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When the English measured backward their own
Enter a Messenger. Mess. Where is my prince, the Dauphin? Lew. Here.—What news? Mess. The Count Melun is slain : the English
lords, By his persuasion, are again fall'n off: And your supply, which you have wished so long, Are cast away and sunk on Goodwin sands.
Lew. Ah, foul shrewd news!—Beshrew thy
Hub. Why, here walk I, in the black brow of night, To find you out.
Bast. Brief, then; and what's the news?
Hub. O my sweet sir, news fitting to the night: Black, fearful, comfortless, and horrible.
Bast. Shew me the very wound of this ill news: I am no woman; I'll not swoon at it.
Hub. The King, I fear, is poisoned by a monk. I left him almost speechless, and broke out To acquaint you with this evil; that you might The better arm you to the sudden time Than if you had at leisure known of this.
Bast. How did he take it? who did taste to him?
Hub. A monk, I tell you: a resolvéd villain, Whose bowels suddenly burst out. The King Yet speaks, and peradventure may recover.
Bast. Who didst thou leave to tend bis majesty? Hub. Why, know you not? The lords are all
come back, And brought Prince Henry in their company: At whose request the King hath pardoned them, And they are all about his majesty. Bast. Withhold thine indignation, mighty
heaven, And tempt us not to bear above our power !-I'll tell thee, Hubert, half my power this night, Passing these flats, are taken by the tide; These Lincoln washes have devoured them: Myself, well-mounted, hardly have escaped. Away, before : conduct me to the King : I doubt he will be dead or ere I come. [Ereunt.
I did not think to be so sad to-night
:-Who was he that said King John did fly an hour or two before The stumbling night did part our weary powers ?
Mess. Whoever spoke it, it is true, my lord. Lew. Well : keep good quarter and good care
to-night. The day shall not be up so soon as I, To try the fair adventure of to-morrow. [Exeunt.
SCENE VII.- The Orchard of Swinstead Abbey.
Enter Prince Henry, SALISBURY, and Bigot.
P. Hen. It is too late: the life of all his blood Is touched corruptibly; and his pure brain (Which some suppose the soul's frail dwelling
house) Doth, by the idle comments that it makes, Foretel the ending of mortality.
Scene VI.- An open place, in the neighbourhood
of Swinstead Abbey. Enter the Bastard and Hubert, meeting. Hub. Who's there? Speak, ho! speak quickly,
or I shoot. Bast, A friend. What art thou ? Hub. Of the part of England. Bast. Whither dost thou go? Hub. What's that to thee? Why may I not
demand Of thine affairs, as well as thou of mine?
Bast. Hubert, I think.
Hub. Thou hast a perfect thought. I will, upon all hazards, well believe Thou art my friend, that know'st my tongue so well. Who art thou?
Bust. Who thou wilt: an if thou please, Thou mayst befriend me so much as to think I come one way of the Plantagenets. Hub. Unkind remembrance! thou and eyeless
night Have done me shame.—Brave soldier, pardon me That any accent breaking from thy tongue Should 'scape the true acquaintance of mine ear. Bast. Come, come: sans compliment, what
Enter PEMBROKE. Pem. His highness yet doth speak; and holds
belief That, being brought into the open air, It would allay the burning quality Of that fell poison which assaileth him. P. Hen. Let him be brought into the orchard
here. Doth he still rage?
[Exit Bigot. Pem. He is more patient Than when you left him: even now he sung.
P. Hen. O) vanity of sickness! fierce extremes, In their continuance, will not feel themselves.
Death, having preyed upon the outward parts,
Sal. Be of good comfort, prince: for you are born To set a form upon that indigest Which he hath left sò shapeless and so rude. Re-enter Bigor and Attendants, who bring in
King John in a chair.
I am a scribbled form, drawn with a pen
P. Hen. How fares your majesty ?
cast off! And none of
will bid the winter come, To thrust his icy fingers in my maw: Nor let my kingdom's rivers take their course Through my burned bosom: nor entreat the north To make his bleak winds kiss my parchéd lips, And comfort me with cold. I do not ask you much: I beg cold comfort: and you are so strait
And so ingrateful, you deny me that!
