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For heav'n's sake, Hubert, let me not be bound.
Nay, hear me, Hubert, drive these men away,
And I will sit as quiet as a lamb.
I will not stir, nor wince, nor speak a word,
Nor look upon the iron angrily:
Thrust but these men away, and I'll forgive you,
Whatever torment you do put me to.
Hubert. Go, stand within; let me alone with him.
Executioner, I am best pleas'd to be from such a deed.
Arthur. Alas, I then have chid away my friend.
Hubert. Come, boy, prepare yourself.
Arthur. Is there no remedy?
Hubert. None, but to lose your eyes.
Arthur. O heav'n! that there were but a moth in yours, A grain, a dust, a gnat, a wand'ring hair, Any annoyance in that precious sense: Then feeling what small things are boisterous there, Your vile intent must needs seem horrible.
Hubert. Is this your promise? go to, hold your tongue.
Arthur. Let me not hold my tongue; let me not, Hubert;
Or, Hubert, if you will, cut out my tongue,
Arthur. No, in good sooth, the fire is dead with grief.
There is no malice in this burning coal;
The breath of heav'n hath blown its spirit out,
And strew'd repentant ashes on its head.
Hubert. But with my breath I can revive it, boy.
Arthur. All things that you should use to do me wrong, Deny their office; only you do lack That mercy which fierce fire and iron extend, Creatures of note for mercy-lacking uses.
Hubert. Well, see to live; I will not touch thine eyes For all the treasure that thine uncle owns: Yet I am sworn, and I did purpose, boy, With this same very iron to burn them out.
Arthur. O, now you look like Hubert. All this while You were disguised.
Hubert. Peace • no more. Adieu,
Arthur. O heav'n! I thank you, Hubert.
Hubert. Silence, no more; go closely in with me; Much danger do I undergo for thee. [Exeunt."
His death afterwards, when he throws himself from his prison..walls, excites the utmost pity for his innocence and friendless situation, and well justifies the exaggerated denunciations of Falconbridge to Hubert whom he suspects wrongfully of the deed.
"There is not yet so ugly a fiend of hell As thou shalt be, if thou did'st kill this child, —If thou did'st 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 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."
The excess of maternal tenderness, rendered desperate by the fickleness of friends and the injustice of fortune, and made stronger in will, in proportion to the want of all other power, was never more finely expressed than in Constance. The dignity of her answer to King Philip, when she refuses to accompany his messenger, "To me and to the state of my great grief, let kings assemble," her indignant reproach to Austria for deserting her cause, her invocation to death, " that love of misery," however fine and spirited, all yield to the beauty of the passage, where, her passion subsiding into tenderness, she addresses the Cardinal in these words :—
"Oh father Cardinal, I have heard you say
As dim and meagre as an ague's fit,
K. Philip. You are as fond of grief as of your child.
Constance. Grief fills the room up of my absent child: Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me; Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words, Remembers me of all his gracious parts; Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form. Then have I reason to be fond of grief."
The contrast between the mild resignation of Queen Katherine to her own wrongs, and the wild, uncontroulable affliction of Constance for the wrongs which she sustains as a mother, is no less naturally conceived than it is ably sustained throughout these two wonderful characters.
The accompaniment of the comic character of the Bastard was well chosen to relieve the poignant agony of suffering, and the cold, cowardly policy of behaviour in the principal characters of this play. Its spirit, invention, volubility of tongue, and forwardness in action, are unbounded. Aliquando sufflaminandus erat, says Ben Jonson of Shakespear. But we should be sorry if Ben Jonson had been his licenser. We prefer the heedless magnanimity of his wit infinitely to all Jonson's laborious caution. The character of the Bastard's comic humour is the same in essence as that of other comic characters in Shakespear; they always run on with good things and are never exhausted; they are always daring and successful. They have words at will and a flow of wit, like a flow of animal spirits. The difference between Falconbridge and the others is that he is a soldier, and brings his wit to bear upon action, is courageous with his sword as well as tongue, and stimulates his gallantry by his jokes, his enemies feeling the sharpness of his blows and the sting of his sarcasms at the same time. Among his happiest sallies are his descanting on the composition of his own person, his invective against " commodity, tickling commodity," and his expression of contempt for the Archduke of Austria, who had. killed his father, which begins in jest but ends in serious earnest. His conduct at the siege of Angiers shews that his resources were not confined to verbal retorts.—The same exposure of the policy of courts and camps, of kings, nobles, priests, and cardinals, takes place here as in the other plays we have gone through, and we shall not go into a disgusting repetition.