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Shakespeare's history of King John online

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And king o'er him, and all that he enjoys :

•■^ Ordinance for ordnance. The Poet uses it so, where the verse wants
a trisyllable. — Dishabited, second line below, is dislodged.


I'or this down-trodden equity, \vc tread

In warlike march these greens*'-' before your town;

Being no further enemy to you

Than the constraint of hospitable zeal

In the relief of this oppressed child

Religiously provokes. Be pleased, then,

To pay that duty which you truly owe

To him that owes^'* it, namely, this young Prince:

And then our arms, like to a muzzled bear,

Save in aspect, have all offence seal'd up ;

Our cannons' malice vainly shall be spent

Against th' invulnerable clouds of heaven ; *

And with a blessed and unvex'd retire,

With unhack'd swords and helmets all unbruised.

We will bear home that lusty blood again

Which here we came to spout against your town,

And leave your children, wives, and you in peace.

But, if you fondly pass our proffer'd peace,

'Tis not the rondure ^^ of your old-faced walls

Can hide you from our messengers of war,

Though all these English, and their discipline.

Were harbour'd in their rude circumference.

Then, tell us, shall your city call us lord,

In that behalf which we have challenged it?

Or shall we give the signal to our rage,

And stalk in blood to our possession?

7 C/V. In brief, we are the King of England's subjects :

83 " Greens for plants, or vegetation in general," says Walker.

3* Owes for owns, while owe, in the preceding line, has the present mean-
ing of that word.

35 Rondure is circle ox girdle ; from the French rondeur. — Fondly, line
before, \s foolishly ; a common usage.



For him, and in his right, we hold this town.

K.John. Acknowledge, then, the King, and let me in.

/ Cit. That can we not ; but he that proves the King,
To him will we prove loyal : till that time
Have we ramm'd up our gates against the world.

K.John. Doth not the crown of England prove the King?
And if not tliat, I bring you witnesses.
Twice fifteen thousand hearts of England's breed, —

Bast. Bastards, and else.

K. John. — To verify our title with their lives.

K. Phi. As many and as well-born bloods as those, —

Bast. Some bastards too.

K. Phi. — Stand in his face, to contradict his claim.

I Cit. Till you compound whose right is worthiest.
We for the worthiest hold the right from both.

K. John. Then God forgive the sin of all those souls
That to their everlasting residence.
Before the dew of evening fall, shall fleet.
In dreadful trial of our kingdom's King !

K. Phi. Amen, amen ! — Mount, chevaliers ! to arms !

Bast. Saint George, that swinged the dragon, and e'er
Sits on his horse' back at mine hostess' door,^''
Teach us some fence ! — \_To Ausr.] Sirrah, were I at home,
At your •den, sirrah, with your lioness,
I'd set an ox-head to your lion's hide,
And make a monster of you.

Aust. Peace ! no more.

Bast. D, tremble, for you hear the lion roar !

K. John. I'j) higher to the plain ; where we'll set f(.)rlh

8" Pictures of Saint GeorRc armed and mounted, as when he overthrew
the Dragon, were used fur innkeepers' signs.


In best appointment all our regiments.

Bast. Speed, then, to take advantage of the field.

A'. Phi. It shall be so ; — \To Louis.] and at the other hill
Command the rest to stand. — God and our right !

\_Exeunt, severally, the English and French Kings, &'c.

After excursions, enter a French Herald, with trtimpets, to

the gates.

F. Her. You men of Anglers, open wide your gates,
And let young Arthur, Duke of Bretagne, in.
Who, by the hand of France, this day hath made
Much work for tears in many an English mother,
Whose sons lie scatter'd on the bleeding ground :
Many a widow's husband grovelling lies,
Coldly embracing the discolour'd earth ;
And victory, with little loss, doth play
Upon the dancing banners of the French,
Who are at hand, triumphantly display'd,
To enter conquerors, and to proclaim
Arthur of Bretagne England's King and yours.

Enter an English Herald, with trumpets.

E. Her. Rejoice, you men of Anglers, ring your bells ;
King John, your King and England's, doth approach,
Commander of this hot malicious day : *

Their armours, that march'd hence so silver-bright.
Hither return all gilt with Frenchmen's blood ; ^^
There stuck no plume in any English crest
That is removed by a staff of France ;

8^ The phx3sc gilded or gilt with blood was common. So in Chapman's
Iliad, book xvi. : " The curets from great Hector's breast all gilded with his


Our colours do return in those same hands

That did display them when we first march'd forth ;

And, like a jolly troop of huntsmen, come

Our lusty English, all with purpled hands,

Dyed in the dying slaughter of their foes : ^^

Open your gates, and give the victors way.

