen, are supreame head,
So vnder him that great supremacy
Where we doe reigne, we will alone vphold
Without th'assistance of a mortall hand:
So tell the Pope, all reuerence set apart
To him and his vsurp'd authoritie.

Fra.
Brother of England, you blaspheme in this.

Iohn.
Though you, and all the Kings of Christendom
Are led so grossely by this medling Priest,
Dreading the curse that money may buy out,
And by the merit of vilde gold, drosse, dust,
Purchase corrupted pardon of a man,
Who in that sale sels pardon from himselfe:
Though you, and al the rest so grossely led,
This iugling witchcraft with reuennue cherish,
Yet I alone, alone doe me oppose
Against the Pope, and count his friends my foes.

Pand.
Then by the lawfull power that I haue,
Thou shalt stand curst, and excommunicate,
And blessed shall he be that doth reuolt
From his Allegeance to an heretique,
And meritorious shall that hand be call'd,
Canonized and worship'd as a Saint,
That takes away by any secret course
Thy hatefull life.

Con.
O lawfull let it be
That I haue roome with Rome to curse a while,
Good Father Cardinall, cry thou Amen
To my keene curses; for without my wrong
There is no tongue hath power to curse him right.

Pan.
There's Law and Warrant (Lady) for my curse.

Cons.
And for mine too, when Law can do no right.
Let it be lawfull, that Law barre no wrong:
Law cannot giue my childe his kingdome heere;
For he that holds his Kingdome, holds the Law:
Therefore since Law it selfe is perfect wrong,
How can the Law forbid my tongue to curse?

Pand.
Philip of France, on perill of a curse,
Let goe the hand of that Arch-heretique,
And raise the power of France vpon his head,
Vnlesse he doe submit himselfe to Rome.

Elea.
Look'st thou pale France? do not let go thy hand.

Con.
Looke to that Deuill, lest that France repent,
And by disioyning hands hell lose a soule.

Aust.
King Philip, listen to the Cardinall.

Bast.
And hang a Calues-skin on his recreant limbs.

Aust.
Well ruffian, I must pocket vp these wrongs,
Because,

Bast.
Your breeches best may carry them.

Iohn.
Philip, what saist thou to the Cardinall?

Con.
What should he say, but as the Cardinall?

Dolph.
Bethinke you father, for the difference
Is purchase of a heauy curse from Rome,
Or the light losse of England, for a friend:
Forgoe the easier.

Bla.
Thats the curse of Rome.

Con.
O Lewis, stand fast, the deuill tempts thee heere
In likenesse of a new vntrimmed Bride.

Bla.
The Lady Constance speakes not from her faith,
But from her need.

Con.
Oh, if thou grant my need,
Which onely liues but by the death of faith,
That need, must needs inferre this principle,
That faith would liue againe by death of need:
O then tread downe my need, and faith mounts vp,
Keepe my need vp, and faith is trodden downe.

Iohn.
The king is moud, and answers not to this.

Con.
O be remou'd from him, and answere well.

Aust.
Doe so king Philip, hang no more in doubt.

Bast.
Hang nothing but a Calues skin most sweet lout.

Fra.
I am perplext, and know not what to say.

Pan.
What canst thou say, but wil perplex thee more?
If thou stand excommunicate, and curst?

Fra.
Good reuerend father, make my person yours,
And tell me how you would bestow your selfe?
This royall hand and mine are newly knit,
And the coniunction of our inward soules
Married in league, coupled, and link'd together
With all religous strength of sacred vowes,
The latest breath that gaue the sound of words
Was deepe-sworne faith, peace, amity, true loue
Betweene our kingdomes and our royall selues,
And euen before this truce, but new before,
No longer then we well could wash our hands,
To clap this royall bargaine vp of peace,
Heauen knowes they were besmear'd and ouer-staind
With slaughters pencill; where reuenge did paint
The fearefull difference of incensed kings:
And shall these hands so lately purg'd of bloud?
So newly ioyn'd in loue? so strong in both,
Vnyoke this seysure, and this kinde regreete?
Play fast and loose with faith? so iest with heauen,
Make such vnconstant children of onr selues
As now againe to snatch our palme from palme:
Vn-sweare faith sworne, and on the marriage bed
Of smiling peace to march a bloody hoast,
And make a ryot on the gentle brow
Of true sincerity? O holy Sir
My reuerend father, let it not be so;
Out of your grace, deuise, ordaine, impose
Some gentle order, and then we shall be blest
To doe your pleasure, and continue friends.

