home contact

King John

ACT III SCENE I 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: 5
 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: 
 Believe me, I do not believe thee, man; 10
 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, 15
 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? 20
 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? 25
 Then speak again; not all thy former tale, 
 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, 30
 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. 
 Lewis marry Blanch! O boy, then where art thou? 35
 France friend with England, what becomes of me? 
 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? 40
CONSTANCE Which harm within itself so heinous is 
 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, 45
 Full of unpleasing blots and sightless stains, 
 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 50
 Become thy great birth nor deserve a crown. 
 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, 55
 She is corrupted, changed and won from thee; 
 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. 60
 France is a bawd to Fortune and King John, 
 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 65
 Am bound to under-bear. 
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; 70
 For grief is proud and makes his owner stoop. 
 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; 75
 Here is my throne, bid kings come bow to it. 
 Seats herself on the ground 
the BASTARD, AUSTRIA, and Attendants
KING PHILIP 'Tis true, fair daughter; and this blessed day 
 Ever in France shall be kept festival: 
 To solemnize this day the glorious sun 
 Stays in his course and plays the alchemist, 80
 Turning with splendor of his precious eye 
 The meagre cloddy earth to glittering gold: 
 The yearly course that brings this day about 
 Shall never see it but a holiday. 
CONSTANCE A wicked day, and not a holy day! 85
 What hath this day deserved? what hath it done, 
 That it in golden letters should be set 
 Among the high tides in the calendar? 
 Nay, rather turn this day out of the week, 
 This day of shame, oppression, perjury. 90
 Or, if it must stand still, let wives with child 
 Pray that their burthens may not fall this day, 
 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: 95
 This day, all things begun come to ill end, 
 Yea, faith itself to hollow falsehood change! 
KING PHILIP 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? 100
CONSTANCE You have beguiled me with a counterfeit 
 Resembling majesty, which, being touch'd and tried, 
 Proves valueless: you are forsworn, forsworn; 
 You came in arms to spill mine enemies' blood, 
 But now in arms you strengthen it with yours: 105
 The grappling vigour and rough frown of war 
 Is cold in amity and painted peace, 
 And our oppression hath made up this league. 
 Arm, arm, you heavens, against these perjured kings! 
 A widow cries; be husband to me, heavens! 110
 Let not the hours of this ungodly day 
 Wear out the day in peace; but, ere sunset, 
 Set armed discord 'twixt these perjured kings! 
 Hear me, O, hear me! 
AUSTRIA Lady Constance, peace! 115
CONSTANCE War! war! no peace! peace is to me a war 
 O Lymoges! O Austria! thou dost shame 
 That bloody spoil: thou slave, thou wretch, thou coward! 
 Thou little valiant, great in villany! 
 Thou ever strong upon the stronger side! 120
 Thou Fortune's champion that dost never fight 
 But when her humorous ladyship is by 
 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 125
 Upon my party! Thou cold-blooded slave, 
 Hast thou not spoke like thunder on my side, 
 Been sworn my soldier, bidding me depend 
 Upon thy stars, thy fortune and thy strength, 
 And dost thou now fall over to my fores? 130
 Thou wear a lion's hide! doff it for shame, 
 And hang a calf's-skin on those recreant limbs. 
AUSTRIA O, that a man should speak those words to me! 
BASTARD And hang a calf's-skin on those recreant limbs. 
AUSTRIA Thou darest not say so, villain, for thy life. 135
BASTARD And hang a calf's-skin on those recreant limbs. 
KING JOHN We like not this; thou dost forget thyself. 
KING PHILIP Here comes the holy legate of the pope. 
CARDINAL PANDULPH Hail, you anointed deputies of heaven! 
 To thee, King John, my holy errand is. 140
 I Pandulph, of fair Milan cardinal, 
 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 145
 Keep Stephen Langton, chosen archbishop 
 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 150
 Can task the free breath of a sacred king? 
 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 155
 Add thus much more, that no Italian priest 
 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, 160
 Without the assistance of a mortal hand: 
 So tell the pope, all reverence set apart 
 To him and his usurp'd authority. 
KING PHILIP Brother of England, you blaspheme in this. 
KING JOHN Though you and all the kings of Christendom 165
 Are led so grossly by this meddling priest, 
 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, 170
 Though you and all the rest so grossly led 
 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, 175
 Thou shalt stand cursed and excommunicate. 
 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, 180
 That takes away by any secret course 
 Thy hateful life. 
CONSTANCE O, lawful let it be 
 That I have room with Rome to curse awhile! 
 Good father cardinal, cry thou amen 185
 To my keen curses; for without my wrong 
 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: 190
 Law cannot give my child his kingdom here, 
 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, 195

