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Enter a Mefenger. K John. They burn in indignation ; I repent. There is no sure foundation set on blood; No certain life atchiev'd by others' death [Afide. A fearful eye thou haft; where is that blood, [To the Mef
. 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 ?
Mes. From France to England never such a power, For any foreign preparation, Was levy'd in the body of a land. The copy of your speed is learn'd by them : For when you should be told, they do prepare, The tydings come, that they are all arriva.
K John. O, where hath our intelligence been drunk ?
Where hath it flept? where is my mother's care?
That such an army should be drawn in France,
And the not hear of it?
Mes. My Liege, her ear
Is stopt with duft: the first of April, dy'd
Your noble mother; and, as I hear, my lord,
The lady Conflance in a frenzie dy'd
Three days before: but this from rumour's tongue
I idlely heard; if true or false, I know not.
K. John. With-hold 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 came those powers of France,
That, thou for truth giv'it out, are landed here?
Mef. Under the Dauphin.
Enter Faulconbridge, and Peter of Pomfret,
K. John. Thou hast made me giddy
With these ill tidings. Now, what fays the world
To your proceedings? Do not seek to stuff
My head with more ill news, for it is full.
Faul. But if you be afraid to hear the worst,
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 breath again
Aloft the flood, and can give audience,
To any tongue, speak it of what it will.
Faulc. How I have sped among the clergymen,
The sums I have collected shall express.
But as I travell’d hither thro' the land,
I find the people strangely fantafied ;
Posseft 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 rhimes,
That, ere the next Ascension-day at noon,
Your Highness should deliver up your crown.
K. John. Thou idle dreamer, wherefore did'st thou so ?
Peter. Fore-knowing, that the truth will fall out fo.
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,
[Exit Hubert, with Peter. Hear's thou the news abroad, who are arriv'd ? Faulc. The French, my Lord ; men's mouths are full.
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.
K. John. Gentle kinsman, go
And thrust thyself into their company:
I have a way to win their loves again :
Bring them before me.
Faulc. I will seek them out.
K. John. Nay, but make hafté : the better foot besore. O, let me have no subject enemies, When adverse foreigners affright my towns
With dreadful pomp of stout invasion.
Be Mercury, set feathers to thy heels ;
And Aly, like thought, from them to me again.
Faule. The spirit of the time Ihall teach me speed.
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.
Mef. 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 ?
Hub. Old men and: beldams, in the streets;
Do prophesie 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,
Whilft he, that hears, makes fearful action
With wrinkled brows, with nods, with rolling eyes.
I saw a smith stand with his hammer, thus,
The whilft his iron did on the anvil cool,
With open mouth swallowing a caylor's news ;.
Who with his shears and measure in his hand,
Standing on slippers, which his nimble hafte
Had falsely thruft upon contrary feet,
Told of a many thousand warlike French,
That were embatteled and rank'd in Kents
Another lean, unwafh'd artificer
Cuts off his tale, and talks of. Arthur's death.
K. John. Why seek'st thou to pofless me with these
Why urgest thou so oft young Arthur's death?
Thy hand hath murther'd him: I had a cause
'To with him dead, but thou had'it none to kill him.
Hub. Had none, my Lord ? why, did you not pro
K. John. It is the curse of Kings, to be attended
By slaves that take their humours for a warrant,
To break into the bloody house of life :
And, on the winking of authority,
To understand a law, to know the meaning
Of dang'rous majefty ; when, perchance, it frowns
More upon humour, than advis'd respect.
Hub. Here is your hand and feal, for what I did.
K. John. Oh, when the last account 'twixt heav'n and
Is to be made, then shall this hand and feal
Witness against us to damnation.
How oft the sight of means, to do ill deeds,
Makes deeds ill done for hadît not thou been by,
A fellow by the hand of nature mark'd,
Quoted, and fign’d to do a deed of shame,
This murther had not come into my mind,
But taking note of thy abhorr'd aspect,
Finding thee fit for bloody villany,
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,
Mad'st it no conscience to destroy a Prince.
Hub. My Lord
K. John. Hadft 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 my tale in express words ;
Deep shame had truck 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 didft in figns again parley with fin;
Yea, without stop, did't let thy heart consent,
And consequently thy rude hand to act
The deed, which both our tongues held vile to name.
Out of my sight, and never see me more !
My Nobles leave me, and my state is bray'd,
Ev'n at my gates, with ranks of foreign pow'rs;
Nay, in the body of this fleshly land,
This kingdom, this confine of blood and breath,
Hoftility and civil tumult reigns,
Between my conscience, and my cousin's death.
Hub. Arm you against your other enemies,
I'll make a peace between your soul and you.
Young Arthur is alive : this hand of mine
Is yet a maiden, and an innocent hand,
Not painted with the crimson spots of blood.
Within this bosom never enter'd yet
The dreadful motion of a murd'rous thought,
have Nander’d nature in my form ;
Which, howsoever rude exteriorly,
Is yet the cover of a fairer mind,
Than to be butcher of an innocent child.
K. John. Doth Arthur live? O, haste thee to the Peers,
Throw this report on their incensed rage,
And make them tame to their obedience.
Forgive the comment that my passion made
Upon thy feature, for my rage was blind ;.
And foul imaginary eyes of blood
Presented thee more hideous than thou art.
Oh, answer not, but to my closet bring
The angry lords with all expedient haite.
I conjure thee but slowly : run more faft. [Exeunt.
SCENE, a Street before a Prison.
Enter Arthur on the Walls, disguis’d. Arth. THE wall is high, and yet will I leap down.
Good ground, be pitiful, and hurt me not! There's few or none do know me : if they did, This ship-boy's semblance hath disguis’d me quite. I am afraid, and yet I'll venture it. If I get down, and do not break my limbs, I'll find a thousand shifts to get away : As good to die, and go; as die, and stay. [Leaps down, Oh me!
my Uncle's spirit is in these stones.: Heav'n take my foul, and England keep my bones! (Dies.