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King John Scenes

Scene 4

Another part of the battlefield.

(Salisbury; Pembroke; Bigot; Melune)

The rebellious English nobles see the battle turn against them and try to shore up their troops. Severely wounded and on the point of death, Lord Melune comes to tell them that Lewis has sworn to execute them all as soon as the battle is won. The nobles repent of deserting John, and return to him. (62 lines)

Enter Salisbury, Pembroke, and Bigot.


I did not think the King so stor’d with friends.


Up once again! Put spirit in the French;

If they miscarry, we miscarry too.


That misbegotten devil Faulconbridge,

In spite of spite, alone upholds the day.


They say King John, sore sick, hath left the field.

Enter Melune wounded.


Lead me to the revolts of England here.


When we were happy we had other names.


It is the Count Melune.


Wounded to death.


Fly, noble English, you are bought and sold!

Unthread the rude eye of rebellion,

And welcome home again discarded faith.

Seek out King John and fall before his feet;

For if the French be lords of this loud day,

He means to recompense the pains you take

By cutting off your heads. Thus hath he sworn,

And I with him, and many more with me,

Upon the altar at Saint Edmundsbury,

Even on that altar where we swore to you

Dear amity and everlasting love.


May this be possible? May this be true?


Have I not hideous death within my view,

Retaining but a quantity of life,

Which bleeds away even as a form of wax

Resolveth from his figure ’gainst the fire?

What in the world should make me now deceive,

Since I must lose the use of all deceit?

Why should I then be false, since it is true

That I must die here and live hence by truth?

I say again, if Lewis do win the day,

He is forsworn if e’er those eyes of yours

Behold another day break in the east;

But even this night, whose black contagious breath

Already smokes about the burning crest

Of the old, feeble, and day-wearied sun,

Even this ill night your breathing shall expire,

Paying the fine of rated treachery

Even with a treacherous fine of all your lives,

If Lewis by your assistance win the day.

Commend me to one Hubert with your king;

The love of him, and this respect besides,

For that my grandsire was an Englishman,

Awakes my conscience to confess all this.

In lieu whereof, I pray you bear me hence

From forth the noise and rumor of the field,

Where I may think the remnant of my thoughts

In peace, and part this body and my soul

With contemplation and devout desires.


We do believe thee, and beshrew my soul

But I do love the favor and the form

Of this most fair occasion, by the which

We will untread the steps of damned flight,

And like a bated and retired flood,

Leaving our rankness and irregular course,

Stoop low within those bounds we have o’erlook’d,

And calmly run on in obedience

Even to our ocean, to our great King John.

My arm shall give thee help to bear thee hence,

For I do see the cruel pangs of death

Right in thine eye. Away, my friends! New flight,

And happy newness, that intends old right.

Exeunt leading off Melune.


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