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Set on toward Swinstead: to my litter straight;
Weakness possesseth me, and I am faint.
SCENE IV.-The same. Another part of the same.
Enter SALISBURY, PEMBROKE, and others.
Sal. I did not think the king so stor'd with friends.
Pem. Up once again; put spirit in the French:
If they miscarry we miscarry too.
Sal. That misbegotten devil, Falconbridge,
In spite of spite, alone upholds the day.
Pem. They say King John, sore sick, hath left the field.
Enter MELUN wounded, and led by Soldiers.
Mel. Lead me to the revolts of England here.
Sal. When we were happy we had other names.
Pem. It is the Count Melun.
Wounded to death.
Mel. Fly, noble English, you are bought and sold;
Unthread the rude eye of rebellion,
And welcome home again discarded faith.
Seek out King John, and fall before his feet;
For if the French be lords of this loud day,
He means to recompense the pains you take
By cutting off your heads: thus hath he sworn,
And I with him, and many more with me,
Upon the altar at Saint Edmund's-Bury;
Even on that altar where we swore to you
Dear amity and everlasting love.
Sal. May this be possible? may this be true?
Mel. Have I not hideous death within my view,
Retaining but a quantity of life,
Which bleeds away even as a form of wax
Resolveth from his figure 'gainst the fire?
What in the world should make me now deceive,
Since I must lose the use of all deceit?
Why should I then be false, since it is true
That I must die here, and live hence by truth?
I say again, if Louis do win the day,
He is forsworn if e'er those eyes of yours
Behold another day break in the east:
But even this night, -whose black contagious breath
Already smokes about the burning crest
Of the old, feeble, and day-wearied sun,-
Even this ill night, your breathing shall expire;
Paying the fine of rated treachery
Even with a treacherous fine of all your lives,
If Louis by your assistance win the day.
Commend me to one Hubert, with your king:
The love of him, -and this respect
For that my grandsire was an Englishman,-
Awakes my conscience to confess all this.
In lieu whereof, I pray you, bear me hence
From forth the noise and rumour of the field,
Where I may think the remnant of my thoughts
In peace, and part this body and my soul
With contemplation and devout desires.
Sal. We do believe thee:-and beshrew my soul
But I do love the favour and the form
Of this most fair occasion, by the which
We will untread the steps of damned flight;
And, like a bated and retired flood,
Leaving our rankness and irregular course,
Stoop low within those bounds we have o'erlook'd,
And calmly run on in obedience,
Even to our ocean, to our great King John.-
My arm shall give thee help to hear thee hence;
For I do see the cruel pangs of death
Right in thine eye.—Away, my friends! New flight,
And happy newness, that intends old right.
[E.ceunt, leading off MELUN.
SCENE V.-The same. The French Camp.
Enter LOUIS and his Train. Lou. The sun of heaven methought was loth to set, But stay'd, and made the western welkin blush, When the English measur'd backward their own ground In faint retire. O, bravely came we off, When with a volley of our needless shot, After such bloody toil, we bid good-night; And wound our tattering colours clearly up, Last in the field, and almost lords of it!
Enter a Messenger. Mess. Where is my prince, the Dauphin? Lou.
Here :—what news? Mess. The Count Melun is slain ; the English lords, By his persuasion, are again fallen off ;
And your supply, which you have wish'd so long,
Are cast away and sunk on Goodwin Sands.
Lou. Ah, foul shrewd news !— beshrew thy very heart !
I did not think to be so sad to-night
As this hath made me.-
Who was he that said
King John did fly an hour or two before
The stumbling night did part our weary powers?
Mess. Whoever spoke it, it is true, my lord.
Lou. Well; keep good quarter and good care to-night:
The day shall not be up so soon as I,
To try the fair adventure of to-morrow.
SCENE VI.-An open Place in the neighbourhood of Swin
stead Abbey. Enter the BASTARD and HUBERT, meeting. Hub. Who's there? speak, ho! speak quickly, or I shoot. Bast. A friend.—What art thou ? Hub.
Of the part of England. Bast. Whither dost thou go?
Hub. What's that to thee? Why may I not demand
Of thine affairs, as well as thou of mine?
Bast. Hubert, I think.
Thou hast a perfect thought:
I will, upon all hazards, well believe
Thou art my friend, that know'st my tongue so well.
Who art thou?
