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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. Let it be so; I do commit his youth

Enter HUBERT.
To your direction.-Hubert, what news with you?

Pem. This is the man should do the bloody deed;
He show'd his warrant to a friend of mine:
The image of a wicked heinous fault
Lives in his eye; that close aspect of his
Does show the mood of a much-troubled breast;
And I do fearfully believe, 'tis done,
What we so fear'd he had a charge to do.

Sal. The colour of the king doth come and go,
Between his purpose and his conscience,
Like heralds 'twixt two dreadful battles set:
His passion is so ripe, it needs must break.'

Pem. And, when it breaks, I fear, will issue thence The foul corruption of a sweet child's death.

K. John. We cannot hold mortality's strong hand:Good lords, although my will to give is living, The suit which you demand is gone and dead: He tells us, Arthur is deceas'd to-night.

Sal. Indeed, we fear’d, his sickness was past cure.

Pem. Indeed, we heard how near his death he was Before the child himself felt he was sick: This must be answer'd, either here, or hence.

K. John. Why do you bend such solemn brows on Think you, I bear the shears of destiny? [me? Have I commandment on the pulse of life?

Sal. It is apparent foul-play; and 'tis shame,
That greatness should so grossly offer it:
So thrive it in your game! and so farewell.

· His consciousness of guilt, and his design to conceal it by fair professions.

. À metaphor taken from an impostumated tumour.

Pem. Stay yet, lord Salisbury; I'll go with thee, And find th’ inheritance of this poor child, His little kingdom of a forced grave. That blood, which ow'd' the breadth of all this isle, Three foot of it doth hold; Bad world the while! This must not be thus borne: this will break out To all our sorrows, and ere long, I doubt.

[Exeunt Lords. K. John. They burn in indignation; I repent; There is no sure foundation set on blood; No certain life achiev'd by others' death.

Enter a Messenger. A fearful eye thou hast; Where is that blood, That I have seen inhabit in those cheeks? So foul a sky clears not without a storm : Pour down thy weather :-How goes all in France ?

Mess. From France to England.—Never such a For any foreign preparation,

power Was levied in the body of a land! The copy of your speed is learn'd by them; For, when you should be told they do prepare, The tidings come, that they are all arriv'd.

K. John. O, where hath our intelligence been drunk?
Where hath it slept? Where is my mother's care?
That such an army could be drawn in France,
And she not hear of it?

My liege, her ear
Is stopp'd with dust; the first of April, died
Your noble inother: And, as I hear, my lord,
The lady Constance in a frenzy died
Three days before: but this from rumour's tongue
Tidly heard; if true, or false, I know not.

K. John. Withhold thy speed, dreadful occasion !
O, make a league with me, till I have pleas'd
My discontented peers !—What! mother dead? .

Mess.

ow'd for own'd.

How wildly then walks' my estate in France ! Under whose conduct came those powers of France, That thou for truth giv'st out, are landed here? Mess. Under the Dauphin.

Enter Philip and PETER OF POMFRET. K. John.

Thou hast made me giddy With these ill tidings.--Now, what says the world To your proceedings ? do not seek to stuff My head with more ill news, for it is full.

Phil. But, if you be afeard to hear the worst, Then let the worst, unheard, fall on your head.

K. John. Bear with me, cousin; for I was amaz’d
Under the tide: but now I breathe again
Aloft the flood; and can give audience
To any tongue, speak it of what it will.

Phil. 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 rhymes,
That, ere the next Ascension-day at noon,
Your highness should deliver up your crown.

K. John. Thou idle dreamer, wherefore didst thou

SO?

Peter. Foreknowing that the truth will fall out so.

K. John. Hubert, away with him; imprison him; And on that day at noon, whereon, he says, I shall yield up my crown, let him be hang'd : Deliver him to safety, and return,

· How ill go my affairs in France !
· Give him into safe custody.

For I must use thee.-0 my gentle cousin,

[Exit HUBERT, with PETER. Hear'st thou the news abroad, who are arriv'd ? Phil. The French, my lord; men's mouths are full

of it:
Besides, I met lord Bigot, and lord Salisbury,
(With eyes as red as new-enkindled fire,)
And others more, going to seek the grave
Of Arthur, who, they say, is kill'd to-night
On your suggestion.
K. John.

Gentle kinsman, go,
And thrust thyself into their companies :
I have a way to win their loves again;
Bring them before me.
Phil.

I will seek them out.
K. John. Nay, but make haste; the better foot
O, let me have no subject enemies, [before.
When adverse foreigners affright my towns
With dreadful pomp of stout invasion!
Be Mercury, set feathers to thy heels;
And fly, like thought, from them to me again.
Phil. The spirit of the time shall teach me speed.

[Exit. K. John. Spoke like a spriteful noble gentleman.Go after him; for he, perhaps, shall need Some messenger betwixt me and the peers; And be thou he. Mess. With all my heart, my liege. [Exit. K. John. My mother dead !

Re-enter HUBERT.
Hub. My, lord, they say, five moons were seen
Four fixed; and the fifth did whirl about (to-night:
The other four, in wond'rous motion.

K. John. Five moons ?
Hub.

Old men, and beldams, in Do prophecy upon it dangerously: (the streets Young Arthur's death is common in their mouths : And when they talk of him, they shake their heads,

And whisper one another in the ear;
And he, that speaks, doth gripe the hearer's wrist ;
Whilst he, that hears, makes fearful action,
With wrinkled brows, with nods, with rolling eyes.
I saw a smith stand with his hammer, thus,
The whilst his iron did on the anvil cool,
With open mouth swallowing a tailor's news;
Who, with his shears and measure in his hand,
Standing on slippers, (which his nimble haste
Had falsely thrust upon contráry feet,)
Told of a many thousand warlike French,
That were embatteled and rank'd in Kent:
Another lean unwash'd artificer
Cuts off his tale, and talks of Arthur's death.

K. John. Why seek'st thou to possess me with these
Why urgest thou so oft young Arthur's death? [fears ?
Thy hand hath murder'd him: I had mighty cause
To wish him dead, but thou hadst none to kill him.
Hub. Had none, my lord ! why, did you not pro-

voke 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
Witness against us to damnation!
How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds,
Makes deeds ill done! Hadest not thou been by,

This plainly hints at Davidson's case, in the affair of Mary Queen of Scots.-WARBURTON. It is extremely probable that our author meant to pay his court to Elizabeth by this covert apology for her conduct to Mary.-MALONE.

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