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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.
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, it you be afeard 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 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 travelled hither through the land,
I find the people strangely fantasied;
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
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,
[Erit 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,
(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 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 contráry feet,)
Told of a many thousand warlike French,
That were embattled, 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 t possess me with
Why urgest thou so cft young Arthur's death?
Thy hand hath murder'd him: I had mighty cause
To wish him dead, but thou hadst none to kill him.
Hub. Had none, my lord! why, did you not pro-
K. John. It is the curse of kings, to be at'ended
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
K. John. O, when the last account 'twixt heaven
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,
Makes deeds ill done! Hadest 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 aspéct,
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,
K. John. Nay, but make haste; the better foot Made it no conscience to destroy a prince.
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 fly, like thought, from them to me again.
Bast. The spirit of the time shall teach me speed.
K. John. Spoke like a sprightful noble gentle-
Go after him; for he, perhaps, shall need
Some messenger betwixt me and the peers;
And be thou he.
Mess. With all my heart, my liege. [Exit.
K. John. My mother dead!
K. John. Hadst thou but shook thy head, or
made a pause,
When I spake darkly what I purposed;
Or turn'd an eye of doubt upon my face,
As bid me tell my tale in express words;
Deep shame had struck me dumb, made me break
And those thy fears might have wrought fears in
Hub. My lord, they say, five moons were seen out of my sight, and never see me more! to-night:
My nobles leave me; and my state is brav'd,
(8) Deliberate consideration.
Even at my gates, with ranks of foreign powers:
Nay, in the body of this fleshly land,"
This kingdom, this confine of blood and breath,
Hostility 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,
And you have slander'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.
Pem. Sir, sir, impatience hath his privilege.
Bast. 'Tis true; to hurt his master, no man else.
Sal. This is the prison: What is he lies here?
Pem. O death, made proud with pure and princely beauty!
The earth had not a hole to hide this deed.
Sal. Murder, as hating what himself hath done, Doth lay it open, to urge on revenge.
Big. Or, when he doom'd this beauty to a grave, Found it too precious-princely for a grave.
Sal. Sir Richard, what think you? Have you
Or have you read, or heard? or could you think?
Or do you almost think, although you see,
That you do see! could thought, without this object,
K. John. Doth Arthur live? O, haste thee to Form such another? This is the very top,
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.
0, answer not; but to my closet bring
The angry lords, with all expedient haste:
I conjure thee but slowly; run more fast.
SCENE III.—The same. Before the castle.
ter Arthur, on the walls.
Arth. The wall is high; and yet will I
Good ground, be pitiful, and hurt me not!-
There's few, or none, d. 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.
O me! my uncle's spirit is in these stones:-
Heaven take my soul, and England keep my bones!
Enter Pembroke, Salisbury, and Bigot.
Sal. Lords, I will meet him at Saint Edmund's-
It is our safety, and we must embrace
This gentle offer of the perilous time.
Pem. Who brought that letter from the cardinal?
Sal. The Count Melun, a noble lord of France;
Whose private with me, of the dauphin's love,
Is much more general than these lines import.
Big. To-morrow morning let us meet him then.
Sal. Or, rather then set forward: for 'twill be
Two long days' journey, lords, or e'er we meet.
Enter the Bastard.
Bast. Once more to-day well met, distemper'd
The king, by me, requests your presence straight.
Sal. The king hath dispossess'd himself of us;
Well not line his thin bestained cloak
With our pure honours, nor attend the foot
That leaves the print of blood where'er it walks:
Return, and tell him so; we know the worst.
Bast. Whate'er you think, good words, I think,
Sal. Our griefs, and not our manners, reason now.
Bast. But there is little reason in your grief;
Therefore, 'twere reason, you had manners now.
The height, the crest, or crest unto the crest,
Of murder's arms: this is the bloodiest shame,'
The wildest savagery, the vile t stroke,
That ever wall-ey'd wrath, or staring rage,
Presented to the ears of soft remorse,
Pem. All murders past do stand excus'd in this:
And this, so sole, and so unmatchable,
Shall give a holiness, a purity,
To the yet-unbegotten sin of time;
And prove a deadly blood hed but a jest,
Exampled by this heinous spectacle.
