Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 roam on, Whose passage, vex'd with thy impediment, Shall leave his native channel, and o'erswell With course disturb'd even thy confining shores, Unless thou let his silver water keep A peaceful progress to the ocean?

K. Phi. England, thou hast not sav'd 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,
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 !
0, now doth death line his dead chaps with steel :
The swords of soldiers are his teeth, his fangs;
And now he feasts, mousing the flesh of men,
In undetermin'd 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. Whose party do the townsmen yet admit ?
K. Phi. Speak, citizens, for England; who's your king ?
Hubert. 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.

Hubert. 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,
Kings, of our fear,' until our fears, resolvid,
Be by some certain king purg'd and depos’d.

Bast. By heaven, these scroyles of Angiers flout you, kings;

(1) Of our fear, i. e. by reason of our fear.
(2) Scroyles,-mean scabby rascals; from les escrouelles, the king's evil.

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 rul’d 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 bave 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,
I like it well ;-France, shall we knit our powers,
And lay this Angiers even with the ground;
Then, after, fight who shall be king of it?

Bast. An if thou hast the mettle of a king,
Being wrong'd, as we are, by this peevish town,
Turn thou the mouth of thy artillery,
As we will ours, against these saucy walls :
And when that we have dash'd them to the ground,
Why, then defy each other: and, pell-mell,
Make work upon ourselves, for heaven, or hell.

K. Phi. Let it be so :—Say, where will you assault?

K. John. We from the west will send destruction
Into this city's bosom.

Aust. I from the north.
K. Phi.

Our thunder from the south,
Shall rain their drift of bullets on this town.

Rast. O prudent discipline! From north to south; Austria and France shoot in each other's mouth: [Aside. I'll stir them to it :-Come, away, away!

Hubert. Hear us, great kings : vouchsafe a while to stay, And I shall show you peace, and fair-fac'd league; Win you this city without stroke or wound; Rescue those breathing lives to die in beds,

That here come sacrifices for the field :
Persever not, but hear me, mighty kings.

K. John. Speak on, with favour; we are bent to hear.

Hubert. That daughter there of Spain, the lady Blanch,
Is near to England; Look upon the years
Of Lewis the Dauphin, and that lovely maid :
If lusty love should go in quest of beauty,
Where should he find it fairer than in Blanch?
If zealous lovel should go in search of virtue,
Where should be find it purer than in Blanch?
If love ambitious sought a match of birth,
Whose veins bound richer blood than lady Blanch?
Such as she is, in beauty, virtue, birth,
Is the young Dauphin every way complete;
If not complete of, say, he is not she;
And she again wants nothing, to name want,
If want it be not, that she is not he:
He is the half part of a blessed man,
Left to be finished by such a she;
And she a fair divided excellence,
Whose fulness of perfection lies in him.
0, two such silver currents, when they join,
Do glorify the banks that bound them in:
And two such shores to two such streams made one,
Two such controlling bounds shall you be, kings,
To these two princes, if you marry them.
This union shall do more than battery can,
To our fast-closed gates; for, at this match,
With swifter spleen than powder can enforce,
The mouth of passage shall we fling wide ope,
And give you entrance; but, without this match,
The sea enraged is not half so deaf,
Lions more confident, mountains and rocks
More free from motion, no, not death himself
In mortal fury half so peremptory,
As we to keep this city.
Bast.

Here's a stay,
That shakes the rotten carcase of old death
Out of his rags ! Here's a large mouth, indeed,
That spits forth death, and mountains, rocks, and seas;
Talks as familiarly of roaring lions,
As maids of thirteen do of puppy-dogs!
What cannoneer begot this lusty blood?

2

(1) Zealous love. Zealous here signifies pious, influenced by motives of religion.

