|The Life and Death of King John|
| King John
| Act 4, Scene 3
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Enter ARTHUR, on the wallsARTHUR
The wall is high, and yet will I leap down:SALISBURY
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.
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 downO me! my uncle's spirit is in these stones:
Heaven take my soul, and England keep my bones!
Enter PEMBROKE, SALISBURY, and BIGOT
Lords, I will meet him at Saint Edmundsbury:PEMBROKE
It is our safety, and we must embrace
This gentle offer of the perilous time.
Who brought that letter from the cardinal?SALISBURY
The Count Melun, a noble lord of France,BIGOT
Whose private with me of the Dauphin's love
Is much more general than these lines import.
To-morrow morning let us meet him then.SALISBURY
Or rather then set forward; for 'twill beBASTARD
Two long days' journey, lords, or ere we meet.
Enter the BASTARD
Once more to-day well met, distemper'd lords!SALISBURY
The king by me requests your presence straight.
The king hath dispossess'd himself of us:BASTARD
We will not line his thin bestained cloak
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.
Whate'er you think, good words, I think, were best.SALISBURY
Our griefs, and not our manners, reason now.BASTARD
But there is little reason in your grief;PEMBROKE
Therefore 'twere reason you had manners now.
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?PEMBROKE
O death, made proud with pure and princely beauty!SALISBURY
The earth had not a hole to hide this deed.
Murder, as hating what himself hath done,BIGOT
Doth lay it open to urge on revenge.
Or, when he doom'd this beauty to a grave,SALISBURY
Found it too precious-princely for a grave.
Sir Richard, what think you? have you beheld,PEMBROKE
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,
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
Presented to the tears of soft remorse.
All murders past do stand excused in this:BASTARD
And this, so sole and so unmatchable,
Shall give a holiness, a purity,
To the yet unbegotten sin of times;
And prove a deadly bloodshed but a jest,
Exampled by this heinous spectacle.
It is a damned and a bloody work;SALISBURY
The graceless action of a heavy hand,
If that it be the work of any hand.
If that it be the work of any hand!PEMBROKE BIGOT
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,
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,
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.HUBERT
Lords, I am hot with haste in seeking you:SALISBURY
Arthur doth live; the king hath sent for you.
O, he is old and blushes not at death.HUBERT
Avaunt, thou hateful villain, get thee gone!
I am no villain.SALISBURY
Must I rob the law?BASTARD
Drawing his sword
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;BIGOT
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.
Out, dunghill! darest thou brave a nobleman?HUBERT
Not for my life: but yet I dare defendSALISBURY
My innocent life against an emperor.
Thou art a murderer.HUBERT
Do not prove me so;PEMBROKE
Yet I am none: whose tongue soe'er speaks false,
Not truly speaks; who speaks not truly, lies.
Cut him to pieces.BASTARD
Keep the peace, I say.SALISBURY
Stand by, or I shall gall you, Faulconbridge.BASTARD
Thou wert better gall the devil, Salisbury:BIGOT
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,
That you shall think the devil is come from hell.
What wilt thou do, renowned Faulconbridge?HUBERT
Second a villain and a murderer?
Lord Bigot, I am none.BIGOT
Who kill'd this prince?HUBERT
'Tis not an hour since I left him well:SALISBURY
I honour'd him, I loved him, and will weep
My date of life out for his sweet life's loss.
Trust not those cunning waters of his eyes,BIGOT
For villany is not without such rheum;
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.
Away toward Bury, to the Dauphin there!PEMBROKE
There tell the king he may inquire us out.BASTARD
Here's a good world! Knew you of this fair work?HUBERT
Beyond the infinite and boundless reach
Of mercy, if thou didst this deed of death,
Art thou damn'd, Hubert.
Do but hear me, sir.BASTARD
Ha! I'll tell thee what;HUBERT
Thou'rt damn'd as black--nay, nothing is so black;
Thou art more deep damn'd than Prince Lucifer:
There is not yet so ugly a fiend of hell
As thou shalt be, if thou didst kill this child.
Upon my soul--BASTARD
If thou didst but consentHUBERT
To this most cruel act, do but despair;
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,
And it shall be as all the ocean,
Enough to stifle such a villain up.
I do suspect thee very grievously.
If I in act, consent, or sin of thought,BASTARD
Be guilty of the stealing that sweet breath
Which was embounded in this beauteous clay,
Let hell want pains enough to torture me.
I left him well.
Go, bear him in thine arms.
I am amazed, methinks, and lose my way
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
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:
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
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.
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