« PreviousContinue »
Give grandam kingdom, and it' grandam will
Give it a plum, a cherry, and a fig:
There's a good grandam.
Arth. Good my mother, peace!
I would, that I were low laid in my grave;
I am not worth this coil that's made for me.
Eli. His mother shames him so, poor boy, he weeps.
Const. Now shame upon you, whe'r she does, or no!
His grandam's wrongs, and not his mother's shames,
Draw those heaven-moving pearls from his poor eyes,
Which heaven shall take in nature of a fee;
Ay, with these crystal beads heaven shall be bribed
To do him justice, and revenge on you.
Eli. Thou monstrous slanderer of heaven and earth!
Const. Thou monstrous injurer of heaven and earth!
Call not me slanderer; thou, and thine usurp
The dominations, royalties, and rights,
Of this oppressed boy: this is thy eldest son's son,
Infortunate in nothing but in thee;
Thy sins are visited in this poor child;
The canon of the law is laid on him,
Being but the second generation
Removed from thy sin-conceiving womb.
K. John. Bedlam, have done.
Const. I have but this to say,
That he's not only plagued for her sin,
But God hath made her sin and her the plague
On this removed issue, plagued for her,
And with her plague, her sin; his injury
Her injury, the beadle to her sin,
All punish'd in the person of this child,
And all for her; a plague upon her!
Eli. Thou unadvised scold, I can produce
A will, that bars the title of thy son.
Const. Ay, who doubts that? a will! a wicked will; A woman's will; a canker'd grandam's will!
K. Phi. Peace, lady; pause, or be more temperate:
It ill beseems this presence, to cry aim*
To these ill-tuned repetitions.-
Some trumpet summon hither to the walls
These men of Angiers; let us hear them speak,
Whose title they admit, Arthur's or John's.
Trumpets sound. Enter CITIZENS upon the walls.
1 Cit. Who is it that hath warn'd us to the walls? K. Phi. Tis France, for England.
K. John. England, for itself:
You men of Angiers, and my loving subjects,
K. Phi. You loving men of Angiers, Arthur's subjects, Our trumpet call'd you to this gentle parlé.
K. John. For our advantage, therefore hear us first.-
These flags of France, that are advanced here
Before the eye and prospect of your town,
Have hither march'd to your endamagement:
The cannons have their bowels full of wrath;
And ready mounted are they, to spit forth
Their iron indignation 'gainst your walls:
All preparation for a bloody siege,
And merciless proceeding by these French,
Confront your city's eyes, your winking* gates;
And, but for our approach, those sleeping stones,
That as a waist do girdle you about,
By the compulsion of their ordnance
By this time from their fixed beds of lime
Had been dishabited, and wide havoc made
For bloody power to rush upon your peace.
But, on the sight of us, your lawful king,-
Who painfully, with much expedient march,
Have brought a countercheck before your gates,
To save unscratch'd your city's threaten'd cheeks,-
Behold, the French, amazed, vouchsafe a parlé :
And now, instead of bullets wrapp'd in fire,
To make a shaking fever in your walls,
They shoot but calm words, folded up in smoke,
To make a faithless error in your ears:
Which trust accordingly, kind citizens,
And let us in, your king; whose labour'd spirits,
Forweariedt in this action of swift speed,
Crave harbourage within your city walls.
K. Phi. When I have said, make answer to us both.
Lo, in this right hand, whose protection
Is most divinely vow'd upon the right
Of him it holds, stands young Plantagenet;
Son to the elder brother of this man,
And king o'er him, and all that he enjoys:
For this down-trodden equity we tread
In warlike march these greens before your town;
Being no further enemy to you,
Than the constraint of hospitable zeal,
In the relief of this oppressed child,
Religiously provokes. Be pleased then
To pay that duty, which you truly owe,
To him that owest it; namely, this young prince:
And then our arms, like to a muzzled bear,
Save in aspéct, have all offence seal'd up;
Our cannons' malice vainly shall be spent
Against the invulnerable clouds of heaven;
And, with a blessed and unvex'd retire,
With unhack'd swords, and helmets all unbruised,
We will bear home that lusty blood again,
Which here we came to spout against your town,
And leave your children, wives, and you, in peace.
But if you fondly pass our proffer'd offer,
"Tis not the roundure* of your old-faced walls
Can hide you from our messengers of war;
Though all these English, and their discipline,
Were harbour'd in their rude circumference.
Then, tell us, shall your city call us lord,
In that behalf which we have challenged it?
Or shall we give the signal to our rage,
And stalk in blood to our possession?
1 Cit. In brief, we are the king
For him, and in his right, we hold this town.
K. John. Acknowledge then the king, and let me in.
1 Cit. That can we not: but he that proves the king,
To him will we prove loyal; till that time,
Have we ramm'd up our gates against the world.
K. John. Doth not the crown of England prove the king?
And, if not that, I bring you witnesses,
Twice fifteen thousand hearts of England's breed,-
Bast. Bastards, and else.
K. John. To verify our title with their lives.
K. Phi. As many, and as well-born bloods as those,-
Bast. Some bastards too.
K. Phi. Stand in his face, to contradict his claim.
1 Cit. Till you compound whose right is worthiest,
We, for the worthiest, hold the right from both.