Pand.
All forme is formelesse, Order orderlesse,
Saue what is opposite to Englands loue.
Therefore to Armes, be Champion of our Church,
Or let the Church our mother breathe her curse,
A mothers curse, on her reuolting sonne:
France, thou maist hold a serpent by the tongue,
A cased Lion by the mortall paw,
A fasting Tyger safer by the tooth,
Then keepe in peace that hand which thou dost hold.

Fra.
I may dis-ioyne my hand, but not my faith.

Pand.
So mak'st thou faith an enemy to faith,
And like a ciuill warre setst oath to oath,
Thy tongue against thy tongue. O let thy vow
First made to heauen, first be to heauen perform'd,
That is, to be the Champion of our Church,
What since thou sworst, is sworne against thy selfe,
And may not be performed by thy selfe,
For that which thou hast sworne to doe amisse,
Is not amisse when it is truely done:
And being not done, where doing tends to ill,
The truth is then most done not doing it:
The better Act of purposes mistooke,
Is to mistake again, though indirect,
Yet indirection thereby growes direct,
And falshood, falshood cures, as fire cooles fire
Within the scorched veines of one new burn'd:
It is religion that doth make vowes kept,
But thou hast sworne against religion:
By what thou swear'st against the thing thou swear'st,
And mak'st an oath the suretie for thy truth,
Against an oath the truth, thou art vnsure
To sweare, sweares onely not to be forsworne,
Else what a mockerie should it be to sweare?
But thou dost sweare, onely to be forsworne,
And most forsworne, to keepe what thou dost sweare,
Therefore thy later vowes, against thy first,
Is in thy selfe rebellion to thy selfe:
And better conquest neuer canst thou make,
Then arme thy constant and thy nobler parts
Against these giddy loose suggestions:
Vpon which better part, our prayrs come in,
If thou vouchsafe them. But if not, then know
The perill of our curses light on thee
So heauy, as thou shalt not shake them off
But in despaire, dye vnder their blacke weight.

Aust.
Rebellion, flat rebellion.

Bast.
Wil't not be?
Will not a Calues-skin stop that mouth of thine?

Daul.
Father, to Armes.

Blanch.
Vpon thy wedding day?
Against the blood that thou hast married?
What, shall our feast be kept with slaughtered men?
Shall braying trumpets, and loud churlish drums
Clamors of hell, be measures to our pomp?
O husband heare me: aye, alacke, how new
Is husband in my mouth? euen for that name
Which till this time my tongue did nere pronounce;
Vpon my knee I beg, goe not to Armes
Against mine Vncle.

Const.
O, vpon my knee
made hard with kneeling, / I doe pray to thee,
thou vertuous Daulphin, / Alter not the doome
fore-thought by heauen.

Blan.
Now shall I see thy loue, what motiue may
Be stronger with thee, then the name of wife?

Con.
That which vpholdeth him, that thee vpholds,
His Honor, Oh thine Honor, Lewis thine Honor.

Dolph.
I muse your Maiesty doth seeme so cold,
When such profound respects doe pull you on?

Pand.
I will denounce a curse vpon his head.

Fra.
Thou shalt not need. England, I will fall frõ thee.

Const.
O faire returne of banish'd Maiestie.

Elea.
O foule reuolt of French inconstancy.

Eng.
France, yu shalt rue this houre within this houre.

Bast.
Old Time the clocke setter, yt bald sexton Time:
Is it as he will? well then, France shall rue.

Bla.
The Sun's orecast with bloud: faire day adieu,
Which is the side that I must goe withall?
I am with both, each Army hath a hand,
And in their rage, I hauing hold of both,
They whurle a-sunder, and dismember mee.
Husband, I cannot pray that thou maist winne:
Vncle, I needs must pray that thou maist lose:
Father, I may not wish the fortune thine:
Grandam, I will not wish thy wishes thriue:
Who-euer wins, on that side shall I lose:
Assured losse, before the match be plaid.

