Sal. Our griefs, and not our manners, reason now.

Bast. But there is little reason in your grief;
Therefore, 't were reason you had manners now.

Pem. Sir, sir, impatience hath his privilege.
Bast. 'Tis true; to hurt his master, no man's else.a
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. 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


Or do you almost think, although you see,
That you do sec? could thought, without this object,
Form such another? This is the very top,
The height, the crest, or crest unto the crest,
Of murther's arms: this is the bloodiest shame,
The wildest savagery, the vilest stroke,
That ever wall-ey'd wrath, or staring rage,
Presented to the tears of soft remorse.

Pem. All murthers past do stand excus'd in this:
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.

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 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:
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 hand,
By giving it the worship of revenge.

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 :-
Avaunt, thou hateful villain, get thee gone!

Hub. I am no villain.

Must I rob the law? [Drawing his sword.
Bast. Your sword is bright, sir; put it up again.
Sal. Not till I sheathe it in a murtherer's skin.

Hub. Stand back, lord Salisbury, stand back, I say;
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.

Big. Out, dunghill! dar'st thou brave a nobleman?

Hub. Not for my life: but yet I dare defend
My innocent life against an emperor.

Sal. Thou art a murtherer.

Do not prove me so;
Yet, I am none: Whose tongue soe'er speaks false,
Not truly speaks; who speaks not truly, lies.

Pem. Cut him to pieces.

Keep the peace, I say.
Sal. Stand by, or I shall gall you, Faulconbridge.

Bast. 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,

shall think the devil is come from hell.
Big. What wilt thou do, renowned Faulconbridge?
Second a villain and a murtherer?

Hub. Lord Bigot, I am none.

Who kill'd this prince ?
Hub. 'Tis not an hour since I left him well:
I honour'd him, I lov'd him; and will weep
My date of life out, for his sweet life's loss.

Sal. Trust not those cunning waters of his eyes,
For villainy 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
Th' uncleanly savours of a slaughter-house ;
For I am stifled with this smell of sin.

Big. Away, toward Bury, to the dauphin there!
Pem. There, tell the king, he may inquire us out.

[Exeunt Lords. Bast. Here's a good world !-Knew you of this fair

Beyond the infinite and boundless reach
Of mercy, if thou didst this deed of death,
Art thou damn’d, Hubert.

Do but hear me, si
Bast. 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:
There is not yet so ugly a fiend of hell
As thou shalt be, if thou didst kill this child.

Hub. Upon my soul, -

If thou didst but consent
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.

Hub. If I in act, consent, or sin of thought,
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.

Bast. Go, bear him in thine arms.
I am amaz'd, 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 unow'd 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-fallen 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. [Exeunt.


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

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