I Cit. Heralds, from off our towers we might behold,
From first to last, the onset and retire
Of both your armies ; whose ec^uality
By our best eyes cannot be censurdd :
Blood hath bought blood, and blows have ansvver'd blows ;
Strength match 'd with strength, and power confronted power :
Both are alike ; and both alike we like.
One must prove greatest : while they weigh so even.
We hold our town for neither ; yet for both.

Re-enter, on one side, King John, Elinor, Blanch, f/ie Bas-
tard, Lords, and Forces ; on the other. King Philip, Louis,
Austria, and Forces.

K. John. France, hast thou yet more blood to cast away?
Say, shall the current of our right run on?
Whose passage, vcx'd with thy impediment,
Shall leave his native channel, and o'erswell
With course disturb'd even thy confining shores.
Unless thou let his silver waters keep
A peaceful progress to the ocean.

K. Phi. lOngland, thou hast not saved one drop of blood,
In this hot trial, more than we of France ;
Rather, lost more : and by this hand I swear,

'* It appears that, at the conclusion of a dccr-liunl, tl)c liiinlsmcn used
to stain their liands witli the blood of the deer ns a trophy.


That sways the earth this climate overlooks,

Before \vc will lay down our just-borne arms,

We'll put thee down, 'gainst whom these arms we bear,

Or add a royal number to the dead,

Gracing the scroll that tells of this war's loss

With slaughter coupled to the iiame of kings.

Bast. Ha, Majesty ! how high thy glory ^^ towers,
When the rich blood of kings is set on fire !
O, now doth Death line his dead chops with steel ;
The swords of soldiers are his teeth, his fangs ;
And now he feasts, mousing ^^ the flesh of men.
In undetermined differences of kings. —
Why stand these royal fronts amazed thus ?
Cry havoc,^^ Kings ! back to the stained field.
You equal-potent, fiery-kindled spirits !
Then let confusion of one jxart confirm
The other's peace; till then, l)lo\vs, blood, and death !

K.John. Whose party do the townsmen yet admit?

K. Phi. Speak, citizens, for England ; who's your King?

I Cit. The King of England, when we know the King.

K. Phi. Know him in us, that here hold up his right.

K.John. In us, that are our own great deputy,
And bear possession of our person here ;
Lord of our presence. Anglers, and of you.

J Cit. A greater Power than ye denies all this ;

'9 Glory for glorying, that is, vaunting ; one of the senses of the Latin
gloria. A frequent usage.

<" To mouse is to tear in pieces, or to devour eagerly. So in Dckker's
Wonderful Year, 1603 : " Whilst Troy was swilling sack and sugar, and
myusing fat venison, the mad Greeks made bonfires of their houses." See,
also, A Midsnmmer, page 107, note 19.

*i Crying havoc t in battle, was a signal for indiscriminate massacre, or
for giving no quarter.



And, till it be undoubted, we do lock
Our former scruple in our strong-barr'd gates ;
King'd of our fears,^- until our fears, resolved,'*^
Be by some certain king purged and deposed.

Bast. By Heaven, these scroyles "^^ of Anglers flout you,
And stand securely on their battlements,
As in a theatre, whence they gape and point
At your industrious scenes and acts of death.
Your royal presences be ruled by me :
Do like the mutines"*' of Jerusalem, .
Be friends awhile, and both conjointly bend
Your sharpest deeds of malice on this town :
By east and west let France and England mount
Their battering cannon, charged to the mouths.
Till their soul-fearing'"^ clamours have brawl'd down
The flinty ribs of this contemptuous city :
I'd play incessantly upon these jades,
Even till unfenced desolation
Leave them as naked as the vulgar air.
That done, dissever your united strengths,

*2 " Kitted o/ouT fears " is the same as ru/ed by our fears. We have a
like expression in King Jlcnry K, ii. 3 : " For, my good liege, she [England]
is so idly king'd"

*' I am not quite sure as to the sense of resolved here. Sometimes the
word, in Shakespeare, means to inform, assure, or satisfy ; sometimes to
melt or dissolve. The latter seems to aeeord best with the sense of purged
and dif>osed.

** Scroyles is scurvy rogues ; from the I'rcnch escrouelles.

<6 Mutines for mutineers; as in Hamlet, v. a: " Methoughl I lay worse
than the mutines in the bilboes." The allusion is probably to the combina-
tion of the civil fictions in Jcrusaleni wlii-n the city was threatened by Titus.