P. Hen. O, that there were some virtue in my tears, That might relieve you !
K. John. The salt in them is hot.
Enter the Bastard.
The tackle of my heart is cracked and burned, As we with honour and respect may take; And all the shrouds wherewith my life should sail With purpose presently to leave this war. Are turnéd to one thread, one little hair :
Bast. He will the rather do it when he sees My heart hath one poor string to stay it by, Ourselves well sinewed to our defence. Which holds but till thy news be uttered;
Sal. Nay, it is in a manner done already: And then all this thou seest is but a clod, For many carriages he hath despatched And module of confounded royalty.
To the sea-side, and put his cause and quarrel Bast. The Dauphin is preparing hitherward ; To the disposing of the cardinal : Where Heaven he knows how we shall answer him: With whom yourself, myself, and other lords, For, in a night, the best part of my power, If you think meet, this afternoon will post As I upon advantage did remove,
To cónsummate this business happily. Were in the washes, all unwarily,
Bast. Let it be so.—And you, my noble prince, Devoured by the unexpected flood.
With other princes that may best be spared,
[The King dies. Shall wait upon your father's funeral. Sal. You breathe these dead news in as dead P. Hen. At Worcester must his body be in
terred: My liege, my lord !—But now a king; now thus! For so he willed it. P. Hen. Even so must I run on, and even so Bust.
Thither shall it, then. stop.
And happily may your sweet self put on What surety of the world, what hope, what stay, The lineal state and glory of the land: When this was now a king, and now is clay! To whom, with all submission, on my knee,
Bast. Art thou gone so? I do but stay behind I do bequeath my faithful services To do the office for thee of revenge ;
And true subjection everlastingly. And then my soul shall wait on thee to heaven, Sal. And the like tender of our love we make, As it on earth hath been thy servant still.- To rest without a spot for evermore. Now, now, you stars that move in your right P. Hen. I have a kind soul that would give spheres,
you thanks, Where be your powers? Shew now your inended And knows not how to do it but with tears. faiths;
Bast. O let us pay the time but needful woe, And instantly return with me again,
Since it hath been beforehand with our griefs.To push destruction and perpetual shame This England never did, nor never shall, Out of the weak door of our fainting land. Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror, Straight let us seek, or straight we shall be sought: But when it first did help to wound itself. The Dauphin rages at our very heels.
Now these her princes are come home again, Sal. It seems you know not then so much as we: Come the three corners of the world in arms, The Cardinal Pandulph is within at rest,
And we shall shock them. Nought shall make Who half an hour since came from the Dauphin,
us rue, And brings from him such offers of our peace If England to itself do rest but true. [Exeunt.
" Your faithful subject I, a gentleman,
Act I., Scene 1. Shakspere's " King JOHN" was founded on an older play, of which further mention will be found subsequently. A rough sketch of the character of Falconbridge appears in that production. Hollinshed says that King Richard had a natural son, named Philip, who killed the Viscount de Limoges to revenge the death of his father.
" Because he hath a hall-face, like my father,
With that half-face would he have all my land.
Act I., Scene 1. The allusion here is to the silver groats of Henry VII. and Henry VIII., which had on them a half-face or profile, as is the custom on all our coin in the present day. Previously to the time spoken of, the groats of our kings, and, indeed, all their silver coinage, had a full face crowned.
“Or the reputed son of Caur-de-lion;
Act. I., Scene 1. The pbrase " lord of thy presence," means, master of that dignity and grandeur of appearance that may sufficiently distinguish thee from the vulgar, without the help of fortune. * Lord of his presence" apparently signifies great in his own person; and is used in this sense by King John iu one of the following scenes.-JOHNson.
My face so thin, That in mine ear I durst not slick a rose, Lest men should say, 'Look where three farthings goes !'”
Act I, Scene 1. Queen Elizabeth coined three-penny, three-halfpenny, and three-farthing pieces; they all had her head on one side of the coin, and a rose on the reverse. Being of silver, the "three-farthing rose" was of course extremely thin, and hence the allusion. It appears to have been the fashion, also, for men to wear roses, either real or artificial, in a lock near the ear.
"GUR. Good leave, good Philip.
