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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 flept? where is my mother's care? That fuch an army should be drawn in France, And he not hear of it?

Mef. My Liege, her ear

Is ftopt with duft: the first of April, dy'd
Your noble mother; and, as I hear, my Lord,
The Lady Conftance in a frenzy dy'd

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

K. John. With-hold thy fpeed, dreadful' occafion! O make a league with me, till I have pleas'd My discontented peers.-What! mother dead? How wildly then walks my eftate in France? Under whose conduct came thofe powers of France, That, thou for truth giv'ft out, are landed here? Mef. Under the Dauphin.

K. John. Thou haft made me giddy With these ill tidings.

Enter Faulconbridge, and Peter of Pomfret.

Now, what fays the world

To your proceedings? Do not feek to ftuff
My head with more ill news, for it is full.

Faulc. But if you be afraid to hear the worst,
Then let the worst unheard fall on your head.
K. John. Bear with me, Coufin; for I was amaz'd
Under the tide, but now I breathe again
Aloft the flood, and can give audience
To any tongue, fpeak it of what it will..
Faule. How I have fped among the clergymen,
The fums I have collected fhall exprefs.
But as I travell'd hither thro' the land,
I find the people ftrangely fantafy'd;


Poffeft 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 fung in rude harfh-founding rhimes,
That, ere the next Afcenfion-day at noon,
Your Highness should deliver up your crown,

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K. John. Thou idle dreamer, wherefore did❜ft thou fo? Peter. Fore-knowing, that the truth will fall out fo. K. John, Hubert, away with him, imprison him. And on that day at noon, whereon he says I fhall yield up my crown, let him be hang'd. Deliver him to fafety, and return,

For I must use thee.

O my gentle coufin,

[Exit Hubert, with Peter.

Hear'ft thou the news abroad, who are arriv'd? Faulc. The French, my Lord; men's mouths are full of it:

Befides, I met Lord Bigot and Lord Salisbury,
With eyes as red as new-enkindled fire,
And others more, going to feek the grave
Of Arthur, who, they fay, is kill'd to-night
On your fuggeftion.

K. John. Gentle kinfman, go

And thrust thy felf into their company :
I have a way to win their loves again :
Bring them before me.

Faulc. I will feek them out.

K.John. Nay, but make hafte: the better foot before. O, let me have no fubject enemies,

When adverse foreigners affright my towns
With dreadful pomp of ftout invafion.

Be Mercury, fet feathers to thy heels,

• Deliver him to fafety.] That is, Give him into Safe cuftody.


And fly, like thought, from them to me again. Faulc. The fpirit of the time fhall teach me fpeed.

[Exit! K. John. Spoke like a fprightful noble gentleman. Go after him; for he, perhaps, fhall need

Some meffenger betwixt me and the Peers;
And be thou he.

Mef. With all my heart, my Liege.

K. John. My mother dead!


Enter Hubert.


Hub. My Lord, they fay, five moons were seen


Four fixed, and the fifth did whirl about

The other four, in wond'rous 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 wrift;
Whilft he, that hears, makes fearful action
With wrinkled brows, with nods, with rolling eyes.
I faw a fmith ftand with his hammer, thus,
The whilft his iron did on the anvil cool,
With open mouth fwallowing a taylor's news;
Who with his fhears and measure in his hand,
Standing on flippers, which his nimble hafte

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Had falfely thrust upon contrary 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 feek'st thou to poffefs me with these fears?

Why urgeft thou fo oft young Arthur's death?
Thy hand hath murder'd himu: I had a caufe

To with him dead, but thou had'ft none to kill him. Hub. Had none, my Lord? why, did you not provoke me?

K. John. It is the curfe of Kings, to be atttended
By flaves that take their humours for a warrant,
To break into the the bloody house of life:
And, on the winking of authority,

To understand a law, to know the meaning
Of dang'rous majefty; when, perchance, it frowns
More upon humour, than advis'd respect.

Hub. Here is your hand and seal, for what I did. K. John. Oh, when the laft account 'twixt heav'n and earth

Is to be made, then shall this hand and feal
Witness against us to damnation.

How oft the fight of means, to do ill deeds,
Makes deeds ill done? for hadft not thou been by,
A fellow by the hand of nature mark'd,
Quoted, and fign'd to do a deed of shame,
This murder had not come into my mind.
But taking note of thy abhorr'd alpect,
Finding thee fit for bloody villainy,

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Apt, liable to be employ'd in danger,

1 faintly broke with thee of Arthur's death.
And thou, to be endeared to a King,

Mad'ft it no confcience to destroy a Prince.
Hub, My Lord

K. John. Hadft thou but fhook thy head +, or made a pause,

When I fpake darkly what I purposed:

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

Or bid me tell my tale in exprefs words;

Deep fhame had ftruck me dumb, made me break off,
And those thy fears might have wrought fears in me.
But thou didst understand me by my signs,

And didft in figns again parley with fin:
Yea, without ftop, did'ft let thy heart confent,
And confequently thy rude hand to act

The deed, which both our tongues held vile to name-
Out of my fight, and never see me more!
My Nobles leave me, and my state is brav'd,
Ev'n at my gates, with ranks of foreign pow'rs;
Nay, in the body of this fleshy land,

This kingdom, this confine of blood and breath,
Hoftility, and civil tumult reigns,

Between my confcience and my cousin's death.
Hub. Arm you against your other enemies,
I'll make a peace between your

4 Hadft thou but hook thy head, &c.] There are many touches of nature in this conference of John with Hubert. A man engaged in wickedness would keep the profit to himself, and tranffer the guilt to his accomplice. Thefe reproaches vented against Hubert are not the words of art or policy, but the eruptions of a mind fwelling with confcioufnefs of a crime, and defirous of difcharging its mifery on another.

This account of the timidity

foul and you.

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