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That the time's enemies may not have this
K. JOHN. Let it be so; I do commit his 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:
SAL. The colour of the king doth come and go, Between his purpose and his conscience',
Between his PURPOSE and his conscience,] Between his consciousness of guilt, and his design to conceal it by fair professions. JOHNSON.
Rather, between the criminal act that he planned and commanded to be executed, and the reproaches of his conscience consequent on the execution of it. So, in Coriolanus:
"It is a purpos'd thing, and grows by plot." We have nearly the same expressions afterwards:
"Nay, in the body of this fleshly land, (in John's own person)
Hostility, and civil tumult, reigns
"Between my conscience and my cousin's death." MALONE. The purpose of the King, which Salisbury alludes to, is that of putting Arthur to death, which he considers as not yet accomplished, and therefore supposes that there might still be a conflict, in the King's mind
"Between his purpose and his conscience."
So, when Salisbury sees the dead body of Arthur, he says
"It is the shameful work of Hubert's hand;
"The practice and the purpose of the king." M. MASON.
Like heralds 'twixt two dreadful battles set 2:
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,
SAL. Indeed, we fear'd, his sickness was past
PEM. Indeed, we heard how near his death he was,
Before the child himself felt he was sick :
Think you, I bear the shears of destiny?
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 breath of all this isle, Three foot of it doth hold; Bad world the while!
2 Like heralds 'twixt two dreadful battles SET:] But heralds are not planted, I presume, in the midst betwixt two lines of battle; though they, and trumpets, are often sent over from party to party, to propose terms, demand a parley, &c. I have therefore ventured to read-sent. THEOBALD.
Set is not fixed, but only placed; heralds must be set between battles, in order to be sent between them. JOHNSON.
3 And, when it breaks,] This is but an indelicate metaphor, taken from an imposthumated tumour. JOHNSON.
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; 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,
For any foreign preparation,
Was levied in the body of a land!
The copy of your speed is learn'd by them;
K. JOHN. O, where hath our intelligence been drunk?
Where hath it slept? Where is my mother's care?
MESS. 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.
From France to England.] The King asks how all goes in France, the Messenger catches the word goes, and answers, that whatever is in France goes now into England. JOHNSON.
5 O, where hath our intelligence been DRUNK?
Where hath it SLEPT ?] So, in Macbeth:
Was the hope drunk
"Wherein you drest yourself? hath it slept since?"
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 came those powers of France, That thou for truth giv'st out, are landed here? MESS. Under the Dauphin.
Enter the Bastard and PETER of POMFRET. K. JOHN. Thou hast made me giddy With these ill tidings.-Now, what says the world To your proceedings? do not seek to stuff My head with more ill news, for it is full.
BAST. But, if you be afeard to hear the worst,
Under the tide but now I breathe again
BAST. How I have sped among the clergymen,
6 How WILDLY then WALKS my estate in France!] So, in one of the Paston Letters, vol. iii. p. 99: "The country of Norfolk and Suffolk stand right wildly." STEEVENS,
i. e. How ill my affairs go in France !-The verb, to walk, is used with great licence by old writers. It often means, to go, to move. So, in the Continuation of Harding's Chronicle, 1543: "Evil words walke far." Again, in Fenner's Compter's Commonwealth, 1618: "The keeper, admiring he could not hear his prisoner's tongue walk all this while," &c. MALone.
7-I was AMAZ'D] i. e. stunned, confounded. Cymbeline: "I am amaz'd with matter." Again, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, vol. viii. p. 200.
"You do amaze her: hear the truth of it." STEEVENS.
And here's a prophet, that I brought with me
K. JOHN. Thou idle dreamer, wherefore didst
PETER. Foreknowing that the truth will fall out
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'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,
8 And here's a prophet,] This man was a hermit in great repute with the common people. Notwithstanding the event is said to have fallen out as he had prophesied, the poor fellow was inhumanly dragged at horses' tails through the streets of Warham, and, together with his son, who appears to have been even more innocent than his father, hanged afterwards upon a gibbet. See Holinshed's Chronicle, under the year 1213. DOUCE.
See A. of Wyntown's Cronykil, b. vii. ch. viii. v. 801, &c.
Speed (History of Great Britain, p. 499,) observes, that he [Peter the Hermit] was suborned by the Pope's legate, the French king, and the Barons for this purpose. 9 Deliver him to safety,] That is, "Give him into safe custody." JOHNSON.
WHO, they say,] Old copy-whom. Corrected by Mr. Pope. MALONE.