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Enter a Meffenger.

K. John. They burn in indignation; I repent. There is no fure foundation set on blood;

No certain life atchiev'd by others' death


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?

Mef. 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 fpeed is learn'd by them:

For when you should be told, they do prepare,

The tidings come, that they are all arriv'd.

K. John. O, where hath our intelligence been drunk?/

Where hath it flept? where is my mother's care?
That fuch an army should be drawn in France,
And the not hear of it?

Mef. My Liege, her ear

Is ftopt with duft: the first of April, dy'd
Your noble mother; and, as I hear, my lord,
The lady Conftance in a frenzie dy'd

Three days before: but this from rumour's tongue
I idlely heard; if true or falfe, I know not.

K. John. With-hold thy speed, dreadful occafion!
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 whofe conduct came those powers of France,
That, thou for truth giv'ft out, are landed here?
Mef. Under the Dauphin.

Enter Faulconbridge, and Peter of Pomfret.
K. John. Thou haft made me giddy
With these ill tidings. Now, what fays the world
To your proceedings? Do not feek to fluff
My head with more ill news, for it is full.

Faule. But if you be afraid to hear the worst,
Then let the worst unheard fall on your head.

K. John.

K. John. Bear with me, Coufin; for I was amaz'd Under the tide; but now I breathe again Aloft the flood, and can give audience To any tongue, fpeak it of what it will. Faule. How I have fped among the clergymen, The fums I have collected fhall exprefs. But as I travell'd hither thro' the land, I find the people strangely fantafied; Poffeft 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 ftreets of Pomfret, whom I found With many hundreds treading on his heels: To whom he fung in rude harth-founding rhimes, That, ere the next Afcenfion-day at noon,

Your Highness should deliver up your crown.

K. John. Thou idle dreamer, wherefore did'st thou fo? 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 fhall yield up my crown, let him be hang'd. Deliver him to fafety, and return,

For I must use thee. -O my gentle coufin,

[Exit Hubert, with Peter. Hear'ft thou the news abroad, who are arriv'd?

Faulc. The French, my ford; men's mouths are full

of it:

Befides, I met lord Bigot and lord Salisbury,

With eyes as red as new-enkindled fire,
And others more, going to feek the grave
Of Arthur, who, they fay, is kill'd to night
On your fuggeftion.

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 feek them out.

K. John. Nay, but make hafte: the better foot before.

O, let me have no fubject enemies,

When adverse foreigners affright my towns

With dreadful pomp of ftout invafion.

Be Mercury, fet feathers to thy heels;

And fly, like thought, from them to me again.

Faule. The fpirit of the time shall teach me speed.


K. John. Spoke like a sprightful noble gentleman. Go after him; for he, perhaps, shall need

Some meffenger betwixt me and the Peers;
And be thou he.

Mef. With all my heart, my Liege.

K. John. My mother dead!

Enter Hubert.


Hub. My lord, they fay, five moons were seen to night: Four fixed, and the fifth did whirl about

The other four, in wond'rous motion.

K. John. Five moons?

Hub. Old men and beldams, in the freets,

Do prophefie upon it dangerously:

Young Arthur's death is common in their mouths;
And, when they talk of him, they fhake 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 faw a fmith ftand with his hammer, thus,
The whilft his iron did on the anvil cool,
With open mouth fwallowing a taylor's news,
Who with his fhears and measure in his hand,
Standing on flippers, which his nimble hafte
Had falfely thruft 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 Arthur's death.

K. John. Why feek'st thou to possess me with these

Why urgeft thou so oft young Arthur's death?
Thy hand hath murther'd him: I had a cause

To wish him dead, but thou had'ft none to kill him.


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Hub. Had none, my Lord? why, did you not pro-
voke me?

K. John. It is the curfe of Kings, to be attended
By flaves that take their humours for a warrant,
To break into the bloody houfe of life:

And, on the winking of authority,

To understand a law, to know the meaning

Of dang'rous majesty; 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 laft account 'twixt heav'n and

Is to be made, then fhall this hand and feal

Witness against us to damnation.

How oft the fight of means, to do ill deeds,
Makes deeds ill done? for hadft 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 afpect,
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'ft it no confcience to destroy a Prince:
Hub. My Lord-

K. John. Hadft thou but fhook thy head, or made a

When I fpake darkly what I purposed:

Or turn'd an eye of doubt upon my face,
Or bid me tell my tale in exprefs 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 figns,

And didft in figns again parley with fin;

Yea, without ftop, did't let thy heart confent,

And confequently thy rude hand to act

The deed, which both our tongues held vile to name.
Out of my fight, and never fee 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 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 foul 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 bofom never enter'd yet

The dreadful motion of a murd'rous thought,
And you have flander'd nature in my form;
Which, howfoever rude exteriorly,

Is yet the cover of a fairer mind,

Than to be butcher of an innocent child.

K. John. Doth Arthur live? O, hafte thee to the Peers,
Throw this report on their incensed rage,
And make them tame to their obedience.
Forgive the comment that my paffion made
Upon thy feature, for my rage was blind;
And foul imaginary eyes of blood

Prefented thee more hideous than thou art.
Oh, answer not, but to my closet bring
The angry lords with all expedient hafte.
I conjure thee but slowly: run more fast.



SCENE, a Street before a Prifon.
Enter Arthur on the Walls, difguis'd.

HE 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 fhip boy's femblance 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 ftay.
Oh me! my Uncle's fpirit is in these stones:

[Leaps down.

Heav'n take my foul, and England keep my bones! [Dirr.


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