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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,
Make deeds ill done! Hadest not thou been by,
A fellow by the hand of nature mark’d,
Quoted22, 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 villany,
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 pause23,
When I spake darkly what I purposed;
Or turn’d an eye of doubt upon my face,
And24 bid 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,

22 To quote is to note or mark. See Hamlet, Act ii. Sc. 1:

'I am sorry that with better heed and judgment

I had not quoted himn. 23 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 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.

24 The old copy reads "As bid me,' &c. Malone made the cor. rection, in which I concur; though as frequently is used for that, which. See Julius Caesar, Act i. Sc. 2, note 15.

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

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.

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

Throw this report on their incensed rage,
And make them tame to their obedience!
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 my closet bring
The angry lords, with all expedient25 haste:
I cónjure thee but slowly; run more fast26.


25 Expeditious.

26 The old play of The Troublesome Raigne of King John is divided into two parts; the first of which concludes with the king's despatch of Hubert on this message; the second begins with Enter Arthur, &c. as in the following scene.

SCENE III. The same. Before the Castle.

Enter ARTHUR, on the Walls. Arth. The wall is high; and yet will I leap

downl: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. 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 stonesHeaven take my soul, and England keep my bones!

[Dies. Enter PEMBROKE, SALISBURY, and Bigot. Sal. Lords, I will meet him at Saint Edmund's

Bury; It is our safety, and we must embrace This gentle offer of the perilous time. Pem. Who brought that letter from the cardinal ?

Sal. 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. Big. To-morrow morning let us meet him then. Sal. Or, rather then set forward : for 'twill be Two long day's journey, lords, or e’er3 we meet.

I Shakspeare has followed the old play. In what manner Arthur was deprived of his life is not ascertained. Matthew Paris relating the event uses the word evanuit; and it appears to have been conducted with impenetrable secrecy. The French historians say that John, coming in a boat during the night to the castle of Rouen, where the young prince was confined, stabbed him while supplicating for mercy, fastened a stone to the body, and threw it into the Seine, in order to give some colour to a report, which he caused to be spread, that the prince, attempting to escape out of a window, fell into the river, and was drowned.

2 Private account.

3 The use of or for ere, before, is at least as old as Chaucer's time. It is the Saxon aer, prius, antequam, priusquam,-ere, or, 800ner than; before. Ever is the Saxon aefre-aliquando, unquam,-ever, e'er, at any time. Ere ever, or ever, or ere, is, in modern English, sooner than at any time; before ever : and this is the sense in which Shakspeare and our elder writers constantly use the phrase, 4 i. e. ruffled, out of humour. So in Hamlet :

Enter the Bastard. Bast. Once more to-day well met, distemper’d4

lords ! The king, by me, requests your presence straight.

Sal. The king hath dispossess’d himself of us; 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. Bast. Whate'er you think, good words, I think,

were best.
Sal. Our griefs, and not our manners, reasons now.
Bast. But there is little reason in your grief;
Therefore, 'twere reason, you had manners now.

Pem. Sir, sir, impatience hath its privilege.
Bast. 'Tis true; to hurt his master, no man else.
Sal. This is the prison: What is he lies here?

[Seeing ARTHUR. Pem. O death, made proud with pure and princely

beauty! The earth had not a hole to hide this deed.

Sal. Murder, as hating what himself hath done, Doth lay it open, to urge on revenge.

Big. Or, when he doom'd this beauty to a grave, Found it too precious-princely for a grave. Sal. 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,

in his retirement marvellous distemper'd. 5 To reason, in Shakspeare, is not so often to argue as to talk. So in Coriolanus:

- reason with the fellow Before you punish him.'

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 savag'ry, the vilest stroke,
That ever wall-ey'd wrath, or staring rage,
Presented to the tears of soft remorse6.

Pem. All murders past do stand excus'd in this:
And this, so sole, and so unmatchable,
Shall give a holiness, a purity,
To the yet unbegotten sins of time?,
And prove a deadly bloodshed but a jest, -
Exampled by this heinous spectacle.

Bast. It is a damned and a bloody work;
The graceless action of a heavy hand,
If that it be the work of any hand.

Sal. If that it he the work of any hand ?-
We had a kind of light, what would ensue:
It is the shameful work of Hubert's hand;
The practice, 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 head,

6 Pity.

7 The old copy reads sin of times. The emendation is Pope's.

8 The old copy reads, “Till I have set a glory to this hand.' This is a copy of the vows made in the ages of superstition and chivalry. Pope thought that we should read “a glory to this head, pointing to the head of the dead prince, and using worship in its common acceptation. A glory is a circle of rays, such as is represented surrounding the heads of saints and other holy persons. The solemn confirmation of the other lords seems to require this sense. Gray, the poet (says Dr. Farmer), was much pleased with this correction. The old reading has been explained, "till I have famed and renowned my own hand by giving it the honour of revenge for so foul a deed.' In the next act we have :

---I will not return
Till my attempt so much be glorified
As to my ample hope was promised.'

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