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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


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 the inheritance of this poor child,
His little kingdom of a forced grave.
That blood, which ow'd the breath of all this isle,
Three foot of it doth hold ; Bad world the while !

2 Like heralds 'twixt two dreadful battles set :] But heralds are not planted, I presume, in the midst betwixt two lines of battle; though they, and trumpets, are often sent over from party to party, to propose terms, demand a parley, &c. I have therefore ventured to read-sent. THEOBALD.

Set is not fixed, but only placed ; heralds must be set between battles, in order to be sent between them. Johnson.

3 And, when it breaks,] This is but an indelicate metaphor, taken from an imposthumated tumour. Johnson.

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 !

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 slepts? 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.

The copy

4 From France to England.] The King asks how all goes in France, the Messenger catches the word goes, and answers, that whatever is in France goes now into England., Johnson. 5 (), where hath our intelligence been DRUNK ? Where hath it SLEPT ?] So, in Macbeth :

Was the hope drunk
“Wherein you drest yourself? hath it slept since ?"

Malone, VOL, XV.


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 7
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 travell’d 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 :

6 How WILDLY then WALKS my estate in France !] So, in one of the Paston Letters, vol. iii, p. 99 : “ The country of Norfolk and Suffolk stand right wildly.STEEVENS,

i. e. How ill my affairs go in France !—The verb, to walk, is used with great licence by old writers. It often means, to go, to move. So, in the Continuation of Harding's Chronicle, 1543 : “ Evil words walke far.” Again, in Fenner's Compter's Commonwealth, 1618: “ The keeper, admiring he could not hear his prisoner's tongue walk all this while,” &c. Malone.

9 - I was AMAZ'D -] i. e. stunned, confounded. So, in Cymbeline : "I am amaz'd with matter." Again, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, vol. viii. p. 200.

“ You do amaze her : hear the truth of it.” STEEVENS.

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.
K. John. Thou idle dreamer, wherefore didst

thou so ?
Peter. Foreknowing that the truth will fall out

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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.

8 And here's a prophet,] This man 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. Douce. See A. of Wyntown's Cronykil, b. vii. ch. viii. v. 801, &c.

STEBVENS. Speed (History of Great Britain, p. 499,) observes, that he [Peter the Hermit] was suborned by the Pope's legate, the French king, and the Barons for this purpose. Grey.

9 Deliver him to safety,] That is, « Give him into safe custody.” Johnson.

'- WHO, they say,] Old copy-whom. Corrected by Mr. Pope. Malove.

K. John.

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

I will seek them out.
K. John. Nay, but make haste'; the better foot

before. O, 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 gentle


Go after him; for he, perhaps, shall need
Some messenger betwixt me and the peers;
And be thou he.
With all my heart, my liege.

[Exit. K. John. My mother dead !

Re-enter HUBERT. Hub. My lord, they say, five moons were seen

to-night": Four fixed; and the fifth did whirl about The other four, in wond'rous motion.

K. John. Five moons ?

Hub. Old men, and beldams, in the streets Do prophecy upon it dangerously:


five moons were seen to-night, &c.] This incident is mentioned by few of our historians. I have met with it no where but in. Matthew of Westminster and Polydore Virgil, with a small alteration. GREY. This incident is likewise mentioned in the old King John.


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