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Sal. Our griefs, and not our manners, reason now.
Bast. But there is little reason in your grief;
Pem. Sir, sir, impatience hath his privilege.
[Seeing ARTHUR. Pem. O death, made proud with pure and princely
beauty! The earth had not a hole to hide this deed.
Sal. Murther, as hating what himself hath done, Doth lay it open,
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? You have beheld," Or have you read, or heard? or could
Pem. All murthers past do stand excus'd in this:
Bast. It is a damned and a bloody work ;
Sal. If that it be the work of any hand ?-
a No man's else. So the original. The modern reading is no man else.
You have beheld. The third folio gives the reading which is generally adopted, of “ Have you beheld ?"? We retain that of the original, which appears to meanYou see or have you only read, or heard? Your senses must be so startled that you may doubt "
you have beheld."
We had a kind of light what would ensue:
Pem., Big. Our souls religiously confirm thy words.
Hub. Lords, I am hot with haste in seeking you : Arthur doth live; the king hath sent for you.
Sal. O, he is bold, and blushes not at death :-
Hub. I am no villain.
Must I rob the law? [Drawing his sword.
Hub. Stand back, lord Salisbury, stand back, I say;
Big. Out, dunghill! dar'st thou brave a nobleman?
Hub. Not for my life: but yet I dare defend
Sal. Thou art a murtherer.
Do not prove me so;
Pem. Cut him to pieces.
Keep the peace, I say.
Bast. Thou wert better gall the devil, Salisbury:
shall think the devil is come from hell.
Hub. Lord Bigot, I am none.
Who kill'd this prince ?
Sal. Trust not those cunning waters of his eyes,
Big. Away, toward Bury, to the dauphin there!
[Exeunt Lords. Bast. Here's a good world !-Knew you of this fair
Do but hear me, si
Hub. Upon my soul, -
If thou didst but consent
Will serve to strangle thee; a rush will be
Hub. If I in act, consent, or sin of thought,
Bast. Go, bear him in thine arms.
HISTORICAL ILLUSTRATION OF ACT IV.
It is unquestionably to be deplored that the greatest writers of imagination have sometimes embodied events not only uusupported by the facts of history, but utterly opposed to them. We are not speaking of those deviations from the actual succession of events,—those omissions of minor particulars,—those groupings of characters who were really never brought together, —which the poet knowingly abandons himself to, that he may accomplish the great purposes of his art, the first of which, in a drama especially, is unity of action. Such a licence has Shakspere taken in ‘King John,' and who can doubt that, poetically, he was right? But there is a limit even to the mastery of the poet, when he is dealing with the broad truths of history; for the poetical truth would be destroyed if the historical truth were utterly disregarded. For example, if the grand scenes in this act, between Arthur and Hubert, and between Hubert and John, were entirely contradicted by the truth of history, there would be an abatement even of the irresistible power of these matchless scenes. Had the proper historians led us to believe that no attempt was made to deprive Arthur of his sight—that his death was not the result of the dark suspicions and cowardly fears of his uncle—that the manner of his death was so clear that he who held him captive was absolved from all suspicion of treachery,then the poet would indeed have left an impression on the mind which even the historical truth could with difficulty have overcome, but he would not have left that complete and overwhelming impression of the reality of his scenes—he could not have produced our implicit belief in the sad story, as he tells it, of Arthur of Brittany—he could not have rendered it impossible for any one to recur to that story who has read this act of “King John,' and not think of the dark prison where the iron was hot and the executioner ready, but where nature, speaking in words such as none but the greatest poet of nature could have furnished, made the fire and the iron “ deny their office,” and the executioner leave the poor boy, for a while,
sleep doubtless and secure.” Fortunate is it that we have no records to hold up which should say that Shakspere built this immortal scene upon a rotten foundation. The story, as told by Holinshed, is deeply interesting; and we cannot read it without feeling how skilfully the poet has followed it :
“ It is said that King John caused his nephew Arthur to be brought before him at Falaise, and there went about to persuade him all that he could to forsake his friendship and alliance with the French king, and to lean and stick to him his natural uncle. But Arthur, like one that wanted good counsel, and abounding too much in his own wilful opinion, made a presumptuous answer, not only denying so to do, but also commanding King John to restore unto him the realms of England, with all those other lands and possessions which King Richard had in his hand at the hour of his death. For sith the same appertaineth to him by right of inheritance, he assured him, except restitution were made the sooner, he should not long continue quiet. King John, being sore moved by such words thus uttered by his nephew, appointed (as before is said) that he should straitly kept in prison, as first in Falaise, and after at Roan, within the new castle there.
“ Shortly after King John coming over into England caused bimself to be crowned again at Canterbury, by the hands of Hubert, the archbishop there, on the fourteenth