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Shakespeare's history of King John online

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At whose request the King hath pardon'd them,
And they are all about his Majesty.

* Eyeless for blind, that is, dark. So in Markham's English Arcadia,
1607 : " O eyeless night, the portraiture of death." And Shakespeare, in
Lucrece, has " sightless night." — Remembrance here is memory, or the faculty
of remembering.

s " Than if this knowledge had been withheld from you till the present
hurry were over, or till you were more at leisure."

6 Resolved for determined or resolute.


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 e'er I come. \_Exeunt.

Scene VH. '— The Orchard of Swinstead Abbey.

Enter Prince Henry, Salisbury, and Bigot.

P. Hen. It is too late : the life of all his blood
Is touch'd corruptibly ; and his poor brain —
Which some suppose the soul's frail dwelling-house —
Doth, by the idle comments that it makes.
Foretell the ending of mortality.

Enter Pembroke.

Pern. 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 assailcth him.

P. lien. Ixrt him be brought into the orchard here. —
Doth he still rage? {^Exit Bigot.

Pern. He is more patient

Than when you left him ; even now he sung.

P. lien. O vanity of sickness ! fierce extremes
In their continuance will not feel themselves.'

7 Doubt, again, Un /e.tr. Sec pngc loi, note 5.

1 That is, will lose all sense of themselves, or become unconscious.


Death, having prey'd upon the outward parts,

Leaves them insensible ; and liis siege is now

Against the mind, the which he pricks and wounds

With many legions of strange fantasies,

Which, in their throng and press to that last hold.

Confound themselves. 'Tis strange that death should sing.

I am the cygnet to this pale faint swan,

Who chants a doleful hymn to his own death.

And from the organ-pipe of frailty sings

His soul and body to their lasting rest.

Sa/. Be of good comfort, Prince ; for you are bom
To set a form upon that indigest
Which he hatli left so shapeless and so rude.^

Re-enter Bigot, ivith Attendants carrying King John in a


K. John. Ay, marry, now my soul hath elbow-room ;
It would not out at windows nor at doors.
There is so hot a summer in my bosom,
That all my bowels crumble up to dust :
I am a scribbled form, drawn with a pen
Upon a parchment ; and against this fire
Do I shrink up.

P. Hen. How fares )our Majesty?

K. John. Poison'd, — ill fare ; — dead, forsook, cast off :
And none of you will bid the Winter come,
To thrust his icy fingers in my maw ;
Nor let my kingdom's rivers take their course
Through my bum'd bosom ; nor entreat the North
To make his bleak winds kiss my parched lips,

2 So in Ovid's description of Chaos : " Quern dixere Cliaos, rudis indi-
gestaque moles."


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.

r. Hen. O, that there were some virtue in my tears,
That might relieve you !

K. John. The salt in them is hot.

Within me is a hell ; and there the poison
Is, as a fiend, confined to tyrannize
On unreprievable condemned blood.

Enter the Bastard.

Bast. O, I am scalded with my violent motion,
And spleen'* of speed to see your Majesty !

K.John. O cousin, thou art come to set mine eye :
The tackle of my heart is crack'd and burn'd ;
And all the shrouds, wherewith my life should sail,
Are turned to one thread, one litde hair :
My heart hath one poor string to stay it by,
Which holds but till thy news be utterdd ;
And then all this thou see'st is but a clod,
And model -• of confounded royalty.

Bast. The Dauphin is preparing hitherward,
Where Heaven He knows how wc shall answer him ;
P'or in a night the best part of my power,
As I upon advantage did remove,''
Were in the washes all unwarily
Devoured by the unexpected flood. \_King John dies.

' strait for itingy, niggardly, or small-souled.

* Spleen was used thus of any sudden or violent motion. So in ii. i of this
play : " With swifter sfleen than powder can enforce."

6 Model here is image or representation. Repeatedly so.

•To "remove upon advant.igc" is to move for the purpose or in the
hope of gaining an advantage.


Sa/. You breathe these dead news in as dead an ear. —
My liege ! my lord ! — but now a king, now thus.

/*. I/en. Even so must I run on, and even so stop.
What surety of the world, what hope, what stay,
When this was now a king, and now is clay?

Basf. Art thou gone so ? I do but stay behind
To do the office for thee of revenge,
And then my soul shall wait on thee to Heaven,
As it on Earth hath been thy servant still. —
Now, now, you stars that move in your right spheres,
Where be your powers ? show now your mended faiths ;
And instantly return with me again,
To push destruction and perpetual shame
Out of the weak door of our fainting land.
Straight let us seek, or straight we shall be sought ;
The Dauphin rages at our very heels.

