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Navigate this workKing John
Act 3, scene 4
John’s victories and his capture of Arthur lead the French to despair and Constance to wild grief. Pandulph, predicting Arthur’s death and the hatred of John that will inevitably ensue, encourages the Dauphin to invade England and claim the throne as Blanche’s husband.Enter ⌜King Philip of⌝ France,⌜Louis the⌝ Dauphin,
1367 So, by a roaring tempest on the flood,
1368 A whole armada of convicted sail
1369 Is scattered and disjoined from fellowship.
1370 Courage and comfort. All shall yet go well.
1371 5 What can go well when we have run so ill?
1372 Are we not beaten? Is not Angiers lost?
1373 Arthur ta’en prisoner? Divers dear friends slain?
1374 And bloody England into England gone,
1375 O’erbearing interruption, spite of France?
1376 10 What he hath won, that hath he fortified.
1377 So hot a speed, with such advice disposed,
1378 Such temperate order in so fierce a cause,
1379 Doth want example. Who hath read or heard
1380 Of any kindred action like to this?
1381 15 Well could I bear that England had this praise,
1382 So we could find some pattern of our shame.
Enter Constance, ⌜with her hair unbound.⌝
p. 1111383 Look who comes here! A grave unto a soul,
1384 Holding th’ eternal spirit against her will
1385 In the vile prison of afflicted breath.—
1386 20 I prithee, lady, go away with me.
1387 Lo, now, now see the issue of your peace!
1388 Patience, good lady. Comfort, gentle Constance.
1389 No, I defy all counsel, all redress,
1390 But that which ends all counsel, true redress.
1391 25 Death, death, O amiable, lovely death,
1392 Thou odoriferous stench, sound rottenness,
1393 Arise forth from the couch of lasting night,
1394 Thou hate and terror to prosperity,
1395 And I will kiss thy detestable bones
1396 30 And put my eyeballs in thy vaulty brows,
1397 And ring these fingers with thy household worms,
1398 And stop this gap of breath with fulsome dust,
1399 And be a carrion monster like thyself.
1400 Come, grin on me, and I will think thou smil’st,
1401 35 And buss thee as thy wife. Misery’s love,
1402 O, come to me!
KING PHILIP 1403 O fair affliction, peace!
1404 No, no, I will not, having breath to cry.
1405 O, that my tongue were in the thunder’s mouth!
1406 40 Then with a passion would I shake the world
1407 And rouse from sleep that fell anatomy
1408 Which cannot hear a lady’s feeble voice,
1409 Which scorns a modern invocation.
1410 Lady, you utter madness and not sorrow.
1411 45 Thou art ⌜not⌝ holy to belie me so.
1412 I am not mad. This hair I tear is mine;
p. 1131413 My name is Constance; I was Geoffrey’s wife;
1414 Young Arthur is my son, and he is lost.
1415 I am not mad; I would to heaven I were,
1416 50 For then ’tis like I should forget myself.
1417 O, if I could, what grief should I forget!
1418 Preach some philosophy to make me mad,
1419 And thou shalt be canonized, cardinal.
1420 For, being not mad but sensible of grief,
1421 55 My reasonable part produces reason
1422 How I may be delivered of these woes,
1423 And teaches me to kill or hang myself.
1424 If I were mad, I should forget my son,
1425 Or madly think a babe of clouts were he.
1426 60 I am not mad. Too well, too well I feel
1427 The different plague of each calamity.
1428 Bind up those tresses.—O, what love I note
1429 In the fair multitude of those her hairs;
1430 Where but by chance a silver drop hath fall’n,
1431 65 Even to that drop ten thousand wiry ⌜friends⌝
1432 Do glue themselves in sociable grief,
1433 Like true, inseparable, faithful loves,
1434 Sticking together in calamity.
1435 To England, if you will.
KING PHILIP 1436 70 Bind up your hairs.
1437 Yes, that I will. And wherefore will I do it?
1438 I tore them from their bonds and cried aloud
1439 “O, that these hands could so redeem my son,
1440 As they have given these hairs their liberty!”
1441 75 But now I envy at their liberty,
1442 And will again commit them to their bonds,
1443 Because my poor child is a prisoner.
⌜She binds up her hair.⌝
p. 1151444 And father cardinal, I have heard you say
1445 That we shall see and know our friends in heaven.
1446 80 If that be true, I shall see my boy again;
1447 For since the birth of Cain, the first male child,
1448 To him that did but yesterday suspire,
1449 There was not such a gracious creature born.
1450 But now will canker sorrow eat my bud
1451 85 And chase the native beauty from his cheek,
1452 And he will look as hollow as a ghost,
1453 As dim and meager as an ague’s fit,
1454 And so he’ll die; and, rising so again,
1455 When I shall meet him in the court of heaven
1456 90 I shall not know him. Therefore never, never
1457 Must I behold my pretty Arthur more.
1458 You hold too heinous a respect of grief.
1459 He talks to me that never had a son.
1460 You are as fond of grief as of your child.
1461 95 Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
1462 Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
1463 Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
1464 Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
1465 Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form;
1466 100 Then, have I reason to be fond of grief?
