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The lady Constance in a frenzy died
Three days before: but this from rumour's tongue
I idly heard; if true, or false, I know not.

K. John. Withhold thy speed, dreadful occasion!
O, make a league with me, till I have pleas'd
My discontented peers!- What! mother dead?
How wildly then walks my estate in France !6—
Under whose conduct came those powers of France,
That thou for truth giv’st out, are landed here?
Mess. Under the dauphin..

Enter the Bastard and PETER of POMFRET.
K. John,

Thou hast made me giddy
With these ill tidings.-Now, what says the world
To your proceedings? do not seek to stuff
My head with more ill news, for it is full.

East. But, if you be afeard to hear the worst,
Then let the worst, unheard, fall on your

K John. Bear with me, cousin; for I was amaz’d?
Under the tide: but now I breathe again
Aloft the flood; and can give audience
To any tongue, speak it of what it will.

Lasi. How I have sped among the clergymen,
The sums I have collected shall express.
But, as I travelled hither through the land,
I find the people strangely fantasied;
Possess'd with rumours, full of idle dreams;
Not knowing what they fear, but full of fear:
And here 's a prophet, 8 that I brought with me

6 How wildly then walks my estate in France !] So, in one of the Paston Letters, Vol. III, p. 99: “ The country of Norfolk and Suffolk stand right willly." Steevens.

i. e. How ill my affairs go in France !--The verb, to walk, is used with great license by old writers. It often means, to go; to move. So, in the Continuation of Harding's Chronicle, 1543: “Evil words walke far.” Again, in Fenner's Compter's Commonwealth, 1618: “The keeper, admiring he could not hear his prisoner's tongue walk all this while,” &c. Malone.

I was amaz’d – ] i. e. stunned, confounded. So, in Cymbeline : “-I am amaz’d with matter.” Again in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Vol. III, p. 160, n. 5:

“ You do amaze her: Hear the truth of it.” Steevens. 8 And here's a prophet,] This man was a hermit in great repute with the common people. Notwithstanding the event is said to have fallen out as he had prophesied, the poor fellow was in



From forth the streets of Pomfret, whom I found
With many hundreds treading on his heels;
To whom he sung, in rude harsh-sounding rhymes,
That, ere the next Ascension-day at noon,
Your highness should deliver up your crown.

K. John. Thou idle dreamer, wherefore didst thou so?
Peter. Foreknowing that the truth will fall out so.

K. John. Hubert, away with him; imprison him;
And on that day at noon, whereon, he says,
I shall yield up my crown, let him be hang'd:
Deliver him to safety, 9 and return,
For I must use thee. - my gentle cousin,

[Exit Hub. with PETER. Hear'st thou the news abroad, who are arriv'd? Bast. The French, my lord; men's mouths are full

of it:
Besides, I met lord Bigot, and lord Salisbury,
(With eyes as red as new-enkindled fire)
And others more, going to seek the grave
Of Arthur, who, they say,' is kill'd to-night
On your suggestion.
K. John.

Gentle kinsman, go,
And thrust thyself into their companies:
I have a way to win their loves again;
Bring them before me.

I will seek them out.
K. John, Nay, but make hastę; the better foot be-

fore. 0, let me have no subject enemies, When adverse foreigners affright my towns With dreadful pomp of stout invasion! Be Mercury, set feathers to thy heels; And fly, like thought, from them to me again.

humanly dragged at horses' tails through the streets of Warham, and, together with his son, who appears to have been even more innocent than his father, hanged afterwards upon a gibbet. See Holinshed's Chronicle, under the year 1213. Douce. See A. of Wyntown's Cronykil, B. VII, ch. viii, v. 801, &c.

Steevens. 9 Deliver him to safety,] That is, Give him into safe custody.

Fohnson who, they say,] Old copy--whom. Corrected by Mr. Pope. Malone.



Bast. The spirit of the time shall teach me speed.

K. John. Spoke like a spriteful noble gentleman.-
Go after him; for he, perhaps, shall need
Some messenger betwixt me and the peers;
And be thou he.

With all my heart, my liege. [Exit.
K. John. My mother dead!

Re-enter HUBERT.
Hub. My lord, they say, five moons were seen to-

Four fixed; and the fifth did whirl about
The other four, in wond'rous motion.

K. Jolin. Five moons ?

Old men, and beldams, in the streets
Do prophecy upon it dangerously:
Young Arthur's death is common in their mouths:
And when they talk of him, they shake their heads,
And whisper one another in the ear;
And he, that speaks, doth gripe the hearer's wrist;
Whilst he, that hears, makes fearful action,
With wrinkled brows, with nods, with rolling eyes.
I saw a smith stand with his hammer, thus,
The whilst his iron did on the anvil cool,
With open mouth swallowing a tailor's news;
Who, with his shears and measure in his hand,
Standing on slippers, (which his nimble haste
Had falsely thrust upon contrary feet) 3




-five moons were seen to-night: &c.] This incident is mentioned by few of our historians: I have met with it no where but in Matthew of Westminster and Polidore Virgil, with a small alteration. These kind of appearances were more common about that time than either before or since. Grey. This incident is likewise mentioned in the old King John.