Dolph.
Lady, with me, with me thy fortune lies.

Bla.
There where my fortune liues, there my life dies.

Iohn.
Cosen, goe draw our puisance together,
France, I am burn'd vp with inflaming wrath,
A rage, whose heat hath this condition;
That nothing can allay, nothing but blood,
The blood and deerest valued bloud of France.

Fra.
Thy rage shall burne thee vp, & thou shalt turne
To ashes, ere our blood shall quench that fire:
Looke to thy selfe, thou art in ieopardie.

Iohn.
No more then he that threats. To Arms le'ts hie.
Exeunt.
Original text
Act III, Scene II
Allarums, Excursions: Enter Bastard with
Austria's head.

Bast.
Now by my life, this day grows wondrous hot,
Some ayery Deuill houers in the skie,
And pour's downe mischiefe. Austrias head lye there,
While Philip breathes.
Enter Iohn, Arthur, Hubert.

Iohn.
Hubert, keepe this boy: Philip make vp,
My Mother is assayled in our Tent,
And tane I feare.

Bast.
My Lord I rescued her,
Her Highnesse is in safety, feare you not:
But on my Liege, for very little paines
Will bring this labor to an happy end.
Exit.
Original text
Act III, Scene III
Alarums, excursions, Retreat. Enter Iohn
Eleanor, Arthur / Bastard, Hubert, Lords.

Iohn.
So shall it be: your Grace shall stay behinde
So strongly guarded: Cosen, looke not sad,
Thy Grandame loues thee, and thy Vnkle will
As deere be to thee, as thy father was.

Arth.
O this will make my mother die with griefe.

Iohn.
Cosen away for England, haste before,
And ere our comming see thou shake the bags
Of hoording Abbots, imprisoned angells
Set at libertie: the fat ribs of peace
Must by the hungry now be fed vpon:
Vse our Commission in his vtmost force.

Bast.
Bell, Booke, & Candle, shall not driue me back,
When gold and siluer becks me to come on.
I leaue your highnesse: Grandame, I will pray
(If euer I remember to be holy)
For your faire safety: so I kisse your hand.

Ele.
Farewell gentle Cosen.

Iohn.
Coz, farewell.

Ele.
Come hether little kinsman, harke, a worde.


Iohn.
Come hether Hubert. O my gentle Hubert,
We owe thee much: within this wall of flesh
There is a soule counts thee her Creditor,
And with aduantage meanes to pay thy loue:
And my good friend, thy voluntary oath
Liues in this bosome, deerely cherished.
Giue me thy hand, I had a thing to say,
But I will fit it with some better tune.
By heauen Hubert, I am almost asham'd
To say what good respect I haue of thee.

Hub.
I am much bounden to your Maiesty.

Iohn.
Good friend, thou hast no cause to say so yet,
But thou shalt haue: and creepe time nere so slow,
Yet it shall come, for me to doe thee good.
I had a thing to say, but let it goe:
The Sunne is in the heauen, and the proud day,
Attended with the pleasures of the world,
Is all too wanton, and too full of gawdes
To giue me audience: If the mid-night bell
Did with his yron tongue, and brazen mouth
Sound on into the drowzie race of night:
If this same were a Church-yard where we stand,
And thou possessed with a thousand wrongs:
Or if that surly spirit melancholy
Had bak'd thy bloud, and made it heauy, thicke,
Which else runnes tickling vp and downe the veines,
Making that idiot laughter keepe mens eyes,
And straine their cheekes to idle merriment,
A passion hatefull to my purposes:
Or if that thou couldst see me without eyes,
Heare me without thine eares, and make reply
Without a tongue, vsing conceit alone,
Without eyes, eares, and harmefull sound of words:
Then, in despight of brooded watchfull day,
I would into thy bosome poure my thoughts:
But (ah) I will not, yet I loue thee well,
And by my troth I thinke thou lou'st me well.

