Well-known phrases and quotes from Shakespeare's lesser-known History play, King John.

A man on a throne holds a sceptre and orb as he is crowned by a cardinal.
Richard McCabe in 2006's King John.
Photo by Stuart Hemley © RSC Browse and license our images

I will instruct my sorrows to be proud,
For grief is proud and makes his owner stoop. 
(Constance, Act 2 Scene 2)

Old Time the clock-setter, that bald sexton Time 
(Bastard, Act 3 Scene 2)

Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale,
Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man; 
(Lewis, Act 3 Scene 3)

To gild refinèd gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,
To smooth the ice, or add another hue
Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess. 
(Salisbury, Act 4 Scene 2) 

The spirit of the time shall teach me speed. 
(Bastard, Act 4 Scene 2) 

How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds

Makes deeds ill done! 
(King John, Act 4 Scene 2) 

Heaven take my soul, and England keep my bones! 
(Arthur, Act 4 Scene 3) 

Be great in act as you have been in thought 
(Bastard, Act 5 Scene 1)

I do not ask you much,
I beg cold comfort 
(King John, Act 5 Scene 7)

This England never did, nor never shall,
Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror,
But when it first did help to wound itself.
Now these her princes are come home again,
Come the three corners of the world in arms,
And we shall shock them. Nought shall make us rue,
If England to itself do rest but true. 
(Bastard, Act 5 Scene 7) 

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