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K. John. Let it be so: I do commit his youth
direction. Hubert, what news with you?
PEM. This is the man should do the bloody deed;
He shew'd his warrant to a friend of mine:
The image of a wicked heinous fault
Lives in his eye; that close aspect of his
Does shew the mood of a much-troubled breast;
And I do fearfully believe 'tis done,
What we so fear'd he had a charge to do.
Sal. The colour of the King doth come and go
Between his purpose and his conscience,
Like heralds 'twixt two dreadful battles sent:
His passion is so ripe it needs must break.
PEM. And when it breaks, I fear will issue thence
The foul corruption of a sweet child's death.
K. John. We cannot hold Mortality's strong hand.
Good Lords, although my will to give is living,
The suit which you demand is gone and dead :
He tells us Arthur is deceas'd to-night.
SAL. Indeed, we fear'd his sickness was past cure.
Pem. Indeed, we heard how near his death he was,
Before the child himself felt he was sick :
This must be answer'd either here or hence.
K. John. Why do you bend such solemn brows on
Think you I bear the shears of Destiny ?
Have I commandment on the pulse of Life?
Sal. It is apparent' foul-play; and 'tis shame
That Greatness should so grossly offer it :
So thrive it in your gamel and so, farewell.
PEM. Stay yet, Lord Salisbury; I'll go with thee,
And find the inheritance of this poor child,
His little kingdom of a forced grave.
That blood which ow'd the breadth of all this Isle,
Three foot of it doth hold : bad World the while !
This must not be thus borne: this will break out
To all our sorrows, and ere long, I doubt. [exeunt.
K. JOHN. They burn in indignation. I repent:
There is no sure foundation set on blood,
No certain life achiev'd by others' death.
Enter a Messenger.
A fearful eye thou hast : where is that blood,
That I have seen inhabit in those cheeks?
So foul a Sky clears not without a storm :
Pour down thy weather. How goes all in France ?
Mess. From France to England. Never such a power
For any foreign preparation
Was levied in the body of a land.
copy of your speed is learn’d by them; For when you should be told they do prepare,
The tidings comes that they are all arriv'd.
K. JOHN. O, where hath our intelligence been drunk?
Where hath it slept? Where is my mother's care
That such an army could be drawn in France,
And she not hear of it?
My Liege, her ear
Is stopp'd with dust; the first of April died
Your noble mother: and, as I hear, my Lord,
The Lady Constance in a frenzy died
Three days before; but this from Rumour's tongue
I idly heard ; if true or false I know not.
K. JOHN. Withhold thy speed, dreadful Occasion !
O, make a league with me, till I have pleas'd
My discontented Peers! What! mother dead !
How wildly, then, walks my estate in France !
Under whose conduct come those powers of France,
That thou for truth giv'st out are landed here?
Mess. Under the Dolphin.
Thou hast made me giddy
With these ill tidings.
Enter the Bastard and PETER OF POMFRET.
Now, what says the World
To your proceedings ? do not seek to stuff
My head with more ill news, for it is full.
ACT IV Bast. But if you be afeard to hear the worst,
Sc. II Then let the worst, unheard, fall on your head.
K. John. Bear with me, Cousin ; for I was amaz'd'
Under the tide: but now I breathe again
Aloft the flood; and can give audience
To any tongue, speak it of what it will.
Bast. How I have sped among the clergymen
The sums I have collected shall express.
But, as I travell’d hither through the land,
I find the people strangely fantasy'd;
Possess'd with rumours, full of idle dreams,
Not knowing what they fear, but full of fear;
And here's a Prophet, that I brought with me
From forth the streets of Pomfret, whom I found
With many hundreds treading on his heels;
To whom he sung in rude harsh-sounding rhymes
That, ere the next Ascension-day at noon,
Your Highness should deliver up your crown.
K. John. Thou idle Dreamer, wherefore didst thou so?
PETER. Foreknowing that the truth will fall out so.
