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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,
I shall yield up my crown, let him be hang’d:
Deliver him to safety, and return,
For I must use thee.-0, my gentle cousin,

[Exeunt 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, go,
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

before. 0, 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.

[Exit K. John. Spoke like a spriteful noble gentleman.

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

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. [Exit. K. John. My mother dead!

Re-enter HUBERT.

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

Four fixed ; and the fifth did whirl about
The other four in wond'rous motion.

K. John. Five moons ?

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,
Standing on slippers, (which his nimble haste
Had falsely thrust upon contrary feet',)


- five moons were seen to-night : &c.] This incident is mentioned by few of our historians. I have met with it no where but in Matthew of Westminster and Polydore Virgil, with a small alteration. These kind of appearances were more common about that time than either before or since. GREY.

slippers, (which his nimble haste Had falsely thrust upon contráry feet,)) Dr. Johnson says, “ I know not how the commentators understand this important passage, which, in Dr. Warburton's edition, is marked as eminently beautiful, and, on the whole, not without justice. But Shakspeare seems to have confounded the man's shoes with his gloves. He that is frighted or hurried may put his hand into the wrong glove, but either shoe will equally admit either foot. The author seems

Told of a many thousand warlike French,
That were embattled and rank'd in Kent:
Another lean unwash'd artificer
Cuts off his tale, and talks of Arthur's death.
K. John. Why seekʼst thou to possess me with these

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 ?

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. 0, when the last account 'twixt heaven and

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 abhorr'd aspect,
Finding thee fit for bloody villainy,

to be disturbed by the disorder which he describes.” The commentators have produced many passages to prove the shoe, boot, &c. were right and left legged, as they are now.

6 It is the curse of kings, &c.] This plainly hints at Davison's case, in the affair of Mary queen of Scots.

advis’d respect.] i. e. deliberate consideration. $ Quoted,] i. e. observed, distinguished.


Apt, liable, to be employ'd in danger,
I faintly broke with thee of Arthur's death;
And thou, to be endeared to a king,
Made it no conscience to destroy a prince.

Hub. My lord,
K. John. Hadst thou but shook thy head', or made a

When I spake darkly what I purposed;
Or turn’d an eye of doubt upon my face,
As bid t 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:
But thou didst understand me by my signs,
And didst in signs again parley with sin;
Yea, without stop, didst let thy heart consent,
And, consequently, thy rude hand to act
The deed, which both our tongues held vile to name.-
Out of my sight, and never see me more!
My nobles leave me; and my state is brav'd,
Even at my gates, with ranks of foreign powers :
Nay, in the body of this fleshly land,
This kingdom, this confine of blood and breath,
Hostility and civil tumult reigns
Between my conscience, and my cousin's death.

' Hadst thou but shook 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 transfer the guilt to his accomplice. These reproaches, vented against Hubert, are not the words of art or policy, but the eruptions of a mind swelling with a consciousness of a crime, and desirous of discharging its misery on another.

This account of the timidity of guilt is drawn ab ipsis recessibus mentis, from the intimate knowledge of mankind, particularly that line in which he says, that to have bid him tell his tale in express words, would have struck him dumb; nothing is more certain than that bad men use all the arts of fallacy upon themselves, palliate their actions to their own minds by gentle terms, and hide themselves from their own detection in ambiguities and subterfuges. Johnson.

+ "and bid," &c. Malone.

Hub. Arm you against your other enemies, I'll make a peace between your soul and you. Young Arthur is alive: This hand of mine Is yet a maiden and an innocent hand, Not painted with the crimson spots of blood. Within this bosom never enter'd yet The dreadful motion of a murd’rous thought', And you have slander'd nature in my form; Which, howsoever rude exteriorly, 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,

, Throw this report on their incensed rage, And make them tame to their obcdience! Forgive the comment that my passion made Upon thy feature; for my rage was blind, And foul imaginary eyes of blood Presented thee more hideous than thou art. 0, answer not; but to


closet bring The angry lords, with all expedient haste: I cónjure thee but slowly ; run more fast. [Exeunt.


The same. Before the Castle.

Enter ARTHUR, on the Walls.

Arth. The wall is high ; and yet will I leap down :Good ground, be pitiful, and hurt me not !There's few, or none, do know me; if they did, This ship-boy's semblance hath disguis'd me quite.

1 The dreadful motion of a murd'rous thought,] Nothing can be falser than what Hubert here says in his own vindication ; for we find, from a preceding scene, the motion of a murdrous thought had entered into him, and that very deeply ; and it was with difficulty that the tears, the entreaties, and the innocence of Arthur bad diverted and suppressed it.


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