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To guard a title that was rich before,
To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.

K. John. Some reasons of this double coronation I have possess'd you with, and think them strong :Meantime, but ask

What you would have reform'd, that is not well;
And well shall you perceive, how willingly
I will both hear, and grant you, your requests.
Sal. Then I, as one that am the tongue of these,

The enfranchisement of Arthur; whose restraint
Doth move the murmuring lips of discontent.
That the time's enemies may not have this
To grace occasions, let it be our suit,
That you have bid us ask his liberty.

K. John. Let it be so; I do commit his youth
To your direction.—


Hubert, what news with you?

Pem. This is the man, should do the bloody deed. 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. Sal. The colour of the King doth come and go, Between his purpose and his conscience.

K. John. We cannot hold mortality's strong hand. [Exit HUBERT. 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.

Ess. 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 me?

Think you, I bear the shears of destiny?
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.

[Exeunt ESSEX, PEMBROKE, and SALISBURY. K. John. They burn in indignation:---I repent; There is no sure foundation set on blood:-No certain life achiev'd by others' death.




A Room in the Palace.

Enter KING JOHN, meeting the ENGLISH HERALD. K. John. A fearful eye thou hast! Where is that blood,

That I have seen inhabit in those cheeks?—

How goes all in France?

E. Her. From France to England.-Never such a power,

For any foreign preparation,

Was levy'd 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?

E. Her. My liege, her ear

Is stopp'd with dust: the first of April, died
Your noble mother: And, as I hear, my lord,
The lady Constance in a frenzy died
Three days before.

K. John. What, mother! dead?

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?
E. Her. Under the Dauphin.

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.

Faul. 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.

Faul. 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 fantasy'd,
Possess'd with rumours, full of idle dreams,
Not knowing what they fear, but full of fear.
K. John. O, my gentle cousin,

Hear'st thou the news abroad, who are arriv'd?
Faul. The French, my lord; men's mouths are full

of it:

Besides, I met Lord Essex 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.

Faul. I will seek them out.

K. John. Nay, but make haste; the better foot before.

O, let me have no subjects enemies,
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.
Faul. The spirit of the time shall teach me speed.
K. John. Go after him; for he, perhaps, shall need
Some messenger betwixt me and the peers;

And be thou he.


K. John. My mother dead!—


Hub. My lord, they say, five moons were seen to night;

Four fixed; and the fifth did whirl about

The other four, in wondrous motion.

K. John. Five moons?

Hub. Old men, and beldams, in the streets

Do prophesy upon it dangerously:

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,
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 fears?

Why urgest thou so oft young Arthur's death?

Thy hand hath murder'd him: I had a 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,
A fellow by the hand of nature mark'd,
Quoted, and sign'd, 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 villainy,

I faintly broke with thee of Arthur's death;
And thou, to be endeared to a king,

Mad'st it no conscience to destroy a prince.
Hub. My lord,-

K.John. Hadst thou but shook thy head, or made

a pause,

When I spake darkly what I purposed;

Or turn'd an eye of doubt upon my face,

And bid me tell my tale in express words;

Deep shame had struck me dumb, made me break off,

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