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I should be as merry as the day is long;
And so I would be here, but that I doubt
My uncle practises more harm to me:
He is afraid of me, and I of him :
Is it my fault that I was Geffrey's son ?
No, indeed, is't not; And, I would to heaven,
I were your son, so you would love me, Hubert.
Hub. If I talk to him, with his innocent prate
He will awake my mercy, which lies dead :
Therefore I will be sudden and dispatch.
[Aside Arth. Are you sick, Hubert ? you look pale to-day : In sooth, I would you were a little sick; That I might sit all night, and watch with you : I warrant, I love you more than you do me.
Hub. His words do take possession of my bosom.-Read here, young Arthur.—[ Showing a paper.]–How now, foolish rheum !
(Aside. Turning dispiteous torture out of door! I must be brief; lest resolution drop Out at mine eyes, in tender womanish tears. Can you not read it ? is it not fair writ?
Arth. Too fairly, Hubert, for so foul effect :
Must you with hot irons burn out both mine eyes ?
Hub. Young boy, I must.
And will you ?
And I will.
Arth. Have you the heart ? When your head did but ache,
I knit my handkerchief about your brows,
(The best I had, a princess wrought it for me,)
And I did never ask it you again :
And with my hand at midnight held your head;
And, like the watchful minutes to the hour,
Still and anon cheer'd up the heavy time;
Saying, What lack you ? and, Where lies your grief?'
Or, what good love may I perform for you?
Many a poor man's son would have lain still,
And ne'er have spoke a loving word to you ;
But you at your sick service had a prince.
Nay, you may think, my love was crafty love,
And call it cunning ; Do, an if you
If heaven be pleased that you must use me ill,
Why, then you must.-Will you put out mine eyes ?
These eyes, that never did, nor never shall,
So much as frown on you?
I have sworn to do it;
And with hot irons must I burn them out.
Arth. Ah, none, but in this iron age, would do it!
The iron of itself, though heat red-hot,
Approaching near these eyes, would drink my tears,
And quench his fiery indignation,
Even in the matter of mine innocence:
Nay, after that, consume away in rust,
But for containing fire to harm mine eye.
Are you more stubborn-hard than hammer'd iron ?
An if an angel should have come to me,
And told me, Hubert should put out mine eyes,
I would not have believ'd no tongue, but Hubert's.
Hub. Come forth.
[Stamps Re-enter Attendants, with cords, irons, fc. Do as I bid
do. Arth. O, save me, Hubert, save me! my eyes are out, Even with the fierce looks of these bloody men.
Hub. Give me the iron, I say, and bind him here.
Arth. Alas, what need you be so boisterous-rough?
I will not struggle, I will stand stone-still.
For heaven's sake, Hubert, let me not be bound !
Nay, hear me, Hubert! drive these men away,
And I will sit as quiet as a lamb;
I will not stir, nor wince, nor speak a word,
Nor look upon the iron angerly :
Thrust but these men away, and I'll forgive you,
Whatever torment you do put me to.
Hub. Go, stand within ; let me alone with him.
1st Allend. I am best pleas'd to be from such a deed.
Arth. Alas! I then have chid away my friend;
He hath a stern look, but a gentle heart :-
Let him come back, that his compassion may
Give life to yours.
Come, boy, prepare yourself.
Arth. Is there no remedy?
None, but to lose your eyes.
Arth. O heaven !--that there were but a mote in yours,
A grain, a dust, a gnat, a wand'ring hair,
Any annoyance in that precious sense!
Then, feeling what small things are boist'rous there,
Your vile intent must needs seem horrible.
Hub. Is this your promise ? go to, hold your tongue.
Arth. Hubert, the utterance of a brace of tongues
Must needs want pleading for a pair of eyes :
Let me not hold my tongue; let me not, Hubert !
Or, Hubert, if you will, cut out my tongue,
So I may keep mine eyes; 0, spare
Though to no use, but still to look on you !
Lo, by my troth, the instrument is cold,
And would not harm me.
I can heat it, boy.
Arth. No, in good sooth; the fire is dead with grief,
Being create for comfort, to be us'd
In undesery'd extremes : See else yourself;
There is no malice in this burning coal;
The breath of heaven hath blown his spirit out,
And strew'd repentant ashes on his head.
Hub. But with my breath I can revive it, boy.
