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History of King John

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Act V, Scene 2

LEWIS’s camp at St. Edmundsbury.


[Enter, in arms, LEWIS, SALISBURY, MELUN, PEMBROKE,] [p]BIGOT, and Soldiers]

  • Lewis. My Lord Melun, let this be copied out,
    And keep it safe for our remembrance: 2280
    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. 2285
  • Salisbury. Upon our sides it never shall be broken.
    And, noble Dauphin, albeit we swear
    A voluntary zeal and an unurged faith
    To your proceedings; yet believe me, prince,
    I am not glad that such a sore of time 2290
    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 2295
    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 2300
    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 2305
    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? 2310
    What, here? O nation, that thou couldst remove!
    That Neptune's arms, who clippeth thee about,
    Would bear thee from the knowledge of thyself,
    And grapple thee unto a pagan shore;
    Where these two Christian armies might combine 2315
    The blood of malice in a vein of league,
    And not to spend it so unneighbourly!
  • Lewis. A noble temper dost thou show in this;
    And great affections wrestling in thy bosom
    Doth make an earthquake of nobility. 2320
    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, 2325
    Being an ordinary inundation;
    But this effusion of such manly drops,
    This shower, blown up by tempest of the soul,
    Startles mine eyes, and makes me more amazed
    Than had I seen the vaulty top of heaven 2330
    Figured quite o'er with burning meteors.
    Lift up thy brow, renowned Salisbury,
    And with a great heart heave away the storm:
    Commend these waters to those baby eyes
    That never saw the giant world enraged; 2335
    Nor met with fortune other than at feasts,
    Full of warm blood, of mirth, of gossiping.
    Come, come; for thou shalt thrust thy hand as deep
    Into the purse of rich prosperity
    As Lewis himself: so, nobles, shall you all, 2340
    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 2345
    And on our actions set the name of right
    With holy breath.
  • Cardinal Pandulph. Hail, noble prince of France!
    The next is this, King John hath reconciled
    Himself to Rome; his spirit is come in, 2350
    That so stood out against the holy church,
    The great metropolis and see of Rome:
    Therefore thy threatening colours now wind up;
    And tame the savage spirit of wild war,
    That like a lion foster'd up at hand, 2355
    It may lie gently at the foot of peace,
    And be no further harmful than in show.
  • Lewis. Your grace shall pardon me, I will not back:
    I am too high-born to be propertied,
    To be a secondary at control, 2360
    Or useful serving-man and instrument,
    To any sovereign state throughout the world.
    Your breath first kindled the dead coal of wars
    Between this chastised kingdom and myself,
    And brought in matter that should feed this fire; 2365
    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; 2370
    And come ye now to tell me John hath made
    His peace with Rome? What is that peace to me?
    I, by the honour of my marriage-bed,
    After young Arthur, claim this land for mine;
    And, now it is half-conquer'd, must I back 2375
    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, 2380
    And such as to my claim are liable,
    Sweat in this business and maintain this war?
    Have I not heard these islanders shout out
    'Vive le roi!' as I have bank'd their towns?
    Have I not here the best cards for the game, 2385
    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.
  • Lewis. Outside or inside, I will not return 2390
    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 2395
    Even in the jaws of danger and of death.
    [Trumpet sounds]
    What lusty trumpet thus doth summon us?

[Enter the BASTARD, attended]

  • Philip the Bastard. According to the fair play of the world, 2400
    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. 2405
  • Cardinal Pandulph. The Dauphin is too wilful-opposite,
    And will not temporize with my entreaties;
    He flatly says he'll not lay down his arms.
  • Philip the Bastard. By all the blood that ever fury breathed,
    The youth says well. Now hear our English king; 2410
    For thus his royalty doth speak in me.
    He is prepared, and reason too he should:
    This apish and unmannerly approach,
    This harness'd masque and unadvised revel,
    This unhair'd sauciness and boyish troops, 2415
    The king doth smile at; and is well prepared
    To whip this dwarfish war, these pigmy arms,
    From out the circle of his territories.
    That hand which had the strength, even at your door,
    To cudgel you and make you take the hatch, 2420
    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 2425
    Even at the crying of your nation's crow,
    Thinking his voice an armed Englishman;
    Shall that victorious hand be feebled here,
    That in your chambers gave you chastisement?
    No: know the gallant monarch is in arms 2430
    And like an eagle o'er his aery towers,
    To souse annoyance that comes near his nest.
    And you degenerate, you ingrate revolts,
    You bloody Neroes, ripping up the womb
    Of your dear mother England, blush for shame; 2435
    For your own ladies and pale-visaged maids
    Like Amazons come tripping after drums,
    Their thimbles into armed gauntlets change,
    Their needles to lances, and their gentle hearts
    To fierce and bloody inclination. 2440
  • Lewis. There end thy brave, and turn thy face in peace;
    We grant thou canst outscold us: fare thee well;
    We hold our time too precious to be spent
    With such a brabbler.
  • Lewis. We will attend to neither.
    Strike up the drums; and let the tongue of war
    Plead for our interest and our being here.
  • Philip the Bastard. Indeed your drums, being beaten, will cry out; 2450
    And so shall you, being beaten: do but start
    An echo with the clamour of thy drum,
    And even at hand a drum is ready braced
    That shall reverberate all as loud as thine;
    Sound but another, and another shall 2455
    As loud as thine rattle the welkin's ear
    And mock the deep-mouth'd thunder: for at hand,
    Not trusting to this halting legate here,
    Whom he hath used rather for sport than need
    Is warlike John; and in his forehead sits 2460
    A bare-ribb'd death, whose office is this day
    To feast upon whole thousands of the French.
  • Lewis. Strike up our drums, to find this danger out.