Open Source Shakespeare

History of King John


Scene 1. The French King’s pavilion.

Scene 2. The same. Plains near Angiers.

Scene 3. The same.

Scene 4. The same. KING PHILIP’S tent.

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Act III, Scene 1

The French King’s pavilion.



  • Constance. Gone to be married! gone to swear a peace!
    False blood to false blood join'd! gone to be friends!
    Shall Lewis have Blanch, and Blanch those provinces?
    It is not so; thou hast misspoke, misheard:
    Be well advised, tell o'er thy tale again: 920
    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. 925
    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; 930
    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? 935
    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, 940
    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, 945
    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 Blanch! O boy, then where art thou?
    France friend with England, what becomes of me? 950
    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 955
    As it makes harmful all that speak of it.
  • Arthur. I do beseech you, madam, be content.
  • Constance. If thou, that bid'st me be content, wert grim,
    Ugly and slanderous to thy mother's womb,
    Full of unpleasing blots and sightless stains, 960
    Lame, foolish, crooked, swart, prodigious,
    Patch'd 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. 965
    But thou art fair, and at thy birth, dear boy,
    Nature and Fortune join'd 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; 970
    She adulterates hourly with thine uncle John,
    And with her golden hand hath pluck'd 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, 975
    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 under-bear. 980
  • 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. 985
    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. 990
    [Seats herself on the ground]
    QUEEN ELINOR, the BASTARD, AUSTRIA, and Attendants]
  • King Phillip. 'Tis true, fair daughter; and this blessed day
    Ever in France shall be kept festival: 995
    To solemnize this day the glorious sun
    Stays in his course and plays the alchemist,
    Turning with splendor of his precious eye
    The meagre cloddy earth to glittering gold:
    The yearly course that brings this day about 1000
    Shall never see it but a holiday.
  • Constance. 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 1005
    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 burthens may not fall this day, 1010
    Lest that their hopes prodigiously be cross'd:
    But on this day let seamen fear no wreck;
    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! 1015
  • King Phillip. By heaven, lady, you shall have no cause
    To curse the fair proceedings of this day:
    Have I not pawn'd to you my majesty?
  • Constance. You have beguiled me with a counterfeit
    Resembling majesty, which, being touch'd and tried, 1020
    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, 1025
    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, 1030
    Set armed discord 'twixt these perjured kings!
    Hear me, O, hear me!
  • Lymoges. Lady Constance, peace!
  • Constance. War! war! no peace! peace is to me a war
    O Lymoges! O Austria! thou dost shame 1035
    That bloody spoil: thou slave, thou wretch, thou coward!
    Thou little valiant, great in villany!
    Thou ever strong upon the stronger side!
    Thou Fortune's champion that dost never fight
    But when her humorous ladyship is by 1040
    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, 1045
    Been sworn my soldier, bidding me depend
    Upon thy stars, thy fortune and thy strength,
    And dost thou now fall over to my fores?
    Thou wear a lion's hide! doff it for shame,
    And hang a calf's-skin on those recreant limbs. 1050
  • Lymoges. O, that a man should speak those words to me!
  • Philip the Bastard. And hang a calf's-skin on those recreant limbs.
  • Lymoges. Thou darest not say so, villain, for thy life.
  • Philip the Bastard. And hang a calf's-skin on those recreant limbs.
  • King John. We like not this; thou dost forget thyself. 1055