Sa/. It seems you know not, then, so much as we :
The Cardinal Pandulph is within at rest.
Who half an hour since came from the Dauphin,
And brings from him such offers of our peace
As we with honour and respect may take.
With purpose presently to leave this war.

Basf. He will the rather do it when he sees
Ourselves well sinewed to our defence.

Sa/. Nay, it is in a manner done already ;
For many carriages he hath dispatch'd
To the sea-side, and put his cause and quarrel
To the disposing of the Cardinal :
W^ith whom yourself, myself, and other lords,
If you think meet, this afternoon will post
To c6nsummate this business happily.

£as/. Let it be so ; — and you, my noble Prince,


With Other princes that may best be spared,
Shall wait upon your father's funeral.

P. Hen. At Worcester must his body be interr'd ;
For so he will'd it.

Bast. Thither shall it, then :

And happily may your sweet self put on
The lineal state and glory of the land !
To whom, with all submission, on my knee,
I do bequeath my faithful services
And true subjection everlastingly.

Sal. And the like tender of our love we make,
To rest without a spot for evermore.

P. Hen. I have a kind soul that would give you thanks,
And knows not how to do it but with tears.

Bast. O, let us pay the time but needful woe.
Since it hath been beforehand with our griefs.'^ —
This England never did, nor never shall,
Lie at the proud foot of a concjueror,
But when it first did help to wound itself.
Now these her princes are come home again,
Come the three corners of the world in arms,
And we shall shock them : nought shall make us rue.
If England to itself do rest but true. \^Exeunt.

' That is, since the time has prefaced this event with afflictions enough.
The speaker thinks they have already sufTercd so much, that now they ouglit
to give way to sorrow as little as may be.


Act I., Scene i.

rage 41. Why, ivhat a madcap hath Heaven sent us here! — So
Heath and Walker. The original has lent instead of sent.

P. 41 . With that half-face would he have all my land. — The origi-
nal has half that face. Corrected by Theobald.

V. 43. Kneel thou down Philip, but arise more great, —

Arise Sir Kichard and Plantagenct. — Instead of " arise more
great," the old text has " rise more great." Corrected by Steevens.

r. 45. l-'or ne^u-niade honour doth forget tiien'' s tiaines ;
' Tis too respective and too socialjle

For your conversion. — I suspect we ought to read, with Pope,
" too respective and unsociable For your conversing!^ This makes
' 'lis refer to honour, as we should naturally understand it. See, how-
ever, foot-note 20.

P. 46. For he is hut a bastard to the time.

That doth not smack of observation. — The original has smoake
for smack. Hardly worth noting.

Act II., Scene i.

P. 49. K. Phi. Before Angiers well met, brave Austria! — In the
old copies, this and also King Phili|>'s next speech are assigned to
Ix)uis. The correction is Theobald's. Mr. \V. W. Williams, also, in
The Parthenon, August 16, 18O2, pointed out the error. As he re-


marks, the mere fact of the speaker's saying that Austria " is come
hither at our importance " is enough to show that the speech should
not be assigned to Louis, who is addressed afterwards as a " boy."

P. 52. With thetn, a bastard 0/ the king deceased. — So the second
folio. The first has Khigs instead of king.

P. 54. That Geffrey was thy elder brother born,

And this his son ; England loas Geffrey's right ;
And his is Geffrey's. — So Mason. The original reads " And
this is Geffreyes," this having got repeated from the line above. I sus-
pect the correction ought to be carried still further, and Arthur's sub-
stituted for Geffrey's : " England was Geffrey's right, and his [right] is
Arthur's." See, however, foot-note 18.

P. 54. From whom hast thou this great commission, France,

To draiv my answer to thy articles ? — So Hanmer. Instead
of /^, the original hasfrom, which probably crept in from the preced-
ing line.

P. 55. It lies as sightly on the back of him

As great Alcides' does upon an ass. — Instead of does,^& old
text has shooes, out of which it is hardly possible to make any sense.
Theobald substituted shows, and has been followed by some editors.
The reading in the text was lately proposed by Mr. H. H. Vaughan.
It removes all difficulty, and infers an easy misprint. Mr. Fleay re-
tains shoes, and substitutes ape for ass ; which may be right.

P. 56. King Philip, determine what 7ve shall do straight.

K. Phi. Women and fools, break off your conference. — In the
first of these lines, the original has " King Lewis," and the speech be-
ginning with the second line is there assigned to Louis. The correc-
tion is Theobald's.

