King John, by William Shakespeare

Act V

Scene I. King John’s palace.

Enter King John, Cardinal Pandulph, and Attendants

King John Thus have I yielded up into your hand
The circle of my glory.

Giving the crown

Cardinal Pandulph Take again
From this my hand, as holding of the pope
Your sovereign greatness and authority.

King John Now keep your holy word: go meet the French,
And from his holiness use all your power
To stop their marches ’fore we are inflamed.
Our discontented counties do revolt;
Our people quarrel with obedience,
Swearing allegiance and the love of soul
To stranger blood, to foreign royalty.
This inundation of mistemper’d humour
Rests by you only to be qualified:
Then pause not; for the present time’s so sick,
That present medicine must be minister’d,
Or overthrow incurable ensues.

Cardinal Pandulph It was my breath that blew this tempest up,
Upon your stubborn usage of the pope;
But since you are a gentle convertite,
My tongue shall hush again this storm of war
And make fair weather in your blustering land.
On this Ascension-day, remember well,
Upon your oath of service to the pope,
Go I to make the French lay down their arms.

Exit

King John Is this Ascension-day? Did not the prophet
Say that before Ascension-day at noon
My crown I should give off? Even so I have:
I did suppose it should be on constraint:
But, heaven be thank’d, it is but voluntary.

Enter the Bastard

Bastard All Kent hath yielded; nothing there holds out
But Dover castle: London hath received,
Like a kind host, the Dauphin and his powers:
Your nobles will not hear you, but are gone
To offer service to your enemy,
And wild amazement hurries up and down
The little number of your doubtful friends.

King John Would not my lords return to me again,
After they heard young Arthur was alive?

Bastard They found him dead and cast into the streets,
An empty casket, where the jewel of life
By some damn’d hand was robb’d and ta’en away.

King John That villain Hubert told me he did live.

Bastard So, on my soul, he did, for aught he knew.
But wherefore do you droop? why look you sad?
Be great in act, as you have been in thought;
Let not the world see fear and sad distrust
Govern the motion of a kingly eye:
Be stirring as the time; be fire with fire;
Threaten the threatener and outface the brow
Of bragging horror: so shall inferior eyes,
That borrow their behaviors from the great,
Grow great by your example and put on
The dauntless spirit of resolution.
Away, and glister like the god of war,
When he intendeth to become the field:
Show boldness and aspiring confidence.
What, shall they seek the lion in his den,
And fright him there? and make him tremble there?
O, let it not be said: forage, and run
To meet displeasure farther from the doors,
And grapple with him ere he comes so nigh.

King John The legate of the pope hath been with me,
And I have made a happy peace with him;
And he hath promised to dismiss the powers
Led by the Dauphin.

Bastard O inglorious league!
Shall we, upon the footing of our land,
Send fair-play orders and make compromise,
Insinuation, parley and base truce
To arms invasive? shall a beardless boy,
A cocker’d silken wanton, brave our fields,
And flesh his spirit in a warlike soil,
Mocking the air with colours idly spread,
And find no cheque? Let us, my liege, to arms:
Perchance the cardinal cannot make your peace;
Or if he do, let it at least be said
They saw we had a purpose of defence.

King John Have thou the ordering of this present time.

Bastard Away, then, with good courage! yet, I know,
Our party may well meet a prouder foe.

Exeunt

Scene II. Lewis’s camp at St. Edmundsbury.

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

Lewis My Lord Melun, let this be copied out,
And keep it safe for our remembrance:
Return the precedent to these lords again;
That, having our fair order written down,
Both they and we, perusing o’er these notes,
May know wherefore we took the sacrament
And keep our faiths firm and inviolable.

Salisbury 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 contemn’d revolt,
And heal the inveterate canker of one wound
By making many. O, it grieves my soul,
That I must draw this metal from my side
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,
We cannot deal but with the very hand
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;
Wherein we step after a stranger march
Upon her gentle bosom, and fill up
Her enemies’ ranks — I must withdraw and weep
Upon the spot of this enforced cause —
To grace the gentry of a land remote,
And follow unacquainted colours here?
What, here? O nation, that thou couldst remove!
That Neptune’s arms, who clippeth thee about,
Would bear thee from the knowledge of thyself,
And grapple thee unto a pagan shore;
Where these two Christian armies might combine
The blood of malice in a vein of league,
And not to spend it so unneighbourly!