K. John. Then God forgive the sin of all those souis,
That to their everlasting residence,
Before the dew of evening fall, shall fleet,
In dreadful trial of our kingdom's king!
K. Phi. Amen, Amen!-Mount, chevaliers, to arms!
Bast. St. George, that swing'd the dragon, and e'er since,
Sits on his horseback at mine hostess' door,
Teach us some fence !-Sirrah, were I at home,
At your den, sirrah [To AUSTRIA], with your lioness,
I'd set an ox-head to your lion's hide,
And make a monster of you.
Aust. Peace; no more.
Bast. O, tremble; for you hear the lion roar.
K. John. Up higher to the plain; where we'll set forth, In best appointment, all our regiments.
Bast. Speed, then, to take advantage of the field.
K. Phi. It shall be so [To LEWIS]; and at the other hiil Command the rest to stand.-God, and our right!
SCENE II.-The same.
Alarums and Excursions; then a Retreat. Enter a French HERALD, with trumpets, to the gates.
F. Her. You men of Angiers, open wide your gates, And let young Arthur, duke of Bretagne, in;
Who, by the hand of France, this day hath made
Much work for tears in many an English mother,
Whose sons lie scatter'd on the bleeding ground:
Many a widow's husband grovelling lies,
Coldly embracing the discolour'd earth;
And victory, with little loss, doth play
Upon the dancing banners of the French;
Who are at hand, triumphantly display'd,
To enter conquerors, and to proclaim
Arthur of Bretagne, England's king, and yours.
Enter an English HERALD, with trumpets.
E. Her. Rejoice, you men of Angiers, ring your bells,
King John, your king and England's, doth approach,
Commander of this hot malicious day!
Their armours, that march'd hence so silver-bright,
Hither return all gilt with Frenchmen's blood;
There stuck no plume in any English crest,
That is removed by a staff of France;
Our colours do return in those same hands
That did display them when we first march'd forth;
And, like a jolly troop of huntsmen, come
Our lusty English, all with purpled hands,
Dyed in the dying slaughter of their foes:
Open your gates, and give the victors way.
Cit. Heralds, from off our towers we might behold,
From first to last, the onset and retire
Of both your armies; whose equality
By our best eyes cannot be censured:*
Blood hath bought blood, and blows have answer'd blows; Strength match'd with strength, and power confronted power: Both are alike; and both alike we like.
One must prove greatest: while they weigh so even,
We hold our town for neither; yet for both.
Enter, at one side, KING JOHN, with his power; ELINOR, BLANCH, and the BASTARD; at the other, KING PHILIP, LEWIS, AUSTRIA, and Forces.
K. John. France, hast thou yet more blood to cast away?
Say, shall the current of our right run on ?
Whose passage, vex'd with thy impediment,
Shall leave his native channel, and o'er-swell
With course disturb'd even thy confining shores,
Unless thou let his silver water keep
A peaceful progress in the ocean.
K. Phi. England, thou hast not saved one drop of blood,
In this hot trial, more than we of France;
Rather, lost more: And by this hand I swear,
That sways the earth this climate overlooks,-
Before we will lay down our just-borne arms,
We'll put thee down, 'gainst whom these arms we bear,
* Judged, determined.
Or add a royal number to the dead;
Gracing the scroll, that tells of this war's loss,
With slaughter coupled to the name of kings.
Bast. Ha, majesty! how high thy glory towers,
When the rich blood of kings is set on fire!
O, now doth death line his dead chaps with steel;
The swords of soldiers are his teeth, his fangs;
And now he feasts, mouthing the flesh of men,
In undetermined differences of kings.-
Why stand these royal fronts amazed thus ?
Cry, havoc, kings! back to the stained field,
You equal potents,* fiery-kindled spirits!
Then let confusion of one part confirm
The other's peace; till then, blows, blood, and death!
K. John. Who's party do the townsmen yet admit ?
K. Phi. Speak, citizens, for England; who's your king?
1 Cit. The king of England, when we know the king.
K. Phi. Know him in us, that here hold up his right.
K. John. In us, that are our own great deputy,
And bear possession of our person here;
Lord of our presence, Angiers, and of you.
1 Cit. A greater power than we denies all this;
And, till it be undoubted, we do lock
Our former scruple in our strong-barr'd gates:
King'd of our fears;† until our fears, resolved,
Be by some certain king purged and deposed.
Bast. By heaven, these scroyles of Angiers flout you, kings;
And stand securely on their battlements.
As in a theatre, whence they gape and point
At your industrious scenes and acts of death.
Your royal presences be ruled by me;
Do like the mutines of Jerusalem,
Be friends a while, and both conjointly bend
Your sharpest deeds of malice on this town:
By east and west let France and England mount
Their battering cannon, charged to the mouths;
Till their soul-fearing§ clamours have brawl'd down
The flinty ribs of this contemptuous city:
I'd play incessantly upon these jades,
Even till unfenced desolation
Leave them as naked as the vulgar air.
That done, dissever your united strengths,
And part your mingled colours once again;
Turn face to face, and bloody point to point:
Then, in a moment, fortune shall cull forth
Out of one side her happy minion:
To whom in favour she shall give the day,
And kiss him with a glorious victory.
How like you this wild counsel, mighty states ?
Smacks it not something of the policy?
K. John. Now, by the sky that hangs above our heads,