Steevens. slippers, (which his nimble haste Had falsely thrust upon contráry feet,)] I know not how the commentators understand this important passage, which in Dr. Warburton's edition is marked as eminently beautiful, and, on the whole, not without justice. But Shakspeare seems to have con

founded the man's shoes with his gloves. He that is frighted or - hurried may put his hand into the wrong glove, but either shoe

will equally admit either foot. The author seems to be disturbed by the disorder which he describes. Johnson.

Told of a many thousand warlike French,
That were embatteled and rank'd in Kent:
Another lean unwash'd artificer
Cuts off his tale, and talks of Arthur's death.
K. John. Why seek'st thou to possess me with these

Why urgest thou so oft young Arthur's death?
Thy hand hath murder'd him: I had mighty cause
To wish him dead, but thou hadst none to kill him.
Hub. Had none, my lord !5 why, did you not pro-

voke me?
K. John. It is the curse of kings,6 to be attended
By slaves, that take their humours for a warrant
To break within the bloody house of life:
And, on the winking of authority,

Dr. Johnson forgets that ancient slippers might possibly be very difierent from modern ones. Scott, in his Discoverie of Witchcraft, tells us : “ He that receiveth a mischance, will consider, whether he put not on his shirt the wrong side outwards, or his left shoe on his right foot.One of the jests of Scogan, by Andrew Borde, is how he defrauded two shoemakers, one of a right foot boot, and the other of a left foot one. And Davies, in one of his Epigrams, compares a man to “a soft-knit hose, that serves each leg.

Farmer So, in Holland's translation of Suetonius, 1606: “— if in a morning his shoes were put one (r. on) wrong, and namely the left for the right, be held it unlucky.” Our author himself also furnishes an authority to the same point. Speed, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, speaks of a left shoe. It should be remembered that tailors generally work barefooted: a circumstance which Shakspeare probably had in his thoughts when he wrote this passage. I believe the word contrary, in his time, was frequently accented on the second syllable, and that it was intended to be so accented here. So, Spenser, in his Fairy Queen:

“ That with the wind contráry courses sew. Malone.

I had mighty cause — ] The old copy, more redundantly -I had a mighty cause. Steevens.

5 Had none, my lord!] Old copy-No had. Corrected by Mr. Pope. Malone.

6 It is the curse of kings, &c.] This plainly hints at Davison's case, in the affair of Mary Queen of Scots, and so must have been inserted long after the first representation. Warburton.

It is extremely probable that our author meant to pay his court to Elizabeth by this covert apology for her conduct to Mary. The Queen of Scots was beheaded in 1587, some years, I believe, before he had produced any play on the stage. Malone.


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To understand a law; to know the meaning
Of dangerous majesty, when, perchance, it frowns
More upon humour than advis'd respect.?

Hub. Here is your hand and seal for what I did.
K. John. O, when the last account 'twixt heaven and

Is to be made, then shall this hand and seal
Witness against us to damnation!
How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds,
Makes deeds ill done! Hadest not thou been by,
A fellow by the hand of nature mark'd,
Quoted, 8 and sign'd, to do a deed of shame,
This murder had not come into my mind:
But, taking note of thy abhorr'd aspect,
Finding thee fit for bloody villainy,
Apt, liable, to be employ'd in danger,
I faintly broke with thee of Arthur's death;
And thou, to be endeared to a king,
Made it no conscience to destroy a prince.

Hub. My lord,
K. John. Hadst thou but shook thy head,' or made a

When I spake darkly what I purposed;


advis'd respect.] i.e. deliberate consideration, reflection. So, in Hamlet :

There's the respect “ That makes calamity of so long life.” Steevens. 8 Quoted,] i. e. observed, distinguished. So, Hamlet :

“I am sorry, that with better heed and judgment

“ I had not quoted him.Steevens. 9 Hadst thou but shook thy head, &c.] There are many touches of nature in this conference of John with Hubert. A man en. gaged in wickedness would keep the profit to himself, and transfer the guilt to his accomplice. These reproaches, vented against Hubert, are not the words of art or policy, but the eruptions of a mind swelling with consciousness of a crime, and de. sirous of discharging its misery on another.

This account of the timidity of guilt is drawn ab ipsis recessibus mentis, from the intimate knowledge of mankind, particularly that line in which he says, that to have bid him tell his tale in exe press words, would have struck him dumb: nothing is more cere tain than that bad men use all the arts of fallacy upon themselves, palliate their actions to their own minds by gentle terms, and hide themselves from their own detection in ambiguities and subterfuges. Johnson.

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