Page images

Bast. And hang a calf's-skin on his recreant | Some gentle order, and then we shall be bless'd limbs.

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


Bast. Your breeches best may carry them. K. John. Philip, what say'st thou to the cardinal?

Const. What should he say, but as the cardinal?
Lew. Bethink you, father; for the difference
Is purchase of a heavy curse from Rome,
Or the light loss of England for a friend:
Forego the easier.

That's the curse of Rome.
Const. O Lewis, stand fast! the devil tempts
thee here

In likeness of a new untrimmed bride.
Blanch. The Lady Constance speaks not from
her faith,


But from her need.
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

Keep my need up, and faith is trodden down. K. John. The king is mov'd, and answers not to this.

Const. O be remov'd from him, and answer well.

Aust. Do so, King Philip: hang no more in doubt.

Bast. Hang nothing but a calf's-skin, most sweet lout. 220

K. Phi. I am perplex'd, and know not what to say.

Pand. What canst thou say but will perplex thee more,

If thou stand excommunicate and curs'd? K. Phi. Good reverend father, make my person yours,


And tell me how you would bestow yourself.
This royal hand and mine are newly knit,
And the conjunction of our inward souls
Married in league, coupled and link'd together
With all religious strength of sacred vows;
The latest breath that gave the sound of words
Was deep-sworn faith, peace, amity, true love,
Between our kingdoms and our royal selves ;
And even before this truce, but new before,
No longer than we well could wash our hands
To clap this royal bargain up of peace,
Heaven knows, they were besmear'd and over-

With slaughter's pencil, where revenge did paint
The fearful difference of incensed kings:


And shall these hands, so lately purg'd of blood,
So newly join'd in love, so strong in both,
Unyoke this seizure and this kind regrect?
Play fast and loose with faith? so jest with

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

To do your pleasure and continue friends.
Pand. 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 may'st 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


K. Phi. I may disjoin my hand, but not my faith.
Pand. So mak'st thou faith an enemy to faith;
And like a civil war sett'st oath to oath,
Thy tongue against thy tongue. O let thy vow
First made to heaven, first be to heaven per-

That is, to be the champion of our church.
What since thou swor'st is sworn against thyself,
And may not be performed by thyself;
For that which thou hast sworn to do amiss 270
Is not amiss when it is truly done:
And being not done, where doing tends to ill,
The truth is then most done not doing it.
The better act of purposes mistook
Is to mistake again; though indirect,
Yet indirection thereby grows direct,
And falsehood falsehood cures, as fire cools fire
Within the scorched veins of one new-burn'd.
It is religion that doth make vows kept;
But thou hast sworn against religion
By what thou swear'st, against the thing thou


And mak'st an oath the surety for thy truth
Against an oath the truth thou art unsure
To swear, swears only not to be forsworn ;
Else what a mockery should it be to swear!
But thou dost swear only to be forsworn ;
And most forsworn, to keep what thou dost swear.
Therefore thy later vows against thy first
Is in thyself rebellion to thyself;
And better conquest never canst thou make 290
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.
Aust. Rebellion, flat rebellion!
Will 't not be?
Will not a calf's-skin stop that mouth of thine?
Lew. Father, to arms!

Upon thy wedding-day? 300 Against the blood that thou hast married? What! shall our feast be kept with slaughter'd men?

Shall braying trumpets and loud churlish drums,
Clamours of hell, be measures to our pomp?
O husband, hear me ! ay, alack! how new
Is husband in my mouth; even for that name,
Which till this time my tongue did ne'er pro-


Upon my knee I beg, go not to arms
Against mine uncle.

O! upon my knee,

Made hard with kneeling, I do pray to thee, 310
Thou virtuous Dauphin, alter not the doom

250 Forethought by heaven.

Blanch. Now shall I see thy love: what motive may

Be stronger with thee than the name of wife? Const. That which upholdeth him that thee upholds,

His honour: O! thine honour, Lewis, thine honour.

Lew. I muse your majesty doth seem so cold, When such profound respects do pull you on. Pand. I will denounce a curse upon his head. K. Phi. Thou shalt not need. England, I'll fall from thee.

Const. O fair return of banish'd majesty !
Eli. O foul revolt of French inconstancy!


K. John. France, thou shalt rue this hour within this hour.


Alarums; excursions; retreat. Enter King Jous, ELINOR, ARTHUR, the Bastard, HUBERT, and Lords.


K. John. To ELINOR. So shall it be; your grace shall stay behind

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.

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

K. John. To the Bastard. Cousin, away for England! haste before;

Bast. Old Time the clock-setter, that bald And, ere our coming, see thou shake the bags sexton Time,

Is it as he will? well then, France shall rue. Blanch. The sun's o'ercast with blood: fair day, adieu!


