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And I do fearfully believe 'tis done,
What we so fear'd he had a charge to do.

Sal. The colour of the king doth come and go
Between his purpose and his conscience,
Like heralds 'twixt two dreadful battles set:
His passion is so ripe, it needs must break.
Pem. And when it breaks, I fear will issue

80 The foul corruption of a sweet child's death. K. John. We cannot hold mortality's strong

hand: Good lords, although my will to give is living, The suit which you demand is gone and dead: He tells us Arthur is deceased to-night. Sal. Indeed we fear'd his sickness was past

cure. Pem. Indeed we heard how near his death

he was Before the child himself felt he was sick: This must be answer'd either here or hence. K. John. Why do you bend such solemn brows on me?

90 Think you I bear the shears of destiny ? Have I commandment on the pulse of life?

Sal. It is apparent foul play; and 'tis shame That greatness should so grossly offer it: So thrive it in your game! and so, farewell. Pem. Stay yet, Lord Salisbury; I'll go with

thee, And find the inheritance of this poor child, His little kingdom of a forced grave. That blood which owed the breadth of all this isle, Three foot of it doth hold: bad world the while! This must not be thus borne: this will break out To all our sorrows, and ere long I doubt.

[Exeunt Lords
K. John. They burn in indignation. I repent:
There is no sure foundation set on blood,
No certain life achieved by others' death.

Enter a Messenger.
A fearful eye thou hast: where is that blood
That I have seen inhabit in those cheeks?



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So foul a sky clears not without a storm:
Pour down thy weather: how goes all in France ?
Mess. From France to England. Never such

a power
For any foreign preparation
Was levied in the body of a land.
The copy of your speed is learn’d by them;
For when you should be told they do prepare,
The tidings comes that they are all arrived.
K. John. O, where hath our intelligence been

drunk? Where hath it slept? Where is my mother's care, That such an army could be drawn in France, And she not hear of it? Mess.

My liege, her ear Is stopp'd with dust; the first of April died Your noble mother: and, as I hear, my lord, The Lady Constance in a frenzy died Three days before: but this from rumour's tongue I idly heard; if true or false I know not. K. John. Withhold thy speed, dreadful occa

sion! O, make a league with me, till I have pleased 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 givest out are landed here?

Mess. Under the Dauphin.

K. John. Thou hast made me giddy 131 With these ill tidings. Enter the BASTARD and PETER of Pomfret.

Now, what says the world To your proceedings ? do not seek to stuff My head with more ill news, for it is full.

Bast. But if you be afeard to hear the worst,
Then let the worst unheard fall on your head.
K. John. Bear with me, cousin; for I was

Under the tide: but now I breathe again
Aloft the flood, and can give audience
To any tongue, speak it of what it will.

140 Bast. How I have sped among the clergymien,

The suns I have collected shall express.
But as I travell’d hither through the land,
I find the people strangely fantasied;
Possess’d 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 rhymes,
That, ere the next Ascension-day at noon, 151
Your highness should deliver up your crown.
K. John. Thou idle dreamer, wherefore didst

thou so? Peter. Foreknowing 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 be hang’d. Deliver him to safety; and return, For I must use thee. [Exit Hubert with Peter.

O my gentle cousin, Hear'st thou the news abroad, who are arrived ? Bast. The French, my lord; men's mouths are full of it:

Besides, I met Lord Bigot and Lord Salisbury,
With eyes as red as new-enkindled fire,
And others more, going to seek the grave
Of Arthur, whom they say is kill'd to-night
On your suggestion.
K. John.

Gentle kinsman, go,
And thrust thyself into their companies:
I have a way to win their loves again;
Bring them before me.

I will seek them out. K. John. Nay, but make haste; the better foot before.

170 0, 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. Bast. The spirit of the time shall teach me speed.

[Exit. K. John. Spoke like a sprightful noble gentle


Go after him; for he perhaps shall need
Some messenger betwixt me and the peers;
And be thou he.
With all my heart, my liege. 180

[Exit. K. John. My mother dead!

Re-enter HUBERT. Hub. My lord, they say five moons were seen

to-night; Four fixed, and the fifth did whirl about The other four in wondrous motion.

K. John. Five moons!

Hub. Old men and beldams in the streets Do prophesy upon it dangerously: 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 wrist, Whilst he that hears makes fearful action, 191 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 tailor's news; Who, with his shears and measure in his hand, Standing on slippers, which his nimble haste Had falsely thrust upon contrary feet, Told of a many thousand warlike French That were embattailed and rank'd in Kent: Another lean unwash'd artificer Cuts off his tale and talks of Arthur's death. K. John. Why seek'st thou to possess me with

these fears? Why urgest thou so oft young Arthur's death ? Thy hand hath murder'd him: I had a mighty

cause To wish him dead, but thou hadst none to kill

him. Hub. No had, my lord! why, did you

not provoke me? K. John. It is the curse of kings to be attended

200 210



By slaves that take their humours for a warrant
To break within the bloody house of life,
And on the winking of authority
To understand a law, to know the meaning
Of dangerous majesty, when perchance it frowns
More upon humour than advised respect.*
Hub. Here is your hand and seal for what I

*Consideration. K. John. O, when the last account 'twixt

heaven and earth Is to be made, then shall this hand and seal Witness against us to damnation! How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds Make deeds ill done! 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 murder 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, Made it no conscience to destroy a prince. Hub. My lord,

230 K. John. Hadst thou but shook thy head or

made a pause When I spake darkly what I purposed, Or turn’d an eye of doubt upon my face, As 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 But thou didst understand me by my signs And didst in signs again parley with sin; Yea, without stop, didst let thy heart consent, And consequently thy rude hand to act 240 The deed, which both our tongues held vile to




Out of my sight, and never see me more!
My nobles leave me; and my state is braved,
Even at my gates, with ranks of foreign powers:
Nay, in the body of this fleshly land,

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