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SCENE II.

The same.

A Room of State in the Palace.

Enter King John, crowned ; PEMBROKE, SALISBURY,

and other Lords. The King takes his state. K. John. Here once again we sit, once again crown'd, And look’d upon, I hope, with cheerful eyes.

Pem. This once again, but that your highness pleas'd, Was once superfluous: you were crown'd before, And that high royalty was ne'er pluck'd off ; The faiths of men ne'er stained with revolt; Fresh expectation troubled not the land, With any long'd-for change, or better state.

Sal. Therefore, to be possess'd with double pomp,
To guard' a title that was rich before,
To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,
To smooth the ice, or add another hue
Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
Is wasteful, and ridiculous excess.

Pem. But that your royal pleasure must be done,
This act is as an ancient tale new told ;
And, in the last repeating, troublesome,
Being urged at a time unseasonable.

Sal. In this, the antique and well-noted face
Of plain old form is much disfigured:
And, like a shifted wind unto a sail,
It makes the course of thoughts to fetch about ;
Startles and frights consideration ;
Makes sound opinion sick, and truth suspected,
For putting on so new a fashion's robe.

5 To guard —] i. e. to fringe, or lace.

Pem. When workmen strive to do better than well, They do confound their skill in covetousness®: And, oftentimes, excusing of a fault, Doth make the fault the worse by the excuse ; As patches, set upon a little breach, Discredit more in hiding of the fault, Than did the fault before it was so patch’d.

Sal. To this effect, before you were new-crown'd,
We breath'd our counsel : but it pleas'd your highness
To overbear it; and we are all well pleas'd;
Since all and every part of what we would,
Doth make a stand at what your highness will.

K. John. Some reasons of this double coronation
I have possess'd you with, and think them strong ;
And more, more strong, (when lesser is my fear,)
I shall indue you with: Mean time, 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.

Pem. Then I, (as one that am the tongue of these,
To sound the purposes’ of all their hearts,)
Both for myself and them, (but, chief of all,
Your safety, for the which myself and they
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

& They do confound their skill in covetousness :) i. e. not by their avarice, but in an eager emulation, an intense desire of excelling.

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

VOL. IV.

R

The rich advantage of good exercise?
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

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.

8

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.

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 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.

[Eceunt 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 power
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. 0, 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? Mess.

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 occasion !
0, 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 France,
That thou for truth giv'st out, are landed here?

Mess. Under the Dauphin.

1

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

1

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.

I was amaz’d - 1 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.

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