Page images
PDF
EPUB

King John:

Prince Henry, his fon; afterwards King Henry III. Arthur, Duke of Bretagne, fon of Geffrey, late Duke of Bretagne, the elder brother of King John. William Marefhall, Earl of Pembroke. Geffrey Fitz-Peter, Earl of Effex, Chief Jufticiary of England.

William Longfword, Earl of Salisbury.
Robert Bigot, Earl of Norfolk.

Hubert de Burgh, Chamberlain to the King.
Robert Faulconbridge, fon of Sir Robert Faulcon-
bridge:

Philip Faulconbridge, his half-brother; baftard fon to K. Richard the First.

James Gurney, fervant to Lady Faulconbridge.
Peter of Pomfret, a Prophet.

Philip, King of France.
Lewis, the Dauphin.
Arch-duke of Austria.

Cardinal Pandulpho, the Pope's Legate.
Melun, a French Lord.

Chatillon, Ambassador from France to King John.

Elinor, the widow of King Henry II. and mother of King John.

Conftance, mother to Arthur.

Blanch, daughter to Alphonfo King of Caftile, and niece to King John.

Lady Faulconbridge, mother to the baftard, and Robert Faulconbridge.

Lords, Ladies, Citizens of Angiers, Sheriff, Heralds, Officers, Soliers, Meffengers, and other Attendants. SCENE, fometimes in England, and fometimes in France.

2-Salisbury.] Son to King Henry II. by Rofamond Clifford. STEEVENS.

KING JOHN.

ACT I. SCENE I.

Northampton. A Room of State in the Palace.

Enter King JOHN, Queen ELINOR, PEMBROKE, ESSEX, SALISBURY, and Others, with CHATILLON.

K. JOHN. Now, fay, Chatillon, what would France with us?

CHAT. Thus, after greeting, speaks the king of France,

In my behaviour, to the majefty,
The borrow'd majefty of England here.

ELI. A ftrange beginning;-borrow'd majesty!
K. JOHN. Silence, good mother; hear the embassy.

2 In my behaviour,] The word behaviour feems here to have a fignification that I have never found in any other author. The king of France, fays the envoy, thus fpeaks in my behaviour to the majefty of England; that is, the King of France fpeaks in the character which I here affume. I once thought that these two lines, in my behaviour, &c. had been uttered by the ambassador as part of his master's meffage, and that behaviour had meant the conduct of the King of France towards the King of England; but the ambaffador's fpeech, as continued after the interruption, will not admit this meaning. JOHNSON.

In my behaviour means, in the manner that I now do.

M. MASON.

In my behaviour means, I think, in the words and action that I am now going to ufe. So, in the fifth act of this play, the Battard fays to the French king,

66

Now hear our English king,

"For thus his royalty doth speak in me." MALONE.

[ocr errors]

CHAT. Philip of France, in right and true behalf
Of thy deceased brother Geffrey's fon,
Arthur Plantagenet, lays most lawful claim
To this fair ifland, and the territories;
To Ireland, Poitiers, Anjou, Touraine, Maine:
Defiring thee to lay afide the fword,
Which fways ufurpingly these feveral titles;
And put the fame into young Arthur's hand,
Thy nephew, and right royal fovereign.

K. JOHN. What follows, if we difallow of this?
CHAT. The proud control of fierce and bloody

war,

To enforce these rights fo forcibly withheld.

K. JOHN. Here have we war for war, and blood for blood,

Controlment for controlment; fo answer France.*

3-control-] Oppofition, from controller. JOHNSON.

I think it rather means conftraint or compulfion. So, in the fecond act of King Henry V. when Exeter demands of the King of France the furrender of his crown, and the King anfwers" Ör else what follows?" Exeter replies:

Bloody constraint; for if you hide the crown
"Even in your hearts, there will he rake for it."
The paffages are exactly fimilar. M. MASON.

[ocr errors]

Here have we war for war, and blood for blood,

Controlment for controlment; &c.] King John's reception of Chatillon not a little resembles that which Andrea meets with from the King of Portugal in the first part of Jeronimo, &c. 1605: And. Thou fhalt pay tribute, Portugal, with blood. "Bal. Tribute for tribute then; and foes for foes. "And. I bid fudden wars." you Jeronimo was exhibited on the ftage before the year 1590.