Arth. And if you do, you will but make it blush,
And glow with shame of your proceedings, Hubert:
Nay, it, perchance, will sparkle in your eyes;
And, like a dog that is compellid to fight,
Snatch at his master that doth tarre him on.
All things, that you should use to do me wrong,
Deny their office: only you do lack
That mercy, which fierce fire, and iron extends,
Creatures of note, for mercy-lacking uses.
Hub. Well, see to live, I will not touch thine eyes,
For all the treasure that thine uncle owes :
Yet I am sworn, and I did purpose, bey,
With this same very iron to burn them out.
Arth. O, now you look like Hubert !
You were disguised.
Peace: no more. Adieu.
Your uncle must not know but you are dead :
I'll fill these dogged spies with false reports.
And, pretty child, sleep doubtless, and secure,
That Hubert, for the wealth of all the world,
Will not offend thee.
O heaven !-I thank
Hub. Silence; no more: Go closely in with me.
Much danger do I undergo for thee.
King John is crowned the second time, in hopes to give assurance, by this double coronation, of his title to the English crown. The Nobles and People are disaffected, and Philip breaks the league, and prepares to invade England. John, alarmed at his position, repents of his conduct towards young Arthur, and accuses his confidant, Hubert, with tempting him to accede to the murder.
SCENE II.-A Room of State in the Palace.
Enter KING JOHN, crowned ; PEMBROKE, SALISBURY, and other Lords
The KING takes his State.
K. John. Here once again we sit, once again crown’d,
And look'd upon, I hope, with cheerful eyes.
Pem. This once again, but that your highness pleas’d,
Was once superfluous : you were crown'd before,
And that high royalty was ne'er pluck'd off;
The faiths of men ne'er stained with revolt;
Fresh expectation troubled not the land,
With any long’d-for change, or better state.
Sal. Therefore, to be possess'd with double pomp, To guard a title that was rich before, To gild refined 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.
Pem. But that your royal pleasure must be done,
This act is as an ancient tale new told;
And, in the last repeating, troublesome,
Being urged at a time unseasonable.
Sal. In this, the antique and well-noted face
Of plain old form is much disfigured ;
And, like a shifted wind unto a sail,
It makes the course of thoughts to fetch about;
Startles and frights consideration ;
Makes sound opinion sick, and truth suspected,
For putting on so new a fashion'd robe.
Pem. When workmen strive to do better than well,
They do confound their skill in covetousness :
And, oftentimes, excusing of a fault,
Doth make the fault the worse by the excuse ;
As patches, set upon a little breach,
Discredit more in hiding of the fault,
Than did the fault before it was so patch’d.
Sal. To this effect, before you were new-crown'd,
We breath'd our counsel : but it pleas'd your highness
To overbear it; and we are all well pleas'd;
Since all and every part of what we would,
Doth make a stand at what your highness will.
K.John. Some reasons of this double coronation
I have possess'd you with, and think them strong;
And more, more strong, (when lesser is my fear,)
I shall indue you with : Meantime, but ask
What you would have reform’d, that is not well ;
And well shall you perceive, how willingly
I will both hear and grant you your requests.
Pem. Then I, (as one that am the tongue of these
To sound the purposes of all their hearts,
Both for myself and them, (but, chief of all,
Your safety, for the which myself and them
Bend their best studies,) heartily request
The enfranchisement of Arthur: whose restraint
Doth move the murmuring lips of discontent.
To break into this dangerous argument,
If, what in rest you have, in right you hold,
Why then your fears, (which, as they say, attend
The steps of wrong,) should move you to mew up
Your tender kinsman, and to choke his days
With barbarous ignorance, and deny his youth
The rich advantage of good exercise ?
That the time's enemies may not have this
To grace occasions, let it be our suit,
That you have bid us ask his liberty;
Which for our goods we do no further ask,
That whereupon our weal, on you depending,
Counts it your weal, he have his liberty.
K.John. Let it be so; I do commit this youth
To your direction.—Hubert, what news with you ?
Pem. This is the man should do the bloody deed.
He show'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 show 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 color of the king doth come and go,
Between his purpose and his conscience,
Like heralds 'twixt two dreadful battles set:
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 :-
Great 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 me?
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 game! 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 Lords K. John. They burn in indignation; I repent ;