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[John.] Doth Arthur live? O, haste thee to the peers,
Throw this report on their incensed rage,
The angry lords with all expedient haste. We imagine an interval of time, and John is again discovered, not on his throne, but in the act of doing homage to Cardinal Pandulph as representative of the Pope. When the Cardinal quits the scene, his place in the dialogue is supplied by Faulconbridge: ‘John addresses the Cardinal : [John.]. Thus have I yielded up into your hand
The circle of my glory. [Pandulph.] Take again,
From this my hand, as holding of the pope,
Your sovereign greatness and authority. [John.] Now keep your holy word: go meet the French;
And from his holiness use all your power
To stop their march.
Upon your stubborn usage of the pope;
I go to stop the French. [John.] Is this Ascension-day? I knew it not. (pause.]
My gentle cousin, what's the news you bring ? [Faulconb.] All Kent hath yielded: nothing there holds out
But Dovor Castle; London hath receiv’d,
To offer service to your enemy;
The little number of your doubtful friends.
After they heard young Arthur was alive? [Faulconb.] They found him dead, and cast into the streets
An empty casket, where the jewel life
By some curs’d hand was robb’d and ta’en away. [John.] That villain Hubert told me he did live. [Faulconbridge.] So, on my soul, he did, for aught he knew.
But wherefore do you droop ? why look you sad ?
And grapple with him ere he come so nigh.
And I have made a happy peace with him ;
Led by the dauphin.
Shall we, upon the footing of our land,
And find no check ? Let us, my liege, to arms.
They saw we had a purpose of defence.
This fever, that hath troubled me so long,
The Death or KING JOHN, AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES BEFORE AND AFTER IT, INDICATED
SCENE AT SWINSTEAD ABBEY, IN LINCOLNSHIRE.
When Pandulph, after receiving the homage of John, returned to France in 1213, he gave Philip to understand that, as England was now a part of St. Peter's patrimony, the invasion, which at the Pope's instigation had been prepared, could not, without flagrant im piety, be carried into effect. Philip was enraged; and determined to persevere, notwithstanding the inhibitions and menaces of the legate. Yet it was not till three years after, when John had again broken faith with his barons by infringing the provisions of Magna Charta, that the Dauphin could count on sufficient aid in England to venture on her shores. On this occasion he was at first joined by many of the English nobles; but some even of these were fearful of Lewis's treachery, and very soon returned to their allegiance. Under favour of these and other circumstances, King John was able to collect a considerable army, with which he designed to fight one great battle for his crown; but, passing from Lynn to Lincolnshire, and not choosing the proper time for his journey in his way by the sea-shore, he lost, by the inundation of the tide, all his treasure, carriages, baggage, and regalia. The affliction for this disaster increased the sickness under which he then laboured ; and though he reached the castle of Newark (the poet makes it Swinstead Abbey), he was obliged to halt there, and there he died. The earl of Pembroke (the second who bore that title during the reign of John) was then mareschal of England, and by that office was at the head of the army. He had maintained his loyalty unshaken to John during the lowest fortune of that monarch, and he now determined to support the authority of Prince Henry, who at this juncture was only nine years of age. The prudence and courage of this nobleman, whose character and actions
are in the play assigned to the fictitious Faulconbridge, finally brought all the barons back to their allegiance; and before the end of the same year (1216) Lewis was glad to make a peace, and evacuate the kingdom.
We are to imagine an open place adjoining Swinstead Abbey: Faulconbridge and Hubert encounter each other at night-time; Hubert hears footsteps near him, and, putting an arrow to his bow, exclaims, [Hubert.] Who's there ? speak ho! speak quickly, or I shoot. [Faulconbridge.] A friend :—what art thou ? [Hubert.] Of the part of England. [Faulconbridge.] And whither dost thou go? [Hubert.] What's that to thee? [Faulconbridge.] Hubert, I think. [Hubert.] Thou hast a perfect thought.
I will, upon all hazards, well believe
Should 'scape the true acquaintance of mine ear. [Faulconb.) Come, come; no compliments : the news within. [Hubert.] O, my sweet sir, news fitted to the night,
Black, fearful, comfortless, and horrible.
To ́acquaint you with this evil. [Faulconbridge.] Who is with him? [Hubert.] Why, know you not ? the lords have all come back,
And brought prince Henry in their company;
And they are all about his majesty. [Faulconb.] Withhold thine indignation, mighty heaven,
And tempt us not to bear above our power!
Passing these flats, are taken by the tide ;
Away, before! conduct me to the king.
now discloses the orchard of the Abbey : some noblemen are there expecting the king, who, consumed with the heat of his fever, or with the poison supposed to have been administered to him, has given directions to be carried into the open air :—he is brought in by his attendants; the barons stand at a little distance around him ; prince Henry is closer to his couch: [John.] Ay, marry! now my soul hath elbow-room;
It would not out at windows nor at doors.
Do I shrink up.
And none of you will bid the winter come,
And comfort me with cold. [Henry.] Oh, that my tears
Might give relief!
Within me is a hell; and there the poison
On unreprievable, condemned blood.
Oh cousin, thou art come to set mine eye;