Lewis A noble temper dost thou show in this;
And great affections wrestling in thy bosom
Doth make an earthquake of nobility.
O, what a noble combat hast thou fought
Between compulsion and a brave respect!
Let me wipe off this honourable dew,
That silverly doth progress on thy cheeks:
My heart hath melted at a lady’s tears,
Being an ordinary inundation;
But this effusion of such manly drops,
This shower, blown up by tempest of the soul,
Startles mine eyes, and makes me more amazed
Than had I seen the vaulty top of heaven
Figured quite o’er with burning meteors.
Lift up thy brow, renowned Salisbury,
And with a great heart heave away the storm:
Commend these waters to those baby eyes
That never saw the giant world enraged;
Nor met with fortune other than at feasts,
Full of warm blood, of mirth, of gossiping.
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.
And even there, methinks, an angel spake:

Enter Cardinal Pandulph

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.

Cardinal Pandulph   Hail, noble prince of France!
The next is this, King John hath reconciled
Himself to Rome; his spirit is come in,
That so stood out against the holy church,
The great metropolis and see of Rome:
Therefore thy threatening colours now wind up;
And tame the savage spirit of wild war,
That like a lion foster’d up at hand,
It may lie gently at the foot of peace,
And be no further harmful than in show.

Lewis Your grace shall pardon me, I will not back:
I am too high-born to be propertied,
To be a secondary at control,
Or useful serving-man and instrument,
To any sovereign state throughout the world.
Your breath first kindled the dead coal of wars
Between this chastised kingdom and myself,
And brought in matter that should feed this fire;
And now ’tis far too huge to be blown out
With that same weak wind which enkindled it.
You taught me how to know the face of right,
Acquainted me with interest to this land,
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-conquer’d, 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
That undergo this charge? who else but I,
And such as to my claim are liable,
Sweat in this business and maintain this war?
Have I not heard these islanders shout out
‘Vive le roi!’ as I have bank’d their towns?
Have I not here the best cards for the game,
To win this easy match play’d for a crown?
And shall I now give o’er the yielded set?
No, no, on my soul, it never shall be said.

Cardinal Pandulph You look but on the outside of this work.

Lewis Outside or inside, I will not return
Till my attempt so much be glorified
As to my ample hope was promised
Before I drew this gallant head of war,
And cull’d these fiery spirits from the world,
To outlook conquest and to win renown
Even in the jaws of danger and of death.

Trumpet sounds

What lusty trumpet thus doth summon us?

Enter the Bastard, attended

Bastard 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
And warrant limited unto my tongue.

Cardinal Pandulph The Dauphin is too wilful-opposite,
And will not temporize with my entreaties;
He flatly says he’ll not lay down his arms.

Bastard 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.
He is prepared, and reason too he should:
This apish and unmannerly approach,
This harness’d masque and unadvised revel,
This unhair’d sauciness and boyish troops,
The king doth smile at; and is well prepared
To whip this dwarfish war, these pigmy arms,
From out the circle of his territories.
That hand which had the strength, even at your door,
To cudgel you and make you take the hatch,
To dive like buckets in concealed wells,
To crouch in litter of your stable planks,
To lie like pawns lock’d up in chests and trunks,
To hug with swine, to seek sweet safety out
In vaults and prisons, and to thrill and shake
Even at the crying of your nation’s crow,
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 aery towers,
To souse annoyance that comes near his nest.
And you degenerate, you ingrate revolts,
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,
Their needles to lances, and their gentle hearts
To fierce and bloody inclination.

Lewis There end thy brave, and turn thy face in peace;
We grant thou canst outscold us: fare thee well;
We hold our time too precious to be spent
With such a brabbler.

Cardinal Pandulph Give me leave to speak.

Bastard No, I will speak.

