« PreviousContinue »
SCENE II.-The Same.
A Room of State in the
Enter King JOHN, crowned; PEMBROKE, SALIS-
Hub. Silence! no more; go closely in with me: | The enfranchisement of Arthur; whose restraint Much danger do I undergo for thee. Doth move the murmuring lips of discontent To break into this dangerous argument: If what in rest you have in night you hold, Why then your fears, which, as they say, attend The steps of wrong, should move you to mew up Your tender kinsman, and to choke his days With barbarous ignorance, and deny his youth The rich advantage of good exercise? That the time's enemies may not have this To grace occasions, let it be our suit That you have bid us ask his liberty; Which for our goods we do no further ask Than whereupon our weal, on you depending, Counts it your weal he have his liberty.
K. John. Here once again we sit, once again crown'd,
And look'd upon, I hope, with cheerful eyes.
Was once superfluous: you were crown'd before,
To guard a title that was rich before,
Pem. This is the man should do the bloody
10 He show'd his warrant to a friend of mine: 70
To smooth the ice, or add another hue
Pem. But that your royal pleasure must be
This act is as an ancient tale new told,
Sal. In this the antique and well-noted face
It makes the course of thoughts to fetch about,
Pem. When workmen strive to do better than
They do confound their skill in covetousness;
We breath'd our counsel: but it pleas'd your
To overbear it, and we are all well pleas'd;
I have possess'd you with and think them strong;
To sound the purposes of all their hearts,
Bast. How I have sped among the clergymen The sums 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 rimes, That, ere the next Ascension-day at noon, Your highness should deliver up your crown. K. John. Thou idle dreamer, wherefore didst thou so!
I saw a smith stand with his hammer, thus,
Cuts off his tale and talks of Arthur's death.
Why urgest thou so oft young Arthur's death? Thy hand hath murder'd him: I had a mighty
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 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 and earth
Is to be made, then shall this hand and seal
How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds
I faintly broke with thee of Arthur's death;
Made it no conscience to destroy a prince.
K. John. Hadst thou but shook thy head or made a pause
When I spake darkly what I purposed,
And those thy fears might have wrought fears
Out of my sight, and never see me more!
Between my conscience and my cousin's death.
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,
SCENE III. The Same.
Before the Castle.
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,
Enter PEMBROKE, SALISBURY, and BIGOT.
Sal. Lords, I will meet him at Saint Edmundsbury.
It is our safety, and we must embrace
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. Enter the Bastard.
Bast. Once more to-day well met, distemper'd lords!
The king by me requests your presence straight.
Return and tell him so: we know the worst.
think, were best.
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!
Form such another? This is the very top,
Pem. All murders past do stand excus'd in this:
And this, so sole and so unmatchable,
Bast. It is a damned 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,
Pem., Big. Our souls religiously confirm thy words.
By heaven, I think my sword's as sharp as yours.
Hub. Not for my life; but yet I dare defend
Bast. Thou wert better gall the devil, Salisbury:
If thou but frown on me, or stir thy foot,
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 honour'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,
Thou art more deep damn'd than Prince Lucifer: There is not yet so ugly a fiend of hell
As thou shalt be, if thou didst kill this child. Hub. Upon my soul
Bast. 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 serve to strangle thee; a rush will be a beam To hang thee on; or would'st thou drown thyself, Put but a little water in a spoon, And it shall be as all the ocean, Enough to stifle such a villain up. I do suspect thee very grievously.
Hub. If I in act, consent, or sin of thought. Be guilty of the stealing that sweet breath Which was embounded in this beauteous clay, Let hell want pains enough to torture me. I left him well. Bast.
Go, bear him in thine arms. I am amaz'd, methinks, and lose my way Among the thorns and dangers of this world. How easy dost thou take all England up! From forth this morsel of dead royalty, The life, the right and truth of all this realm Is fled to heaven; and England now is left To tug and scamble and to part by the teeth The unowed interest of proud-swelling state. Now for the bare-pick'd bone of majesty Doth dogged war bristle his angry crest, And snarleth in the gentle eyes of peace: Now powers from home and discontents at home Meet in one line; and vast confusion waits, As doth a raven on a sick-faller beast, The imminent decay of wrested pomp. Now happy he whose cloak and ceinture can Hold out this tempest. Bear away that child And follow me with speed: I'll to the king: A thousand businesses are brief in hand, And heaven itself doth frown upon the land. Exeunt.
Your sovereign greatness and authority.
And I have made a happy peace with him; K. John. Now keep your holy word: go meet And he hath promis'd to dismiss the powers the French,
And from his holiness use all your power
Then pause not; for the present time's so sick,
Pand. It was my breath that blew this tempest up
Upon your stubborn usage of the pope;
My tongue shall hush again this storm of war
Go I to make the French lay down their arms.
Say that before Ascension-day at noon
Bast. So, on my soul, he did, for aught he knew. | But wherefore do you droop? why look you sad? Be great in act, as you have been in thought; Let not the world see fear and sad distrust Govern the motion of a kingly eye: Be stirring as the time; be fire with fire; Threaten the threatener, and outface the brow Of bragging horror: so shall inferior eyes, That borrow their behaviours from the great, Grow great by your example and put on The dauntless spirit of resolution. Away! and glister like the god of war When he intendeth to become the field: Show boldness and aspiring confidence. What! shall they seek the lion in his den And fright him there? and make him tremble
Led by the Dauphin.
O inglorious league! Shall we, upon the footing of our land, Send fair-play orders and make compromise, Insinuation, parley and base truce
To arms invasive? shall a beardless boy,
They saw we had a purpose of defence.
K. John. Have thou the ordering of this present time.
Bast. Away then, with good courage! yet, I know,
Our party may well meet a prouder foe. Exeunt.
SCENE II-A Plain near Saint Edmundsbury. Enter in arms, LEWIS, SALISBURY, MELUN, PEMBROKE, BIGOT, and Soldiers.
Lew. My Lord Melun, let this be copied out, And keep it safe for our remembrance. Return the precedent to these lords again; That, having our fair order written down, Both they and we, perusing o'er these notes, May know wherefore we took the sacrament, And keep our faiths firm and inviolable.
Sal. Upon our sides it never shall be broken. And, noble Dauphin, albeit we swear A voluntary zeal and unurg'd faith To your proceedings; yet, believe me, prince, I am not glad that such a sore of time Should seek a plaster by contemn'd revolt, And heal the inveterate canker of one wound By making many. O! it grieves my soul That I must draw this metal from my side To be a widow-maker: O! and there Where honourable rescue and defence Cries out upon the name of Salisbury. But such is the infection of the time, That, for the health and physic of our right, We cannot deal but with the very hand Of stern injustice and confused wrong. And is 't not pity, O my grieved friends! That we, the sons and children of this isle, Were born to see so sad an hour as this; Wherein we step after a stranger march Upon her gentle bosom, and fill up
Her enemies' ranks,-I must withdraw and weep
That Neptune's arms, who clippeth thee abont.
Lew. A noble temper dost thou show in this;