  • King Phillip. 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, 1060
    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 1065
    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? 1070
    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 1075
    Shall tithe or toll in our dominions;
    But as we, under heaven, are supreme head,
    So under Him that great supremacy,
    Where we do reign, we will alone uphold,
    Without the assistance of a mortal hand: 1080
    So tell the pope, all reverence set apart
    To him and his usurp'd authority.
  • King Phillip. 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, 1085
    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 1090
    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. 1095
    And blessed shall he be that doth revolt
    From his allegiance to an heretic;
    And meritorious shall that hand be call'd,
    Canonized and worshipped as a saint,
    That takes away by any secret course 1100
    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 1105
    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, 1110
    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; 1115
    And raise the power of France upon his head,
    Unless he do submit himself to Rome.
  • Queen Elinor. Look'st thou pale, France? do not let go thy hand.
  • Constance. Look to that, devil; lest that France repent,
    And by disjoining hands, hell lose a soul. 1120
  • Lymoges. King Philip, listen to the cardinal.
  • Philip the Bastard. And hang a calf's-skin on his recreant limbs.
  • Lymoges. Well, ruffian, I must pocket up these wrongs, Because—
  • Philip the Bastard. Your breeches best may carry them.
  • King John. Philip, what say'st thou to the cardinal? 1125
  • Constance. What should he say, but as the cardinal?
  • Lewis. 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. 1130
  • Blanch. That's the curse of Rome.
  • Constance. 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. 1135
  • 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; 1140
    Keep my need up, and faith is trodden down!
  • King John. The king is moved, and answers not to this.
  • Constance. O, be removed from him, and answer well!
  • Lymoges. Do so, King Philip; hang no more in doubt.
  • Philip the Bastard. Hang nothing but a calf's-skin, most sweet lout. 1145
  • King Phillip. I am perplex'd, and know not what to say.
  • Cardinal Pandulph. What canst thou say but will perplex thee more,
    If thou stand excommunicate and cursed?
  • King Phillip. Good reverend father, make my person yours,
    And tell me how you would bestow yourself. 1150
    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 1155
    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, 1160
    Heaven knows, they were besmear'd and over-stain'd
    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 join'd in love, so strong in both, 1165
    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 1170
    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 1175
    Some gentle order; and then we shall be blest
    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, 1180
    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, 1185
    Than keep in peace that hand which thou dost hold.
  • King Phillip. I may disjoin my hand, but not my faith.
  • Cardinal Pandulph. So makest thou faith an enemy to faith;
    And like a civil war set'st oath to oath,
    Thy tongue against thy tongue. O, let thy vow 1190
    First made to heaven, first be to heaven perform'd,
    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 1195
    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, 1200
    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, 1205
    By what thou swear'st against the thing thou swear'st,
    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! 1210
    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 1215
    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 1220
    So heavy as thou shalt not shake them off,
    But in despair die under their black weight.
  • Lymoges. Rebellion, flat rebellion!
  • Philip the Bastard. Will't not be?
    Will not a calfs-skin stop that mouth of thine? 1225
  • Lewis. Father, to arms!
  • Blanch. Upon thy wedding-day?
    Against the blood that thou hast married?
    What, shall our feast be kept with slaughter'd men?
    Shall braying trumpets and loud churlish drums, 1230
    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 1235
    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! 1240
  • Blanch. 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. I muse your majesty doth seem so cold, 1245
    When such profound respects do pull you on.
  • Cardinal Pandulph. I will denounce a curse upon his head.
  • King Phillip. Thou shalt not need. England, I will fall from thee.
  • Constance. O fair return of banish'd majesty!
  • Queen Elinor. O foul revolt of French inconstancy! 1250
  • King John. France, thou shalt rue this hour within this hour.
  • Philip the Bastard. Old Time the clock-setter, that bald 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? 1255
    I am with both: each army hath a hand;
    And in their rage, I having hold of both,
    They swirl asunder and dismember me.
    Husband, I cannot pray that thou mayst win;
    Uncle, I needs must pray that thou mayst lose; 1260
    Father, I may not wish the fortune thine;
    Grandam, I will not wish thy fortunes thrive:
    Whoever wins, on that side shall I lose
    Assured loss before the match be play'd.
  • Lewis. Lady, with me, with me thy fortune lies. 1265
  • Blanch. There where my fortune lives, there my life dies.
  • King 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, 1270
    That nothing can allay, nothing but blood,
    The blood, and dearest-valued blood, of France.
  • King Phillip. Thy rage sham burn thee up, and thou shalt turn
    To ashes, ere our blood shall quench that fire:
    Look to thyself, thou art in jeopardy. 1275
  • King John. No more than he that threats. To arms let's hie!



Act III, Scene 2

The same. Plains near Angiers.


[Alarums, excursions. Enter the BASTARD, with] [p]AUSTRIA'S head]

  • Philip the Bastard. Now, by my life, this day grows wondrous hot; 1280
    Some airy devil hovers in the sky
    And pours down mischief. Austria's head lie there,
    While Philip breathes.


  • King John. Hubert, keep this boy. Philip, make up: 1285
    My mother is assailed in our tent,
    And ta'en, I fear.
  • Philip the Bastard. My lord, I rescued her;
    Her highness is in safety, fear you not:
    But on, my liege; for very little pains 1290
    Will bring this labour to an happy end.



Act III, Scene 3

The same.


[Alarums, excursions, retreat. Enter KING JOHN,] [p]QUEEN ELINOR, ARTHUR, the BASTARD, HUBERT, [p]and Lords]

  • King John. [To QUEEN ELINOR] So shall it be; your grace shall
    stay behind
    So strongly guarded.
    [To ARTHUR]
    Cousin, look not sad: 1300
    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: 1305
    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. 1310
  • Philip the 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. 1315
  • Queen Elinor. Farewell, gentle cousin.
  • King John. Coz, farewell.

