My lord, they say five moons were seen tonight;
Four fixed, and the fift did whirl about
The other four in wondrous motion.
Old men and beldames in the streets
Do prophesy upon it dangerously.
Young Arthur’s death is common in their mouths,
And when they talk of him, they shake their heads,
And whisper one another in the ear;
And he that speaks doth gripe the hearer’s wrist,
Whilst he that hears makes fearful action
With wrinkled brows, with nods, with rolling eyes.
I saw a smith stand with his hammer, thus,
The whilst his iron did on the anvil cool,
With open mouth swallowing a tailor’s news,
Who, with his shears and measure in his hand,
Standing on slippers, which his nimble haste
Had falsely thrust upon contrary feet,
Told of a many thousand warlike French
That were embattailed and rank’d in Kent.
Another lean unwash’d artificer
Cuts off his tale and talks of Arthur’s death.
Why seek’st thou to possess me with these fears?
Why urgest thou so oft young Arthur’s death?
Thy hand hath murd’red him. I had a mighty cause
To wish him dead, but thou hadst none to kill him.
No had, my lord? Why, did you not provoke me?
It is the curse of kings to be attended
By slaves that take their humors for a warrant
To break within the bloody house of life,
And on the winking of authority
To understand a law; to know the meaning
Of dangerous majesty, when perchance it frowns
More upon humor than advis’d respect.
Here is your hand and seal for what I did.
O, when the last accompt ’twixt heaven and earth
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! Hadst not thou been by,
A fellow by the hand of nature mark’d,
Quoted, 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 villainy,
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.
Hadst thou but shook thy head or made a pause
When I spake darkly what I purposed,
Or turn’d an eye of doubt upon my face,
As 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,
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 vild to name.
Out of my sight, and never see me more!
My nobles leave me, and my state is braved,
Even at my gates, with ranks of foreign pow’rs;
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.
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 ent’red yet
The dreadful motion of a murderous 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.
Doth Arthur live? O, haste thee to the peers,
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.
O, answer not! but to my closet bring
The angry lords with all expedient haste.
I conjure thee but slowly; run more fast.