Lewis   We will attend to neither.
Strike up the drums; and let the tongue of war
Plead for our interest and our being here.

Bastard 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
That shall reverberate all as loud as thine;
Sound but another, and another shall
As loud as thine rattle the welkin’s ear
And mock the deep-mouth’d thunder: for at hand,
Not trusting to this halting legate here,
Whom he hath used rather for sport than need
Is warlike John; and in his forehead sits
A bare-ribb’d death, whose office is this day
To feast upon whole thousands of the French.

Lewis Strike up our drums, to find this danger out.

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

Exeunt

Scene III. The field of battle.

Alarums. Enter King John and Hubert

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

Hubert Badly, I fear. How fares your majesty?

King John This fever, that hath troubled me so long,
Lies heavy on me; O, my heart is sick!

Enter a Messenger

Messenger My lord, your valiant kinsman, Faulconbridge,
Desires your majesty to leave the field
And send him word by me which way you go.

King John Tell him, toward Swinstead, to the abbey there.

Messenger Be of good comfort; for the great supply
That was expected by the Dauphin here,
Are wreck’d three nights ago on Goodwin Sands.
This news was brought to Richard but even now:
The French fight coldly, and retire themselves.

King John Ay me! this tyrant fever burns me up,
And will not let me welcome this good news.
Set on toward Swinstead: to my litter straight;
Weakness possesseth me, and I am faint.

Exeunt

Scene IV. Another part of the field.

Enter Salisbury, Pembroke, and Bigot

Salisbury I did not think the king so stored with friends.

Pembroke Up once again; put spirit in the French:
If they miscarry, we miscarry too.

Salisbury That misbegotten devil, Faulconbridge,
In spite of spite, alone upholds the day.

Pembroke They say King John sore sick hath left the field.

Enter Melun, wounded

Melun Lead me to the revolts of England here.

Salisbury When we were happy we had other names.

Pembroke It is the Count Melun.

Salisbury Wounded to death.

Melun Fly, noble English, you are bought and sold;
Unthread the rude eye of rebellion
And welcome home again discarded faith.
Seek out King John and fall before his feet;
For if the French be lords of this loud day,
He means to recompense the pains you take
By cutting off your heads: thus hath he sworn
And I with him, and many moe with me,
Upon the altar at Saint Edmundsbury;
Even on that altar where we swore to you
Dear amity and everlasting love.

Salisbury May this be possible? may this be true?

Melun Have I not hideous death within my view,
Retaining but a quantity of life,
Which bleeds away, even as a form of wax
Resolveth from his figure ’gainst the fire?
What in the world should make me now deceive,
Since I must lose the use of all deceit?
Why should I then be false, since it is true
That I must die here and live hence by truth?
I say again, if Lewis do win the day,
He is forsworn, if e’er those eyes of yours
Behold another day break in the east:
But even this night, whose black contagious breath
Already smokes about the burning crest
Of the old, feeble and day-wearied sun,
Even this ill night, your breathing shall expire,
Paying the fine of rated treachery
Even with a treacherous fine of all your lives,
If Lewis by your assistance win the day.
Commend me to one Hubert with your king:
The love of him, and this respect besides,
For that my grandsire was an Englishman,
Awakes my conscience to confess all this.
In lieu whereof, I pray you, bear me hence
From forth the noise and rumour of the field,
Where I may think the remnant of my thoughts
In peace, and part this body and my soul
With contemplation and devout desires.

Salisbury We do believe thee: and beshrew my soul
But I do love the favour and the form
Of this most fair occasion, by the which
We will untread the steps of damned flight,
And like a bated and retired flood,
Leaving our rankness and irregular course,
Stoop low within those bounds we have o’erlook’d
And cabby run on in obedience
Even to our ocean, to our great King John.
My arm shall give thee help to bear thee hence;
For I do see the cruel pangs of death
Right in thine eye. Away, my friends! New flight;
And happy newness, that intends old right.

Exeunt, leading off Melun

Scene V. The French camp.