[Exit the BASTARD]

  • Queen Elinor. Come hither, little kinsman; hark, a word.
  • King John. Come hither, Hubert. O my gentle Hubert, 1320
    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. 1325
    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 ashamed
    To say what good respect I have of thee.
  • Hubert de Burgh. I am much bounden to your majesty. 1330
  • 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 from 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, 1335
    Attended with the pleasures of the world,
    Is all too wanton and too full of gawds
    To give me audience: if the midnight bell
    Did, with his iron tongue and brazen mouth,
    Sound on into the drowsy race of night; 1340
    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 1345
    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, 1350
    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. 1355
  • Hubert de Burgh. 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 1360
    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. 1365
  • Hubert de Burgh. And I'll keep him so,
    That he shall not offend your majesty.
  • King John. Death.
  • Hubert de Burgh. My lord?
  • King John. A grave. 1370
  • Hubert de Burgh. 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: 1375
    I'll send those powers o'er to your majesty.
  • Queen 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! 1380



Act III, Scene 4

The same. KING PHILIP’S tent.



  • King Phillip. So, by a roaring tempest on the flood,
    A whole armado of convicted sail 1385
    Is scatter'd and disjoin'd from fellowship.
  • Cardinal Pandulph. Courage and comfort! all shall yet go well.
  • King Phillip. 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? 1390
    And bloody England into England gone,
    O'erbearing interruption, spite of France?
  • Lewis. What he hath won, that hath he fortified:
    So hot a speed with such advice disposed,
    Such temperate order in so fierce a cause, 1395
    Doth want example: who hath read or heard
    Of any kindred action like to this?
  • King Phillip. Well could I bear that England had this praise,
    So we could find some pattern of our shame.
    [Enter CONSTANCE] 1400
    Look, who comes here! a grave unto a soul;
    Holding the eternal spirit against her will,
    In the vile prison of afflicted breath.
    I prithee, lady, go away with me.
  • Constance. Lo, now I now see the issue of your peace. 1405
  • King Phillip. 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 odouriferous stench! sound rottenness! 1410
    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 1415
    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! 1420
  • King Phillip. 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 1425
    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; 1430
    My name is Constance; I was Geffrey'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! 1435
    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 deliver'd of these woes, 1440
    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. 1445
  • King Phillip. 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, 1450
    Like true, inseparable, faithful loves,
    Sticking together in calamity.
  • Constance. To England, if you will.
  • King Phillip. Bind up your hairs.
  • Constance. Yes, that I will; and wherefore will I do it? 1455
    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, 1460
    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, 1465
    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, 1470
    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. 1475
  • Cardinal Pandulph. You hold too heinous a respect of grief.
  • Constance. He talks to me that never had a son.
  • King Phillip. 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, 1480
    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, 1485
    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! 1490
    My widow-comfort, and my sorrows' cure!


  • King Phillip. I fear some outrage, and I'll follow her.


  • Lewis. There's nothing in this world can make me joy: 1495
    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.
  • Cardinal Pandulph. Before the curing of a strong disease, 1500
    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. All days of glory, joy and happiness. 1505
  • 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: 1510
    Are not you grieved that Arthur is his prisoner?
  • Lewis. 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 1515
    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, 1520
    The misplaced John should entertain an hour,
    One minute, nay, one quiet breath of rest.
    A sceptre snatch'd with an unruly hand
    Must be as boisterously maintain'd as gain'd;
    And he that stands upon a slippery place 1525
    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. But what shall I gain by young Arthur's fall?
  • Cardinal Pandulph. You, in the right of Lady Blanch your wife, 1530
    May then make all the claim that Arthur did.
  • Lewis. 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 1535
    Shall find but bloody safety and untrue.
    This act so evilly born shall cool the hearts
    Of all his people and freeze up their zeal,
    That none so small advantage shall step forth
    To cheque his reign, but they will cherish it; 1540
    No natural exhalation in the sky,
    No scope of nature, no distemper'd day,
    No common wind, no customed event,
    But they will pluck away his natural cause
    And call them meteors, prodigies and signs, 1545
    Abortives, presages and tongues of heaven,
    Plainly denouncing vengeance upon John.
  • Lewis. May be 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, 1550
    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 1555
    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, 1560
    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, 1565
    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.
  • Lewis. Strong reasons make strong actions: let us go: 1570
    If you say ay, the king will not say no.