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There is no sure foundation set on blood;
Enter a Messenger.
A fearful eye thou hast; Where is that blood,
So foul a sky clears not without a storm:
Was levied in the body of a land!
The copy of your speed is learned by them;
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
Three days before: but this from rumor's tongue
K. John. Withhold thy speed, dreadful occasion!
O, make a league with me, till I have pleas'd
My discontented peers!-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?
Old men, and beldams, in the streets,
Young Arthur's death is common in their mouths:
And he, that speaks, doth gripe the hearer's wrist;
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 mighty cause To wish him dead, but thou hadst none to kill him.
Hub. Had none, my lord! why, did you not provoke me?
To understand a law; to know the meaning
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,
Made it no conscience to destroy a prince.
K. John. Hadst thou but shook thy head, or made a pause When I spake darkly what I purposed;
Or turned 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,
And those thy fears might have wrought fears in me:
And didst in signs again parley with sin;
And consequently, thy rude hand to act
The deed, which both our tongues held vile to name.-
My nobles leave me; and my state is brav'd,
Even at my gates, with ranks of foreign powers:
This kingdom, this confine of blood and breath,
Between my conscience, and my cousin's death.
Is yet a maiden and an innocent hand,
The dreadful notion of a murd'rous thought,
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 the peers,
SCENE III.—The same. Before the Castle.
Enter ARTHUR on the walls.
Arth. The wall is high; and yet will I leap down :-
This ship-boy's semblance hath disguis'd me quite.
If I get down, and do not break my limbs,
As good to die, and go, as die, and stay.
Enter PEMBROKE, SALISBURY and BIGCT.
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?
Faul. Once more to-day well met, distemper'd lords! The king by me, requests your presence straight.
Sal. The king hath dispossess'd himself of us; We will not line his thin bestained cloak
With our pure honors, nor attend the foot
That leaves the print of blood where'er it walks:
Faul. Whate'er you think, good words, I think, were best.
[Seeing ARTHUR. Pem. O death, made proud with pure and princely beauty! The earth had 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 doom'd this beauty to a grave,
Sal. Sir Richard, what think you ? Have you beheld,
That you do see? could thought, without this object,
The height, the crest, or crest unto the crest,
That ever wall-eye'd wrath, or staring rage,
Presented to the tears of soft remorse.
Pem. All murders past do stand excus'd in this: 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,
Faul. It is a cursed and a bloody work;
Sal. If that it be the work of any hand?-
Till I have set a glory to this hand,
Pem. Big. Our souls religiously confirm thy words.
Hub Lords, I am hot with haste in seeking you
Sal. Must I rob the law?
[Drawing his sword
Faul. Your sword is bright, sir; put it up again.
Big. Out, dunghill! dar'st thou brave a nobleman?
My innocent life against an emperor.
Sal. Thou art a murderer.
Do not prove me so ;
Yet, I am none: Whose tongue soe'er speaks false,
Pem. Cut him to pieces.
Keep the peace, I say. Sal. Stand by, or I shall gall you, Faulconbridge. Faul. 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.
Hub. Lord Bigot, I am none.
Who kill'd this prince?
Hub. "Tis not an hour since I left him well:
I honor'd him, I lov'd him; and will weep
My date of life out, for his sweet life's loss.
Sal. Trust not those cunning waters of his eyes,
Big. Away, toward Bury, to the dauphin there!