P. 56. England and Ireland, Anjou, Touraine, Maine. — Both
here and in one or two other places, the old copy misprints Anglers
for Anjou.


P. 57. Thou and ihine usurp

The dominations, royalties, and rights
Of this oppressed boy, thy eld'st son's son,

Jnfortunate in nothing but in thee. — So Ritson and Collier's
second folio. The original gives the third line thus : " Of this op-
pressed boy ; this is thy eldest sonnes sonne "; where both sense and
metre plead against this is as an interpolation.

P. 57. And with her p\iigued; her sin his injury ;

Her injury the beadle to her sin. — In the original this stands

as follows :

And with \ict plague her sinne: his injury
Her injury the Beadie to her sinne.

The passage has proved a very troublesome one to dress into order and
sense, and is printed variously in modern editions. It is somewhat
perplexed and obscure at the best. The change of plague to plagued
in the first line is by Roderick, and removes, I think, a good part of
the difficulty. See foot-notes 27 and 28.

P. 59. All preparation for a bloody siege

And merciless proceeding by these French

Confront your city's eyes. — The original reads " Comfort yours
cittics eies." Corrected by Rowe.

P. 60. IVe will bear home that lusty blood again

Which here we came to spout against your town.
And leave your children, solves, and you in peace.
But, if you fondly pass our proffer'd \>ea.ce,

'' Tis not the rondure of your old-faced walh, ^c. — Instead (jf
" profTcr'd /^-af^," the original has " profTer'd ^cr " ; which seems to
mc a plain instance of sophistication, in order to avoid a repetition of
peace. But I shouM rather say that the word ought to be repeated
here, fur peace is precisely what the speaker has just prnffercd. Walker
notes upon the passage thus: "The bad I'"nglish, the cacf>i)l)<)ny, and
the two-syllable ending, so uncommon in this play, prove that offer is
a corruption c)riginaling in proffcr'd. Read, I think, love'' — Instead
of rondure, in the last line, the old text has rounder, which however is
but another spelling of the same word.


P. 63. I Cit. Heralds, from off our towers we might behold, &c. —
In the original, this and the following speeches by the same person
have the prefix " Hubert!'' The error — for such it clearly is — prob-
ably grew from the two parts of the first Citizen and of Hubert being
assigned to the same actor.

r. 63. Say, shall the current of our right run on ? — So the second
folio. Instead of run, the first has route ; doubtless a misprint for
rwww^, the word being commonly so spelt.

P. 63. Unless thou let his silver waters keep

A peaceful progress to the ocean. — So Collier's second folio.
Tlie original has water, instead of waters.

P. 64. You eqtial-'poiQTii, fiery-kindled spirits. — So Walker. The
old text reads " You equall Patents."

P. 64. A greater Power than ye denies all this. — Instead of ye, the
original has We. The change was made by Theobald at Warburton's
suggestion, and was adopted by Hanmer and Capell. The original
also prefixes " Fra." to the speech.

P. 65. King'd of our fears, until our fears, resolved.

Be by some certain king purged and deposed. — Such is Tyr-
whilt's reading. The old text reads "Kings of ovlx feare" ; which, if
it gives any sense at all, gives a wrong one. The speaker clearly
means, that they are ruled by their fears, or their fears are their king,
and must continue to be so, until that king is deposed.

P. 66. Our thunders y>-ow the south

.Shall rain their drift of bullets on this town. — So Capell. The
old text has Thunder for thunders. The pronoun their points out the

P. 67. That daughter there of Spain, the Lady Blanch,

Is niece to England. — Instead of niece, the original has neere,
no doubt a misprint for neece, as the word was commonly spelt. The
correction is from Collier's second folio, and is fully justified in that the
Lady Blanch is repeatedly spoken of as John's niece.


P. 67. Such as she is, in beauty, virtue, birth.

Is the young Dauphin every way complete :

If not complete, then say he is not she ;

And she, again, -wants nothing, to name liiant.

If want it be, but that she is not he. — The original has, in the
third of these lines, " If not conipleat of," and, in tlie last, " If want it
be not." The former can hardly be made to yield any sense at all ;
and Ilanmer changed of to oh. The context naturally suggests the
reading here given : but possibly we ought to read " If not complete
he, say he is not she." The other correction was proposed, independ-
ently, by I.ettsom and Mr. Swynfen Jervis. The confounding of but
and not is among the commonest of errors in the originals of Shake-
speare. See foot-note 49.

P. G7. //e is the half part of a blcssid man.

Left to be finished by such a she. — The old text reads "such as
shcc." Not worth noting, perhaps.

