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To dive, like buckets, in concealed wells;
To lie, like pawns, lock'd up in chests and trunks;
To souse annoyance that comes near his nest.-
in concealed wells;] I believe our author, with his accustomed license, used concealed for concealing; wells that afforded concealment and protection to those who took refuge there. Malone.
Concealed wells are wells in concealed or obscure situations; viz. in places secured from public notice. Steevens.
7 of your nation's crow,] Mr. Pope, and some of the subsequent editors, read-our nation's crow; not observing that the Bastard is speaking of John's achievements in France. He likewise reads, in the next line-his voice; but this voice, the voice or caw of the French crow, is sufficiently clear. Malone.
your nation's crow,] i. e. at the crowing of a cock; gallus meaning both a cock and a Frenchman.
like an eagle o'er his aiery towers,] An aiery is the nest of an eagle. So, in King Kichard 111:
"Our aiery buildeth in the cedar's top." Steevens.
• Their neelds to lances,] So, in A Midsummer Night's Dream : "Have with our neelds created both one flower."
Fairfax has the same contraction of the word-needle. Steevens. In the old copy the word is contractedly written needl's, but it was certainly intended to be pronounced neelds, as it is frequently written in old English books. Many dissyllables are used by Shakspeare and other writers as monosyllables, as whether, spirit, &c. though they generally appear at length in the original editions of these plays. Malone.
Lew. There end thy brave, and turn thy face in peace; We grant, thou canst outscold us: fare thee well;
We hold our time too precious to be spent
With such a brabbler.
Give me leave to speak.
We will attend to neither:
Bast. No, I will speak.
Strike up the drums; and let the tongue of war
Plead for our interest, and our being here.
Bast. Indeed, your drums, being beaten, will cry out; And so shall you, being beaten: Do but start
And echo with the clamour of thy drum,
As loud as thine, rattle the welkin's ear,
A bare-ribb'd death,1 whose office is this day
Lew. Strike up our drums, to find this danger out.
SCENE III. .
The same. A Field of Battle.
Alarums. Enter King JOHN and HUBERT.
K. John. How goes the day with us? O, tell me, Hubert.
Hub. Badly, I fear: How fares your majesty?
K. John. This fever, that hath troubled me so long, Lies heavy on me; O, my heart is sick!
Enter a Messenger.
Mess. My lord, your valiant kinsman, Faulconbridge, Desires your majesty to leave the field;
And send him word by me, which way you go.
14 bare-ribb'd death,] So, in our author's Rape of Lucrece: "Shows me a bare-bon'd death by time outworn." Steevens.
K. John. Tell him, toward Swinstead, to the abbey there.
K. John. Ah me! this tyrant fever burns me up,
Another Part of the same.
Enter SALISBUry, Pembroke, BIGOT, and Others. Sal. I did not think the king so stor'd with friends. Pem. Up once again; put spirit in the French; If they miscarry, we miscarry too.
Sal. That misbegotten devil, Faulconbridge,
In spite of spite, alone upholds the day.
Pem. They say, king John, sore sick, hath left the field.
Mel. Lead me to the revolts of England here.
Wounded to death.
Mel. Fly, noble English, you are bought and sold;4 Unthread the rude eye of rebellion, 5
2 for the great supply,
Are wreck'd-] Supply is here, and in a subsequent passage in scene v, used as a noun of multitude. Malone.
3 Richard -] Sir Richard Faulconbridge;-and yet the King, a little before, (Act III, sc. ii,) calls him by his original name of Philip. Steevens.
bought and sold;] The same proverbial phrase, intimating treachery, is used in King Richard III, Act V, sc. iii, in King Henry VI, P. I, Act IV, sc. iv, and in The Comedy of Errors, Act III, sc. i. Steevens.
5 Unthread the rude eye of rebellion,] Though all the copies concur in this reading, how poor is the metaphor of unthreading the eye of a needle? And besides, as there is no mention made of a needle, how remote and obscure is the allusion without it? The text, as I have restored it, is easy and natural; and it is the
And welcome home again discarded faith.
Sal. May this be possible? may this be true?
Which bleeds away, even as a form of wax
Since I must lose the use of all deceit?
Why should I then be false; since it is true
He is forsworn, if e'er those eyes of yours
Behold another day break in the east:
But even this night,-whose black contagious breath
Of the old, feeble, and day-wearied sun,
Even this ill night, your breathing shall expire;
mode of expression which our author is every where fond of, to tread and untread, the way, path, steps, &c. Theobald.
The metaphor is certainly harsh, but I do not think the passage corrupted. Johnson.
Mr. Theobald reads-untread; but Shakspeare, in King Lear, uses the expression, threading dark ey'd night; and Coriolanus says: "Even when the navel of the state was touch'd,
"They would not thread the gates."
This quotation in support of the old reading, has also been adduced by Mr. M. Mason. Steevens.
Our author is not always careful that the epithet which he applies to a figurative term should answer on both sides. Rude is applicable to rebellion, but not to eye. He means, in fact,-the eye of rude rebellion. Malone.
6 He means-] The Frenchman, i. e. Lewis, means, &c. See Melun's next speech: "If Lewis do win the day." Malone. 7 Resolveth Resolve and dissolve had anciently the same meaning. So, in Hamlet:
"O, that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!" Steevens:
Even with a treacherous fine of all your lives,
Sal. We do believe thee,-And beshrew my soul
Of this most fair occasion, by the which
Leaving our rankness and irregular course,1
Even to our ocean, to our great king John.--
Right in thine eye.-Away, my friends! New flight; And happy newness,2 that intends old right.
[Exeunt, leading off MEL.
The same. The French Camp.
Enter LEWIS, and his Train.
Lew. The sun of heaven, methought, was loth to set; But stay'd, and made the western welkin blush,
rated treachery,] It were easy to change rated to hated, for an easier meaning, but rated suits better with fine. The Dauphin has rated your treachery, and set upon it a fine, which your lives must pay. Johnson.
9 For that my grandsire was an Englishman,] This line is taken from the old play, printed in quarto, in 1591. Malone.
1 Leaving our rankness and irregular course,] Rank, as applied to water, here signifies exuberant, ready to overflow: as applied to the actions of the speaker and his party, it signifies inordinate. Malone.
-happy newness, &c.] Happy innovation, that purposed the restoration of the ancient rightful government. Johnson.