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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,
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.-O my gentle cousin,
[Exit Hubert, with Peter. Hear'st thou the news abroad, who are arriv'd ? Bast. The French, my lord; men's mouths are full
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, who, they say, is kill'd to-night
On your suggestion.
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 be-
O, 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 spriteful noble gentleman,Go after him; for he, perhaps, shall need Some messenger betwixt me and the peers; . And be thou he.
Mess. With all my heart, my liege. [Exit. K. John. My mother dead !
Re-enter HUBERT. Hub. My lord, they say, five moons were seen to
night 48 :
Four fixed; and the fifth did whirl about
The other four, in wond'rous motion.
K. John. Five moons ?
Old men, and beldams,
in the streets
Do prophecy 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,
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 44,)
Told of a many thousand warlike French,
That were embattled 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
Why urgest thou so oft young Arthur's death ?
Thy hand hath murder'd him : I had mighty cause
To wish him dead, but thou hadst none to kill him.
Hub. Had none, my lord ! why, did you not pro-
voke me ?
K. John. It is the curse of kings, to be attended
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 advis'd respect.
Hub. Here is your hand and seal for what I did.
K. John. O, when the last account 'twixt heaven
Js to be made, then shall this hand and seal
Witness against us to damnation !
How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds,
Makes 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 aspéct,
Finding thee fit for bloody villainy,
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, —
K. John. Hadst thou but shook thy head 45, 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 me:
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
The deed, which both our tongues held vile to name. -
Out of my sight, and never see me more !
My nobles leave me; and my state is brav'd,
Even at my gates, with ranks of foreign powers :
Nay, in the body of this fleshy land,
This kingdom, this confine of blood and breath,
Hostility 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 soul 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 bosom never enter'd yet
The dreadful motion of a murd'rous thought,
And you have slander'd nature in my form;
Which, howsoever rude exteriorly,
Is yet the cover of a fairer mind
Than to be butcher of an innocent child.
K. John. Doth Arthur live? O, haste thee to the
peers, Throw this report on their incensed rage, And make them tame to their obedience ! Forgive the comment that my passion made Upon thy feature; for my rage was blind, And foul imaginary eyes of blood Presented thee more hideous than thou art. O, answer not; but to my closet bring The angry lords, with all expedient haste : I cónjure thee but slowly; run more fast 46. [Exeunt.