Page images

And meritorious shall that hand be callid,
Canonized, and worshipp'd as a saint,
That takes away by any secret course

Thy hateful life.

0, lawful let it be,
That I have room with Romea to curse a while !
Good father cardinal, cry thou, amen,
To my keen curses : for, without my wrong,

There is no tongue hath power to curse him right.
Pand. There's law and warrant, lady, for my curse.
Const. And for mine too; when law can do no right,

Let it be lawful that law bar no wrong;
Law cannot give my child his kingdom here;
For he that holds his kingdom holds the law:
Therefore, since law itself is perfect wrong,

How can the law forbid my tongue to curse ?
Pand. Philip of France, on peril of a curse,

Let go the hand of that arch-heretic;
And raise the power of France upon his head,

Unless he do submit himself to Rome.
Eu. Look'st thou pale, France ? do not let go thy band.
Const. Look to that, devil ! lest that France repent,

And, by disjoining hands, hell lose a soul.
Aust. King Philip, listen to the cardinal.
Bast. And hang a calf's-skin on his recreant limbs.
Aust. Well, ruffian, I must pocket up these wrongs,


Your breeches best may carry them.
K. JOHN. Philip, what say'st thou to the cardinal ?
Const. What should he say, but as the cardinal ?
Lew. Bethink you, father; for the difference

Is, purchase of a heavy curse from Rome,
Or the light loss of England for a friend :

Forego the easier.

That's the curse of Rome.
Const. O Lewis, stand fast; the devil tempts thee here,

In likeness of a new untrimmed b bride.
BLANCH. The lady Constance speaks not from her faith,

But from her need.

O, if thou grant my need, Which only lives but by the death of faith,

Room with Rome. Rome was formerly pronounced room,—and Shakspere indulges in a play upon words, even when the utterer is strongly moved.

• Mr. Dyce holds that untrimmed means virgin; which he supports by an example of trimm'd from Fletcher.

That need must needs infer this principle,-
That faith would live again by death of need;
O, then, tread down my need, and faith mounts up;
Keep my


and faith is trodden down.
K. John. The king is mov'd, and answers not to this.
Const. O, be remov'd from him, and answer well.
Aust. Do so, king Philip; hang no more in doubt.
Bast. Hang nothing but a calf's-skin, most sweet lout.
K. Ph. I am perplex'd, and know not what to say.
Pand. What canst thou say, but will perplex thee more,

If thou stand excommunicate, and curs'd ?
K. Pal. Good reverend father, make my person yours,

And tell me how you would bestow yourself.
This royal hand and mine are newly knit:
And the conjunction of our inward souls
Married in league, coupled and link'd together
With all religious strength of sacred vows.
The latest breath that gave the sound of words
Was deep-sworn faith, peace, amity, true love,
Between our kingdoms, and our royal selves;
And even before this truce, but new before,
No longer than we well could wash our hands,
To clap this royal bargain up of peace,
Heaven knows, they were besmear'd and overstain'd
With slaughter's pencil; where revenge did paint
The fearful difference of incensed kings:
And shall these hands, so lately purg'd of blood,
So newly join'd in love, so strong in both,
Unyoke this seizure, and this kind regreet?
Play fast and loose with faith ? so jest with heaven,
Make such unconstant children of ourselves,
As now again to snatch our palm from palm;
Unswear faith sworn; and on the marriage-bed
Of smiling peace to march a bloody host,
And make a riot on the gentle brow
Of true sincerity? O, holy sir,
My reverend father, let it not be so:
Out of your grace, devise, ordain, impose
Some gentle order; and then we shall be bless'd

To do your pleasure, and continue friends.
PAND. All form is formless, order orderless,

Save wbat is opposite to England's love.
Therefore, to arms! be champion of our church !
Or let the church, our mother, breathe her curse,
A motber's curse, on her revolting son.


France, thou mayst hold a serpent by the tongue,
A chafed liona by the mortal paw,
A fasting tiger safer by the tooth,

Than keep in peace that hand which thou dost hold.
K. Pai. I may disjoin my hand, but not my faith.
PAND. So mak'st thou faith an enemy to faith ;

And, like a civil war, sett'st oath to oath,
Thy tongue against thy tongue. O, let thy vow
First made to heaven, first be to heaven performid;
That is, to be the champion of our church !
What since thou sworst is sworn against thyself,
And may not be performed by thyself:
For that which thou hast sworn to do amiss,
Is not amiss when it is truly done ;
And being not done, where doing tends to ill,
The truth is then most done not doing it:
The better act of purposes

Is, to mistake again; though indirect,
Yet indirection thereby grows direct,
And falsehood falsehood cures ; as fire cools fire,
Within the scorched veins of one new burn'd.
It is religion that doth make vows kept;
But thou hast sworn against religion
By what thou swear'st against the thing thou swear'st;
And mak'st an oath the surety for thy truth
Against an oath : The truth thou art unsure
To swear, swears only not to be forsworn;
Else, what a mockery should it be to swear!
But thou dost swear only to be forsworn;
And most forsworn, to keep what thou dost swear.
Therefore, thy later vows, against thy first,
Is in thyself rebellion to thyself:

A chafed lion. The original reads, “a cased lion,” which is supposed to meán a lion in a cage. The image is, strictly taken, weakened, if not destroyed, by this epithet; for the paw of a confined lion is often held with impunity. Some would read “chafed." We were, in former editions, led to read chased, upon the principle that the very pardonable insertion of an h presents üs a noble picture of a hunted lion at bay. But in · Henry VIII.' Shakspere has "the chafed lion."

