Act IV, Scene 2
A room in King John’s castle.
- Enter King John, Pembroke, Salisbury, and other Lords.
King John1 - 2
- Here once again we sit; once again crown’d,
- And look’d upon, I hope, with cheerful eyes.
Earl of Pembroke3 - 8
- This “once again” (but that your Highness pleas’d)
- Was once superfluous. You were crown’d before,
- And that high royalty was ne’er pluck’d off;
- The faiths of men ne’er stained with revolt;
- Fresh expectation troubled not the land
- With any long’d-for change or better state.
Earl of Salisbury9 - 16
- Therefore, to be possess’d with double pomp,
- To guard a title that was rich before,
- To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
- To throw a perfume on the violet,
- To smooth the ice, or add another hue
- Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
- To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
- Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.
Earl of Pembroke17 - 20
- But that your royal pleasure must be done,
- This act is as an ancient tale new told,
- And, in the last repeating, troublesome,
- Being urged at a time unseasonable.
Earl of Salisbury21 - 27
- In this the antique and well-noted face
- Of plain old form is much disfigured,
- And like a shifted wind unto a sail,
- It makes the course of thoughts to fetch about,
- Startles and frights consideration,
- Makes sound opinion sick, and truth suspected,
- For putting on so new a fashion’d robe.
Earl of Pembroke28 - 34
- When workmen strive to do better than well,
- They do confound their skill in covetousness,
- And oftentimes excusing of a fault
- Doth make the fault the worse by th’ excuse:
- As patches set upon a little breach
- Discredit more in hiding of the fault
- Than did the fault before it was so patch’d.
Earl of Salisbury35 - 39
- To this effect, before you were new crown’d,
- We breath’d our counsel; but it pleas’d your Highness
- To overbear it, and we are all well pleas’d,
- Since all and every part of what we would
- Doth make a stand at what your Highness will.
King John40 - 46
- Some reasons of this double coronation
- I have possess’d you with, and think them strong;
- And more, more strong than lesser is my fear,
- I shall indue you with. Mean time but ask
- What you would have reform’d that is not well,
- And well shall you perceive how willingly
- I will both hear and grant you your requests.
Earl of Pembroke47 - 66
- Then I, as one that am the tongue of these
- To sound the purposes of all their hearts,
- Both for myself and them—but, chief of all,
- Your safety, for the which myself and them
- Bend their best studies—heartily request
- Th’ enfranchisement of Arthur, whose restraint
- Doth move the murmuring lips of discontent
- To break into this dangerous argument:
- If what in rest you have in right you hold,
- Why then your fears, which (as they say) attend
- The steps of wrong, should move you to mew up
- Your tender kinsman, and to choke his days
- With barbarous ignorance, and deny his youth
- The rich advantage of good exercise.
- That the time’s enemies may not have this
- To grace occasions, let it be our suit
- That you have bid us ask his liberty,
- Which for our goods we do no further ask
- Than whereupon our weal, on you depending,
- Counts it your weal he have his liberty.
- Enter Hubert.
King John67 - 68
- Let it be so; I do commit his youth
- To your direction. Hubert, what news with you?
- Taking him aside.
Earl of Pembroke69 - 75
- This is the man should do the bloody deed;
- He show’d his warrant to a friend of mine.
- The image of a wicked heinous fault
- Lives in his eye; that close aspect of his
- Doth show the mood of a much troubled breast,
- And I do fearfully believe ’tis done,
- What we so fear’d he had a charge to do.
Earl of Salisbury76 - 79
- The color of the King doth come and go
- Between his purpose and his conscience,
- Like heralds ’twixt two dreadful battles set:
- His passion is so ripe, it needs must break.
Earl of Pembroke80 - 81
- And when it breaks, I fear will issue thence
- The foul corruption of a sweet child’s death.
King John82 - 85
- We cannot hold mortality’s strong hand.
- Good lords, although my will to give is living,
- The suit which you demand is gone and dead.
- He tells us Arthur is deceas’d tonight.
Earl of Salisbury86
- Indeed we fear’d his sickness was past cure.
Earl of Pembroke87 - 89
- Indeed we heard how near his death he was
- Before the child himself felt he was sick.
- This must be answer’d either here or hence.
King John90 - 92
- Why do you bend such solemn brows on me?
