Page images
PDF
EPUB

i Cit. Why answer not the double majesties This friendly treaty of our threaten’d town? K. Phi. Speak England first, that hath been forward

first To speak unto this city: What say you?

K. John. If that the Dauphin there, thy princely son, Can in this book of beauty read,? I love,

sage be compared with others in our author's plays, it will not, I think, appear liable to Dr. Johnson's objection. The sense, I conceive, is, Lest the now zealous and to you well-affected heart of Philip, which but lately was cold and hard as ice, and has newly been melted and softened, should by the soft petitions of Constance, and pity for Arthur, again become congealed and frozen. I once thought that “the windy breath of soft petitions,” &c. should be coupled with the preceding words, and related to the proposal made by the citizen of Angiers; but I now believe that they were intended to be connected, in construction, with the following line.-In a subsequent scene we find a similar thought couched in nearly the same expressions :

“ This act, so evilly born, shall cool the hearts

“Qf all his people, and freeze up their zeal.Here Shakspeare does not say that zeal, when “congealed, exerts its utmost power,” but, on the contrary, that when it is congealed or frozen, it ceases to exert itself at all; it is no longer zeal. We again meet with the same allusion in King Henry VIII:

This makes bold mouths;
“ Tongues spit their duties out, and cold hearts freeze

Allegiance in them.” Both zeal and allegiance therefore, we see, in the language of Shakspeare, are in their highest state of exertion, when melted; and repressed or diminished, when frozen. The word freeze, in the passages just quoted, shews that the allusion is not, as has been suggested, to metals, but to ice.

The obscurity of the present passage arises from our author's use of the word zeal, which is, as it were, personified. Zeal, if it be understood strictly, cannot "cool and congeal again to what it was,(for when it cools, it ceases to be zeal,) though a person who is become warm and zealous in a cause, may afterwards become cool and indifferent, as he was, before he was warmed.--" To what it was,” however, in our author's licentious language, may mean, “ to what it was, before it was zeal.

Malone. The windy breath that will cool metals in a state of fusion, produces not the effects of frost. I am, therefore, yet to learn, how “ the soft petitions of Constance, and pity for Arthur,” (two gentle agents) were competent to the act of freezing:- There is surely somewhat of impropriety in employing Favonius to do the work of Boreas. Steevens.

Her dowry shall weigh equal with a queen:
For Anjou, 8 and fair Touraine, Maine, Poictiers,
And all that we upon this side the sea
(Except this city now by us besieg'd)
Find liable to our crown and dignity,
Shall gild her bridal bed; and make her rich
In titles, honours, and promotions,
As she in beauty, education, blood,
Holds hand with any princess of the world.

K. Phi. What say'st thou, boy? look in the lady's face.

Lew. I do, my lord; and in her eye I find
A wonder, or a wondrous miracle,
The shadow of myself form'd in her eye;
Which, being but the shadow of your son,
Becomes a sun, and makes your son a shadow:
I do protest, I never lov'd myself,
Till now infixed I beheld myself,
Drawn in the flattering table of her eye.

[Whispers with BLANCH.

9

7 Can in this book of beauty read,] So, in Pericles, 1609:

“ Her face, the book of praises,” &c. Again, in Macbeth:

“Your face, my thane, is as a book, where men

May read strange matters.” Malone. 8 For Anjou,] In old editions:

For Angiers, and fair Touraine, Maine, Poictiers,
And all that we upon this side the sea,
(Except this city now by us besieg'd)

Find liable 8c. What was the city besieged, but Angiers? King John agrees to give up all he held in France, except the city of Angiers, which he now besieged and laid claim to. But could he give up all except Angiers, and give up that too? Anjou was one of the provinces which the English held in France. Theobald.

Mr. The bald found, or might have found, the reading which he would introduce as an emendation of his own, in the elder play of King John, 4to. 1591. Steevens.

See also p. 310, n. 5. Malone.

9 Drawn in the flattering table of her eye.] So, in All's Well that Ends Well:

to sit and draw
“ His arched brows, his hawking eye, his curls,

“ In our heart's table." Table is picture, or, rather, the board or canvas on which any object is painted. Tableau, Fr. Steevens.

Bast. Drawn in the flattering table of her eye!

Hang'd in the frowning wrinkle of her brow! And quarter'd in her heart!-he doth espy

Himself love's traitor: This is pity now, That hang'd, and drawn, and quarter'd, there should be, In such a love, so vile a lout as he.

Blanch. My uncle's will, in this respect, is mine: If he see aught in you, that makes him like, That any thing he sees, which moves his liking, I can with ease translate it to my will; Or, if you will, (to speak more properly) I will enforce it easily to my love. Further I will not flatter you, my lord, That all I see in you is worthy love, Than this, that nothing do I see in you, (Though churlish thoughts themselves should be your

judge) That I can find should merit any hate.