Enter Lewis and his train

Lewis The sun of heaven methought was loath to set,
But stay’d and made the western welkin blush,
When English measure backward their own ground
In faint retire. O, bravely came we off,
When with a volley of our needless shot,
After such bloody toil, we bid good night;
And wound our tattering colours clearly up,
Last in the field, and almost lords of it!

Enter a Messenger

Messenger Where is my prince, the Dauphin?

Lewis Here: what news?

Messenger The Count Melun is slain; the English lords
By his persuasion are again fall’n off,
And your supply, which you have wish’d so long,
Are cast away and sunk on Goodwin Sands.

Lewis Ah, foul shrewd news! beshrew thy very heart!
I did not think to be so sad to-night
As this hath made me. Who was he that said
King John did fly an hour or two before
The stumbling night did part our weary powers?

Messenger Whoever spoke it, it is true, my lord.

Lewis Well; keep good quarter and good care to-night:
The day shall not be up so soon as I,
To try the fair adventure of to-morrow.

Exeunt

Scene Vi. An open place in the neighbourhood of Swinstead Abbey.

Enter the Bastard and Hubert, severally

Hubert Who’s there? speak, ho! speak quickly, or I shoot.

Bastard A friend. What art thou?

Hubert Of the part of England.

Bastard Whither dost thou go?

Hubert What’s that to thee? why may not I demand
Of thine affairs, as well as thou of mine?

Bastard Hubert, I think?

Hubert   Thou hast a perfect thought:
I will upon all hazards well believe
Thou art my friend, that know’st my tongue so well.
Who art thou?

Bastard   Who thou wilt: and if thou please,
Thou mayst befriend me so much as to think
I come one way of the Plantagenets.

Hubert Unkind remembrance! thou and eyeless night
Have done me shame: brave soldier, pardon me,
That any accent breaking from thy tongue
Should ’scape the true acquaintance of mine ear.

Bastard Come, come; sans compliment, what news abroad?

Hubert Why, here walk I in the black brow of night,
To find you out.

Bastard   Brief, then; and what’s the news?

Hubert O, my sweet sir, news fitting to the night,
Black, fearful, comfortless and horrible.

Bastard Show me the very wound of this ill news:
I am no woman, I’ll not swoon at it.

Hubert The king, I fear, is poison’d by a monk:
I left him almost speechless; and broke out
To acquaint you with this evil, that you might
The better arm you to the sudden time,
Than if you had at leisure known of this.

Bastard How did he take it? who did taste to him?

Hubert A monk, I tell you; a resolved villain,
Whose bowels suddenly burst out: the king
Yet speaks and peradventure may recover.

Bastard Who didst thou leave to tend his majesty?

Hubert Why, know you not? the lords are all come back,
And brought Prince Henry in their company;
At whose request the king hath pardon’d them,
And they are all about his majesty.

Bastard Withhold thine indignation, mighty heaven,
And tempt us not to bear above our power!
I’ll tell tree, Hubert, half my power this night,
Passing these flats, are taken by the tide;
These Lincoln Washes have devoured them;
Myself, well mounted, hardly have escaped.
Away before: conduct me to the king;
I doubt he will be dead or ere I come.

Exeunt

Scene Vii. The orchard in Swinstead Abbey.

Enter Prince Henry, Salisbury, and Bigot

Prince Henry It is too late: the life of all his blood
Is touch’d corruptibly, and his pure brain,
Which some suppose the soul’s frail dwelling-house,
Doth by the idle comments that it makes
Foretell the ending of mortality.

Enter Pembroke

Pembroke His highness yet doth speak, and holds belief
That, being brought into the open air,
It would allay the burning quality
Of that fell poison which assaileth him.

Prince Henry Let him be brought into the orchard here.
Doth he still rage?

Exit Bigot

Pembroke He is more patient
Than when you left him; even now he sung.

Prince Henry O vanity of sickness! fierce extremes
In their continuance will not feel themselves.
Death, having prey’d upon the outward parts,
Leaves them invisible, and his siege is now
Against the mind, the which he pricks and wounds
With many legions of strange fantasies,
Whi ch, in their throng and press to that last hold,
Confound themselves. ’Tis strange that death should sing.
I am the cygnet to this pale faint swan,
Who chants a doleful hymn to his own death,
And from the organ-pipe of frailty sings
His soul and body to their lasting rest.