K. John. Hubert, away with him; imprison him;
And on that day at noon, whereon he says
I shall yield up my crown, let him be hang’d.
Deliver him to safety; and return,
For I must use thee.
O my gentle Cousin,
Hear'st thou the news abroad, who are arriv'd?
Bast. The French, my Lord; men's mouths are full of it:
Besides, I met Lord Bigot and Lord Salisbury,
With eyes as red as new-enkindled fire,
And others more, going to seek the grave
Of Arthur, who they say is kill'd to-night
On your suggestion.
Gentle Kinsman, go,
And thrust thyself into their companies :
I have a way to win their loves again;
Bring them before me.
I will seek them out.
K. John. Nay; but make haste ; the better foot before.
0, let me have no subjects enemies,
When adverse foreigners affright my towns
With dreadful pomp of stout invasion!
Be Mercury ; set feathers to thy heels,
And fly like Thought from them to me again.
Bast. The spirit of the time shall teach me speed. [exit.
K. John. Spoke like a sprightful noble gentleman.
Go after him ; for he perhaps shall need
Some messenger betwixt me and the Peers;
And be thou he.
With all my heart, my Liege. [exit. K. John. My mother dead !
HUB. My Lord, they say five Moons were seen to-night;
Four fixed; and the fifth did whirl about
The other four in wondrous motion.
K. JOHN. Five Moons!
Old men and beldams in the streets
Do prophesy upon it dangerously :
Young Arthur's death is common in their mouths;
And, when they talk of him, they shake their heads,
And whisper one another in the ear;
And he that speaks doth gripe the hearer's wrist,
Whilst he that hears makes fearful action,
With wrinkled brows, with nods, with rolling eyes.
I saw a smith stand with his hammer, thus,
The whilst his iron did on the anvil cool,
With open mouth swallowing a tailor's news;
Who, with his shears and measure in his hand,
Standing on slippers (which his nimble haste
Had falsely thrust upon contrary feet),
Told of a many thousand warlike French
That were embattailed and rank'd in Kent :
Another lean unwash'd artificer
Cuts off his tale, and talks of Arthur's death.
K. John. Why seek'st thou to possess me with these
Why urgest thou so oft young Arthur's death?
Thy hand hath murder'd him: I had a mighty cause
To wish him dead, but thou hadst none to kill him.
ACT IV Hub. Had none, my Lord ! why, did you not provoke me?
Sc. II K. John. It is the curse of Kings to be attended
By slaves, that take their humours for a warrant
To break within the bloody House of Life;
And, on the winking of Authority,
To understand a law; to know the meaning
Of dangerous Majesty, when perchance it frowns
More upon humour than advis'd respect.
HUB. Here is your hand and seal for what I did.
K. John. O, when the last account 'twixt Heaven and
Is to be made, then shall this hand and seal
Witness against us to damnation !
How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds
Make deeds ill-done! Hadst not thou been by,
A fellow by the hand of Nature mark’d,
Quoted, and sign'd to do a deed of shame,
This murder had not come into my mind;
But, taking note of thy abhorr'd aspect,
Finding thee fit for bloody villainy,
Apt, liable to be employ'd in danger,
I faintly broke with thee of Arthur's death ;
And thou, to be endeared to a King,
Made it no conscience to destroy a Prince.
HUB. My Lord —
K. John. Hadst thou but shook thy head, or made a
When I spake darkly what I purposed,
Or turn'd an eye of doubt upon my face,
Or bid me tell
Deep shame had struck me dumb, made me break off,
And those thy fears might have wrought fears in me.
But thou didst understand me by my signs,
And didst in signs again parley with Sin!
Yea; without stop didst let thy heart consent,
And consequently thy rude hand to act
The deed, which both our tongues hold vild to name.
Out of my sight, and never see me more !
My Nobles leave me; and my state is brav’d,
Even at my gates, with ranks of foreign powers ::