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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.
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.
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.
Deliver him to safety,] That is, Give him into safe
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. JOHNSON.
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.
-reason now.] To reason, in Shakspeare, is not
so often to argue, as to talk.
Line 529. --a
Never to taste the pleasures of the world,] This is a copy of the vows made in the ages of superstition and chivalry.
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.
Line 543. Your sword is bright, sir; put it up again.] i. e. lest
it lose its brightness.
-true defence;] Honest defence; defence in a
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
portioned to the degrees of their guilt. The author of it observes how difficult it would be, on this account, to distinguish between Belzebub and Judas Iscariot. STEEVENS.
Line 622. The unowed interest] i. e. the interest which has
no proper owner to claim it.
Line 629. The imminent decay of wrested pomp.] Wrested pomp is greatness obtained by violence.
ACT V. SCENE I,
-a gentle convertite,] i. e. convert.
-Forage and run-] To forage is here used in its
original sense, for to range abroad,
Line 88. Away then, with good courage; yet, I know,
Our party may well meet a prouder foe.] Faulconbridge means, for all their boasting I know very well that our party is able to cope with one yet prouder and more confident of its strength than theirs.
ACT V. SCENE II.
the precedent, &c.] i. e. the original treaty beSTEEVENS.
tween the dauphin and the English lords.
Line 124. —clippeth thee about,] To clip is to embrace.
134. Between compulsion and a brave respect!] This compulsion was the necessity of a reformation in the state; which, according to Salisbury's opinion (who, in his speech preceding, calls it an enforced cause) could only be procured by foreign arms: and the brave respect was the love of his country. Yet the Oxford editor, for compulsion, reads compassion. WARBURTON.
Line 154. -an angel spake :] Sir T. Hanmer, and after him Dr. Warburton, read here, an angel speeds. I think unnecessarily. The dauphin does not yet hear the legate indeed, nor pretend to hear him; but seeing him advance, and concluding that he comes to animate and authorize him with the power of the church, he cries out, at the sight of this holy man, I am encouraged as by the voice of an angel. JOHNSON.
-as I have bank'd their towns?] Bank'd their towns means, thrown up fortifications, or rather entrenchments,
before their towns.
Line 231. -take the hatch;] To take the hatch, is to leap the hatch. To take a hedge or a ditch is the hunter's phrase.
Their neelds to lances,] i. e. needles.
ACT V. SCENE IV.
-rated treachery,] It were easy to change rated to hated for an easier meaning, but rated suits better with fine. The dauphin has rated your treachery, and set upon it a fine which your lives must pay. JOHNSON.
Line 364. Right in thine eye.] This is the old reading. Right signifies immediate.
Line 366. happy newness, &c.] Happy innovation, that purposed the restoration of the ancient rightful government.
ACT V. SCENE VI.
thou, and eyeless night;] Thus Pindar calls the
moon, the eye of night.
ACT V. SCENE VII.
Line 449. Is touch'd corruptibly ;] i.e. corruptively. MALONE. -470. —in their throng and press to that last hold,] In their tumult and hurry of resorting to the last tenable part. JOHNS.
Line 511. And all the shrouds,] Shakspeare here uses the word shrouds in its true sense. The shrouds are the great ropes, which come from each side of the mast. In modern poetry the word frequently signifies the sails of a ship. MALONE.
Line 521. Were in the washes, all unwarily, &c.] This untoward accident really happened to king John himself. As he passed from Lynn to Lincolnshire, he lost by an inundation all his treasure, carriages, baggage, and regalia. MALONE.
END OF THE ANNOTATIONS ON KING JOHN.