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King John

KING PHILIP So, by a roaring tempest on the flood, 
 A whole armado of convicted sail 
 Is scatter'd and disjoin'd from fellowship. 
CARDINAL PANDULPH Courage and comfort! all shall yet go well. 5
KING PHILIP 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? 
 And bloody England into England gone, 
 O'erbearing interruption, spite of France? 10
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, 
 Doth want example: who hath read or heard 
 Of any kindred action like to this? 15
KING PHILIP Well could I bear that England had this praise, 
 So we could find some pattern of our shame. 
 Look, who comes here! a grave unto a soul; 
 Holding the eternal spirit against her will, 
 In the vile prison of afflicted breath. 20
 I prithee, lady, go away with me. 
CONSTANCE Lo, now I now see the issue of your peace. 
KING PHILIP Patience, good lady! comfort, gentle Constance! 
CONSTANCE No, I defy all counsel, all redress, 
 But that which ends all counsel, true redress, 25
 Death, death; O amiable lovely death! 
 Thou odouriferous stench! sound rottenness! 
 Arise forth from the couch of lasting night, 
 Thou hate and terror to prosperity, 
 And I will kiss thy detestable bones 30
 And put my eyeballs in thy vaulty brows 
 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 smilest 35
 And buss thee as thy wife. Misery's love, 
 O, come to me! 
KING PHILIP O fair affliction, peace! 
CONSTANCE No, no, I will not, having breath to cry: 
 O, that my tongue were in the thunder's mouth! 40
 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. 
CARDINAL PANDULPH Lady, you utter madness, and not sorrow. 45
CONSTANCE 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: 
 I am not mad: I would to heaven I were! 50
 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 canonized, cardinal; 
 For being not mad but sensible of grief, 55
 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: 60
 I am not mad; too well, too well I feel 
 The different plague of each calamity. 
KING PHILIP 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, 65
 Even to that drop ten thousand wiry friends 
 Do glue themselves in sociable grief, 
 Like true, inseparable, faithful loves, 
 Sticking together in calamity. 
CONSTANCE To England, if you will. 70
KING PHILIP Bind up your hairs. 
CONSTANCE Yes, that I will; and wherefore will I do it? 
 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!' 75
 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: 80
 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 85
 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 90
 I shall not know him: therefore never, never 
 Must I behold my pretty Arthur more. 
CARDINAL PANDULPH You hold too heinous a respect of grief. 
CONSTANCE He talks to me that never had a son. 
KING PHILIP You are as fond of grief as of your child. 95
CONSTANCE 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; 100
 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. 105
 O Lord! my boy, my Arthur, my fair son! 
 My life, my joy, my food, my all the world! 
 My widow-comfort, and my sorrows' cure! 
KING PHILIP I fear some outrage, and I'll follow her. 
LEWIS There's nothing in this world can make me joy: 110
 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, 115
 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. 120
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: 125
 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 130
 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, 135
 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 140
 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, 145
 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 150
 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; 155
 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, 160
 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, 165
 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 170
 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, 175
 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, 180
 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: 185
 If you say ay, the king will not say no. 

Next: King John, Act 4, Scene 1


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