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Sal. We do believe thee,-And beshrew my soul But I do love the favour and the form
Of this most fair occasion, by the which
Leaving our rankness and irregular course,
Even to our ocean, to our great King John.-
Right in thine eye.-Away, my friends! New
And happy newness, that intends old right.
[Exeunt, leading off MELUN.
SCENE V. The same. The French Camp.
Enter LEWIS and his Train.
Lew. The sun of heaven, methought, was loath to set;
But stay'd, and made the western welkin blush, When the English measur'd backward their own ground,
In faint retire: O, bravely came we off,
4 Rankness, as applied to a river, here signifies exuberant, ready to overflow; as applied to the actions of the speaker and his party it signifies wanton wildness. Petulantia
'Rain added to a river that is rank
Perforce will force it overflow the bank.'
1 Tott'ring colours is the reading of the old copy, which was unnecessarily altered to tatter'd by Johnson, who is followed by the subsequent editors. To totter, in old language, was to waver, to shake with a tremulous motion, as colours would do in the
Enter a Messenger.
Mess. Where is my prince, the Dauphin?
Here:- What news? Mess. The Count Melun is slain; the English lords, By his persuasion, are again fallen off:
And your supply, which you have wish'd so long, Are cast away, and sunk, on Goodwin Sands.
Lew. Ah, foul shrewd news!-Beshrew thy very heart!
I did not think to be so sad to-night,
As this hath made me.-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 quarter2, and good care to-night;
The day shall not be up so soon as I,
To try the fair adventure of to-morrow. [Exeunt.
An open Place in the Neighbourhood of SwinsteadAbbey.
Enter the Bastard and HUBERT, meeting.
Hub. Who's there? speak, ho! speak quickly, or
Bast. A friend:-What art thou?
Of the part of England.
Bast. Whither dost thou go?
Hub. What's that to thee? Why may not I demand Of thine affairs, as well as thou of mine? Bast. Hubert, I think.
wind. It is obvious that tatter'd cannot be the right word, for how could their tatter'd colours be clearly wound up? to tottre (says Baret), nutare, vaccilare, see shake and wagge.' lours were waving in the wind during the battle, and were wound up at the close of it.
2 i. e keep in your allotted posts or stations.
Thou hast a perfect1 thought:
I will, upon all hazards, well believe,
Thou art my friend, that know'st my tongue so
Who art thou?
Who thou wilt: an if thou please, Thou may'st befriend me so much, as to think I come one way of the Plantagenets.
Hub. Unkind remembrance! thou, and eyeless night2,
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 news abroad?
Hub. Why, here walk I, in the black brow of night,
To find you out.
Brief, then; and what's the news? Hub. O, my sweet sir, news fitting to the night, Black, fearful, comfortless, and horrible.
Bast. Show me the very wound of this ill news; I am no woman, I'll not swoon at it.
Hub. The king, I fear, is poison'd by a monk3: I left him almost speechless, and broke out To acquaint you with this evil; that you might
1 i. e. a well informed one. So in Cymbeline :—
I am perfect
That the Pannonians, &c.'
2 The old copy reads 'endless night. The emendation was made by Theobald. The epithet is found in Jarvis Markham's English Arcadia, 1607:—
"O eyeless night, the portraiture of death.' In Shakspeare's Rape of Lucrece, we have
'Poor grooms are sightless night; kings glorious day.'
3 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 havig 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.
The better arm you to the sudden time,
known of this.
Bast. How did he take it? who did taste to him? Hub. A monk, I tell you; a resolved villain, Whose bowels suddenly burst out; the king Yet speaks, and, peradventure, may recover. Bast. Who didst thou leave to tend his 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 pardon'd 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 escap'd. Away, before! conduct me to the king;
I doubt, he will be dead, or ere I come. [Exeunt.
SCENE VII. The Orchard of Swinstead-Abbey.
Enter PRINCE HENRY1, SALISBURY, and BIGOT. P. Hen. It is too late; the life of all his blood Is touch'd corruptibly; and his pure brain (Which some suppose the soul's frail dwellinghouse),
Doth, by the idle comments that it makes,
Pem. His highness yet doth speak and holds belief,
That, being brought into the open air,
4 i. e. less speedily, after some delay.
1 Prince Henry was only nine years old when his father died.
It would allay the burning quality
Of that fell poison which assaileth him.
P. Hen. Let him be brought into the orchard
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 continuance2, will not feel themselves. Death, having prey'd upon the outward parts, Leaves them insensibles; and his 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,
Sal. Be of good comfort, prince; for you are born To set a form upon that indigest
Which he hath left so shapeless and so rude1.
Re-enter BIGOT and Attendants, who bring in KING JOHN in a Chair.
K. John. Ay, marry, now, my soul hath elbow
2 Continuance here means continuity. Bacon uses it in that sense also. So Baret, 'If the disease be of any continuance, if it be an old and settled disease.' I should not have thought this passage needed elucidation, had not Malone proposed to read 'in thy coutinuance.'
3 The old copy reads invisible. Sir T. Hanmer proposed the reading admitted into the text. Malone has endeavoured to elaborate a meaning out of the old reading, but without success. I must refer the reader to the variorum editions for his argument, and Steevens's vein of pleasant irony upon it.
4 A description of Chaos almost in the very words of Ovid:Quem dixere Chaos rudis indigestaeque moles.-Met. i. Which Chaos hight a huge rude heap:
No sunne as yeth with lightsome beames the shapeless world