<6 ^ou\-af>palliHg. The I'oct often uses the verb to fear \n the sense of
making afraid or scaring.


And part your mingled colours once again ;

Turn face to face, and bloody point to point ;

Then, in a moment. Fortune shall cull forth

Out of one side her hap})y minion,

To whom in favour she shall give the day,

And kiss him with a glorious victory.

How like you this wild counsel, mighty states P'^^

Smacks it not something of the policy ?

K.John. Now, by the sky that hangs above our heads,
I like it well. — France, shall we knit our powers,
And lay this Anglers even with the ground ;
Then, after, fight who shall be king of it ?

Bast. An if thou hast the mettle of a king, — •
Being wrong'd, as we are, by this peevish town, —
Turn thou the mouth of thy artillery.
As we will ours, against these saucy walls ;
And, when that we have dash'd them to the ground,
Why, then defy each other, and, pell-mell.
Make work upon ourselves, for Heaven or Hell.

K. Phi. Let it be so. — Say, where will you assault ?

K. John. We from the west will send destruction
Into this city's bosom.

Aust. I from the north.

K. Phi. Our thunders from the south

Shall rain their drift of bullets on this town.

Bast. \_Aside^ O prudent discipline ! From north to

*" states here may be equivalent to thrones, the chairs of state being put
for the occupiers of them. Sometimes state is used lot person of high rank ;
as in Cymbeline, iii. 4: " Kings, queens, and states!' — The meaning of the
next line appears to be, " Is there not some smack of policy, or of politic
shrewdness, in this counsel ? "


Austria and France shoot in each other's mouth :
I'll stir them to it. — Come, away, away !

/ Cit. Hear us, great Kings : vouchsafe awhile to stay,
And I sliall show you peace and fair-faced league :
Win you this city without stroke or wound ;
Rescue those breathing lives to die in beds,
That here come sacrifices for the field :
Pers^ver not, but hear me, mighty Kings.

K.John. Speak on, with favour; we are bent to hear.

/ Cit. That daughter there of Si)ain, the Lady Blanch,
Is niece to England : "'^ look upon the years
Of Louis the Dauphin and that lovely maid :
If lusty love should go in quest of beauty.
Where should he find it fairer than in Blanch?
If zealous love should go in search of virtue,
Where should he find it purer than in Blanch?
If love ambitious sought a match of birth,
Whose veins bound richer blood than Lady Blanch?
Such as she is, in beauty, virtue, birth.
Is the young Dauphin every way complete :
If not complete, then say he is not she ;
And she, again, wants nothing, to name want.
If want it be, but that she is not he : ■*'•*
He is the half part of a blessi'd man,
Left to be finished by such a she ;
And she a fair divided excellence,
Whose fulness of perfection lies in him.

<8 Blanch w;is in fact daughter to Alphonso IX., King of Castile, and
niece to King John by his sister Eleanor.

*' The sense appears to be, " And she, again, wants nothing, but that she
is not he ; if there be any thing wanting in her, and if it be right to speak
of want in connection witli licr."



O, two such silver currents, when they join,

Do glorify the banks that bound them in ;

And two such shores to two such streams made one,

Two such controlling bounds shall you be. Kings,

To these two Princes, if you marry them.

This union shall do more than battery can

To our fast-closed gates ; for, at this match.

With swifter spleen than powder can enforce.

The mouth of passage shall we fling wide ope,

And give you entrance : but, without this match,

The sea enraged is not half so deaf,

Lions more confident, mountains and rocks

More free from motion ; ^^ no, not Death himself

In mortal fury half so peremptory,

As we to keep this city.

Bast. Here's a flaw,-^i

That shakes the rotten carcass of old Death
Out of his rags ! Here's a large mouth, indeed,
That spits forth death and mountains, rocks and seas ;
Talks as familiarly of roaring lions
As maids of thirteen do of puppy-dogs !
What cannoneer begot this lusty blood ?
He speaks plain cannon, fire and smoke and bounce ; ^^

60 If the text be right, the meaning is, " Lions are not more confident, nor
mountains and rocks more free from motion."

51 Flaw, in one of its senses, signifies a violent gust of wind. So in
Smith's Sea Grammar, 162J : " .\ flaw of wind is a gust, which is very vio-
lent upon a sudden, but quickly endeth." Shakespeare has it repeatedly
so ; as in Coriolanus, v. 3 : " Like a great sea-mark, standing every yfaw, and
saving those that eye thee."

