« AnteriorContinuar »
masterpiece of dramatick skill, but it is still inferiour, very inferiour to the scene between Hubert and Arthur, when the latter learns the orders to put out his eyes. If any thing ever was penned, heartpiercing, mixing the extremes of terrour and pity of that which shocks and that which soothes the mind, it it this scene. We will give it entire, though perhaps it is tasking the reader's sympathy too much.
“Enter HUBERT and Executioner. At
Hubert. Heat me these irons hot, and look you stand
Upon the bosom of the ground, rush forth
And bind the boy, which you shall find with me,
Fast to the chair: be heedful: hence, and watch.
Executioner. I hope your warrant will bear out the deed.
Arthur. Good morrow, Hubert.
Hubert. Good morrow, little Prince.
As little prince (having so great a title
To be more prince) as may be. You are sad.
Arthur. Mercy on me!
Methinks no body should be sad but I ;
I were your son, so you would love me, Hubert.
Hubert. If I talk to him, with his innocent prate
He will awake my mercy, which lies dead;
Therefore I will be sudden, and despatch.
Arthur. Are you sick, Hubert? you look pale to-day?
In sooth, I would you were a little sick,
That I might sit all night and watch with you.
Alas, I love you more than you do me.
Hubert. His words do take possession of my bosom. Read here, young Arthur
[Shewing a paper.
Arthur. Too fairly, Hubert, for so foul effect. Must you with irons burn out both mine eyes? Hubert. Young boy, I must.
Arthur. And will you?
Hubert. And I will.
Arthur. Have you the heart? When your head did but ache,
I knit my handkerchief about your brows,
(The best I had, a princess wrought it me)
And I did never ask it you again;
And with my hand at midnight held your head;
Still and anon chear'd up the heavy time,
Saying, what lack you? and where lies your grief?
Will you put out mine eyes?
These eyes, that never did, and never shall,
Hubert. I've sworn to do it;
And with hot irons must I burn them out.
Hubert. Come forth; do as I bid you.
[Stamps, and the men enter. Arthur. O save me, Hubert, save me! my eyes are out Ev'n with the fierce looks of these bloody men.
Hubert. Give me the iron, I say, and bind him here.
I will not struggle, I will stand stone still.
For heav'n's sake, Hubert, let me not be bound.
And I will sit as quiet as a lamb.
I will not stir, nor wince, nor speak a word,
Nor look upon the iron angrily :
Thrust but these men away, and I'll forgive you,
Whatever torment you do put me to.
Hubert. Go, stand within; let me alone with him.
Executioner. I am best pleas'd to be from such a deed.
Arthur. Alas, I then have chid away my friend.
He hath a stern look, but a gentle heart;
Let him come back, that his compassion may
Give life to yours.
Hubert. Come, boy, prepare yourself.
Arthur. Is there no remedy?
Hubert. None, but to lose your eyes.
Arthur. O heav'n! that there were but a moth in yours,
A grain, a dust, a gnat, a wand'ring hair,
Any annoyance in that precious sense :
Then feeling what small things are boist'rous there,
Your vile intent must needs seem horrible.
Hubert. Is this your promise? go to, hold your tongue.
Arthur. Let me not hold my tongue; let me not, Hubert;
Or, Hubert, if you will, cut out my tongue,
So I may keep mine eyes. O spare mine eyes!
Though to no use, but still to look on you.
Lo, by my troth, the instrument is cold,
And would not harm me.
Hubert. 1 can heat it, boy.
Arthur. No, in good sooth, the fire is dead with grief.
Being create for comfort, to be us'd
In undeserv'd extremes; see else yourself,
There is no malice in this burning coal;
The breath of heav'n hath blown its spirit out,
And strew'd repentant ashes on its head.
Hubert. But with my breath I can revive it, boy.
Arthur. All things that you should use to do me wrong, Deny their office; only you do lack
That mercy which fierce fire and iron extend,
Creatures of note for mercy-lacking uses.
Hubert. Well, see to live; I will not touch thine eyes
With this same very iron to burn them out.
Arthur. O, now you look like Hubert. All this while
Hubert. Peace no more. Adieu,
Your uncle must not know but you are dead,
Arthur. O heav'n! I thank you, Hubert.
Hubert. Silence, no more; go closely in with me;
His death afterwards, when he throws himself from his prison-walls, excites the utmost pity for his innocence and friendless situation, and welt justifies the exaggerated denunciations of Falconbridge to Hubert whom he suspects wrongfully of the deed.
"There is not yet so ugly a fiend of hell As thou shalt be, if thou didst kill this child. -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 strangle thee; a rush will be a beam
To hang thee on: or would'st thou drown thyself,
And it shall be as all the ocean,
The excess of maternal tenderness, rendered desperate by the fickleness of friends and the injustice of fortune, and made stronger in will, in proportion to the want of all other power, was never more finely expressed than in Constance. The dignity of her answer to King Philip, when she refuses to accompany his messenger, "To me and to the state of my great grief, let kings assemble," her indignant reproach to Austria for deserting her cause, her invocation to death, "that love of misery," however fine and spirited, all yield to the beauty of the passage, where, her passion subsiding into tenderness, she addresses the Cardinal in these words:
"Oh father Cardinal, I have heard you say That we shall see and know our fiends in heav'n :
If that be, I shall see my boy again,
For since the birth of Cain, the first male child,
To him that did but yesterday suspire,
And so he'll die; and rising so again,
When I shall meet him in the court of heav'n,
I shall not know him; therefore never, never
Must I behold my pretty Arthur more.
K. Philip. You are as fond of grief as of your child.
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me;
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
The contrast between the mild resignation of Queen