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Our discontented counties5 do revolt;
Then pause not; for the present time 's so sick,
Or overthrow incurable ensues.
Pand. It was my breath that blew this tempest up, Upon your stubborn usage of the pope: But, since you are a gentle convertite,"
use all your power
To stop their marches, for we are inflam'd;
Our discontented counties do revolt, &c. M. Mason.
counties] Perhaps counties, in the present instance, do not mean the divisions of a kingdom, but lords, nobility, as in Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado about Nothing, &c. Steevens.
a gentle convertite,] A convertite is a convert. So, in Marlowe's Few of Malta, 1633:
"Gov. Why, Barabas, wilt thou be christened?
"Bar. No, governour; I'll be no convertite." Steevens. The same expression occurs in As you Like it, where Jaques, speaking of the young Duke, says:
"There is much matter in these convertites.”
In both these places the word convertite means a repenting sinner; not, as Steevens says, a convert, by which, in the language of the present time, is meant a person who changes from one religion to another; in which sense the word can neither apply to King John, or to Duke Frederick: In the sense I have given it, it will apply to both. M. Mason.
A convertite (a word often used by our old writers, where we should now use convert) signified either one converted to the faith, or one reclaimed from worldly pursuits, and devoted to penitence and religion.
Mr. M. Mason says, a convertite cannot mean a convert, because the latter word, "in the language of the present time, means a person that changes from one religion to another." But the ques tion is, not what is the language of the present time, but what was the language of Shakspeare's age. Marlowe uses the word Convertite exactly in the sense now affixed to convert. John, who. had in the former part of this play asserted, in very strong terms, the supremacy of the king of England in all ecclesiastical mat ters, and told Pandulph that he had no reverence for "the pope, or his usurp'd authority," having now made his peace with the "holy church," and resigned his crown to the pope's representative, is considered by the legate as one newly converted to the
My tongue shall hush again this storm of war,
Go I to make the French lay down their arms.
K. John. Is this Ascension-day? Did not the prophet Say, that, before Ascension-day at noon,
My crown I should give off? Even so I have:
Bast. All Kent hath yielded; nothing there holds out, But Dover castle: London hath receiv'd,
Like a kind host, the Dauphin and his powers:
To offer service to your enemy;
And wild amazement hurries up and down
K. John. Would not my lords return to me again,
Bast. They found him dead, and cast into the streets; An empty casket, where the jewel of life?
By some damn'd hand was robb'd and ta'en away.
Be stirring as the time; be fire with fire;
true faith, and very properly styled by him a convertite. same term, in the second sense above mentioned, is applied to the usurper, Duke Frederick, in As you Like it, on his having "put on a religious life, and thrown into neglect the pompous court:" out of these convertites
"There is much matter to be heard and learn'd."
Malone. 7 An empty casket, where the jewel of life-] Dryden has transferred this image to a speech of Antony, in All for Love:
"An empty circle, since the jewel's gone. Steevens. The same kind of imagery is employed in King Richard II "A jewel in a ten-times-barr'd-up chest
"Is a bold spirit in a loyal breast." Malone.
Threaten the threat'ner, and outface the brow
K. John. The legate of the pope hath been with me, And I have made a happy peace with him;
And he hath promis'd to dismiss the powers
O inglorious league!
Shall we, upon the footing of our land,
To arms invasive? shall a beardless boy,
and put on
The dauntless spirit of resolution.] So, in Macbeth:
"And meet i' the hall together." Malone.
9-- to become the field:] So, in Hamlet: such a sight as this
"Becomes the field." Steevens.
Forage, and run -] To forage is here used in its original sense, for to range abroad. Johnson.
2 Mocking the air with colours idly spread,] He has the same image in Macbeth:
"Where the Norweyan banners flout the sky,
"And fan our people cold." Johnson.
From these two passages Mr. Gray seems to have formed the first stanza of his celebrated Ode:
"Ruin seize thee, ruthless king!
"Though fann'd by conquest's crimson wing
"They mock the air with idle state." Malone.
And find no check? Let us, my liege, to arms :
They saw we had a purpose of defence.
K. John. Have thou the ordering of this present time. Bast. Away then, with good courage; yet, I know, Our party may well meet a prouder foe.3
A Plain, near St. Edmund's-Bury.4
Enter, in arms, LEWIS, SALISBURY, MELUN, PEMBROKE, BIGOT, and Soldiers.
Lew. My lord Melun, let this be copied out,
And keep it safe for our remembrance:
Return the precedents to these lords again;
3 Away then, with good courage; yet, I know,
Our party may well meet a prouder foe.] Let us then away with courage; yet I so well know the faintness of our party, that I think it may easily happen that they shall encounter enemies who have more spirit than themselves. Johnson.
Dr. Johnson is, I believe, mistaken. Faulconbridge meansfor all their boasting, I know very well that our party is able to cope with one yet prouder and more confident of its strength than theirs. Faulconbridge would otherwise dispirit the King, whom he means to animate. Steevens.
4 -near St. Edmund's-Bury.] I have ventured to fix the place of the scene here, which is specified by none of the editors, on the following authorities. In the preceding Act, where Salisbury has fixed to go over to the Dauphin, he says:
"Lords, I will meet him at St. Edmund's-Bury.”
And count Melun, in this last Act, says:
and many more with me,
Upon the altar at St. Edmund's-Bury;
And it appears likewise, from The Troublesome Reign of K. John, in two Parts, (the first rough model of this play) that the interchange of vows betwixt the Dauphin and the English barons was at St. Edmund's-Bury. Theobald.
the precedent &c.] i. e. the rough draught of the original treaty between the Dauphin and the English lords. Thus (adds Mr. M. Mason) in K. Richard III, the scrivener employed to engross the indictment of Lord Hastings, says, "that it took him eleven hours to write it, and that the precedent was full as long a doing." Steevens.
That, having our fair order written down,
Sal. Upon our sides it never shall be broken.
To your proceedings; yet, believe me, prince,
Her enemies' ranks, (I must withdraw and weep
To grace the gentry of a land remote,
What, here?O nation, that thou could'st remove!
after a stranger march-] Our author often uses stranger as an adjective. See the last scene. Malone.
the spot of this enforced cause)] Spot probably means, stain or disgrace. M. Mason.
So, in a former passage:
"To look into the spots and stains of right." Malone.
8 clippeth thee about,] i. e. embraceth. So, in Coriolanus: "Enter the city; clip your wives." Steevens.
9 And grapple thee-] The old copy reads-And cripple thee