- Think you I bear the shears of destiny?
- Have I commandment on the pulse of life?
Earl of Salisbury93 - 95
- It is apparent foul play, and ’tis shame
- That greatness should so grossly offer it.
- So thrive it in your game! And so farewell.
Earl of Pembroke96 - 102
- Stay yet, Lord Salisbury, I’ll go with thee,
- And find th’ inheritance of this poor child,
- His little kingdom of a forced grave.
- That blood which ow’d the breadth of all this isle,
- Three foot of it doth hold; bad world the while!
- This must not be thus borne. This will break out
- To all our sorrows, and ere long I doubt.
- Exeunt Lords.
King John103 - 109
- They burn in indignation. I repent.
- Enter Messenger.
- There is no sure foundation set on blood;
- No certain life achiev’d by others’ death.
- A fearful eye thou hast. Where is that blood
- That I have seen inhabit in those cheeks?
- So foul a sky clears not without a storm,
- Pour down thy weather. How goes all in France?
The Messenger110 - 115
- From France to England. Never such a pow’r
- For any foreign preparation
- Was levied in the body of a land.
- The copy of your speed is learn’d by them;
- For when you should be told they do prepare,
- The tidings comes that they are all arriv’d.
King John116 - 119
- O, where hath our intelligence been drunk?
- Where hath it slept? Where is my mother’s care,
- That such an army could be drawn in France,
- And she not hear of it?
The Messenger120 - 125
- My liege, her ear
- Is stopp’d with dust: the first of April died
- Your noble mother; and as I hear, my lord,
- The Lady Constance in a frenzy died
- Three days before; but this from rumor’s tongue
- I idly heard—if true or false I know not.
King John126 - 131
- Withhold thy speed, dreadful occasion!
- O, make a league with me, till I have pleas’d
- My discontented peers! What? Mother dead?
- How wildly then walks my estate in France!
- Under whose conduct came those pow’rs of France
- That thou for truth giv’st out are landed here?
- Under the Dauphin.
- Enter Bastard and Peter of Pomfret.
King John133 - 136
- Thou hast made me giddy
- With these ill tidings.—Now! What says the world
- To your proceedings? Do not seek to stuff
- My head with more ill news, for it is full.
Bastard137 - 138
- But if you be afeard to hear the worst,
- Then let the worst unheard fall on your head.
King John139 - 142
- Bear with me, cousin, for I was amaz’d
- Under the tide; but now I breathe again
- Aloft the flood, and can give audience
- To any tongue, speak it of what it will.
Bastard143 - 154
- How I have sped among the clergymen
- The sums I have collected shall express.
- But as I travel’d hither through the land,
- I find the people strangely fantasied,
- Possess’d with rumors, full of idle dreams,
- Not knowing what they fear, but full of fear.
- And here’s a prophet that I brought with me
- From forth the streets of Pomfret, whom I found
- With many hundreds treading on his heels;
- To whom he sung, in rude harsh-sounding rhymes,
- That, ere the next Ascension-day at noon,
- Your Highness should deliver up your crown.
- Thou idle dreamer, wherefore didst thou so?
- Foreknowing that the truth will fall out so.
King John157 - 163
- Hubert, away with him; imprison him;
- And on that day at noon, whereon he says
- I shall yield up my crown, let him be hang’d.
- Deliver him to safety, and return,
- For I must use thee.
- Exit Hubert with Peter.
- O my gentle cousin,
- Hear’st thou the news abroad, who are arriv’d?
Bastard164 - 169
- The French, my lord; men’s mouths are full of it.
- Besides, I met Lord Bigot and Lord Salisbury,
- With eyes as red as new-enkindled fire,
- And others more, going to seek the grave
- Of Arthur, whom they say is kill’d tonight
- On your suggestion.
King John170 - 173
- Gentle kinsman, go
- And thrust thyself into their companies;
- I have a way to win their loves again.
- Bring them before me.
- I will seek them out.
King John175 - 180
- Nay, but make haste; the better foot before.
- O, let me have no subject enemies
- When adverse foreigners affright my towns
- With dreadful pomp of stout invasion!
- Be Mercury, set feathers to thy heels,
- And fly, like thought, from them to me again.
- The spirit of the time shall teach me speed.
