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My boy a bastard! By my soul, I think,
His father never was so true begot;
It cannot be, an if thou wert his mother.
Eli. There's a good mother, boy, that blots thy father.
Const. There's a good grandame, boy, that would blot tliee.
Hear the crier.
What the devil art thou?
Bast. One that will play the devil, sir, with you,'
catch your hide and you alone.
You are the hare of whom the proverb goes,
Whose valour plucks dead lions by the beard.
I'll smoke your skin-coat, an I catch you right;
Sirrah, look to 't; i' faith, I will, i' faith.
Blanch. O, well did he become that lion's robe,
That did disrobe the lion of that robe !
Bast. It lies as sightly on the back of him,
As great Alcides' shoes upon an ass:-
But, ass, I'll take that burthen from your back ;
Or lay on that shall make your shoulders crack.
Aust. What cracker is this same, that deafs our ears
With this abundance of superfluous breath?
King,-Lewis, determine what we shall do straight.
Lew. Women and fools, break off your conference.
King John, this is the very sum of all,-
England and Ireland, Anjou, Touraine, Maine,
In right of Arthur do I claim of thee:
Wilt thou resign them, and lay down thy arms?
K. John. My life as soon :- I do defy thee, France.
Arthur of Bretagne, yield thee to my hand;
And, out of my dear love, I'll give thee more
Than e'er the coward hand of France can win:
Submit thee, boy.
Come to thy grandame, child.
Const. Do, child, go to it' grandame, child;
Give grandame kingdom, and it' grandame will
Give it a plum, a cherry, and a fig:
There's a good grandame.
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!
(1) One that will play the devil, sir, with you. Shakspeare does not tell us what was the cause of quarrel between the Bastard and Austria. But it was this : Austria, in token of Caur-de-Lion having been slain through him, wore a lion's hide. Faulconbridge resents this as an insult.
His grandame'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 brib'd
To do him justice, and revenge on you.
Eli. Thou monstrous slanderer of heaven and earth!
Cons. 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.
K. John. Bedlam, have done !
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 grandame’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.
Trumpet sounds. Enter Citizens upon the Walls.
Cit. Who is it that hath warn'd us to the walls ?
K. Phi. 'Tis France for England.
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 parle
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 ;
(1) To cry aim, i.e. to encourage.
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,
Confronts 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 disbabited, 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, amaz’d, vouchsafe a parle :
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
Forwearied in this action of swift speed,
Craves barbourage 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 owesit,—namely, this young prince :
And then our arms, like to a muzzled bear,
Save in aspect, have all offence seal'd up;
Our cannons' malice vainly shall be spent
Against th' invulnerable clouds of heaven;
And, with a blessed and unvex'd retire,
With unhack'd swords, and helmets all unbruis'd,
(1) Your winking gates, i. e. gates hastily closed from a fear of danger. (2) Owes,-owns.
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 rounder 1 of your old-fac'd walls
Can bide 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 challeng'd it?
Or shall we give the signal to our rage,
And stalk in blood to our possession ?
Cit. In brief, we are the king of England's subjects;
For him, and in his right, we hold this town.
K. John. Acknowledge then the king, and let me in.
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.
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 souls,
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 swindg'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.
(1) 'Tis not the rounder. Rounder is a word borrowed from the French rondeur. It means the circle, &c.
K. Phi. It shall be so ;-[to LEWIS) and at the other hill Command the rest to stand. God and our right! [Exeunt.
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 groveling 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 Trumpels.
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.
Hubert. 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": 2
Blood hath bought blood, and blows have answered 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.
(1) God and our right. This English motto seems to be rather out of place in the mouth of a king of France. Richard the First is said to have originally used the motto, Dieu et mon Droit.
(2) Cannot be censured, i. e. cannot be judged of.