(2) Here's a stay. Stay is here used for interruption. Dr. Johnson proposes to read, flaw, i. e. here's a gust of bravery, here's a blast of menace,

He speaks plain cannon, fire, and smoke, and bounce;
He gives the bastinado with his tongue ;
Our ears are cudgell'd; not a word of his,
But buffets better than a fist of France:
Why! I was never so bethump'd with words,
Since I first call’d my brother's father, dad.

Eli. Son, list to this conjunction, make this match ;
Give with our niece a dowry large enough:
For by this knot thou shalt so surely tie
Thy now unsur'd assurance to the crown,
That yon green boy shall have no sun to ripe
The bloom that promiseth a mighty fruit.
I see a yielding in the looks of France;
Mark, how they whisper: urge them, while their souls
Are capable of this ambition;
Lest zeal, now melted, by the windy breath
Of soft petitions, pity, and remorse,
Cool and congeal again to what it was.

Hubert. Why answer not the double majesties
This friendly treaty of our threaten’d town?

K. Phi. Speak England first, that hath been forward first To speak unto this city : What say you ?

K. John. If that the Dauphin there, thy princely son,
Can in this book of beauty read, I love,
Her dowry shall weigh equal with a queen:
For Anjou, and fair Touraine, Maine, Poictiers,
And all that we upon this side the sea
(Except this city now by us besieg'd)
Find liable to our crown and dignity,
Shall gild her bridal bed; and make her rich
In titles, honours, and promotions,
As she in beauty, education, blood,
Holds hand with any princess of the world.
K. Phi. What says't thou, boy ? look in the lady's face,

Lew. I do, my lord, and in her eye I find
A wonder, or a wondrous miracle,
The shadow of myself form'd in her eye;
Which, being but the shadow of your son,
Becomes a sun, and makes your son a shadow :
I do protest, I never lov'd myself,
Till now infixed I heheld myself,
Drawn in the flattering table of her eye.

[Whispers with BLANCH. Bast. Drawn in the flattering table of her eye!

Hang'd in the frowning wrinkle of her brow! And quarter'd in her heart !-he doth espy

Himself love's traitor: This is pity now,

K

That hang'd, and drawn, and quarter'd, there should be,
In such a love, so vile a lout as he.

Blanch. My uncle's will, in this respect, is mine.
If he see aught in you, that makes him like,
That anything he sees, which moves his liking,
I can with ease translate it to my will;
Or, if you will, to speak more properly,
I will enforce it easily to my love.
Further I will not flatt

you, my lord,
That all I see in you is worthy love,
Than this,—that nothing do I see in you,
Though churlish thoughts themselves should be your judge,
That I can find should merit any hate.
K. John. What say these young ones? What say you, my

niece? Blanch. That she is bound in honour still to do What you in wisdom still vouchsafe to say. K. John. Speak then, prince Dauphin; can you love this

lady?
Lew. Nay, ask me if I can refrain from love;
For I do love her most unfeignedly.

K. John. Then do I give Volquessen, Touraine, Maine,
Poictiers, and Anjou, these five provinces,
With her to thee; and this addition more,
Full thirty thousand marks of English coin.
Philip of France, if thou be pleas'd withal,
Command thy son and daughter to join hands.
K. Phi. It likes us well. Young princes, close

your

hands. Aust. And your lips too; for I am well assurd That I did so, when I was first assur’d.'

K. Phi. Now, citizens of Angiers, ope your gates,
Let in that amity which you have made ;
For at saint Mary's chapel, presently,
The rites of marriage shall be solemniz'd.
Is not the lady Constance in this troop?
I know she is not; for this match, made up,
Her presence would have interrupted much:
Where is she and her son? tell me, who knows.

Lew. She is sad and passionate at your bigbness' tent.
K. Phi. And, by my faith, this league, that we have made,
Will give her sadness very little cure.
Brother of England, how may we content
This widow lady? In her right we came;

(1) And your lips too, &c. The betrothal was anciently not a mere agreement, but a religious contract, and as such was blessed by the priest; joining of hands and kissing was a part of the ceremony of this assurance.

« PreviousContinue »