Bast. It is a damned and a bloody work;
The graceless action of a heavy hand,
If that it be the work of any hand.
Sal. If that it be the work of any hand 7-
We had a kind of light, what would ensue :
It is the shameful work of Hubert's hand;
The practice, and the purpose, of the king:-
From whose obedience I forbid my soul,
Kneeling before this ruin of sweet life,
And breathing to his breathless excellence,
The incense of a vow, a holy vow;
Never to taste the pleasures of the world,
Never to be infected with delight,
Nor conversant with ease and idleness,
Till I have set a glory to this hand,
By giving it the worship of revenge.
Pem. Big. Our souls religiously confirm thy
(6) Hand should be head: a glory is the circle of rays which surrounds the heads of saints in pictures. (7) Honest. (8) By compelling me to kill you.
Yet, I am none: Whose tongue soe'er speaks false, |The imminent decay of wrested pomp.
Not truly speaks; who speaks not truly, lies.
Pem. Cut him to pieces.
Keep the peace, I say.
Sal. Stand by, or I shall gall you, Faulconbridge.
Bast. Thou wert better gall the devil, Salisbury:
If thou but frown on me, or stir thy foot,
Or teach thy hasty spleen to do me shame,
I'll strike thee dead. Put up thy sword betime;
Or I'll so maul you and your toasting-iron,
That you shall think the devil is come from hell.
Big. What wilt thou do, renowned Faulconbridge?
Second a villain, and a murderer ?
Hub. Lord Bigot, I am none.
Who kill'd this prince?
Hub. 'Tis not an hour since I left him well:
I honour'd him, I lov'd him; and will weep
My date of life out, for his sweet life's loss.
Sal. Trust not those cunning waters of his eyes,
For villany is not without such rheum,'
And he, long traded in it, makes it seem
Like rivers of remorse and innocency.
Away, with me, and all you whose souls abhor
The uncleanly savours of a slaughter-house,
For I am stifled with this smell of sin.
Big. Away, toward Bury, to the dauphin there!
Pem. There, tell the king, he may inquire us
Bast. Here's a good world!-Knew you of this
Beyond the infinite and boundless reach
Of mercy, if thou didst this deed of death,
Art thou damn'd, Hubert.
Do but hear me, sir.
Bast. Ha! I'll tell thee what;
Thou art damn'd as black-nay, nothing is so
Thou art more deep damn'd than prince Lucifer:
There is not yet so ugly a fiend of hell
As thou shalt be, if thou didst kill this child.
Hub. Upon my soul,-
If thou didst but consent
To this most cruel act, do but despair,
And, if thou want'st a cord, the smallest thread
That ever spider twisted from her womb
Will serve to strangle thee; a rush will be
A beam to hang thee on; or would'st thou drown
Put but a little water in a spoon,
And it shall be as all the ocean,
Enough to stifle such a villain up.-
I do suspect thee very grievously.
Hub. If I in act, consent, or sin of thought,
Be guilty of the stealing that sweet breath
Which was embounded in this beauteous clay,
Let hell want pains enough to torture me!
I left him well.
Go, bear him in thine arms.-
I am amaz'd,' methinks; and lose my way
Among the thorns and dangers of this world.-
How easy dost thou take all England up!
From forth this morsel of dead rovalty,
The life, the right, and truth of all this realm
Is fled to heaven; and England now is left
To tug and scamble, and to part by the teeth
The unowed interest of proud-swelling state.
Now, for the bare-pick'd bone of majesty,
Doth dogged war bristle his angry crest,
And snarleth in the gentle eyes of peace:
Now powers from home, and discontents at home,
Meet in one line; and vast confusion waits
(As doth a raven on a sick-fallen beast,)
Now happy he, whose cloak and cincture can
Hold out this tempest. Bear away that child,
And follow me with speed; I'll to the king:
A thousand businesses are brief in hand,
And heaven itself doth frown upon the land.
