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Lew. But what shall I gain by young Arthur's fall ?
Pand. You, in the right of lady Blanch your wife, May then make all the claim that Arthur did.
Lew. And lose it, life and all, as Arthur did.
Pand How green you are, and fresh in this old world!
John lays you plots; the times conspire with you:
For he that steeps his safety in true blood'
Shall find but bloody safety, and untrue.
This act, so evilly born, shall cool the hearts
Of all his people, and freeze up their zeal,
That none so small advantage shall step forth
To check his reign, but they will cherish it;
No natural exhalation in the sky,
No scope of nature, no distemper'd day,
No common wind, no customed event,
But they will pluck away his natural cause,
And call them meteors, prodigies, and signs,
Abortives, presages, and tongues of heaven,
Plainly denouncing vengeance upon John.
Lew. May be, he will not touch young Arthur's life,
But hold himself safe in his prisonment.
Pand. O, sir, when he shall hear of your approach,
If that young Arthur be not gone already,
Even at that news he dies : and then the hearts
Of all his people shall revolt from him,
And kiss the lips of unacquainted change;
And pick strong matter of revolt, and wrath,
Out of the bloody fingers' ends of John.
Methinks, I see this hurly all on foot;
And, 0, what better matter breeds for you,
Than I bave nam'd !—The bastard Faulconbridge
Is now in England, ransacking the church,
Offending charity: If but a dozen French
Were there in arms, they would be as a call
To train ten thousand English to their side;
Or, as a little snow, tumbled about,
Anon becomes a mountain. () noble dauphin,
Go with me to the king: 'Tis wonderful
What may be wrought out of their discontent,
Now that their souls are topful of offence.
For England go; I will whet on the king.
Lew. Strong reasons make strange actions : Let us go;
If you say ay, the king will not say no.
(1) True blood, i. e. the blood of him that has a true and just claim.
(2) No scope of nature, i. e. no ordinary course of nature.
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 my 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.-
[Exeunt Attendants. Young lad, come forth ; I have to say with you.
Enter ARTHUR. Arth. Good morrow, Hubert.
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!
Methinks, nobody should be sad but I:
Yet, I remember, when I was in France,
Young gentlemen would be as sad as night,
Only for wantonness. By my christendom,
So I were out of prison, and kept sheep,
I should be as merry as the day is long;
And so I would be here, but that I doubt
My uncle practises? more harm to me:
He is afraid of me, and I of him :
Is it my fault that I was Geffrey's son ?
No, indeed, is 't not; And I would to heaven
I were your son, so you would love me, Hubert.
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.
(1) Northampton. Shakspeare is incorrect in bringing young Arthur to England. He was imprisoned first, at Falaise, and then at Rouen, where he was murdered.
(2) Practises, i. e. is meditating, preparing.
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 more than you do me.
Hub. His words do take possession of my bosom.Read here, young Arthur. [Showing a paper.] How now, 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 ?
Hub. Young boy, I must.
And will you?
And I will.
Arth. Have you the heart? When your head did but ache,
I knit my hand-kercher about your 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?
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? An if an angel should have come to me, And told me, Hubert should put out mine eyes, I would not have believ'd him. No tongue but Hubert's'
Hub. Come forth.
[Stamps. Re-enter Attendants, with Cords, Irons, fc. Do as I bid you 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.
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.
Come, boy, prepare yourself.
Arth. Is there no remedy?
None, but to lose your eyes.
Arth. O heaven !—that there were but a mote in yours,
A grain, a dust, a gnat, a wandering 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. O, 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.
I can heat it, boy.
Arth. No, in good sooth; the fire is dead with grief,
Being create for comfort, to be us'd
- Cut out my tongue,
So I may keep mine eyes. Dr. Johnson remarks that this is according to nature: “We imagine no evil so great as that which is near us."
In undeserv'd extremes : See else yourself;
There is no malice in this burning coal ;
The breath of heaven hath blown his spirit out,
And strew'd repentant ashes on his head.
Hub. But with my breath I can revive it, boy.
Arth. And if you do, you will but make it blush,
And glow with shame of your proceedings, Hubert.
Nay, it, perchance, will sparkle in your eyes ;
And, like a dog that is compellid to fight,
Snatch at his master that doth tarre him on.
All things that you should use to do me wrong
Deny their office : only you do lack
That mercy which fierce fire and iron extends,
Creatures of note for mercy-lacking uses.
Hub. Well, see to live; I will not touch thine eyes
For all the treasure that thine uncle owes :
Yet am I sworn, and I did purpose, boy,
With this same very iron to burn them out.
Arth. O, now you look like Hubert! all this while
You were disguised.
Peace : no more. Adieu ;
Your uncle must not know but you are dead :
I'll fill these dogged spies with false reports.
And, pretty child, sleep doubtless, and secure,
That Hubert, for the wealth of all the world,
Will not offend thee.
O heaven!—I thank you, Hubert.
Hub. Silence; no more : Go closely in with me.
Much danger do I undergo for thee.
[Ereunt. SCENE II.— The same. A Room of State in the Palace. Enter King John, crowned; PEMBROKE, SALISBURY, and other
Lords. The King takes his State.
K. John. Here once again we sit, once again crown'd,"
And look'd upon, I hope, with cheerful eyes.
Pem. This once again, but that your highness pleas'd,
Was once superfluous : you were crown'd before,
And that high royalty was ne'er pluck'd off;
The faiths of men ne'er stained with revolt;
Fresh expectation troubled not the land,
With any long'd-for change, or better state.
Sal. Therefore, to be possess'd with double pomp,
To guard a title 2 that was rich before,
(1) Once again crowned. John was crowned three times. This was the second time; and he was crowned again after the murder of his nephew, Arthur.
(2) To guard a title. To guard means to fringe.