STEEVENS.

[ocr errors]

MALONE.

From the following paffage in Barnabie Googe's Cupido conquered, (dedicated with his other Poems, in May, 1562, and printed in 1563,) Jeronymo appears to have been written earlier than the earlieft of thefe dates:

CHAT. Then take my king's defiance from my mouth,

The furtheft limit of my embaffy.

K. JOHN, Bear mine to him, and fo depart in
peace:

Be thou as lightning' in the eyes of France;
For ere thou canst report I will be there,
The thunder of my cannon fhall be heard:

"Mark hym that fhowes ye Tragedies,

66

Thyne owne famylyar frende,

By whom ye Spaniard's hawty ftyle
"In Englyfh verfe is pende.'

B. Googe had already founded the praises of Phaer and Gaf coigne, and is here defcanting on the merits of Kyd.

It is not impoffible (though Ferrex and Porrex was acted in 1561) that Hieronymo might have been the first regular tragedy that appeared in an English drefs.

It may alfo be remarked, that B. Googe, in the foregoing lines, feems to speak of a tragedy" in English verfe," as a novelty.

66

..

STEEVENS.

5 Be thou as lightning-] The fimile does not fuit well: the lightning indeed appears before the thunder is heard, but the lightning is deftructive and the thunder innocent. JOHNSON.

The allufion may notwithstanding be very proper fo far as Shakspeare had applied it, i. e. merely to the fwiftness of the lightning, and its preceding and foretelling the thunder. But there is fome reafon to believe that thunder was not thought to be innocent in our author's time, as we elsewhere learn from himself. See King Lear, Act III. fc. ii. Antony and Cleopatra, A&t II. fc. v. Julius Cæfar, A&t I. fc. iii. and still more decifively in Meajure for Measure, A&t II. fc. ii. This old fuperftition is still prevalent in many parts of the country. RITSON.

King John does not allude to the deftructive powers either of thunder or lightning; he only means to fay, that Chatillon fhall appear to the eyes of the French like lightning, which shows that thunder is approaching: and the thunder he alludes to is that of his cannon. Johnfon alfo forgets, that though philofophically fpeaking, the deftructive power is in the lightning, it has generally in poetry been attributed to the thunder. So, Lear fays:

"You fulphurous and thought-executing fires,
"Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,

Singe my white head!" M. MASON.

So, hence! Be thou the trumpet of our wrath,
And fullen prefage of your own decay.-
An honourable conduct let him have ;-
Pembroke, look to't: Farewell, Chatillon.
[Exeunt CHATILLON and PEMBROKE.

W

ELI. What now, my fon? have I not ever said, How that ambitious Conftance would not cease, Till fhe had kindled France, and all the world, Upon the right and party of her fon?

This might have been prevented, and made whole,
With very eafy arguments of love;
Which now the manage' of two kingdoms muft
With fearful bloody issue arbitrate.

K. JOHN. Our ftrong poffeffion, and our right, for us.

ELI. Your ftrong poffeffion, much more than your right;

Or else it must go wrong with you, and me:
So much my confcience whifpers in your ear;
Which none but heaven, and you, and I, shall hear.

6 fullen prefage-] By the epithet fullen, which cannot be applied to a trumpet, it is plain that our author's imagination had now suggested a new idea. It is as if he had faid, be a trumpet to alarm with our invafion, be a bird of ill omen to croak out the prognoftick of your own ruin. JOHNSON.

I do not fee why the epithet fullen may not be applied to a trumpet, with as much propriety as to a bell. In our author's Henry IV. P. II. we find

"Sounds ever after as a fullen bell—."

MALONE.

That here are two ideas, is evident; but the second of them has not been luckily explained. The fullen prefage of your own decay, means, the difmal paffing bell, that announces your own approaching diffolution. STEEVENS.

7 the manage-] i. e. conduct, administration. K. Richard II:

So, in

66

-for the rebels

"Expedient manage must be made, my liege."

STEEVENS.

« PreviousContinue »