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K. John. Up higher to the plain; where we'll set
Bast. Speed, then, to take advantage of the field.
Alarums and Excursions; then a Retreat. Enter a
French Herald, with trumpets, to the gates. F. Her. You men of Angiers, open
your gates, And let young Arthur, duke of Bretagne, in, Who by the hand of France this day hath made Much work for tears in many an English mother, Whose sons lie scatter'd on the bleeding ground: Many a widow's husband grovelling lies, Coldly embracing the discolour'd earth, And victory, with little loss, doth play Upon the dancing banners of the French, Who are at hand, triumphantly display'd, To enter conquerors, and to proclaim Arthur of Bretagne, England's king, and yours.
Enter an English Herald, with trumpets. E. Her. Rejoice, you men of Angiers, ring your
bells: King John, your king and England's, doth approach, Commander of this hot malicious day. Their armours, that march'd hence so silver-bright, Ilither return all gilt with Frenchmen’s blood. There stuck no plume in any English crest,
That is removed by a staff of France:
Cit. Heralds, from off our towers & we might behold,
blows; Strength match'd with strength, and power confronted
power: Both are alike; and both alike we like. One must prove greatest : while they weigh so even, We hold our town for neither, yet for both.
Enter, at one side, King John, with his power, ELINOR,
BLANCH, and the Bastard ; at the other, King PHILIP,
Say, shall the current of our right roam on?
8 Cit. Heralds, from off our towers, &c.] In the old copies, this speech has the prefix of Hubert. Possibly the actor of the part of Hubert also personated the citizen, in order that the speeches might be well delivered, and this may have led to the insertion of his name in the MS.
9 — Austria, and forces.] The following is the simple direction in the old folios, and it is worth preserving, on account of the manner in which the two armies, headed by their kings, are represented to come upon the stage:“ Enter the two Kings with their powers, at sereral doors.”
K. Phi. England, thou hast not sav'd one drop of
blood, In this hot trial, more than we of France; Rather, lost more: and by this hand I swear, That sways the earth this climate overlooks, Before we will lay down our just-borne arms, We'll put thee down,'gainst whom these arms we bear, Or add a royal number to the dead, Gracing the scroll, that tells of this war's loss, With slaughter coupled to the name of kings.
Bast. Ha! majesty, how high thy glory towers, When the rich blood of kings is set on fire. O! now doth death line his dead chaps with steel ; The swords of soldiers are his teeth, his fangs; And now he feasts, mousing the flesh of men', In undetermin’d differences of kings.Why stand these royal fronts amazed thus? Cry, havock, kings! back to the stained field, You equal potents’, fiery-kindled spirits ! Then let confusion of one part confirm The other's peace; till then, blows, blood, and death!
K. John. Whose party do the townsmen yet admit? K. Phi. Speak, citizens, for England, who's your
king ? Cit. The king of England, when we know the
king K. Phi. Know him in us, that here hold up his right.
K. John. In us, that are our own great deputy,
Cit. A greater power than we denies all this;
MOUSING the flesh of men,] See “ Midsummer Night's Dream,” Vol. ï. p. 462, note 1. In both instances the word is mousing, and it also occurs in Sir R. Fanshaw's translation of Pastor Fido, 1648.
2 You EQUAL POTENTS,] “ Potents” may, as Steevens says, be put for potentates ; but by “equal potents” the Bastard seems rather to mean, that the victory being undecided, the two kings are equi-potent.
Our former scruple in our strong-barr'd gates,
industrious scenes and acts of death.
3 Kings of our fear ;] This is the old authentic reading, which the sense does not require us to alter. The meaning of the citizens is, that they will be ruled by their fear, admitting no other monarch, until it shall have been seen which power is the strongest, that of England or France. Tyrwhitt recommended that the passage should run“ King'd of our fear,” and Warburton, “ Kings are our fear.” Malone adopted the former. The speech is erroneously assigned to King Philip in all the folios.
these SCROYLES of Angiers] i. e. scabs of Angiers, from the French, escroulles. Ben Jonson uses it twice in the same sense, but I do not recollect to have met with it in any other dramatist of the time.
5 Do like the MUTINES of Jerusalem,] i.e. the mutineers of Jerusalem. In the case alluded to, the mutineers, or seditious parties, of Jerusalem combined their forces against the Roman besiegers: here, the converse was proposedthe besiegers were to unite against the inhabitants of the town. This event, during the siege of Jerusalem, as Malone pointed out, is found related in Joseph Ben Gorion's “Historie of the Latter Tymes of the Jewes Common-Weale," translated by Peter Morwyng, and originally published, not as Malone states in 1575, but in 1558. Henslowe, in his Diary, mentions a play to which he gives the title of “ Titus and Vespasian,” under date April, 1591, perhaps relating to the siege of Jerusalem, in which the combination of the mutines of Jerusalem” against the Roman besiegers might form an incident.
Then, in a moment, fortune shall cull forth
Bast. An if thou hast the mettle of a king,
K. Phi. Let it be so.—Say, where will you assault?
K. John. We from the west will send destruction Into this city's bosom.
Aust. I from the north.
Our thunder from the south, Shall rain their drift of bullets on this town.
Bast. O, prudent discipline! From north to south, Austria and France shoot in each other's mouth :
[Aside. I'll stir them to it.—Come, away, away! Cit. Hear us, great kings : vouchsafe a while to
stay, And I shall show you peace, and fair-fac'd league; Win
you this city without stroke, or wound; Rescue those breathing lives to die in beds, That here come sacrifices for the field. Persever not, but hear me, mighty kings. K. John. Speak on, with favour: we are bent to