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To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
Pem. But that your royal pleasure must be done,
Sal. In this, the antique and well-noted face
Pem. When workmen strive to do better than well,
1 To guard a title that was rich before,] To guard, is to fringe.
Fohnson. Rather, to lace. So, in The Merchant of Venice:
give him a livery
as an ancient tale new told;) Had Shakspeare been a dili. gent examiner of his own compositions, he would not so soon have repeated an idea which he had first put into the mouth of the Danphin:
“ Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale,
“Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man." Mr. Malone has a remark to the same tendency. Steevens.
3 They do confound their skill in covetousness :) i.e. not by their avarice, but in an eager emulation, an intense desire of excelling, as in Henry V :
“ But if it be a sin to covet honour,
“I am the most offending soul alive." Theobald. So, in our author's 103d Sonnet:
“ Were it not sinful then, striving to mend,
Than did the fault before it was so patch’d.
Sal. To this effect, before you were new-crown'd,
K. John. Some reasons of this double coronation
Pem. Then I, (as one that am the tongue of these,
5 Since all and every part of what we would,] Since the whole and each particular part of our wishes, &c. Malone. 6 Some reasons of this double coronation
I have possess'd you with, and think them strong;
I shall indue you with:] Mr. Theobald reads-(the lesser is my fear) which, in the following note, Dr. Johnson has attempted to explain. Steevens.
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.
Fohnson. And more, more strong, (when lesser is my fear,) I shall indue you with:] The first folio reads:
(then lesser is my fear). The true reading is obvious enough :
(when lesser is my fear). Tyrwhitt. I have done this emendation the justice to place it in the text.
Steevens. 7. To sound the purposes -] To declare, to publish the desires of all those. Johnson.
Your tender kinsman, and to choke his days
Pem. This is the man should do the bloody deed;
If, what in rest you have, in right you hold,
If, what in wrest you have, in right you hold, —
“ The imminent decay of wrested pomp." Wrest is a substantive used by Spenser, and by our author, in Troilus and Cressida. Steevens.
The emendation proposed by Mr. Steevens is its own voucher. If then and should change places, and a mark of interrogation be placed after exercise, the full sense of the passage will be restored.
Henley. Mr. Steevens's reading of wrest is better than his explanation. If adopted, the meaning must be-If what you possess, or have in your hand, or grusp. Ritson.
It is evident that the words should and then have changed their places. M. Mason.
The construction is-If you have a good title to what you now quietly possess, why then should your fears move you, &c.
Malone. Perhaps this question is elliptically expressed, and means
Why then is it that your fears should move you, &c. Steevens.
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.
Does show the mood of a much-troubled breast;
Sal. The colour of the king doth come and go,
Pem. And, when it breaks, 3 I fear, will issue thence The foul corruption of a sweet child's death.
K. John. We cannot hold mortality's strong hand:Good lords, although my will to give is living, The suit which you demand is gone and dead: He tells us, Arthur is deceas'd to-night.
Sal. Indeed, we fear'd, his sickness was past cure.
Pem. Indeed, we heard how near his death he was, Before the child himself felt he was sick: This must be answer'd, either here, or hence.
1 Between his purpose and his conscience,] Between his consciousness of guilt, and his design to conceal it by fair professions.
Johnson. The purpose of the King, which Salisbury alludes to, is that of putting Arthur to death, which he considers as not yet accomplished, and therefore supposes that there might still be a conflict in the King's mind
Between his purpose and his conscience.
“ It is the shameful work of Hubert's hand;
“The practice and the purpose of the king.". M. Mason. Rather, between the criminal act that he planned and commanded to be executed, and the reproaches of his conscience consequent on the execution of it. So, in Coriolanus:
“ It is a purpos'd thing, and grows by plot.” We have nearly the same expressions afterwards: “ Nay, in the body of this fleshly land, [in John's own
“ Between my conscience and my cousin's death.” Malone. 2 Like heralds 'twixt two dreadful battles set:] But heralds are not planted, I presume, in the midst betwixt two lines of battle; though they, and trumpets, are often sent over from party to party, to propose terms, demand a parley, &c. I have therefore ventured to read-sent. Theobald.
Set is not fixed, but only placed; heralds must be set between battles, in order to be sent between them. Johnson.
And, when it breaks,] This is but an indelicate metaphor, taken from an imposthumated tumour. Johnson.
K. John. Why do you bend such solemn brows on me?
Sal. It is apparent foul play; and 'tis shame,
Pem. Stay yet, lord Salisbury; I'll go with thee,
Enter a Messenger.
Mess. From France to England.4_Never such a power
K. John. 0, where hath our intelligence been drunk?
My liege, her ear
4 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. Fohnson. 50, where hath our intelligence been drunk? Where hath it slept ?] So, in Macbeth:
Was the hope drunk