Which is the side that I must go withal?
I am with both each army hath a hand;
And in their rage, I having hold of both,
They whirl asunder and dismember me.
Husband, I cannot pray that thou may'st win;
Uncle, I needs must pray that thou may'st lose;
Father, I may not wish the fortune thine;
Grandam, I will not wish thy wishes thrive:
Whoever wins, on that side shall I lose;
Assured loss before the match be play'd.

Lew. Lady, with me, with me thy fortune lies. Blanch. There where my fortune lives, there my life dies.


K. John. Cousin, go draw our puissance together. Exit Bastard. France, I am burn'd up with inflaming wrath; A rage whose heat hath this condition, That nothing can allay, nothing but blood, The blood, and dearest-valu'd blood, of France. K. Phi. 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.

K. John. No more than he that threats. arms let's hie!

To Exeunt.

[blocks in formation]


Of hoarding abbots; imprisoned angels
Set thou at liberty: the fat ribs of peace
Must by the hungry now be fed upon :
Use our commission in his utmost force.
Bast. 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.
Eli. Farewell, gentle cousin.
K. John.
Coz, farewell. Exit Bastard.
Eli. Come hither, little kinsman; hark, a word.
She takes ARTHUR aside.
K. John. Come hither, Hubert. O my gentle

We owe thee much within this wall of flesh
There is a soul counts thee her creditor,
And with advantage means to pay thy love:
And, my good friend, thy voluntary oath
Lives in this bosom, dearly cherished.
Give me thy hand. I had a thing to say,
But I will fit it with some better time.
By heaven, Hubert, I am almost asham'd
To say what good respect I have of thee.

Hub. I am much bounden to your majesty.
K. John. Good friend, thou hast no cause to
say so yet;

But thou shalt have; and creep time ne'er so slow,

Yet it shall come for me to do thee good.
I had a thing to say, but let it go:
The sun is in the heaven, and the proud day,
Attended with the pleasures of the world,
Is all too wanton and too full of gawds
Did, with his iron tongue and brazen mouth,
To give me audience: if the midnight bell
Sound one into the drowsy race of night;
If this same were a churchyard where we stand,
And thou possessed with a thousand wrongs;
Or if that surly spirit, melancholy,

Had bak'd thy blood and made it heavy-thick.
Which else runs tickling up and down the veins,
Making that idiot, laughter. keep men's eyes
And strain their cheeks to idle merriment,
A passion hateful to my purposes ;
Or if that thou should'st see me without eyes,
Hear me without thine ears, and make reply
Without a tongue, using conceit alone,
Without eyes, ears, and harmful sound of words;
Then, in despite of brooded watchful day,
I would into thy bosom pour my thoughts:
But, ah! I will not yet I love thee well;


And, by my troth, I think thou lov'st me well. Hub. So well, that what you bid me undertake, Though that my death were adjunct to my act, By heaven, I would do it.

K. John. Do not I know thou would'st? Good Hubert! Hubert, Hubert, throw thine eye On you young boy: I'll tell thee what, my friend, He is a very serpent in my way;

And wheresoe'er this foot of mine doth tread, He lies before me: dost thou understand me? Thou art his keeper.


And I'll keep him so

That he shall not offend your majesty.


[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

And ring these fingers with thy household worms,
And stop this gap of breath with fulsome dust,
And be a carrion monster like thyself:
Come, grin on me; and I will think thou smil'st
And buss thee as thy wife! Misery's love,
O! come to me.
K. Phi.
O fair affliction, peace!
Const. 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.


Pand. Lady, you utter madness, and not sorrow.
Const. Thou art not holy to belie me so;

I am not mad: this hair I tear is mine;
My name is Constance; I was Geffrey's wife;
Young Arthur is my son, and he is lost!

[ocr errors]

I am not mad: I would to heaven I were!
For then 'tis like I should forget myself:
O! if I could, what grief should I forget.
Preach some philosophy to make me mad,
And thou shalt be canoniz'd, cardinal;
For being not mad but sensible of grief,
My reasonable part produces reason
How I may be deliver'd of these woes,
And teaches me to kill or hang myself:
If I were mad, I should forget my son,
Or madly think a babe of clouts were he.
I am not mad: too well, too well I feel
The different plague of each calamity.
K. Phi. Bind up those tresses. O! what love
I note

[ocr errors]

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.
Const. To England, if you will.
K. Phi.
Bind up your hairs.
Const. Yes, that I will; and wherefore will I
do it?

Lew. What he hath won that bath he fortified:O! So hot a speed with such advice dispos'd, Such temperate order in so fierce a cause, Doth want example: who hath read or heard Of any kindred action like to this?

K. Phi. Well could I bear that England had this praise,

So we could find some pattern of our shame.

[blocks in formation]

I tore them from their bonds, and cried aloud 70
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.



Pand. You hold too heinous a respect of grief. Const. He talks to me, that never had a son. K. Phi. You are as fond of grief as of your child.