52 Bounce is the old word for the report of a gun, the same as our bang.
So in 2 Hetiry the Fourth, iii. 2: "There was a little quiver fellow, and 'a
would manage you his piece thus : rah, tah, tah, would 'a say ; bounce would



He gives the bastinado with his tongue :
Our ears are cudgell'd ; not a word of his
But buffets better than a fist of France :
Zounds, I was ne\er so bethump'd with words
Since I first call'd my brother's father dad.

Eli. \_Aside to John.] Son, Hst to this conjunction, make
this match ;
Give with our niece a dowry large enough :
For by this knot thou shalt so surely tie
Thy now-unsured assurance to the crown,
That yon green boy shall have no sun to ripe
The bloom that promiseth a mighty fruit.
I see a yielding in the looks of France ;
Mark, now tliey whispei- : urge them while their souls
Are capable ^-^ of this ambition,
Lest zeal, now melted by the windy breath
Of soft petitions, pity, and remorse,
Cool and congeal again to what it was.

/ Cit. Why answer not the double Majesties
This friendly treaty of our thrcatcn'd town?

K. Phi. Speak England first, that hath been forward first
To speak unto this city : — what say you ?

K. John. If that the Dauphin there, thy princely son,
Can in this book of beauty read I Iot>e,
Her dowry shall weigh equal with a queen :
For Anjou, and fair Tourainc, Maine, Poictiers,
And all that we upon this side the sea —
Except this city now by us besieged —

'a say ; and aw.ny again would 'a go," &x. — To give the bastinado is to beat
with a cudgel ; the same as to ba%te, or to i^ive a basting.

63 Capable here is c(iuivalcnt to siisceptibU. So in the next scene : " For
I am sick, and capable of fears." Sec, also, Kichard III., page 95, noteg.


Find liable to our crown and dignity,

Shall gild her bridal bed ; and make her rich

In titles, honours, and promotions,

As she in beauty, education, blood,

Holds hand with any princess of the world.

K. Phi. What say'st thou, boy ? look in the lady's face.

Lou. I do, my lord ; and in her eye I find
A wonder, or a wonderous miracle,
The shadow of myself form'd in her eye ;
Which, being but the shadow of your son,
Becomes a sun, and makes your son a shadow :
I do protest I never loved myself.
Till now infixed I beheld myself
Drawn in the flattering table •''^ of her eye.

[ Whispers with Blanch.

Bast. [^Aside."] Drawn in the flattering table of her eye !
Hang'd in the frowning wrinkle of her brov/ 1
And quarter'd in her heart ! he doth espy
Himself love's traitor: this is pity now,
That, hang'd and drawn and (juarter'd, tliere should be
In such a love so vile a lout as he.

Blanch. My uncle's will in this respect is mine :
If he see aught in you that makes him like,
That any thing he sees, which moves his liking,
I can with ease translate it to my will ;
Or if you will, to speak more properly,
I will enforce it easily to my love. —
Further I will not flatter you, my lord,
That all I see in you is worthy love,
Than this, that nothing do I see in you,

64 Table for the board or canvas on which a picture is made.


Though churhsh thoughts themseh'es should be your

That I can find should merit any hate.

K.Johti. What say these young ones? — What say you,
my niece ?

Blanch. That she is bound in honour still to do
What you in wisdom still vouchsafe to say.

K. John. Speak, then, Prince Dauphin ; can you love this

Lou. Nay, ask me if I can refrain from love ;
For I do love her most unfeignedly.

K.John. Then do I give Volquessen, Touraine, Maine,
Poictiers, and Anjou, these five provinces,
With her to thee ; and this addition more,
Full thirty thousand marks of English coin. —
Philip of France, if thou be pleased withal.
Command thy son and daughter to join hands.

K. Phi. It likes*'-' us well. — Young Princes, close your

Aiist. And your lips too ; for I am well assured
That I difl so when I was first afficd.^'^

K. Phi. Now, citizens of Angiers, ope your gates,
Let in that amity which you have made ;
For at Saint Mary's chapel presently
The rites of marriage shall be solemnized. —
Is not the I^dy Constance in this troop?
I know she is not ; for this match made up
Her presence would have interrupted much :
Where is she and her son? tell me, who knows.

W Likes was conlinually used thus, in all sorts of writing, for suits or

*• Affied is betrothed or ajjianced.