Hub.
So well, that what you bid me vndertake,
Though that my death were adiunct to my Act,
By heauen I would doe it.

Iohn.
Doe not I know thou wouldst?
Good Hubert, Hubert, Hubert throw thine eye
On yon young boy: Ile tell thee what my friend,
He is a very serpent in my way,
And wheresoere this foot of mine doth tread,
He lies before me: dost thou vnderstand me?
Thou art his keeper.

Hub.
And Ile keepe him so,
That he shall not offend your Maiesty.

Iohn.
Death.

Hub.
My Lord.

Iohn.
A Graue.

Hub.
He shall not liue.

Iohn.
Enough.
I could be merry now, Hubert, I loue thee.
Well, Ile not say what I intend for thee:
Remember: Madam, Fare you well,
Ile send those powers o're to your Maiesty.

Ele.
My blessing goe with thee.

Iohn.
For England Cosen, goe.
Hubert shall be your man, attend on you
With al true duetie: On toward Callice, hoa.
Exeunt.
Original text
Act III, Scene IV
Enter France, Dolphin,
Pandulpho, Attendants.

Fra.
So by a roaring Tempest on the flood,
A whole Armado of conuicted saile
Is scattered and dis-ioyn'd from fellowship.

Pand.
Courage and comfort, all shall yet goe well.

Fra.
What can goe well,when we haue runne so ill?
Are we not beaten? Is not Angiers lost?
Arthur tane prisoner? diuers deere friends slaine?
And bloudy England into England gone,
Ore-bearing interruption spight of France?

Dol.
What he hath won, that hath he fortified:
So hot a speed, with such aduice 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?

Fra.
Well could I beare that England had this praise,
So we could finde some patterne of our shame:
Enter Constance.
Looke who comes heere? a graue vnto a soule,
Holding th'eternall spirit against her will,
In the vilde prison of afflicted breath:
I prethee Lady goe away with me.

Con.
Lo; now: now see the issue of your peace.

Fra.
Patience good Lady, comfort gentle Constance.

Con.
No, I defie all Counsell, all redresse,
But that which ends all counsell, true Redresse:
Death, death, O amiable, louely death,
Thou odoriferous stench: sound rottennesse,
Arise forth from the couch of lasting night,
Thou hate and terror to prosperitie,
And I will kisse thy detestable bones,
And put my eye-balls in thy vaultie browes,
And ring these fingers with thy houshold wormes,
And stop this gap of breath with fulsome dust,
And be a Carrion Monster like thy selfe;
Come,grin on me, and I will thinke thou smil'st,
And busse thee as thy wife: Miseries Loue,
O come to me.

Fra.
O faire affliction, peace.

Con.
No, no, I will not, hauing breath to cry:
O that my tongue were in the thunders mouth,
Then with a passion would I shake the world,
And rowze from sleepe that fell Anatomy
Which cannot heare a Ladies feeble voyce,
Which scornes a moderne Inuocation.

Pand.
Lady, you vtter madnesse, and not sorrow.

Con.
Thou art holy to belye me so,
I am not mad: this haire I teare is mine,
My name is Constance, I was Geffreyes wife,
Yong Arthur is my sonne, and he is lost:
I am not mad, I would to heauen I were,
For then 'tis like I should forget my selfe:
O, if I could, what griefe should I forget?
Preach some Philosophy to make me mad,
And thou shalt be Canoniz'd (Cardinall.)
For, being not mad, but sensible of greefe,
My reasonable part produces reason
How I may be deliuer'd of these woes,
And teaches mee to kill or hang my selfe:
If I were mad, I should forget my sonne,
Or madly thinke a babe of clowts were he;
I am not mad: too well, too well I feele
The different plague of each calamitie.

Fra.
Binde vp those tresses: O what loue I note
In the faire multitude of those her haires;
Where but by chance a filuer drop hath falne,
Euen to that drop ten thousand wiery fiends
Doe glew themselues in sociable griefe,
Like true, inseparable, faithfull loues,
Sticking together in calamitie.

Con.
To England, if you will.

Fra.
Binde vp your haires.