Act I., Scene 1. The sparrow was called Philip from its note, which was supposed to have some resemblance to that word.
"Knight, knight, good mother,- Basilisco-like."
Act I., Scene 1. The allusion here is to a ridiculous old drama, called "SOLYMAN AND PERSEDA." One of the characters is Basilisco, a bragging coward, who, however, insists upon his rank, and desires a buffoon servant to call him “Knight, good fellow, knight."
" He that perforce robe lions of their hearts,
May easily win a woman's."-Act I., Scene 1. There is an old metrical romance of “RICHARD CEUR DE-LION," wherein this celebrated monarch is related to
have acquired his distinguishing appellation by having plucked out a lion's heart, to whose fury he was exposed by the Duke of Austria, for having slain his son with a blow of the fist. The story is also related by several of the ancient chroniclers.
“Before Angiers well met, brave Austria.”—Act II., Scene 1.
Leopold, Duke of Austria, by whom Richard had been thrown into prison in 1193, died in 1195 (previous to the siege here recorded), in consequence of a fall from his horse. The older play led Shakspere into this anachronism. Leopold's original hostility to Richard is said to have been derived from some affront put upon him by Cæur-de-lion at the siege of Acre.
"My boy a bastard! By my soul, I think
His father never was so true begot:
Act II., Scene 1. Constance alludes to Elinor's infidelity to her husband, Louis VII., of France, on account of which she was divorced, and afterwards married Henry II., of England, father of Richard and John.
" That daughter there of Spain, the lady Blanch,
Is near lo England."--Act II., Scene 2. The lady Blanch was daughter of Alphonso, King of Castile, who was married to a sister of King John.
"To me, and to the state of my great grief,
Let kings assemble."-Act III., Scene 1. In "Mucu ADO ABOUT NOTHING," the father of Hero, depressed by her disgrace, declares himself so subdued by grief, that a thread might lead him. How is it that grief in Leonato and Lady Constance produces effects directly opposite, and yet both agreeable to nature ?-Sorrow softens the mind while it is yet warmed by hope, but hardens it when it is congealed by despair. Distress, while there remains any prospect of relief, is weak and flexible: but when no succour remains, is fearless and stubborn: angry alike at those that injure, and those that do not help: careless to please where nothing can be gained, and fearless to offend when there is nothing further to be dreaded.--Such was this writer's knowledge of the passions.-JOHNSON.
" () Lymoges ! 0 Austria! thou dost shame
That bloody spoil."-Act III., Scene 1. The poet has here fallen into a mistake of persons, by following the older play, in which Austria is called “Lymoges, the Austrich duke." The castle of Chaluz, before which Richard fell (1199), belonged to Vidomar, Viscount of Lymoges, or Limoges; and this circumstance led, no doubt, to the original error.
"My mother is assailed in our tent,
And ta'en I fear."-Act III., Scene 2. The queen-mother, whom King John had made Regent in Anjou, was in possession of the town of Mirabeau, in that province. On the approach of the French army with Arthur, she sent letters to King John to come to her relief,
This account of the timidity of guilt is drawn, ab ipsis recessibus mentis, from the intimate knowledge of mankind: particularly that line in which John says, that “to have bid him tell his tale in express words " would have "struck him dumb." Nothing is more certain than that bad men use all the arts of fallacy upon themselves, palliate their actions to their own minds by gentle terms, and hide themselves from their own detection in ambiguities and subterfuges.-Johnson.
“Within this bosom never entered yet
Act IV., Scene 2. Nothing can be falser than what Hubert here says in his own vindication : for we find, from a preceding scene, that the “ motion of a murderous thought" had entered into him, and that very deeply: and it was with difficulty that the tears, the entreaties, and the innocence of Arthur, had diverted and suppressed it.-WARBURTON.
The critic here is correct as to the fact; but the poet was dramatically justified in representing Hubert, since he had not acted on his “murderous thought," as anxious to claim the merit of having never entertained it. This is one of Shakspere's exquisite touches of reality.-J. O.
"The King, I fear, is poisoned by a monk."