Swears only. The entire speech of Pandulph is full of verbal subtleties, which render the intricate reasoning more intricate. The poet unquestionably meant to produce this effect. We have restored the reading of one of the most difficult passages :

“ The truth thou art unsure

“ To swear, swears only not to be forsworn." All the modern editions read swear. The meaning seems to be this:--The truth-that is, the troth, for which you have made an oath the surety, against thy former oath to heaven-this troth, which it was unsure to swear-which you violate your surety in swearing-has only been sworn-swears only-not to be forsworn; but it is sworn against a former oath, which is more binding, because it was an oath to religion-to the principle upon which all oaths are made.

And better conquest never canst thou make,
Than arm thy constant and thy nobler parts
Against these giddy loose suggestions :
Upon which better part our prayers come in,
If thou vouchsafe them: but, if not, then know,
The peril of our curses light on thee
So heavy, as thou shalt not shake them off,

But, in despair, die under their black weight.
Aust. Rebellion, flat rebellion !

Will 't not be ?
Will not a calf's-skin stop that mouth of thine ?
LEW. Father, to arms!

Upon thy wedding day?
Against the blood that thou hast married ?
What, sball our feast be kept with slaughter'd men ?
Shall braying trumpets, and loud churlish drums,
Clamours of hell, be measures a to our pomp?
O husband, hear me !-ah, alack, how new
Is husband in my mouth!-even for that name,
Which till this time my tongue did ne'er pronounce,
Upon my knee I beg, go not to arms

Against mine uncle.

O, upon my knee,
Made hard with kneeling, I do pray to thee,
Thou virtuous Dauphin, alter not the doom

Fore-thought by heaven.
Blanch. Now shall I see thy love. What motive may

Be stronger with thee than the name of wife?
Const. That which upholdeth him that thee upholds,

His honour: 0, thine honour, Lewis, thine honour ! LEW. I muse your majesty doth seem so cold,

When such profound respects do pull you on.
PAND. I will denounce a curse upon his head.
K. PHI. Thou shalt not need :-England, I will fall from thee.
Const. O fair return of banish'd majesty!
ELI. O foul revolt of French inconstancy !
K. John. France, thou shalt rue this hour within this hour.
Bast. Old Time the clock-setter, that bald sexton, Time,

Is it as he will ? well then, France shall rue.
BLANCH. The sun 's o'ercast with blood : Fair day adieu !

Which is the side that I must go withal ?
I am with both: each army hath a hand;
And, in their rage, I having hold of both,

Measures-solemn dances.

They whirl asunder, and dismember me.
Husband, I cannot pray that thou mayst win ;
Uncle, I needs must pray that thou mayst lose ;
Father, I may not wish the fortune thine ;
Grandame, I will not wish thy wishes thrive :
Whoever wins, on that side shall I lose;

Assured loss, before the match be play'd.
Lew. Lady, with me; with me thy fortune lies.
BLANCH. There wbere my fortune lives, there


life dies. K. JOHN. Cousin, go draw our puissance together.France, I am burn'd up with inflaming wrath ;

whose heat hath this condition, That nothing can allay, nothing but blood,

The blood, and dearest-valued blood, of France.
K. Phi. Thy rage shall burn thee up, and thou shalt turn

To ashes, ere our blood shall quench that fire:

Look to thyself, thou art in jeopardy.
K. JOHx. No more than he that threats. To arms let's hie !

[Exit Bastard.

A rage


[blocks in formation]

Alarums; Excursions. Enter the Bastard with AUSTRIA's Head.

Bast. Now, by my life, this day grows wondrous hot;

Some airy devil hovers in the sky,

pours down mischief. Austria's head, lie there ; While Philip breathes.


K. JOHN. Hubert, keep this boy :-Philip, make up:

My mother is assailed in our tent,

And ta'en, I fear. BAST.

My lord, I rescued her; Her bighness is in safety, fear you not: But on, my liege; for very little pains Will bring this labour to a happy end.


SCENE III.-The same.

Alaruins ; Excursions ; Retreat. Enter KING JOHN, ELINOR, ARTHUR, the

Bastard, HUBERT, and Lords.

K. JOHN. So shall it þe; your grace shall stay behind,


« PreviousContinue »