Bast. Who thou wilt: an if thou please,
Thou mayst befriend me so much as to think
I come one way of the Plantagenets.
Hub. Unkind remembrance ! thou and eyeless night
Have done me shame :-brave soldier, pardon me,
That any accent breaking from thy tongue
Should ’scape the true acquaintance of mine ear.
Bast. Come, come; sans compliment, what news abroad?
Hub. Why, here walk I, in the black brow of night,
To find you out.
Brief, then; and what's the news?
Hub. O, my sweet sir, news fitting to the night,
Black, fearful, comfortless, and horrible.
Bast. Show me the very wound of this ill news:
I am no woman, I'll not swoon at it.
Hub. The king, I fear, is poison'd by a monk :
I left him almost speechless, and broke out.
To acquaint you with this evil, that you might
The better arm you to the sudden time,
Than if you had at leisure known of this.
Bast. How did he take it? who did taste to him?
Hub. A monk, I tell you; a resolved villain, Whose bowels suddenly burst out: the king Yet speaks, and peradventure may recover.
Bast. Who didst thou leave to tend his majesty?
Hub. Why, know you not? the lords are all come back,
And brought Prince Henry in their company;
At whose request the king hath pardon'd them,
And they are all about his majesty.
Bast. Withhold thine indignation, mighty heaven,
And tempt us not to bear above our power ! -
I'll tell thee, Hubert, half my power this night,
Passing these flats, are taken by the tide, –
These Lincoln washes have devoured them;
Myself, well-mounted, hardly have escap'd.
Away, before! conduct me to the king;
I doubt he will be dead or ere I come.
SCENE VII.--The Orchard of Swinstead Abbey.
Enter PRINCE HENRY, SALISBURY, and BIGOT.
P. Hen. It is too late: the life of all his blood
Is touch'd corruptibly; and his pure brain,-
Which some suppose the soul's frail dwelling-house,
Doth, by the idle comments that it makes,
Foretell the ending of mortality.
Pem. His highness yet doth speak; and holds belief
That, being brought into the open air,
It would allay the burning quality,
Of that fell poison which assaileth him.
P. Hen. Let him be brought into the orchard here. -
Doth he still rage?
[Exit BIGOT. Pem.
He is more patient
Than when you left him; even now he sung.
P. Hen. O vanity of sickness! fierce extremes
In their continuance will not feel themselves.
Death, having prey'd upon the outward parts,
Leaves them invisible; and his siege is now
Against the mind, the which he pricks and wounds
With many legions of strange fantasies,
Which, in their throng and press to that last hold,
Confound themselves. 'Tis strange that death should sing.–
I am the cygnet to this pale faint swan,
Who chants a doleful hymn to his own death;
And from the organ-pipe of frailty sings
His soul and body to their lasting rest.
Sal. Be of good comfort, prince; for you are born
To set a form upon that indigest
Which he hath left so shapeless and so rude.
Re-enter Bigot and Attendants, who bring in KING JOHN
in a chair.
K. John. Ay, marry, now my soul hath elbow-room;
It would not out at windows nor at doors.
There is so hot a summer in my
That all my bowels crumble up to dust:
I am a scribbled form, drawn with a pen
Upon a parchment; and against this fire
Do I shrink up.
P. Hen. How fares your majesty?
K. John. Poison'd,-ill fare;-dead, forsook, cast off:
And none of you will bid the winter come,
To thrust his icy fingers in my maw;
Nor let my kingdom's rivers take their course
Through my burn'd bosom; nor entreat the north
To make his bleak winds kiss my parched lips,
And comfort me with cold :-I do not ask you much;
I beg cold comfort; and you are so strait,
And so ingrateful, you deny me that.
P. Hen. O that there were some virtue in my tears,
That might relieve you!
The salt in them is hot. -
Within me is a hell; and there the poison
Is, as a fiend, confin'd to tyrannize
On unreprievable condemned blood.
Enter the BASTARD.
Bast. O, I am scalded with my violent motion,
And spleen of speed to see your majesty!
K. John. O cousin, thou art come to set mine eye:
The tackle of my heart is crack'd and burn'd;
And all the shrouds, wherewith my life should sail,
Are turned to one thread, one little hair:
My heart hath one poor string to stay it by,
Which holds but till thy news be uttered;
And then all this thou see'st is but a clod,
And model of confounded royalty.