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have no proof that this play appeared in its present state before thé reign of King James, that it was exhibited soon after the popish plot. I have seen a Spanish book in which Garnet, Faux, and their accomplices are registered as saints. JOHNSON.
Line 233. Is, purchase of a heavy curse from Rome,] It is a political maxim, that kingdoms are never married. Lewis, upon the wedding, is for making war upon his new relations. JOHNSON. Line 281. -so strong in both,] I believe the meaning is, love so strong in both parties. JOHNSON. Line 322. But thou hast sworn against religion; &c.] The sense, after I had considered it, appeared to me only this: In swearing by religion against religion, to which thou hast already sworn, thou makest an oath the security for thy faith against an oath already taken. I will give, says he, a rule for conscience in these cases. Thou mayst be in doubt about the matter of an oath; when thou swearest thou mayst not be always sure to swear rightly, but let this be thy settled principle, swear only not to be forsworn; let not the latter oaths be at variance with the former.
Truth, through this whole speech, means rectitude of conduct. JOHNSON.
ACT III. SCENE II.
Line 406. Some airy devil-] We must read, Some fiery devil, if we will have the cause equal to the effect. WARBURTON.
There is no end of such alterations; every page of a vehement and negligent writer will afford opportunities for changes of terms, if mere propriety will justify them. JOHNSON.
Shakspeare here probably alludes to the distinctions and divisions of some of the demonologists, so much read and regarded in his time. They distributed the devils into different tribes and classes, each of which had its peculiar properties, attributes, &c.
These are described at length in Burton's Anatomie of Melancholy, part i. sect. 2. p. 45. 1632. PERCY.
ACT III. SCENE III.
Line 431. Bell, book, and candle-] In an account of the Romish curse given by Dr. Grey, it appears that three candles
were extinguished, one by one, in different parts of the execration.
Line 473. using conceit alone,] Conceit here, as in many other places, signifies conception, thought. MALONE.
Line 498. Remember.] This is one of the scenes to which may be promised a lasting commendation. Art could add little to its perfection, and time itself can take nothing from its beauties.
ACT III. SCENE IV.
Line 505. -Armado-] Armado is a Spanish word signifying a fleet of war. The armada in 1588 was called so by way of distinction. STEEVENS.
Line 543. Misery's love, &c.] Thou, death, who art courted by Misery to come to his relief, O come to me. MALONE.
Line 552. modern invocation.] It is hard to say what Shakspeare means by modern: it is not opposed to ancient. In All's Well that ends Well, speaking of a girl in contempt, he uses this word, her modern grace. It apparently means something slight and inconsiderable. JOHNSON.
Line 571. Bind up those tresses:] It was necessary that Constance should be interrupted, because a passion so violent cannot be borne long. I wish the following speeches had been equally happy; but they only serve to shew, how difficult it is to maintain the pathetic long. JOHNSON. —a gracious creature born.] Gracious means graceful. had you such a loss as I,
I could give better comfort-] This is a sentiment which great sorrow always dictates. Whoever cannot help himself casts his eyes on others for assistance, and often mistakes their inability for coldness. JOHNSON.
Line 621. There's nothing in this, &c.] The young prince feels his defeat with more sensibility than his father. Shame operates most strongly in the earlier years; and when can disgrace be less welcome than when a man is going to his bride? JOHNSON. Line 665. -true blood,] The blood of him that has the just JOHNSON.
Line 594. 613.
Line 672. No 'scape of nature,] The author very finely calls a monstrous birth, an escape of nature. As if it were produced while she was busy elsewhere, or intent on some other thing. WARB.
Line 696. Or, as a little snow,] Bacon, in his History of Henry VII. speaking of Perkin's march, observes that their snow-ball did not gather as it rolled. JOHNSON.
ACT IV. SCENE I.
Northampton.] Mr. Malone has observed, that Shakspeare deviated from historical fact in bringing Arthur to England; this young prince was first confined at Falaise, and afterwards at Rouen in Normandy, where he was put to death.
Line 117. Or, Hubert, if you will, cut out my tongue,] This is according to nature. We imagine no evil so great as that which
is near us.