Const. 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 sorrow's cure! Exit.
K. Phi. I fear some outrage, and I'll follow
Lew. There's nothing in this world can make
me joy:

Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale
Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man;

And bitter shame hath spoil'd the sweet world's taste,


That it yields nought but shame and bitterness.
Pand. 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?
Lew. All days of glory, joy, and happiness.
Pand. 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


[blocks in formation]

Lew. But what shall I gain by young Arthur's fall?

Pand. You, in the right of Lady Blanch your wife,

May then make all the claim that Arthur did.
Lew. And lose it, life and all, as Arthur did.
Pand. How green you are and fresh in this
old world!

John lays you plots; the times conspire with you;
For he that steeps his safety in true blood
Shall find but bloody safety and untrue.
This act so evilly borne shall cool the hearts
Of all his people and freeze up their zeal,
That none so small advantage shall step forth
To check his reign, but they will cherish it;
No natural exhalation in the sky,
No scope of nature, no distemper'd day,


[blocks in formation]

But hold himself safe in his prisonment.
Pand. O sir, when he shall hear of your ap-

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 170
Than I have nam'd. 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 topful of offence.
For England, go; I will whet on the king.
Lew. Strong reasons make strong actions.
Let us go:

If you say ay, the king will not say no.



[blocks in formation]


Hub. Uncleanly scruples! fear not you look to't. Excunt Attendants. Young lad, come forth; I have to say with you. Enter ARTHUR. Arth. Good morrow, Hubert.

Ilub. Good morrow, little prince. Arth. As little prince, having so great a title To be more prince, as may be. You are sad. 11 Hub. Indeed, I have been merrier.

Arth. Mercy on me! Methinks nobody should be sad but I: Yet, I remember, when I was in France, Young gentlemen would be as sad as night, Only for wantonness. By my christendom, So I were out of prison and kept sheep, I should be as merry as the day is long: And so I would be here, but that I doubt My uncle practises more harm to me: He is afraid of me, and I of him. Is it my fault that I was Geffrey's son? No, indeed, is 't not; and I would to heaven


I were your son, so you would love me, Hubert. | I will not struggle; I will stand stone-still. Hub. Aside. If I talk to him, with his innocent prate

[blocks in formation]


Or 'What good love may I perform for you?'
Many a poor man's son would have lain still,
And ne'er have spoke a loving word to you;
But you at your sick-service had a prince.
Nay, you may think my love was crafty love,
And call it cunning: do, an if you will.
If heaven be pleas'd that you must use me ill,
Why then you must. Will you put out mine eyes?
These eyes that never did nor never shall
So much as frown on you?

I have sworn to do it;
And with hot irons must I burn them out.
Arth. Ah! none but in this iron age would
do it.

The iron of itself, though heat red-hot,


For heaven sake, Hubert, let me not be bound! Nay, hear me, Hubert: drive these men away, And I will sit as quiet as a lamb;


I will not stir, nor wince, nor speak a word,
Nor look upon the iron angerly.
Thrust but these men away, and I'll forgive you,
Whatever torment you do put me to.

Hub. Go, stand within: let me alone with him.
First Atten. I am best pleas'd to be from such
a deed.
Exeunt Attendants.

Arth. Alas! I then have chid away my friend:
He hath a stern look, but a gentle heart.
Let him come back, that his compassion may
Give life to yours.


Come, boy, prepare yourself. Arth. Is there no remedy?


None, but to lose your eyes, 90 Arth. O heaven! that there were but a mote in yours,

A grain, a dust, a gnat, a wandering hair,
Any annoyance in that precious sense;
Then feeling what small things are boisterous

Your vile intent must needs seem horrible.
Hub. Is this your promise? go to, hold your

Arth. Hubert, the utterance of a brace of tongues


Must needs want pleading for a pair of eyes:
Let me not hold my tongue; let me not, Hubert :
Or, Hubert, if you will, cut out my tongue,
So I may keep mine eyes: O! spare mine eyes,
Though to no use but still to look on you.
Lo! by my troth, the instrument is cold
And would not harm me.

I can heat it, boy.

Hub. Arth. No, in good sooth; the fire is dead with grief,

Being create for comfort, to be us'd

In undeserv'd extremes: see else yourself;
There is no malice in this burning coal;
The breath of heaven hath blown his spirit out
And strew'd repentant ashes on his head.


Hub. But with my breath I can revive it, boy. Arth. An if you do you will but make it blush And glow with shame of your proceedings, Hubert:

Approaching near these eyes, would drink my Nay, it perchance will sparkle in your eyes;


[blocks in formation]

And like a dog that is compell'd to fight,
Snatch at his master that doth tarre him on.
All things that you should use to do me wrong
Deny their office only you do lack
That mercy which fierce fire and iron extends,
Creatures of note for mercy-lacking uses.


Hub. Well, see to live; I will not touch thine

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »