Page images
PDF
EPUB

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. (Exeunt.

Scene III.- The same. Before the Castle.

Hub. Here is your hand and seal for what I

did. K. John. O, when the last account 'twixt hea

ven 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 marked,
Quoted and signed to do a deed of shame,
This murder had not come into my mind:
But taking note of thy abhorred aspect,
Finding thee fit for bloody villany,
Apt, liable, to be employed 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

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 disguised 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.

[Leaps down. O me! my uncle's spirit is in these stones.Heaven take my soul, and England keep my bones!

[Dies.

made a pause,

When I spake darkly what I purposéd ;
Or turned 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 braved,
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 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 entered yet
The dreadful motion of a murderous thought:
And you have slandered 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

Enter PEMBROKE, SALISBURY, and Bigot. 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 't will be Two long days' journey, lords, or ere we meet.

Enter the Bastard. Bast. Once more to-day well met, distempered

lords. The King, by me, requests your presence straight.

Sal. The King hath dispossessed himself of us : We will not line his thin bestainéd cloak With our pure honours, nor attend the foot That leaves the print of blood where'er it walks. Return and tell him so: we know the worst. Bast. Whate'er you think, good words I think

were best. Sal. Our griefs, and not our manners, reason

now.

[blocks in formation]

Bast. But there is little reason in your grief: Therefore 't were reason you had manners now.

Pem. Sir, sir, impatience hath his privilege. Bast. ”T is true: to hurt his master; no man else. Sal. This is the prison. What is he lies here!

[Seeing ARTHUR. Гu

ho

Pem. O death, made proud with pure and

princely beauty ! The earth hath 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 doomed 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 savagery, the vilest stroke, That ever wall-eyed wrath or staring rage Presented to the tears of soft remorse!

Pem. All murders past do stand excused in

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 !

Bast. It is a damnéd 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.

}

this :

6

Enter HUBERT. 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? [Drawing his sword.
Bast. Your sword is bright, sir: put it up again.
Sal. Not till I sheath it in a murderer's skin.
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 noble-

man ? Hub. Not for my life: but yet I dare defend My innocent life against an emperor.

Sal. Thou art a murderer.

Hub. 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.
Bast.

Keep the peace, I say.
Sal. Stand by, or I shall gall you, Falconbridge.

Bast. 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; Or I 'll so maul you and your toasting-iron, That you shall think the devil is come from hell. Big. What wilt thou do, renowned Falcon

bridge ?
Second a villain and a murderer?

Hub. Lord Bigot, I am none.
Big. Who killed this prince?

Hub. 'T is not an hour since I left him well. I honoured him; I loved 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 savours of a slaughter-house : For I am stifled with this smell of sin.

Big. Away toward Bury, to the Dauphin there! Pem. There, tell the King, he may inquire us out.

[Exeunt Lords.

Bast. Here's a good world !-Knew you of this

fair work?
Beyond the infinite and boundless reach
Of mercy, if thou didst this deed of death,
Art thou damned, Hubert.

Hub. Do but hear me, Sir.

Bast. Ha! I 'll tell thee what: Thou art damned as black-nay, nothing is so

black : Thou art more deep damned 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, wouldst 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 imbounded 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 amazed, 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 scramble, and to part by th' teeth The unowed interest of proud-swelling state. Now, for the bare-picked bone of majesty, Doth doggéd 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-fallen beast) The imminent decay of wrested pomp. Now happy he whose cloak and cincture 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.

[graphic][subsumed]

Scene I.--Northampton. A Room in the Palace.

[ocr errors]

Enter King John, PANDULPH with the crown,

and Attendants. K.John. Thus have I yielded up into your hand The circle of my glory.

Pand. Take again [Giving John the crown. From this my hand, as holding of the pope, Your sovereign greatness and authority. K. John. Now keep your holy word : go meet

the French; And from his holiness use all your power To stop their marches 'fore we are inflamed. Our discontented counties do revolt; Our people quarrel with obedience ; Swearing allegiance and the love of soul To stranger blood, to foreign royalty. This inundation of mistempered humour Rests by you only to be qualified. Then pause not; for the present time 's so sick That present medicine must be ministered, Or overthrow incurable ensues. Pand. It was my breath that blew this tempest

up, Upon your stubborn usage of the pope : But, since you are a gentle convertite, My tongue shall hush again this storm of war, And make fair weather in your blustering land. On this Ascension-day, remember well, Upon your oath of service to the pope, Go I to make the French lay down their arms.

