Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT V. - The Life and Death of King John
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ACT V. - William Shakespeare, The Life and Death of King John 
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (The Oxford Shakespeare), ed. with a glossary by W.J. Craig M.A. (Oxford University Press, 1916).
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The Same. A Room in the Palace.
EnterKing John, Pandulphwith the crown, and Attendants.
Thus have I yielded up into your hand
The circle of my glory.
[GivingJohnthe crown.] Take again
From this my hand, as holding of the pope,
Your sovereign greatness and authority.
Now keep your holy word: go meet the French,
And from his holiness use all your power
To stop their marches ’fore we are inflam’d.
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.
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.
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.
All Kent hath yielded; nothing there holds out
But Dover Castle: London hath receiv’d,
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.
Would not my lords return to me again
After they heard young Arthur was alive?
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.
That villain Hubert told me he did live.
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 behaviours 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 further from the doors,
And grapple with him ere he comes so nigh.
The legate of the pope hath been with me,
And I have made a happy peace with him;
And he hath promis’d to dismiss the powers
Led by the Dauphin.
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 war-like soul,
Mocking the air with colours idly spread,
And find no check? 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.
Have thou the ordering of this present time.
Away then, with good courage! yet, I know,
Our party may well meet a prouder foe.
A Plain, near St. Edmundsbury. The French Camp.
Enter, in arms,Lewis, Salisbury, Melun, Pembroke, Bigot,and Soldiers.
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.
Upon our sides it never shall be broken.
And, noble Dauphin, albeit we swear
A voluntary zeal, an unurg’d 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 gripple 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!
A noble temper dost thou show in this;
And great affections wrestling in thy bosom
Do 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 amaz’d
Than had I seen the vaulty top of heaven
Figur’d quite o’er with burning meteors.
Lift up thy brow, renowned Salisbury,
And with a great heart heave away this storm:
Commend these waters to those baby eyes
That never saw the giant world enrag’d;
Nor met with fortune other than at feasts,
Full warm of 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:
Look, where the holy legate comes apace,
To give us warrant from the hand of heaven,
And on our actions set the name of right
With holy breath.
Hail, noble prince of France!
The next is this: King John hath reconcil’d
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 threat’ning 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.
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 chastis’d 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 you 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 roy! 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.
You look but on the outside of this work.
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.
What lusty trumpet thus doth summon us?
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.
The Dauphin is too wilful-opposite,
And will not temporize with my entreaties:
He flatly says he’ll not lay down his arms.
By all the blood that ever fury breath’d,
The youth says well. Now hear our English king;
For thus his royalty doth speak in me.
He is prepar’d; 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 prepar’d
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 this 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 aiery 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-visag’d maids
Like Amazons come tripping after drums,
Their thimbles into armed gauntlets change,
Their neelds to lances, and their gentle hearts
To fierce and bloody inclination.
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.
Give me leave to speak.
No, I will speak.
We will attend to neither.
Strike up the drums; and let the tongue of war
Plead for our interest and our being here.
Indeed, your drums, being beaten, will cry out;
And so shall you, being beaten. Do but start
An echo with the clamour of thy drum,
And even at hand a drum is ready brac’d
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 us’d 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.
Strike up our drums, to find this danger out.
And thou shalt find it, Dauphin, do not doubt.
The Same. A Field of Battle.
Alarums. EnterKing JohnandHubert.
How goes the day with us? O! tell me, Hubert.
Badly, I fear. How fares your majesty?
This fever, that hath troubled me so long,
Lies heavy on me: O! my heart is sick.
Enter a Messenger.
My lord, your valiant kinsman, Faulconbridge,
Desires your majesty to leave the field,
And send him word by me which way you go.
Tell him, toward Swinstead, to the abbey there.
Be of good comfort: for the great supply
That was expected by the Dauphin here,
Are wrack’d three nights ago on Goodwin sands.
This news was brought to Richard but even now.
The French fight coldly, and retire themselves.
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.
The Same. Another Part of the Same.
EnterSalisbury, Pembroke, Bigot,and Others.
I did not think the king so stor’d with friends.
Up once again; put spirit in the French:
If they miscarry we miscarry too.
That misbegotten devil, Faulconbridge,
In spite of spite, alone upholds the day.
They say King John, sore sick, hath left the field.
EnterMelunwounded, and led by Soldiers.
Lead me to the revolts of England here.
When we were happy we had other names.
It is the Count Melun.
Wounded to death.
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.
May this be possible? may this be true?
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.
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 calmly 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 offMelun.
The Same. The French Camp.
EnterLewisand his Train.
The sun of heaven methought was loath to set,
But stay’d and made the western welkin blush,
When the English measur’d 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 tottering colours clearly up,
Last in the field, and almost lords of it!
Enter a Messenger.
Where is my prince, the Dauphin?
Here: what news?
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.
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?
Whoever spoke it, it is true, my lord.
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.
An open Place in the neighbourhood of Swinstead Abbey.
Who’s there? speak, ho! speak quickly, or I shoot.
A friend. What art thou?
Of the part of England.
Whither dost thou go?
What’s that to thee? Why may not I demand
Of thine affairs as well as thou of mine?
Hubert, I think?
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?
Who thou wilt: and if thou please,
Thou mayst befriend me so much as to think
I come one way of the Plantagenets.
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.
Come, come; sans compliment, what news abroad?
Why, here walk I in the black brow of night,
To find you out.
Brief, then; and what’s the news?
O! my sweet sir, news fitting to the night,
Black, fearful, comfortless, and horrible.
Show me the very wound of this ill news:
I am no woman; I’ll not swound at it.
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.
How did he take it? who did taste to him?
A monk, I tell you; a resolved villain,
Whose bowels suddenly burst out: the king
Yet speaks, and peradventure may recover.
Whom didst thou leave to tend his majesty?
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.
Withhold thine indignation, mighty heaven,
And tempt us not to bear above our power!
I’ll tell thee, 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 escap’d.
Away before! conduct me to the king;
I doubt he will be dead or ere I come.
The Orchard of Swinstead Abbey.
EnterPrince Henry, Salisbury,andBigot.
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.
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.
Let him be brought into the orchard here.
Doth he still rage?
He is more patient
Than when you left him: even now he sung.
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,
Which, 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
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.
Re-enterBigotand Attendants carryingKing Johnin a chair.
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.
How fares your majesty?
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.
O! that there were some virtue in my tears,
That might relieve you.
The salt in them is hot.
Within me is a hell; and there the poison
Is as a fiend confin’d to tyrannize
On unreprievable condemned blood.
O! I am scalded with my violent motion
And spleen of speed to see your majesty.
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.
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.
You breathe these dead news in as dead an ear.
My liege! my lord! But now a king, now thus.
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?
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.
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.
He will the rather do it when he sees
Ourselves well sinewed to our defence.
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.
Let it be so. And you, my noble prince,
With other princes that may best be spar’d,
Shall wait upon your father’s funeral.
At Worcester must his body be interr’d;
For so he will’d it.
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.
And the like tender of our love we make,
To rest without a spot for evermore.
I have a kind soul that would give you thanks,
And knows not how to do it but with tears.
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.