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SCENE I. Northampton'. A Room in the Castle.
Enter HUBERT and two Attendants. Hub. Heat me these irons hot: and, look thou
stand Within the arras?: when I strike
foot 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. 1 Attend. I hope, your warrant will bear out the
deed. Hub. Uncleanly scruples! Fear not you: look to't.
[Excunt Attendants. Young lad, come forth; I have to say with you.
Enter ARTHUR. Arth. Good morrow,
little prince. Arth. As little prince (having so great a title To be more prince), as may be.—You are sad.
Hub. Indeed, I have been merrier.
Mercy on me!
1 There is no circumstance, either in the original play or in this of Shakspeare, to point out the particular castle in which Arthur is supposed to be confined. The castle of Northampton has been mentioned merely because, in the first act, King John seems to have been in that town. It has already been stated that Arthur was in fact confined at Falaise, and afterwards at Rouen, where he was put to death.
Only for wantonness 3. By my christendom *,
Hub. If I talk to him, with his innocent prate He will awake my mercy, which lies dead : Therefore I will be sudden, and despatch. [Aside.
Arth. 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: I warrant, I love
you Hub. His words do take possession of my bo
you more than
Read here, young Arthur. [Showing a paper.] foolish rheum !
[Aside. Turning dispiteous torture out of door! I must be brief, lest resolution drop Out at mine eyes, in tender womanish tears.Can you not read it? is it not fair writ?
Arth. Too fairly, Hubert, for so foul effect: Must you
with hot irons burn out both mine eyes ?
3 This is a satirical glance at the fashionable affectation of his time by Shakspeare: which Lyly also ridicules in his Midas:
Now every base companion, being in his muble-fubles, says he is melancholy. Again: Melancholy is the crest of courtiers, and now every base companion says he is melancholy.'
* i.e. by my baptism. The use of this word for christening or baptism is not peculiar to Shakspeare; it was common in his time. Hearne has published a Prone from a MS. of Henry the Seventh's time, in the glossary to Robert of Gloucester in a note on the word midewinter, by which it appears that it was the ancient orthography. “The childer ryzt schape & chrystyndome.' It is also used by Lyly, Fanshaw, Harington, and Fairfaxe.
Hub. Young boy, I must.
And will you?
And I will. Arth. Have
you the heart? When your head did but ake, I knit
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; And, like the watchful minutes to the hour, Still and anon cheer'd up the heavy time; Saying, What lack you? and, Where lies your grief? Or, What good love may I perform for you? Many a poor man's son would have lain still, And ne'er have spoke a loving word to you; But you at your sick service had a prince. Nay, you may think my love was crafty love, , And call it cunning; Do, an if you will: If heaven be pleas’d that you must use me ill, Why, then you must.-Will you put out mine eyes ? These eyes,
that never did, nor never shall, So much as frown on you? Hub.
I have sworn to do it; And with hot irons must I burn them out.
Arth. Ah, none, but in this iron age, would do it! The iron of itself, though heat red-hot, Approaching near these eyes, would drink my tears, And quench his fiery indignation Even in the matter of mine innocence: Nay, after that, consume away in rust, But for containing fire to harm mine eye. Are you more stubborn-hard than hammer'd iron?
5 The participle heat, though now obsolete, was in use in Shakspeare's time. He commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heat.' - Daniel, iii. 19.
An if an angel should have come to me,
[Stamps. Re-enter Attendants, with Cords, Irons, 8c. Do as I bid
do. Arth. O, save me, Hubert, save me; my eyes
are out, Even with the fierce looks of these bloody men.
Hub. Give me the iron, I say, and bind him here.
Arth. Alas! what need you be so boist'rous-rough? I will not struggle, I will stand stone-still. For heaven's sake, Hubert, let me not be bound ! Nay, hear me, Hubert! drive these men away, And I will sit as quiet as a lamb; I will not stir, nor wince, nor speak a word, Nor look upon the iron angerly: Thrust but these men away, and I'll forgive you, Whatever torment you do put me to.
Hub. Go, stand within ; let me alone with him. 1 Attend. I am best pleas’d to be from such a deed.
[Exeunt Attendants. Arth. 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. Hub.
Come, boy, prepare yourself. Arth. Is there no remedy? Hub.
None, but to lose your eyes. Arth. O heaven!~that there were but a mote 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.
Hub. Is this your promise? go to, hold your tongue.
Arth. Hubert, the utterance of a brace of tongues Must needs want pleading for a pair of eyes; 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: 0, 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. Hub.
I can heat it, boy.
Hub. But with my breath I can revive it, boy.
will but make it blush,
which fierce fire, and iron, extends, Creatures of note for mercy-lacking uses.
6 • This is according to nature,' says Johnson. We imagine no evil so great as that which is near us.'
7. The fire being created, not to hurt, but to comfort, is dead with grief for finding itself used in acts of cruelty, which, being innocent, I have not deserved.'
8 i.e. stimulate, set hin on. The word occurs again in Hamlet :- And the nation holds it no sin to tarre them on to controversy.' And in Troilus and Cressida :
*Pride alone must tarre the mastiff's on.' It has been derived from rapártw, excito; but H. Tooke says that it is from Tyfar, A. S, exacerbare, irritare.