Act V., Scene 6. Not one of the historians, who wrote within sixty years of the event, mentions this improbable story. The tale is, that a monk, to revenge himself on the King, for a saying at which he took offence, poisoned a cup of ale, and brought it to his majesty, drank some of it himself to induce the King to taste it, and soon afterwards expired.—Thomas Wykes is the first who mentions it in his chronicle, as a report. According to the best accounts, John died at Newark, of a fever.-MALONE.
Holinslied states, that the monk's motive was to defeat the revenge of John, who had said (from hatred of the people on account of their revolt) that he would cause "all kind of grain to be at a far higher price, ere many days should pass."
“ For, in a night, the best part of my power,
Act V., Scene 7. This disaster really happened to King John, and is supposed to have been the immediate cause of the fever that took him off. As he passed from Lynn into Lincolnshire, he lost by an inundation all his treasure, carriage, baggage, and regalia.
“King Joun" was first published in the original folio, and is founded on an older play, in two parts (1591), called "THE TROUBLESOME RAIGNE OF JOHN, KING OF EngLAND."
The present historic drama is pronounced by Johnson to be “not written with the utmost power of Shakspere.” The truth is, the poet had no "utmost power." He has told us in this very play,
“When workmen strive to do better than well,
They do confound their skill in covetousness." There were no throes, there was nothing spasmodic, in the genius of Shakspere. He never " confounded his skill." Take any two of his plays written in his maturer years, and if a well-judged preference is to be given to either, it will be found to arise from the subject, not its execution. In his historical plays, as we have said (Introductory Remarks), he was controlled and was content to be so. He might have made King John a more striking character, with less art and labour; but he spared neither, when he was to paint him as he lived.
which he immediately did. As he advanced to the town, he encountered the army that lay before it, routed them, and took Arthur prisoner. The queen, in the meanwhile, remaining perfectly secure in the castle of Mirabeau.
Such is supposed to be the most authentic statement; but, according to some accounts, Arthur took Queen Elinor prisoner, who was afterwards rescued by her son.
Bell, book, and candle shall not drive me back,
Act III., Scene 3. By the old ecclesiastical law, it was decreed that sentence of excommunication was to be " explained in order in English, with bells tolling and candles lighted, that it may cause the greater dread: for laymen have greater regard to this soler than to the effect of such sentences."
"Then, in despite of brooded walchful day,
Act III., Scene 3. “Brooded," I apprehend, is here used, with our author's usual licence, for “brooding;”-that is, “day, who is as vigilant, as ready with open eye to mark what is done in his presence, as an animal at brood." Mr. Pope, instead of “brooded," substituted “broad-eyed ;” a more poetical epithet, perhaps, but certainly an unnecessary emendation. All animals while “brooded" (with a brood of young under their protection), are remarkably vigilant.—MALONE.
"Northampton. A Room in the Castle."-Act IV., Scene 1.
There is no circumstance, either in the older play or in Shakspere's, to denote the particular castle in which Arthur is supposed to be confined. That of Northampton has been adopted, because in the first act, King John seems to have been in that town.
According to the French historians, Arthur was first imprisoned at Falaise, in Normandy, and afterwards at Rouen, where he was secretly put to death by John's own hand.
" Yet I remember, when I was in France,
Young gentlemen would be as sad as night,
Only for wantonness."-Act IV., Scene 1. This affectation of sadness is ridiculed by various writers of Shakspere's day. Lyly, in his “Midas," says, "Melancholy is the crest of courtiers, and now every base companion says he is melancholy."
"And here's a prophet that I brought with me
Act IV., Scene 2. This man was a hermit in great repute with the common people. Notwithstanding the event is said to have fallen out as he prophesied, the poor fellow was inhumanly dragged at horses' tails through the streets of Wareham, and together with his son, who appears to have been even more innocent than his father, hanged afterwards upon a gibbet. Holinshed, in anno 1213.-Speed says, that Peter the hermit was suborned by the pope's legate, the French king, and the barons.
" Hadsl thou but shook thy head, or made a pause,
Act IV., Scene 2. There are many touches of nature in this conference of John with Hubert. A man engaged in wickedness would keep the profit to himself, and transfer the guilt to his accomplice. These reproaches vented against Hubert are not the words of art or policy, but the eruptions of a mind swel. ling with consciousness of a crime, and desirous of discharge ing its misery on another.