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When the English measur'd backward their own ground,
Enter a Messenger.
Here:- What news?
Lew. Ah, foul shrewd news!-Beshrew thy very heart! I did not think to be so sad to-night, As this hath made me. - Who was he, that said, King John did fly, an hour or two before The stumbling night did part our weary powers?
Mess. Whoever spoke it, it is true, my lord.
Lew. Well; keep good quarter, and good care to-night: The day shall not be up so soon as I, To try the fair adventure of to-morrow. [Exeunt.
SCENE VI. An open Place in the Neighbourhood of Swinstead-Abbey.
Enter the Bastard and HƯBERT, meeting. Hub. Who's there? speak, ho! speak quickly, or I shoot. Bast. A friend: What art thou? Hub.
Of the part of England. Bast. Whither dost thou go?
Hub. What's that to thee? Why may not I demand Of thine affairs, as well as thou of mine?
Bast. Hubert, I think.
Thou hast a perfect thought:
tatter'd-] For tatter'd, the folio reads, tottering. Johnson. Taitering, which, in the spelling of our author's time, was tottering, is used for tatter'd. The active and passive participles are employed by him very indiscriminately. Malone.
- keep good quarter,] i. e. keep in your allotted posts or "stations. So, in Timon of Athens:
not a man
“Shall pass his quarter.” Steevens.
I will, upon all hazards, well believe
Who thou wilt: an if thou please,
Hub. Unkind remembrance! thou, and eyeless night,
abroad? Hub. Why, here walk I, in the black brow of night, To find you out. Bast.
Brief, then; and what's the news? Hub. O, my sweet sir, news fitting to the night, Black, fearful, comfortless, and horrible.
Bast. Show me the very wound of this ill news; I am no woman, I'll not swoon at it.
Hub. The king, I fear, is poison'd by a monk:?
thou, and eyeless night,] The old copy
Steevens. We should read eyeless. So, Pindar calls the moon, the eye of night. Warburton. This epithet I find in Jarvis Markham's English Arcadia, 1607:
“O eyeless night, the portraiture of death!”. Steevens. The emendation was made by Mr. Theobald. With Pindar our author had certainly no acquaintance; but, I believe, the correction is right. Shakspeare has, however, twice applied the epithet endless to night, in King Richard II:
“ Then thus I turn me from my country's light,
“To dwell in solemn shades of endless night.” Again:
"My oil-dry'd lamp
“Shall be extinct with age and endless night.” But in the latter of these passages a natural, and in the former, a kind of civil, death, is alluded to. In the present passage the epithet endless is inadmissible, because, if understood literally, it is false. On the other hand, eyeless is peculiarly applicable. The emendation is also supported by our author's Rape of Lucrece: “Poor grooms are sightless night; kings, glorious day.”
Malone. 7 The king, I fear, is poison'd by a monk:] Not one of the historians who wrote within sixty years after the death of K. John, mentions this very improbable story. The tale is, that a monk, to revenge himself on the king for a saying at which he took of
I left him almost sneechless, and broke out
Bast. How did he take it? who did taste to him?
Hub. A monk, I tell you; a resolved villain, Whose bowels suddenly burst out: the king Yet speaks, and, peradventure, may recover.
Base. Who didst thou leave to tend his majesty?
Hub. Why, know you not? the lords are all come back,
Bust. Withhold thine indignation, mighty heaven,
fence, poison'd a cup of ale, and having brought it to his ma-
The better arm you to the sudden time,
Than if you had at leisure known of this.] That you might be able to prepare instantly for the sudden revolution in affairs which the king's death will occasion, in a better manner than you could have done, if you had not known of it till the event had actually happened, and the kingdom was reduced to a state of composure and quiet. Malone.
It appears to me, that at leisure means less speedily, after some delay.
I do not clearly comprehend Mr. Malone's explanation. The death of the king was not likely to produce a state of composure and quiet, while there was a hostile army in the heart of the kingdom. M Mason.
Why, know you not? the lords &c.] Perhaps we ought to point thus:
Why know you not, the lords are all come back,
SCENE VII. The Orchard of Swinstead-Abbey. Enter Prince HENRY, SALISBURY, and Bigot. P. Hen. It is too late; the life of all his blood Is touch'd corruptibly;2 and his pure brain (Which some suppose the souls frail dwelling-house) Doth, by the idle comments that it makes, Foretel the ending of mortality.
Enter PEMBROKE. Pem. His highness yet doth speak; and holds belief, That, being brought into the open air, It would allay the burning quality Of that fell poison which assaileth him.
P. Hen. Let him be brought into the orchard here.Doth he still rage?
[Exit Bigot. Pem.
He is more patient
P. Hen. () vanity of sickness! fierce extremes,
Prince Henry,] This prince was only nine years old when his father died. Steevens.
2 Is touch'd corruptibly;] i. e. corruptively. Such was the phraseology of Shakspeare's age. So, in his Rape of Lucrece:
“ The Romans plausibly did give consent i. e. with acclamations. Here we should now say-plausively.
Malone. 3 In their continuance,] I suspect our author wrote- In thy continuance. In his Sonnets the two words are frequently confound. ed. If the text be right, continuance means continuity. Bacon uses the word in that sense. Malone. 4 Leaves them insensible; and his siege is now
Against the mind,] The old copy reads-invisible Steevens.
As the word invisible has no sense in this passage, I have no doubt but the modern editors are right in reading insensible, which agrees with the two preceding lines:
Against the mind, &c. The last lines are evidently intended as a paraphrase, and confirmation of the two first. M. Mason.
With many legions of strange fantasies;
Sal. Be of good comfort, prince; for you are born
John in a Chair.
P. Hen. How fares your majesty?
5 With many legions of strange fantasies;
Which in their throng and press to that last hold,
Throng bis inventions, which shall go before.” Malone.
in their throng and press to that last hold,] In their tu. mult and hurry of resorting to the last tenable part. Johnson.
6 I am the cygnet -] Old copy Symet. Corrected by Mr. Pope. Malone
you are born
Which he hath left so shapeless and so rude.] A description of the Chaos almost in the very words of Ovid: “Quem dixere Chaos, rudis indigestaque moles.” Met. I.
Whalley. “ Which Chaos hight, a huge rude heap, “No sunne as yet with lightsome beames the shapeless world
did view.” Golding's Translation, 1587. Malone. 8 Poison'd,-ill-fare;] Mr. Malone supposes fare to be here used as a dissyllable, like fire, hour, &c. But as this word has not concurring vowels in it, like hour, or fair, nor was ever dis. llabically spelt (like fier) faer; I had rather suppose the pret line imperfect, than complete it by such unprecedented