SCENE I.-The same. A room in the palace.
Enter King John, Pandulph with the crown,
K. John. Thus have I yielded up into your hand
The circle of my glory.
[Giving John the crown.
From this my hand, as holding of the pope,
Your sovereign greatness and authority.
K. John. Now keep your holy word: go meet
And from his holiness use all your power
To stop their marches, 'fore we are inflam'd.
Our discontented counties do revolt;
Our people quarrel with obedience;
Swearing allegiance, and the love of soul,
To stranger blood, to foreign royalty.
This inundation of mistemper'd humour
Rests by you only to be qualified.
Then pause not; for the present time's so sick,
That present medicine must be minister'd,
Or overthrow incurable ensues.
Pand. It was my breath that blew this tem-
Upon your stubborn usage of the pope :
But, since you are a gentle convertite,
My tongue shall hush again this storm of war,
And make fair weather in your blustering land.
On this Ascension-day, remember well,
Upon your oath of service to the pope,
Go I to make the French lay down their arms.
K. John. Is this Ascension-day? Did not the
Say, that, before Ascension-day at noon,
My crown I should give off? Even so I have:
I did suppose, it should be on constraint;
But, heaven be thank'd, it is but voluntary.
Let not the world see fear, and sad distrust,
Govern the motion of a kingly eye:
Be stirring as the time; be fire with fire;
Threaten the threat'ner, and outface the brow
Of bragging horror: so shall inferior eyes,
That borrow their behaviours from the great,
Grow great by your example, and put on
The dauntless spirit of resolution.
Away; and glister like the god of war,
When he intendeth to become the field:
Show boldness, and aspiring confidence.
What, shall they seek the lion in his den,
And fright him there? and make him tremble there?
O, let it not be said!-Forage, and run
To meet displeasure further from the doors;
And grapple with him, ere he come so nigh.
K. John. The legate of the pope hath been
And I have made a happy peace with him ;
And he hath promis'd to dismiss the powers'
Led by the dauphin.
O, inglorious league! Shall we, upon the footing of our land, Send fair-play orders, and make compromise, Insinuation, parley, and base truce, To arms invasive? shall a beardless boy, A cocker'd silken wanton, brave our fields, And flesh his spirit in a warlike soil, Mocking the air with colours idly spread, And find no check? Let us, my liege, to arms: Perchance, the cardinal cannot make your peace; Or if he do, let it at least be said, They saw we had a purpose of defence.
K. John. Have you the ordering of this present time.
Bast. Away then, with good courage; yet, I know, Our party may well meet a prouder foe. [Exeunt. SCENE II-A plain, near St. Edmund's-Bury. Enter, in arms, Lewis, Salisbury, Melun, Pembroke, Bigot, and soldiers.
Lew. My lord Melun, let this be copied out, And keep it safe for our remembrance: Return the precedent to these lords again; That, having our fair order written down, Both they, and we, perusing o'er these notes, May know wherefore we took the sacrament, And keep our faiths firm and inviolable.
Sal. Upon our sides it never shall be broken..
And, noble dauphin, albeit we swear
A voluntary zeal, and unurg'd faith,
To your proceedings; yet, believe me, prince,
I am not glad that such a sore of time
Should seek a plaster by contemn'd revolt,
And heal the inveterate canker of one wound
By making many: O, it grieves my soul,
That I must draw this metal from my side,
To be a widow-maker; O, and there,
Where honourable rescue, and defence,
Cries out upon the name of Salisbury:
But such is the infection of the time,
That, for the health and physic of our right,
We cannot deal but with the very hand
Of stern injustice and confused wrong.-
And is't not pity, O my grieved friends!
That we, the sons and children of this isle,
Were born to see so sad an hour as this;
Wherein we step after a stranger march
Upon her gentle bosom, and fill up
Her enemies' ranks, (I must withdraw and weep
Upon the spot of this enforc'd cause,)
To grace the gentry of a land remote,
And follow unacquainted colours here?
What, here?-O nation, that thou could'st remove!