Let go the hand of that arch-heretic;

 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, 200
 And by disjoining hands, hell lose a soul. 
AUSTRIA King Philip, listen to the cardinal. 
BASTARD And hang a calf's-skin on his recreant limbs. 
AUSTRIA Well, ruffian, I must pocket up these wrongs, Because-- 
BASTARD Your breeches best may carry them. 205
KING JOHN Philip, what say'st thou to the cardinal? 
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: 210
 Forego the easier. 
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, 215
 But from her need. 
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. 220
 O then, tread down my need, and faith mounts up; 
 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! 
AUSTRIA Do so, King Philip; hang no more in doubt. 225
BASTARD Hang nothing but a calf's-skin, most sweet lout. 
KING PHILIP 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 PHILIP Good reverend father, make my person yours, 230
 And tell me how you would bestow yourself. 
 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; 235
 The latest breath that gave the sound of words 
 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 240
 To clap this royal bargain up of peace, 
 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, 245
 So newly join'd in love, so strong in both, 
 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, 250
 Unswear faith sworn, and on the marriage-bed 
 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! 255
 Out of your grace, devise, ordain, impose 
 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. 260
 Therefore to arms! be champion of our church, 
 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, 265
 A fasting tiger safer by the tooth, 
 Than keep in peace that hand which thou dost hold. 
KING PHILIP 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, 270
 Thy tongue against thy tongue. O, let thy vow 
 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, 275
 For that which thou hast sworn to do amiss 
 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 280
 Is to mistake again; though indirect, 
 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; 285
 But thou hast sworn against religion, 
 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; 290
 Else what a mockery should it be to swear! 
 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; 295
 And better conquest never canst thou make 
 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 300
 The peril of our curses light on thee 
 So heavy as thou shalt not shake them off, 
 But in despair die under their black weight. 
AUSTRIA Rebellion, flat rebellion! 
BASTARD Will't not be? 305
 Will not a calfs-skin stop that mouth of thine? 
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? 310
 Shall braying trumpets and loud churlish drums, 
 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, 315
 Upon my knee I beg, go not to arms 
 Against mine uncle. 
CONSTANCE O, upon my knee, 
 Made hard with kneeling, I do pray to thee, 
 Thou virtuous Dauphin, alter not the doom 320
 Forethought by heaven! 
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! 325
LEWIS I muse your majesty doth seem so cold, 
 When such profound respects do pull you on. 
CARDINAL PANDULPH I will denounce a curse upon his head. 
KING PHILIP Thou shalt not need. England, I will fall from thee. 
CONSTANCE O fair return of banish'd majesty! 330
QUEEN ELINOR O foul revolt of French inconstancy! 
KING JOHN France, thou shalt rue this hour within this hour. 
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! 335
 Which is the side that I must go withal? 
 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; 340
 Uncle, I needs must pray that thou mayst lose; 
 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. 345
LEWIS Lady, with me, with me thy fortune lies. 
BLANCH There where my fortune lives, there my life dies. 
KING JOHN Cousin, go draw our puissance together. 
 France, I am burn'd up with inflaming wrath; 
 A rage whose heat hath this condition, 350
 That nothing can allay, nothing but blood, 
 The blood, and dearest-valued blood, of France. 
KING PHILIP 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. 355
KING JOHN No more than he that threats. To arms let's hie! 

Next: King John, Act 3, Scene 2


Related Articles

 King John Plot Summary
 Famous Quotations from King John
 King John: Q & A

 Shakespeare Quotations (by Theme and Play)

 Why Shakespeare is so Important
 Shakespeare's Language
 Shakespeare's Boss: The Master of Revels