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King John

ACT IV SCENE III Before the castle. 
 Enter ARTHUR, on the walls. 
ARTHUR 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 disguised me quite. 5
 I am afraid; and yet I'll venture it. 
 If I get down, and do not break my limbs, 
 I'll find a thousand shifts to get away: 
 As good to die and go, as die and stay. 
 Leaps down 
 O me! my uncle's spirit is in these stones: 10
 Heaven take my soul, and England keep my bones! 
SALISBURY Lords, I will meet him at Saint Edmundsbury: 
 It is our safety, and we must embrace 
 This gentle offer of the perilous time. 
PEMBROKE Who brought that letter from the cardinal? 15
SALISBURY The Count Melun, a noble lord of France, 
 Whose private with me of the Dauphin's love 
 Is much more general than these lines import. 
BIGOT To-morrow morning let us meet him then. 
SALISBURY Or rather then set forward; for 'twill be 20
 Two long days' journey, lords, or ere we meet. 
 Enter the BASTARD 
BASTARD Once more to-day well met, distemper'd lords! 
 The king by me requests your presence straight. 
SALISBURY The king hath dispossess'd himself of us: 
 We will not line his thin bestained cloak 25
 With our pure honours, nor attend the foot 
 That leaves the print of blood where'er it walks. 
 Return and tell him so: we know the worst. 
BASTARD Whate'er you think, good words, I think, were best. 
SALISBURY Our griefs, and not our manners, reason now. 30
BASTARD But there is little reason in your grief; 
 Therefore 'twere reason you had manners now. 
PEMBROKE Sir, sir, impatience hath his privilege. 
BASTARD 'Tis true, to hurt his master, no man else. 
SALISBURY This is the prison. What is he lies here? 35
 Seeing ARTHUR 
PEMBROKE O death, made proud with pure and princely beauty! 
 The earth had not a hole to hide this deed. 
SALISBURY Murder, as hating what himself hath done, 
 Doth lay it open to urge on revenge. 
BIGOT Or, when he doom'd this beauty to a grave, 40
 Found it too precious-princely for a grave. 
SALISBURY Sir Richard, what think you? have you beheld, 
 Or have you read or heard? or could you think? 
 Or do you almost think, although you see, 
 That you do see? could thought, without this object, 45
 Form such another? This is the very top, 
 The height, the crest, or crest unto the crest, 
 Of murder's arms: this is the bloodiest shame, 
 The wildest savagery, the vilest stroke, 
 That ever wall-eyed wrath or staring rage 50
 Presented to the tears of soft remorse. 
PEMBROKE All murders past do stand excused in this: 
 And this, so sole and so unmatchable, 
 Shall give a holiness, a purity, 
 To the yet unbegotten sin of times; 55
 And prove a deadly bloodshed but a jest, 
 Exampled by this heinous spectacle. 
BASTARD It is a damned and a bloody work; 
 The graceless action of a heavy hand, 
 If that it be the work of any hand. 60
SALISBURY If that it be the work of any hand! 
 We had a kind of light what would ensue: 
 It is the shameful work of Hubert's hand; 
 The practise and the purpose of the king: 
 From whose obedience I forbid my soul, 65
 Kneeling before this ruin of sweet life, 
 And breathing to his breathless excellence 
 The incense of a vow, a holy vow, 
 Never to taste the pleasures of the world, 
 Never to be infected with delight, 70
 Nor conversant with ease and idleness, 
 Till I have set a glory to this hand, 
 By giving it the worship of revenge. 
 | Our souls religiously confirm thy words. 75
 Enter HUBERT 
HUBERT Lords, I am hot with haste in seeking you: 
 Arthur doth live; the king hath sent for you. 
SALISBURY O, he is old and blushes not at death. 
 Avaunt, thou hateful villain, get thee gone! 80
HUBERT I am no villain. 
SALISBURY Must I rob the law? 
 Drawing his sword 
BASTARD Your sword is bright, sir; put it up again. 
SALISBURY Not till I sheathe it in a murderer's skin. 
HUBERT Stand back, Lord Salisbury, stand back, I say; 85
 By heaven, I think my sword's as sharp as yours: 
 I would not have you, lord, forget yourself, 
 Nor tempt the danger of my true defence; 
 Lest I, by marking of your rage, forget 
 Your worth, your greatness and nobility. 90
BIGOT Out, dunghill! darest thou brave a nobleman? 
HUBERT Not for my life: but yet I dare defend 
 My innocent life against an emperor. 
SALISBURY Thou art a murderer. 
HUBERT Do not prove me so; 95
 Yet I am none: whose tongue soe'er speaks false, 

Not truly speaks; who speaks not truly, lies.