That Neptune's arms, who clippeth thee about,
Would bear thee from the knowledge of thyself,
And grapple thee unto a Pagan shore;
Where these two Christian armies might combine
The blood of malice in a vein of league,
And not to spend it so unneighbourly!
Lew. A noble temper dost thou show in this;
And great affections, wrestling in thy bosom,
Do make an earthquake of nobility.
O, what a noble combat hast thou fought,
Between compulsion and a brave respect!
Let me wipe off this honourable dew,
That silverly doth progress on thy cheeks:
My heart hath melted at a lady's tears,
Being an ordinary inundation;
But this effusion of such manly drops,
This shower, blown up by tempest of the soul,
Startles mine eyes, and makes me more amaz'd
Than had I seen the vaulty top of heaven
Figur'd quite o'er with burning meteors.
Lift up thy brow, renowned Salisbury,
And with a great heart heave away this storm:
Commend these waters to those baby eyes,
That never saw the giant world enrag'd;
Nor met with fortune other than at feasts,
Full warm of blood, of mirth, of gossiping.
Come, come; for thou shalt thrust thy hand as deep
Into the purse of rich prosperity,
As Lewis himself:-so, nobles, shall you all,
That knit your sinews to the strength of mine.
Enter Pandulph attended.
And even there, methinks, an angel spake:
Look, where the holy legate comes apace,
To give us warrant from the hand of heaven;
And on our actions set the name of right,
With holy breath.
Hail, noble prince of France!
The next is this,-King John hath reconcil'd
Himself to Rome; his spirit is come in,
That so stood out against the holy church,
The great metropolis and see of Rome:
Therefore thy threat'ning colours now wind up,
And tame the savage spirit of wild war;
That, like a lion foster'd up at hand,
It may lie gently at the foot of peace,
And be no further harmful than in show.
Lew. Your grace sha!! pardon me, I will not back;
I am too high-born to be propertied,
To be a secondary at control,
Or useful serving-man, and instrument,
To any sovereign state throughout the world.
Your breath first kindled the dead coal of wars,
Between this chástis'd kingdom and myself,
And brought in matter that should feed this fire,
And now 'tis far too huge to be blown out
With that same weak wind which enkindled it.
You taught me how to know the face of right,
Acquainted me with interest to this land,
Yea, thrust this enterprize into my heart;
And come you now to tell me, John hath made
His peace with Rome? What is that peace to me?
I, by the honour of my marriage-bed,
After young Arthur, claim this land for mine;
And, now it is half-conquer'd, must I back,
Because that John hath made his peace with Rome?
Am I Rome's slave? What penny hath Rome borne,
What men provided, what munition sent,
To underprop this action? is't not I,
That undergo this charge? who else but I,
And such as to my claim are liable,
Sweat in this business, and maintain this war?
Have I not heard these islanders shout out,
Vive le roy! as I have bank'd their towns?
Have I not here the best cards for the game,
To win this easy match play'd for a crown?
And shall I now give o'er the yielded set?
No, on my soul, it never shall be said.
Pand. You look but on the outside of this work.
Lew. Outside or inside, I will not return
Till my attempt so much be glorified
As to my ample hope was promised
Before I drew this gallant head of war,
And cull'd these fiery spirits from the world,
To outlook' conquest, and to win renown
Even in the jaws of danger and of death.
[Trumpet sounds. What lusty trumpet thus doth summon us?
Enter the Bastard, attended.
Bast. According to the fair play of the world,
Let me have audience; I am sent to speak:-
My holy lord of Milan, from the king
I come, to learn how you have dealt for him;
And as you answer, I do know the scope
And warrant limited unto my tongue.
Pand. The dauphin is too wilful-opposite,
And will not temporize with my entreaties;
He flatly says, he'll not lay down his arms.
Bast. By all the blood that ever fury breath'd,
The youth says well:-Now hear our English king;
For thus his royalty doth speak in me.
He is prepar'd; and reason too, he should:
This apish and unmannerly approach,
This harness'd masque, and unadvised revel,
This unhair'd sauciness, and boyish troops,
The king doth smile at; and is well prepar'd
To whip this dwarfish war, these pigmy arms,
From out the circle of his territories.
