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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.
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?
Mef. My Liege, her ear
Is ftopt with duft: the first of April, dy'd
Three days before: but this from rumour's tongue
K. John. With-hold thy speed, dreadful occafion!
Enter Faulconbridge, and Peter of Pomfret.
Faule. But if you be afraid to hear the worst,
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
Befides, I met lord Bigot and lord Salisbury,
With eyes as red as new-enkindled fire,
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;
Mef. With all my heart, my Liege.
K. John. My mother dead!
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 he, that speaks, doth gripe the hearer's wrift,
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?
To wish him dead, but thou had'ft none to kill him.
Hub. Had none, my Lord? why, did you not pro-
K. John. It is the curfe of Kings, to be attended
And, on the winking of authority,
To understand a law, to know the meaning
Of dang'rous majesty; when, perchance, it frowns
Hub. Here is your hand and feal, for what I did.
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,
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,
Deep shame had struck me dumb, made me break off,
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.
My Nobles leave me, and my state is brav'd,
Ev'n at my gates, with ranks of foreign pow'rs:
This kingdom, this confine of blood and breath,
Between my conscience, and my cousin's death.
The dreadful motion of a murd'rous thought,
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,
Prefented thee more hideous than thou art.
SCENE, a Street before a Prifon.
HE wall is high, and yet will I leap down,
If I get down, and do not break my limbs,
Heav'n take my foul, and England keep my bones! [Dirr.