Con.
Yes that I will: and wherefore will I do it?
I tore them from their bonds, and cride aloud,
O, that these hands could so redeeme my sonne,
As they haue giuen these hayres their libertie:
But now I enuie at their libertie,
And will againe commit them to their bonds,
Because my poore childe is a prisoner.
And Father Cardinall, I haue heard you say
That we shall see and know our friends in heauen:
If that be true, I shall see my boy againe;
For since the birth of Caine, the first male-childe
To him that did but yesterday suspire,
There was not such a gracious creature borne:
But now will Canker-sorrow eat my bud,
And chase the natiue beauty from his cheeke,
And he will looke as hollow as a Ghost,
As dim and meager as an Agues fitte,
And so hee'll dye: and rising so againe,
When I shall meet him in the Court of heauen
I shall not know him: therefore neuer, neuer
Must I behold my pretty Arthur more.

Pand.
You hold too heynous a respect of greefe.

Const.
He talkes to me, that neuer had a sonne.

Fra.
You are as fond of greefe, as of your childe.

Con.
Greefe fils the roome vp of my absent childe:
Lies in his bed, walkes vp and downe with me,
Puts on his pretty lookes, repeats his words,
Remembets me of all his gracious parts,
Stuffes out his vacant garments with his forme;
Then, haue I reason to be fond of griefe?
Fareyouwell: had you such a losse as I,
I could giue better comfort then you doe.
I will not keepe this forme vpon my head,
When there is such disorder in my witte:
O Lord, my boy, my Arthur, my faire sonne,
My life, my ioy, my food, my all the world:
My widow-comfort, and my sorrowes cure.
Exit.

Fra.
I feare some out-rage, and Ile follow her.
Exit.

Dol.
There's nothing in this world can make me ioy,
Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale,
Vexing the dull eare of a drowsie man;
And bitter shame hath spoyl'd the sweet words taste,
That it yeelds nought but shame and bitternesse.

Pand.
Before the curing of a strong disease,
Euen in the instant of repaire and health,
The fit is strongest: Euils that take leaue
On their departure, most of all shew euill:
What haue you lost by losing of this day?

Dol.
All daies of glory, ioy, and happinesse.

Pan.
If you had won it, certainely you had.
No, no: when Fortune meanes to men most good,
Shee lookes vpon them with a threatning eye:
'Tis strange to thinke how much King Iohn hath lost
In this which he accounts so cleareIy wonne:
Are not you grieu'd that Arthur is his prisoner?

Dol.
As heartily as he is glad he hath him.

Pan.
Your minde is all as youthfull as your blood.
Now heare me speake with a propheticke spirit:
For euen the breath of what I meane to speake,
Shall blow each dust, each straw, each little rub
Out of the path which shall directly lead
Thy foote to Englands Throne. And therefore marke:
Iohn hath seiz'd Arthur, and it cannot be,
That whiles warme life playes in that infants veines,
The mis-plac'd-Iohn should entertaine an houre,
One minute, nay one quiet breath of rest.
A Scepter snatch'd with an vnruly hand,
Must be as boysterously maintain'd as gain'd.
And he that stands vpon a slipp'ry place,
Makes nice of no vilde hold to stay him vp:
That Iohn may stand, then Arthur needs must fall,
So be it, for it cannot be but so.

Dol.
But what shall I gaine by yong Arthurs fall?

Pan.
You, in the right of Lady Blanch your wife,
May then make all the claime that Arthur did.

Dol.
And loose it, life and all, as Arthur did.

Pan.
How green you are, and fresh in this old world?
Iohn layes you plots: the times conspire with you,
For he that steepes his safetie in true blood,
Shall finde but bloodie safety, and vntrue.
This Act so euilly borne shall coole the hearts
Of all his people, and freeze vp their zeale,
That none so small aduantage shall step forth
To checke his reigne, but they will cherish it.
No naturall exhalation in the skie,
No scope of Nature, no distemper'd day,
No common winde, no customed euent,
But they will plucke away his naturall cause,
And call them Meteors, prodigies, and signes,
Abbortiues, presages, and tongues of heauen,
Plainly denouncing vengeance vpon Iohn.