PEMBROKE Cut him to pieces. 
BASTARD Keep the peace, I say. 
SALISBURY Stand by, or I shall gall you, Faulconbridge. 100
BASTARD Thou wert better gall the devil, Salisbury: 
 If thou but frown on me, or stir thy foot, 
 Or teach thy hasty spleen to do me shame, 
 I'll strike thee dead. Put up thy sword betime; 
 Or I'll so maul you and your toasting-iron, 105
 That you shall think the devil is come from hell. 
BIGOT What wilt thou do, renowned Faulconbridge? 
 Second a villain and a murderer? 
HUBERT Lord Bigot, I am none. 
BIGOT Who kill'd this prince? 110
HUBERT 'Tis not an hour since I left him well: 
 I honour'd him, I loved him, and will weep 
 My date of life out for his sweet life's loss. 
SALISBURY Trust not those cunning waters of his eyes, 
 For villany is not without such rheum; 115
 And he, long traded in it, makes it seem 
 Like rivers of remorse and innocency. 
 Away with me, all you whose souls abhor 
 The uncleanly savours of a slaughter-house; 
 For I am stifled with this smell of sin. 120
BIGOT Away toward Bury, to the Dauphin there! 
PEMBROKE There tell the king he may inquire us out. 
 Exeunt Lords 
BASTARD Here's a good world! Knew you of this fair work? 
 Beyond the infinite and boundless reach 
 Of mercy, if thou didst this deed of death, 125
 Art thou damn'd, Hubert. 
HUBERT Do but hear me, sir. 
BASTARD Ha! I'll tell thee what; 
 Thou'rt damn'd as black--nay, nothing is so black; 
 Thou art more deep damn'd than Prince Lucifer: 130
 There is not yet so ugly a fiend of hell 
 As thou shalt be, if thou didst kill this child. 
HUBERT Upon my soul-- 
BASTARD If thou didst but consent 
 To this most cruel act, do but despair; 135
 And if thou want'st a cord, the smallest thread 
 That ever spider twisted from her womb 
 Will serve to strangle thee, a rush will be a beam 
 To hang thee on; or wouldst thou drown thyself, 
 Put but a little water in a spoon, 140
 And it shall be as all the ocean, 
 Enough to stifle such a villain up. 
 I do suspect thee very grievously. 
HUBERT If I in act, consent, or sin of thought, 
 Be guilty of the stealing that sweet breath 145
 Which was embounded in this beauteous clay, 
 Let hell want pains enough to torture me. 
 I left him well. 
BASTARD Go, bear him in thine arms. 
 I am amazed, methinks, and lose my way 150
 Among the thorns and dangers of this world. 
 How easy dost thou take all England up! 
 From forth this morsel of dead royalty, 
 The life, the right and truth of all this realm 
 Is fled to heaven; and England now is left 155
 To tug and scamble and to part by the teeth 
 The unowed interest of proud-swelling state. 
 Now for the bare-pick'd bone of majesty 
 Doth dogged war bristle his angry crest 
 And snarleth in the gentle eyes of peace: 160
 Now powers from home and discontents at home 
 Meet in one line; and vast confusion waits, 
 As doth a raven on a sick-fall'n beast, 
 The imminent decay of wrested pomp. 
 Now happy he whose cloak and cincture can 165
 Hold out this tempest. Bear away that child 
 And follow me with speed: I'll to the king: 
 A thousand businesses are brief in hand, 
 And heaven itself doth frown upon the land. 

Next: King John, Act 5, Scene 1


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