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K. John. Doth not the crown of England prove the king? And, if not that, I bring you witnesses,
Twice fifteen thousand hearts of England's breed, -
K. John. To verify our title with their lives.
K. Phi. As many, and as well-born bloods as those, -
K. Phi. Stand in his face, to contradict his claim. 1 Cit. Till you compound whose right is worthiest, We, for the worthiest, hold the right from both.
K. John. Then God forgive the sin of all those souls, That to their everlasting residence,
Before the dew of evening fall, shall fleet,
In dreadful trial of our kingdom's king!
K. Phi. Amen, Amen!-Mount, chevaliers! to arms! Bast. St. George,-that swing'd the dragon, and e'er since,
Sits on his horseback at mine hostess' door,
Teach us some fence!-Sirrah, were I at home,
And make a monster of you.
Peace; no more.
Bast. O, tremble; for you hear the lion roar. K. John. Up higher to the plain; where we 'll set forth, In best appointment, all our regiments.
Bast. Speed then, to take advantage of the field. K. Phi. It shall be so;-[to Lew.] and at the other hill Command the rest to stand.-God, and our right!
Alarums and Excursions; then a Retreat. Enter a French Herald, with trumpets, to the gates.
F. Her. You men of Angiers, open wide your gates,2 And let young Arthur, duke of Bretagne, in;
1 I'd set an ox-head to your lion's hide,] So, in the old spurious play of King John:
"But let the frolick Frenchman take no scorn,
"If Philip front him with an English horn." Steevens.
Who, by the hand of France, this day hath made
Enter an English Herald, with trumpets.
E. Her. Rejoice, you men of Angiers, ring your bells; King John, your king and England's, doth approach, Commander of this hot malicious day!
Their armours, that march'd hence so silver-bright,
Our colours do return in those same hands
Our lusty English, all with purpled hands,
2 You men of Angiers, &c.] This speech is very poetical and smooth, and except the conceit of the widow's husband embracing the earth, is just and beautiful. Johnson.
3 Rejoice, you men of Angiers, &c.] The English herald falls somewhat below his antagonist. Silver armour gilt with blood is a poor image. Yet our author has it again in Macbeth:
66 Here lay Duncan,
"His silver skin lac'd with his golden blood." Johnson.
all gilt with Frenchmen's blood;] This phrase which has already been exemplified in Macbeth, p. 111, n. 4, occurs also in Chapman's version of the sixteenth Iliad:
"The curets from great Hector's breast, all gilded with his gore."
Again, in the same translator's version of the 19th Odyssey: "And shew'd his point gilt with the gushing gore.'
5 And, like a jolly troop of huntsmen, &c.] It was, I think, one of the savage practices of the chase, for all to stain their hands in the blood of the deer, as a trophy. Johnson.
Shakspeare alludes to the same practice in Julius Cæsar:
Here thy hunters stand,
'Sign'd in thy spoil, and crimson'd in thy lethe." Steevens.
Died in the dying slaughter of their foes:
Cit. Heralds, from off our towers we might behold, From first to last, the onset and retire Of both your armies; whose equality By our best eyes cannot be censured:"
Blood hath bought blood, and blows have answer'd blows; Strength match'd with strength, and power confronted power:
Both are alike; and both alike we like.
One must prove greatest: while they weigh so even, We hold our town for neither; yet for both.
Enter, at one side, King JoHN, with his power; ELINOR, BLANCH, and the Bastard; at the other, King PHILIP, LEWIS, AUSTRIA, and Forces.
K. John. France, hast thou yet more blood to cast away Say, shall the current of our right run on? Whose passage, vex'd with thy impediment, Shall leave his native channel, and o'er-swell With course disturb'd even thy confining shores; Unless thou let his silver water keep
A peaceful progress to the ocean.
K. Phi. England, thou hast not sav'd one drop of blood, In this hot trial, more than we of France;
6 Heralds, from off &c.] These three speeches seem to have been laboured. The Citizen's is the best; yet both alike we like is a poor gingle. Johnson.