That hand, which had the strength, even at your
To cudgel you, and make you take the hatch;2
To dive, like buckets, in concealed' wells;
To crouch in litter of your stable planks;
To lie, like pawns, lock'd up in chests and trunks;
To hug with swine; to seek sweet safely out
In vaults and prisons; and to thrill, and shake,
Even at the crying of your nation's crow,
Thinking his voice an armed Englishman;-
Shall that victorious hand be fecbled here,
That in your chambers gave you chastisement?
No: Know, the gallant monarch is in arms;
And like an eagle o'er his aiery' towers,
To souse annoyance that comes near his nest.-
And you degenerate, you ingrate revolts,
You bloody Neroes, ripping up the womb
Of your dear mother England, blush for shame:
For your own ladies, and pale-visag'd maids,
Like Amazons, come tripping after drums;
Their thimbles into armed gauntlets change,
Their neelds to lances, and their gentle hearts
To fierce and bloody inclination.
Lew. There end thy brave," and turn thy face
We grant, thou canst outscold us: fare thee well;
We hold our time too precious to be spent
With such a brabbler.
Bast. No, I will speak.
Strike up the drums;
(1) Face down. (3) Covered.
Give me leave to speak.
We will attend to neither :-
and let the tongue of war
Plead for our interest, and our being here.
Bast. Indeed, your drums, being beaten, will
And so shall you, being beaten: Do but start
An echo with the clamour of thy drum,
And even at hand a drum is ready brac'd,
That shall reverberate all as loud as thine;
Sound but another, and another shall,
As loud as thine, rattle the welkin's ear,
And mock the deep-mouth'd thunder: for at hand
(Not trusting to this halting legate here,
Whom he hath us'd rather for sport than need,)
Is warlike John; and in his forehead sits
A bare-ribb'd death, whose office is this day
To feast upon whole thousands of the French.
Lew. Strike up our drums, to find this danger out.
Bast. And thou shall find it, dauphin, do not
SCENE III.-The same. A field of batlle,
Alarums. Enter King John and Hubert.
K. John. How goes the day with us? O, tell me, Hubert.
Hub. Badly, I fear: How fares your majesty?
K. John. This fever, that hath troubled me so
Lies heavy on me; O, my heart is sick!
Enter a Messenger.
Mess. My lord, your valiant kinsman, Faulcon
Desires your majesty to leave the field;
And send him word by me, which way you go.
K. John. Tell him, toward Swinstead, to the
Mess. Be of good comfort; for the great supply,
That was expected by the dauphin here,
Are wreck'd three nights ago on Goodwin sands.
This news was brought to Richard but even now:
The French fight coldly, and retire themselves.
K. John. Ah me! this tyrant fever burns me up,
And will not let me welcome this good news.-
Set on toward Swinstead: to my litter straight;
Weakness possesseth me, and I am faint.
SCENE IV. The same. Another part of the
same. Enter Salisbury, Pembroke, Bigot, and
Sal. I did not think the king so stor'd with friends,
Pem. Up once again; put spirit in the French;
If they miscarry, we miscarry too.
Sal. That misbegotten devil, Faulconbridge,
In spite of spite, alone upholds the day.
Pem. They say, king John, sore sick, hath left
Enter Melun wounded, and led by soldiers.
Mel. Lead me to the revolts of England here.
Sal. When we were happy, we had other names.
Pem. It is the count Melun.
Wounded to death.
Mel. Fly, noble English, you are bought and sold;"
Unthread the rude eye of rebellion,
And welcome home again discarded faith.
Seek out king John, and fall before his feet;
For, if the French be lords of this loud day,
He means to recompense the pains you take,
By cutting off your heads: Thus ha'h he sworn,
And I with him, and many more with me,
Upon the altar at Saint Edmund's-Bury;
Even on that altar, where we swore to you
Dear amity and everlasting love.
(2) Leap over the hatch. (5) Nest. (6) Needles. (7) Boast.
(4) The crowing of a cock. (9) A proverb intimating treachery.