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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act III. Scene III.

The Life and Death of King John

The Same.

Alarums; excursions; retreat.Enter KING JOHN, ELINOR, ARTHUR, the BASTARD, HUBERT, and and Lords.

K. John.[To ELINOR.]So shall it be; your grace shall stay behind

So strongly guarded.[To ARTHUR.]Cousin, look not sad:

Thy grandman loves thee; and thy uncle will

As dear be to thee as thy father was.

Arth.O! this will make my mother die with grief.

K. John.[To the BASTARD.]Cousin, away for England! haste before;

And, ere our coming, see thou shake the bags

Of hoarding abbots; set at liberty

Imprison’d angels: the fat ribs of peace

Must by the hungry now be fed upon:

Use our commission in his utmost force.

Bast.Bell, book, and candle shall not drive me back

When gold and silver becks me to come on.

I leave your highness. Grandam, I will pray,—

If ever I remember to be holy,—

For your fair safety; so I kiss your hand.

Eli.Farewell, gentle cousin.

K. John.Coz, farewell.[Exit BASTARD.

Eli.Come hither, little kinsman; hark, a word.[She takes ARTHUR aside.

K. John.Come hither, Hubert. O my gentle Hubert,

We owe thee much: within this wall of flesh

There is a soul counts thee her creditor,

And with advantage means to pay thy love:

And, my good friend, thy voluntary oath

Lives in this bosom, dearly cherished.

Give me thy hand. I had a thing to say,

But I will fit it with some better time.

By heaven, Hubert, I am almost asham’d

To say what good respect I have of thee.

Hub.I am much bounden to your majesty.

K. John.Good friend, thou hast no cause to say so yet;

But thou shalt have; and creep time ne’er so slow,

Yet it shall come for me to do thee good.

I had a thing to say, but let it go:

The sun is in the heaven, and the proud day,

Attended with the pleasures of the world,

Is all too wanton and too full of gawds

To give me audience: if the midnight bell

Did, with his iron tongue and brazen mouth,

Sound one into the drowsy race of night;

If this same were a churchyard where we stand,

And thou possessed with a thousand wrongs;

Or if that surly spirit, melancholy,

Had bak’d thy blood and made it heavy-thick,

Which else runs tickling up and down the veins,

Making that idiot, laughter, keep men’s eyes

And strain their cheeks to idle merriment,

A passion hateful to my purposes;

Or if that thou couldst see me without eyes,

Hear me without thine ears, and make reply

Without a tongue, using conceit alone,

Without eyes, ears, and harmful sound of words;

Then, in despite of brooded watchful day,

I would into thy bosom pour my thoughts:

But ah! I will not: yet I love thee well;

And, by my troth, I think thou lov’st me well.

Hub.So well, that what you bid me undertake,

Though that my death were adjunct to my act,

By heaven, I would do it.

K. John.Do not I know thou wouldst?

Good Hubert! Hubert, Hubert, throw thine eye

On yon young boy: I’ll tell thee what, my friend,

He is a very serpent in my way;

And wheresoe’er this foot of mine doth tread

He lies before me: dost thou understand me?

Thou art his keeper.

Hub.And I’ll keep him so

That he shall not offend your majesty.

K. John.Death.

Hub.My lord?

K. John.A grave.

Hub.He shall not live.

K. John.Enough.

I could be merry now. Hubert, I love thee;

Well, I’ll not say what I intend for thee:

Remember. Madam, fare you well:

I’ll send those powers o’er to your majesty.

Eli.My blessing go with thee!

K. John.For England, cousin; go:

Hubert shall be your man, attend on you

With all true duty. On toward Calais, ho![Exeunt.