Iohn. Gentle kinsman, go And thrust thy selfe into their Companies, I haue a way to winne their loues againe: Bring them before me

Bast. I will seeke them out

Iohn. Nay, but make haste: the better foote before. O, let me haue no subiect enemies, When aduerse Forreyners affright my Townes With dreadfull pompe of stout inuasion. Be Mercurie, set feathers to thy heeles, And flye (like thought) from them, to me againe

Bast. The spirit of the time shall teach me speed.

Exit

Iohn. Spoke like a sprightfull Noble Gentleman. Go after him: for he perhaps shall neede Some Messenger betwixt me, and the Peeres, And be thou hee

Mes. With all my heart, my Liege

Iohn. My mother dead? Enter Hubert.

Hub. My Lord, they say fiue Moones were seene to night: Foure fixed, and the fift did whirle about The other foure, in wondrous motion

Ioh. Fiue Moones? Hub. Old men, and Beldames, in the streets Do prophesie vpon it dangerously: Yong Arthurs death is common in their mouths, And when they talke of him, they shake their heads, And whisper one another in the eare. And he that speakes, doth gripe the hearers wrist, Whilst he that heares, makes fearefull action With wrinkled browes, with nods, with rolling eyes. I saw a Smith stand with his hammer (thus) The whilst his Iron did on the Anuile coole, With open mouth swallowing a Taylors newes, Who with his Sheeres, and Measure in his hand, Standing on slippers, which his nimble haste Had falsely thrust vpon contrary feete, Told of a many thousand warlike French, That were embattailed, and rank'd in Kent. Another leane, vnwash'd Artificer, Cuts off his tale, and talkes of Arthurs death

Io. Why seek'st thou to possesse me with these feares? Why vrgest thou so oft yong Arthurs death? Thy hand hath murdred him: I had a mighty cause To wish him dead, but thou hadst none to kill him

H. No had (my Lord?) why, did you not prouoke me? Iohn. It is the curse of Kings, to be attended By slaues, that take their humors for a warrant, To breake within the bloody house of life, And on the winking of Authoritie To vnderstand a Law; to know the meaning Of dangerous Maiesty, when perchance it frownes More vpon humor, then aduis'd respect

Hub. Heere is your hand and Seale for what I did

Ioh. Oh, when the last accompt twixt heauen & earth Is to be made, then shall this hand and Seale Witnesse against vs to damnation. How oft the sight of meanes to do ill deeds, Make deeds ill done? Had'st not thou beene by, A fellow by the hand of Nature mark'd, Quoted, and sign'd to do a deede of shame, This murther had not come into my minde. But taking note of thy abhorr'd Aspect, Finding thee fit for bloody villanie: Apt, liable to be employ'd in danger, I faintly broke with thee of Arthurs death: And thou, to be endeered to a King, Made it no conscience to destroy a Prince

Hub. My Lord

Ioh. Had'st thou but shooke thy head, or made a pause When I spake darkely, what I purposed: Or turn'd an eye of doubt vpon my face; As bid me tell my tale in expresse words: Deepe shame had struck me dumbe, made me break off, And those thy feares, might haue wrought feares in me. But, thou didst vnderstand me by my signes, And didst in signes againe parley with sinne, Yea, without stop, didst let thy heart consent, And consequently, thy rude hand to acte The deed, which both our tongues held vilde to name. Out of my sight, and neuer see me more: My Nobles leaue me, and my State is braued, Euen at my gates, with rankes of forraigne powres; Nay, in the body of this fleshly Land, This kingdome, this Confine of blood, and breathe Hostilitie, and ciuill tumult reignes Betweene my conscience, and my Cosins death

The life and death of King John Page 25

William Shakespeare Plays

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