[Exit K. John. Is this Ascension-day? Did not the

prophet Say that, before Ascension-day at noon, My crown I should give off? Even so I have: I did suppose it should be on constraint; But, heaven be thanked, it is but voluntary.

Enter the Bastard. Bast. All Kent hath yielded; nothing there

holds out But Dover castle: London hath received, Like a kind host, the Dauphin and his powers : Your nobles will not hear you, but are gone To offer service to your enemy: And wild amazement hurries up and down The little number of your doubtful friends.

K. John. Would not my lords return to me again After they heard young Arthur was alive? Bast. They found him dead, and cast into the

streets : An empty casket, where the jewel of life By some damned hand was robbed and ta'en

away. K. John. That villain Hubert told me be did

live.
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 :
Shew boldness and aspiring confidence.
Wbat, shall they seek the lion in his den,
And fright him there, and make him tremble

there?
O let it not be said !—Forage and run
To meet displeasure further from the doors,
And grapple with him ere he comes so nigh.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

K. John. The legate of the pope hath been

with me,
And I have made a happy peace with him ;
And he hath promised to dismiss the powers
Led by the Dauphin.

Bast. 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,
A cockered silken wanton, brave our fields,
And flesh his spirit in a warlike soil,
Mocking the air with colours idly spread,
And find no check ?--Let us, my liege, to arms :
Perchance the cardinal cannot make your peace;
Or if he do, let it at least be said
They saw we had a purpose of defence.
K. John. Have thou the ordering of this pre-

sent time. Bast. Away then, with good courage : yet I

know Our party may well meet a prouder foe. (Exeunt.

Scene II.--A Plain near St. Edmund's-bury. Enter, in arms, Lewis, SALISBURY, Melun, PEM

BROKE, 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 unurged faith To your proceedings; yet believe me, prince, I am not glad that such a sore of time Should seek a plaster by contemned 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 ;-0 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 confuséd 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

Upon the spot of this enforcéd cause),
To grace the gentry of a land remote,
And follow unacquainted colours here!
What, here ?-0 nation, that thou couldst re-

move!
That Neptune's arms, who clippeth thee about,
Would bear thee from the knowledge of thyself,
And grapple thee unto a Pagan shore;
Where these two Christian armies might combine
The blood of malice in a vein of league,
And not to spend it so unneighbourly!

Lew. A noble temper dost thou shew in this ;
And great affections, wrestling in thy bosom,
Do make an earthquake of nobility.
O what a noble combat hast thou fought,
Between compulsion and a brave respect !
Let me wipe off this honourable dew
That silverly doth progress on thy cheeks.
My heart hath melted at a lady's tears,
Being an ordinary inundation :
But this effusion of such manly drops,
This shower blown up by tempest of the soul,
Startles mine eyes, and makes me more amazed
Than had I seen the vaulty top of heaven
Figured quite o'er with burning meteors.
Lift up thy brow, renowned Salisbury,
And with a great heart heave away this storm :
Commend these waters to those baby eyes
That never saw the giant world enraged;
Nor met with fortune other than at feasts,
Full warm of blood, of mirth, of gossiping.
Come, come: for thou shalt thrust thy hand as deep
Into the purse of rich prosperity
As Lewis himself.-So, nobles, shall you all
That knit your sinews to the strength of mine.

Enter PANDULPH, attended.
And even there, methinks, an angel spake :-
Look where the holy legate comes apace,
To give us warrant from the hand of heaven,
And on our actions set the name of right,
With holy breath.

Pand. Hail, noble prince of France !
The next is this :-King John hath reconciled
Himself to Rome : his spirit is come in,
That so stood out against the holy church,
The great metropolis and see of Rome.
Therefore thy threatening colours now wind up,
And tame the savage spirit of wild war;
That, like a lion fostered up at hand,
It may lie gently at the foot of peace,
And be no further harmful than in show.
Lew. Your grace shall pardon me; I will not

back:
I am too high-born to be propertied,
To be a secondary at control,
Or useful serving-man and instrument,

« PreviousContinue »