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Pem. Then I, (as one that am the tongue of

To sound the purposes of all their hearts,)
Both for myself and them, (but, chief of all,
Your safety, for the which myself and them
Bend their best studies,) heartily request

The enfranchisement of Arthur; whose restraint
Doth move the murmuring lips of discontent
To break into this dangerous argument,

If, what in rest you have, in right you hold,
Why then your fears, (which, as they say, attend
The steps of wrong,) should move you to mew up
Your tender kinsman, and to choke his days
With barbarous ignorance, and deny his youth
The rich advantage of good exercise ?8
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;
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


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 aspéct of his

7 To sound the purposes-] To declare, to publish the desires of all those.


- good exercise?] In the middle ages, the whole education of princes and noble youths consisted in martial exercises, &c. These could not be easily had in a prison, where mental improvements might have been afforded as well as any where else; but this sort of education never entered into the thoughts of our active, warlike, but illiterate nobility. PERCY.

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
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

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 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.

Pem. Stay yet, lord Salisbury; I'll go with thee,
And find the inheritance of this poor child,
His little kingdom of a forced grave.

That blood, which ow'd the breath 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,
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 mother: And, as I hear, my lord, The lady Constance in a frenzy died

Three days before: but this from rumour's tongue I idly heard; if true, or false, I know not.

K. John. Withhold thy speed, dreadful occa-

O, make a league with me, till I have pleas'd
My discontented peers!--What! mother dead?
How wildly then walks my estate in France!"—
Under whose conduct came those powers of

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That thou for truth giv'st out, are landed here?
Mess. Under the Dauphin.

How wildly then walks my estate in France!] i. e. how ill my affairs go in France!-The verb, to walk, is used with great license by old writers.

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Enter the Bastard 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.

Bast. 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.

Bast. How I have sped among the clergymen, The sums I have collected shall express. But, as I travelled 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,

1 I was amaz'd -] i. e. stunned, confounded.

2 And here's a prophet,] This man was a hermit in great repute with the common people. Notwithstanding the event is said to have fallen out as he had prophesied, the poor fellow was inhumanly dragged at horses' tails through the streets of Warham, and, together with his son, who appears to have been even more innocent than his father, hanged afterwards upon a gibbet. See Holinshed's Chronicle, under the year 1213.

I shall yield up my crown, let him be hang'd:
Deliver him to safety, and return,


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

[Exit HUBERT, with PETER.
Hear'st thou the news abroad, who are arriv’d?
Bast. 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, gó,

And thrust thyself into their companies:
I have a way to win their loves again;

Bring them before me.


I will seek them out.

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

O, let me have no subject 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.
Bast. The spirit of the time shall teach me speed.
K. John. Spoke like a spriteful noble gentle-


Go after him; for he, perhaps, shall need
Some messenger betwixt me and the peers;
And be thou he.



With all my heart, my liege.

K. John. My mother dead!


Deliver him to safety,] That is, Give him into safe custody.

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