« PreviousContinue »
Be by some certain king purg'd and depos'd.
Bast. By heaven, these scroyles of Angiers flout you, kings;
And stand securely on their battlements,
As in a theatre, whence they gape and point
Do like the mutines of Jerusalem,6
Be friends a while, and both conjointly bend
Again, in King Lear:
It seems, she was a queen
“Over her passion, who, most rebel-like,
This passage in the folio is given to King Philip, and in a subsequent part of this scene, all the speeches of the citizens are given to Hubert; which I mention, because these, and innumerable other instances, where the same error has been committed in that edition, justify some license in transferring speeches from one person to another. Malone.
4 these scroyles of Angiers -] Escrouelles, Fr. i. e. scabby. scrophulous fellows.
Ben Jonson uses the word in Every Man in his Humour :
hang them scroyles!" Steevens.
5 At your industrious scenes] I once wished to read-illustrious; but now I believe the text to be right. Malone.
The old reading is undoubtedly the true one. Your industrious scenes and acts of death, is the same as if the speaker had said -your laborious industry of war. So, in Macbeth:
6 Do like the mutines of Jerusalem,] The mutines are the mutineers, the seditious. So again, in Hamlet:
"Worse than the mutines in the bilboes." Malone.
"Be friends a while, &c.] This advice is given by the Bastard in the old copy of the play, though comprised in fewer and less spirited lines. Steevens.
› Till their soul-fearing clamours —] i. e. soul-appaling.
Even till unfenced desolation
Leave them as naked as the vulgar air.
To whom in favour she shall give the day,
How like you this wild counsel, mighty states?
Smacks it not something of the policy?
K. John. Now, by the sky that hangs above our heads, I like it well;-France, shall we knit our powers, And lay this Angiers even with the ground;
Then, after, fight who shall be king of it?
Bast. An if thou hast the mettle of a king,Being wrong'd, as we are, by this peevish town,— Turn thou the mouth of thy artillery,
As we will ours, against these saucy walls:
And when that we have dash'd them to the ground,
K. Phi. Let it be so:-Say, where will you assault?
Into this city's bosom.
Aust. I from the north.
Our thunder from the south,
Shall rain their drift of bullets on this town.
Bast. O prudent discipline! From north to south; Austria and France shoot in each other's mouth: [Aside. I'll stir them to it:-Come, away, away!
1 Cit. Hear us, great kings: vouchsafe a while to stay, And I shall show you peace, and fair-faced league; Win you this city without stroke, or wound; Rescue those breathing lives to die in beds, That here come sacrifices for the field:
Perséver not, but hear me, mighty kings.
K. John. Speak on, with favour; we are bent to hear. 1 Cit. That daughter there of Spain, the lady Blanch,
the lady Blanch,] The lady Blanch was daughter to Alphonso the Ninth, King of Castile, and was niece to King John by his sister Elianor. Steevens.
Is near to England; Look upon the years
Whose fulness of perfection lies in him.
And two such shores to two such streams made one,
Lions more confident, mountains and rocks
1 If zealous love &c.] Zealous seems here to signify pious, or influenced by motives of religion. Johnson.
2 If not complete, O say,] The old copy reads-If not complete of, say, &c. Corrected by Sir T. Hanmer. Malone.
such a she;] The old copy-as she. Steevens. Dr. Thirlby prescribed that reading, which I have here restored to the text. Theobald.
With swifter spleen &c] Our author uses spleen for any violent hurry, or tumultuous speed. So, in A Midsummer Night's Dream, he applies spleen to the lightning. I am lothe to think that Shakspeare meant to play with the double of match for nuptial, and the match of a gun. Johnson.
In mortal fury half so peremptory,
As we to keep this city.
Here's a stay,
That shakes the rotten carcase of old death
Out of his rags! Here's a large mouth, indeed,
5 Here's a stay,
That shakes the rotten carcase of old death
Out of his rags!] I cannot but think that every reader wishes for some other word in the place of stay, which though it may signify an hindrance, or man that hinders, is yet very improper to introduce the next line. I read:
Here's a flaw,
That shakes the rotten carcase of old death.
That is, here is a gust of bravery, a blast of menace. This suits well with the spirit of the speech. Stay and flaw, in a careless hand, are not easily distinguished; and if the writing was ob. scure, flaw being a word less usual, was easily missed. Johnson. Perhaps the force of the word stay, is not exactly known. I meet with it in Damon and Pythias, 1582:
"Not to prolong my life thereby, for which I reckon not this,
"But to set my things in a stay.”
Perhaps by a stay, the Bastard means "a steady, resolute fellow, who shakes," &c. So, in Fenton's Tragical Discourses, bl. 1. 4to. 1567: "— more apt to follow th' inclination of vaine and lascivious desyer, than disposed to make a staye of herselfe in the trade of honest vertue."
Again, in Chapman's translation of the 22d Iliad:
"Trie we then-if now their hearts will leave
"Their citie cleare, her cleare stay [i. e. Hector] slaine." Again, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. II, c. x:
"Till riper yeares he raught, and stronger stay.”
Shakspeare, therefore, who uses wrongs for wrongers, &c. &c. might have used a stay for a stayer. Churchyard, in his Siege of Leeth, 1575, having occasion to speak of a trumpet that sounded to proclaim a truce, says
"This staye of warre made many men to muse."
I am therefore convinced that the first line of Faulconbridge's speech needs no emendation. Steevens.
Stay, I apprehend, here signifies a supporter of a cause. Here's an extraordinary partizan, that shakes, &c. So, in the last Act of this play:
"What surety in the world, what hopes, what stay,
Again, in King Henry VI, P. III :
"Now thou art gone, we have no staff, no stay."
Again, in King Richard III:
"What stay had I, but Edward, and he's gone."
That spits forth death, and mountains, rocks, and seas; Talks as familiarly of roaring lions,
As maids of thirteen do of puppy-dogs!
What cannoneer begot this lusty blood?
He speaks plain cannon, fire, and smoke, and bounce;
Eli. Son, list to this conjunction, make this match; Give with our niece a dowry large enough:
For by this knot thou shalt so surely tie
Thy now unsur'd assurance to the crown,
That yon green boy shall have no sun to ripe
I see a yielding in the looks of France;
Mark, how they whisper: urge them, while their souls Are capable of this ambition;
Lest zeal, now melted, by the windy breath
Of soft petitions, pity, and remorse,
Cool and congeal again to what it was.
Again, in Davies's Scourge of Folly, printed about the year 1611: "England's fast friend, and Ireland's constant stay.”
Perhaps, however, our author meant by the words, Here's a stay, "Here's a fellow, who whilst he makes a proposition as a stay or obstacle, to prevent the effusion of blood, shakes," &c. The Citizen has just said:
"Hear us, great kings, vouchsafe a while to stay,
It is, I conceive, no objection to this interpretation, that an impediment or obstacle could not shake death, &c. though the person who endeavoured to stay or prevent the attack of the two kings, might. Shakspeare seldom attends to such minutia. But the first explanation appears to me more probable. Malone.
6 Lest zeal, now melted, &c.] We have here a very unusual, and, I think, not very just image of zeal, which, in its highest degree, is represented by others as a flame, but by Shakspeare, as a frost. To repress zeal, in the language of others, is to cool, in Shakspeare's to melt it; when it exerts its utmost power it is commonly said to flame, but by Shakspeare to be congealed.
Johnson. Sure the poet means to compare zeal to metal in a state of fusion, and not to dissolving ice. Steevens.
The allusion, I apprehend, is to dissolving ice; and if this pas