P. 68. Here's a flaw,

That shakes the rotten carcass of old Death

Out of his rags. — Merc, instead o{ flaw, the original has stay,
which Collier's second folio changes to say. The former seems palpa-
bly wrong, and I cannot pronounce say much better. Johnson pro-
posed flaw, and Walker says it " is indisputably riglit." See foot-
note 51.

p. 71. For I am well assured

That I did so when / was first afficd. — Instead of affud, the
old text repeals (7«Mr'<// whereupon Walker notes as follows: "It is
impossible that this repetition u[ the same word in a different sense —
there being no ([uibble intended, or any thing else to justify it — can
have proceeded from Shakespeare. ]\ea<l ' wlicn I was first aflicd,''
that is, betrothed." Sec, also, foot-note 56.

P. 72. Brother of England, how may we content

The widow'd lady ? — .So Collier's second folio. The original
has " The widdow Lady."


P. 73. Hath drawn him from his own determined z\m. — So Mason
and Collier's second folio. The old text has ayd.

Act in., Scene i,

P. 77. I will instruct my sorrows to be proud ;

For grief is proud, and makes his owner stout. — Instead of
stout, i\\e original \\as stoope,\\'\\\iz\\ just contradicts the preceding clause.
Corrected by Hanmer.

P. 77. Here I and sorrow sit ;

Here is my throne, hid kings come bow to it. — Here, as in a
former line of the same speech, the old text has sorrowes. There,
however, the plural is in keeping ; which is far from being the case
here. Corrected by Pope.

P. 79. What a fool wert thou,

A ramping fool, to brag, and stamp, and swear.
Upon my party ! — The old text reads " What a fool art thou."
The context fairly requires the change, which was proposed by

P. 80. What earthly name to interrogatories

Can task the free breath of a sacred king? — Instead of earthly
and task, the old text has earthie and last, — palpable misprints.

P. 82. Louis, standfast ! the Devil tempts thee here

In likeness of a new-Vi\>trimmtd bride. — The original reads
"a new ?<«trimmed Bride." The correction is Dyce's, who aptly
quotes, in support of it, from Romeo and Juliet, iv. 4 : "Go waken
Juliet ; go and trim her up." Staunton adopts " the happy and un-
forced emendation of Mr. Dyce." In his Addenda and Corrigenda,
however, he makes the following note in support of the old reading :
" In old times it was a custom for the bride at her wedding to wear
her hair unbraided, and hanging loose over her shoulders. May
not Constance, by ' a new untrimmed bride,' refer to this custom ?
Peacham, in describing the marriage of the Princess Elizabeth with the


Palsgrave, says that ' the bride came into the chapell with a coronet of
pearle on her head, and her liaire dischez<elled and hanging down over
her shoulders.' Compare, too, Taiicrcd and Gismunda, v. i :

' So let thy tresses flaring in the wind
Untrimmid hang about thy bared neck.' "

P. 84. Out of your grace, devise, ordain, impose
Some gentle order ; then shall iM be blest

To do your pleasure, and continue friends. — In the original,
the second line reads " Som^ gentle order, and then we shall be blest."
Here aW hurts the metre without helping the sense ; and so, as Lett-
som remarks, " seems to have intruded from the line next below."

P. 84. France, thou mayst hold a serpent by the tongue,

A chafed lion by the 7nortal pan; &c. — So Theobald. The
original reads " A cased Lion," which is absurd. Collier's second folio
has " A cagid lion," which is rather worse than absurd, as the paw of a
caged lion may be quite harmless. In support o{ chafed, Dyce quotes
from J^ing Henry VIII., iii. 2 : "So looks the chafid lion upon the
daring huntsman that hath gall'd him." Also from Fletcher's Loyal
Subject, V. 3 : "He frets like a chafed lion."

V. 84. For that which thou hast sworn to do amiss

Is most amiss when it is truly done ;

And being not done, where doing tends to ill.

The truth is then most done, not doing it. — In the second of
these lines, the original reads " Is not amiss"; which, it seems to nic,
cannot he reconciled to the context, or strained to sense, without a
course of argument as over-subtile and intricate as Cardinal Pandulph
is here using. Warburton reads " Is yet amiss," and Collier's second
folio, "Is but amiss"; the latter of which also occurred to Lettsom.
The reading in the text is Hanmcr's, and is preferable, I think, to cither
of the others, inasmuch as it just makes a balance between the two
branches of the sentence. Sec foot-note 1 6.