Dol.
May be he will not touch yong Arthurs life,
But hold himselfe safe in his prisonment.

Pan.
O Sir, when he shall heare of your approach,
If that yong Arthur be not gone alreadie,
Euen at that newes he dies: and then the hearts
Of all his people shall reuolt from him,
And kisse the lippes of vnacquainted change,
And picke strong matter of reuolt, and wrath
Out of the bloody fingers ends of Iohn.
Me thinkes I see this hurley all on foot;
And O, what better matter breeds for you,
Then I haue nam'd. The Bastard Falconbridge
Is now in England ransacking the Church,
Offending Charity: If but a dozen French
Were there in Armes, they would be as a Call
To traine ten thousand English to their side;
Or, as a little snow, tumbled about,
Anon becomes a Mountaine. O noble Dolphine,
Go with me to the King, 'tis wonderfull,
What may be wrought out of their discontent,
Now that their soules are topfull of offence,
For England go; I will whet on the King.

Dol.
Strong reasons makes strange actions: let vs go,
If you say I, the King will not say no.
Exeunt.
Modern text
Act III, Scene I
Enter Constance, Arthur, and Salisbury

CONSTANCE
Gone to be married? Gone to swear a peace?
False blood to false blood joined! Gone to be friends?
Shall Lewis have Blanche, and Blanche those provinces?
It is not so; thou hast misspoke, misheard.
Be well advised, 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 punished for thus frighting me,
For I am sick and capable of fears,
Oppressed 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 vexed 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.
Lewis marry Blanche! 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 biddest 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,
Patched 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 joined 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, changed, and won from thee;
She adulterates hourly with thine uncle John,
And with her golden hand hath plucked 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 underbear.

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 stoop.
She seats herself on the ground
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.
Exit Salisbury with Arthur,
leaving Constance seated
Enter King John, King Philip, Queen Eleanor, Lewis
the Dauphin, Blanche, the 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 deserved, 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 crossed.
But on this day let seamen fear no wrack;
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 pawned to you my majesty?

CONSTANCE
You have beguiled me with a counterfeit
Resembling majesty, which, being touched 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 perjured 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 perjured Kings.
Hear me! O, hear me!

AUSTRIA
Lady Constance, peace!

CONSTANCE
War! War! No peace! Peace is to me a war.
O Limoges! 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 perjured too,
And soothest 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 darest 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.
Enter Cardinal Pandulph

KING PHILIP
Here comes the holy legate of the Pope.

CARDINAL 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 earthy 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 God, are supreme head,
So, under Him, that great supremacy
Where we do reign we will alone uphold,
Without th' assistance of a mortal hand.
So tell the Pope, all reverence set apart
To him and his usurped 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.

CARDINAL PANDULPH
Then, by the lawful power that I have,
Thou shalt stand cursed and excommunicate,
And blessed shall he be that doth revolt
From his allegiance to an heretic;
And meritorious shall that hand be called,
Canonized and worshipped 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.

CARDINAL 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?

CARDINAL 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.

QUEEN ELEANOR
Lookest thou pale, France? Do not let go thy hand.

CONSTANCE
Look to it, 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 sayst thou to the Cardinal?

CONSTANCE
What should he say, but as the Cardinal?

LEWIS THE DAUPHIN
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.

BLANCHE
That's the curse of Rome.

CONSTANCE
O Lewis, stand fast! The devil tempts thee here
In likeness of a new, untrimmed bride.

BLANCHE
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 moved, and answers not to this.

CONSTANCE
(to King Philip)
O, be removed 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 perplexed, and know not what to say.

CARDINAL PANDULPH
What canst thou say but will perplex thee more,
If thou stand excommunicate and cursed?

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 linked 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 besmeared and overstained
With slaughter's pencil, where revenge did paint
The fearful difference of incensed kings.
And shall these hands, so lately purged of blood,
So newly joined 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 blessed
To do your pleasure and continue friends.

CARDINAL 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.