K. John. What say these young ones? What say you,

my niece?

Blanch. That she is bound in honour still to do What you in wisdom shall vouchsafe to say. K. John, Speak then, prince Dauphin; can you love

this lady? Lew. Nay, ask me if I can refrain from love; For I do love her most unfeignedly.

K. John. Then do I give Volquessen, Touraine, Maine, Poictiers, and Anjou, these five provinces, With her to thee; and this addition more, Full thirty thousand marks of English coin.Philip of France, if thou be pleas'd withal, Command thy son and daughter to join hands. K. Phi. It likes us well;-Young princes, close your

hands, Aust. And your lips too; for, I am well assur'd, That I did so, when I was first assur’d.2

1

Volquessen,] This is the ancient name for the country now called the Vexin; in Latin, Pagus Velocassinus. That part of it called the Norman Vexin, was in dispute between Philip and John. Steevens.

This and the subsequent line (except the words, " do I give,") are taken from the old play. Malone.

K. Phi. Now, citizens of Angiers, ope your gates,
Let in that amity which you have made ;
For at saint Mary's chapel, presently,
The rites of marriage shall be solemniz'd.-
Is not the lady Constance in this troop!
I know, she is not; for this match, made up,
Her presence would have interrupted much:-
Where is she and her son? tell me, who knows.

Lew. She is sad and passionate at your highness' tent. 5
K. Phi. And, by my faith, this league, that we have

made,
Will give her sadness very little cure.-
Brother of England, how may we content
This widow lady? In her right we came;
Which we, God knows, have turn’d another way,
To our own vantage.
K. John,

We will heal up all:
For we ’ll create young Arthur duke of Bretagne,
And earl of Richmond; and this rich fair town
We make him lord of.-Call the lady Constance;
Some speedy messenger bid her repair
To our solemnity: I trust we shall,
If not fill up the measure of her will,
Yet in some measure satisfy her so,
That we shall stop her exclamation.
Go we, as well as haste will suffer us,
To this unlook'd for, unprepared pomp.
[Exeunt all but the Bast.- The Citizens retire

from the walls. I am well assur'd, That I did so when I was first assur’d.] Assurd is here used both in its common sense, and in an uncommon one, where it signifies affianced, contractel. So, in The Comedy of Errors: called me Dromio, swore I was assur'd to her."

Steevens. 3 She is sad and passionate at your highness' tent.] Passionate, in this instance, does not signify disposed to anger, but a prey to mournful sensations. So, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Wit without Money:

Thou art passionate,
“ Hast been brought up with girls.” Steevens.
Again, in the old play entitled The true Tragedie of Richard
Duke of Yorke, 1600:

“ Tell me, good madam,
“Why is your grace so passionate of late?” Malone.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Bast. Mad world! mad kings! mad composition! John, to stop Arthur's title in the whole, Hath willingly departed with a part: And France, (whose armour conscience buckled on; Whom zeal and charity brought to the field, As God's own soldier,) rounded in the ears With that same purpose-changer, that sly devil; That broker, that still breaks the pate of faith; That daily break-vow; he that wins of all, Of kings, of beggars, old men, young men, maids ;Who having no external thing to lose But the word maids-cheats the poor maid of that;6 That smooth-faced gentleman, tickling commodity, Commodity, the bias of the world;?

5

[ocr errors]

departed with a part:] To part and to depart were formerly synonymous. So, in Every Man in his Humour : “ Faith, sir, I can hardly depart with ready money.” Again, in Every Woman in her Humour, 1609: “She'll serve under him till death us depart.Steevens.

rounded in the ear -] i. e. whispered in the ear. This phrase is frequently used by Chaucer, as well as later writers.So, in Lingua, or A Combat of the tongue, &c. 1607: “I help'd Herodotus to pen some part of his Muses, lent Pliny ink to write his History, and rounded Rabelais in the ear when he historified Pantagruel.” Again, in The Spanish Tragedy:

“Forthwith Revenge she rounded me i' th' ear.Steevens. 6 Who having no external thing to lose

But the word maid-cheats the poor maid of that;] The construction here appears extremely harsh to our ears, yet I do not believe there is any corruption; for I have observed a similar phraseology in other places in these plays. The construction is -Commodity, he that wins of all, he that cheats the poor maid of that only external thing she has to lose, namely, the word maid, i. e. her chastity. Who having is used as the absolute case, in the sense of they having — ;” and the words “ who having no external thing to lose but the word maid," are in some measure parenthetical; yet they cannot with propriety be included in a parenthesis, because then there would remain no. thing to which the relative that at the end of the line could be referred. In The Winter's Tale, are the following lines, in which we find a similar phraseology:

“This vour son-in-law,
“ And son unto the king, (whom heavens directing)

“ Is troth-plight to your daughter." Here the pronoun whom is used for him, as who, in the passage before us, is used for they. Malone.

« PreviousContinue »