King John182 - 185
- Spoke like a sprightful noble gentleman.
- Go after him; for he perhaps shall need
- Some messenger betwixt me and the peers,
- And be thou he.
- With all my heart, my liege.
- My mother dead!
- Enter Hubert.
Hubert de Burgh188 - 190
- My lord, they say five moons were seen tonight;
- Four fixed, and the fifth did whirl about
- The other four in wondrous motion.
- Five moons?
Hubert de Burgh192 - 209
- Old men and beldames in the streets
- Do prophesy upon it dangerously.
- Young Arthur’s death is common in their mouths,
- And when they talk of him, they shake their heads,
- And whisper one another in the ear;
- And he that speaks doth gripe the hearer’s wrist,
- Whilst he that hears makes fearful action
- With wrinkled brows, with nods, with rolling eyes.
- I saw a smith stand with his hammer, thus,
- The whilst his iron did on the anvil cool,
- With open mouth swallowing a tailor’s news,
- Who, with his shears and measure in his hand,
- Standing on slippers, which his nimble haste
- Had falsely thrust upon contrary feet,
- Told of a many thousand warlike French
- That were embattailed and rank’d in Kent.
- Another lean unwash’d artificer
- Cuts off his tale and talks of Arthur’s death.
King John210 - 213
- Why seek’st thou to possess me with these fears?
- Why urgest thou so oft young Arthur’s death?
- Thy hand hath murd’red him. I had a mighty cause
- To wish him dead, but thou hadst none to kill him.
Hubert de Burgh214
- No had, my lord? Why, did you not provoke me?
King John215 - 221
- It is the curse of kings to be attended
- By slaves that take their humors for a warrant
- To break within the bloody house of life,
- And on the winking of authority
- To understand a law; to know the meaning
- Of dangerous majesty, when perchance it frowns
- More upon humor than advis’d respect.
Hubert de Burgh222
- Here is your hand and seal for what I did.
King John223 - 236
- O, when the last accompt ’twixt heaven and earth
- Is to be made, then shall this hand and seal
- Witness against us to damnation!
- How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds
- Make deeds ill done! Hadst not thou been by,
- A fellow by the hand of nature mark’d,
- Quoted, and sign’d to do a deed of shame,
- This murder had not come into my mind;
- But taking note of thy abhorr’d aspect,
- Finding thee fit for bloody villainy,
- Apt, liable to be employ’d in danger,
- I faintly broke with thee of Arthur’s death;
- And thou, to be endeared to a king,
- Made it no conscience to destroy a prince.
Hubert de Burgh237
- My lord—
King John238 - 255
- Hadst thou but shook thy head or made a pause
- When I spake darkly what I purposed,
- Or turn’d an eye of doubt upon my face,
- As bid me tell my tale in express words,
- Deep shame had struck me dumb, made me break off,
- And those thy fears might have wrought fears in me.
- But thou didst understand me by my signs,
- And didst in signs again parley with sin,
- Yea, without stop, didst let thy heart consent,
- And consequently thy rude hand to act
- The deed, which both our tongues held vild to name.
- Out of my sight, and never see me more!
- My nobles leave me, and my state is braved,
- Even at my gates, with ranks of foreign pow’rs;
- Nay, in the body of this fleshly land,
- This kingdom, this confine of blood and breath,
- Hostility and civil tumult reigns
- Between my conscience and my cousin’s death.
Hubert de Burgh256 - 266
- Arm you against your other enemies,
- I’ll make a peace between your soul and you.
- Young Arthur is alive. This hand of mine
- Is yet a maiden and an innocent hand,
- Not painted with the crimson spots of blood.
- Within this bosom never ent’red yet
- The dreadful motion of a murderous thought,
- And you have slander’d nature in my form,
- Which howsoever rude exteriorly,
- Is yet the cover of a fairer mind
- Than to be butcher of an innocent child.
King John267 - 276
- Doth Arthur live? O, haste thee to the peers,
- Throw this report on their incensed rage,
- And make them tame to their obedience!
- Forgive the comment that my passion made
- Upon thy feature, for my rage was blind,
- And foul imaginary eyes of blood
- Presented thee more hideous than thou art.
- O, answer not! But to my closet bring
- The angry lords with all expedient haste.
- I conjure thee but slowly; run more fast.