P. 85. // is religion that doth make vo7vs kept :
Jlut thou hail'sit'orn against religion ;
By which thou rMcar^sl against the thing thou swcar'st,


AnJ makest an oath — the surety for thy truth —

Against an oath, — the test thou art unsure.

Who swears, swears only not to be fomuorn ;

Else what a mockery should it be to swear I

But thou dost szvear only to be forsiuorn. — A transcriber or
compositor or proof-reader might well get lost in such a maze of casu-
istry as Pandulph weaves in this speech : accordingly, the original here
presents an inextricable imbroglio. The third, fourth, fifth, and sixth
of the above lines there stand as follows :


By what thou swear' st against the thing thou swear's!.
And mak'st an oath the suretie for thy truth.
Against an oath the truth, thou art unsure
To sweare, sweares onely not to be forswome."

In the first of these lines, Capell reads " By which," as Johnson sug-
gested ; and Ilanmer reads " By that," as Staunton also proposes to
read. In either of these readings the pronoun must be understood as
referring, not to religion, but to the act expressed in the preceding line.
Again, in the last of the lines. Who swears is Capell' s reading, which
Staunton also proposes. In the third line, again, Staunton proposes to
?,\\h?<{\\.\x\.Q proof iox truth. This would be a rather bold change ; and
I prefer test, as a word more likely to be misprinted truth. I see no
possibility of making any sense out of the passage without some such
change ; and test is repeatedly used by Shakespeare as an equivalent
i OT proof. Perhaps we ought also to read 7<«/r//^ instead of unsure;
but unsure may well be taken in much the same sense as untrue, —
not to be relied on, or untrustworthy. Some of the strainings and
writhings of exegetical ingenuity that have been resorted to in support
of the old text are ludicrous enough. See foot-note l8.

P. 87. A rage whose heat hath this condition.

That nothing can allay't, nothing but blood, —
The best and dearest-valued blood of France. — Here the old
text has allay instead of allaft, and blood instead of best. The former
change is Capell's, the latter Walker's. Perhaps it were as well to
read " The blood, the dearest-valued blood of France."


Act III., Scene 2.

P. 88. Now, by my life, this day grows wondrous hot ;
Some fiery devil hovers in the sky.

And pours down tnischief. — So Theobald and Collier's second
folio. The original, " Some ayery Devill." Burton, in his Anatomie
of Melancholy, says that, of the sublunary devils, " Prellus makes six
kinds : fiery, aeriall, terrestriall, watery, and subterranean devils, be-
sides those faieries, satyres, nymphs," &c. — " Fiery spirits or devills
are such as commonly work by blazing starres, fire-drakes, or ignes
falui ; likewise they counterfeit sunnes and moones, stars oftentimes,
and sit on ship masts," &c.

P. 88. Hubert, keep thou this boy. — So Tyrwhitt The original
lacks thou.

Act III., Scene 3.

P. 88. So shall it be ; your Grace shall stay behind.

More strongly guarcLd. — Instead of More, the old text has So ;
probably repeated by mistake from the line before. The correction is

P. 89. And, ere our coining, see thou shake the bags

Of hoarding abbots ; set at lil)erty

Imprison'd angels: the fat ribs of peace

Must by the hungry war be fed upon. — In the original " set at
liberty" and "imprison'd angels" change places with each other, thus
untuning the verse badly. The correction is Walker's. The original
also reads " .Must by the hungry now Ijc fcil upon." Warburton pro-
posed and Theobald printed war.

P. 90. / //,;,/ a thing to say, —

But I will fit it with some better lime. — The original has tutUf
— a frequent misprint for time. Corrected by Pope.

P. 90. If the midnight bell

Did, 7iu'fh his iron tongue and brazen mouth,
Sound ont: intu the drowiy nr^x of nti^ht. — The original rends
" Sound on into the drowzie race of night." Shakespeare has niany


clear instances of one printed on, which was in fact a common way of
spelling out'. Theobald was the first to see that here on was merely
the old spelling of one. The correction of race to car is Walker's.
Such a misprint was very easy when car was spelt care. See foot-
note 4.

P. 91. Hubert shall he your man, t' attend on you. — So the third
folio. The original reads "your man, attetid on you."

Act III., Scene 4.

P. 92. A whole armado (j/'convented sail

Is scattered and disjoin' d from fellowship. — So Mason and Col-
lier's second folio. The original has ^'' convicted ^zA."

P. 92. Si(ch temperate order in so fierce a course

Doth want example. — The old text has cause instead of cottrse,
which was conjectured by Theobald and printed by Ilanmer. So, in

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Online LibraryWilliam ShakespeareShakespeare's history of King John → online text (page 12 of 13)