Lou. She's sad and passionate ^^ at your Highness' tent. '

K. Plii. And, by my faith, this league that we have made
Will give her sadness very little cure. —
Brother of England, how may we content
This widow'd lady? In her right we came ;
Which we, God knows, have turn'd another way,
To our own vantage,

K. John. We will heal up all ;

For we'll create young Arthur Duke of Rretagne
And Earl of Richmond ; and this rich fair town
We make him lord of. — Call the Lady Constance;
Some speedy messenger bid her repair
To our solemnity : — I trust we shall.
If not fill up the measure of her will,
Yet in some measure satisfy her so
That we shall stop her exclamation.
Go we, as well as haste will suffer us,
To this unlook'd-for, unprepared pomp.

\_Exeunt all but the Bastard. The Citizens

retire from the walls.

Bast. Mad world ! mad kings ! mad composition I
John, to stop Authur's title in the whole.
Hath willingly departed^** with a part ;
And France, — whose armour conscience buckled on.
Whom zeal and charity brought to the field
As God's own soldier, — rounded ^^ in the ear

67 Passionate here means perturbed or agitated. So in The True Tragedy
of Richard Duke of York, 1600 : " Tell me, good madam, why is your Grace
so passionate of late ? "

68 Departed in the sense oi parted, the two being formerly synonymous.
6* To round, or rown, was sometimes used for to whisper. So in The

Examination of William Thorpe, 1407 : " And the archbishop called then



With tliat same purpose-changer, that sly devil ;

That broker/'^ that still breaks the pate of faith ;

That daily break-vow ; he that wins of all,

Of kings, of beggars, old men, young men, maids, —

Who having no external thing to lose

But the word jtiaiJ, cheats the poor maid of that ;

That smooth-faced gentleman, tickling commodity,^! —

Commodity, the bias of the world ;

The world, who of itself is peised''- well,

Made to run even upon even ground.

Till this advantage, this vile-drawing bias,

This sway of motion, this commodity,

Makes it take head from all indiffercncy,'^^

From all direction, purpose, course, intent :

And this same bias, this commodity,

This bawd, this broker, this all-changing word,

Clapp'd on the outward eye'^'' of fickle France,

Hath drawn him from his own determined aim,

I'Vom a rciolvcd and honourable war.

To a most base and vile-concluded peace. —

to him a clerkc, and rowned\'i\\\\ him : and that clcrke went forth, and soone
brought in the constable of Saltwood c:..stlc, and the archl>i^:.liop rowiicd a
good while with him." Sec, also, The Winter i Tale, page 50, note 31.

w A broker was properly a pander or ///;// ,• hence, sometimes, as here,
a dissembler or cheat.

«' Commodity here is advantaf^e, profit, ox interest. So, in 2 Henry IV.,
i. 2, FalstafT says, " A good wit will make use of any thing : I will turn dis-
eases to commodity''

W peisl'd is balanced or poised. To peiM is, ]jroperly, to weigh.

W Indifferency in the sense of impartiality. The world, swayed by inter-
est, is compared to a biassed bowl, which is deflected from an impartial
course by the load in one side.

•" 'I"hc allusion to the game of bowls is still kept up. Staunton says,
* The aperture on one side which contains the bias or weight that inclines
the bowl, in running, from the direct course, was sometimes called the eye."

74 K.1NG JOHN. ACT 111,

And why rail I on this commodity?

But for because he hath not woo'd mc yet :

Not that I liavc the power to clutch my hand,

When his fair angels ''•^ would salute my palm;

But for my hand, as unattempted yet,

Like a poor beggar, raileth on the rich.

Well, whiles I am a beggar, I will rail,

And say, There is no sin but to be rich :

And being rich, my virtue then shall be

To say. There is no vice but beggary :

Since kings break faith upon commodity.

Gain, be my lord, — for I will worship thee ! \^ExU,


Scene I. — France. Tlie French King's Tent.

Enter Constance, Arthur, and Salisbury.

Cojist. Gone to be married ! gone to swear a peace !
False blood to false blood join'd ! gone to be friends !
Shall Louis have Blanch? and Blanch 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 :

*5 Angjl was Ihc name of a gold coin. See Merchant, page 124, note 7. —
The sense of the passage is, " I rail at bribery, not because I have the virtue
to keep my hand closed when a bribe tempts mc to open it, but because I
am as yet untcmpted."


Believe mc, I do not believe thee, man ;

I have a king's oath to the contrary.

Thou shalt be punish'd for thus frighting me,

For I am sick, and capable of fears ;

Oppress'd 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 vex'd 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.

Sal. As true as I believe you think them false
That give you cause to prove my saying true.

Const. 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 ! —
Louis marry Blanch ! O boy, then where art thou ?

1 To take truce is old l.inRiiagir for to niiike peace. So in Romeo and

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Online LibraryWilliam ShakespeareShakespeare's history of King John → online text (page 7 of 13)