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There is no sure foundation set on blood;
No certain life achiev'd by others' death.-
Enter a Messenger.
A fearful eye thou hast; Where is that blood,
That I have seen inhabit in those cheeks?
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 learned 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 slept! Where is my mother's care?
That such an army could be drawn in France,
And she not hear of it?
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 rumor's tongue
I idly heard; If true, or false, I know not.
K. John. Withhold thy speed, dreadful occasion!
O, make a league with me, till I have pleas'd
My discontented peers !-my mother dead?
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.
Old men, and beldams, in the streets,
K. John. Five moons?
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,
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 embattailled 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 mighty cause To wish him dead, but thou hadst none to kill him.
Hub. Had none, my lord! why, did you not provoke me? K. John. It is the curse of kings, to be attended By slaves, that take their humors 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 humor than advis'd respect.
Hub. Here is your hand and seal for what I did.
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,
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 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,
K. John. Hadst thou but shook thy head, or made a pause, When I spake darkly what I purposed;
Or turned an eye of doubt upon my face,
And 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 rever 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 fleshly land,
This kingdom, this confine of blood and breath,
Hostility and civic tumult reigns
Between my conscience, and my cousin's death.
Hub. Arm you against your other enemies, I'll make a peace betwixt 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 notion 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 conjure thee but slowly; run more fast.
SCENE III.-The same. Before the Castle.
Enter ARTHUR on the walls.
Arth. The wall is high; and yet will I leap down :-
Good ground, be pitiful, and hurt me not!-
There's few, or none, do know me; if they did,
This ship-boy's semblance hath disguis'd me quite.
I am afraid; and yet I'll venture it.
If I get down, and do not break my limbs,
I'll find a thousand shifts to get away:
As good to die, and go, as die, and stay.
O me! my uncle's spirit is in these stones:-
Heaven take my soul, and England keep my bones!
Enter PEMBROKE, SALISBURY and BIGCT.
Sal. Lords, I will meet him at Saint Edmund's Bury:
It is our safety, and we must embrace
This gentle offer of the perilous time.
Pem. Who brought that letter from the cardinal ?
Sal. The count Melun, a noble lord of France;
Whose private with me, of the dauphin's love,
Is much more general than these lines import.
Big. To-morrow morning let us meet him then.
Sal. Or rather then set forward: for 'twill be
Two long days' journey, lords, or e'er we meet.
Faul. Once more to-day well met, distemper'd lords! The king by me, requests your presence straight.
Sal. The king hath dispossess'd himself of us;
We will not line his thin bestained cloak
With our pure honors, nor attend the foot
That leaves the print of blood where'er it walks:
Return, and tell him so; we know the worst.
Faul. Whate'er you think, good words, I think, were best.
Sal. Our griefs, and not our manners, reason now.
Faul. But there is little reason in your grief;
Therefore, 'twere reason, you had manners now.
Pem. Sir, sir, impatience hath his privilege.
Faul. 'Tis true; to hurt his master, no man else.
Sal. This is the prison: What is he lies here?
Pem. O death, made proud with pure and princely beauty! The earth had not a hole to hide this deed.
Sal. Murder, as hating what himself hath done, Doth lay it open, to urge on revenge.
Big. Or, when he doom'd this beauty to a grave,
Found it too precious-princely for a grave.
Sal. Sir Richard, what think you? Have you beheld,
Or have you read, or heard? or could you think,
Or do you almost think, although you see,
That you do see? could thought, without this object,
Form such another? this is the very top,
The height, the crest, or crest unto the crest,
Of murder's arms: this is the bloodiest shame,
The wildest savag'ry, the vilest stroke,
That ever wall-eye'd wrath, or staring rage,
Presented to the tears of soft remorse.
Pem. All murders past do stand excus'd in this:
And this so sole, and so unmatchable,
Shall give a holiness, a purity,
To the yet-unbegotten sin of times;
And prove a deadly bloodshed but a jest,
Exampled by this heinous spectacle.
Faul. It is a cursed and a bloody work;
The graceless action of a heavy hand,
If that it be the work of any hand.
Sal. If that it be the work of any hand?—
We had a kind of light, what would ensue:
It is the shameful work of Hubert's hand:
The practice, and the purpose, of the king:-
From whose obedience I forbid my soul,
Kneeling before this ruin of sweet life,
And breathing to his breathless excellence
The incense of a vow, a holy vow,
Never to taste the pleasures of the world,
Never to be infected with delight,
Nor conversant with ease and idleness,
Till I have set a glory to this hand,
By giving it the worship of revenge.
Pem. Big. Our souls religiously confirm thy words.
Hub. Lords, I am hot with haste in seeking you:
Arthur doth live; the king hath sent for you.
Sal. O, he is bold, and blushes not at death :--
Avaunt, thou hateful villain, get thee gone!
Hub. I am no villain.
Sal. Must I rob the law?
Faul. Your sword is bright, sir; put it up again.
Hub. Stand back, lord Salisbury, stand back, I say;
By heaven, I think, my sword's as sharp as yours:
I would not have you, lord, forget yourself,
Nor tempt the danger of my true defence;
Lest I, by marking of your rage, forget
Your worth, your greatness, and nobility.
Big. Out, dunghill! dar'st thou brave a nobleman?
Hub. Not for my life; but yet I dare defend
My innocent life against an emperor.
Sal. Thou art a murderer.
Do not prove me so ;
Yet, I am none: Whose tongue soe'er speaks false,
Not truly speaks; who speaks not truly, lies.
Pem. Cut him to pieces.
Keep the peace, I say. Sal. Stand by, or I shall gall you, Faulconbridge. Faul. Thou wert better gall the devil, Salisbury: If thou but frown on me, or stir thy foot,
Or teach thy hasty spleen to do me shame,
I'll strike thee dead. Put up thy sword betime.
Big. What wilt thou do, renowned Faulconbridge? Second a villain and a murderer ?
Hub. Lord Bigot, I am none.
Who kill'd this prince?
Hub. 'Tis not an hour since I left him well:
I honor'd him, I lov'd him; and will weep
My date of life out, for his sweet life's loss.
Sal. Trust not those cunning waters of his eyes,
For villany is not without such rheum;
And he long traded in it, makes it seem
Like rivers of remorse and innocency.
Away, with me, all you whose souls abhor
The uncleanly savors of a slaughter-house;
For I am stifled with the smell of sin.
Big. Away, toward Bury, to the dauphin there!
Pem. There, tell the king, he may inquire us out.