JOHNSON. Line 123. -The fire is dead with grief, &c.] The sense is: the fire, being created not to hurt but to comfort, is dead with grief for finding itself used in acts of cruelty, which, being innocent, I have not deserved. JOHNSON. -tarre him on.] To tarre means to provoke or
Line 135. to stimulate.
ACT IV. SCENE II.
Line 159. This once again
Was once superfluous:] This one time more was one time more than enough. JOHNSON. John's second coronation was at Canterbury, in the year 1201. He was crowned a third time, at the same place, after the murder of his nephew, in April, 1202; probably with a view of confirming his title to the throne, his competitor no longer standing in his way. MALONE. Line 167. To guard a title that was rich before;] To guard, is to fringe. JOHNSON.
Line 187. They do confound their skill in covetousness:] i. e. Not by their avarice, but in an eager emulation, an intense desire of excelling. THEOBALD.
Line 199. Some reasons of this double coronation
I have possess'd you with, and think them strong;
And more, more strong, (when lesser is my fear,)
I shall indue you with:-} I have told you some reasons, in my opinion strong, and shall tell more yet stronger; for the stronger my reasons are, the less is my fear of your disapprobation. This seems to be the meaning. JOHNSON.
Line 207. To sound the purposes-] To declare, to publish the desires of all those. JOHNSON.
Line 219. good exercise?] In the middle ages the whole education of princes and noble youths consisted in martial exercises, &c. These could not be easily had in a prison, where mental improvements might have been afforded as well as any where else; but this sort of education never entered into the thoughts of our active, warlike, but illiterate nobility. PERCY. Line 236. Between his purpose and his conscience,] Between his consciousness of guilt, and his design to conceal it by fair professions. JOHNSON.
Line 239. And, when it breaks,] This is but an indelicate metaphor, taken from an impostumated tumour. JOHNSON.
Line 274. From France to England.] The king asks how all goes in France; the messenger catches the word goes, and answers, that whatever is in France goes now into England. JOHNSON.
Deliver him to safety,] That is, Give him into safe
Line 358. —five moons were seen to-night: &c.] This incident is mentioned by few of our historians: I have met with it no where, but in Matthew of Westminster and Polydore Virgil, with a small alteration. These kind of appearances were more common about that time, than either before or since. Dr. GREY.
Line 389. It is the curse of kings, &c.] This plainly hints at Davison's case, in the affair of Mary queen of Scots, and so must have been inserted long after the first representation. WARBURTON.
It is extremely probable that our author meant to pay his court to Elizabeth for this covert apology for her conduct to Mary. The queen of Scots was beheaded in 1587, some years, I believe, before he had produced any play on the stage. MALONE.
Line 413. Hadst thou but shook thy head, &c.] 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 trans
fer the guilt to his accomplice. These reproaches vented against Hubert are not the words of art or policy, but the eruptions of a mind swelling with a consciousness of crime, and desirous of discharging its misery on another.
This account of the timidity of guilt is drawn ab ipsis recessibus mentis, from the intimate knowledge of mankind, particularly that line in which he 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.
ACT IV. SCENE III.
Line 472. Whose private, &c.] i. e. whose private account of the dauphin's affection to our cause, is much more ample than the letters. Pope. Line 487. -reason now.] To reason, in Shakspeare, is not so often to argue, as to talk. JOHNSON.
a holy vow;
Never to taste the pleasures of the world,] This is a copy of the vows made in the ages of superstition and chivalry.
Line 533. Till I have set a glory to this hand,
By giving it the worship of revenge.] The worship is the dignity, the honour. We still say worshipful of magistrates.
JOHNSON. Line 543. Your sword is bright, sir ; put it up again.] i. e. lest it lose its brightness. MALONE. -true defence ;] Honest defence; defence in a JOHNSON.
Line 549. good cause.
Line 557. Do not prove me so;
Yet, I am none:] Do not make me a murderer by compelling me to kill you; I am hitherto not a murderer. JOHNS. Line 595. There is not yet, &c.] I remember once to have met with an old book, printed in the time of Henry VIII. (which Shakspeare possibly might have seen) where we are told that the deformity of the condemned in the other world is exactly pro