CARDINAL PANDULPH
So makest thou faith an enemy to faith,
And like a civil war settest oath to oath,
Thy tongue against thy tongue. O, let thy vow
First made to heaven, first be to heaven performed,
That is, to be the champion of our church.
What since thou sworest 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-burned.
It is religion that doth make vows kept,
But thou hast sworn against religion
By what thou swearest against the thing thou swearest,
And makest 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 later 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 light on thee
So heavy as thou shalt not shake them off,
But in despair die under their black weight.

AUSTRIA
Rebellion, flat rebellion!

BASTARD
Will't not be –
Will not a calf's-skin stop that mouth of thine?

LEWIS THE DAUPHIN
Father, to arms!

BLANCHE
Upon thy wedding-day?
Against the blood that thou hast married?
What, shall our feast be kept with slaughtered 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.

BLANCHE
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, Lewis, thine honour!

LEWIS THE DAUPHIN
I muse your majesty doth seem so cold,
When such profound respects do pull you on!

CARDINAL 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 banished majesty!

QUEEN ELEANOR
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.

BLANCHE
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 played!

LEWIS THE DAUPHIN
Lady, with me, with me thy fortune lies.

BLANCHE
There where my fortune lives, there my life dies.

KING JOHN
Cousin, go draw our puissance together.
Exit the Bastard
France, I am burned up with inflaming wrath –
A rage whose heat hath this condition,
That nothing can allay, nothing but blood,
The blood, and dearest-valued 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!
Exeunt
Modern text
Act III, Scene II
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 rescued 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.
Exeunt
Modern text
Act III, Scene III
Alarums, excursions, retreat. Enter King John,
Queen Eleanor, Arthur, the Bastard, Hubert, lords
and soldiers

KING JOHN
(to Queen Eleanor)
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
(to the Bastard)
Cousin, away for England! Haste before,
And ere our coming see thou shake the bags
Of hoarding abbots; imprisoned 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.
Exit the Bastard

QUEEN ELEANOR
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 tune.
By heaven, Hubert, I am almost ashamed
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 gauds
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 baked 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 lovest 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 whereso'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!
Exeunt
Modern text
Act III, Scene IV
Enter King Philip, Lewis the Dauphin, Cardinal
Pandulph, and attendants

KING PHILIP
So, by a roaring tempest on the flood,
A whole armado of convicted sail
Is scattered and disjoined from fellowship.

CARDINAL 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?

LEWIS THE DAUPHIN
What he hath won, that hath he fortified.
So hot a speed, with such advice disposed,
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.
Enter Constance
Look who comes here! A grave unto a soul,
Holding th' eternal spirit, against her will,
In the vile prison of afflicted breath.
I prithee, 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 smilest
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.

CARDINAL 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 Geoffrey'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 canonized, Cardinal.
For, being not mad, but sensible of grief,
My reasonable part produces reason
How I may be delivered 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 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.

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

KING PHILIP
I fear some outrage, and I'll follow her.
Exit

LEWIS THE DAUPHIN
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 spoiled the sweet world's taste,
That it yields naught but shame and bitterness.

CARDINAL 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?

LEWIS THE DAUPHIN
All days of glory, joy, and happiness.

CARDINAL 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 grieved that Arthur is his prisoner?

LEWIS THE DAUPHIN
As heartily as he is glad he hath him.

CARDINAL 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 seized Arthur, and it cannot be
That whiles warm life plays in that infant's veins
The misplaced John should entertain an hour,
One minute, nay, one quiet breath, of rest.
A sceptre snatched with an unruly hand
Must be as boisterously maintained as gained;
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.

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

CARDINAL PANDULPH
You, in the right of Lady Blanche your wife,
May then make all the claim that Arthur did.

LEWIS THE DAUPHIN
And lose it, life and all, as Arthur did.

CARDINAL 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 distempered 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.

LEWIS THE DAUPHIN
Maybe he will not touch young Arthur's life,
But hold himself safe in his prisonment.

CARDINAL 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 named! The bastard Faulconbridge
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 topfull of offence.
For England, go! I will whet on the King.

LEWIS THE DAUPHIN
Strong reasons makes strong actions! Let us go:
If you say ay, the King will not say no.
Exeunt
SHAKESPEARE'S WORDS © 2018 DAVID CRYSTAL & BEN CRYSTAL