1467 Fare you well. Had you such a loss as I,
1468 I could give better comfort than you do.
⌜She unbinds her hair.⌝
1469 I will not keep this form upon my head
1470 When there is such disorder in my wit.
1471 105 O Lord! My boy, my Arthur, my fair son,
1472 My life, my joy, my food, my all the world,
1473 My widow-comfort and my sorrows’ cure!She exits.
p. 117KING PHILIP
1474 I fear some outrage, and I’ll follow her.
He exits, ⌜with Attendants.⌝
1475 There’s nothing in this world can make me joy.
1476 110 Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale,
1477 Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man;
1478 And bitter shame hath spoiled the sweet ⌜world’s⌝
1480 That it yields naught but shame and bitterness.
1481 115 Before the curing of a strong disease,
1482 Even in the instant of repair and health,
1483 The fit is strongest. Evils that take leave
1484 On their departure most of all show evil.
1485 What have you lost by losing of this day?
1486 120 All days of glory, joy, and happiness.
1487 If you had won it, certainly you had.
1488 No, no. When Fortune means to men most good,
1489 She looks upon them with a threat’ning eye.
1490 ’Tis strange to think how much King John hath lost
1491 125 In this which he accounts so clearly won.
1492 Are not you grieved that Arthur is his prisoner?
1493 As heartily as he is glad he hath him.
1494 Your mind is all as youthful as your blood.
1495 Now hear me speak with a prophetic spirit.
1496 130 For even the breath of what I mean to speak
1497 Shall blow each dust, each straw, each little rub,
1498 Out of the path which shall directly lead
1499 Thy foot to England’s throne. And therefore mark:
1500 John hath seized Arthur, and it cannot be
1501 135 That, whiles warm life plays in that infant’s veins,
p. 1191502 The misplaced John should entertain an hour,
1503 One minute, nay, one quiet breath of rest.
1504 A scepter snatched with an unruly hand
1505 Must be as boisterously maintained as gained.
1506 140 And he that stands upon a slipp’ry place
1507 Makes nice of no vile hold to stay him up.
1508 That John may stand, then Arthur needs must fall.
1509 So be it, for it cannot be but so.
1510 But what shall I gain by young Arthur’s fall?
1511 145 You, in the right of Lady Blanche your wife,
1512 May then make all the claim that Arthur did.
1513 And lose it, life and all, as Arthur did.
1514 How green you are and fresh in this old world!
1515 John lays you plots. The times conspire with you,
1516 150 For he that steeps his safety in true blood
1517 Shall find but bloody safety, and untrue.
1518 This act so evilly borne shall cool the hearts
1519 Of all his people and freeze up their zeal,
1520 That none so small advantage shall step forth
1521 155 To check his reign but they will cherish it.
1522 No natural exhalation in the sky,
1523 No scope of nature, no distempered day,
1524 No common wind, no customèd event,
1525 But they will pluck away his natural cause
1526 160 And call them meteors, prodigies, and signs,
1527 Abortives, presages, and tongues of heaven,
1528 Plainly denouncing vengeance upon John.
1529 Maybe he will not touch young Arthur’s life,
1530 But hold himself safe in his prisonment.
1531 165 O, sir, when he shall hear of your approach,
p. 1211532 If that young Arthur be not gone already,
1533 Even at that news he dies; and then the hearts
1534 Of all his people shall revolt from him
1535 And kiss the lips of unacquainted change,
1536 170 And pick strong matter of revolt and wrath
1537 Out of the bloody fingers’ ends of John.
1538 Methinks I see this hurly all on foot;
1539 And, O, what better matter breeds for you
1540 Than I have named! The bastard Faulconbridge
1541 175 Is now in England ransacking the Church,
1542 Offending charity. If but a dozen French
1543 Were there in arms, they would be as a call
1544 To train ten thousand English to their side,
1545 Or as a little snow, tumbled about,
1546 180 Anon becomes a mountain. O noble dauphin,
1547 Go with me to the King. ’Tis wonderful
1548 What may be wrought out of their discontent,
1549 Now that their souls are topful of offense.
1550 For England, go. I will whet on the King.
1551 185 Strong reasons makes strange actions. Let us go.
1552 If you say ay, the King will not say no.