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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 than 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 them Bend their best studies, heartily request Th' enfranchisenient 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 ?That the time's enemies may not have this To grace occasions, let it be our suit,

9 And more, more strong tuan lesser is my fear,

I shall indue you with :] The first folio has then for “ than,” the commonest mode of printing the word in the time of Shakespeare; but the commentators not adverting to this circumstance do not seem to have understood the passage, and printed “ when lesser is my fear,” putting it in parentheses : the meaning, however, seems to be, that the king will hereafter give his lords reasons “ stronger than his fear was lesser:" the comparative "lesser” is put for the positive little, because the poet had used“ more strong," in the preceding part of the line.

1 Your tender kinsman,] The reasoning is much the same in the old “ King John :”—

“We crave, my lord, to please the commons with,

The liberty of Lady Constance' son ;
Whose durance darkeneth your highness' right,
As if you kept him prisoner to the end
Yourself were doubtful of the thing you have."

That you have bid us ask his liberty;
Which for our goods we do no farther 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?

[HUBERT whispers the King.
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.

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 th' 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.

[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

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. 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?
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.

? That blood which ow'd the BREADTH of all this isle,] To "owe” is of course

In Malone’s Shakespeare by Boswell, the word “breadth” is printed breath ; probably an error of the press.

to ourn.

K. John. Withhold thy speed, dreadful Occasion ! 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 France, That thou for truth giv’st out are landed here?

Mess. Under the Dauphin.

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 travelld 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.

3 And here's a prophet,] “ This man,” says Douce," 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. In the old " King John,” there is a scene between the prophet and the people.

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.—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, go,
And thrust thyself into their companies.
I have a way to win their loves again :
Bring them before me.
Bast.

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

With all my heart, my liege. [Exit. K. John. My mother dead !

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