Salisbury Be of good comfort, prince; for you are born
To set a form upon that indigest
Which he hath left so shapeless and so rude.

Enter Attendants, and Bigot, carrying King John in a chair

King John Ay, marry, now my soul hath elbow-room;
It would not out at windows nor at doors.
There is so hot a summer in my bosom,
That all my bowels crumble up to dust:
I am a scribbled form, drawn with a pen
Upon a parchment, and against this fire
Do I shrink up.

Prince Henry   How fares your majesty?

King John Poison’d — ill fare — dead, forsook, cast off:
And none of you will bid the winter come
To thrust his icy fingers in my maw,
Nor let my kingdom’s rivers take their course
Through my burn’d bosom, nor entreat the north
To make his bleak winds kiss my parched lips
And comfort me with cold. I do not ask you much,
I beg cold comfort; and you are so strait
And so ingrateful, you deny me that.

Prince Henry O that there were some virtue in my tears,
That might relieve you!

King John The salt in them is hot.
Within me is a hell; and there the poison
Is as a fiend confined to tyrannize
On unreprievable condemned blood.

Enter the Bastard

Bastard O, I am scalded with my violent motion,
And spleen of speed to see your majesty!

King John O cousin, thou art come to set mine eye:
The tackle of my heart is crack’d and burn’d,
And all the shrouds wherewith my life should sail
Are turned to one thread, one little hair:
My heart hath one poor string to stay it by,
Which holds but till thy news be uttered;
And then all this thou seest is but a clod
And module of confounded royalty.

Bastard The Dauphin is preparing hitherward,
Where heaven He knows how we shall answer him;
For in a night the best part of my power,
As I upon advantage did remove,
Were in the Washes all unwarily
Devoured by the unexpected flood.

King John dies

Salisbury You breathe these dead news in as dead an ear.
My liege! my lord! but now a king, now thus.

Prince Henry Even so must I run on, and even so stop.
What surety of the world, what hope, what stay,
When this was now a king, and now is clay?

Bastard Art thou gone so? I do but stay behind
To do the office for thee of revenge,
And then my soul shall wait on thee to heaven,
As it on earth hath been thy servant still.
Now, now, you stars that move in your right spheres,
Where be your powers? show now your mended faiths,
And instantly return with me again,
To push destruction and perpetual shame
Out of the weak door of our fainting land.
Straight let us seek, or straight we shall be sought;
The Dauphin rages at our very heels.

Salisbury It seems you know not, then, so much as we:
The Cardinal Pandulph is within at rest,
Who half an hour since came from the Dauphin,
And brings from him such offers of our peace
As we with honour and respect may take,
With purpose presently to leave this war.

Bastard He will the rather do it when he sees
Ourselves well sinewed to our defence.

Salisbury Nay, it is in a manner done already;
For many carriages he hath dispatch’d
To the sea-side, and put his cause and quarrel
To the disposing of the cardinal:
With whom yourself, myself and other lords,
If you think meet, this afternoon will post
To consummate this business happily.

Bastard Let it be so: and you, my noble prince,
With other princes that may best be spared,
Shall wait upon your father’s funeral.

Prince Henry At Worcester must his body be interr’d;
For so he will’d it.

Bastard Thither shall it then:
And happily may your sweet self put on
The lineal state and glory of the land!
To whom with all submission, on my knee
I do bequeath my faithful services
And true subjection everlastingly.

Salisbury And the like tender of our love we make,
To rest without a spot for evermore.

Prince Henry I have a kind soul that would give you thanks
And knows not how to do it but with tears.

Bastard O, let us pay the time but needful woe,
Since it hath been beforehand with our griefs.
This England never did, nor never shall,
Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror,
But when it first did help to wound itself.
Now these her princes are come home again,
Come the three corners of the world in arms,
And we shall shock them. Nought shall make us rue,
If England to itself do rest but true.

Exeunt

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Last updated Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 19:21