Page images

K. John. Oh, where hath our intelligence been drunk?
Where hath it slept? where is my Mother's care?
That such an army should be drawn in France,
And she not hear of it?

Mes. My Liege, her ear
Is stopt with duit: the first of April, dy'd
Your noble mother; and as I hear, my lord,
The lady Constance in a frenzie dy'd
Three days before: but this from Rumour's tongue
I idely 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'st 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 says the world
To your proceedings? Do not seek to stuff
My head with more ill news, for it is full.

Faulc. 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 breathe again
Aloft the food, and can give audience
To any tongue, speak it of what it will.

Faulc. How I have sped among the Clergy-men,
The sums I have collected shall express.
But as I travellid hither through the Land,
I find the People ftrangely fantasied;
Poffest 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,
Vol. III.


[ocr errors]

That, cre the next Ascension-day at noon,
Your Highness should deliver up your Crown.

K. Jokn. Thou idle dreamer, wherefore did'st thou so?
Peter. Fore-knowing, 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 bę 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?

Faulo. The French, my lord; mens mouths are full of it:
Begides, I met lord Bigot and lord Salisbury,
With eyes as red as new-enkindled fire,
And Others more, going to seek the Grave
Of Artbur, who, they say, is kill'd to night
On your suggestion.

K. John. Gentle kinsman, go
And thrust thy self into their company:
I have a way to win their loves again :
Bring them before me.

Faulo. I will seek them out.

K. John. Nay, but make haste; the better foot before. 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. Faulc. The Spirit of the time fhall 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.

Mes. With all my heart, my Liege. [Exit. K. John. My mother dead!

Enter Hubert. Hub. My lord, they say, five moons were feen to night: Four fixed, and the fifth did whirl about


The ather four, in wond'rous motion.

K. John. Five moons ?

Hub. Old men and beldams, in the streets, Do prophesie upon it dangeroufly : 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 wrift, 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 whilst his iron did on the anvil cool, With open mouth swallowing a taylor's news, ; Who with his shears and measure in his hand, Standing on flippers, which his nimble hafte Had fallely thrust upon contrary feet, Told of a many thousand warlike French, That were embatteled and rank'd in Kent. Another lean, unwash'd artificer Cuts off his Tale, and talks of Artbur's death. K. Jobs. Why seek'st thou to poffefs me with these

Why urgest thou so oft young Arthur's death?
Thy hand hạth murther'd him : I had a cause
To wish him dead, but thou had'ft none to kill him.
Hub. Had none, my lord? why, did you not pro

voke me?
K. John. It is the curse of Kings, to be attended
By saves that take their humours for a Warrant,
To break into the bloody house of life :
And, on the winking of authority,

To underftand a law, to know the meaning | Of dangʻrous Majesty, when, perchance, it frawas More upon humour, than advis'd respect.

Hub. Here is your hand and seal, for what I did.
K. John. Oh, when the last Account 'twixt heav'n and

Is to be made, then shall this hand and seal
Witness against us to damnation.
How oft the light of means, to do ill deeds,




Makes deeds ill done? for 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 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 chou 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 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 didft in signs again parley with sin;
Yea, without Itop, did'st let thy heart consent,
And consequently thy rude hand to act
The deed, which both our tongues held vile to name.
Out of my fight, and never see me more!
My Nobles leave me, and my state is brav'd,
Ev’n at my gates, with ranks of foreign Pow'rs;
Nay, in the body of this Beshly 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,
And you have landerd Nature in my formy;
Which, howsoever rude exteriorly,



[ocr errors]

Is yet the cover of a fairer mind,
Than to be butcher of an innocent child.

K. Yobn. Doth Arthur live? O, hatte 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 hatte.
I conjure thee but slowly: run more fast. [Exeunt.

SCENE, a Street before a Prison.

Enter Arthur on the Walls, disguis'd. Arth. T.He wall is high, and yet will I leap down.

, Good groundbe and 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 soul, and England keep my bones!

[Dies. Enter Pembroke, Salisbury and Bigot. Sal. Lords, I will meet him at St. Edmondsbury ; 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 gen’ral than these lines import.

Bigot. To morrow morning let us meet him then.

Sal. Or rather then set forward, for 'twill be Two long days journey, lords, or ere we meet.



« PreviousContinue »