7 cannot be censured:] i. e. cannot be estimated. author ought rather to have written-whose superiority, or whose inequality, cannot be censured. Malone.
So, in King Henry VI, P. I:
"If you do censure me by what you were,
"Not what you are."
8 Say, shall the current of our right run on?] The old copy--roam on. Steevens.
The editor of the second folio substituted run, which has been adopted in the subsequent editions. I do not perceive any need of change. In The Tempest we have "the wandering brooks."
I prefer the reading of the second folio. So, in K. Henry V: "As many streams run into one self sea."
The King would rather describe his right as running on in a direct than in an irregular course, such as would be implied by the word roam.
Rather, lost more: And by this hand I swear,
Gracing the scroll, that tells of this war's loss,
Bast. Ha, majesty! how high thy glory towers,
The other's peace; till then, blows, blood, and death!
9 mouthing the flesh of men,] The old copy reads—mousing. Steevens.
Mousing, like many other ancient and now uncouth expressions, was expelled from our author's text by Mr. Pope; and mouthing, which he substituted in its room, has been adopted in the subsequent editions, without any sufficient reason, in my apprehension. Mousing is, I suppose, mamocking, and devouring eagerly as a cat devours a mouse. So, in A Midsummer Night's Dream: "Well moused, Lion!" Again, in The Wonderful Year, by Thomas Decker, 1603: "Whilst Troy was swilling sack and sugar, and mousing fat venison, the mad Greekes made bonfires of their houses." Malone.
I retain Mr. Pope's emendation, which is supported by the following passage in Hamlet: " — first mouthed to be last swallowed." Shakspeare designed no ridicule in this speech; and therefore did not write, (as when he was writing the burlesque interlude of Pyramus and Thisbe)—mousing. Steevens.
1 Cry, havock, kings!] That is, command slaughter to proceed. So, in Julius Cæsar:
Cry, havock, and let slip the dogs of war." Johnson. 2 You equal potents, Potents for potentates. So, in Ane verie excellent and delectabill Treatise intitulit PHILOTUS, &c. 1603: "Ane of the potentes of the town,
K. John. In us, that are our own great deputy,
1 Cit. A greater power than we, denies all this; And, till it be undoubted, we do lock
Our former scruple in our strong-barr'd gates:
3 A greater power than we, denies all this;
King'd of our fears;] The old copy reads—
Kings of our fears
A greater power than we, may mean, the Lord of hosts, who has not yet decided the superiority of either army; and till it be undoubted, the people of Angiers will not open their gates. Secure and confident as lions, they are not at all afraid, but are kings, i. e. masters and commanders, of their fears, until their fears or doubts about the rightful King of England are removed. Tollet. We should read, than ye. What power was this? their fears. It is plain, therefore, we should read:
Kings are our fears;
i. e. our fears are the kings which at present rule us. Warburton. Dr. Warburton saw what was requisite to make this passage sense; and Dr. Johnson, rather too hastily, I think, has received his emendation into the text. He reads:
Kings are our fears;
which he explains to mean, "our fears are the kings which at present rule us."
As the same sense may be obtained by a much slighter alteration, I am more inclined to read:
King'd of our fears;
King'd is used as a participle passive by Shakspeare more than once, I believe. I remember one instance in Henry the Fifth, Act II, sc. v. The Dauphin says of England:
she is so idly king'd."
It is scarce necessary to add, that, of, here (as in numberless other places) has the signification of, by. Tyrwhitt.
King'd of our fears;] i. e. our fears being our kings, or rulers. King'd is again used in King Richard II:
"Then I am king'd again."
It is manifest that the passage in the old copy is corrupt, and that it must have been so worded, that their fears should be styled their kings or masters, and not they, kings or masters of their fears; because in the next line mention is made of these fears being deposed. Mr. Tyrwhitt's emendation produces this meaning by a very slight alteration, and is, therefore, I think, entitled to a place in the text.
The following passage in our author's Rape of Lucrece, strongly, in my opinion, confirms his conjecture:
"So shall these slaves [Tarquin's unruly passions] be kings, and thou their slave."